Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Highlights!

It's almost time to say goodbye to 2011! But before we welcome 2012, let's talk about some of my favorite things of 2011 before we do have to say goodbye.

I was thinking of a quick run through of all the new movies and books I watched and read this year, before and after starting this blog. But there were quite a few low points and I really didn’t want to get into that. I thought it’d be more fun to stick with the books and movies that really stood out for me this year. Now, these are movies and books that were new to me, meaning the first time I watched and read anything mentioned below. Beware, there will be SPOILERS! SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS AND MORE MAJOR SPOILERS! (Just wanted to make that clear.)

To begin, my favorite movies I watched this year:

Red – One of my favorite movies now. An action movie with retired CIA agents starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Karl Urban (Eomer!) and Mary-Louis Parker. It’s funny with some really good action scenes. The best part? Bruce Willis and Karl Urban kicking the crap out of each to Aerosmith’s, Back in the Saddle. THE BEST!

Boondock Saints – I remember my husband renting this a few years ago. I vaguely remember walking in on the basement scene and asking what the hell is going on in this movie?! After that I didn’t give this movie much thought. But when you troll the internet enough you learn that this movie has a pretty loyal cult following so I finally went to check it out on Netflix. Not bad. It’s not the greatest but its good cheesy, bloody (as in, lots of people get shot up, bloody) fun.

Thor – Ha, do you even have to ask why I like this movie so much?! Just Kidding! There’s more to it than just a shirtless Thor. My favorite part is the whole family dynamics between Odin, Thor and Loki. Good stuff there: sibling rivalry, seeking the approval from a powerful father, passing on the rule of Asgard to a son who may not be ready. The Earth stuff dragged and I wasn’t feeling anything between Thor and Jane. But the Asgard scenes make it worth it.

X-Men First Class – Well, I’ll just let my post from a few months ago explain my love for this movie.

Fright Night – Another movie I wrote about on this blog and enjoyed a lot.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Again, no need to repeat myself here why I liked this move, though I do have my issues with the director. Maybe one day I’ll go through each of the HP movies he’s directed and show you what my issues are. I'm going to miss having Harry Potter movies to look forward to. Excuse me, I think there's something in my eye...

Captain America – Another good one from Marvel this year. I’m disappointed I didn’t see this in the theaters. My husband found it streaming online and we watched a scene and thought, “WE NEED THIS MOVIE!”, so we bought it on DVD (see, if a movie is good, we will buy it!). It’s just good, wholesome, American fun! I really like Steve Rogers and his friend, Bucky. And Steve Roger’s attraction to Peggy Carter was really believable; probably because it wasn’t this instant love at first sight business that they tried to pull in Thor. It was a gradual attraction that was funny, full of tension and sweet. There’s also great action and Tommy Lee Jones being Tommy Lee Jones and he’s just awesome therefore this movie is awesome. The End.

Return of the Living Dead – This movie cracked me up! Oh my god, it’s so funny. I died with the juicy zombie bobbing and weaving, looking for brains. And that chick just dancing around naked and her friends just laughing and pointing, Hey, she's naked again! Hilarious!

Let Me In – This movie gave me chills. It has such a quiet, terror running through it. It’s frightening, yet sad.

And I’d like to give some honorable mentions to some TV shows, and while I haven’t talked about any yet on this blog, it’s still a form of storytelling and there have been some good ones I’ve watched this year:

Game of Thrones – Very faithful to the first book of the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. I’m looking forward to Season 2 but let me tell you, Season 3 is where it’s at! If the faithfulness to Book 1 is any indication of how this show plays out, Season 2 will be awesome but Season 3 will BLOW YOUR MIND. Red Wedding, NOOOOOOO!!!! (Look it up at your own risk)

Misfits – Honestly, I haven’t watched every episode but the ones I’ve seen have been funny, sad, thoughtful and just plain good. My husband told our neighbors about this show and they’re hooked too. And the latest episode on Hulu had us dying! So, so funny.

American Horror Story – My husband and I watched the first episode and were lukewarm about it. Then I found out he’d been watching the rest without me! And it got better! I haven’t seen all the episodes but between what I have seen and what I’ve been told about the parts I’ve missed, it’s weird and creepy and awesome.

And even though I said I’d stick to the highlights, these next 2 shows do have their high points but because I’m devoted to these 2 I have to talk about the low points too:

Dexter Season 6 – We’ve got some good stuff happening here:
  • Deb promoted to Lieutenant over Batista
  • Brian making an appearance!
  • Mos Def as Brother Sam
And we've got some not so good stuff:
  • Quinn turning into an unreliable douche because Deb wouldn’t marry him (wah wah wah, GROW UP)
  • Dexter making all kinds of bad decisions
  • The therapist putting it into Deb’s head that she may have more than just brotherly love for Dexter (GROSS!)
  • Bringing the Trinity Killer’s kid back for a pointless road trip for Dexter (and yes, it brought Brian back but bringing him into the picture could have been done differently and for more than one episode)
  • The Dooms Day Killer was kinda dull
  • The DDK's painting of Dexter as some demon... dumb.
Walking Dead Season 2.1 – The good:
  • Daryl
  • Merle returning (Even if it was a hallucination. But damn, the goose bumps I got when he told Daryl to shoot Rick in the face! If a hallucination can do that, just imagine what it'll be like when he really returns!)
  • Shane stepping up to make things interesting (shooting Otis, letting the zombies out of the barn for a good old fashioned game of Shoot the Zombies!)
  • Zombie Sophia in the barn!
The worst:
  • Lori Lori Lori (My husband: “Does she do anything?” You mean, other than her sitting around half ass-edly chopping carrots/hanging laundry and being a major Drama Queen? No.)
  • Andrea for shooting Daryl (My husband, again with his wonderful insight: “See, that’s what happens when women don’t follow directions.” Jerk. But in this case, he’s right (Don’t you dare tell him I said that!))
And now moving on to my favorite books that I read this year:

A Game of Thrones/A Clash of Kings/A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin My Nerd Out I wrote about partially explains why this was a highlight for me this year.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins My favorite of the entire trilogy. It was the only one that really triggered an emotional response from me.

Lost Horizon by James Hilton A soothing read yet sad.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson Made me realize I shouldn’t base my opinion of Stephenson solely on my two failed attempts at Quicksilver.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman Lots of good gems throughout this collection of short stories.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski A frustrating read but makes you proud to stand up and announce you finished it!

Snuff by Terry Pratchett I really liked this book so here’s to more Discworld and Sam Vimes!

Drama An Actor’s Education by John Lithgow – A fun read and I’ll have a review up for it sometime in January. Full of insight not just for actors, but for any artist.

