Friday
Nov212014

Trailer Park Friday: Adventuresome Robots, Space Shenanigans, Retellings & More

It's chilly and rainy here today, and it looks like it's going to be a wet weekend. But we just discovered that The Lego Movie is on HBO, so I have a feeling a lot of things are going to be awesome despite the weather. Let's watch some videos to get this weekend started.

Big Hero 6 is already out in theatres and I've already seen it, but this hand-drawn trailer from Japan makes me want to see it another half a dozen times. Oh Baymax...

Ascension is a mini series that will air on Syfy over three nights in December. It's supposed to be a space opera that could potentially become a series if the mini series does well. It has a bit of an Downton Abbey in space with the class war element to it. It starts December 15.

Pitch Perfect is one of those comfort movies that I will always watch when I find it on television. Now there's going to be a sequel and the first trailer has come out. I don't know how it could match up to the first one, but I still am excited to see it.

Yet another faerie tale live-action movie is being released, this time for Cinderella. Doesn't look like it has much special about it to me, but it's pretty. It comes out March 13.

A new trailer for Insurgent was recently released and it looks like the second movie in the Divergent series might be as exciting as the second book was. It's also going to be full of greenscreen CGI, which could turn out not so great. It comes out March 20.

We started with an adorable robot and we end with a less adorable, but just as entertaining robot. This is Chappie, by Neill Blomkept, the guy who made District 9. This could be a really entertaining robot film even if Hugh Jackman has bad hair. I'm also becoming very fond of Dev Patel. This film comes out March 6, so I think it's going to be my new "must see" movie to look forward to.

 

What videos have caught your eye this week? Any 2015 movies you're eager to see right now? Link them up in the comments!

Thursday
Nov202014

Mini Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation
Jeff VanderMeer

FSG Originals
Released February 4, 2014
195 pages
Science Fiction / Weirdness

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

This is a weird little book. It’s a Twilight Zone sort of homage with this constant sense of terror around the corner. Once you finally find the terrible thing though, it’s nothing like what you expect and things just keep getting weirder and weirder. As the beginning of a trilogy, Annihilation sets the stage for some bizarre adventures in a strange world, but instead comes away as an emotional character arc with plenty of emotional tension, but perhaps lacking a bit in plot or action.

I’ve tried writing this review several times since I read the book some time ago. It’s a weird book and it left me with weird feelings about it. At times I felt dumb for being bored by its lingering analysis of character emotions and back story. Other times I was genuinely creeped out by the mysterious Area X and all the bizarre things that seemed to be happening right outside the corner of the narrator’s vision.

There is a lot in Annihilation and I feel it would take another read through or two for me to fully grasp what it is VanderMeer has created. With an unreliable narrator telling a story from the first person, it’s a challenge to tell what is real and what is just some twisted version of reality. It’s a strange book from beginning to end and, while it’s a quick read, it has meat on its bones that deserve some time to be picked at and consumed. I don’t know if I’m going to move forward with the rest of the series, but I’m intrigued to do a bit of digging to see what other people have thought of the series.

Tuesday
Nov182014

Random Tuesday: Fancasting Parallel Worlds, Tom Hardy on TV, Guardians Dance Off & More

Let's pretend we don't have a million other things to do and check out some random things instead.

io9 started a discussion asking if you could travel to a parallel world and see your favorite fancasting actually happen, who would you choose to play what character? Personally my head canon will always be Jensen Ackles as Captain America no matter how good Chris Evans is as the character. Also Matt Bomer as Superman because he is my Superman, but he wouldn't be all broody.

Oh and Pedro Pascal as Doctor Strange. I love Benedict Cumberbatch as much as the next gal (if not more), but I want to see more of that Pascal guy after his bit on Game of Thrones.

So what do you think was the biggest missed opportunity on screen?

Speaking of Jensen Ackles, I had no idea that he was up for the part of Hawkeye in The Avengers. I... don't know what to do with this information.

What would have happened had Ronan accepted Starlord's dance off request? The outtakes from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy DVD show what would have happened. It's pretty silly. This is too good to wait until Friday.

