Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Reading Recap September 2015

Favorite Picture this month:
Stormy clouds

Here are the books I read this month:

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby: A strange girl and a strange boy get together to solve a mystery of missing friend. 

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead: Some friends deal with issues of growing up. 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: A girl on a train sees something weird out the window and gets herself involved in a murder mystery.

Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard: What if the boy you love dumps you, hits his head and forgets that he dumped you?

Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage: A girl and a boy follow clues left by the girl's father and discover the mystery of their underground village.

Favorites of the month: Bone Gap and Goodbye Stranger. 

Plans for October:

  • read (re-read) Dracula for book club
  • finish The Martian
  • read The Canterville Ghost for the newly formed family book club
  • read Stitching Snow and The Tightrope Walkers for the Beehive Award long list
  • continue working on Year of Origin for critique group
  • read Saints and Boxers during readathon
  • I can't remember what else!

How did your month go? What plans do you have for October?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#SLCC15: My Comic Con Experience

I know you could all probably care less (or is it couldn't care less, I can never get that right!) about who I saw and what I did during Comic Con, but I still have to record it for posterity, you know? Or at least for me to read over next year, and maybe the year after that just to remember. :)

Day One: Thursday

Right of the bat, we had some issues parking. . . our normal spot was full! But we finally figured that out and arrived around 3:15 pm on Thursday. So the first Q and A panel we ended up in was Scott Wilson, aka. Hershel from The Walking Dead. He was very low key. Interesting, yes. But not too exciting. They doubled the room that we normally hang out in (usually there are two rooms but they combined them into one huge one that seats 4500 people!)  and we were toward the back for that first panel, so when it ended, up to the front we ran! Part of the craziness of comic con is fighting for seats. There's such a strategy involved. And what fun is going if you only see them on the jumbo-tron and not their real live faces, right?

Anyway, we got closer for the next one which was Chekov from the original Star Trek. He was a spry little old man! And cute! He wore a baseball cap that put his whole face in shadow which made me crazy and the moderator kept trying to tip it back. Finally he (Walter Koenig) just took it off. It was pretty funny. He had some great Star Trek stories.

After the cap came off!

After that was Studio C which is a local group with funny shows on YouTube. I've never watched them, but I hear they are... funny. We stayed put to keep our seats for the next panel which was,

The Weasley Twins! They were awesome! But guys, they don't have red hair. Gasp. I know. But they had beautiful brown hair and were so cute. The moderator asked them rapid fire favorite questions and they answered as one, with the same answers in the exact same tone. It was awesome. Someone asked them which one of them was the good twin and which one the bad. We all determined that Oliver is the bad and James is the good. They seemed to agree. I have to admit, I was drawn to James just a touch. (He's the one that played Fred in the movie.) I don't know why, he just exuded that cute shy boy charm.

Oliver (aka George) on the left, James (aka Fred) on the right.

After that we actually left the ballroom and the Q and A's to wander around. We took a few pictures, observed the cool costumes and strolled past Celebrity Row to see who was "out."

Then we got in line for the class we wanted to go to at 8:00 about ghost hunting. That guy has some interesting stories indeed! I tend to believe him, but I know many would just roll their eyes and find him completely full of it.

We lasted the whole day! After that it was over! And we went home to sleep.

Day Two: Friday

We got up and picked up Kami and her brother on our way to the convention. We arrived about an hour early and Toto and I went straight to the line for Jenna Coleman, aka Clara, the current companion in Dr. Who. We waited in line for awhile, but they let us in pretty quickly and we got fairly good seats in the front section. We waited for probably 40 or so minutes inside and then finally, our marathon day of Q and A panels in the huge ballroom began!

Jenna Coleman was cute and fun. We learned that this current season of Dr. Who, the one that just started, is her last season and in fact she has already shot her final Dr. Who scene. So that's sad. And now I wonder who the next companion will be!

Waiting in line.

After her it was supposed to Rory, also from Dr. Who, but he had to cancel at the last minute. Sad!! So, there was an hour of no one! Did we leave our seats? NO! We moved closer and were actually on the seventh row now, and just to the left of center. On an aisle too! Perfect! We were not leaving. So we sat and read and had a little nap and ate our snacks.

Reading and waiting.

The crowd behind me.

Then it was 1:00 p.m.  Time for the Sean Astin panel! Oh my word that entire 4500 seat place filled completely up and no wonder. He was awesome! He came out riding on the top of the golf cart (they use those to get the celebrities around from spot to spot) down an aisle. The crowd went wild. And then he ran from side to side of the stage until we were crazy from screaming. He was great and told the awesome story about filming that final scene, carrying Frodo on his back, and the monologue he had. He said he wanted to do it over and over and over again so they let him until it was dark. And they were all (director included) weeping by the time it was all over. He is amazing.  (Full panel video right here! You can really get a feel for all the screaming we do at these things.) Anyway, I could have had that one go on for an hour or two longer, but nope. There was more to come!

Up next was Sebastian Stan who stars in Captain America. He's the friend, Bucky and in Winter Soldier he's (SPOILER) the Winter Soldier! And he is really quite beautiful with the most amazing smile. He was raised in Romania and spoke some Romanian for us, which was cool. I need to watch this Winter Soldier movie again that's for sure. :) (Full panel right here if you want to watch!)

I tried to get the smile.
The smile!

Did we leave yet? We did not! I wanted to go see Dean O'Gorman so so bad, but he was in a different room, But I did not want to leave our seats! So we stayed and saw Felicia Day.... again... like we did last year. She is funny and cute and a blast to listen to, but I haven't seen her in one dang thing! And Dean was Fili in The Hobbit and I'm sure I would have loved him, but.... I stayed in the ballroom.

Here's what I gave up in order to keep my seats! Gah! I'm crazy!

After Felicia was Anthony Daniels aka. C3PO and the highlight of the whole comic con for us. He was a riot! He didn't do a Q and A but instead pretty much did a stand comedy routine which included lots of Star Wars stories. I loved it! I was riveted! He made us bow down to him like the Ewoks did in Return of the Jedi and we thought we'd die laughing. He was great! (I cant find a full panel video of him yet, but when I do it will go here!)

The day was not over yet! Up next was Christopher Gorham. I'm not very familiar with him except for the movie The Other Side of Heaven. Most people know him from Covert Affairs. But I guess he's been in a gazillion things. I need to look some of them up and watch. He's way cute!

Our naked eye view. :)
What he looks like in case you didn't know.

Now it's 6:00 p.m. and we still didn't leave our seats! Because next on the line up was Manu Bennett and I love him! We saw him last year and I was hooked. So we stayed again and he is just so sweet and nice and genuine and perfect. He plays such bad guys (Azog, Slade Wilson and Crixus) but he's such a nice guy in real life.

Whew. And then.. and then... we left the ballroom! We'd arrived there about 10 am and now it was 7 pm. NINE hours sitting there watching one celebrity after another and I LOVED it! The day goes by so so fast and it's so much fun! (P.S. No, we didn't leave to go to the bathroom or to eat. I brought snacks and we were too excited to worry about the bathroom!)

We went to one more class, a small panel, about psychology and fandom. I hoped they'd explore the idea that being a fan of anything is a positive thing for your mental health. They touched on that, but mostly they talked about how people identify with the mental health issues that various superheros suffer and how it helps them get through it. At any rate, it was interesting.

We were tired after that and left, with Kami and her brother, and got food at Village Inn.

And now, I must explain a thing. So the big headlining name of the con, Chris Evans, was to be doing his Q and A panel in the ballroom the next morning, Saturday at 10:00 am. They decided that instead of having people camping out to get a spot in line to guarantee they get in the room, they'd do a lottery and award 4500 people of the 120,000 that attended, a spot in the room. They said if you won, you'd get an email on Friday. I checked my email all day long and nothing. Oh, well. I'm not that into Chris Evans, but I truly did want to be "in the room" so I could have a good spot for Ian Somerhalder who was right after Chris!

During that last class at 7:00 p.m. the email popped up saying I was a winner! WOOT! My time to show up the next morning was 8:20 am! Wow! (Keep in mind it's a 45 min drive from my house to the convention.) But I was excited! Yay! Good thing Toto had to do a violin thing on Saturday morning, because I only won ONE seat!

Day Three: Saturday

So I got up at 6:30 am. Left my house at 7:00 a.m. Arrived in the parking lot at 7:45 am. Found my line at 8:00 am and was ushered into the building about 8:10 am. I was one of the first groups in, so had pretty decent seats. We squished altogether, all strangers, yet friends. And I did make friends with the two people seating next to me because we had TWO hours to kill! The panel didn't start until 10:00 am (as mentioned above!) So that was fun.

Well, the time arrived and no Chris. 10: 15 and no Chris. 10:30 and no Chris. We started getting pretty restless. Man, they were stalling and it made me crazy. I wish they could just come out there and tell us how it is and what's going on. But they don't. They make it seem like ANY SECOND NOW we are going to start!

Well, finally at 10:40 Chris came out. SCREAMING! And he was awesome. And he answered a question .And then out popped Anthony Mackie, the other star of Captain America. SCREAMING! And then Chris answered another question. Then out popped some girl who I don't know at all... Hayley someone who plays Agent Carter, also in Captain America? I think? Anyway.. SCREAMING! (Video of all this right here.) And then Chris sort of answered another question. And now it's 11:00 am and they told him he had to go. He was on stage for TWENTY minutes! So we won the lottery, got up at the crack of dawn, and sat waiting for him for 2 1/2 hours for TWENTY minutes! I was bummed. The rest of the time was Anthony Mackie doing Q and A like a normal panel and he was great and funny and it was awesome. So. It was fun. But still. (Full panel of ALL this excitement to be found here! Including the push up challenge. And you don't even need to win a lottery!)

Love this shot.

And three of them. 

Once that was over at about 11:45 I scooted over to get more center (I didn't manage to get closer) for Ian. I was so excited! His Q and A panel started at noon. It came. It went. No Ian. 12: 15 no Ian. Again with the stalling, again with the "just a few more minutes!" thing. Just tell us people. HE"S NOT HERE YET! Or whatever. Anyway. Finally at 12:30 he came out and SCREAMING! He was as cute as expected. He was got on his environment soap box, as expected. He was just pretty much what I expected. All 20 minutes we got of him before he had to go. Sigh. (Here's the naked Damon story someone caught on video in case you're interested.)

I took a lot of crappy pictures. Here's a few of them!

My family showed up by that time so I saved seats and they joined me. Then next panel was going to be a promo and sneak peek at Con Man, a video series coming up. I had no idea what it was but Alan Tudyk was supposed to be skyping in and Sean Astin was also involved, so I decided to stay put, again, instead of leaving to go to a local author panel. And it was good that I did because guess who was actually there and NOT on skype after all! Alan Tudyk! He walked in on the stage IN THE FLESH! Much much SCREAMING! (Here's the full panel including the surprise appearance of Alan.) I was so excited. I tired to get into his panel last year and didn't make. So, I got to see him this year! He was funny. And they web series looks like these guys making fun of fans and conventions, so it looks like a riot.  I may even have to watch it! Here's a trailer in case you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about:

Con Man - Preview from Con Man Web Series on Vimeo.

Then we stayed again for the voice actor panel. These guys are amazing with their voices and they read the Harry Potter script in silly funny cartoon voices. But I know none of them! So, it's funny but sort of not funny too. For me. The room was filled with 4500 people who laughed and laughed and laughed. The panel went for two hours, but we left (YES WE LEFT!) after one hour. It was 3:00 pm I'd been in there for seven hours.

We all split up (Toto was actually with her friends that day and they did some fun stuff, including shaking Anthony Daniels hand!) and I found myself at the Neon Trees panel. They sang to us at the end.

Then I stayed there (this was int the smaller big room) for Urban Fantasy so I could at least say I saw Terry Brooks and Jim Butcher. They were cool, but the subject ended up being kinda boring. Gasp. I know. Maybe I was just tired. Then I was going to leave, but suddenly all the family showed up to see Stars of YouTube! So I stayed. Three hours in that room! But it was fun and low key.

Then we left to ran BACK to the ballroom to see John Barrowman. We sat in the back for him (see what happens if you leave that room? You sit in the BACK!!) and enjoyed his stand up comedy act. He's funny, but he does tend to cross a line for me now and then from funny to crass. Oh, well. He sang and I could listen to him sing forever. See what I mean:

I was pretty tired after that, but went to one more panel about UFO's and crop circles. LOL! When that was over, Toto was done with her friends we left and went home, but not before we got dinner at Five Guys.

Whew! And that was our experience! I loved it! So much fun. I decided that the thing I truly love about this event is the energy. I thrive on that energy. It is tangible. And it's amazing. I love screaming for stars. I love seeing what they are like when they aren't acting. (OK, Some of them were acting even then, but still.) And I just think it's a blast.

I was sad to not see Dean O'Gorman and I missed Robbie Amell when I decided to stay to the voice actor thing. And I was sad that Rory from Dr. Who wasn't there. And I felt gypped about the whole Chris Evans thing even though I won the lottery. And I feel bad that I didn't support the local author stuff. But those were the only sad bits. The rest was awesome.

As you can see, I have a different strategy and am happy to stay in that big room and just see person after person come across the stage. Wandering "the floor" as they call it is fun, but that tends to stress me out. And I'm not interested in buying stuff and I'm too shy to talk to the stars, and can't justify paying for pictures, so I find the fun in just seeing them do the Q and A's.

Six months and we'll do it all again!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Review Discussion: Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

Book: Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage
Genre: MG steampunk dsytopian
Rating★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
 For: Review and supporting local authors
From: Received for free from Netgalley. All opinions are my own. Released September 29, 2015.

Short Synopsis: Trenton lives in a society that's hidden themselves from the world by creating an underground city. They fear creativity and invention. They blame all the bad stuff that's happened to them on progress and forward thinking. This makes life for Trenton especially hard since he is a thinker and a creator. And he keeps getting in trouble for it. As the book opens, he is assigned to work on the farms instead of the machines, and he's so unhappy. But he's pretty distracted as he deals with this because he meets a girl who just happens to be the daughter of the most notorious inventor of the city. And when he (Trenton) finds an interesting gadget, this girl, Kallista, thinks it's been left by her father (who is no longer with them). This leads the two of them on a sort of crazy treasure hunt with a prize at the end they did not at all expect.

My Response: This is one of those stories that has lots of fun and games such as building stuff, puzzles, riddles, mystery and adventure, mixed with some pretty thought provoking ideas like is creativity good or bad, do you trust history, should you blindly follow... just to name a few. I was surprised at some of the deep issues this society and these kids are dealing with. The ending was awesome and had me glued. The twist was great and quite unexpected and I am totally left wondering what happens next.

Bottom Line: The writing was fun, the characters were fun, the story was fun! It was all fun!! Fun, but mixed with lots to think about and lots of awesome stuff smart kids will eat up.

Let's Talk About: So, what do you think about creativity? Good or bad? LOL! JK!! You know, I am so into creativity that it felt almost sacrilegious for the people in this story to suggest otherwise. It makes you want to stand up and say... WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?? Which, I suppose, is the whole point and the hope that kids reading it will feel the same way. Don't you think? Are you a champion for creativity?

Other Reviews:

What I myself liked best about the book is that it celebrates creativity and the questioning of received wisdom, without being didactic about it. From Charlotte's Library

It’s an ideal middle grade read that should appeal to a wide range of readers, and likely introduce them to some genre concepts they haven’t encountered before. From Views from the Tesseract

There is just so much to love in Fires of Invention, with its blend of science, nature, physics, a mechanical dragon and a story that was both interesting and fun for me and my kiddo to read. From Log Cabin Library

The adventure is fast paced and you will be visualizing this new society as the levels inside the mountain come alive. From Always in the Middle

Also, here's the trailer which I saw played several times on the huge Jumbo-tron at Comic Con this past weekend in front of thousands of people. Great marketing!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Queen of Shadows Giveaway

Remember I told you awhile back that we had an extra copy of Queen of Shadows to giveaway? A SIGNED extra copy? And then I told you that perhaps my daughter might give it away on her new blog instead of here?


Well, that day has come! My daughter and her friend have posted their first post and it's this giveaway. So head on over and enter! Tiny Lion Books has joined the book blogging community!

And then, follow them, add them, subscribe to them, or whatever and check out their reviews to get a teen's perspective YA books! Should be fun!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Random Ramblings

What I'm thinking and wondering today:

** First of all, what do you think of the blog's new look? It was weird to me at first, but I'm totally loving it now! I had to "get rid of" a few lists from my sidebars, but I actually stuck them in other places on the tabs. So if you happen to miss them, hopefully you can find them there. I plain old deleted a bunch of stuff too. It was painful! But refreshing. Anyway, I hope you like it. (Learned at Bloggiesta: three columns are out dated and bigger font size is better! And also, you readers don't care about all the crap in the sidebars!)

** I'm excited for another comic con experience this weekend! Follow along on Instagram where I'll post really crappy pictures of celebrities you'll care nothing about! We had to enter a lottery to get seats for Chris Evans, and I'll find out Friday if I won a seat. I don't care so much about him (though he will be fun) but I really do hope to be in the room with a good-ish seat for Ian Somerhalder who comes up right after him! Don't you agree this is a must? I never dreamed I'd ever see this guy in real life, so yeah, I hope I'm in there so I can say I did. Also, my husband said this past week that we can go to a San Diego Comic Con some day and we are holding him to it! Maybe this next year even?

** Excited for the Readathon coming! (That's THON, not THONG, in case you wondered.) I need to
go sign up. Have you done it yet? Do you plan to read? This event is seriously turning into a sort of holiday at our house looked forward to with Christmas-like anticipation. So, yay, it's almost here!

** Guys. My birthday. What to do, what to do. My tenancy is to ignore it, but since it's a big one, I also want to have fun with it. This day actually marks the beginning of a countdown of sorts, and during this countdown I'll be posting some lists here weekly or so. I decided making lists would be a fun way to celebrate here on the blog, so lists it is. Stay tuned. And here's hoping you have fun with me in the anticipation of the big day!

** During Bloggiesta I made a whole new website, a home page of sorts, a place where I can point people who are in my writing life, to give them an overview of my writing ambitions, experiences and fears. I don't want it to be another blog, but I suppose I'll be posting things that are very blog-like. Though I want to keep talking writing here too. See, here's the thing, I was never one to want to separate all my loves and things into all the different places. I want to give you the whole package! So it makes me a little crazy. But, I suppose if I want to market myself as a writing, a need a page with my true name and let everyone know what I'm up to. Yes? I think so. I have no idea. Anyway, I'm still very shy about sharing this site, but maybe I'll reveal it soon as Nano prep and Nano month approaches. When I do, I would love feedback on it and what I need to do to make it better.

** Speaking of new websites, my daughter and her friend have made the big move to start a book blog! But they are perfecting it first and have not yet made it public. I will tell you when the big day happens and will totally expect you all to go and give them love. The plan is that they will be giving away our extra Queen of Shadows book as their big debut. So... you won't want to miss it! Also, if you know of other teen bloggers, let me know so I can point them that way.

** Okay, some music now. Very soothing compared to what I usually share. Have you heard this version of this song before? Is this the actual one they use on the show Game of Thrones? I find it to be so so beautiful.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

Want to know what I plan to read this fall? Here's a list!

Ten Books on My Fall TBR

1. Dracula; (for book club)
2. The Martian: (for movie prep)
3. Me Before You: (for book club)
4. The Canterville Ghost: (for family book club)
5. Throne of Glass; (for book club)
6. Fairest: (for Winter prep)
7. Year of Origin: (for writing group beta reading)
8. Boxers and Saints: (for readathon)
9. Wish You Were Italian: (for YA romance fix)
10. Station 11: (for catching up with the buzz)

How's that look? I think I can do this list! Check out everyone else's lists over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review Discussion: Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard

Book: Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard
Genre: YA Romance
Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆☆
For: Fun
From: bought cheap on Kindle

Short Synopsis: Mac and her friend Bailey are back to work at a dude ranch for the summer. Unfortunately for Mac, so is Landon. He's the guy she had a summer romance with last summer. But then he dumped her. She is still mad, even after a year. So when Landon falls from his horse and bangs his head and thinks it's last year again, she decides it's time to get revenge.

My Response: Pretty much what I expected. Fun fun and fluffy! Lots of horses, and cowboy hats and boots. Just what I love. Predictable, but in a fun way.

Bottom Line: In the mood for fluffy romance? This will do the trick!

Let's Talk About: What's your opinion on fluffy books? We had a bit of this discussion at book club the other night. Some people feel that if it's fluff, you automatically down grade it's worth. Other people find fluff just as worthy of a book lover's love and admiration as any more literary work. I tend to go with the second. I don't care if book is fluffy. If you loved it and you escaped into a fun bookish world, it's worth just as much as the deep thought provoking stuff.

Other Reviews:

I really liked this book for what it was. I didn’t come in expecting a literary masterpiece, and thus I was overly satisfied. From Good Books and Good Wine

Their scenes together were fun and sweet and their relationship, while not perfect, was certainly very entertaining and touching. From Book Passion for Life

it was cute, fresh, and totally fluffy and cheesy. This story is good for your heart! From Paper Breathers

There were moments that made me smile and other moments that made me tear up. From Effortlessly Reading

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Movie Review: Maze Runner The Scorch Trials

Movie: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Genre: Drama/Fantasy/bordering on Horror
Starring: Dylan O'brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: One thumb up

So, what happens to Thomas after he gets out of the Maze? Terrible things! I knew the terrible things would happen, since the book is filled with terrible things. But, seeing those terrible things on the screen was.. well... terrible.

But let me first say, this movie and the book are not even at all the same. The characters are there, the world is there, but the happenings... totally different. So that was something to get used to.

In the book there are Cranks, which is a zombie sort of thing, and I remember the being at part, but the movie seemed to capitalize on that and we had a lot of zombie scenes. I felt like I was suddenly in The Walking Dead.

So while I was a little bugged by the differences from the book, and a little bugged by the violence factor, I did really enjoy the intensity, the edge of your seat aspect (though I know I was sitting by someone who didn't feel that at all coughKamicough!), the actors and the music.

The kids are cornered.

And the differences from the book didn't bother me that much either. It's been awhile since I read it so I don't remember details, but if you put that aside, the movie story was fine too. The emotion and craziness and all the drama is still there.

Which, all goes to say that I liked it okay. Not as much as The Maze Runner, but it was okay. I am a little worried about the third movie, and will be curious as to what they'll do with it.

Anyway, no matter what, it's fun to watch Dylan O'brien. He's awesome. And this movie did get ONE smile out of him. Barely, but I caught it!

Thomas not smiling.

I didn't catch a James Dashner cameo though. Have you seen it? Was he in it somewhere?

Anyway, here's the trailer if you're interested:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Introducing Book Banter! Topic One: Jane Eyre

Yesterday I posted the story behind this new feature of sorts. Be sure to read it if you haven't already! In that post, I showed you how Jenny and I have many bookish things that we disagree on and how we love to debate them. It's been going on for years, but recently it came to head at a post Jenny did about Brandon Sanderson. We decided to make it a regular thing and let you in on it!

So, I give our first official Book Banter! And our first topic is Jane Eyre! Jenny gives her reasons for why she hates this book and I'll rebuttal them and give you my reasons for why I love it. She'll be doing the same thing over at her blog today, with her spin on the discussion. Be sure to visit her too! And beware the spoilers! But you've all read it, right?

Book Banter: Jane Eyre

Jenny says:

Reason Number One

The biggest reason I hate Jane Eyre is and always will be Mr Edward "pathological liar" Rochester. How can anyone actually like this guy?! He decided to marry a girl based solely on the fact that she was beautiful. Didn't bother to get to know her or anything, and then when he discovers she's nuts what does he do? He throws her in the attic and completely ignores her. And what really gets me about this is that he then begins to loathe her! Like it's her fault she's crazy? Good Grief! His only excuse to this is, "you don't know what I went through". He goes off after this and looks for another woman and has torrid affairs with two or three woman that he then finds tedious and pays off to shut up. 

Then simple, plain Jane comes into the picture and let's look over the fact that he lies to her about his crazy wife locked in the attic which is reason enough to hate him but it's the way he approaches the whole thing. He proceeds to FORCE Jane to be in his presence and "talk with him" which is really just him talking AT her and telling her how naive and innocent she is. "Poor stupid, Jane. Let me take you under my wing and teach you about life". And let's not forget he never even has the balls to tell Jane about his wife she finds out on her wedding day at the alter! When she decides to leave him he threatens her...twice! The man is a pompous, abusive, drama king! After all is said and done and he's left in complete abject humiliation Jane comes back. Does he apologize? Did he apologize to her before she ran away? NO!!! He doesn't! Argh!!!

Suey says:

Ah Mr. Rochester! One of the biggest reasons I love Jane Eyre! All the emotion! All the angst! All the brooding! I love that stuff! The Mr. Rochester in my head is deliciously complicated. Yes, he's gruff. Yes, he's mean. Yes, he makes a bunch of terrible bad choices. Not the least of which is hiding his crazy wife in the attic and neglecting to tell Jane. But I think this shows his compassion, truly. Didn't most people in that day put crazy people in asylums? And weren't those places terrible with a capital T? Yes. He was saving this person from an even worse fate. And he wanted to help her, but he just didn't know how. And I don't think we know that much about how he ended up with this person in the first place, do we? He was young and passionate and a bit out of control maybe? Forgive him!!

As far as how he treats Jane...I think he truly loves her. He is smitten! He baffled at this new feeling! He's finally come around and found true love! He doesn't force her to do anything. She's strong and she does what she wants. Yes, she is naive and innocent but she knows what's going on. When she finds out about the wife, she stands up to him. And yes he messes up with the whole wife thing, but this makes him human! This makes the story! And he wants to do right by Jane by marrying her. I mean, he could have just totally seduced her. But he doesn't. And when she goes, he lets her go. And the pleading he does, it's heartbreaking. I have no idea how she turned and walked away. I love Mr. Rochester because he is the very definition of brooding gothic tortured soul, which as we all know, is something I can't resist when comes to fictional boys!

Jenny says:

Reason Number Two

Jane. Poor, stupid pathetic Jane. She never learns to just love herself. Oh, she says she does but how can you really love yourself if you walk right back into an abusive relationship? I guess her whole life has been a lesson in bowing down and obeying men and so she does. She calls Rochester master, people! To be honest, I'm kinda shocked she didn't marry St John at the end. She always does what any man tells her to so why not continue the tradition? Oh well, I guess she just turned down one jerk for another. 

The whole book would have been better if, after she left Rochester she met another wonderful man who truly loved and respected her and married him. Then went back to look at poor stupid Rochester and pitied him enough to spare a kind though then got her bustle out of there!

Suey says:

I love how resilient and strong Jane's character is. That stuff she endures at the beginning of the book with the abuse at school and the dying of her best friend, and the crappy treatment by her aunt, and then she gets sent of to a be the governess for what appears to be a scary grouchy old guy. And she comes through it all! She grows up and finds herself. She love Mr. Rochester despite his his flaws, not because of them. I don't see her has abused at all (by him at least) and she stands up to him. I don't see that she bowed down to men at all. She's amazingly strong for what she's been through. 

And she doesn't marry St. John because she doesn't love him. She follows her passion and her passion is Mr. Rochester! This is why the book is so wonderful! Following your passion despite what people may say! Despite what he appears to be on the outside! He's all bark and no bite. It's awesome that she went back to him after his life is basically ruined. You know then she loves him for him and not for his riches or status. One of the best female characters ever written I think, and one of the strongest in all of literature.

Jenny says:

Reason Number Three

The writing. I really despise that the author consistently has Jane call us, dear reader. Anytime you start trying to form your own opinion the author comes in with the voice of Jane and tells you you're are stupid. You're not allowed to have your own opinion. You must have the opinion of these stupid characters that she has. Well, nice try Charlotte! it didn't work. I've formed my opinion and your

characters suck! Your book sucks and if you were still alive I'd recommend you see a therapist for your deep seeded man issues!

PHEW! I'm going to stop there. I'm all worked up with loathing for this book.

Suey says:

I don't have strong opinions on the writing. I do know that it was hard for me understand when I was a kid reading this book for the first time, but the other times (1 or 2 I can't remember!) I ate it up. The dear reader thing? Eh, doesn't bother me. Charlotte maybe did put herself a bit into the story, but what author doesn't. Even our favorite did this in a big big way!!! 

But what I love, and have touched on int he other two reasons, is the love story. I remember being bugged at first by the age difference, but I got over it. I don’t think Mr. Rochester is as old as we think, and then when Jane does so much growing up, it doesn’t seem that weird. But what I do love about the story, is that we have a guy who has retreated behind a facade of grouchiness and grumpiness, a guy who appears to not care about anything or anyone, a guy who is bitter about the world. And then she comes along and starts peeling all that off. He drops all the layers he's built up around himself and allows himself to live again. I love that. I love that he’s surprised by it too, that he didn’t set out to have this happen, he didn’t mean for it to, but that Jane becomes irresistible to him, even though she is plain and quiet and boring. I love that this ornery man of the world is fascinated by a shy quiet girl, and that the shy girl has the power to change and capture an ornery man of the world. 

Bottom Line (aka. Suey's last word): Jane Eyre is a heart wrenching, passionate, complicated, revolutionary story. I love it and after this little book banter, am feeling the need to read it again! (Or at least watch a really fabulous movie adaptation! And there are so many to choose from!)

And now, be sure to see what Jenny has to say over at her blog today!

So, what do you think? Are you a Jane Eyre lover or hater? Comment with your own arguments. It's definitely one of those books where people tend to fall on one side or the other.

Do you have any banter topics to suggest for us?

We plan to banter about every other week (or every month if that gets to be too much) or so until we run out of ideas! Stay tuned for more fun!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Birth of a Blog Project

Once upon a time (about a month ago) Jenny from Alternate Readality wrote a post for Utah Book Month. The post was crazy fun because she decided for a Utah author highlight she would bash an author instead of praise him/her. She knew she'd get a rise out of me, being as that this author is a favorite of mine, and waited for my response all day. I couldn't let her down now, could I?

Now, before I go on, Jenny and I have a history, a LONG history of being reading buddies, and we have found over the years that we are on the same page regarding some books and authors (Markus Zusak for one!) and on completely different pages regarding others! We've found this to be quite the fun thing to explore and dissect a bit. In fact, we've decided it's finally time to make it an official thing on our blogs. We'll be debuting this thing tomorrow and explain more about what our thoughts are, but as a preview, I wanted to share with those of you who missed it, this post from a month ago that sparked the idea and made is get this ball rolling.

And so I give you the copied and pasted post (with permission!) from Jenny's "highlight" of Utah author Brandon Sanderson: 

The reason my highlight choice is so shocking is because I really, REALLY do not like this man. Still, he has quite the nerdy following and is probably one of the biggest known Utah authors. So in traditional Jenny style I thought I'd list all the reasons I really just can't stand the guy. Ready?

1. I don't speak THAT dialect of nerd.

 Every book signing or author event that this guy is at is just filled with these nerdy nerds. Now, I consider myself a huge nerd. I like X-men and can probably tell you more about each of the X-Men's backgrounds than you'd ever want to know. I religiously watched Batman and Spiderman cartoons when I was a teenager. I've seen all the DC and Marvel movies and, yes, I can tell you which heroes are from which universe. I know what Stan Lee looks like etc etc. Seriously, guys, I'm a nerd. Just not THAT kind of nerd.

2. I don't like his books

Pretty good reason, right? Well, not really but let me explain. Sanderson seems like a nice guy but he has this self satisfied, arrogant, pat himself on the back personality and it's so out of control it shows up in his writing. Like this: "Look at me! Look at my books! Look at this world I built! Oh wait, I'm supposed to have likable characters? I could cut my books in half by leaving out all the flashy, attention seeking details? world building is so awesome! Not to mention my magical system! LOOK AT IT!!!"

3. He actually knows enough about these books to have been chosen to finish the series

Need I say more? Sheesh! He's probably got them memorized. *cough cough* geek *cough"

I'll stop now before a nerdy lynch mob with greasy hair shows up in their flooder pants, waving their pointy elbows around like a chicken and threatening to use D&D like powers on me. ;) I've seen Sanderson's house, people. It's huge. Obviously the man is talented and earns lots of money. Making anything I have to say about him moot.

So there you have it, folks, my weird highlight on that "smug" SOB Sanderson. :)

And this is was my rebuttal in her comments of that post:

1. What's THAT kind of nerd? Whatever it is, I guess I'm it!! :) I embrace all my nerd forms. DFTBA!!! Nerdfighters for the win!!!! Live long and prosper! May the force be with you!!! 

2. It's so weird how I feel so opposite about his books! The world building is amazing and when reading the books I feel immersed and not explained to. Some authors feel a need to explain all, like I can't figure it out by just reading... he does NOT explain and just puts you in the world and you figure it out. THAT's how I see it anyway! And his worlds really are amazing so if he tends to feel proud about it... I say go for it dude!

3. I have no idea what to say for this point... LOL! These books are not for everyone that's for sure. But to have done what he's done is amazing, whether you like the books or not. To have landed that gig, seriously. Amazing. And from what I hear, everyone who has read his concluding books love them way better than the originals. So that's also pretty amazing.

And there you have my come back. Not as snarky as I would have liked, but I tried. I'm too tired to be snarky today! But I stand by him. He does have a swagger, he knows he is loved by legions of adoring nerds, but I do think he's earned it and worked hard for it. You have to give it to him that he set out this goal back in the day and to have reached it with such success. It's cool. It really is.


As you can see, we have feelings! And this is just the beginning! Stay tuned tomorrow for the first official Suey/Jenny debate and the debut of a new feature! We'd love for you to get involved by chiming in with your thoughts about whatever topic we're debating and letting us know which side you fall down on. Also, we're open to suggestions for a topic to debate. 

And so, let's practice.... what do you think of Brandon Sanderson? :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Family Book Club Potentials

It's freebie day for our Top Ten prompt over at The Broke and the Bookish. And I'm awfully late posting, but I finally (with help) thought up a list.

So, we decided (sort of) to try doing a family book club. Someone posted the 200 Books Everyone Should Read List on Facebook and then we lamented all the books we haven't read yet. So I thought... let's read some! So I've used that list as a starting point, and then I've narrowed it down by selecting some I myself have yet to read. Here are those ten. Let me know if you've read any of these books and if so, if you think they'd work well for a family book club where all different ages and reading levels will be (I hope) participating.

I'd love your input!

Ten Potential Books for The Family Book Club

1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
2. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
3. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
4. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
5. The House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende
6. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
7. The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
8. The Plague by Albert Camus
9. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
10. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers

What do you think? Some of these are pretty obscure and I'd love to know if you've read them and are they good?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Review Discussion: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Book: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery
Rating:★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
For: Book Club
From: Bought it at Costco

Short Synopsis: Rachel rides the train to work (or is she going to work?) everyday. The trains stops every day at a signal located by the house where she used to live before she got divorced. She notices the people who live in the apartment a few doors down from her old place. She fantasizes about them and makes up stories. Then one day, the girl in this apartment turns up missing. Rachel thinks she knows stuff and gets all involved in the whole sordid affair. All while trying to deal with her own massive life issues.

My Response: Gah! This one turned out to not be at all what I expected! I thought it was going to be much more suspenseful and brain twisting. Sort of in the vein of The Rear Window or something! (If you aren't familiar with The Rear Window... please, go out and watch it NOW!) Anyway, it was more about adultry, and depression and drinking and lusting and. . . there was not one redeeming character to root for. Not one. Of course I know that I won't like every character I read, but you know I can be pretty forgiving and will love even the most hateful of characters (Heathcliff anyone?) But these guys in this book? No. And it turned out to be a fairly simple mystery... what happened to the girl and whodunnit? And we know that the characters are all involved so it's just a matter of figuring out which one did it. I went back and forth a few times, but it becomes pretty clear pretty fast who the true bad guy is. Though, really, they are all the bad guys! Ugh.

Bottom Line: I gave it three starts at first because I was intrigued and it's easy reading, but I decided it really was only two stars worth because it was just "okay." I enjoyed the intrigue, but I suffered through the crap these characters forced on me and was glad to be done.

Let's Talk About: You know that thing when you expect one thing from a book, because of buzz and or whatever, and then it doesn't, in your mind anyway, turn out to be anything like you thought it would? You know that? What do you think? Does it happen often? Do you just deal with it? Does it make you crazy or have you just come to expect it now and then?

Other Reviews:

I gulped this one up. I was completely enthralled. From Alternate Readality

It worked for me as a suspense novel – as the story went on, I did become quite invested in the resolution of the mystery. From Dear Author

Although I believe it to be seriously flawed, it is most definitely entertaining and will no doubt help hundreds of thousands of readers while away a few hours of their (our) lives, getting from this station to that. From Fantasy Book Critic

While it is easy to thoroughly enjoy the action and the thrills of The Girl on the Train, it is ultimately one of those novels that can never live up to the generated hype. From That's What She Read

Incredibly well-written, expertly crafted, this is one of those thriller that will generate reviews and reactions that run the gamut of positive and negative. From Jenn's Bookshelves

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Currently: Feeling Pumped

Listening: David Arkenstone just had a new album released which appeared on my Spotify... Native Dreams. And boy if this isn't perfect for me and my writing right now! I also love his Barcelona Nights album. He's perfect for some easy listening acoustic loving music when you're in the mood for that sort of thing.

Watching: This week I didn't watch much of anything. Another episode of Last Tango in Halifax. But Fear the Walking Dead didn't have an episode last week. (Tonight!) And nothing else started. Getting excited for a lots of shows to get going though. Oh, we did have a Maze Runner movie party on Friday. That was fun. This week I hope to go to The Scorch Trials when it opens. Very much looking forward to it.

Reading: I finished The Girl on the Train.. gave it three stars and then the next day decided to downgrade it to two. Yeah. I'll review that this week and give you more details then. I started J. Scott Savage's steampunk MG book, Fires of Invention. Fun so far!

Writing: I went to a critique group at the library and learned the following about my chapter:

  • using the word "giggle" makes your YA feel too MG. 17 year old girls do not giggle. (Really?)
  • middle aged guy writers enjoy sexual tension just as much as us girls... and expect it happen in all the right places and they'll miss it if it doesn't!
  • if there's a horse riding lesson happening in your book, you should have the love interest teaching it not some random twin uncles.
  • cut out the crap and get to the action! (good strong writing advice for any occasion, yes?)
  • use "said" and not "replied" or "exclaimed" or other such words. I knew this, so why did they still slip in there?
  • And if you can don't even use "said." Use action tags. I knew this too.
Well, and so. There was more, but that's the gist. I love critique group. Sigh.

Blogging: Lots of reviews this week! Did you catch them all? Still surprised how many hits reviews get even if they don't get many comments.  And BLOGGIESTA! Do it! And, Jenny and I working on a new thing that we'll reveal this week. It's going to be fun! Look for it.

Health Watch: I did a Zumba session this week! Pat on the back for that? But... I also bought more chocolate. Slap on the hand for that.

  • I let my hair grow really long over the summer. But I chopped it off yesterday. About four inches worth. So it's not short, but back to it's normal chin length. It feels so much better! 
  • Comic Con is coming up! I'm looking forward to seeing Damon from The Vampire Diaries, Samwise from Lord of the Rings, The Weasley Twins from Harry Potter, and Captain America... just to name a few! 
  • We had an impromptu BBQ for Labor Day. It was fun. 
  • The weather is turning! Awesome!
  • Oh, we got in a bit of fender bender last night. Some kid pulled out and could have totally Tboned me in the passenger side, but my husband swerved and the kid ended up clipping our back end with his front end. Yeah. We were lucky. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bloggiesta To Do List: September 2015 Version


Guys. I am blown away by the fact that it's time for another Bloggiesta! How does this happen?!

Do you plan to join in on the fun? Do you have blogging stuff to do? Do you enjoy sitting at your computer virtually with a bunch of other bloggers who are sitting at their computers working on stuff all together?

You do? GREAT! The party starts this next week on Thursday. Stay tuned to the official blog at for all the info.

If you want to sign up, post your To Do List and then go link up here! Which is what I'm doing now... so, here's my list:

Bloggiesta September 2015 To Do List
  • get email under control
  • catch up on review archives DONE Check it out here, and here! 
  • catch up on pinning reviews DONE Check it out here.
  • catch up on my Utah author list DONE Check it out here.
  • work on my new writer/aspiring author website
  • host two Twitter chats DONE
  • do a couple of mini challenges
  • introduce a new sort of feature, I don't know what to call it, thingy, maybe DONE! Check it out here. 
  • ponder a new layout DONE (I didn't just ponder, I did! What do you think?)
  • start posts for another project I'm pondering 

And, what do you plan to do next week on your blog?

Oh, and this just in! The Twitter chat schedule. Make a note!


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