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Em: Movie Excitement!

This week I'm picking a movie that's technically already out. But it has limited showing. It's not playing here and I can't seem to find a date for when it will be so this is likely going to be one of those where I have to wait until it goes to DVD to get a chance to see.



Nowhere Boy
Opens: Limited showing October 8, 2010
Director: Sam Taylor-Wood
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Thomas Sangster, Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey
Genre: Biopic, Drama

Synopsis:
Imagine… John Lennon's childhood. Liverpool 1955: a smart and troubled fifteen year-old is hungry for experience. In a family full of secrets, two incredible women clash over John: Mimi, the buttoned-up Aunt who raised him, and Julia, the prodigal mother. Yearning for a normal family, John escapes into the new and exciting world of rock n' roll where his fledgling genius finds a kindred spirit in the teenage Paul McCartney. Just as John begins his new life, tragedy strikes. But a resilient young man finds his voice - and an icon explodes into the world. (source)

 



Why?
Did you watch that trailer?! This movie looks like it's going to be full of heart, full of moxy, full of everything I love in a good movie. And it's about John Lennon... The Beatles. Does a movie really need more of a reason to be seen? I think not! But in case you need more of a reason, look at that cast. Aaron Johnson was great in Kick-Ass and he looks like he makes a wonderful Lennon. Thomas Sangster was absolutely adorable in Love Actually and though it was a smaller role he was good in Bright Star. I've been excited about this since the moment I saw the preview months ago.
 

Em: Five Rules in YA

I have been feeling really really sick lately. Not contagious sick or anything. But sick nonetheless. So this will be a review free week for me. But I do have something interesting for you to enjoy. ^_^

Goal:
Not feeling good means my writing was minimal. I think I wrote 1,000 words. I’m still aiming for 5,000 this week though.

Quote:
Too many people miss the silver lining because they are expecting gold. –Maurice Setter
I had a talk with my sister today and I showed me how true this quote is. People want the best without looking to see that sometimes you need to go for the best you can get.

Song:
It’s Only Natural by The Higher
The song is catchy and fun and funny. Just what the doctor ordered for me right now. Plus the video is fun too. ^_^


Five Rules of YA:
I’ve been reading mostly YA lately and I’ve come to discover they seem to follow some general rules.
(Note: I’m not saying these rules are bad, I’m just making some observations)

1. Person A falls in love with person B, who can't help but love them back.
I don’t really think you need an example for this one, since all I’m saying is there is almost always romance in YA. I’m figuring it’s because of the fact that hormones are running rampant at that point and so everyone loves all that sexual tension and build up to a relationship. I’m at the point though, where I find it refreshing to read a YA not chalk full of relationships and love and lust and all that jazz. Examples of romance free YA are The Candy Darlings and I Am Not A Serial Killer. Now yes, I love me some romance. But does every single book need a romantic plot?

2. One of the two love birds has a big secret that the other doesn't find out about until at least halfway through.
Twilight, The Dark Divine, Beautiful Creatures, this could be an endless list. And you would think this applies only to Fantasy, but Two-Way Street and Looking For Alaska are good examples of contemporary YA that still have this element. Secrets are an easy way to move the plot forward. An example of a book where there are no secrets is Shiver. As soon as they meet as humans both know each other’s “secret” so they’re not hiding anything. Secrets can be great! But the drawback is the readers are usually in on the secret and wondering when in the world the characters will catch up with us.

3. Best Friend of protagonist is either secretly in love with them, gay, or world's worst friend.
The YA community seems to be lacking in great friends. City of Bones and Wicked Lovely are two examples of the secretly in love best friend. I’ve got others in my head but telling you that would be spoilery. As You Wish and Tithe are examples of the gay friend. And Hush Hush and The Dark Divine are examples of bad best friends (or at least by my standards). Some books with great best friends are The Replacement, Zoe’s Tale, and The Body Finder. I know I'd like to see more stories where the best friends are worthy of the title, not just people to complicate things for the main character.

4. Parents are dead, missing, or otherwise negligent.
I’m sure you’ve all noticed this one. I see this issue come up in blogs and twitters and the like. Either a parent is dead like in Forget-Her-Nots or My Soul To Take, missing in some fashion like in The Iron King or Wicked Lovely , or they’re just plain negligent like in Shiver or Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. Now I understand having absent/absentminded parents, it’s easier for the characters to get into trouble. But books like The Dark Divine, The Replacement, and Looking For Alaska all have living, attentive adults in the picture and they still manage to get into plenty of trouble. It’s not necessary to read book after book where adults are oddly absent.

5. Group of malicious teens, often cheerleaders and often in groups of three.
You know what I’m talking about, those groups of kids that torment the main characters for no reason other than to amuse themselves. In The Iron King, You Are So Undead To Me, and Forget-Her-Nots it was the popular, cheerleader types. In Beautiful Creatures and Speak it was virtually everyone. Adolescents pick on and bully each other; this is a fact of life. But there are plenty of other antagonists you can choose from. Wicked Lovely and The Dark Divine are two great examples of a story lacking in school bullies.

I’ve got more, but I’m sticking with five for now. If you guys like this then I’ll do another segment at a later date. ^_^

Which rules do you agree or disagree with? What examples did I forget or what books should I read that don’t fall in these categories?

Em: Robin Hood Anyone?

I’ve been slack on the posts lately. I was out of town and having computer issues. I apologize for the lack of entertainment around here. I’ll refrain from going on vacation again. Lol.

Goals:
Week before last I exceeded my 5,000 goal by hitting 6,750. ^_^ Then I gave myself another 5,000. I barely reached 2,000 though. I blame going to Tina’s. Lol. In either case, my goal is again 5,000.