Tamora Pierce talked to TheMarySue.com about why none of her books have ever been made into films or television.

Tom Hardy is coming to television in 2015 and I do believe I will have to watch it. Hopefully it won't require him to wear a Bane mask so I can understand what he says.

And finally I think someone is chopping onions in my kitchen. This little girl's mom made several costumes for her 3-year-old daughter to wear during their trip to Disney World. The particular with Peter Pan in particular is killing me a little.

 

I need to hunt down those onion chopping ninjas to help me make dinner. Share something random with me in the comments!

Monday
Nov172014

Mini Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars
Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Disney Hyperion
Released December 10, 2013
374 pages
YA / Scifi / Romance

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

I readily admit that I judge books by their covers. These Broken Stars was supposed to be amazing because it has a gorgeous eye-catching cover. It didn’t even bother me that it sounded like Titanic in space because it could still be a gorgeous and amazing version of Titanic in space. Unfortunately what it was a lot of meandering without much in the way of payout.

Lilac and Tarver are on the opposite ends of the cultural spectrum. Lilac is the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the galaxy, traveling in high class finery, while Tarver is a recently decorated soldier from lesser means. He’s being forced to fraternize with the upper class due to some unmentioned act of bravery that got him a higher ranking and a bit of fame, but he doesn’t belong there.

After a couple of encounters, the two find themselves escaping from the hulking ship Icarus (probably not the best name for a spaceship) as it falls out of hyperspace. Once they land on the foreign planet where they spend the rest of the book, the rest of the story is trekking through dangerous, unfamiliar terrain with the occasional spooky mystical thing happening.

Both Lilac and Tarver spent a good portion of the book putting up a front to push the other away, making it difficult to truly get to know or feel involved with either character. The bulk of the plot is traveling until the very end, where things started to get twisty, but even then, the slow pacing kept me from truly latching on to the story. Something significant was missing for me and I’m not entire sure what it was. Perhaps I need more action besides man against nature or the not-so-supernatural elements should have started congealing into a plot earlier.

Whatever it was, I felt very disconnected from These Broken Stars. While I can’t say I disliked it, I never felt swept away by the story or felt any sense of empathy for the characters. It’s like the book held me at arm’s length and refused to let me in. Perhaps I just had too high of expectations with this being one of the prettiest covers of a sci-fi book that I’ve seen in years, but These Broken Stars was generally a disappointment for me.

Thursday
Nov132014

Review: The Invisible by Amelia Kahaney

The Invisible
Amelia Kahaney

HarperTeen
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released October 7, 2014
304 pages
YA / Superheroes / Fantasy

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

In the riveting sequel to the reimagined superhero story The Brokenhearted, Anthem Fleet takes on a powerful new villain and makes some startling discoveries about her family and her past that will forever change her.

Taking up where The Brokenhearted ended, the sequel finds Anthem Fleet attempting to return to a normal life after an experimental surgery that left her with a bionic hummingbird heart and a terrifying new strength. But she can’t shake her suspicions about her father’s connection to the Syndicate and she can’t ignore the cries of help in the crime-ridden city of Bedlam. She finds new promise in her relationship with Ford, but after his lifesaving surgery, the Ford Anthem knew slips away.

When a mysterious new group called “The Invisible” starts attacking the privileged North Siders, Anthem has to step up and be the New Hope that Bedlam needs, or Bedlam will fall…once and for all.

Publishers Weekly called The Brokenhearted an “atmospheric, adventure-laced debut” with “graceful world-building, strong characterizations, and an enveloping plot.”

After the pseudo-superhero origin story of The Brokenhearted (which I reviewed on Monday), where would Kahaney take Anthem in the sequel? Would it pay off the promises set up in the first book or would it fly off to crazy town? After being pretty content with Kahaney’s attempt at dipping her toes into the original superhero genre, I was pleased with the sequel. While I might not be jumping up and down, throwing this book at everyone in hopes that someone will read it, I was happy with the direction the story is going and the twists that genuinely surprised me at the end.

SPOILERS FOR THE BROKENHEARTED AHEAD

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