Monthly Archives: November 2009

Movie Magic Monday: New Moon!

Probably there are various people who will kick me off the internet for saying this, but I only watched Twilight once.  I’ve still only seen it once.  The first viewing left me no desire to see it again.  I hated the blue color of everything, and Rob and Kristen, while each very good in other roles just were not hitting Edward and Bella for me.  I wanted Edward to be more graceful and charming than Rob’s constant and impressive I-hate-myself demeanor, and I wanted Bella to have a bit more childlike naïveté and clumsiness.  But that’s just me.  So while of course I knew they were going to go and make New Moon… well.  Despite it being my favorite of the three books (I forget about Breaking Dawn) I didn’t know how excited I’d be about the movie.

Even when I started watching the teaser trailer… mostly I rolled my eyes.  “This is the last time you’ll ever see me.”  Yeah, right, Rob.  I believe you there.  But then.  Oh, then.

Yes, watching Taylor Lautner run to protect Bella and fursplode into a wolf had me BEYOND gleeful.  Oh Jacob Black. Somehow even now I underestimate my love for you.  I admit, Taylor still isn’t my dream Jacob Black.  He’s just not who I see when I read.  But the kid is just so darn HOT cute.  And he loves the character so much, that I can’t help but adore him in the film.

My other hesitance to see it was the obvious focus on the action and the Volturi.  I mean… it looked like a vampire movie. hahaha  And I did not read the Twilight Saga for the action.  I read it for the werewolves, obviously. 😛

That said, with the money they raked in over Twilight, of course this was going to be a better-made movie.  You could tell from the trailer alone that this was going to be well… more like a real movie.  And heaven help it, it almost was.

I was impressed right off the bat that they used not only the quote from the beginning of New Moon, but the prologue moment from the book as well.  Immediately I sat up a little bit straighter in my seat, and perked up.  I did mention this was probably my favorite of the books, right?  The pacing was just off from the beginning, though.  It felt stilted and rushed at the same time, if somehow that’s possible.  They were skipping right over all the sweet little moments between Edward and Bella that makes them enjoyable, and while Edward definitely smiled more in this film, the sense of humor that sparkles on the page (yes, even more than his skin, if I do say so myself) just was not  there.  In fact, I kept looking at Rob and thinking, why is he smiling right now?  Wasn’t he just angsting about Jacob?

The minute Edward and the Cullens skip town, the movie picked up, though.  And not just because it takes less than five minutes (or seeme) before they had Taylor’s shirt off for the first time.  There really is something magnetic about Jacob that I think Taylor captured really well—if anything Bella seemed more in love with Jacob on the film than she had in the book.  While Kristen’s stiff performance still isn’t the Bella in my head, I really enjoyed watching her version of Bella hang out with Jacob.  We didn’t get to see as much as their bonding as I would have liked, but movies do have to fit a certain time slot, so I guess I don’t mind too much.  My one complaint (and this is a slight spoiler but just a teensy one) is that they had Bella telling Jacob that she didn’t like music anymore, when in the book, this is something that Jacob knows without needing to be told—a proof of the close attention he pays to Bella and how well he reads and understands her.

I really enjoyed the Quileute presence in this film though.  Firstly—Graham Greene as Harry Clearwater!  I remember Meyer saying on her site once that she’d like him as Billy Black, but that never would have worked for me.  Maybe because I don’t really like Billy all that much?  I just sort of hold a grudge against him for being so cryptic first about the Cullens and then about Jacob’s change.  I don’t know.  I’m just not much of a fan.  But I just about flipped to see him playing Harry Clearwater.  And I loved that they showed it so that Harry’s heart attack was a result of coming face to face with Victoria—if that was in the book I don’t remember it, but that was an awesome visual moment in the movie, and only Graham Greene could have made it what it was.  The man has a grace and presence that outshone almost everyone else in the film, and he was only in it for about five minutes.

I was also delighted that they kept in the moment with Sam’s fiancée Emily.  Beyond delighted.  It was such a lovely moment in the book, and it was nice to see it’s elegance recognized in the film.  Everybody’s been saying it, but it’s really true.  The Wolf boys made this movie.  In fact, even though Italy is where a lot of the hyped-up action happens, my attention wandered a little bit while they were there.  I snapped back into it when they confronted Jacob in the woods that last time.  Even when Bella and Edward were reunited, they didn’t seem to hit the mark of the little funny/sweet moments between them that makes them so enjoyable.  I’ve got to admit, if I’d never read the books, I’d think Bella was a headcase going from the prettyboy wolf to the pale, emo vamp.

