orangerful: (snack time! // orangerful)
All the "best of" lists for the year are popping up, so I thought I would toss in my vote for my favorite movies from 2009.

with pictures! )
orangerful: (daydream believer // orangerful)
We saw this last weekend, opening weekend, and I forgot to blog about it!  

I'll tell you right now, I'm a bit of a Disney fangirl when it comes to their classics.  From Snow White to Cinderella to the big comeback in the late 80s with Little Mermaid and Aladdin - I know all the words to so many of the songs.  I used to spend hours trying to draw the images from the shows.  So, needless to say, I was really nervous about this movie because the last few Disney cartoons (Home on the Range, Atlantis) did not do it for me at all plus there was all kind of controversy because this would feature the first African-American "princess" for Disney.  With so much pressure on one little movie, I wasn't sure if they could pull it off.

Well, they did.  It's not the best Disney movie ever, but it is definitely a solid film and it is good enough to get Disney started again.  It feels like a 'Little Mermaid' - you can see all the potential that this could be the start of a new era.  I really hope it is!

The movie is set in New Orleans in the 1930s.  Tiana is trying to save up her pennies, working hard to achieve her dream.  While she's slaving away waiting tables, a prince rolls into town - a prince with no money but lots of style.  Froggy-ness ensues because of some crazy VooDoo...and that's all I'm going to say!   

The animation is gorgeous.  The songs are really fun (my two favorites were "Friends on the Other Side" and "Evangeline") and the story has enough twists and turns to keep you interested, even though you know it will end happily ever after.  

I haven't actually talked to any *kids* that have seen it, I'm wondering if the movie would have been scary for the little ones.  I thought the villian's song was quite creepy, especially the animation with voodoo spirits and skulls floating around.  And there was another part that AD said he noticed parents trying to distract their kids from the screen during.  

I hope Disney keeps this tradition alive.  I know it was Jon Lassiter at Pixar that produced the movie, saying that 2D animation was still a valid art form for the studio.  So I hope enough people see the movie that the big wigs agree to make a few more.  

It will make you fee like a kid again.  Go see it. :) 

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (music nat tune in // orangerful)
Yay we found the theater! I meant to blog about this last week but time got away from me! On Tuesday, I drove up to Philadelphia with my brother so we could see Imogen Heap LIVE! We met up with [livejournal.com profile] dstntp1lgr1m and [livejournal.com profile] _____saveferris when we got there.

We arrived very early and managed to get near to the front of the stage (as you can see from the pics if you click the image above). Imogen came out and introduced the two opening acts (who, we discovered later, were the guys that made up her "band" for the night). The first guy was pretty good, doing a bit of looping and making noises etc.. Got the crowd going. The next guy was insane - he mixed anything and everything. First he made us cheer, recorded it, then mixed it up to a beat. Then he had the people in the front row eat some potato chips and recorded their crunches, mixed it, and created a little melody out of it. He sang a couple of his own songs, looping and mixing things the whole time (he had a joystick mapped out to different effects depending on which way he twisted it). For the finale, he had us pass the microphone around the room and make random sounds into it, which he mixed and played back right then. It was crazy. I doubt I could listen to any of it on my own, but as an opening act, he really got you ready to go!

Then Imogen came out! She's gorgeous and funny. She had this great nervous mumble that she did, coming on stage and talking very fast, wandering around and fiddling with whatever was on hand. Eventually it felt less like a stage and more like you were in Imogen's house and you'd just happened to crash a musical party going on in her living room. There was a giant white tree in the middle of the stage, which had percussion instruments dangling from it, lights decorating it, and during some songs, things were projected onto it.

Memorable moments:
- Imogen explaining her wrist microphones to us - they were literally attached to her wrists so she could play a variety of instruments that were not electronic but still have them miked. Brilliant idea! Plus she was so excited to tell us about them haha.
- Imogen's computer crashing (it was a Mac too!) and she had to kill time by playing this really neat instrument...er...I've forgotten the name of it, but it was very cool.
- Imogen killing time again while they had some electronic difficulties and bringing out her pet rooster onto the stage
- Imogen rocking the Key-tar during the "last song"
- Imogen teaching the audience to sing harmonies during "Just For Now" during the encore (and the audience pulling it off!!!!)
- Imogen saying she'll be back in April!!!!!!!!!

