Friday, February 5, 2016

5 FANDOM FRIDAY: OTP (TV EDITION)

5 Fandom Friday is a series hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick.This week’s Fandom Friday is all about OTPs. But I cannot choose just five, even narrowing it down to 5 TV ships was really hard. I can’t help it. I am a romantic. I ship. I ship hard. What are your favorite OTPs?

John Crichton and Aeryn Sun (Farscape)
As a Peacekeeper Aeryn felt like her feelings were a defect that would get in the way of her job. And then she met John. Boy meets girl, girl kick’s boy’s ass and happily ever after was in the cards after that. It might take some time, but you always knew that they would get there, that their romance was once for the ages. Farscape was always about John and Aeryn for me. It was their love story. They are best friends, partners, and they protect each other. And they are damned sexy too.

Veronica Mars and Logan Echolls (Veronica Mars)
Logan was an adorable smarmy jackass. I can understand Veronica’s attraction because when he was around her, suddenly he was sweet and a kind of a smirking teddy bear. Again I totally get it. I think what makes their love story epic is even when things got bad, they were always there for each other. Their snarkiness with one another makes for the best dialogue ever and seeing them just makes me smile. I am sorry Piz, you didn’t even have a chance.

Buffy Summers and Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
In 243 years Angel loved one woman, her name was Buffy Summers. And holy angst Batman. They are the star crossed lovers and I will ship Buffy and Angel forever. No other couple on tv made me cry and laugh as much as they did. I wanted to have that love. Talk about epic. “'Cause I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see. And I worried that it would be bruised or torn. And more than anything in my life, I wanted to keep it safe... to warm it with my own.”

Malcolm Reynolds and Inara Serra (Firefly)
“You fog things up, You always have.” They bicker and they fight and yet the chemistry between them is awesome. Let’s face it even the entire crew of Serenity ships them. We may not have seen them really get together, but you know it is coming. It has to. My heart needs it to

The Doctor and Rose Tyler (Doctor Who)
The Doctor took Rose on the adventure of a lifetime. She saw the stars and fell in love with a madman and a box. Even when he regenerated and no longer wore the face she had grown to love, she fell even harder and he fell for her. They rescued each other somehow. Through Rose the Doctor found his hearts again, found a purpose. However, by far this is the ship that breaks my heart. I had to rewrite the ending for this one and make it perfect and not just for Rose.

Honorable Mentions:
Carter and Jack (Stargate), Scully and Mulder (X-Files), Pacey and Joey (Dawsons Creek), Sydney and Vaughn (Alias), and Ned and Chuck (Pushing Daisies)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ASYLUM: REVIEW

Asylum
Written by: Madeleine Roux
Paperback: 313 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Language: English
August 2013
Genre: Young Adult/Series/Horror

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.


+++++++++++++

There is something about abandoned asylums. All of the things that are left behind, the tragic history, and the ghosts and echoes that haunt the halls. They also have been on my mind of late. I just recently watched Session 9 again, which is a great creepy little horror film despite having David Caruso in it. And this past week I finally got around to watching Season 2 of Bedlam on Hulu. Asylums are a great setting for a horror book especially an abandoned or converted one.

I am also a big fan of young adult horror. In fact, I grew up on Christopher Pike and the Fear Street novels by R.L. Stine. Some of the books were genuinely creepy and would have made great horror films. Secretly I really wanted Fear Street to become a television series like Friday the 13th the series. So I was excited to see what a new generation of authors would bring to the table.

Dan Crawford is excited to spend a summer at New Hampshire College Prep. It is a chance to get a headshot on college before his senior year. What he didn’t know was that his dorm used to be an asylum, one for the criminally insane.

With his new friends, Abby and Jordan, Dan explores the abandoned wings and basement that have yet to be converted. They soon discover that it isn’t a coincidence that the trio ended up there. Something lingers and it has been waiting for them for a while.

Things I liked: I picked up Asylum as I thought ‘Allison Hewitt is Trapped’ was interesting. The cover was creepy. It made me give it a chance and pick it up. I also like the premise, the serial killer plotline (despite being cliched…most horror films are after all), and I loved the idea of using old photographs to accentuate the overall story. Photo novels are great. Of course Miss Peregrine being one of the most popular ones of late. However, sometimes books disappoint. This was one of them. Unfortunately, I wound up being disappointed as I know Roux can do better than this.

Things I didn’t like so much: I don’t like any of the characters. I do not believe them. Instead of acting like 16 year olds verging on their senior years in high school, teens who are willing to forgo amazing summer vacations by going to yet more school, they act like junior high kids. They are immature. They behave foolishly (even for a horror book) and unevenly. Even their friendship seems forced and unrealistic. I don’t buy that they’d become besties after such a small period of time especially based on their interactions.