Some other highlights of the year:
  • I started watching Doctor Who a couple days ago and I'm liking it
  • Sons of Anarchy jealousy because they get to play in my old backyard of Northern CA but it's a good jealousy because this show is awesome and I really need to catch up!
  • The RIP Challenge
  • Hello!, Nanowrimo Winner here!
  • Storytime With Venessa!
  • And of course, starting this blog!
Even if nobody is reading or cares what I think, I love that I can express my joy and frustration here. It’s so much fun to write here and I’m looking forward to 2012 to see what else there is to love (and hate! Oh Yeah!).

Monday, December 26, 2011

New on the Shelf: The Christmas Wrap Up Edition

There’s been a lot of activity in the Acquiring Books Department. I tried to take it easy before Christmas, but there are just so many great books out there and I want them all! And while my daughter made out like a bandit in the toy department Christmas morning, I made out like a bandit in the book department.

Black is the New White by Paul Mooney: An ebook I received from a friend. She had IMed be about buying the John Lithgow book and said she was finishing up Black is the New White and it caught my eye, so I said, “Ooh! Me want too!” After reading the John Lithgow book I’m really in the mood to read more memoirs now. This will be the next.

The Lone Wolf by Louis Joseph Vance: An ebook from Project Gutenberg. I read a review on Vintage Pop Fictions and it sounded like a really good read.

Scaramouche and The Sea Hawk by Rafael Sabatini: Ebooks from Project Gutenberg. I recently finished Captain Blood (again) and decided that I should try out other stories by the same author.

The Time Machine and War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells: More ebooks from Project Gutenberg. These will be on hand for the Science Fiction Experience I will be participating in. More details on that later!

Naval Miscellany by Angus Konstam: A bargain book from B&N that I couldn’t resist. It has some quick naval facts of various topics. I thought it would make a good companion to my Captain Blood, Horatio Hornblower and Aubrey/Maturin reading.

The Door to Far-Myst by Mike Dicerto: Won through Good Reads! I was super excited when I found out I won this. I’ve only been on Good Reads for a few months and felt quite spoiled to find I was selected to receive a copy. It’s signed and I got a bookmark with it! This will be a good one to read with Venessa.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead: Borrowed from the library. I mentioned a while ago I had it on hold but I just didn’t get it when I thought I would. That must mean it’s good if I had to wait through that many people who borrowed it too!

The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet by Arturo Perez-Reverte: Christmas present! (Thank you, Laura and Carol!) It’s the 5th book of the Captain Alatriste series. On a side note, I really need to learn Spanish; shameful, really that I don’t know much considering I’m half-Mexican. But the author tweets quite often but it’s all in Spanish and there is definitely something lost in the Google Chrome translation.

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson: Another Christmas present! (Thank you, Laura and Carol!) I missed out on the group read of this book on Stainless Steel Droppings. When I read the author had sent an email to add to the discussion I thought that was really awesome and knew I was missing out on something so this went on my Christmas Wish List.

Van Gogh The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith: Another Christmas present (Thank you, Steve My Love!) and the book I was really really looking forward to receiving. I’m not an art connoisseur and my art history knowledge is non-existant but I do really love Van Gogh’s work. The colors and textures speak to me and I just really like looking at the pretty pictures. This is a lovely book with a great cover too.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks: Purchased from B&N. I’ve been going through a zombie phase. It’s all The Walking Dead’s fault. And since Season 2 is on hiatus until February (those jerks!), I’ll have this book as well as Zone One for my zombie fix.

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein: Purchased from B&N and to be read for the Science Fiction Experience (as mentioned above). When I first saw the movie Starship Troopers, my first thought was, “What a rip off of The Forever War!” (a great book by Joe Haldeman by the way) not knowing it was even adapted from a book. Then I’ve learned from the internet that not all fans of the book were very happy with the movie. Shocker! But I’ve see Heinlein’s name here and there with lots of good things said about him so this will be my first Heinlein book.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov: I haven’t received this one yet. I ordered it through Loud Voice Books for the Stainless Steel Droppings Hosted Group Read in January. More on this later as well! And a special shout out to Loud Voice Books for answering my email and making sure they ordered the correct book.

London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets by Peter Ackroyd: Ordered through Amazon but I haven’t received it yet. Hey, what else are you to do with an Amazon Gift Card for Christmas?! Thanks, Dad! I thumbed through this at B&N one day and found it fascinating. Can’t wait to flip through its pages again!

See there’s nothing wrong with spreading the cheer amongst local shops and Amazon. And yes, I’m one of those who sees a book at a bookstore (usually B&N though) and will find out where it’s cheaper. What can I say, I’m a Scrooge. But I’m happy and so is my bank account so that’s what’s important and I do what I can to spread my VERY hard earned money around.

I am very happy with my new treasures. Who knows, maybe a woobie book is lurking amongst this list. I’m looking forward to the New Year to find out which one it is.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas Fanboys and girls!

We got some early Christmas presents this week in the form of full length trailers for the two most anticipated movies of 2012: The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit!

Yes, this was a good week for fanboys and girls. Let's discuss!:


Honestly, I haven’t been that huge a fan of the movies. I’ve seen Batman Begins a few times, actually owned in on DVD a few years ago but just couldn’t quite get into it. I’ve only see The Dark Knight once and that was in the theater. I don’t know why I’m not a hardcore fan of Nolan’s versions. It might be because I grew up watching Tim Burton's Batman that I’ve been hesitant to fully commit to Christopher Nolan’s version. BUT that doesn’t mean I’m still not excited about this movie and I’ll be there standing in line at midnight! And it has some excellent casting from Inception alumni that make me more interested in this one then the others: Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy.

And this trailer, even with its faults, still has nuggets of goodness: We have Catwoman giving Batman a piece of her mind (though my friend Caz pointed out that it’s reminiscent of the scene in Batman Returns with Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton), the sacking of the mansion gave me chills and the football player turning around to find the other players and the field gone! I would have liked more Gary Oldman so the teaser trailer from months ago is still my favorite since it showcased him.


Seriously. This brought tears to my eyes. It’s gorgeous.

It’s been years since I’ve read the book so I don’t remember everything about it. I just know the basic plot and I’ve been thinking about a re-read before the movie. But I don’t know if I will now. I’m starting to think maybe I should come into this with a, almost, fresh set of eyes. There is just so much about this trailer that’s amazing and should be taken in without the baggage of trying to compare it to the book; the music, the cinematography, Bilbo and lots of Dwarves! I wasn’t one who really cared much for the songs in the books or the previous movies but when the Dwarves started singing it took my breath away. And then Gollum appeared! Don’t EVEN get me started! This is epic.

