Monday, December 29, 2014

GadgetJax Reviews: 'Frozen', by Walt Disney Animation Studios (This gun be good)


Okay, everyone. Real Talk. Have you ever seen a movie that you really liked, but then started hating for 'no reason'?

I think there really isn't any point in me drumming up suspence anymore, since you already know what I'm reviewing. You read the title, so why am I trying to act impressive?

No reason, I just like to over-do things. But I'm telling you, the only overdone thing here, is my toast. :)

So, Frozen. *takes a deep breath* I'm going to try and be as unbiased as I can during this review. I'm going to acknowledge what it does right, what it does wrong, and I won't be bashing it to a pulp just because I don't like it. Oh, and one more thing...

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!

So, Frozen. The plot is standard Disney fare. Princesses (Anna and Elsa) get caught up in some problem, needs help from some wandering guy (Kristoff) with an animal, exactly what you'd expect from Disney. The animation is done really well, and the attention to detail is quite impressive in certain scenes! The dialouge stays funny when it needs to, but still transitions into the serious portions without any real contradiction. Another thing that makes this movie 'memorable' is the characters themselves. Olaf has some of the best lines in the entire Disney franchise, and his curious-yet-naive personality fits him really well! Also, the soundtrack for this movie is quite catchy.

Now, for what I don't like... *Inhales like crazy*

While I know that a lot of people like positive reviews, I'm going to tell you all real quickly 2 reasons why I choose to usually review things I don't like.

Reason #1: "All comedy is derived from grief". I like being funny when I do these reviews, so choosing a book/movie/topic that I'm not fond of allows me to express myself in a way that is humorous to the audience.

Reason #2: "It's easier to tell you why a car doesn't work, rather than why it does work". What it means is that it is much easier to tell you the flaws of media, rather than what makes it good.

So, with that out of the way, let's get straight to the broken car reviewing- er, Frozen. No, I don't plan on reviewing cars...

First issue, this soundtrack is TOO catchy. Some of the music is nice and upbeat, but other songs get grating over time because they feel either out of place or too slow to match the mood. The (in)famous 'Let It Go' is something that I enjoyed only a few times before starting to hate it because of how slow the lyrics are, and the logic behind it. So, Elsa was isolated in her castle, she escapes it to feel 'free', but her idea of being free involves isolating herself into another castle? I don't understand the logic behind that.

Next problem, some of these characters aren't the greatest. Actually, what I mean to say is that everyone is a great character EXCEPT Anna. She isn't a mean character, but she does little to progress the plot, and it often feels like she impedes the story, rather than progressing it. Her foolishness got her hurt by Elsa in the intro, HER stubborness drove Elsa off the edge and made her flee Arendelle, HER persistence got her hurt by Elsa in the Ice Castle, HER cluelessness got her to get Hans into the Castle to take over, oh, and speaking of Hans...

This movie did not need a villain. It really didn't, and the movie would have been much better without one, since the whole conflict of the movie revolves around Elsa, who is NOT a villain. Until his unveiling near the end of the movie, Hans is one of the most likeable characters in the entire movie. Him revealing to be the villain feels like a Last Resort effort on the behalf of Disney, because he steps out of characteristics that have already been established. Also, he did NOT know about Elsa having ice powers until AFTER the blessing request that he made with Anna, so that means that Hans must have been a good guy, but changed his mind during the event of the film FOR NO REASON. I imagine this choice like this:

Phil: Well, looks like we're just about finished with the script for Frozen!
Franklin: Looks nice so far! Wait a minute, I just realized something... we don't have a villain!
Phil: Okay, but it's too late to introduce a new character to the plot, so what should we do?
Franklin: Let's throw darts do decide which character turns evil!
Phil: Sounds great!