Quote:
There are tones of voices that mean more than words. –Robert Frost
How poetic, Mr. Frost.
Yes, that was a bad joke. Ignore it.
But really, I remember getting yelled at as a kid for the tone I had given my mother as opposed to what I’d actually said. I think this quote is especially important in this computer powered generation because the tone gets lost in translation. And that’s a sad thing indeed.

Song:
Break It Up by These Kids Wear Crowns
I picked this because it goes with my childhood/adult theme below. Plus it’s catchy and fun.

Now, I could bombard you with reviews. Since I did watch a few movies and read a couple books. But instead I’ll discuss one movie and my childhood… because it’s much more amusing. Or so I think anyway.

As a kid, my fictional crushes were Peter Pan, Tom Sawyer (and Huck Finn), and Robin Hood. And I know what you're thinking and no I did not have a crush on that fox version of Robin Hood... (yes I did). Anyway, clearly I had a penchant for boys who dislike authority at a very young age. My parents should have locked me up. But that’s another story.

It’s safe to assume I drooled when I saw there was going to be a Robin Hood movie. And I jumped for joy when my hero (AKA Russell Crowe) was going to be playing Robin Hood. Because honestly, who better to portray him? Sure, he’s not dreamy or anything. Well, I’m sure he is to the older ladies. But at 23, he’s a bit too much for me. But he was perfect for Robin Hood.

I’m a girl who loves her action movies, and this one delivered on that. There is war, deceit, betrayal, thievery (obviously), trickery, love, and a good amount of blood and death and chaos. Perfect balance if you ask me.

Now anyone who hasn’t seen Robin Hood yet, don’t expect it to be Russell Crowe doing the stealing from the rick and giving to the poor thing. This movie is giving back story on Mr. Hood. Which at first disappointed me a bit. I was looking forward to the pilfering and the pillaging and the epic achery skills on display in the process. But they did an excellent job at giving the backstory in a way that made me cheer for him more. To see where it all started in a way my beloved Disney classic failed to divulge (as to be expected with Disney) was awesome. In the OMG-so-much-killing-and-fighting-and-arrow-shooting-awesomeness! sort of way.

I ate up a movie telling me how one of my childhood heroes became the hero I always knew he was. He was strong and heroic in the same sense that William Wallace was strong and heroic in Braveheart. He helped his people attempt to right a terrible injustice. Although Robin admittedly had different dilemmas and pressures, the idea is still there.

We recently had a Peter Pan movie. Now we need a Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn movie. There was one like 10 years ago. I’m sure we can do better now. ^_^

Who were your childhood fictional crushes? I'm sure another day I'll rave about Peter Pan. Or Tom Sawyer... I have a Tom Sawyer book on my shelf right now actually. Hmm...
But yes, who were yours and what movies/books have you revisted them in lately (if any)?

Now... if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go hunt down the old Disney version of Robin Hood and remember my 10 year old self gushing over it.

Goals: I want to be on top of all blog posts. Read at least one book a week. Write at least 1 review a week. Stay at least on top of all homework.

Work calmed down this week, but I had a pile of tour books that accumulated on me while I was stuck working or studying for tests, so I read a couple of books. I really need to work on writing reviews. The pile of need to review is a mile deep. (I exaggerate, but there's quite a few.)

This is a multi-post this week, I have a winner to announce, part 2 to last week's post & a new giveaway.

The winner of The Dark Divine & Swag is:

MARY! 

~*~*~*~

Last week I posted about Speaking Loudly in defense of books who one person decides books that deal with real issue should be banned. This is unacceptable. When I asked my friends what they thought, I ended up with too much for one post.

Here are the questions I asked them:

What banned (or challenged) books have affected you & how?
&
Which ones you think everyone should read & why?

Tegan from Not Your Faerytale had this to say:

I think reading is important. It one of my favourite things to do. I think banning and burning books are horrible. Every time this issues comes up I feel its horrible because censorship is bull crap.

Life happens. Deal with it. Get over it.

One of my many Favourite authors are on the banned list.

Ellen Hopkins I say, has to be one of the best authors I have ever read. Her stories come out of such deep places it makes my heart hurt. Her book Impulse, I would have to say, has touched me the most. Having been in some of the places the characters have been in. I am a mix of Conner's issues with Vanessa's addiction. I think if it wasn’t for that book I wouldn't be in the place I am today.

Her other books have such thought provoking issues. I think people who ban books really need to look around them, teens smoke, teens drink, teens do drugs, teens have sex, teens cut them selves, teens are hookers, who turn tricks, teens are people too, and they have reasons for what they do.

A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. -- Another one of my favorites. Again, I read this when I was young, and I've never forgotten it. Believe it or not, this book has helped me with my parenting. Meg's mother is phenomenal. She encourages her children's learning and figuring things out for themselves. She doesn't sweat the small stuff, doesn't let other people's talk and opinions change her own. She's intelligent and strong, and I've always looked up to her. (Yes, I look up to a fictional mother.) The story itself is fantastic, and my heart was beating SO fast towards the end. Meg's family is different, but that's okay. Plus, they are warm, welcoming, and loving.