Every couple of months I’ll watch The Lord of the Rings Extended Cut Trilogy. It’ll never grow old and it always amazes me what Peter Jackson and Company did. We have nearly the same crew for The Hobbit with the added bonus of Guillermo del Toro having worked on the screenplay and had been set to direct. Like I said, EPIC.

So, after that wonderful geek out, I’ll leave you with some holiday cheer since the season is all about family and togetherness and well, I think John Malkovich has the right perspective …

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Snuff by Terry Pratchett Review

A few years ago I read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I absolutely love that book. Since then I’ve read other books by Neil Gaiman but not Terry Pratchett and I’d always meant to. Finally, this year I did so with Snuff, the newest book of the Discworld series.

Discworld is a flat world balanced on the backs of four elephants that stand upon the back of a giant turtle. The world is peppered with wizards, trolls, dwarves, vampires, werewolves, goblins and there’s a small man named Wee Mad Arthur who captures and rides birds wherever he wants to go!

And there is of course the City Watch in the city of Ankh-Morpork, where Sam Vimes is the Commander. In Snuff we follow Sam on vacation with his wife and son. Sam is a lawman, through and through, and he will uphold the law, no matter what it takes. And even though he leaves the crime and corruption of Ankh-Morpork, it follows him even when he’s on vacation.

I jumped into Discworld blindly with Snuff. I knew absolutely nothing about it at the time, but I felt it was incredibly believable. It may help that there’s now 39 books in the series and Terry knows this world inside out.

I really like Sam Vimes. I don’t know everything he’s seen or done throughout the Discworld series, but I find him a believable, interesting character. I can see why he’s treated with respect and loyalty. And then there's Willikins, Sam's butler/body guard. This guy is great and I really liked his and Sam’s friendship as well as Sam and his wife, Lady Sybil’s, relationship. This is the type of relationships I like to read about: the love, respect, and understanding between friends and within a marriage.

One of my favorite themes in books is friendship and loyalty, how a character grows into this leader that people love, respect and would lay down their life for. In return they know, and we as well, that the person they would give their life to protect would in turn do the very same for them. Sam is one of those characters. This was a clever, fun and exciting read and I’m fully prepared to emerge myself into Discworld.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Storytime With Venessa: The Emerald Atlas

Normally I’d have a video of Venessa giving her thoughts on the books I’ve read to her. But it’s been a while since we finished The Emerald Atlas, and Venessa fell asleep a few times throughout our journey. Not that the book was boring! No, far from it. It’s just that this was the longest book we attempted to read together and our reading time is close to her bedtime and she’d just fall asleep. Kids these days, falling asleep at bedtime like they’re supposed to! Honestly, what will they do next? Volunteer to clear the table after dinner?

Anyways, you’ll only get my perspective of The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. It’s the story of Kate, Michael and Emma, three siblings, shuffled around to different orphanages, still holding onto the belief that their parents are still alive and will come from them one day. Their last stop is a mysterious house in a mysterious valley that is devoid of children. It’s here that they discover a magic book that takes them back in time where a terrible Countess has the valley under her control.

This felt a little like familiar territory. We’ve got a trio of children discovering magic for the first time, which made me think of Harry, Hermione and Ron. There’s also a strange man with a sword who came to their rescue and protected them from evil creatures wrapped in bandages (called Screechers). This reminded me of Aragorn protecting the Hobbits from the Black Riders in The Fellowship of the Ring, and these Screechers were also very reminiscent of the Dementors from Harry Potter. There’s also a magic book that reminded me of Riddle’s Diary from Harry Potter, the book Bastian reads in The Neverending Story and the Book of Gramarye from The Dark Is Rising. And of course when magic is involved there has to be an old wizard who knows more than he lets on and slowly reveals more when he sees fit (visions of Gandalf, Dumbledore and Merriman). Oh and there’s Dwarves too.

BUT I think it’s because of these very familiar elements I liked this story. I love Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Neverending Story and The Dark Is Rising. I love the different elements of these stories wrapped up in this new, thrilling adventure. This book does have a voice of its own with a different story to tell and I really enjoyed it.

There were times though when the author would begin describing a situation, only to rewind to explain how they got there. This happened a few times and confused me and Venessa. Also there were some really long sentences. However, it didn’t keep this book from being one that was still very easy to read aloud. And I do love Kate, Michael and Emma. They felt like real kids, the way they would pick on each other and squabble the way siblings do, yet they care very deeply for each other as a family should. I want to give them all hugs. I’m definitely looking forward to Book 2 to see what happens next as they learn more and more about their magical abilities. And the cover art is just beautiful!

Next up for us, Redwall by Brian Jacques! I did a happy dance when Venessa picked this book for me to read aloud to her.

Monday, December 12, 2011

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

- from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

Jabberwocky by Daniel Coleman is the story of Tjaden and his quest to find the Jabberwocky, the infamous creature from the Lewis Carol poem, who has been terrorizing the world of Wonderland.

There was action, adventure and betrayal, all things I enjoy heartily. Throw in an interesting twist that the Jabberwocky may be more than a mindless beast and we’ve got ourselves a fun story.

Confession: I’ve never read Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass. All I know is the Disney version of Wonderland and at one time I memorized the Jabberwocky poem (still remember quite a bit too). But after reading Jabberwocky I’m more inspired than ever to read the source material that influenced Daniel Coleman’s version. And fortunately my husband found our copy recently during a de-cluttering of our spare room.

I definitely want to read more about Wonderland and not just the original version by Lewis Carroll. I’m all about Expanded Universes and fantastical worlds that are created with dozens of stories to be told and explored. I’ve had issues with stories in the past that felt like a word quota had to be reached, but that wasn’t the case here. In fact, I wanted more! But, that’s what Hatter is for:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Looking A Lot Like Christmas!

Which means fun with Christmas movies! At our house we have our favorites and I wanted to share some them with you and talk about movies I actually LIKE! (Sorry for being such a bitter crank about Transformers 3. Actually, no, I’m not sorry, carry on…):

The Santa Claus This is not really one of my favorites but my daughter loves it, especially the extra features on the DVD. She really likes the game that unlocks a cartoon and the Wolfgang Puck segment where he makes pizza, cookies and hot chocolate. Venessa wants to leave a pizza for Santa now.

Elf We LOVE this movie. I really love Will Farrell’s, Buddy. He’s so obnoxious but it’s a fun, naïve obnoxiousness that you can’t help but like him. And it’s not just Buddy, there’s so many things going on in this movie, these little Easter Eggs of goodness, such as Amy Sedaris as the secretary on the phone about taking care of a litter of kittens, or the toy department manager giving Buddy and Jovie grief and insisting on six inch ribbon curls. This movie really puts you in the holiday spirit near the end when everyone starts singing "Santa Claus is Coming To Town".

