Monday Morning-Check In: Mamma Mia 2 Review (Spoilers)

Good Monday morning everyone.  Hubby and I went to see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again over the weekend and I’ve been stewing over my thoughts on the movie all weekend.  So I’m going to use this platform to discuss the movie.

Warning there will be spoilers.  If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know what happens then click away now.  

 

Alright if you are still here then you either have seen the movie or simply don’t care if it is spoiled.  Now for what I thought.  Basically, I’m torn.  I loved the first movie so much and it continues to be one of my favorites when I want a fun feel-good movie to brighten my day.  I was excited to see the sequel/prequel that we ponied up the money to see it on the Imax screen, in 2D thank God because I’m not a fan of 3D.  For the first spoiler, you were warned, they killed Donna off.  They let us know pretty quick that Donna had died a year earlier and all the returning characters spend much of the movie mourning her loss.  Talk about a buzz kill!  It cast this cloud over the film that just brought the whole mood down.  Also, Donna was my favorite character from the first movie and her loss was definitely felt.   This isn’t to say there were not fun moments, there were, but much of time I kept think about how much I wished Donna was there.  What makes this movie work is the chemistry between the characters and to have Donna gone disrupted that too much. Besides that, though, the cast was amazing!  They did an excellent job of casting younger versions of the characters.  The addition of Cher was also a great choice but underutilized in my opinion.  They should have given her a bigger part as it would have made up for the loss of Donna.  Why not have a reconnection of Sophie and her Grandmother earlier in the movie so we could enjoy more banter between the two.  You could have still had the showstopper number at the end of the film.

The flashbacks with the younger actors portraying how Donna ended up on the island were fun for a while but not that interesting.  I enjoyed learning how she met each man but I felt they could have been condensed.  I would have much rather spent my time in the present with Tanya and Rose and Sophie.   The musical numbers were fun but some of the songs could have been left out.  The whole Kissed a Teacher number, in particular, is not appropriate.  Sorry, it isn’t.  Then just as I’m getting over the loss of Donna they brought back her spirit for the last scene when Sophie baptized her son.  That was simply rubbing salt in my wounds at this point and a horrible note to end the film on in my opinion.  I’m coming off the high of seeing Cher sing Fernando to watch Sophie have a duet with her dead mother!  I bawled.  I’m sorry it needed to end with Cher they should have kept Donna out altogether.

OR, a better idea would have been to have Donna and Sam off enjoying their lives together after turning the resort over to Sophie and Sky.  Now I’m sad from this movie but now when I watch the first one I’m going to be sad all over again knowing that Donna and Sam just have a few brief years together before she dies.  Thanks.

Despite my bitching, I did enjoy this movie.  It is just the more I think about it the more disappointed I get over it.  I want to watch it again, though, I want to see how I feel about the movie going in knowing that Donna has died.  Perhaps I will be able to just let that go and enjoy the silliness of what a movie based on Abba songs should be, simply fun.

Alright, that’s a lot of rambling for a Monday morning.  Sorry to dump that on you all but I needed to get it out of my system.  It is just that I was looking so forward to the movie and then deeply disappointed by what it ended up being.  I needed to vent…

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Monday Morning Check-In: New Trek

Good Monday morning everyone!  Well, this was a political weekend…  All kinds of fighting on social media. I must confess I came out and supported those exercising their first amendment right to protest.  Not going to go into it further here.  Anyway, it was another big weekend for me as Sunday was the day that Star Trek returned to TV briefly before being sequestered away online where CBS has decided to solicit money in order to access the show henceforth.  I, of course, coughed up my $$ in order to have access to future episodes, but I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I have mixed feelings about it all.   So today I have decided to sort out my opinions on Star Trek Discovery and CBS’s plan to only offer the show online on my blog.  Because I can.  Warning: if you’ve not seen the show there will be spoilers ahead.

