Sunday, February 24, 2013

In My Mailbox (123)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

Here's what I got this week!
Borrowed from the library:
  • Crash by Lisa McMann
  • The Ruining by Anna Collomore
  • Cross My Heart, Hope to Die (Lying Game #5) by Sara Shepard
  • Candy Experiments by Loralee Leavitt (for Best Girl. I have to get a review of this up for you guys, she's having such a good time with this book!)
  • Hotel Transylvania (DVD)
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Ruining by Anna Collomore

The Ruining by Anna Collomore
Razorbill, February 2013
RIRI: 2013 Debut Author

Summary from Goodreads:
Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens, especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door. 
All too soon cracks appear in Annie's seemingly perfect world. She's blamed for mistakes she doesn't remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she's always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie's fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness, or is something sinister at play? 
The Ruining is a complex ride through first love, chilling manipulation, and the terrifying depths of insanity.
I had such a hard time reading this book. I get it that Annie has a crappy home life and that escaping to San Francisco is a dream come true, but for the first half of the book I was cringing and I really thought I knew how the book was going to turn. I mean, if it sounds too good to be true (Annie's job, in this case), it usually is, right? And there were so many things that just felt familiar, like I've read them before.

Happily, this novel twists in a way that other too-good-to-be-true stories doesn't, and that's what made it interesting for me. Truly, Annie has no self-esteem or courage to be her own person and that comes through in the events in the middle and towards the end of the book. This is one of those books that you can't really review because everything is a spoiler, but suffice it to say that I thought the turn was a good one. I did think the ending was a little too neat, but another reviewer mentioned that the ending shows that Annie hadn't really learned anything from her experiences, and I think that's pretty spot on, and if that's the case, the ending totally fits.

Anyway, a decent trek into mental illness and an enjoyable psychological thriller.

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February Movie Reviews

Sheesh, I really suck at this whole blogging thing, don't I? To be fair, a lot of what I'm reading now are books for consideration on the awards list I read for, and I'm not loving most of those titles. And you all know how I feel about reviewing books I hate.

BUT! I watched a bunch of movies this weekend!

Flight (rated R): borrowed this one from the library because I'm trying to get as many Oscar noms in as possible before Sunday (not doing too well on this one, I gotta be honest). Good movie, difficult to watch. My coworker worked for an airline in a past life and won't watch this out of principle. I gotta admit, the idea of a drunk and high airline pilot is scary. Denzel Washington pulls it off, though, and I thought the movie addressed the theme of culpability fairly well--was the pilot's state of inebriation to blame for the accident? If not, should he still share some of the responsibility? And, I have to say that the actual crash scene was soooo difficult to watch. Very well done.

Django Unchanged (rated R): drove to a movie theater an hour away to catch this one before it comes out on DVD, and I'm so, so glad I did. Lots of blood, more so than Pulp Fiction and I think less than either of the Kill Bill movies, but this film is quintessential Quentin Tarantino. EXCELLENT acting all around. Christoph Waltz is AMAZING, Jamie Foxx is endearing, Samuel L. Jackson was PERFECTLY cast, and yes, I even enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio--he pulls off evil surprisingly well. (Seriously, WTF is it with that kid, that he doesn't age at all? He looks almost exactly the same as he did in his Growing Pains days!). I liked the dig at the Ku Klux Klan, and I truly enjoyed Quentin's cameo role. My bladder felt the movie ran a little long LOL but it was a great movie and I'm glad I made the effort to see it on the big screen, the way it was meant to be watched.

Tiny Furniture (NR): I borrowed this from the library. After seeing Lena win the Golden Globe for her series Girls (which I haven't yet seen but am on hold for), and reading her cover article in EW, I was a little intrigued by her. This movie, though, was just beyond me. I get it--it's about a post-grad with no job prospects moving back home--but sadly I just couldn't get into it and was just WAITING for something to happen. Sigh.

