Thursday, October 9, 2014

review: The Newflesh trilogy (books)

These books got passed around so quick between my friends and I. Seriously, it seems like almost everyone read these within the span of a few months. The sad part was that we never really talked about them and that I haven't thought about these books since I finished them. And that's a shame because they were good and cool.

Mira Grant is the pen name of Seanan McGuire who is known for her science fiction books, and The Newsflesh trilogy is no exception  and in fact won her a Hugo Award and has been nominated for a total of five Hugo awards.

These books take place in a post-zombie apocalypse America - decades after the initial infection has spread. It happened with the creation of a cure for cancer and a cure for the common cold. Some fanatics release both virus and tit quickly spread to all mammalian life. Alone, these two viruses are beneficial, but together they can cause their host to "amplify" and convert any mammal over 40 lbs into a zombie.

Life in America has change drastically. Humanity has kinda won. People are still here. They live in closed safe zones controlled by frequent blood tests. Meat is really no longer an option and houses are concrete brick, since windows are a safety risk. Alaska is lost to the zombies and its reclaiming is a political cluster. News has changed too. Papers are non-existent, people preferring to get their news via online, in particular, blogs.

Georgia is our heroine. She and her brother, Shaun, are the adopted children of Stacy and Michael who were present at the Rising (of Zombies.... duh). They gained fame fighting for the outlawing of pets near 40 lbs after Stacy had to shoot her young son due to his amplification after being bitten by a neighbor's pet. Georgia, like many of her generation, is named after the godfather of zombie - George A. Romero. She, along with her brother and closest friends Steve and Georgette (aka Buffy), are newies - professional bloggers. Their lives change when their crew get accepted to join the a politician on his campaign for President. Needless to say, this makes things get even more complicated.

There's zombies, betrayal, politics, medical craziness, love - what's not to like? I wish that this series was read by more people who would then talk about it. I found it memorable and amazing but due to the lack of chatter I've knocked off half a star. I give the Newsflesh Trilogy 4.5 out of 5 starts.

Friday, July 18, 2014

review: Mother Mother, Blondfire, AWOLnation (music)

poster for concert
Yes, I'm still playing catch up with my reviews but I'm really excited to write this one.

My concert buddy and I try to hit at least four concerts a year and I was incredibly excited to score tickets to this one has I love the headliner and the opening act. I have, in fact, written about both bands before on this blog: Mother Mother and AWOLnation so check out those reviews if you want some background info.

Mother Mother was the opening band, minus some weird dude playing guitar and singing country/blues which was an odd opening choice in my opinion, so we're skipping him (namely because I can't remember his name). But Mother Mother was still awesome. This is second time I've seen therm perform live and man, do they light up the stage and energize their audience. Their most recent album "The Sticks" came out in 2012 but hasn't been as widely accepted as their past three albums. They do have another album coming out called "Very Good Bad Thing" which doesn't yet have a release date, but I'm still excited. The best part about going to this concert for me was since I was already a fan (and in the front 3 rows again) I could sing along with the lyrics and even got noticed! It's so cool when a band appreciates that you know their music. Being that their Canadian, Mother Mother doesn't often make it to the US - this is only the second time in 4 years that I've seen them touring outside Canada. So if you're a fan of high energy music and cheeky lyrics keep your eyes peeled! I give Mother Mother 5 out of 5 stars (again).

Now Blondfire was a new band for me and I was highly skeptical. I had never heard of them and was a little annoyed that Mother Mother didn't get more air time because they were being hustled off to make way for these nobodies. And then I heard them play. I had heard their hit "Where the kids are" on the radio and promptly re-evaluated my opinion of them.

Blindfire is an LA based band lead by sibling Bruce and Erica Discoll. "Young Fire" is their second album with their hit ("Where the kids are") being their first big nation-wide hit. My favorite song off their album is "Waves" which if you live near me, you have heard me sing, hum, whistle, and play this song on repeat since I had it stuck in my head for at least 3 weeks. I don't apologize - you should thank me. With both siblings excellent vocals (when Bruce sings) and their kinda dreamy sound, Blondfire makes an excellent addition to anyone's itunes library. I give Blondfire 4 out of 5 stars. Minus one for not finding more than 5 songs I loved on their album.

The last time I went to an AWOLnation concert it was disappointing and I didn't think it was the band's fault. Normally the Roseland Theater in Portland is awesome but the base was reverberating oddly and sounded just awful. So, when I noticed they were coming to town again, I made sure to grab tickets. Especially when they were playing in Eugene's McDonald Theater and I do love their sound.

