Wednesday, December 31, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


I can’t believe it is already about to be 2015. It has been a crazy year for E and I. And 2015 is about to prove to be just as crazy methinks if not crazier. 2015 promises to be scary and exciting. E and I are moving to sunny California where I finally get to be near the ocean again, but I have to leave my majestic mountains behind. It’s a great opportunity for both of us, but at the moment also is providing us with way too many unknowns for a woman who likes to have things under control…and well, known. I never imagined I would move to San Francisco, that E would so easily find a job in an industry we both love, and that we would be spending this much money in rent. ;) I am scared to leave my Midwestern mecca (it’s been a while since I have lived in the city) behind and having my family nearby, but this could mean lots of insanely good things for me and a new chapter with a man I keep falling for every day. But for every moment of abject terror, I have my moments of insane excitement too. There are so many things that we will be able to do in California that we cannot always do in Montana. And also there will not be the below zero weather we are currently experiencing (-13…really Weather Gods?!)

What will 2015 bring? I am not sure. Adventure I hope. Amazing changes and opportunities. More nerdy events. Concerning the blog, I think I am ready to switch things up a bit. Evolution is a good thing and I think it is time for Confessions to be something more. I would like more new features and am ready to let others go. And it is definitely time for a facelift.


Total Posts: 133
Top Referring Site: Google
Top Keywords: bibliosnark, doctor who, lothlorien, walking dead, smirking revenge
Oddest Keyword Searches: Dark crystal dog, asgard city plans, Halloween wars, speaking gun

It should be a wicked new year. Thank you to all who read and comment. I am hoping to get to know some of you better in 2015 and make even more friends in this crazy little interwebs place. I hope you’ll still come to visit in 2015 as I have a feeling there will be lots to share. Have a wonderfully nerdy year everyone!

WEDNESDAY WHAT IF: FICTIONAL PUB CRAWL

Inspired by the upcoming New Year’s Eve Holiday I present this week’s Wednesday What If. I present to you a fictional pub crawl not unlike the one presented in the film The World’s End. In the film Simon Pegg plays a man named Gary who tracks down his estranged mates from his childhood and persuades them to complete a pub crawl encompassing 12 pubs. What better night to do this than on New Year’s Eve. So I ask you this, dear readers, where would you do your epic night of fictional pub/bar/nightclub crawling? Your choices can be anything from film, tv, and fiction. Miraculously they would all be in the same area and you would immediately be allowed in. So did I miss any place in particular? Have fun. Please share and I will post your link to your answer.


STOP ONE: MACLAREN’S // HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
This seems like a good place to start. Not only could I get a beer, but since we have to start this night a bit early there are also the wings, a burger, or some fries. Plus it is kind of the perfect happy hour spot and there is a chance that I could chill with Robin, Ted, Barney, Lily, and Marshall.

STOP TWO: LUX // LUCIFER
We’re not ready to go full on quite yet, so again let’s start the evening a bit slow. We are at Lux, one of the most elite piano bars. It’s classy. It’s upscale. And the talented pianist is none other than Lucifer Morningstar. The gin here is top notch, the clientele interesting, and you have to love the piano playing.


STOP THREE: THE DAL RIATA // LOST GIRL
Lux was nice (Has anyone seen Barney? Oh no he was trying to hit on Mazikeen at Lux. *sigh*), but I am ready for another pint and where better to go than The Dál. It’s neutral ground for the Fae, owned and managed by Trick, and frequented by Bo, Kenzi, and Dyson (yay!) so the company will be grand. I figure we can convince them to join us for the rest of the evening. If we are really lucky maybe Trick will show us the Satyr beneath the bar.

STOP FOUR: THE GREEN DRAGON // LORD OF THE RINGS
One of Hobbiton’s finest pubs, I figure we can pick up Merry and Pippin while we are here especially when we remind them that pints may be involved and dancing…possibly some karaoke. If we can all fit in the doorway this might be a great place to take a small breather and have a half pint just so the room stops spinning. Rosie and Sam might have some snacks to munch on as well.


STOP FIVE: STRANGEFELLOWS // TALES FROM THE NIGHTSIDE
Strangefellows is the oldest bar in the world that no one knows about. But hey we know about it. It is located in the Nightside so be wary as we walk over, the taxis like to hunt. It was once called Dies Irae and Avalon and owned by Lilith herself. Why are we here you ask? The current owner Alex Morrisey is a nice enough chap and might give us one on the house.

STOP SIX: MOS EISLEY CANTINA // STAR WARS
Dyson wants to see a band so we’ve made our way to the Cantina. We really like the dive bars don’t we? Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes are on stage serenading the crowd while the rougher bits of the galaxy are at the bar trying to get a drink. Hey, maybe we can meet Mal here. He’ll either get along with Han or he won’t. The drinks aren’t horrible, but they are not good either. The room is spinning a bit.


STOP SEVEN: CARITAS // ANGEL
I have had enough that I am willing to sing now. Plus I always wanted to hear Kenzi and Bo do a duet since they’ve continued to tag along or you know I really think that Merry and Pippin would be great as well. Lorne would be a fan I am sure. I wonder what I will sing so that Lorne can see into my soul as I sing and lead me on the right path. Karaoke fortune telling = awesome. Oh yeah, I will be singing Devil’s Backbone by the Civil Wars. You think they have that?

STOP EIGHT: PAPA MIDNIGHTS // CONSTANTINE
Somehow my future involved coming to Papa Midnight’s. Lorne figured out what the card was by making the bouncer sing twinkle twinkle little star. How many people are in our group now? Papa Midnight’s is more gothy, but hey they are playing Perfect Circle and look angels and demons all hang out here so it has to be cool. I heard the Scotch is great.


STOP NINE: THE BRONZE // BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
"The Bronze. It’s the only club worth going to around here. They let anybody in, but it’s still the scene” Dancing. Dancing at the Bronze. Sure it is on the Hellmouth and bands are frequently interrupted, but dancing. Also others can go and play pool. Maybe have some hot cocoas with a monkey. Mostly I am ready to dance my feet off. After I nab a certain blonde vampire.

STOP TEN: VERDANT // ARROW
Continuing our lovely dancing stage of our pub crawl, Oliver Queen’s nightclub is located in an old steel factory. The Arrowcave may or may not be under the club. The dancing is great, the drinks even better. Steve Aoki has been known to play at the club, so maybe we will get lucky.


STOP ELEVEN: PURGATORY // MASS EFFECT 3
With multiple bars, dance floors, and a VIP area this is a great place to start finishing the evening. Its one of the best dance clubs and bars on the Citadel. And when you are fighting the Reapers, sometimes you just need to unwind. You might find a few dancing Asari girls or even Aria since this is now her base of operations. It is fun no matter what, plus have you had some of their drinks?

STOP TWELVE: MILLIWAYS // THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE
There is only one way to end this epic night at that is at Milliways. The food is the best which is a good thing because we are all probably famished by now. It’s early in the morning and we are at the end of the universe safe in a time bubble. And we have to be impressed with all the jewels hanging about and the bar covered in lizard skins. It’s cheap…only a penny and there is dessert. What a wonderful way to end our epic evening. I am now returning to my bunk where I shall sleep away my hangover for the next week.

Happy New Year everyone!


Friday, December 26, 2014

5 FANDOM FRIDAY: BLOGGING RESOLUTIONS

5 Fandom Friday is a series hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick.This week’s Fandom Friday is all about My Blogging Resolutions for 2015. This is a hard one as I am horrible at keeping my resolutions especially when our lives are in such flux for the next few months. But a girl can wish right? How about you? What are your blogging resolutions?

