Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"I really don't drink."

Title: Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Format: DVD
Rating: A-

Hilarious! I'm not sure if it deserved to be number 1 in the box office, or to stay in theaters as long as it did, but it was hilarious!

Description (from Barnes & Noble): A New Jersey rent-a-cop gets his moment to shine as the holidays approach and Santa's little helpers stage a coup at the local shopping mall in this comedy starring King of Queens' Kevin James. Paul Blart (James) is a single suburban dad attempting to make ends meet by working as a mall security guard. Paul takes his job very seriously; unfortunately the same can't be said for the shoppers he deals with on a daily basis. That all changes the day that Santa's little helpers shut down the mall and start taking hostages, including Paul's daughter and his main squeeze. Realizing that no one knows the mall better than the man who's paid to guard it, Paul mounts his Segway and speeds to the rescue.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

No need to expand on the plot. The description pretty much says it all.

I watched this movie with a group of friends on Sunday (this is definitely a group movie, not a watch-on-your-own movie), and I was blown away. It helps that I had very low expectations for Paul Blart. I expected something dumb and unoriginal, and I was half right. It was indeed dumb, but since it wasn't also unoriginal (at least not to me), the stupidity was funny. I mean, I don't know if it's been used before, but this was the first time I ever saw hypoglycemia used as a comedic element. And who doesn't dream of riding a Segway? I got to ride one in Disney World, and now I wish I owned one. They are so much fun!

Like Lost in Austen, this wasn't something I'd watch with my youngest sister. Which is sad, because I think it would be an awesome family movie. I know it's rated PG, but I'm old-fashioned (that's right; old-fashioned at 22), and when I see PG, I immediately think of what PG meant for the family films of the 90s-- practically G. So while I loved this movie, and I will definitely watch it again, I wish they'd left out those couple of moments so that the littlest in the fam could enjoy it too. A-

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I finally get to read it!!! Last year I read Inkheart and could not wait to start the second book, Inkspell. But my brother, who is responsible for introducing me to the Inkworld books, wanted to read it first. I had to wait until he finished reading it on the drive to school this past semester. And that meant that he took the final book, Inkdeath, with him to school so he could read it there.

So he's had the book at school this whole semester, and now I have it! I was so excited when he unpacked it yesterday that my heart did a happy dance. Tonight I shall begin the final journey into Inkworld, and I can only hope that Ms. Funke ends her trilogy with a bang! Cross your fingers! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Otters & Dragons & Frogs, Oh My!

Title: Dragon's Breath
By: E.D. Baker
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Series #: 2 of 6
Date Started: May 18, 2009
Date Finished: May 18, 2009

Rating: A-

Description (book annotation): Having recovered their human shape, Emeralda and Eadric try to help Aunt Grassina find the special objects needed to break the spell that turned Grassina's true love, Haywood, into an otter.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There are so many new characters in this book to fall in love with! And so many new places! This is the perfect follow-up to The Frog Princess, and has only made me even more excited for the rest of the series. Emma and Eadric visit the home of Emma's grandmother Olivene, the woman who changed Haywood into an otter, to learn how to break the spell. She unknowingly tells them that they must find four items to help turn Haywood back into a human. During their adventures, they meet dragons, spiders, mermaids, sea monsters, and more. And sneezing has never been more hazardous.

I still love Eadric, although he seems to have become even more of a goofball (which is probably why I love him). And he doesn't seem to be able to stop eating! I do feel like Baker gave him a slightly smaller role in this book, but as he's the main source of comic relief, he's as memorable as ever. But my favorite new character is Ralf. If I could, I would take Ralf home with me and keep him as a pet. And all I have to say about grandmother Olivene is Thank God my grandmothers are nothing like her. I'm amazed that Emma's mother and sister turned out the way they did when you take into consideration what a terrible person Olivene is.

And the ending... well, the part close to the ending nearly made me cry. Look out for that.

The only thing I disliked was the fact that a couple of spots seemed a little choppy, but it didn't ruin the overall effect of the book. It was fast-paced, hilarious, and a really good remedy for the stuck-in-bed-with-a-stomach-virus blues. A-

A Kiss Is Not Always Just A Kiss

Title: The Frog Princess
By: E.D. Baker
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Series #: 1 of 6
Date Started: May 15, 2009
Date Finished: May 18, 2009

Rating: A-

Description (book annotation): After reluctantly kissing a frog, an awkward fourteen-year-old princess suddenly finds herself a frog, too, and sets off with the prince to seek the means--and the self-confidence--to become human again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First off, let me say that it doesn't usually take me a full four days to finish a book like this. It should have taken me a day, like its sequel, but my weekend was quite an adventure and thoroughly distracted me from my reading. I won't go into all the gory details, but it went something like this:
  • Left for brother's graduation (which was 7 hours away) on Friday.
  • Started reading book but then youngest sister threw up in car. And kept throwing up.
  • Saturday was brother's graduation, plus packing all his stuff and driving home.
  • Sunday, my other sister and I catch same stomach virus and spend day puking.
  • Felt a little better on Monday, so I finished the book.
As you can see, there was plenty to deter me from finishing The Frog Princess. I am glad I got to finish it though, because it was an awesome book. Princess Emeralda, or Emma, is the kind of girl any teenager (or anyone who's ever been a teenager) can relate to. She's in that awkward stage of trying to find out who she is; she thinks her mother hates her; and she's trying to ward off the attention of an annoying suitor who's more into himself than her (kinda sounds like the boys we all went to school with, doesn't it?). Exasperated, Emma runs off to the swamp, where she meets Prince Eadric while he is enchanted as a frog, and the fun begins!

