Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trailer Roundup: The Great Gatsby and Les Misérables

The last few days we were given a treat: Teasers for two movies I’m very excited to see! There was The Great Gatsby and Les Misérables with a first glimpse into two very remarkable movies with very remarkable and devoted fans of the source material.  Let's take a look! 

The Great Gatsby


I like it. A lot. But of course I do because I’m a fan of Baz Luhrmann and his Spectacular Spectacular-ness! I’ve seen rumblings on the internet about why 3-D. Why not? Why can’t we have something in 3-D that’s not blowing up in our face? I want to be enveloped in the Roaring Twenties in all its extravagant and emotional glory. My only issue is Tobey Maguire’s narration. He wasn’t very good at it in Spiderman and it’s just not working for me here in this trailer. Plus I watched about ten minutes of Ride with the Devil. It wasn’t a very good ten minutes. I may be more kinder than some when it comes to this trailer but then, the last time I read this book was in high school so I only remember the basic plot of the story so all that deep stuff we discussed has been long forgotten and I’m all about the pretty right now with this trailer.

Les Misérables


I only know of this from listening to the 10th Anniversary Concert (having recorded in off of PBS and waiting through their ridiculously long breaks) and listening to my Les Mis CD about a hundred times. I’ve never seen it on stage or read the book, so I’m really excited about seeing a fully realized setting to the songs I know and love. Seeing Hugh Jackman and Russell Crow as Jean Valjean and Javert is just incredible! I know Russell Crow can rock the period costume after watching him in Master and Commander. I've never heard him sing before so that will be interesting. I’ve heard Hugh Jackman sing when he hosted the Academy Awards and his brilliant routine with Neil Patrick Harris. He makes me smile the way Gene Kelly does. He’s so natural and he looks good in this movie. Anne Hathaway, who is singing in this trailer brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Her voice is a little wobbly, a bit weak (but then I’ve been listening to Ruthie Henshall the whole time as Fantine) but I feel something, I feel Fantine’s pain and desperation. That’s a good thing! And then I did read they are singing live on set so...

What do you think?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Neverwhere Group Read Part 2

It’s time for Part 2 of the Neverwhere group read.  This part covers chapters 6 through 12 (I forgot to mention that part 1 covered the prologue through chapter 5).  So what has happened since then?  Spoilers below …

Richard, having nowhere to go, is accompanying Door, her guard Hunter, through the underworld of London.  Door finds the angel, Islington, who instructs her to get a key from the Black Friars.  While those three are on the quest for the key, the Marquis is on a quest of his own; a quest for information that leads him into trouble.

So, let’s get started with the group read questions!

1.  Chapter 6 begins with Richard chanting the mantra, "I want to go home".  How do you feel about Richard and his reactions at this point to the unexpected adventure he finds himself on?
It is expected from someone who led such a quiet, stable life.  He still has a lot of growing up to do but I suppose he’s getting there and he’s not as whiny as he was after completing the last test of the Black Friars.  But I just haven’t been able to quite connect with him just yet.

2.  The Marquis de Carabas was even more mysterious and cagey during the first part of this week's reading.  What were your reactions to him/thoughts about him as you followed his activities?
I didn’t trust him at all, especially when I found him meeting up with Croup and Vandemar.  I was thinking, “Don’t you dare turn against Door!”  Then it turns out he was there to get information from them for Door!  I like him a lot now.

3.  How did you feel about the Ordeal of the Key?
I think it was fairly obvious Richard would get through the last test.  I read through it not taking much of it in.  Like I said, I haven’t really connected with him yet so I just wanted to get through his part of the test as quickly as possible.

And this whole thing felt so much like The Matrix and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, test/revelations occurring on a train platform.  The bad thing is that those events happened after this book was published!  But those are movies and each have had a bigger impact with me so I know them so well that when I get to this part in the book I’m a snob and sigh and roll my eyes thinking to myself that I’ve been there done that all before.  I know, I know, I really shouldn’t be like that.