BLOG REGULARLY
My first goal of the New Year involves posting more regularly. I enjoy doing it so why not set aside time to do more of it. I would like to at least make sure I blog at least twice a week. Keep the regular posts such as Fandom Friday, Sunday Seven, or Wednesday What Ifs as regulars. Fandom Friday is a link up so why not make my other two linkups as well. Heck make a new monthly linkup. All great ideas. Let’s hope I can keep them.

PICTURES, PICTURES, PICTURES
My first goal of the New Year involved posting more regularly. Even better when I can also post pictures. As a scrapbooker I have let the picture taking me take a very long hiatus since the camera broke. Hopefully I will get what I want for Christmas this year and that will all change. I would love to document my geeky life through pictures.

MORE CONTENT
Sure I post book and movie reviews, have my weekly posts, but what else do I really have. I want to write about cons, about my upcoming adventures moving to California, to post wraps ups once a week, have shopping suggestions, and so much more.

REVAMP
As much as I may have liked my layout a few years ago, it is a bit old now. While I love Katee, I think it might be time for a cleaner more minimal look. I want the blog to be more accessible to all users especially if I want to gain more viewers. plus it might be fun to break out the old graphic skills again and see what I can come up with.

MAKE FRIENDS
The girl geek blogger group that I am part of is amazing, but do I know any of them really. Do I know and frequent half of my follower list? I should and I am determined to put myself out there more, visit and comment when I can. Do giveaways to gain more readers, and so much more.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

WHEN SHE WOKE: BOOK REIEW

When She Woke
Written by: Hillary Jordan
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Language: English
October 2011
Genre: Fiction/Dystopian

I am red now. It was her first thought of the day, every day, surfacing after a few seconds of fogged, blessed ignorance and sweeping through her like a wave, breaking in her breast with a soundless roar. Hard on its heels came the second wave, crashing into the wreckage left by the first: he is gone.

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love.

A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, When She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.


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

“When she woke, she was red. Not flushed, not sunburned, but the solid, declarative red of a stop sign.”

There are some books that are perfect for book club. They provoke discussions and definitely can, on occasion, polarize the group. When She Woke was one of those books. A Blend of The Scarlet Letter and A Handmaid’s Tale with something Other, it was definitely one those books.

Set in a future where the separation of church and state has dissolved, where Roe vs Wade has been repealed, and the country is now run by the Trinity Party which is largely made up of fundamental Christians. Los Angeles is now nothing more than radioactive rubble, The ‘Great Scourge’ decimated the population when it rendered women sterile until a cure could be found years later. Technology still exists with fully electric cars, computer technology, and nano-transmitters. However it clashes with the religious ideals which have become so important.

Prisons are only for the worst of convicted criminals. Instead a new system of melachroming tints a person’s skin a particular color depending on the crime they were convicted of. Yellow is for misdemeanors, Green for arson or armed robbery, and Red…red is for murder. When Hannah Payne wakes up it is to red chromed skin for the illegal abortion she had. For refusing to name the father of her unborn child and the abortionist, Hannah received the maximum sentence. Now she must live out the first 30 days of her sentence in solitary confinement, her every move broadcasted to the world for entertainment.

She survives her 30 days, but going home to her conservative religious family is not an option. Her father, the only one to speak to her, takes her to a halfway house for women who have been chromed for chromes are subject to threats and mistreatment as they are now the untouchable class. It is not an ideal choice, but having led such a sheltered life Hannah knows she is not equipped to take on the world as a female red chrome. The Center is of course no less chilling that the sterile walls of her cell she suffered through for the first 30 days. Hannah has to find the strength to endure, to find freedom, and to find her new place in society. It is not an easy journey, but it is one of self-discovery and hope.

Things I liked:
What I liked: I am not sure how Hannah survived her first 30 days. To begin the book with that was so incredibly intimate. I cannot imagine the psychological torture endured and then knowing that there are potentially thousands of people watching you as if you were some animal in a cage, there for their amusement and a ratings boost. Hannah is an interesting character. She is both incredibly frustrating and also quite enjoyable to read as she grows as an individual and begins the road to self-discovery. But Hannah always had the strength, rebelled in the ways she knew how such as asking questions, and creating her secret dresses of silk and contoured lines. She stood up to her future brother in law when no one else did and lets face it…slept with a married man for two years. She is far from perfect, but that is why I like her.

Although the real reason I really like Hannah’s journey is because she is forced to confront everything…and we are talking from jeans, to God, to sexuality, and everything in between. Hannah has always been a product of her upbringing, but now she is a product of life events. She has to come to terms with her belief system and make it her own instead of something that everyone tells her is right. She begins as a naïve woman, passive in most areas of her life and turns into this curious, strong, controlled young woman who truly woke up and began her life at the end of the novel.

Two of my favorite scenes with Hannah were the first time Hannah put on jeans and when she realizes she does not know anything about Tennessee Williams. In the first, she was always told that trousers were too revealing and made men distracted and think impure thoughts. At first she agrees, but then the more she looks at this new shape in the mirror and thinks about the hypocrisy of it all (men’s jeans are just revealing if not more), she gets angry that it is a woman’s fault that men cannot behave themselves. It resonated and how could it not. Aha the reason I am a feminist is because you are still asking what she was wearing at the time. Let’s face it, it is something that women face every day. I love that she came to terms, had warring ideology, and then made her own decision free of others’ influences.

In the second scene Hannah is looking at the world differently. “Had becoming a Red given her an extra sense, a knowledge of the hidden desires and evil in other hearts? She shook her head as a more likely, less romantic explanation occurred to her: becoming a Red had forced her, for the first time in her life, to really pay attention. [pp.185-6]” Great passage. I have a friend who had her own transition and I stood by her from the very first of it. She had her own revelation of what it is was like to be woman, all things that she once took no notice of. As she went through her own transition she felt like her eyes were open for the very first time. So again, a huge passage that resonated with me on many levels.

Speaking of characters, Mrs. Henley is a great character though a bit one dimensional in her villainy. Here is the portrait of a woman who truly gets her kicks not only dictating every moment of her charges lives, but making them relive their most painful moments that led to their chroming. She is not the pious religious woman that she is supposed to be, but instead takes pleasure in being a power hungry bitca. She loves the fear she can induce in the women at the Center. And I am still convinced that she either drugs her charges or at least uses some of their divulged information as leverage where she can. Although the worst part of the center was the damn enlightenment sessions where the women were forced to create and carry around dolls that represented the children they aborted. There is one particular scene that was absolutely horrifying and I am so happy to see Hannah gain control of the situation.

The other characters in the book are also not quite as fleshed out as Hannah herself, but I don’t mind that. This is Hannah’s story. It isn’t Becca’s (though I would have liked to see her story play out more), or Kayla’s, or even Simone’s. The men in the book are…well they aren’t great, but the same can be said for a lot of the secondary female characters. In fact the only male character I liked was Hannah’s father…okay and maybe Paul. And let’s discuss Aiden shall we. In a way, at the beginning, they were perfect for one another. Both were products of a lifestyle, of a way of life. Hannah found her path and became an independent woman. But Aiden…he never really changed did he? He was still cowardly and selfish. Hannah is a product of her journey of discovery. Aiden never goes on this, so in a way I can’t really expect him to change. Why should he? Yes Hannah is far too good for him. She loves him so much she is unwilling to destroy this happy little perfect life the world thinks he has. She is willing to sacrifice everything for a man who would never truly be hers and hers alone.

