Movie Review And Deal: Interstellar, A Thought-Provoking, Non-Violent Watch

interstellar movie review astronaut walking on an icy planet

Although I know I’m not the only one who sees movies and has opinions about them, I do hope to share some valuable information about movies–other kinds of “tales”–and deals so that you can make more informed decisions about your entertainment,Int and fit more of it in! If you haven’t seen Interstellar yet, you need to, and if you haven’t bought it yet, you should! My Interstellar movie review is that it’s a wonderful, thought-provoking movie, and it’s available on Amazon for $13.99!

Interstellar Movie Review: What Is It About?

From Rotten Tomatoes.com:

With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history; traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars. That team is piloted by Joe Cooper (played by Matthew McConaughey), a widowed engineer and former NASA pilot, who finds out about this mission while trying to solve a physics mystery he witnesses in his farmhouse. The mission is covert because Earth is in imminent danger of running out of food, and all funding for interstellar travel, as far as the public knows, has been suspended as wasteful so that resources can be focused on helping people survive. Cooper is faced with a choice: leave his two children behind, possibly to never see them again, and possibly find another habitable planet to which everyone on Earth can eventually be sent to, or stay and watch them starve. He chooses to go, but the quest to find that other planet ends up taking him and the other members of the team places they never thought they’d have to go, and into moral dilemmas they never thought they’d have to face.

Who Would Like Interstellar, And Why?

If you’re a fan of science fiction movies, you’ll love this one for obvious reasons: its basis in hard and deep physics, the visual effects, and mind-bending plot twists. Even if you’re not, but are looking for something emotionally deeper and less violent than the most recent Avengers movie, you’ll like Interstellar for its superb acting and the wonderful portrayal of the very sweet and unique relationship between Cooper and his daughter, Murph.

Nutrition Facts

Profanity (D*, S*, F*, G*D*, H*):  12

Instances of Nudity: 0

Instances of human-to-human violence: 2

Deaths: 3

Positive Relationships (love + effort, some kind of formal commitment, family): 3

Negative Relationships (dysfunctional, dishonest, no effort, mean, etc.): 0

Positive themes represented: 1

Negative themes represented: 1

What’s The Deal?

If you get Interstellar for Amazon Prime, it’s $13.99, which is $6 less than the $19.99 we bought it for three years ago. So worth it. That’s 30% off.

YA sci-fi book cover: black page with "POD" in big blue letters, the blue being a black orb

Book Review: Pod is a Tight Read, With A 20% Off Deal

Whew! My site was down temporarily, and I was stressing out! My apologies. My domain hosting company had somehow put my site on a different server, connected to a different account, but the problem has been fixed. I spent the time scouting for deals, though, because I get excited thinking about bringing them to you and helping you get better entertainment for less! I’ve got some good sales to tell you about tomorrow. In the meantime, let me tell you about POD by Stephen Wallenfels, a YA sci-fi. It was a tight read, one that’ll have you chewing your nails even if you’re not a nail-chewer.

What Is POD About?

From GoodReads:

POD is the story of a global cataclysmic event, told from the viewpoints of Megs, a twelve-year-old streetwise girl trapped in a hotel parking garage in Los Angeles; and sixteen-year-old Josh, who is stuck in a house in Prosser, Washington, with his increasingly obsessive-compulsive father. Food and water and time are running out. Will Megs survive long enough to find her mother? Will Josh and his father survive each other? 

Sample:

Surviving a massive alien siege is one thing-surviving humanity is another. I’m all cried out. I’m still alone. The sky is full of giant spinning black balls that kill anyone stupid enough to go outside. I’ve only been out of the car twice-once to pee and once to look at the sky. That one look was enough for me. Now I sit alone in the car, staring out the window like a rat in a cage. But I don’t have anyone to look at. The parking garage is empty, except for twisted-up cars, broken glass, and the smell of leaking gasoline.

Who Would Like POD, And Why?

If you like tight plots, like those found in Glimmer by Phoebe Katanidis or A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, you’ll like POD. Its plot, which could’ve been boring in the wrong hands, since it’s about enduring an alien siege, is terse, interesting, and mentally challenging because of the intense emotions expertly shown. You’ll find yourself wanting a sequel.

What’s The Deal?

On Amazon, you can get a new paperback copy right now for $6.39, which is 20% off of the normal price. A Kindle copy is only $4.99! Dude! So worth it.

