Thursday, October 30, 2014

Saga


I started Saga awhile back but got distracted and moved on to other titles.  But now that all of my assigned reading is complete, I'm enjoying the swift pace and interesting artwork of the graphic novel.  I've also decided that I'm a huge fan of Brian K. Vaughn which led me back to the series (and on to Ex Machina which I'm exited to complete.)

Saga Volume 1: We meet Alana and Marko on are opposite sites of an ancient war, but somehow they found each other and fell in love.  This hasn't stopped the powers that be from getting really ticked off and demanding their heads.  Now they're on the run with their new baby in tow and two armies on their tail.

Saga Volume 2: Marko's ex is ticked that she got dumped for the enemy and is out for his head.  And things have just gotten worse.  The in-laws are visiting and their not the biggest fans of Alana.  Oh, there's also this royal prince guy with a TV for a head who is on the hunt.

Saga Volume 3: Backstory!  We get to find out how Marko and Alana met and what sparked their pacifist ways.

Vaughn's characters are flawed and quirky.  His dialogue is witty, the pacing is fantastic, and the worlds are creative and different.  He makes you want to keep reading, discover who these people are and where they're going.  He also does an excellent job of creating endearing underdogs.  While the picture painted of women in Y: The Last Man made me twitchy at times, I couldn't help root for Yorick Brown.  I feel the same way about Marko and Alana.  Another really nice element in Saga is the narrator.  Hazel, Marko and Alana's daughter, is looking back, telling the story.  She offers endearing insights that also foreshadow things to come, things I hope we get to see into fruition.  An all around great read.

**I feel I should warn you, it's a bit racy.  It definitely puts the "graphic" in graphic novel.  So  if you tend to shy a way from that type of artwork, maybe not the title for you.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Diving off the deep end


November is just around the corner, which means that National Novel Writing Month is about to begin.  If you're not familiar...it's the crazy attempt to write a 50,000 word "novel" in just thirty days.

Back in 2010, my library decided to host a series of events to encourage local writers to take on this great task with the hopes of identifying a community of like minded individuals to build additional services off of.  We hosted author panels and conversations to talk about the writing process and the woes of publishing.  We were cheerleaders, confidants, and brainstormers.  And it was fun!

Some of us also decided to dive off the deep end, get into the trenches with our patrons.  In 2010, I finished 50,000 words at 11:45pm on November 30th.  My novel was ridiculous and filled with personal anecdotes and inside jokes.  Despite how awful it was, I was proud of myself for sticking with it.

So when November 2011 rolled around I thought, what the heck...why not try it again.  By November 15th I'd hit my wall and had no idea where to take my characters.  So I killed them all off in an alien attack and kept the story going.  Sort of.  At 11:58pm on November 30th I submitted by 50,000 word novel into the NaNoWriMo website.  I couldn't have cut it any closer.

Life got in the way in 2012 and 2013, and I had to skip NaNo.  I thought I would miss it.  But I really didn't.  To finish your novel you have to write over 1,600 words a day which means that TV and reading time are non-existent.  I really enjoy my TV and reading time.  Which leaves me befuddled as to why I'm taking on this monumental task again.  On November 1st I'll be starting The Fairytale Princess Support Group, and hopefully by November 30th I will have written 50,000 slightly coherent words.

This means that I might be MIA for awhile.  Hopefully I'll be able to sneak in a book or two.  And I'll definitely be telling you all about my adventures at Yallfest, so I'll be around.

If you joining the legions attempting to write next month, come find me on the NaNo website.  I'm gnomegrlem59!

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top 10 Movies To Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Movies To Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Whenever I think of Halloween, I get this lovely picture of old historic homes, tree lined streets, and the sound of happy families and children laughing and enjoying the excitement of trick or treating. For some reason I always assume the picture in my head is a quaint, small town with well-groomed lawns and where people don't have to lock their doors.  Halloween is apparently utopia in my head :) While Halloween isn't my favorite holiday, I still like to get into the October mood and here are a few of my favorites for the fall season.