I read recently that Madeleine L'Engle is criticized because she is a Christian, and she writes with a Christian viewpoint, much like C.S. Lewis. What kills me though, is that she's criticized by other, more conservative Christians. Right. So even though she's on the right track, her opinions don't match up with yours... so you try to ban her book? I'm a Christian and I find this to be appalling. People of all races, genders, and religions would like and benefit from A Wrinkle In Time, just like so many other "banned" books. Read it!
- Dare to Dream -
"The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear." -Herbert Agar

Tiger from All-Consuming Books:

My favorite often-banned book is "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner. It's got some pretty serious subject matter, so while I wouldn't recommend it for younger teens, I don't see why a senior English Lit student in high school should give it a read. I personally didn't get to read it until I got to undergrad, when the beautiful rhythms and the Southern themes really sunk into my subconscious. I was already writing poetry, but "As I Lay Dying" inspired me to write more and it really influenced my style. Some of my Faulkner-based poems helped me get accepted to a graduate poetry program with a full scholarship, so in a sense I can say that I owe my Masters degree to one very lovely banned book!

What I have to say:
I was very surprised to see Bridge to Terabithia on a banned books list.
The characters are so realistically written that the reasons people wanted it banned make no sense to me. The reasons were: offensive language, sexual content, and references to the occult and Satanism.
I was a kid when I 1st read this & even though its been at least 15 years since then, I still feel the same things when I think about it. That's a long time for a book to stick with someone. Even at 10 years old I understood everything Jesse did. It all seemed like something I'd have done. The "offensive language" didn't stick with me after reading, I didn't suddenly start cussing. The "sexual content" is Jesse has a crush on the music teacher. Yes, I remember that it was there, but the human mind doesn't not think something just because its not how things are supposed to be. I think this was more of a mechanism in the story. Because Jesse had a crush on the teacher he made a choice & then blamed himself for Leslie's death. It was the 1st time a book really got to me. As you read the book, you felt the loss Jesse felt, but he also learns to deal with it & I think that's something helpful for kids to read. At 10 years old, what kid knows what the occult is? I don't think I still see how the book has occult or Satanism. I'm glad this was a book I had to read & I think everyone else should as well.

This week is banned books week. In honor of it & Speak Loudly, one person will win one of the books mentioned in this weeks post & last weeks post. Feel free to discuss the questions or your thoughts on the books we picked.
This giveaway is International.
To enter, comment on both posts with an actual comment about the posts. (Meaning don't just leave your info.)
You must leave a name & email address to be entered.
There is a maximum of 2 entries per person. (1 for each post.)

Goals: I want to be on top of all blogposts. Read at least one book a week. Write at least 1 review a week. Stay at least on top of all homework.

Pretty sure the homework is the only goal I've come even close to achieving. Work got in my way & I didn't get to type a post, review or read anything for a few days.

You've probably heard about the guy who is trying to have Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson banned in Missouri. (If not here's the link.)

This will not do. You can not take a subject like this and sweep it under a rug. What did authors & readers do? We chose to Speak Loudly for the books who deserve to be heard.

I asked some friends to give me their thoughts. The questions I asked them were:

What banned (or challenged) books have affected you & how?
&
Which ones you think everyone should read & why?
 
 
Aine from Aine's Realm speaks up about SPEAK:
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson is an amazing book. The title character, Melinda, is raped the summer before she enters high school. It is heart-wrenching in some parts and funny in others, and regardless of who you are, you are sure to fall in love with this book. Did you know that every 2 minutes a woman is raped in the US? And did you know that 73% of women know their victims? It is so sad that we live in a world where this happens so frequently. SPEAK was recently brought up in question by a professor named Wesley Scroggins. He thinks SPEAK should be banned because it is "filthy and immoral". Well, at least he has the immoral part right. Rape is wrong, illegal, and life-changing for the survivors. He also calls it "soft porn".

Rape should *not* be sexually exciting. A very good friend of mine was raped, and she was affected much like Melinda. She felt alone and terrified, afraid to speak up. After cutting herself off from everyone for months, she finally admitted to what happened to her. The fact is, SPEAK tells a very real story. And whether you've been raped, or someone you know has been raped, (or maybe you're lucky enough to be neither of these people) this is an important book to read. It's 2010. And it's way past time to stop banning books. Speak up against banning books!

Sandy from Scribing Shadows shows how it should be:
I choose Harry Potter as my banned book to write about because this series out of all the books I have read has had the most affect on me. Before I started reading Harry Potter the genre of books I read were very limited – contemporary, YA, drama and they were never really all that thick. At the time in middle school and high school thick books didn’t appeal to me too much but then the first movie came out and I fell in love with the world of Hogwarts and magic and quickly picked up the second book to read because I wanted to find out what happened next. Soon after I was looking for all sorts of fantasy books and the thicker they were the better.

I live on a small island where Christianity is the main religion and although I attended a public school and not a private Catholic school like the one right next to us Harry Potter was not allowed in the school library. I found this out when I went in there one day looking for it and when I didn’t see it I asked the librarian why they didn’t have it and he told me the Principal didn’t allow them because of the witchcraft inside the books. I couldn’t believe it, I immediately felt irritated at the ridiculousness of not allowing this book in the library simply because the characters were witches and wizards.

I am happy that my parents did not control what I could and could not read nor did my cousin’s parents because I borrowed a lot of the first Harry Potter books from her. If it wasn’t for Harry Potter I wouldn’t have gotten into writing fan fiction and then original fiction which then believe it or not led to graphic design which I love to do. Thanks to Harry Potter I branched out of my very limited comfort zone and expanded my horizons.

When you keep a person from reading a book you have no idea how much you are stifling them, how much you are narrowing their horizons.

Shannon from Literati's Literary Library had this to say about To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee:
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I read it for the first time when I was nine years old, and it had a powerful, but POSITIVE impact on me. You know what I remember most about To Kill a Mockingbird? The brilliant advice Atticus gives Scout and Jem, and the way he stood up for what was right. Why on Earth would you want to ban that? To support my "Brilliant advice" comment, I give you these quotes:

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." - spoken by Atticus Finch

"Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." - spoken by Atticus Finch

"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." - spoken by Atticus Finch

There are many, many fantastic life lessons in To Kill a Mockingbird. I adored it when I was nine. I was touched, humbled, and renewed when I read it in my high school English class. It's a book that has stayed with me my entire life. And actually, one quote that I think about nearly every day is this one: "Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets." - spoken by Miss Maude. That's the quote I think of almost every time I make a big decision. It's the quote behind my life. I want to be the same person no matter who I'm with or where I am.
 
 Don't forget to come back next week for a giveaway & part 2 of the post!

What banned book has effected you most?
We thought it would be fun to do group reviews once a month. Our first one is for Brenna Yovanoff's debut novel. You'll notice Catie's is absent, she's been crazy busy. I'll add a link to her post when she gets to read it.



The Replacement
by Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher and Publication date: Razorbill (Sept 2010 - Today!)
Pages: 352
Where to Purchase: B&N / Borders / Amazon / Book Depository / Chapters
Genre: YA / Fantasy
Setting: Gentry
Tagline: Everything can be replaced. Except human love.



Kim's Review:
The Replacement is one of those books that you come across every once in a while. I remember first seeing the cover, and loving it instantly, while another one of my friends called it creepy. In a time where faeries are a popular subject in the YA genre, The Replacement follows this model, but does so in a way that makes it's story unique and all its own. The focal point of the Replacement is not faeries in general, instead, it focuses on one of the most interesting parts of the faery lore: changelings.

Though the term is not used much in the book, it is pretty clear that that is in fact what Mackie Doyle, the main character, is. That brings me to the first thing I loved about this book. The characters and each of their personalities really drew me in. I loved the contrasts between Mackie and his best friends, especially Roswell.

While Roswell seems to be very sociable and fits in with everyone, he is still a great friend to Mackie and keeps his silence about the strange things that go on with him. In fact, the whole idea of the self-awareness that the town had when it came to changelings really added a dimension to the book that most don’t have.

The other character that most captured my attention was Mackie’s sister. Her love for him really made me smile, and the way she provided a refuge or sorts for him, when his mother and father continued to act like nothing is wrong.
Mackie’s character development was gradual enough to be realistic, yet noticeable enough for me to like him more as the book goes on.  The theme of finding yourself that this book seems to have is depicted amazingly through Brenna’s writing style, which I loved right off the bat.

Another aspect I applaud this book for lies in the area of romance. Tate’s sassy personality was the perfect contrast for Mackie’s shy one. Her whole attitude when it came to the walls Mackie put up between him and people seem to really have an effect on the changes he goes through. Not to mention, she had me laughing a few times.

In the end, the Replacement was a great mix of drama, humor, and a coming of age novel with a twist. There is no question that I will be impatiently waiting for Ms. Yovanoff’s next book to hit the shelves.
Favorite Quote: "As much as music is ever magic. Or always, I mean. Music is our best language."
Rating:


Em's Review:
I absolutely loved this book. It gives a lengthy introduction to the characters and the world before delving head first into the action. While in other novels that could feel dragged out or boring, Brenna did it with such wonderful storytelling that it felt natural and riveting, despite being mostly build up to the "good stuff".

Mackie lacked a backbone for a good portion of the book. I think in any other story that would have frustrated me beyond belief, in this one I understood why and I felt for the guy. I found myself constantly wanting to hug him. Tate was the one character I was iffy on. She'd be hot one minute, cold the next, and while I understood her situation, I didn't understand why she had to be so darn confusing. Lol. I loved her during one chapter just to hate her the next and vice versa. Emma was a truly amazing character. The strength she had and the affection. I envied Mackie having such an awesome sister. She was a much needed rock in his crazy household. However! I was very happy to see both parents present and attentive. It impresses me when the parents aren't absent to help the plot move more quickly.

And then there was Roswell and the twins were great friends and offered much needed humor throughout. When Mackie was weak, they were strong, and when they needed him, he returned the favor. It was such a welcome change to have the BFF's worth being called that. So many YA these days have horrible best friends.

I feel like I'm just gushing about The Replacement but it was a really great book. It was dark and full of wonderfully ugly and beautifully diverse characters. People kept asking if I thought it was scary and I have to say it wasn't scary at all. There were tense moments, but I think to have fear there needs to be malice. And I never really felt any of the characters were truly villainous or evil. They just were themselves. And that was good enough.

Good parents, great sibling, and great friends, yet enough chaos and disaster to satisfy my dark side. Definitely a book worth owning, let alone reading.
Favorite Quote: Her teeth started to chatter and I pulled her against me, which made me feel like a superhero for no apparent reason.
Rating:

Album Review: Marianas Trench

I got this album before it came out officially here in the states thanks to Tegan over at Not Your Faerytale. Mariana’s Trench is a band located in Canada, so naturally they get their music way before we do. I wanted to wait until closer to their release date in the states to share this review with you all. Enjoy.



Artist: Marianas Trench

Album: Masterpiece Theatre

Genre: Rock/Alternative

Label: 604 records

Where to Buy: Website (I'll update with links when it goes up on itunes)

Release Date: September 28, 2010 (US)

Track Listing:

1. Masterpiece Theatre I

2. All To Myself

3. Cross My Heart

4. Beside You

5. Acadia

6. Masterpiece Theatre II

7. Sing Sing
8. Good To You
9. Celebrity Status

10. Perfect

11. Lover Dearest

12. Masterpiece Theatre III

 

Every time I have called an album “solid”… forget it. This album epitomizes what a band should strive for. From the Masterpiece Theatre tracks (which are beautiful melds of the album as a whole), to the catchy melodies, to the heartbreaking yet gorgeous lyrics, I don’t think there is a single unlikeable track on the album.The album title makes it appear the band is needlessly cocky, I guarantee you they live up to the title with an amazingly well rounded, meaningful album.