 

Book Review: If I Stay, An Emotional Read

What would you do if you were a teenage girl and the only survivor of a car wreck that killed the rest of your family? What if you survived the wreck, but just barely, and you’re somehow conscious, in an out-of-body way, and you have to choose between letting go, not being able to discern anything about what happens after that, or staying and living, exploring the potential of your gift for music and your relationship with your boyfriend, who you’re madly in love with? This is the choice faced by seventeen-year-old Mia, the main character of If I Stay by Gayle Forman. The book is a poignant, beautifully-rendered narrative about what is really a universal question: what would you do if you had that choice? It’s an emotional read.

What Is If I Stay About?

From Goodreads:

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. Stay, he says. Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

Who Would Like If I Stay, And Why?

If I could give this book more than ten stars, I would. It’s intense, in a life-and-death way, not an action-packed way, because of the emotions she goes through while trying to make her decision. Those emotions are very authentic and non-trite. It’s masterfully structured. I read it in one sitting. And the style…oh, the style: so beautiful. Mia was such a well-drawn character that I felt like she could jump off the page and I would recognize her instantly. The supporting characters were unique. Such a delight to read.

Anyone who likes emotional reads like Beyond by Catina Haverlock and Angela Larkin, or Between Shades of Gray by Rutya Sepetys, will like this book. If you want a book that will sweep you away, this one definitely will.

What’s The Deal?

When I bought this from Amazon three years ago, I paid $5.30 for it. You can get a like-new copy from Thriftbooks now for $4.59, which is a 13% decrease. You can get an even cheaper “acceptable-condition” copy for $3.79, which is a 28% decrease.

Video Game Review: Horizon Zero Dawn for PS4: Rich Gameplay, Minimal “Teen” Content

Do you hear that? It’s the Hallelujah Chorus being sung by thousands of moms who play video games and/or have kids that play video games, upon realizing that a new feature of HeadOverTales.com will be reviews of video games from both a gamer’s perspective and a mother’s perspective.

via GIPHY

No longer will those mothers have to piece together information about games their teens are playing or that they themselves want to play from inarticulate, profanity-using, indiscriminate gamers on YouTube, reviews on Amazon, and ratings on CommonSenseMedia.Org. Those are all great resources, but hopefully, the reviews and deal discoveries I provide will provide a more comprehensive picture. Video games played well and appropriately can be really fun.

What’s The Game?

Courtesy of Amazon

The first game I’ll be reviewing will be Horizon Zero Dawn by Guerrilla Games. It’s an RPG (role-playing game) set on a far-future Earth where most of humanity has been wiped out by a race of machines that vaguely resemble the animals we have now, but that are bigger, much more powerful, feed on organic material, and self-replicate exponentially faster than humans. What humanity does survives lives in relatively primitive tribes, with no clue about what happened before. The main character, Aloy, starts out as a little girl raised only by a man she knows as Rost, in isolation for no known reason. He trains her to fight and be tough, and when she gets older, ends up being asked by the very tribe who exiled her to seek answers to the question of why half their tribe was killed. What she finds during that quest, and who finds her, is bigger and more mysterious than she could have ever imagined, even reaching back centuries.

 

The storyline is rich, easy to follow, and factors in the personal choices of the player in terms of how Aloy responds to certain situations. She is usually offered three options; I’ll call them the tough one, the passive one, and the nice one, for lack of better terms. The graphics are amazing, showing what places like Denver, CO, Lake Powell, southern Utah, and Alaska would look like in this kind of future. Aloy mostly fights machines, but sometimes has to clear bandit camps and save fellow seekers from bandits who would kill them and leave them for dead, so there is some bloodshed. There are also a few swear swords (mostly the D-word) in the narrative. There’s no nudity. There are plenty of hours of entertainment and thought to be had, whether one just wants to play through the game’s story, which takes a gamer to about 70% of the way through the game, or find all the collectibles and complete all the side quests, which takes a gamer to the full 100%. I’m almost to 100%. There are the usual health and skill points to be acquired, as well as currency to be earned and spent, so I recommend this game for kids 10 and up. Any younger than that, they’re likely to get frustrated and give up.

 

Courtesy of Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s The Deal?

When we bought our copy of Horizon Zero Dawn last year on Amazon, it was $60. The Frozen Wilds expansion pack (which I also highly recommend) was an additional $20. You can get the digital code for the whole thing (only for PS4) on Amazon now for $37.98, which is less than half of what we got it for . Totally worth it. And if you buy from this link, I get a small commission as an Amazon affiliate that enables me to keep writing these reviews and finding deals for you guys!

