Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Review of Pirates IV

Know what’s a funny sound?

The clapping of a solitary person in a packed movie theatre when the credits start to roll. Nobody else is clapping because, well, no one else thought the movie was worth the effort.

I know I’m going to get some hate mail for this. Bring it! I went and saw Pirates IV this weekend with my sis and mom. Not so much because I couldn’t wait to see it, but because my mom is a huge Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow fan. Since she’s moving away from me at the end of this week, not taking her to see it (her last, dying request) would be like ripping a sucker out of a toddler’s mouth.

The movie itself was entertaining, and I heard a lot of people say that it was really, really good, and that it had a “story” to it like the first one did.

I have to disagree with them. But I did like the mermaids. They reminded me on my mermaid in White City. Ah, Deasura….

While the other movies had a plotline that focused on other characters with Jack popping in to offer humorous relief with his witty one-liners, he was never really the focus of the movies, just a necessary part. In IV, he is the plot. And I’m not sure I liked that.

Besides the obvious difference of having lighter hair (bugged me throughout the whole movie. Jack Sparrow does NOT have highlights!), his character seemed watered down. He wasn’t as funny and Depp didn’t seem to play him to his full ability (could it be, that after four installments, Depp is finally tired of playing the same character? Especially one as potent as Sparrow?) I swore that I had heard him use the same lines and witty remarks that he had used in prior movies. But I could be wrong.

And as far as “it has a story like the first one did.” Judge for yourself. Warning: spoilers ahead.

Three parties are looking for the Fountain of Youth. Sparrow and Gibbs are captured! Sparrow escapes while eating a delicious looking creampuff! And while swinging out the window on a rope, no less!

The Spaniards, King George (Harry Potter’s uncle) led by the reformed Captain Barbosa, and Sparrow (aboard Blackbeard’s ship who is also Angelica Malone's (Penelope Cruz) dad). Things happen, Jack finds out someone is impersonating him to get a crew together for the search of the Fountain. He investigates. There’s a fight! Jack wins! Oh, no! He’s trapped with the impersonator (Angelica) as the King’s army is trying to capture him. They fight! They escape!

Wait, Angelica drugs him and he is captured yet again and a prisoner on Blackbeard’s ship. He leads a mutiny, fails, and the cook dies as punishment. There’s a missionary prisoner on board, but he doesn’t really play a part until the end-ish. But I did like his character.

A mermaid’s tear is needed to get the Fountain to work, so Blackbeard and his crew try and trap one. It backfires and a whole fleet of them try to kill Blackbeard and his crew. Luckily, the missionary helps trap one. Sort of. They take off through the jungle.

Enter Barbosa and his crew. They come upon the aftermath of the mermaid/sailor massacre (the mermaid’s won, but they’re still pissed, evidenced by the fact that they took down Barbosa’s ship while he and some of his men are on shore). They traipse off after Jack, looking for two silver chalices also needed for the Fountain to work.

Time is a-wasting and Blackbeard needs to get to the fountain before the others, but he also needs the cups! He forces Jack to go by threatening to kill Cruze/his daughter/Jack’s one true love. Jack goes and meets up with Barbosa! They fight (kinda) and talk. Barbosa doesn’t really care about the Fountain *Shock*, he just wants to kill Blackbeard. They agree to help the other out. But the cups are gone! The Spaniards have already been there! They go to the Spaniard's camp, steal the cups and leave the Spaniards in the dust.

Meanwhile, the mermaid won’t give up a tear, even when Blackbeard realizes that she likes the missionary and he her, and he kills the missionary!!! They tie her up, half in water, half out, so that when the sun rises, she’ll bake and die. But wait! The missionary isn’t dead! They tricked the mermaid! He comes back to save her, she cries for joy. It’s a trap!! They snatch the tear and take the missionary away. The mermaid thinks her missionary boyfriend did it on purpose.

Blackbeard and Jack reach the Fountain of Youth, they’re about to do the ritual so Blackbeard can break a curse looming over his head (the one where Barbosa kills him) when Barbosa shows up! BIG fight ensues. Jack tries to break it up with a good point and a dash of humor. It doesn’t work. The fight continues. Enter the Spaniards, who smash the cups and teardown the Fountain in the name of God and leave.

The missionary is mortally wounded in the battle but runs to the mermaid to ask for forgiveness. She says she can save him and takes him down into the deep. In the aftermath of the fight, Angelica and Blackbeard lay dying. Jack can only save one, and it’s Angelica , and she hates him for it. All she ever wanted was her daddy. Jack maroons her on a desert island where she tries everything in her power to convince him not to. Stay through the credits, there's an extra scene (8 seconds long).

