Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 2013 Reading Recap

Because of Nano this month, and probably a few other things, I didn't read as much as my norm. It was noticeable. I missed it. But the few I did read were awesome! (And I did get to my year's goal! 80 books!)

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein: Rose is captured by the Germans and sent to a women's concentration camp where she makes a lot of friends and suffers unspeakable things.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini: How the consequences of one man's heart breaking decision affects several people throughout many years.

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman (re-read): Why is it that no one seems to notice Calvin? Antsy is going to find out!

Legend by Marie Lu: In a new society, one girl is a genius and on her way to become a military leader, and one boy is a criminal and just wants to find a cure from the plague for his family. This is what happens when their paths cross.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi: The sequel to Shatter Me where Juliette is now living in relative comfort in the rebellion's hideout but learns that her powers are more harmful to certain people than she thought. This changes things... many things, especially when they take another certain person hostage. Oh boy.

Guys. I loved them all. I can't pick a favorite. Can't.

Here are my plans for December:
  • I have one Netgalley book to review: The Promise of Amazing
  • I'm on a blog tour for Defy by Sara Larson
  • Book club is Major Pettigrew, so maybe I'll re-read that.
  • I want to finally get to The 5th Wave, Days of Blood and Starlight and a few more sitting here, dying.
  • I started The Eye of Minds, but oh man, it's not grabbing me. I don't know if I can finish it! Ugh.
Mostly this next month I'm going to read for fun. Just whatever I'm in the mood for next. I'm sad, though, that my classics reading feel short this year. However, I doubt I'll fit any more of those in.

Next month, all the counts and recaps for the whole year! I love doing those. :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle

Book: The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle
Genre: P and P fan fiction/spin off
For: Review
From: Edelweiss

I've never been very big into the Pride and Prejudice spin off books. Sometimes they actually make me cringe. I can't stand seeing the original story perverted overly much, know what I mean? But when I saw this one pop up on Edelweiss I thought, that sounds fun. I've always been worried about Mary and wanted good things to happen for her, so I wondered what this particular author had in store for her.

And it was a fun story, but it didn't blow me away or anything. In fact, it was sort of a repeat of Pride and Prejudice really.

So basically, we join the family about three or so years after P and P. Jane and Elizabeth live nearby each other and have kids. Lydia is off being reckless as usual, and Mary and Kitty are falling in love with the same man, someone who hangs out at Jane's a lot. So when they visit, they have gotten to know him. So poor Mary, she figures she is out of luck.

Meanwhile, Lydia comes home to have a baby. But who's baby is it really? Is it Wickham's? Maybe. Maybe not. And she and Wickham are having issues and blaming all sorts of crap on each other, which is really not a surprise right?

She has the baby and Mary ends up taking care of it and basically being the nanny. And Lydia pretty much has nothing to do with it. This ends up being a problem later. So yes, Lydia is just as awful as always and pretty much does crazy things and everyone has to run off to rescue her.

And who does the man (sorry I read this quite awhile back and forgot his name! Ah.. Mr. Walsh!) fall for in the end? Well, you'll have to read it to find out! :)

I liked that this story shows Mary having grown up quite a bit. She is still shy and bookish, but not obnoxious and weird. She cringes thinking back on how she used to act. She has a great relationship with Jane and Lizzy, and sort of moves away from understanding Kitty. The guys in the book are... okay... but not swoon worthy. (See.. and why NOT? I don't know!!!)

The integrity of the original tone and feeling of the book is maintained, but as I said before, except of seeing things from Mary's point of view and having her grown up a bit, there really is nothing much new about this one.

Bottom line: It was fun. It was okay. It was enjoyable.

Other Reviews:

This is not imitation Austen but a nicely written homage to one of her lesser characters and Austen fans will enjoy getting to know and like a more palatable Mary. From BookNAround

It was an interesting sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but it wasn't without it's issues From A Girl, Books and Other Things

I grew so fond of her Mary, I didn’t want the book to end. From Diary of An Eccentric

Pamela Mingle did such a flawless job, I felt Jane Austen herself had written this one. From Reviews from the Heart

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Thanks

I plan to post a general thankful sort of post on Thursday, so for The Broke and Bookish's top ten today, I thought I'd stick with a bookish theme.

Top Ten Bookish Things I'm Thankful For

1. Book releases every Tuesday, though sometimes I wish they'd give us a little break so we can CATCH UP!

2. Author visits and signings, though I'm still too shy to really make good use of these connections.

3. Book bloggin' buddies. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you all make this worth it!

4. Swoony scenes, even though I'm still not sure EXACTLY what makes one, one.

5. Bookish people who get excited about other bookish and geeky sort of things, like bookish movies and Dr. Who.

6. Authors who tweet fun things and not just book promotion things. And authors who respond to tweets! Ah yes. That.

7. ARCs and sites and publishers that provide them, and devices that make it even easier.

8. Awesome sequels and series finales that make trilogies and series actually worth it.

9. Bloggers who participate in read alongs! Even if I'm hosting them!

10. Book club. Always book club!

Hmmm... do I have to stop at ten? I guess I will for now.

What bookish sort of things are you thankful for?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Book: Legend by Marie Lu
Genre: YA Dystopian
For: Fun
From: bought from Amazon for Kindle

I've been wanting to read this one for quite some time now. Not sure why it took so long, but it finally was bumped to the top somehow and then I devoured it in a just a day or two. What  fun ride!

This is the story of two kids, one in who lives in privilege in a future society in what used to California. This girl is a genius prodigy and is has aced her tests and goes to the best school and is rising to the top of the military world. The boy, on the other hand, is a wanted criminal, living on the streets, hiding from everyone including his family that he watches over and takes care of, even though he's on the run.

There's a plague on the lose and when he tries to get the cure for his family, he sets into motion a bunch of events that ends up playing him and the prodigy girl against each other. And then he discovers stuff and she discovers even more stuff and then all their world is changed.

It's awesome. It's awesome because the action is intense, the relationship is intense, the story is intense adn the characters are unique and wonderful. And the writing is a blast too. (I seem to be paying more attention to the writing of books lately, umm, I wonder why.) I loved the familiar, yet messed up world. I'm not sure I totally understood the the politics, but it appears a certain group has taken over the California area and they are fighting against what would be the rest of the US as we know it.. .called the Patriots, or the Colonies. I'm not quite sure how that all works, but I'm sure I'll figure it out in the next book, Prodigy, which I look forward to reading soon!

Bottom line: I loved it.

Other Reviews:

You guys, Legend has all the things I want in a YA dystopian story --- political intrigue, governmental conspiracies, systematic plagues, a nation at war and two incredibly strong protagonists. SO GOOD. From Foil the Plot

Cinematic action, romance, politics, extremely sketchy medical experiments, some possible Soylent Green-ish doings (<--that one is extremely unlikely, but sicko that I am, I can't help but hope for it), codes, cage fights, and a couple of seriously shocking-ass moments... Legend is fun stuff. From Bookshelves of Doom

Why did I like this book, besides the stuff up there? It's because Day and June were so clearly a match for each other, both as enemies and romantically. They're equally smart, equally gutsy, equally compassionate. From Confessions of Bibliovore

The story is vibrant, fast moving, and stellar. This is one outstanding dystopian fantasy. From Walking Brain Cells

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nanowrimo Update: Google Searches

I'm still writing! Are you impressed? It's been pretty hard at some spots. I truly have no idea where I want this story to go, I mean,  a little idea, but I can't figure out how to get there. And I'm to the point now where I need to start getting there, so it's a little weird right now. But still fun. I really am anxious to just get this over with though, so I can go back and add and fix and figure stuff out. They say that's what December is for.

Yeah, right. Maybe I'll try for January on that.

One of the most interesting parts of writing is learning all the stuff you don't know. And then using our lovely Google to figure it out. Kathy from Read This Instead shared some of her searches with you this week. And I've seem some fun Nanowrimo forums where people go on and on with the interesting things they are looking up. So I thought I'd join the party list a few of my searches for you too.

Things I've been learning about:

  • pink cowboy boots
  • horse riding terms
  • poisonous pipe smoke
  • the Navajo skinwalker legend
  • Native American stories for the constellations
  • marriage and relationships among cousins
  • the Homestead Act
  • the history of Memorial Day
  • The Witchery Way
  • Paul Revere and the Raiders
  • usage of the term "pertnear"
Fun stuff, yes? I hope to make that list even more interesting before it's over! One week left! I can do this!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Movie Review: Catching Fire

Movie: Catching Fire
Genre: Drama/Fantasy
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson
Rating: PG13
My Rating: two thumbs up

I'm pretty sure you all know what this movie is about, right? You've all read the books? If not, you've seen the first movie and know this is a follow up? If not, it is basically the aftermath of what happens once Katniss and Peeta win The Hunger Games, how they deal with things, and how they find themselves in yet another Hunger Games. It is so not fair!

The movie was awesome. They did a wonderful job. I had forgotten much about the book, so it was fun going into it not prepared for or expecting much of anything. Anyway, here's what I loved about it:
  • the first movie was intense, but I think the intensity was even more revved up for this one
  • the characters and the casting for those characters was awesome. Still not too sure about Josh Hutcherson for Peeta though. He's not at ALL how I pictured him, so yeah. Not so sure about him. But Finnick was perfect, as were all the other new people introduced. Primm's character seemed so grown up for this movie. 
  • lots of kisses, for both boys! Loved that. 
  • lots of tender moments. I didn't end up crying much, but felt teary during at least five moments. For me, those moments mostly happened when we see the downtrodden districts and how they have so much hope in Katniss.
  • The stuff in the new arena was terrible awesome! Wow! 
  • As was President Snow!
  • The cliffhanger ending was kept just like I remembered it in the book. That, I did remember. Ugh! The wait for the next one will be hard!

