Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sunday Post #40/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This week has been spring break for us, and we didn't go anywhere- just stayed home and took day trips. That was nice though, we had a lot of fun and were home every night. Man, did the week go by fast! We went to the zoo one day, and took a trip to the lakeshore to see the ice on Lake Michigan. I hope to get some pictures of that up soon. There are a lot of beach towns on this side of the state and we went to Grand Haven to spend the day, got pizza at one of my fave restaurants over there and then found a great little coffee house- which we didn't really want to leave. All in all a pretty good week. 

In other news, I was nominated for the Liebster AND the Sunshine award last week- thanks to Jessica at Tales between the Pages and Ericka at Highway-Y.A. I appreciate that and nominated a few blogs of my own- please check out my post here. And please go visit Jessica and Ericka- both are great blogs and a lot of fun. 

In reading news, I totally went off plan and grabbed a new book to read. My current reads just were not grabbing me. So I picked up Panic by Lauren Oliver and liked it a lot. Review here. 

Coffee quote of the day: If the spoon doesn't dissolve, it ain't coffee. 


Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver 
Liebster/ Sunshine Award 
Movie review: Captain America The Winter Soldier
Sunday Post #39/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?  


Tuesday Tunes #9 
Review: Seven Wild Sisters (finally!) 
Review: Night Owls (hopefully)


Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale

Seven Wild Sisters by Charles DeLint and Charles Vess


Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order, #1) Emilie and the Sky World (Emilie, #2)  Wicked Autumn (A Max Tudor Mystery, #1)

 Night Owls (Night Owls, #1) Stardust

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey 
Emilie and the Sky World by Martha Wells 
Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliett
Night Owls by Lauren Roy 
Stardust by Neil Gaiman 


The Cocoa Conspiracy (A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery, #2) Runner

The Cocoa Conspiracy by Andrea Penrose
Runner by Patrick Lee 


Game of Thrones breaks HBO Go- the season premiere was a big deal last week and HBO Go apparently couldn't handle the traffic.  

The real star of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This is a terrific montage, I laughed out loud several times. I tweeted about this last week- if anyone had told me as a kid reading comics that Hail Hydra would be part of the culture someday I wouldn't have believed it. The geeks won apparently. :) 

You just can't get away from Game of Thrones- I mean really, dragon roasted chicken? Have a look. 


Like Scarlett Johansson in Captain America? She has a new movie coming out from French director Luc Besson. This looks interesting... 


Allegiant is being split into two movies. Really? That is so annoying. And such a trend now. Also Insurgent will have a different director. Not sure about that, I thought Divergent was well done, but maybe it will be OK. 

Some awesome cosplay at Trolldens this week. Super Girl, I'm not sure who this is supposed to be, and Mass Effect?

Some nice updates at Bree's blog this week. Snowy Mackinac Island, spring fever and azaleas in Georgia. 

So how was your week? 

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver


Panic is a game played by graduating seniors in the little town of Carp, New York. It takes place over the entire summer and consists of competition against other students as well as individual challenges. Everyone is sworn to secrecy about the game, and bad things happen to anyone who breaks the code. The winner takes home at least $50,000- although this time it's up to $67,000. Heather Nill grew up in a trailer park and doesn't have much going for her- when her boyfriend dumps her and takes up with another girl, Heather figures she has nothing to lose and impulsively jumps (literally) into the game. She is joined by her best friend Nat and Dodge, a loser who has his own reasons for playing- and playing hard.

The story is told from the viewpoint of both Heather and Dodge, and the story intersects between them and their friends as they navigate the minefield of Panic. I could relate to both Heather and Dodge, they have a hard life and not much to look forward to- so why not play? Of course the stakes get high and they will both have to make some tough calls that will affect them and everyone around them as well. Heather's friend Bishop at times reminded me of Levi from Fangirl for some reason- he's just one of those nice guys. Although in this book there are a lot of secrets and not everyone is as they appear.

Lauren Oliver touches on a lot of things in this story- the decaying small town feel of Carp, the hopelessness of those with few options, and the teens think like real teens- it's at times hilarious to hear their thoughts about their loser parents and the other dysfunctional people in this town. Nat has OCD issues and that was a nice touch, to show the challenges that can present to a young person.

