Posts Tagged ‘Review’

catching fire posterBottom Line:

Rent it, buy it, or don’t bother? — Buy it.


[No spoilers.]

Did anyone expect Catching Fire not to be amazing? Because it was. But it also left me a little overwhelmed. I loved the movie, I truly did, but part of me is still looking for something. Something more? Maybe. Something else? Possibly.

I don’t know what it is, and I can’t explain it. I’m not disappointed, not in the slightest. But I’m hoping to see it again soon. I think that will help me get my thoughts in order.

But no one has time for that now! You guys want to know how the movie was, and I’m here to tell you that it was spectacular.

Cinematically, the movie was beautiful. District 12 was drab and full of sorrow, the Capitol was lively and full of color, the arena was sprawling and dangerous, and the CGI was impeccable. There really are no complaints here.

The acting was, of course, spot on. We have to talk about Jennifer Lawrence’s performance because it stole the show every single time. She’s so great at moving between the truly emotional scenes, whether she’s scared or upset, and the hilarious scenes, of which there are plenty. Her interactions with the other tributes, particularly Johanna and Finnick, are laugh out loud funny. She makes the best faces.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta really stepped it up in this movie. He’s exactly the Peeta I pictured from the book, and the more I see him, the more I’m convinced Suzanne Collins actually based the character off of the actor. Liam Hemsworth was great as Gale, even considering his limited screen time. Haymitch and Cinna continue to be some of my favorites, and I really thought Effie’s emotional scenes were particularly touching.

The Victory Tour was poignant, and the Games were frightening. I often found myself tensed up in my seat even though I knew exactly what was going to happen. That’s the mark of a great movie.

And speaking of being a great movie, this truly was a fantastic adaptation. I haven’t read the book in a while, but a lot of little details that stuck out in my mind were in the film. There was one particular scene that was missing, but in the end I actually think it may have been an asset for viewers who hadn’t read the books.

The highlights for me were just the beauty and scope of the movie and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. That ending shot right before the credits roll… Wow. You can see every thought and every emotion on her face, and it sent chills down my spine.

Let me know what you thought about Catching Fire in the comments. Remember that while this review was spoiler-free, the comments won’t be. I look forward to discussing the movie with you guys!

The Eve Genome CoverThe Eve Genome is finally live and in color! I had a hand in editing this book (which is always exciting, especially when I see my name on Amazon), and I’m proud to offer it to you guys as a recommendation.

This book is about a girl named Adriana whose blood type is nothing that anyone has ever seen before. To solve the mystery, she has to delve into her family’s past and figure out what makes her so different. Kalan, meanwhile, acts as both a welcome distraction and a clue to her family’s secret. But he may be hiding more than he’s letting on, too…

This is pulled right from my Amazon review:

I’ve never quite read a story like The Eve Genome. It was one of those rare stories where I didn’t know exactly how it was going to end. Full of interesting characters and fascinating science, I was sucked into the story right away. Joanne Brothwell doesn’t hold back at any point in this book, and it’s obvious from page to page that she went all out. Besides, just look at that cover! Beautiful.

Seriously, though. That cover. I can’t stop looking at it.

You can find Joanne on Facebook and Twitter, along with on her website. Find The Eve Genome on Amazon and buy a copy! And if her name sounds familiar, it’s probably because I also recommended another book she wrote a while back. There’s a reason why I keep coming back for more, and that’s because I really love her style.

If you guys read this, or any of her other books, please let me know what you think!

The Mortal Instruments PosterBottom Line:

Rent it, buy it, or don’t bother? — Buy it.


[Some spoilers, but remember that the book has been out for six years…]

I saw They Mortal Instruments: City of Bones this past weekend and really enjoyed it. I’ll preface this by saying this series is good, but it won’t be cracking my top five list anytime soon. It might not ever break into my top ten. The premise is quite good, but the writing was nothing spectacular.

Still, I was really hyped to see the movie. It look amazing and exciting and action packed, and apparently I just can’t get enough of book-to-film adaptations. Which is good, considering they’re not going away anytime soon.

One of the first things I noticed with this film was that it was absolutely beautiful. All of the sets were spectacular, even the ones as simple as the apartment building or the cafe Clary and Simon like to visit. The Institute in particular was breathtaking, and it felt so full and lived-in. It definitely sucked you right into the movie.

I also thought the casting was fantastic. I was worried about Jaime Campbell Bower living up to my expectations as Jace. Although the look of the character wasn’t quite what I had envisioned, the actor definitely played the part. His serious demeanor, his mannerisms, and his sarcasm were right on par. Along with that I thought the actors that played Isabelle and Alec also knocked it out of the park, though Simon was by far my favorite.

The action in this movie was brilliant. It was frightening and exciting and realistic. It moved fast, it looked real, and it seemed like the characters really were fighting for their lives. Action is one of my favorite elements to any movie, and fight scenes are something I can be critical about. But I really, really enjoyed them in this movie.

This is a bit of a spoiler, but only if you haven’t read the books (and if you don’t want to know exact details about the movie). The possible incest plot in the books just about ruined the first novel for me. You’re meant to really root for Jace and Clary, only to get the rug pulled out from under you. It’s one thing to go down the “we can’t be together root”; it’s something else entirely to say, “we may be brother and sister.” In the movie, they pretty much spelled out to the audience that it was a lie. I’m glad they did this, because it made it far less uncomfortable to watch.

