Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

MockingjayDirector:Francis Lawrence
Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer, Jena Malone, Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson, Stef Dawson

Wow. I  didn’t see it coming for this one to actually hear people muttering about wasted money and being snoozefest and all after leaving my seat in the cinema. I loved the books and the first two film installments are just perfect for me. Mockingjay Part 1 this time gave me that almost “slow-burn” of enjoying a book and being forced to drop it while in the midst of the most important chapter. That should’ve been a bummer right? But no, I welcomed it for this film.

There were some changes which I didn’t appreciate at all having read the book and feeling faithful with it but as a whole, I very much enjoyed it even with the cliff-hanging to be continued…blahblahblah.

After  the events from the last film (Catching Fire), Katniss Everdeen was persuaded to be the face of the revolution where she get to learn more about the District 13, President Coin and her people, the whole long brewing plan for rebellion and that’s when the going gets tough.

I get to appreciate Liam Hemsworth much better here since well, we see a lot of him here. He’s got some moments and there was this really angsty chemistry between him and Jennifer Lawrence.

A lot of Josh Hutcherson fans (including moi) will be disappointed though since we didn’t feel much from Team Peeta here – nuh uh – not at all. They were seriously pushed aside to focus more on Katniss. But man’ Katniss o’ Katniss delivered big time. I think I mentioned once that Jennifer Lawrence was like the “heir apparent” to The Meryl Streep and with all the hype around her over the past – like 3 years? Man’ so worth it! That speech in District eight was like – OMG! Give this girl another Oscar already!!!!

I’ve to wonder about Finnick though – he’s one of the secondary characters in the book who’s got a lengthy pagetime and here his character was like, bazzooom! It’s either they decided not to give Finnick an overly emotional focus  or the actor playing it (Sam Claflin) couldn’t really act to save his life – I’m almost leaning towards the latter because I didn’t really feel much from “his” Finnick impersonation but it could also be the material he has to work on. I loved his character in the book and felt like, he wasn’t there at all.

At first I didn’t really pictured Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin when she was announced to play the role but I thought she was amazing here. Her interaction with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman was a beautiful thing to watch. It’s really sad because it feels like we need to see more of him.

As a whole, I liked this film better than I expected if I’m being honest. I loved the more aggressive yet uber-vulnerable Katniss. The story was amplified by “enough” action sequences IMO and though, there were some changes I really think that director Francis Lawrence was able to deliver a very solid introduction to the conclusion of this franchise.

Rating: 8/10

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Book Review: Stay (Blackcreek #2) – Riley Hart

via Goodreads

via Goodreads

Similar to the first book of the series, Stay was written and revolves around the same circle within Cooper and Noah. This time it was Cooper’s colleague Braden Roth – a good hearted, happy-go-lucky, hippy, I-love-everyone kind of guy who realized that he’s bound to stay in Blackcreek when he met Wes (the guy Noah was supposed to have a one night stand with in the first book) and decided to pursue him. Braden was actually a really interesting character but perhaps too unrealistic. I would’ve liked it if there we more conflict aside from Wes’s family responsibility because it’s just all very simple. Its plot was so weak that it became almost unbearable to read but since it’s a short read, I decided to go ahead with it. There was not enough backstory especially for Wes and I thought the ending was pretty weak. Overall, it was a “just okay” read to pass time but I’m not exactly going to recommend it eagerly.

 Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Book Review: The Boy With The Painful Tattoo – Josh Lanyon

The Boy with the Painful Tattoo[Book 3 of the Holmes & Moriarity series]

“I’m just not sure if I’d go directly into the third installment. I guess I need to have more motivations to go ahead with this couple… – This was me a month ago. I did get a lot of recommendation to read this book and I finally conceded. Reason being was that though I’m really not a big fan of mystery novels and ‘am not exactly the biggest fan of this couple, I came to really appreciate them over time. It’s nice that Christopher Holmes (Kit) and J.X. Moriarity finally decided to live together. But not without any fuss – both still have some doubts if this would work out and they are also willing to give it their best shot. I think this was definitely a bigger deal for Kit since he’s the one who’s got to sell his house and migrate across the state. The fun though didn’t stop as Kit’s amateur sleuthing was put to a test again when he found a dead body from one of the boxes they packed at the new house. Then there’s the stalker, Miss Butterwith and Mister Pinkerton look-alike neighbors, the cray-cray family and the boy with the painful tattoo (like seriously, that’s just…)

I didn’t think that I’d enjoy this immensely contrary to what I’ve been blabbing about a month ago. I loved the snarky nature of Kit and how J.X. seemed to really try to play it up and make it work.  It is only now that I appreciate how refreshing their partnership is. It’s realistic and there is a sense of vulnerability in it that you can’t help but really root for them to really make it work. This time though, I didn’t really care to guess who the the culprit. I was more focused over the development of Kit and J.X.’s relationship. This one is definitely not the last in the series because it looks like we’re up for more Holmes and Moriarity sleuthing and them dealing with the more pressing issues involving their families and careers. I hope in the next book, it’s the other way around where J.X.’s would be the doing the sleuthing and Kit’s career comes into focus. And yeah, Rachel can also go with Anna Hitchcock…she was a very irritating character… other than these observation, I just want to say that I really enjoyed reading this book NON-STOP and that should tell you something about it…

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Three’s Company – N.R. Walker

17798654This isn’t the first book I’ve read that tackles a polyamorous relationship or a ménage à trois no matter what you call it but it’s definitely one of the best I’ve read so far. The relationship between Simon and Adam is just beautiful – it being so protective of each other and how welcoming they are with Wil was just achingly sweet. The connection of these three guys is so powerful – complimenting each other in every way. I also loved how Simon and Adam easily developed a support system that now includes Wil. It was beautiful and touching.

The sex part was definitely good – more than good actually. I appreciate the fact that every time they do it, their intimacy feels like more than sex – more than physical that it’s almost reverent.

The premise of this book isn’t really my thing but it being written by one of my favorite authors, might as well go for the ride and enjoy it. I’m always up for some N.R. Walker goodies after all. The author sure knows how to tickle her readers. This story is a sweet affirmation of how good it is to live and love so freely regardless of gender, background and identity.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

Book Review: Collide (Blackcreek #1) – Riley Hart

via Goodreads

via Goodreads

I kind of enjoyed reading this book. It’s my first from Riley Hart and I thought it actually has a good touch of the usual romance m/m genre. It centers on Noah as he’s returning to his childhood hometown for three years coming from a terrible break-up and is looking to build a new career and settle down. In Blackcreek, he reunited with his childhood best friend Cooper, now a fireman – who is supposedly a straight guy and is also battling his own demon. Although it has a thinly veiled plot, I thought the romance factor was still there. The flashbacks were a bit distracting and the “suddenly-Cooper-is-gay” / “gay-for-you” concept doesn’t sit well with me at all. I mean, seriously? The conflict was weak but nevertheless tolerable because Noah’s a great character. I just wished that there’s more to Noah’s mature backstory. Overall, this was just an okay start of a series – not very promising but its alright.

 Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Book Review: One Small Thing – Piper Vaugn & M.J. O’Shea

via Goodreads

via Goodreads

At first, I thought this is one of those books that I’d hate so much but it was actually surprisingly good! The MC’s (Rue & Erik) here are just uber-adorable! Rue is the sexy bar tender that had a sexperiment with some girl and after nine months, he’s got Alice to take care of! Erik on the other hand is a sci-fi writer who really doesn’t like socializing at all. He’s got his own cocoon and is suffering from OCD and anxiety disorder. Due to unavoidable circumstances, they somehow collided with each other that led to a rather unexpected twist of fate. The question is if they can leave all their issues behind to build a new life as a family?

First, I have to commend the editing of this book! It’s perfect! It’s fast paced without getting the feel of it being rushed. The alternating point of views from both MC’s is also great. I’m also glad that the “coming out” part of this book was perfectly presented by the authors. It’s just all so adorable especially with Erik’s character. You see, I’m down with any characters who love Star Wars! Haha. Dorky characters rules!!!!

I’m glad that I came upon this book. It’s fresh, well written and has a superb story to boot!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Book Review: The Cranberry Hush – Ben Monopoli

via Goodreads

via Goodreads

I was pretty curious when I’ve read the synopsis of this book because it kinda reminds me of my situation back then [just a tiny bit] pertaining to college void / gap years. I think we all have that at some point in our life – any kind of void that is.

Vince Vandro, a bisexual who lives alone and is working at a comic bookshop is in love with his co-worker but can’t seem to find the courage to tell the guy. His carefully planned confession was halted when his old college roommate / best friend Griff showed up at his doorstep in the middle of a blizzard. This unexpected reunion stirred up a lot of memories and emotions for both men. With both of them struggling to find their place after college, they were confined into a limbo that is their friendship and love for each other. The thing is, Griff is a certified straight guy and Vince now wonders why the former showed up in the first place.

I really wanted to like this book because like what I’ve mentioned, I could somehow relate with their characters at some point in my life. The thing is, I find the characters of Vince and Griff charmless, uninspired and perhaps a bit pretentious. I honestly feel like reading the platonic love story of Frodo and Sam in another universe. The flashbacks weren’t helping at all. They are actually a tad bit confusing. Even I don’t buy the soulmate thingy that was supposed to be between the two MCs. Maybe it’s one of the reasons I find the story pretentious. It was just all over the place if I’m being totally blunt. In a more positive note, I thought Zane’s character [Vince’s co-worker] was incredibly charming!

In saying all these, it’s safe to say that this isn’t your regular MM romance story. It’s far more than the genre’s usual flare. I was not a fan of it but I think some folks would probably enjoy this better.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Book Review: An Australian Christmas In New York (Mistletoe Madness) – Sean Kennedy

via Goodreads

via Goodreads

This was an oh-so quick romantic story of an Australian guy in New York getting homesick for Christmas down under. Vince has been living in New York for the past four years with his partner Chuck. As Christmas approaches, he found himself missing the tradition of the Aussie holiday. Little did he know, something’s up as the big day arrives…

The title itself was a clear giveaway. I loved short stories like this one. It makes me feel good and happy. It’s only a few months before Christmas and this story makes me homesick for Christmas at home. What a happy shorty. Yup, go read it you saps! *grin*

 Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Pleasures with Rough Strife (Mistletoe Madness) – J.L. Merrow

via Goodreads

via Goodreads

There’s really not much to this story. Philip Luccombe is the reclusive owner of the manor and the estate where young Danny Costessey does his poaching. Danny had an accident while picking up mistletoe after poaching and was brought inside the manor where he meets Phillip, the master of the house for the first time. Instead of condemning Danny, Philip surprises himself and Danny with the turn of events that may lead into something unexpected.

It was actually a fairly quick read with succinct narration. Set just a few years after the First World War, it does have a side of bleakness and somehow a glitter of hope concerning both Danny and Philip. It’s an okay read but nothing really special.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Catch My Breath – M.J. O’Shea

17798654When Danny Bright and four other guys are put together in a boy band, his dream of becoming a singing star seems to be within his reach. He and the shy Elliot Price were the closest in the group, a closeness that blossomed into something they have not expect to find while starting out their careers. This however was discovered by their management resulting to a barrage of lies, deception and cover-ups which put a strain in their relationship – with money as the bottom-line of it all.

I’ve to say that this is by far my most favorite novel by M.J. O’Shea. It’s beautifully written with amazing and interesting characters, very characters and the feels – romantic as hell.

Danny and Elliot are sweet and delightful as a couple. It almost hurt to see them being restraint from declaring their love in the open. I loved how the author made a pretty current and realistic approach in dealing with gay issues involving the couple. I wished, though, that there’s more backstory regarding Danny. I feel like Katie’s [His girlfriend] his only “background” connection and his “wealthy” upbringing. Elliot on the other hand is perfect in every sense. I love his naïve views which totally coincide with his shy and sweet persona.

And don’t get me started with Webb, Reece and Tate. [Danny and Elliot’s bandmates] They’re a bucketful of sweethearts! I was hoping that Webb may not be straight at all and he’d be paired with Chris Collins (a second book perhaps?). Oh well, that’s just me daydreaming. I’d love for such a spin-off to really happen!!! *keeping my fingers crossed*

So there you go folks, if you’re up for some sweet, bubblegum pop romantic story – I guess this one’s the right fix for you. >_@

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars