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Elin "maverick" (London, UK)

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The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.50

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising, but doesn't deliver, 26 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Hunger Games (Paperback)
By now you probably already know what the premise is, so I won't bother you with that. The idea is not very original, of course. The Tournament, Battle Royale, The Running Man, etc. come to mind when I read the premise and some of the book even reminded me of Lord Of The Flies. It's something to ponder, especially when some of the works mentioned are so much better.

Okay, I'll devide my review in two sections:

- Finally a female main character who can actually take care of herself. A lot of YA books have the main character be a useless clutz who waits to be saved by her love interest, while at the same time doing stupid things that gets her into trouble. Katniss is nothing like that. She's a skilled hunter, takes initiative and is knowledgable.
- I liked the contrast between her and those in the capitol. Her views on poverty clashing with their superficial lives, lives which many western people live today.
- The tactical choices. It's like watching Bear Grylls, except she's not eating maggots ;-) Katniss doesn't just stumble around in the arena, she makes many smart choices and it's briefly explained why she makes them.

- My main problem with the book was the our heroine. While it was refreshing to read about such an independent person, Katniss is so dense at times it's painful to read because we can all see clearly what she cannot. Collins' is not very subtle in her writing and this harms the biggest angle in the story. She doesn't foreshadow, she basically shoves it in your face with an exclamation point attached to it. This gets very annoying very quickly because Katniss keeps making up flimsy excuses and keeps believing in them in order to keep the plot device going. The character isn't consistent either. She goes from smart and thoughtful to dense and emotional in a heartbeat and back. It makes it hard to emphasize you never really get a feel for who she really is.

- Second problem: the writing itself. Now, it wasn't actrocious, I actually liked a few descriptions, like for example how her face disappeared behind a layer of powder and then was drawn back on again. But on the whole Collins didn't have the skill to paint a clear picture. Sure, she gives main descriptions, but there's a lot of telling going on, not showing. The story and it's characters didn't really come alive. This is very unfortunate, because the characters are in a life and death situation and you're supposed to care for them, be terrified for them, cry with them. I felt rather indifferent towards a lot of it.

- Supporting characters. Again, basic descriptions. There are specks of detail and personality, but not enough to give the impression of a well rounded character. I also would have liked it if the author had spent more time on the other characters in the arena. I get that Katniss' POV allows only for a limited scope, but I think a lot of this could have been remedied with more elaborate descriptions. I think the book would have been stronger if we got to see her adversaries as other human beings, not just obstacles she needed to overcome. The whole thing seemed rather soulless despite Katniss going through an array of emotions.

- The situation isn't used to it's full potential. The deaths aren't glossed over, I'll give Collin's that, but Katniss is never really presented with a difficult choice emotional wise. Her morals stay intact.
- The ending. Now, I'm not all for hollywood happy endings, but this one was the product of a poor plot device and just didn't really work in my opinion.

So my conclusion? A book that could have been good or even great, but simply wasn't.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 9, 2013 7:52 PM BST

The Vampire Diaries - Season 2 [DVD] [2011]
The Vampire Diaries - Season 2 [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Nina Dobrev
Price: 10.47

9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 2 July 2011
When Vampire Diaries was first introduced I was skeptic. Surely this would be just a Twilight knockoff that wants to ride the wave while it lasts? I couldn't be more wrong. And now I found myself following along season 2 as well. This season has a couple of great things going for it, and some things that didn't work so well. I'll try to explain without spoiling too much. Still, if you are the kind of person who wants to go in without knowledge beforehand, I suggest you catch the reruns before buying the DVD to help you decide.

