Saturday, July 27, 2013

Writing Drought and Book Review of The Cuckoo's Calling

It has been a long time, almost 3 months, since either one of us posted on here.  We both needed some time off.  J was finishing school and I was planning my wedding!  Kyle and I got married a month ago and there was just too much going on to even consider keeping up on the blog.

Never fear faithful readers, we are back!

It was announced several weeks ago that J.K. Rowling had written a new book that was published back in April of this year.  She published the book under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith.  I saw this come up in my news feed on Facebook through Mugglenet and Hypable.  As soon as I saw this I, of course, looked it up on my local library's catalog.  There was one copy that they owned and it was checked out.  I put myself on the hold list and then looked at my account to see how long I would have to wait.

I was next in line.  SCORE!
I didn't read her other book that was written for adults: The Casual Vacancy.  I don't swear often and I don't like to read many swear words in the books I choose.  I also don't like to read about sex. I heard The Casual Vacancy had some of this, so I avoided it. 

This past week, The Cuckoo's Calling, her book as Robert Galbraith, came in for me.  I had to read it within a week because there were now more than 50 people on hold and only one title.  I managed to do just that.

The Cuckoo's Calling's main character is Cormoran Strike, a private detective in London who is sought out by the brother of supermodel Lula Landry after she is discovered dead outside her residence.  It was determined by the police and investigators that she jumped, but her brother doesn't believe that happened.

Cormoran is a character who is just so.......likeable.  He was in the Army in Afghanistan but was forced to leave after an injury took part of his leg.  The book describes him several times at the end of the day with pain at his knee and his removal of the prosthesis before bed. I found myself often sympathizing with his pain or discomfort. He's a large man and can be gruff, short and to the point, but he is also sensitive and comes across as real.

His secretary, Robin Ellacott, is someone I wish we'd had some more time with.  She just got engaged and is working at a temp agency until she finds the perfect job.  She enjoys her work with Strike and helps him out during the investigation in a few ways only a woman could.  The reader hears about the fiance but never actually meets him.  She has some great scenes and I hope she is shown more in the future books. 

Yes, J.K. Rowling has said that the next book is already written and will be released in 2014.

The book was good, but it didn't engage me the way I was hoping it would.  There were several points where Cormoran says something along the lines of " 'Blank' said she told him what she knew, but she gave more information than she thought she did." At any rate, Cormoran was catching things in the interviews that I didn't.  This bothers me more than it probably should. If I had the time to reread the book, now that I know the ending, I'd probably catch more in the interviews.  I just don't like being out of the loop. 

There was more swearing than I prefer, but I was able to overlook that for the most part.  There was also reference to sex, but it wasn't as though you followed the character through those actions. 

What I liked most was how real the book seemed.  I felt like this could have happened in real life.  I'll read the next book, but I'll want to have read The Cuckoo's Calling at least one more time before then.

I give this 3.5 out of 5 stars..........for now.  :)


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One Crazy Week

The last week has been a roller coaster of emotions for me.

I've had a job for the past three years that I have loved.  I worked for a technical college in the area.  There are several campuses and I worked at one of the campuses that was an hour away from my home.  This campus is in a small town and so I was the only librarian on that campus.  I worked collaboratively with the librarians on the other campuses in the area, but I was able to order the books and movies I wanted for the collection, buy new computer workstations, answer reference questions, help administer tests, and do a variety of other tasks.  I enjoyed making the library how I wanted it.  I got along with all my co-workers- everyone was so friendly and willing to answer questions when I had them.  I also enjoyed the variety that came with the position.

I had my last day at this job last Thursday.  I didn't realize how much I would miss this job until Thursday night when I was sending my farewell email to everyone.  I started crying.  I enjoy driving and this was an hour away from home, but my car has over 250,000 miles on it.  This was becoming a concern for me.  But I enjoyed my work.  I had several patrons I always looked forward to seeing.  I was happy.  All this hit me while I was writing this goodbye email.  And it was my late night so no one was on campus anymore.  I had no one to go up to and say "I'll miss you."  I had said it several times throughout the week to a variety of people, but it just wouldn't have had the same feeling to it as it would have that evening.

The next day I was with Kyle at school and got some really bad news.  I don't want to get into what it was, but it entirely derailed my day.  As soon as he was done at school I dropped him off at his apartment and burrowed into my apartment with a pizza and watched some movies and got some things done I'd been putting off.

Saturday was my last day at my second job.  I've been a clerk at my local public library for almost 4 years.  I've been at the same branch, with mostly the same staff, during that time.  I enjoyed this work but I recently got my Master's degree in Library Science.  Putting books back on the shelves and checking people and items in and out without being in a manager's position or working in a small library was not something I wanted to be doing anymore.  I knew I needed to start moving up.  So this was my last day in this position.  My co-workers at this job are wonderful.  Fortunately, I don't have to miss them because I'll still see them when I go into work!