 

Book Review: Steelheart, A Steely Read

Challenges can be tough, y’know? Mine right now is hard to put into words, but I’m lightened by friends and family who reach out to me and let me know that they care. I read Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart, and I think there are a lot of you that would enjoy this book and the deal I found for it!

What Is Steelheart About?

From Amazon:

How far would you go for revenge if someone killed your father? If someone destroyed your city? If everything you ever loved was taken from you? David Charleston will go to any lengths to stop Steelheart. But to exact revenge in Steelheart’s world, David will need the Reckoners—a shadowy group of rebels bent on maintaining justice. And it turns out that the Reckoners might just need David too.

The premise is that twelve years before the story begins, an object dubbed Calamity appeared near Earth and burst in the sky, emitting a strange radiation that gave a small group of humans super powers and near invincibility in apparent defiance of the known laws of physics. They all have different types of powers and weaknesses, with no apparent rhyme or reason. Dubbed Epics, these super-humans took to crime. Existing government proved absolutely incapable of controlling the Epics, the most powerful of which replaced government authority and enslaved the rest of humanity. there are a bunch of people with superpowers, but they’re all bad and have taken over the world. The Reckoners is truly intriguing and generates a good conflict for the main character. David, in witnessing his father being killed by Steelheart, the Epic who took over Chicago and enslaved everyone there, thinks he knows the Epic’s one weakness and bands together with the Rebels to defeat him.

Who Would Like Steelheart, And Why?

Fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time, Mistborn, Way of Kings, or Elantris books might be a little surprised by the YA superhero angle of this story, but it’s still an amazing story, and should be read by all of Sanderson’s fans. The characterization is thorough. Though the middle seemed to go really slow for me, the first third is action-packed and the last third, once it gets going, is super intense. I finished the book having thoroughly enjoyed how he tied all the threads together into a compelling tapestry. 

What’s The Deal?

The cheapest you can get the paperback of Steelheart on Amazon is $7.99, unless you get a used copy, and even then, the cheapest you can get it is $4.99. If you get it through Thriftbooks, however, you can get a used copy in good condition (I get these all the time) for $3.79. And, since I recently became a Thriftbooks affiliate, I’ll get a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Obviously, this doesn’t affect your cost. The commission will enable me to keep reviewing books and finding deals for you, my wonderful readers!

 

Book Review: Trail of Lightning, A Visceral Read

Because I’m trying to get published, and because I have this wonderful book blog on which I get to talk with you guys about cool books, I follow a lot of publishers, literary agents, and authors on Twitter. A few months ago, an agent I follow tweeted about a new book coming out from one of her clients: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. It’s post-apocalyptic, written by a Native American woman. How cool is that? I tweeted back to Sara that I had to have a copy of this because it sounded so awesome, and she sent me a galley copy! I just finished reading it, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a heart-in-your-throat, visceral read:

What’s Trail of Lightning About?

From Goodreads:

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology. As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Who Would Like This Book, and Why?

Anyone who likes

will like this book. It’s really intense, told in first-person present-tense from Maggie the Monsterslayer’s perspective. She’s convinced she’s a monster, a supernaturally gifted killer on the outside but on the inside a scared human who’s seen and caused way too much death. In that respect, she reminded me a little of Edward in Twilight. She goes around killing monsters, so there is ALOT of violence. She thought she’d found a redemption of sorts in her one-time mentor Neizghani, but spends most of the book mourning his abandonment of her a year before the book starts. The book’s plot is propelled forward more by the appearance of monsters and those who would either help her fight them or feed her to them than by decisions she and Kai make, as she’s trying to distance herself from her evilness and any reminders of it, the main one being Neizghani. Because of that, Maggie seemed a little hard to follow and even harder to empathize with, but I still dearly wanted her to find happiness…and romance, if possible.

The main reason I liked this book, other than the premise, was the writing. Amazing, techni-color writing.

Nutrition Facts?

Swear words (D*, F*, S*, H*, G*D*): 72

Sex scenes: 0

Violence (some extreme [i.e., references to cannibalism, etc.]): 8

positive messages/relationships (e.g., love + effort, charity, hard work, goals, etc.): 2

negative messages/relationships (e.g., no love, or love +(-effort), meanness, laziness, selfishness): 5

LGBTQ+ relationship(s): 1

Visual?

via GIPHY

Deal?

This book doesn’t come out until June 26th. It’s priced at $7.99 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for their respective ebook editions. If you preorder the ebook or paperback version from Barnes & Noble, using the code SUMMERFUN at checkout, you’ll get 15% off, which means the ebook would be $6.79 (USD) and the paperback would be $11.03, both of which are very good deals for a not-yet-released book.