Magnus Bane Godfrey Gao

Flipping over to the things I didn’t like, I have to mention Godfrey Gao. Don’t get me wrong here, though. I love Godfrey Gao (mostly for superficial reasons). I think he makes an amazing Magnus. His makeup, clothes, and acting were spot on. His voice? That’s another story. He has a beautiful Eastern accent (he’s Taiwanese), but in the movie it’s American. Which would be fine…if it didn’t sound like they dubbed it. Now, I don’t know if they actually did do that, but there are definitely other people across the internet wondering the same thing. (Also, I could have used him on my screen more, thanks.)

The biggest problem I had with this movie was that it was too funny. The humor seemed out of place in a lot of spots, and it just fell flat. I blame the script rather than the actors. There are definitely jokes that landed well, but a few just died as soon as they came out of someone’s mouth. They seemed cheesy and forced, and a few were in spots that were full of action and suspense. It brought you out of the moment when all you wanted to do was be on the edge of your seat and find out what was going to happen next.

My last point is a minor one, especially since it might have more to do with the source material than anything else. It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, so I’m just going to comment on what I got from the movie. The entire movie only really did one thing for us: It told us that Clary is a Shadowhunter and then showed us her abilities. Everything else was a setup. Her interactions with the cup, her father, her mother, Simon, and Jace (among other things I’m sure) were never resolved. There wasn’t a lot of closure at the end of the movie. It definitely left you wanting more, but in this case I just didn’t feel satisfied enough.

I really did like the movie, though, and will be looking forward to the sequel. I think if they just nip and tuck a few points, they will have a ever better movie on their hands the next time around. Here’s to hoping!

Have you seen City of Bones? Are you planning on it? Have you read the books?

Iron Man 3 PosterThis is a spoiler free review. It’s not even a review, per se, but my thoughts about why I loved what they did with Tony’s character in Iron Man 3.

Because, you see, they made him human.

Okay, yes. He was already human. But that’s kind of not the point. He acted human, and I think that’s something a lot of superhero movies forget to take into consideration.

There are a lot of superheros out there that aren’t fully human, not like you or me at least. Superman. Spider-Man. The Hulk. Thor. Any of the X-Men. The Fantastic Four. And, of course, a lot of their opponents — Magneto, Venom, Loki, Thanos, etc. etc.

There are fewer superheroes that can be called human. Batman is obviously a huge one. Tony Stark is too.

I think the recent Batman trilogy by Christopher Nolan did a great job of humanizing Bruce Wayne. Some of it was still a little out there, but you know what? It’s a superhero movie. It’s supposed to be.

But if you take a look at some of these other characters – the ones that are more human than, say, Superman – they sort of welcome their new powers with open arms, don’t they? Peter Parker decided to sew his own suit and run around catching bad guys. Someone like Rogue obviously struggled with discovering her power, but instead of being driven mad, she struck out on her own to try and survive away from the civilization that she knew would judge and persecute her.

Me? I’d probably go crazy if I realized I could shoot freaking spider webs out of my hands or suck the life force out of my boyfriend.

Not all superhero movies have the time to explore this theme, and that’s fine. I’m not complaining. I love these movies. But it’s nice to see a movie go down that road, make it a part of the storyline, and not have it detract from the awesomeness of the film.

So. Iron Man 3.

Tony Stark Iron Man 3

I loved it. I thought it had a little bit of everything – action, humor, emotion, sincerity, and a lot of Tony Stark. (Because you just can’t go wrong with Tony Stark.) And that’s about as much as I’ll say about the actual movie – just because I want to talk about something else in particular. If you want a real (spoiler-free) review, check out my friend’s over on Gamerscene or Mr. Sunday Movies (for a video review – also spoiler free). If you want a spoiler-heavy place to discuss the movie with fans, check out Hypable.

The absolute best thing about this movie is the way they portrayed Tony. He’s out of his suit quite a bit. He has to make due without his fancy gadgets at some point, and it makes him vulnerable. It also makes him scared.

Tony has to deal with anxiety attacks in this film. And after what happened in New York City in The Avengers, it should come as no surprise. But it was surprising, because Tony’s always been cool. He’s always been calm and cocky. And so many other superheroes face down the supernatural and keep going on with their lives. Captain America is a great example of this. Sure, he’s sort of super human, but he’s still very much a man of the ’40s. And yet he faced the Red Skull, became a capsicle for 70 years, and woke up to a completely new world in which there’s Norse gods and giant green men and aliens coming out of a wormhole in the sky?

It’s actually a wonder he didn’t just jump back in the ocean.

Tony dealt with it while it was happening. It’s not like he really had a choice. But once he got home? Once the adrenaline receded and he could relax? He was a changed person. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t stop building Iron Man suits. He couldn’t function in society. He had anxiety for the first time in his life, and – in my opinion – that made him an even better character.

It’s always been hard to relate to Tony. He was never really a true underdog, was he? He always had the money and the cars and the gadgets and the girls. You obviously feel sorry for him, and you like him, and you root for him, but he doesn’t exactly represent the masses, does he? Someone like Cap will always have more of an underdog origin story.