I want to like Dan, really I do. I like that he has a troubled past and that he has some flaws. Sure he fits the awkward but brilliant teen cliché. Then again Jordan and Abby are cookie cut as well. I get being awkward. I was there as a sixteen year old, but he doesn’t act like a teenage boy. Unfortunately he is poorly written. I just wanted so much more from him. From all of them. I wanted to be engrossed a new horror series. It just didn’t happen.

The prose is a bit lacking. It’s not overall terrible, but simplified and underwhelming, certainly not what I expected. I while novel feels like there was a predetermined checklist. Asylum plot – check. Romance – check. Artsy hot girl and gay besties – check. Go into the scary basement after receiving a note from a notorious serial killer – check. Oh and don’t forget to tie up all the loose ends – check. None of it really works. Like I said it all just feels forced. I couldn’t escape into the book and that’s what books are supposed to do.

But the most disappointing thing about Asylum was the utter lack of suspense. No thrills. No horror. No dread. No tension. Nothing. I don’t care that anyone is scared, because I have had more creepiness in a kids book (read Doll Bones by Holly Black). The twists are ones you see coming from a mile away. And the photos…they do nothing. Most of them feel staged and photo shopped. They don’t add to the ambience. And the ending was an utter disaster.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. Maybe the series gets better, but I am not willing to give it a try.

Part of: Series.

Also Recommended: For horror books that actually give a sense of dread try some old school Christopher Pike (The Remember Me series is great) or even some Old Fear Street. I am also a big fan of The Scary Stories collection by Alvin Schwartz.

1.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

TUESDAY TRAILERS: SUICIDE SQUAD

Let's face it while Marvel has been kicking ass with the cinematic universe, I have been quite pleased with DC's small screen stuff (most notably Arrow and The Flash). DC, however, has not been doing so well with the big screen verse. I am not really excited to see the next Superman film as the last one was disappointing, but this new trailer for the Suicide Squad kind of has me excited. While I still dont know what to think about Jared Leto's Joker, I think this could be good. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary:A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency. Based on Task Force X, The Suicide Squad has within its ranks some of the best DC villains…Opens August 5th, 2016.

THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST: A REVIEW

The Darkest Part of the Forest
Written by: Holly Black
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: little, Brown Books
Language: English
January 2015
Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?


+++++++++++++

I have been a Holly Black fan for a while. I love her young adult fiction as I don’t feel like they are intensely dumbed and watered down like so many other young adult books out there. Her characters feel real to me. They are flawed. They are often selfish and impulsive and don’t always see the larger picture. They smoke, they drink, and often have sex with the wrong people and for the wrong reasons. They aren’t rich and they aren’t the Homecoming Queen. There is also something about the world building in Black’s books. There is a certain darkness glittering around the edges, but that isn’t always a bad thing. I was excited to see a new book from her and bought a copy before the ladies and I went to Emerald City Comic Con last year, though I did not get around to reading it until earlier this month.

Fairfold was a strange place. Dead in the center of the Carling forest, the haunted forest, full of what Hazel’s grandfather called Greenies and what her mother called They Themselves or the Folk of the Air. In these woods, it wasn’t odd to see a black hare swimming in the creek or to spot a deer that became a sprinting girl in the blink of an eye.

Fairfold is a strange little town. The citizens know what lurks in the forest. They have their own wards against the fae folk even though they live side by side in an uneasy truce. Tourists come and go, hoping that the fae will make their dreams come true, to spy the horned boy in the glass coffin in the forest. But the townsfolk know better. The Folk are not known for granting wishes. The residents of Fairfold know that the fae are far more likely to take your sanity, your years, or even your life. Ben and Hazel have lived in Fairfold most of their lives. Ben has a gift for music, Hazel has…other gifts. For years Hazel and her brother would visit the horned Prince, convinced that one day they would wake the sleeping boy and become his Champions. And for a while they did become knights. But then they grew up as all children do. When the glass coffin goes empty Hazel and Ben’s lives change forever. There is something else that lurks in the woods and they will need the horned boy to save them all.

 Things I liked: This is a story of secrets and the forest, of the sidhe and monsters, of mortality and longing. It is everything I like in a book. It is not perfect, but I was hooked enough to read it in one sitting. I love the world building of course as I am always drawn to tales of the sidhe and I probably always will be. But it is the characters that really draw me in. I love their diversity. I love that they don’t fit in the typical molds that are so common in young adult fiction.

Like many of Holly Black’s characters Hazel is flawed though she feels real to me. She is messy, kisses boys that she shouldn’t and is prone to bouts of moodiness and snark. And yet she is also loving, loyal, and above all…fearless. I loved Hazel’s journey. Not just her quest, not in the realization of mortality or maturation, but how to be a more complete person. I loved how she learned to cope with her past and her future, how she learned to deal. Hazel was fractured by deeds of her own doing, then again some not. It’s not until the two halves come together once again that she truly starts to heal and there is a lot of healing. Holy metaphor to life Batman! Seriously. And how it resonates with me. The great thing is though is Hazel knows she is flawed even before the coffin is broken, even before secrets come to light, and the ‘quest’ begins. I find that refreshing in a book, especially a young adult book. I like that she isn’t your typical heroine. I like that she is prickly. And I love that she is fiercely protective. I love that she still has a hell of a long way to go, then again maybe we all do.

When I read about her childhood, I could easily imagine her as this fearless little knight in service to her horned prince, battling all of the monsters and keeping Fairfold safe. How easy was it to be fearless at such a young age, feeling invincible and courageous. How much did the reality and imagination blur? Sometimes you don’t want to remember the past the way it really was. You want to remember the adventures, even though each ‘adventure’ was tinged with darkness. Hazel wants to remember that living with her bohemian parents meant that there were surprises at every turn, excitement with each passing day. She doesn’t want to remember the constant upheaval or how her parents were never really good at being parents with her and Ben. She does the same thing with her monster hunting days as a child. And when the realization of that comes back, of everything she did, as a young adult…yowser. But despite a healthy dose of PTSD and another dose of denial about a lot of things in her past she comes to terms with it all, the best way she can.

Another aspect of the characters I really liked was the relationships. There is the relationship Hazel and Ben have with their parents, parents who are flawed (Jack remembers how Hazel’s parents used to have these amazing parties even if it meant Hazel and Ben may have eaten food out of the dog’s bowl) and yet love their children. I love the relationship Hazel and Ben have which is flawed as well. There is sibling rivalry, jealousy, and a kinship that is so hard to explain. They love each other despite their faults and share a lifetime of secrets and shame, laughter and adventure. They share a closeness that I don’t have with my own brother.

Of course I would be lying if I didn’t say I enjoyed the relationships that Hazel had with The Prince or with Jack. I love the exploration of wanting something you shouldn’t have, this attraction to darkness and danger. I completely understand that. I think I may have also written many little bits of fanfiction about it. And of course there is the lure of immortality and the fae have always represented that otherworldly presence. And then there is Jack, the boy she thought she could never have.

What else did I love? I like that the Prince has had a lifetime of secrets told to him by everyone who has visited him and thought that he could not hear. I love that Ben is the dreamer and the lover. I love that the parents had wards and superstitions. I loved the prose. Let’s face it we all want to be kissed like they ‘were a shark and I was blood in the water’. Hot damn. But I also like that ‘Mortality is a bitter draught’, ‘And yet I would have the full measure’. Holly Black, my dear, you rocketh.

Things I didn’t like so much: The plot overall is a bit uneven and the romances are a bit too quick and tidy in the end. Then again I felt like they were not the most important part of the book. It was a happy addition, but surprisingly it was the one part I had to just go with (yes I know this a book about the fae). Romance just isn’t the focal point and thank the gods for that.

Plus let’s face it if I knew there was a monster in the heart of the forest that made other monsters afraid, I would move. Even though I love the woman weeping monster/ghost motif so much fun. Not sure why.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. While not my favorite Holly Black book, I enjoyed it. Despite the minor dislikes and a vast majority of likes, I loved the book. I was entertained. I felt connected to the characters and like most Holly Black books this one is a keeper.

Part of:Stand alone.

Also Recommended: Please read some Holly’s other books. The Modern Faerie tales series is one of my favorites, but I also really like her anthology The Poison Eaters. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown reminds me a bit of The Darkest Part of the Forest but with vampires. For more Fae I recommend Melissa Marr’s series beginning with Wicked Lovely or the Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Monday, February 1, 2016

FEBRUARY: WATCH, READ, & PLAY


February. It has many things I love in it: Heart day, Merc with a mouth Day, those candy hearts, and it’s a short month. However, despite being a short month, it has quite a bit of things arriving to fill my geeky heart with glee. Are you excited about any of these things?