Book Review: Glimmer, an Intense Read

To deal with the challenges of looking for a job, and while enjoying summer with my kids, I’ve been reading a lot, because that’s what I do! I recently finished Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis. It’s a YA amnesia book with a beginning similar to one of the books I’ve written. It’s a somewhat disjointed but very well-written, compelling read that kept me on the edge of my seat, scratching my head, sometimes gasping for air. I’d say it’s an intense read:

What Glimmer Is About

When Marshall King and Elyse Alton suddenly wake up tangled in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or even who they are, it’s the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.

Terrified by their amnesia, Marshall and Elyse make a pact to work together to find the answers that could restore their missing memories. As they piece together clues about their lives, they discover that they’re in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls. Everyone seems happy there, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town’s perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything—not the death of Marshall’s mom, not the hidden violence in Elyse’s family, not even the day-to-day anguish of being a high schooler.

Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marshall and Elyse fall into an intense relationship founded on their mutual quest for truth. But the secrets they’re trying to uncover could be the death of this budding love affair—and of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls.

Who Might Like Glimmer, And Why

If you like intense reads, especially if they’re told in first-person dual POV present tense, like Claudia Gray’s Defy the Stars, which I reviewed here, you’ll like Glimmer. Because it follows Elyse’s and Marshall’s different but intertwining journeys to getting their memories back, and then, (spoiler alert) once they regain them, their efforts to hide them from themselves and a certain antagonist (end spoiler alert), it’s somewhat disjointed. It jumps from scene to scene for quite a while, with the only common thread being that everyone seems to collapse into what are called “heatnaps” any time anything unpleasant happens, and Elyse sees ghosts.

If you like teen romances, you’ll like this book for that aspect too. Kitanidis adeptly maneuvers her two main characters through the plot compelled by realistic and heartfelt thoughts and feelings that recognize the frailty and fear of adolescence, but also the yearning for independence and power that also comes with that stage of life.

One of the coolest, most unique features of this book is the fact that it combines paranormal elements with magic. In that respect, if you liked Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal, you’ll probably like Glimmer, although the magic systems are different. And if you liked Beyond, you’ll like this book.

I bought it on Amazon, but I found it for a much better price on ThriftBooks.com for $3.79 (used).

Visually, it’s this:

via GIPHY

plus this:

via GIPHY

Nutrition Facts:

Swear words (D**, S**, F**, H**): 66

Sex scenes: 0

Positive messages (e.g., love, charity or helping others, family, value of hard work): 2-3

Positive role models: 2

Violence: not really

Mentions of drinking alcohol, drugs, or smoking: 20

Big Announcement! More Reviews and Deals For You!

You may have noticed that my blog’s starting to look a little different, with a different layout/theme and the addition of Video Game and Movie Reviews. I’m excited to announce that these are just a few of the changes that my site will be undergoing in the near future, all so that I can provide you with more entertainment information and deals! Don’t worry, there will still be at least two book reviews a week, but I’ll be adding:

  • information about special deals on books and other entertainment products. I’ve been scouring the internet for really good deals on books, and want to pass them on to you! ‘Cause I’m just that nice. I’ve partnered with a few select vendors of books, video games, movies, and related entertainment products so that I can have better access to deals, deals that you won’t find in other places.
  • video game reviews: In my ample spare time, I game (and fish, dirt bike, camp, etc.). I also have a teenage boy who games a lot. I’ll be sharing reviews and deals on video games, both from the perspective from a busy mom who games (i.e., if you don’t have a lot of time, you only want to spend your money on those games that are really worth it), and a mom of a teenager, trying to stay on top of the kind of content he consumes. For those five other momgamers out there (yes, that is a thing because I just invented it), and for those other moms of teenagers trying to monitor their kids’ media consumption as well.
  • movie reviews: detailed and sometimes even with spoilers, so you can spend your money wisely and be entertained.

So, over the next few weeks, watch for these changes:

  •  switch to HeadOverTales.com, to cover broader content. You’ll still be access HeadOverBooks.com, but if you see HeadOverTales in the header, don’t be surprised. You’re in the right place.
  • header will be a little fancier, more “doodlier.”
  • addition of video game and movie content

Thanks for following me, and let me know what you think!

 

Book Review: The Immortalist, A Thrilling Read

In between fishing yesterday, updating my blog’s look, and writing a short story as part of a job interview process, I finished reading The Immortalist: A Sci-Fi Thriller by Scott Britz. It was definitely a thrilling read.

