Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Movie Meme: Horribly Bad Accents

Feature Presentation...
hosted by Molly of The Bumbles Blog.

This week is all about those actors that have horribly bad accents in their many to choose from.

1. Cary Elwes in Twister (1996). Not only is he trying for an American accent but a Southernish type accent and fails horribly.

2. Drew Barrymore in Ever After (1998). I think everyone was actually supposed to have a French accent in the movie but that's tougher so...English it was in France...but Drew just couldn't quite cut it even with the English accent.

3. Harrison Ford in K-19: The Widowmaker (2002). Harrison attempts a Russian accent....not so great.

4. David Boreanaz in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). I know it's not a movie but his character Angel was born in Ireland and somehow he loses it in modern-day times (being a really old vampire and all) but in flashbacks...his attempt was horrible!!!! Just a pet peeve of mine I wanted to get off my chest.

5. Alan Rickman in Die Hard (1988). I couldn't tell what accent he was trying to achieve....Russian, German, English, American? Then I realized he was supposed to be German....yikes.

6. Honorable mention goes to the entire crew of Valkyrie (2008)...I guess they couldn't count on any of the actors to pull off a semi-authentic German accent so half of them chose for an English accent and the others stuck with American. It was hard to get into and believe that they were really German.

Great English accent for an American goes to Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma (1996). Great British actors with American accents go to Hugh Laurie for House (2004-present)(TV) and Damian Lewis for Life (2007-2009) (TV).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Genre: youth fiction,
FTC Disclosure: borrowed from library
Published: 2007
Pages: 288
Content: PG-13

In a Line:  Powerful commentary on how our lives touch others in so many ways for the good and for the worst.

We meet Clay as he receives a box of cassette tapes...they are from a girl Hannah who recently committed suicide. He listens hauntingly as her voice explains why she she has done this...She gives 13 reasons why she decided to commit suicide and Clay desperately wants to find out why she did what she did and why he is on the tapes.

This was a really clever idea. We get into Hannah's head and find out who she is and what led her to the unthinkable act of taking her own life. We slowly learn how Clay fits into all of it and how Hannah has affected his life. Everyone on the tape starts connecting to each other....At first I wondered what would be so horrible to tip her over the edge but as time went on I realized that it's not necessarily big stuff. Everyone is different. We each have our hangups and problems. I think Asher's main point was that you never know how your actions can affect others. The things that happened to Hannah...well, probably most teens would learn to deal somehow, graduate, and move on...but sometimes that's not the case. I think it's a good wakeup call to really think about how we treat people and the effect it can have, good or bad. So sometimes it is the little things. And yeah, it is really messed up what Hannah does by making and sending those tapes...which is why I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't just a cliche reason...there is no real rhyme or reason to why people decide to take their own lives; that's the point. People's lives will forever be changed by Hannah's actions, her suicide, and now her tapes. What are those people going to do? Give up or move forward?

Asher wrote a very compelling and complex novel and it opens up dialogue, another reason for read this book.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Other cover...

I think I actually like this version better. It feels more to the point for me. This must be the UK cover.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Movie Meme- Aches and Pains and Sick in the Head...

Feature Presentation...
hosted by Molly of The Bumbles Blog.

This week is all about illness, whether it be mental or physical or both.

1. Dying Young (1991): It's been awhile since I've seen this. But I do remember being really sad and enjoying it all at the same time.

2. Sahara (2005): Can Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz find an old Civil War ship and save the world from a horrible disease????

3. Philadelphia (1993): A beautiful performance by Tom Hanks who sues his company for firing him after they find out he has AIDS.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Genre: youth fiction
FTC Disclosure: borrowed from library
Published: 2006
Pages: 419
Content: PG-13 for language and dealing with suicide, death, and other issues.

In a sentence: A disjointed start but ended with a complex and beautiful story.

I will admit that the first 180 pages or so were a struggle to get through. The story jumped all over the place. I couldn't tell if was dreams or flashbacks being told. I couldn't wrap my head around territory wars in a small town in Australia with rival schools. I didn't understand why I was supposed to care. So I was debating whether or not to keep reading at 150 pages...I checked out a few reviews that said to hang in there. So I did. I'm really glad I did. Within 30-40 pages the story starts to unravel and you see who is who, why, and how.

Taylor was abandoned by her mother at a 7-11 at the age of eleven. She was picked up by Hannah who counsels at the local charity boarding school Jellicoe Road. We learn bits and pieces about what's going on...Taylor looked for her mom a few years before with a local Cadet named Jonah Griggs; Jellicoe Road, the Townies (local high school), and the Cadets are in territorial wars during the school year. This one didn't make much since till later....Hannah, Taylor's one mother figure, takes off one weekend without a word and leaves behind a manuscript describing five people and their lives here on Jellicoe it fiction or is Taylor somehow connected? Confused? I was....

That's my one main complaint with this one. It took too long to get into and bring the story together. I can understand why she did it, to a point. But I think Marchetta could have simplified and gotten to the point a bit early on. Some of the negative reviews said they couldn't even finish it and get past those first 200 pages. 200 pages is a lot to ask a reader. I stuck around because I'd read her earlier novel Saving Francesca, which was marvelous. And by the time it ended and the pieces were put together, I found I didn't care as much as I wanted to.

But overall, the last half of the book is excellent. She really brings the characters around and into focus. She has a way with building these intricate relationships all together. I loved all of the characters. Taylor was vulnerable but independent and a wonderful mind. Jonah is the bad boy but never too bad and had a big romantic heart and a complicated history. He was real. Even the supporting characters really supported (I know that sounds dumb, but true). Even though I can't fathom why Taylor's mom gave her up, etc, I at least can sympathize with what she's gone through. I also love how she weaves the topic of death. (That sounds weird...). How does death affect us? How does it affect a group of kids that experience its aftermath together? How does it continue to haunt us throughout the rest of our lives?

It's a great discussion book and gets you thinking. Stick with it for the first 200 pages and you will be glad you did.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This cover is the Australian one. The title is originally On the Jellicoe Road...which I find more fitting for the overall theme of the book. I also like the original cover best. I find I'm more interested in the novel and would want to read it. Go Australia on this one!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Movie Meme--Religious Roles

Feature Presentation...

hosted by Molly of the Bumbles Blog.

This week's meme is celebrating Martin Luther King Junior Day. He was a powerful political leader and religious leader as well. Pick some movies with memorable or infamous religious characters.

1. Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). Yeah, this twisted priest really creeped me out!

2. Father Gabriel from The Mission (1986): He cared, really cared. Heart-wrenching movie...beautiful music but can never ever watch it again.

3. Palmer Joss from Contact (1997): Both Jodie Foster's character and this one struggled with the balance between faith and science, with Palmer representing the faith side. Really well done.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Garden Spells by Sarah Allen Addison

Genre: magical-realism, Southern fiction, romance
FTC Disclosure: bought from Barnes and Noble
Published: 2007
Pages: Nookbook (176)
Content: PG-13 for swearing and love-making!

This was a great way to start the new year of book reading. I really enjoyed this magical story of two sisters with uncanny powers. I loved Allen's wit and charm and how she developed the relationship between the two sisters. It's a short story but it packs a lot of "magic" in that time.

This is a story of Claire and Sydney, exact opposites. They are both able to learn from one another and learn how to live life to its fullest. Of course, there are some snags along the way...but I really enjoy magical-realism. It's just normal for the two sisters to have some "power." Claire can whip up anything from her magic garden to influence others...their emotions, thoughts, etc. Sydney has a way with hair and her daughter has an uncanny way of knowing where things belong and they have a tree that throws apples, moves chairs, and can tell people their most powerful life's a great story, full of love and magic and mystery.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Movie--Building!

Feature Presentation...
hosted by Molly of The Bumbles Blog.

Name some movies where people build and build!
1. Field of Dreams (1989)--the most obvious one...Kevin Costner is haunted by baseball voices and spirits until he builds them a baseball park.

2. The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill, But Came Down a Mountain (1995)-- Hugh Grant helps a small village turn their little hill into an official mountain!

3. The Replacements (2000)--Another sporty team building movie. Cheesy but fun.

4. Music and Lyrics (2007)--Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore work together to "build" a new song!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Phantom of Pemberley by Regina Jeffers

Genre: austen-inspired, historical fiction
FTC Disclosure: Won as a gift from Velvet of vvb32
Published: 2010
Pages: 409
Content: PG-13 for violence

A big thanks to Velvet for this lovely book!

It was a fun December read. I enjoy reading Austen fan fiction and this one hit the spot for a winter cozy read.

We join Darcy and Elizabeth 14 months after their's winter and a storm is a brewing...a few unannounced guests arrive along with Elizabeth's sister Lydia. Soon people start dying, things go missing, suspicious people are roaming around in secret passages...who is it? Yup, it's a mystery. A ghost, a mad-man or woman? It's up to the Darcy duo to figure it out before it's too late!!!!

OK, the writing was cheesy. Darcy and Elizabeth couldn't say anything to each other without swooning and mooning and cheesing it up so much that I rolled my eyes a lot...Jeffers isn't the most gifted author but the story was intriguing. I figured out the who but not everything til the end. It's worth a read.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

Genre: young adult, fantasy
FTC Disclosure: bought from Dragons and Fairy Tales, signed
Published: 2008
Pages: 376
Content: PG

Excellent fairy-tale retelling. She really makes the story come alive. The characters were heart-warming and felt well-fleshed out. She adds so many elements from Norwegian folklore and mythology to magical elements of fairies and trolls and the Winds.

Pika means girl and she is without a name since her mother basically disowned her at birth. She lives in a large family in a small home in an eternal winter. Her only true friend is her brother Hans Peter and pet Wolf Rollo. An ice bear shows up at her door one night and asks her to come stay with him in his ice palace for a year; she agrees to go to help her family become rich. She soon discovers that the palace and the creatures have been cursed and she struggles to find a way to free them and her ice bear from these evil enchantments.

I loved the flow of the story and pika's voice. She was sincere and strong and yet innocent. George really knows how to tell a story and she completely succeeded in this one. Highly recommended.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien!

Yup, it's his birthday today. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) would be 119 years old today! The author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy was also a philologist (the study of literary texts and of written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning) who taught Anglo-Saxon and Middle English literature at Oxford for 24 years. He also worked on the New English Dictionary, which eventually became the Oxford English Dictionary, from 1918 to 1920. His main focus was on words beginning with w...such as wavy, whisking through willfulness. He was specifically involved in researching the words wag, walrus, wampum, warm, wasp, water, wick, and winter.

Monday Movie Meme- Transformations

Feature Presentation...
hosted by The Bumbles Blog! This week is all about character transformations. Either for the good or the bad.

1. Phil Connors from Groundhog Day (1993).
2. Jack from Fight Club (1999).
3. Gru from Despicable Me (2010).
4. Scrooge from A Christmas Carol (Take your pick of many adaptations).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Wrap Up and Resolutions

Due to my partial hiatus, I did not finish any of my challenges...well, I'm sure I completed the YA challenge I joined but I didn't have time to follow it, update it, etc. I stopped my TV meme...I really want to start that up again, but no can do til I'm done with school....

I read a total of 78 books this year and reviewed all but about twenty or so...

I also participated in the Pemberley Ball and Helluva Halloween challenge. I failed all of my challenges...sigh. I had a great first year of blogging in 2009 but 2010 brought new challenges with parenting and school and thus my partial hiatus.

At least for the first part of the year, I plan to maintain the hiatus...I do want to pick up one meme and review more of the books I read. I am planning on participating in Pirate theme in May! Yeah, and I'm hoping to start the Everything Austen Challenge this year since I missed it in 2010. I also need to finish school! And my plan is to read more of the books already on my shelf and to buy less books!!!! (we'll see if that one happens...).

Overall, this year was a challenge. I missed participating in the blogging world and the challenges. I hope to return to that soon! Just want to say thanks to everyone who takes a gander once in a while at my blog and for all those who have such amazing blogs! I get so many great posting ideas and book ideas from you. Have a wonderful year!