Aaron Bruno is AWOL and he is a hoot to watch. Not only is here super energetic and fun but he loves to crowd surf which really gets the crowd pumped. And their sound, particularly the base, was excellent at MsDonald's Theater. I give AWOLnation 5 out of 5 stars!

The coolest thing about this entire concert were the people. Concert buddy and I met a bunch of nice people in the crowd including a girl who I've run into at concert in Portland. When my glasses got knocked off by Aaron Bruno and I was freaking out, everyone near me stopped dancing to help me look. People are rarely that cool.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

review: Ready Player One (book)

Although this book is a little outside my usual reading genre, it's well within my interests. I ended up reading this at the same time as a few friends although we were not in sync with our completion times.

Ready Player One is set in 2044 where the consumption of fossil fuels (and the fall out there of) has thrown the world into chaos and violence. People have retreated to online virtual realities for work, school and entertainment. The creator of this online virtual reality system, James Halliday, died and left the virtual keys to the kingdom scattered in easter eggs (hidden cache for all you non-nerds out there). Now the kicker is that all the clues are in 1980's inspired scenes requiring huge depths of obscure, nerd knowledge.

Our here is Wade Watts, a technologically savvy if naive boy and a total nerd and devotee of James Halliday. Needless to say, he already in the process of searching for the keys. Stumbling around, trying to understand the clues he bumbles into the first one and wins! Thus the race begins to find the keys and gain control of the net and stop Sorrento and his mercenary minions from getting all the keys.

Ready Player One is a great read for a lot of ages. It is a story about overcoming adversity, growing up and figuring out what is important. I give Erest Cline's Ready Player One 4 out of 5 stars!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

review: Now You See Me (movie)

Now You See Me was such ride. It's about four magic performers, two stage magicians (Jesse Eisenberg and Isla Fisher) one street con-artist/illusionist (Dave Franco), and a mentalist (Woody Harrelson), who are chosen by a mysterious benefactor to perform together as "The Four Horsemen" in Vegas. We know they have an ulterior motive for performing together as the four really don't get along and two of them have.... history. 

Flash forward to their first show in Vegas where they decide to... rob a bank, much to the audience's delight. However when the money actually goes missing from the bank, in France no less, the FBI and Interpol (due to the international location of the poor poor victimized back) get involved (Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent). 

Off the agents go, chasing the magicians before they can complete their plans and steal more money. We also run into Micheal Cane as the public backer of the magicians and Morgan Freeman, as a greedy former magician out to expose the tricks of others. 

There's magic, humor, car chase, and revenge. Seriously, what's not to like? I give Now You See Me 5 out of 5 stars for convoluted plot, magic, and surprise. You can watch the trailer here!

Now You See Me was confirmed for a sequel in February and I'm super excited to see what they have in store both for these characters and the world that they live in!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

review: His Majesty's Dragon (book)

Hello all! Sorry for the long absence. Graduate school is keeping me on my toes. And when I'm not working, doing homework or at one of my internships, I'm reading... or watching movies.... or drowning myself in apple cider with cinnamon whiskey *shivers* keeps me toasty.

So here I am, once again playing catch up with my reviews. This is another recommendation from Excuse the Quality and boy, does he know the kind of books I like (even though I keep failing spectacularly to recommend him books.... and tv.... and music). Even though he recommended it to me many times, the main reason I picked up this book was due to one of my favorite authors, Jim Butcher, talking her up as one of his favorite and under-the-radar authors. And I must say, I should have listened to EtQ  earlier.

Naomi Novik is the author of the Temeraire series which is a re-imagining of the Napoleonic Wars. The biggest difference between these books and history? DRAGONS! How can this not be AWESOME!? The main character is William Laurence, mostly referred to as Laurence, who is captain in His Majesty's Royal Navy. They are at war with France and when Laurence defeats and captures a French ship in battle, they raid the hold only to find a dragon egg.

Unfortunately the egg is close to hatching and so there's no way that Laurence and his crew are going to get it to the Dragon Riders in time. The dragon is likely going to have to bond with one of the sailors. Awesome, right? Nope - apparently, the dragon corps and their partnered dragons are not well regarded at all. And surprise - the dragon decides on Laurence who promptly dubs him Temeraire (which according to means reckless).