I think one of the main reasons I loved this book was Prince Eadric. He's the lovable, gullible class clown that you can't help falling in love with, even while you just want to smack him upside his head. I also love him because he is not the typical knight in shining armor or Hollywood hero. He's like the boy next door; only this one has a crown.

My only issue with the book, or should I say, with the author, is that the writing could have been better. I realize that it's the first book in the series, and therefore, the author is trying to introduce the characters and the settings, but there were points in the book when a character would speak, and I'd wonder, "What's he doing there? I don't remember him being in this scene. Did she forget to include him earlier on?" I had the same issue in the second book as well, but it's my only issue. The story is engaging and funny; the characters made me laugh out loud; and the ending was completely satisfying. Overall, a very good book. A-

Don't Judge A Book By Its Movie

Title: Scaramouche
By: Rafael Sabatini
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction/Classic
Date Started: Can't remember
Date Finished: May 19, 2009

Rating: B+

Description (from Barnes & Noble): Raised by a supposed "godfather," Andre'-Louis Moreau knows nothing about his background or his real parents—not even his real name. All he knows is that he wants vengeance against the vicious, arrogant aristocrat who brutally murdered his best friend. As France plummets into revolution at the end of the eighteenth century, Moreau's journey toward revenge takes him through several careers, from lawyer to fugitive to actor and playwright—and eventually to member of the French National Assembly. Hiding with a troupe of itinerant actors, he gleefully plays the traditional Commedia Dell-Arte role of Scaramouche, the trouble-making trickster who, like Shakespeare's fools and jesters, speaks painful truths disguised as harmless comedy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

With Scaramouche, I took a risk. I bought it because I loved the movie. After all, who can resist an old-fashioned swashbuckler? But often, the movie and the book are two totally different experiences, and one is usually better than the other. It tends to be that the book is way better than the movie, *cough* Eragon *cough*. But occasionally the movie surpasses the book it is ever so loosely based on. Take Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, and The Jane Austen Book Club. I loved those movies so much, and I had high hopes for the books. They were awful; they paled in comparison with their movies. What a waste of money!

So Scaramouche was indeed a venture. It's considered a classic, published in 1921, so I was a little worried about the language and the style, as I am not very fond of the 1920s writers. But I was very pleasantly surprised. The book and movie are very similar so the book was an exciting swashbuckler filled with romance, duels, intrigues, and surprise twists. Rafael Sabatini was exceptional at making his characters real and lifelike; I sympathised with the "bad guy" at one point, and he's a pretty cruel character. There were even some illustrations!

What neither the movie or the book description prepared me for was the politics. This book is full of the politics- speeches, assemblies, riots- leading to the French Revolution. I thought that by the time I finished this book, I would be the greatest orator ever. Lucky for me, I minored in political science and enjoyed the speeches and very biased arguments. If you're like me, you'll have no problem reading both the politics and the adventure together. But if you don't like politics or soapbox lectures or protests, do NOT read this book. B+

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Vote Early, Vote Often

Literary Heroes 1

Who is your Favorite Mr. Darcy


Title: Lost In Austen
Format: DVD
Rating: A-

What would Jane Austen think?

Lost in Austen, a 2008 British miniseries, explores the idea that so many of us dream of-- a modern day girl getting thrown into her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. I know it's something I've dreamed of, espe
cially with this book.

Description (from Barnes & Noble): Amanda Price is sick of the modern world. She yearns for the romance and elegance found in the books by her favorite author, Jane Austen. But
she's about to get a rude awakening as one fateful evening, she is propelled into the scheming 19th century world of Pride and Prejudice while that book's Elizabeth Bennet is hurled into hers. As the book's familiar plot unfolds, Amanda triggers new romantic twists and turns within the Bennet family circle as she clumsily tries to help the sisters nab husbands and even captivates the tantalizing Mr. Darcy herself. But what about Elizabeth ... and what will become of one of the world's greatest love stories?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I saw Barnes & Noble advertising this on their website, I almost bought it right then, without ever seeing it. It would be like watching my own drea
m come true. But I counted to ten, stopped hyperventilating, and decided to rent or Netflix the movie instead. Imagine how happy I was when I got home, and my sister said, "I was on Netflix and there's this movie called Lost in Austen so I moved it to the top of the queue." Such an awesome sister!

After watching the series, and recovering from such an amazing love story, I had to sit back and think, "WWJAT? What would Jane Au
sten think about this series?" With Amanda Price's arrival into the novel and Elizabeth Bennet's departure thereof, a chain of events is set in motion that completely rocks the P&P world. Would Austen be amused? Or would she react the way Amanda thinks she would?

Amanda: "Hear that sound, George? Duh-
uh-uh-uh! That's Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble-dryer. " (They call it a tumble-dryer! I love the British!)

I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that if you're a Jane Austen purist, you will not be very happy. Surprisingly enough, I wasn't
too fazed by the changes Amanda makes, but my 15-year-old sister, who just read P&P for school, was offended by some of the character changes. Go figure. I think the change that upset her the most was George Wickham's role and character. Wickham is always supposed to be the bad guy right... right?

Another reason (or 3) why this series is amazing....

Mr. Darcy :) ............... Mr. Bingley................ Mr. Wickham

Pretty good reasons, huh? ;)

My only complaint was that this wasn't something I could watch with my whole family. They are all Austen or P&P fans, and I think they would have enjoyed this. But there were some modern elements thrown in by Amanda Price that I wouldn't feel comfortable letting my younger sisters see. Otherwise, I have no other complaints. A-

And my favorite image to take away from this film (I hope it makes you laugh as much as I did).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Testing 1, 2, 3

Just testing out my brand new blog to see if and how it works....

It works.