Thursday, January 30, 2014

...After Earth Movie Review...

After Earth (2013)
By Lindsey Pogue
Rating: PG-13/100 minutes

Genre Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi 

Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

LP's Rating: 3/5 stars

*DISCLAIMER- Generally I wouldn't post a movie review if I wasn't super into the movie, but this particular film left me conflicted, which can sometimes be a good thing for people, so I figured, why not?

Basic Overview: A crash landing leaves Kitai and his father Cypher stranded on Earth, a millennium after man ruined Earth and therefore humanity was forced to escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help. Fear is Kitai's greatest weakness and becomes the tipping point between life and death.

My Review. This is one of those movies that left me going, "hmmm." The moment it started, I wondered what I got myself into by agreeing to watch it for reasons I explain below. However, by the end of the film, I was much more engaged and was left with a muddled opinion. Doesn't that happen a lot after watching movies? Is that a sign of a good movie, that it leaves you contemplating more than when you started it? Doesn't that mean you enjoyed it? The answer is probably yes to all of those, but...still I'm conflicted. As many aspects as I liked, I disliked, and by the end I was left with a bad taste in my mouth, even if I can only try to articulate why below.


What I didn't like. 
No connection to the characters. My favorite character was the dead sister and the giant eagle (or maybe it's a falcon) that saves Kitai's life when all hope was lost. I nearly teared up when the damn bird died, but never really felt any connection to Kitati or Cypher who were the two main characters. Shouldn't it be the other way around? My fiance would argue that it's a movie about trying to rid yourself of emotions and thinking rationally so to act without fear. While those intentions are clear throughout the story, the delivery comes off too flat, and as a result isn't not relatable and becomes disengaging.

The Acting. While I'm generally a pretty big Will Smith fan, I found this movie to be missing something from him--personality or passion I'm not quite sure. He was so one-dimensional that I felt I didn't understand him or really like him much. He's generally such a huge personality that demands center stage. His hard-ass, detached, no-nonsense character was borderline too unrealistic for me. Someone can't be so completely in control and devoid of outward emotion, especially when they think they're child is dead or dying...right?

The dialect and names. The way Kitai spoke in general was sort of jarring. In the beginning I heard nerdy kid from the south who isn't sure how he feels. Then, when you see how's talking it's like...that was weird. In the beginning it seemed forced and unnatural, but thankfully I did sort of forget about it after a while. The character names were also very singular and difficult to keep track of. I didn't even know Jaden and Will's character names until I looked them up. 

What I liked
The production. The scope was huge, imaginative, and thought provoking. The cinematography was really beautiful. Plus, it was sort of filmed in my own backyard of Norther California, so that might be why it resonated so much with me. 

The concept and themes. I liked the basic story idea--a famous General who's traveled the galaxy for years forgets how to be a father and through their journey, father and son are forced to reconnect and rely on one another to survive. I also liked the fact that it was a story about facing your worst fears. How poetic that Kitai is running from a monster that hunts him because he's afraid--literally tracking by his fear--and thus Kitai must overcome his "cowardice" if he's to save his life as well as his father's. 

**Intriguing Fact. Will Smith wrote this story. I didn't know that until the end credits. Smith wrote it, and he had M. Night Shyamalan direct it, and then put himself and his son in the starring roles. It seems appropriate, actually. Smith's been in many Sci-Fi movies, including Men in Black, Independence Day, I Am Legend, and I, Robot. So, it's interesting that this movie didn't do so well. You have to wonder why. Was it because of the story--his story? How it was adapted to a screenplay? Was it the directing or the lack of connection between father and son--real life and off screen? I personally wonder if Will Smith is happy with this movie. Just something I've been musing over.

Overall. I was entertained by this movie, but I was also obviously frustrated by it. It was just...strange, and I wish it would've been better. Although I'm hesitant, I would recommend this movie to people who like science fiction. Again the basic story idea is really great actually, but there was just something lacking in the acting I think. If you're watching it because you love Will Smith movies, you'll probably be disappointed. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

....Looking back at 2013....

***If you don't want to know anything personal about me, you may as well stop reading now***

So earlier this week I was having lunch with a friend and she said she was so proud of all that I accomplished this year. Of course, I thanked her and then waved away her compliment like most people would do.

But she didn't let it go.

As she began to remind me of some of the exciting and turbulent moments in 2013 (in both my personal and professional life), I was sort of in awe.

If you take a step back, you would probably feel the same.

I realized that so much happens in 365 days, and often it's difficult to celebrate our accomplishments...but that's the point of them if we don't take a step back and appreciate what we've overcome or experienced?

So, I wanted to take a moment to recap the last year of my life. I would also ask you to do the same and if you feel like sharing something with me, that would be even better. What have you overcome? What are you proud of and what lessons have you learned?

Here goes my brainstorming list....


1. L2 Books, a company LF and I started, turned a profit!
2. We wrote and published 2 well-received books in The Ending Series.
3. I managed to hold-down both a part-time day job working at a non-profit while juggling my commitment to writing and my time with the fiance.
4. I've started my own solo writing project that I hope to have finished by the end of 2014.
5. After The Ending became a best selling Nook and Kindle ebook.
6. We had our first book signing and write up in the paper.
7. I've been in contact with some of my favorite authors who I never in a million years would have thought I'd get the opportunity to communicate with.
8. Gotten horrible reviews....gotten FABULOUS reviews


1. My boyfriend and partner in crime celebrated eight years together.
2. AND he proposed in the most romantic, absolutely perfect place I've ever been too in my life.
3. My mom moved away, a difficult and strange transition for me that I'm still learning how to cope with and process.
4. Dennis, my now fiance, was in a mountain biking accident (which scared me TO DEATH) and had to have surgery. Thankfully he's doing well now.
5. We rescued our furry, fat boy Beast.
6. I experienced Yellowstone and Montana for the first time and it was absolutely amazing!
7. D and I took a road trip to Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon...then we stopped in Vegas :)
8. I went to more concerts in 2013 than all other years combined (including Backstreet Boys and judge me if you want to, but it was SO MUCH FUN!)
9. I had Christmas at my house with my family for the first time, which was really special.
10. I've had some health issues that I've been actively trying to far so good.

And the list could probably go on...but I already feel pretty satisfied.

Feel free to share some of your most memorable moments and experiences. And here's looking forward to a magical 2014!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

...Devil in Winter Book Review...

Devil in Winter
By Lisa Kleypas
Series: Wallflowers #3
Published: January 2006

LP's Overall Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Steaminess: 5/5

***Ravishing Rakes, Steamy Sex, and Salacious Scandal***


Basic Overview.
Four young ladies enter London society and band together to each find a husband. Has the third "Wallflower" now met her match?

A Devil's Bargain

Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition:marriage!

Sebastian's reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden's good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared,unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.

But Evie's proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine's callously discarded broken hearts --- which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions ... or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love.

My Review. 
Overall, I definitely enjoyed reading this book. There were some points where I didn't want to put the dang thing down and toward the end I definitely wanted more from Sebastian and Evie. Their relationship is intricate, exciting, and fun, Sebastian's wit is wonderfully amusing and fun and I like his complexity. There was great drama and twists, all which I felt were unique and a bit more gritty. Grit to me is more compelling, and entertaining to say the least. I've read a handful of Kleypas's stories and this is my favorite one so far.

What I liked.

The Rake. I loved Sebastian St. Vincent. You know that author did a great job when you despise or at least can smell the rat a mile away in one story, but they're compelling and accessible in another. I really appreciated how complex he is--his wit, his fears, his kindness beneath the surface, and his sympathy for Evie and her situation...all this while trying to be a heartless sex God was really an unexpected, but great experience. I immediately fell in love with him when he got Evie a foot warmer and took care of her before they were even married..Through his budding love for the wallflower, the way he steps up to take care of Jenner's club, the way he prepares for the funeral and cares for/protects Evie helped contribute to a great transformation and I love how seamlessly the author writes it. Sebastian may just be my most favorite rake yet!

The interwoven characters through Kleypas's series.
Unless you've read other Kleypas stories, you wouldn't know this, but she's apparently really great at building characters she can use later on. I really enjoy how the author interweaves all of her stories and characters, even when they're not part of the same series. For instance, Derek Craven is the main character in Dreaming of You, a earlier series written by Lisa Kleypas, and in his story, Ivo Jenner (Evie's father) is mentioned. While there is nothing hugely significant about any of this, I love the intricacy and cleverness that goes into her writing.

The unique character dynamic and story line. 
A gambling/bawdy house owner's daughter. A poor, desperate rake who will stoop to kidnapping his close friend's fiance. A test of character, sensuality, and  loyalty. Attempted murder. Distemper. Madness. Forgiveness. Death. Love. Passion. This story has everything. As always, Kleypas provides a unique story, this time delving deeper into the dark, dirty, and gritty side of London life. She explores the harsh reality of life during the 1800s--the dangers, poverty, illness, traveling conditions--I can tell she's not reluctant to explore new, uncharted waters.Props for that :)

What I didn't like.
I gave this book a 4/5 because for some reasons, I found myself getting into a lull every now and again. There were parts where I didn't want to put it down and then other parts when I started to lose interest. However, I truly did love the characters, and while the book didn't leave me with an "OMG, I can't believe it's over" feeling, I did genuinely enjoy the story.

My recommendation.
If you love hot romance, regency or historical romance, rakes and story lines that are a little different, I think you'll enjoy this book. If you prefer for laid back stories that take place in the country where characters have angry step mothers, too much pride, and jealous friends are the biggest obstacles you may not appreciate the commotion of this book, however, I suggest you at least give it a try.