My new job started on Monday this week.  I'll be working at the same library where I was a clerk, so I know everyone already.  This has made the transition easy.  I'm now a 32 hour Children's Librarian.  The amount of information that has been given to me so far is a bit overwhelming, but it would be so much worse if I didn't know the catalog already.  The summer reading program is a month away and I help coordinate the volunteers so I was thrown into that right away already.  Everyone in the department is wonderful and will be great to work with.  It's just a lot of information all at once.

I'm looking for a second job to add some hours (and some extra money) but finding one that's ok with me being off every other weekend or so to visit Kyle will be tough.  Kyle will be moving 3 1/2 hours away to finish his Engineering degree and that'll take two years.  He's the one in school so I'll be visiting him more often than he'll visit me.  I start paying student loans off the week before the wedding.  I need to upgrade my car at some point, but it's been running wonderfully so far, thank you God.

All this, in one week.  Call me Super-Woman because I have been at highs and lows this week, up and down so often, that I'm just wiped.

This is me on my first day at my new professional job:


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Iron Man 3

Oh Tony.  You are such a good-looking specimen of a man.  Even if I didn't enjoy the Iron Man movies, I'd watch them just to see you.

I have seen Iron Man a couple times with Kyle and have attempted to see Iron Man 2 a couple times.  However, for Iron Man 2, I fell asleep during every time I tried to watch it.  That is not to reflect on the movie itself, I'm sure it was wonderful, I was just unable to stay awake.  I was tired at night or in the afternoon and was just so comfy on the couch curled up next to Kyle that I promply fell asleep.  This is, unfortunately, a common occurence with me. 

I found Iron Man 3 to have much more humor in it than the previous ones.  This was refreshing and helped me stay awake since Kyle and I saw it at the 10:00 showing the night it came out.  It also helped it be more of a light-hearted movie, despite the other themes in the movie.

Premise from IMDB

"When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution."

There were a few things in the movie that made me suspend my belief that this was something that could really, truly, happen.  I won't specify anything because it could spoil a few scenes for you if you knew about it in advance.

Gwyneth Paltrow played Pepper Potts as wonderfully as ever.  She has some dynamic moments in this movie and keeps it realistic, unlike Natalie Portman in Thor. 

Some of the minor characters had great moments also.  Jon Favreau and Don Cheadle specifically.

We saw it in 2D fortunately.  I'm not fond of 3D myself, so I'm glad there was an option for 2D. 

Great movie.  I was impressed.  It's not often that you get several movies in a series and they continue to be good.

Consensus:  4 out of 5 stars.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

This Is What I Get For Watching The Movie Before Reading The Book

This movie is wonderful.  Yes, it's a bit silly.  Campy.  It doesn't take itself too seriously.  But it's fun.  Enjoyable.  And it has Chris O'Donnell.  He's a beautiful man.

I just finished reading the book this morning.

I'm sad.  I'm mad.  Frustrated. Irritated. 


And what makes it even more frustrating, is that I'm not in love with the book!

Also, the movie was made in 1993.  It's 20 years old.  This ages me greatly.

Premise of the book:  D'Artagnan has come to Paris to join the Musketeers.  He meets three best friends, Porthos, Aramis, and Athos,  and these men form a bond with this young hooligan.  They are devoted to the King (Royalists) and are against the Cardinal and his servant Milady.  D'Artagnan falls in love, unexpectedly learns of a dark secret of one of his new friends, and needs to save Lord Buckingham in England.

This movie has kept the same characters, some of their life stories, and the remotest plot-line the same.

That. Is. All.

Excluding the movie, the book was ok on its own.  Alexandre Dumas, the author of the book, had an intricate plot.  Something I enjoy on occasion.  His dialogue was a little too involved at times.  I don't need to hear every little thing these characters could possibly say.  He did have good turns of phrase several times though.  And the way he wove the story made up for some of the dialogue.

I am just unable to get past this movie I so enjoy being based on this book.  It's an injustice to the book.

And so I will heed my cousin Sam's advice.  She loves this movie also and when I texted her about how upset I was she said, "Oh no!  Ok I won't read it!  But don't worry.  The movie is always what really happened.  Movies don't lie!"

Consensus: 2 out of 5 stars


Monday, April 29, 2013

42- The Movie Review

I saw an amazing movie this past weekend.  Why was it amazing, you ask?  Well, it was based on a true story.  The acting was superb.  The context of the movie pulled at my heart strings.  It made me cry- although I'll admit that's not difficult to do. 

42 is based on two years of Jackie Robinson's life: from the time he signed on with the Montreal Royals through his first year on the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The movie effectively covers the life he had at home and the love he had for his wife and son, but focused on his trials, disappointments, and encounters both on and off the field.

Jackie Robinson was brilliantly played by Chadwick Boseman who has had minor roles on TV shows, according to IMDB, but hasn't had a lead break-out role until now.  He played Jackie wonderfully.  Showcasing the restraint of emotion that was needed in difficult scenes, to displaying the anger and hurt when necessary as well.