And at the end, they leave it obviously open for *groan* another one. Which I’ll probably go and see when it comes out because not doing so would probably make me un-American. Don’t get me wrong, like I said, I liked the movie. It was a good way to spend a few hours. I’m just saying it wasn’t one of my favorites. BUT, there were three REALLY funny lines. *ahem*

Jack to Angelica: “You run like a girl.”
Angelica to Jack: “You should know.”

Jack to Angelica: “If you had a sister and a dog, I’d choose the dog.”

Crap. I can’t remember the third.

Wait! I remember it! An English soldier (when the Spaniards arrive at the Fountain) scrambles to the top of a rock heap with a flag and declares the land England’s. The Spanish Captain shoots him and says, “Somebody note that man’s bravery.”


Just Read...

I got two more books in this weekend, just under the wire for May! Book Reports to come soon. Hopefully.

City of Fallen Angels
by Cassandra Clare

Heaven is for Real
by Todd Burpo


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why I dislike my neighbor. Intensley.

Every neighborhood has one—a neighbor whose sole existence is waiting for the mail, looking for CC & R violations, and making your life hell. With a capital “H.” Hubby and I have been lucky in that we haven’t had to go far to find ours. She lives next door in the form of a 69-year-old “feeble” woman with a one-eyed Pomeranian.

We’ve owned our house for the past 5 or so years and have come to one conclusion: with the exception of a few neighbors, the remainder are less than desirable. Let me explain the math (and yes, I am a tad cynical today due to lack of sleep and not enough coffee in stock this morning to remedy the situation). A few weeks ago I had an “encounter” with my Arch Nemesis (who we’ve had constant problems with). I thought I’d share the visual aids—and actual pieces of evidence—to help tell the story. What you should take away from this? Be prepared when you attempt to take me on. Especially when you try to use sarcasm in your attacks.

Oh, PS - I am a nice person. I like you until you show me I shouldn't. Like she did. :)

Okay. So, the back-story:

We don't have a fence on that side of the yard and it's been pretty ambiguous as to where the property line is, so we both have been mowing a little into each other's yard to cover the mowing. A couple of weekends ago, I noticed a small, white, metal hook in the front yard about where the property line could be. I didn't know what it was for, so I removed it, mowed, and put it back. This two-page letter from her is the result.

Two words: Eight inches. I took out my ruler.

"Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line"!"
--Vizzini  (The Princess Bride)


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just Read...

by Eva Gray

Check out the Book Report here.

by Joachim Masaneck


It's Like Falling in Love...

I've been going through a bout of depression for the past couple of months for several reasons, but one of the strong culprits has been writing and dealing with all the rejections. It's a tough road and eventually wears you down. But you have to be strong my friends and above all, keep writing and never give up.

I was traversing through my blog list and saw this. It made my day and let me know that I'm not the only one out there struggling with the same arrows of doubt. The point is, never give up.


Monday, May 23, 2011

ARC Alert!

It has been a looong week and many reasons why I haven't posted here in a while. But, I won't go into details. During my sabbatical, I've gotten 3 ARCs!

by Gabrielle Donnelly

by Carol Birch
(June 2011)

by Erik Larson
(May 2011)


Thursday, May 12, 2011

ARC ALert!!!

by Pam Lewis
Release Date: June 14th


Just Read....

Behind the Gates
By Eva Gray
MG Distopian

RCB #8

Diego the Tornado
by Joachim Masannek
Elementary age Fiction

RCB #7


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

RIP Little Blue Blob

Over the weekend, The Machine lost someone very near and dear to her heart.

Bob. Her favorite toy in the whole wide world.

Granted it was The Machine who disemboweled Bob with the rows of her tiny front teeth. But why be bothered with the details? And then she asked me to participate. RIP Bob. There will never be another like you.

This is how we choose to
remember Bob

Not this.


Exhibit A

The Machine asking me to
participate in her debauchery
Happy Wednesday, everyone!


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

by Karsten Knight
YA Fantasy
Content Rating: PG-13
Spoiler Alert: Maybe a little, but nothing that will ruin your life
Coffee Bean Rating: 4/5
Release Date: July 26, 2011

Let me refresh your memories as to how I buy a book (this is not the case for books that are recommended to me).

1.) Peruse through the nearest bookstore for at least an hour before I begin to seriously consider a purchase
2.) Look for catchy and intriguing covers
3.) Read the back of the book

If the cover is A-MA-ZING and the summary interesting, I'll buy it. I don't open it up and read a few sample lines. Never have, never will.

So, when I got Wildefire in the mail, I was ecstatic! A) I don't get many YA ARCs B) the cover was righteously AWESOME (calle lilies are the best flowers ever invented--next to the peony) C) Wildfire was the name of the horse my best friend growing up had.

