Sunday, November 25, 2012

What a surprise! Movie Review: LINCOLN

Honestly, I don't know how to describe how I feel about this movie. It wasn't my intent to see it last night. I was coming out of Barnes & Noble and I saw a long line of people spilling out of the theater, waiting to go in to see LINCOLN. I saw the same thing last weekend when I passed by. My curiosity got the better of me. I had a free ticket, so I checked to see if I could use it for this movie and I discovered I could. I figured what the heck. Let's see what all the fuss is about. I had a good time just talking to people waiting on line and inside the theater before the film began. *shaking my head* And then the movie started...

Lol...I didn't have a clue about what was going to take place in this movie. I assumed it was going to show a lot of action, drama and war scenes from the civil war. Indeed, that is exactly the first scene that came on the screen when the movie began: a brutal, vicious fight scene. Yep. That was the first fight scene...and the last! Oh yeah. There was a war going on, but you didn't see it. You heard about it---through the characters---talking about it. I was not expecting that. Judging by the sighs coming from the audience, neither were a lot of people.

I hate to say this. I really do, but this movie bored me to tears! I hate to say this because it wasn't a bad movie. It was well acted and well-conceived. It just wasn't very entertaining. I mean, I learned a lot. It's great for understanding Lincoln's struggle to get the 13th Amendment passed to abolish slavery and getting a sense of the politics and the mindset of the American public at that time. Those are worthy goals. It took the viewer into the mind of Lincoln and gave a glimpse into his family life as a husband and father---totally cool---but there was a lot of talking---and I mean A LOT.  There were some funny scenes and at times, the political drama did have me on the edge of my seat, but such excitement was pretty sparse. I kept holding out for some war action, drama---something to get my blood pumping and it didn't happen.

I have such mixed feelings about this review because it's a good movie with an important message---especially during these political times when those in Washington are loath to compromise to get anything done. Lincoln was a master compromiser and pragmatist.

It's worth seeing. Just don't expect to see much action. It's a more cerebral film. If it were a book, it would be a literary one, not a commercial blockbuster. One thing is for sure: Daniel Day Lewis is a heck of an actor. He was Lincoln!  

Toodles, ya'll!

The winner of AT DAWN by Jobie Hughes is...

This is such a cool story. It's funny, it's sad, it's just darn good. Thanks for stopping by to learn about it. The winner of AT DAWN is...

M.C.V.  Egan!!

Please email me with your contact info so I can send the book out to you. Enjoy it! The winner was selected randomly. If I don't hear from her in 48 hours, I'll select someone else.

Toodles, ya'll!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway: At Dawn by Jobie Hughes

I've been waiting for this book for a long time. Several years in fact, since the author's debut novel. Jobie Hughes is the co-author of the NYT bestselling YA book, I AM NUMBER FOUR. A movie of the same name was released as well. Some of you may be familiar with his rather sad tale. It tells of Hughes' collaboration with James Frey to write I AM NUMBER FOUR. Hughes was a graduate student in Columbia University's MFA program. He saw this as a great opportunity to get a book published and make contacts in the publishing world. Who knew the book would blow up and join the New York Times bestseller list and get adapted into a movie to boot?! The sad part is, Jobie can't use his own name on the book or publicly acknowledge he wrote it. It's all part of the contract he signed. If you're not familiar with what happened, you can read about it here in this NewYork magazine article: If this isn't proof of how writers need an agent or someone with expertise to review their contracts, I don't know what is!

I've been anxiously awaiting his next literary effort, one he can put his own name on. At Dawn is it. It's not a YA novel, it's an adult literary story. Check out the description...

Caught in a riptide of haphazard underemployment, at turns violent and unpredictable and with no family or friends to speak of, Stratton Brown longs for the chance to escape his small-town past and build a new life. He sets out for Chicago, where he meets a new and fresh hell: a nine-to-fiver in a nondescript, meaningless company while falling headlong into an obsessive love affair with a woman he believes may be a bit too attached to her abusive ex-boyfriend. Is this all America has to offer its twentysomethings? He'll soon have to figure out that, beneath the gruff labor of building a new life, lies the presence of something much more true: a way past his violent childhood and a new path to the American dream.

