Monday, September 29, 2014

How I came to read Fifty Shades

                I have been debating whether or not I was going to write a blog post about the Fifty Shades trilogy pretty much since I finished it back at the start of August.  I have decided to do it, clearly, but for several reasons mostly because of how I came to read them.  Now this series, classified as erotica, is going to clearly have a more adult theme so be warned on that.                 
                For the longest time I was unaware of this series in any capacity.  I only found out about it from a friend, SL, when I mentioned the name of my latest fanfiction is titled Shades of Gray given that the plot has lots of different sub plots melding together but overall nothing is really cut and dry, black or white, everything is more in the middle, in the gray.  I was actually watching an old La Femme Nikita episode when I came up with the title and I was proud of myself thank you very much.  Well said friend was over I mentioned it as I was all excited and she wanted to show me something hilarious; two reviews of a book on Amazon.  She explained the idea of the books in a horrible fashion and I realized I had heard of them, from another friend who loved them but I hadn't caught the name before.  The reviews were horrible but there was such humor in them they were great.  The subject matter of the books didn't seem like anything I would ever consider reading much less enjoying.   See as my good friend, SL knows and we have differing opinions I'm not normally down for time period pieces or anything in which the female character is treated like property or as less than a man.  I have strong opinions in that way, blame my mom.  So a story that it's premise was initially described to me as one of a girl who falls for a guy who wants to be her dominate; make her submissive to him in all things wasn't my cup of tea and I couldn’t imagine myself liking either character.

                After this fun night of chatting and laughing and such it seemed like everywhere I went I heard something about this series.  Fifty Shades of Grey this or that.  Then I made the connection that it was the series another friend enjoyed and wanted me to read.  Normally we recommend books back and forth and I trust her but she wasn't as aware of my issues with domineering male characters and my extreme dislike of them in general, *cough* sexist chauvinistic pigs *cough* .  Any who I told her as such and she tried to explain it wasn't like that and I would enjoy them if I gave it a chance but I can be a bit stubborn.  Okay maybe more than a little but I admit it and own the fact.  When movie news was announced she was excited and as we do all the book to movie showings together I did say I'd go see it with her even if I refused to read the books, movies are easier to get over things like that.  I think it’s the time I have to dedicate to it, two hours fine, if I spend hours reading and hate a character I'm pissed.
                Well fast forward to the release of the theatrical trailer for the movie.  I had heard that the guy who played the Sheriff/Huntsman in the first season of Once Upon A Time, Jamie Dornan, was going to be the lead male, Mr. Grey, and I admit I adored him in the show so was kinda excited to see him in something else.  Well I watched the trailer thinking I'd get an idea as to what I'd be in for, how cheesy it would be was my thinking.  I was blown away.  First, Kudos to whoever made the trailer.  It have enough to get an idea of the story, for those like myself who had a different idea, with a good flow and great visual moments that was tired and paced perfectly with the music in the background.  I had to watch it again, floored that this could be the same book that I judged to be so horrible before evening really looking it up for myself.  Then I spent over an hour trying to find the song, the special Beyonce remix of Crazy in Love with no luck.   

                Color me fifty shades of surprised.  Hehe couldn’t help myself there.  I messaged my friend who loved the books and asked if the trailer was a good representation of the story, intrigued but leery.  She said it was and again that I should give it a chance.  I agreed to give it a try.  I got the first book digitally and started to read not expecting too much as I still had those reviews and all the jokes in my head.  That quickly faded.  It's not great literature.  It reminded me of several stories and plots I had read before with little changes here and there but I shockingly enjoyed it.  It wasn’t what I had been expecting at all.  Sure I saw several of the things it was made fun of for, it was cheesy, grammar was a bit of an issue as was the clear British-isms, but I was okay with it.  And…big shocker I didn't despise Christian Grey from the start, I actually liked him.  He had a reason for being the way he is and he was blatantly honest and up front about it.  I finished it and quickly read through the next two books in the series. 