Some people have thought this to be a Hunger Games knockoff, but I don't see that. For one thing, HG is a dystopian, whereas Panic is set in the here and now and is not a science fiction tale at all. It's just a story of some kids who are desperate and take some chances, for all kinds of reasons. This book grabbed me right from the get-go and kept me turning the pages- while I occasionally thought the character motivations to be a bit farfetched, it was mostly pretty plausible.  Although I do think in real life the cops would have shut this down way before it gets to the point it does.

I highly recommend Panic for anyone who wants a fast paced, thrilling and often sobering look at a game that gets way out of control. I blew through this and thought it was great, if a bit unrealistic at the end.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Liebster / Sunshine award

I was nominated for the Liebster award this week by Jessica at Tales Between The Pages, and also for the Sunshine award by Erica at Highway-Y.A. I was nominated for the Liebster once before but didn't really do anything with it- it seemed kinda chain letterish and I saw some bloggers doing awards and some not. So I just kinda let it go...It does seem like a way to recognize other bloggers and maybe help them get some traffic, so I'm going to pass the awards on this time. Near as I can tell, the rules are pretty much the same for both, so I nominated a few blogs for each.

Thank you Jessica and Ericka! It's always nice to make new blogger friends and to have this happen twice in one week is kinda cool. I appreciate your nominating me!

So here we go.

The rules are:

1. Link back to the person who nominated you
2. Answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you
3. List 11 facts about yourself
4. Pick 10 bloggers to nominate for the award with less than 200 followers
5. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

11 facts about me: 

1. I'm a fantasy fan but read surprisingly little fantasy these days. At least not high fantasy.
2. My favorite food is pizza.
3. I love conventions, and went to GenCon for about 12 years straight although I've missed the last few.
4. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of my favorite places.
5. My first job was working at a vette shop- started out washing cars then I got to drive Corvettes back from the auto auction. Imagine a 17 yr old kid driving Vettes on the highway. Best job ever?
6. I think Night Fever by The BeeGees is a jam.
7. If it's Billy Idol, I'm crankin it. Just sayin.
8. I love Knights of the Dinner Table. If you read it, you know why.
9. Panera Bread makes me happy.
10. I majored in psych and went to law school for a year, and my career has nothing to do with either of those.
11. I'm a big fan of Michael Whelan's artwork, and am lucky enough to own this piece.

My answers to Jessica's questions: 

1). What's one morning ritual you hate to give up? Coffee and toast

2) If you could go back in time, where/ when would you go? Why'd you choose that place/ time? The birth of Christ. I love Christmas, imagine being there for the real thing. If I could pick another, I'd want to see the age of dinosaurs. As long as I could get out quick!

3) Which book world would you most like to live in? Least like to live in? That's easy- Middle Earth all the way. To see The Tower Hills, the Blue Mountains, Rivendell... and grab a beer at the Green Dragon. Least like? Probably Westeros- way too dangerous! Although being a Tyrell of Highgarden might not be too bad...

4) What are the three best books you've read this year? Vitro by Jessica Khoury is probably my favorite so far this year. Dipping back into last year, I would say Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole and Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke have to be on that list.

5) Which writer inspires you most? Edgar Rice Burroughs was a big inspiration to me growing up- here's a guy who was well into life before he started writing, and his sheer imaginative output is amazing. The John Carter books had a big impact on me growing up. For a young reader there was just so much there...

6) What do you do for a living and would you give it all up to become a professional blogger? I'm a benefits administrator at a healthcare company, and love my job- but yeah if I could make a living blogging, you betcha!

7) What's one thing you wish bloggers would do more? Kill the CAPTCHA :)

8) What's your lifelong dream? To be a writer

9) If you could live as one main character from a book, who would it be and why? I'm not sure about this one, actually. Maybe Frodo- I wouldn't want the burden he had, but to sail across the sea with the elves to Valinor would be alright.

10) If you could learn how to do anything, what would it be? Better blog design! :)

My nominations:

1. Second Run Reviews
2. Finley Jayne's Going to the Library

1. Natalie Hearts Books
2. Raining Books and Words

If any of my nominees don't want to do this, I completely understand- I just think they're nice up and coming blogs and wanted to share the love.

Questions for nominees:

1. What is your favorite food?
2. Do you reread favorite books or are you a one and done reader?
3. Do you prefer real books or ebooks?
4. If you could vacation anywhere and $ was no object, where would you go?
5. What is your favorite type of music? Country, rock, jazz, whatever...
6. If you could pick a book or series to be made into a movie, what would it be?
7. What is your favorite movie?
8. Concert you would most like to see?
9. Do you have a favorite restaurant?
10. Share a moment in a book that shocked you- good or bad.

Happy reading!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Movie review: Captain America The Winter Soldier

I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other night in a crowded theater and the atmosphere was festive. There has been a lot of hype for this movie, and regular readers know I've been awaiting this one eagerly. There was a real sense of anticipation in the crowd as the lights went down and the show started. I liked the beginning as we meet Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon) as he is jogging- and getting passed periodically by Steve Rogers (Captain America). The two of them meet and strike up an immediate friendship. Sam gives Steve some pointers on music, since Steve has recently been revived from decades on ice and is adjusting to modern society. This established a little humor at the beginning and was a great way to start the movie. Natasha Romanoff (the Black Widow) then shows up to pick up Cap for a mission, and off we go.

We get a lot of action sequences after that, punctuated by quieter character moments as we get to know Steve and Natasha better. Their initial mission leads to some revelations about what SHIELD is doing, and this puts Cap at odds with SHIELD. After an attempt is made on SHIELD director Nick Fury's life, Cap finds himself in the crosshairs of some very powerful people- and to top it off, the Winter Soldier appears- an assassin with some very personal ties to Captain America.

The character beats were the best part of this film. The relationship between Cap and Black Widow is evolving as they understand each other better- their banter was a lot of fun. There was some tension in the beginning as they obviously have different mission priorities, and that was a nice touch. This had the feel of those old Marvel comics where superheroes would guest star in each others' books- this is very much a team up story with Cap and Widow. They're a great team and as always Scarlett Johansson is a great Widow. Now we just need a Black Widow movie!

Anthony Mackie as the Falcon was a nice addition as the Falcon has a long history in the comics. The casting of Emily VanCamp as Agent was nice, and I liked that she was assigned to protect Cap- she has a limited role but they're obviously setting her up for bigger things down the road. The return of Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill was appreciated, she brings a smoldering intensity to the role but is cool as ice too.  They should ditch Fury and put her in charge.

There were some nice Easter eggs, or nods to the fandom in the movie. Batroc as a minor villain brought a smile to my face as he's been a recurring (minor) villain in the comic for years. The presence of Jenny Agutter in the film was kinda cool (fans of Logan's Run will remember her as Jessica)- and when she cuts loose and goes all Bourne style in a crucial sequence at the end, I don't think anyone saw that coming. Of course there's more to that scene but I don't wan to spoil it.

The extended fight scene in the middle of the movie was great and the best action piece of the movie. I'm looking forward to watching that again. Widow hold her own against Winter Soldier, and then Cap and Winter Soldier face off in a very visceral street level way. There's a sense that Winter Soldier recognizes Cap from their shared history, and that was powerfully done.

The ending was a little frenetic- I would have liked t see a longer, uninterrupted fight scene between Cap and the Winter Soldier, but instead they rapidly switch between Cap, the Widow and the Falcon as they fight their respective enemies. I've seen some reviews note that the ending is a rather typical action set piece, and I agree. Lots of explosions and flying debris, but again an extended faceoff between the two principal players would have been a nice capstone to this movie.

There's been some talk that Sebastian Stan (the actor who plays Winter Soldier) will replace as Cap at some point down the road, and given his performance in this movie that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. I like Evans as Cap a lot, he brings a wholesome everyman feel to the character, but if they do switch it up down the road they could do worse than Stan. He was one of the highlights of the film as the Winter Soldier. He could bring a little rough around the edges vibe while still staying true to the essence of the character.

I liked this movie a lot, and while it didn't quite live up to my (perhaps too high) expectations, it was still a blast and probably my favorite superhero movie to date. This movie was surprisingly dark at times, and some of the scenes couple with the music are pretty intense- just a word of caution to anyone who might take small kids to see this.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sunday Post #39/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Spring break is here! A week off with the family and the weather is starting to get nice (well, kinda). We're not going anywhere special this year, just going to stay home and take some day trips and pretty much relax. Looking forward to it. And, oh yeah- read too. I did some reading this week but it was a little here and a little there, and not always stuff on my reading list- so no reviews this week. Movies though- I got that covered. 

I saw the Divergent movie this past week and really liked it. I have not read the books- I'm one of those people- but I thought it was very well done. You can see my thoughts on it here

I also saw the new Captain America movie opening night in a very crowded theater. It's quite the thrill ride, I'll say that. My review of that should be up in a day or so. 


Movie review: Divergent
Sunday Post #38/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading? 


Movie review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Review: Moth and Spark (maybe)
Review: Seven Wild Sisters  


  Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale


Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order, #1) Emilie and the Sky World (Emilie, #2)

 Night Owls (Night Owls, #1) So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel Stardust

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey
Emilie and the Sky World by Martha Wells
Night Owls by Lauren Roy
So You Created A Wormhole by Phil Hornshaw and Nick Hurwitch
Stardust by Neil Gaiman


Wicked Autumn (A Max Tudor Mystery, #1) Planet of Exile (Hainish Cycle #2)

Wicked Autumn by G. M. Malliet
Planet of Exile by Ursula K. LeGuinone of my favorite books, I was looking for an older version with the cover I remember. This is a very slim book about a distant planet and a stranded earth colony there- it actually reminds me of Game of Thrones. Seasons that last for years, a crippling winter, snowghouls that come down when winter falls- sound familiar? There are some interesting parallels...


George RR Martin released a new sample chapter from the Winds of Winter last week. It's an Arya chapter, and is apparently an old chapter, in the sense that he wrote it a long time ago. Here he explains its history, and the fact that it was held out of A Dance with Dragons.  

There is also a new Tyrion chapter available, but only as part of the Ice and Fire app. Links are here. I've read it and let's just say it's vintage Martin. We're already getting a little snapshot of the early going in Winds of Winter based on these samples. 

TV Guide has a piece on Game of Thrones season 4. The takeaway here is they are going to pull plot points from books 3-5- this is huge because it puts the pressure on Martin, and also because some people have not read that far. Also of note- the producers stress this is the halfway point of the show, and they are starting to lay groundwork for finishing- whether Martin finishes or not. 

Dreamworks picks up rights to Eleanor & Park, and Rainbow Rowel may write the screenplay. 

Get a peek at the new Godzilla movie


 A couple of nice reviews over at Popcorn Reads this week - Don't Even Think About it by Sarah Mlynowski and Emilie and the Sky World by Martha Wells. 

Bree has some fun updates this week, including pics of Mackinac Island still frozen and Lake Huron still largely covered in ice (love that pic). If you're not following her blog, you're missing some good stuff. Amazing pics as always. 

Read an interview with Betsy Cornwell, author of Tides, at Icey Books and enter the giveaway for a copy of Tides. This was a good book and a great interview. I read it last year and it's nice to see it get some more attention. My review is here. I thought this book had one of the best covers of last year too. 


So how was your week? 

Movie review: Divergent

I went and saw Divergent the other night and thought it was great. So often lately when I see movies I am disappointed- but not this time. I have not read the book so I went in knowing almost nothing about the series- I knew there were five factions and that's about it. The beginning was interesting, with the rusting ship sitting in what used to be Lake Michigan apparently, and the great fence surrounding Chicago. That was impressive.

I thought Shailene Woodley did a great job as Tris. She was vulnerable but tough. I really liked the choosing ceremony and Tris' introduction to Dauntless was cool. I thought she really conveyed a sense of freedom as she jumped on that train and took off for her new life. The fact that she didn't go from weak to badass overnight was nice too- she got her butt kicked a few times and almost got booted, but her determination and inner toughness won out. That seemed realistic to me. It was nice to see her slowly win Four over that way as well.

I thought Theo was good as Four, tough and no- nonsense but he had a vulnerable side too, as Tris soon discovered. There were times when I desperately wanted him to slap Eric down, there's obviously a history between those two. I assume this is covered more in the book. I liked that the romance between Tris and Four was a slow build- and when it did happen Tris put the brakes on a bit, and Four was fine with that. He was classy about it and respected her. No whiny emo kids here! I especially liked they way they handled that in case my kids see this (and apparently my daughter is hearing all about at school) - sends a good message.

The director did a great job pacing this movie. So many movies these days are over hyped and turn out lame. This one genuinely thrilled me at times. It's a longish movie but I was never bored. They spent a lot of time on the Dauntless training but it was interesting to see how tough it was, and frankly this was my favorite part of the story. Tris' struggles and the capture-the-flag sequence were very well done, I thought. There's no way I would ever do that zip line though!

The only thing I didn't really like was the whole mind control thing. That seemed over the top and silly, almost. I get the faction vs. faction idea but the fact that everyone in Dauntless got this serum and became drones just didn't work for me. The movie seemed to devolve at that point into a shoot em up, and I also thought they infiltrated Dauntless base way to easily. At that point Tris was like a seasoned commando- just seemed a bit sudden.  Still, it was nice to see her take charge. Of course Tris and Four had to fight- sigh. But he can't really hurt her because he loves her- check. Still, none of this was a deal breaker for me. It's just that a story  I was really liking became a little predictable. I did like how it ended though- where do they go from here? Since I haven't read the books, I have no idea.

I have to say Veronica Roth has created a compelling, and frankly disturbing, story. This is not a world I would want to live in, but I would happily revisit in a sequel. I don't know if I'll read the books, but I thought the movie version was very good.

What did you think of Divergent? Are you a series veteran or a newbie like me?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sunday Post #38/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This week was pretty quiet. I did something a little different and deviated from my reading plan, a book was calling to me and I answered. Glad I did too, it was a lot of fun. See my review of Ten by Gretchen McNeil here. So maybe I'm back on track or maybe I'll grab something else- who knows! Also I did a discussion post on  Game of Thrones- if you have read the books or watch the show, drop by and share your thoughts. My birthday is Monday and I got a Nook HD+- my first foray into the world of tablets. Actually I think the kids will probably glom it and use it more than I will. Although I will be trying Temple Run. 

Spring break is the week after next- we're trying to decide what to do, we're staying home but are going to take little day trips. Should be fun. Good chance too for me to get to know my little Nook friend. 


Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Discussion Post: A Game of Thrones
Sunday Post #37/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?  


Tuesday Tunes #9 
Review: Moth and Spark
Review: Seven Wild Sisters (maybe)
Movie Review: Divergent (maybe)


Moth and Spark Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale

Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard
Seven Wild Sisters by Charles DeLint and Charles Vess


Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order, #1) Emilie and the Sky World (Emilie, #2) Night Owls (Night Owls, #1)
So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel The Riddle-Master of Hed Heir of Sea and Fire (Riddle-Master, #2)

Harpist in the Wind (Riddle-Master, #3)

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey
Emilie and the Sky World by Martha Wells
Night Owls by Lauren Roy
So You Created A Wormhole by Phil Hornshaw and Nick Hurwitch
The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia McKillip
Heir of Sea and Fire by Patricia McKillip
Harpist in the Wind by Patricia McKillip



Stardust by Neil Gaiman


This week The Huffington Post celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Breakfast Club detention with a gif party. Enjoy!

George RR Martin put out a new sample chapter from The Winds of Winter this week, and the Internet broke. Apparently a server crashed due to demand and his website was unavailable for some time. The sample is here and is called "Mercy". It's an Arya chapter (yay!), and let's just say someone gets theirs.

Speaking of Game of Thrones, io9 is asking if Arya and the Hound will be the break out stars this season? Also the show will most likely run seven seasons so are we more or less at the halfway point, regardless of when Martin actually finishes the books?

Is Star Wars Episode VII going back to Hoth? 

More Captain America: Winter Soldier footage here.

Bree over at Connecting the Dots has a couple nice posts this week- here she asks her readers to share some info about themselves, you know favorite song, best vacation spot, etc. I always like those posts, you really get to know people better that way. Lots of fun answers. And here some pics and musings on spring, or lack thereof... always great pics on her blog.

tv show gifs

So how was your week?