This book is so different then his earlier effort, I didn't know how I would like it. I'm tickled to say, I freakin' loved it! Hughes has some serious writing chops. The protagonist, Stratton Brown has a lot in common with Hughes: they're both writers, both from Ohio and national wrestling champs. Does it sound faintly autobiographical? I met Hughes at a book signing and he acknowledges that there are parts of himself in the character. The question is, just how much?! I won't give away any spoilers, but there are some tough scenes, one that shocked me. I hoped they weren't part of the author's true experience!

At Dawn is a thought-provoking, introspective saga of a young man trying to get his life in order, but the flaws in his character, make it damn hard. I love how Hughes pulls the reader into Stratton's head and doesn't pull any punches. This story is stark and gritty. It's full of hard, knotty points, funny hysterical moments, philosophical meanderings and downright, moments of dread and unbelief. It'll leave you in tears too.

As a cat lover, one of my moments of pure joy was when the character, Stratton Brown made an observation about the cat in his life that was almost verbatim what I once said to someone. That was seriously, awesomely weird---and endeared me to this story even more. I made sure to wear my cat pin when I met the author and that got a good chuckle.  :-)

The experience with I AM NUMBER FOUR, left Hughes with a bad taste in his mouth to say the least. He's not so keen on writing another young adult book. I think that would be a serious mistake and pretty much told him so. He's proven his mettle in writing good, emotional stories in both the adult and young adult genres. The reading audience would be the losers if he doesn't make another go of it.

At Dawn is so well written, I want to give someone else the chance to read it and enjoy it. If you'd like to be that someone, just leave a comment. Don't forget your email. That is all.

Giveaway open to residents of the US, only---this time.

At Dawn was released October 16, 2012.

Toodles, ya'll!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book Review: Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I was fascinated. Who is that? And the title, Magisterium, it intrigued me as well. What does that mean? So, I looked it up. Imagine my surprise when I learned the definition: In the Catholic church, it's the teaching authority of the church. 


How the heck is that supposed to play out in the story? I couldn't begin to imagine, but I was even more curious and interested to find out. Is this a story in which religion is a big focus? Check out the description...

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

I don't know where to begin. This isn't an easy story to describe. Jeff Hirsch has created a world filled with magic, fantasy and wonder. I read his first book, The Eleventh Plague and loved his description of a gritty dystopian world. I was pleasantly surprised to see him delve into a fantastical world with mystery and magic.

Let me tell you, this is a story you have to read carefully. There's a lot going on and Hirsch plunges the reader right in the midst of it without any backstory. You do get some background dispersed within the narrative, but I found I had to re-read some segments more than once to get a clear sense of what was going on. Honestly, I'm still not sure if I visualized some of the scenes Rift is a kind of topsy-turvy world of weird creatures, magic spells and peculiar motivations. Throughout, I was keeping watch for that religious piece. I don't think I found it. I think the author has created his own definition of Magisterium and I do love that title. It's weird---like the story itself.

There is a very light touch of romance between Glenn and Kevin, but it's just a tiny element. This couple is going through so much hell in this story, they have very little time to focus on their feelings for each other. As a romance junkie, I might have been disappointed about this, but there is so much action and strange goings-on in the tale, I was totally caught up in it. I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next!

Magisterium is strange, mystical and at times, confusing story. I highly recommend it! It may not be the easiest story to understand, but it is highly entertaining...and kind of scary. If you've read it, I'm super interested in what your take on it is.

I'm not sure if this is a series or not, but the author certainly left room to continue the story, much as he did with his first book. If he continues on with either one of them, I'm in!

Magisterium released October 1, 2012 by Scholastic.