A Christmas Story Another family favorite with some of the BEST lines:

“I can’t put my arms down!”

“Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.” “Uh, I think that says fragile, dear.”

“A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch.”

And the most famous, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” followed up with “Oh my god! I shot my eye out!”

And who doesn’t want a leg lamp shining brightly from their living room window? Ralphie is hilarious and this is one of the rare movies where the child actors ACT like real kids. You can just feel the wonder and excitement of Christmas morning when you watch this movie.

Christmas Vacation This movie has one of my all time favorite quotes:

“Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!”

I mean, is it really that bad to walk out of your house to find Eddie, in his underwear and robe dumping the shitter from the RV into the sewer?

Yes, it is. Stay classy, Eddie.

And how about Clark’s epic melt down:

“Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?”

Already these movies have been on heavy rotation at our house and will continue to do so for the rest of the month. We have others, such as Home Alone, Jingle All the Way, A Christmas Carol, etc. but the four above are the classics in our house.

Now it’s your turn to share. Which holiday movies are your favorites and which ones will you be watching 10+ times throughout December?

For some holiday spirit (and to erase the image of Eddie in his robe), go to Youtube here to watch Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from one of my favorite movies, Meet Me in St. Louis (I would have embedded the video but all the good ones wouldn't let me. The nerve!).

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Movie Madness: Transformers, Dark of the Moon and Don't Even Bother

We rented Transformers: Dark of the Moon the other day from Red Box. What a waste of $1.29. But I would have been even more upset if I had seen this in the theater last summer because this movie made no sense!

The second one didn't either and you would think they’d correct that but no, they didn’t. They just made it worse. Ugh, seriously, after watching Inception the first time I knew what had happened and why. Too bad I can't say the same for Transformers 3. Some of my biggest pet peeves with this movie follows (Spoilers below):

  1. The top half of that skyscraper leaning over and held in place by another building: It made no sense to me. That is not structurally possible, is it?! I mean, God, I hated that. Then that tentacle Decepticon thingy running through the building. If it wanted to kill them so bad, why didn’t it just blow the damn thing up!
  2. Rosie Huntington-Whatever: I didn’t mind her as a replacement for Megan Fox. But that damn white jacket that never got dirty really got on my nerves. And all she got to do was look hot, scream “Sam!” a million times (yes, I know what his name is!) and she told Megatron he was somebodies bitch? I guess that was supposed to be cool?
  3. How many times did they fall through glass windows and not get cut up by that? I don’t get it! Since when does glass not cut the hell out of you when you fall through it that many times?! Even Die Hard pointed this out when John McClane went running through it bare foot then had to pull a huge piece out of his foot. And look, even Terry thinks it's ridiculous too!:
  4. The people jumping out of windows: Why? What were they supposed to do? I thought the military couldn’t get into Chicago? They made a point of trying to get the bridges down. So where did they come from? Why were they there? Again, what were they supposed to do? I’m pretty sure they were jumping out of windows. They didn’t jump from any planes because they were shot down by the Decepticons, right? I guess I could have gone back to find out but I wasn’t about to waste my time.
  5. And seriously, Michael Bay, you know men were dragging their wives/girlfriends to this movie, the least you could have done was give the ladies some eye candy. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson were not enough. Were they shirtless? No. The movie gets an F- just for that. Even some English dude, whose all Shakespearean and serious about movie stuff, knew what the ladies wanted when they went to see Thor (which is the ONLY reason I wanted to see Thor on Mother’s Day (and I was really looking for another excuse to use this pic)).

So in conclusion, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was a big waste of time and it made me want to throw squirrels at Michael Bay, Dixon-style:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

NANOWRIMO: It's a Wrap!

NANOWRIMO is officially over and I won!

Last Tuesday, I had 2,895 words to go so I settled down for a write-a-thon and did it! The official word count is: 50, 118!

I’m so proud of myself. I was not about to give up no matter how frustrating it got at times. There were times writer’s block seemed to keep me from reaching my daily word count goal but I would be out walking the dog, running an errand or twiddling my thumbs and Ta-Da! I’d have an idea and I’d just run with it once I sat down to write.

It feels so good to have accomplished this! The pressure is off but now it’s time to EDIT! DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN… Now I get to figure out what I want to keep, what I don’t want to keep, make some final decisions, correct as many grammar and continuity mistakes as I can, then see where to take it from there.

And after all this, I thought I’d take a break from waking up at 6am so I could rejoin the living for a bit and get some extra sleep but noooooooo… I set my alarm for 6:30am the next day but I was wide awake at 6am with itchy writing fingers. I tried to ignore it but there I was writing away in my notebook. Oh well, I tried.

I wasn't the only one to win the 2011 Nanowrimo challenge. My friend Lindsay, blogger extraordinaire (and coworker) worked her magic too this month! And today is her birthday, so Congrats and Happy Birthday, Lindsay!

Thank you to all my friends and family for putting up with my daily word count updates on Facebook and for their words of encouragement. And I especially want to thank my husband and daughter for being supportive and putting up with me when I would shush them as I finished writing out a scene (sorry, guys!). Thanks you so much, you rock and I love you! To celebrate I baked some Nanowrimo Winners Brownies for us:

And now I leave you with an excerpt because I know everyone was probably thinking all I wrote all month, over and over and over, was “All work and no play makes Sarah a dull girl”:

He didn’t know how he felt about being back in the city. It had been thirty years. It had changed some but it was still dirty, grimy and full of lowlifes, cheats... and vampires.

He felt them everywhere he went. He tried to avoid them. But wherever he went they were there too and old habits and instinct were hard to ignore.

He found two vampires taking a nice leisurely walk. One vampire was older and the other, younger, maybe having been turned no more than a couple years ago. Any human who paid any attention to them would just assume they were two friends out to have a drink or two

But he knew. He had an advantage that carried over into this life, if it could be called that. And he knew what they were up to and followed them.

He watched them enter a hotel lobby and head over to the bar. They ordered wine but left it untouched, chatting with the other bar patrons. They were there for several hours. He could wait. He wasn’t going anywhere until they were.

Finally they left. With a lovely lady on the arm of the young vampire. The older one bid them good night and went on his way. The young one and the lady walked along, her stumbling, the vampire holding her steady. She laughed aloud whenever he whispered something in her ear. They stepped into an alleyway. He picked up his pace.

He found them leaning against a wall making out. He didn’t feel like a pervert because he knew the charade. It was the same for all vampires. He saw the flash of fang, the slight lift of the head before the bite, then heard the whoosh of a crossbow. He smiled as he saw the bolt slide easily through the vampire’s ear and the point coming out of the other. An excellent shot.