We're going to try hard to get tickets to the DC/B'more area show next time. Philly is fun but the drive is long when you have to work the next morning (well, there was construction so that slowed everything down even more). Plus, I want AD to see her.

So, to sum up - if Imogen Heap is playing anywhere near you, GO SEE HER! She's a lot of fun live and she doesn't just play the album straight through but she doesn't jam so long you get bored. She's got this great balance and sense of humor. She tosses a little storytelling in there too. I was very impressed by her stage presence.
orangerful: (pigeon w books // orangerful)
How can I resist a young adult book with that title, that cover, and blurbs by Jon Stewart AND Judd Apatow? 

Oliver Watson is the titular Evil Genius.  He runs an evil corporation from his secret lair located below his parent's suburban home.  When dwelling in his lair and plotting his world takeover, he is attending class at his local public middle school.  In class and at home, Oliver pretends to be a below average student, skating by with passing grades and falling all over himself in the hallways.  No one would suspect that he is the fourth richest person in the world. 

From infanthood, Oliver has had nothing but disdain for his father.  So when his dad talks about how one of the biggest milestones in his young life was to be elected student-body president, Oliver decides he will be class president - not because he wants his father's acceptance (because he denies that vehemently throughout the book) but to show his father that anything he did, his buffoonish son can do too, diminishing the value of the accomplishment.

If you like the snarky humor of "The Daily Show" (which the author works on) then you'll probably enjoy this book.  Oliver mocks his fellow students, tortures teachers, and generally abuses anyone who works for him.  While some of the jokes might go over a kid's head (will 7th graders know who Machiavelli was?), I think they will get a kick out of it.  It might be good for reluctant boy readers who enjoy the antics of Stewie on "The Family Guy" since the book is full of satire and fart jokes. 

A quick read that will make you giggle, even if the ending is a bit cheesy.  3.5 stars.

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (d cups of justice // snarkel)
The Girl Who Played with Fire is the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  And, like so many seconds in a trilogy, it might be better than the first. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo introduced us to Mikhail Blomkvist, investigative journalist, and Lisbeth Salander, an intense young woman who makes her living in a less-than-honest way.  While the mystery in the book is interesting, it is Blomkvist, Salander, and the rest of the characters that keep you reading (or, in my case, listening.  Simon Vance is an AMAZING narrator.)

The Girl who Played with Fire takes those characters and puts them into much more immediate danger.  The relationships they built in the first book are put to use and you find out more of their past. 

Lisbeth Salander now ranks among my favorite characters from books.  She is a bit crazy, a bit uneven, but there is something about her tenacity that makes her fascinating.  I don't think I'd want to meet her, but I really like reading about her.

Be warned - this book has a MUCH bigger cliffhanger ending than the first one. And sadly, the final book is not out in the U.S. yet. 

5 out of 5 stars.  Wow. 

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (pigeon w books // orangerful)
Going Bovine
Libba Bray
SPRING BREAK WOO!

Well, that's what Cameron wishes he could say.  Instead, he's just found out that he contracted mad cow disease and doesn't have much longer to live.  But one day while he's sitting in his hospital bed, an angel in combat boots with hot pink hair arrives and tells him he must go and find the scientist who has the cure!  She gives him a magical Disneyland E-Ticket which will keep his brain from melting while he's out of the hospital.

Sound wacky?  Well, it is.  Going Bovine by Libba Bray is a ridiculous book.  But it is also a very sweet story. 

There is so much I want to say about this book but 1) it's way too hard to explain beyond the above summary without making this post TL;DR and 2) it's much more fun to discover the crazy world along with Cameron rather than know what is coming.

Though, in a way, you know what is coming pretty quickly.  You sort of know where the whole story is headed.  But as with any great adventure, it is the journey that matters most.  And this journey has action, adventure, and really wild things.  And even though it is a long book, I found myself missing the characters after that final page. 

If you're in the mood for a story that is truly ri-donk-ulous, Going Bovine is a great read. 