                I give the series 4 Stars overall in my opinion.  It has its issues and it is so not for everyone, not that the sex is so crazy out there compared to some things in books/TV/movies and not as bad as I thought it would be.  Again it gets high points for me for surprising me and being substantially better than I thought.  I learned a valuable lesson with it as well.  Don't judge a book by the hype good or bad.  Figure out what it's about from the source and not from a negative opinion, make your own opinion.  So my recommendation for this book is to ignore everything you’ve heard about it thus far.  Read the description of the book and even watch the trailer, which I adore even more now that I have read the books and can pick out the scenes, and make up your mind from there.  If you are a grammar Nazi or you don't like romance novel like explicit sexual scenes than I don’t think you'll be able to make it through this book on that alone.  If you just want an easy read with some witty banter, even if laughable or unbelievable at times, and some sexy goodness then give it a try.  For me I more enjoyed the back and forth between Mr. Grey and Anastasia.  I look forward to the movie and seeing if its half as good as the trailer.  Also side note, I still want that song.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My thoughts on The Maze Runner Movie

               This weekend another book to movie adaptation was released and I was there to check out The Maze Runner.  I have been excited for this movie since I first saw pictures for it.  Now this movie was supposed to be released back in February but it got moved back, I understand they needed more time to finish the product and not rush it, I'm glad.  You don't want to rush something with a huge set and a lot of moving parts.  Now I admit I had a lot going on and I did not have the chance to do what I normally do and reread the book to have it fresh in my mind so book specifics I was a tad bit hazy on but the overall plot/story was still there. I didn't watch a lot of trailers beforehand because if I wasn’t going to get to reread then I wanted to go in fresher.  I saw them once or twice and saw a lot that I remembered.  So these are my thoughts on the movie.          

See how similar they are
                The first real pictures I saw about the movie were ones that reminded me of the book cover and that has to be a positive thing right, to associate a photo of the movie with the cover itself.  I was a bit leery of how they were going to bring a story like this to life and not make it super cheesy.   Being hazy and all I know they did change some things and how it came into play or was relayed.  I get it and I feel the overall plot of the book and the story being told was provided to the audience very well.  I didn't feel like I was missing anything or that I was confused about what was happening at all, which sometimes with movies involving new worlds can be an issue that is usually explained with an info dump.  But with the characters arriving and having no memory, it worked out perfectly because as our main character Thomas arrives they have to explain things to him and in turn to the audience.  You got a feel for The Glade and the boys in it with their own type of language and the community they built for themselves.  The characters easily came back to me and I was so happy to see some of them come to life and to see them played by the cast chosen, Thomas, Newt, Teresa, Minho, Alby, Gally, and little Chuck.  They each had their own little things that made them unique in the books and that shown through with just how different they look and are built and the rolls they took on in the culture of The Glade.  Kudos to the actors for great performances. 

               The story is packed full of action and mystery as the Gladers try and figure a way out and deal with the changes happening around them.  When I saw action we get to see the Grievers and they were just as icky as I imagined when reading.  Something is constantly going on and moving there isn't any dull or dead space.  They packed the almost 2 hours with everything it needed and nothing it didn't.  I felt the time just flew by.  I also liked the change to the mazes and how it made a little more sense for the audience and the 3D map was way cooler.  Also there is a lot of running in this film, running for answers, for safety, for escape, basically I wouldn't survive in this world but it did make me want to start doing cardio again, so that's pretty nifty also.

                If you didn’t know The Maze Runner is book 1 of  a trilogy (with a prequel companion novel), and I really hope we get to see the other movies.  They left it like in the book where you want more and are anxious for it.  Trust me.  I originally read The Maze Runner shortly after it first came out.  I really enjoyed it and was counting down the days until book 2, there was a cliffhanger afterall.  Then on that day I planned my shopping trip around it, as at the time I lived 30 miles from the closest Walmart or Books A  Million.  I went in all happy and no one in my area had it, neither Walmart (there are 2), not Sam's Club (where I got book #1 originally), or the only actual book retailer Books A Million.  I was in shock and in need of this book, I'd been waiting for it after all.  So thanks to smart phones I was able to locate a B&N about an hour from my apartment (opposite direction of where I was at the moment), and called to confirm they had it in stock, even made the guy go get it and physically hold it in his hand for me to make sure it was not a computer error.  Hey it was a long drive for a book. 