First off I think it should be mentioned for those who don’t know I am a huge Trekkie.  I love everything about Star Trek, the message, the movies, the shows.  I tend to not be too critical of the different interpretations of the franchise as well, for instance, I enjoyed the rebooted movies.  I thought they were great fun and appreciated the nods to the established dogma and the changes made to bring in a new audience.  So I anxiously sat down on Sunday night to see what Star Trek Discovery had to offer me as a lifelong Trekkie.  

The show started off good.  Sure, it felt different but there were pieces of old Trek in there.  The first episode felt more like a movie than one of the tv shows.  Fancier camera angles, which got to be a little annoying and made me a bit dizzy.  I get it, they are in space no need to constantly rotate the screen.  The action was focused on only three main characters and I kept waiting for us to be introduced to the rest of the crew.  Yes, the first TV show was centered around Kirk, Spock, and Bones but at its heart, it is an ensemble show and we got to know the rest of the cast.  I can’t say that we were even told any of the other bridge crew’s names.  I tried to let it go and attempted to figure out other pieces of the show.  I did like the styling of the new show, the set design if you will and the uniforms.  The new show sure looked slick.  First Episode thoughts: We liked it and wanted to see more.

The husband and I decided to subscribe to CBS Access and watch the second episode that was already available for viewing.  Of course, the first episode left off on a cliffhanger and having finished our chores earlier in the day decided to dive right into the next.  This is where I started questioning things.  Both of us were yelling at the characters on the screen and wondering just what the hell was going on.  THIS did NOT feel like Star Trek.  It was way more aggressive than previous incarnations of the show.  With possibly the exception of Deep Space Nine which dealt with the topic of war and the federation, but in that case, there was still plenty of fun to be had.  There was little to no joking on this show it was way too serious for typical Trek.  Up until the end, however, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt though.  New show, new direction and I had only seen two episodes so far.  It wasn’t until we get the sneak peek at the upcoming episodes that I started questioning my decision to buy the full year subscription to CBS Access…  What they were showing looked nothing like the Star Trek I know and love and I’m not quite sure I want to continue with this series.

I’m torn.  If as a Trekkie I don’t support the new show how will CBS ever justify bringing us new Trek content?  If they don’t make money they will kill the franchise.  BUT as a Trekkie should I support something that feels so bastardized from everything I love about Star Trek simply to save the franchise.  If the show has very little in common with Star Trek beyond the name what is the point?  I’m not sure I like the new look of the Klingons and I don’t like that I have to buy a subscription to watch the show.  And if the main people who are going to be buying access to view this show are Trekkies why the hell would you revamp the series so heavily and alienate the fans?  I’m going to watch the first season, I paid for it already, but I am also going to be judging the show heavily.  I sincerely hope I’m wrong and the series stays in line with Trek of the past.  But I have to say I’m worried that it won’t live up.  That it is going to be much more violent, much darker, and give little hope for the future of humanity.  Roddenberry wanted Star Trek to be an example of what humanity becomes.  Show us what life could be like if we set aside the racism, nationalism, sexism, and are freed from economic suppression of today.  I’m not sure that Star Trek Discovery is going to live up to that legacy.  Episode Two thoughts: Disappointed and worried about the direction of the show.

ARC Star Trek: The Q Gambit by Mike Johnson – 4 Stars

Star Trek: Ongoing, Volume 9: The Q GambitCover art thanks to Goodreads, click on it to visit book’s page there.

Graphic Novel, says ongoing: Publication March 2015

I received a copy of this from the publisher through Net Galley for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The crew of the new Star Trek film franchise encounters the classic villain Q for the first time in this galaxy-spanning adventure developed in association with screenwriter/producer Roberto Orci! The mischievous Q sends James T. Kirk on a quest that will see the Enterprise joining forces with familiar faces from Star Trek lore.

My Review:

While this is not my first graphic novel (third maybe), it is the first one I have reviewed.  I’m kind of lost on how to begin and what to comment on.  A little back ground on why I picked this one up.  It was free for review on Net Galley and I am a huge Star Trek fan!   I figured why the hell not.

Reading a graphic novel is quite a different experience from a typical book. The story is much shorter, you don’t need to fill in all the imagery yourself and it doesn’t work so well on an e-reader.  I found the pages would lag and it disturb my reading flow and then you have the much smaller screen and teeny tinny little print.  I would have enjoyed and appreciated this much more if I had had the print version instead.

Otherwise the story was a lot of fun.  It took characters from two of the TV series and threw in the cast from the latest movie and sent them on an adventure orchestrated by perhaps one of my favorite Trek characters, Q.  So many great characters made cameos in this book I couldn’t wait to see who showed up next!  Compared to my last read the plot moves at warp speed and I found myself wishing for more pages.  I will definitely keep my eye out for more of these Star Trek graphic novels.

The art work was amazing and beautiful.  I was surprised at how well they captures these familiar ships and faces from the shows and movie.  Again the only thing I wish here is that I had the print version so I could have seen it on a grander scale.  I think it might have lost something on such a small screen.

If you are a Trekkie like me give this graphic novel a try.  I think it will keep you entertained for an afternoon and have you wanting to check more out.  It did me.

 

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin – 4 Stars

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)Cover art thanks to goodreads, click on it to visit book’s page there.

Book #2  in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, released 5/28/02

I own a print copy of this book

Book Synopsis:

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon;who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky;a comet the color of blood and flame;six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard;s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory may be measured in blood. And the spoils of victory may just go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when rulers clash, all of the land feels the tremors.

Audacious, inventive, brilliantly imagined, A Clash of Kings is a novel of dazzling beauty and boundless enchantment;a tale of pure excitement you will never forget.

My Review:

Whew,  I made it.  Eight days to read this monstrosity and while I am still excited about the series I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the last one.  Mainly due to the pacing of the story.  In the middle, things dragged on quite a bit.  I also didn’t care that much for the two new character’s p.o.v. that were introduced in this book.  One of them, Theon, was quickly added to my list of those-I-want-to-lose-their-head list, and the other I’m kinda ambivalent towards.  Mainly I found his chapters rather boring.  I read them because I didn’t want to miss anything important, but I would constantly check to see how many pages were left until we got back to someone I really cared about.

Being new to this author and his writing I foolishly thought we had seen the end of the tearing down of this world and might start to see some rebuilding.  Oh how very wrong I turned out to be.  Martin was no where near done.  The world is quite literally, in some cases, totally destroyed and the deaths of favorite and important characters continue to pile up.  Because Martin is not a safe author to read, you don’t know where things are going to go next. He kills off, or makes you think he killed off, protagonists left and right no wonder he has to introduce new players, otherwise who is going to tell the tale of this world.

My opinion of many of the characters remains the same.  Perhaps I have a smidgen of more respect for Sansa.   Arya, Tyrion, Daenerys and Jon continue to be my favorites.  I hope for the next book we see some justice for the characters that have been lost.  Cersei and Joffrey really need to lose their heads…  One other thing that bothered me and brought down the star rating was the out-of-left-field prologue at the beginning of the book.  This really slowed down the title for me.  I was ready to jump right into the action and had to slog through way to many pages before it started.

Even though much of this book was spent going nowhere or destroying the different lordships the story continued to invade my reality.  The work is an excellent study of human nature.  I started to see aspects of the different characters in myself and others around me.  I am learning from this book.  I am learning how much I am like Sansa, wanting to only see the best in others and in life, much to my detriment.  I yearn to be as honorable and strong as others.   Martin is making me think and forcing me to look at my own life and world with different eyes.  I will probably be a bit of a different person when I leave this tale behind.  A good story changes who we are, as it should be, we should always take something with us when we finish a story.  On to the next book then perhaps a break from this world.  I can only live with death and war for so long.  I am going to need to be reading some fluff next month or risk ending up paranoid and seeing spies where ever I go…

 

Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan – 3 Stars

Book description on Goodreads

Book one of the Earthbound Angels Series

Received this book for an honest review from the publisher, Red Adept Publishing.