I did think that some of the cinematic moments were nicely done, though.  Bella’s imaginings of Edward were almost how I imagined them (though now that I think about it, the movie didn’t so much as try to explain that) and the “time passing” moment was perfect.  Also… dare I say it seemed like they gave a nod to David Yates using footage from the first film so freely in flashbacks?

So was this movie a lot better than Twilight?  An emphatic yes.  Did it live up to my excessive love of the novel?  No.  But it was pretty far from a disappointment either.  I have to admit that after watching it, I later found myself literally hugging my book.  In fact, I sort of want to go hug it now.  And reread it, immediately.  Meyer, whatever disputes I have with you, your books enthrall me, it’s true.

New Moon gets a B- from me.  It was awkward and badly paced… but Jacob Black lit up the screen, and anybody in the scene with him.

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Fun Friday Discussion – By Crossover, She Means Good.

The evolution of Young Adult.

 

 

 

vs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, Isabelle posted some thoughts on crossover fiction, talking about how she prefers this nebulous concept over run-of-the-mill young adult fiction, and how she got tired of reading about high school drama, and was relieved when the industry was starting to look for and promote books that can be enjoyed by adults as well as teenagers.

See… I have a similar story, but a completely different perspective on how the YA market has changed. Because I’ve loved YA since I read my first YA Judy Blume book when I was twelve, but was admittedly not even remotely tempted to read something like Sweet Valley High (one of the run-of-the-mill series Isabelle got tired of). I’ve been leery of obvious publisher-driven series like that since a very young age, apparently. (Never read The Babysitter’s Club either.) I’m a bit snobbish when it comes to literature, but I never really considered books like that (or any publisher-driven series—Goosebumps, ANY TV-spin-off series) to be “real” books. It’s like I could smell that they were written by staff writers and not by people who were actually pouring their heart and soul into them.

So while I was a teen—okay, even before I was a teen—I was finding the YA options available to me were beyond slim.  If I so much as stepped out of Judy Blume, just about, I hit dull and repetitive high school blah storylines—or worse, Lurlene McDaniel, whose books were being turned into TV-movies-of-the-week over and over (and over!) again, and all seemed to be exactly as awfully melodramatic as the one before (how many teens lose their one true love to cancer anyway? Ms. McDaniel seems to have written about all of them).*

The fact is, young adult literature wasn’t being done well.  Except for, again, Judy Blume, and a few spare others (probably Go Ask Alice, for example, but I haven’t read that myself, so I can’t say for certain).  This was for two reasons.  Number one, there was a lot of stuff that was still way taboo to put into “kids'” books.   IE, sex, drugs, all of that.  Heck, not even sex.  Young Adult up through the early nineties was still awkward about kissing.  The genre as a whole has “grown up” in its own way, I guess you could say.  The second reason for this, is that young adult books were being written by older people.  There seemed to be a kind of stigma almost preventing people who were actually closer to high-school age themselves actually putting any books out.  Maybe because “author” had such a adult connotation to it.  I can’t say exactly when this wall started breaking down, but I remember watching as it did.

I do think Isabelle hit it right when she said Harry Potter had an effect on this, because obviously that ushered in the overwhelming wave of paranormal in the market today, but Harry Potter isn’t really YA—or any one particular genre, if we get down to it (which is why it’s awesome, right?)—and I can’t help but wonder what some of the other factors were.  For example, this year marks a decade worth of NaNoWriMo, a totally online initiative bent entirely on the idea that anyone can write a novel.  More than that, the internet, through blogs and youtube and Twitter and everything else, has for years been instilling us with the idea that every single one of us has something to say.   You put a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters for a thousand years, eventually one of them will write a masterpiece.  Fully-functional and imaginative human beings have turned the publishing industry upside down in about a decade.