The things that worked:
- character development. You know how some shows just leave characters unchanged? Well, vampire diaries isn't like that. Our characters get pummeled by one event after another and this shapes them into what they've become at the end of the season. This is in my opinion one of the best things about the show. Take Caroline for example. In season one she was your typical, ditzy blonde and in the second season something shocking happens to her and suddenly she her uncomplicated life becomes anything but that. We see her stumble, fall and pick herself up again and become a stronger and likable person. Something similar occurs in Tyler. Known as a full blown douche with an anger management problem in season 1, in season two we get to see what made him this way and he starts to understand what he is and in the end he has become one of my favorite characters. So in short, people evolve.
- New character: Elijah. You'll know exactly who I'm talking about when you'll see him. This is one of the original vampires, which means he is very strong and very old even though his fresh face wouldn't suggest it. The problem with introducing characters like that most of the time is that the actors that play them don't have the life experience they're supposed to convey. But the actor that plays him pulls it off somehow. Elijah is very charismatic and badass which makes him very interesting to watch
- Nina playing two roles (Katherine and Elena). I have to say that though I had my doubts about Nina Dobrev's acting chops at first, she's won me over now. She manages to separate the two identical looking characters with gait, attitude and even their voice. It goes beyond simply altering someone's hairstyle and dialogue.
- The soundtrack. Okay, this may be weird but music is a big deal for me when it comes to setting the tone. A bad soundtrack can ruin a otherwise good movie/series. Vampire Diaries has it covered and I'm quite happy to say I discovered a couple of new bands this way.

The things that didn't work:
- character death. In my opinion, character deaths are not to be taken lightly. And over the course of the second season, so many characters (unimportant and important) die that it's numbing instead of shocking. It also strains the character development because the main characters barely have time to grieve and well..act like normal human beings.
- The introduction of Klaus as a new villain. Maybe it was the surrounding hype but I was disappointed when they introduced him as the most powerful, bad, influential vampire on earth. The actor that plays Klaus looks like he came right from an Ambercrombie & Fitch ad and unlike Daniel Gillies (Elijah) he doesn't have the presence to pull it off.
- Some of the plot twists. In short, there are so many events crammed into the season it can be overwhelming at times. I wish they'd take it a bit slower.
- The Elena/Stefan romance. I like both actors, I do. But their romance was set up to be too boring for my taste.

These are some of the elements of the show that made my rating of the show (3 stars) what it is. I have tried to be as vague as possible. I think it's worth giving it a shot for the good points alone. I also have to note I don't give 5 stars as easily as some reviewers out there, especially since there are some flaws.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2012 11:27 PM BST

New Moon: 2 (Twilight Saga)
New Moon: 2 (Twilight Saga)
by Stephenie Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.95

52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A gaping hole in the middle, 3 April 2008
I was very excited to see that there was a sequel to Meyer's debut. Twilight did have its faults, but it was light and the romance was refreshingly well written.

And let's face it, I fell in love with Edward just like the rest of us. He's beautiful and frightening at the same time and those of you who have a problem with Bella's continued amazement of his physical appearance: aren't we all shallow enough that we'd like our significant other to look that way? What's wrong with a little fantasy?

With New Moon, the light tone and Bella's sarcastic narrative changed into something dark and hollow. Bella's situation takes a sudden and drastic plunge for the worse: An incident at the Cullen house leaves Edward so shaken he decides to follow through on his promise to "do what's best for her." In this case it means he and his family leave Forks and with that: Bella.

Bella goes to pieces, turning into a shadow of her former self. Edwards absence literally leaves a hole in her chest --and in the book. It's like he was never there; he removed all evidence of his excistence from her, in a vain ettempt to force her to get on with her human life. It's the sadness, more than anything else that drains the book.

This is a story about people so in love with eachtother, their separation nearly destroys them both. New Moon is the 500 paged gap in their chest.

Then Jacob enters the plot. Their friendship takes the front seat --obviously an attempt by Meyer to fill the void Edward's departure caused. Thanks to his company, Bella slowly but surely becomes "alive" again. But ofcourse, her newfound best friend turns out not to be so human after all...

If you've read Helly Armstrong's "Bitten" you'll pick up the clues about what's going on with Jacob soon enough --and you'll become impatient because Bella doesn't catch on as quick. Meyer tried to create a effect similar to Twilight: now Jacob becomes the mysterious boy who isn't quite what he seems beneath the surface.

It's predictable, but I would be able to live with it he held the same amount of attraction Edward did. Instead, I'm having deja vu's all the time: (the "it's not safe for me to be near you" spiel starts all over again.) Jacob had potential, but it would've worked better if Meyer would've made him a completely different character. She did-- in the beginning. After "the change" it's Edward all over again, minus the velvet voice, the angeletic face and the smoldering eyes. He just doesn't have that -well what should I call it- pull. To add to the "fun:" he hates vampires. What a surprise.

Just when some some supporting characters are fleshed out, Edward is back in the story. I missed him so much I didn't even care it felt forced. But it wasn't the same.

Bottomline, New Moon isn't a bad sequel, but it doesn't have that freshness Twilight had. Bella's bordering on insanity and so insecure about herself I'd like to smack her head and tell her to grow up. Still, unlike some readers, I don't think she lost all her appeal as a main character. There's hope left. Hope that Eclipse will close the void New Moon created but could not close.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 21, 2009 4:26 PM GMT

Twilight (Twilight Saga)
Twilight (Twilight Saga)
by Stephenie Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.95

132 of 169 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good!, 20 Mar 2008
First off: I'm 20. With that in mind and the fact I'm an obsessed bookworm (reading as much literature as I do for example Sci-Fi) I wasn't sure this book was up my "level." I know that sounds arrogant. But haven't you ever read a book meant for the lower part of your age 'group' that you thought it was too easy? Dissatisfying. I see I have as much trouble explaining myself as Bella.

Well, I can tell you that wasn't the case with Twilight. Usually, I avoid popular books. They rarely live up to the hype. I took the chance with Twilight. I'm happy I did. I'll tell you why:

First off: if you're not into romance novels: skip this one. Passionate is written all over it. And that's the strength of it (for me.) The story revolves around two impossible lovers, meant to be together. The only problem is that he's the Lion and she's the lamb. A bright one like you should be able to figure out what kind of threat that poses.

It's written in first person, Bella's POV. I've read some reviewers say they didn't like Bella much. I can tell you it's just jealousy. Hell, I'M jealous. Edward Cullen is, gorgeous and perfect, but also impossible which makes their struggles with eachother even more interesting. They take the front seat in the story and you might even think the (also interesting) supportive cast is kind of left out. I must say I usually detest little subplots in books (exceptions are present ofcourse.) It makes me skim over pages until I've reached the part where my favorite characters interact again. If you feel differently, then this might also be a reason the book is not for you.

The reason I liked it so much is because I could really, (almost to a scary extent) empathize with Bella. If her name was changed in mine, highschool was switched for College and Forks was replaced by the little town I live in (rain stays about the same) you'd pretty much get me. Except that I don't have an Edward Cullen to spice up my life.

He's dazzeling but dangerous. He's like the adrenaline rush skydivers feel when they jump out of a plane. Addicting, exciting, lethal. You come back for more, knowing in the back of your head that one mistake could end your life. Yet you feel that if you'd turn your back and walk away, it would be like you didn't have any life at all.

That's what attracted me to this book. I've been reading it everywhere. In the train, at work (sneaking in a couple of pages) in my room....and I always have to restrain myself from smiling when I read in a public place. It manages to lighten my mood. I'm not destined to meet someone like that, but atleast I can dream and read about it. Romances in novels are usually so alike. They can be well written, but similar nevertheless. This is a new take on it for me and it works out really well.

So, anyone interested in an orgional lovestory with an edge to it should get this. Right now.
Comment Comments (64) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2010 2:51 PM BST

Back To Black
Back To Black
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 6.25

7 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not living up to the hype, 11 Mar 2008
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
Amy Whinehouse this, Amy whinehouse that. Occasionally terms like "talent," and "brilliance" are dropped beside her name. Oh, she's definitely made it in the music world; one negative from me won't change that.

First off: yes she has quite a good voice. But she doesn't live up to the hype. And if I ever hear people yammering about her 'distinct motown-sound" I'm going to hurt someone. Motown isn't new, people! The music is acceptable, works well in a car during an evening with some friends when you try to be sophisticated. (whethr you succeed or not is another story)

I hope for her own sake she ditches the ugly Beehive, eats some more and gives the drugs and alcohol a rest for once. The way she behaves I makes me almost think she doesn't deserve her success. Ofcourse, her current state of unhealthyness doesn't affect this CD. If you like it, buy it. If you like Amy, don't buy it: you're financing her addiction. That's as black as it gets.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2011 12:43 PM BST

Dies the Fire (Roc Science Fiction)
Dies the Fire (Roc Science Fiction)
by S. M. Stirling
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 4.69

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I don't believe in 5 stars, 11 Mar 2008
The reason I don't put 5 stars is because there is no perfection. Sometimes there is near-perfection. Dies the Fire is not near perfection, BUT a very entertaining read.

The reason the reviews have been so varied (from "WOW" to "Meh") is because you have to like this genre. And that's the problem. Lots of people have become "fantasy fans" or "sci-fi lovers," etc. and they refuse to leave that "camp." This book has a little bit of everything. You can't just put it in one box. The concept: "what would happen if we'd lose all progress over the last couple of centuries" is definitely interesting. The why part is only speculated upon, leaving the as reader just as clueless as the characters the story revolves around. This is not a bad thing, I've found out.

A couple of notes:
#1: as you've read the plot I won't spell it out for you again.

#2: if you have a problem with good looking characters, this might not be it for you. My friend expressed her irritation (a.k.a. jalousy) for the beauty of some of the characters and whined about why the pretty guy always gets the pretty girl. Note I use the word "whined."

I must say the lead character Mike Havel sometimes comes across as "too good to be true:" he's handsome as hell, he's smart, he's witty. And he doesn't back away from a fight: in fact, he's very good at it. But he's human, which means he's flawed. The great thing about this book is that "supporting characters" REALLY are supporting characters. In order to survive they need to get together. And that results in some interesting situations.

#3: The flurry of characters surrounding the main ones are all multidimensional in their own right. Gruff Brit Sam Aylward is among my favorites, so is the Elvish speaking, Tolkien obsessed solitary teenager Astrid to name a few.

#4: The weapons, armory, etc are explained in so much detail it actually made me want to start doing archery (I'd just cut people's noses off at fencing)

#5: I wasn't really fond of the "Wiccan Clan" vibe Juniper and her followers were carrying, but at the same time it delivers the point loud and clear: man needs myth in order to survive in the real world. You're stronger when you believe in something.

Conclusion: If you're looking for a book with an original plot, great characters and action-packed confrontations, then this is something for you. It never gets too black&white and sometimes I could even sympathise with the cannibals. It's too light to really get the wheels turning inside your head but it definitely makes a good couch read.

Showdown in Little Tokyo [DVD] [1991]
Showdown in Little Tokyo [DVD] [1991]
Dvd ~ Brandon Lee
Price: 12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Brandon is the more talented "sidekick", 4 Aug 2007
As common for films at that time, the plot in thin and the action is overflowing. I'm not going to spell out the plot for you (Amazon has already done that) but to put in my two cents: I thought it was entertaining.

It also makes it clear, that even though Brandon is pushed into the background behind muscleman Dolph Lundgren (he makes Lee come off like some average guy while we all know Brandon has a 6-pack of his own) it's Brandon who leaves an impression. He is the cat with his lashing kicks and quick comments, while Lundgren is more the Hulk who destroys everyting in it's path. Dolph is also the only one allowed to show off his defined torso and the one the girl goes for. That and a lot of other things make it obvious the makers wanted the film to revolve around him.

Now I'm not saying I don't like him (though he's too much bulk for me: the kind that crushes your back when embraced) but his talent is lacking in such a way that he still doesn't "own" the movie, like a good actor would've. Still it's entertaining and both Lundgren and Brandon fans won't be disappointed.

Rapid Fire [DVD] [1992]
Rapid Fire [DVD] [1992]
Dvd ~ Brandon Lee
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: 3.88

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant surprise, 4 Aug 2007
This review is from: Rapid Fire [DVD] [1992] (DVD)
I stumbled upon this film by accident. As a martial arts enthusiast and a movie addict, I was curious about how much would be left of Brandon Lee without the story, setting and atmosphere "The Crow" provided. At first glance, this is your avarage 13-in-a-dozen martial arts film, following the likes of Van Damme. (and we all know that apart from a few good, he also made some awfully bad trash)

The story is thin (read the plot for yourself) and cliché, which is usually enough to write it off, if it weren't for Brandon, who holds up surprisingly well (this could very well have ended up in something that would make us all cringe.) Brandon, who plays Jake Lo (mostly referred to as "kid" by the other characters in the film) has got trip hammers for fists, feet that kick like David Beckham and the agility of a cat. Fans of good fight sequences will not be disappointed. For the ones who prefer collateral damage: plenty of cars get blown up along the way.

But this guy isn't just someone who kicks butt. During all the life endangering situations the main character continues to find him in (Lady Luck was as much on Jake's side as Brandon himself) Lee manages to throw in some emotions as well. From mixed anger and regret when he's forced to kill someone, to the glares that melt steel and makes glass wish it could go back to being sand, the guy's got it all. I think this makes him a superior actor than his father.

What also adds to the movie are Brandon's looks. With his reputation as a martial artist, his physical perfection was anticipated. The fact that he also has a handsome face was a nice surprise (all poudered up like a porcelain doll in "the crow" made it hard to see what he really looked like). The camera obviously loves him and he's got that 'something' in his eyes, comparable to actors like this generation's Jensen Ackles.

Conclusion: if none of the above reasons make it appealling to you, it's not for you. (that's some smart reasoning huh)
But if any of my rambles above attract your attention, get it now!
It's a golden opportunity for guys; this is one of the rare action movies your girlfriend probably won't have a problem with ;)

Again, all of it adds to the sadness of Brandon's passing. He would definitely made it big and it's tragic to see someone's blossoming career and life cut off at such a young age.

House - Season 2 (Hugh Laurie) [DVD]
House - Season 2 (Hugh Laurie) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Laurie
Price: 7.43

15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Laurie carries the show, 2 Aug 2007
As a proud TV-series Junkie, House M.D. didn't pass me unnoticed. In the beginning, I was absolutely thrilled. Hugh Laurie posing as an eccentric genius cripple doctor, included with black belt sarcasm was a real refreshment to the 13 in a dozen main characters new shows usually offer. I often found myself doubling over by his one-liners (Hugh's timing is impeccable.)

The patient (a.k.a. the puzzle) was always interesting and I always found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what they would come up with this time. The supporting cast is nice, (supporting being the key word) Camaron is a pretty lady who has the tendency to go all golden retriever on the poor patients, Chase has, as quoted: pretty hair, and Foreman is the guy with the biggest mouth of all 3. All in all, nice characters with great potential.

So there's my complaint: why isn't that acted upon? There's barely any character development throughout the season, and every episode follows the same strict formula:
1. patient goes down with strange illness, is wheeled into the hospital. 2. House is assigned to play Sherlock with his merry band of helpers. 3. Initially, everything they dish out is not working or even worsening the condition, 4. house finally finds the key 5, figuring it out in his genius mind while whirling his cane or jojo. problem solved.

Now I'm not saying that's bad. The show is good, and anyone looking for some comic relief, without an actual comedy should certainly watch this. The problem is that the show isn't "great" like it could've been.

I wish they'd put in some episodes not revolving about some interesting illness. Maybe they should follow ER's example. The best ER episode, in my opinion (I wish I could tell you the name, but don't remember) was the one where the main characters were stuck in an empty building during a snowstorm, initially going there to attend a lecture. Forced to sit out the storm, they entertain themselves. Result: some great character exploration. For once they weren't doctors dishing out difficult to pronounce names and walking around in white coats: they were people.

And that's really what I'd like to see on House. Just an Ep outside of the hospital. Some different storytelling. Wouldn't it be great to have the whole merry band (House, Wilson, Cuddy + the 3 ducklings) together in a situation that didn't involve any illness? Sure, the makers of th show often show us glimpses into their lives outside the hospital, but they're all too interesting to just leave it at that.

By now we've come down to the final and most important question:
"Should you buy this?"
If you're looking for an entertaining show with good actors, an acceptable, though thin plot, a main character who is an eccentric genius (and all the witty oneliners you'll ever need) then this is your show. If you're looking for something with more depth, then you might just watch it on tv first to make a conclusion.

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