1) Monster Squad

2) Casper
Oh Devon Sawa, how ten year old Emily loved you.  Casper might be a friendly ghost, but his uncles certainly are not.  Can I keep you?

3) Hocus Pocus
A muck, a muck, a muck!

4) Ghostbusters
One of my all-time favorite movies.  Bill Murray is a bit of a genius don't you think?  While not all that creepy, every Halloween needs a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

5) Beetlejuice
You can never go wrong with Michael Keaton.

6) Coraline
The "other mother" totally freaks me out.  And I've developed a bit of an aversion to buttons.

7) The Witches
Kind of grody for a kids movie.

8) Young Frankenstein
One day I will write an Ode to Gene Wilder, but today I'll just profess my adoration for his wacky portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein.  The only Dr. Frankenstein worth mentioning.

9) Watcher in the Woods
This movie messed me up as a child.  Maybe it was Bette Davis.  Or the creepy voice of the alien being that inhabited the poor girl.  Whatever it was, it gave me the heebie geebies.

Quick break...I know the movies listed above don't really fit into the "scary" category.  The thing is, while I like to be scared, I'm horrible during scary movies.  I watch 90% of the movie through my fingers, scream and then start cackling loudly, and have, on occasion ended up on the lap of the person sitting next to me.  I don't do scary well.  With that being said...

10) The Shining, The Conjuring, Poltergeist, and  Paranormal Activity have all haunted me in the night.  I have a ritual of watching at least two hours of Friends after a scary movie.  For some reason it helps :)

What are you watching this Halloween?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Lowcountry Lowdown

I'm back from vacation and feeling a bit revived.  It was definitely nice to have a few days off from work, exploring the beauty of the east coast.  I got to take in a little history, a lot of tasty food (dear heavens the hush puppies at Hyman's Seafood are to die for :), and plenty of sunshine.

Here are some highlights:



First stop...The Cumberland Gap!  I can't imagine a better time to visit.  The fall brought out colors that leave you breathless.  And of course Mike had to get in on the fun.  We only got a few looks on our short hike and photo op.  How many gnomes can really boast about being in two places at once?



Truly a beautiful day in the historic city of Charleston.  We took a bus tour, taking in the Antebellum houses and cobbled streets.  We heard stories of civil war battles and the mysteries of the silver screen.  We even hopped on a boat and explored the harbor.  Okay, it's wasn't a boat really.  More a ferry.  And the tour guide was ridiculous, but the scenery was stunning.  And there were dolphins and war ships and forgotten forts.  Absolutely worth the ride.

 

Then there was the beach.  If you ever get the chance, and an Indian summer, spend some time in Isle of Palms, just outside of Charleston.  It's a laid back, lazy beach town that has amazing beaches, unreal tides, and some delicious food.  Let's talk about the food for a moment.  Who knew about cheesy grits?!  I didn't know about cheesy grits.  Or shrimp succotash.  I've decided to move to the Carolinas and gain 300 pounds.

On another note, I almost swam with a shark.  On a nice, leisurely morning stroll on the beach, I was walking just far enough into the water that the waves were crashing around my shins when I look to my left and see a very strange shadow.  And then I see fins.  And then I realize it's only about five feet away.  And then there was some screaming, and running, and pointing, and laughing...and I realized that I had my hand in a fist, prepared to punch the shark in the face like Louie Zamperini in Unbroken.  And can you guess who did not actually get in the water at the beach?  This girl!


 

Finally, we made our way to Middleton Plantation, a historic site filled with interesting relics, breathtaking river views, and a story that dates back to the earliest days of Charleston.  I got a glimpse into old money and stood dangerously close to an alligator, but I was also transported to another place and time, imagining rice fields and stately gentleman in carriages.  And to think, there are so many more to explore.  Oh darn!  I'll have to find my way back to Charleston again one day :)


Friday, October 17, 2014

Sweet, Sweet Vacation


Heading out on a family vacation!  I've got my bags packed, my tablet stocked full of shiny books I've been dying to read, and a garden gnome who just can't wait to have his picture taken at historical monuments.  The mountains are calling, and I can't wait to feel sand between my toes.

