Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Land of Nod

The Land of Nod, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Hunter
The matte finish and muted palette of this cover really draws me in.  The stars on the hardback edition shine in silver contrast.  The poly-chromatic illustration style makes me feel like I've come upon a classic from a bygone era.  When I asked my girls, "What do you like about this book?" they all said "The illustrations!"  I'm in complete agreement.  I would keep this if it was without text, the illustrations are that good.  The text is a fairly simple four stanza poem (featuring a hanging half-rhymne) which didn't knock my socks off...but it didn't detract either.  The story shares elements with a number of other dream-books (I've even read a few with toys as dream-stars), but again, the illustrations.  If this appeals to you visually... should move on this one.  (Isn't it gorgeous?!)

Review copy received from Walker.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mini Movie Reviews: Bulk Hit No 50

Passengers (2016)
This is certainly a discussion piece.  Haki and I saw this for our 14th Wedding Anniversary Date last week and agreed it was entertaining with lots of what I call Sci-Feye Candy.  I do get the gripes relating to the interpretation of the moral, but if you've seen it, I can make my case for how this works as a Fate Film. There's nudity and sex.
Odd Thomas
This felt older than 2013.  Not a good sign.  I enjoyed the book and Haki endured the adaptation to be kind.  Just read the book.  It's bad.  (The special effects are okay, the script is okay, the acting is not.)

Me Before You
Holy sequels, Batman!   This is much better than I expected!  It was tender and awesome!  The relationships are fantastic.  It was delightful to see the characters older and more grounded.  I love the messages too!  I still can't get over how much better these movies are than the book they're drawn from.  My girls all love this (even Mia, surprisingly).
This Old West Melodrama had so many great names, we couldn't resist.  We can forgive it being predictable and formulaic, given the genre.  It's got a very high body count (read: violent).  It had some great moments, but I won't ever re-view this one.  Unless you are craving exactly all these things, you should skip it.

David Brent: Life on the Road
As happy as I was to hear his little laugh and spend some more time with this character...I didn't enjoy this movie.  It showcases some of his most vulgar and ugly attributes instead of the stuff I enjoyed most about him in The Office.  It's vulgar-sweary, sad and the kind of uncomfortable Brent does best (only it's too much for hurts my heart).  Haki thinks the ending made good of the whole thing and be the judge.
This is pretty good. Christianity is entirely absent in the world. Scary for little ones
Think Like a Man 
Surprisingly engrossing...but not great; more of a fun flick where you have to ignore disappointing types and content.
GoodThe diversity angle is gooood.
Thunder and the House of Magic
Quite fun. Girls enjoyed. Villain says "damn."
Pretty good. 
Finding Dory
Another sequel that is better than sequels usually are. I'm not a massive fan of the franchise (I cannot get into it because Ellen's voice is so distinctive for me, all I can see is her in a booth recording...I can't be with the characters!). Just as good as Nemo, I'd say.  Maybe better...although derivative.  I did find a couple scenes very funny.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mini Movie Reviews: Bulk Hit No 49

What a glorious Summer of Cinema it has been!  I've broken this burst into two; bulk Hit No 50 comin' atcha tomorrow.
Rogue One
Loved.  I gush regularly to anyone who will listen.  I won't go into detail here, but know that I'm very firmly planted in the fan camp for this movie.  Very.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I liked this more than any of the Harry Potter movies.  It was deeply sad...but it was also silly and fun.  The playfulness, the 20's, the American terminology, the freedom of adults to use magic -- all made up for the things that bugged me.
The Jungle Book
Okay.  The trailer made me hope for more than I got.  The inconsistencies in scale irked me to the point of distraction and realistic film animals talking is always hard for me.  The older two girls enjoyed it.  I won't purchase this one.

Jason Bourne
Average or below.  Missable.  They should've left this alone. 
The special effects aren't bad.  There's some great familiar faces amongst the cast.  It is just above par in that it has some great scenes and moments...but overall it loses the plot too much around midway to recommend it with any enthusiasm.  (Haki and I were going, "Why are they all dying here?  WHY?)
Kubo and the Two Strings
I found this gorgeous to watch and quite touching.  Haki didn't think it was worth all the hype, and I wouldn't call it perfection...but I think it's very good.  We saw this in 3D in its opening week...the 3D was okay, but I don't think a major part of my reaction to it visually.
The Little Prince
This one was too abstract for my young viewers.  It is heavy on the allegory about aging and how we live before we die.  I found it interesting and mesmerising aesthetically. 
The Fundamentals of Caring
So...this is super sweary.  Not for many of my readers.  One characters makes vulgar comments to act out.  In spite of these things, Haki and I not only stuck with it, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  Heads up.
I almost saw this in-cinema 6 years ago.  I watched it alone a few weeks ago at home.  It has such great direction, a good script and great acting (and what an cast!).  These parts made it easier to suspend disbelief when relationships reach new depths fairly rapidly.  I found it funny, different, moving and uplifting.  It was an emotional rollercoaster!  Buuut...let it be known it has bursts of serious swearing and a negative-angle on marriage intimacy by way of a brief sex scene.   If those things don't put you off, this is a moving comedy-drama worth checking out.
This is a lower budget Christian movie.  It took me by surprise.  I thoroughly enjoyed it...and if you don't mind corny rom coms and you're a Sabbath-Day-observer...I think this is a sweet little flick for a Sunday home-date night.  (Haki thought it was funny and nice too.)