                Well I went to my apartment dropped off my groceries, because yes I still did get those while searching for my book, and asked my friend/co-worker/neighbor who knew about my plan to purchase that book on release day to come with.  She said yes, even though she teased me a bit about my determination for a book, and we went off on our little mini road trip for a book.  Yes I drove over 3 hours in total looking book 2 but I found it and I had a good time on my journey.  We ended up doing some early Christmas shopping at shops we don’t normally see, plus being B&N is huge bought more than the one book, as well and had dinner and a pretty amazing time driving around someplace new. 

The Scorch Trials is the one I went on my adventure for.
                I admit these books have a special spot in my heart and some great memories to go with them.  I will always associate this series with good times.  I find I have some memorable stories about obtaining or reading the majority of the books I have and I think that makes it special.  That when I look at my bookshelf I have nothing but happiness and fond memories for the experiences themselves but also with the stories and pretty covers. 

                Due to work schedules and jazz I was unable to get my friend up to come see it with me, being she was off the previous weekend for my Birthday (she's an awesome friend).  But I have advised her she will be seeing it so we can discuss.  In the movie, being alone I was also able to people watch.  I could tell that the majority of the people in there did not read the book, everyone seemed shocked by the end saying they left it open for a sequel.  I helpfully advised it was the first book in a trilogy by James Dashner and to check them out.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the movie and clearly they were unfamiliar with the books.  I think the best book to movie adaptations are the ones that don't leave non-readers feeling like they didn’t understand it completely.  That being said I give this movie 5 Stars for both the movie and an A+ for movie adaptation.  Anyone can enjoy this movie so if you didn't get into the book or haven't had the chance yet you can still enjoy the movie.

                So Greenies share your thoughts.  Have you already seen the movie?  Read the series?  What did you think?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Not your typical Prince thoughts on the upcoming book by Krystal Wade

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               If you follow my blog regularly you know I’m a big fan of Krystal Wade and I even had the pleasure of interviewing her for her last book.  I have been a fan since I first got approved to read the first book in her first trilogy Wilde’s Fire.  She had such an interesting story to tell and characters I fell in love with and she even messaged me.  Come on who doesn’t get a little excited and fangirl happy when an author who wrote something you liked speaks to you?  No one with any sense.  She is a very down to earth person and pretty funny as well.  I follow her on Facebook and she has been posting teasers for her upcoming book Charming for some time now and I was lucky enough to snag myself an ARC to review.  Score!  *Did my little happy dance around the apartment*

                They say what doesn’t’ kill you makes you stronger, and that’s great…as long as you don’t die.

                What a tagline.  It says it all right there I think. 

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                Charming is about our 16 year old Haley who once had it all, the prestigious school, great family, tons of friends, a boyfriend, and a bright future until it all fell apart.  Now with an alcoholic father, a bitter little sister, and only a headstone left of her mother she has nothing left.  On the flip side is Chris Charming, with his CEO father, money, school, anything he wants, including a reputation as a trouble maker.  He may not be everything people say he is, Haley knows she isn’t what everyone thinks she is.  He has his own struggles in life and the one thing he wants is: Haley.  Little do either of them know just how determined someone is to bring them together even if it means murder. 
                So yes this is a break from the supernatural type books in the previous series but more suspense/thriller.  What do you do when the guy who has everything you used to have seems to want you as well?  Can he be trusted?  Can you let him in or is it safer to stick to what you know and never let anyone it?  I wanted to devour this book in one sitting and every time I got interrupted I would hurry to get back to it.  I needed to see what was going to happen next, never really trusting anything in the book waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Let’s face it, Haley has it rough and she doesn’t expect good things, hoping for them hurts too much.  I understand that and my heart broke for her.  I think the beauty in this book is that you root for her and want to step into the book and help her through. 
                And you also want to know what the H is going on.  Because let me tell you there is so much happening and you are thinking of a million ways the story could go and who this mysterious person is who plays a sick kind of fairy godmother to her.  I was on the edge of my seat, and with the new chairs at work that is dangerous ground, reading and couldn’t wait to get home to finish it up.  If I didn’t live so close I might have went into an open room and just read but a 6 minute break to get home was all I could take.  I won’t say too much more I don’t want to ruin the surprise for all of you.  I enjoyed delving into the characters, particularly seeing everything and everyone from Haley’s perspective while she tries to find the best solution to an impossible mess.       
                Now knowing there are a variety of tastes and preferences out there, I do want to mention that if it isn’t clear there are some pretty dark times/themes in the book in parts.  This includes child abuse, but let me assure you it’s not gratuitous or in there for shock value.  The violence serves a purpose and moves the story along, so please don’t turn away just from the implied violence there is so very much more to the story and worth the read.  I highly recommend this book to everyone!
                  It comes out October 6th and I have my official copy pre-ordered with Amazon.  Share your thoughts below!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