I'll be back in a week with (fingers crossed!) a ton of reviews and maybe a few adventures to share.  Mike and I always find some kind of mischief to get into.

See you in a week!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Red Necklace

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A city on fire, a damsel in distress, and a young boy with an ancient power.

Author: Sally Gardner, Narrator: Tom Hiddleston
Info: Orion, copyright 2007, 5 CDs

France 1789: a time of terror; a charismatic boy, Yann, who must find out who he is; the daring rescue of Sido, an aristocrat's daughter - these are the elements in this tremendous adventure by a consummate storyteller, a marvellous tale of the first days of the French Revolution.

~Goodreads Description



Did you notice that Tom Hiddleston narrates the audiobook?  That's why I picked up this particular title.  It's no secret that I adore a British accent for audiobook readers, and, well, Mr. Hiddleston is SUPER easy on the ears.  Sure, I got a little distracted at times imagining Loki reading me a book, but that aside, it was a very enjoyable audiobook experience.

I tend to shy away from audiobooks because I like to see how things are spelled, especially names, and there are some pretty interesting names in this particular tale.  Is that weird?  Anyway,  Sido is the Marquess's daughter.  The Marquess is this crazy selfish dude who wants nothing to do with his daughter, and chooses, instead, to rack up tons of debt.  In order to get out of his current financial predicament, he sells Sido to the Count Kalliovski, promising him her hand in marriage.

Then there's Yann, a gypsy orphan who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He's travelling with a small band of magicians when the group of is invited to the Marquess's house for a command performance.  Unfortunately the Count is a man of many secrets and the head magician knows all about his dark past.  Now Yann is on the run from the Count, the Count is aligning the stars to destroy the Marquess, and the city of Paris is on fire with a revolution.

There's a little bit magic and a little bit historical fiction in this fast paced tale.  Sido is a fighter.  She's loyal t a fault, but full of pep.  The Count is pretty creepy.  I envision him as Rasputin in the animated Anastasia...perhaps it's the accent that Hiddleston game him :)  And then there's Yann, the survivor.  He has a sad story, and after only a brief moment of angst and idiocy, he comes to his senses and takes advantage of a pretty sweet situation.

Gypsy magic is pretty cool, so if you like gypsies or magic, give this a try :)  Then there's the element of revolution.  Gardner paint a pretty terrible picture of a frivolous aristocratic class and an equally tense picture of the citizens. So if historical fiction is your thing this might also be the book for you. If want the thrill of a supervillain reading you a book, I suggest the audio, it's a good time.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Heir of Fire

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts):  Watch out, the queen returns. 

Author: Sarah J. Maas
Info:  Bloomsbury USA Childrens, copyright 2014, 565 pages

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

~Goodreads Description

To catch you up, here's my Thorne of Glass and Crown of Midnight reviews.

Celaena has been sent to Wendlyn to assassinate the royal family, but she's really there to find answers.  The King of Adarlan is wielding a terrible force that needs to be stopped before he destroys the world.  Dorian's pulsing with a forbidden magic and Chaol is torn between duty and responsibility.  Our characters are in flux.  There's also these iron-teethed witches that are preparing for an assault.  The world is falling apart.

Maas is building to something big.  I can feel it.  She's maneuvering the troops, preparing the soldiers, and readying all of the players for the ultimate battle.  The stakes are high.  And the book is LONG.  So long.  I'm not sure it needed to be quite so long.  I was hoping for a bit more action, especially coming off of the thrill fest that was Crown of Midnight, but instead we get a lot of posturing and waiting...and a quite of bit of angst.  It's all well-deserved and understandable, but there's just a lot. 

