Wednesday, January 26, 2011

EvilEva Reviews... Gregor The Overlander

EvilEva reviews...... Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.

The Underland Chronicles.

Gregor's summer looms before him; long, boring and lonesome. Until he follows his little sister, Boots, through a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment, which transports the two to a very strange Underland.
There, they encounter not only odd humans but giant cockroaches, bats, rats and spiders! 
It seems Gregor and Boots have landed in the middle of a war between this worlds inhabitants. Not only that, but it has been foretold in a prophecy that Gregor may be the key to ending this war. And the Underland may be the key to Gregor finding his long lost father.

Y'all know that I have a raving author crush on Suzanne Collins, right? And after reading About The Author in the back of this book and discovering that she worked on Clarissa Explains It All and The Mystery Files Of Shelby Woo (two of my fave Nickelodeon shows when I was a tweenie!) I now heart her even more! Just had to say that. Now onto the review:

Gregor the Overlander is kinda like the kids version of Lord of the Rings. But instead of hobbits, elves, and dwarfs you've got bats, roaches, rats and spiders! 
It's an adventure in a strange land with strange allies and even stranger foes. 
I liked it because it wasn't your run of the mill adventure story. The protagonist wasn't an adult or even a teenager but an 11 year old boy saddled with his 2 year old sister. 
And even though Gregor was supposed to be this "hero," there were times when he doubted himself and his abilities and very much wished for a grown up to step in and help. That felt very real to me. He wasn't this overly confident boy. He was a scared kid that had this enormous weight thrust upon his shoulders and he just wanted to try to be as brave as he could be and do what he thought was right. 
I thought Suzanne Collins did a great job with making him progressively more mature and surer of himself.

And I loved Boots! At first when she was introduced into the "adventure" part of the story I thought "How are they gonna fight and run and go into dangerous areas with a baby in tow?" But it worked!
That's not something you see very often in books. In fact, not since wonderful Sunny from A Series Of Unfortunate Events, has a toddler toddled so fearlessly into the fray. At least not that I've come across.

Another rarity? Super-sized, talking pests. Well, super-sized talking pests that you didn't wanna stomp on with your Doc Martens. All the creatures personalities and quirks were done so well. Even though some weren't in the story long, you still got the feeling that you actually got to know them even a little bit. 

This is the first of the five book series. 
So I'm hoping that Dulcet gets a larger storyline because I liked her even though she didn't have much to do in this particular book. 
I also hope that we get better acquainted with Ripred the rat. I bet he has some intriguing stories to tell. 
I'm really interested in where the next four books will go. 
Gregor the Overlander ended with most of the loose ends tied up but there were a few left dangling. 
So here's to more adventures in book two!

The Scale of Judgment says......4.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The TBR Back Burner Challenge: Round 1 Reviews

Because it can't always be about YA. So I've decided to kick off the TBR Challenge with something a little different. I've selected two Chick-Lit novels for the month of January. Truthfully, my Chick-Lit TBR pile is ridonkulously out of control. However, I have already taken the first steps in correcting this problem. Here are my reviews for I'm So Happy For You and Dixieland Sushi! 

EvilEva reviews...... I'm So Happy For You by Lucinda Rosenfeld. 
Wendy and Daphne have been besties for years. Wendy has been the stable, reliable, responsible one, having a steady job, a husband and now desperately wanting a baby to complete the picture. While Daphne has always been the melodramatic mess, bouncing from one unavailable guy to the next.
But then Daphne meets the rich and handsome Jonathan, and suddenly she gets everything that Wendy has ever wanted. A successful husband, a gorgeous townhouse and baby makes three.
Is their friendship strong enough to withstand serious jealousy, a devastating secret and the lies friends tell each other? 

I had a few issues with this book. Most of them, now that I'm recalling them for this post, seem somewhat nit-picky. But, regardless, here they are:

1. I HATE when authors name like 50 different people and their various associations with the main character within the first chapter. (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!) 
It feels so tedious. Why do I need to know the mailman, the yoga instructor, idiotic coworker #2 or that guy you had a crush on in the fifth grade? Answer- I DON'T! And more often than not these characters will never be heard from again, so excuse me if I could give a shit about Carol or Marcia or Lois!