A + B + C = Winner. It's simple math.

I picked up the book and read the back and was kind of disappointed. I'll be honest. The summary didn't sound like something I would have picked up on my own.

Then I did something I've never done before in my life; I opened up to the first page and gave it a sample read. This is what I found:

Ashline Wilde was a human mood ring. Sixteen years old, and she was a cauldron of emotions--frothing, bubbling, and volatile. She had never head of "bottling it all up inside." She was as transparent as the air itself.

I didn't put it down until I finished it a week later (give me a break, it would've been a lot sooner, but I was busy playing the lottery). This is easily one of my favorite YA books.

Karsten Knight has a way of writing that sucks you in and lets you zip along in the story, eating away hours and days before you even know what's happened. His imagery and metaphors are breathtaking, and he gives us proof that guys do know what a girl wants to hear:

He stepped forward, and his hand slipped into hers as if it had been there the whole time. "Ash, this is the truth as I know it," he said seriously. "A boy grows up restless in a home too small to contain him. So he runs away and spends his youth traveling everywhere that a passport and a backpack will allow, until the dirt from the four corners of the world is caked beneath his fingernails. Until he's seen so much of this world that he takes a job as far away from it as he can. Somehow, one night, at a bar filled with retirees and old fisherman, in a town that might as well be off the map, he sees a girl sitting at the bar. Even though she's only twisting idly in her bar stool ordering a drink, that's all it takes for him to recognize that she might be the fire he's been looking for. In that moment he realizes that he could spend the rest of his life doing all the things he ever wanted to do in all the the places he ever wanted to see, but if he doesn't ask her for her name, this is the moment that, forty years from now, he'll still remember as the moment when he blew it."

Ashile Wilde is a 16-year-old sophomore with typical boy and catty girl issues. Then, there's the not so typical, "Oh yeah, I'm really the volcano goddess, Pele" problem.

After a deadly encounter with her delinquent sister, Eve, Ash decides to enroll in a prep school nestled in the redwoods of NoCal (such a perfect local) to start fresh. She makes some friends, attracts some boys, and is the all-star tennis player.

While at an unsanctioned outing at a local dive bar, a fellow student is almost kidnapped and Ash and four of her friends (Rolfe, Raja, Ade and Lily), are the only ones who hear their friend's cries for help.

That's when Ash discovers who she and her friends really are--reincarnated gods and goddesses from all world's religions and mythologies; and that includes Eve. And now, someones trying to collect them. Ash doesn't know what to do, as she's given three different stories about what's really going on around them.

Karsten does a nice job of plopping the reader in the middle of the story and giving us little on-line back stories to fill us in when needed--all us writer's should take note of that skill. Characters are dangled in front of our noses, and while they don't play a big role now, it's only a matter of time before they resurface for more face time.

The story takes place in the span of only eight days, and Ash doesn't find out she and her friends are deities until halfway through the book, but Karsten's writing is so captivating smooth and fluid, that the timing was perfect and didn't feel like "halfway through the book".

As I mentioned before, he has a skill for metaphors and imagery. With every one (and there are so many, but not overkill in the least) I thought, "wow". Here are some of my favorites:

The frustration of it all was beginning to make her itch as though larvae were crawling beneath her skin.

...two tall rocks offshore framed the sun between them like fingers holding a burning marble.

A wind picked up over the water. Storm clouds billowed out of nowhere. Within seconds the sky transformed from a clear, moonlit night to a frothing, unsettled cumulonimbus mass. Thunder echoed in the cove, and darkness descended down on them like a falling curtain.

There were a couple of downsides in the book, in my opinion. There was a lot of language (not extreme, but it was there). Lot's of underage drinking (it seemed like Ash's friend Jackie was tipsy/drunk a little too much during those 8 days), underage, closed-door sex and even a pregnancy, and last but not least (and to me, the most unsettling), an 18-year-old, college freshman park ranger who's interested and dating and more with 16-year-old Ash. Creeper. Given the entire story and the ending, I can see where it comes into play. But it doesn't take away from the slight level of heebie-jeebies it gave me.

Karsten had me worked up like a wet hen in the last chapter of the book. Something happens, and in my head I'm like, "I HATE you, Karsten Knight! I can't believe you're going to do this to me, Karsten Knight! I'm going to take your hacky sack and pummel you with it, Karsten Knight!"

But the writer side of me was like, "Mwahaha! I need to meet this genius, Karsten Knight!"

I can see Wildefire easily on Hollywood's pick-up list. And if that happens, I'd like to volunteer for the role of Ash. Yes, I know I'm not Polynesian, and I am 10 years her senior, but I'm constantly getting carded AND I'm willing to sacrifice hours in the make-up chair in order to be transformed. :)

Karsten, if you're reading this, I'd love to get on your list of Book Two ARC Recipients! :) And if you're not Karsten and you get the chance to read this book, pick it up and do so. You won't be sorry. In fact, pre-order it.