I didn’t catch any fish, but I really enjoyed the surroundings!

 

This is my where-have-all-the-fishies-gone face

 

What Is The Immortalist About?

From GoodReads:

World-renowned virologist Dr. Cricket Rensselaer-Wright abruptly abandoned her research in Africa after watching her colleague die tragically from the Ebola virus. When she returns to the States to reunite with her teenage daughter Emmy, her plans are sidetracked. No sooner does she set foot on the campus of Acadia Springs—the research institute where she grew up and Emmy now lives—than her onetime mentor Charles Gifford announces his discovery of the Methuselah Vector, a gene therapy agent that can confer immortality on a patient after a single injection.

Gifford’s air of triumph is marred when a young woman on campus dies suddenly from a horrific viral infection, eerily similar to the Ebola that drove Cricket out of Africa. Despite Cricket’s pleas to slow down the rollout of the Vector and run more tests, Gifford refuses. And when the unthinkable happens—when Emmy falls ill with the same mysterious disease—Cricket is forced to take matters into her own hands. But is it already too late?

Gifford will stop at nothing to release the Vector into the world. Mobs are clamoring for it. Cricket has only a few hours to find a cure for Emmy, and to convince the public that Gifford’s quest for eternal life may cost the very lives he hopes to save.

Would You Like The Immortalist?

  • Yes, if you like lots of detail in your books. Because it’s a medical sci-fi written by a professor at Harvard Medical School, his depiction of the science behind how gene manipulation could conceivably cause immortality with one injection, and, if done even the slightest bit wrong, rampant superviruses that could just as easily kill everyone on the planet is very realistic and chilling. The book’s level of detail reminds me of The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley, which I just reviewed here. It also kind of reminds of the DaVinci Code.
  • Yes, if you like smart, conflicted women. Cricket is brilliant but thoughtful, introverted but able to see and care about the bigger picture. She’s conflicted about her relationships with her daughter and her ex-husband, about her career, etc. In some respects, she kind of reminds me of Addie in Love & Luck, even though the two books are totally different.

Nutrition Facts

Swear words: 207

Sex scenes: 1

Functional relationships (featuring love+ effort, or some kind of formal promise): 4

Dysfunctional relationships/characters (feature love – effort = discord, or just plain animosity or greed): 3

 

Should You Buy It?

Yes! The Kindle version is $4.99 on Amazon right now!

 

 

Book Review: The Rose and The Crown, a Nice Read

I’m still elbow deep in my hunt for an editor/content manager job, and have been transitioning my kids to summer, which always includes a neighborhood getting-out-of-school party:

What my neighborhood does to celebrate the end of the school year.

A post shared by Jamie Moesser (@jmoesser) on


…as well as more substantial chore charts (with the accompanying wailing and gnashing of teeth), and shopping for shorts, summer clothes, and braintime activities. We like to do lots of hands-on things—read-a-thons, science experiments, art projects, museum visits, etc.—and have accumulated a lot of materials and resources over the years for that, but I like to take them shopping for new kits, books, etc., whatever gets them excited about continuing to learn over the summer. Of course, I pay them for their chores, with Braintime being one of them, so there’s that. As the summer progresses, I’ll share ideas and stories of our learning escapades, and I hope you’ll share yours with me too, in the comments section below!

In the meantime, I read The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinleyIt’s a speculative fiction book about a young princess who doesn’t look the way people of royal birth in her kingdom look, and doesn’t feel like a princess because she’s been told since she was born that her mother, upon giving birth to her and seeing she was a girl, turned her face to the wall and died of despair. Aerin is shy and retiring, but when a power-hungry village in the north of her father’s kingdom starts causing problems that he has to go and tend to, she’s left to deal with the threat of a dreaded dragon. She struggles, not only with the burden of figuring out how to do that and strengthening her fortitude so she can, but also against the perceptions that everyone has about her and she has about herself, that it will be impossible for her to defeat the dragon.

What I Thought of It

Although the plot knits together fairly well, it takes a while to get going, and the climax is over in two seconds, which makes it feel somewhat anti-climatic. She’s led to a dark wizard who wants to take over her father’s kingdom, but she strikes him down (rather easily actually), which indirectly helps her save the whole kingdom. It was a nice read.

Who Might Like The Hero and the Crown

If you liked The Waking Land by Callie Bates, Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson, or Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold, you’ll like this book.

If you’ve got a Kindle, it’s available on Amazon for $5.38, which is 23% off the paperback price.