Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Catching Up: Cool Stuff Like Books, Music, and TV

So... I've been a little MIA. It's not that I haven't been reading; it's not that I haven't been checking out new music. Because I've been doing all of that. The problem is that nothing I've been into lately is really reviewable - but there's nothing that isn't sharable! Let's catch up!

I've been devouring the modern classics! I FINALLY read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and it was quite fantastic though depressing. But despite that it's such a deep book, I doubt my thoughts concerning it will sound much different than everyone else's praise, so I didn't write a post. Plus, I've been reading the renewal editions of the Sailor Moon manga by Naoko Takeuchi. I can't compare the renewal editions to the originals since I never had the opportunity to read those, but I really do love these books.
Right now, I'm reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I might do a classics review on this one when I finish it, but it depends on how well my thoughts about it can be assembled, if I can find a way to write about it. So far, I'm really enjoying that one. After I'm finished? I think I might move on to Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.

Oh, and I mustn't forget Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I've been working on this oldie for a while, but I'm having major issues connecting to the characters. Hopefully I can bring myself to make it to the end soon, and hopefully I end up liking it.

I've been keeping up with Stephen King's Under the Dome television adaptation, and it's pretty interesting to see the new twists and differences from the book even when I don't approve of too many of them. But, I'll live. Twisted is another new show I've been watching, and I feel relatively neutral about it. Sometimes I feel a little impatient with it, but again, I'll live.
But, most importantly: OH MY GOODNESS TEEN WOLF'S THIRD SEASON. It's so hectic and awesome! Between the impressive marketing strategies (which includes commercials taunting me by telling me that someone will die, that the killer will be revealed, etc.) and the general plotline, I've been going insane for this show all summer. Even the film score has me jumping for joy - they're using a choir this time around! Each episode has been rollercoaster-like; they aren't afraid to threaten the lives of our favorite characters. And we're only in the first part of the season! The second part will begin in the winter... Which I'm not the happiest about. I'm happy that we get more Teen Wolf, but there's a lot going on in the winter with the Sochi Olympics, I suspect Mob Wives will have another season this winter, and we might even get the Sailor Moon anime remake. So much to watch!

In the grand scheme, I haven't been getting into too much new music. I liked a few songs off of Daughter's debut LP, If You Leave, and I also love this single from The Bloody Beetroots called "Out of Sight," which features Paul McCartney and Youth.

Fortunately, I don't have to wait too long for new albums I'm bound to enjoy. This fall, Within Temptation will release a new album along with Lady Gaga's ARTPOP, and Epica will release a live DVD called Retrospect and are planning a new 2014 album. Yay!

Of course, I can always turn to less-than-new-music as well. Thanks to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I've fallen in love with the song "Asleep" by The Smiths, and thanks to Teen Wolf, I've discovered "Joanna" by Deaf Joe. Both are so beautiful.

I think that sums everything up! This is what I've been preoccupied with this summer! Do you like any of the books, shows, or music I mentioned?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Calling Fans of The Lord of the Rings and Metal Music

The film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy had perhaps the most beautiful film scores ever, each composed by Howard Shore. I love them so much! I'm also an avid fan of symphonic metal, which combines metal with classical music, so when I saw this video on the sidebar on YouTube, I was curious. Kind of afraid, but curious. Upon clicking on this video, I knew that it was possible that all the classical elements could have been taken out and replaced by a four-piece band, and I hoped that wasn't the case because I've noticed that mixing metal with classical usually works best when the classical instruments have the melody.

I didn't want to see Shore's masterpieces made a mockery of, and I didn't, for this "Epic Metal Rendition," made by Doug Anderson, is really good. The blend of classical and metal is basically perfect, and there are quite a few different songs used. A very well-done rendition!

If you liked this video, Doug Anderson has other "Epic Metal Renditions" from other movies as well as other videos on his channel. Have an epic day listening to this one!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best Movie Adaptations

It's Tuesday, everybody! Time for Top Ten Tuesday, a lovely meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today, our topic was given as Top Ten Best/Worst Movie Adaptations, but I thought I'd condense it to simply the Top Ten Best Movie Adaptations.
Harry Potter
Book series written by J.K. Rowling
*Especially The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Goblet of Fire, and The Deathly Hallows Part Two*

This one's probably a crucial part of everyone's list. Childhoods have been defined by both these books and their marvelous film adaptations. They've even impacted my reading experience... How can you not have John Williams' infamous Potter theme in your head while reading the series?
The Lord of the Rings
Trilogy written by J.R.R. Tolkien
*Especially The Two Towers and The Return of The King*

 The Lord of the Rings' movies will enchant just about everybody with their timeless film scores and special effects galore. This is basically the only time I can say that I preferred film adaptations over the original books. While I enjoyed Tolkien's trilogy, he writes with a rather passive voice, and many parts (especially battle scenes) were glossed over in the books but given long periods of life in the movies. The excellent movies, I should say.
Jane Eyre (2011)
Novel written by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is a big book, so naturally, any movie adaptation will feel like it's moving at a quicker pace. That's basically the only thing I can think of that might bother people who watch this new version. There's just not much I can find wrong with it. Jane and Mr. Rochester are very vibrant characters in the novel, and they were portrayed very well. I loved it!
By the way... notice in the movie poster that Mr. Rochester's face is outlined in Jane's dress. It took me years to notice that. YEARS. I always thought it was weird that she had a bunch of funky light blue stuff on her dress... how did I not realize that there was someone's FACE was there?
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald

There were quite a few people who had issues with this new film adaptation. I didn't. It held very true to the book (except I wish it was enforced that Daisy was being abused by Tom; I felt like that was important in understanding what Daisy was going through) and I definitely loved the cast.
The Hunger Games
 Novel written by Suzanne Collins

I was so scared of the idea of The Hunger Games being brought to the silver screen; I thought they'd ruin it for sure. But it actually turned out really well. James Newton Howard did the film score (YAY), Jennifer Lawrence was a kick-ass Katniss... I was relieved. I'm sure I mentioned some nit-picky issues here in there in my review, but overall, there weren't any major issues. Plus, it highlighted a lot of the emotion I felt when reading the book.
To Kill a Mockingbird
 Novel written by Harper Lee

Honestly, I do believe that they cut a little too much from the book, but I must admit, no one will ever be Atticus Finch like Gregory Peck was. Just getting that out there. And the overall feel of the book wasn't deterred much at all, even though one can't be inside Scout's head as much in a film format.
The Help
 Novel written by Kathryn Stockett

Was it a perfect adaptation? No, there were some things cut from the book that irked me a bit, but
there's no denying that this wasn't a great movie. The characters were brought to life almost exactly like how I pictured them while reading, and the acting in general was superb. Both Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer were nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, and I would've been happy if either one of them ended up winning. But when Octavia did win, I actually cried; I've never seen an actress so genuinely excited before.
Blood and Chocolate
Novel written by Annette Curtis Klause

Fans of the book are probably scowling at the computer screen right now, and I know; I get it. Technically, this adaptation sucked. Nothing is the same at all. The entire plot is different, last names are different, there's a character that's alive in the book but dead in the movie, relationships are completely different, the way the pack acts is different, Vivian is different... It's not the same story in any sense. But, I liked this movie. I like both stories. And the film score is one of my favorites of all time.
I've also really enjoyed some film adaptations of books I haven't read, such as The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger and Ring by Koji Suzuki. Perhaps some day I'll get around to reading them. Plus, there are some adaptations that have already been released but I still haven't seen yet! I've yet to see J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and Victor Hugo's Les Miserables (I haven't even read the book yet either). Yeah... I'm a bit behind. On the bright side, I've managed watch two of the three episodes of Stephen King's Under the Dome's new TV series. It's a bit different compared to the book, and I really don't mind that much, but some of the characters are irritating me.
Anyhow, please feel free to share your thoughts on my choices; it's quite interesting to compare and contrast everyone's Top Ten Tuesday picks in the blogosphere! Have a lovely Tuesday!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Red Glove | by: Holly Black

Red Glove is the second installment in Holly Black's Curse Workers trilogy, which began with White Cat. I was very surprised with and impressed by White Cat when I read it three years ago, and it's really about time I got to this sequel.

This book takes place a few months after White Cat finished off with its unexpected twist, and though it may initially seem like Cassel won't have as many problems as he did before, White Cat only set him up for more trouble, and in more ways that one might anticipate. Not only does he have some serious issues regarding Lila (who appears to be so close when she's actually so out-of-reach) and his con-loving mother, but a big surprise is coming his way: The Feds. Despite crime families want Cassel to assassinate for them by using his unique curse working ability, the Feds need his help identifying a killer in red gloves. And he'll make some startling discoveries in the process, for Holly Black has crafted another mystery with answers that are shielded 'till the very end.

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? It is. While Red Glove doesn't offer the most explosive of climaxes, it's definitely a relief to find out who the killer is at the end. Even when Cassel figures it out, Holly Black leaves us wondering for a while because she's excellent and knows how to keep us flipping through pages. Needless to say, Red Glove is a fantastic sequel.

Oftentimes it seems that the second book in a trilogy can typically be more of an important filler before reaching the epic climax and not really worth much on its own. Does Red Glove fall into this category? Not exactly, because Red Glove is not uneventful or unimportant. I just feel like everything Cassel has considered throughout this book concerning whether he's destined to be a good guy or a bad guy is really going to help set everything up for Black Heart, the final installment in the trilogy, especially since nothing too eventful occurred concerning the specific matter despite how often it's questioned. Even though there was nothing boring in Red Glove, I just feel like a lot of these details are going to really fuel the next one than it was in this novel, especially the conversations Cassel had with Zacharov, the mob boss.

I must say, I can't imagine anyone liking White Cat and then disliking Red Glove since my two favorite things about White Cat (that I kept guessing incorrectly as the plot twisted and turned, and Cassel, our main character and narrator) didn't let up in this book. Cassel still had an incredibly unique voice as he pulled me through the story with sarcasm and humor. He's just so cool! It's impossible not to like him! I also developed immense respect for Sam and Daneca; they're quite likeable as well. Really, all the characters are well-crafted; I can't think of a single dull person in this book. And of course, the plot they contributed to was quite fun to read about. I remember being more shocked by the outcomes of White Cat, but still, Red Glove was a fabulous mystery nonetheless.

Also like White Cat, Red Glove has a good ending. It isn't a suspenseful cliff-hanger that made me want to scream, but there's something there to let you know that Cassel's story certainly isn't over. Frankly, I'm happy, because I don't want it to be over. Mixing the mob with paranormal elements turned out to be a fabulous story idea, but I don't think anyone else could pull it off like Holly Black has.

So, The Curse Workers trilogy is two for two so far, and I definitely expect Black Heart to be just as awesome. More people need to get into this trilogy! It's so great!