Of course there are comparisons to The Scarlet Letter even though Jordan said that the initial idea for the novel came out of a conversation with her family about drug abuse. Her uncle suggested that drugs should be made legal, but users should change color while on the substance. An interesting notion for sure and it apparently stuck. There are also similarities to A Handmaid’s Tale. In the end I feel like Jordan made it her own.

Finally, I think one of the reasons I really enjoyed the book was this future world of faith has plausibility. It is not difficult to suspend your disbelief and imagine a world where we still have our gadgets and smart cars, but essentially Fox news has created a new world order with its constituents. Sure the whole premise can be a little heavy handed at times, but then again so was Interstellar and I still enjoyed it. As I was saying the world was plausible. It was fleshed out. I didn’t have to suspend my disbelief too much. And plus it was such an odd world. Here is a woman who has grown up with so many strict religious rules. She cannot wear trousers, is expected to serve and obey her husband when she marries, and cannot read the most popular titles of literature. But she is also a woman who has a voice activated home and a car that re-orients. This juxtaposition between old fashioned values and modern technology was just interesting to read.

Oh and one more thing. I want all of Hannah’s secret dresses.

Things I didn’t like so much:
What I didn’t like: The last half of the book is a bit rushed. It feels more like a montage of events rather than a fleshed out journey that the first half of the book was. Some may have been disappointed with the scene between Hannah and Simone and in a way I was as well because up until that point I felt like they had no chemistry. I also wanted more out of Becca’s story. I felt like there was something there worth exploring, but ultimately in a different direction and Becca and her dysfunctional marriage were left behind.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. For me When She Woke was not the moment that Hannah woke up to red skin, but the moment she woke up to begin a life that is her own. It a wonderful book about faith, self-discovery, redemption, and, yes, love.

Part of:Stand alone

Also Recommended: Of course definitely try The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Perhaps How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff might be a good one as well.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

BABADOOK: FILM REVIEW

Babadook (2014)
Directed By: Jennifer Kent
Written By: Jennifer Kent
Genre: HORROR
Rated: R
Time: 93 min
Starring: Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman
Plot: A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

Comments: I was excited to see that Essie Davis had a new movie out as I have been loving her as Phryne Fisher in the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (watch on Netflix, if but for the amazing fashion. Stay for the fun murder mysteries). And then I saw the trailer for the Babadook. Now as you know I am a big fan of horror movies, but lately I have been bored with the offerings in the past couple of years. This trailer was creepy and I couldn’t wait to see it. Of course why would it ever come to Bozeman (thank goodness in San Francisco we will be able to see more limited release films). Thankfully Xbox One had it on their on demand video so Kat and I grabbed our blankets, popcorn, and turned off the lights.

The movie begins simply enough. Amelia (Essie Davis) is not sleeping or dealing with the stresses of being a single mother to a precocious seven year old (he enjoys making weapons for monster hunting) very well. It’s been seven years since her husband was killed in a car accident while driving them to the hospital to deliver Samuel, but Amelia is still grieving. She hates her job and Samuel is very obviously a difficult and potentially disturbed child who is heavy into the ‘Monster in a Closet’ phase of his childhood (hence the ingenious weapons he occasionally brings to school). He is prone to outbursts and is not helping with her sleep problems with his gnashing teeth and feet in her back.

One night, Samuel chooses his nightly book from his bookshelf, but it is a book that neither of them have read before. The ‘Babadook’ is a pop-up book with a shadow who comes into your home to scare you. Do not let him in for once you do there is no getting rid of the Babadook. Amelia realizes too late the creepy nature of the book and by this time Samuel is terrified. Amelia hides the book but it reappears and by this time Samuel is convinced that the Babadook exists. Does it? Has their fractured family invited the monster in? Or is it something far more sinister?

So yeah, whoa. I loved this film. It’s a great psychological horror film. Sure there is a monster, but is it a monster in the traditional sense? I spent half of the movie terrified of Samuel convinced that one day he was going to turn his monster hunting contraptions on his mother. I felt for Amelia and could completely understand if she one day snapped and drove them both over a cliff. When the Babadook shows up all I could think is ‘oh yea it gets worse’. That pop-up book is terrifying (which is why I want one immediately). Amelia starts to lose it. She snaps at her son, loses more and more sleep and when she finds broken glass in her soup, but not Samuels I think she, too, is beginning to wonder if Samuel isn’t the monster. Perhaps the Babadook is a monster of her own making though…she did dabble in writing for children’s books after all and perhaps the horrific scenes that keep appearing in the book are wishful thinking. Maybe Amelia is about to have a psychotic break. But then maybe, just maybe, the Babadook is real.

Both Essie Davis (far from the vibrant Phryne Fisher I usually see her as) and Noah Wiseman (great child actor) are amazing in this film. Essie Davis looks like she hasn’t a decent night’s rest in seven years and Noah Wiseman plays the raging child and terrified son brilliantly. The psychological horror is here in full force and there is so much more going on than a simple monster movie. Its complex and doesn’t rely on the cheap scares and thrills though there are many moments of terror.

I could pick this film apart for days and that is why psychological horror is the best. Where did the Babadook come from? What does it represent? Was it ever there? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the matter.

So yeah…Please let Jennifer Kent make more films especially horror films. For a debut…holy frakking frell. Seriously. It was one of the better horror films I have seen in years. Thank you Jennifer Kent. Thank you.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. Rent. Buy. However you can. Just see it.

4/4 popcorns

SHADOW AND BONE: BOOK REVIEW

Shadow and Bone
Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Paperback: 358 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Language: English
June 2012
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Series (Grisha Trilogy Book One)

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.


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

I am a little late to all of the really cool YA books and this has been sitting on my shelf for some time. Not sure why as the cover is beautifully simplistic and the story sounds interesting. I even did my usual read the first page bit at the bookstore and enjoyed what I read. Still, it sat on the bookshelf. Ah, if only real life did not interfere with my bibliophile life. It’s been a crazy December thus far with a ton of big changes for E and I in the next couple of months…San Francisco here we come. So I apologize for not being around as much these first couple of weeks. I promise I will try to catch up, just like I am doing on the book front, movie front, and my God how did my DVR get that full front.

Alina Starkov grew up a war orphan with only her best friend Mal as her constant companion. It wasn’t a horrible childhood growing up on the estate of a minor noble in Ravka until a group of strangers arrive and threaten to tear them apart. The visitors are Grisha, magic users, and they have come to test the children for magical abilities. Alina knows she is different, but to be torn from Mal is worse than any punishment she can imagine so she locks everything away so she will not be found out. Years later Alina and Mal are both part of the same regiment in Ravka’s First Army. Alina is a mapmaker and her feelings for Mal, who is now both a tracker and far more handsome, have grown. And yet the two are not as close as they once were and so she must suffer his lack of reciprocation in silence.

Of course teenage romance is the least of their worries. Soon they must cross the Shadow Fold, a dark magical space created by a Grisha long ago. There is nothing left in the Shadow Fold wasteland but darkness and the Volcra. However, it is a journey that must occur if only but to ferry products from east Ravka to west Ravka. Mal and Alina are about to attempt such a crossing. It does not go as planned. Mal risks his life to save Alina and is wounded in the process. Just as the Volcra return to finish what they have started and carry Alina away as well, a flood of light appears and Alina passes out.

When she comes to, she finds herself surrounded by horrified and awed faces. What has happened? Where is Mal? Why are they all looking at her like that? She is then rushed to the Darkling’s tent (the leader of all the Grisha), and he tells her that she is the Sun Summoner. For years Ravka and the Darkling have awaited the birth of the Sun Summoner, who can call forth light. Perhaps this is the one way the Shadow Fold can finally be destroyed. Alina may be Ravka’s only salvation, but is she willing to take up the Sun Summoner mantle and embrace her destiny?

Things I liked:
The system of magic and the Grisha, as a whole, were great to read. They are half magicians/half scientists and over the years have learned how to harness and amplify their gifts. More than their gifts, it was interesting to see how they are set apart from the rest of Ravka society. They are the elite, the learned, and the well fed. Ah, but to be separated from your family perhaps never to see them again for most Grisha, as most were tested and taken away to school at a very young age, is horribly depressing. The entire book evokes a fantastic alternate vision of a fairy tale Russia with robed magic users, sleighs, and ornate palaces full of dark wood and domes. I loved it.

Sure Alina is the nothing special girl who turns out to be the one person who can save the world. Her nickname is ‘Sticks’ and she lives up to the name. Mal has been her only friend and companion, so it was unsurprising that as they grew up Alina found that she had feelings for him. However it is a shame that he appears not to reciprocate them. Alina is a likable character and an effective narrator. I feel for her. I want to know more about her. I want to go with her on her journey. Maybe it is because I saw more in Alina. I saw an inner strength and intelligence in her, qualities necessary when you may not be the strongest of the bunch. It may not have all truly shone through all of the passiveness of her character until the final quarter of the book, but sometimes you grow stronger through the events life hurls at you. You either face them and conquer or you give in.

Alina has her faults. She is incredibly self-conscious and insecure. She is acutely aware that she is skin and bones and that her station as a non Grisha (at first) has always set her apart. The Grisha, through Alina’s eyes, are the beautiful, the elegant, and the mysterious. They are well fed, wear amazing clothes, and are seen laughing and smiling so much more than others. They are the opposite of an orphan’s life in the first army. So while Alina almost harps about the beauty of everything and everyone once she becomes part of the Grisha and starts her training, I can kind of understand it. She is so insecure that everything is the exact opposite of her life up to that point. Methinks I would feel the same if I were suddenly transported to Asgard.

Speaking of characters, I cannot help but like the Darkling. He’s the enigmatic magical, dark, and handsome. A bit emo, a bit ruthless, completely morally ambiguous…I can see why Alina would be attracted to him. I feel the same about Loki (Apparently I am having a Thor moment here). So the love triangle that wasn’t a triangle just showed that Alina could be attracted to and drawn to different men. I was just disappointed with what was done with the character as it was predictable and I wanted more shades of grey and ambiguity.

Things I didn’t like so much:
As I said I was not a fan of what was done with the Darkling in the end, but perhaps we will see more character development in the second book.

I am not sure what made me not love this book completely. Perhaps it was the formulaic plot and characters (but let’s face it every romance film or Bond film is formulaic and on occasion I like both), or that Alina wasn’t as strong as I wanted her to be in the beginning. Pacing was up and down and yet I read the book in mostly one sitting as I was obviously drawn. But I must say that something was missing. I was entertained, but I didn’t fully connect the way I have with other books. I would say that this is a popcorn trilogy.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. While Shadow and Bone may not be groundbreaking by any means, I was entertained and I am excited to carry on with the series. Bring on book 2!

Part of:Part of a series
Book One: Shadow and Bone
Book Two: Siege and Storm
Book Three: Ruin and Rising

Also Recommended: For more young adult fantasy I would recommend the Graceling Relam books by Kristin Cashore, The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce, and the Damar series by Robin McKinley (begins with the Hero and the Crown).

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

MOCKINGJAY PART 1: FILM REVIEW

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Written By: Peter Craig and Danny Strong
Genre: ADVENTURE/SCI-FI
Rated: PG-13
Time: 123 min
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, and Julianne Moore.
Plot: When Katniss destroys the games, she goes to District 13 after District 12 is destroyed. She meets President Coin who convinces her to be the symbol of rebellion, while trying to save Peeta from the Capitol.

Comments: Now I am not a fan of the original film (what book did they read?), but Francis Lawrence gave me Katniss back with Catching Fire. He gave me the dress, the action, and a promise for freedom. So of course I have been excited to see the first part of Mockingjay. I have seen Mockingjay Part One twice in the theatres now. I am probably one of the few people that quite likes the book. While it may be the weakest of the trilogy, it is one that resonates heavily with me. Sure it doesn’t have the excitement of the two books that feature the Hunger Games, but it is a trilogy that could have not ended any other way for me.

Katniss has been through a lot and though she has been rescued and brought to fabled District 13, she is broken. To say that she has some severe PTSD would be an understatement. She’s passive, numb, and doesn’t know what to do next. But she will always be the girl on fire. She will always be a survivor. Sometimes, you just need a reminder. She has that reminder when she sees what President Snow has done to District 12. She has that reminder when she sees that Peeta is still alive. She certainly has that reminder when the hospital is destroyed. Jennifer Lawrence does an amazing job of showing all of that complexity, the pain, the fire, and the courage. Katniss never wanted any of this. She just wanted to save her sister. Now she is a symbol for an uprising. And nothing will ever be the same.

Seriously like I said Jennifer Lawrence is frakking amazing. Please act for many years to come Jennifer and continue to be your snarky, self-deprecating, awesome self. And shiny gold star to Josh Hutcherson. I am over my initial grumbles over Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. For me Peeta has always been the baker’s boy, the man able to lift heavy bags of wheat and flour, stocky and burly, but with a crush on Katniss since he was 5. Josh Hutcherson doesn’t exactly fit this description, but I have grown to like him. The films have changed a few things (like his prosthetic leg), but like I said I am over most of these things. The film Peeta is charismatic and when he comes back to District 13 he is utterly broken. I mean Holy crap, we knew we were going to see Peeta slowly collapse in front of our eyes and then with the return…yikes. He looks haunted, gaunt, confused, and then just crazy. Like I said Hutcherson gets a shiny gold star for the slow degeneration of Peeta’s sanity and health. The final scene of the film breaks my heart. He does such a great job. “It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”

Francis Lawrence continues to do a great job. And props to Danny Strong (so excited to see Buffy alums do amazing things) and Peter Craig for the screenplay. I absolutely loved the uprisings in Districts 7 and 5. While Katniss is the focus of the trilogy, there is also so much more going on. These rebellions show that. She was the spark and now everything is catching fire. Plus, seeing the different districts and the specialties of each really brings home Snow’s description of the Capitol being the heart of Panem and each district supplying the Capitol with the blood and nourishment needed. So when it begins to break down it is glorious to watch. Like I said, I liked seeing moments that were not directly connected to Katniss and Co as well. It just makes Panem seem more fleshed out and real.

Thank you to whomever arranged the Hanging Tree song. Reading it in the novel, I love the haunting little ballad but this film brought it to life. I love hearing Jennifer Lawrence sing it and cannot imagine it sounding any other way. Adding it to my murder ballad playlist (a new favored genre by the way). Hearing the other Districts sing it as the song of the Revolution was great. That whole scene with the dam was wonderful.

I so have some gripes on the film. The book is better I am afraid and I am worried that things that were important to me in the book won’t have the same impact because they are either omitted from the films or downplayed considerably. The hospital scene was completely wrong as it needed to foreshadow the things that Gale is willing to do (important in the next half).

One: There is no love triangle. When I was reading the books there was definitely a Team Gale and a Team Peeta. I suppose in a way it is less a triangle and more an evolution of Katniss and her feelings. Gale was the one who knew her before the games, the love of her childhood and adolescence. He is her past. He is so much like her with all of that fire and rage. But Peeta is her future. He is the dandelion in the Spring. No one can ever understand the things that they have gone through except each other. He is the hope and that acknowledgement that they are survivors. It becomes clear halfway through Catching Fire that Gale and Katniss could never have future together. They are now two different people. But I still wanted to see this evolution in the films because it is important. In this film Katniss and Gale have none of the chemistry that they had. Apparently it has always been Team Peeta.

Two: I wanted more Finnick. Why? Because I want his death to matter. I want to be gutted by it. I want to have a Wash moment. Finnick is a wonderful character because of how much we see his character change. When we first meet Finnick he is an arrogant hottie who seems shallow and completely not trustworthy. But over the course of two books we discover that Finnick is so much more. He is funny, loyal, and trustworthy. His love for Annie is so amazing and he has been through so much just like Peeta, Katniss, and Joanna. Layers people. Layers.

Three: I love Julianne Moore, but her President Coin is way too nice. The President Coin I read does not like Katniss. In fact she would have her dead and a Martyr. Katniss is a pawn and a tool and I wanted to see that. I wanted to see that she is just as bad as Snow. Instead I saw a woman who was stereotypically military in nature and not that bad really. In fact I kind of empathized with her. I feel like I needed some clue that she will send Peeta with Katniss in the second half in hopes that he will kill Katniss, and that she is the one who was just as willing to sacrifice children in order to make a point. Again, I want her death to make a point and to matter.

Four: "I kill Snow" it is one of Katniss’s demands and a pretty important one. Perhaps it will end up being one of her demands for the Star Squad. It is the only reason she joins and helps keep her going when all things are lost. I think it’s important to Katniss’s character. We already know she has nightmares of killing Marvel, nightmares that continue to haunt. So it is important to note that if she kills Snow, he will always be with her. He will haunt her. But it is something she is willing to do, something she feels she has to do.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. The only way to see Katniss and crew is on the big screen. Worth my money even if I did have a few gripes.

4/4 popcorns

Friday, December 19, 2014

5 FANDOM FRIDAY: HOLIDAY FILMS

5 Fandom Friday is a series hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick.This week’s Fandom Friday is all about My Favorite Holiday Movies. Now Finn has been filling the DVR full of Christmas movies from ABCFamily and Hallmark because she is a Christmas-aholic. There is no exaggeration here. While I dig the Holiday season, I am a bit lower key, but there are a few holiday movies that I look forward to catching glimpses of every year. Here are my top five that don’t include A Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf, A Christmas Vacation, and a Christmas Story because those are gimmies. How about you? What are your favorite Holiday films?


Love Actually (2003)
I love vignette films, or at least when they are done right (Paris Je T’aime for example). Make it Christmas themed and I might be onboard especially when I can see Hugh Grant dance, Bill Nighy sing, Andrew Lincoln do his famous cue-card speech, and Colin Firth be all soaking wet in a pond (hello visions of Darcy). It makes me laugh and it makes me cry (Emma Thompson and Laura Linney’s storylines). It has an amazing cast and is a film I will actually take off my shelf and watch every year.

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
Growing up I loved this movie and I still do even while recognizing its flaws. It begins with the origin of Santa as a 14th century woodcarver to the Santa we know and love. It also introduces the Vendequm or elves as well as some notable reindeer we adore. Dudley Moore plays Patch, an elf who decides to take his talents away from the North Pole, John Lithgow as the evil owner of BZ Toys who uses Patch to make some interesting candy and try and bring about Christmas 2. Lithgow is over the top evil and Moore is pretty funny as a disgruntled elf. I watched this movie a ton as a kid and while I don’t own it, I will watch it when I find it on the tv.


Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Oh how I love, love this film. Shiny gold star to Shane Black whose directorial debut features a lovely Michelle Monaghan in a Santa outfit, Val Kilmer as a gay detective (aptly named gay Perry), and Robert Downey Jr as a thief pretending to be an actor. Cue some murder and mayhem all during the Christmas season and I was sold. Still am. Go watch this film now people if you have not seen it.


Scrooged (1988)
Apparently I enjoy quite a bit of dark humor in my Holiday movies and Scrooged is one of them. I love the Christmas Carol and this update starring Bill Murray as Frank Cross is a holiday classic. Between the Solid Gold dancers, threatening to staple antlers onto cute little mice reindeer, and the best…and I mean best GHOSTS ever, I cannot help but bring this one out every year to watch.


Die Hard (1988)
"Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho." Only John McClane can make you happy for mayhem on Christmas. Plus Alan Rickman makes a great villain and you have a great scene where John wants Christmas music in the cab and the cabbie cranks up 'Christmas in Hollis'. This is a favorite because its not your typical Christmas flick, but don’t tell me it isn’t one. I don’t believe you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

INTERSTELLAR: FILM REVIEW

Interstellar (2014)
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Genre: SCI-FI/ADVENTURE
Rated: PG-13
Time: 169 min
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine, and Wes Bentley
Plot: In the near future, Earth is no longer sustainable for human life. Facing extinction, an ex-NASA pilot must leave his family and his home to explore a wormhole and find humanity a new home among the stars.

Comments: There is one thing that I have grown to expect out of Christopher Nolan’s films: great visuals and a great conversation once the film is done. I was a little hesitant in seeing this film though as everyone was comparing it to Gravity and I did not enjoy that film at all. But each trailer I saw got me excited. And so for movie week (3 so far) I went to go and see it with my dad. I won’t give away the story as that is part of the journey, but there were many unexpected surprises as I went in pretty spoiler free. The trailers didn’t give away the entire film, so I knew the basic premise but not much more than that. I am glad I went in that way.

Interstellar begins slow setting up the premise of why the need to go to space is necessary and develop the characters and their motives. Coop (Matthew McConaughey) was once a pilot and an engineer, but is now a farmer. Crops are okay for now, but year after year more and more begin to fail and the dust storms get worse. During one of these storms Coop and his daughter Murphy see a pattern in the dust on her bedroom floor and Coop realizes it is binary code giving them map coordinates. From here, everything changes. The NASA program is not dead, as previously thought. Three manned expeditions have already been sent through a wormhole to explore and find another home for humanity. All that is left is to retrieve that data and determine which planet, if any, is mankind’s next home.

The acting is superb on every level and truly is one of its strengths. From John Lithgow as Coop’s father in law to Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway). Standouts for me were a grownup Tom, played by Casey Affleck and each of the actresses who play Murph during different parts of her life. Mackenzie Foy is a wonderful little actress and I look forward to seeing her in more things. Hell even the voice acting for the robots TARS and CASE not only provide some great humor in the film, but seem to be spot on.

While character development is not as strong as it could be, what was there mostly worked for me. It is so hard to truly understand a character’s motivations through small snippets of video but the fundamentals were there. I felt for Murph, both as a child and an adult woman who feels abandoned and bitter but still wants to hope. I understood Amelia and Coop. However, as great as the performances were I never really felt worried for them, not like I should have been. Sure, there was a sense of urgency, but I didn’t always authentically feel the stakes of the situations. But I will get to that in a moment.

I absolutely loved the score, but then I usually do enjoy Hans Zimmer’s scoring. Usually you don’t want to notice the score, but Zimmer did a wonderful job of accenting key moments and enhancing scenes rather than detracting from them.

I absolutely loved the score, but then I usually do enjoy Hans Zimmer’s scoring. Usually you don’t want to notice the score, but Zimmer did a wonderful job of accenting key moments and enhancing scenes rather than detracting from them.

The film is absolutely gorgeous from the simplicity of a corn field to the outreaches of space. Blackholes, Wormholes, and far distant planets were amazing. I wish I had been able to see it at an IMAX, though the theatre screen was just fine. The special effects were not distracting nor did I notice any really horrible CGI. I really enjoyed the way that TARS looked as well, how he moved and functioned. It was a nice touch. I liked the way that the spacecraft looked, the movability of the cockpit, and how bright it was (I hate it when spaceship interiors are dark). I know this seems like a silly thing, but it is something I notice.

The science in this science fiction story seemed plausible to me, save for the whole blackhole bit. At least more plausible than fire extinguishers in space. Perhaps others would cringe at the pseudo-science in the film, but I could suspend my disbelief when it came to space travel, time working differently, and wormholes. However, I am neither a theoretical physicist nor expert on Einstein theorems and gravitational physics. I did hear that Kip Thorne was the science consultant for the film and Neil Degrasse Tyson did not have too many gripes about the film.

But here is the part I didn’t like about Interstellar. I love the themes of humanity, morality, and the need to protect your loved ones and humanity as a whole. Love is a powerful thing, but movies who are heavy handed with the subject make me grumbly (What Dreams May Come). I had a hard time reconciling the rest of the plot full of science, exploration, and discovery…with love. Suddenly everything was saccharine and I was being forced to feel a specific emotion when the majority of the film did a really good job of balancing on that fine line between showing and telling. Trust me the love factor works for me in other films, but I had a really hard time with the last quarter of the film. It seemed out of place with everything else. I was taken out of the film which is disappointing because I was immersed for the majority of it. Maybe it was because the ending felt rushed and forced.

I still loved the film, mind you, but those are my grumbles. Still, Interstellar is a far better film than most and in my top ten for this year.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. Imax if you are lucky.

4/4 popcorns

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Big Hero 6: Movie Review

Big Hero 6
Directed By: Don Hall and Chris Williams
Written By: Jordan Roberts and Daniel Gerson
Genre: ANIMATED
Rated: PG
Time: 102 min
Starring: Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, and Damon Wayans Jr.
Plot: From Walt Disney Animation Studios, the team behind "Frozen" and "Wreck-It Ralph," comes "Big Hero 6," an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called "Big Hero 6."

Comments: ‘Hairy baby!’ I was kind of hooked the moment I saw the first Big Hero 6 trailer. I don’t watch a lot of animated films, but this one looked cute mostly because of Baymax. Before we get to Hiro and his friends I have to say that the short before the film ‘Feast’ was amazing. Basically it is about a dog named Winston and his life as well as his owner’s life seen through the meals that they share. Completely heart felt and wonderful. In fact sometimes I think the shorts are better than the hour and a half long movies that they appear before.

Back to Big Hero 6. Sure it is formulaic. Kid is uber smart and loses someone he loves, stereotypical geek archetypes, self-sacrifices, and warm fuzzies. It is all there. But I don’t care. It’s a movie about grief and a movie about family (and not necessarily the one you were born with). It’s about brotherhood and acceptance. I loved it. Not only was it a beautiful film to watch, full of rich colors and the scenery of San Fransokyo (too cool mashup), but it was funny and heartwarming, things I am expecting. I loved that a lot of the technology for the ‘superpowers’ are things we have or are about to have. 3D printers? Check.

Of course I loved Baymax. How can you not? He’s adorable, pillowy, and…damn it so damn adorable that Even and I took pictures with the big inflatable one in the lobby of the theater after the film. And also we now do our fistbumps Baymax style complete with ‘Balalalala’.

Sure the film didn’t have me laughing the way that the Lego movie did earlier in the year, but it touched me in different ways. It had some great lady scientists with Honey Lemon and Go Go, and while it may have strayed a bit from the comic that began it all it was worth my time and my money.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. It’s a nice heartwarming pick me up that I need during the Holiday season, even if I was a bit late to go and see it



3.5/4 popcorns

Saturday, December 13, 2014

THE WINTER LONG: A BOOK REVIEW

The Winter Long (October Daye #8)
Written by: Seanan McGuire
Paperback: 358 pages
Publisher: DAW
Language: English
September 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Series

Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It’s time to learn the truth.


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

I have been thinking a lot about my favorite series of late. Recently quite a few of them threw out some pretty heavy revelations that have been building for quite some time. But now that the revelations are out there on the table, do you really want the stories to end? Toby is like that for me. Things have been on a gradual build for seven books. There has been loss and heartache, new loves and new friends. We have had so many questions about Amy, her mother. We have had questions about why she was a fish for several years? We have had questions about a lot of things. Winter Long has some answers for you, but Toby’s story is long from over.

The new Queen of Mists is having a Yuletide Ball and while Toby isn’t exactly the fancy schmancy like to party type, she likes Arden and so that the gang heads to Muir Woods for the shindig. It is a happy time and Toby is declared a ‘hero of the realm’. It is a title that is well deserved as the woman has been threw a lot in the past few years. Of course the moment someone calls you a hero you know something bad is going to knock on the door and say hi.

He does and his names is Simon Torquill. Yeah, that Simon. Her liege’s brother and the man who turned Toby into a fish for more than a decade. But instead of showing up on her doorstep to finish killing her as she thought he had meant to do so many years ago, he says that he did it to protect her. And he would like to continue to protect her by turning her into a tree for the next hundred years. Can she really trust this man? Can she really trust anything he is telling her? Sadly Simon is under a geas and unable to reveal all of the details that Toby wants. So, Toby heads to the one person who has given her answers in the past, The Luidaeg. Except that is when things really go to Hell.

Things I liked:
Eight books in and I am still not bored with Toby and crew. I mean when you see the back cover of a book and that is all the description that you get you know this is going to be a doozy. It lived up to my expectations. We had revelations, more questions, and plenty of intrigue. Relationships changed in many good ways, but also in some saddening ways. Alliances have vastly changed and things are far from over. I like that Seanan has been building to this moment, leading us there with every new Toby installment. I am sure the little trail of clues is there as well if I went back and read the series again one after another.

The pacing is fairly breakneck, but a reason for it. A girl only has so much time before the world she has built can kind of go to Hell because of one big revelation. And Toby really has built a life in these past years. She has her cats and Spike, her boys, her sister and Jazz…she has a family. A family she spends a lot of time protecting and building. She has worked hard to be where she is at. She has saved Faerie more than once and there are many who owe her whether they want to admit it or not. She is a much different knight than Sylvester probably ever imagined. She’s stronger. She asks for help when she needs it. Sure she still doesn’t eat enough, but she is a much more confident and strong woman than she was in the events from Rosemary and Rue. In a way I think Amy might even be proud of who her daughter has become and how much further she has yet to grow. I know the Luidaeg is. Other people not so much. She is no longer quite so easy to manipulate. And woe to the ones who have kept things from her.

Of course there is always Tybalt, the man that leather pants were made for. Tybalt lovers will be quite pleased as I was though I always am.

Things I didn’t like so much:
I am a little over elfshot. It always proves to be extremely convenient. It’s not really a dislike because I like seeing a character’s progression even if it is not in a way that I want it to go. There was a time that I really liked Luna and Sylvester. That time is over. After everything she has done, how many times Toby has risked her life for the sake of Sylvester and Luna and…sigh.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. This is far from the end, but a nice little storyarc. I am ready for the season now. Please. Hurry. I will send you chocolate Seanan.

Part of:Part of the October Daye series
Book One: Rosemary and Rue
Book Two: A Local Habitation
Book Three: An Artificial Night
Book Four: Late Eclipses
Book Five: One Salt Sea
Book Six: Ashes of Honor
Book Seven: Chimes at Midnight
Book Eight: The Winter Long
Book Nine: A Red Rose Chain (expected September 2015)
Book Ten: Once Broken Faith (expected September 2016)

Also Recommended: Try Seanan’s other series as Mira Grant such as Feed, The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, The Matthew Swift series by Kate Griffin, and for more fey loveliness Holly Black’s modern faerie tale series.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Friday, December 5, 2014

5 FANDOM FRIDAY: CHRISTMAS SONGS

5 Fandom Friday is a series hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week’s Fandom Friday is all about My Favorite Holiday Songs To Spread Cheer. I love Christmas music, so while we still don’t have a tree up (I am waiting for E to come back from his conference in Tokyo), I am totally digging the Christmas mixes on 8tracks. And of course we all know that the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear. How about you? What are your favorite Holiday songs?


“Baby Its Cold Outside”
There are a ton of versions of this song and I kind of love them all, but my favorite in recent years has to be Zooey and Leon Redbone. But I know others have posted that version so I am going to go with my second favorite version which is Nora Jones and Willie Nelson, though the Buble and Idina version is pretty adorable.


“Christmas Wrapping” // The Waitresses
I am not sure why I love this song, but I look forward to it every year. Maybe it is the mention of A&P grocery stores which reminds me of New Jersey. But probably because I have felt like this during the holidays and I love that she makes a love connection at the end of the song.


“Father Christmas” // The Kinks
The Kinks are awesome already and this holiday song proves it. My favorite lines, “But give my daddy a job 'cause he needs one, He's got lots of mouths to feed. But if you've got one I'll have a machine gun, So I can scare all the kids on the street”. It’s a great nontraditional song.


“Winter Song” // Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson
Sara and Ingrid are two of my favorite artists and I absolutely love the album that this song comes from as one of my go to Christmas albums. The video is cute for it and I completely dig the way their voices sound, the lyrics, and the general peacefulness of it.


“Don’t Shoot me Santa” // The Killers
Another nontraditional favorite, The Killers give me such a unique song and video to match. Sing with me now. “Oh Santa, it’s been a real hard year…”

Sunday, November 30, 2014

SUNDAY SEVEN: BEST FOOTBALL FILMS

Yes it is football season. I have been to my last home game for my Bobcats and on occasion I watch some pro football, but I am not a hard core fanatic about any one particular team. I do like football movies though. Here are my Top Seven.


“Quarterback Princess” (1983)
Helen Hunt plays Tami Maida who wants to be the quarterback of the high school football team. Of course because she is a lady everyone is against her. Of course Tami goes out to prove that not only can she play football but she can win the state championship. Oh and be the Homecoming Queen. Based on a true story I loved this film as a kid and wanted to play football for a bit…possibly while wearing the pretty homecoming dress.


"The Last Boy Scout" (1991)
The movie starts off with the star player taking PCP, taking a gun out and shooting the opposing players as he makes his way for a touchdown before killing himself. Done deal right? Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) penned this one that Tony Scott directed. It is part action, part mystery and definitely all about the black comedy aspects brought to you famously by Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans. Oh and it has Halle Berry in it.

"Heaven Can Wait" (1978)
Warren Beatty plays Joe Pendleton, a quarterback who loses his life in a car accident. He is returned to Earth and into the body of an aging millionaire who has just been drowned by his wife and her new lover (Charles Grodin). Leo buys the Los Angeles Rams to lead them to the Super Bowl as their quarterback. So he finds his old trainer and get into shape, falls in love, and tries to make it to the Super Bowl. It’s a cute film and also stars Julie Christie.

"Rudy" (1993)
I like feel good sports movies. They make me happy and Rudy is definitely one of those movies. Starring Sean Astin as Rudy the film has that feel good, absolute determination, awesomeness to it. You root for Rudy, who no one can believe would ever be a collegiate athlete, to finally become part of the Fightin’ Irish. He never gives up and plus Sean Astin is just plain cool (Goonies and Lord of the Rings)

"The Replacements” (2000)
Keanu Reeves (Shane Falco) never made it as the star quarterback, but he gets a second chance when salary disputes create a player strike. Jimmy (Gene Hackman) gets hired to coach and decides to replace the players who have walked out with Falco and a rag tag ensemble to finish out the rest of the season. It’s a great quirky, sweet movie about second chances. Totally dig it.

"Any Given Sunday" (1999)
Oliver Stone likes to do gritty and this is his take on the football industry. Starring Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz and Jaime Foxx it is a film of excess. Full of plots, subplots, eyeballs on the turf, and plenty of hard hitting drama, you cannot help but watch it.

"Lucas" (1986)
Corey Haim plays Lucas, a nerdy 14 year old high school student. He falls for the new girl in town, Maggie, whom he meets on one of his insect adventures and the two hang out during the rest of the summer. When school begins Lucas finds himself, once again, bullied by the jocks of the school. He does have one friend though Cappie (Charlie Sheen), who used to be a bully as well before he became his friend and protector. Things get messy when Maggie falls for Cappie instead of Lucas. In a last ditch effort to make Maggie fall for him instead of Cappie, Lucas joins the football team. It doesn’t go as planned. And yet slow clap.

Honorable Mentions:
Brian’s Song, Friday Night Lights, and We Are Marshall

Friday, November 28, 2014

5 FANDOM FRIDAY: BLACK FRIDAY

This week’s Fandom Friday is all about Black Friday. To be more specific: Black Friday Purchases I Would Sacrifice A Night Of Sleep For. As a former retail manager it is a day I loathe and it gets worse every year (open on Thanksgiving when people should be with their families…meh). Maybe it is because I would rather sleep in on a blessed day off and then spend the day reading, catching up on tv, playing DA: Inquisition, or even board games like we are going to do with A &T rather deal with people who treat retail employees like crap. And yet I love my Fandom Friday. Like a good little Smirking there is a twist for my top five. We’re going to discuss fictional presents I might be willing to wake up and venture outside in this winter wonderland we are having (almost 8 inches) to buy. Note: We are just going to assume that the TARDIS, A Lightsaber, Point of View Gun from Hitchhiker’s, and Baby Groot are just automatic gimmies. How about you? Did I miss something important?


The Holodeck // Star Trek
This is virtual reality at its best. It can be my own personal gym where I want to run from virtual zombies to reenacting my own version of American Gladiators or Double Dare (you know I would). Or you know have the Green Arrow be my personal trainer. But the Holodeck can also be my own vacation home. Feel like spending the evening at a café in Paris. Done. Maybe some hiking in Rivendell for the weekend. Done. How about act like a kid and ride every ride at a Six Flags Amusement park without waiting in line? Or what about lunch at Hogsmeade? Hell I would be content with hiking in Oregon without anyone else around. Seriously, the possibilities are endless. I could spend my free time inserting myself into a Jane Austen novel where I can picnic with the D’Arcys, where Katniss, Kate Bishop and I work on our bow skills, and I solve crimes with John and Sherlock. I could go on adventures with Mal and company, attend Jurassic Park without being eaten, and have a dance off with Starlord. Seriously, why is this not real yet? Things I would do immediately once I was done with work: Eat dinner at Milliways (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), Go blow off some steam with E and Garrus on the Citadel at the Armax Combat Arena, and maybe finish the evening off with some R&R lounging in a hammock with E on some secluded and warm island getaway. Sigh. I would soooo bundle up and wait in line to grab this one. For days people. Days.


The Replicator // Star Trek
Yep Star Trek has all of the awesome gadgets including a transporter, tricorders, and a space elevator. Of course for those of you who know and love Star Trek it was primarily shown used as a way to provide food and drink. Jean Luc wants his tea…voila. I want a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster…there you go. Or maybe I have a huge hankering for sirloin…it made it so. It means when I get home from work and have no real desire to cook a meal, the replicator does it for me. And the great thing is when E and I are done eating we put our dirty dishes back in the replicator and it recycles everything. Whoo hoo. A Replicator is also great for shopping. Want that dress in your size? Maybe need to buy a gift for your special someone? Or get a new piece of art for the home? All this can be done. And then when you outgrow those things, back in for recycling. I don’t think I can wait for the technology to show up in my lifetime. Get on this people.


Babelfish // Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This small yellow fish that lives in your ear translates any language you hear into something that you understand. This would be a lovely device to have when traveling overseas. I only wish that it would also translate my own speech into another language. I suppose everyone will have to have one. Also, would it allow me to finally understand the family cat and dog? If so, count me in for the non-sleepy times on Black Friday.


Med Bay // Elysium
In Elysium if you are wealthy enough you get to have a Med Bay which essentially looks like half MRI, half tanning bed. It kind of makes you immortal as whatever ails you, it can fix. Sunburn? Fixed. Faulty knees? Cartilage fixed. I wouldn’t have to worry about the flu or cancer. And I get to lay down for a bit while I get all fixed up. Yes, please.

Dire Wolf Puppy (Game of Thrones)
I admit I would rather find this little pup underneath my tree with a red bow rather than spend hours in line waiting for her. Direwolves are highly intelligent, are extremely loyal to their masters and oh so cuddly. Plus it’s like having a furry pony and a canine companion at the same time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WEDNESDAY WHAT IF: FICTIONAL HOLIDAY FAMILY

Inspired by last week’s Fandom Friday post I present this week’s Wednesday What If. Tis the season for turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pecan pie and of course spending time with your family. It’s a day of gorging yourself with delicious food, watching the game, falling into a food coma and then stupidly getting up 5 hours later in pitch black to go wait in line for 4 hours to get a cheap deal on electronics. Or in my case having dinner with good friends, falling into a food coma, playing some video games and then waking up when I feel like it on Friday because I am more happy to have the extra day off then to go deal with traffic…and people. Now if your family is anything like mine Thanksgiving can sometimes be mundane and then other times a bit crazy. Now I am lucky I have both my blood family and the family I wasn’t born with (also known as the one you make which is just as important, sometimes more so). But what if we could choose our family from our little geeky imaginations? But who is this fabulous fictional family? Have fun. Please share and I will post your link to your answer.

Grandmother: Granny Weatherwax (Discworld Novels)
She’s a witch, is prone to occasionally put up signs that read ‘not dead, just resting’. On top of that she reminds me of my Granny June (Miss you Granny). She takes no prisoners, would tell me bad and dirty jokes, would let me just be me no matter what and tell some of the best stories ever.

Grandfather: Gandalf the Grey (Lord the Rings)
I shouldn’t have to explain this too much. He’s Gandalf. He smokes, drinks, tells jokes and has the best fireworks ever. And oh yeah one of the coolest wizards ever. Plus summers with Grandpa would be amazing in Middle Earth.

Father: Mr. Pendergrass (Easy A)
If you have seen this movie (which you should) you can understand why Stanley Tucci’s father figure would be awesome except for the part where we would have to watch the Bucket List. He would embrace if not encourage my quirkiness and is just cool. Plus he loves my fictional mother a great deal. This is important.

Mother: Mrs. Pendergrass (Easy A)
Also kind of a logical choice if you’ve seen the movie. You can’t have Stanley Tucci without Patricia Clarkson. Awesome parents. I imagine that I would also be as adorable as Olive is. And yet geekier. Plus she would share with you, possibly things about her misspent youth, but hey we’d have mother/daughter share time.

Big Brother: Macgyver
Cause after we cut his mullet off because it was not an awesome hair choice, Mac would be great. If the oven broke down before the turkey was done, all we would need is a paperclip, some shampoo, a match and some dryer flint and voila. Turkey dinner.

Big Sister: Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)
I wasn’t a hard core Gilmore Girls fan, but I watched enough that she would make an awesome big sister. A bit crazy, but balanced because of her cool factor. Slumber parties, spa days, gossip sessions and anything involving boys would be awesome. Plus amazing dialogue because yes I am thinking of this Turkey Extravaganza as a film.

Little Brother: Tom Imura (Rot N Ruin)
Because when the zombie apocalypse happens, it will be nice to have him as a little brother and who will ultimately save me or cut off my head really quickly if things go bad. Not sure why zombies might show up at Thanksgiving dinner, but you never know. It’s always important to be prepared.

Little Sister: Tali'Zorah nar Rayya (Mass Effect series)
Different species, sure we are. She’s adopted and still family. I would spend my time getting her drunk on Holiday sangria, reminiscing about Garrus, and teaching her all of my nerdy ways. Such fun.

Uncle: Starlord (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Uncle Peter would be awesome. Cause he would take me on adventures. And also possibly get me killed while on said adventures. Fun times. Plus on occasion he would send me baby Groot to take care of him. We would then have dance parties because of all of the awesome mixes we would be listening to.

Aunt: Inara Sera (Firefly)
Not only would having the birds and bees conversation go over so much better, but Inara would have the best stories. Plus she’d make me feel all girly girl. Awesome Aunt. Also does this mean Mal and the rest of the crew would visit too because, you know, extended family. Sweet.

The Uncle who isn’t Really An Uncle: Hardison (Leverage)
One: Cause then I would inadvertently meet the rest of the crew. Two: Which means I get to hang with Parker. Yeah. Three: Having the coolest geeky hacker ever would mean great things. Admit it. I would love ‘Uncle’ Hardison to pieces.

The Friend Who Would Rather Spend Time with Your Family Rather than Their Family: Claudia (Warehouse 13)
Somehow I think Claudia would get along with the rest of my family. We would be lifelong geekmates. I just see her coming after saying Hey Mr and Mrs M and then sitting down to play Dragon Age multiplayer with Uncle Peter and Uncle Hardison and I.


Date: The 10th Doctor (Doctor Who)
Allons-y. We would saunter in after a delightful trip from whenever and wherever. I would be an awesome companion by the way. Plus he would be all David Tennant shaped and that doesn’t suck. Another plus: there is always the snogging under the mistletoe later. Also, reasons.

Family Pet: Lucky aka Pizza Dog (Hawkeye)
We all know that on occasion you have to feed the family pet with the real bad stuffing that Uncle Peter brought because let’s face it he’s not really that great of a cook. However the family pet is happy to be fed with the People Food he isn’t supposed to eat. Not only is Lucky the canine companion to both Hawkeyes and currently living with Kate, but he totally saved Clint’s life. I think he deserves some turkey bits. Plus look at that face.

What consists of your fictional Holiday family? Let me know and I will post your link.