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Ghostbusters: Part 2

Just got back! I'll try to avoid spoilers. Short version: Loved it! My face hurts from laughing so hard, and I'm sure I missed quite a bit of dialogue for the same reason, so I'm down for seeing it again. Only next time, I'll spring for 3D. There aren't many movies that make me want to spring for 3D. This is one of them.



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Ghostbusters: Part 1

So I'm going to see Ghostbusters this weekend. And honestly? While I was somewhere between "Meh" and "Please don't suck" when I first heard of this reboot, the more I hear about it, the more excited I get. I hope I'm not getting my hopes up too much. There are way too many people out there who made up their minds as to whether an all-female Ghostbusters reboot even warranted existing before a single promotional photo hit the 'net. I'm glad my little blog here isn't widespread enough to garner attention beyond the people whose tastes are somewhat similar to mine anyway. Because that's kinda why I write these things: to share my opinion on the thing, and give you an idea of whether it's worth your time as well.

In order to do that, I'm doing a mini-retrospective on the 1984 movie, and then coming back with a review of the new one on Sunday.


"Aim for the flat-top!"


This is what happens when you cross the streams.Collapse )

Cross-posted on rhoda_rants.

YA Adaptations: Vampire Academy

As anyone who's known me for a reasonable period of time knows: If there are vampires in it, I have seen it. If I haven't seen it, I at least know it exists, and it is on my list. So it was only a matter of time before Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy came into my life. I've only read the first two so far, but I love them.


Book Cover via Goodreads


As the title suggests, we're in a boarding school for vampires. Not just any vampires, but an elite group of teens separated into the Moroi (full-blooded vamps with magical powers associated with different elements), and the Dhampir (half-human vamps with supernatural strength who act as bodyguards). There's a third group, called Strigoi, who are evil blood-thirsty monsters who no longer resemble the people they once were--basically your more traditional vampires.

In the first book, the main character, Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutsch) and her best friend Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry) have run away from the school. They're tracked down after about a year, but in the meantime a few changes have taken place: Lissa is no longer the popular Queen Bee type at the school, despite being next in line for the throne. A new Dhampir training specialist, Dimitri, has been assigned to whip Rose into shape and keep an eye on her, in case she gets any ideas about running away again. Also, dead animals have begun to turn up at the school--usually just in time for Lissa to find and mysteriously heal them.

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Let's see if I can do this without spoilers.

SHORT VERSION: Good times! Fight scenes! Character development! Lots of characters--like, LOTS! Man, this franchise is getting crowded. Didn't feel as overstuffed as it could have though. Everyone has their role, and that's good. Oh, and for the record, I'm Team Captain America. Seeing the movie didn't change that.



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Review: The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016)

Just got back! Trailer!



First things first: This is not a prequel. I thought it was a prequel. It starts prior to Snow White and the Huntsman, when Chris Hemsworth's character (who now has a name--it's Eric!) first gets taken by Queen Freya (Emily Blunt's Ice Queen is called Freya) to train in her army. But then it skips forward like 7 years and it's after Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron's Evil Queen from the first movie) has been defeated by Snow White (Kristen Stewart was not invited back), and supposedly everything is okay now. Until it isn't.

Really it's an expansion of the first movie, an opportunity to explore Eric's relationship with his first love, Sara (Jessica Chastain's definitely-not-inspired-by-Katniss ace archer), and how that all went down before Ravenna's minions picked him up in a tavern all depressed and mopey. It brings in new characters like Freya and Sara who are both a joy to watch, and whose characters arcs are more similar than they realize. The story is a basic quest adventure, with the quest object (the mirror) being the Sealed Evil In a Can variety, and I did enjoy seeing it come into play in the end. But I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I have two main talking points here. Just two.

Spoilers here.Collapse )

*All GIFs via Giphy.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, both the book by Brian Selznick and the movie (called simply Hugo) directed by Martin Scorcese, is about this kid who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. He keeps all the clocks in the station running, routinely pinches food from the shops to survive, and sometimes clockwork toys from the toy shop for parts. You see, he's trying to repair an automaton--a mechanical man who can write. The automaton is his last connection to his father, who died in a fire at the museum where he worked, and Hugo is sure that when he can get it working, the automaton will give him a message from his father.


Book Cover via GoodReads


Now, in order to get into the real meat of this story, I am going to have to spoil a mid-point plot twist--namely what Hugo actually finds when the automaton comes to life. I went into the movie completely cold and found myself spellbound, and I wouldn't want to rob anyone of that experience if you haven't seen / read it yet. So if you don't want to know any more, this is the place to stop reading.

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YA Adaptations: The Maze Runner

James Dashner's The Maze Runner series has four books, including the prequel that was published last, and movie adaptations for the first two, The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials. I've seen both, and while I certainly have a lot to say about both, for the purposes of keeping things relatively spoiler-free (and also not testing my blood pressure any more than absolutely necessary) I'm gonna stick with the first one.


Book cover via Goodreads


I don't like them.

Rather, I like the idea of this story, and I rather liked the movie by comparison--which is unusual, as I tend to like the book better than the movie--more than its execution. Certainly there have been worse things to happen to the YA Dystopia sub-genre in the wake of The Hunger Games, but this one bothers me for a very specific reason that I haven't seen in any other YA Dystopia so far.