If I Stay Movie & Book thoughts

                Books being made into movies is one of those things I both love and fear.  I am stuck in the middle you see because I was addicted to movies before I rediscovered my love for books so now loving them both in equal measure I sometimes am conflicted.  Book to movie adaptations, I'm going to see them no question about it.  So over the years I have developed this method of looking at them independently.  If the movie is on point with the book, book nerd me is super excited.  If it veers from it or becomes something that is nothing like the book then I think about the movie as a movie only and decide if I like it from there.  Case in point with some, I liked the movies as free entities but as adaptations they kinda sucked.

                 I saw this as I have If I Stay the book by Gayle Forman and movie to review.  Now this movie came out a few weeks back and I just managed to watch it today.  My good friend (Thank you Ninja) took me out for my birthday (yesterday whoohoo) and I got to see it.  The first week it came out I had just picked up the book and wanted to wait until after, of course, then my work schedule did a flip around from days to swings and 11 days straight when meant the next weekend was only there in theory and the next one I spent catching up on my house chores.  I wish my local theatre opened before 3pm during the week, if they opened at say noonish I'd be able to squeeze in movies before work but working 3:30pm to midnight kinda limits movie options.  So I was thrilled to have my plans for this birthday weekend include finally getting to see If I Stay.  

                For those of you who don't know it's the story is about Mia (in the movie played beautifully by Chloe Grace Moretz), and how life can change in an instant; and about choice.  After a car accident her body is in a coma type state and Mia is in an out of body type experience and she must decide to wake up and live a life changed or give up.   The book and the movie stayed pretty close to one another.  Of course some things were changes for better imagery in the movie, as you would expect, and some scenes added in there to show something better than narration/internal dialog that may be in the book explaining something but I enjoyed it.  There was one little thing that got me and it was pretty much at the very end part of the movie, so I won't be spoiling it but anyone who read the book will understand.  The cast did a great job bringing the characters to life sure but then we have music, which is like a character all in itself.  The main characters, pretty much everyone is a musician of some sort and that was an important part of their story and that stayed true.  Also keeping with the book the movie ends just as abruptly as the book did.  The book which as I finished…my kindle said complete I felt I must be missing more.   The story is complete, yes but I'm not accustomed to that abrupt an ending.  It is strange for me but still it felt right after the initial shock.  I do know there is a sequel book Where She Went that I look forward to picking up soon.

                If it isn't clear, this story is told mostly through flash back/memories.  I know some people don't like reading those type of books that they can get confusing, I understand.  I didn’t have that problem with this book, it seemed the only way to tell this type of story and make the readers/watchers feel for the characters.  And there are some serious feels in this.  When I first saw the trailer I got teary eyed, then with the second trailer I was flat out in tears.  A+ to whoever made that trailer because it explains the plot, the feel, and the song was key on and hit at the right points.  Beautiful.  I cried my eyes out at parts of the book and movie.  I knew I would and brought tissues, this just tugs at the heart strings and makes you wonder if you had that choice to make, would you stay?

                I'm older that Mia and don't live at home but I'm still close to my family.  I felt conflicted and heartbroken right along with Mia as I devoured the story and tried to piece things together to figure out what is the right answer.  Because honestly everyone is different but it makes you think about the fragility of life and how you could easily lose someone you love.  So I guess the take away from this book/movie is to always live in the moment and make sure to cherish the ones you love and enjoy your family both the one you were born into as well as the one you picked. 

                I give the book and the movie 5 Stars.  Have you read If I Stay or watched the movie?  Tell me below your thoughts and if it was you in Mia's place, would you stay?