But in Iron Man 3Tony finally becomes a pleb. He’s finally one of us. He’s scared and vulnerable and he doesn’t have his suit to protect him every step of the way. He’s desperate, and I think that’s the first time he’s felt that way since he had to find a more permanent (and convenient) way to stay alive than hooking up a car battery to his heart. And even that didn’t last long. He went on living life in mostly the same way.

Iron Man 3 SnowUntil New York happened.

Now he’s different. He’s paranoid and he’s angry and he’s so, so scared. This is how a normal human being would react to everything Tony’s gone through, and it’s finally made Tony accessible to the rest of us.

Who knows if there’s going to be an Iron Man 4. Who knows where Tony is going to go from here after everything that’s happened in this movie, but whatever does happen, I hope he stays this way. I love the old Tony, but I love this one too, and the writers showed us that they can balance hilarious one-liners with heartfelt emotion.

If we get more of that in a sequel, I say bring it on.

Have you watched Iron Man 3 yet? What did you think? Do you like the changes that Tony went through, or do you prefer the old Tony? (Note that the comments may contain spoilers!)

Warm Bodies Dead Sexy PosterBottom Line:

Watch it.


[No spoilers.]

Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the book, but there were some things that I thought took away from the story line. If you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Zombie marriage? Yeah, weird. Or all that going in and out of Perry’s memories, and then interacting with him while R was dreaming? It was confusing because you couldn’t always tell what was real and what wasn’t.

I still liked it, but I enjoyed the movie even more.

It kept the tone of the book, which was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. It was humorous and actually kind of uplifting, but it was also real and – yeah, I’m going to say it – kind of believable. It wasn’t cheesy and it had the whole theatre laughing. By the end of the movie, you were smiling from ear to ear.

And then you remembered. You just walked out of a zombie film.

Kind of strange, but it works. Now, if you’re not a fan of zombies (and I won’t blame you if you aren’t), I’d still suggest giving this movie a try. There were maybe three parts that were actually kind of gross, and it didn’t last long. Most of the movie is not focused on zombies eating people. Instead, it’s focused on how R is changing and becoming more and more human.

It’s also not scary. That was a concern of mine. I’m just about the biggest wimp you could ever hope to meet, and I only jumped once (and that was just because I was so into the movie and there was a gunshot and it took me by surprise!). But there really aren’t any zombies that jump out. (Whew.)

As I said, the film smoothed out the storyline quite a bit. They kept in all the parts I enjoyed the most, and took out the ones that I didn’t like. They added some newer scenes, and this actually helped to transition the story from one story line to another. Not only that, but the added bits at the end were a lot more satisfying than the ending of the book.

The acting was fabulous. I felt terrible for Nicholas Hoult – who is a great actor – because he spent most of the movie just grunting and groaning. Teresa Palmer (Julie) was a wonderful mix of being tough and vulnerable, which is something I enjoyed immensely about the character when I read the book. She captured her personality beautifully. Analeigh Tipton (Nora) wasn’t quite so prominent, but she had a lot of great lines and really caught your attention every time she was on screen.

All the supporting actors were wonderful as well. Rob Coddry as M got in most of the funny lines, and it was cool seeing him transform into a more human character as a side effect of what R was going through. John Malkovich always draws my attention when he’s on screen (I just love the way he delivers his lines), and he played an intelligent and intimidating leader without going over the top. Dave Franco played Perry, and although his part was small, he essentially had to play the same character at vastly different parts in time, so it was almost like playing two different characters all together.

In the end, this was a rom-com that just happened to feature zombies. It wasn’t over done, it wasn’t cheesy, and it wasn’t gory. It was a nice mix of everything, and I can’t wait to watch it again. It you want to watch something unique and refreshing, I highly recommend you go see Warm Bodies!

Have you seen it? If so, what did you think about it? If not, do you think you might give it a try?

Today is the last day of 2012. Part of me is shocked – When did this happen? Where was I? Did I black out at any point in time? – and the other part is excited. A brand new year is upon us.

I actually remember quite vividly the beginning of 2012 and how hopeful and determined I was. I got a reality check fairly early on, but I never let that slow me down. This year has been – and I can say this without a doubt – the best year of my life. I accomplished so much and became a part of so many things that I value with all my heart. Not only that, but I finally cemented the idea in my head that yes, I am a writer, and yes, I will be published some day.

I feel so incredibly blessed.

The rest of this post is basically a list of everything I accomplished. I’m not doing this to brag or to show you how much I’ve gotten done. I’m sure the list isn’t nearly as inspiring or complete and yours would be. Feel free to not read it at all – it won’t bother me. This is for ME, because sometimes I feel like I haven’t done anything at all. I need these types of lists to remind me that although the steps I take may be small, they really do add up.

This is to remind me that at the beginning of 2012, I was literally standing at square one.

This is to remind me that at the end of 2012 I have become a completely different person, and in the best way possible.

This is to remind me that 2013 can and WILL be just as great as 2012 was.


Because I already do a round up post at the end of each ROW80 round, it was pretty easy to track down and grab all of my accomplishments. As a result, the list below is broken up into four parts – one for the four rounds of ROW80, each of which comprise of about three months. After the numbered points, I’ve written a few paragraphs describing my year overall. If you want to know what I did and are too lazy to read everything (:P), then just go read those!

My 2012 resolutions that I set up at the end of 2011 were pretty simple. I wanted to finish editing my completed novel (D1), start researching agents/publishers, finish writing my WIP (L1), lose 20 pounds, and read 25 new books.

I did all of this except lose 20 pounds (oops). I also didn’t get anywhere with researching agents and publishers, though I did find some great resources along the way (so I’m calling that a win anyway).


  1. I finished editing my completed novel (D1), which was the first full-length project I ever finished.
  2. I finished my WIP (L1), which was the second full-length project I ever finished and by far the quickest written.
  3. I started writing D2, despite not being completely happy with everything I had in D1.
  4. I completed 50 blog posts, had 2,000 views, and 400 comments. I probably did a happy dance.
  5. I put D1 and D2 aside in order to focus on L1. This was the best decision I could’ve made in regards to my main projects. D1 is a dud (for now) and one of those things that needs to sit in a drawer and marinate for a while. L1 has so much more potential.
  6. I became a copyeditor for Hypable, which has been and continues to be such an incredible experience and opportunity for me.
  7. I decided to create my own Facebook page. This had been quite a scary thought at first (admitting to friends and family that I’m pursuing this whole “writer thing” seriously), but turned out to not only not be a big deal, but to remind me that my friends and family are super supportive of all of my decisions.


  1. I wrote a short story called “The Necklace,” which is a modern twist on a Greek myth. It needs some work, but I plan on making a series out of this. Should be interesting.
  2. I wrote another short story – a twist on the Cinderella tale – for my best friend. She loved it, so I may write more for her.
  3. I finished writing “Trigger.” This is a short story that ended up in the final collection and actually became one of my favorites.
  4. I started writing Z1, the first out of 12 novellas I have planned for this series. I’m stuck on it right now, but it’s something I definitely want to pursue.
  5. I hit 100 posts on my blog. Probably did another dance.
  6. Finished writing “Found,” another short story. This one stayed in the collection as well – for now, at least.
  7. I got an iPhone, which has literally transformed my life. I can do everything 10 million times more efficiently now.
  8. I ate octopus, squid, and kimchi for the first time. Oddly enough, the cabbage was the one I hated.
  9. I saw Team StarKid in concert, which was definitely one of the highlights of my year.
  10. I joined Ladies Who Critique and found two critique partners that have helped me tremendously with edits for L1.


  1. I wrote three short stories this round, and began editing the collection.
  2. Had both my collection and my novel critiqued by Beta readers.
  3. Started working with L.T. Ryan as his editor on his Jack Noble novels. I can’t even begin to say how much I appreciate his enthusiasm and talent. I’m such a fan of his books and of him as a person, and I’m super grateful that our paths have crossed.
  4. I started writing columns for Hypable. I also started covering Teen Wolf and Percy Jackson news, and became a host on the new Once Upon a Time podcast on Hypable, called Onceable.
  5. I saw Karmin in concert – twice. It was a dream come true.
  6. I added an accomplishment page to my blog, which is a great way for me to keep tabs on everything that I’ve been doing.
  7. I passed 10,000 views on here.
  8. I won 6th place in the 81st Annual Writer’s Digest Genre Short Story competition with my horror short titled, “The Body.”


  1. Natalie and I started up Not Another Teen Wolf Podcast, a podcast dedicated to the show – you guessed it – Teen Wolf. This is my favorite project right now, and I’m so grateful that I am a part of it!
  2. Passed 15,000 views on the blog.
  3. I met and started working with C.G. Cooper on his book series Corps Justice.
  4. I started writing a new novel that I like to call The Watch Story. It’s just something to work on alongside all my edits, but it definitely has potential.
  5. I’ve continued editing L1, and it’s getting stronger and stronger.
  6. My short story collection is nearly complete.
  7. I’ve hit 200 posts.
  8. I had frog’s legs for the first time! Tasted like chicken.


So, what does this all mean?

Well, I elected to put away my first completed novel (my “baby” in a sense) in order to work on something that had more potential. I started several new projects that I have yet to finish, but they’re still words on a page and, therefore, a win for me. I also finished my short story collection and feel quite good about it actually being nearly complete. Winning that award didn’t hurt either.

The blog has been growing steadily, and some days I just look at the numbers and think, “People actually read what I write?” It’s a humbling experience, for sure, and something I never actually imagined happening, despite the fact that this blog is obviously a public forum. And I can’t even tell you the number of people I’ve met and befriended because of this platform. You’re all incredibly amazing, and I’ll never forget the support you all have shown me. Over a year of blogging, more than 17,000 views, over 200 posts, and 1750 comments. Is this real life?

I said it once, but I’ll say it again: joining Hypable has been an incredible experience and a wonderful opportunity for me. Not only have they allowed me to be an editor, but to spread my wings and write news articles, columns, and even become a podcaster. I feel my foot inching further and further in the door every day. And although that’s a wonderful thing, I can’t help but put an even larger emphasis on the people that I’ve met and become friends with. They live all around the world – much like you do, dear readers – which can be both enlightening and a little sad. How is it that some of the people that understand me the most, that I have the most in common with, live across the country or halfway around the world? It’s not fair. I’ve learned so much about people, different cultures, fandom, and the Internet because of them. I quite literally wouldn’t trade it for the world. (What would I do with an entire planet anyway? I can’t even remember to water the plants.)