There are some pretty wicked elements though.  There's Celaena's kick butt power.  She's got a lot of baggage to sort through, but it makes for some pretty amazing magical moments.  Then there's Rowan, her drill sergeant of a trainer who is both dashing and mysterious.  The perfect combination. Chaol is getting in pretty deep in intrigue and conspiracy.  There's not quite as much Chaol as I would have liked in the books, but fingers crossed, we'll get a nice reunion in book four.  And the king is breading some very nasty, terrifying creatures that are going to really cause some havoc.

This felt like what most second books feel like, the bridge to the big show.  But I trust Maas, and I'm getting pretty excited for the final standoff.  Keep reading people!  It will be worth it!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top 10 Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit


Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I don't really need an excuse to travel, but alas, the lacking funds don't allow a lot of roadtrips and adventures.  Enter books.  I can explore the world from my own comfy chair, and I've created quite the list of distant locales to travel to one day.  There also might be a place or two that only my imagination can take me.

I'm packing my bags.  Let's go on an adventure!

The Real

1) Prague
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
The city is ancient and full of mystery.  I should note, however, that I do not want to be chased or have my life threatened in any way if I ever make it to Prague...seems to be a common theme :)

2) San Francisco
Lola and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
I'd love to roam the city and enjoy all of the quirky characters and architecture.

3) Pocono Mountains
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
One day, when I hit the lottery, I'm going to find myself a vacation home on a lake where I can ride my bike to a quaint, cute town and watch movies on a little beach.  This will happen.

4) U.S. Route 50 - The Loneliest Road in America
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
I have a dream of being out, away, just me and the road.  And can you imagine pulling over at night and seeing the stars in all their glory?  I'll just keep a couple extra gallons of gas in the trunk...it will be fine.

5) Amsterdam
Just One Year by Gayle Forman
I'm not the most confident bicycle rider, but I want to ride a bicycle through Amsterdam.  I'll just have to find myself a nice guide.

The Imaginary

5) Narnia
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by J.R.R. Tolkien
The lamp post, the interesting characters, the talking trees. tea with Tumnus.  If only my closet door opened up into an imaginary world.

6) Henrietta, VA
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
I'm sure there's a town very similar to Henrietta, but I also want Gansey and Blue, I want the hunt for an ancient king, and a quirky group of interesting characters.

7) Croak
Croak by Gina Damico
So the town might be inhabited by reapers, but it's punny and funny and cool.

8) Bascom, North Carolina
Garden Spells by Sarah Addision Allen
There's just something about cozy, laid back southern towns.  And it would be perfect to find a caterer with magical foodie abilities :)

9) Arilland
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
I want to live in a fairyboook land.  I actually want to live in Storybrook and pretend I'm a character on Once Upon a Time...but Kontis's magical world would work as well.

10) Colby, North Carolina
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Another lazy, cozy coastal town in North Carolina.  Boardwalks, cute shops, and surf. Sounds like heaven.

Where do you want to go?

Happy reading!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Library GrabBag: Teen Read Week, a celebration

Teen Read Week is just around the corner!  Every year Teen Librarians across the country celebrate the importance of recreational reading.  We kind of do that every day, but every once in awhile we like to throw a party :)  Teen Read Week always seems to coincide with fall break for our school district, so programming and party planning can be a bit difficult. We lose our after school crowd.  So instead of a week full of fun like some libraries introduce, we put all of the excitement in one day for a "Read In!"...10am-5pm.

This is what we have planned this year:

10-10:15pm (15 min)
  • Introduction
  • What is Teen Read Week?
  • Book related services in the library
  • Itinerary run-down for the day
10:15-11:45pm (45 min)
  • Book related scavenger sunt
11:45-12:15pm (30 min)
  •    Let's read! (Personal reading time)
12:15-2pm (1hr 45min)
  • Lunch [Little Caesers Pizza]
  • Movie (w/scavenger hunt & prize)
2-2:30pm (30 min)
  • Let's read! (Personal reading time)
2:30-3:00pm (30 min)
  • Craft
3:00-3:30pm (30 min)
  • Just Dance contest
  • Book spine poetry contest
3:30-4:15pm (45 min)
  • Let's read! (Personal reading time)
4:15-5pm (45 min)
  • Pop culture / Library trivia
Any teen librarians out there?  What fun do you have planned for Teen Read Week?

Just want more info?  Check this out!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days Vol. 1

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Iron Man meets the Rocketeer, meets Siri...masked vigilante turns New Nork Mayor.

Author: Brian K. Vaughn, Tony Harris (Illustrator), Tom Feister (Illustrator), J.D. Mettler (Illustrator)
Info: Wildstorm Signature, copyright 2005, 136 pages

Set in our modern-day real world, Ex Machina tells the story of civil engineer Mitchell Hundred, who becomes America's first living, breathing superhero after a strange accident gives him amazing powers. Eventually tiring of risking his life merely to help maintain the status quo, Mitchell retires from masked crime-fighting and runs for Mayor of New York City, winning by a landslide! But Mayor Hundred has to worry about more than just budget problems and an antagonistic governor, especially when a mysterious hooded figure begins assassinating plow drivers during the worst snowstorm in the city's history! 

~Goodreads Description

It has been so nice picking up a graphic novel again!  I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoy reading them.  Assigned reading had been sucking up all of my available time, and now that the mission is complete, I get to sit back, relax, and enjoy reading once again :)

But where to start?  I knew I wanted a graphic novel series, so I thought I'd check out the offerings from an author that I really enjoyed the first time around.  Brian K. Vaughn kept me very intrigued through Y: The Last Man, so I decided to give Ex Machina a whirl.

At first glance, by the cover, I got very excited by the Rocketeer-esqu gentleman with his arms folded stoically, gazing off into the distance.  I maybe kind of like the Rocketeer just a bit.  While it's not exactly similar, I was able to find some commonalities that I really enjoyed.

Some mysterious, glowing entity (which remains a mystery throughout volume 1) zaps our hero, Mitchell Hundred, leaving him with some pretty amazing powers.  He can control just about an mechanical device, and he dreams up cool devices to engineer.  This, of course, leads him into the vigilante business, which never quite seems to be the best of ideas.

[Let's talk about that for just a minute, shall we?  That seems to be a common thread in superhero legend.  The idea of the every man or reluctant hero stepping up to fight crime outside of the parameters of the law.  Is this a direct commentary on a distrust for our justice system, or simply the deeply rooted human drive to protect?  It's probably a bit of both, and while I see the pitfalls of allowing an individual the freedom to take the law into their own hands, it sure would be nice to have someone on your side that could skirt bureaucracy to keep people safe, especially if they're wearing a flashy outfit :)]

Anywho...Mitchel Hundred becomes The Great Machine, helping and serving, until the police Commissioner persuades him to leave his superhero days behind him (on pain of death).  To which his response is to go into politics...which seems more dangerous.

There are flashbacks to better understand who Hundred is and what he has given up, introducing allies and enemies that I'm sure will start to play a bigger role in the story.  The illustrations are top notch, carrying the story quickly.  The standing in a snowstorm panels are pretty impressive.  That couldn't have been easy to pull off.

All around, I'm excited to see where Ex Machina goes.  Hopefully back to the skies with his jet pack thingy because that would be kind of awesome.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Top 10 Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

Top Ten Books For Readers Who Like
Character Driven Novels
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Sometimes the setting sets the pace of the novel, determining mood and tone.  Sometimes a story is plot driven, often fast paced and in a hurry.  And sometimes an author focuses on the characters. There is still setting, and there is still plot, but they are secondary to developing well-rounded, "real" characters that you love or love to hate. 

Here are a few of my favorites :)

1) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

2) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

3) The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

4) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

5) If I Stay by Gayle Forman

6) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

7) Paper Towns by John Green


8) Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork


9) How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford


10) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Happy reading!


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