2. My second gripe is REALLY nit-picky. But I feel it must be said. The author used the word "insofar" waaaaay too many times. (See what I mean? Real nit-picky.) You may be thinking "Ok, well who cares?" I do! Because who goes around saying insofar? I for one have never used it in a sentence. I mean, other than when I just wrote- who goes around saying insofar. I don't know anyone who has or would ever use insofar in normal conversation. Maybe I only know stupid people. And maybe I'm one of them. Maybe people all over the world right now are insofar-ing it up. It just really bugged me. 

3. I didn't find either Wendy or Daphne particularly likable. And I didn't really buy them as friends. I kinda felt like it was more of the author telling us how BFF-y they were as opposed to showing us. The "show" part was lacking, in my opinion. Like, outside-looking-in you wouldn't really peg these two as friends at all. Wendy resented the hell out of Daphne and at times it was as if Daphne completely forgot that she was even friends with Wendy. I don't know. It just seemed to me that they were pretty sucky friends. I mean, I know that no friendship is perfect but theirs was hugely dysfunctional. Throughout the book I kept wondering: why are these two friends and why is it so important to Wendy to make this work? As that bastion of knowledge, Kenny Rogers would say: You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run.
So, Wendy, what my good friend Kenny and I are trying to say to you is this: Run bitch run! 

4. That whole thing near the end of the book when Daphne suddenly, randomly writes a screenplay. Let me get this straight. She's basically been in Awww!Sweetie!Land since the beginning of the book and now all of a sudden she has the focus to sit down and hammer out a screenplay? Methinks not. Plus, she seems fairly stupid. I'd be surprised if she could write her own name (I mean, it is tricky with that p and h that sound so very much like an f) much less a fucking screenplay. I mean, this just seemed ludicrous to me and was completely out of nowhere and had absolutely nothing to do with the plot. 

5. The supporting characters were so one-dimensional. They came in, said their piece, left. I didn't connect with any of them on any kind of personal level. In fact, the only character I semi-liked was the unlikable Paige. She was a bitch and a shit-stirrer but I found her unintentionally funny because she so reminded me of Amy Farrah Fowler. Just totally blasé and unemotional. 

6. I expect a certain amount of sexy times from my Chick-Lit. I am a woman for God's sake! I want romance and kisses and swoony-swoon and lovemakin'. There were no sexy times to be had here. This book was like a barren sexy times wasteland. 

Wow. I just realized what a large list of gripes that is. I NEVER wanna be a complete Debbie Downer about a book. (Unless, of course, I absolutely hate it and find it lacking any redeemable qualities. Then I'll gripe until my fingers bleed!) 
There are a few good one-liners peppered throughout. And at times I felt connected enough to Wendy to feel sorry for her. (When she wasn't getting on my nerves with her incessant whining.) But those moments were too few and too far between. 
It's not like this book was horrible. It just wasn't for me.

The Scale of Judgment says......2.

EvilEva reviews...... Dixieland Sushi by Cara Lockwood. 

Jen Nakamura Taylor's life has been a series of awkward moments, growing up half Japanese and half white in the small Southern town of Dixieland. But now she's an adult on the fast track to success as a producer for a popular news show in Chicago. 
Just when Jen is flying high with the promise of a promotion, news from home sends her crashing back down to Earth. 
Jen's younger cousin, Lucy, is set to marry Kevin Peterson. This isn't too much of a big deal except for the small fact that Jen has been TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY in LOVE with Kevin Peterson FOREVER! 
She decides to take her friend Riley as he date for the wedding, to give her moral support and maybe even elicit a little jealousy from THE Kevin Peterson. But somewhere between Chi-Town and Dixie, sparks begin to fly. Now Jen is more confused than ever.
Is Kevin Peterson her eternal flame or could it be possible that Riley is her own personal Jake Ryan?

Let it be known that I have a complete author crush on Cara Lockwood! I loved Pink Slip Party, Wuthering High, and I Do But I Don't (even though I thought Lifetime did a shitous job of casting Denise Richards as Lauren. But that's not Cara's fault.) And, as expected, I loved Dixieland Sushi. For one thing, it is LOADED with pop culture references much to the delight of any 80's baby! (Advice from Mr. Miyagi begins every chapter!) 
Plus, you know I love a good quip and quips abound in this futhermucker! There was such snappy banter between Jen and Riley, which i loved! Sometimes vocal foreplay is better than the actual thingie-thang. So while there were limited sexy times in this book, the author totally made up for it with Jen and Riley's sexually charged bantering. 
As a Southern girl (Georgia peach, what what!) with a loopy family of my own, I could most def  identify with Jen. But instead of seeing them as a bunch of ass-backward loons, I saw them as lovable eccentrics. I wanted to know more about Vivien and Grandma Saddie and Bubba and Aunt Teri. Because here in the South we don't refer to our crazies as "crazies." Oh no. They're "characters." And Vivien, Grandma Saddie, etc. seemed like some really interesting "characters." 
I also really liked the flashback to the 80's chapters. It took me back to the totally tubular days of friendship bracelets, John Hughes brilliance and L.A. Gear! *wistful sigh*

I have but one gripe for this book and really it only involves the beginning as, it seems about halfway through, Cara Lockwood righted this wrong. But anyhoo, my gripe is this: It seemed to me that the first few chapters were heavily layered with Asian/Southern/British clichés. Which, I get it, I mean, the book is called Dixieland Sushi. But I just felt like it was a little much.

Other than that one little gripe though, I enjoyed this book. And it reminded me of how much I like Cara Lockwood's writing style. So perhaps I'll review more of her books in my next TBR posts!

The Scale of Judgment says......4.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Books Into Movies: Trailers A Go-Go

There are a buttload of books being turned into movies this year. So i've rounded up some info, linky-dinks and trailers to help you sort through them all.
Jane Eyre

Starring Mia Wasikowska.
This one actually looks kinda hot. Which is pretty surprising since it's obvs based on a classic and everyone knows Classics Are Not Hot. i don't mean Hollywood hot, mind you, more literary hot. Old fashioned hotness. Stolen kisses, discreet glances. Knowwhatimsayin'? 
Anyhoo, i'm thinking of reading the book as one of my classic picks for The Resolution Challenge. i'm ashamed to admit that i have never read this book before. i know! Look away! i'm a monster! i'm trying to change my ways, though. And i promise that i'll read the book before seeing the movie, which comes out March 11th.

The very much hyped The Help by Kathryn Stockett is getting the book to movie makeover. 
Starring Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek and Viola Davis.
There isn't a trailer up for it yet but you can click here to see a few stills from the movie. i haven't read the book but i gotta say, with all the buzz surrounding it, it's got me pretty intrigued. The movie is set for August 12th.  


Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer, Neil Patrick Harris and one of the Olson twins.
This is based on the YA novel by Alex Flinn and that is based on the story of Beauty and the Beast. i don't know about this one y'all. It looks a little juvenile. Like it could very easily be High School Musical 4: Shit Gets Real. And i swear, if Vanessa Hudgens manages to weasel another song out of yet another one of her movies then i'm definitely gonna pass on this one. We get it. You like to sing and aren't completely tone deaf. Congrats. Now either be a singer or make another shitty movie but please, for the love of God!, DON'T do both! 
It also stars Alex Pettyfer, who will also star in I Am Number Four which is also based on a YA novel and which comes out February 18th. Beastly hits theaters March 18th.

Kid-Lit fave, Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, is also headed for the big screen. 
Starring Chloe Moretz, (woo-hoo! HitGirl!) Jude Law, Ben Kingsley, and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Another no-trailer-haver, but you can go here for some movie stills. The movie should be out December 9th.

Water For Elephants 

Starring Reese Witherspoon as Christina Aguilera's character from Burlesque (Right? i mean, look at her hair! And her smolder-whore makeup!) and Robert Pattinson as Not Edward Cullen. 
This one looks a little Snoozie Suzie to me. i read the book (by Sara Gruen) awhile back and wasn't a big fan. Scale of Judgment would probably give it a 2 and a half. But i'm sure Team Edward will come out in droves to represent. i'll probably just wait til it comes to Netflix. Personally i like to fawn over R. Pattz British hotness from the comfort of my own home. 
Water for Elephants will be at a theater near you April 22nd.

One of my fave books, Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, is getting the rom-com treatment. 
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield and John Krasinski.
i REALLY hope they don't fuck this one up because i love this book and these characters so much! No trailer but here are some stills to hold you over until its release on May 6th.

This is the big one, y'all. Hunger Games movie news!!! 
There's an interview with Gary Ross, The Man Who Will Direct The Hunger Games!, in this weeks Entertainment Weekly (#1137- with the new American Idol judges on the cover.) After reading the interview, i'm pretty confident that Gary Ross won't screw this up for all of us HG fans. In fact, i think he's one of us! (Turns out, he's a fan of YA reading too! You just became even more awesome, sir.) i hope they'll have more scoop for us soon but for right now, the interview was pretty awesome. 

Now i'll end with two more biggies:
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the finale to end all finales, will be in theaters July 15th! i'm both excited (because this is gonna be FUCKING AWESOME!) and sad (because it's really over. *falls into a hysterical mess*) 
2. Breaking Dawn Part 1. Wait. Is it Part 1? Did we ever decide if they were gonna split this film into two parts? i'm confused. Anyway, Part 1 (?) will be out November 18th.
i'll post more on both of these when more info becomes available. 

So. What do you guys think? Which movies are you on pins and needles to see? 
As always, dish the shizz in the comments section and let me know.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

EvilEva reviews... How To Say Goodbye In Robot

EvilEva reviews...... How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford.  

Bea is used to being the new girl. So when her dad gets a job in Baltimore during her senior year, she's not that torn up about the move. 
She'll make friends, she'll graduate and she'll blow this pop stand for a life of her own. 
She never expects to find a best friend but that's exactly what happens when she meets Jonah, aka Ghost Boy. They share secrets, confessions and a love for the Night Light radio show. 
But will Bea be able to let go of this new found friendship to pursue what she wants? Or will she give up everything for a Ghost? 

I wanted to like this book because I'm somewhat of a Robot Girl myself (*beep,bop,boop*) and in high school I had my own Ghost Boy. We were best friends and nothing more and no one ever believed us. 
So when I read the blurb on the back of the book:
"It's not exactly romance- but it's definitely love. And it means more to them than either one can ever really know..." 
I thought I would, for sure, connect with this book and these characters. But I didn't. 
To me, Jonah wasn't that great of a friend to Bea. Everything they did or didn't do hinged on what he wanted and how he felt. Bea did a lot of bending for Jonah, substituting her wishes for his. I felt like Jonah was very controlling in their relationship. And that's not how a friend should be.

There were a few times when i wished Bea would've just said "Fuck Jonah," and then gone and hung out with Walt instead.
I would've much preferred Walt as my Ghost Boy. He was funny and sweet and not featured nearly enough. I wish Bea had given him more of a chance. 

I didn't really understand the deal with Bea's mom. Half of the book she's acting all nutsy and then there's a reveal of sorts to explain her complete nuttery and then after that confession, it's like she's cured. No more Mama Nutcase. I didn't find that believable in the least. In fact, I found her mother's whole purpose to be rather pointless. 

There were a few funny parts in the book though. 
My favorite scene was when Tom and Walt were giving Bea a guided tour of a typical Canton party.
I also liked Kreplax and his idea for a Party for People from the Future. (What can I say? I love a good theme party!) 

I think the premise of the book is an intriguing one, a not-love story. A story where the two main characters don't actually fall in love at the end. They don't realize suddenly that it's been this person all along. Sometimes there really is just friendship. And that's enough but sometimes even more than you could imagine. 

So, I think the idea of the book is lovely. But, for me, the execution fell a little flat. But maybe that's because I had a Ghost Boy, so I was expecting too much. 

The Scale of Judgment says...... 2 and a half. Or *bee,blee,bo* in Robot. ;)