I can’t help but think that a lot of young YA authors out there today are writing because they had the same reaction as I did to the scanty selections they had available to them growing up.  I would honestly go to the stacks at the bookstore or the library, and just cringe because there was so little available, when I knew the possibilities were endless.  Other clever likeminded people (a little older than me, which is why they’re all published now!) must have thought the same thing.  The stories I write now are the ones I desperately wanted to read when I was a teenager.  Because the fact is, the standards for YA fiction have gone up as the writing has improved.

Sure, there are still run-of-the-mill industry-backed series out there (but not as many, if you’ve noticed), but they’re not the ones you hear about.  What you hear about is Twilight, and Wicked Lovely, and Shiver, the books that burned in people’s minds until they had to share them with the world.  Those are the books that last, they always are, because they are serious endeavors that the writers care about, and if a book is written well, it will be enjoyed by adults and teens alike.  And everyone else.  There is no such thing as “a book for teens” and “a book for adults,” really.  There’s good literature, and there’s less-than-good books.  That’s all.

*No disrespect to Lurlene McDaniel.  Pulp has its place, I’m sure.  Just not on my shelf.


Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers!  And happy THURSDAY to everyone!  Hope it’s a great day for everybody, we’ll be back tomorrow with our regularly-scheduled post. 😀


Book Geek Wednesday: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

As I’ve often stated on this blog, I have a weakness for great covers. They’re often the first selling point for me when it nterscomes to books, which is why it should come as no surprise that I picked up this book when I saw the striking cover at the bookstore. What captured me most were the markings on the male’s body. I have a ‘thing’ for markings, as anyone who’s read my book, Zerah’s Chosen, knows (mini-plug!).

The storyline was simple enough: when Clary Fray witnesses a punkish blue haired boy get murdered by three teens (who have weird silver markings and fight as comfortably as they breathe), she is hurled into the world of the Shadowhunters, which oddly enough are called Nephilim. Now, this book seems to be a down is up kind of book, because according to the Bible, the Nephilim were human/angel hybrids who wreaked havoc and caused terrible violence in the world, while in Clare’s world, they’re the heroes, saving the world from ‘demons’. These demons are from another dimension and occassionally form human crossbreeds that live as vampires, werewolves, and other magical supernatural creatures.

There were some things I feel Clare really got right. The mythology she created is fascinating. In particular the very memorable Silent Brothers, the visual of the City of Bones being below a populated metropolis like Manhattan, and the history of the war and the mortal instruments. It made for interesting reading and made the world feel pre-existent, rather than it all suddenly starting with the heroine’s discovery of her Sight. Clary’s best friend, Simon, was also a wonderful anchor to reality amidst all the new paranormality. He made me smile and he melted my heart a few times. His loyalty to her made him a very sympathetic character. And Jace, despite being unnecessarily obnoxious most times, had great chemistry with Clary, so the tension kept me reading.

Despite these pluses, the book suffered from one very MAJOR minus. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what it is, as it’s a huge spoiler of the ending. Ha ha. Terrible, aren’t I? I’ll just tell you this: I became invested in the story, started to cheer on the characters, and then was so blindsided (and not in a “wow, that’s clever” way) that I actually ended up giving away the book. I still haven’t been able to pick up any of the sequels. While it might have been about a B+ before the ending, it turned into a C-.

Harsh? Maybe. But I don’t seem to be the only person who feels this way. In fact, from the reviews on Goodreads, this is one of those love or hate books. No real inbetweens. From what I understand, Clare borrowed heavily from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and pulled lines from some of her old Harry Potter fanfiction, which has pissed off LOTS of people. But you know what? You can’t go by other people’s reviews. In the end, you have to read for yourself.


Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Fingerprints: Gifted Touch by Melinda Metz

Why hello, guilty pleasure.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here (a fairly strong and stout limb, actually) and say that I”m betting most of you have never heard of this series.  If I hadn’t bought all seven of them the minute they came out, I probably wouldn’t own them all, because once they were off the shelves they were forgotten about and swept under the rug.  This series, I firmly believe, hit just a bit too early.  YA was on the verge of exploding into the enormous, glorious genre it is now, full of paranormal deliciousness—but this hadn’t happened yet, and and so Fingerprints slipped through the cracks.

How does this start?  Rae is an it girl.  She has a perfect boyfriend and a near-perfect life, wherein she’s buried deep and hard the secret of her dead mother—her mother who had murdered someone and gone crazy, dying in an asylum.  One day at school Rae’s absolute worst nightmare comes to life.  She starts hearing thoughts in her mind that aren’t hers, and—scared to death that she’s becoming like her mother, Rae freaks—in front of the whole school.

After spending a summer in a psych ward, Rae has convinced her doctors that her not-her thoughts have all gone the way of the wind, but unfortunately it’s not true, and stranger than that, she’s starting to feel like the thoughts are real, as crazy as that sounds (and she’s certainly ready to believe she’s crazy).  But if the thoughts are real, she has bigger worries than her sanity, because someone wants to kill her.

Oh I love this series.  Book one is fab.  Rae is such a great character, because she used to be the sweetheart of the school, basically, and now she’s forced to the other end of the spectrum.  Her “friends,” the uppercrust at Sanderson Prep are happy to leave her hanging high and dry after the “incident’ that lands her in the asylum.

In desperation, Rae ends up banding together with a couple friends from the support group she’s forced to attend, trying to clear the name of Anthony, an anger-management kid who was framed in an attempt on Rae’s life—and learning in the process that she’s really not crazy after all, but instead she has a pretty awesome gift—picking up the thoughts people were having while touching things, by touching their fingerprints.  (Which I guess is a spoiler, but it’s one of those spoilers you get off the back of the book, not to mention the title of the series.  So.)

You can read an excerpt of Gifted Touch here.  If you can find this in a library or used book store (or Amazon!) I highly recommend it.  I can’t go for long without re-reading the series myself – which is why I’m reviewing it for you now.  I give the book a hearty A.


TV Magic Monday: Roswell

First, I’d like to start by congratulating our winner of the New Moon Tattoos from Friday’s Mini Giveaway! I inserted the entries into random.org and the winner is:

Jaclyn Reynolds!!!!

Please contact us at hollowtreetales AT gmail DOT com with your address so I can ship those out! 🙂

Now, I know this this is a bit of a diversion from our usual movie Mondays but after talking about the striking similarities between Roswell and Twilight last week, Roswell has been on my mind.

The premise was simple. A small town girl is saved from death by a quiet, not so human hottie. But he’s not a vampire. He’s an alien. And he has the power to see into someone’s soul. *dreamy sigh* This may all sound kind of corny in theory, but the acting and the writing were so moving that they not only sold it, they made me believe it was real. Its one of those things you have to see for yourself because describing it doesn’t do it justice.

There were so many things that worked about that first episode. For starters the hook is phenomenal. When Max ran into the corner and told Liz to look at him I was breathless with anticipation. Their chemistry is effortless. It sizzles. And it only gets better throughout the season. The storyline perfectly blended scifi intrigue with high school drama constantly incorporating the themes of loneliness and alienation. And although by its 3rd season the show suffered miserably because of the corporate tools meddling in the writing, most fans watched loyally, too emotionally invested with the characters to leave them.

Even the side characters grew into their own. Everyone was multi-layered and well rounded. They all had their obvious flaws but we loved them even more for it. By the end of the first season, there were 3 couples, involving 6 of the characters, each unique and interesting in their own ways, each drawing a seperate fanbase. And who could blame them. Have you seen the pretties on this show?

If you’ve never seen it, I would highly recommend renting it. It has the allure of Twilight, but is… well, can I say this?… infinitely better. Roswell is everything Twilight failed to be. And it is still, in my heart, one of the best teen dramas ever to air. I miss it.


Fun Friday: Giveaway!

Ending our Twilight themed week, I have some New Moon tattoos that came with the special edition of the book released around the time of Eclipse. They’re of the flower symbol, as well as Bella, Edward and Jacob’s name. Here’s how we’re going to play:

You get one entry for commenting below and you get a subsequent entry each time you tweet, blog, or facebook our giveaway! Your number of entries will be put into the generator and voila! A winner will be chosen. 🙂

Contest ends at 11:59pm EST Saturday. Winner will be chosen Sunday and announced Monday morning, along with out usual Monday post. The winner will be notified by email, if provided in comment. If not, we’d really appreciate if the winner contacted US with their contact information at our email address: hollowtreetales AT gmail DOT com

So how many of you went to see the midnight showing? I couldn’t make it, but I’m really dying to get to the theaters sometime this weekend. Without any spoilers, if you guys want to chime in on what you thought, that’d be awesome!

Have a great weekend everyone!


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