Summer Stories

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What stories do you plan to get lost in this summer?

I don’t know about you, but the slower pace of summer is a great time for me to catch up on my TBR pile and I get super excited about a good summer series on TV and salivate over summer blockbusters at the theater!!!!!

Summer TV

imagesMy summer binge that I am most excited about is Hell on Wheels. The dark western about the construction of the competing railway lines westward into the harsh frontier of the Americas. Season 5 was just released on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. I love watching it on Netflix because I can watch all episodes at once for full effect.

In an effort to seek revenge for the brutal murder of his wife and young son at the hand of Union Soldiers, former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon hunts down their attackers. In doing so, he finds himself the foreman of transcontinental railroad. The “town” that follows the building of the railroad is called “Hell on Wheels” and brings together some of the roughest characters possible. Characters to hate, love and question. This is a true western series with dirt, mud, blood and the hardship of an unfamiliar terrain.

Needless to say, I am extremely excited to hunker down with this fifth and final season of one of my favorites!!

Summer Reads

Aside from book reviews that I am wading through, I have my own TBR pile that will sadly outlive me. However, summer is always a time for me to catch up where I have fallen behind.

Currently I am making my way through the Parasitology trilogy by Mira Grant. This fun, exciting and suspenseful series is a quick read and begs the question – What would we do if we found a cure for…everything! and then discovered  that it could end the human race!!!!!  This is enough of a “zombie” thriller that it keeps my Walking Dead appetite sated for the time being (if that’s possible). (rated PG13 for violence and intensity, language)

**Excellent reads for your middle schooler!

89716 Al Capone Does My Shirts is an interesting novel of historical fiction with a male protagonist. The story describes life on Alcatraz for families of guards, focusing on the activities of their children. Moose, the main character, is 12 and new to the island. He is also the caretaker of his sister, Natalie, who is Autistic – as she would be diagnosed today, but in the setting of the novel, it is unknown as to what makes her different from the other kids.

Gennifer Choldenko’s historical note at the end of the book as almost as interesting as the story itself. While some adaptations were made to the historical context of Alcatraz for effect, Choldenko seems to use quite a bit of interesting research to form her setting and plot. (rated: this novel is completely appropriate for students 6-8th grade and older)

Counting by 7s is a compelling story of loss, grief, coming of age, and individualism. Willow Chance is extraordinary…to most people she is a “weirdo”. But not to her parents. Willow is the precious gift to a couple who was unable to conceive and waited seven years to adopt a baby. 15937108

Now in middle school, Willow’s extremely orderly life is turned completely upside down. Willow often counts by 7s as a calming technique, but even that no longer helps. Despite the pain she experiences, Willow learns what love and relationships are with people other than her parents.

This is a deep and emotional story completely appropriate for students 6-8th grade and older.

Summer Blockbusters

Well, I was finally able to take my kids to see the new adaptation of The Jungle Book. Wow – totally worth it and super fun. New comer Neel Sethi is a fun, energetic and talented choice for Mowgli and accomplishes the job of creating a believable man cub wild enough to be completely at home in the jungle.

The CGI and other cinematic effects bring Kipling’s story to life in a new and amazing way. Christopher Walken as King Louie was perfection. My girls LOVED the movie and we had a blast watching it together on a hot summer afternoon.

This movie is intense and suspenseful. All of us found ourselves jumping in our seats several times. While this movie is not “scary” per se, the intensity may make it inappropriate for small viewers.

And the movie I have waited all year to see, X-MEN: Apocalypse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it did NOT disappoint.  I thought the movie was fun and exciting and everything I would want an “origin” story to include. I’m a huge Patrick Stewart fan, but I really do love James McAvoy as Professor X.

I recently watched Ex Machina on Amazon Prime. Oscar Isaac plays one of the main characters, a disturbingly despicable narcissist with a god-complex. Fittingly, he also plays Apocalypse. Needless to say, Apocalypse is an even more disturbing villain in my opinion because I could catch glimpses of Isaac underneath all that makeup.

Jean Grey, played by Sophie Turner, is far less annoying than normal. I found her much stronger and appealing as a hero than previous adaptations of the character. Scott Summers…meh, not so much.

There have been murmurings and disagreement as to the appropriateness of the Wolverine cameo – I loved it! As he is and will always be, my favorite of the XMEN, I thought it was a spot-on rendition of his escape from Striker. It also established a link between himself and Jean Grey which all fans know will be important later in their story.

