Saturday, March 31, 2012

Movie Review: Machine Gun Preacher

Title: Machine Gun Preacher
Marc Forster
Actor(s): Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan
Rated: R
Genre: Action, Drama,
Biography, Crime
Theme: Born Again Christian, True Story, Kony, Sudan
Runtime: 129 mins
DVD Release Date: 21 May 2012
My Rating:

Synopsis: When ex-biker-gang member Sam Childers (Butler) makes the life-changing decision to go to East Africa to help repair homes destroyed by civil war, he is outraged by the unspeakable horrors faced by the region's vulnerable populace, especially the children. Ignoring the warnings of more experienced aide workers, Sam breaks ground for an orphanage where it's most needed-in the middle of territory controlled by the brutal Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a renegade militia that forces youngsters to become soldiers before they even reach their teens. But for Sam, it is not enough to shelter the LRA's intended victims. Determined to save as many as possible, he leads armed missions deep into enemy territory to retrieve kidnapped children, restoring peace to their lives-and eventually his own.

My Review: Machine Gun Preacher is one of those movies that sneaks up on you, grabs your heart, and doesn't let go. Going into this movie, I'm a bit embarrassed to say I not only hadn't heard of Sam Childers and his work over in Sudan and Uganda, but had no idea who Joseph Kony was, the leader of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army). But I guess that is the point of movies like this-- to educate and inform people about very serious current issues going on in the world. As a blogger, a teacher, and the type of person that is not afraid to speak my mind, I knew before the end credits rolled that I would be reviewing Machine Gun Preacher and dedicating the post to the children of Uganda and Sudan and to spread awareness so that Kony's reign of terror will end.

Gerard Butler does a great job portraying Sam Childers, former drug dealer, heroin addict, motorcycle misfit whose first moments on the screen is him being released after doing a stint in prison. I like the fact that the movie doesn't try to sugarcoat how Sam used to be--you can add verbally abusive to his wife and not much of a father figure to his daughter to the list. But after a life changing incident, he allows his wife to clean him up and take him to the church that helped her find God (she was also a former addict & stripper).

Now many may think this movie is "preachy" since it shows Sam being baptized and he later builds his own church--but I'm setting the record straight, this movie's agenda is not to "convert" or "recruit" people to Christianity. This is not a film in the fashion of Fireproof and Courageous. The solid R rating should attest to that. But Sam IS a born again Christian and the movie IS about his life, so of course it's going to play an important part of the film. I just wanted to clear the air for those people that may have been thinking about skipping the film because they thought Machine Gun Preacher was going to be "preachy".

I don't want to give too much away as far as describing specific scenes since I think this movie is much more effective by watching it with your own eyes, but let me say there are definitely some shocking moments when Sam is over in Africa. Children being maimed, tortured, burned, children forced to kill other children, etc. The one scene I will divulge that pissed me off-- as it did Sam-- was actually the scene where he asks a rich businessman who praised his work over in Africa, for $5,000 which would help keep the orphanage running for another 6 months. The man invites Sam and his family over to a huge, lavish party where he hands him an envelope. Sam excuses himself to the bathroom, opens it, to find a check for....$150 dollars! WTF?? Sometimes I forget how selfish and self centered people can be!

What kept me from giving this movie a complete 5 star rating was more a directorial/writing/casting issue. The first thing that bothered me was the time transitions or lack there of. In the beginning of the movie, there was a little blurb that popped up to let everyone know what year it was. The rest of the film is not so kind. I'm not saying every scene needed a little blurb to let me know that time had passed, but there were definitely a few awkward time transitions that confused me. Most movies that are based on true stories will say something like, "2 years later" or something to help the viewer acclimate to the time change. In this movie, one minute Paige, Sam's daughter, is 5 years old, then she is suddenly in her young teens. This wouldn't be a big deal but I had to rewind it because while everyone else looked the same, there was an older actress playing Paige. I think a little blurb stating that time had passed would have been helpful.

Another awkward scene is when Donnie, Sam's best friend, tries to take over his nightly duties as a father. It's sweet that while Sam was over in Africa, Donnie would keep an eye on Lynn and Paige. But there is just this part where Donnie is telling Paige goodnight, and she asks, "Aren't you gonna read me a book?" Followed by her saying her dad normally kisses her on the forehead and he can do that if he wanted to. Now this isn't the 5 year old Paige asking this. It is the 13-14 year old Paige asking. I work with middle/high school kids and...I don't know, I just felt that that particular scene was creepy and awkward. Not many kids that age that I know would ask their dad's friend for a kiss on the forehead. That's just my opinion!

