Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review Discussion: On the Fence by Kasie West

Book: On the Fence by Kasie West
Genre: YA Romance/Contemporary
Rating:★★★★★ (I've decided to up this from what I gave it on Goodreads. So there.)
For: Review
From: Free copy received from Edelweiss. All opinions are my own!
(Released tomorrow, July 1, 2014)

Short Synopsis: Thanks to her three wild brothers,Charlie has grown up quite the tomboy. She pals around with them and their friend Braden, doing all the boy things and fitting in quite nicely. But then she gets a job in order to pay off a speeding ticket and the job is a girly one. Suddenly, she is wondering who she really is. Confusing feelings! Not only that, there's something about her mother's death that everyone is not telling her. In order to deal with all these feelings, she starts meeting the next door neighbor, who just happens to be the aforementioned Braden, in the middle of the night at the fence. They are both suffering insomnia and what better way to talk through things then a good old fence chat! Well, and then something magical starts happening at the fence. And bam, things are even more confusing now!!

My Response: Ah, my new favorite author! I love her simple, every day, ordinary teenage stories. And this is the prefect (and literal) boy next door story, and you know I love those. And even though it's simple, it also encompasses all the complicated feelings of teenager-hood, and done just right. And the love story? So much swoon to enjoy! Oh, there's not only Braden, but the brothers to swoon over. Lots and lots of brothers. And her writing style? It's exactly what I wish I could learn for myself. Sigh.

Bottom line: I totally enjoyed it from beginning to end. Next book please! (No, this is not a series that I know of, but just... more Kasie West books please!)

Let's Talk About: We talked about boy next door romances a few books ago. Should we talk about it again? Aren't they the best? Do you know anyone with an in real life boy next door romance? My neighbors across the street are an example, though I don't know their story except that they were friends when they were like 10 and 11 or something. Maybe younger. It would be fun to learn how that friendship changed and morphed for them. What is it about this sort of relationship? I just like that people who are friends for such a long long time can fall in love and become forever friends. It's so romantic.

Other Reviews:

On the Fence by Kasie West is a light, quick and charming read with an unusual girl, a wonderful family set up and with the most adorable romance! From Bewitched Bookworms

It's a perfect summer book, with the cute romance and the drama and the sports. From City of Books

This is an awesome book. If you love romances and great friendships, then you will definitely love this one. From Books With Bite

The way her family stood strong for her was heartwarming though. I couldn’t help but love them even more than I already had. I would love to see Charlie’s brothers in some other books. From This Blonde Reads

Friday, June 27, 2014

Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2

Movie: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Genre: Animated Fantasy
Starring: Hiccup (Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler)
Rating: PG
My Rating: Two thumbs up

So... everything is happy in Berk now! There's peace between humans and dragons. In fact, everyone HAS a dragon, just like Hiccup! But...then. Hiccup discovers there are some bad people killing dragons to give to an even badder guy (I forget all the names!) and this not good. He must be stopped! Of course Hiccup plans to do the stopping all by himself. However, his friends and even his dad come to help.

On the way, Hiccup discovers a pretty huge secret about his past, and it changes everything he thought he knew about himself. Or didn't know. And then the war begins, and sad stuff happens. And then happy stuff happens. And your emotions are all over the place!

Ah, how do they make such fun animated movies these days? How can they make a cartoon boy so freaking attractive? Maybe it's his voice. I don't even know that actor that voices Hiccup, but yeah. I love his voice! And how do they make us all want a pet dragon? It's crazy I tell you!

I saw it in 3D and the swooping flying dragon riding scenes were awesome! So awesome. I wish there were more Astrid Hiccup interaction scenes, but this movie was not about that, it was about other stuff, which you'll understand when (when!) you go to see it.

Anyway, it was great fun. I'm not much of an animated movie lover, but this series deserves its popularity and is one of the best.

Here's the trailer:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book Review Discussion: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Book: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Fun, Support Local Authors
From: I bought it!

Short Synopsis: Ha... short? Yeah, right. I'll try. So this book takes up were the first one, The Way of Kings, leaves off. We have Shallan, along with her teacher Jasnah,  traveling to come to the Shattered Plains to further their research, and to hopefully get what she (Shallan) needs to help her brothers. Kaladin, meanwhile, is already at the Shattered Plains and is now a captain of the guard. Sweet! His Bridge Four guys are treated with much respect and they are teaching their method of leadership to other companies. Dalinar, the king's uncle (who basically runs the show)  has him (Kalladin) close at hand at a lot because he can sense there's something about him. Understatement, that. Well. Things happen. Shallan ends up there, but not as she expects. When she and Kaladin meet for the first time... it is... just... fabulous. But she is engaged to Dalinar's son, Adolin. And they hit it off.