-_-

Back on the subject of Anna, she does do a few things to help progress the story, such as purchasing those tools for Kristoff and saving Elsa's life near the end (before getting chilled), but she just feels like a dead weight to the plot. Not a 'Jerk' kind of dead weight, similarly to characters like 'Patrick Star', but enough to make you mad at her after 2 or 3 viewings of the movie. I know none of the problems she caused were voluntary on her part, but if you were to discover that your sister had magical Ice powers and then she proceeded to freeze the entire region, wouldn't you start focusing more because the situation is tense?

And that's all I got to say for Frozen. I wouldn't say it's a bad movie, but it defenitely doesn't deserve all the money it makes. Highest Grossing Animated Film? Yeah, that doesn't seem at all like a scam. So, if I don't like the movie, then why did it sell so well?

It has 2 Princesses. Olaf is funny. Let It Go is catchy the first time through. But that's about it.

I don't give scores to my reviews anymore, but if I honestly had to grade Frozen, I would personally give it only about a 7/10. It's good when it's good, but bad when it's bad.

-----

Want to see more of what I do? Head on over to Pokemon TCG Headquarters, my personal blog all about the Pokemon Trading Card Game. I try to update it as much as I can, and the more support I can get from you guys, the quicker new posts for both of these blogs can come out! As always, have a happy 2015, and take care everyone! http://tcghq.blogspot.com/p/welcome-to-pokemon-tcg-headquarters.html

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell by John

I read Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell.  It was an adventurous, exciting, and funny book.  It is about a 14-year-old  Navaho Indian girl named Bright Morning.  As you read this story, you will see what life was like for the Navaho's in America during the mid 1860's.  You will also realize that the Indians have a very strong family heritage.
 John

Friday, December 12, 2014

GadgetJax Reviews: The Wishbone Series! (more specifically Unleashed In Space)

*Note. The following review, while containing moments of frustration on the reviewers behalf, contains professional opinions towards a book series that is admired solely by a younger audience. If you happened to enjoy the Wishbone books prior to this review, I would recommend closing this tab, as things are about to get quite uncomfortable.* -The Editor

For the most part, my reviews usually follow a set pattern. They pretty much are exclusive to books that are "Good, but flawed". While I haven't really read any other reviewers opinions about the Wishbone Adventures books, I don't think I'll be making any enemies by saying that this book left the worst taste ever after reading it.

Let's start with the plot of the series in general, shall we?

Pretty much every Wishbone book follows an established formula. Wishbone, the dog, is performing some kind of activity with his human owner and his friends. (they are such generic characters, that I forgot their names. For now, let's call Wishbone's owner "Senor Cardgage." I won't matter, anyway, since these human characters never do anything relevant to the plot, for the most part.) The activity they are performing usually gets Wishbone to start daydreaming about a story in relation to the activity.

While this may seem like a cool idea for a book at first, It's not. It's not like the first chapter of the book is about the activity, and the rest is about story. Of course it isn't about that, because it would take effort to write that, and Internet Forbid anyone put effort into a book about dogs!

Instead, every 2 chapters or so, the daydream story re-transitions back to reality, where the story is absolutely dry. Seriously, reading these portions is awful. They aren't even bad, they just don't have any flavor! If I had to give an analogy, reading the script to the Percy Jackson movies is like eating a pile of garbage, while reading the reality portions of Wishbone is like eating a pile of unseasoned rice. Even though the Garbage tastes awful, the rice has absolutely no flavor, making it unsatisfactory and pointless to eat. I mean, is it really that difficult to put some salt on the rice? That's not hard, so why was it impossible to put any effort into the reality portions?? WHY?!?

Oh, but the daydream portions! What about them?!? Oh, they are just as bad! Okay, since Wishbone is a book about dogs, you think that the stories would be modified to represent a story moreso tailored to animals replacing the human characters right?

Take a wild guess. Seriously, throw a dart at a dart board, then come back and read this and tell me your answer. The answer?

No.

