Thursday, November 17, 2016

October in Review

October is arguably my favorite month of the year. It holds my favorite holiday, the weather FINALLY starts to become bearable, and I always find the last fourth of the year to be the best of all. It was a mixed batch of eye/brain candy this month. I finished the last of the books on the hype trains, and got back to reading stories I was genuinely interested in. This month was all about NaNoWriMo prep and part of that involved researching whimsical narrative voice and how to best capture it for my own story. Don't think I've quite got it yet, but I'm getting there!

*This is so late. Holy CRAP, this is so late. But I think we can all agree late Oct to early Nov were utter poop because of this election, so I'm writing this post an excused tardy slip because of the orange hate clown.* 

Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones. 7/10

I feel like such a traitor for liking the movie more than the book... Maybe it's because I saw the movie first and have always been so enchanted by Miyazaki's movies that it never stood a chance at the favorites-game. While the book was still magical in all the right ways (superbly unique characters and a subtle humor and snark that is unexpected), there were a few moments that detracted from the story as a whole and one moment in particular that broke down that fourth wall completely and made me wholly and uncomfortably aware that I was just sitting in bed, in the real world, reading a book. And that's NEVER a good thing. I don't believe it's ever a good idea to pull your reader out of an immersive journey.


For me, this happened when we find out that Howl is actually just a somewhat ordinary man from very ordinary (and kind of bleak) Wales who somehow found his way into other worlds. This horrified me. When we stepped onto that street in Wales, Howl wearing a football jacket and walking into an ordinary house, it pulled me out of the story completely as it lost much of its enchantment. What an odd choice to make in such a vivid, otherworldly story. It seemed totally unnecessary and I can't see what it added to the story AT ALL, other than to undermine all of the magic and beautiful world building the book strove to paint up until that point. WHY DIANA, WHY?

But our beloved characters were still a joy to follow, though they were much more flawed and even slightly anti-hero compared to their movie counterparts. I still laughed out loud at Sophie's old lady-isms and sass and the tantrums Howl throws. And marveled at what incredibly unique and complex and enjoyable characters Howl and Calcifer were. Book Calcifer definitely trumped movie Calcifer (even with Billy Crystal's superb voice acting. Sorry, Billy).

All in all, definitely recommend this story for all ages! I can see myself reading it again someday, and then maybe AGAIN to some little mini-me's if I ever decide to have them!   

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. 4/10

Okay, in my review of Ember in September, I said the following: "I have every bit of confidence that the sequel will find its stride..." I was wrong. WHY? WHY DID I HAVE TO BE WRONG?

I had to drag myself to the end of this book. I was skimming left and right. Tahir is a phenomenal
writer. She really is. Her prose is A+. But her world building, plot, and characters are not at the same level. They constantly undermine their own strengths as characters, quite often acting what felt to be OUT of character, and that just made me lose interest in them and their journey.

I think there was something fundamentally wrong with the direction the plot took, and when it started down this path it felt like there was no saving it. Aspects of the story became superficial and obvious. And then there was the gratuitous gore and violence. Sometimes, the absence of those moments in lieu of the sound of it, the smell of it, the aftermath, etc, is more potent. Leaving it up to the imagination can be the greatest thing you can do for morbid moments. As soon as she was sticking daggers into children and slitting throats I lost respect for the story. It was an unnecessary grab for that SHOCK factor to make up for a lack of genuine tension and purposefully constructed moments.

And THEN there were all the obvious questions that NONE of the characters were asking (how about when that efrit asked Laia what SHE was and there was NO discussion of that after the fact). We knew just as much as they did through their POVs and I was sat there, as the reader, yelling HELLO?

This series has been a flop for me so far and I hate it. There was so much hype. So much potential. And it all fell flat.

Magnificent Seven: 8/10. Typical Western, so expect revenge, gunfights, and lots of death. I personally love Westerns, and this was true to the genre in every sense while updating it with a kind of superhero movie feel. The A-list cast certainly didn't hurt it either ;) Eye candy for everyone.

Storks: 3/10. NO. BAD, STORKS, BAD! The wolves were literally the only redeemable thing about this movie.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: 6/10. Tim Burton's version of the X-Men. Meh all around. But Ava Green is a Goddess and is phenomenal and fierce as always. *heart eyes*

10 Cloverfield Lane: 8/10. Was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Absolutely fantastic. Not giving any of it away. INTENSE x 100000000 

~Be mindful of the the things that precious time is spent on.~

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