4.  This section of the book is filled with moments.  Small, sometimes quite significant, moments that pass within a few pages but stick with you.  What are one or two of these that you haven't discussed yet that stood out to you, or that you particularly enjoyed.
I liked the moment when Old Bailey realized the Marquis was in trouble.  I hope they get to him in time!

5.  Any other things/ideas that you want to talk about from this section of the book?
Ok, I am kind of curious about the key and what it’s for and what the Black Friars are going to do now without the key because they seemed pretty distraught, in a subdued, friar-ish way, about losing it.   I also found Serpentine interesting and I’d like to hear more about the Seven Sisters.

Well, so far I’m on Team Hunter and Marquis de Carabas.  They got some moments where we got to know them better and that was nice.  Door is just there.  I hope she finds out what happened to her family but she has no personality to me.  Richard is the same for me.  He’s just there and I’m waiting to see that spark from him that shows he’s a stronger person.  I guess him getting through the Ordeal of the Key was it, but it didn’t feel like enough for me.  I also found I liked Croup and Vandemar more in these chapters.  I laughed when Croup got upset that they were not allowed to do what they’re good at and ran through a list of their greatest hits.  I like how they completely ignored their agreement with the Marquis.  I hope he’ll be alright in the end but I kind of love that they just don’t care.

Overall, I had a much more enjoyable time with these chapters then the first five, so onward to the end!  And I want to thank everyone who commented on part 1.  It wasn't all that cheerful and I really appreciated the encouragement and insight.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Legend Of Korra Episodes 2-7

Yeah, what that says.

The Legend Of Korra just gets better with each episode.  More and more fun and revelations propelling the plot forward at a great pace, revealing just enough for those OMG moments but still leaving you guessing.   It’s also been doing a great job with character and story development with loving tributes to The Last Airbender and great action.  I find myself edging closer and closer to the screen with each episode and grabbing Venessa’s arm with excitement!  Now for a quick recap of episodes 2-7 and my thoughts.  Lots and lots of thoughts of course!


Ep. 2 A Leaf in the Wind
Korra begins her airbending training, and learns a little Pro-bending along the way.

We get to see airbending training at last!  Except Korra’s not all that good at it.  But that’s okay because she joins a Pro-bending team.  And she’s not all that good at it either.  Kidding!  She just needed to learn the rules and she learned them the hard way.  But Tenzin realizes this is probably what she needs to help with her airbending training.

Be the leaf, Korra!

This is when Korra meets brothers Mako and Bolin.  Bolin immediately has the hots for Korra, but Korra has eyes for Mako.  I’m sure you can guess where this will lead...

Ep. 3 The Revelation
Bolin is taken by Equalists and Mako turns to Korra for help to find him and together they discover just what Amon is capable of.

It's Zuko!

Gangsters in Republic City were introduced in Episode 1 when they were tormenting a shop owner and Korra stepped in to teach them a lesson.  But I didn’t notice any of their names until this episode.  There was Shady Shin and Lightning Bolt Zolt!  And let’s not forget the gang names: Triple Threats!  Red Monsoons!  Agni Kai!  And a Turf war brewing!  I love it!  But it didn’t last long because...

Dun dun dunnnnnn... we learn part of Amon’s plan and it’s not just incapacitating benders with chi blocking.  He can take their bending away!  So far as we know, only the Avatar can do so.  How is this possible?!

But if I got to ride around on a motorcycle like that, I'd be a chi blocker too

Ep. 4 The Voice in the Night
Korra joins a task force to stop the Equalist movement which leads to a frightening encounter with leader, Amon.

Tarrlok is part of the Republic City Council and tricks Korra to join the task force.  He is so sleazy.  I like it.  And who is this Yakone?  What did he do 42 years ago?  I must know!

