Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in Review--Favorites!

 I was going to do a big post on all my books and all my movies but then realized that it would be way too long and way too boring! You are welcome. I'll do top ten lists instead. It'll still be long and boring but be grateful it wasn't longer. I'll even throw in a cute pic of my adorable son if you scroll all the way to the end ;)

Top 10 Books of 2012 (in no particular order)

  1. Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke. Loved it. Pirates and magic and a strong female lead :)
  2.  Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. Beautiful poetry and strong and heart-wrenching story. Perfect combo.
  3. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Probably the best novel I've read (audiobook so listened to) all year. Gorgeous.
  4. Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again by Norah Vincent. Fascinating journey to read. Gave me new insights and she's a great writer.
  5. Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson. Funniest book I read/listened to this year! Awesome.
  6. Rot and Ruin by Jonathon Maberry. One of the best and most heart-warming zombie stories ever. Love stories that make me sit back and think and ponder about what I just read. Love it!
  7.  Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Hecht. One of the best history books I've ever read. Fascinating look at doubt and dissent throughout history.
  8. The Many Lives and Secrets Sorrows of Josephine Bonaparte by Sandra Gulland. Great historical fiction about France's crazy revolution and its notorious emperor told through the eyes of his wife. Really great stuff.
  9. Bad Science by Ben Goldacre. Great discussion of how science is carried out and why and how to spot the bad science. Brilliant.
  10. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. I love everything John Green writes and this one is no exception. Heart-warming and funny.


Top 10 Movies of 2012 (in no particular order)

  1. Blood Diamond (2006): Got rid of all my diamonds and cried myself to sleep...
  2. Vagina Monologues: Eve Ensler (2002): Funny, poignant, and oh-so needed.
  3. The Descendents (2011): Wow. So moving. I loved it.
  4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011): Book and movie were fabulous. Such a great human story.
  5. Beginners (2011): Beautiful story about finding love and living life to its fullest.
  6. Les Miserables (2012): I sang, I bawled. Gorgeous...meh to Russell Crowe, though.
  7. The Sessions (2012): Beautiful story on how a disabled man finds love and peace.
  8. The Avengers (2012): Greatest superhero movie thus far!
  9. Cabin in the Woods (2011): Joss Whedon and horror and pop culture makes this a winner!
  10. Saved! (2004): Great comedy on religious intolerance and the importance of doubt and tolerance.
Gabe's fun Christmas....see I told you'd get some cute pics :)

What sounds great on a cold night? Ice cream, of course!
After Christmas ice cream.


Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known!!!! Yea, we r nerds. We all have matching Carl Sagan shirts:)
We're nerds. Lots of Carl Sagan love in our home :)


Christmas kitty:)
Meowy Christmas from Wolfy to you.



May all your goals, wishes, and dreams come true in 2013!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dancing With Jesus by Sam Stall

dancing with jesus
Image Source
Dancing With Jesus was given to me for review by Running Press.

Funny! It's a small board book complete with pictures and moving graphics! Sam Stall describes various dance moves in honor of Jesus and his apostles, with little descriptions describing the story behind the dance move contained in the Bible.

My personal favorites include, The Temptation Tango with Satan, the Lazarus Lurch (love me some zombie moves), and the Judas Hustle. All are silly, fun, and irreverent, which insured my adoration.

I'd recommend this little book for stocking-stuffers, white elephant gifts, or as a gag gift for those who aren't too offended ;)

Thanks to Suzanne Wallace who provided me with this absolutely funny and adorable book!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina
U.S. cover
This book is---hands down---the best book I've read this year. Seraphina combines all the elements of a great fantasy story into one. For me that includes a whole new fantasy world, complete with history, language, culture, but doesn't hit you over the head with it.

Seraphina lives in a world where the Catholic church reigns supreme and dragons roam the Earth. They have eased into an uncertain treaty and are celebrating it's 40th anniversary.

Suspicion and prejudice are present on both sides. Dragons hate emotions and humans feel that dragons are soulless and evil. It's an uneasy truce but one that allows for peace and cooperation.

Seraphina is our heroine. We learn she is half human and half dragon. She is the one who will bring them all together in the wake of treason, assassinations, and the undoing of the treaty.

I loved Hartman's writing. She brings a sense of wonder to this world. The romance isn't heavy-handed. The plot moves along nicely. I really cared about the people, the dragons, and the world. I really haven't read such an engrossing YA fantasy novel since the Harry Potter series.

I really have nothing bad to say. I guess I didn't like the ending as much as I was hoping but that's just being nit-picky.

This is a beautiful and engaging fantasy series and all should read!

*I really like the U.S cover better. Adds to the mystery of the world. I don't like seeing the characters on the cover. Kind of ruins it for me.

Seraphina UK Cover
U.K. cover

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

last policeman I received this from the publisher Quirk Books.

Wow. What a fantastic plot. Scientists have discovered a ginormous asteroid and it's on its way here, to Earth. We only have six months til all hell breaks out. People are going to die and the rest will probably slowly die from freezing temps, starvation, and civil society breaking down. It's the apocalypse with a due date.

Well, instead of waiting for the actual impact to destroy society, most decide to give up early. Governments are breaking down, people are committing suicide, martial law, high prices, drugs, etc. There are a few holdouts like Det. Hank Palace.

He takes a scene to clean up what looks like another suicide, but something doesn't feel right. He sets out to discover what really happened to this guy. Most see it as a waste of time since we're all going to die anyway.

I liked it. Winters does paint a grim picture of humanity; I'd like to think we stave off anarchy a bit longer...but he really asks some big questions about life and what ifs. What are people willing to do to save their families and friends?

It was a bit slow at first but I think he wanted to build his world and his writing portrayed that.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next installment.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tricked by Kevin Hearne

TRICKED-cover

Source taken from Fantasy Book Critic's website


Tricked is the fourth book in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. The first three delivered and this one does not disappoint. If you haven't read his first book Hounded do so! These books combine humor, action, and mythology--a fantastic urban fantasy series. This book tackles Navajo mythology and folklore. I love learning about the different cultures and their gods. Fascinating stuff.

He also has an Irish wolfhound Oberon. They are telepathically linked and their conversations are priceless.

The tricked part of the title refers to the main character Atticus owing the trickster god Coyote a huge favor. Mayhem ensues, of course.

We also learn more about Atticus's history. Always a bonus. And we meet a few more gods and goddesses...Loki's daughter Hel!

This series is one of my favorites. Highly recommended. My only complaint would be that this one didn't flow as well as the first three. I felt the plot was a bit weak but it's a minor complaint. Overall, it's a hoot!

PS. Click on above link for my previous review of the the first three in the series :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ran out of Space

After two blogs and three years my google picture account has exceeded its limit....I am now deciding whether or not to continue with Blogger or move on. I should figure this out soon and keep on blogging in the near future hopefully here, but definitely somewhere. I love Blogger. It's easy for a simple mind like me, but I have no desire to pay a monthly fee. Thus the dilemma... Give me time. I'll figure something out soon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

England, you know you are glad to be rid of us uncultured crazies!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Timeless by Gail Carriger

Image
This is the last book in the Parasol Protectorate series. It makes me a little sad. I've loved watching Alexia and Lord Maccon duke it out in wits over the course of the previous books. Alexia is a hoot and a strong match for her Alpha Wolf husband.

We find out a bit more about Alexia's preternatural state and who her father was. They travel to Egypt and there are muggings, kidnappings, and crazy old vampires out to kill everyone. It's fun and funny, and even a bit tender in spots.

The first half was a bit slow but overall the ending made up for it. It ends well and that makes me happy. And they lived happilish everish after.


I have happy news that Gail Carriger is continuing her series but in a new direction with Lady and Lord Maccon's child Prudence.  Looks like we'll expect the first book in Fall of 2013 or early 2014. Yeah! More Parasol Protectorate fun!!!!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

One Line Movie Reviews

1. The Shadow (1994): Cheesy yet fun remake of the classic radio series.

Rating: B-
2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011): Excellent English version, though, I am partial to the original Swedish version.
Rating: A-
3. Tipping the Velvet (2002): Fantastic story of lesbian Nan Astley and her adventures as a male impersonator in the 1890's of London.

Rating: A-
4. Saved! (2004): Funny, inspiring, and gets you thinking.

Rating: B+

5. Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998): Fascinating African myth story.

Rating: B-

6. The Three Musketeers (2011): Some fun scenes and special effects but not the best remake.

Rating: C-

7. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003): Beautiful cinematography of Italy and fun love story.

Rating: B-

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Contact by Carl Sagan

Image source
Summary: Radio astronomer Ellie discovers an extraterrestrial signal from Vega that includes instructions on how to build an unknown machine.

Carl Sagan really brought his love of science and humanity into his first and last novel. It's a shame that he died so young. How would the world change with the knowledge that we're not alone in the Universe? Do we band together as a global species and do we let or differences annihilate us? Sagan gets very philosophical throughout the book. I feel that the heroine, Ellie, was truly Carl Sagan's voice. He sort of brings all of his ideas into one book. He also explains the science very well so me, as a lay person, can understand.

Sagan shows his weakness in fiction writing here. Sometimes the plot got bogged down by his philosophical points, but overall it was a moving story told with trepidation about our future but with a little hope thrown in at the end.

Like Sagan, I hope we as a species can learn to think globally and not annihilate ourselves so we can truly journey to the stars and make space our backyard.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

One Line Movie Reviews

Rating: 2.5 stars
John Carter (2012): A bit cheesy, but fun for a Sunday afternoon movie.

3.5 stars
Dream House (2011): A real mind bender for me...I loved the ending!

1.5 stars
Footloose (2011): Some things should not be remade...the original is the best and greatest and this was a cheap imitation that left a bitter taste.

2.5 stars
Real Steal (2011): Meh in the beginning but ended on a really sweet note.

4.5 stars
Hugo (2011): Original, quirky, funny, and endearing.

*All images were pulled from IMDb.com

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Source
Amazon.com description: One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating voices from two YA superstars, this collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of fans.
Funny, enlightening, exaggerated, painful, and full of heart. Those are my words to describe this excellent novel. You can't help but grow to love both Will Graysons and Tiny, the one who brings them all together.

Source
Here's another cover:

I think it might be from Australia due to the quote from Melina Marcheta, an Australian YA author. I think I like the U.S. cover better, though. It also fits the story better.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Source
Neil Gaiman takes the African god of mischief and mayhem, Anansi the spider, and takes him and his family into modern day. Neil Gaiman has an obsession with all things mythological, I think. This book is no exception. Fat Charlie (who's not fat) has always been down on his luck and embarrassed by his father all his life. When his father dies, he soon learns that his father was a trickster god and that his unknown brother got all the awesome god powers. His brother Spider comes into life and starts to mess it up even more. Spider moves in and begins to steal his fiancee, his job, etc. Fat Charlie decides to get revenge which ends up messing up things even more.

It's pretty light-hearted, for the most part. But I have a hard time with characters that get oppressed and oppressed for too long. Charlie didn't get redeemed til toward the end. And overall, I just didn't care a lot about the characters.

I love what Neil Gaiman's trying to do with his books. They make for some interesting stories, for sure. But I haven't been able to really get into his books, yet. I'm working on American Gods right now....

I read this for one of my book clubs and used a library copy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Love Day!

Source
Interesting factoid. St. Valentine's Day was literally a holy day to honor the Catholic saint Valentine and others as martyrs. It didn't start gaining its romantic connections until the tradition of courtly love came about (1000-1300 AD). By the 15th century it had finally evolved into an occasion for lovers to express their love to each other! 600 years later, we're still celebrating love in its many forms between friends and family, and lovers, as well as celebrating our love for humanity!

I plan on celebrating with my son Gabe by cutting out hearts and drawing pictures on them. We'll give them to his friends and his dad tonight! Maybe we'll even go out for a Valentine goody!

I think we'll go all out next year with some house decor and maybe even some baking of cookies and crepes! We'll see.

Recipe!
 Go read up on Cupid and Psyche and show some love today!

Source

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Taft 2012: A Novel By Jason Heller

William Howard Taft pulls a Rip Van Winkle and wakes up 100 years later just in time for the 2012 presidential election.

I really enjoyed the premise behind this. I learned a lot more about President Taft. It was fun to see our country and century through his early twentieth century eyes. I also would love to truly have a legitimate third party in America. I think it really would balance the political spectrum out more.

The one thing I had a hard time with was the flow of the story. It feels like the author had an idea he felt passionately about and then used the story to further this. Thus the characters felt a bit two-dimensional.

But overall, it was a fun read and had a lot of insight. Yeah to Quirk Books for offering another fun story to the mix.

*I received this book from the publisher.

For more information visit the Taft2012 website.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Best and Worst of 2011

Happy New Year, everyone! Yeah to the wonderful books of 2011 and on to the wonderful books of 2012! Everyone's gotta do the list, so here are mine.

Here are my top five best reads of the year 2011:

1. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. It was one of the first reads of the year and it was enchanting.

2. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. A wonderful coming-of-age story.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Perkins just had a way of making France and her characters come alive. Anna was fun and real, and the story was just adorable.

4. Hounded by Kevin Hearne. This was such an amazing surprise! An urban fantasy adventure that made me laugh, cry...maybe not cry, but lots of adventure, action, and humor that you won't want to miss. Go read it. NOW!

5. Looking For Alaska by John Green. This is a modern classic. Heart-breaking, but it asks a lot of questions and doesn't have easy answers.

Top Two worst books...(pretty good year if I only had two!)

1. Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Too much preaching along a semi-decent sci-fi back drop...annoyed.

2. Jane: A Modern-retelling of Jane Eyre by April Lindner. Started off great and then got bogged down by literally transferring every detail of classic story to modern-day. DID NOT work.

Hope everyone enjoys a wonderful year of reading!

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