While I haven't read any specific Wishbone books aside from the one that is the subject of this review (Unleashed in Space) and "The Hunchdog of Notre Dame", I can tell you right now that every story is awful to read, because Wishbone is just 'copy and pasted' into the story without much other additional modification (I say not much because a lot of the more 'complicated' and 'mature' parts of these stories are dumbed down for younger audiences). Don't you just love reading the story about that 1 dog and 3 humans that traveled the galaxy?

No.

Aside from the main character being changed to Wishbone in order to fit Wishbone's personality, there isn't a single character that acts differently towards Wishbone because he's a dog, and because of it, Wishbone sticks out like a sore thumb. If you really wanted to do something like this, why not just make all the other characters dogs as well?!?

No, that would take effort, which clearly wasn't in the budget. No wonder these books used to cost just $4 apiece! The sticker on this print says $1.99 for goodness sake. I have that much worth in coins in my vest pocket right now!

And finally, the narration. This book gets itself so confused. The commentary is told from the persective of a narrator, but the transitions between reality and the daydream are from the perspective of Wishbone! Why? This isn't an actual flaw, honestly, but I would have appreciated it if the author would have stuck to a specific narrative, instead of confusing me.


In conclusion, I find that the Wishbone series is probably the most unbearable, tossed together franchise I've ever reviewed on this blog. The stories are Copy and Pasted, the reality portions are boring, and many elements get just flat out confusing! Unless you have a thing for dogs, young children who have just got into chapter books, or you enjoy torturing yourself, I would not recommend these books. At all. Seriously, if someone is selling these for just 25 cents at a Garage Sale, avoid it, because those 25 cents could always go towards something better.

Friday, November 14, 2014

GadgetJax reviews: The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

During this November, our Teen group had a special kind of Book Discussion called "Speed Dating with a book". It is a fun little activity that involves pretty much choosing from pre-determined books, reading the first few pages, then giving our opinions. It's pretty fun, and one of the books that I chose to bring back home with me was 'The Fourteenth Goldfish.' 

At first, it looked very promising, with a more unique story than most books. But then, it turned into a combination of the following 2 things.
Those things are 'false advertising' and 'filler'. The main premise of the story is like this; Ellie is a child in Pre-School. Her entire class is assigned to a project, where every student gets to take a Goldfish home and take care of it. Every kid gets their goldfish, and goes home with it, and being young children, the students don't know how to care for pets correctly, and everyone's goldfish dies within a few weeks, except for Ellie's. The goldfish Ellie ends up living with her until she turns 11 years old, then dies. 

Ellie is surprised that her goldfish was able to live longer than everyone else, until her mother tells her about what actually happened. You see, Ellie's goldfish died within a few weeks as well, just like everyone else. However, her mother would continuously get a new goldfish for her, without Ellie knowing. The goldfish that died when Ellie was 11 was actually the 14th goldfish(haha) every owned by her. Pretty neat story, huh?

Well, that is the first chapter.

Yes, this is what I meant by 'false advertising'. After Chapter 1, the story follows Ellie growing up, and her life in Middle School. The Goldfishes that she took care of are almost never mentioned again through the story. This is why I was a bit upset by the book when I first picked it up. It felt like I just read a toddler's book, then moved on to a standard Juvenile Fiction story. I normally wouldn't mind that, but in the case of this story, this is to be considered as 'false advertising', since the cover specifies that I will be reading a book about a Goldfish. 

As for the rest of the story, it is actually pretty good. Ellie's Grandfather invents a special medication that can reverse a person's age, and Ellie's Grandfather tries it out. It works as planned, but because he now looks like a Teenager, his co-workers end up assuming him for a Trespassing Teenager, and he gets throw out of his own laboratory. The rest of the story follows Ellie and her now Teenage Grandfather (and a few other surprise characters) trying to get him back to normal age. It is a fun story, but if I do have anything to say, is that it falls prey to heavy use of 'filler', like I previously mentioned.

...but what is filler? Filler is a term for a portion in a story, be it a Movie, Video Game, or Book, where absolutely nothing important happens in the plot. Sometimes, this isn't that bad, like if the Filler occurring is at least funny. Unfortunately, The Fourteenth Goldfish really isn't that great at humor. 

Still, I found The Fourteenth Goldfish to be quite entertaining. It wasn't great, but still fun to read, for the most part.


Like to see more of what I do? Click the link to head to my personal blog all about the Pokemon Trading Card Game! http://tcghq.blogspot.com/p/welcome-to-pokemon-tcg-headquarters.html

Monday, October 20, 2014

GadgetJax reviews of Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh by

I think I'm not the only one who can say that Social Studies are, well, not that fun in school. But what if there was a book that made History fun? I know it sounds like blasphemy, but after lots and lots of research (And by that I mean Googling Historical Fiction for kids), I found one: Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims.
The story follows the tale of Rush Revere and his horse Liberty. Liberty is a special horse, as it is able to Time Travel, Talk, and Vanish among other things. The unlikely duo make use of these skills to Time Travel to the past and learn more about the 1600's, more specifically the time of the Pilgrims. 
The story features many quirky characters and witty jokes. Though, if I do have a few complaints about the story, though you may not agree with this, they are as follows:
The first and biggest issue is that some characters from the modern times will sometimes say things related to modern media to past characters (For example, a character named Tom praises Captain Miles Standish by calling him 'The Incredible Hulk'). The reason this is so bad is because it is not only a really repetitive joke, but it also halts the progression of the story as if Time just stopped.
The second problem I have are the illustrations. Now, to be fair, I can't really judge a book by it's cover (or it's pictures), but aside from screenshots of older images (such as a portrait of the Native Americans), all the artwork looks like boring clip art, and is really jarring and can make even a dedicated reader feel uneasy. It's not as bad an issue as the 'Modern Media' one, but it's pretty noticeable.
I think that the Rush Revere series as a whole is very enjoyable. There are lots of interesting connections to History and enough laughs to make it feel like a perfect mix of Fiction and Education. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys this Genre. Until then, see you all next time.


Like what I do? Do you perhaps you like Pokemon? I run a blog all about the Pokemon TCG, and if you're interested you can check it out here: http://tcghq.blogspot.com/

-GadgetJax

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Voice: scary stories

video


This is our adaptation of "The Voice"* from the Scary Stories You Can Tell in the Dark program on Sept 30th.

We almost made it to the end of the story in this take.

Almost.




*short story is from the book More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collected from folklore and retold by Alvin Schwartz; with drawings by Stephen Gammell.


Monday, September 15, 2014

The Trumpet Of The Swan (a review by GadgetJax)

For the most part, while I do like to read, when it comes to my personal Literature preference, I usually shy away from the new bestsellers in favor of classics. Today, I'll be taking a look at a book I was required to read for my School Schedule: The Trumpet Of The Swan.

The Trumpet Of The Swan follows the tale of Louis, a young Swan that can't talk. If this doesn't make sense at first, let me be a bit more informant. He can't talk, can't sqawk, can't make any Swan-related sounds. Ixnay. So, Louis learns how to play the Trumpet, so he can communicate with all of the other animals. (He also learns how to write, but it's not important at the moment, so let's just pretend that he doesn't.)

Pretty soon, Louis becomes a professional Trumpeter and starts playing at high-class establishments, such as Hotels, Restaurants, and the like. THe story may seem bland on paper, but it gets very interesting, despite seeming simple and childish. Louis has to go through many complicated decisions that do a good job of reflecting real life. Though, if I do have a gripe with this book is that, like many Classical Books, the ending is way too sudden, and doesn't do a terribly good job of wrapping up any loose ends.