His Majesty's Dragon is the first book in the Temeraire series. There are nine books in total. I've read the first four so far and it's been an fantastic ride. Going all over the UK to China and back a-dragonback with Laurence and Temeraire. If you love heartwarming fantasy, historical fiction, dragons, battles and intrigue - this is a great series for you. I give Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon 5 out of 5 stars and the Temeraire series 4.5 out of 5 stars. d

Monday, December 2, 2013

review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (movie)

Again, I know this review is really late and that The Hobbit has been out for a long time. You'll just have to stick with me until I get these older reviews out of my system and off my to-do list so I can focus on important things. Like the new Veronica Mars movie trailer from Sand Diego Comic Con... or, you know, grad school. Whichever ones grabs my attention.

So, like all LOTR fans (lord of the rings for those of you who don't speak geek), I was of course super excited to hear the Peter Jackson had signed on to make a "Hobbit" movie. What I was not excited about was that they (the producers and other money grubbing folks) had decided to split it into three movies... why you ask? For no logical reason. One of my, and many other people's main complaint, is that The Hobbit is a smaller story than The Lord of the Rings trilogy: it's Tolkien's first story, the world is much smaller, and the book much much slimmer... and only one book. From a narrative stand point, it seems like the only reason that it would be split into three parts is to gain more money.

Despite my personal reservations about how it would be split up, I was still enormously excited to see this movie. I knew that with all the returnees, be it actors, writers, directors, or composers, this movie was going to be a treat for the eyes.

Now, I'm going to try not to give away any plot, but c'mon on!!!! The Hobbit has been around for freaking decades, people! Bah! Go read you illiterate peons! But, quick lesson for all of you who haven't read it - this is J.R.R. Tolkien's first book and the prequel to Lord of the Rings. It tells the story of how Bilbo Baggins, Frodo's... uncle (?), left the Shire to have an adventure and finds the One Ring and meets Gollum. There's dwarves, elves, wizards (and not just Gandalf), and even a dragon (if we ever get to see it). 

So Gandalf, being the crazy wizard that he is, is going on a journey to help some dwarves reclaim their long lost kingdom under the Lonely Mountain where a dragon, Smaug, has taken up residence and expelled the former occupants, the dwarves. They need one more member to round out their group and for some reason Gandalf decides to recruit Bilbo, citing his non-existent skills as a "sneak". The dwarves are of course skeptical and so is Bilbo, but everyone gets over it and off they go on an adventure!

Now there are many obstacles that get thrown in their way from weather, trolls, lightning elemental, and even a peak at *gasp* Sauron! The filming is spectacular with breathtaking vistas and seamless CGI paired with sweeping, grad music. All good. The acting is well done and the characters are real... for dwarves, wizards, and hobbits. I give The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 4.5 out of 5 stars. You can check out the preview here!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

review: Wreck It Ralph (movie)

I loved this movie. And yes, I know it's a kids movie, but for some reason I almost find kids movies to be more pure in their motives... minus the product placement. This is the second of Disney's new CGI animated films, Tangled being the first and thank god it's not a musical. I kinda am enjoying the new, more positive, liberal, direction Disney seems to be going in. It's fun to see how far we've come since Snow White and the majority of the other Disney princesses who typically wait for their prince to come and save them and then marry and live happily ever after.

Wreak it Ralph stars John C. Riley as Ralph and Sarah Silverman as Vanelope von Schweetz. Ralph is a bad guy with a heart of gold who doesn't want to be a bad guy anymore. In fact, he attends the bad guy equivalent of AA (kids won't get it but you will - that makes it even better). Vanelope is a racer in the candy equivalent of Mario Kart who gets kicked out because she's a glitch. Their worlds collide when Ralph leaves his game in search of a medal to prove he's really not a bad guy. Cue adorableness, humor and a heart-warming moral lesson. Too cute. And yes, a little cheesy.

This movie reminds me a lot of Shrek - it has a heart-warming plot, big named actors, and all the humor that children won't understand (which for some reason makes it more funny). And of course, the all important lesson, that it doesn't matter how you look, but it's what's inside that matters. *tear* Isn't it just lovely?

Anyways, I know this review is really late but, grad school. Whatcha gonna do? I give Wreck-It Ralph 5 out of 5 stars. If you haven't seen it already in theaters, I know it's out on DVD. Don't feel awkward if you're over 12.

You can check out the trailer here!