My last issue is a small one, more like a goof. There is a scene where Sam is at the airport to leave for Africa and Lynn, Paige, and Donnie walk him right up to the departing gate. I think everyone knows that doesn't happen anymore, especially after 9/11.

Like I said, these are just minor issues I had. If you plan on buying Machine Gun Preacher, it is due out on dvd and blu-ray on June 5th. When you get your copy, make sure you don't turn the film off right away. While the end credits role, there is some real life photos and footage of the real Sam Childers, his close friends/freedom fights Deng and Marco, etc. I am going to end this post with something the real Sam says:

"For me to sit here and give all kinds of excuses to make it right, I can't do. But what I want to ask everyone out there, everyone that has a child, everyone that has a brother, a sister: if your child or family member was abducted today, if a mad man came in, a terrorist came in, abducted your family member or your child and if I said to you I can bring your child home...does it matter how I bring them home?" --Sam Childers


Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army), is responsible for the deaths of an estimated 400,000 people. He is also responsible for the kidnapping of over 40,000 children, in which these innocent babies are raped, tortured, sold into sex slavery, and even forced to carry guns and kill their own people.

Kony needs to be stopped. For more information on how you can help stop this evil tyrant, visit the Invisible Children website.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: Street Dreams

Title: Street Dreams
Tama Wise
ISBN: 1602
Reading Level: Young Adult
Gay YA Lit.
e: coming out, hip hop culture
Binding: paperback
Length: 264 pgs
Published: 13 March 2012; Bold Strokes Books
Buy: Amazon.
My Rating:

Synopsis: Tyson Rua has more than his fair share of problems growing up in South Auckland. Working a night job to support his mother and helping bring up his two younger brothers is just the half of it. His best friend Rawiri is falling afoul of a broken home, and now Tyson's fallen in love at first sight.

Only thing is, it's another guy.

Living life on the sidelines of the local hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he's going to have to get a whole lot more involved. And that
means more problems. The least of which is the leader of the local rap crew he's found himself running with. Love, life, and hip-hop never do things by half.

My Review: I was really excited when I got the chance to read Street Dreams for a couple of reasons. One, because I enjoy reading LGBT literature, especially in the young adult category so that I can stay up to date on the issues some of these teens go through (all over the world as this book proves). Secondly, what better way to learn about another country and culture then to read a book set in a different place then my own?

Street Dreams takes place in a downtrodden area of Auckland, New Zealand. Tama Wise's description of the neighborhood where Tyson lives and has grown up sets the tone of the novel. I had no trouble envisioning this poverty stricken place, with its "creek overgrown and forgotten by Council" and the "overgrowth long since set up home in the old car tucked behind a tree." I deeply empathize with Tyson; to know the area you live in is the farthest place you want to be, yet you feel strangely comforted by it because it's the only place you've ever known. The only place you've called home.

Tyson finds comfort in the routine of his life--where most 18 year old young men are leaving home for the first time to experience the fruits of college, he was lucky to just get through high school. With younger twin brothers and only his mother to look after them, Tyson easily took on the role of "man of the house". Riding the train as transportation, working nights as a dishwasher at a busy restaurant, getting home in the wee hours of the morning, sleeping all day only to get up and repeat is Tyson's routine. It might not make him 100% content but it's what he knows and accepts, especially since it helps provide for his family.

Going back to my love for learning about different cultures and ways of life, Tama Wise challenged me with words and phrases I've never heard before. Some I figured out were in relation to the Maori/Samoan culture, such as the word "uso" which means "brother". "The dole" is another term used in the beginning but I haven't quite figured out the meaning yet. An other very interesting aspect of the novel that the author reveals is the importance of hip hop in the Maori community. I absolutely had no idea how big hip hop was in that area and was amazed at all the local artists Tama Wise mentions in the book. I also had no idea what consisted of a "hip hop crew" until reading this book. The way it's broken down in Street Dreams is, every crew has a rapper, a breaker (as in break dancer), and an artist (graffiti).