Can I recommend The Trumpet Of The Swan to you, the reader? Yes, I can. It's pretty short, despite being around 200+ pages long, and it's something that would fit perfectly on my list of books that I would read more than once (Along with the How To Train Your Dragon series, Hatchet, and The Magician's Nephew.)
This is GadgetJax (David, as my peers call me), bidding you good day!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

If I Stay by Gayle Forman: A Quick Review by Lily W.



If I Stay is a pretty popular book right now, I am pretty sure there is movie premiering soon. In fact, I wouldn’t have been interested in reading the story if not for the movie trailer. A friend and I were watching the movie The Fault In Our Stars, watching the previews, when this trailer comes on. Just a shout out to whoever designed it THE ONLYREASON WHY I WANTED RO READ THE STORY WAS FOR THE LAST CHAPTER SO NEXT TIME YOU DESIGN A TRAILER MAKE SURE IT DOES NOT GIVE AWAY THE ENTIRE MOVIE! THAT TENDS TO MAKE BUYING TICKETS USELESS. 

So basically my friend and I had this joke where for weeks all we would say is how much we wanted to just read the last chapter, just to know how the story ends. Anyway, this book was really nice, it kept me in suspense the whole time, it used the literary device flashbacks amazingly. I also liked that there was a strings player (Mia, the main character, was a cellist, I myself am a bassist). Because I choose to NOT spoil the entire story line, I will just won’t disclose anything that wasn’t on the dust jacket. I will try to reveal nothing in the book and advise you to NOT watch that trailer unless you want to know the whole story. So Spoiler Alert. Basically Mia is a teenager with dreams to attend Julliard to study music, she has her parents, little brother (Teddy), boyfriend (Adam),and best friend (Kim). But one day all of that changes when her family (her included) gets into an accident with a semi-truck. From then on the book focuses on her thoughts and memories while in a coma which is a really nice way for us, the reader, because we can see a lot of what is happening outside of Mia herself, if that makes any sense. 
 
Oh if this review does not make sense read the book it is really nice!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Introductions and Book Discussions


Hi there! 

I am Jennifer, the new Librarian here at Highland. This is what I look like (feel free to come up to me and introduce yourself):
 
Here are a few of the books that we brought in today for our "Best Books of the Summer"  book discussion:


1. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan





2. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan











3. Hereafter by Tara Hudson
(Jennifer's recommendation) 










4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
(this title was a late entry by one of our absent members)










 5.  The Odyssey by Homer
(this is a required summer reading book...not so much a favorite) 












The book we are discussing on Wednesday September 3rd from 3:45-5 pm is Divergent by Veronica Roth There are copies here at the Highland Branch, so come by and pick one up!



 

 See you soon!
Jennifer

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rube Goldberg - Summer Reading 2014



We didn't get too many pictures because it was just toooooo exciting to see the racetracks that everyone made.  And they all worked!! They were mainly created from cardboard, duct tape, boxes and coffee cans.  We ended up with four racetracks!  And a bird!






The Bird

We raced some cars on the floor as well...a little drag racing for fun! 

Teen Advisory Meeting - not what I expected!!



 
 
This was my last Teen Advisory Board meeting before I left for Griffith.  I was in the meeting room with two of the teens, making small talk, wondering why no one was showing up...hmmmm.....
So, Lily told me she wanted to show me something in the children's room, and WOW!! what a surprise! 
I will miss you all!  You're funny, smart, ingenious, and caring - yes, and AWESOME!!!!
 
........... and David is hiding!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sunrise Book Review by Lily W.

15741928Sunrise by Mike Mullins - Reviewed by Lily


Umm, so, the series ended.  The Ashfall trilogy has come to a conclusion.  I uhhh, I need a minute to absorb this information....
....
....
....
Whoa, still haven't absorbed this.  Oh well, I have places to be, things to do, a review to write (and probably rewrite).
So, as I have already established in another review, Ashfall books one and two (the second being Ashen Winter) are amazing.  This series is about sixteen year old Alex, a fairly normal teenager with a fairly normal life, until the Yellowstone Super volcano erupts.  The ashfall separates Alex from his parents and sister and the series covers his struggles with new obstacles caused by the environment.

These books are full of action (for those of you who like that, I know a lot of my friend do!), and even has the seemingly very popular post-apocalyptic theme that seems to make book sales skyrocket lately (a few examples that I love might be Ender's Game, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.)!!  One cool thing is that the first book focuses on the eruption and the next two are like the aftermath, I mean who doesn't wonder about their favorite characters after a book ends?

Make sure you check out this book at the library soon!


Break It to Make It....but we didn't really break anything!!

This week we took out our old computer parts and ended up making squishy circuits that lit up; jewelry; played with DC motors; and looked at an Arduino at work!  Hope you enjoy the pictures!


Bouquets from the skin of a keyboard
LED and a Squishy Circuit makes for a bright smile!
This isn't really Computer related, but maker-related!  It's leather from the Environmental Center and a button.  Just beautiful!!
We did the ArtBots again, this time with a more powerful DC motor
Leather, gold buttons and a hard drive disc
ArtBot
A Squishy Circuit Bow


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mythbusters

Was it a myth, or not?  Either way, everyone had a great time last night at our Mythbuster Program.  Enjoy the photos!  They are but a small sampling of our experiments....

Future Scientists!
Tornado in a bottle
Eat straws, not marshmallows!
Myth or Truth?
What a great structure....awesome!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

THE EVENT - Mad Scients on Call!!!!!!!

Lily and the Worms

A big Thank You goes out to all our teen volunteers and all the children who participated!!

So, here we are right before the children attended the science program!  We were so happy that they enjoyed the experiments! 
In case you're wondering, we did an Artbot; made a battery turn into a magnet; made a compass that worked; made a throwie (bet you don't know what that is!); blew up balloons without blowing them up; magically cleaned pennies, and levitated a ghost!

In the animal kingdoms, we adopted twelve worms of the night crawler variety.  They were quite behaved during the morning session, however, they actually tried to escape by the afternoon!!!  They were very happy when we returned them to the soil outside!  We respectfully experimented with the worms to see how they reacted when under lights - mostly they wanted to hide!!  Then we tried to learn what type of smells they like or disliked.  They hated the raisins! 

Then we had a Harry Potter potion section with Mandrakes' Restorative Solution; some Harry Potter Magic in a cup; Magic Unicorn Milk, Liquid Enemies (a density experiment); Magic Mud; and Muggle Soap! 

Give the library a call if you want to know how we did these!  Meanwhile, enjoy the photos!!! 

Making a "ghost" levitate
Being a Sneaky Throwie!
Before the Exploding Elixar!


Mad Scientists in action!

Last Monday, the teens got together to work on their science experiments that they are presenting to school age children later in the week.  We worked very hard - and had a great deal of fun!! 

Mandrake's Restorative Solution in the making....
Magic Mud!
A battery is turned into a magnet


The ARTBOT!!!!



Magic Unicorn Milk makes you make faces!!


We survived the Zombies!

Lest you think the zombies got all of us (because I haven't posted in a while), be reassured that we survived.  Nineteen teens stopped in and created secure containers for their own home survival kit.  Check out the nifty resources at the CDC www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm.

Then we used our catapults on our zombie village!  Enjoy the photos!!
This is the back of the village...containers are being made on the other side of the room
Ready, Aim......or eat marshmallows...
Some cool zombie reading!!

Yeah Morgan...even with her cast, she stopped in to play!





Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Reading - Zombie Style

 Stop in Monday, June 9, @ 6PM for our first teen/tween meeting for Summer Reading!

Please register.  Call us at 838-2394 or go to our website www.lcplin.org and look for the calendar.

We'll be looking at how to survive all kinds of disasters, plus, we have a Zombie Village, Zombies and catapults to try and hit the Zombies with.  

Plus some good zombie food!
We're looking for you!!!!