Sunday, October 30, 2011

"The Blind Side" [B+]

Finally caught up to this after all of the Oscar hoopla. Amazingly enough, it's just about that good. I say just about, because there are obvious over-dramatizations of situations and timelines, and not all of the acting is really Oscar-caliber. I think all of that should be expected for a film 'based on a true story'.

Even so, it's a darn good film, with above average writing, acting, and directing. Recommended.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

read: Hellbent (3 stars)

Hellbent (Cheshire Red Reports, #2)Hellbent by Cherie Priest

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was expecting another romp through the world of vampires in this follow-up to Bloodshot. I didn't quite get it. Sure, there was thievery, there was snarkiness, there was even magic this time around.

One thing I found to be missing was a compelling through-line of a story. This felt like three parallel stories that sometimes crossed paths. None of them really carried the book. Therefore, they each just sort ended. So did the the book.

Also missing: suspense. There were very few times I really felt like the characters had everything on the line. Perhaps this is due to the lighthearted tone of Raylene's narration. But I did experience a more suspense in the previous adventure.

Action and adventure were also missing here. There was a bit, here and there, like when Ray was trying to recover the magical bones. But mostly there was a lot of talking.

Even so, I'm caught up with these characters. I have learned to like Raylene's voice. It did keep me going for the length of this book and I will be back for the next adventure. I just hope it's more adventurous.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

read: Stories I Only Tell My Friends (4 stars)

Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An AutobiographyStories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very engaging and easy to read autobiography. Rob portrays himself as naive and geeky in the early days. His good looks got him beat up in junior high, but helped him get acting jobs and girls later. He drops a lot of names and tells some great stories about movies, television, acting, and his many Hollywood friends. The seamier details of his addictions and breakups and controversies get politely swept under the rug (Mid-westerners don't talk about such things in public, I guess). It's nice to know he's now older, wiser, and happily married.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

read: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom (2 stars)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of FreedomPirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom by A.C. Crispin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was very excited when I heard this book was coming out. I loved the Pirates of the Caribbean films almost as much as the ride itself. To get some background on Captain Jack Sparrow would be a great treat. I even recommended it to a fellow fan, sight unseen. In other words, I was predisposed to like this book.

But I did not. I gave it a try. I slogged through it to the very end, after a fashion. I fully read the first third, speed read the middle third and skimmed the last. If it weren't for the fan boy in me, yearning to learn what I could about Jack, I wouldn't have bothered.

It's overly long. The first part of the book is filled with flashbacks that bring the story to almost a complete stop. They are interesting bits, but it would have been wise to find another way to tell that even earlier tale of Jack's history. Perhaps that is the main flaw of this volume. It is trying to tell two tales.

There are other flaws. I noticed quite a few annoying word repetitions - multiple sentences on the same page that started with or contained the same phrase two, three, or more times. This offended my inner ear. And I'm not pointing out Jack's constant use of the word 'savvy', which I expected, but also found it annoying after a while.

This is not to say the book is not without its highlights. There is the kernel of a good adventure, or two, here. There are flashes of good characterization, both familiar - Jack, Barbarossa, Cutler Beckett - and new. There is obviously good research into these and into seamanship. The result, however, is overblown, badly structured, poorly written, and over long.

I was disappointed. Your mileage may vary.

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