Monday, January 31, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #7

Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by MizB at ShouldBeReading.

Here are her instructions:

Grab your current read, turn it to a random page and share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Make sure that what you share does not give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others! Share the title and the author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like the teaser.

One of my favorite celebrities, Kristin Chenoweth (best known as Glinda from the fabulous musical Wicked), has an autobiography. And I love autobiographies. And since I also love Kristin, I think that reading her autobiography is a sure hit for me. Only, I'm not reading it - I'm listening to it. And guess who narrates the audiobook? The diva herself! Do you see how magical this experience is for me?

And just because I am an awe of Kristin Chenoweth (and I think EVERYONE should be), here's a little excerpt from the intro of her hilarious autobiography, A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love and Faith in Stages. About to perform at the Oscars, Kristin has an epiphany:

A great song. A magical night. Gown by Armani and travel by hunk-o-vator. I am in grave danger of thinking it doesn't get any better than this when someone tells me, "George Clooney is on the front row." I don't ask who else is on the front row. Is there anyone else?
George Clooney needs to know that he and I are perfect for each other. We would be instantly matched on I can already see us in that ad campaign, oozing adorable, giddily telling the story of our first kiss. Happily ever after, cue Chaka Khan, roll credits. He is my Mr. Right. The problem is, I'm still in love with Mr. Writer, a man who is more likely to show up in a "Falls on Ass" video than an "Everlasting Love" commercial. Truth be told, eHarmony would not encourage me to share so much as a cab uptown with this guy. But of course this is precisely what makes him irresistible.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book to Movie Review: Coraline

I am so late for the party when it comes to Coraline. As I am not a big fan of animated flicks (I wait for a rather special one to come out and then possibly see it, rather than go see every Pixar/Dreamworks animation at the movies), so it wasn't until last night that I've seen this stop-motion movie. My animation-obsessed boyfriend practically tied me down in front of the TV and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Thus, the review.

Coraline was originally a book by Neil Gaiman. A dark, sinister horror book for children, which gave me the creeps when I was in elementary school. Obviously, I cannot remember the details anymore, but I know that it was well-written, scary and intense, and I loved it. Coraline is a lonely girl, moving to a new house with her detached parents, only to find out a secret door to the parallel universe where everything is peachy, apart from the fact that on the other side, people have buttons instead of eyes. And if Caroline should stay, she needs some buttons as well.

First of all, the stop-motion animation in itself is not enough for me to go, "ZOMFGBBQ". I enjoyed the animation, though I thought that it was a bit patchy at times and also lingered on big scenes, which constantly screwed up the flow of the movie. You know, there is something fabulous Coraline walks into and the next five minutes is a repetition of what you have already seen. This is a small bone to pick, however. The scenes all look wonderful and I bet watching Coraline in 3-D must have been a thrill.

My favorite part of the movie were the voice talents. Coraline is voiced by the freakishly talented Dakota Fanning, who provides lots of character and spunk. The two aged actresses are hilariously voiced by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, the brilliant British comedic duo. And finally, there is the award-deserving voice performance by Teri Hatcher, who I adore, as Coraline's mother/parallel mother/villain. Hatcher made the movie for me and I can only imagine how kids might be frightened by her character(s).

All in all, Coraline is a fabulous way to spend an hour and a half, especially if you are constantly nagged to watch animated flicks (you can do WAY worse, trust me). This one caters to the adult set, maybe even more than to the kids. It's deliciously creepy and exciting, but is innocent enough for kids to watch it.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Now, this is what I'd call a delightful, funny and intriguing YA novel. I picked this up only after so many of my fellow bloggers raved about it and I must say, I read it in record time. And before I forget, if you've read Hex Hall (or are reading it now), visit the author's blog here. Rachel is such a hilarious person and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her blog as a sort of companion to the book. My favorite post? Romance Novels in LOLKat Speak. Yup, that's how cool she is.

And now with the sequel of Hex Hall approaching, it's the perfect time to read it!

The novel is a (yet another) spin on the boarding-school-magic-mystery thing. The protagonist is Sophie Mercer, a 16-year old witch who is one of the rare magical people living outside the world of magic. When she makes a spectacle of herself at her high school prom, she is forced to move into Hex Hall, a reform school populated by shifters, fairies and other witches. Sophie's roommate is Jenna, a vampire and a social outcast. The antagonist is Elodie, a beautiful witch with a beautiful boyfriend - who of course, Sophie has her eye on.