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YA Adaptations: The Mortal Instruments

Have you heard of the Suck Fairy?

It's a wiley and sadistic little creature who visits all your favorite childhood movies, books, and TV shows, waves a wand, and POOF! Sucks all the magic and charm out of them. This is why when you revisit your favorite things from when you were a kid, you find yourself saying, "I used to think this was so cool, why does it suck now?" Because it's been visited by the Suck Fairy.

At least that was the explanation offered to me on the Internet awhile back. I forget which discussion brought this up. But actually, I'm experiencing sort of the opposite phenomenon now. What's the opposite of the Suck Fairy? A whimsical elf who visits things you didn't like that much on first encountering them, but then when you go back, you go, "Wow, I actually don't remember why I didn't care for this the first time, because it's actually awesome!" Any ideas? The Awesomeness Elf, perhaps?

Let's talk about The Mortal Instruments.


Book cover of City of Bones via Goodreads. Tangent: How gorgeous is that new boxed set? Wow. I'm glad I didn't buy the first editions, because now I can collect the prettier ones!


This best-selling YA urban fantasy series by Cassandra Clare has six books in the main line-up, plus a spin-off prequel series called The Infernal Devices, and most recently a spin-off short story collection called The Bane Chronicles. Since the adaptations so far are focused on the first book, City of Bones, that's mainly what we're talking about today. I have been wanting to love this series since the first book came out. Last week, I finally got it.

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A couple weeks ago, the following trailer was released for the upcoming movie adaptation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children:



Honestly? I think it looks fun. I'm a big fan of reigning Queen of the Goths, Eva Green, and was immediately excited when I heard she'd been cast as the enigmatic Miss Peregrine herself. Also, say what you will about Tim Burton--he knows his audience, and he still has the capacity to create some stunning visuals and memorable characters when he starts with a good story. And this is a good story.

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Writing Update: My Revision Method

Results of the BluRay experiment: Nope. Not surprised really, but I *had* to try.

Next, since I started this blog as a way to keep folks posted on my adventures in writing and trying to get published, let's get back to that for a minute. It's been a very productive year for me--I had two articles published in the actual paper last year, which was my first print publication ever; and earlier this year I sent in a manuscript to a publisher I've had my eye on for a while. I'm not done submitting--going through the most recent edition of Writers Market and a few other places to see how gets it next--but this one's my top choice. Fingers crossed!

That second adventure forced me to actually write and finish a synopsis for the first time ever, which was an accomplishment in itself. Here's the worksheet that helped me do that: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/

I've seen dozens of different How To Synopsis type books, websites, workshops, etc., and this is the only one that's really helped. It's excellent, so definitely check it out if you're in Synopsis Hell and need some pointers.

So, here's what I'm working on now: Revising another project that's set in the same fictional universe as the one I submitted. Not a sequel, but a completely separate story with entirely different characters and a different target audience. Like the previous story, this one has been drafted to completion, perused by my trusted beta reader, and combed over with notes. So this is my (hopefully) final draft before I send it to a publisher/agency and cross more fingers on its behalf.

I want to share with you the method I've been using for my revisions lately, because I only just started doing things this way a few months ago, and it's been the most helpful, and the most likely to actually get me through to the last page. I'm sure you've heard this before, but every writer is different, and this might not necessarily work for you, but it's certainly working for me, and I'm excited about it.

What I do is take what I call the "Master" file of the manuscript--in this case, the Word file of the last one I revised back when I went over it with my beta's notes and mine. I keep that open in one window. In another window, I have a new document, which I name "Title_Draft X" based however many it is by that point. (For me, it's usually three or four.) I copy around 10 pages of text from the "Master" file (or a chapter's worth, depending on the chapter length), paste it into the "Draft X" file, and go over every line one more time. Sometimes I cut things out. Sometimes I add. Sometimes I move lines around or fluff up/trim down the descriptive paragraphs. But every time, I'm only dealing with those ten pages. Period. Then when I get to the end, I write [SEE PAGE X] at the bottom so I know where to pick up again in the "Master" file when I'm ready to do the next ten pages. Save, back up, repeat.

And that's it. I do that until I'm at the end of the manuscript. Sounds simple, right? It kind of is, and it kind of isn't. I do sometimes find a scene that will work better earlier in the story, and when I do I mark that spot with [INSERT SCENE FROM PAGE X], *or* I lift the whole scene from the text and plop it into Notepad until I'm done with those ten pages, and plop it back in when I'm done.

It sounds somewhat tedious. And it is. Revising is the least fun part of the writing process, especially for us pansters.* Because there's this bug in my brain that says, "But we've written it already. We know how this one ends. Let's play with the NEXT one instead." I write to find out how the story ends. If I know how it ends, I lose interest. So yeah, this part of it is tedious. But working on it in small chunks like this? I don't know, for some reason it just works.

*For those not in the know: "Pansters" are writers who start at the beginning and just write until they finish the story. As opposed to writing an outline and working from that. Outlining kills the creativity DEAD for me, every single time. I'm never doing it again.

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jean gray
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