Thursday, February 28, 2013

Psycho Film Review + Bates Motel TV Show

Psycho Movie Review 

by Lauren

I own none of these images

IMDB Summary: A thirty-something secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor too long under the domination of his mother.

Review: This won't be a long review for two reason. 1. I feel like a lot of people have seen Psycho already (though this was my first viewing) and 2. I want to focus on the new TV show that brings the Bates family to the modern world. 

Back to Psycho...this is probably my current favorite film by Hitchcock. After watching it, I wanted to dive right back in and view it again...and preferably with someone who hadn't seen it because it's always fun to see what a newbie thinks. Psycho is creepy and suspenseful, but not gory. The famous shower scene (which you can see above) is not gratuitous violence, so no worries for those that don't like modern scary films because of this. 

 Perkins as Bates

Obviously, Janet Leigh as Marion Crane did a great job but the real star, for me, is Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. He is a handsome young man that you feel bad for in the beginning, until you begin to realize that he might not be completely stable...and then there is his mother who Bates equally loves and hates that might be up to no good. 

Now that leads me to the new A and E TV show, Bates Motel--

In case you can't see the above poster for the upcoming show, it states that "A Boy's Best Friend is his Mother" and Bates Motel will premiere on Monday, March 18 at 10 p.m. on A and E.

Visit A/E's website to learn more about the show! 

I don't want to say too much about the show in this post for those that have not viewed Psycho yet. If you're interested in the show, though, I'd get your hands on Psycho first so things aren't ruined. Also, be aware of the comments...there COULD be spoilers, and that's fine. Don't read the comments if you're worried.

As for Bates Motel, this is a modern version of the Psycho story, giving viewers a chance to get to know Norman and his mom a little better...how far did their mother/son relationship go? How did they scar each other beyond help? 

I love the addition of a half-brother for Norman too, which is never mentioned in Psycho. The brother, Dylan, is played by Max Thieriot. Dylan's bio reads: Norma’s son by her first marriage and half-brother to Norman, Dylan is an edgy outsider in the Norma/Norman tea party. He’s a lost soul and a drifter who finds himself, by necessity, drifting back into the troubled lives of his mother and brother.

I have to admit, though, I'm most excited about Norman Bates. As you saw in my Psycho review, he was the most interesting character for me...but I'm even more pumped about Bates Motel's Norman because he's being played by Freddie Highmore (who I've been a fan of for awhile).

Finally, here is a trailer/extended look at Bates Motel. 

What do you think?

  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases people are excited for.

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
Release Date: May 7, 2013

Summary:


The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Why I want it:

The 5th Wave looks really interesting. All of the hype (WOW Penguin Teen, you are really making me want this book with all of the cool marketing you've been doing!) for it has me even more curious about it too, so I will definitely be buying a copy when it comes out. Plus, all of the people I know that have read it have been loving it, so I'm pretty confident I will too.
 
What are you waiting on?

-Alicia
 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Waterland by Graham Swift


Waterland by Graham Swift

Review by Lauren

Copy- I bought this

Official Summary: Set in the bleak Fen Country of East Anglia, and spanning some 240 years in the lives of its haunted narrator and his ancestors, Waterland is a book that takes in eels and incest, ale-making and madness, the heartless sweep of history and a family romance as tormented as any in Greek tragedy.

Review:  While the summary above is certainly accurate, it's not very specific. However, Waterland is kind of a difficult book to explain. I feel like most of the novels I'm reading for my Contemporary British Lit class falls into that category. Basically...you get the narrator, Tom Crick, who is about to be forced into retirement by the school he has taught history at for over three decades. Instead of continuing the normal syllabus, Crick changes his history classes by telling the students his own personal history, mixed with European history such as the French Revolution.

I did enjoy the set up of the novel, as it goes back and forth between Crick in the present day and Crick's life when he was a child...not to mention the stories that bring you into the history of his family and the Fen Country. For those that hate history, you will probably find this book a bit slow and boring throughout. However, if you love or can just appreciate various types of history, then I would suggest giving Waterland a try.

Crick is a fascinating narrator, because you get the feeling that he places himself in an inferior role to those around him. He's not really a man of action, but that doesn't mean he's boring. I found myself empathizing with Tom's plights and the life that he has been given. Waterland certainly shows how some of our actions can affect those around us, when you had no idea the consequences could be so grave. The Crick that narrates this book loves history, and he wants his students to appreciate it as much as he does, but he also wants them to place emphasis on their own history...those moments of the Here and Now that shape who you will become.

Waterland also opens up a very interesting question about history. If history is just individual's accounts, then how do we know the whole truth? Crick is telling the story of his ancestors for them because they cannot or are not given a voice. The beginning of the book reveals that Crick's wife is in trouble with the law but Crick is always the one giving his thoughts, his emotions, his version. What about Mary, his wife? What about his brother, Dick, who Tom never sees as smart enough?