This fast-paced book would (genre-wise) be most easily qualified as a mystery - there are strange deaths of Sophie's peers happening around her and she if forced to uncover secrets about both the magical world and herself. Yet, the mystery part of the book is the weakest. I was not satisfied with the story's resolution - it wrapped up too quickly and confusingly, leaving (intentionally) a question or two unanswered. I wish the events were laid out more slowly. This would inevitably result in a longer book, but I think that it would be beneficial.

Hawkins is strongest when it comes to dialogue. Her naturally spunky personna, so evident on her blog (seriously, it's awesome!) is translated to the book and Sophie is one hell of a character. Bright and funny, she holds this book together. Archer, the love interest is brilliantly written, with mystery to him as well. I am very, very interested to read more about the mysterious grounds keeper. The other characters may seem a bit bland. I found Elodie particularly problematic. Essentially a stock character, she is given some dimension (the usual no-one-is-that-bad-when-you-get-to-know-them kind of thing), but in this case I found it distracting. Another thing I really enjoyed about the book is that Hawkins does not insist we grasp her entire mythology right away. Rather, we find out about it more as we go - kind of like Charlaine Harris, rather than J. K. Rowling.

Overall, I recommend Hex Hall as light reading and a great YA debut novel. I am looking forward to reading Demonglass as soon as it comes out and am hoping that the next two books will bring more dimension and perspective to Hawkins' world (and, more particularly, Archer. I'm a fanboy, deal with it).

Oh, and by the way, there is a gay character. It's the magical realism of the book - a gay character no one has a problem with. Rachel, I love your vision of the world.



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

I hate reading J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. I find the book disturbing, depressing and it affects my mood so much, I actually need some time to recompose myself after spending time with it. Finally, it scares me. At the same time, I love it so much. I find it masterfully written, eye-opening and completely fascinating. It's probably one of my favorite books ever.

I remember my first time reading The Catcher in the Rye when I was in high school. I didn't think much about it then - it was an easy-to-read book everyone was has already read and I felt it was my duty to read it. Holden Caulfield was someone I couldn't understand (his motivations were not at all understandable back then), but at as any other teenager, I understood the feelings of sadness, rebellion, as well as other growing pains. I just figured Holden had it particularly difficult.

Now that I've read the book again for college, as well as loads of secondary literature, I am in awe. The Cather in the Rye is a masterpiece. So much so, that to tackle the book's themes and try and write a regular review, I think it would be impossible. It has to be read. What I liked best is how unpretentious it is. It twists you around and makes your head explode, but it's no Ulysses. It is enjoyable and digestable and, although really disturbing, ultimately it gets very sweet.

This is a lousy review. I guess it's the book. It's so good, that whatever I try to write about it, I feel like it's trivialized. Let's leave it at this and let me know if you loved it too!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Review: Bought for the Greek's Bed by Julia James

After being introduced to the romance genre during the past year or so (and reading the fabulous m/m romance Sticks and Stones), I've been craving more romance novels of different genres. I like the idea of various specific categories and authors fitting into those while still being true to their voice and inspiration. It must be hard and I bet not everyone can do it.

Julia James failed for me. Her novel Bought for the Greek's Bed is too corny (the title is a good indicator), too convoluted, too unoriginal. It's a story of Vicky, a regular Londoner who goes to visit her super-wealthy uncle in Greece, where she agrees to marry Theo Theakis for some business reason or another. Obviously, he's quite a catch, but Vicky decides not to fall in love and after a series of events that don't make more sense now what I think about them in retrospect, they part and are obviously reunited in the end.

Was this painful to read! There are certain phrases repeated throughout the book's 300 pages and not one original idea was introduced in the book. It's basically like you took the worst romance cliches and sewed them up together into this book. The heroine is an idiot - if she were in a horror movie, I'm sure she would be the first to run to the attic or some other dead end. And the hero is so two-dimensional that it is almost ridiculous. It's not hard to feel hot for him, but it's basically like feeling hot for an Action Man.

No, I was not happy with this book. And I would love to know how many copies it sold. I guess the steamy cover, along with the Harlequin logo on top, must sell a fair number of copies. If so, Julia James must be pretty happy. At least someone is.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Giveaway Winners

It's time to pick the giveaway winners for Roxanne St. Claire's Edge of Sight, as well as Boy Culture, Coffee Date and Is It Just Me? - I'm a bit late, I know, but the awards are really worth it!

Edge of Sight Winner:

(that was a LOT of extra entries, I'm not surprised ;)

DVD Winners:

Shooting Stars Mag!
Ryan G!
Leah Petersen (no email reply)

Winners, you have been sent emails, please respond with your addresses ASAP. Thanks for entering, everybody and keep an eye out for the new contests coming soon! xoxo