Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wolfsbane Giveaway Winner

Thank you so much to all who participated in the giveaway! I loved reading your responses. A couple of them even made me choke with laughter. =) I hope each of you enjoyed reading the other comments too. Don't be sad if you didn't win this time, there will be more giveaways soon!

And the winner, courtesy of, is...


Congratulations Sarena! You did not leave your e-mail address, so please send me a message by Thursday at 12pm EST. Make sure you tell me whether you would like Nightshade or Wolfsbane and include your mailing address.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Movie Review: Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Directed by Doug Liman

A bored married couple is surprised to learn that they are both assassins hired by competing agencies to kill each other.  (Synopsis from IMDB)

Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a film about a married couple, John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie), who have grown bored with their seemingly normal lives. The reality is that they both have very exciting lives due to their profession, but they hide it from their spouse which is causing problems. John and Jane are assassins and their next target is each other. John is sent on a mission to find Benjamin Danz (Adam Brody). While Jane is also sent after Benjamin “The Tank” Danz, they do not know that the other is there. This is really a ploy to get them to go after one another. Once they realize who their real target is, the fun really begins. They are very dedicated to their profession and so they begin fighting. They destroy their house in the process, but soon realize the reason that they were married five (or six) years ago. Once John and Jane know that they are both assassins, their lives change. They are no longer bored with their married lives because they are no longer hiding behind fake personas.

The theme of Mr. and Mrs. Smith seems to be that pretending to be someone else only causes problems, while being one's self allows one to experience true happiness. The theme is reflected throughout the Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Once John and Jane know that they are rival assassins they are able to be themselves. They learn much more about the other and are able to become happy with their lives rather than bored. Throughout the movie there are times when it cuts to John and Jane talking with their marriage counselor. As the story progresses, viewers can really see the change in John and Jane's demeanor as they open up as much as they can without revealing everything. The difference between their first and their last session is incredible and paves the way for a promising future. Similar in theme to this film is The Whole Nine Yards, which is another great film.

The angle and lighting used throughout the film creates the feeling of being in the scene with the characters. It also allows viewers to really focus on what is happening in each scene. For example, during the fight between John and Jane at their home, viewers can see from the perspective of John at some points and from Jane at others. When they actually face each other there is a whole new element to the way the camera is angled. Also, when John and Jane are looking for the convoy with Benjamin Danz, the angle that is used allows viewers to focus in on certain aspects of the scene, such as both John and Jane, the scenery, and the convoy. As far as lighting, this film uses it to focus on specific characters or objects throughout the film and to create certain feelings. For example, when John and Jane are fighting at their home, it is dark outside and all of the focus is on what the two characters are doing and how they are using their skill and tactics to attempt to kill the other because of the concentration of the lighting on them. When John and Jane are fighting, viewers can see that although they are assassins they still care about their spouse. If they had shared their secrets earlier, then they would not have been tricked into trying to eliminate each other.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Movie Review: A Clockwork Orange, Directed by Stanley Kubrick

In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem... but not all goes to plan. (Synopsis from IMDB)

One of the films that I reviewed for my class was A Clockwork Orange. It is a very unique film that is based on the novel by Anthony Burgess. It is not the typical setting because it brings in many elements that create a futuristic feel. The props that were used really contributed to the feel of the film. Along with the props were the costumes and makeup design, which were very interesting and helped to create the feel. Malcolm McDowell, as Alex, would occasionally have a pattern painted on his right eye and the clothing was very different from the typical styles. Some were similar to the feel of the 60's or 70's (in my idea), but with a twist that made it also seem like they were in a future time. For example, one of the women in the film wore a type of leotard that resembled ones that were popular during the time the film was created.

The film, A Clockwork Orange, shows that free will is one of the most important attributes of a human being. The film focuses on the controversiality of removing free will and the effects that it can have. Both Burgess and Kubrick wanted to show that although forced reform may seem like a good idea, taking away a person's free will can do more damage than it's worth. Without free will, a person is more like a robot. The ability to choose the path to take, whether morale or not, is what makes people who they are. The editors at SparkNotes believe that the film also shows “the inherent evil of government because the government is only concerned with its own stability and tries to suppress free will. (SparkNotes Editors, 2005)”

My general appreciation for film was really enhanced from viewing A Clockwork Orange. It is artful and worthwhile to watch for the theme and techniques. Stanley Kubrick did a wonderful job writing the screenplay and directing the film. He really brings out the elements that make the story, such as the language, dress, and d├ęcor. I was stunned while watching this film due to all of the elements. The first time that I viewed this film, I had not previously read the book and had just stumbled upon the film. While viewing, I often found myself gaping at the screen because I found it so interesting and yet unbelievable. It is absolutely necessary to have multiple viewings of A Clockwork Orange to fully grasp the ideas being presented and to have a better experience.

A Clockwork Orange is enjoyable to watch because it is so unique and really brings life to the characters that Anthony Burgess originally created. The film is really ahead of its time as far as the set and costume design. It was very well designed and structured to give it the feel that many have come to enjoy. Although it is a controversial film, it is very enjoyable to watch how the story progresses and the characters change. The language is something that I find interesting as well because it is also different from other films. Many of the characteristics that make A Clockwork Orange a great film are due to the uniqueness that has been described.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: Exiled by M.R. Merrick

Chase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. Failing to develop any elemental magic on his fifteenth birthday left him exiled in a world full of half-demons, and no hunters to protect him. When Chase discovers the Circle's plan to unlock a portal and unleash pure-blood demons into the world, he vows to stop them. Knowing he can't do it alone however, he accepts help from Rayna, a sexy witch with an attitude and a secret. As the pair attempt to stop the Circle, Chase realizes working with a demon is only half the battle. When they find themselves in the middle of the Circle's plan, it leaves one of them to decide what their friendship is worth, and the other's life depending on it. (From )  

My Review: Exiled is a very well written debut novel from M.R. Merrick. I found the story to be captivating and will leave readers wondering what will come next. Chase and Rayna's relationship is very interesting. Chase has grown up believing that all Underworlders are evil. Then Rayna enters his life and he is forced to re-evaluate all that he has ever known. Another hunter, who was presumed dead, tries to help Chase understand that the Circle has been corrupted and that they are not protecting the innocent as they claim.

I really enjoyed the relationships that M.R. Merrick creates in Exiled, the first in a series. He builds Chase's character from the introduction, as he is the narrator. Chase's mother Tessa is also a strong character and is Chase's rock. They rely on each other to get through. Rayna is a fascinating character. She has the eyes of a feline, but there is much more to her than meets the eye. Her feisty spirit is really fun to read as the story unfolds. The plot is definitely different because although it deals with demons and the mortal world, M.R. Merrick adds his own creative elements to the story to keep it unique and enjoyable to read. I definitely recommend putting this on your e-reader. You won't be disappointed.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Trying Something New

Hi everyone!

I have been taking a film course over the summer and have analyzed and reviewed a few films for the course. I will be sharing some of them to see what you think as readers of my blog. If you like my film reviews, I thought that I would share them every once in a while in addition to my book reviews. Please let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer hits stores everywhere 9.27.11. Pre-order your copy here. Download the widget here. Enter to win an Advanced Reader’s Copy here.