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (indy ride // orangerful)
Before I begin this "movie thoughts" post, I must say a few things:

1.  I <3 the Raimi boys.  I've been a fan of the Evil Dead films since I was in high school.  My brother and I watched them a LOT.  We loved that weird, twisted sense of humor mixed with wacky horror.

2. I'm a wuss.  I don't really like scary movies.  I don't like to watch people get murdered horribly.  Not my thing.  When I do attempt to watch movies like that, I end up up all night, listening to the "axe murderer" I hear sneaking around my apartment. 

Okay, now that we got that out of the way:

"Drag Me To Hell" is the most hilarious horror movie I've seen since "Evil Dead 2".  As my friend Damian described it, you spend most of the film going "AAAH! *blink blink* HAHAHAHA!".  Sam & Ivan Raimi didn't set out to change the face of horror movies.  Instead, they stuck with what they new - spooky mixed with silly - and "Drag Me To Hell" is a great 90 minute gasp/guffaw fest.

Christine Brown just wants to get some respect.  She wants to get the promotion at her job.  She wants to impress her long-term boyfriend (played by Justin "I'm a Mac!" Long) and his parents.  She wants to leave behind her farm roots and be something more.  So when an old woman comes into the bank begging for a third extension on her mortgage, Christine decides that she will show how tough she can be and denies the woman the loan.  Unfortunately, this woman turns out to be a gypsy.  She curses Christine - in 3 days, she will be DRAGGED INTO HELL!

There are just as many "gotcha" moments in this movie as there are Looney Tunes moments.  If you have a friend (like me) who is a wuss and doesn't like realistic gore/realistic violence/slasher flicks but you want to watch something a little creepy, this is a good one to try. 

It's actually really "clean" too.  I mean, there is very little swearing, no big sex scene - it's just ridiculous scare gag after gag. 

The great thing about this movie is how much it reminds me of the low-budget horror that was evil dead. Before studio started pumping money into this genre and realistic CGI effects took over, a bunch of rattling windows and eerie shadows were enough to give you goosebumps.  When I finished the film, I felt entertained, but not so upset I couldn't go to bed. 

Yeah it's cheesy.  But I've decided that I like my horror with a helping of cheese.  I'm sure the hardcore horror fans are laughing at me, but that's fine.  Hardcore horror is not my thing.  Give me a goofy Raimi Bros. flick any day!

My only complaint was the lack of Bruce Campbell cameo - but I guess he was shooting Burn Notice. 

3.5 out of 5 stars

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (oh no!!  // orangerful)
A note to movie-makers: only go over 2 hours if your movie is based on a novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Otherwise, you're probably going to lose my interest.

Case in point - State of Play.  What could have been an edge-of-your-seat, political thriller/murder mystery instead turned into a yes-I-figured-most-of-this-out-30 minutes ago. 

The basic story: Ben Affleck plays Senator Collins who is the lead in an investigation into the private group hired by the government.  Oddly enough, the head researcher from his group is killed.  The media tries to smear Sen. Collins when he reacts to this news with tears, saying he must have been in love with her.  Russell Crowe plays Sen. Collins old college roommate (really? Crowe and Affleck are supposed to be the same age??).  Anyway, since they were BFFs, he tries to help Collins clear his name, but since he's a journalist, he goes around the police (headed by Echo's handler from Dollhouse).  But who was really behind the murder and why??? oooh that's the twisted tale!

Okay, okay - nice things first.  It appears they actually shot the movie in D.C.!  And guess what - you can't see the Capitol/Washington Monument/Lincoln Memorial from every window (I'm looking at you, Die Hard 4).  I was also VERY grateful that they did not force a romantic relationship between Rachael McAdams and Russell Crowe.  I also liked the "making the newspaper" montage - but then again, I love montages.

The movie starts out strong, setting you up with 3 murders, slowly giving us the clues to put it all together...and then for some reason it decides to tread water.  There is a intense sequence in a underground garage and then instead of using that momentum to take us to the end of the film, we get stuck with another 45 minutes of plodding. 

When I saw it was based on a BBC Miniseries, I should have known that a movie based on a miniSERIES was going to be too long. 

The actors all did a great job, the downfall of this movie was the editing.  Too much downtime, and after what should have been the climactic scene, things do not move quickly enough to wrap up the movie.  By that point, the audience is over it. 