He kept himself hidden in the shadows to watch the rest of the operation, a sense of pride and nostalgia washing over him. Some things never change.

He heard the quiet footsteps of two people running. The drunk girl was shaking as she looked down at the vampire with the arrow sticking through its head. She was in shock, her eyes wide with fear.

“Oh my god, are you alright?” A woman’s voice asked her. It seemed to bring the drunk girl back to her senses some. She nodded.

“What happened?” She stammered.

“Gosh, I don’t know,” the other woman told her then slid a needle in the drunk woman’s arm and she fell to the ground.

He smiled. She would wake up tomorrow and vow never to drink like that again.

Then it came to his favorite part. The beheading of the vampire. Done so easily and skillfully. He wished he was there with them partaking in the fun. But that was no longer his duty anymore, not since… he wanted to turn away, it was no use torturing himself with memories of days long gone, when something made him stop. Something about the hunters.

He watched. The more he watched, the more it felt like he was turning all over again. He didn't know if he should smile with pride or run in panic. Afraid he’d do something incredibly stupid he left the hunters to their work.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Movie Madness: Guest Review for J. Edgar

I’m super excited. This will be the first guest post on this blog! I let some friends and family know I’d like to get their thoughts on the books they’ve been reading and movies they’ve been watching. And really, you don't want just my opinion, now, do you?

I received the first one from my awesome mom-in-law, Laura. So, sit back, read and enjoy her review of J. Edgar!:

This is my first movie critique but I’m inspired by Sarah to share some thoughts after watching J. Edgar last weekend. My partner Carol and I were looking forward to seeing it. Leonardo DiCaprio. Clint Eastwood directing. We don’t go to the movies often but we didn’t think we could go wrong with this one, and we even sprang for hot dogs, popcorn and soda to do it right, the cost be damned.

Bottom line, we felt like we got our money’s worth.

I can’t exactly explain what we were expecting, but looking back at other Eastwood-directed pictures I should have maybe been more prepared for the overwhelming character analysis that was the main thrust of the picture. The social and cultural changes that occurred during Hoover’s reign as Director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972 were enormous. That was entertaining backdrop for the characters’ choices as they progressed in their careers, and we got a bit of a history lesson along the way. Every so often Carol and I would turn to each other and mouth “I didn’t know that happened then.”

If you’ve read anything about this movie, you probably already know that it “outs” J. Edgar and his male assistant/companion. Their relationship and the relationship of J. Edgar and his loyal secretary, and his relationship with his mother who was very involved in his life were shown in context with his public, professional role as the man who almost single-handedly built the FBI into a powerful organization with the ability to not only catch the bad guys but also sway the political decisions of Presidents.

When I left the theater, I felt like I’d just seen a beautifully performed live play, and I would actually like to see the movie again with that frame of mind going in. This is not a movie with a lot of special effects and some scenes could even be considered a bit naïve in their production … if we judge it against the many movies made today with both casual and calculated special effects to sweep us along the plot of the story, if there even is one.

There were, of course, major makeup effects to age Leonardo and supporting characters, but again I had the feeling that this was the stuff of a live stage performance and for me it enhanced the sense of understanding that this film was not just about a different time, it was about a different way of living. However, it’s true that there’s nothing new under the sun, so it’s still possible to relate to many of the characters’ challenges and quests.

Thank you, Laura!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Storytime With Venessa: Thanksgiving Special

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving. We most certainly did and while I miss our family in California, I’m grateful to enjoy a day with my husband and daughter. And with that I present a Storytime With Venessa video!

Last week I wrote she got a Magic Tree House book, #29 Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne, from the school book fair. And she’s already on her second read! Plus, she’s been reading on her own! I’m so proud. In the video Venessa will read a couple of pages and we’ll talk about the story a bit.

FYI: I haven’t read this story so I really don't know what it's about. Like I said she’s been reading on her own. Also, we had some technical difficulties during “filming”. We lost power for two seconds in the house and then the batteries in the Flip video died. Oh well, enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Madness: Immortals and Breaking Dawn Part 1

I got to enjoy a four day weekend and with that I saw two movies. I saw Immortals with my husband on Thursday for my birthday and then on Sunday, I saw Breaking Dawn Part 1 with my friend, Caz. So the verdict (and FYI there will be spoilers):


The Good – Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff (sidekicks are always fun) and some OK fight scenes.

The Bad – Theseus (really, this is the new Superman?) was dull and I totally did not buy him trying to fire up an army to fight. You couldn’t tell the gods apart other than Zeus, but only because he was mentioned by name, as well as Athena, who, again, was mentioned by name. I did recognize Poseidon but only because I’ve read The Lighting Thief and know Poseidon carries a trident. Otherwise, who the hell were the other gods there fighting the Titans? Oh, and there weren’t enough abs and we saw this in 3D and didn’t care for it. It looked blurry and dull. Boo.

Breaking Dawn Part 1

The Good – I LOL through the whole movie.

The Bad – The movie. But of course I was expecting that since I did read the book. And I’m really disturbed by the fact that I remembered that damn styrofoam cup and straw Bella drinks her blood from and that she was eating fried chicken when she got sick and discovered she was pregnant with the demon spawn. Seriously, in a house of blood suckers who hunt wild animals for blood, they have a cup and straw readily available? It was probably mentioned in the book where it came from but who cares. And I mean, really? The first thing that comes to mind after getting sick after eating undercooked chicken is you’re pregnant? And that’s not all but I really don’t want to get into it. And since I did read the book I know I will not be seeing Part 2 only because a whole lot of nothing happens so why bother. At least in part one we got to watch Bella turn into Gollum (Caz's description that was very appropriate) and were totally grossed out with Jacob imprinting with Renesmee (worst. name. ever.).

So not the greatest of movies but I did have a good time so that’s what counts! The last movie I saw in the theatre was Fright Night so it was good to get out and catch up with what’s out there and now it’s got me in the mood to see more movies. The new Sherlock Holmes is coming so I’m totally looking forward to that (LOVE Robert Downey Jr.!) as well as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (haven’t read the book yet but not sure if I will bother before the movie) and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (but only for Jeremy Renner. Tom Cruise, Boo.).

Soooo… anyone else see any good movies this weekend and what new ones are you looking forward to?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What’s Happening, Hot Stuff?

Oh, not much. Just chillin, hangin out with my husband and daughter. You know, the usual on my birthday, no big deal.

But what is a big deal! B-day presents in the form of a DVD and books!

Yes, that’s the John Lithgow book and yes, that’s HP 7.2, the movie that this blog started with and a great illustrated book of the Heroes of the Round Table. These wonderful gifts were from my sister, dad, mom-in-law and Carol (Thanks, guys!).