We find that Bolin is the nicer of the two brothers and thanks Korra for saving him with a nice gesture of a cupcake and a flower.  And he’s not afraid to admit how scared he was.  Then we find out Mako is a gold digger.  Did you notice how self centered he was in this episode?  At dinner with Asami, he didn’t even ask anything about her.  It was all just him him him.  He didn’t even try to deflect it.  Then when he found who Asami’s father is... don’t even get me started.

And poor Korra!  That would be a frightening encounter with Amon all alone.  The flashbacks!  What are these about?!

Ep. 5 The Spirit of Competition
A lesson in why dating a teammate is never a good idea.

Teammates kiss and reveal their true feelings!  And Mako shows his true colors.  I’m really not liking him much.  And it was clear when Korra was hanging out with Bolin it was just as friends.  Bolin was trying to rush things a bit and got swept up in his emotions.  But I have to say, while over the top, him crying after seeing Korra and Mako kiss was both funny and sad.  Poor guy.  And you are right, Korra, it was not your fault.  If Mako did have feelings for you, he should have acted on them, instead of brushing you off.  What was Korra supposed to do, Mako?  Go home and mope for you?  I don't think so.  She went to hang out with Bolin.  So what?  They are friends.

Mako: I told you dating a teammate was a bad idea.
Bolin: You’re a bad idea!

Too true, Bolin.

It’s funny.  Mako blames Korra, yet Bolin blames Mako for the kiss.  I wonder... has Mako’s Mysterious Loner Dude (Credit for this belongs to FYA) persona attracted a lady or two away from Bolin? 

Ep. 6 And The Winner Is...
It’s the Pro-bending finals and it’s explosive!

Oh my goodness, so good!  The tournament was great and I was literally on the edge of my seat.  This game needs to be real!  It’s almost as exciting as the Quidditch games we got in the Harry Potter movies.  Then, THEN, the Equalists attacked and gah, it was awesome and I kept waiting for Korra to go into the Avatar State but it didn’t happen and I was bummed but her fighting alongside Lin Beifong was AMAZING!  This show just gets better!  And more flashbacks!  (And lots of exclamation points!)  I NEED to know what these flashbacks are about!  Toph seemed very upset about something in them and Aang was about to lay down the law.  I NEED TO KNOW!!!!!

And how is Amon able to take away bending?!  I’m getting impatient here!!!!!

Ep. 7 The Aftermath
Korra suspects Hiroshi Sato of Equalist sympathies.

Another exciting episode.  I still believe Mako is very self centered, thinking Korra is jealous of him and Asami and that would be the only reason she would suspect Asami’s father for Equalist leanings.  Ha, right back at you Mako!  Korra was RIGHT!  Women are always right, of course.  When will men learn this?  I swear, Mako is so frustrating, but him and Bolin working together so they weren't stuck at the kids table was cute.  Mostly because of Bolin and how genuinely nice that guy is.

I really like that Korra and Asami are getting to know each other... over car racing!: (I love that M.I.A. song)

Now I’m about to drop some very complex math equations on you (not really):

Lin +Tenzin + Korra  + fighting together = AWESOME

And now Lin is going rogue! OH. MY. GOD.  I may resort to nail chewing.

Favorite moments/thoughts:

Love the old timey news reel recaps in the beginning.

And I always wait to watch the end credits because the music is so beautiful and soothing.

And shots like this!:

Air Temple Island

I mentioned how I’m looking forward to Korra entering the Avatar State but I forgot to mention her communicating with her past lives.  This will be a great opportunity for us to see Aang!

Interesting situation with the flashbacks Korra had.  How were they triggered?  Something like that never happened to Aang.  He was usually in the Avatar State or in the Spirit World when it did but he relived events and they didn't look like the quick flashes of memory Korra was seeing.  Is it some new secret of the Avatars that we haven’t seen or explored yet?  What what what?!  I’m dying to know!

Bolin was pretty grateful to Korra for saving him from Amon, which was really sweet.  But where was Mako?  Did he even say thank you to Korra after she helped him find Bolin?