2.5 out of 5 stars

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (mario oh yeah! // orangerful)

#74 oh yeah, alright!
Originally uploaded by orangerful
Alan [livejournal.com profile] simontrueheart just pointed out to me that I am currently #74 on the Beatles Rock Band leaderboards for the Abbey Road Medley vocals (solo). Not bad for my first try!

Took a screenshot for posterity.

Considering I've only done the medley once, first try, you gotta give me some credit! Now to practice and perfect it...
orangerful: (goes to 11 // orangerful)
OMG PARAMORE WAS SO GOOD LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!

And I only knew the two AFI songs from the radio, but WOW do they put on a show. Might have to put their CD into rotation (I've had it floating on iTunes since I needed 'Girl Not Grey' for Rock Band). The band before that, Dead Before Sunrise, was okay - a bit too screamy/angry for my tastes.

It was the ULALUME Festival and MTV is supposed to air it on October 30th. I doubt you'll be able to see me & AD because we were off to the left in row Y, but whatever, it was still awesome. Merriweather is a great venue. My only issue with it is the curfew. Concerts have to end by 11pm. I could have listened to Paramore play for another 30 minutes. They did all their hits, a few tracks from the new album, and at least two from their first CD. I jumped up and down and had a good time. Felt really good after the frustrating week I had.

AH, I need to get to bed because I work tomorrow, but I'm so hyper!!!!!

Tomorrow night is the polar opposite, we'll be seeing Five For Fighting at Jammin Java, a small coffee house in Vienna, VA. Gonna have to dash home from work and dash down there to get good seats, but I'm looking forward to that too. I saw him play when I worked at the radio station in Annapolis, and he knew what he was doing.

Anyhoo, to bed with me! But for you, I have icons!


Teasers:


TEASER! Icon 003 TEASER! Icon 006 TEASER! Icon 010



The rest of the set is here @ [livejournal.com profile] orangerfulboxes
orangerful: (buffy comic ma'am // orangerful)
Night Trippers
Mark Ricketts
What if Vampires ruled 1960s London?  That is the thought that must have inspired Mark Ricketts when he came up with the idea for Night Trippers, a graphic novel with sex, drugs, rock & roll, and vampires.

Dorothy (Dot, for short) is a nurse at a hospital and one night when she is making the rounds, a mysterious man appears and attacks on of the patients with a wooden stake.  The patient disappears in a cloud of dust, and the attacker flees.  Little does Dot know, she is now a part of an undead subculture that has been manipulating swinging London for the past decade.

I heard about this graphic novel when I was read "Graphic Grown Up" in the August issue of Library Journal.  It included a list of comics and graphic novels to recommend to adults that want to try out the format.  This one caught my eye because of the colorful cover.

The art style is very different from any other graphic novel I have read.  The characters all seem to have very sharp edges, be it in their facial features or their Twiggy-style bodies.  But it worked for a story about fanged villians.  And for some reason, the "hero" of the story immediately made me think of Johnny Depp...might just be because one of his first lines sounded like something Jack Sparrow would say.

The story pokes a lot of fun at 60s culture and it would help the reader if they are familiar with the time period, especially the music.  I had a good time reading it, and even though Ricketts wraps most of the plot up by the last page, he leaves enough open that he could return to these characters later on. 

3.5 out of 5 - If you're in need of a graphic novel with vampires and a sense of humor about itself, Night Trippers is a great place to start.

Official Night Trippers website here with preview pages from the graphic novel!

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (pigeon w books // orangerful)
It's very rare that I pick up an adult book, but I had heard rumblings about this book for awhile so I decided to give it a try.  All of the print copies were checked out of the library at the time, but the audiobook was available, so I took that.

I'm so glad I did.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson is an involved mystery with a huge cast of characters.  The two main characters are Mikael Blomkvist - a journalist who has been found guilty of libel against a multimillionaire - and Lisbeth Salander - a slightly unstable young woman with a knack for finding information, even if it means breaking a few laws.  We spend about half of the book waiting to see what twist of fate will bring these two people together.  And once they team up, we spend the rest of the book wondering how they will solve this 40 year old crime.

I'll re-emphasize that this is an adult novel.  It's complex and has some very disturbing scenes and themes (let me put it this way - the original title in Swedish translates to "Men Who Hate Women").  The book is well written.  The characters full formed.  The story engrossing. 

Simon Vance reads the audiobook and I was blown away by his performance.  This book has a cast of probably 20 some characters and Vance manages to give them all their own unique voice.  Blomkvist sounds like a British Sam Spade; Lisbeth manages to sound like a girl and a bad ass at the same time; Henrik Vanger sounds like Richard Harris...I never found myself confused about who was speaking and my mind never wandered as I was sucked into this story of a reporter, a rich family, a delinquent woman, and a missing girl. 

5 out of 5 for the audiobook version - Fantastic story, AMAZING performance.

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (librarian moment // faeriesfolly)
Stitches: A Memoir
David Small
If the artwork on the cover of Stitches seems familiar to you, it's probably because you've seen David Small's illustrations in such classic children's picture books - like Imogene's Antlers.  But Stitches is not for kids...

Imagine you are 11 years old.  Imagine you go into the doctor's office, thinking you're just going to have a growth removed from your neck.  When you wake up, half of your vocal chords have been removed, along with your thyroid and the only sound you can make is a pathetic "Ack" noise. 

This happened to David Small when he was growing up, and this event, along with the general dysfunctional-ness of his family, is the story he tells us in Stitches, a memoir told in graphic novel format.

This format works perfectly for his story - The book opens with all the way the family "speaks" to each other without actually saying anything - his mother slams the cupboard doors shut in the kitchen while cleaning up, his brother bangs on his drum set - the images explain it all, text is unnecessary.

David is a shy child,  too shy speak up and the wordless panels reflect this solitude.  He lives in his head, with the cartoons he draws, the characters he reads about.  His main way of getting attention from family was to let himself get sick so his parents  would take care of him.  When the operation occurs and he loses the ability to speak, the wordless panels take on a sense of frustration because now there are so many things he wants to say.

The story of the operation is just a small part of Small's memoir, though this event effects the rest of his life.  Growing up in the 1950s, you just didn't talk about certain things, and the poor kid stumbles through life, discovering things at all the wrong times.

Small's art is simple and expressive.  It's as though he has been working all these years on children's books to hone his skill enough to create this book.  Considering what he has become today, the book is both disturbing and inspiring. 

5 out of 5 stars, best graphic novel I have read all year.

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (pigeon w books // orangerful)
Noyes, D. The Restless Dead
Candlewick Press, 2007. 256 pages.
$16.99 ISBN: 978-0-76362-906-9

Ghosts, ghouls, tell-tale hearts, and vampires.  This collection of short stories has something for everyone that is a fan of supernatural tales, all written by some very well known young adult authors. 

As I've heard other readers mention, the problem with short stories is that they either tend to feel formulaic, as the writer tries to craft a tale to fit a certain length (and in this case, genre) OR the other extreme - they are too short and you would rather sit down with the characters for a full length novel.

I found several of the stories in this collection hit or miss.  A few of them felt like the authors were just doing an assignment: write a short story that incorporates something supernatural.  But there were a few stand-outs for me.  Ones that went beyond the basic retelling of a classic eerie story and really tried to make it their own. 

If I hadn't been assigned to read this book for "Books for the Beast", I probably would have skipped over a few of the tales that I felt moved too slowly or were too predictable.  None of the stories are particularly keep-you-awake-at-night scary, but several of them have moments that will give you a chill. 

If you're craving some short stories to read while you gear up for Halloween, this might be a good place to start.  It's also a nice way to get a taste of several different writing styles.  I know I jotted down a couple of the authors' names so I could look into their full length works.  And there are a few I might avoid after reading this book as well. 

2.5 stars

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (kaylee laugh // orangerful)
To survive in Zombieland, you've just got to follow a few simple rules:
1. Have a wacky sense of humor
2. Be up on pop culture references from 1980s-present day
3. Be ready to laugh out loud!

Honestly, if you had told me that was going to enjoy a movie with zombies and Woody Harrelson, and I would spend a good hour and a half laughing non-stop - I would not have believed you!  Even with a solid score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, I had my doubts.  I mean, a comedy with zombies? 

It has to be seen to be believed!

Even though they shove Woody Harrelson in your face during the trailers, it is Jesse Eisenberg that is the star of this movie, his deadpan, matter-of-fact delivery of the real rules to surviving in the zombie infested world (#1 - CARDIO!) will make you giggle.  He's that loner loser that so many of us can identify with, spending his free time cooped up in a dorm room, playing World of Warcraft.  But all that changes after the zombies arrive!  He meets up with Harrelson's character while trying to get back to his parents in Columbus, OH.  Hilarity ensues.

The best thing about this movie is that it is ridiculous, and it never tries to be anything else.  It's like "Hey, this movie is about ZOMBIES and it's gonna be FUNNY! Deal with it."  It never tries to preach about society's values; it doesn't get sidetracked by a love story; it doesn't spend loads of time trying to explain why this has all happened.  It stays true to it's mission - to make the audience laugh out loud for as much as possible while our heroes wise-crack their way through a world filled with disgusting, drooling zombies.

Yes, Zombieland is SMART and FUNNY and the kind of movie that you walk out of the theater quoting...and then find yourself quoting it days later.  The jokes range from toilet humor to literary references. 

I don't want to give too much away.  There are so many jokes and little surprises that make this movie great.  Go see it before you get spoiled. This movie makes my personal top ten list for 2009 - it was that good.

So do your cardio, remember the double tap, and always check the back seat. 

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (pigeon w books // orangerful)
Candor
Pam Bachorz
Bachorz, P. Candor
Egmont, 2009. 249 pages.
$16.95 ISBN 978-1-60684-012-2

Respectful space in every place.
Academics are the key to success.
Never keep secrets from your parents.


These phrases sound like something the average teen would hear on a regular basis as adults try to influence their behavior.  While children may not immediately obey these words, they do listen.  But what if they had no choice but to listen?  What if these messages were not coming from their parents' mouths, but instead being delivered subliminally, every second of every day? 

In the town of Candor, that is exactly what life is like.  Well-to-do families move in, hoping that the messages will help mold their children into something "better".  It only takes a matter of days before the child starts to spout these phrases.  Once cherished items, like skateboards, art supplies, and M&Ms, are thrown in the garbage by their owners.  The town is quiet, safe, and seemingly perfect since all of its citizens must obey the Messages.

Oscar Banks is the son of Candor's creator.  As the Messages will tell you, he is a superior person.  He does well in school, participates in extracurricular activities, and even has a perfect girlfriend, Mandi.  But no one knows the real Oscar.  He was in Candor from the start, and he's managed to figure out how the Messages work.  He can't avoid them completely, but he has created a set of special messages just for himself, to help him remember who he really is.  He also creates messages for kids that are willing and able to pay his high fee to get out. He has managed to build his own little world inside right under his father's nose, and no one knows about it but him. 

Then one night, Oscar meets a mysterious girl.  She's clearly new in town, still wearing her dark clothes and a collection of earrings.  She's also snuck in a can of orange spray paint.  He is amazed by the spirit this girl possesses and is drawn to her.  He slips her a music CD, filled with special Messages to keep her from changing into a brainwashed Candor teen.  He doesn't tell her that, of course.  Who would believe that they were being controlled by subliminal Messages?  Plus, he hasn't quite figured out what he wants to do with her - should he smuggle her out of Candor and out of his life?  Or should he keep her in the town so they can be friends...or more? 

Pam Bachorz's Candor is a society that feels eerily plausible.  Oscar Banks narrates the story in a natural voice, explaining to the reader how the Messages and the town work as a whole.  Oscar starts out somewhat self-centered (as anyone in his situation might be, since he is the only teen not repeating the Messages) but as the story goes on, he begins to realize a bit more about himself, Candor, and the what the world outside must be like.  He starts to see how much of a personality can really be suppressed by the Messages, and how far his father will go to keep the town safe and sterile.

Candor would be a fitting book suggestion for a fan of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series - the bubbly Pretties and the Candor teens have a lot in common.  But even if they are not familiar with that series, readers will enjoy this well-written, fast-paced (and other hyphenated words) story.