Lets see where do I want to start with this book.  I liked it, Oracle of Philadelphia was an enjoyable story that I don’t regret reading.  I had my struggles with it (which I will mention below), but over all it was a nice story.  I would have probably download it for one of my e-readers if I had come across it in one of my searches.   The plot sounded interesting and on the whole was, but there were just a few things that bothered me about how they were executed.  Overall I found what I liked about the story outweighed what didn’t work for me.  I would recommend it to someone that wanted a fun quick read.  I will probably continue on with the story myself for at least another installment in this series.

What I liked:

I liked the whole idea of Angels and Demons and an ongoing struggle between them as the Demons search for a way back into heaven.

I like the characters.  Bedlam exhausted me at times with his off the wall ways, but he also had his more lucid moments and you could really see that he really cared for Carrie.  Carrie took a bit to grow on me, but I enjoyed her much more by the end of the book.  Gabriel was a little too good to be true, but a good guy that would have been nicer to get to know.  My favorite character though was Lucifer.  I know, one of the bad guys right!  However what I so often find in these types of stories sometimes there is not a clear line between right and wrong and good and evil.  I think there is more to discover with Lucifer,  he kind of reminds me of the character Mr. Gold or Rumpelstiltskin on Once Upon A Time.

My favorite parts of the story were Carrie’s journeys into Hell.  I think they were well done,  the imagery was great and I liked the concept used of a house with may different rooms, one for each of the fallen.  It gave us an opportunity to meet and get to know the fallen/demons and learn what made them tick.

The writing was good, as far as I could tell, my grammar skills are not that great as you can probably tell.  The book did have a little of a self publish feel to it, but that could mainly be to it being this author’s first novel.

Another thing I enjoyed was the ending.  There was a great twist at the end that relieved Carrie’s deepest secret.  I did not see it coming and enjoyed the twist to a well know biblical story that the author created.

This story is told through jumping back and forth in time through flashbacks into Carrie’s past.  Most of them center on how she meet a certain character or relieved some important even in a demon’s past.  Normally I am not a fan of a bunch of flashback,  they can interrupt the flow and momentum of a story.  These worked well though and there was a nice separation to let you know what was happening.

What didn’t work or bothered me about the story:

The dialog in the flashbacks into the distant past.  I understand the author took liberties with the facts and such, and that is fine, authors do it all the time.  The dialog felt off for me though.  The character’s use of modern vernacular felt strange.  It isn’t that they had to use words and phrases for those time periods, but their speech would have been a bit more formal or different from what they were using in parts set in the present.

All of Carrie’s powers made finding out information from other characters a little convenient.  She could feel their emotions read their thoughts and so on.  It made it so she knew a little too much about everyone around her too easily.  I much preferred her moments in Hell where she lost some of her abilities.

I would have also liked to see a little more development between Gabriel and Carrie.  I could see there was a budding love interest there, but it felt really one sided.  Perhaps it was meant to read that way, but it would have been nice to learn more about Carrie’s feelings for Gabriel.  Maybe that is to come in future books.

Book two is this series is Raising Chaos and looks to be centered on the character Bedlam.  Click on the links to Goodreads to learn more about these books or visit the author’s page at Red Adept Publishing.

Monday Morning Question

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Thought I would start a new weekly feature for the blog.  This week my question or questions is/are: Do you read the comments and rating of a book left from other readers before you start a book?  If so, do you think that influences how receptive you are to the book?

The reason I ask is I recently tried reading Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett, and believe all the negative comments I was reading didn’t let me give the book a chance.  Some the points they were making, while valid opinions, might not have bothered me as much as if I had not read them.  Perhaps I should have just checked to see if there were more positive or negative opinions about the book and left it at that.  Also I have got to stop ordering or picking up second in series books before I give the first one a shot…  Anyway, now I feel bad, like I went into the book prejudices against it and didn’t even want to give it my normal 50-100 pages before giving up.  I’ve decided to set it aside for now and try again when the reviews are not so fresh in my memory.

So, what do you think?  Can bad reviews ruin a book for you?  What books have you enjoyed despite their bad reputation?