I rewatched some episodes over again and I have to say I’m not all impressed with Mako or Bolin’s bending.  It seems weak, especially comparing Mako and Zuko, who at the time of A:TLA and LoK, are close in age, but Zuko always seemed more powerful.  Maybe because Zuko was so angry all the time?  But compare Bolin and Haru (I wouldn’t dare try to compare him to other earth benders like Toph or Bumi, that wouldn’t be fair), Haru’s bending looked more powerful as well.  I mean, the street fights between Mako and Korra against the chi blockers are fun and exciting, but I think most of the excitement comes from the motorcycles riding through the streets, not any earth or fire bending going on.   I mean, go back and look at the Agni Kai of Zuko and Zhao, then of Zuko and Azula; those were great!  But it could be that Mako and Bolin have to hold back during the pro-bending matches, and again Mako and Korra are holding back because, even if a chi blocker can fight back, they are not benders.

Also, during the re-watch, I realized that the two times Amon is shown taking a benders power away it’s not very dramatic.  He places his thumb between their eyes and that’s it, their power is gone.  When Aang took Fire Lord Ozai’s power, there was a fantastic light display.  This could have been because Aang was in the Avatar State, but I’m suspecting that Amon has found a way to permanently block the power through chi blocking, or rather Amon can block their chakra.  Tahno has gone to many healers who have told him it’s permanent.  But look at him.  He’s got dark circles under his eyes and he just seems to have no energy.  Of course he's depressed but I think it's because his power is blocked, it’s stagnating and eating him up from the inside.  A healer may not be able to help because maybe the people of Republic City have forgotten their spiritual side.  And maybe they haven’t realized it’s not going to take the type of healing they are used to but someone like Guru Pathik who led Aang to unblock his seven chakras.  Or maybe spirit water and a healer like Katara might help.  She was able to revive Aang after he was hit by Azula’s lightning bolt while in the Avatar State and he was technically dead. <- THIS.  I find this theory interesting.  What if Aang did do something to bury the Avatar State?  I am very fascinated by this.

Well that’s it so far.  It looks like there will be no new episode Saturday so in the meantime I think I’m going to listen to Bad Girls on an endless loop.

More fun discussions can be found here: or this one:

And for some really good in depth recaps go here:

Did I mention how much I love this show?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Neverwhere Group Read Part 1

The Once Upon A Time Challenge is still going strong and it is time for the Neverwhere group read I signed on to participate in.

In Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Richard Mayhew’s life is turned upside down after stopping to help a bleeding girl on the sidewalk.  He is thrust into a world he never knew existed in the underground tunnels of London where magic and danger thrive.

Below are questions in bold for the group read and my answers follow.  The questions do not contain spoilers but my answers could so proceed with caution.

1.  What do you think of our two villains thus far, Messrs. Croup and Vandemar? 
Standard stock villains with no soul who seem to have no limits, except finding everyone else but who they’re supposed to kill.  I mean, why did they waste time on that Varney guy when they could have continued tracking Door on their own?

2.  Thus far we've had a small taste of London Below and of the people who inhabit it.  What do you think of this world, this space that lies within or somewhat overlaps the space the "real world" occupies?
It makes me think of fandoms and how the internet has enabled people who feel they don’t belong find each other and create their own space to belong to.

3.  What ideas or themes are you seeing in these first 5 chapters of Neverwhere?  Are there any that you are particularly drawn to?
So far just that people need a place to belong to.  That’s all I can think of right now.  I’m just not into analyzing it much, as you will see at the end of this post.

4.  We've met a number of secondary characters in the novel, who has grabbed your attention and why?
The Hunter.  She seems no-nonsense, can take care of herself and I imagined her as Gina Torres and I have a girl crush on her.

5.  As you consider the Floating Market, what kind of things does your imagination conjure up? What would you hope to find, or what would you be looking for, at the Market?
It makes me think of flea markets.  Not the fancy ones you only see on TV where some interior designer is going “bargain hunting” but the real flea markets where you have to dig through piles of dirty, broken stuff to find lost treasure and hope you don’t need a tetanus shot after.  Like some of the places those American Picker guys dig through.

6.  If you haven't already answered it in the questions above, what are your overall impressions of the book to this point?
I don’t know.  It hasn’t grabbed me yet.  I feels similar, like I’ve seen or read it before such as in Anansi Boys and American Gods: Your plain ol’ average Joe being led through some mystical world he knows  nothing about.

So far, I’m only reading this book for the group read, not because I want to.  I keep counting the pages to see when a chapter ends so I know when I can get back to another book I’m reading.  I’m finding I enjoyed reading about what’s going on under London in this book I read earlier this year.  I hope this changes soon because I want to enjoy Neverwhere but so far I’m not and that's why my answers are so short and lackadaisical.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Storytime With Venessa: The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

Piper McCloud can fly!  But not everyone in Lowland County is as excited  about that as Piper is.  After causing a sensation with a fantastic display of her abilities, Piper is approached by Dr. Letitia Hellion, who runs I.N.S.A.N.E, an institute for children with extraordinary abilities like Piper.  Piper doesn't want to leave her ma and pa, but believes this is for the best.  She will be with other kids just like her, she might even be able to make friends!  Piper settles in at her new school but it takes time to learn the rules and put up with the light hazing from the other students.  But as Piper gets to know the other children, adapts to the rigorous schedule, it doesn't seem so bad.  In fact, she's starting to enjoy it, especially now that she's making friends.  But there is something sinister going on and Piper discovers they are not safe at I.N.S.A.N.E.

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester is another great book Venessa and I read together.  As usual we have a video review with Venessa and my thoughts will follow.  V was a little impatient (she's been into MythBusters lately and we've been watching it on Netflix) so the video is not too long.  

My thoughts: I really like this book.  Piper is such a wonderful, strong and determined young lady.  She's kind but is not a push over.  I really liked the way her relationship with Conrad, the local genius at I.N.S.A.N.E., developed.  They were enemies but when Piper learned the truth about him, they banded together and became great friends.

There are some pretty harsh moments in this book. Some physical and emotional torture happens.  It's intense, but when I think about it, it's nothing different then what I've seen on Avatar: The Last Airbender.  I think it helps to generate conversation with your kids about people and their motives and most importantly, being true to yourself no matter what.

This book is very easy to read aloud but there's a lot of emotion going on and there were a couple of times where I was tearing up.  That don't help when you're reading aloud!  My one critique are the abilities of the children.  They are the usual flying, telekinesis, weather manipulation, etc. that you've seen in X-Men.  BUT, it's still a really enjoyable book because there are some very moving and surprising moments, such as the real motives of Dr. Hellion and that the children are not the only ones with amazing powers.  The end is left slightly open for a possible sequel.  I haven't read if there will be one or not but it ends in a way where you can let your imagination do the rest if there isn't, which I think is great.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend Fun: A Book Fair, New Books, Mother’s Day, The Avengers and Downton Abbey!

It was a pretty full weekend.  On Saturday I went to the 4th Annual Tallahassee Downtown Book Fair.  It was my first book fair and I had no idea how these things work.  I was feeling a little awkward and was trying to get through all the tables quickly because we got there about an hour before they would be packing up.  It wasn't until we left that I realized I should have written a handful of questions before I got there to ask and highlight each author I spoke to here.  Of course I think of that after.  Oh well, next time I'll be better prepared.  I browsed through the Friends of the Library Book Sale but nothing called to me.

Friends of the Library book sale

Venessa making a bookmark

But I did find something that called to me from one of the local author's tables.  I picked up a signed copy of Riding Fence by A.H. Holt.  The last western I read, that was fiction, was Lonesome Dove and I really don’t read western novels much so I’m really excited about this one.  It'll be nice to take a break and read outside of the SF/Fantasy genre.