Other happenings this week:

1. A visit to the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughter’s school produced a purchase of two books. A chapter book for V (Magic Tree House #29 Christmas in Camelot and she’s on chapter 11!) and THE GIRL WHO COULD FLY (for V as well, obviously).

2. And because Simon and Schuster and Book Riot are awesome I got an advanced reader copy of Carry The One.

3. Nanowrimo is still happening and I’m at 27,337 words so far. I’m really enjoying the process and I’ve found I’m more inspired when I wake up early to write during the week. The weekend not so much. But it’s the half way point and so far so good! Let’s GIT-R-DONE!

Now off to enjoy Harry Potter 7.2 and some Birthday cake!

Monday, November 14, 2011


“Beauty is in the smize of the beholder.”

Yes, that’s an actual quote. And yes, Modelland by Tyra Banks, is an actual book. With pages. And no, it’s not written in red lipstick (Though that would have been awesome!).

Modelland is a mystical place where only the truly exception girls go to become one of seven Intoxibellas, the super-est (Hey, if Tyra can make up words, so can I!) of super models. Each year seven new Intoxibellas are chosen and released into the world to work their magic to entice you to buy everything from makeup, clothes, cars, and everything in between. And once it’s out with the old, then it’s in with the new as more girls are chosen to start the whole thing over again.

We begin with poor Tookie De La Crème (yes, that’s her name). A Forgetta-Girl (yes, it’s a word. Tyra said so!) who has been ignored by her family and classmates for as long as she can remember. Her parents dote on her little sister, Myrracle (yes, that’s her name) but when Tookie is chosen for Modelland, despite her parent’s best efforts to send Myrracle, it’s an opportunity for Tookie to finally shine. With four new best friends and a frightening mentor named, Ci~L (yes, that’s her name), Tookie will discover the horrors that await her in Modelland but strangely finds in it a new home where she feels she truly belongs.

Well, if you haven’t guessed already, Modelland is a strange, strange book. It’s silly, ridiculous, silly, non-sensical, silly… Tyra can tell a story but I think there is definitely room for improvement and editing next time. There would be times when I would think, “Wow, Tyra, I think you have something here.” Then she goes and throws in Guru Applaussez, who has a hand head, which she whips back and forth between her left and right hand to applause. Get it? Yeah.

As a long time viewer of America’s Next Top Model you can see where Tyra got her inspiration and I also know not take this book seriously. Have you not seen ANTM? Have you seen the challenges those girls go through? Modeling with tarantulas, walking along floating runways over water, posing as gargoyles or circus freaks or underwater, Cover Girl commercials from hell…

This was like watching a mystical, highly stylized version of America’s Next Top Model. It was all so melodramatic and I could totally hear Tyra’s voice as I read. Including. Her. Famous. Pauses. I’m stuck in between thinking this book is horrible and it’s so bad it’s good! But damn, were there some quotes:

Feed me an entire grilled cow, now!

Oh dahling, I can feel the burn now. But you know what they say… no pain, no removal of funk stain.

What’s up, Hot Queen?

The Pilgrim Plague, however, is terminal, dahling. And I am not referring to an airline departure lounge.


The boobies high and tight on me. My knobbies pert and firm, agree. But forever young they will not be. No bra, they’ll sag with grav-i-tee!

Why is it bitter bitches have the worst halitosis? (We need a scientific experiment to find out if this is true!)

Oh and THIS PART had me DYING:

Bravo put his hand on the side of Tookie’s face. The warmth from it felt like sweet tea pouring into her mouth. He whispered straight into her ear, his lips brushing against her earlobe.

“I really like this, Tookie. It feels… right. I know I have to get out of here before you get in trouble, but… I don’t’ want to leave.”

His words felt like maple syrup coursing through her veins. “And I don’t want you to,” she replied. “You make me feel…” A single tear fell from her brown eye. “… like… like a … Rememba-Girl.”

Are you swooning from all the talk of sweet tea pouring into her mouth and maple syrup coursing through her veins? Yeah, neither was I. And look! Another word Tyra made up: Rememba-Girl!

So yeah, I don’t know what else to say. This is the first of a planned trilogy. Should I be excited or scared? And Tyra even threatened a movie. Uh sure, you do that, Tyra.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Zombies vs. The Trinity Killer vs. The other half of Good Omens

Sooooooooooooo Barnes and Nobles was giving out 50% off coupons over the weekend……

Aaaaannnnnddddd of course I had to take advantage of it. But I wasn't about to use it on a $6.99 paperback. I was going for the big leagues this time: an expensive, recently released hard cover. I scanned my wish list on both Good Reads and Amazon and went in to B&N with a mental list. After some browsing and thumbing through the ones I had in mind, it came down to these three choices:

Zombies vs. The Trinity Killer vs. The other half of Good Omens

Seriously, this was the hardest decision EVER!

I had to give it some serious thought. First I read through three pages of each book.

Well, hell, that didn’t help!

I then had to remind myself that I do have a hold for Zone One at the library and might actually get it within the next two weeks. So that took it out of the running.

That left the Trinity Killer and the other half of Good Omens.

Once again, another tough choice! Especially when I imagine reading John Lithgow’s book and hearing his voice in my head, BUT only read like this (3:35 to be exact). And seriously, I practically grew up with John Lithgow. He was there in Footloose and Harry and the Hendersons when I was a kid. Then, in my late teens/early twenties he was there in 3rd Rock from the Sun. And not too long ago he was the best thing on Dexter since… well, I don’t know he was just THE BEST. So creepy and terrible and such a match for Dexter!

I haven’t read any Terry Pratchett, but for Good Omens, which he wrote with Neil Gaiman. Neil has been getting a lot of attention from me lately, having finished Fragile Things, and I’ve read Anansi Boys and American Gods. So it wasn’t really fair to leave Terry out. I’ve read good reviews for the Discworld series and when I read Neil and Terry's comments on the writing process of Good Omens, well it was really inspiring! Plus the cover was more interesting and colorful. And after a quick text message to my sister for her opinion the winner is……

Now I just need to finish reading Jabberwocky. And Captain Blood (yes, again). And The King's Gold. So many good books! My life. Is. Awesome.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Showing Some Book Cover Love

I took Venessa to Barnes and Nobles one Saturday for storytime. As she sat with the other kids listening to stories and then playing with the train set they have set up, I wandered through the shelves of the Children’s section. It seems the kids get some of the best covers for books! Look at some of these:

This is so lovely! Jack and Hazel are best friends but when they turn eleven, Jack begins to drift away. But his best friend believes that something more sinister is at work. This sounds like a good one to read with Venessa.