Friday, May 6, 2011

Just Read....

Release Date: 7/26/2011
YA Fantasy

Read my book report, here.

Freebee Friday!!!

Happy Mother's Day to all those wonderful mums out there (including my sis and mom). And to everyone else, HAPPY FRIDAY!!

It was LONG week, so this video is well deserved. :) Enjoy!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lend a Hand. Or a Prayer.

My dear friend Beth has an awesome post about what's happening in her hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama right now. Check it out. She lists some great organizations that you can donate to if you feel the urge to help them out.

305 tornados and an estimated 340 dead. All in one week. It's sobering to think about what these wonderful people are going through. Suddenly, our problems don't seem so big.

Albright Writes


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Busy, busy, busy and Fast Five

So this weekend was actually pretty jam-packed. And I loved it.

I went opening night (Friday), with a friend, to see Fast Five. Some of you may be rolling your eyes, but this latest installment was by far, the best of the Fast and the Furious movies. It had a heist flare to it and was sooo funny. Not to mention it had an All-Star Hunk team going on (Vin, Dwayne, Paul, Tyrese, and Ludicrous). Talk about tag team! Know what would've made it better? Jason Statham. Yup. Sure would.

Outside the movie theatre, they had a life-sized cardboard cutout of all of the guys, and my friend wanted a picture with them. I was totally going to do it, too. Until we exited the theatre after the movie ended and I saw the crowd of people waiting to be let in for the next showing. One thing you'll quickly realize about me is that I talk a big game. It went something like this:

Pose with the cardboard cutout of Dwayne? Sure! He's my boyfriend so it's really no big deal.


You mean, there'll be people there? Watching me? And possibly talking about me?

Ya know, I see Dwayne all the time, so really, it's no big deal that I get a picture with him this time around.

My friend insisted she still wanted her photo. I tried my best to convince her it would be better lighting for the picture if we waited for the crowd to pile into the theater. She didn't buy it.

At this point, I think she rolled her eyes at me, pointed out that I'm all talk and no follow through, and then called me a baby. To which I fully agreed. But, we waded through the crowd anyway, where she placed her hand on Vin's butt (yes, I have photographic proof. She says it was his shoulder, but I don't know of anybody with their shoulder that low), and I lined up to take the picture. Of course we were in front of dozens of "car guys" and I could feel their eyes boring into the back of my head and my face turn a burning red as a result.

"She can take her picture with me. I look like Vin Diesel."

I turned around to find the voice and offer a weak smile, but instead tried to hide my laughter. Standing in front of me was a scrawny white boy in a hoody (pulled over his head) and baggy pants. He was shorter than me and had a long hair lying over his shoulder (my friend and I later discussed his hair, trying to figure out if it was his beard or a ponytail).

Then he said, "We pretty much have the same build."

I turned back around and snapped the picture with my friend's phone, and then took one with mine; to which another guy said, "Gotta get one with both phones."

I was about ready to DIE.

I grabbed my friend's purse and weaved me and my embarrassment through the crowd and into the clearing of the lobby. I turned around to say something, but my friend WASN'T THERE! I stood on my tiptoes and searched for her.

And found her. Talking with the group of guys we'd just left. Laughing and conversing. Having a great time. When she finally found me she'd told me she made four new friends. And here I was, cowering in the corner, abandoning my photo opp with Dwayne. 

Bottom line: I need to work on my "Who gives a crap?" line of thought and my follow-through. Twist at the waist, and swing on through with the shoulders. 

Saturday found me at a dance performance a couple hours away (love the road trips) where I was introduced to the best Mexican food ever by some friends. It was just a hold-in-the-wall sort of place, but they had the best bean and cheese burritos, let me tell you.

Sunday night, I had over my sis and her hubby and their four awesome kids. They are the best nieces and nephews in the world. Hands down. I'm serious, folks. We all ate my homemade enchiladas which were A-MA-ZING. I may not have follow-through, but I can cook!

And last but not least, I got four FIVE (one just arrived) ARCs in the mail! So excited! :) But when would I ever NOT be excited about getting another book? Especially when it's f-r-e-e!

by Lola Shoneyin

by Beth McMullen

Wildfire (Coolest cover EVER--and not just because the Calle Lily is my favorite flower)
by Karsten Knight

by John Boyne

by Felix J. Palma

I think that Simon & Shuster really likes me (which is good, cuz I really like them). This is the fourth book they've sent me that I haven't requested! They even included H.G. Wells' The Time Machine book with Palma's. Can't wait to get started!