For Tyson, music and art is what keeps him sane, helps ease the loneliness on the train rides and walks to and from work. It's when he meets Marc that things begin to change. Not only does Tyson have to come to terms with the fact that he is gay and in love with this homeboy, but also must decide whether to believe his artwork is as good as Marc says it is. Can he afford to allow himself to dream? Can he take those dreams and make them a reality like Marc says?

Wise creates really distinct characters, all with their own set of issues or problems, even those that are minor. I've read so many books where characters are easily forgotten. I won't go through each one but the characters that really stood out for me were Rawiri, William, Robert & Jason, Siege, and Ihaia.

Rawiri is Tyson's best mate, friends and neighbors since they were little. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that Rawiri has been and still is being abused, especially considering all the signs (that which you can figure out on your own :). But I must say, Rawiri's quiet rage broke my heart. Working with kids every day in a low income area school, I know kids like Rawiri, the ones that walk around with pain and anger all bottled up, ready to be set off and explode. At least he has his best mate to confide in, but is Ty too wrapped up in his own problems to see what's really going on with Rawiri before it's too late?

William, Robert, & Jason tie into Tyson's world in a very interesting way. When Tyson begins to confront his feelings of homosexuality, he has no idea who to talk to. Calling a number in the back of a magazine, Ty begins confiding in William, a GLBT counselor. Their few conversations over the phone finally results in Tyson meeting up with William and others like him. Only Tyson feels that Robert and Jason-- who are also gay-- are nothing like him. See, Tyson is Maori, with darker skin, dreds, and heavily into hip hop culture. Robert and Jason, on the other hand, are white, loud, and flamboyant, seeming comfortable and confident with their homosexuality.

This brings me to the next thing that I liked about Street Dreams. I deeply respect the author for addressing gay stereotypes and homosexuality vs. cultural identity. Let me set the stage. Tyson reluctantly decides to go with Robert and Jason to a gay club in which William sternly warns Robert to keep an eye on him. By going to the club, Tyson hopes to prove to himself that there are others like him out there. Instead of feeling relieved at being surrounded by other young gay people, he feels completely out of place and uncomfortable. Some of you may ask why? How could Tyson feel even more of an outcast when he is receiving hot looks from across the dance floor? The answer is simple. There are so many gay stereotypes out there. Many people believe that a homeosexual male is either:

a) Effeminate/Feminine gay male-- if they fit in this category, people assume they are attracted to strong, masculine guys

b) Butch/masculine gay male-- and if they fit in this category, people assume they like feminine type men.

This is a HUGE misconception. I'm not saying that there are no gay men that fit these descriptions, I'm just saying those characteristics do not define ALL homosexual men. Tyson is a perfect example of this. Tyson is what I would consider a strong, silent type. He is masculine, likes his hip hop, wears baggy pants, etc. It just so happens that those are the same qualities he is attracted to. Just because he is masculine doesn't mean he automatically likes feminine gay guys. That's why the hot stares across the room bother him, that and because out of a club full of gay men, he doesn't see anyone that looks like him, that he can identify with. This is wear the homosexuality vs. cultural identity comes in. Other then one Islander he sees sitting at the bar, everyone else in the club appears to be white. Tyson even finds himself thinking, maybe there is something wrong with him, maybe brown people like him aren't supposed to be gay.

What Tyson doesn't understand is that he is one of the very few in his culture (I'm talking about ethnicity and the hip hop world) that had enough COURAGE to come out. It's not that there are no gay people in the Maori culture or the hip hop world; it's that those who ARE are afraid to come out. Sadly, hip hop culture has a reputation for being "hardcore", painting rappers with images of being thugs, gang bangers, having baby mommas or women half clothed, in bikinis, etc. No wonder why Tyson and others like him are not only reluctant to come out, but have a hard time finding others they identify with.

Now to my few complaints I had with Street Dreams. I'm not against love at first sight. In fact, the people that really know me would say I am a hopeless romantic, a dreamer. I was fine with Tyson's strong, instant feelings he had for Marc. For spoiler purposes, I can't get into too much detail, but let's just say his sudden feelings for another potential love interest towards the end felt very rushed. It almost felt like as soon as this other person revealed their feelings for him, he suddenly latched on. Maybe if Tyson had showed more romantic interest in this other person earlier on, it would have made more sense. I'm not saying I have a problem with the end result, I just think the "sudden" way it happened was a bit awkward and unrealistic for me.

My second issue is actually with Tyson, Robert, and Jason during the club scene. As I stated above, William puts Robert in charge of keeping an eye on Tyson. It's actually Jason who sort of comes to his rescue. We already get a sense early on that Robert is a bit flaky. Before they go to the club, they go to Jason's apartment to get ready and while Robert is doing this and that, Jason is the one who sticks by Tyson's side. Ty even comes to realize that they have art in common as he sees some of his paintings. Once they are at the club, Robert kind of takes off. The reason I am pointing this out is because even though he has Jason there to watch over him, Tyson seems to harp on the fact that Robert is M.I.A. Ty never struck me as the kind of character that felt the need to be babysat. Plus, he never got along with Robert. Plus, he has Jason. So why is he harping so much about Robert? Check this out:

On page 172, he asks Jason, "Where's Robert?" Jason shrugs.
On the next page Ty thinks he sees Robert in a throng of people on the dance floor in which he thinks to himself, "so much for looking after him."
On page 176, "Tyson wondered where Robert had got to. He wanted to kick Robert's ass too. Fuck him for not looking out for him."

WHO cares?? He had Jason there to watch his back! Jason never left his side, so I have no idea why the author felt the need to make Ty sound whiny or like a little kid pissed off at his babysitter. That didn't feel believable at all.

My last complaint is completely my opinion. I know people handle things differently, not all handle things rationally when they are under pressure. I get that. Another reviewer wrote that the realism of the novel was taken down a notch because the author was following the "everything and the kitchen sink" formula, which basically is when an author keeps throwing problem after problem after problem at their character(s). I've read books like that before, but I don't believe this is one of them. The issues that start piling up on Tyson towards the end of the novel felt realistic to me. I've been homeless. I've been teased and bullied because of my mixed ethnicity. I've had health problems that have put me in the hospital for weeks. I've had days where I've thought, "this can't get any worse" and then something else comes up. Days and weeks like those have made me feel like I was going insane, like I was being tested to see how much I could take before I just snap, so I sympathize with Tyson. What I didn't quite find believable-- and this is without giving away too many spoilers so bare with me-- is when things come to a head, why didn't he call his grandparents? It's mentioned in the book that his twin brothers often go over to visit or stay over there when their mom is working since Tyson works night shift. Why didn't Tyson ask his grandparents for advice or help? I can't really get into it more without giving away a major spoiler but I just thought it was a bit odd that he never considered talking with them.

I give Street Dreams a solid 4 out of 5 star rating for its distinctive, colorful characters, its controversial subject matter, and also showing us a slice of life most people would never know about. If you like hip hop, break dancing, and graffiti art, then you will fall under Tama Wise's spell and want to know more about Siege, Ihaia, and Loot, characters I haven't even had the chance to talk about, but will bring this Auckland hip hop world to life before your very own eyes. Street Dreams is not one of those books that makes your heart race; its one of those novels that is powerful in its subtlety. It makes you think long after the last page has been read. It can be an influential tool in the right hands, a great source that addresses the ever controversial topics of gay stereotypes and homosexuality vs. cultural identity. Street Dreams is not a perfect book, and even Wise's style of writing may take some time getting used to. However, it's these imperfections that gives it heart. After all, sometimes it is the quietest book that can teach you the greatest lesson.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The End is Near...My Picks of the Week!

Good morning, my lovelies!

Although March is coming to an end, it isn't leaving without a BANG! I noticed in this round of releases, there is a little bit for everyone. In the adult book category, you have the much anticipated next installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Reborn by: J.R. Ward. It's one of my favorite adult series, so I can't wait! Amidst the really interesting YA releases this week, I'm excited about the third book in the Demon Trappers series called Forgiven by: Jana Oliver.

In movies, Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard finally makes it to blu-ray, Angelina Jolie's first attempt at directing is the result of In the Land of Blood and Honey, and the book to movie adaption of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close are just the few releases this week. I personally am looking forward to A Dangerous Method, starring two of my favorite eye candy--er--I mean favorite actors, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

South Park fans will be happy for the release of season 15, but I am more interested in the Australian series East West 101, about a detective that happens to be Muslin in post 9/11 and the prejudice he experiences from his own squad leader.

I hope everyone has a great week and happy shopping!