Here is where normal ends and crazy begins. Apparently this holiday season I took it upon myself to screen all the made-for-TV movies available on Netflix.  You know, sometimes a decent one sneaks into the slush pile.  In my defence, we have been battling head lice and nits for weeks and kids sit still for screens...and these are movies I could bear to not have eyes on (since they were on the many many strands on my three daughters' heads).  Please, return to here in your own moment of weakness to check before you hit "Play," for your own good.

These are the ones I was surprised to find okay:

October Kiss
This is how I spent Halloween.  This is a really clean movie with a lot of cheese...but I enjoyed it.

November Rule
This one floats more mainstream...and was cruder.  Premarital sex is implied and referenced.  There are disappointingmoral choices (then apologies).  It was funnier than most of the dross.

12 Dates of Christmas
Groundhog Day with a female protag.  Cheesey but fun.  Massive bonus: It's clean.

These are the ones I was surprised my girls liked:

Angels in the Snow
Awful.  My kids (and one of my friends kids in particular) loved it.  Includes references to death, family arguments and mentions divorce.

Angel of Christmas
It feels so made-for-TV. Very average in script and more but very clean.  The girls found it darling and still talk about it. 

Autumn Dreams
Pretty mediocre, but again: clean.

These are the movies I think you should definitely skip:

The Spirit of Christmas 
So bad.  Time wasted.

Meet my Valentine
Weird. Light relief guy not very funny, child actor not flash.  Didn't buy it. 

I turned off pretty smartly:
Mothers and Daughters
W./E.- this should be R not M, the first five minutes alone are awful.
Harvest Moon
Just the way you are
The Long Short - Some of you may like this.  It's a slow-burn doc-feel movie. 
Merry Kissmass  - I know.  I know.  Despite promising two things I know I like very much...this I did not like at all.  I'm not a total sucker.  I knew to stay away from Rodeo & Juliet, okay?

Back with more tomorrow!  I hope you found at least one on this list that fell between the cracks for you...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Parenting Reference Book of Now
How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen, Joanna Faber & Julie King
A small proportion of parenting books resonate with me.  This is one of my favourites.  I've consulted it after frustrating days, during inspired intentional mornings like a game plan, and in conversations with Haki.  I love the ideas, love the examples, and LOVE LOVE LOVE the cartoon strip summaries at the end of chapters.  I've been "in" this book for months now and I intend to stay in it...for quite some time.  An excellent resource for parents who believe in the power of positive speech and respectful, empowering interactions with their children. 

Review copy from Netgalley.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Who's Afraid? Sequel

Who's Afraid Too? Maria Lewis
Some time ago I read the first installment in the Tommi Grayson series.  It wasn't Briggs or Stiefvater, but it was fun.  Quite.    It was a fair tie-over if you were missing werewolves -- and I've recommend it as such -- but by no means is it a match for the aforementioned powerhouses.
  • Book 2 didn't start so well for me.  I found the opening scene close to dull and the love story jumped too much.  The intrigue of a peripheral character introduced relatively early was the book's greatest redeeming quality.
  • There's a sex scene early.  This cemented my feeling that these two books are less appropriate for my future YA than some alternatives (I still remember the attempted sexual violence of the first book with little appreciation).
  • After leaving Bardugo, this writing seems so plain.  It isn't awful -- I mean, it is coherent and descriptive...but it isn't Bardugo...or beautiful.  Hard act indeed.
  • Instead of sounding with it, I found too often dialogue crossedover into a try-hard area of colloquialisms or casual cussing that I find a huge turn-off.  Characters using "the F-bomb?" as a question or starting sentences "Imma" or going into the depths of  "a joint" (premises) sounds lame to me.  I'd go so far as to say it led me to...
  • ...not liking the characters.  I thought they were lame for talking that way.  And then they did lame things.  Like using sex as a band-aid and calling it f*ing.  Gross.  After the characters had sex once when "they shouldn't have and she didn't want to but what she did" and then another time when she was angry and grieving...I lost too much respect to get back into the story.  Everything I read started to sound even more loserish and wannabe.  The characters seemed horny more than they seemed anything else and I didn't respect them or what to know them.  They weren't people I'd want to hang out with. 
If you were a big fan of the first, you may be pleased.  If you found Book 1 only so-so, you should go re/read some Mercy.  I was happy enough after Book 1 that I knew I was up to see where things went...but I'm done now.  What perhaps was intended as edgy came off as insensitive.  I cannot get behind a character that jokes about dead babies.  The end. #Mercyforlife

In bookstores today.

Review copy received from Hachette.
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