AND THEN I went to Loud Voice Books and guess what I did?  Bought five Pratchett’s, of course!:

Guards! Guards!, Night Watch, I Shall Wear Midnight, Thud! and Nation

I only meant to pick up three but I couldn't say no to them when the hardcovers were only $3!  So I got Guards! Guards!, The Night Watch, Thud!, I Shall Wear Midnight and Nation, which is a non-Discworld book.  I happened upon a paperback copy of Nation a couple weeks ago and passed it up.  But after reading this review, I regretted not getting it so knew I would need it.

Then on Sunday I celebrated Mother’s Day with a trip to the movie theater to see The Avengers!  And oh. My. Goodness.  I loved it!  Things I loved in no particular order (and slightly spoilerish):

  • All the clips and hints given before the movie was released totally didn't give away too much.  I was afraid it would but it didn't.  I went in with some idea what to expect and having read non-spoilerish reviews I was anticipating a great movie.  I think I loved it more than I was expecting to!
  • The team getting together/getting to know each bits were my favorite parts.  Especially how each Avenger would team up with someone:  Tony Stark and Bruce Banner bonding in the lab just two geniuses at work, Iron Man and Captain America working together to get the engine of the Hellicarrier running again, Captain America leading the way with Hawkeye and Black Widow by his side, Cap giving Black Widow a boost to hop aboard a Chitauri flying-motorcycle-thingy, Iron Man grabbing Hawkeye to give him a lift while calling him Legolas and The Hulk grabbing Iron Man before he fell.... great stuff!  
  • And oh boy, there were some great one liners in this movie.  But it’s Joss, and that’s what I've come to expect from watching his other shows, Buffy and Firefly.  Big epic disasters are fun and all, but it’s the funny moments, the verbal jabs that people make and that he portrays flawlessly have always been what I enjoyed the most from Whedon.
  • Thor didn't get a lot of bonding time with the other Avengers, but he is more of an outsider being from another world and I hope he gets more one on one moments with the others in the sequel.  But his scenes with Loki I liked.  Thor, not ready to give up on his brother was great, and you could feel Loki’s jealousy and resentment growing up in “big brother’s” shadow.
  • Agent Coulson, you’re the best.  You put up with so much from these guys and you always remained cool, calm and collected.  You were not afraid to stand up to someone who was more powerful than you.  You did your duty and you are respected for that.
  • I'm glad The Avengers called out S.H.I.E.L.D., how they did, in a way, instigate this whole mess.  They mean well but they're not perfect and can make mistakes.
  • Everyone got to strut their stuff and all their abilities were utilized well.

This is a great group of actors, who had a great director and it turned out to be a great comic book movie.  I couldn’t have asked for more.

After watching The Avengers and gushing over it with my husband (who usually falls asleep during a movie but didn't this time) we came home and I settled in to watch some Downton Abbey.  I watched all seven episodes that were available on Netflix.  I was up until almost 2 am.  It was so addicting!  Briefly, here's what I thought...

My guest list for a spot of tea:

The Dowager Countess
Lady Sybil
Mr. Bates
Matthew Crawley

The most infuriating, of infuriating people to ever shake a fist at:

Lady Mary
Lady Edith
Ms. O’Brien

It was a great weekend and I had a wonderful Mother's Day.  I hope everyone else did too.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Oh, and do take his wig, will you? We tried putting it in a cupboard, but it got out."

Stop the world.

I’d like to get off so I can climb aboard the giant flat disc, that sits on the back of four elephants, that stand upon a giant turtle floating through space, because Discworld seems to be where all the fun is at.  This was my second adventure with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and this time I got to spend more time in Ankh-Morpork and I loved every minute of it.

In Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, con man Moist von Lipwig, is sentenced and “hanged” for his crimes.  But Lord Vetineri has other plans in mind for Moist, such as turning him into the new Postmaster!  Not a very prestigious profession for a con man but it’s better than being dead.

The Ankh-Morpork postal service has been out of commission for years and it’s backlogged with letters clogging the old building.  Moist has to contend with avalanches of old, undelivered mail bursting through doors, postal workers who “follow regulations” other than actually delivering the mail, the coaches are being run as a private business and the mail is actually speaking to Moist, asking to be delivered!  And all of the Postmasters before Moist have died under mysterious circumstances.  But Moist sees this as an opportunity to put his skills to work.  What does he have to lose?  He’s already “died” once.  Oh and he’s also up against The Grand Trunk, a company that runs the clacks that has been run down by the greed and corruption of its board members.

The clacks are a network of tall towers place at intervals (or on rooftops within the city limits of Ankh-Morpork) that send messages back and forth through a special code communicated through shutters and blinking lights.  Similar to the fire signals in The Return of the King, the semaphore line and the telegraph system.  They are the only means of communication since the breakdown of the postal service.  When Moist threatens the operators of The Grand Trunk when he actually starts delivery letters, things get very interesting.  There are plots to sabotage the other.  There is witty banter with veiled threats and a challenge issued that Moist has no hope of winning.

Moist is a fun character.  He is totally without honor and has no problem admitting it or even using his skills as a con man to make things work to his advantage.  But it’s all to help the struggling postal service regain its prominence.  He is charming and smart and it’s easy to forgive him for his “dishonorable ways”.

I was able to get to know Lord Vetineri, the Patrician and ruler of Ankh-Morpork.  I was introduced to him in Snuff but only briefly.  In Going Postal I got to see him in his full glory and I love this guy.  He is smart, ruthless and his battle of wits with Moist and the chairman of The Grand Trunk, Reacher Gilt, were the best parts of this book.  He is the ultimate puppet master!

This book, or rather, this world, from what I've seen so far, is just full of unique, oddball characters that you grow to love.  Terry Pratchett writes some great dialog too.  This is one of the handful of books that had me laugh out loud.  And maybe the only book that had me laughing out loud more than once.  It’s all Moist and his antics and the things he gets away with.  I think I’m just going to look upon this book dreamily as I wait for the weekend when I can go snap up more from Loud Voice Books who posted a pic of a pile of Discworld books they just got in.  I just hope there’s still some left when I get there!  But I will restrain myself from reading the entire series all at once.  There is a lot more to read out there but from my two positive experiences I’d like to keep these around as palate cleansers for those not-so-great reads that pop up now and again.  Basically, this was me after I finished reading Going Postal:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Storytime With Venessa: Avatar The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 1

It’s time for another episode of Storytime With Venessa! In this installment, Venessa and I will share our thoughts on Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 1, which takes place a year after the events of the cartoon series.

The Hundred Year War is over.  To bring balance back to the world and to make things right with the Earth Kindgom, Fire Lord Zuko, along with Avatar Aang, are overseeing the removal of all Fire Nation colonies that settled in the Earth Kingdom during the war.  It's not an easy task.  Citizens of the Fire Nation are being asked to leave their homes, their livelihoods behind.  Many have never set foot in the Fire Nation before.  The new Fire Lord must balance out his commitment to do what is right for both the Earth Kingdom and his own people.

Below is Venessa expressing her thoughts and I will follow up with mine.

Take it away, Venessa!


My thoughts: I really like where they are going with this. I see hints of what is to come that sets up events for The Legend Of Korra. Even with the fun, teenage antics, there is a very serious side to this tale. It's the end of The Hundred Year War and it's dealing with reconstruction and how to handle the Fire Nation colonies that settled and developed deep roots in the Earth Kingdom. We also have a new Fire Lord who wants to do what is right but is still inexperienced when making decisions that will affect an entire nation.  It's some pretty heavy stuff for these young people to deal with.

I think my only critique is that we don't see how much Aang, Katara, Sokka and Toph have really grown.  It has only been a year and we do know that Aang and Katara have been helping to relocate Fire Nation citizens.  But we don't really get to see how the war has affected or changed them.  I'm hoping we will get to see this in Parts 2 and 3.  We do get to see how it has affected Zuko and the pressure he is under as the new Fire Lord.  Zuko has been known to wrestle with what he knows is right and what is expected of him.  Now we get to see it under a whole new set of circumstances.  It's all still very engaging and entertaining and keeps you wanting more.  The artwork is great, the characters look just like they do from the cartoon but just different enough to show that some time has passed.  There is also the comedy balanced out with the depth that I've come to expect from this series.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what's next in Part 2.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Avengers And The Marvel Movie Marathon

The Avengers Assemble on May 4th!  To prepare Venessa (who is my movie watching buddy) and I had a Marvel Movie Marathon this week, watching Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America.

As I embarked on my journey of Marvel movies, starting with X-Men, I never really read comics.  X-Men piqued my interest in comics and before I saw the movie, I did my homework.  But if you know anything about comics, you know there is a lot of backstory and crossovers and reboots and what not.  In other words, THERE IS A LOT TO READ.  I mean, A LOT.  I appreciate the art and the care and devotion that go into a comic.  But after getting, maybe, ankle deep into the X-Men universe, I’ve basically limited my comic reading since then to some Deadpools, some Star Wars and the Elf Quest series.  So when the first Iron Man movie came out, I was excited to see the movie, but time and circumstances were not what they were when I did the type of homework I did for X-Men.  I still think about reading through the comics, but I really like just enjoying the movies as they are without knowing all the established comic history of Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America.  Too often I’ll read the source material of some movie or show, and as much as I try not to, I will still compare.  It’s been fun enjoying these movies without some kind of expectation I’ve built up in my mind.

It’s funny that I even had this marathon though.  We, rather, Venessa and I, watch these movies ALL THE TIME.  But I haven’t had a chance to talk about them on my blog so now I get to!

I’ve already expressed my thoughts on Thor and Captain America here so I won’t repeat myself.  Though I will add, having never seen any movies with Chris Evans in it, I was skeptical of Captain America.  I really knew nothing about the actor or the character.  But Chris Evans is very good, and makes Captain America, a character that could come off as corny and a little too perfect, very likable and sincere.

Iron Man, is, and likely will always be, my favorite.  I’m a fan of Robert Downey Jr. so knowing he was in this movie I had to see it, especially after his career missteps.  To me he was the best thing on Ally McBeal before he was let go and once he was gone I stopped watching that show.  It was great to see him back and that he’s been consistently good in the movies I’ve seen him in since.  He’s so good that even my husband, in the middle of our Iron Man 2 viewing, randomly threw him a compliment with, “That guy is good.”  Yes, he is.

Iron Man 2 seems to generate some controversy from commenter’s on sites like and  I like it.  The first is still better but I enjoy the second one and I liked that Tony was really tested in this one.  And how can you not like Sam Rockwell or Don Cheadle as James Rhodes, who I wish had played Rhodes in the first movie.

Now, for The Incredible Hulk… Well, Venessa liked it enough to want to watch it again.  This was the first time I’d seen it and I can see why fans, from some of the comments I read on the internet, didn’t like it.  It was a bit dull.  I could see the actors were devoted and wanted to make it work.  It just didn’t for me.  I didn’t find the characters all that interesting.  And just before the action started, I got up to throw some clothes in the wash not too worried about what I would miss.  I figured Venessa could fill me in.  I was just not feeling that one.

But I’m still really excited about seeing The Avengers.  I’ve been hearing good things about it on the internet and the reviews have been positive.  Even better that it’s just in time for Mother’s Day, which, to me is the best Mother’s Day present!  It’s become a tradition for me to see my Marvel movies on Mother’s Day.  For the last two years, it just happened that way.  In 2010 I saw Iron Man 2 on Mother’s Day, and in 2011 I saw Thor.

So who else is excited to see The Avengers?