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (pigeon w books // orangerful)
Earlier this year, I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and I loved it.  I'm talking 5 out of 5 stars, must tell everyone I know about this book LOVED it.  It had everything I wanted in a story - action, adventure, kick-ass heroine, well-developed side characters, and a hint of relationship stuff (but not so much that I started to gag). 

Last month, the sequel was released - Catching Fire.

I am not going to post any spoilers because the thing that made reading Hunger Games and Catching Fire so great was how little I knew about them before I started.  But let's just say that Catching Fire has everything Hunger Games had, but kicked up a notch.  It picks up right where we left off... 

That being said, I give Catching Fire 4 out of 5 stars because of the usual reasons with middle books - this book is more about setting things up for the grand finale than anything else so the ending is a lot rougher than Hunger Games, which felt like the first Star Wars movie - yeah, there was more to do, but it had a satisfying ending for the biggest story. 

With Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins knows that she owns us, that we are invested in these characters, and that we'll be expecting that cliffhanger.  And she gives it to us.  I read the last page several times, trying to figure out exactly what it all meant because I know I have another year before I found out what happens. 

Seriously, why are you reading this post?  You should be reading Hunger Games or Catching Fire RIGHT NOW! 

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (pigeon w books // orangerful)

Andy has tried everything to quite smoking, but nothing ever seems to work.  In one last desperate attempt to kick the habit, he goes to a hypnotist.  He's skeptical of her abilities, but tries to go along with the process...and he feels himself getting sleepier, going under, but then wakes up in 1985!  He's back in high school, his middle-aged brain stuck in his 16 year old body.  But Andy realizes that he's just moments away from his first cigarette ever.  If he stops himself from taking that first puff, could he keep himself from ever starting - or is there more to Andy's addiction than he really knows.

Too Cool to be Forgotten by Alex Robinson is a fun graphic novel for adults.  I say "for adults" not because it has violence/sex/nudity or even a lot of swearing - it's just that most of the humor comes from adult-Andy interacting with his high school friends, his adult mind trying to manage the high school world.  While teens might find it amusing, I think those of us that have survived high school and moved on will end up chuckling and nodding a lot more. 

Playing in the world of classic 80s movies like Back to the Future and Big, Too Cool reminds us of how rough it is being a teenager and how all the little things we did back then are part of the person we are today - even if we have forgotten most of it.  It's not about nostalgia for those teen years, but more of a look back to say "wtf? I lived like that?"  The book has a great sense of humor about the whole thing, but just the right amount of heart to bring readers back again.  I really enjoyed Robinson's style and I am looking forward to reading other books by him. 

If you get a chance, definitely give this one a try. 

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

orangerful: (face rank // orangerful)
When you take a close look at the story at the very core of 'District 9', there is really nothing new there - xenophobia has been a part of our world since the dawn of time.  'District 9' does what any quality science fiction film would do; it takes issues in the real world, issues we have trouble dealing with face to face, and turning it into a story we can handle and process. 

The aliens never landed.  Their ship just hovered.  When humans finally made contact, the creatures inside the ship were ill and trapped.  In an effort to help them, the aliens were transported to the ground to give them a chance to recover.  But what was supposed to be a short-term operation has now lasted 20 years, and the compound has transformed into a slum.  Tensions between the aliens and the humans have reached an all time high, and the government has decided to move them.  Wikus Van De Merwe is in charge of a taskforce to get the "signatures" of the aliens living in District 9, a legal technicality that Multi-National United (MNU) needs to get by to move the aliens to District 10.  Like most humans, he likes to think he is treating the "Prawns" the way they deserved to be treated, but once he is inside the slums and sucked into their world, he slowly begins to rethink the way he has seen this creatures.

This is an intense movie.  I know I spent the last half-hour, maybe even more, sitting on the edge of my seat, ready to cringe/hide/cry/scream/emote at the screen.  The effects were seamless and you never doubt that the aliens are living among these people. 

It's very smart storytelling too; there is very little handholding from the writer or director.  Either you're able to keep up with their technique, or you'll have to watch it again on DVD - they have no time to wait for you.  It's this great mix of "archival footage", documentary footage, surveillance footage, and then the movie stuff mixed in.  But I never felt confused by it at all. 

Very well done and worth seeing on the big screen.  

Originally posted on orangerful.vox.com

July 2017

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