Branch Rickey, the team executive of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was played remarkably well by Harrison Ford.  Oh my dear Harrison.  You may be 70 years old, but you are still a stud.  Branch was more often than not seen smoking a cigar and growling to others what he required of them.  There were a few times when more depth with emotion was needed and he delivered. 

For those of you who like to be surprised by minor roled characters, I won't list anymore who is in the movie.  I enjoy watching a movie, seeing a face I recognize, and then attempting to try to place as to how I know them.  If you really want to know who else is in it, go look it up

I cannot recommend this movie enough.  It is rated PG-13, just for language, unless I'm mistaken.  But the language they used was necessary based on the tone of the movie and the setting.  I'm not opposed to sex in movies, but those scenes are unnecessary to the story more often than not. 

The acting was excellent.  The story was wonderful.  The characters are true and memorable.

There's nothing in this movie that makes it something that needs to be seen in theatres.  There aren't great special effects or action scenes.  You won't miss much if you wait until it's on DVD to watch it.

Consensus:  5 out of 5 stars. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

Finally!  I have found a new series to follow.  And best of all, the first book only came out this past November!  It's been a VERY long time since I read a series and it was almost finished or completed already.

The audiobook was well-done, so if you like that format or are looking for something in that format, I highly suggest this title.  The actor did a particularly great job with the voices of Blue's aunts and the boys she meets.

Premise from the official website
"Blue Sargent, the daughter of the town psychic in Henrietta, Virginia, has been told for as long as she can remember that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. But she is too practical to believe in things like true love. Her policy is to stay away from the rich boys at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. The boys there — known as Raven Boys — can only mean trouble."
That description doesn't do the book justice, though.  There's so much more to it than that.  There's an ancient quest to find the burial place of Owain Glendower, a medieval Welch noble, who, legend has it, is not dead and has been sleeping for centuries.  He's been put to sleep and whoever wakes him up will be granted a wish.  There's a murder to be solved. 

There are many reasons why I enjoyed this book.  First, and foremost, it doesn't involve vampires!  I enjoyed the Twilight series before they were made into movies.  But vampire books aren't usually what I enjoy.  The two fantasy books I read recently that involved a lot of supernatural were not enjoyable for me.  For those reviews, see here and here.  The supernatural is very popular in young adult literature these days so I'm being particularly picky about what I read from there lately.  However, the amazing teen librarian, Gillian, at my library suggested I read this one.

Yes, I don't like the supernatural too much, but I have always enjoyed books that have ghosts or ghostly elements in them, whether it be true life or fiction.  I've also always been intrigued by psychics and this book has both of those elements. 

I love Blue.  She's a down to earth and real.  She calls it like she sees it- which is something I should really do more often.  She's a bit of a loner and doesn't have a lot of friends- something I can identify with.  Her family is a bit...special.  Mine is too, but not nearly in the same way.

Sometimes when reading an audiobook, and even with a print book on occasion, I get the characters confused. Sometimes it's that they're all from the same part of the country so the actor has a more difficult time distinguishing them with his or her voice.  Sometimes it's that the character hasn't been developed enough for them to stand on their own.  This was not a problem with The Raven Boys.  The characters were all fully developed. Even the minor ones that don't have as much page time stand out on their own.

If you like young adult books, or are willing to give them a try, enjoy mystery and a bit of drama and suspense, give The Raven Boys a try. 

Consensus:  5 out of 5 stars


Monday, April 22, 2013

My New Favorite Thing.

I have never been someone who drinks coffee. The taste has always turned me off and I think everyone's addiction to it has made me turn up my nose as well. My passion has always been tea. With sugar or without, hot or cold, flavored or black, I find tea to be delicious. But I'll let you in on a secret, I'm starting to like coffee. Don't tell tea that I'm abandoning ship.

Granted, I still love tea. I think there is a great amount of comfort that can be derived from a cup of hot chai tea or a cup of peppermint tea. Tea is a comforting thing, and has brought me solace on many occasions.

Recently, I have been really busy, and coffee drinks have kept me going. My new coffee fascination could be the numerous Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Gloria Jean's, and other coffee places that are conveniently located on every corner. I mean I was going to have to like lattes cappuccinos, and frappuccinos eventually, right? I have not crossed completely to the dark side, however. I still need sugar or creamer (preferably a flavored creamer like Irish Creme or Mocha), but I will drink coffee and enjoy it whereas before that was unthinkable for me.

Confession, right now I am drinking this...and I had one last night. Shameful., but delicious)

These fancy little coffee drinks just have a perfect amount of staying up power and are yummy. A girl can't ask for too much in life, and I am pretty content with my chilled coffee drinks. Plus, I am using my Munch Money, (fake money we are given from the school to spend at the cafe), so it's not like I'm really buying them, right? My new guilty pleasure is fake? At least that is what I keep on telling myself. We shall see how long I can remain delusional.

Abraham Lincoln concisely explains my predicament: "If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."

I hope you all are having a lovely day and enjoying whatever your favorite beverage is, be that coffee or tea.