Monday, September 24, 2012

A Bone to Pick

A Bone to Pick is the sequel to another Charlaine Harris book I've read and reviewed, Real Murders. Since the events of Real Murders, most of the members of the club [a club where members would meet to discuss famous murders in history] have lost touch but when one of the  members, Jane Engle, has left almost everything to Aurora "Roe" Teagarden, Roe begins to wonder if Jane'd had pure intentions when she'd written her will. After finding a human skull hidden in the old woman's house, Roe realizes that Jane wasn't the sweet old lady she had once thought her to be and that it was very likely that she had been murdered.

Although Charlaine Harris is known for her Sookie Stackhouse novels, she got her start in murder mysteries--without the super hot vampires and werewolves.  A Bone to Pick was an incredibly easy read--I already had this connection with Aurora from the first book and it was easy to get settled into that small-town, southern feel again. Her love life is a little all over the place but Aurora is someone that any single girl can sympathize with--in fact I would argue that her personal life is a bit more interesting than the actual murder mystery, which for most of the book seemed unfocused. Aurora didn't do a ton of investigating work--other than casually interview her neighbors and searching the house for clues--and it felt like most of the clues [and even the identity of the murderer] fell into her lap by pure chance. I understand that Aurora isn't supposed to be a trained detective but she was sleeping with a cop for how many months? She must have learned something!

Also, when the big reveal happened at the end it was very anti-climatic. The murderer confessed and the confession wasn't even that compelling. I thought the story was well-written but the murder-mystery part of the plot was all-in-all rather lackluster. With Real Murders I wanted more romance, so Harris gave Aurora more lovey-dovey drama--hopefully in the next book she can get the perfect mix of murder and love.

In comparison to her other work, I find that this novel is somewhere in the middle. Her Sookie Stackhouse novels are such a guilty pleasure and every time I can't wait to get my hands on the new book, while her Lily Bard mysteries are bit too short and shallow for my taste. A Bone to Pick is a good summer read--something to pass the time and nothing too incredibly complicated. It isn't a must-read but if you get the chance, I would say go for it.

Buy the book! If you've read this book, tell me what you thought in the comments! Chat with me on twitter! Check out my other blog!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

This is a story that on the surface everyone knows. As a young girl, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) lost her mother and her father, the King, was devastated. Shortly after her mother's death, the King met a beautiful and alluring damsel in distress. This damsel, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), proved to be more cunning than anyone expected when she murdered the King on their wedding night. Snow is sentenced to a life in the dungeon and Ravenna rules the kingdom with an iron fist. Snow White escapes and the queen sends a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth)  into the dark woods to retrieve the young girl.

From the looks of the trailer, Snow White and the Huntsman was sure to a fantastical, action-packed modern-interpretation of a well loved fairy tale. And as is often the case with these things, the trailer promised a lot more than the movie could deliver. It is titled Snow White and the Huntsman but a more apt title might have been The Evil Queen feat. Snow White. Charlize Theron is deliciously evil in this dark fairy tale. She radiates power in every frame and it doesn't hurt that she looks absolutely stunning at the same time. In the story, she may have had to worry that Snow White was the fairest in the land but everyone watching is wondering why. Theron--even as an old crone--possessed a quality of elegance that Stewart never seems to come close to matching.
The pacing of this movie felt slow and discontented. A lot of time was allotted to development of the evil queen's character--her rise to power and her struggle to kill Snow White--but Snow White and the Huntsman received surprisingly less screen time than one would assume in a movie named after the pair. The second half of the film was rushed--Snow White's revival, an epic battle, and Snow White's coronation in half an hour to make up for the slow pacing earlier in the film. This film also suffered from overcrowding. The Queen was given a brother, the prince a father, there were eight dwarves instead of seven, and a whole slew of other characters were thrown in for good measure. It's confusing and with every character vying for screen time it is hard to create a connection with anyone--much less remember their names. The dwarves were all played by brilliant British actors--it's a shame that none of them got to show off what they could do.

Visually, the film was fantastic. The special effects were breathtaking and impressive. But expensive special effects and Charlize Theron's performance can't overcome a poorly paced, poorly written film with inconsistent actors. Kristen Stewart tries her best--even giving us a British accent that was some what believable--but she doesn't wear damsel in distress very well. She doesn't really wear lovestruck teenager living in Forks, Washington very well but what do I know? I'm not a casting director.

This film takes a few twists from the traditional Snow White story that we all know and love. But other than the expansion of the roles of the Huntsman and the Evil Queen, many of these changes hurt the film rather than help it. I must admit that I watched this for the first time after the Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders cheating scandal erupted. I tried not to let that influence my opinion [to be honest I've never been a big fan of Kristen Stewart's work] but at least I don't feel guilty for enjoying the film that broke up Robsten.

I gave this movie two stars becausein my humble opinion there were only two stars in this film--Ms. Theron and the special effects team. I'll be the first one to admit that it's hard to recreate a classic and make it better. The screenwriters and director were a bit too ambitious--there was too much story to be told in two hours.

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