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BOOKS (March 27th)


A Perfect Storm (Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor, #4)
by: Lori Foster

Spencer Lark already knows too many secrets about Arizona Storm, including the nightmare she survived and her resulting trust issues. But in order to expose a smuggling ring—and continue avenging his own tragic past—the bounty hunter reluctantly agrees to make Arizona a decoy. Yet nothing has equipped him for her hypnotic blend of fragility and bravery, or for the protective instincts she stirs in him.

Arizona wants to reclaim her life, which means acting as bait to lure the enemy into a trap. Sure it's dangerous, especially with a partner as distracti
ngly appealing as Spencer. But as their plan—and their chemistry—shifts into high gear, Arizona may discover there's an even greater risk in surrendering her heart to a hero…

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Bear Meets Girl
by: Shelly Laurenston

He's big, burly, and way smarter than your average shapeshifting bear. He's also about to get trapped by own his game. . .

Lou Crushek is a reasonable, mellow, easygoing kind of guy. But once someone starts killing the scumbags he works so hard to bust, that really gets under his fur. Especially when that someone is a curvy she-tiger with a skill set that's turning Crush's lone-bear world upside down--and bringing his passion out of hibernation. . .

As a member of an elite feline protection unit, Marcella Malone has no problem body-dropping anyone who hunts her kind. But Crush is proving one major pain in her gorgeous tail. The only reason she's joined forces with him is to track down the wealthy human who's got her entire species in his ruthless sights. It sure isn't because Crush's stubborn and contrary attitude is rubbing Cella in all the right ways. . .

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Lover Reborn
(BDB, #10)

by: J.R. Ward

In the darkest corners of the night in Caldwell, New York, a conflict like no other rages. The city is home to a band of brothers born to defend their race: the warrior vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

back in the Brotherhood - and unrecognisable as the vampire leader he once was - Tohrment is physically emaciated and heartbroken beyond despair. When he begins to see his beloved in his dreams - trapped in a cold, isolating netherworld - Tohr turns to a self-serving fallen angel in hopes of saving the one he has lost. When he's told he must learn to love another to free his former mate, Tohr knows they are all doomed . . .

Except then a female with a shadowed history begins to get through to him. Against the backdrop of the raging war with the lessers, and with a new clan of vampires vying for the Blind King's throne, Tohr struggles between the buried past, and a very hot, passion-filled future . . . but can his heart let go and set all of them free?

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

The Rancher and the Rockstar
by: Lizbeth Selvig

To the world, Gray Covey is a rock superstar. But to his runaway son, he’s simply the father who never has any time for him. To prove that he’s more than his rock star lifestyle, for the next few weeks Gray must put aside his fame and become...a farmhand?

Abby Stadtler has built the perfect, quiet life for herself.
Neat and orderly is the name of the game for her and her beloved farm. When Gray shows up on her doorstep, looking like he stepped straight off the front cover of a magazine, she is determined that he won’t upset her routine.

But what neither counts on is the love that springs up between them. Abby knows that life on a ranch in Minnesota can never compete with an exciting world tour. But for Gray, it’s time to decide what’s really important. With Abby’s help, will he be able to decide, once and for all, that love and family are the answer?

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Temptation Rising
A.C. Arthur

ton D.C. police officer Kalina Harper still dreams about that night, two years ago, when a huge cat-like creature saved her from a crazed attacker. Although she kept the truth to herself, Kalina can never forget the ferocious strength of the beast’s fangs and claws—or the raw animal hunger in its eyes. Until she meets Roman Reynolds…

, magnetic, and all man, Roman is a high-powered attorney with a predatory smile and seductive charm. He is also a criminal suspect with suspicious connections to the Amazon jungle. But when Kalina discovers that Roman is linked to a secret race of shapeshifting jaguars—who hunt down maneaters—she is forced to put her trust in a man who unleashes her wildest fantasies and fears. A fierce creature of the night whose nature is to protect his female at any cost…

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Wicked As They Come
(Blud, #1)

by: Delilah Dawson

Delilah S. Dawson’s darkly tempting debut drops her unsuspecting heroine into a strange faraway land for a romantic adventure that’s part paranormal, part steampunk . . . and completely irresistible.