FILM & TV
Hail, Caesar!
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, George Clooney
In short: Tells the comedic tale of Eddie Mannix, a fixer who worked for the Hollywood studios in the 1950s. The story finds him at work when a star mysteriously disappears in the middle of filming. (February 5)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Genre: Horror
Stars: Lily James, Lena Headey, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith
In short: Jane Austen's classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England is faced with a new challenge -- an army of undead zombies. (February 5)

Deadpool
Genre: Comic Action/Adventure
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, T.J. Miller
In short: Deadpool tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life. (February 12)

Zoolander 2
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig
In short: Derek and Hansel are modelling again when an opposing company attempts to take them out from the business. (February 12)

The Walking Dead
Channel: AMC
In short: Have a lovely zombie filled Valentine’s Day when the second half of Season 6 begins. Things are never easy for Rick and company and with the arrival of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), you have no idea how much worse they are about to get. (February 14)

11.22.63
Channel: Hulu
In short: Adapted from the 2011 Stephen King best seller, the drama stars James Franco as Jake. When his friend Al shows him a portal to the past, Jake finds himself in 1960 to eventually prevent the assassination of President John F Kennedy. But time does not like to be changed. (February 15)

Vikings
Channel: The History Channel
In short: It culminated with the extraordinary battle in Paris, where Ragnar seized victory from the jaws of defeat – but still returns to Kattegat dangerously ill. Thoughts of his death galvanize the forces who seek to succeed him as king, including his wife Queen Aslaug and his oldest son, Bjorn. Meanwhile, Lagertha continues power struggles with her calculating, former second in command, Kalf; Rollo betrays his Vikings heritage by remaining in Frankia and Floki is seized for his brutal actions to the Christian priest Athelstan. (February 18)

BOOKS
Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42) by J.D. Robb (February 2)
In short: Sometimes brotherhood can be another word for conspiracy... Dennis Mira just had two unpleasant surprises. First he learned that his cousin Edward was secretly meeting with a real estate agent about their late grandfather’s magnificent West Village brownstone, despite the promise they both made to keep it in the family. Then, when he went to the house to confront Edward about it, he got a blunt object to the back of the head. Luckily Dennis is married to Charlotte Mira, the NYPSD’s top profiler and a good friend of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. When the two arrive on the scene, he explains that the last thing he saw was Edward in a chair, bruised and bloody. When he came to, his cousin was gone. With the mess cleaned up and the security disks removed, there’s nothing left behind but a few traces for forensics to analyze. As a former lawyer, judge, and senator, Edward Mira mingled with the elite and crossed paths with criminals, making enemies on a regular basis. Like so many politicians, he also made some very close friends behind closed—and locked—doors. But a badge and a billionaire husband can get you into places others can’t go, and Eve intends to shine some light on the dirty deals and dark motives behind the disappearance of a powerful man, the family discord over a multimillion-dollar piece of real estate . . . and a new case that no one saw coming.

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard (February 9)
In short: Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind. Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas (February 9)
In short: Jane Austen meets X-¬Men in this gripping and adventure-¬filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine (February 16)
In short: Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen. In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart. But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (February 16)
In short: It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer. Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times - although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix's father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix's existence rather dangerously in question... Nix has grown used to her father's obsession, but only because she's convinced it can't work. But then a map falls into her father's lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it's that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

GAMES
XCOM 2
Platform: PC, Mac
In short: The alien invaders rule the world and an insane human government is collaborating with them. I lost the Rogue to the first one and I imagine we will be twitching the second one together. That is until the following week when the next game comes out (February 5)

Unravel
Platform: Xbox One, PC, PS4
In short: When I saw the presentation last year I was hooked. You play as a little yarn creature named Yarny. It is a simple platform and puzzle game, but it looks adorable and gorgeous. I cannot wait. Also will probably make a yarny of my own. (February 9)

Did I miss anything?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

WELL HELLO THERE

Its been a while.  Almost a year really and my absence sort of had a good reason.   Last Christmas E got a new job in ever sunny California.  By mid January he was already in the Bay Area while I settled up the house.   In February we moved from beautiful, mountainous Montana to the Bay Area.  Its been quite the change.  More sun, less snowflakes, and crazy traffic.  But we have also spent the year adventuring in our new home which is great.

I have missed this place though and hope to bring about some big changes in the next few weeks.   New name, new design, new features, and a lot more fun.   Here is to 2016 gang.   I am looking forward to it.


Friday, February 27, 2015

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK: ZOMBIESRUN

In the past month or so I have become obsessed with the Zombies Run app. So what exactly is it? It is an app for your phone that you can walk, run, bike, etc to.

“Run for your Life from the Zombie Hordes! Zombies, Run! works anywhere and at any speed. We immerse you in an action-packed game and story mixed with your own music, whether you're jogging in a park, running along a trail, walking to work, or even running on treadmills. And if you want a serious workout, turn on thrilling zombie chases that force you to speed up to escape the hordes!

You are Runner 5. Hundreds of lives are counting on you. You've got to help your base rebuild from the ruins of civilization by collecting critical supplies while avoiding roving zombie hordes. Can you save them and learn the truth about the zombie apocalypse? Even better, you can create your own custom playlists before you start running: the story unfolds in between your tracks through a series of dynamic radio messages and voice recordings. 40 missions included for free, with 120+ extra missions available with Season Passes.”

With the new year I knew I wanted to make fitness more fun. So if you can turn things into a game, I am there. Add zombies. Even better. Its part story, part build your base, part…awesome. I started off with season one (there are three seasons thus far) and hit play for the first episode. I started in a helicopter and I ended up with the zombie hordes chasing me with only Sam Yao’s voice telling me to run. I made it to Abel Township collecting a few pieces of highly valuable like bandages, a power cord, and some bottled water. These items can be used to upgrade Abel Township with a hospital, better defenses, and housing for the non-zombie masses.

Of course everyone in Abel needs to pull their own weight and since you seem to be so awesome about escaping the undead hordes you become Runner 5 (there were 4 before you by the way). Every episode sends you out on a new mission. Sometimes it is to collect supplies (seriously did a truck carrying a boatload of sportsbras just randomly explode sending the gear scattered across the countryside because I really collect a lot of them). Sometimes it is uncovering more of the plot on who shot your helicopter down and where the zombie apocalypse started in the first place. Insert other township intrigue and it is something I would recommend to even non zombie fans.

When you don’t want to do another story mission you can choose to do a supply drop (where you have to run to a real location), Supply runs which can last as long as you want them to, and races. After the first episode, I went back to the gym the next day to hear episode two. Three weeks later I am still hooked. In fact, I may have become a bit of a fangirl. I even follow the blog and really want this t-shirt to come back into stock.

The missions can last 30 minutes or you can choose an hour workout. The best part…zombie chases. Randomly through each episode (should you turn this feature on) you will be chased by zombies. It’s pretty simple in that you run faster for a minute or you will need to drop supplies in order to distract the zombies from nomming on your flesh. I am not an interval training fan, but this is a great way for me to like it. Now of course I don’t always want to run. Sometimes I want to walk around the neighborhood and having my new neighbors look at me with a slightly panicked face break out into a run down the street might give them the wrong impression, so luckily I can choose to turn the chase feature off. I have also changed the way I wanted the app to track especially if I am doing a strength training workout or maybe riding my bike. Or in the case of yesterday’s episode…doing some hard core unpacking and cleaning.

While I listen to the story, I can also listen to my own music which is wonderful. Of course some music apps play better than other (I more often than not use soundcloud), but the music stops when Sam’s voice gets back on the radio and I discover what I need to do next.

It is an amazing app my friends and one that I cannot recommend enough. Completely worth the money. And if you are looking for some music to listen to while running might I suggest this lovely playlist I use. See, I told you I was a fangirl.





STATS:
NAME: Zombies, Run!
COST: $3.99
OPERATING SYSTEM: iOS and Android
CREATOR: Six to Start

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER MR SPOCK

Today we lost a legend, Mr Leonard Nimoy.  I grew up watching Star Trek and Spock was, by far, my favorite character.  Beyond that Nimoy sang one of my favorite childhood songs all about Bilbo Baggins.  He was a veteran, an advocate, an amazing actor, and one hell of a guy.  When I saw today that he had passed away at age 83 from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease I will admit I was a bit gutted.  He was an icon and let's face it I was sort of hoping that the news was wrong.  He can come back right, just like in the movies?

I will never forget the impact he made in my oh so nerdy life.  He made being a geek okay. He made Spock one of the most memorable characters in pop culture history. He also seemed like one hell of a guy. The man will be missed and it is very evident from the interwebs today.  Live Long and Prosper my friends. Mr Spock has been beamed up and he has left behind a much better world because of his existence. My thoughts are with his family and everyone he impacted and inspired. I'm going to go try to be Vulcan now.






Thursday, January 29, 2015

A LONG WAY DOWN: BOOK REVIEW

A Long Way Down
Written by: Nick Hornby
Paperback: 333 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Language: English
June 2005
Genre: Fiction

In his eagerly awaited fourth novel, New York Times-bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they've reached the end of the line.

Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.

Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.

What's your jumping-off point?

Maureen // Why is it the biggest sin of all? All your life you're told that you'll be going to this marvelous place when you pass on. And the one thing you can do to get you there a bit quicker is something that stops you getting there at all. Oh, I can see that it's a kind of queue-jumping. But if someone jumps the queue at the post office, people tut. Or sometimes they say "Excuse me, I was here first." They don't say "You will be consumed by hellfire for all eternity." That would be a bit strong.

Martin // I'd spent the previous couple of months looking up suicides on the Internet, just out of curiosity. And nearly every single time, the coroner says the same thing: "He took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed." And then you read the story about the poor bastard: His wife was sleeping with his best friend, he'd lost his job, his daughter had been killed in a road accident some months before . . . Hello, Mr. Coroner? I'm sorry, but there's no disturbed mental balance here, my friend. I'd say he got it just right.

Jess // I was at a party downstairs. It was a shit party, full of all these ancient crusties sitting on the floor drinking cider and smoking huge spliffs and listening to weirdo space-out reggae. At midnight, one of them clapped sarcastically, and a couple of others laughed, and that was it-Happy New Year to you, too. You could have turned up to that party as the happiest person in London, and you'd still have wanted to jump off the roof by five past twelve. And I wasn't the happiest person in London anyway. Obviously.

JJ // New Year's Eve was a night for sentimental losers. It was my own stupid fault. Of course there'd be a low-rent crowd up there. I should have picked a classier date-like March 28, when Virginia Woolf took her walk into the river, or November 25 (Nick Drake). If anybody had been on the roof on either of those nights, the chances are they would have been like-minded souls, rather than hopeless f*ck-ups who had somehow persuaded themselves that the end of a calendar year is in any way significant.


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I'm a Nick Hornby fan. High Fidelity and About a Boy are two of my favorites. I sat here wondering why I like them. And I think it comes down to this…they are messy. Sometimes you don’t like the characters or the things that they do to one another. Other times the evoke the feelings and regrets none of us ever really want to feel. Nothing is tidy. Nothing is perfect. It’s just kind of life. In A Long Way Down none of the characters are really likable and they are mostly horrid to one another and yet they are also strangely endearing. They don’t want to be friends. They are just brought together by unusual circumstances and need one another whether they would like to admit it or not.

Let’s face it we have also all probably gone through a day when you kind of want to give up on at all…but you don’t. Some of us have had a serious bout of depression where this feeling has lasted longer. We get through it or try the best we can. But what if on that horrible, no good, very bad day you met up with 3 other strangers that were having it just as tough as you? What would you do? This is the premise of A Long Way Down.

It’s a ridiculous coincidental and absurd premise that begins with four people who meet each other on the top of a building on New Year ’s Eve as each prepare to throw themselves off the roof. Martin is first. He has lost his marriage, his kids, his job, and reputation because he spent a bit in jail after sleeping with a 15 year old, he thought was 18. It doesn’t help that he happened to be an on air personality. Just as he is about to jump 51 year old Maureen climbs up to join him. She, too, doesn’t have the most amazing life. She is the single mother to Matty, her severely disabled son. She has no friends, no hobbies, no lover…just Matty and it is an undeniably lonely existence. Martin, halting his jump since it is a lot harder when you have an audience, backs away from the ledge just in time to see teenage Jess run towards the edge. You see Jess slept with Chas who never spoke to her again and she is a bit upset about it all. And finally we have JJ, pizza delivery guy and ex-band member. They can’t all jump now can they?

Instead they eat some pizza and decide to help Jess by tracking down her ex, Chas, who she has not been stalking unless you call tons of phone calls stalking. That solved, they find other things to do that will keep them from jumping. At least on New Year’s Eve that is. At the end of the night they decide to give it a few more weeks, and see if they can help one another out. It’s an odd friendship between four very unusual people, but it will only last until Valentine’s Day right?

Things I liked: This is a story about suicide. There is no getting around that. But like most of Hornby’s works it is also about relationships, life, and manages to deal with suicide not in a callous way but more of in a dark comedy way. In the end it is funny more than it is poignant. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t thought provoking. As someone who has dealt with severe depression it was also a story I could relate to in one aspect or another. This isn’t a story with any easy answers, if there are answers at all. It isn’t full of sentimentality or forcing you what to think or feel. And it sure as hell is not a story that is all self-help and righteousness. It is what it is. Funny, entertaining, and absurd. I think this is why I liked it.

I also liked the ending. There are no solutions that solve everything and tie it neatly in a bow. No one really lives happily ever after. Maureen’s son Matty hasn’t changed. Martin cannot undo his past, Jess’s sister isn’t going to magically reappear, and I sincerely doubt that JJ is really going to get his act together. But I don’t need for them to have storybook endings. I don’t need there to be this overwhelming power of love that heals all wounds and makes everything full of rainbows and puppies. It’s just life. Occasionally life is shitty and you either move past it or you don’t. I still have my craptastic days. I still get scared, angry, panicky, worried, etc. You learn to live with those feelings, you deal with them, and change the situation if you can. Of course sometimes that comes with a whole set of emotions and things to deal with. But, like I said, that is life. I wish it were all rosy, buts it’s not. We make mistakes. That is how we learn and grow, or at least you hope that you do. You also try to find that one thing every day that makes you look forward to the next day.

I liked the way that it was told in rotating first person. As you see the world from each of their point of views you understand why they may have all ended up on that roof and why, as horrid as they are to one another, that they needed one another on that rooftop and maybe, just maybe they will need each other again.

Things I didn’t like so much: For as much as I liked the novel overall, it is not my favorite Hornby book. I had a hard time staying focused on it and I read this over two weeks not my usual day or two. I wish I could put my finger on why I wasn’t immediately captured by the prose or the story. It just seemed a bit uneven overall. I think there are brilliant moments within, but the prose tying those together wasn’t as great as I expected it to be. Small gripe I suppose, but bigger than I want it to be.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. While maybe not his strongest book, I still have a fondness for Hornby and I think you might too.

Part of:Stand alone

Also Recommended: High Fidelity and About a Boy also by Nick Hornby. For another book about suicide I enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: BOOK REVIEW

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Edited by: Stephanie Perkins
Hardcover: 321 pages
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Language: English
October 2014
Genre: YA/Holiday/Anthology

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

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My good friend Finn is a Christmas-aholic. She is the girl who fills up most of the DVR with Holiday films that they play on Lifetime and ABC Family. She has more Christmas decorations than I do. She absolutely loves spreading the holiday cheer through her wardrobe, music, and general cheer. So of course she would choose this book for book club over the holiday. It’s just my own fault for being behind on actually writing all the reviews…it’s the move people (and all of the things that need to be packed). Finn is also a young adult junkie by the way as well. And I dig anthologies so it seemed like a fit.

I am not a Grinch, really I am not. In fact I like all the warm fuzzies that seem to present around the holidays. I completely love holiday music, Christmas cookies, and the spell of pine when you bring the tree into the house (however, I have never actually went and found my Christmas tree and chopped it down which is just odd since I have lived in Montana for almost a decade now). I love the Christmas lights, candy canes, and watching the snow fall outside. So could this lovely little book fill me full of cheer with its short stories?

Lets discuss: I have said it before and I will say it again, I love anthologies. If they are done right short stories can convey almost as much as the 300 page novel. Plus I love the little bite sized reads. If I need a pick me up or have ten minutes to kill, anthologies are perfect. However, I will admit that it took me a little longer to get through this and I found myself reading the last story an hour before all of the geeky ladies came over for book club.

There is a nice collection of moods and authors, some by authors I like and read (Holly Black, David Levithan, and Laini Taylor) and others I am just discovering and perusing (Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, and Gayle Forman). I will say it is a bit heavy on the romance, but it is a diverse set of romances which I dug. Next time can they do a Halloween themed anthology because I have, and always will be, a Halloween sort of gal. But Yule does show up as a close second so was nice. This was my anthology version of Love Actually (my go to Holiday movie behind Elf) and it was nice.

"Midnights" by Rainbow Rowell. I think, by far, this was my favorite of the collection because it was so damn adorable. New Year’s Eve has always had expectations. It is a chance to get that new year kiss. Its also one of my favorite part of the holidays. While I tend to stay fairly low key, I always make E watch the ball drop with me and kiss me at midnight. This year we also added some aged scotch to the mix. Sorry, distracted. This story takes place during the midnight countdown over several years and features the same characters. It is not only a lovely story about allergies, best friends, and wanting that kiss from your crush. It is also a story about growing up especially once you leave high school. If I had not just finished Fangirl, this story would make me go out and pick up Fangirl or one of Rainbow’s other novels immediately. This was the perfect example of how you can pack as much punch, character development, and plot in just a few pages and it still has more impact than larger novels. I also want this to be part of Love Actually Part 2. Can we make this happen?

"The Lady and the Fox" by Kelly Link. I have mixed feelings about this one because I actually think it would have been a bit better had it been a little longer. I love the Tam Lin retelling and the overall mood. However, it felt rushed. I needed to know more about each of the characters. I wanted more depth. I wanted more magic. And yet there are things I absolutely loved from the coat, to the snow machine, to even the relationship with the boy everyone wants you to be with but whom you realize will always be more of your friend. And yet this needed to be longer to really have the impact I think Kelly was going for.

"Angels in the Snow" by Matt De La Pena. Finn absolutely loved this one, but for me it was one of the weakest of the stories. While I loved that it featured a male protagonist and even explored some stereotypes about race, I didn’t like the love interest and it was too….I don’t know. I felt like it was trying too hard to have this emotional impact that I wasn’t feeling. I was feeling the playing music in the bathroom though because the acoustics are the best in a bathroom. I say this because I constantly sing in the shower.

"Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me" by Jenny Han. Again one of the weaker stories for me, Polaris tells the story of Santa’s adopted daughter. Think of it like a female version of Elf, but heavy on the young adult, the romance, and the saccharine sweetness instead of the funny ha has. I really didn’t connect with or really like the lead character, so this was a pass for me.

"It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" by Stephanie Perkins. This is a love story that happens right away and has the cheese without being too sweet and fluffy. It’s a feel good story and one that has some great dialogue and some memorable characters. Plus I totally get the butterflies in your stomach feeling, the anxiety of the future and what it holds for you and where and what you are supposed to be. Essentially, Stephanie won me over because I want to read more by her because of this story. Damn it, it was just cute.

"Your Temporary Santa" by David Levithan. “He says presents aren't important, but I think they are - not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you.” David Levithan wrote Boy Meets Boy so I was happy to see him in the mix of authors for the anthology. His characters feel real to me and this little short story was no exception. I just wanted it to be longer. There is no real beginning and it kind of just ends. In a way I liked it, but because I started becoming invested just as it ended, I wanted more. I like that it is sweet and sad at the same time. Love is a lot of things and you never know what it will become, if it will ever end, but you take what you have at the moment, and hope it is forever sort of thing. Also the little sister is adorable.

"Krampuslauf by Holly Black". If you know me, you know I love Holly Black. So of course she would need to do a Krampus story….go Holly! Continuing with her modern faerie, magical stories, I loved the whole party organization. I dug the characters, the overall storytelling, and made me want to go and hug Holly. She does that to me sometimes. It was a nice little story.

"What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Forman. In this story a Jewish girl moves to a small Christian town. She feels a bit awkward to say the least. And then she meets someone who feels as much as an outsider as she does. As a girl who moved from New Jersey to Montana I could understand part of it. The first time I lived in Bozeman my roommate had pictures of Garth Brooks and horses on her side of the dorm room. I had Dario Argento and JW Waterhouse paintings. I had an accent. She didn’t. I was finishing my goth/hackers phase. She thought I was the antichrist. So yeah, I get the feeling like an outsider and convincing myself of what everyone thought about me. And yeah one of my first University boyfriends was another urbanite like myself. So I see why the two came together. It was fluffy, but I didn’t mind.

"Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus" by Myra McEntire. Vaughn is a troublemaker and Gracie is the reverend’s daughter. Sound like one you have heard before? Sure. But then what holiday film isn’t filled with tropes and stereotypes. It had some great dialogue even though I felt like things were a little too cookie cutter for me.

"Welcome to Christmas, CA" by Kiersten White. Probably my second favorite story in the entire collection. While I have never lived in a themed town, I saw the humor in it. Not only did I like the lead character Maria, but I really liked Ben (even though we knew what Ben was short for from the beginning…this is a holiday themed collection after all). I would like to go to a restaurant where the cook brings me exactly what I wanted even though I may not realize I wanted it. Plus I love food themed books for some reason. This is probably because I love food. Anyway, this story was cute, offbeat, and absolutely wonderful. Will totally read something by Kiersten again.

"Star of Bethlehem" by Ally Carter. Our lead girl here not only gives away her plane ticket to a completely random stranger at an airport, but then pretends to be Hulga…from Iceland. This story completely screams Holiday Hallmark film. And if you have read it, you know I am right. Which is why I liked it. Sure Ethan’s family know that this girl is not Hulga, but they don’t care. She had reasons and they were happy enough to let her continue her ridiculously obvious charade. There would be some great scenes in this Holiday hallmark film just as there were in the short story.

"The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer" by Laini Taylor. This story has a completely different tone and language style than the rest of the stories. Perhaps this is why it is the closing tale. If you have read anything by Taylor, you know that she has her own style of prose. It is not fluffy. It is not sweet. So yes there is a big change of pace here. But this another fairytale and it has the dark and the light all intertwined in it. A Dragon takes a wife and yet it is so much more than that. My biggest disappointment is that it could have taken place during any other time and didn’t really invoke Christmas or Holidays at all for me. But it was still lovely.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you are a Christmas or Holiday addict and like cute…this is for you.

Part of:Stand alone

Also Recommended: For a film anthology that is all Christmasy like definitely watch Love Actually if you have not watched it a million times already. And if you enjoyed the authors, why not pick up some of their longer offerings.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks