Sep 18, 2015

Alice in Zombieland

She won't rest until she's sent every walking corpse back to its grave.  Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed.  From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined?  Please.  But that's all it took.  One heartbeat.  A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right.  The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead.  To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland.  But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.

Yes, there are zombies.  Yes, there are elements of Alice in Wonderland.  No, this is not Alice in Wonderland with zombies thrown in.  Although a book like that does exist (Alice in Zombieland by Nickolas Cook - I don't recommend it). 

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Gena Showalter has put a fresh spin on zombies and Alice, much to my delight.  I originally found this book, after reading the other Alice in Zombieland, and picked it up hoping that it would be more of the book I wanted to read, rather than the one I actually read (can you tell I was not impressed?).  This time, I wasn't let down. 

Although it's based on Alice in Wonderland to a degree, I'll be honest with you - I can't pick out most of the counterparts.  Obviously, there's Alice.  Her best friend is Kat, so that one wasn't hard.  And then, at least in my mind, Cole is the Hatter.  Other than that I'm not sure who would be who.  And the really great part is that it doesn't matter.  This is a story built on its own foundations, and even if you had never heard of Alice in Wonderland, it would still hold up. 

The zombies are even better.  They're not your typical undead-eat flesh-shambling killing machines.  In Alice's world, most people can't see zombies and have no idea they even exist.  These zombies exist in the spirit world, which makes for an interesting way of dealing with and fighting them.  People in the physical world are still in danger, only they have no idea what that danger is.  Alice and her friends are a group of slayers, who have the ability to fight the zombies in their natural habitat.  This ability is something that, while not rare, is also not rampant among the population and sets them apart.

Alice in Zombieland is also a young adult novel, so the main characters are all teenagers.  With teenagers comes a certain degree of angst, but it's handled well here.  I also find it believable for the most part, rather than overblown.  The teenagers act like teenagers, but they're still fully realized people.  Being a teenager is only one aspect of their lives, and the typical tropes aren't taking over the story even if they do show up. That being said, I do have a couple of things that I'm not fond of.  The story is set in modern day, and therefore the teenagers text - with all the abbreviations and acronyms and what not that is probably 100% typical.  However, I can't stand it.  I almost physically cringe when I read over the texts with too many 2's and U's.  My other issue is the reinforcement of how "bad" the bad boys are.  Not only do they look mean, but they have tattoos, and piercings, and more.  It's driven home and I feel we don't need so many reminders.  It is told from the point of view of a teenage girl though, so I guess maybe it's to be expected.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Alice in Zombieland, and I'm excited to see how the story continues in Through the Zombie Glass.  Actually, I've already started reading it!   

Sep 16, 2015

Jurassic World vs. Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

I went to the theater and saw Jurassic World with my nephew not long after it came out.  When we were leaving he asked me what I thought of it, and I replied with something akin to "It's not Jurassic Park."  He scoffed at me, as teenagers do, and we continued on our way.  I had trouble explaining to my nephew just what it was that was off for me, I just knew it wasn't Jurassic Park.  I didn't have the same feelings watching Jurassic World as I did with Jurassic Park.

Later, I went and saw Jurassic World again with my best friend, and at the end of the movie asked her what she thought and related the above anecdote.  She asked me what I meant, and I kind of thought here we go again, since I'd already had trouble explaining this difference once.  However, she understood what I was trying to explain, and was able to sum it up nicely.  Jurassic Park is a suspense movie, and Jurassic World is an action movie. 

When I heard her say that I exclaimed "Exactly!" That was the difference I was trying to put my finger on, and couldn't quite articulate.  Part of the problem for me was that I don't think I'd ever tried to categorize Jurassic Park.  When explaining it I described the sense of tension I felt throughout the movie, and that's what lead to the categorization of a suspense movie. 


Now, all that being said, even though I didn't have a concise categorization of Jurassic World, I enjoyed it much more the second time through.  I knew what to expect and I wasn't going in thinking it would have the same kind of feel as Jurassic Park.  Chris Pratt as Owen Grady is easily the best part of Jurassic World.  I also liked Lowery (who I thought was named Larry until I caught his name in the credits after the second viewing). 

My favorite dinosaurs were the Velociraptors, made even better since Owen trained them and the "raptor pack" was able to be born.  The "big bad" dinosaur, Indominus Rex, wasn't bad.  She had some cool abilities, but I feel some of the awe and scariness was lost in the way she interacted with the people and the environment.  I felt there was a lot more  general destruction, rather than hunting.  

Both movies are a lot of fun, but for me Jurassic Park is definitely the winner. 

Feb 1, 2014


I think creativity can be  a fickle thing.  On the one hand, it's kind of like riding a bike.  After not having used my graphics program for years, creativity struck and I was able to still navigate it and create what I wanted.  On the other hand, for me at least, creativity is something that has to used every so often.  I need to remember that it is there, within me, and I can still use it.  It's something that can strike without warning, or something that you have to dredge up and work for.  That's why I think it's fickle.  It's not a constant thing in my life, and it's so tied up into emotions and actions.


There are different kinds of creativity as well.  This morning was using my graphics program again.  Last November it was writing a novel (or at least the start to one).  I have the urge to go back and visit a couple of other things I've written, and see if I can turn them into something more. 


I made a card today for a penpal, and it's nothing fancy.  I didn't do much as far as editing the graphic or anything, really.  But it was enough to help pull some of that creativity back to the forefront.  A little nudge that told me I still had fun with this stuff, even if it had been years since I've made anything.   It's a good feeling. 


Now to hold on to that and make sure I put it to good use.  

Nov 3, 2013

A new start!

So I've revamped my website.  Completely.  If you remember what was up here before, it was a small landing page and a few links to some random stuff.  I didn't update, and there wasn't much of note.  The website was really kind of just a waste.  Since I wanted to use my domain for something productive, I decided to turn it into my main blog.  I'm going to try and start writing in here more regularly, and mostly post whatever strikes my fancy. 


I'll be porting in my blog called Expanding Horizons, so that will be my starting point.  I set up Expanding Horizons as a way to do movie and book reviews.  That will continue.  But I'll also post about my forays into the world of beauty.  I'm trying to learn more about makeup and nails and what not.  And then there may also be some random other things going on.  General posts if I feel like talking, maybe some cooking stuff, or something about myc ats. 


So really, this is going to be a random blog of my life.   


I've been playing with the blog, and I think I like the way it is set up now.  The posts that I've imported are not set up as nicely as I would like, so I'll probably work on getting those formatted better as I have time to do so.  In the meantime I get to learn how to format new posts and make them do what I want.  Fun!  (Yes, there's some sarcasm there).  :)

Feb 29, 2012

Morrigan's Cross

Morrigan's Cross is the first in The Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts, and like all good beginnings, we're introduced to the major characters.  This set of books happens to have six, but the first and foremost is a gentleman named Hoyt.  He is the central figure of the book, and is referred to as a "serious man" in earnest and in jokes.   That's a pretty accurate description of him.   Hoyt is a sorcerer from 12th century Ireland, who gets pulled forward in time to battle Lilith, the vampire queen.   This makes his character feel out of place for most of the book, some of which is to be expected, but I'm hoping that in the second book he will have become more comfortable in his own skin.

Morrigan's Cross book coverHoyt is tasked with finding the other members that will make up the circle for the fight to come.  We meet each of these characters, as they're introduced throughout the book.  Each of these six main characters has a part to play in the coming story.  During this book they're all trying to learn what that role is and how to interact with each other.  As this progresses into the second book I expect we'll see that they play larger parts than just the role initially assigned to them.

 A lot happens in this first book; time travel, death, a wedding, fights, and with so many characters involved there's the worry that the story will become overly complicated and lose the reader.  That didn't happen here.  Even for all the action and interaction of the characters, it was easy to keep up with which made for an enjoyable read.

 This is the first novel by Nora Roberts I've read, and I have to admit that I was originally a little biased towards her and  thought I might not enjoy her work.  In my mind Nora Roberts was pegged squarely in the romance category, and not in a good way.  I can't really explain where that notion came from, but I'm glad that I have the chance to revisit my opinion.

 A friend of mine gave this trilogy to me as a Christmas present, and proved my initial conception wrong.  It was definitely a good choice to spark my interest, as it falls into my favorite genres of books - fantasy and the supernatural.   I was eager to know what would happen to the characters, and how the story would unfold.  Yes, there's still some romance in here, but the characters and the plot drive this book, not just the romantic interactions.   I became invested in the book, and now I can't wait to read the next two in the trilogy.   I have another Nora Roberts trilogy that was given to me as well, and it's now gotten a higher spot in my to read list.

Next up is The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi for the book club I'm in.  After that I'll be back to read the second book in The Circle Trilogy.

Feb 18, 2011

The Stars My Destination

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Book Club - February 6, 2011

starsmydestination.jpgA little late for me to be writing a review, and I can't guarantee I'll remember everything either, but since this is just a general response that should be okay.  This year I decided to join in a book club some of my friends were having, not only to read more varied books, but also to meet people and gain some new friends.  The Stars My Destination was the first book I read to participate in the book club.

I found the story intriguing, and was quite curious throughout my reading to find out what would happen next, and what the setting would be. A large part of what kept me involved in the story were the descriptions of the places and the way in which the story was told.  In general I'm not a big science fiction fan, I often find strictly science fiction books hard to keep up with because I don't have the right mindset to understand the science involved (whether or not it's real science), so I often lose the story in the more technical aspects.  Bester told the story with a great descriptive quality, which allowed me to enjoy it without getting lost in the science.

This was key for me, because I didn't really like many of the characters.  The main character, Gully Foyle, I didn't care much about one way or the other.  The female characters I thought were interesting, but possibly only because  I could relate to them a bit more, being a female myself.  My favorite character in the book, you could technically say was not a character at all.  Fourmyle of Ceres was fun and extremely over the top, bringing in a fantastical element that I really enjoyed.  Although I didn't care much about most of the characters, they were still well written and able to present the story that was being told.

Overall this was an interesting book, and one that I'm glad to have read.   I would happily recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction, and maybe even those who aren't so sure about it.

Jan 31, 2011

Phoebe in Wonderland

The description on Netflix for Pheobe in Wonderland doesn't tell you much about the story, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out what the movie was really about.  Even though I didn't know much about it, I decided to curl up and watch this movie last night.  I think what caught my eye was the image for the movie, and that the main character was played by Elle Fanning.  I've also found that I really enjoy the Alice in Wonderland story, and anything having to do with that seems to catch my eye.phoebe.jpg

I don't want to give anything away, so I'm not going to say much here.  Elle Fanning does a fantastic job at playing Phoebe, a little girl who uses Wonderland as an escape.  The story is told well, with the fantastic elements expected of anything associated with Wonderland, and a grip on reality that's almost heartbreaking as you watch what Phoebe and her family go through.  I laughed, and I cried, and had a feeling of happiness and satisfaction with how the ending unfolded.

 This isn't really a kids movie, it's actually rated PG-13, so don't think that just because Wonderland is involved it's something for the little ones.  It is, however, a very good story that I highly recommend.

Jan 29, 2011

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

sorcerersapprentice.jpgLast night I watched The Sorcerer's Apprentice starring Nicolas Cage.  It was a cute movie, and rather enjoyable overall.  However it was geared towards a younger audience and some of the plot seemed a bit too convenient.  Dave, the kid who becomes the apprentice, is not very good with magic which makes for some fun scenes in the movie.  He is very good at science, and the subplot of how he gets the girl was rather enjoyable.  I liked the Tesla coils reacting to music.  That's probably my favorite scene in the movie.

The end of the movie is one of those moments where everything worked out just a little too easily.  I like the way things turned out, and it's definitely a Disney ending, but I feel that it should have been a little harder for Dave.  I was happy that he put his knowledge of science to us in helping defeat the bad guys, rather than everything being reliant on magic.

I'd give it three stars, maybe four.  Definitely a fun movie for the family, and one I enjoyed watching.  I'd suggest renting it if you're interested.

Mar 29, 2010

A Wrinkle in Time (2003)

A Wrinkle in Time (2003)

wrinkleintime.jpgIt's been a fair amount of time since I've read the Madeleine L'Engle books, and therefore I think watching the movie was an easier and more enjoyable experience.  I wasn't caught in the trap of constantly comparing the two and trying to find the flaws in the adaptation.  Even for as long as the movie was (over two hours), I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The acting was done really well, the boy playing Charles Wallace was spot on.  He was also the little boy in The Ring, and I think he has a knack for roles of odd/precocious children.  All the characters were basically what I remembered from the books.  It was fun to get acquainted with them all again.  The imagery in the movie was very vivid and encompassing.  Parts were cheesy, like the travel through the tesseract, but that's to be expected to a degree.  And the movie didn't take it too far, so while it was cheesy, it was still acceptable and easy to look past.  The places they visited though, were amazing.  I particularly enjoyed the cavern of the Happy Medium, where the glow worms fed off of laughter.

It was a very nice way to spend the evening, and I'm glad I decided to bump this to the top of my queue and watch it.  I think it's a great movie for kids and adults alike.

Mar 24, 2010

Say Anything

After seeing and hearing about the iconic scene where John Cusack holds a boombox over his head in order to win back the girl he loves, I decided it was finally time to see this movie.  I started it one evening, and stopped it halfway through and then finished it last night. Although it didn't hold my attention enough to finish it in the same sitting, I am happy I watched through it to find out the rest of the story. I think I had built this up too much in my head because the actual movie didn't pan out to what I had hoped it would be.

The first half didn't grab me much, but it was your overall typical high school story.  I found the second half more interesting, but then was let down by that pivotal scene I mentioned above.  Because it wasn't really that pivotal.  That scene isn't what got them back together, it didn't change the story any.  If she would have at least looked out the window, or allowed herself a private smile that showed she was hearing and responding to what he had done for her, I would have enjoyed it more.  As the scene played out it was very anti-climactic. 

I enjoyed John Cusack's performance, as I always do. He's an actor I really like. Other actors in the movie also put in wonderful performances.  The dad was phenomenal, and got across all the emotions needed to portray someone doing something so distasteful, but yet believing it really was the best and right thing to do for his daughter.  I enjoyed that Jeremy Piven showed up, he's another actor I enjoy watching on the screen and he came off well as one of the guys.

I believe that if I had seen this movie while still in high school, or around that age range, it would have affected me much differently, and perhaps I would have connected with the characters more.  As it stands, it's a cute movie.  I don't dislike it, but I don't really like it either.  I'd say 3 stars on my scale.

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