History is all about perspective. And so, with Waterland, we get Tom's.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

DVD Review: Hitchcock's Rope


Alfred Hitchcock's Rope

Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: Two young men strangle their "inferior" classmate, hide his body in their apartment, and invite his friends and family to a dinner party as a means to challenge the "perfection" of their crime.

Review: Another Hitchcock film starring James Stewart (Rear Window) and Farley Granger (Strangers on a Train). Rope is a fairly simple film to watch, as the murder takes place in the very beginning and the rest of the storyline is about the two men silently flaunting what they have done. Well, Brandon (John Dall) much moreso than Phillip (Granger). You can tell that Brandon is the brains behind the operation, and Phillip slowly starts to unravel as the film progresses.

Apparently, I'm a fan of Farley Granger because I loved Strangers on a Train and I highly enjoyed Rope as well. Probably because it's a mental film the entire way and you're just waiting for the truth to come out...not sure when and what will happen when it does.

One aspect of this film that I liked was the addition of Rupert (Stewart) because he's the one who put the idea of murdering your inferiors into Brandon's head. Does that mean he would really act on this, though?

I told you...it's a movie to think about and I would suggest watching it if you can!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken


The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Age Group: YA
My Copy: ARC
Source: ALA
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Release Date: December 18, 2012out now
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Review by: Alicia
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Summary:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Review:

I’ve had The Darkest Minds sitting on my shelf for months and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to read it (I actually read it in January). At the same time though, I’m also glad I waited because the wait for the sequel won’t be as long—and it already feels incredibly long.

I love The Darkest Minds! Just loooove it! I’m pretty much above fangirl level for it. I was really unprepared for how much I was going to adore it. It sounded interesting, and seemed like it was going to be a good fit for me, but I was surprised by just how much I love it. I’m actually kind of obsessed with it—The Darkest Minds is another book that I just can’t stop thinking about.* Also, it’s on the bigger side, and I like big books.

All of the characters were great. Bracken did an amazing job of fleshing all of the characters out and making them real. It was easy to love them (except for the bad people). I just loved Ruby, Liam, Chubs and Zu—they were all awesome. Ruby is one of my favorite heroines—she’s not perfect. She makes mistakes throughout the book and sometimes listens to the wrong people, but she also grows stronger and braver. Liam was amazing—a nice guy love interest? Yes please! He was kind and caring and just perfect for Ruby. Plus, he genuinely cared about their little group and other people and would do anything for them. He was also really positive which offset Ruby and Chubs nicely. Chubs was hilarious, sarcastic and loved bookshe wrote book reviews! Zu made my heart melt, that poor little girl. Some of my favorite parts are just when Ruby, Liam, Chubs and Zu are all together—they all fit together well and were a real family.

Another part I loved was the music in the book**. Like Ruby, I grew up listening to classic rock because of my dad. I can still remember sitting in the car with my dad while the music blared out of the speakers. Actually, my dad still only listens to it in the car, so I do too when I’m with him.

The ending was cruel and heartbreaking. I cried like a baby when Ruby did that thing to that person***. If I was her, I don’t think I would have been able to do it. I just can’t believe it ended there. I am now ridiculously anxious about the sequel. I want it right now!! The wait feels unbearable and I won’t be able to relax until I get my hands on the next book!  

Book two, Never Fade, will be out in the fall with book three in Fall 2014.

Final Thoughts: Honestly, I could just gush about my love for The Darkest Minds all day. It is fantastic and I highly recommend you read it!

Cover Comments: I really like it. It goes with the book.

Overall: 5/5—Can I make it a zillion out of 5? Seriously. It’s a biiig favorite of mine.

*I read it a month ago, and I STILL find myself thinking about it ALL THE TIME!
**Speaking of, there are TWO awesome playlists for the book on the website, here’s a link to them.
***I tried to keep that as spoiler-free as possible—did it work?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases people are excited for.

Title: Dark Triumph
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: April 2, 2013


Summary:

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats

Why I want it:

I loved Grave Mercy and I have been counting down the days until Dark Triumph is out! Sybella was an intriguing character in Grave Mercy and I can’t wait to read her story! I'm also hoping that Ismae and Duval (and the other characters from Grave Mercy) pop up a lot because I love them. Luckily I don’t have to wait too much longer to read it.

Also, hello pretty cover!

What are you waiting on?

-Alicia

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Look Back at the Classic TV Show M*A*S*H


 
 
A Look Back at the Classic TV Show M*A*S*H

When looking back on the history of American comedies, there few that have truly stood the test of time.  Comedies such as I Love Lucy and The Beverly Hillbillies are a couple that would make that list.  However, no comedy in American history has stayed as relevant as the military comedy known as M*A*S*H.

 
M*A*S*H originally was a 1970 film based during the Korean War depicting day to day life at the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.  The critical success of the film prompted the creation of the TV series, which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1983.

 
M*A*S*H is truly an ensemble cast primarily highlighted by Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce.  With the exception of Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit) and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher), the cast did undergo some changes through the years.  However, whether viewers were fans of the Henry Blake era or the Colonel Potter era of the show, they still agree that the cast worked perfectly together.

 
The reason why M*A*S*H worked so well was that it was like many of the comedies of that time such as All In the Family, the Jeffersons, and others.  It put the characters in comedic scenarios but also had room for high drama.  The difference between M*A*S*H and other comedies is that it was based on the real life events of the Korean War.

 
Everyday life at the 4077 was often the storyboard for the show, including something as simple as a game of poker.  Many times the game of poker was used to further a plot line or even a character.  The gang discovered that Major Winchester was horrible at bluffing because they picked up on his poker tell of whistling when he was nervous.  Other times, you could even pick up on a person's character during a game of poker.

 
M*A*S*H also had a knack of bringing the war down to a human level that was also realistic.  The characters were in everyday situations during the war but at the same time dealt with serious situations such as the death of a close comrade, post traumatic stress disorder, and even interracial marriage. 

 
Ultimately, M*A*S*H became the most successful comedy in the history of American television.  The final episode of the series is still the top rated non-sports program in American history.  Also, the show is still shown nearly every day in syndication although the show went off the air in 1983.  The show is a testament to not just the spirit of American, but also a testament to the drive and will of the human spirit and that is one reason why it will remain a popular comedy for many years to come.
 
 
 
This post is written in cooperation with PokerListings.com.

Tim Curry Loves Psych

"Take on me...take me home..."

Psych Slumber Party is well underway. First episode down (Last Night Gus) and now it's time for...American Duos! This is one of my favorite Psych episodes. Singing Shawn and Gus? What else do you need? (Yes, the gif above is from the episode...though I did not make it).

 
My sister is currently drinking the awesome hot chocolate we were sent in the Slumber Party kit, and LOVING IT! You can't enjoy Psych without refreshments. You better have some on hand for the season 7 premiere (February 27th at 10/9c)!!!

Now, back to American Duos...


Yes, that IS Tim Curry (Clue, Rocky Horror Picture Show, etc.). Psych has some of the best guest stars (especially if you're a fan of the 80's!) You need to be watching this show so you don't miss any of the goodness.


Oh yeah, they're rockin' it!

I hope you're all enjoying the awesome-ness of Psych! If you aren't, then I hope you'll tune into the new season in about a week and a half! Hardly any time at all. I can't wait! If you don't hear from me again on here, don't worry...I'll write you all back when I can. Off to enjoy the rest of the Psych Slumber Party! Don't forget to check my Tumblr too!

(no gifs are mine)

Wait for Ittt...

Real. Fake. I've Heard It Both Ways. Psych Season 7 begins Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 on USA Network.
 

Here I am, blogging away during the Psych Slumber Party! I'm rocking the lovely PJ's I was sent, as well as the fun pillow. You see how the Psych pineapple includes a crescent moon in the design? I thought that was clever!


Other fun goodies lying out, ready to be enjoyed! Some psych popcorn, hot chocolate, a glass tumblr, and even an eye mask for when we DO get some shut eye!


Wait for ittt...popcorn!


A closer look at the crescent moon/pineapple!


Super awesome pillow!


Bobblehead Gus is an old Christmas gift from a friend (she has Shawn at her house) so we decided to bring him downstairs and set him next to the TV. I just thought I'd share!

Besides Gus, I got all of these items in conjunction with promoting Psych's Slumber Party and their upcoming seventh season. If you want your own Psych goodies, though, check out the USA Network store. There is so much on that site that I'm dying to get my hands on! Psych truly is one of my top-favorite shows. If you're not watching, you should be.

Friday, February 15, 2013

You're Invited (Psych Slumber Party Tonight)


Tonight is the night, everyone! Unfortunately, I have to work this weekend when I wasn't originally supposed to...so that means I will not be awake until 6 in the morning. However, I'll stay up for the first few episodes in honor of Psych's FIRST EVER Slumber Party.

Who is with me? Be prepared for a few more posts tonights (with fun pictures and everything!) So grab a buddy real quick, put on some PJs, and relax with some fan favorite Psych episodes.

I just got my phone call from James Roday (Shawn) and Dule Hill (Gus) as well. You can still enter your phone number to get a message from them, so hey, try it out!

Feel free to like Psych on facebook to see what fun things they post tonight!

I also hear there will be a twitter trivia contest, so be sure to follow their twitter page too!

And in order to not bombard Shooting Stars Mag with tons of Psych content tonight/early tomorrow...I'll be posting random amusing things concerning Psych on my tumblr, so check that out if you're interested.

If you have any questions for me, leave them in a blog comment and I will get back to you ASAP! If you're following along, share what you think about the slumber party as well.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review: The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing


The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

Review by Lauren

Official Summary: Anna is a writer, author of one very successful novel, who now keeps four notebooks. In one, with a black cover, she reviews the African experience of her earlier years. In a red one she records her political life, her disillusionment with communism. In a yellow one she writes a novel in which the heroine relives part of her own experience. And in a blue one she keeps a personal diary. Finally, in love with an American writer and threatened with insanity, Anna resolves to bring the threads of all four books together in a golden notebook.

Review: This is one of the  books I read for school and while I never would have picked it up on my own, I am glad to have read it. I had mentioned last week that I wanted to review the books that I read for school because I'm spending a lot of time this semester on school books, so instead of having a lack of book reviews, I'm doing this! I hope you don't mind.

Back to The Golden Notebook...this is kind of a difficult book to review because it's certainly not for everyone. It's frank and matter-of-fact about certain things, but not overly graphic throughout. Things are separated by notebooks for awhile but then they start to mix faster. It's still pointed out when a notebook switches, you just don't spend a lot of time in each notebook near the end. As for everything coming together in The Golden Notebook...I wouldn't really say that happens. You're still left with some questions at the end, and I'm not sure I understand Anna fully now than when I started.

This is a good book for class discussion, so if you have a book club, then you might want to look into it. It wasn't a favorite in my class, but I didn't mind it. I wouldn't say it's the best book ever but I enjoyed what I read almost throughout. It was a slow read, though, and I'm not really sure why...I'm not the fastest reader, but this one just didn't seem to go anywhere for awhile.

If you want a fast read...don't read this.

If you get frustrated with indecisive characters...don't read this.

I told you this was a difficult one to review! I don't want to scare people away, but I do want to warn you that it's not the easiest book to get through at times.

Has anyone read this before? What did you think?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases people are excited for.

Hello everyone! Alicia here. I'm finally getting back to reading and reviewing after being away for the past months due to personal reasons. I'm really happy to be back! Anyways, this week I'm waiting on:

Title: Requiem
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins

Format: Hardcover, 432 pages.
Release Date: March 5, 2013

Summary:


Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

Why I want it:

AAAAAHHHHHH!!!! Why don’t I want Requiem?? Want, want want! I have been dying to read this for over a year, especially after that terrible ending in Pandemonium! I am sooo glad that there is less than a month to go until it comes out.

Also, if Lena doesn’t end up with Alex I will throw this book across the room. No lie. (Sorry Lauren Oliver!)

And I’m really excited to read Alex’s short story that is only in the first hardcover printings! So if you haven't preordered, you should do so now. Here are some links to preorder: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Book Depository.

What are you waiting on?

-Alicia

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Movie Review: Identity Thief


Movie: Identity Thief

Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy's identity.

Review: I was really excited to see this movie because I'm a fan of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy. Now that I have seen it, I can see how this will be a hard movie for me to really review. It's less of a comedy than I first thought, but there are still a lot of funny moments. You also get some sad/heartfelt moments too, though. McCarthy is definitely a standout in this movie as she has the most ridiculous/amusing lines and moments.

I'm certainly glad I saw this though. I went with a group of friends and as far as I can tell, they all liked it too. They were certainly laughing a lot! Included in the group were a couple guys and they both really liked it (one saying he would probably buy the DVD as soon as it's released) so that's saying something too! If you're looking for a Valentine's flick that isn't Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, then this would be a good option. You get a mix of genres that should satisfy both guy and gal.

Overall, Identity Thief was enjoyable and I laughed a lot. Again, it wasn't the straight up comedy I was expecting, but I think it still worked. At this rate, I'll see just about anything Melissa McCarthy is in too!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman


Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Age Group: YA, 14+
My Copy: ARC and hardcover
Source: Won via publisher and bought
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: January 8, 2013—out now
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Review by: Alicia
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Summary (via goodreads):

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

Review:

When I first started reading Just One Day, I was enjoying it, but I wasn’t hooked, so I put it down for the night and didn’t pick it up until the next night. When I picked it up then, I was hooked—I could not stop reading. I loved Just One Day and got completely swept into it. I could not stop reading, so I ended up finishing it at about 2:30 a.m. and then I didn’t fall asleep for another few hours because I could not stop thinking about it. I had all of the feels—ALL OF THEM! Just One Day totally tugged at my heart strings.

I loved Allyson. I enjoyed watching her discover who she was and what she wanted to do, rather than continuing to do what her parents expected her to. I was heartbroken, like Allyson, when she woke up and Willem was gone. I can’t imagine spending a day with a guy, falling for him, and then waking up the next day to find him gone. I was really glad that Allyson doesn’t spend the rest of the book being depressed about Willem. Yes, she is depressed in some of it, but she does start to get over it and do other things.

I’m kinda on the fence about Willem. I liked him, but I wasn’t totally sold on him. It was hard to really form an opinion on him because he wasn't in the entire book, but he seemed like a bit of a player and he was hard to read at times. I really don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m very curious about Willem and can’t wait to find out more about him in the next book. Also, I must know if he did really feel something for Allyson—the wait to discover this will drive me crazy!

As for the ending, I loved and hated it. I knew as soon as I started the book that it would end the way it did, but I didn’t know how or when it would happen. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it felt fitting to end the book there. That doesn’t make me any less angry that it ended there though.

I really enjoyed all of the settings, especially seeing Allyson at college and the places she visits when she travels. I enjoyed the new friends that Allyson makes throughout the book too—Dee especially! He was an awesome friend she met at college, and I liked that he was comfortable with who he was. I wasn’t too crazy about her best friend Melanie though—I didn’t think she was a good friend.

Overall, I loved Just One Day and highly recommend it. It has been over a month since I read it and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Just One Year—Willem’s story!—will be out in the fall of this year! This makes me extremely happy as I am dying for Just One Year. The wait feels torturous and I’m driving myself crazy coming up with all these theories about Allyson and Willem, and what could happen next. Seriously.

Cover Comments: I like it—it totally fits the book.

Overall: 5/5

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Psych Slumber Party

 
PSYCH is almost here- Season 7 kicks off February 27 at 10/9c!
 
I am so excited for Psych to be coming back on the air, so in honor of that, USA Network is hosting their first ever Psych Slumber Party. Want to have your own slumber party with friends this Friday night? Well, join USA, other fans, and Shooting Stars Mag! Use the above graphic to invite people to share in the love of Psych!


Participants can tweet throughout the night to @Psych_USA using #PsychSlumberParty and show how they’re spending the night up with other PSYCH-O’s. To ensure participants are able to stay up all night, PSYCH will be hosting a 2-hour trivia prize fest on Twitter and some participants may even get a call from Shawn and Gus.

For more information and exclusive content related to the Slumber Party marathon check out the official website where readers can find a Save the Date for the party.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Interview with Larry Buhl (The Genius of Little Things)


The Genius of Little Things by Larry Buhl
 
Interview by Lauren

FYI: The E-book will be free on Amazon for one day ONLY: Wednesday, Feb. 13th!

Buy the paperback

Buy the kindle

Official Summary: Sixteen-year-old Tyler’s big dream of becoming a top immunologist could come crashing down if he doesn’t manage all of the little things right now. But when this obsessive-compulsive science geek confronts a school election, a demeaning job, needy tutees, a first girlfriend, and the possible extinction of honeybees, there are suddenly too many things to manage. Tyler’s catastrophically humorous run for high school student council convinces the principal that he’s a troublemaker, while it wins him the admiration and desire of Rachel, a smart and iconoclastic reporter for the school paper. A new night job at a nursing home puts Tyler on a collision course with his new foster parents, a childless middle-aged couple with an agenda and a tragic past of their own. And the pain of his mother’s death becomes too big to ignore. Set on the mean streets of suburban Las Vegas, The Genius of Little Things is about how you can’t always get what you want. But sometimes, well, you know...

Interview

1. You say the age range for this novel is late teens. What aspects of the novel make you say this? (Drugs, swearing, sex use, etc?)
 
The narrator, Tyler, is sixteen, just about to turn seventeen. His
main goal is getting into the college of his dreams. He has his eye to
the future, and he is intent on starting his career as soon as
possible, rather than engaging in "teen things" like prom, or even
friendships. He WILL start doing those teen things, though. I say
late teens that's the intended age range, because I think younger readers, say
below 14, might not appreciate his approach to life. College at 14
seems like a far-off event and it may be hard to relate to. There is
an implied sex event or two, but nothing explicit (there's an
interrupted make-out session and an oblique reference to a possible
sexual encounter). There is some drug use, pot, but nothing hard drugs.
The janitor where Tyler works introduces him to trucker speed. I will
say Tyler does become a bit
hooked on that - plus over-the-counter decongestants and
prescription drugs, it has pretty bad consequences for him, as you can
imagine.


2. I'm a big fan of creative book titles, so I'm curious how you came up with yours (The Genius of Little Things) and if it wasn't the first choice, what others came before it?

The title came very late. My working title was Box o' Crap, which
Tyler calls the box of belongings he carries around from foster home
to foster home. It was a metaphor, also, for the emotions he stuffs
into a box. My first agent suggested that title, but when I completed
the book I decided that "Genius" would be better, because it fits who
he is. Tyler is obsessive compulsive about little things, but he's
missed the important things in life - human connection, and his own
happiness. It is also something his biological mother called him,
jokingly.

3. Reading the summary, my first thought was, what is a immunologist, so I figured I'd go ahead and ask the current expert! Care to explain?

Immunology is a branch of medical science that covers all aspects of
the immune system. Specifically Tyler is interested in this because
his mother had severe, life-threatening allergies. He has allergies,
too. He's interested in science, so it's a natural fit for him, and
the connection to his mother makes it personal. He believes he can
discover why our bodies treat harmless organisms, like dust, as
invaders in allergic people. He actually believes he can cure
allergies one day. He has a pretty inflated opinion of his intellect,
while at the same time he's painfully self-conscious about his social
abilities.
 
 4. The book takes place in Las Vegas; is there a particular reason you chose this setting, and how do you feel it adds to the story?

I have never lived in Las Vegas. It may be a nice place to live, but
it seems that it doesn't have a center. It is not homey. It is very
transient, and friends who live there say that's true, so I don't feel
like I'm denigrating it. I wanted to give Tyler an obstacle in terms
of location. He is alienated from others, for the most part, and the
city doesn't do him any favors, even when he tries to reach out.
Another obstacle is, he doesn't drive, and the public transportation
there is the worst, except in tourist areas. My feeling, echoed by
people who know the city well, is that there are a lot of people who
end up there, for a job, usually, but don't feel rooted or connected.
That was the case with Tyler's biological mother. She was a lounge
singer in a casino, and that's why she moved there. Tyler's latest
foster parents ended up there through circumstances they couldn't
control, and they don't like it very much either. Their house is
underwater (in value), something that is a reality in LV now. Some
neighborhoods feel emptied out. The economy there has taken a big hit
over the past five years.

 5. Finally, if you could choose a soundtrack for the book (songs that fit the characters or situations they get into), what songs would you want to include?

Glad you asked. I hadn't realized how many songs were referenced in
the story, until now. There's a party scene where the German new wave
song "99 Luftballoons" is a big hit. Later in the scene there is an
interrupted make-out scene set to a Leonard Cohen song, "Closing
Time." There is a reference to "Seventeen" by Janis Ian; it's kind of
a sad song about how she had no friends as a teen. "Daydream Believer"
is sung by a woman in a casino lounge; it reminds Tyler of his mother.
There is a dramatic emotional climax brought on by Tyler listening to
"Thank You" by Alanais Morissette. And the final scene features
"Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Movie Review: Warm Bodies


Movie: Warm Bodies

Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: After R (a highly unusual zombie) saves Julie from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world.

Review: Warm Bodies is a book by Isaac Marion and it's one that I've been wanting to read for awhile now. Alas, I still have not. However, I have no qualms seeing the movie first...so I went ahead and saw this one with my sister and a group of friends. As far as I can tell, everyone enjoyed the film, and that includes girls and guys.

Despite wanting to read this book, another key reason I wished to see this movie so much is that R is played by Nicholas Hoult. One of my favorite films is About a Boy (starring a young Hoult) and a favorite TV series of mine is generation one of the UK show Skins (starring a teen Hoult). As the loveable zombie R, I think Hoult did a great job. I kept thinking how difficult it must have been for some of these scenes. When you're a zombie, you have an awkward walk and form of speaking (most of Hoult's lines were a voice-over narration, giving a lot of enjoyable humor to the film), so I can only imagine the difficulty the actors faced getting used to that form of acting.

Along with R, the other main character is a girl named Julie (played by Teresa Palmer), who R ends up saving from the other zombies by masking her human scent and having her play along as if she's now a zombie. The two of them embark on an nontraditional relationship, first as friends and then as something more as R slowly starts to get warmer and more human.

One thing that I can say about this movie is that it's kind of a Romeo and Juliet meets Zombie flick. While the romance isn't as deep or tragic as Romeo and Juliet (even though you might think it would be), I'm pretty sure the author meant for this comparison to be made. After all, R could be Romeo and Julie could be Juliet.  And while I cannot attest to the novel, the movie has a balcony scene!


I really enjoyed the secondary cast as well. R's best friend M (Rob Corddry) adds some of the humor as well, and while he doesn't have a major role, he's always popping up when he's needed. His first introduction is also amusing, since the two "best friends" can do little more than grunt when hanging out.

I enjoyed this one! It's a movie I would definitely go see again. Also, while I thought it was probably a bit longer than it needed to be, it had enough to keep me interested throughout. I certainly hope to read the actual book someday soon!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton


The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Review by Lauren

Copy: I bought this for school

Review: I suppose because this is an older book, I cannot find an official summary that doesn't give away the entire plot. However, I will try and briefly explain what The Age of Innocence is about. The book mostly follows the point of view of Newland Archer, who is engaged to be married to May Welland. However, May's cousin, Countess Olenska (or Ellen) is back in town from living in Europe for many years. She has left her husband, which is a bit of a scandal for old New York society. Ellen does not realize this, though, and believes everyone to be warmly welcoming her back.

As Archer gets to know Ellen, he soon finds himself falling for her, but he's grown up in this society and knows it would not be proper to leave May. At the same time, he discourages Ellen from properly divorcing her husband, so when he realizes the depth of his feelings for Ellen, he cannot do much about them...as she is not a free woman, and essentially, neither is he.

Hopefully that is enough to go on as I don't want to spoil things for those that wish to read this book. As mentioned above and in a previous post, I am reading this novel for class. It's not my first book by Wharton and overall, she's quite a good author. I loved learning more about Wharton as a person and that she shunned the type of society that Archer and May grew up in, which makes her a bit more like Ellen than any of the other characters, I think.

Overall, I enjoyed The Age of Innocence. It would be great for people interested in this time period and old New York society, but not suitable for those that don't like slower-paced novels. One of my bigger issues with the book are all the descriptions. I'm much more of a dialogue reader and overly descriptive passages tend to bore me. The Age of Innocence has a nice mix overall, and I understood that most of the descriptions that Wharton included were necessary, so it wasn't completely bothersome. One of the highlights was actually the end, which might surprise some that have read the book or end up reading the book but I feel like it was suitable for the characters and the world they lived in.

I'm curious though- since this is a classic novel- who had to read it for a class? Or did you pick it up for fun? Feel free to share your thoughts- but no big spoilers!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: Memphis the Musical


Memphis the Musical

Review by Lauren

Official Memphis the Musical Website

Currently, Huey is being played by Bryan Fenkart and Felicia is being played by Felicia Boswell

Website Summary: TURN UP THAT DIAL…From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, comes a hot new Broadway musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, MEMPHIS is about a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break.

Review: If you live in or near Cincinnati, Ohio, then you have probably heard of The Aronoff Center. Every year, we get about seven different musicals. This normally goes from September to May, with other random shows inbetween and during the summer. 2012/2013 is the second year I have gotten season tickets, which means I get to see six out of the seven musicals, which is awesome, since I'm a big broadway fan. Last Sunday, I saw Memphis with my mom and we both highly enjoyed it!

The story was interesting, yet easy to follow, and you're sure to root for the main couple (Felicia and Huey) to get everything they want. It's a nice mix of slow-paced and upbeat songs (though the upbeat ones were some of my favorites!) My mom commented during intermission that Memphis was keeping her interest much more than other musicals we've seen. We tend to enjoy almost any show we go too, but like my mom said, some just capture you more than others. Memphis is definitely something I would be willing to see again.



My favorite character was definitely Huey because he's just so lovable. He has a good personality, adds a lot of the humor, loves music and his family, and more than anything, his home town of Memphis.

I've been meaning to do reviews of these shows for awhile, and I finally decided to go ahead and do so. I figure it will be nice to hear from others that have seen the shows or may want too...and if you haven't heard of Memphis, you should give it a shot. Is it coming near you soon?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Put Me in the Story: 30% Off Personalized Books



You can get this personalized Elmo book for 30% off, or you can choose from any other story at  Put Me in the Story.

Just enter the code LOVE30 at checkout. This offer starts today and expires February 15, 2013.
 

Elmo is turning 3½ and your child is invited to the party with Put Me In The Story! Give them their very own personalized message from Elmo in a book they will treasure all year long.

For the first time in personalized form, this bestselling children’s book from Sesame Workshop will captivate your child and have them telling you all the things they love.
 
 
Visit this link to tour the Elmo book, read the full summary, and find out what other readers think! Best of all? There is free standard shipping on all personalized books!
 
Keep an eye out for my own review later this month!


It's the Superbowl, My Dear Watson


Last Friday, I did a post about The Following and how it's one of my new favorite shows. Well, so is Elementary...I haven't done a post about this one yet, so I wanted to do so really quick.

Tonight, after the Super Bowl, you can catch a new episode of Elementary! This show stars Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as a female Watson, named Joan. I'm a huge fan of the BBC Sherlock that brought Holmes into the modern day...but I really love Elementary too, which does the same.

There are plenty of differences, though, to make it interesting. First off, Elementary is an hour long show every week, whereas BBC Sherlock has three 90 minute episodes per season. Holmes is British, but the show takes place in New York. One of the big differences, of course, is that Watson is a female. Don't worry...there is no Watson/Holmes romance and I've read that the creators of the show never want there to be. I'm pretty stoked about that, personally. Also, Watson is a doctor but she's also living with Holmes because she's his sober companion. And then you do get other characters that Sherlock fans will know from pretty much any adaptation like Irene Adler and Moriarty.

Who else is watching this show? Are you just as intrigued by it as I am? (please no spoilers so as not to ruin it for others- and I also need to watch this past Thursday's episode still before tonight)!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Movie Review: Django Unchained


Movie: Django Unchained

Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Review: I'm pretty sure the only film I've seen by Quentin Tarantino before was Pulp Fiction, and honestly, I wasn't the biggest fan. However, a friend wanted to see a movie this past weekend and there wasn't much out I wanted to see (and hadn't already seen over winter break) so we decided to give Django Unchained a shot. While it's a bit of a lengthy film (and probably didn't need to be), we both enjoyed it a lot.

However, for those that haven't seen the previews, his name is essentially Jango because the D is silent.


Back to the film- this is one of those movies that is pretty hard to describe. It's kind of a western, but it takes place when slavery is going on. Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave that is freed by Dr. King Schultz (played wonderfully by Christoph Waltz) in order to help him fulfill a bounty. After this, Schultz decides to help Django free his wife  Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from a horrible owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).

One of my favorite aspects of this film was the music. It's a mix between western and rap/hip hop, giving the movie more of a modern feel during those scenes. There is a lot of violence and blood, so if you get easily sickened by that sort of thing, then I would skip this film. There is also some humor that is almost hard to view as humor, because you're thinking of how awful these people and slavery were back in the day. However, I think Tarantino was creating something of a satire, and you're supposed to find most of the white characters ridiculous (even Tarantino, who has a small role near the end) and root for the black characters (particularly Django and Broomhilda) to find happiness...after enacting revenge, of course.

I am excited that I saw this movie before the Oscars though. I feel like I've seen most of the main films that were nominated now, and that makes watching the awards a bit more interesting.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Currently Reading (Four Novels and Then Some)

Wow, it's been a week of no new posts. I'm sorry about that. School and work is really killing me this semester, as I have more to do than I have in long while. I want to try and schedule more posts like I did when the semester started, so hopefully the blog won't be SO blank.

Right now, I want to share the books I'm reading, which might explain the lack of book reviews. I have a lot to read for school so it's a lot of back and forth, but I'm almost finished with some...so I'll try and review them in a week or so!


Exposure by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

Reading for the blog (review copy)

I'm enjoying it so far. It's a fast read; I just haven't had much time to read review books with school. This is my first Twisted Lit novel...these ladies write YA books based around Shakespeare plays...and Exposure is all about Macbeth.


The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Reading for school (American Literature class)

This one was difficult to get into at first...and I'm still not entirely sure what I feel about it. It's not bad, and I am enjoying it on various levels, but it's very much about old New York society and living within those parameters, so there are a lot of details about that. I've read Ethan Frome by Wharton and as far as I remember, I enjoyed that one (it's been about six years...I just read it for fun really).


The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

Reading for school (Contemporary British Studies class)

This book seems to be a bit hit and miss with my class at the moment, but overall, I do like it. It has a very interesting set up that might take a bit to get used too...and the overall main character, Anna, is sometimes hard to take, but it's still worth checking out. The one complaint I keep making to my family, though, is that it's a slow read. By that I mean...I'm not a fast reader, but I can be reading this book for an hour and look and see that I haven't even reached fifty pages. I don't really know why it's so slow of a read, because it's mostly eventful throughout...maybe it's just so long (over 600 pages, I think).


The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Reading for school (Hitchcock film class)

I've already read this before and highly enjoyed it. I'm a big fan of Wilde, but I really want to read more by him. However, I'm re-reading this novel for my online Hitchock class (which I've spoken of in a previous post). One of our early assignments is to read this book in honor of Hitchcock's doubles. Dorian Gray isn't a really long novel (called a novella by some) but with everything else I'm reading, I have to keep going back and forth between my books just to keep up and keep track. Hope to finish this one soon, though! If you haven't read it yet, DO SO!

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There you have it! These are the four novels that I'm currently reading. I'm also in a Romantic Literature class that has me reading a lot of poetry, but I figured I wouldn't include that here! I'm taking a break from Romantic Times, though, because I would have a book a month for them and I just don't have time. I want to try and review most of the novels I read for school here so I'm adding more book reviews, but I'll hopefully get a handle on things soon and finish Exposure as well as read/review some other review copies I have on hand.

What are you reading? Read any of the above? Look out for reviews soon!!