Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cat Thursday (8)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

cat thursday meme

I'm doing an evil cat meme today! Enjoy! I'm pretty sure this is really what goes through their minds :)

Revenge


i-like-you-evil-cat_c_938524


unhand me

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

One Line Movie Reviews (8)

1. Bruce Almighty (2003): Silly and a bit ridiculous but still on the heart-warming side.

bruce almighty
Rating: B-


2. Jack Reacher (2012): Only a so-so plot but I really liked Jack.

Jack
Rating: B


3. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985): Brings me back to my childhood!

peewee
Rating: B-


4. Django Unchained (2012): Great revenge story with tons of blood and guts.

django
Rating: B+


5. Cloud Atlas (2012): I'm still confused about everything...but definitely interesting.

cloud atlas
Rating: C

Friday, June 14, 2013

Chime by Franny Billingsley

This was a thoroughly bewitching book. I really liked it. It is definitely not what I expected. There are some twists and turns and gotcha moments that really kept the story moving along.

Briony Larkin is the protagonist and narrator of her story. She believes she is a witch and we open with her pleading her guilt before the court. But then she tells us her story from the beginning and it begins with a boy-man named Eldric.

2013-06-14 chimeedit

The prose is beautiful and lyrical, which is really funny since Briony doesn't like poetry and thinks she's terrible at it. We gain glimpses into her past and her family. She loves her stepmother and has nothing but praise for her but we as the audience know or at least feel differently. All is not what it seems. Why does she feel she's a witch? And what time period is she living in? It took me almost til the middle of the book before I was able to pin it down, but that's one of the beauties of this book. It's a totally surreal setting. She almost takes us in and out of time, even though there's no time travel. Supernatural beings exist alongside science, progress, and technology. The author was able to combine all very flawlessly.

But Briony was hard to listen to. She droned on and on about how horrible she was and why she deserved to be punished and unloved, on and on about her guilt. Though we never understand until the very end what's going on. So her voice became a bit tedious by the end, especially since we knew all was not what it seemed in her own head. I'm sure that was part of the point, though, to make us feel like her friends and family and not being able to get through to her until the end.

It's also not your typical boy saves damsel in distress. They saved each other and I loved that!

I only have one other complaint...the whole premise of the book/its world is that witches are inherently evil. This is a fantasy book and I get that but so many people were killed during the inquisition and witch trials throughout history that I get my hackles raised when these stories surface about witches. These stories play down that nasty part of history when they say witches actually existed and they were, of course, evil and thus deserved to die...

I will end on a happy note with one of my favorite quotes from the book:

"I think about the inevitability of death, and whether it's not that very inevitability that inspires us to take photographs and make scarpbooks and tell stories. That that's how we humans find our way to immortality...That's how we find our way toward meaning. Meaning. If you're going to die, you want to find meaning in your life. You want to connect the dots." (p. 351)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

2013-06-10 14.00.36

I read this one for my women's book club. I'd heard of Cheryl Strayed from her book Wild. But I didn't know she wrote for an advice column. That's where this book comes from. This book contains letters from people asking her advice and her responses. She also throws in a lot of life stories, so I'd almost call it a mini memoir.

It's pretty fabulous. I only have a couple of gripes that I'll throw out quickly. Her advice never really takes into account mental illness, but she does make it clear that she is not a psychologist/therapist and that her advice is opinion only in the introduction. I also realize that the people she gives her advice to wrote into her asking for her advice...But still. There's quite a bit of "have some will power and get off your lazy duff and if I can do it so can you" rhetoric. Some was needed and others? Well.....and the If I can do it, you can too is a bit much towards the end...

But really and truly most of her advice is pretty fabulous. She really talks about making the most of your life no matter what you've been through. That's powerful and much needed.

I'm just going to post a few of my favorite quotes throughout the book for the rest of my review :)

A woman who lost her baby six months into her pregnancy writes in about how to get through her grief, how to get unstuck.

(p. 22) "This is how you get unstuck...you reach. Not so you can walk away from the daughter you loved but so you can live the life that is yours--the one that includes the sad loss of your daughter, but is not arrested by it. The one that eventually leads you to a place in which you not only grieve her, but also feel lucky to have had the privilege of loving her."

Advice in love: (p. 18) "...Don't be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word 'love' to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will."

"Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will." (p. 133)

"When it comes to our children, we do not have the luxury of despair. If we rise, they will rise with us every time, no matter how many times we've fallen before. I hope you will remember that the next you fail." (p. 348)

This is definitely my favorite of 2013 so far.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cat Thursday (7)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

cat thursday meme

This week is all about Kittens!

My friend's cat had kittens! Gabe loved them :)

My friend went away for the weekend to Vegas and she returned home to kittens! Her cat was pregnant and she didn't even know it. She's a very proud grandma. Gabe was very excited to hold such young kittens!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mini Book Reviews (2)

I have been epic failing when it comes to reviewing all the books I read, so if I get too far behind I am just going to do mini reviews and call it good!

Paranormality (nonfiction) by Richard Wiseman

paranormality

I read this one for my skeptic book club.

Richard Wiseman is a psychologist in Britain who studies psychological nature of perceiving the paranormal. There are stories and even activities to help you develop your cold reading skills, magic trick skills, and even how to have out of body experiences, and freak yourself out in a low-light bathroom!

A Mango-shaped Space (young adult) by Wendy Mass

mango

I read this one for another book club.

This story focuses on Mia, who's a teen with synesthesia. She sees colors when she hears sound and sees letters and numbers. She must come to terms with her synesthesia and the death of her grandfather. It's a heart-warming story about loving who you are and dealing with grief.

Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-billion-year History of the Human Body (nonfiction) by Neil Shubin

inner fish

I read this for skeptic book club.

A fascinating read by a paleontologist into the history of where our human bodies come from. Fish! The chapters are easy to read and so fascinating. I recommend this one to all.

Coraline (young adult) by Neil Gaiman

coraline

I read this one with my 4-year-old son Gabe. He's still getting used to chapter books, but when he listened he really enjoyed it. I thought it might scare him a bit but so far no nightmares!

Coraline moves into a new house with her workaholic parents. She wishes she had homemade meals and more time with her parents and even the neighbors are weird. She soon finds a hidden doorway into a new world where there are doubles of her parents and all of the neighbors. Her other mother is very nice but Coraline is skeptical. When she decides she doesn't want to come back the other mother kidnaps her parents. It's up to Coraline to rescue her parents and release the souls of other trapped children.

It's creepy but oh so entertaining!

Stuart Little (children's fiction) by E.B. White

stuart little

I also read this one with my son. But I didn't like this. I love Charlotte's Web! But this one left me scratching my head and wondering what in the world the point was? She expected me to buy Stuart Little as a person that just happened to be a mouse, but the rest of the world wasn't quite set up enough for me to do that. Then it ended very anti-climatically and with no real resolution. I felt that I only read half the book.

But maybe she just meant it for kids who wouldn't ask such questions? But I feel that the stories that stand the test of time are the ones that appeal to all. This one didn't.




Tuesday, June 4, 2013

One Line Movie Reviews (7)

Secret of the Wings (2012): It was a really cute movie that my son actually enjoyed!

secret wings
Rating: B
Anna Karenina (2012): I have never tackled the book but the movie gave a great synopsis; it was just as expected beautiful, painful, depressing, and one I'll probably never watch again.

anna
Rating: B-


10 Things I Hate About You (1999): When this originally came out, I watched it in the theater at least 10 times that summer when it the dollar theater...funny, smart, and painfully honest :)

10 things
Rating: A


Hot Fuzz (2007): Loved this movie; absolutely hilarious!

hot fuzz
Rating: A-


The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012): The book was better but the ending in the movie was done better.

perks wallflower
Rating: B


There's Something About Mary (1998): I've had my one night stand with Mary and I ain't coming back for more.

something about mary
Rating: C-


The 40-year-old Virgin (2005): Weird movie, but surprisingly tender toward the finish with an amazing musical number at the end!

40
Rating: C+


Star Trek: Insurrection (1998): Dirty politicians extend even into the future, but Data and the rest of the team come to the rescue!

insurrection
Rating: B-


Bridget Jones's Diary (2001): I have heard so much about this one...it was cute but not what all the hype was about, though Hugh Grant and Collin Firth were very excellent :)

bridget
Rating: C+


Star Trek Into Darkness (2013): I laughed and cried even though I knew how it would end...more evil politicians extending into the future and alternate time line mayhem!

into darkness
Rating: A-



Monday, June 3, 2013

Armchair BEA--Children and Young Adult Fiction

Armchair BEA 3

I had some stuff come up this weekend so I wasn't able to live blog the end of the Armchair BEA week :( So I will do it now a few days after! I also won a prize on day 4 due to my participation! Woot :) I got to choose my top three choices and they'll let me know within a day what I have won! I'm very excited :)

I am really enjoying the discussions on book genres and what our favorites are and what we recommend to others. I love young adult fiction. Just like adult fiction it can be crappy or awesome, but young adult fiction can really pack a big wallop in a small package. I can finish the books pretty fast and get great stories that teach and entertain.

Some of my favorites:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jaqueline Kelly

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

I love anything from historical to zombie and fantasy to mystery and realistic fiction. I have a hard time getting through books that are just candy. They need to mean something to me, either the characters, the plot, the moral of the story, or the world. Something needs to grab me deep inside and make an impact. All of these books did just that in one form or another or all of the above!

In some ways teen fiction and children's fiction can be harder to write. Most teens and children aren't actually writing and publishing books about what they are experiencing. I think it can be tough portraying a world in which teens are the focus when you aren't actually one, even though you may have been one relatively recently...like me...oh, wait.

Another aspect of great teen fiction is how readable it is apart from its target audience. Is this a story only teens or children will like or will adults be entertained as well? I think it has to be pretty tough to make a book accessible to multiple audiences and great teen fiction does just that. So when it comes to fiction, for me, it's young adult fiction all the way!

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