Saturday, March 24, 2012

HUNGER GAMES Movie Review

I normally only review books here, but I couldn't help but add my two cents about the much anticipated HG movie.

So...What did you think of the HUNGER GAMES movie? I thought it was great! The casting was superb. The acting was wonderful by all. Jennifer Lawrence was incredible. The moment I saw her, she felt like Katniss to me through and through. Peeta was exactly as a I imagined in the book, as was Gale. Elizabeth Banks was a hoot as Effie Trinket. I didn't recognize her at all underneath all of that outrageous makeup. Speaking of the fashion of the capitol - wow. I remember reading about the bright colored clothing and hair, but seeing it on the screen was quite shocking. Could fashion really evolve into that? Let's hope not.

Woody Harrelson was perfectly cast as Haymitch. Lenny Kravitz was a brilliant casting move. I loved him as Cinna. I look forward to seeing him more in the future installments. I'm assuming they will definitely be filming book 2 & 3. How could they not?

The only disappointment for me was the camera techniques. I'm not sure if this comes under the purview of cinematographer or director, but there were some "tricks" that distracted from the enjoyment of the movie. At some points the screen would go blurry and then back to clear. It made sense once or twice in the context of the scene. But then it became over used and just annoying. Also, the screen would go grainy. I'm not sure what that was supposed to depict, but it was completely unnecessary. Also, there would be a hand-held camera look where the action would go herky-jerky. I can understand some of that when people are running through the woods, but together with the other two aspects, I felt it was overkill. With such great acting and an excellent story, these "tricks" simply distracted me from the movie. But those were minor details that didn't take away from the movie overall.

I loved it! Now I'm anxious to see the other two books on the big screen!

Please share your thoughts of the movie. Did it live up to the book?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

John C. Ford. THE MORGUE AND ME

The summer after graduating as valedictorian, one might find Christopher Newell's choice for a summer job a bit unexpected. He decides to work in the morgue. He figures it fits into his master plan of becoming a spy. Surely working as a janitor in the morgue will afford him the chance to glean some details about forensic science. That's the plan anyway.

But Christopher ends up with way more than a few factoids about dead bodies. When they finally do get a dead body in the morgue, it's declared a suicide by the medical examiner. But when Christopher gets a closeup look at the body, he has a hunch that it's not a suicide at all, but a murder.

Christopher ends up working with at hungry newspaper reporter looking to get her big break. After a few more clues pop up, they decide the story is worth investigating.

This is a fast paced, murder mystery with a fun bunch of characters. Christopher is smart, brave and great at piecing together the many puzzles in the mystery. Tina McIntyre feels like your stereotypical tough as nails, jaded newspaper reporter at first, but then she develops into a full fledged unique character. Christopher's little brother, Daniel, is my favorite character of all. He's sharp as a tack and so witty. Trust me, you'll wish he was your little brother!

THE MORGUE AND ME has a wonderful old-fashioned mystery tone. I felt like I was reading Dashiell Hammett a little bit along the way. I really loved it! I hope John C. Ford writes a lot more mysteries! I feel we're lacking good mysteries in the YA field right now.

Anyway, here's the author's website, if you'd like to learn more about him.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Marie Lu. LEGEND

Here is another one for those of you who love dystopians. It's action packed and has two strong, well written main characters.

The United States is broken up into an area called the Republic of America. It's not clear which states are included, although some that are mentioned specifically are California, Colorado, Arizona and West Texas. The Republic is fighting against Colonies such as East Texas and a few other areas not specifically mentioned. The Republic claims that the colonies are trying to take their land. It's unclear whether this is the case, because the republic doesn't feel trustworthy.

Day failed his trial, which is a test all 10-year-olds take to determine if you go to college or to the labor camps. He escaped the labor camp and pretended to be dead. Now he scavenges in the poor sectors to stay alive. He also commits crimes in order to help people. He's become sort of a hero for the poor.

June grew up in the polar opposite situation. She scored a perfect 1500 on her trial test. Now she's just been recruited from the best military school in the republic to work for one of the top commanders.

When June is ordered to hunt Day, she relishes the chance, since he killed someone she loved. She goes underground to track him down in the poor sector. But the poor sector ends up revealing more to her than she is prepared to deal with. She begins to uncover information about the Republic and begins to question everything she's been taught. Will enemies Day and June end up on the same side of the war?

For some reason, out of all the dystopians I've read, this one seems much more likely to be the future we could actually have, if we aren't careful. The way history is re-written in LEGEND and the way crucial information is hidden is eerily too much like some things I see going on today. Currently, we have free access to information. But when I hear about the government wanting to regulate the Internet and wanting to shut down radio shows, that's when I worry. This book shows exactly what happens when information isn't free. It's not pretty.

Anyway, the book is action packed. The stunts of bravery are thrilling. The other chilling elements of this dystopian world include plagues, horrifying poverty, lack of electricity and lack medical care (unless you can bribe someone).

I loved the two main characters. They are beautifully written. Lu does a brilliant job of showing how both Day and June are dealing with difficult situations. They are strong, honorable people. It's exciting how June is equally as strong and smart as Day. They make an invincible team.  I hope we have sequels. I'm not ready to leave this universe for good. (Odds are in our favor, since the book's website is called "Legendtheseries")

Check out the trailer below, the book's website here and the author's website here

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Erin Morgenstern. THE NIGHT CIRCUS

"Someone needs to tell those tales...There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words."

Wow, truer words were never spoken! Isn't that why we read? And before books, isn't that why we listened to stories? Clearly, it's my favorite quote from THE NIGHT CIRCUS, and I highlighted quite a few.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS is more of an experience, than a story. Although it does have a story, otherwise you wouldn't keep reading. In fact, as evidenced above - even the characters realize the significance of storytelling.

The Night Circus arrives without warning or promotion. It opens every day at nightfall. It is like no other circus you've ever seen. When you enter, you experience the grandest of adventures, the dreamiest of dreams, and you will want to come back again and again.

The circus began as one man's dream. Then he gathered the most amazing entertainers, illusionists and creators in the world. It became a world-wide phenomenon. But lurking behind the circus are secrets and illusions even bigger than those going on in the performances. How long will the secrets remain hidden?

As I mentioned, this book is an experience! You will enjoy every minute of the circus, the intrigue, as well as the mystery and romance. It's so well written. The characters are unforgettable. I loved spending time in this fantastical, completely original world.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS won an ALEX award at this year's ALA Book Awards. Go here for the author's website.
Also, check out the trailer below: