Monday, 14 December 2015

"Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" Movie Review & Giveaway! | Movie Monday

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials picks up right where the first film left off. The Gladers, led by Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), are in a facility when they discover yet another sinister plot from WCKD. They're able to escape into the Scorch, but they run into trouble at every turn, fighting the zombie-like Cranks and running from WCKD. Will they be able to find the Right Hand, a group of resistance fighters who can help in the fight against WCKD?

The movie starts as it means to go on: with lots of action. Right from the get-go, there's a ton of intrigue with the group being questioned by Janson (Aidan Gillen, Game of Thrones' Littlefinger), while they have no idea who he is and what the facility they're in is for. We quickly get into intense action when they discover they need to escape into the Scorch. They have no idea what awaits them.

I really enjoyed all the action and thought it was really well done. There are narrow escapes, chases, explosions, the tension builds pretty well...that's what I look for in an action/sci-fi movie. Plus, the Cranks they encounter throughout are so creepy - the way they move and the creaky sound they make really freaks me out.

We get some surprising (or not-so, it depends on your view of the characters) character development, some of which can be hard to empathize with. I can't say much more about this without spoiling certain things, so suffice it to say that there are some frustrating things that happen in this movie...if you try to understand though, you might be able to get why some things happen the way they do in this installment.

There are some really beautiful shots, like the one where we see the silhouettes of the group standing on a sand dune during a sad moment (I've mentioned this shot on Twitter and in my last post on here, and it's because I really love that shot). The music is so moving - I encourage you to really pay attention to the soundtrack when you listen to it because the music is wonderful.

In terms of specific scenes, there's one that really stands out to me: the mall scene. If you've seen the movie, you know exactly what I'm talking about - it was so good! I love the abandoned (it was shot in an actual abandoned mall!), almost archaic look of the place, and I think it made for the perfect setting in that action-packed, intense scene.

And while we're on the topic of action again, I wanted to share one of my favourite moments from the movie, which is when Thomas slides under the door while they're in the facility. That was such a tense, badass moment:

If you liked the first Maze Runner movie, you'll love this one.

Check out my recap of the #SurviveTheScorch event I was asked to participate in here!


Time for the giveaway! Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has very kindly provided me with a copy of the Blu-ray Ultimate Fan Edition, which includes two hours of extras and a 24-page collectible printed prequel comic book. 

Rules for this giveaway:

1. You must be following my blog - this giveaway is for my readers!

2. It is open to residents of Canada and the U.S.A. (Sorry to my international readers, shipping from Canada is extortionate!)

3. If selected as the winner, you must be willing to provide me with your address so I can send you your prize.

4. I will email you if you are selected as the winner, and you must respond to me with your address within 48 hours, otherwise another winner will be chosen.

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"Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" #SurviveTheScorch Screening | Event Recap

Hi everyone! Today I come to you with a special, double-edition of Movie Monday. Read 'til the end for an exciting announcement!

Recently someone over at New Wave Entertainment reached out to me asking to use my tweet about Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials in a commercial! Imagine my excitement when that happened to me, a huge movie buff (have you seen my Movie Log?). The commercial aired on TV in the U.S., and you can watch it here (pause at 0:04 to read the two quotes from my tweet!):

Not long after the commercial aired, I received another email asking me to participate in a really cool campaign they were doing to celebrate the upcoming DVD release of Scorch Trials - a home screening and Twitter chat with the author, James Dashner, complete with a #SurviveTheScorch kit full of tasty zombie-themed treats!

The #SurviveTheScorch kit I received

It was great to be able to spend time with my family and friends watching a movie I love and live-tweeting the whole thing. I was able to learn about James Dashner's favourite scenes, shots (the shot of the group standing on the sand dune, anyone? That was gorgeous.), and quotes from the movie, as well as what he thought about the differences in the adaptation.

It's been a great experience and I'm so grateful to the people over at New Wave Entertainment for wanting to use my tweet, and to Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Think Jam for asking me to participate in the campaign!

You can read my review and enter to win a Blu-ray of the film here!

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials will be available on Blu-ray and DVD December 15.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Why I'm grateful for Felicia Day's book

Hi everyone! Today's post is going to be a bit more personal. Recently, I was asked by Penguin Random House Canada to say a little bit about the best book that's ever been recommended to me. I honestly don't have an all-time favourite book, so I decided to think about all the books I've read this year. One stood out: Felicia Day's You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).

I've been a Felicia Day fan since I found out about The Guild and have since been able to see her in everything from TV shows (Buffy and Supernatural) to web series (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) to the YouTube channel she co-created (Geek & Sundry).

She's hilarious, relatable, and so geeky, which are all things I loved about this book...she's also very honest about hard times she's been through and continues to deal with, specifically anxiety and depression. I've been dealing with anxiety my entire life - I have memories from when I was a small child where I was extremely worried about things that a lot of people wouldn't see as a big deal. My mom has told me stories of how panicked I would get when we were about to go somewhere I'd never been, meet someone I'd never met, or do something I'd never done. I continue to struggle with these kinds of feelings to this day, and I can tell you that as hard as it is sometimes, and as much as I would never wish these feelings on anyone else, it's so comforting to read another person's experience with anxiety and depression. These stories let you know you're not alone.

She also talks about her addiction to video games that took up almost two years of her life. I practically cried through the whole of chapter 5 because of how much I related to what she was saying, though rather than video games, I've used movies as my solace. Reading her story and realizing that she, someone I admire, has gone through some very similar things to me and has still managed to carve out a great career and life for herself, gave me the push I needed to get some help dealing with my own anxiety and depression.
Clearly so excited

I was lucky enough to attend a book signing here in Toronto a few months ago and hoped to let her know a little bit about how much her book and her honesty meant to me, but there were so many people there that night so there wasn't enough time! Instead, I spent the day fangirling every time she favourited one of my tweets.

I didn't used to read autobiographies or memoirs because I thought, "Why would I want to spend part of my life reading about someone else's?" But over the past year, my opinion on the genre has really shifted. I've found it so inspiring to read about the struggles that people who I admire, or whose work I enjoy, have gone through.

We see actors, authors, musicians - anyone in the public eye, really - and we think they must have it so good because they're living their dream. And while that's often true, it doesn't mean that these people have had it easy, or that they no longer struggle with mental illness or other issues. A lot, if not most, of them have had to overcome some major obstacles and failure to get to where they are now.

I'm grateful for this book because it made me feel like I wasn't alone. Logically, I knew that before because there are so many people out there with anxiety and/or depression, but sometimes I still felt like no one could relate. And for that reason I want to say, Felicia, if you ever read this: thank you.

This book is just one example of why books are some of the best gifts you can give: they let you know you're not alone. Shout-out to Christine over at Padfoot's Library for recommending this one to me!

If you guys are looking to buy books as gifts this year, but aren't sure what to get for someone, you should definitely check out the Penguin Hotline! They recommend books from all different publishers, so you know they really mean what they're recommending. Plus, you get a chance to win the books you've been recommended!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

"Yes, My Accent is Real" by Kunal Nayyar | Book Review

Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar
Publishing Date: September 15, 2015
Pages: 272
Publisher: Atria Books
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Kobo

You've probably heard of The Big Bang's one of the biggest sitcoms on TV right now. Kunal Nayyar plays one of the central characters, Raj, an astrophysicist with selective mutism that prevents him from talking to women unless he's had alcohol.

I don't watch the show very much anymore, but I wanted to read the book because I've seen some of Kunal's interviews and he's, I think Raj is adorable. Kunal makes it very clear at the beginning that this is not an autobiography – he's way too young for that – it's more of a collection of stories from his life.

The book is split into sections; for example, there's a recurring segment about Indian holiday traditions, and another containing thoughts he had on an "aeroplane" (I don't hear airplanes referred to that way very often, but I love it when I do!). I really loved the sections where he tells us about the different Indian festivals as they sound so fascinating and beautiful. He's clearly very proud of his heritage - see "Why Being Indian Is Cool" - which I'm always glad to hear about.

Kunal is a great storyteller and he comes across as sweet and funny in the stories he tells. In his book, he tells us all about his school life and how he came to decide to be an actor - I always find it so interesting to hear about how actors decided what they wanted to do and how they broke into the business. I particularly loved a couple of the stories: one was a hilarious recounting of a job he had in IT at his university, and another was about an unorthodox audition he had in an Apple Store.

There were also some very sweet moments. Kunal talks about the deep friendships he's made and how life affects these relationships sometimes. He also talks about meeting and falling in love with his wife, as well as his wedding - which, let me tell you, sounded incredible and beautiful.

All in all, there are lots of funny and touching stories within these pages - you don't have to be a Big Bang fan to enjoy it, though it would probably help. And yes, his accent is real.

*This copy was sent to me by Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

"Brave Enough" by Cheryl Strayed | Book Review

Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed
Publishing Date: October 27, 2015
Pages: 135
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Kobo

Cheryl Strayed's books have been highly acclaimed: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is a New York Times best seller, the first choice in Oprah's Book Club 2.0, and was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film; Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar is a national bestseller and has now been developed into a podcast. On top of this, she's also released her debut novel, Torch. Now, she's come out with a collection of quotes from her works, called Brave Enough.

I love quotes, but I've never actually had a book of quotes so this is a nice change for me. I haven't read any of Cheryl Strayed's books yet (although Wild is very high on my to-read list), so I didn't really know what to expect from a book of quotes by her. I did hope it would be motivational and inspirational – and it was.

In Brave Enough, you'll find a ton of wise quotes about life, love, and forgiveness. Some of these hit really close to home and left me teary-eyed, and some made me feel like I could do anything if I only put my mind to it or were willing to work for it. There were some that I didn't really identify with at this point in my life, but I think it's normal for one person to not identify with all of the statements in a collection of quotes – the ones that don't resonate with me could be the ones you identify with the most!

Cheryl's quotes involve compassion, tough love, empathy, bravery, and much more. Her words are sometimes funny and often comforting. She teaches us that life will never be perfect and we'll be terrified sometimes – we just have to try to be “brave enough.”

What's your favourite quote? Do you like books of quotes?

*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

November Book Haul!

Hi all! I don't know about you, but I had quite a busy November. It was my birthday month, I've been travelling out of town, and what with all the sales going on, I've been getting in gear for the Christmas season...I can't believe it's December already! As well as spending all my money on gifts for people I love, I've also been working on something special for the blog - I'm hoping to be able to show you within the next couple of weeks! But for now, on to this month's book haul:

1. Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

2.  Poles Apart by Terry Fallis

3. Cracked by Barbra Leslie

4. I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

5. The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher

6. Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews

7. Our Turn by Kirstine Stewart

8. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

9. The Widow by Fiona Barton

10. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Have you heard of or read any of these? What books did you get this month?