And then more stuff happens. And then things get intense and just... awesome. Both Shallan and Kaladin learn new skills and discover some pretty cool secrets. The spren (cool creatures that I in no way can explain in my "short" synopsis) play a big roll. The strange marbled people (Parshendi) are weird and fascinating, and they want to start a war with Dalinar and his people. So the whole book is basically a lead up to this war with Shallan and Kaladin being put in place to play a significant role.

My Response: As I mentioned in my half way mark post awhile back, the pages turn quickly, but it seems like it takes many pages before "stuff happens." But when stuff happens, it happens in a big way and I love it. But the stuff in between is fascinating and cool and engaging too, so you know, it doesn't really matter. I loved the characters just as much this time as in the first book. Shallan really comes to her own in this book. Wow. And Kaladin is just as cool as ever. And Adolin? I hardly remember him from the first book, but he is a blast in this one! Brandon Sanderson is known for his world building, which is awesome, but he truly does have a handle on the whole character development too. We talk a lot about how much we love bantering between characters and let's just say that Shallan and Kaladin have this down! So much fun! They get  stuck together at one point and these scenes were definitely my favorites of the whole book.

Bottom Line: Even thought it took me several months to read this book, I loved it and especially those last 200 pages... totally edge of your seat stuff. I'm hooked on this series, no question.

Let's Talk About: When people talk about this author, they always talk about his world building and magic systems. And some people enjoy fantasy because of these things and others could take it or leave. So I'm wondering, what do you think about these two components to fantasy story telling? Do you pay attention to them? Or do you get too wrapped up in the story and/or its characters to even think about it? Does the world building make or break the book? Do you think about magic enough to ponder how it works in certain books? Do you think that sometimes these things can be overdone? Or too simple? I'd love to know what you think!

Other Reviews:

Words of Radiance (****) is a good book beset by minor problems: dialogue issues, a languid pace and often irrelevant-feeling (though often individually fun) side-chapters. At the same time it features much-improved characters, superior worldbuilding and some impressive action set-pieces. From The Wertzone

Ultimately, it is a beautiful book, a work of art in many ways that is a great length and a worthy addition to the epic fantasy lexicon that will look just great on your bookshelf when you’re done. From Bookbanter

Sanderson can still move at a slow pace sometimes, and the morality of his characters is frequently too black and white, but this series is an amazing achievement. From Chamber Four

This final scene is perhaps one of the better volume conclusions that Sanderson has written and despite my near-antipathy for many of the novel's component elements, I am curious enough that I will read the third volume whenever it is released. From The Of Blog

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review Discussion: Jabberwocky by Daniel Coleman

Book: Jabberwocky by Daniel Coleman
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ★

For: Review, Supporting local authors
From: Received for free from the author, all opinions are my own.
(To be re-released later this summer)

Short Synopsis: This is the story behind the Lewis Carroll poem. Well, according to this particular author's imagination anyway! We have our hero, Tjaden, who wants to become a member of the Elite guard. Because of his prowess fighting off a bandersnatch and later his near-win in the sparring ring, he is chosen to join up. His dreams have come true. Now, if only he could be brave enough to talk to Alora, give her the ring he bought and make her understand his feelings for her. But now he might not have a chance because of that dang Jabberwock!

My Response: Guys... I loved this story! I'm not really that familiar with the poem, but of course I know of it. When you read it, it seems like total gibberish, a bunch of nonsense words and a story line that a normal person can't follow at all. (See poem below, along with an awesome reciting!) Well, no more. This fun and lovely story will lay to rest any issues you've ever had with that crazy Jabberwocky poem! All the words are explained and the story follows the poem in a fun, romantic, swashbuckling way, including a sort of twist at the end that is awesome. The characters are a blast. We have a shy and humble hero, a damsel in distress that isn't at all the weak sort of damsel one might expect, a quirky funny sidekick that tends to steal the scenes and the annoying "I'm the coolest" nemesis. Ah, but he causes some grief for our poor hero! And then there's the Jabberwock himself... and that's all I'm going to say about that!

Bottom line: I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but I ended up pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was and how much I loved it. It will turn out to be highlight of my summer reading I'm sure. Now, I must get my hands on Hatter, which I understand is a companion book and tells even more of the story.

Let's Talk About: This whole idea of taking a poem that's quite hard to understand and then turning it into an awesome story... I love it! What do you think? What other poems can we suggest to our favorite authors to "fix" for us? The Highwayman would make a great story, I'd say. How about you?