Have you seen it yet? What did you enjoy? Or not?

Here's the trailer if you've been hiding under a rock:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Swoony vs Cheesy: A Mission For You

So I mentioned in my Nano update on Sunday's post that I'm curious and pondering and wondering how authors can write scenes that come off as swoony rather than cheesy or corny. I'm to those parts in my own Nano story now where as I'm writing I'm thinking, "sheesh, this sounds so stupid!" And, you know, I don't want them to sound stupid, I want them to be SWOONY!

Even though I've read I-don't-even-know-how-many-books where there are swoony parts, I can't quite put my finger on what makes them so and then to be able to go and do likewise.

Thus, I'm coming to you all for help!

Here's how I define the two:

SWOONY: Obviously, the parts of the romantic story that make you swoon, as you read it. Which is to say, it is full of all sorts of emotions that make you actually feel right along with the characters. It makes you fall in love too. It makes you say after reading it, "that was the BEST!"

CHEESY: The parts of the romantic story that make you groan and roll your eyes and go oh, sheesh, why? It makes you want the scene to just be over already. It makes you wonder why she even likes him, or he even likes her, because you just don't get it.

I've been asking around in other places, but I really want to ask here and to know what you my bestest blog buddies think. Here's your mission should you choose to accept it:

1. Tell me how you define these terms and what EXACTLY makes one scene one way and one scene other. Are there certain words that need to be used or avoided? Is it simply a matter of cliches vs. new ideas? Is it your investment in the characters? Is it just some overall feeling that you can't really describe? Is it different for everyone? Is it a personal taste sort of thing?

2. Give me some examples! I know you must have your favorite swoon-worthy scene you can share with me! Or even a remembered cheesy one! But I really want to dissect the swoony ones so I can copy learn from them! And no movie scenes allowed because I want to see how the author uses the WORDS to create such scenes. Am I right? So....can you think of some?

Here's one of my favorites from Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi: 

"I can't concentrate. I thought I could do this." He put his hands up in defeat. "Can't." Then he came closer. Aria didn't think her heart could beat any faster, but then it did, faster with every step he took toward her, until it hammered against her chest, making her breathless when he stopped right in front of her. Her wooden blade rested on his chest. She stared at it, her heart in her throat. She stared at the way it pressed into his shirt.

"I've been watching you and Roar. Wanting it to be me training with you." His shoulders came up. "I don't want to do it now."

"Why?" Aria's voice was high and thin.

He smiled, a flash of shyness, before he leaned close. "There are other things I'd rather do when I'm alone with you."

Time to step off the edge. "Then do them."

Anyway, I hope some of you take me up on this and share your thoughts. I really would love to know what you think and what you feel is the bottom line thing that is the difference between these two sorts of romantic moments.

Have fun! Thank you!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I'd Recommend To...

....  my 14 year old daughter!

And these are books that she has not already read to date:

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
4. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
5. Entwined by Heather Dixon
6. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
7. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
8. Just One Wish by Janette Rallison
9. A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
10. Beauty by Robin McKinley
Yeah, for starters anyway! There's so many!!

Pick someone you'd like to recommend books to and link up your list over at The Broke and the Bookish today!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Old Movie Review: Ladyhawke

Movie: Ladyhawke
Genre: Fantasy/Drama
Year: 1985
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

This is one of my all time favorite movies and since we re-watched it again the other night, I thought I'd tell you about it, just in case you have never seen it. (And I'm surprised at the people who haven't! Are you one of them?)

The movie is about a kid, Philippe,  who escapes from a prison (somewhere in France I think during medieval times) and then comes upon a guy (the ex caption of the guard) who helps him and takes him into his protection. That's because he, the captain, wants to have Philippe help him get back into this city. So he has some pretty big ulterior motives for helping. He travels with a beautiful hawk as his companion, and as the movie unfolds, we come to learn that there are some magical forces and spooky things going on with that hawk.

I love this movie for so many different reasons. Let me list:

** Matthew Broderick is amazing. So many funny and quotable lines delivered flawlessly. He is perfect for this part.

** It's one of the most romantic movies ever! EVER I tell you!

** The cinematography is stunning, even now that it could be considered an "old" movie, it's still so very beautiful.

** The music, done by The Alan Parson's Project, is awesome. But the soundtrack seems to be unattainable, which makes me crazy. (But wait, look! I just found the whole thing on YouTube!) But here's the main theme for you to listen to right now:

** The story is simple, but perfect. It's a classic fairy tale sort of story, one you will never tire of. I love it. I love it so so much!

If you've never seen it, what are you waiting for?

Here's the trailer, complete with corny narration and everything! :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nanowrimo Update: Week Two Slump

The word on the street is that if you participate in this Nano thing, you WILL feel a little discouraged during week two.

Yep, they are right!

Here's what I've been experiencing this week:

  • fighting the negative talk in my head "this is crap, why did you even try to do this, what will you do with this when this is over, this is all a waste, you can't write, why are you even trying, this is crap, this is crap, this is crap"
  • fighting the urge to go fix things... now! 
  • wondering where the HECK this is going. I feel like I'm in a fog with no direction. I have no idea what to do with my characters next. I'm second guessing everything I had in my head at the start.
  • And... I feel like things are happening too fast and I'm going to get to the end when I don't want to be at the end yet.
  • dreading the writing time instead of looking forward to it. That's because... as I already said, I don't know what to write next. (Ummm... I guess people often call this writer's block... yeah, that.)
  • finding time... time is always an issue, always
  • wondering how I make things SWOONY and not CHEESY! Man, I want to write something swoony so bad! It all comes out cheesy! GAH!! (Look for a future post on this soon!)
  • worrying about letting someone read this someday. It's a viable thing to worry about, don't you think? BUT, I shouldn't be thinking about that now. Write.. .just write and write and write.
Well, so there's a start of the "problems" of the second week for me. I am still keeping the word count up, just passed the 30,000 mark tonight. Wahoo! So, I feel committed for the long haul now. Here's hoping I can figure out enough story to last the remaining 20,000! If only I could go back and add the detail that I keep thinking about... but no... that is not allowed!

Here's to week three of newbie Nanoing!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Movie Review: Ender's Game

Movie: Ender's Game
Genre: Science Fiction
Starring: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

I'm a pretty big fan of this book, so I've been nervous and anxious about the movie. I know the reviews haven't been the best, and I haven't read them enough to know why because I wanted to decide for myself if I did or didn't like the movie!

And? So? Yes, I liked it! I think they did an awesome job turning it into a movie! I mean, there was a TON left out and time was very very compressed and there were oh so many more battle room scenes that would have been fun. But for the movie, it had to be that way I suppose.

Speaking of the battle room... how awesome was that? I loved seeing it come to life! It was just like I had imagined, only much much bigger.

The battle room

Well, I guess if you haven't read the book or seen the movie you might like a little summary? Ender is this young genius kid who lives in a world after a war with some pretty nasty aliens. They are preparing to fight them again, and they want to use the most brilliant kids to help. Of course, Ender is that kid. And what they put him through is pretty ruthless and the ending of the book (though some say it's predictable) blew me away. At time I read it years ago, I had never read anything like it. So yeah wow. The movie did a great job with the ending. I was worried.

The movie did not portray the emotional anguish that Ender experienced as well as they could have. And the mind game on the little computer? There was so much more of that! But still they did a pretty good job with that ending and we got the gist at least of what the computer game was all about.

By the way, do you think the "game" of Ender's Game is the computer game, or the war game?

This kid an awesome acting job. Spot on for Ender.

Interesting side note, I must be getting used to the 3D thing because seeing it in 2D was actually weird. Funny, yes?

Bottom line: Great job! I really enjoyed it!

Trailer for those interested:

And now, I'm very excited for both The Book Thief and Catching Fire. I only wish The Book Thief was getting released in this area! So far, no news on that front. Sadness.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Discussing Fiction and Libraries with Neil Gaiman

Awhile back (about a month ago) I saw this article from The Guardian making the rounds, and I loved it so much I myself passed it along everywhere I could. Since then, I've been wanting to share it here and to discuss it a bit, but haven't had time! I still don't have time to do it justice, but it's now or never.

This article is actually taken from a speech that Neil Gaiman gave to an organization in England called The Reading Agency. He made so many awesome points in this speech that I felt like cheering and clapping throughout the whole thing. (I wonder if the people who got to hear it person did that very thing?! I bet so!)

So really, you should go read it for yourself. But if you you don't (and even if you do), here are the things that stood out to me:

First of all, he sort of subtitled the talk as..... what reading does and what it's good for. So think about that for a minute and how you would answer it. Maybe an idea for another post?

Here's what he had to say about it.

First of all, he wanted to be a champion for fiction reading. He says, fiction is a gateway to all other reading. And since our world is all about words and information these days, it's pretty important that kids learn to read, which they never will do if they aren't reading something they like.

Speaking of kids and their reading, he wants to make sure that we understand there's no such thing a a bad kids author. Ideas that are worn out to us old people are new to them. And if we as adults think something is crap, well, it's quite possible we have different reading tastes than the kids reading those books!

Also, fiction makes you feel things. He said, "You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed."

Going along with this, fiction makes people more inventive. If you can't imagine things, you can't create things.

And when you shun the idea of reading for escape, remember this quote by JRR Tolkien, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers. I just love that. I really hope to remember that the next time someone pooh poohs the idea of reading fiction to escape the real world.

Then he went on to talk about libraries:

- They are about freedom.... "Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication"
- They are about education, entertainment and they create a safe place to enjoy all of that
- They are a place to go for information
- There will always be physical books, just like there have always been sharks in the ocean (even before the dinosaurs!) They will survive, which means, there will always be libraries to house them.

We have obligations to the future:

- to read for pleasure
- to support libraries "If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future." Books are the way we communicate with the dead, and learn lessons from them.
- to read aloud to our kids
- to write true things, not necessarily in what happens, but in who we are
- to day dream and to imagine... everything around you, everything you see was at one point just in someone's imagination
- to make things beautiful, to leave things better than we found it

So... what do you think? Do you ever have to defend the reading of fiction and of pleasure to people in your life? Do you find yourself at a loss for words on how to explain how important it is? That using your imagination is just as important as learning something from a non-fiction book? 

Do you find yourself defending libraries and their continued existence very often? Do you think physical books will ever become extinct? Do you think that libraries can grow and change with the changing world?

At any rate, I loved what he had to say and how it was such a nice pep talk for all things bookish and reading. Hip hip hooray!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Book: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For: Fun
From: the library 

I've loved the last two books this author wrote and this book was no exception. It took me a few pages to get into it, but once there, I was totally invested and already I'm missing these characters.

This is one of those books where each section is from a different character's point of view. We also jump around in time and place. But it is obvious at the start of each section how that person is connected to the story. It is not hard to follow in the least.

The story starts out in the 50s when a young boy and his even younger sister are walking with their father from their village in Afghanistan to the big city of Kabul. When they get there, something terrible happens. The dad sells his daughter to a rich family and then they walk away and leave her. The brother, who has a special connection to his sister, is devastated. 

The rest of the book is how this one event touches the lives of so many people clear through the present day. We see what happens through the uncle, who lives at the rich house and facilitated this exchange, through the guy who ends up inheriting this house, through the kids who lived down the street, through the stepmother of theses two kids, through the girl herself after she was grown, through the daughter of the brother.. and several others. 

On my list of best
looking authors!
The story does have a bit of an agenda, making sure we see the trauma and devastation of what's happened to Afghanistan and its people. Much sadness as always. But it wasn't the main point and it wasn't in your voice. The feeling I walked away with instead is the strength of the bonds of family no matter our circumstances, no matter what life throws at us. It's a good message and I approve.

Bottom line: Beautiful writing, beautiful story. I loved it. This author has me. I will read anything he writes.

Other Reviews:

I fell in love with many of the characters in the novel, even though they each were incredibly flawed and some made horrible, unforgivable choices. From Book Addiction

I loved his language and the pictures, images and stories he creates with his words. Very powerful. From A Bookworm's World

It literally gave me goosebumps... something that has never happened while listening to an audiobook. From Lakeside Musing

I believe that Hosseini has proven his talent once again! From Tif Talks Books

Together these studies make up a linear tale involving love and loss, hope and despair. From Beth Fish Reads

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Birthday Edition

I'm not too inspired by the list prompt today for Top Ten Tuesday (redesigning covers) so I thought I'd rebel and do something on my own. After a little research (a very little so I hope my info is correct) I found some really awesome authors who share my birthday month. Fun!

Some (not all) Books by Authors with November Birthdays!

November 8, 1954-  Kazuo Ishiguro: Remains of the Day
November 11, 1922- Kurt Vonnegut : Slaughterhouse Five
November 10, 1960 - Neil Gaiman: The Graveyard Book
November 12, 1962 - Neal Shusterman: The Schwa Was Here
November 13, 1850- Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
November 16, 1952 - Robin McKinley: The Hero and the Crown
November 17, 1983 - Christopher Paolini: Eragon
November 18, 1939- Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale
November 24: 1849 - Frances H. Burnett: The Secret Garden
November 22: 1819 - George Eliot: Middlemarch
November 29, 1898- C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia
November 29, 1918- Madeline L'Engle: A Wrinkle in Tiime
November 29, 1832 -Lousia May Alcott: Little Women
November 30, 1835- Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn
November 30, 1667- Jonathan Swift: Gulliver's Travels
November 30, 1874-L.M. Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables

Wow. Are you not impressed at that list? Love all those authors and all those books! How about you? Do you know which authors were born in your birthday month? Check here and see!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

Movie: Thor: The Dark World
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up.

So, I remember back when the first Thor came out, I wasn't that excited. I was very ho hum in fact. But I ended up going, I can't remember why, but then after the fact I was pretty much in love... not with the hero, but with the villain.

Yes, I became an instant Loki fan.
Look! Loki reads!

So when this new movie came out, I was very excited...not for Thor (though he is awesome) but to see Loki again. And I was not disappointed.

This movie starts off about two years after the first one ended. Thor is in his world winning battles, and Jane Foster is in hers (which happens to be London this go around) doing scientific things. Even though they haven't been together since the first movie, Thor is having his  buddy The Guardian, keep an eye on her. So when one day she disappears, he is quick to come to her rescue. (Why he didn't come before, who knows?)

Only he is too late and she has already been compromised and now they must fix her! Oh... and save the world in the process!

Thankfully, he has thought up a plan, but in order to do this... he needs Loki's help! Loki...who he just happened to have thrown in the dungeon!

But can he trust Loki or not? Ah... that is the question!

The plot, I must admit, goes over my head sometimes. It's a bit complicated, other worldly, very science-y sometimes and often it leaves me scratching my head and going... now... what? But as you can see from the synopsis above... I get the gist of it!

The special affects are AMAZING! (Yes, I saw it 3D and yes I saw it at the IMAX! Dang, I'm such a fan of the IMAX people. Really. I have it bad.) The music is awesome, the characters are quirky and the story is compelling.

And then there's Loki. Man, what a perfect lovable villain he is. His smile absolutely slays me. Like dead on the floor. Oh my gosh. And can we please find someone for him to kiss on? Some romance for Loki, yes? And then there's the comedy relief he provides... the Captain America stint...yes? So so funny! And the twists and turns and the surprises and the sadness. Ah, he is utterly FILLED with sadness. Does your heart not simply ache for him? Poor Loki.

Did I mention the smile?

Sigh. I loved this movie.

Here's the trailer, the one with the most Loki that I've seen anyway:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nanowrimo Update: The Things I'm Learning

As you may or may not have noticed, my blogging.. and reading.. is suffering from my participation in this Nano thing. But... I'm learning so much stuff! For instance:
  • It's really really hard not to use adverbs! I like a good adverb now and then. It's also really hard not to use really! Or very.
  • The whole time I'm trying to write there's a thing, a demon sort of thing in my head that is saying constantly "show don't tell, show don't tell, show don't tell." 
  • Those author people have been right all along.. the characters really DO take over! 
  • It's fun when you are on a roll and it's not fun when you come to slamming stop.
  • It's very weird to get caught up in a story that's coming out of your own head. Very weird.
  • Music helps. And so does chocolate.
  • I am much more distracted by life and stuff happening around me when I'm trying to write than when I am trying to read. This is proving to be challenging.
  • If they say "write what you know" then why am I ending up writing stuff I don't know? Why?
  • Being aware of word count has been interesting. I'm finding that my normal sit down and write moments can get me to about 1000 words pretty easy...after that I have to push. 
  • Imagining someone else reading this stuff I'm writing makes me a little sick to my stomach with anxiety. How do the real authors ever get past this point?
  • I feel like I'm writing a story that is very much a skeleton and it needs flesh and clothes so bad!
  • If  I were to actually peruse this, I'm going to need a writing group. Just sayin.
At any rate, the experiment has been fun so far! I still feel like I'm crashing a really big party, or playing at a very fun and interesting game. I'm a little worried about keeping up the momentum. I feel like I will run out of stuff to write before I ever come close to that 50,000 word mark. As of this blog post, I have about 21,800 words written. So I guess we'll see!

How are my other writing buddies doing? Any past participants have any great advice for me? 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Markus Zusak Picks Five... Make That Six

The movie, The Book Thief, will be opening in theaters next week. Very excited! As part of that celebration, most beloved author Markus Zusak is doing much publicity and press. Last week he did a live Facebook chat, but of course, I forgot all about it, and completely missed it. But then, Tuesday he did a live video Q and A on Goodreads. And yay! I remembered!

It was fabulous. He answered all the normal questions he always gets asked.... did Max and Liesel get married (he'll leave that up to the reader, but not in his mind) and where did he get the idea for the book (stories his parents told about WWII) and how did Death become the narrator (he wasn't at first, but the book wasn't working and suddenly he thought what if Death narrated and then the whole book fell into place) and etc.

But there were loads of other questions I found really fun too. For instance, he mentioned a piece of music that always makes him think of The Book Thief, it's sort of the theme of the book, in his head anyway. It's from the soundtrack for Amelie, a movie I'm not at all familiar with, but here's the song, and it's very lovely:

And he was asked what his writing routine is like and he said, wherever, whenever. But he doesn't like to write outside, he's bothered by the glare and the wind. He especially likes to write in the kitchen and he doesn't mind a bit of kid chaos.

He also showed us his writing notebook, like a real live paper journal, where he writes dozens and dozens of chapter headings, which then becomes a sort of outline for the book. Currently he's working (still!) on Bridge of Clay, which he hopes it will be out some year. Sigh.

Someone asked what his favorite words are. Two of them I remember.... abominable and shenanigans. Ha!

And then, he was asked what five books he would want with him on the proverbial deserted island. I was listening at work and was called away RIGHT THEN! So I missed this bit! But I scrolled back and determined that this is what he listed as his five... and he added a sixth... favorite books, right at this very moment.

Hopefully I got those right! I'm so bummed that I missed what he actually said about them all!

Anyway, it was yet another awesome MZ moment and I loved hearing what he had to say. Did any of you catch the interview? I've tried to find it archived somewhere, but no luck yet.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Book: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
For: Review
From: NetGalley

I actually tried to download this book from NetGalley months ago, and it didn't work. When I clicked on it... no book! I waited and tried again. I tried all sorts of other things, short of sending in a complaint, but no luck. The book was just not there.

Oh, well. I figured I could just get later from the library and just do my review later than my norm.

Then one day, it was just suddenly there on the Kindle! I have no idea what's going on, but it's just one of those magic Kindle things! I was so glad though, because I  truly did want to read this one, even though from the reports I'd been hearing, it might be hard.

And yes, hard it was. Actually, it took me a few pages to get into the flow of this writing again. It's a little on the different side. I understood after a moment, that this book does tie into Code Name Verity in that the main character Rose, is friends with Maddie from the first book. And Maddie, and also Julie, are mentioned a few times, but then, it's all Rose.

She, like Maddie, is also a pilot during WWII. Her job is to transport this and that. D-day has happened, but the war has not been won. Allied forces are slowly but surely gaining control of France and spirits are up.

Then, one day, she is flying over France on her way back to home base and she gets a bit sidetracked. I will not tell you why or what happens, but I will tell you that she is captured and ends up at a women's camp in Germany. Remember the place where the "doctors" were later tried in Nuremberg for war crimes and experimenting on prisoners? Yeah, that place. (It's called Ravensbruck. I also think this may be the same camp Corrie Ten Boom tells us about in The Hiding Place.)

Then most of the book is her recounting this horrific experience. The bonds she forms, the friends she makes, the women she comes to trust is the truth and power of this story. The terrible things that happen are so very hard to read about, but the strength and fortitude we see in these women is thing we are meant to remember.

Just like Code Name Verity, this book is written with over the top emotion and images that you won't soon forget. The characters are amazing. It's just simply a wonderful book, a terrible moment in history, but a wonderful way to portray it.

Bottom line: I loved it. I was riveted.

Other Reviews:

Is it worth your while to read “yet another Holocaust novel”? Yes, I think it definitely is. From Rhapsody in Books

But, it is also clear that Wein has really done her research on Ravensbrück Concentration Camp and should you wonder, and as she stresses in the Afterword, it really did exist and so did the Rabbits. From The Children's War

I was glad that the concentration camp stories are told after the fact — all that horror, but at least there is the comfort that we know our main character is writing this at the Ritz in Paris. From Joy's Book Blog

I would say it’s one of those books that truly shows the triumph of the human spirit, cliche as that makes me sound — because even when the circumstances are terrible, people still manage to love and to hope and to be good. From Good Books and Good Wine

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels I Need Now

The prompt this week over at The Broke and the Bookish is sequels I'm anxious for. At first I couldn't even think of any! What's up with that? But then I came up with these few:

I'm sure I've missed a ton, but that's all my tired brain can think of right now. What's on your list?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nanowrimo: Update One and a Little Writing History

So yes,  I signed up to try this writing-a-book-in-a-month thing. This crazy "let's go and write 50,000 words RIGHT NOW" thing. I still don't know why, but I just needed to try it and see what happens. I just NEEDED to.

Hopefully I won't bore you with an exhausting account of the experience but I thought I'd at least do little updates every week, just in case you did happen to wonder.

But first, I thought I'd give you my writing background history. Because I KNOW you want to know all THOSE details! :)

The first time I remember loving writing was in 3rd grade when the teacher gave us a creative writing journal and a prompt... nearly every day I think. I loved it. No inhibitions then at all!

Then I started a journal when I was 12 and wrote in it very frequently for years and years. That journal (now 15 or so volumes big) is chuck full of angst and drama. So much fun!

Then I went to college and writing got serious and not fun. I should have taken some fun writing classes. Really. So that sort of slowed things down.

Then I had kids and quit writing pretty much anything. Except I did end up editing lots of newsletters... for church, for school, for the family. That was fun too.

And then about 7 to 10 years ago (when my youngest was still little, but I was starting to think... okay, now what?) I took a few online writing classes. And loved them. They got the ideas flowing, the thoughts racing, the excitement peaked. And I read a bunch of writing books and those pumped me up too.

I wrote some things, including a picture book, poems, travel articles, and the start of a book. But then I just put them away.

It was about that time I started this blog. And I started stalking the authors and listening to them and going to the LTUE conference and reading so much more then I was reading before. It was then I decided... I can NEVER do this. There is NO way. Never in a million years.

I deemed myself a reader only and not a writer.

I saw Nanowrimo happening year after year and it looked like a blast, though I knew I didn't heave time for it. And besides. I was not a writer. So there was that.

But then, this year, my daughter had to pick her Winterim experience at school (where they have a concentrated study thing for three weeks after Christmas before going back to normal classes) and she was choosing between a movie making one, and a writing one where they would do their own version of Nanowrimo. I told her if she picked the writing one, I'd do it with her. She picked the movie one.

But that made me think, hey! So maybe I could just go ahead do the REAL Nano this year! I mean, why not? (I watched We Bought a Zoo, and I can say this all the time now!) WHY NOT? November is going to always be crazy, it will NEVER get less crazy, there will NEVER be a dead November, so it's pointless to wait for that little thing to happen.

So.. WHY  NOT?

I thought about doing it all secretly, but realized, what's the fun in that? So instead, I wrote a post and asked you all about it and told you my fears, and then some of you said, I'll do it too! And some of you said, tell your brain to shut up! And some of you said, you know, this really is fun.

So I signed up.

Then for a week, I thought and planned and listed. And realized (not that I didn't already know this) that I don't know how to make a plot happen. But who cares. And I begged for buddies and added a few people and I clicked around and found the forums and the facebook page.

And then I couldn't sleep for thinking about the freaking story!

And then I waited and waited and finally midnight on Thursday (Halloween) came.

Nanwrimo Day One

So I joined the excitement and wrote for about a half hour at the dong of midnight. But actually, I was re-writing because I got out those old chapters, and according to the "rules" you must start over if this is your plan. So I did. Sort of.

Nanwrimo Day One... continued

The first day, Friday, I was busy until the afternoon, and then stuff happened that made me crazy so I waited really, until 10:00 pm to truly write. And I was sick of re-writing so I started in on the new stuff. By midnight (with lots and lots of interruptions between those two hours of course) I had well over 1000 words. It was a stupid chapter I wrote though. I'm anxious to get to the good stuff. Is this what  it's like for the real authors?

The stuff I re-wrote was about 4000 words long. So I counted myself at about 5000 words by the end of day one. Not bad. And it looks much better than it really was.

Nanowrimo Day Two

On this day I had to drop a kid off at an hour long rehearsal so I brought my lap top and hunkered down in the car for that hour and just wrote while I waited. Ah, it as perfect I tell you! No distractions, very comfortable (you'd think the car wouldn't be but it was) beautiful weather. And I actually truly wrote for that hour, another chapter down, 1500 more words! That hour flew by.

I managed to find a few more moments later on the day, but nothing to get too excited about. I'm finding that if anything is going on around me, I tend to have an issue writing. I can read with all sorts of noise, but writing? Not so much.

Today is day three, and here's hoping I can find more snippets of time to write. Without distractions. Ha.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pin It and Do It: Second Half Report

You can see here what I did for the first half of the month for the Pin It and Do It Challenge.

During this second half, here's what we did:

First of all, we revisited a couple of favorites. I'm calling them the RE- Pins!

Pumpkin Yeast Bread

I love this stuff! But I forgot to take a picture of our version. Here's a picture of what's on the link above, where you'll also find the recipe.

Andes Mint Cookies

We love these at our house! They have fast become a favorite, probably because they are easy, fun and very very tasty!

We had plans to do more Halloween decorating, but this is all we managed. But it was fun!

Eyes in the Bushes

We've been wanting to do this one forever! And though you get really see them very well, they turned out pretty good! (The directions when you click the link above is not what we did however. We did make eyes in empty toilet paper rolls, but then we simple put a couple of glow sticks inside them. Easy!)

Thanks Trish for the doing the challenge again! I'd say for me it was a success!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reading Recap: October 2013

Wow! I can't believe I fit in as many books this month as I did. What's up with that? Let's not expect that to happen again this next month!

Here's what I read in October:

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson: Pretty awesome dystopian where the people with super powers are the bad guys.

Fiesta of Smoke by Suzan Still: A sweeping saga of love and revolution.

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte (re-read): The story of a governess... a bit on the boring side.

Across a Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund: A Scarlet Pimpernel re-telling set in the same world as For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield: Creepy tale of one man's rise and fall.

Tinkers by Paul Harding: The thoughts of a dying man, flashing back to the stories of his father and grandfather.

The Pursuit of Mary Bennett by Pamela Mingle: It's Mary's turn to have a suitor! (Review to come later in November.)

Just One Year by Gayle Forman: In which we get Willem's story of what happened when he disappeared from Allyson's life in Just One Day.

Turning This Thing Around by Keith Maginn: A small memoir of the author's road to emotional recovery.

I hoped to read more for the RIP challenge, but I only managed one that I would count for that, Belllman and Black, which was a perfect creepy sort of book for the Halloween season.

Favorites of this bunch would include: Steelheart, Fiesta of Smoke, and perhaps Bellman and Black.

Plans for November:

  • Well, as you may or may not know, mostly I hope to write during November since I went crazy and signed up for Nanowrimo. And I'm not sure what to expect and if my reading will suffer a ton, a little, or not much. It remains to be seen. But if I read this is what I plan:
  • And the Mountains Echoed
  • Rose Under Fire (I thought the NetGalley download didn't work, but suddenly it's showing up now!)
  • The Eye of Minds
  • a re-read of The Schwa was Here for book club, and maybe Antsy Does Time, too. 
  • The 5th Wave
  • EarthBound
  • Days of Blood and Starlight
We'll leave it at that!

How did your reading month turn out?


Related Posts with Thumbnails