When Tish
Everett forces open the ruby locket she finds at an estate sale, she has no idea that a deliciously rakish Bludman has cast a spell just for her. She wakes up in a surreal world, where Criminy Stain, the dashing proprietor of a magical traveling circus, curiously awaits. At Criminy’s electric touch, Tish glimpses a tantalizing future, but she also foresees her ultimate doom. Before she can decide whether to risk her fate with the charming daredevil, the locket disappears, and with it, her only chance to return home. Tish and Criminy battle roaring sea monsters and thundering bludmares, vengeful ghosts and crooked Coppers in a treacherous race to recover the necklace from the evil Blud-hating Magistrate. But if they succeed, will Tish forsake her fanged suitor and return to her normal life, or will she take a chance on an unpredictable but dangerous destiny with the Bludman she’s coming to love?

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy


LinkAfter the Snow
by: S. D. Crockett

Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone -- he doesn't have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl -- but Willo just can't do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

(Demon Trappers, #3)

by: Jana Oliver

The days are growing darker for 17-year-old demon trapper Riley Blackthorne. With her father’s reanimated body back safely, Beck barely speaking to her because of a certain hunky Fallen angel, and a freshly-made deal with Lucifer, she has enough on her hands to last a normal teenage lifetime. Though she bargained with Heaven to save his life, her ex-boyfriend Simon has told the Vatican’s Demon Hunters that she’s working with Hell. So now she’s in hiding, at the top of everyone’s most-wanted list.

But it’s becoming clear that this is bigger than Riley, and rapidly getting out of control: something sinister is happening in Atlanta… or someone. The demons are working together for the first time ever and refusing to die, putting civilians in harm’s way. Riley thinks she might know who’s behind it all, but who’s going to believe her? Caught between her bargain with Heaven and her promise to Lucifer, Riley fears the final war is coming – and it may be closer than anyone thinks…

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Invisible Sun
(Black Hole Sun, #2)

by: David Macinnis Gill

Obsessed with MUSE, the clandestine project that created the AI in his brain, mercenary chief Durango draws the ire of the government when he steals part of the secret project data and hightails it with his lieutenant, Vienne, to an ancient monastery. There, he meets the monks who raised Vienne from an orphan and also encounters soldiers working for his old nemesis, the crime lord Mr. Lyme. Lyme controls the territory surrounding the monastery, as well as the datacenters housing the rest of MUSE.

Undeterred, Durango and Vienne pull off an ill-advised raid on Lyme’s complex. During the ensuing battle, however, Vienne is captured, and Durango is beaten and left for dead. Now, wounded and shaken, Durango must overcome bounty hunters, treacherous terrain, a full scale civil war, and a warrior monk with an eye for vengeance (not to mention his own guilt, self-doubt, and broken arm) to find Vienne and free her from Archibald, a brain-washing pyromaniac with a Napoleon complex who wants to rule Mars--and kill Durango in the process.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Life Is But A Dream
by: Brian James

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? her decision may have fatal consequences.

Brian James calls Life is But a Dream "the most intense book I've written. Bringing this unique character to life and seeing the world through her eyes, with all its beauty and confusion, was an immense challenge that I hope is just as rewarding to read as it was to write." Intense--yes. Unforgettable--definitely.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy


by: Jill Hathaway

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee kno
ws this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy



A Dangerous Method
Directed by: David Cronenberg

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley

Seduced by the challenge of an impossible case, the driven Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) takes the unbalanced yet beautiful Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) as his patient in A Dangerous Method. Jung's weapon is the method of his master, the renowned Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Both men fall under Sabina's spell.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Shipwrecked

Directed by: Mike Mitchell

Starring: n/a

The vacationing Chipmunks and Chipettes are turning a luxury cruise liner into their personal playground, until they become 'chipwrecked' on a remote island. As the 'Munks and Chipettes try various schemes to find their way home, they accidentally discover their new turf is not as deserted as it seems.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Breaking Wind
Directed by: Craig Moss

Starring: Heather Ann Davis, Frank Pacheco

From the director who brought you “The 41 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Super Bad About it” comes the new wildly funny spoof of the latest films from the “Twilight Saga”: “New Moon” and “Eclipse”. Raunchy hilarity ensures when Bella’s life becomes threatened by the vengeful Victoria and her gang of blood sucking newborns and Edward and Jacob must put aside their differences in order to save her life ?From the director who brought you “The 41 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Super Bad About it” comes the new wildly funny spoof of the latest films from the “Twilight Saga".