Other Reviews:

My favorite thing about JABBERWOCKY was the fact that Coleman took a poem full of nonsense and turned it into something real. From A Backwards Story

Daniel relates the gripping tale of a quiet hero, Tjaden, who, motivated only by resolving the problems posed to his family and friends, accomplishes the impossible. From Tristi Pinkston

If you are looking for an exciting, high-fantasy story with adventure, nail-biting suspense and romance, JABBERWOCKY is for you! I love this little gem of a book. From That's Swell

No, I’m not expecting a Jabberwocky to come flying overhead or to be threatened by a Bandersnatch, but in the world that was created, I believed that these things could happen. From The Paisley Reader

Just for fun, here's the poem:


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'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 (1871).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Authors Pick Five: M.K. Hutchins

Yesterday I reviewed the debut novel, Drift, by author M.K. Hutchins. Today I'd like to spotlight her on my Authors Pick Five feature, which is where I ask this one question:

What five books are most important or influential to you?

Here's what she had to say:

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. I think this is the first fantasy novel I read. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher. I love myths, fairy tales, and folklore, and this is a retelling of Scheherazade, one of the greatest story-tellers of all time. I reread this book I-don’t-know-how-many-times as a kid.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. This sparked my interested toward studying linguistics and anthropology, plus Samwise Gamgee got me through high school.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Okay. Picking one Sanderson novel is hard, but Mistborn is a good place to start. Sanderson’s writing has all the heroism and depth of worldbuilding that Tolkien taught me to crave, but with the sleek pace of modern fiction.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Yes, I even loved the ending to Mockingjay. I’m mesmerized by the depth and detail she gives in dealing with poverty, trauma, and everything else.

Drift is M.K. Hutchins' first novel. She has had several short stories published in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show and Daily Science Fiction. She studied archealogy at BYU and has had the oppourtunity to be out in the field excavating. She's fascinated with everything to do about the Mayans. You can find her at her blog, and  on Twitter.

Thanks for joining me today! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review Discussion: Drift by M.K. Hutchins

Book: Drift by M.K. Hutchins
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
For: Review, Support local authors
From: Received for free from the publisher, Tu Books. All opinions are my own. 

Short Synopsis: This story takes place in a world where the people live on the backs of huge giant turtles swimming in the ocean. They have to make sure the turtle is properly feed and nourished or else their soil and earth won't be healthy enough support their crops. Our hero, Tenjat, wants nothing else except to be a Handler, one of the guys who "handles" the turtle and makes sure everything is going smoothly. He wants this life so he and his sister, both orphans who years before sought refuge on this particular turtle, can be secure in their future. As he fulfills this dream, he begins to find out more and more about his past and what's really going on with his world.

My Response: This story was a little hard for me to understand at first. The names and the world and the philosophy was a little hard to grasp. But, as the story went on and things began to be revealed, I got it! Yes. I got it. I know, sometimes I'm a little slow. But then, once I got it, it was pretty dang cool. And then when I was finished, I especially liked reading the author's note in the back that explains all the different things that inspired the story, much of it being Mayan culture.  It makes everything all make so much more sense! 

Bottom Line: In the end, I thought it was a very clever fantasy, even if it took me awhile to catch on.

Let's Talk About:  One of the strangest things about this world is that is was looked down upon to get married and have kids... to be a husband. This was, for them, the ultimate shame. Ah, it was so strange for me to read about something that is so far from my own feelings! What do you all think? Do you agree that one of the best things about reading is learning about a world (real or imaginary) that is so very very different from your own? (Actually, this little tidbit may not be that strange in our world, but it is in mine!) Even if it made me want to shout, NO!, I still find it fascinating to ponder the all the possibilities and other ways of life.

Other Reviews:

Hutchins writes a unique fantasy based in multiple mythologies in which she explores gender based roles, family structures, the environment and what we essentially believe about the cycle of life and death.  From Crazy QuiltEdi

Sharing My Creative Projects: A Blog Hop

Awhile back I was tagged by Belle of Ms Bookish to participate in a creativity blog hop. The idea here is to share a project you are working on and then answer a few questions. You can see Belle's awesome post here and get a glimpse into her writing and creative life. She's very inspiring and I want to be like her when I grow up!

So anyway, for some reason she thought I'd be a good candidate to participate in this hop! I'm not sure why as I'm so very new to the writing thing, and all my all creative endeavors seem to get dropped before they get finished. But I do love to try! Maybe trying is half the battle, I don't know. But creativity is definitely something I'm passionate about, so here's my attempt at sharing my projects with you and answering these few questions.

What am I working on?

I'm currently editing the first very very rough draft of the words I spilled out during my first Nano experience last November. I actually enjoy the process it's just that I'm having a struggle finding TIME!! Anyway, I'm very new at it all but I'm finding that I love printing the chapters out and then marking them up relentlessly with a red pen. It's a visual of progress! So papers like those above are all over the place right now!

Last year, or was it the year before, some quilting blogger buddies got me started on trying a hexagon quilt. This is as far as I've managed. And this is supposed to be just a wall hanging, not even a big quilt! It's something I can do while watching TV so you'd think I could manage it! Anyway, it's a project in progress, and one I hope to finish.

Many summers ago I started this scrap quilt. It's pretty labor intensive, so when other things took over, this one got dropped. I'm hoping that digging it up and sharing it here with you will get me bugged enough to work on it some more.

This is not my image, but this looks very familiar to what I've been working on most recently,and that is making movies/slideshows.  I'm working on a show for my parents' 50th anniversary which includes pictures from their childhoods all through their marriage, our family growing up, to recent days. That's a lot of pictures! And then putting it to music that they've requested. This movie will be premiering at a special dinner held in their honor this Friday.Then, we are off to a reunion and where we'll be showing a movie we made of the events of our past year, my own little family's past year. My daughter has been working on this one, and we are having fun trying to be very creative with videos, pictures and music to showcase all the stuff we've done this year.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Perhaps you could say it's all over the place? Maybe I've got my hand in too many creative pots? Yeah, I need to focus, I know, but still... it all needs doing,  you know? I'm being pulled by it all! I could also say that it differs in the fact that I pretty much have no idea what I'm doing and it's all very amateur and newbie and learning and in progress. But that's okay, right?

Why do I write/create what I do?

The answer here is very simple... because it's fun. And because I'd feel so totally frustrated and unfulfilled without some creative project in my life. So I guess I do it to cope and survive but mostly... to have fun. Why do I quilt? It's so rewarding and beautiful, even when I make massive mistakes and mess things up royally. Why do I write? To see what happens. Literally. Because it's all still a mystery to me!

How does my writing/creating process work?

Well, I'm still working on a process, but it seems my method so far is to just jump in with both feet and go for it. Luckily, I'm not much of a perfectionist, so this method seems to work for me. I expect to make a mess of things, to make mistakes and to fail all over the place, but I'm learning stuff and here's hoping I get better and learn a, shall we say, cleaner creative process before it's over!

Next on the list:

I've tagged Ang from Eastern Sunset Reads because I know she is involved in many many creative projects, like a very impressive amount! Including writing! I look forward to her answers to these questions!

And also Jessica from The Bluestocking Society who I also know gets very into being creative. I'm not sure what all her projects are at the moment, so I look forward to getting a peek at them!

Look for their posts next week!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

In Which I Prove I'm Not Imaginary

Meet Gayle! She and I became friends through my blog years ago, even though she's not a book blogger herself... she's a reader and a book blog reader and... a most awesome photographer! So we've passed a few letters back and forth, some cards maybe, became Facebook friends (where I can see her awesome pictures!) and have,  you know, been internet friends all these years.

But her kids have given her a hard time and said, "Hey mom, about that imaginary friend you have...." So the other day, she was in town and dropped by the library where I was working, and managed to find me even though I was running around and not being easy to find, and guess what? I'm not imaginary after all! Yay! How awesome is that!?

I'm so glad she made the effort to stop by even though there wasn't really time to talk or anything, it was fun to meet and say hi and see her cute kids. Maybe we'll get another chance another day down the road!

Other random stuff that's been going on that lets me know all is not in my imagination:

** I posted these cookies my daughter made for book club on Instagram and it got more likes than this awesome sunset picture that also happened this week.

** Everyone has wanted the cookie recipe so if you want it too, here's the link: peanut butter chocolate chip nutella cookies.

** I'm busy making a video/slideshow for my parent's 50th wedding celebration which will be happening next week. I guess we are also making one of our own family's endeavors to share at the reunion with my brothers and sisters too. It's been all pictures and movies this week!

** Last week we went to the city's summer celebration parade and the cannon that led off the parade exploded just after it passed us and burned three kids. That was pretty terrible. I think they are doing okay, but I'd like to know for sure!

** We are trying to get more garden planted. I've assigned that to my 19 year old. He's doing pretty good with it. Keep your fingers crossed that they actually grow now!

** I've decided if I really want to write more, I've got to stop committing to reviewing books! And having deadlines and such for reading. It's staring to make me a little crazy.

** The World Cup has passed me by many years before and I've never even noticed. This year though, it seems to be on a bit at our house! I guess that's what happens when you suddenly have a new son-in-law (and a new daughter-in-law too for that matter) that loves soccer, eh? But I'm not sure who to root for.. the USA or the cool other teams with those cool nice looking cool soccer playing cool guys! :)

** We went to two movies this past week... I shared my thoughts about The Fault in our Stars here.. .and got wow, such an overwhelming reaction from all of you!! (You all must be TFIOS'ed out.) And this week I'll tell you about that Dragon movie where I'll wonder how they can make cartoon boys so freaking cute.

Well, I guess that's it from here. Life goes on. The next big event is this weekend, as I said, and then maybe, just maybe there'll be a little excitement lull? We'll see.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

TV Talk: The Walking Dead

I've spent the past few months catching up on this show, watching all four seasons. I resisted the show because of the violent graphic nature, but I came for the characters. And I haven't been at all sorry.

Yes, it's violent. Very violent, very graphic. But the story and the characters and the intensity of it all... fascinating! Gripping! And heartbreaking. And worth it.

It all begins when Rick gets shot during a police chase. When he wakes up in the hospital, who knows how long later, the world has changed. A virus as taken over. He runs for home, but no one is there. He is now on a mission to find his wife and kid. Welcome to episode 1.

Here's the trailer for that:

I got used to the violence against the zombies... they are just zombies after all! And I was able to handle it by thinking... Wow, that's some awesome special effects! How'd they DO that anyway?

But the other violence? That's when I have to turn my head, because it's much more real. The circumstances of this world have turned some people really good and some really bad. It's scary to see how bad some people get (I mentioned this in an other post a few months ago) and it's those moments that are really gut wrenching... what people can do to each other. I imagine should something like this really happen, this is truly what we'll be dealing with.

But most of the characters are so amazing. Here are some of the characters we are introduced to in the first season:

Rick: the cop and all round good leader type guy. He knows how to manage people. He's tough and smart and savvy... but he's also easily broken.

Glenn: one of the sweetest guys you'll ever meet on any TV show let alone a gruesome one like this one! He has no business having to deal with this stuff! He's too nice!

Carl: Rick's son who is just a little boy when it all starts, but as you can well imagine, he grows to be as smart and savvy as his dad and learns to deal with whatever comes his way.

Daryl and Merle: a set of white trash no-do-good brothers who are like time bombs and can get set off by anything. One proves that he is as volatile as we expect him to be the other proves he is worth more than any of the rest of them put together!

Carol: Who starts out as an abused wife. In fact, I thought her character would be dead from the get go, but she has lived on to show she has inner strength to match the best of them.

Shane: Rick's cop partner who gave me the creeps from day one! I root for most of them, but I'm not rooting for this guy!

Andrea: Another really smart, really strong female character, yet she gets herself into one freaking awful mess!

And then as the seasons go one, several more awesome people are introduced. You become attached to them all (well except Shane maybe) but none of them are safe! You never know who's going to be killed next! It sure keeps you on your seat and clicking for the next episode! I don't think I've ever screamed and yelled and moaned and groaned at the TV screen quite as much as I have watching this show. Oh, and the music... awesome!!! (Scary creepy music, along with really cool folksy music. It's a cool mix.)

So despite the gruesomeness of this show, I've come, I've watched and I've loved. Now I'm in the same boat as all the other fans, dying for next season to start to see what happens to all our heroes next! Will they ever get a break, these characters? I highly doubt it.

Are you fan? What's your feeling on this show? Are you reluctant to watch? Why? Or... have I convinced you to give it a try? Discuss in comments!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Movie Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Movie: The Fault in Our Stars
Genre: Drama
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

It felt like I took awhile to see this movie, even though it was still within two weeks of it being out. After having seen SO MUCH buzz and promotion for it, I felt like I was being disloyal to one of my favorite authors and the whole Nerdfighter community by not going right away and giving them my money that first all important weekend!

But life happens and we didn't get there until this past week. I'm sure they'll all survive!

Anyway. I'm guessing everyone knows what this movie is about, right? Two kids fighting cancer. But more importantly, it's about two kids falling in love and discovering that life isn't about the cancer they are fighting, but the life they are discovering. As part of that, they travel to The Netherlands to find a revered author and learn how a certain book ends. The author is terrible to them! But they learn stuff anyway. It's awesome. But can I just say, I'm so glad that there are some revered authors that live up the idea you have of them. Thank goodness for that!

And yes. The end is sad... terribly sad. I didn't think I'd cry since it was expected... I usually don't cry when someone tells me I'm supposed to.. I cry more at unexpected times, you know. But I cried. I mean, I leaked. I managed not to get to heaving sobbing sort of cry. But sheesh, it's pretty hard not to.

The thing is, this movie actually has more funny parts than sad parts. These characters are great! And I loved how Ansel portrays Gus. I mean, I wasn't so sure. He's okay in Divergent and all, but we just don't get to see what he can really do. But hes' really great. He has such an expressive face and eyes that he doesn't even need to say anything to let us know what he (as Gus) is feeling or thinking. Pretty much irresistible, that Gus!

That face! 

But being a mom, it's awfully hard not to relate more to the mom and the parent side of things with this movie. Seeing how they deal with things is inspirational and heartbreaking.

Anyway, I would say don't be scared of the subject matter and the sadness. Just go and be happy for your life! Okay? Okay!

Here's the trailer that you've all probably seen a gazillion times:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Utah Book Month Coming Soon!

It's time to sign up for Utah Book Month! This is a month long celebration of all things bookish in Utah that we've been doing every August for a couple of years now. There's so many literary and bookish things happening here in Utah that we figured it was worth a month of it's own!

Anyway, everyone is welcome to participate. Here are the ways you can play along:
All the details can be found over on the Utah Book blog, including the sign up form. We all sorts of lists over there too in case you need ideas for Utah author/bloggers or books. (Here's my page of some Utah books I've read and am working on.  Or you can check out this Goodreads list.)

We'd love to have you join us! Click here to sign up!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Review Discussion: The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Book: The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Book Club
From: The library

Short Synopsis: Our girl, who ends up being called Sinda, was raised a princess. But then she learns, as the book opens, that she is in fact, not the princess. And she must leave all she knows, including her best friend that's a boy, and go live with her aunt, who she has never met. While there, she learns some stuff that begins to change everything. And she misses that boy like crazy! (Dang, I already forgot his name....) And then, wow, things get COMPLICATED! It becomes a mystery of sorts and it's a fun one to figure out.

My Response: Very fun! I really enjoyed this one! A fun fairy tale an intriguing plot and great characters. Sweet romance.. .the best friend romance of course. That's always a good one! And wicked people. Yeah, what's not to like!? But I can't really come up with anything to actually talk about. We'll be discussing this book at book club tomorrow and... good luck to us!

Bottom line: Fun and cute. Fairy tale lovers, I suggest you read this one soon. (That is, if you haven't already because it's kind of oldish, bookishly speaking.)

Let's Talk About: Okay, so I mentioned the best friend turns to love thing. I've read two books back to back lately where this is the case. I LOVE these sorts of romances! Love. So that's what I most enjoyed about this one actually. But... what do YOU think about them? Do you enjoy them too? Is it too predictable? Or does that even matter?

Other Reviews:

I still loved how it developed, how she began to understand what she felt, and the sweetness of their scenes together (this book held one of the few kissing scenes I've read recently that felt real). From One Librarian's Book Reviews

There are plenty of things to enjoy in The False Princess including boy next door love. From Good Books Good Wine

This book has something for everyone. It falls into both the historical fiction and fantasy categories. From A Backward Story

Getting into this story is a simple thing. Once it picks up, it moves faster and faster and faster. There’s a great, amazing whirlwind, then it’s over. From Proud Book Nerd

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer TBR

So, what books do I want to read this summer? Pretty much all the big stack on my night stand. This is what I'm seeing there:

Blindsided by Natalie Whipple
Relic by Renee Collins
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Split Second by Kasie West
Abandon by Elana Johnson
Demons by Heather Frost
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Drift by M.K. Hutchins
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Jabberwocky by Daniel Coleman

Oh... wait.. did you say just ten? Oops.

Many of these are local authors and so I'll be reading them in August for Utah Book Month! Stay tuned for more info on that if you'd like to join in!

So anyway... do we have any of the same books on our lists? Let me know!

Don't forget to link up your list over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Friday, June 13, 2014

British Isles Friday: British Author Collage

I had so much fun making a British Actors Collage the other week, I thought today I'd repeat the fun only with British Authors this time around! (And remember, I'm using the term British here to mean anyone from England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales!)

Here are some of my favorites:

Can you name any of them?

I'll help by listing them for you and you can figure which one is which!

Wilkie Collins
Charles Dickens
J.M. Barrie
Roald Dahl
J.R.R. Tolkien
Thomas Hardy
William Shakespeare
John Galsworthy
George Orwell
Jane Austen
Elizabeth Gaskell
Charlotte Bronte
Mary Shelley
Francis Hodgsen Burnett
J.K. Rowling
Maeve Binchy

What a list, eh? Dang they wrote some good books! But some of them are pretty creepy looking if you ask me.

For more British fun check out the links over at Joy's Book Blog.

Edited to Add: Here are the answers, in order of top to bottom, left to right:

Mary Shelley
J.M. Barrie
Charles Dickens
Charlotte Bronte
Roald Dahl
Maeve Binchy
Elizabeth Gaskell
William Shakespeare
John Galsworthy
Francis Hodgsen Burnett
Jane Austen
Thomas Hardy
Wilkie Collins
JRR Tolkien
George Orwell
J.K. Rowling

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Review Discussion: Just One Night by Gayle Forman

Book: Just One Night by Gayle Forman
Genre: YA Romance
Rating:★★★☆ ☆
For: Fun
From: Amazon ebook purchase

Short Synopsis (SPOILERS for Just One Day and Just One Year!): So... in Just One Day we meet this couple, and they fall in love in just one day in Paris. But then something happens and the guy (Willem) disappears. Then we get Allyson's story in how she tries to find him... and we get his story in Just One Year on how he tries to find her. And both books end (here's the spoiler... sort of) when they open the door... having finally found each other.

AND IT JUST ENDS THERE!!!! They open the door... that's it.

So, this little novella is what happens after that! Can you guess what happens that night? As my grandma says, you have three guesses and the first two don't count!

Whew... it's quite steamy. But...

My Response: .... at least we now have closure! I enjoyed the above mentioned two books but it bugged me that they just ended and we didn't get that feeling of ..... sigh... yes... they are together again. This book fixes that quite well and makes you all happy with the world.

Bottom line: Good. Very good.

Let's Talk About: INSTALOVE! Okay, everyone seems to hate this in books, but why are these books so popular then? It all happened in JUST ONE DAY, yes? And then they didn't' see each other for a year and then this night happens? I mean, they barely know each other, right? But everyone loves it. Why aren't we all screaming.. "instalove!" with this book? Uh?  Tell me! (And while we're at it, what do you think about the marketing behind this... selling what is basically the final chapter of a book as a 99 cent novella? Hmmm?)

Other Reviews:

I had lots of FEELINGS (happy ones) and I don’t want to give too much away but it was a really nice peek into what happened after the door opened ... From Perpetual Page-Turner

I’m SO GLAD it exists. I’m not going to say much, but let me tell you there are tender moments and steamy moments and answers and everything you could ever hope for. From That Artsy Reader Girl

It's a short work and a pleasure to read, but where the previous two books in this series gave me more than a love story--they gave me a remarkable journey of self-discovery to examine and admire--this novella remains a romantic tale, tying up the potential loose ends Forman may not have spelled out in Just One Year and pleasing fans around the globe. From Ivy Book Bindings

Just One Night was beautiful! Just the ending I needed forJust One Year! From The Romance Bookie

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Movie: Edge of Tomorrow
Genre: Action Adventure
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

This is an awesome fun summer action movie! People have been saying it looks like every other Tom Cruise movie, well, and it sort of is, but still... if you want action adventure, isn't Tom Cruise your man? (I've said it before and I'll say it again, maybe he's a bit crazy in his personal life, but I still find him very fun to watch at the movies, you know?)

A little story synopsis: the world has been taken over by aliens... well, most of mainland Europe anyway. And England is next which is why everyone is gathering there to launch a full scale attack on the aliens and end this thing once and for all. They have created a sort of weapon that you wear and this one girl (Emily Blunt's character) was able to win a recent battle using this weapon. Everyone thinks it's possible that they can finally defeat the aliens.

Yeah, right.

So Tom Cruise's character, he's like an officer dude, and he is there just to say... Way to go guys! You've got this thing! But then suddenly, they handcuff him and demote him and he's now a private and expected to head to the war the next day. And he has no idea how to make those weapon things work! (I forget now why they demoted him... a bit confusing that part!)

And then the movie starts to be like ground hog day where he lives this day over and over and over again. And he learns things and he figures stuff out and in the process maybe, just maybe, they truly MIGHT have a chance to beat them after all!

It's crazy stuff I tell you. And quite violent, so beware. But it's great, the stuff that he can make happen every "new" day. And the intense. Well, the whole movie is intense. And you know how I love the intense movies!

And of course, go see it at the Imax in 3D. Just do it!

Here's the trailer:

Oh, and P.S. If you are a Robin Hood fan, keep your eye out for Jonas Armstrong! I was like... that guy looks so familiar! But didn't realize who it was until afterwards!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: The Best Ten of the Year!

It's a pretty straight forward prompt today ... but not necessarily an easy one!

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

I gave these books five stars:

Noggin by John Corey Whaley: He got a body transplant!
Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale: gruesome tale told in a fun graphic novel way
Prodigy by Marie Lu: the second of this awesome dystopian
Death Sworn by Leah Cypess: falling in love with an assassin of course.
Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi: The end of series. Sad and awesome!
Champion by Marie Lu: Ditto!
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West: a perfect contemporary YA. Loved!
Dangerous by Shannon Hale: very fun mash up of genres

I gave a lot of books four stars, but I choose these two to round out my ten:

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton: an intriguing sort of darkish tale
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: the book everyone is talking about!

What have been your favorite books so far this year? Link up over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Review Discussion: Shucked by Megg Jensen

Book: Shucked by Megg Jensen
Genre: YA Contemporary
For: Fun
From: Ebook from Amazon or somewhere. I can't remember!

Short Synopsis: I picked this one up on a whim because it sounded sort of like the book I'm trying to write.... which of course made me curious. It's about a girl who has to spend the school year (in my book it's the summer) on a farm with her grandparents. She is not happy because she is used to gallivanting around the world with her archaeologist mom, but now her mom has been assigned something dangerous, so she has left Tabitha with her grandma. Tabitha feels very new at the whole teenager high school thing, so she has learn so much stuff... including how to flirt and how to be a cheerleader and how to not be too rough on people with her taekwondo skills. Also, math. But, besides all that, she learns some shocking things about one of her teachers, and that her mom is up to something other than what she's been letting on, and somehow Tabitha gets all mixed up in everything!

My Response: It's a cute fun story. I saw many resemblances to what I'm trying to write, but also to what Kathy is writing too! It was sort of a mash up of the premises of our two books. How weird is that? So it was fun to read and to learn what I liked that this author did and what I didn't like. It has it's problems but for the most part, it was fun to read and I enjoyed it!

Bottom line: Fun!

Let's Talk About: Plot. I think this story has some issues with the plot thing. Some stuff just didn't make sense or was too, you know, weird. And I know the story I'm working on has the same sort of issues. But for me, plot is such a slippery sort of thing! What makes it good? What makes it bad? Is plot only for people with wild imaginations? Or can plot be more a simple subtle thing? What's your take on plot?

Other Reviews:

It’s a rocket-paced read full of outlandish, comedic coincidences that make it easy to keep turning pages. From Lehua Parker

And while the plot started off fantastic, even if a bit far-fetched, it quickly takes a turn for just plain OUT THERE. From For Love and Books

Tabitha’s voice is hilarious and she carries the story. ..... However, the book suffered some identity issues. From Kristen S. Walker

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Currently: Coming Home

(Written on Saturday evening, our last day on vacation. Coming home tomorrow, back to reality.)

Listening: Random playlists on my iPod.

Watching: At this very moment, we are sitting in a hotel in Las Vegas (well, technically Henderson) waiting for Ghost Adventures to start so we can see the Whaley House, which we just visited in San Diego, being featured. We excited! We want to hear all the stories!

Reading: I've read quite a bit on this vacation. Currently, I'm in the middle of The False Princess for book club. But I loved reading the latest from Kasie West, On the Fence, which comes out in July.

Writing: Not doing well here. Still working on editing the Nano project. I go in spurts. I'm hoping to have a big spurt this coming week!

Blogging: Survived Armchair BEA. I was pretty active for the first part of the week, but then had to get ready and then leave for vacation the second part. I didn't visit many blogs, sadly. Maybe I'll catch up to a few.

Eating: Oh my word, eating on vacation as been terrible and wonderful! We've had British, Italian, French, Mexican, Greek, Japanese and Chinese! And lots of American hamburgers too! And fudge from Old Town!

Crafting: What? Crafting? What's that?

Miscellaneous Vacation Notes:
  • We survived a day in Disneyland. I could never do three or five days like most people do. But we kept track of the rides we rode... it came to 20 which meant it cost us $5 a ride. Worth it? Or no?
  • San Diego is an awesome city. We love that place!
  • We visited the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum. That was awesome too.
  • We saw Edge of Tomorrow instead of The Fault in Our Stars.
  • We walked on the beach only for a minute.
  • We spent a day at the zoo. Love the zoo there.
  • Las Vegas is HOT. San Diego is PERFECT!
  • There's some really weird shiny things in the middle of the desert. They will blind you. Just outside of Las Vegas. Be warned if you are driving that direction.
  • Using was great again! Nice apartment in the Old Town neighborhood! Better than hotels.
Well, enough of what I've been doing. What have you all been up to?

Panoramic view from Cabrillo National Monument

Our apartment for the week.

The back of the haunted Whaley House.

Eating Dole Whip at Disneyland.

On the beach.
Old Town San Diego
Sunset in Las Vegas
Fountains at the Belagio
Becoming a soldier at the Mormon Battalion Center

The baby panda is getting big!
The shiny things in the desert!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review Discussion: An Ocean Atween Us by Angela Morrison

Book: An Ocean Atween us by Angela Morrison
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
For: Fun
From: ebook bought from Amazon

Short Synopsis: This is the story of young Will Glover who works as a coal miner in Scotland in the 1800s. As the book opens, he has just realized he's in love with Lucie and he makes big plans to ask her to marry him. But then, that very day in fact, his father decides to set sail across to Canada, to Nova Scotia (New Scotland... something I just learned from this book!) to make his fortune, and of course, take the whole family with him. Will is devastated. But he goes anyway, and hopes to come back for Lucie.

My Response: Based on the ancestors of the author (her great great great grandmother's big brother to be specific) I found this to be a fun look into the past of what could have been the story of many of our families. It's written in very heavy Scottish brogue which takes some getting used to, but I found it to be very endearing and I actually ended up quite loving it. I could hear that accent in my head and what's better than a Scottish accent? Not much I tell you. The story is a simple one but still holds much emotion and excitement. I found it so hard to believe that a kid this young (14 to 15 years old) would be doing the things (and wanting the things, like to get married already!) that this kid does. I guess that's how it was back then? And people aged so fast doing this hard work!

Bottom Line: I really enjoyed it. Fun family tale.

Let's Talk About: Do you have family stories of your ancestors? Have you written them down, in any form at all? I love how this author has taken a family story and embellished it, given it emotion and characters and richness, and turned it into a novel. I love that! I'd love to do the same thing to my family stories some day! What family story would you love to turn into a novel?


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