Books, movies, reviewage and other mixy things

Saved by the Music Guest Post and Giveaway with Selene Castrovilla

Saved By The Music Blog Tour

I can’t take credit for creating the setting of Saved by the Music. It was real. My aunt built a concert hall out of a disgusting, filthy barge. It’s called Bargemusic, and it’s been successful for over thirty years.

But I wasn’t a teenager – I was younger, about eight or nine. And there was no Axel.

Aunt OlgaI always knew I wanted to write a book about the metamorphosis of the barge, and about my relationship with my aunt. I just thought it would be nonfiction. Actually, I wanted to make it a picture book. But editors kept saying, “I see a novel.” I was scared.

The thing that carried me through the writing process was the water. It meant so much to my aunt, and she passed her love of tide and currents to me. Water represents possibility, and a constant flow. It is a perfect vehicle for a novel, because it is cleansing and it represents change.

So there I was with water, and a boatyard. And a barge, which in itself was a daunting prospect to write about. I knew it in my head – I’d lived on it. But I had to convey it to readers, vividly. I took a breath and started describing the chaos, the filth, the lumber everywhere…All this to take the reader on a journey. With the water supporting, beneath us.

bargeAnd then came Axel. He appeared hazily, this boy with a secret. I knew he was rich, and I wanted him on a sailboat because it looks lonely but yet capable at the same time. I wanted to show a vulnerable boy in a mysterious place, yet capable of setting sail. The boat is also romantic, at least in my mind. I can only hope I passed that feeling to my readers.

The idea of going down into the hold of Axel’s boat is also indicative of his state of mind. The descent is literal, but also metaphorical. Axel is wealthy, so he could live on a yacht. But I wanted him on something modest enough to show that money is not what motivates him, and small enough to mirror how he feels after the abuse he’s been dealt. And the water comes into play again, fluctuating up and down. Willow notes how much more she feels the sensation of floating on Axel’s boat, and that is no accident.

Aunt Olga in early barge daysThe boatyard is a metaphor in that it is a world unto itself, both a safe haven for Willow and Axel against the harsh real world, but also a place that occasionally turns against them. I will leave it to the reader to interpret that. What I mean to do with my setting is set my reader’s mind in motion – just as the water always is.

And the barge itself is a character, is it not? Made of steel, it is imposing and protecting simultaneously. It is dirty and ugly – but perhaps it can be saved. I think a main theme in this book is the consideration of salvation. What – and who – is worth redemption? There is more to things (and people) than what meets the eye. And there is more to this setting than the dreary boatyard it appears to be.

Saved by the Music
Saved by the Music
Selene Castrovilla

The last place fifteen-year-old Willow wants to spend her summer is on a run-down former coffee barge, which her aunt is converting into a floating concert hall. In Saved by the Music, Willow thinks she’s alone until she meets Axel, an older teen who lives isolated from the world on the sailboat docked nearby. An unlikely romance sparks as the two grapple with their darkest secrets and bond through shared pain and laughter. It is a summer where music must do more than just soothe the soul.

Saved By The Music: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

eBook Publication Date: May 13, 2013

Selene CastrovillaSelene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, was released in April. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons. Visit her website www.SeleneCastrovilla.com for book excerpts and more information!

Author links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

Winner’s choice between iPod Nano or Kindle Fire (or Paperwhite) + SAVED BY THE MUSIC ebook (US only), and 10 second prize winners will receive an ebook copy of SAVED BY THE MUSIC (International).
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July 1  – A Book and a Latte (Kick-off interview)
July 2 – The Fake Steph Dot Com (Guest Post)
July 3 – Cuzinlogic (Review)
July 4 – Ja čitam, a ti? (Review)
July 5 – OtherwhereCo (Guest Post)
July 8 – alwaysjoart (Review & Guest Post)
July 9 – Katie’s Books (Review)
July 10 – Judith’s Choice Reads (Review & Character Interview)
July 11 – Ladybug Storytime (Review)
July 12 – Reader Girls (Review & Guest Post)

BY - July 5th, 2013 - Features - 7 comments

White House Down

White House Down (2013)

Roland Emmerich


While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the president from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.

Put Channing Tatum in a white tank and an army vest and you’ve got yourself a movie.

(sidebar: that’s how far I got in this review in an hour.)

The previews do a good job of giving you what this movie is about. Great action, plenty of humor, a formula storyline and more than enough entertainment to get you through two giant tubs of popcorn.

Better than the average action flick, with Channing and Jamie hilariously playing off each other in the ridiculousness of the situation presented. Really, you could play a drinking game with how many times Channing jumps/crashes/gets thrown through a window.

Yeah, the plot is ‘to the letter’ formulaic, probably to the point there isn’t a single frame on the editing room floor, but it’s a solid ride none the less.

A perfect summer movie to get you out of the heat and enjoy some eye candy.

BY - July 3rd, 2013 - Movie Reviews - 1 comment

World War Z

World War Z (2013)

Marc Forster

A U.N. employee is racing against time and fate, as he travels the world trying to stop the outbreak of a deadly Zombie pandemic.

If there was one zombie apocalypse I don’t want to be apart of it would be this one. Zombies moving around like a swarm of locusts would send me over the edge of a building right along with them.

Having read the book, I knew the flick would have to take a steep departure from the source material. A bunch of interviews wouldn’t be all that exciting. Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry, becomes the surrogate for the reporter taking the audience on a seriously intense journey around the world as he attempts to find the answer.

Like the book, the focus is more on the military, government and biological aspects of the zombie apocalypse. How it started, how countries reacted, as well as the personal stories of individuals. As zombie movies go, it’s the least gory I’ve ever seen, barely a drop of blood to be seen. You don’t need it though, the tensions are so high the theater is practically crackling with it. It’s an edge of your seat, hold your breath, grip the armrest kind of a movie.

Done very well, with likable characters, and intriguing storyline and ridiculous intensity it’s a fantastic and unique addition to the genre.

BY - July 1st, 2013 - Movie Reviews - Leave a comment

Man of Steel

Man of Steel (2013)

Zack Snyder


A child sent to Earth from a dying planet is adopted by a couple in rural Kansas. Posing as a journalist, he uses his extraordinary powers to protect his new home from an insidious evil.

You know that moment in the movie about 2 minutes in where you decide whether or not it’s gonna be lame or not? Yeah, this movie should have had the ‘Hell YES!’ moment, instead it was an ‘oh dammit, Synder.’ Which sadly is turning into a common reaction to his flicks, from me.

The boat was missed on this one. You have a great cast, the actors were phenomenal. You have 75 fracking years of story to draw from. You have an amazing soundtrack from Hans Zimmer. Yet some how, Man of Steel, was little more than a hot mess.

I felt like I was watching two hours of Halo interspersed with flashbacks of Kal-El’s backstory. I don’t know who had final say on the editing, but it was an epic fail. There was no logical flow of action, parts of the story were flat out confusing and by the time you reach the end of the 45 minute climax you want to throw your popcorn at the screen.

Argh! I can’t stand it when they take something so iconic and turn it into a sniveling video game. Superman is supposed to be the lighter side of the DC universe, yet he brooded. Only in the last thirty seconds of the film do we catch a glimpse of the Clark Kent we all know and love. The human element was practically non-existant. You have a sick cast (who were wonderful), yet the chemistry between Clark and Lois end up on the cutting room floor, replaced with yet another building in Metropolis being destroyed.

CGI is great and wonderful, but at the end of the day is fracking computers! If you don’t have a good story and let the characters BE their characters it means nothing. I hope they continue the series with the cast and move on to another director who better understands the characters of this historic franchise.

Major disappointment.

BY - June 17th, 2013 - Movie Reviews - 1 comment

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Written as a series of first person accounts of the zombie war as a part of a larger government report, World War Z isn’t your typical walking dead story. All told after the fact through politicians, doctors, survivors and individuals. Some of the stories paint a bigger picture of the war, from it’s genesis to the political problems surrounding it while other stories are very personal.

Even through the seemingly disconnected stories of the interviews, there is a thread from beginning to end, that captures the larger perspective on a global scale as well as gives you characters worth rooting for.

With the movie coming out (and really doesn’t resemble much of the book at all) I wanted to get this one under my belt. Blown away by the simplicity and the depth of perspective, in the end it really isn’t about the zombies.

The Audiobook: Done with a full cast, and in interview style, this book is perfectly produced. Also a quick listen.

Length: 6 hours and 3 minutes           Narrator: Full Cast

BY - June 10th, 2013 - Books - Leave a comment

Fast and Furious 6

Fast and Furious 6 (2013)

Justin Lin

Agent Hobbs enlists the aid of Dom and team to help bring a rival gang, led by Owen Shaw, to justice. In exchange for clear records, they must put an end to their schemes, no matter how personal the cost.

Ha! Call me crazy but there is the summer-y, ridiculously fun feeling that goes with these movies. Maybe because of the nostalgia for the first, or maybe they’re actually great flicks. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. I love this franchise and it keeps getting better.

The crew is back and teaming up with Hobbs (The Rock) to take down an ex-military big bad with more vehicles and weapons then most first-world armies. I don’t even remember all of his motives for what he was doing, but it wasn’t the point of the ride.

You have your family honor, the return of Lettie, the meaning of backyard BBQ’s on the line and everyone steps up. There is little here that doesn’t entertain, and there is no lack of sick rides or tech.

It’s not summer without Fast & Furious and with the set-up for 7 starring Jason Stratham for next summer, it is a trend that’ll continue.

Good times for everyone involved.

BY - June 5th, 2013 - Movie Reviews - Leave a comment

Denver Comic Con 2013: Wheaton, Whedonverse, Trek and Lafayette

Denver Comic Con 2013

Denver Comic Con 2013

Day one and six thousand people were turned away by the fire department due to the line that wrapped around the giant Convention Center in Denver. That’s a pretty darn good metaphor for the rest of the weekend. Oversold, badly trafficked and (sadly) under informed. Many missed out on George Takai and William Shatner as no one knew you had to get tickets for the panel before hand. Not enough doors were open to get people registered ending in a three hour line, for those who weren’t turned away. I’m not sure what happened between last year and this year but it wasn’t an improvement.

That all being said, it was still a fabulous weekend. Wil Wheaton was a huge highlight and worth all the PETA-ness of the lines. Needless to say it was a long weekend, so here is a recap, told through tweets and pics. Here’s to next year!

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BY - June 2nd, 2013 - ComicCo Sundays - Leave a comment

The Edge of Never


Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett thought she knew exactly where her life was going. But after a wild night at the hottest club in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, she shocks everyone-including herself-when she decides to leave the only life she's ever known and set out on her own. Grabbing her purse and her cell phone, Camryn boards a Greyhound bus ready to find herself. Instead, she finds Andrew Parrish.

Sexy and exciting, Andrew lives life like there is no tomorrow. He persuades Camryn to do things she never thought she would and shows her how to give in to her deepest, most forbidden desires. Soon he becomes the center of her daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But there is more to Andrew than Camryn realizes. Will his secret push them inseparably together-or destroy them forever?

Someday when I am a world famous director, I will purchase the movie rights to this book and make it into a movie. And it would put Nickolas Sparks to shame. Shame!

Camryn is the girl you wish you had the guts to be. To take the chance and leave it all behind you. I loved her instantly. Smart, witty and with just enough naiveté to make her vulnerable. While not inherently dangerous, a cross country road trip by bus isn’t exactly where a young woman should be. Andrew sees this immediately and becomes not only her traveling companion but a new (very hot) lease on life.

Redmerski did an amazing job weaving a genuine relationship between Camryn and Andrew. Tentative and full of great chemistry it evolves with ease over the course of their trip, offering the reader insight into their lives and the mystery that is finding happiness in an increasingly tragic world.

This book didn’t see the night stand until I was finished, I was so throughly entwined. There are few books out there that tie me in emotionally and keep me obsessed with its characters. It has been months since I’ve read it and I still remember even the most minute details.

A rare gem in the New Adult genre offering fantastic characters, a gorgeous romance and a uniquely genuine story that will resonate with many readers. Don’t miss this one.

BY - May 29th, 2013 - Books - 1 comment

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby (2012)

Baz Luhrmann

Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby's circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.

Baz Luhrmann is on one of the few directors of whom I’ve seen all of his works. He has a sense of whimsy and visual style that no one else can replicate. Even if you hadn’t known Great Gatsby was directed by Baz, you would know within the first thirty seconds. His trade mark fly throughs and visual symbolic representations are easy to spot.

Amongst my friends, the reviews were pretty mixed. Not all enjoying the grandiose style or hip hop soundtrack. Personally, I don’t think anyone else could have done Gatsby better. A book full of themes, foreshadowing, symbolism and a writer as a main character gave Luhrmann the perfect canvas for his particular brand of color.

The movie was a good adaptation of the story and many ways improved upon. Of course I say this is one of millions of americans forced to read it in high school. I wasn’t exactly enthralled with the story then, remembering well how much I didn’t care about the characters. Thanks to movie magic and the beauty of Luhrmann’s directing I cared this time. Completely engrossed in DiCaprio’s performance as Gatsby, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him! The rest of the cast played their roles perfectly, but it was DiCaprio that really shined. I hope he gets his due praise for his work.

I have a feeling reviews will continued to be mixed. People either love or hate Baz, and the subject matter has its own close following. If you’re bookish you shouldn’t miss it. It isn’t the comic/sci-fi/action extravaganzas that this summer is teeming with but Great Gatsby is incredibly entertaining and, well, sparkly.

BY - May 27th, 2013 - Movie Reviews - Leave a comment

Pain & Gain

Pain & Gain (2013)

Michael Bay

A trio of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.

One hundred and twenty nine minutes of why you should never, ever do steroids. As idiotic as its characters and completely devoid of anything remotely resembling talent, clearly the stars were black mailed in to this. Every scene looks like an HDR ad for a Miami gym and slow motion is used in the most gratuitous way possible.

A giant turd to say the least and seriously… Don’t do drugs kids. You’ll look like an idiot.

BY - May 24th, 2013 - Movie Reviews - Leave a comment