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Broken Tower
Directed by: James Franco

Starring: James Franco, Michael Shannon

James Franco writes, directs, produces, and stars in this biopic based on the life of celebrated American poet Hart Crane, and based on the book by author Paul Mariani. A man who used the English language like an artist uses a brush, Crane traveled the world in search of inspiration. But his passion burned too bright, setting the stage for a tragedy that would rob the poetry world of a vital and brilliant voice. Michael Shannon and Stacey Miller co-star.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Directed by: Stephen Daldry

Starring: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock

Oskar (Thomas Horn) is convinced that his father (Tom Hanks), who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, has left a final message for him hidden somewhere in the city. Feeling disconnected from his grieving mother (Sandra Bullock) and driven by a relentlessly active mind that refuses to believe in things that can't be observed, Oskar begins searching New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key he found in his father's closet. His journey through the five boroughs takes him beyond his own loss to a greater understanding of the observable world around him.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
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In the Land of Blood and Honey
Directed by: Angelina Jolie

Starring: Goran Costac

Set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War that tore the Balkan region apart in the 1990s, In the Land of Blood and Honey tells the story of Danijel and Ajla, two people from different sides of a brutal ethnic conflict. Danijel, a soldier fighting for the Serbs, and Ajla, a Bosnian held captive in the camp he oversees, knew each other before the war, and could have found love with each other. But as the armed conflict takes hold of their lives, their relationship grows darker, their motives and connection to one another ambiguous, their allegiances uncertain.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
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Directed by: Baldvin Zophoniasson

Starring: Atli Oskar Fjalarsson

An unexpected first kiss causes Gabriel to feel the electrifying 'jitters'; of love and lust with the free-spirited Marcus; a perfect way to end a Summer studying abroad. Realizing he is gay, Gabriel returns home and is immediately scrutinized by his family and friends who notice he s different. But as the school year launches with Gabriel distracted with parties and his friends own dramas, Marcus returns, reigniting the hot, thrilling emotions of one s first crush. Jitters fires head-first into the topsy-turvey world of first love with an attractive cast and pulsating soundtrack, making it a smartly refreshing journey into the queer, teen experience.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
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The Bodyguard (blu-ray release)
Directed by: Mick Jackson

Starring: Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston

The Bodyguard, directed by Mick Jackson and starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston is the story of a pop phenomenon who hires a bodyguard to protect her against a stalker making violent threats. The bodyguard's (played by Kevin Costner) overcautious actions disturb the pop singer and her entourage, but ultimately fate steps in. The pop Linksinger (played by Whitney Houston) begins to believe in her bodyguard and eventually falls in love with the man who saves her life.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
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East West 101: Season 1

Starring: Don Hany, Susie Porter

Zane Malik is a young detective at the Major Crime Squad in Sydney, Australia. He s also a Muslim, in a post-9/11 world where such an identity automatically arouses suspicion and fear. He s a good husband and father and a dedicated cop with one main problem on the job: Detective Sergeant Ray Crowley. Crowley s an old school policeman for whom rules and regulations play a poor second to getting results. Malik, Crowley, and the rest of the Major Crime Squad team work together to solve a variety of cases involving people who represent a cross-section of modern Australia, with the two rival cops invariably butting heads in the process. This award-winning series explores the fear and mistrust that exist between East and West, between Muslim and non-Muslim, and between two men whose lives are irrevocably intertwined.

Release Date: 27 March 2012
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South Park: Season 15

Starring: n/a

All fourteen uncensored episodes from South Park's landmark 15th season are loaded into this exclusive three-disc set. Join Kyle, Stan, Kenny and Cartman as they bro down on Broadway, become one with the HumancentiPad, and take on the evil, email-hacking WikiLeaks. Serve that with a side of royal pudding and some never-before-seen deleted scenes, and you’ve got a collection that will leave your wormhole tingling. AWKWAAARRDD!

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Website | Buy

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Movie Recommendation: The Hunger Games!

Director: Gary Ross
Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson
Runtime: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Release Date: IN THEATERS NOW!

Synopsis: Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

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Hello, my lovely Muses! I was planning on posting a review for an entirely different movie today, but after viewing The Hunger Games late Thursday night, I just had to share my thoughts with everyone! Whether you already have your tickets or are waiting a bit, hesitant to invest your time and money in this new movie franchise, let me put your mind at ease and reassure you right now: The Hunger Games is worth every penny!

Clocking in at 2 hours and 20 minutes, the film version of this bestselling YA novel by Suzanne Collins is probably one of the better movie-to-book adaptions out there. For all you hardcore Hunger Game fans that are worried how it measures up, here are a few key points that will help ease your mind.


The Reaping is one of the first major things that happens in the novel, so its portrayal on screen would set the tone of the movie. They nailed it.


One of the most memorable parts of the book is actually when Cinna creates fire costumes for Katniss and Peeta. It left such a shocking impression in the Capitol that Katniss became known as "Girl on Fire." I have to admit, I was practically biting my nails in anxiety, wondering how they were going to pull this off in the movie. All I am going to say is, they got it right!


I know many fans are worried that the PG-13 rating might hinder the movie's controversial subject matter-- that of kids killing kids. But let me reassure everyone that there is blood and death, moments that felt raw and shocking, even going into it knowing what happens in the book.


The acting was top notch. I know that people complained that Jennifer Lawrence--even with the dyed hair and contacts-- did not look like the Katniss described in the novel. But NO one can deny that she is a strong actress. I was a Jennifer Lawrence fan back when she was nominated for an academy award for her outstanding performance in Winter's Bone. When I heard the news that she was cast as Katniss, I remember sighing in relief, even if she didn't quite look the part.

My two favorite characters are Cinna and Haymitch, so to have Lenny Kravitz and Woody Harrelson play those parts was like a dream. They were definitely put in capable hands.

One critic complained that Lenny Kravitz was " an absolute miscast as Cinna and....the movie fails to capture the very important relationship between he and Katniss." I couldn't disagree more. There is a stereotype that male stylists are gay, flamboyant, etc. The book does not portray Cinna in that way at all. I was worried that they would pick someone that either looked effeminate or play the character in that way. Thankfully, the part went to Lenny Kravitz who brings a perfect blend of masculinity and androgyny. His calm, quiet intensity brings the Cinna on pages to life and I must say, the scene where he helps Katniss into a jacket he has made for her right before she enters the arena, had me in tears.


They were very well done! Like I said above, I was probably more worried about how they were going to show the fire of Cinna's costume creations for Katniss & Peeta, (especially her dress of fire) then anything else as far as specials effects. The mutant dogs unleashed by Crane in the games looked realistic-- is it sad to say that they looked more real than the cgi wolves in the Twilight movies?

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It would have been nice to see a few flashbacks of her father showing her how to hunt, track, use a bow, etc. It is never explained in the movie how she developed these skills, how she knows exactly what part of the high voltage fence to get past in order to enter the woods. But I can remember in the book how important Katniss' father was to her, especially what he teaches her in order to help support her sister and mother.


A couple more minutes developing Katniss & Gale's relationship would have been beneficial. It felt a bit rushed, but hey, I get the time constraints.


I absolutely loved Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, however, I think he "sobered up" a bit to quickly in the movie. Other then the drunken scene on the train ride to the Capitol, the alcoholic we come to know in the book does not translate the same in the movie. BUT, that is not Woody Harrelson's fault, as I read an article where he asked the director how far he wanted him to go with the drinking issue and I guess what we see in the movie is the result.


During the districts & arena scenes, a hand held camera was used which was very effective: it made me feel like I was actually there. However, I'm not sure if it was because I ate before going to the movie or what, the jerky movements of the camera made me a bit nauseous at times.

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I know you guys out there have been patiently waiting for a movie franchise that you can go with your girlfriend and not feel like someone is torturing you. The Hunger Games is action packed, focusing more on survival then sappy romance. It is definitely more guy friendly then say the Twilight Saga, so give it a shot!


Ladies, this is a great date movie that has a little something for you and him. If you like strong female characters that kick butt, romance, a story that pulls on the heartstrings, and action, then you are in for a treat!


As a teacher, I have found that the biggest way to connect with my students and keep up with the current trends is by reading what they read or try to beat them to it so that I can make recommendations. Parents, this is a great way to bond with your kids. If you have a teenage son or daughter, go pick up a copy of The Hunger Games and read it together, then check out the movie. Or vice versa. Either way, it's a nice way to stay connected and spend time with your children.

May the odds be ever in your favor!