Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug... A Movie Review

Hello once again my lovelies! Today I'm going to talk about the 2nd Hobbit movie since my mother, sister, and I just went to see it recently. So... here we go!
Overall I liked the movie. It dragged some for a while, and the amount of flitting from one scene to anther, and then back again was a tad excessive. However I must say the scenes with Smaug more than made up for these shortcomings. For anyone who likes dragons this is a movie you should watch, Smaug is just that awesome.
Fun fact also with this scene. In order to create all the gold coins and such they ended up using all of the gold paint that was in the country at the time (I think it was New Zealand?) and had to import more in order to finish it.
Anyway, let's talk about something other than Smaug the Magnificent for a moment. We shall talk about Tauriel, the she-elf portrayed in this movie. Now don't get me wrong, she's fun and spunky, but I hated what they did with her character. What did they do you ask? They put her in a love triangle between Legolas and Kili. Thing is Kili is a Dwarf, and Elves and Dwarves never really got along, and especially never thought of one another in a romantic light. So the love triangle didn't make sense. Not only that, it didn't actually add any substance to the plot. Thankfully it didn't take too much away either, but what's the point of putting something in a movie just so it's... there. I don't get it.
One thing I did find totally wicked though was the scene where Gandalf goes to meet the Necromancer knowing full well it's a trap. The neat thing about this scene is we get to see the eye of Sauron be born, and let me tell you it is so cool. I loved it. This scene wasn't in the original book, but felt as if it belonged if not in that book then in that world of books surely. Only downside is Gandalf is once again a prisoner. Poor guy.
If you pay attention you'll start to see a change in both Bilbo and Thorin. These aren't necessarily all for the better either. On the plus side we see Bilbo growing more confident in his abilities. He tries to defend the others when he can, and help them out of the binds they get themselves into. However, he also starts not being as truthful as he once was, and you can see the pull of the ring grow stronger. Thorin's change isn't good at all, which should give you an idea of what's to come. He pushes forward toward his goal, almost blindly so and without regard to the others in his party. He is willing to leave them behind, and even considers sacrificing Bilbo so long as he gets the Arkenstone. Mind you he doesn't in the end, but it doesn't look good for our little King going towards the 3rd movie.
All in all I think this movie was a good one. I personally liked the first one better, but this one did have more "wow factor". I plan on adding this one to our collection of DVDs, and would recommend it to any of you who are into fantasy or like the original Lord of the Rings movies. Be warned though, this movie is almost 3 hours long so if you aren't a person who can sit still that long then perhaps this one's not for you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Current Music Obsessions

So today I've decided to let you all in on what music I've had stuck in my head lately. I'll post not only songs, but new artists/albums I've found. And here we go!
First off is the album The Unforgiving by Within Temptation. Now I've been a lover of Within Temptation for a while, but haven't kept up with all of the new music releases over the years. Not too long ago I stumbled across "In the Middle of the Night" off of the album and decided to take a look at the rest of the album. I found that I really liked the majority of the music on the album. My favorites are "Shot in the Dark", "Iron", and "Sinead". For those of you who don't know Within Temptation is a Dutch symphonic rock/metal band. So if your interested go check them out.
Next up is a band called Amaranthe. They are a fusion of power metal, pop metal, and death metal. That last one really surprised me, as I have said in the past that I didn't like death metal and probably never would, and yet I stumbled across this band and couldn't not like them. I found them while surfing the side bar on Youtube. Every now and again I'll do so after first going to a song I know and then choosing the ones in the side bar that I don't know and taking a listen. I came across their song "Hunger" and found it annoying that I couldn't get it out of my head. So I decided it would be best to look the band up and listen to their albums. I like a good portion of their first album, but I love all of the songs on their second one. My favorite songs from this band are "Leave Everything Behind", and "The Nexus".
Next up are a few foreign songs. Now I'm not 100% on where they're from as they have characters in them that I can't place, but the names are in English so I can still tell you about them. I found these (again) in the side bar. I don't know how, but I keep coming across those little dancing videos of anime character models, and as a result several of them have gotten stuck in my head. However, they aren't dancing to the original songs, but vocoloid or synthesized versions of said songs. The songs that are currently stuck in my head are "Hybrid", "Cyber Thunder Cider", and "Under the Darkness".
Last one I'm stuck on is a Disney song. It's from The Lion King 2 and is titled "We are One". This song... it keeps following me and dragging me back into its spell. I don't exactly know why. But I recently found a BBC Sherlock video containing this song, and decided that enough was enough and put it on a playlist. Now I listen to it at least 3 times a day.
So that's it for my current music obsessions. Now go look these bands/albums/songs up and expand your horizons!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book List and Review of 2013

That's right. Today I'm going to talk about what I've read this year. Mind you this list is not complete due to the fact that I can't remember everything I've read. Next year I'll keep a proper tab. Anyway, the list (not in order):
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Fire by Kristin Cashore
LOTR: Twin Towers by JR Tolkien
LOTR: Return of the King by JR Tolkien
The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines
Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey
Bronze Gods by A.A. Aguirre
Spellbound by Blake Charlton
Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
Thunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy
Coyote Dreams by C.E. Murphy
Somewhere in between 100-200 different manga series, meaning the actual amount of manga books is way higher and somewhere around 1000
at least 100 free original works/fanfiction of good quality.
So that's my list. The titled books are the ones we bought whereas the rest was found online. There might be another 5 books to add to the first part of my list, but since I'm not 100% on that I'll just leave them off.
So! Now that you have my list, what's next? Well I figure I can tell you what I thought of them! In order:
Sunshine... I did not like this one. I got it because the premise looked interesting and it was considered by many to be the best work by Robin McKinley. I was worried as I found her way of writing to be kind of boring in the past, but I figured I'd give it a shot. It didn't go well. It was slow and dragged on for a long time, only getting anywhere in the final third of the book. Mostly it was character introspection... and whining. I will say that it's a good character analysis book, but that was the only real positive I could pull from it. The main character was wishy-washy, going from borderline disgust of another character to vulgar lust, which came on so suddenly I got whiplash. I would not recommend this book.
Graceling and Fire I will do together since I feel the same way about both of these. They're fun. The pacing is great, and there wasn't a moment when I wasn't engaged. A fun, new take on having gifts in a more medieval setting. Gracling was the lighter of the two I feel, but both are fantastic. I have another part of the series, Bitterblue, to read and am looking forward to it.
LOTR: Twin Towers and Return of the King... hmm... I liked them. I found it laggy in some parts, and there were areas of unnecessary information, but altogether a wonderful fantasy.
The Stepsisters Scheme is another I liked, but it made me frustrated. The main character was one that I was constantly shouting at in my head to not do that! because she was too gosh darn nice. I liked the princesses saving the prince though. Role reversal has always been a fun subject for me to read. I'm currently reading the second book of this series, The Mermaid's Madness.
Beauty and the Werewolf is a part of a series where Lackey takes fairytales and spins them into something new. This book combined Beauty and the Beast and Little Red Riding Hood. It was a little slower than the other parts of this series, but a wonderful addition to it none the less. I recommend it and the rest of the series to anyone who enjoys fairytales and fantasy.
Ah... Bronze Gods... this one was neat. It was written by a husband and wife duo, and is a mystery. It was fun to be engulfed in a world so different from what I'm used to reading in fantasy. It had fantasy elements, certainly, but it was grittier than you usually see, which I enjoyed. The way the two main characters interact was great, and it ends in a way you don't expect (you'd think since it's mystery that'd be a given, but trust me it isn't). People who read fantasy or mystery are sure to get a kick out of this one.
Spellbound by Blake Charlton is the second book in a series. I was pleasantly surprised by this one as it surpassed book 1, a feat most books in the middle of a shorter series cannot accomplish. There are two narrators, and it reads a bit like a mystery novel even though it is definitely fantasy. The use of language in it is wonderful, and I'm not just talking about the way it was written either. Many people in this world are spell castors, and the main male character is dyslexic, which is so freaking interesting you have no idea! Also... there's a dragon in it. So read it.
I'll tackle the last three together since they're in the same series. First off, I love this series so far. So much so that the rest of it is on my Christmas list because I want the rest now! Anyway, this series deals with a Miss Walker who is a mechanic/cop that has to come to terms with the fact that she's a shaman. Urban Shaman introduces us to this concept, along with having the god of the hunt trying to break free into the "real" world. Miss Walker has to try and solve murders, deal with the supernatural, her powers, her boss, and somewhere in between get some sleep. Thankfully she has a nosy taxi driver, a cross-dressing cop friend, and wise-cracking coyote spirit guide to help her.
I know it sounds a little cliché, and believe me it is at times, but it's one of those series where there's so much fun in it that you don't really mind the clichés. For one thing the police work is more like how you'd see it on TV, but if you think about it if it was like real life then you'd be reading a lot about protocol, paperwork, and whatnot, and honestly where's the fun in that? Thunderbird Falls continues on with the whole "supernatural trying to take over" thing, but this time there's witches involved. While not as exciting as the first book in the series it still does perfectly fine on its own.
The third book takes a different turn, dealing with people getting stuck in their sleep with no way out. It was an interesting change of pace, and I really enjoyed it. This book did give me lots of feels, however, and made me want to read the next one the second I was finished with it. I love this series. It's witty, sarcastic, and just oodles and oodles of fun. At least it is for me. Hopefully it would be for you too.
So that's all the reviewing for today. I'm sure I could review some of my favorite manga I've read over the past year, but another time perhaps. I'll just let you mull over this bunch first.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

So It's The Holiday Season...

Now's the time of year most consider the holiday season. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Yule just to name a few. I personally celebrate both Christmas and Yule. Regardless of what you celebrate, or if you celebrate at all, I hope this time of year is happy for all of you.
I still have a little bit of shopping left to do, but not much. The rest of my family though, they've still got a lot more. I went a little overboard this year as I have more money this time around. I don't mind though. I like getting them things. My sister and I also plan on going to see the Hobbit part 2 in theatres, which will be awesome!
Other than that we have one Christmas party on the books. We'll be celebrating with my brother-in-law's family. It's sure to be interesting this year as my father and his wife are coming in from New York to visit. His take on the world is a lot different than theirs so it's sure to be fun watching.
I am a little nervous though. One of the family member's has taken an interest in seeing my art. I have to take pictures of it all and show it to him. I hope he likes them. I also hope that one day I will be more confident in my own abilities as a creative type.
I'm hoping we get snow soon. Not the kind that lingers just a bit, and then disappears entirely, but real snow. The kind that sticks and lasts long into the month. I don't like balmy winters. If I wanted those I'd head south.
Anyway, that's all for now. Until next week!