Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Da Vinci Code (Thing 2)

Image result for the davinci code

We read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

There's a murder at the Louvre and Robert Langdon must solve the mystery of the man's death. Before the man died, he created a code for his treasured secret to not be forgotten. The man's granddaughter agent Neveu helps Langdon solve the murder, but they must run from the police. The police think that they did it! This story tells the truth about the Holy Grail in all its glory.

I wasn't a huge fan of his writing style; he liked to describe things that didn't need to be described or just use words that didn't need to be there in the first place. Also, his characters were very two-dimensional; they all reminded me of cardboard cutouts with one personality.

I would give this book
It dragged a bit, but the plot twists were really fantastic.

The Da Vinci Code (Thing 1)

While in Paris, Robert Langdon, a symbology professor, is dragged into a dangerous riddle involving the art of Leonardo da Vinci. Partnering with cryptologist Sophie Neveu, the two become fugitives in a race across Paris and London involving secret societies and religious fanatics.

The best part about this book was by far the symbols and hidden meanings in various works of art. You would think that the action-packed adventure storylines would be the most entertaining, but I actually liked the chapters that dealt with deciphering codes and analyzing paintings most. The adventure became something more like a nice bonus. Overall, the plot was what made it worth reading, because otherwise, the book didn't have much going for it. The characters were flat, the writing was awful (not even just okay--it was truly terrible), and the foreshadowing wasn't so much foreshadowing as it was the author hitting you over the head with a random piece of information you knew was bound to show up later. The book as a whole could've benefited from a lot more editing, too, since cutting several thousand words would have tightened the novel up and made it read faster.

I give this book

If you're looking for something brainless and fun, pick up The Da Vinci Code. But be sure to find an illustrated copy, since having the referenced artwork right on the page beats having to Google everything that's mentioned.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"Roman Holiday" (Thing 2)

We watched "Roman Holiday" recently.

The story is about a princess that leaves her castle at night and sets out for a new adventure. She gets a sleep injection the night she leaves and ends up falling asleep on the side of the road. A news reporter walks by and gets her a cab back to his place to stay safe for the night. The next morning, he talks with his boss about how he didn't get the story he was supposed to write. During this, he realizes that the woman at his apartment is the princess. He tells his boss that he can get an exclusive interview with the princess, and they make a bet about it.

The movie was in a way modern considering the time it was made.

I would give this movie

"Roman Holiday" (Thing 1)

We watched "Roman Holiday." It's about a princess, Ann, who, on her publicity tour, has finally had enough of her rigid, predictable, overwhelming, and boring schedule. She escapes and runs to explore the streets of Rome, but finds herself exhausted from a sedative a doctor gave her and ends up falling asleep outside. An American reporter finds her and takes her to his apartment to recover, unaware that she's royalty. When he does discover her identity, he joins her on her journey to explore Rome in order to secretly obtain an exclusive interview. But things get complicated when the two end up falling for each other.

I'd only ever seen Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady," so I really liked getting to see her in a role that's pretty much the opposite of Eliza Doolittle (Eliza is a common girl learning how to be a high society lady and Ann is a princess learning how to let loose and live a common life). Though the acting in this movie tended to be a little over the top, the characters were enjoyable and entertaining. The story is fairly simple, but there was a lot of humor, which I wasn't necessarily expecting, so it was a nice bonus. I won't give anything away, but the ending went in a direction I didn't anticipate. I'm glad it did, though, since my guess at what the conclusion would be wasn't nearly as interesting as what it actually was. Some may not find it satisfying, but personally, I liked it.

I give this movie

(Actual rating: 3.5). I'd recommend it to anyone looking to watch a fun and simple classic film. Some older movies can be a little dry, but "Roman Holiday" was not one of those movies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Raymie Nightingale (Thing 1)

We read Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. It's a middle-grade novel about three girls who become friends over a summer of baton twirling lessons. The protagonist, Raymie, wants to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire contest in the hopes of getting her picture in the paper so her dad will see her and come home. However, her new friend, Louisiana, also wants to compete so she can use the prize money to buy her cat back from the Very Friendly Animal Center. And her other friend, Beverly, wants to sabotage the whole thing.

I always like Kate DiCamillo's books, and this one wasn't an exception. This plot was by far the simplest of any of her stories I've read, but I didn't mind it too much. I like character-driven stories. It wasn't boring at all, it was just a sleepy kind of feel, like a lazy summer read, which I found enjoyable. Beverly's character made me laugh and Louisiana was delightfully quirky. My favorite parts were toward the end when they set out to complete a mission as "the Three Rancheros." The only character I didn't really connect with was Raymie. The other two girls had very distinct personalities, but I felt like Raymie was distant the whole time, which isn't really what you want with a protagonist.

I give this book

I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and simple story. It was really sweet and fun to read.

Raymie Nightingale (Thing 2)

We read Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. It's about three girls who in the beginning seem like enemies but are somehow friends? I didn't really get it. Two of the girls want to win a Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. One of the girls wants to sabotage it for no apparent reason. The three girls go on wonderful adventures like reading to old people, trying to find dead cats, and much, much, more! This book had no plot whatsoever.

 I would give this book

I would have given this book one star, but it had good characters, so, why not!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Rebecca (Thing 1)

We read Rebecca by Daphne du Marier. It's a gothic novel about a woman who marries a rich man named Maxim de Winter, who recently lost his wife Rebbeca to a boating accident. The protagonist feels as if she can never live up to Rebecca as a wife or a woman in high society.

A friend of mine called this "a ghost story without an actual ghost," which is the perfect way to describe it. I loved the fact that the narrator of the book is never given a name. It's done well so it isn't confusing, but leaves you wanting to know. The beginning of the book is really slow, but the payoff is worth it. I haven't read many gothic novels, but I enjoyed this one. I had lots of theories going into it that I was very surprised about.

I would give this book

(actual rating: 3.5).

It has great writing, a simple story with a subtle mystery, and is perfect for a rainy afternoon.

Rebecca (Thing 2)

We read Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier. It is a Gothic novel that starts in Monaco, where the unnamed main character of the book meets a man named Maxim de Winter. They get married only days after they meet. Maxim de Winter lives in a giant, beautiful house called Manderlay. Maxim de Winter's old wife, Rebecca, died, and the new Mrs. de Winter thinks that she is never going to be as good as her.

I would give this book 

I liked the ambiguity of the whole thing, wondering how Rebecca really died, and the darkness. But the beginning was really slow, so I decided to remove two stars.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Newsies" (Thing 2)

We watched "Newsies" for school today. It is a musical about a group of kids called the newsies that go around and deliver the news to everyone. They have to go to a newsstand bright and early to buy newspapers to sell. All is going well, until the owner of the paper raises the price of the newspapers. The newsies then have to figure out what to do. After a good while, they decide to go on strike. But what dangers will come?

I would give this movie
because it was funny, had good music, and had good characters. I didn't really have a favorite character; I liked them all.

"Newsies" (Thing 1)

We watched "Newsies." A runaway juvenile delinquent, Jack Kelly, gets a job as a newsie in New York. But when the newsies suffer from salary cuts, Jack convinces them to go on strike. Between the chaos of the riots and Jack trying to hide from the Warden Snyder, trouble follows the newsies everywhere.

This was a really fun musical. Right off the bat, it was full of upbeat songs and constant movement, just like New York is. Jack Kelly was played by Christian Bale, who is the perfect kind of actor for his role, a sort of wannabe cowboy/revolutionary. Partnering up with the more levelheaded David, they worked together to keep the strike going without it getting too out of hand (most of the time). The overall feel and theme of the movie reminded me of a "Mary Poppins" meets "Les Misérables." Les, probably the youngest of all of them, was even like Gavroche. The music was great, too; catchy, but not in a borderline annoying way like songs from "Music Man" might get stuck in your head.

Overall, I would give it

(actual rating 3.5). This isn't something I liked enough to see on Broadway or anything, but I would definitely recommend watching the movie.

Little Women (Thing 2)

We read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It is about four sisters, Amy, Beth, Jo, Meg, and their mom Marmee. Their dad is off at war, so they have to make their own money in different ways. It takes place back during simple times during the Civil War. Amy, who is the youngest, loves art. Beth, the second youngest, is the kindest and loves playing the piano. Jo loves to write stories, and Meg, the oldest, is the "proper" one. As the story progresses, they go through all kinds of obstacles.

I would give this book

 because it had really good characters and was a simple yet enjoyable story. My favorite characters were Jo and Beth. I thought Jo was kind of a cool character because she didn't take anyone's crap. And I enjoyed how sweet Beth was.

Little Women (Thing 1)

We read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The March family--primarily focused on the four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy--struggle to work together and stay responsible while their father is away in the military. Throughout the story, obstacles and other complications make this goal difficult, but ultimately bring them closer as a family.

I really enjoyed this book. I'd read it a long time ago, but didn't remember much, so it was like reading it for the first time all over again. Jo was my favorite character hands down, just because of how much I could relate to her. She liked to read, write, and get a little messy even if it meant straying from social norms. She said what she thought and stuck to her principles. Really all of the characters were great in different ways, especially because they were so ahead of their time for when the story was written.

The story was simple, but enjoyable. It didn't feel outdated like some books from that long ago did. I really like the Jo and Laurie friendship, Beth and Mr. Laurence's relationship, and all of the girls constantly trying to stay sane when dealing with their crotchety old Aunt March. Each chapter was almost like a short story that connected with all the others, so if we took a break and went back to it, it wasn't hard to remember everything that had happened in the past thanks to it being serialized. The only thing that bugged me was how obvious some of the chapter endings were with the, "What was the moral of the story here, girls?" kind of attitude. I was fine with the overall message, but it could've been woven into the plot better.

I would rate it

. It's a good book for all ages as it's not difficult to read, but doesn't sacrifice any of the beautiful writing to make it like that.

Monday, March 21, 2016

"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (Thing 2)

We watched 2 movies, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." They are both based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. They are both about a boy named Charlie and the best chocolate maker in the world named Willy Wonka. Charlie's family doesn't have much money at all, which means that Charlie can only have 1 Wonka chocolate bar a year, on his birthday. Mr. Wonka mysteriously closed down his chocolate factory because he was tired of spies from other factories coming in as "workers." They really just wanted to steal his secrets. One day, his chocolate factory opened up again, but he didn't invite anyone to work for him. How is he making all this chocolate? Well, five lucky kids are about to find out, because five and only five kids will be allowed to visit his factory, get a lifetime's supply of chocolate, and one of them will get a special prize. I overall like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" more, because it was funnier, more true to the book, and had better music.

I would give "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

I would give "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

although if I could this one would be more like 3.5, because I liked it more.

"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (Thing 1)

We watched "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" in order to compare the two  movies. A poor boy named Charlie dreams about winning a golden ticket in a random lottery and going to visit Willy Wonka's famed chocolate factory.

I really enjoyed both movies for different reasons. We watched the older version ("Willy Wonka") first. And for a movie made in 1971, it did a pretty good job of holding up to modern standards. The special effects, the acting, even the music was all great considering. My favorite part about this movie in particular was Willy Wonka himself. He was sarcastic and didn't take any of the other four kids' brattiness, but he was also quirky and funny. He reminded me a little bit of any of the Doctors from "Doctor Who," down to the unique outfit and fast talking and magical world that seems bigger on the inside. This movie did have somewhat of an abrupt ending to it, though. Not unsatisfying, but quick. I liked the music in this one much better, too.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was very Tim Burton. It wasn't creepy, necessarily, but definitely a lot darker. Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka was more odd than delightfully quirky. With Gene Wilder, it didn't seem awkward at all when he gave Charlie a great big hug. Johnny Depp always gave off a "don't touch me" vibe. There was something more off and almost cold about him. It wasn't a bad different, I just preferred the other Willy Wonka better. However, this movie had a lot more backstory to it. You get to find out more about Charlie's family (he has a dad in this version, which he didn't in the other), the chocolate factory before it closed down and reopened, where the Oompa Loompas came from and how they came to work for Willy Wonka, and a whole flashback sequences about Willy Wonka's childhood. I liked that aspect a lot. It added more layers to the story. The ending was more complete, too.

I'd rate "Willy Wonka"

and "Charlie"

(actual rating 3.5).

These are both great movies for the family filled with laughs, a good story, and music guaranteed to stay in your head for a few days. Make sure you have chocolate on hand while you're watching, because you will get hungry.