This looks like so much fun! It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book and I LOVED those as a kid! It's based on real facts about mountain climbing and Mount Everest. This is another one I think Venessa and I would have a good time reading together.

This cover just jumped out at me. Look at that determined look on her face! It has such a muted color palette but it really stands out. And the story sounds like a Tiny X-Men: The Elementary School Years!

This looks like a movie poster to me and I think it did its job. It really drew me in and sounds like a fun story to read with Venessa too. I want to know where these kids are going and if I can go with them! B&N, put this book at the top of the shelf! It shouldn't be hiding at the bottom. Shame on you!

These were just too pretty to not take a picture of and I’ve read great reviews for all three.

To me it’s not so much the cover but that I’ve been seeing this book around a lot and it's tempting me. I read The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters and really enjoyed them. Do not be surprised if I pick this one up for myself, even though I haven't read Book One. Gah, book series! So many to keep up with!

This one is just too darn cute! Little mice at sea! Awwww!

And I know I’ve been wanting a vintage copy of Captain Blood, but I had to see what B&N had available:

I like the pirates fighting, the title graphic and then there’s an introduction by Bernard Cornwell. I’m just not diggin the pirate pointing the guns at me. Gah, so close yet so far! But I don’t know… that Bernard Cornwell intro just might seal the deal. He’s awesome! Have you ever read any of the Richard Sharpe books? They’re full of action, adventure and excitement. I’m almost willing to put up with the funny looking pirate but ugh, the mustache.

I don't remember him having a mustache and I'm in the middle of my second reading of Captain Blood and so far they have not said anything about him having one. This bothers me. If he does not have a mustache, then why put a character, that is obviously meant to be Captain Blood, on the cover with a mustache? Someone has not read the book and this is annoying. A book cover should reflect the story inside. Not what a graphic artist presumes it's about.

I just really, really hate mustaches.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One Challenge Down, Another Takes It’s Place

So about two months ago I committed to the RIP Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.

I committed to two challenges: Peril the Third with House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski and Peril of the Short Story with At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft. I completed both, reviews which can be found here and here. And of course there was the group reading of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman.

I've mentioned before I don't normally participate in challenges but I'm glad I did. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed reading the reviews of others who participated. And even though House of Leaves and At the Mountains of Madness were both challenging in their own ways, they were worth reading. And I really really enjoyed discussing the short stories from Fragile Things. I hope others who participated in the challenge had as good a time as I did. And I hope you readers enjoyed reading some of my thoughts on the book and short story I reviewed for the challenge.

This is my favorite time of year. The air is cool, I can wrap up in my quilt and really enjoy a cup of hot coffee and now that I'm done with one challenge, I’m ready for the next, which will be....


What is Nanowrimo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month! And I’m going to commit to it this year!

The Goal: Write a novel - 50,000 words - in one month!

For the last 2-3 years I’ve flirted with it but never got anywhere. But I believe this year is different!

I have a story that’s been kicking around in my head and I’ve been prepping it for a few months now. I have character profiles, an outline, a beginning, middle and end. So I have something to get started with. And I’m used to writing daily now. I’ve been working on my blog for about four months. And every morning, I’ve been writing three pages of something, anything, as long as I write three pages worth. So I’m used to having a writing schedule. And there’s a local Nanowrimo group who will be meeting up throughout the challenge. Plus, a coworker has signed up and a friend in Oklahoma is a pro so I’m encouraged by them.

I can do this. I just need to quit being so flaky. It’s only 50,000 words in one month. 1666 words a day. Every day. For thirty days straight… No, I will not be discouraged. I’m doing this!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fragile Things Group Read, Week 8

This is it, the last of the short stories for Neil Gaiman’s, Fragile Things. This has been a lot of fun. I want to say thank you to Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting this group read because 1) I finally read the book that’s been sitting on my shelf for over a year, 2) there have been some great treasures found within the pages of Fragile Things that I’ve enjoyed and 3) I’ve gained insight into different tales and folklores that I probably never would have read about had it not been for these discussions. So remember, there will be spoilers once again with these last four stories:

The Day the Saucers Came


Inventing Aladdin

The Monarch of the Glen

The Day the Saucers Came: So we’ve got flying saucers, zombies, Ragnarok (which I had no idea what that was until I did some research for The Monarch of the Glen!) warring Gods and Giants coming to get us. But we’re too busy to notice. The first thought that came to mind reading this… “Of course I wouldn’t notice! I’m too busy blogging!”

Sunbird: Zebediah T. Crawcrustle, the real director of a group of Epicureans who one day decide they’ve eaten everything there is to eat (vulture, mole, fruitbat, mammoth, etc.). Zebediah suggests they eat Sunbird.

I liked Zebediah, how he was found sleeping in odd places and eating fireflies and charcoal and you’re wondering where is this all leading?

It’s the story of the phoenix, rising from the ashes. And not only does a real phoenix rise from its own ashes after the Epicureans have eaten it, but they in turn burn until nothing but their ashes are left, with Zebediah then rising from their ashes, a young man ready to start a new Epicurean Club to go through the whole thing all over again. I’d love to read more about Zebediah and his eccentricities and learn who and what he really is and how he managed to harness the power of a phoenix for himself.

Inventing Aladdin: Another poem I liked. I loved the TV series Arabian Nights so based on that I'm somewhat familiar with Scheherazade and her stories. This reminds me of Neil’s idea that we need to tell stories, something mentioned in the Introduction and told wonderfully through Locks. In this case, for Scheherazade, it’s to save her life.

The Monarch of the Glen: It’s good to see Shadow again! But not so good to see Mr. Alice and Smith again, they of Keepsakes and Treasures. Those two are nothing but trouble and are up to no good in this story. And of course they have to drag poor Shadow into their scheme. I liked Shadow in American Gods and I like him here too. He doesn’t try to hurt or take advantage of anyone but it always seems there are others who try to do so to him. But so far he’s managed to get out of sticky situations. But being the son of Odin I guess he’s bound to get into more.

Ending Fragile Things with a story of Shadow two years after the events of American Gods was a good way to end this collection of short stories. I’m going to miss reading and discussing these stories. But there are still more Neil Gaiman stories out there I can pick up and you know I will. Stardust has been calling to me for a while now.

Hope everyone is having a Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Another ZA To Brighten Up Your Halloween

In Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, seventeen year old Alex is suffering from a brain tumor. Tired of the treatments and waiting to die, she retreats on a camping trip alone. While out in the woods an electromagnetic pulse fries everything. Birds loose sense of direction, animals run off cliffs and perfectly healthy people drop dead. Alex somehow survives. But she is changed. And it’s a different change compared to some of the others who have survived the EMP, becoming zombie-like cannibals. As she searches to find out what happened she finds other survivors; eight year old Ellie and her dog, and Tom, a soldier on leave from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

I don’t know if I really believe an EMP can affect people BUT it works in this story. There are some tense Edge of Your Seat/Nail Biting moments. Obviously after a post apocalyptic event the world would descend into chaos. The fun twist with this one is that the majority of the survivors are over the age of sixty-five with a handful of young people who may or may not turn into these zombie/cannibals.