 

The Breakdown:

Masterpiece Theatre I

They start us off with some classical instruments and choir-esque vocals gradually work in the rock elements (i.e. the electric guitars and hard hitting drums). The melodies are brilliant and the lyrics are so soft. It sets the tone for the whole album and does so wonderfully.

 

All To Myself

Right after the melodies of the opening song they jump right into a pop-rock track. It’s a fun song that seems, to me anyway, to be one of those I-love-you-but-you’re-dating-my-friend type of songs. Mind you, that’s never said. But that’s the vibe I get. While the melody and lyrics can, at times, lean toward the cliche, Josh Ramsay's gravelly voice prevents this song from tipping into a slightly cheesy feel and keeps it firmly grounded in the style they have cultivated for this album.

 

Cross My Heart

One of my favorite songs by them (although, just about every song is at this point). Cross My Heart is catchy, fun, and full of the perfect amount of Rock to make it edgy. The juxtaposition of Josh’s equally gravelly and high pitched voice is perfect for this song. Another thing going for this song is the repetition. It makes the song near infectious and just flows really well. This is a song I can see great for fan involvement at shows due to the claps and the inability to sit still while listening.

 

Beside You

They slow it down significantly with this beautiful ballad. It’s a gorgeous I-will-be-your-rock song. I love the sound of instruments on this track. I think it gives it a near timeless feel, perfect for a type of song that should most definitely feel timeless. It's heartfelt and the perfect track to follow Cross My Heart in terms of lyrics and the perfect track to proceed Acadia in terms of heart.

 

Acadia

This one has a beat that feels like you’ve probably heard it before. It’s catchy and cute, like most songs about growing up and reminiscing are. Where it differs, is that Josh gets rather personal with it, including the address of the house he grew up in, down to naming the song after the street itself. Yeah, I had to look that up to know that, I’m a nerd. But the song is cute.

 

Masterpiece Theatre II

Returning to the harmonies and the gorgeous lyrics of part one, part two shines with a softer tone and slightly warmer lyrics. The themes from the first carry over but the drums have mellowed and the electric guitar seems to be absent. The cello and violin seem to be the star instruments, giving it a more classic feel, more heartfelt, than part one. And need I mention Josh’s voice and the way it mingles with the instruments to give a truly inspiring music experience?

 

Sing Sing
Lots of angst, yet one of my favorite songs (I told you I’d say this a lot right?). I feel like this song is directed at the world and it’s a genius song really. So much pressure is on artists to put out back to back hits. This is why pop singers generally don’t write a lot of their own music. Rock bands tend to boast the fact that they write their own music. And this song feels like a “yes I’m under a lot of pressure but I’m doing my best to do this right” type of song. And I love every second of it.

 

Good To You
I’m not going to repeat the favorite thing. Haha. But this song is so real and so heartfelt. The piano was a brilliant start, working in the other instruments to make a very powerful love song. And not just powerful, but true to life. It’s not just saying “let me list the reasons why I love you.” It’s saying “I mess up but I love you so I try, and I fail, but we’re good together.” It’s raw and that’s why it’s so damn good.

 

Celebrity Status

I think the dramatic change in gears is entertaining (not to mention the song is too). Beautiful ballads, angsty tunes, and then this. Probably the most commercial song on the album (and from what I hear the most played on the radio), Celebrity Status says, again in my opinion only, that just because you’re making it doesn’t mean you sold out, but that people will always think you did. It’s catchy and upbeat, despite some of the words, and just so hard not to sing and dance along to.

 

Perfect

This song seems to be in the same vein as Celebrity Status. It’s less commercial, more classic sounding, complete with the harmonies and  classical instruments (there is so much going on in this song I can’t manage to name one). I feel they’re giving the same message, that they’re not selling out despite what the industry may want, but doing it in a less marketable way. This song will likely never be a single or top charts, but it’s amazing and very well stated. And comes across nicely as a love song if you don’t pay attention to the lyrics. Very sneaky. ^_^

 

Lover Dearest

Beautiful song, Lover Dearest is the most heartbreaking song on the album. Josh has said at shows it’s a love letter written to Heroin from when he was in rehab, which he then turned into a song. Mind you, I don’t know this from person experience, I don’t live in Canada and haven’t seen them live, I watch live videos all the time though because I’m an uber nerd. Anyway, I think it’s an amazing song and even more amazing that he can bare his soul like that. His voice with the sorrowful piano before the drums ease in and ramp the song up to another level. This song deals with addiction in a way that is at once painful and beautiful, and that’s the reason it’s the track I’ve listened to the most from this album.

 

Masterpiece Theatre III

Part three ties into part two, as well as stringing along every song on the album for the most amazing closing to an album I have ever heard. You wouldn’t think piecing together every song on the album (including a cameo from Say Anything on their Fix Me album) would work as well as it does. And if Josh Ramsay were any less of a musician it would have been awful. But think Bohemian Rhapsody, a blend of songs and harmonies seamlessly folding into one another for a dramatic close to a brilliantly executed album.

 

Favorite Song: Such a tough call. I’m going to narrow it down to three, because picking Masterpiece Theatre III would be cheating. Lover Dearest, Good To You, and Masterpiece Theatre II.