I was extremely pleased with this installment of the XMEN saga and highly recommend the film.

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Get your story on…and wear sunscreen!

(stella and sam pic – thebookfarminc.com; Hell on Wheels pic – tvovermind.com; Al Capone and Counting by 7s – goodreads.com; XMEN – imdb.com)

I Dare You to Watch

Today is the day! March 18th! The second season of the Netflix original – Daredevil – premiered today. And let me just say, it’s going to be a long night because I will be binge watching!

If you are a super hero junkie and you haven’t had the chance to catch season 1 of Marvel’s Daredevil – I highly recommend it. With this new installment to the growing Rolodex (yes, I just dated myself) of super amazing, super fun super hero TV, Marvel has upped its game.

Just in case you are unfamiliar with the back story for Daredevil, Matt Murdock is a lawyer who takes up shop in Hell’s Kitchen with the desire to refurbish and clean up the streets.  As a child he was blinded in an accidental chemical spill. The chemicals stole Murdock’s sight but left him with his other senses so heightened that in his present state he sees better than he did with his eyesight. So, that’s the nutshell.

And can we all say: “Ben Affleck who???” Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock annihilates the 2003 attempt at a live action Daredevil. Cox is far more believable as a character and he pulls off the “dark” quality superbly. Which is perhaps why I’m not incredibly excited about Affleck as Batman…not a great track record in the hero department.  Let’s all just agree to pretend that the 2003 film never happened and go ahead and accept Netflix’s production as the first majorly awesome representation of the “blind” hero.

Because this hour-long drama is made for Netlix audiences, it definitely has advantages over its main stream TV counter parts. There is more blood, majorly kick-ass fight scenes, and the villains are quite a bit more ruthless in Hell’s kitchen than in Starling or Central City. Season 1’s Vincent D’Onofrio would give Malcolm Merlin nightmares. And this season, I can’t wait to hate The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal (Shane) more!

So – if you are looking for some cinema quality action and hardcore super heroism then…

I dare you to watch!

 

Destination: Disappointment City

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**SPOILERS**

Last stop – Disappointment City a.k.a: Legends of Tomorrow. Sadly, from the get go, this show seems like an attempt to make money vs trying to make a fun show.  I know, I know,  lots of TV shows are created to make money. But with this rage of super hero fan-dom blazing across screens big and small, this one feels more like  a pursuit for “more” instead of “better”….or good (said with a sheepish grimace).

To be honest, I didn’t really have high hopes. There is a reason these characters didn’t sustain their precarious roles on Arrow or Flash. However I am  always game to give anything “super hero” a chance and say the words “time travel” and I’m there, no questions. Even with the time travel element being the main premise of this particular series, I’m four episodes in and have yet to be “captured” and drawn in. The shaky story line is forced, my super power – the ability to suspend reality – seems temporarily on the fritz as soon as the title credits begin to roll,  and to be even more frank, basing the background on the ancient Egyptian reincarnates Hawkman and Hawkgirl is tedious.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl are not my favorite superheroes. Before this series, I could have taken them or left them. But the arguing and the back and forth and the “we’re destined to be together across time” and the running from the same villain over and over for eternity seems tired and redundant.  I know it is their origin story, but to make it so much of an integral part of a series is not doing it for me.

Captain Cold is probably the best character so far. I enjoy him on Flash and he doesn’t imagesdisappoint in Legends.  But then I’m a sucker for a villain who begins to find a new path –  Silar from Heroes or Hook in Once Upon a Time…the list goes on. And there is some humor in Cold’s relationship with the Atom – Raymond Palmer.

I really liked Ray’s character on Arrow. He was fun, awkward and sweet. But Ray as a super hero??? Not buying it.  Even Barry Allen has a tougher nerve in him than Raymond.  He is just too…sweet.  There is something about him that doesn’t make me think he could make the hard  choices or be the “tough guy”.  (Yes, I know the Atom is one of DC’s creations.)

All in all – four episodes in – I am finding the ensemble incompetent, irritating and they don’t have the finesse I would want to see in a group who was trying to save the world.  The goal is to make as small a footprint as they can on each point of the time line visited – and yet, they are so destructive that they tear holes in the Pentagon and destroy anything in their radius.

Truly, I had hoped for more.  Especially since I’m a big fan of Arrow, Flash, Gotham…etcBut Legends of Tomorrow doesn’t hold a candle.