And of course nothing ever goes right for Alex, Tom and Ellie as they try to find a safe place amongst the chaos. And of course that’s alright with me! If things went perfectly and they didn’t meet up with geriatric highway robbers, cannibals jumping from behind trees, a town that offers sanctuary but is run with an iron fist… well, then that would be one boring read and this was not.

However, I sense them trying to sneak in a Love Triangle and I won’t have it! I paid my dues with Twilight. And the LT in The Hunger Games is my least favorite part. And because I loathe LTs so much, I bailed on Sookie and Anita before I had to read any of their drama. I don't care if Alex is seventeen and hormones are raging. I'm done with the LTs. Why can’t there be a novel with a real, functioning relationship amongst chaos and drama? Maybe I should just write my own. You know, that’s not a bad idea… stay tuned!

Anyways, other than the hint of a LT, two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me for Ashes. Being a fan of The Walking Dead (even if it, too, is suffering from LT they gutted a zombie so all good) I was totally diggin this book (the cover not so much). This is a good weekend book to curl up with and gnaw your fingernails off. It is the first of a trilogy and yeah, I’ll be back... because it ended on a bit of a CLIFFHANGER!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Nerd Out!

Book Riot forced my hand to post on a non-posting day. My mild OCD is having a fit! But I wasn’t about to pass up a $100 gift card!

So they wanted to know when I was at my crazy nerdiest for a book. My first reaction was Captain Blood. And then I remembered the two months of my life that were literally out of my control and in the hands of George R.R. Martin as I read the first three books of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It's not fair to choose just one when I geeked out over four!

First we have Captain Peter Blood, the Captain Jack Sparrow/Dr. Doug Ross of the high seas! Oh Peter, weren’t you just so charismatic, smart and boy, can you swoon over a woman! I really just wanted to slap you and say, well, I only know one person who can do what I wanted to do much better. Cher, you have the honor...

And you did, Peter! You washed and curled your hair, buckled your sword to your hip (hee) and oh my goodness don’t even get me started on the cannon scene! There is a sinister side to Captain Blood that makes him such a great complicated character! And there's swashbuckling, sailing the Caribbean, hidden pirate hang outs, running from the Royal Navy and the Spaniards and there's RUM!

Yeah, Captain Blood goes everywhere with me now thanks to the Kindle App on my phone.

Then there was the drama of A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. Books I read in a ROW! Seriously, I wasn’t joking. I had no life for two months. I was living and breathing Westeros.

With A Storm of Swords I had serious issues. I would got angry, giddy... I was reading a hundred pages a night! Then the way it ends! Tyrion, you little, sinister, snarky, smarty pants you! And Jon Snow: if the theories on the internet turn out to be true, I approve. Arya Stark: Girl, you frighten me. But in a “I swear it wasn’t me who killed half your family don’t kill me” kind of way! Ser Jorah: Getting a little too swooney but still your handy with a sword. Ugh, dragon girl, how could you... why... I don’t care... ugh, I’m still angry at what you did to him! Characters got what they deserved. Others got what they DIDN'T deserve. I was rendered incoherent after one particular scene from A Storm of Swords. Oh George, you terrible terrible man, but oh, how I loved handing over those two months of my life to your world.

Yeah, I still haven't recovered. Book Nerd, over and out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tales of H.P. Lovecraft

For the RIP Challenge, not only did I commit to reading House of Leaves but I also decided to read a short story, my choice being At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft. I had wanted to read At the Mountains of Madness for a while, ever since I read online Guillermo Del Toro was adapting the story for a movie. I’m a fan of his liking both Hell Boy movies and Blade 2. I feel he’s shown a good balance between character development and action and always felt he should have had a shot at directing a Harry Potter film. So I was pretty disappointed to learn At the Mountains of Madness was canned (but no Tom Cruise to suffer through so Bonus!). But that did not stop me so along with reading that, I decided to give two other Lovecraft tales a shot; The Outsider and The Rats in the Walls.

At the Mountains of Madness was my introduction to H.P. Lovecraft since it was the story I was most excited to read. Surprisingly (and unfortunately) it turned out to be my least favorite, which really bummed me out. It starts out very slow, with the narrator describing everything about the journey and settling in at the camps for an Antarctic expedition. And I mean EV. ERY. THING. I read through it but it didn’t stick. The story picked up some when a group from the expedition decided to further explore based on some very interesting fossils that were discovered. The radio messages relayed were fun showcasing a scientist’s excitement of a new discovery that could rewrite the scientific communities established theories. Then things go horribly wrong and you would think that’s when the story would get exciting but that’s when the story went downhill for me. The radio messages stop and now a new expedition is launched to find the first group who have gone silent.

The narrator keeps warning and hinting at these “horrors” but when they were finally revealed I didn’t find them to be all that horrifying. I can only imagine that if Guillermo Del Toro is finally able to revisit a film adaptation, that he will correct this (and hopefully without Tom Cruise).

Even though I was disappointed with At the Mountains of Madness, I didn’t want that to be my only experience with H.P. Lovecraft so I went on to read The Outsider. This was a much better read. It felt like something that would have been part of Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories in Fragile Things. We have someone trying to escape a prison of foreboding walls that surround and block out the stars. He climbs and climbs until he’s free and discovers why the stars had been hidden. It’s a surprise ending that reminded me of The Sixth Sense and A Study in Emerald from the Fragile Things collection, but it was a much more frightening reveal that made this an enjoyable read. And then I came to…

The Rats in the Walls. Don’t you just love that title?! And this story was CREEPY! And you know from the beginning that something is going to happen. With At the Mountains of Madness and The Outsider there are vague hints to what might happen. With The Rats in the Walls, you get vague and not so vague hints and the build-up definitely delivers. This is a story I would love to see adapted to film. I could have done without the name of a cat in the story but The Rats in the Walls was creepy and gross and had a truly shocking, sad, disgusting ending! It was SO GOOD! And then the following night I go and watch Let Me In! I was on a roll with the freak outs two nights in a row!

I’m so glad I didn’t let At the Mountain of Madness be the only story of H.P. Lovecraft tales be all that I know. After The Outsider and The Rats in the Walls, I want to read more. Gah! Rats in the Walls still gives me the creeps thinking about it! It’s awesome!