Outside of writing, I’ve been having a good year as well. I saw two of my newest and favorite artists, Karmin and StarKid, live and in concert. Both were amazing experiences. I dove straight into eating Chinese food with a passion that my younger self wouldn’t have believed. I’ve tried so many new things and loved every second of it – even when I’ve had to spit out some of the more disgusting foods. Not to mention all I’ve learned since joining up with my local mycological society.

But none of that compares to how I’ve grown as a writer and as a person. At the beginning of 2012 I was naïve, shy, and a little scared. I’m still all of those things, but less so. And that’s a step in the right direction. I had high hopes, and even though I didn’t accomplish all of them, I started walking down the right path. This is partially – maybe even mostly – due to the blog post by Kristen Lamb called “Aspiring is for Pansies.” Yeah, that’s all it took. One blog post. Maybe I’m just really easy to persuade. Or maybe Kristen just really knows what she’s talking about. (Let’s go with the latter, shall we?)

I realized that all I want to do is become a writer. Maybe it isn’t the smartest choice. Maybe I won’t make a lot of money. Maybe I’ll constantly be fighting with those around me, trying to prove that writing is both a serious and important career choice for me. All I know is that I’m not going to give up, no matter how bumpy the road becomes. I can be an anxious person, full of indecisiveness and doubt. But this is the one thing that I’ve never, ever doubted. And it’s the one thing that I will never, ever give up on. I was meant to be a writer. And I will be.

Warm Bodies Book CoverI first heard about Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion when I saw the trailer for the movie. I watched it and was pleasantly surprised that it actually looked good, despite the kind of ridiculous sounding story line.

What’s the story line, you might ask? Well, it’s a zombie love story.

Yeah. A zombie love story.

And I’m not just talking about two people falling in love while zombies are on the loose. I’m not even talking about two zombies falling in love. I’m talking about a regular girl and a zombie falling in love.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Zombies are gross (true) and girls falling in love with dead supernatural beings has been done (also true).

But the cool thing about this book is that it’s different. It’s fast-paced and refreshing. It’s honest, raw, and unique. It’s a spin on zombies that I haven’t seen before, and it’s nice to see them (some of them at least) acting kind of human.

Even though I really enjoyed this book, I do have to say it read like an outline. I wanted a more fleshed out (ha ha) story. The different scenes sometimes bled into each and it got confusing. The premise lends itself to this sort of writing, but I’m not sure it always worked. I enjoyed the story so much that I wanted more of everything – more of R’s thoughts (he’s the zombie), more interaction with Julie, more confrontations, more backstories, more, more, more.

I guess that’s both a good thing and a bad thing – I left feeling a little let down, a little empty inside. But I also wanted more. I enjoyed living in this world so much that I didn’t want to give it up. I heard he’s going to be writing a sequel, so maybe I’ll get what I want when that gets published.

I do recommend the book, though it seems to fall into a strange category. Those who like love stories a la Twilight might not be totally into this, but those who love zombies might not like this softer version of the genre. It’s good for people who like zombies well enough, but can’t really get into the blood-and-guts that usually come with it.

I’m highly anticipating this movie. Check out the trailer below:


It looks weird and creepy and funny and awesome all at once. It captures the essence of the book pretty well, and some of my favorite scenes from the book are in the trailer. I’m also hoping that the filmmakers are able to fill in some of the gaps that left us hanging in the book. The novel is only about 150 pages long, so it was probably fairly easy to adapt into a screenplay. Here’s to hoping that it’s a faithful adaption and that it’s a runaway success!

Have you read the book? Looking forward to the movie? If this isn’t usually your cup of tea, would you be willing to give it a shot?

P.S. Here’s a review of the movie from someone who got to see it early. It’s a little spoilery, so I’d avoid it until you’ve read the book!

The Casual Vacancy Book[This post has no spoilers, but the same can’t be said for the comments section!]

About a week ago I finally finished up The Casual Vacancy. I had heard a fair amount of negative comments about it, so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to reading it. Regardless, I’m glad I read it, and I think it served its purpose.

Did I enjoy it? Maybe not.

But I don’t think all books need to be enjoyed. This is a perfect example of that. I didn’t find the story particularly enthralling, but I did learn a lot about what I like and don’t like (always important as a writer), as well as characterization, realism, and heroes.

So even though I didn’t particularly like it, it taught me a lot about writing.

The Writing

I don’t think anyone could argue that JKR is a bad writer, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that her prose was one of my favorite things about this book. The phrasing of her sentences and the words she chose painted a vibrant picture. This is what you need to point to if someone tells you writing isn’t an art or a science (I believe it’s both, by the way) because you can tell she took the time to place each word with care in order to give us a strong overall feeling for the novel.

With that being said, there were some things I didn’t enjoy. Some of the words she chose seemed a bit pretentious, especially given who some of the characters were (uneducated, superficial, etc.). Her extensive parentheses and overuse of semi-colons were a little grating, as well. But nothing worth putting the book down over.


The thing that stood out to me the most in The Casual Vacancy was the characterization. There’s a huge list of players in this book, and I had hardly any trouble keeping track of them. Why? Because the characters Rowling creates are so unique and memorable that she doesn’t need to blatantly remind you of who they are.

Her characterization was subtle. It was the way in which their section was written (this being an omniscient POV), the tics they had, their dialect, their personality. Nobody was a repeat of another, and each had a role to play. So many authors give you a rough sketch of a character. You know who they are on the outside, but you don’t know their soul. With the characters in this book, I felt that I could write a three page essay on each one, psychoanalyzing their personalities and actions. It’s the way in which she showed us the character, the things she didn’t say, that ended up being the brightest colors on the canvas.


Rowling said there are only two characters she would call heroes in this book – Barry Fairbrother and Krystal Weedon. This is ironic, and if you’ve read the book, you’ll know why.

Despite that, I would agree for the most part. I ended up not liking Krystal’s character after all, but that doesn’t necessarily make her un-heroic. Given the setting and plot of the story, it’s interesting to look at what makes a hero in a book like this. They’re not the ones that take up sword and shield and attack a dragon. Their heroism is more subtle, more internal – especially in Krystal’s case. I think that’s important to be aware of as a writer. Not everything our characters do have to be big and bold and life-and-death. Sometimes it’s the things they don’t do that are more important.

The Best and the Worst

There were plenty of things I didn’t like about the book, besides the writing. This felt like a book without very much plot. Most of it was a setup for what occurred in the last 200 pages. That’s fine and dandy, but if it was anyone other than JKR (with a few exceptions, of course), I think the the author would’ve been forced to change it in order to streamline the story a little bit.

I’m not a fan of the omniscient POV, though I do see why it was necessary for a book like this. It allowed us to drop in on any character at any time, which was helpful in understanding the personality and role of each person. Speaking of which, I often found the realism a little unsettling. It wasn’t a bad thing, per se. Perhaps it was just a neutral thing. It’s amazing to look at these characters and know that each one of them actually does exist in our world. The problem with this realism is, however, that it was very hard to like any of the characters.

I thought the best character was Sukhvinder. I think that, above everything, she was the person that was the most kind, despite having every reason not to be. I felt closest to her character because it was easy to see why she did the things she did. I have had friends in similar situations and know, through my relationship with them, how difficult it is to live a life that you feel is not worth living. In the end, however, I would say she came out on top, and above everyone else. This was probably the one thing that saved the book for me, and I’m glad that it happened.

Oddly enough, the character that I related to the most was Fats. I’m not sure why this is (and you’re not allowed to dissect that answer and tell me!! 😛 ) I appreciated his self-awareness and need to be authentic. I often feel this way about myself, and although I don’t take it to the level that he did, I enjoyed analyzing his character as a way to learn more about myself.

This is quite the philosophical book if you let it be. While I doubt I’ll give it a second read, I’m glad I powered through and read it at least once, despite the generally unfavorable reviews I had been hearing about.

Have you read The Casual Vacancy? If not, is it on your to-read list? If so, what did you think of it?

P.S. It looks like the BBC is going to be turning this into a mini-series. I think it’ll do well in this format, and it’ll be interesting to see these characters comes to life. What do you think?

I’ve been a good little writer recently (and a good procrastinator). I’ve been watching tons of movies and TV shows on Netflix. I never realized how much they can teach you about novel writing until I really started widening my horizons. For a taste of what I mean, check out my writing category and look at my “How to…” posts. I take a character and a trait from a TV show or movie and break it down to see why it works and how it can help us out as writers.

So, naturally, I’ve become invested in more television shows than I have time for. I’ve recently gotten caught up with Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, and Sherlock. This is a post about my thoughts on each show because I don’t really have anywhere else where I can ramble on and on about them. And, yes, that’s your warning. This is a ramble.

(Also, I tried not to give anything major away, but this post does contain some light spoilers.)

The Road So Far on Supernatural

I saw the first few episodes of Supernatural when they aired about eight years ago (whoa). I’m not sure why I didn’t keep watching, but I can only guess that it was because I was too scared to continue.

Yeah, I know. I have a low tolerance for scary stuff. A very, very low tolerance.

But I took it up again recently and watched all seven seasons within a few weeks, trying to catch up on the series before the eighth season began. I really enjoyed it. Without knowing much about the series to begin with, I got a full experience of the twists and turns and I was really taken in by everything that happened.

One of my favorite things about this show is that the story weaves its way through all of the seasons. What happened in the very first episode has ramifications that carry on to the most recent episodes. Some shows tend to have a single “big bad” each season and when you look at the first season compared to the last, the show feels completely different.

Not Supernatural. It honestly feels like you’ve been in the Impala for eight years, driving around with the Winchester brothers. Sure, they’ve grown up and things have changed. People have come and gone. Big bads have been defeated and new ones have popped up. But it essentially feels like the same show to me, and I love that. It makes it feel a lot more realistic.

The humor in this show is just out of the park. Dean’s sarcastic “sasshole” (<– new favorite word, thanks to my friend Caitlin) attitude just makes you shake your head and laugh. His one liners are so wrong sometimes, but I’d like to meet a person who can honestly not laugh at them. (“A Hand of Glory? I think I got one of those at the end of my Thai massage last week.”) And not only that, but there are some episodes (like any of the ones with the Ghostfacers crew in them) that you literally just can’t stop laughing at. One of my favorites was when Sam and Dean were trying to tell Bobby a story about a case and they were telling their version of the story (2×15 “Tall Tales”), which put each brother in quite an interesting light.

There are some things that I don’t like about the show. I find the constant fighting between Dean and Sam a little tiring sometimes. Not that it’s not realistic, but I’m so invested in them as a team that whenever one decides to leave, it really hurts. The human heart can only take so much.

My one other big quibble? We need more Cas. Like, seriously. Please? I find myself just waiting for him to pop up because I love him so much. His dead-pan face, his unintentional humor, and his deep caring for Dean just make me want to hug him. (Or “glomp” him, which is another new word I learned recently.) Can he just be in every episode already? My heart hurts when he is away too long.

Previously on The Vampire Diaries

I was pleasantly surprised by The Vampire Diaries when I first started watching it. I thought it was going to be a little too Twilight-esque (not that I have a huge problem with Twilight, but it’s been done so there’s no need to repeat it). What I found was a show that incorporated love, but also made sure there were tons of interesting characters, scary bad guys, and some awesome vampire fight scenes. Can’t argue with that.

My favorite thing about this show is Damon. Which, I mean…come on. (Debra, if you’re out there, you know what I’m talking about. We have pretty much the same opinion on this subject matter.) Not only is he incredibly easy on the eyes, but his character is also really fun and interesting. The other characters also all bring something to the table, whether they’re good, bad, or just enjoy making some trouble. Caroline is another favorite. (Expect a post on her soon.)

This show also genuinely surprises me. Very few shows actually do this anymore. Very few shows actually make me gasp out loud. I love twists and turns, and I love last-minute reveals right before the end credits come up. (Although, I say that having watched the first three seasons on Netflix. Now that I have to watch this show on a weekly basis, I’m sure this is going to be a major complaint for me.)

The first few episodes were a little hard to get through because “love” occurs so quickly between the main characters. But, you know, whatever. That’s a problem with a lot of television and movies, so I’ve learned to just accept it as unrealistic and ignore it. I’m also kind of over the love triangle thing – especially since I don’t agree with Elena’s choice (go figure). Also, is it just me, or does anyone else find Stefan incredibly boring? He got a little more interesting as of late, but I still don’t really care too much for his character.

What the heck just happened on Sherlock?

I’m going to preface this with the bad, and then get into the good because that’s how I have sort of made my way through this show.

I had heard of Sherlock through Hypable and through the people that already watched Doctor Who. Steven Moffat writes for both shows and since I already enjoyed his work with Doctor Who, I decided to take up Sherlock as well. And, as it was already on Netflix, what was there to lose?

The first episode was incredible. I was totally impressed by Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays Sherlock) and the way the character was portrayed. If you’re unfamiliar, he’s a “high functioning sociopath” as the character himself claims, and goes about solving mysteries and making people very, very angry. It’s a good old time.

But I also really enjoy how the show is set up. Text appears on the screen in order to show us what Sherlock is seeing when he views a dead body, or what kind of text messages the characters get. You’d think this would take you immediately out of the show, but it truly doesn’t. It helps to prove how incredible Sherlock is without an overabundance of explanatory dialogue.

The second episode fell through for me, as did the third. They didn’t seem to have the same punch and I wasn’t as interested in the mysteries. Maybe it was just me, as I’ve heard tons of people rave about the show for months and months. Perhaps I’ll do a rewatch to figure out if I still feel that way. All I know is that I watched the first episode and fell in love, then watched the second one and fell out of love.

Not that I’d drop the series all together. I knew it would get better and, well, I have a problem putting things down once I pick them up.

The second series just recently hit Netflix, so I sat down to watch the first episode, hoping that it would give me the same feelings that it gave me when I watched that series premiere.

It didn’t. It gave me MORE.

I was blown away by the first episode. I sat down to watch it and ended up doing a marathon until I finished the second series. (It’s only three episodes long, but they’re 1 ½ hours each.) The new characters were incredible and dynamic and interesting. Moriarty was everything that I ever wanted in a bad guy and so much more. He was completely insane and I loved every second of it. A truly, nearly undefeatable bad guy is so hard to find nowadays. No pre-killing monologues. No stupid revenge schemes. He really just wanted to ruin Sherlock in every way possible. He knew exactly where to hit him, and he hit him so hard that it knocked the wind out of the greatest detective of all time.

And Sherlock. Oh, Sherlock.

We got to see such a different side of him this series. He’s not completely emotionless. He does understand love. He does feel. His relationship with Watson is lovely, and the connection between him and Irene Adler was confusing, tragic, and yet somehow beautiful. I love this show because it’s so complex, but it’s non-apologetic about it. It gives you what it wants to give you and forces you to draw your own conclusions.

I’m pretty sure this show makes me smarter, too. After I finish watching it, I find I’m a lot more sarcastic and witty (to the chagrin of my friends, I’m sure). I also feel like a pseudo-detective, drawing conclusions from crinkled gum wrappers and empty glasses. I may not be as good as Sherlock, but that won’t stop me from trying.

And that episode 3 ending? Oh, that ending. Just wait for it because it’s beautiful and haunting and absolutely perfect.

[/End Rambling]

So what conclusions can we draw from this?

  1. I have too much time on my hands.
  2. I need more of a social life.
  3. I spend a lot of time watching TV, and I will forever claim that it’s to become a better writer.
  4. These shows are amazing.
  5. I want you to give them all a chance. Get a Netflix subscription and start watching!!

What do you guys like or dislike about these three shows? Seeing as I’ve written an essay, long and rambling comments are totally allowed!

Glee is Back! …I think

Posted: September 17, 2012 in TV Shows
Tags: , , , ,

This is a post about my opinion of the premiere episode of Glee season 4. If you want a recap, there’s an amazing one on Hypable. The podcast Glee Chat also had an in depth discussion about it on their latest episode.

[Yes, there are spoilers for the first episode below!]

I discovered Glee when I was in college, about half way through the first season. My roommate was watching clips of some of the performances from season 1 on YouTube (yeah, she was supposed to be studying…). They were so great that I knew I was going to be hooked. And once I actually started watching, I was.

I caught up on season 1 and loved every minute of it. It was the type of TV show that had me thinking about it all day, every day. One episode would end and I’d feel like the week between that one and the next one was the longest, most horrible time of my life.

I guess you could say I was obsessed. You wouldn’t be wrong.

Season 2 came and went and I enjoyed it for different reasons, and maybe a little less than the first season. But I still felt the same way about the show. Season 3 started out great and there were definitely some stand out episodes. However, by the end of the season I was just about done with Glee.

I actually know the exact episode that turned me off completely. It was the one where they decided that Will Scheuster – the Spanish teacher – all of a sudden couldn’t speak Spanish. I mean, really? It was clearly a ploy to get Ricky Martin on the show and that was it.

So, anyway. Glee season 4.

It opens up with Rachel in New York City. All of a sudden it feels like a whole new show. It definitely had a Smash vibe, and felt a bit more grown up. Rachel was insecure, and I think that’s the best look for her. She’s come a long way from the first season and although she’s by far not my favorite character, I really enjoy watching her now.

The show also has some new characters. Brody Weston is the first one we meet and he comes to us (and Rachel) straight out of the shower. No complaints from me. Aside from the fact that he’s gorgeous (and that I loved his character on Terra Nova), he seems like a genuinely nice guy. It’s the first time I’ve ever wanted Rachel to be with someone other than Finn. It’s still early, and I have a feeling that the romance will blossom between them eventually, but I want them to take it slow. Friends first. If he’s meant to be Rachel’s new Finn, I want her to do it right this time. No stealing kisses, no cheating, no immaturity. Just an honest, healthy relationship.

Wade, who isn’t actually a new character, comes into the choir room to the shock of many of the Glee Club kids. I like Wade a little better than Unique, but I find that I truly enjoy Unique’s humor and over the top diva personality. I think both are great characters and serve their own purposes to the show. As long as he doesn’t take over, I’m quite content with him being in New Directions. (And if you’re reading this for the heck of it and have no idea what’s going on, Wade is a male student who happens to cross-dress. His alter ego is named Unique.)

We also meet Marley, who is pretty much the reason why I am watching this show. She’s honest and beautiful and good and true, and that’s everything that I want to see in a character on Glee. So many of the characters are flawed to the point of absurdity that a “normal” character is like a breath of fresh air. And the relationship that she has with her mom just about brings me to tears. I love it, I love her, and I love this show again.

Just Jake is up next and he sings beautifully. I think he sounds so much like the original, and his voice is like butter. I could listen to it every day. He’s an interesting character in that he is very similar to Puck, but I also feel like he’s a little wilder, a little more dangerous. I like that, and I hope now that we’re at a 9PM time slot, Glee will be just a tad darker than it was previously. We also hear Marley perform, while being cut against Rachel. As an actor/singer, that must be pretty intense. But she definitely held her own against Lea Michele. Where Rachel is Broadway, Marley is more like Jazz. I love both of their voices, and for different reasons.

The episode ends with Kurt in NYC and Rachel and him running toward each other and hugging. I think they’re both at their best when they’re together, honest, and trying to help the other person. They’re very similar in a lot of ways, but they also have a beautiful friendship that they use to build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

Obviously there were still problems with the episode. Every show has its issues, but unlike most I can’t just leave them be. I don’t like Kitty – the new head Cheerio. She’s a Santana wannabe, but with much more venom and a lot less humor. I could do without her. I also didn’t enjoy the glee club kids when they were trying to be popular. It didn’t fit with their characters and at this point in the show (and their lives) they should know better. But, it made a plot for the episode and I guess that’s what really matters. The courtyard number was also kind of big and ridiculous and I miss season 1 of Glee when they were trying to make the performances either solely envisioned in their minds or actually realistic.

But those are the nit-picks of a fangirl, not to mention just my personal opinions. Overall, this series harkens back to season 1. Not in the way that it has been shot or written – because it honestly feels like a different show to me now – but in the way that it makes me feel. I think about it every day, and I can’t wait until the next episode. This is how TV should be, and I hope Glee stays that way.

Did you watch the first episode of Glee season 4? Did you like it or hate it? Do you feel like it’s a whole new show now?