What have you seen lately?
Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

In My Mailbox (122)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

Borrowed from the library:
  • 12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn by James Proimos (for award committee)
  • Seventeen's Ultimate Guide to Style: how to find your perfect look by Ann Shoket (for nonfiction award committee)
  • Little Rock Girl 1957: how a photograph changed the fight for integration by Shelley Tougas (juvenile nonfiction for award committee)
  • World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky (for nonfiction award committee)
  • The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo (adult fiction, for award committeee)
  • Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson (you guessed it, award committee assignment!)
  • Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (sequel to Shatter Me!)
  • Sever by Lauren DeStefano (final book in the Chemical Garden trilogy!)
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Flight
  • Tiny Furniture
Have to get my committee work done so I can get back into my must-read list!!
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

In My Mailbox (121)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:

  • Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando (for reading committee)
  • In Darkness by Nick Lake (Printz winner and it's up for consideration on the summer reading list)
  • Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alie Saenz (BIG award honoree and winner)

DVDs borrowed from the library:

  • Here Comes the Boom
  • Red Dawn (original)

I have a ton of reading to do for the award committee I'm on, so a lot of what I've been wanting to read might have to wait for a while. I think I have nine books to read before the next meeting (which is in early March), and unfortunately for me, I'm in a bit of a reading funk lately. Sigh.

What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

DVD reviews 4

More movies, yay!

Pitch Perfect: Not sure why I wanted to see this, except that everyone said it was a great movie. I thought it was OK, I'm certainly glad I borrowed it from the library and didn't pay for it. I most enjoyed Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as the commentators (JMH is a spectacular actor, just sayin'). Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin are adorbs. It was a cute movie, there's just a little too much innuendo for me to want to show it at a movie night at the library, but it was cute. 

The Bourne Legacy: Best Girl has a thing for Jeremy Renner (uh, Hawkeye AND he's a lefty, like her!), so that's why we borrowed this. Plus, someone told me that we didn't have to see the first Bourne movies to follow this one. Wish I could remember who that person was, because THEY LIE. We had no idea what was going on for the first 45 minutes of the movie LOL Thank goodness for IMDB--I was sitting on the couch trying to follow the movie with the plot synopsis, and then trying to explain all of that to a 10-year-old! Once the action started up, the plot didn't really matter that much anymore, and we did enjoy those parts. Best Girl hates when movies end without definitive endings, though, and this is one of those.

Enjoy your reading (and viewing)!

Super Short Reviews (19)

Here are some quick thoughts on some recent reads. Book links will take you to Goodreads; RIRI is Reason I Read It.

What We Saw at Night by Jacqueline Mitchard: from library. RIRI: I usually love everything Jacqueline publishes. Sadly, I struggled to get through this novel. There was so much (necessary) emphasis on XP (get a brief overview at Wikipedia), Parkour (again, link to Wikipedia), and teens coming of age that the mystery seemed awfully muddled. There's one or maybe two suspects, there may be one or more murders (or maybe none), and Allie, our narrator, appears to be sane but I was really hoping she'd turn out to be off her rocker, if for no other reason than it would tie everything together for me. And then, I turn to what I think is the last chapter of the book only to find out it's a preview of the soon-to-be-released sequel, What We Lost at Night! So the book ended unexpectedly with a meh-cliffhanger. I was not impressed and won't be reading the sequel.

Fall to Pieces by Vahini Naidoo: from library. RIRI: it sounded interesting and a 2013 debut author. Here's another disappointing book. Strange, though, that I read two books in a row that have to do with teens and dangerous physical behavior. In this one, Ella and her friends do Pick Me Ups, which basically means that they make these really stupidly high jumps and get all banged up so that Ella can try to remember what happened on the night her BFF Amy jumped to her death. WTF? I didn't care about these characters at all, I didn't care why Amy jumped, and the reason was such a nonevent that I felt cheated. Most of the reviews are more positive than mine, so I'm going to chalk this up to me instead of the book. And you know it never bothers me, but I will offer up the fact that the "F" word is used an awful lot. 

Hoping that much next reviews will be more positive!!
Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

In My Mailbox (120)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Newberry winner and I put it on hold before that!)
  • Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
  • Shadowlands by Kate Brian
  • Return to Me by Justine Chen
  • Back to Front and Upside Down! by Claire Alexander (picture book and winner of the Schneider Family Book Award)
  • This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (picture book and winner of the Caldecott Medal)
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • The Dictator
  • Bernie (Jack Black and Shirley MacClaine? OMG!)
  • Waiting
  • Zombieland
  • The Expendables 2 (I know, I know. I just think it's going to be so awful it might be funny.)
  • Broken Lizard's Super Troopers
Wow, I've got some baaadddd movies to watch!!!
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!