Rating:

 

 

Seriously, you have to listen to it to understand what I mean. If you’re in the US make sure you pick up a copy of Masterpiece Theatre on September 28th. If you’re in Canada and don’t have it yet… I have three words for you… Are you crazy?! Haha. Seriously though, this album lives up to its name. I'd say it's the best album I've heard all year.

If you’ve heard them before (or just like what you hear) let me know in the comments below!

Em: Wait... Yesterday was Monday?

I’m a day late. I highly apologize. I spent yesterday running errands and writing. You probably noticed there wasn’t anything posted on Saturday either. I saw Cure For Caska, but I was selling merch for them and therefore could only hear them perform so I had no idea how to review that. I can tell you that Matthew, the lead singer, gave me goosebumps while singing It’s Not The Cancer That Binds Us Together (my favorite song by them). And I was in the next room. This is why I keep urging everyone to get their music. Then you too can be impressed by them live. ^_^

Goals:
I hit 3,000 last week. Which is halfway there. But I also discovered a great writing habit so I anticipate at reaching at least 5,000 this week. But I’d really like to strive for 10,000. I’m a bit of an over achiever. And on the brightside, I wrote 1,500 yesterday so… if I keep this up I’m well on my way, right?

Quote:
Why not seize the pleasure at once, how often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparations. –Jane Austen
I think as humans we have this awful habit of insisting we think everything through, second guessing our thoughts. I’m a firm believer in needing plans and lists and routines. But I love spontaneity. Spur of the moment road trip? Sure why not. What is life without happy little surprises?

Song:
The Resistance by Drake
Random? Seemingly. But my sister was playing this song in the car and it’s what spawned about 1000 words yesterday because of the line “I’m trying to do better than good enough.” I like Drake okay. He’s good, better without the rest of Young Money on his songs. But regardless, the song somehow managed to help me so I pass it on.

Reviews:

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
Publisher and Publication date: Harper Collins (May 2009)
Pages: 368
Where to Purchase: B&N / Borders / Amazon / Book Depository / Chapters
Genre: YA / Fantasy

Warning, that trailer gives a lot away…

Kelley Armstrong is one of my go to authors. When I’m in a rut, writing or reading, Kelley is one of the best at getting me out of it. Her writing style draws you in and her characters keep you there. Chloe is one of the very few female protagonists I like. She doesn’t depend on everyone around her all the time, doesn’t expect to be saved, and yet she doesn’t insist on being completely independent to the point of sheer stupidity either. There is a nice balance she reaches and I admire her for that. Plus, Chloe loves movies and likes to set things up and think of things in terms of how a movie would play out and I love that. As you all know, I love movies. ^_^

The ensemble cast of characters are all very well developed and great fun to read. Simon is beginning to grow on me; I’m still suspicious of him. But that could be because I read Kelley’s adult series and Simon’s kind can’t always be trusted. Derek reminds me of my brother more and more as I read this series. I’m beginning to wonder if Kelley followed him around as research. Liz bugged me in the first book but she was a lot of fun in this one. Lastly, Victoria. Everyone told me I’d hate her a little less in this one. I don’t. She makes me just as mad. Sure she’s not locking Chloe up and scaring her half to death. But she’s got the worst attitude. And finding out her reasons behind the attitude don’t make me sympathetic to her at all.

The Awakening is the middle book in The Darkest Powers trilogy, but thankfully it doesn’t feel like that. Kelley has a way with words that get better and better as a story progresses. I have The Reckoning on my shelf, but I’m saving it for when I need a book I know is going to blow me away.
Favorite Quote: "If there's anything I can do- I know there probably isn't, but..." “Just be here"
Rating: 


The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
Publisher and Publication date: EgmontUSA (December 2009)
Pages: 372
Where to Purchase: B&N / Borders / Amazon / Book Depository / Chapters
Genre: YA / Fantasy

I loved this book. Normally my big complaint is that the synopsis gives away too much and I’m left waiting for the main character to catch up. The clues are like anvils as opposed to bread crumbs and I’m left huffing and puffing for them to just spit it out so I can stop rolling my eyes at the inattentive MC. That’s not the case with The Dark Divine. Now, I had been spoilered beforehand, so I did already know. But reading it I knew this would have been the book I’d have been wondering right along with Grace.

The writing was great and I was fully engaged the entire time. Staying up way too late to read it. Grace felt real and just as naïve and good as you’d expect the pastor’s daughter and Daniel was amazingly endearing while holding a realistic bad boy edge I feel many other YA’s grasp for and miss. Grace had two loving, if not occasionally misguided parents, which was amazingly refreshing to see. I especially loved the wholesome, good natured attitude Grace’s dad had. If I’d known a pastor like that I’d probably have gone to church more often growing up.

I’m itching to read the sequel, continue the story, and get some more of Bree’s fabulous world and all her characters. I’m trying not to spoil those who haven’t read it yet with too much information. But the paranormal aspect was so beautifully and seamlessly woven in that I’m jealous of her skill. The book actually helped yank me out of a writing slump (as good writing tends to do).

You may be wondering, Em… if you loved it so much why are you giving it 4 cups instead of 5? Three reasons. One, we don’t do 4.5 cups… haha. Two, April. I think I would have enjoyed the book more (if you can imagine that) if Grace had had a great best friend, even a good one. April was more concerned with boys, namely Grace’s brother, and the fact that Daniel wasn’t hot instantly made him unworthy of their time. She felt like she was mostly there to spurn Grace on to my third reason. Three, there are a good four or five chapters toward the end where Grace suddenly acted like a dumb jerk and it felt mostly out of character. I understood the motives behind it (kinda) but April added to it with her annoyingness. And then the reason for snapping out of dumb jerk mode didn’t seem like enough. I needed more to feel like it was complete and that section bothered me enough that if I had set it down I don’t know when I would have picked it back up. It just felt wrong to me.

Did I still love it despite that? Heck yes, no doubt about it. If you haven’t read it yet, hurry up and do so. Then we can wait on pins and needles for the sequel together! You can also read Catie’s review of it if you’ve forgotten what she thought.
Favorite Quote: "You hated me that much?” “No.” I grabbed a branch and pulled myself up, my back still to him. “I missed you that much.”
Rating: 

What do you guys think? What sequels are you eager to read?
Goals: I want to be on top of all blogposts. Read at least one book a week. Write at least 1 review a week. Stay at least on top of all homework.
Right now, I'm doing good to stay up on posts, so I'm changing the goal for now. Sorry everyone for the lack of post last week. In trying to stay on top of school, I've been offline a lot. My book goal is going alright. Mostly because they are tour books so I have to read them in a week. Reviews really need to get written, but again, school work & my sanity take priority.

This week I bring you a special guest post from Erica.

Teams are everywhere you go, it’s rather hard to avoid them. My personal favorite teams though happen to be book teams. Nearly every book has teams, but I have a handful of books that are host to my favorite team debates: The Iron Fey series, Vampire Academy series, The Hunger Games trilogy, and Sea.

Now with The Iron Fey series, you have Ash and Puck. Ash is the dark, ice prince. Puck, on the other hand, is the best friend. I am a strong advocate for Team Ash. Ash is perfect and Meghan already chose him. Sure, Puck can wait in the wings silently, but he is the best friend, and it will stay that way. Ash is the ice prince who’s heart melts for Meghan and the little things he does mean the world.

Next we move onto the Vampire Academy debate. We have the sexy Dimitri, and the smooth Adrian. I personally cannot choose a side. I call myself Team They Are Both Too Smexy To Choose. It is impossible. Depending on who’s on the page at the moment, I’m usually rooting for them. Both are just perfect and way too sexy to pick.

Next is The Hunger Games. I may be the only human being on earth who was not crazy about this series, but I am very strong in my belief of Team Peeta. The Hunger Games was a book I had issues getting in to, and I very nearly banished it to the pile of “did not finish” but then Peeta became a big part of the story. This series came down to Peeta for me. I have a feeling that without the character of Peeta, I would not have finished due to many factors.

If any of you have read my blog or see my tweets in the slightest, you may know about my obsession with Sea (well Sea, The Iron King, and Brightly Woven). In Sea, there are two boys: Spider and Deni. Spider is my kind of guy. I even named a fish after him! Deni is great, but Spider is the guy you want to stay with forever and ever.

So what are all of you guys’ favorite teams? Or what is your take on my favorite teams?

Goals:

My goal was 6,000 words last week right? Well this week I wrote around 2500. We're getting closer! My little brain is going so this week I should hopefully reach that 6,000 word mark. Fingers crossed.

 

Quote:

Everything that I know… I know only because I love

-Leo Tolstoy “War and Peace”

Tolstoy knew what he was talking about when discussing love. Whether he followed his own advice in life is another story. But in books, the man was a genius.

Song:

Kids In Love by Mayday Parade
I decided to continue with the love theme. Who knows love better than kids? I feel like sometimes we grow up and we forget what it is. Even as Teens we're more free with our love than we are as adults. Things can fall apart... like Mayday Parade says "young love is such dumb love" but it's still there, freely given and taken and passed around like many cups of beer. And just as bittersweet.

 

Reviews:


 

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Publisher and Publication date: Puffin (2005)

Pages: 221

Where to Purchase: B&N / Borders / Amazon / Book Depository / Chapters

Genre: YA /

Setting: Birmingham, Alabama



I’m not sure I have the words to describe how much I loved this book without simply saying “it was amazing, go buy it NOW!” I mean, that really sums it up right there.

 

Seriously though, John Green’s writing is amazing. The writing in itself encourages you to change the page, continue reading, find out the next step in the story. I stayed up until 6am to find out what happened. And while I regretted the lack of sleep the next day, it was totally worth it at the time. I laughed out loud at the book, cried, and 100% related to Miles. He may have been a guy going through guy things but I finally felt like a book didn’t gloss over the feelings and the behaviors I had in high school.

 

The main cast of the book consists of Miles (commonly known as pudge), The Colonel, Alaska, and Takumi. Lara is another big player but not as big as these four. Friends at a boarding school in Alabama, they all have different backgrounds, different stories, different lives outside of the school. But in that school they’re almost the same, kids running around trying to find their place and maybe a little action on the side. It was great and I was riveted the entire time. And to top it off, it’s full of quotes. And you know how I love quotes.

 

I can’t really say any more without collapsing into full on fangirling. So I’ll leave you with this: READ IT!

Favorite Quote: That didn’t happen, of course. Things never happened like I imagined them.

Rating:

 

 

Dorian Gray

Director/Writer: Oliver Parker / Toby Finlay (screenplay), Oscar Wilde (novel)

Starring: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall

Production Company: Ealing Studios

Genre: Drama / Fantasy / Thriller

Setting: London

 

Now I knew the story of Dorian Gray would be chilling and full of debauchery. And I knew casting Ben Barnes as Dorian would make for a pleasant viewing experience. But I was not expecting something so incredibly full of sex and creepiness. Haha.

 

It's hard to give away spoilers for a story people pretty much already know. But the painting was downright creepy. Painting should be groan. Nope. But Ben Barnes was equally chilling. Going from being an upright gentleman, and adorable in how innocent and naive he was, to being an amoral rogue was amazing. But more so, to switch between the two mid-scene, was an amazing testament to his acting abilities.

 

The story was very well done. Along the same vein as Perfume, it is creepy and yet artistically beautiful at the same time. Although I felt like something was missing. It felt too slow or too fast half the time and then the abruptness of the climax. If there had been a lesser caliber of acting this movie would have been a total flop. My one major issue with this movie was that I did not understand Collin Firth’s character’s motivation. Aside from that it was a very interesting movie.

Tagline:  Forever Young. Forever Cursed.

Favorite Quote: "No civilized man regrets a pleasure."

Rating:

 

 

The Last Station

Director/Writer: Michael Hoffman / Michael Hoffman (screenplay), Jay Parini (novel)

Starring: James McAvoy, Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, Paul Giamatti

Production Company:  Egoli Tossell Film

Genre: Drama

Setting: London

 

I have a soft spot for movies about writers. I believe I say this every time I review one. Haha. This one though, was beautiful and heartbreaking and far less depressing than the others. Tolstoy has a wife till the end, albeit a crazy one. The acting was phenomenal, I mean just look at the cast and you’ll understand why. I was impressed with everything from the acting to the storyline, start to finish.

 

Helen Mirren was a beautiful actress doing a beautiful job, as to be expected. James McAvoy (aside from being drool worthy) gave one of his best performances yet. And Christopher Plummer made a fabulous Leo Tolstoy. Creative, endearing, passionate, and sick.  I’m not sure if this movie is historically accurate, since I’m pretty sure Chertkov was a bit more of a dirty bastard than they make him out to be in this film (although Paul Giamatti does a great job at playing an asshole so they really could have amped it up a bit), but I loved every minute of it nonetheless.

 

A movie about the importance of love? Yes please. I’d really keep going, but I’d just be gushing out it endlessly.

Tagline: Intoxicating. Infuriating. Impossible. Love.

Favorite Quote: “Why should it be easy? I am the work of your life, you are the work of mine. That's what love is!”

 Rating:

 


Me And Orson Welles

Director/Writer: Richard Linklater / Holly Gent Palmo (screenplay), Robert Kaplow (novel), Vincent Palmo Jr. (screenplay)

Starring: Zac Efron, Claire Danes, Christian McKay, Ben Chaplin

Production Company: CinemaNX

Genre: Drama

Setting: London


What? No I was not only watching movies with hot actors in them.

 

Kay… maybe I was. But it was not intentional. This is a movie I was dying to see since I saw the previews for it nearly a year ago. I finally got the opportunity to and it was all I expected it to be and then some. The storyline was great. Orson Welles and all his egotistical glory, his assistant, his acting company, and poor little high school boy Richard all come together to make a brilliant story.

 

Zac Efron is amazing when you take him out of the Disney spotlight and stick him in a role worthy of his talent. Now I’d like to see him in a role where he isn’t the charming, upbeat, lady killer who has a good singing voice. I’d like to see Zac play a villain for a change. But that may just be me. Claire Danes is always a pleasure to watch. And Christian McKay made an amazing Orson, I’m not sure they could have cast anyone better.

 

A very well rounded, wonderful film, which I highly recommend.

Tagline: All's fair in love and theater

Favorite Quote: “All I did was tell him she’s my girlfriend!”

Rating:

 


What do you think? Anything sound good? What have you read or watched lately?

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Em, Tegan, and Kim
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Em: 23, writer, book lover, music lover, movie lover, really big dork, reviewer of all things interesting.

About Me:
I review books, movies, and music. Occasionally, other things that catch my attention.
Movies: I'm into everything. From Horror to Drama, Sci Fi to Comedy, Animated to Indie.
Books: Mostly I read Urban Fantasy, whether it's adult or YA. I'm also into Mystery, Thriller, and Romance (the paranormal variety or otherwise).
Music: The only music I don't like is Bluegrass, Rap, and Metal. Everything else I'm very open to.


Tegan: 19, Bookaholic, Aunt I love kids

About Me:
I review mostly books. Movies if I love them, or really hate it, I’ll review it too.
Movies: I love Animated, Chick Flick, and Action Adventure
Books: I read mostly YA, Fantasy favorites are: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins And Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz
Music: Three Days Grace (seen them twice they are amazing live), Paramore, Lady Gaga (cause she's so fun to dance too).


Kim: 18, a tendency toward peculiarity and acting older than she really is. Can't live without music, books, and movies.

About Me:
I review books, movies, and music. I also tend to have very eclectic tastes when it comes to all of those categories.
Movies: I'm more into drama, horror, indie, and comedies. I dislike romantic comedies or romances, but could enjoy them if I am in the right mood.
Books: I tend to focus on fiction of various kinds. Fantasy, YA, Sci Fi, Romance, Paranormal romance. I have no preference, I just like good writing and creativity.
Music: Listen to everything under the sun except rap and country. At times, I am endearingly called an indie snob, and I like to open other people's ears to new sounds and bands that deserve to be heard.


If we don't like something we will always point out as many good points as possible and follow it up with the bad. If we absolutely hated it, chances are we just won't post about it at all. No one wants to read a rant about how much something disappointed. That's what friends are for. :)

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Peas, Lima Beans, Ham, Bologna, Hot dogs, People slurping soup, Cold floors in the morning, Getting locked out of the house, Frozen toes, Being ignored, Being interrupted, Getting lost, Forgetting things, Getting bad grades, Rude people, Ignorance, Racism, Sexism, Animal Cruelty, Liars, Cheaters, Users, Abusers, Broken Promises, Being Late.


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