Friday, January 29, 2016

Ten Inspiring Book Quotes

We all need inspiration sometimes, and what better inspiration could you ask for than the kind that comes from a book? Here are ten inspiring quotes from books!

































Wednesday, January 27, 2016

TV Review: The X-Files!


In one of the longest-running science fiction series in network TV history, FBI special agents investigate unexplained, mind-bending cases known as "X-Files." Though the government is convinced that the outlandish reports are false, conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and realist Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), for most of the series, stop at nothing to prove that "the truth is out there." Series creator Chris Carter also serves as executive producer of the thrilling pop-culture phenomenon. (Summary from Google)

The X-Files is back!
You might not know this about me, but I can become slightly obsessed over tv shows...and books and movies. The X-Files was once the object of my obsession. FBI agents, conspiracies, supernatural goings-on - these are the things that get my adrenaline pumping.

The X-Files is back!
Guys, do you understand what this means? Mulder's crazy conspiracy theories, Scully's skepticism, Skinner always trying to be helpful (but usually delivering bad news), the fantastic creepiness that is the Cigarette Man. Even if it is only six episodes (I'm holding out hope that they'll be so exited by the ratings that they make more!), it's amazing.

So for my review, we're going to split things up into the good, the bad, and the beautiful...

The Good: The same dynamic, the same feel. New conspiracies. In a review by the Nerdist, I read that the first "episode entirely erase[d] the whole mythology of the original series," except that it didn't. The government has been at the heart of the conspiracy the entire time, hiding away the existence of extra-terrestrials and other paranormal happenings. The first episode not only confirms this but leads us to believe that the government is using extra-terrestrial technology to do so. And they're doing more than hiding things, they're abducting people and conducting their own experiments - experiments that may have lead to Scully's pregnancy, which leads me to...


Scully and Mulder's bouncing baby boy, William! After they made the unfortunate but selfless decision to give their (possible alien) baby up in a closed adoption, very little was said about him on the show. They didn't mention him in the last movie. It was like that happened. Let's put it behind us and forget it ever happened. But they had a child together! This was big! How can you put that behind you? So you better believe that when they went there, I was nearly jumping out of my seat. They talked about him. They even said he would be fifteen by now. These things make me happy.


I felt like David and Gillian fell right back into their roles. They're not quite their old selves, but they shouldn't be the same as they were. Time has passed. Things have happened. They're not quite the eager young workaholics they once were. They know things are out there, but they've been forced to put it behind them as much as possible. When the X-Files were closed, parts of them were closed off. You can see that in the actors as the show starts, and you can see them changing with new discoveries as possibilities begin to open up again. They're a little hesitant to believe, but with everything they've been through over the years they should be.


The Bad: Scully going off with Community actor Joel McHale's character to drink champagne in his limo. Would she really do that? I get that he's handsome, but he's a little sketchy. Also, Mulder being propositioned in a bathroom stall was awkward. The baby climbing out of the doctor's wife's stomach after she "let it out" was pretty disgusting, but it was still within the old feel of the show. It reminded me that there were times things got gross, and I needed to look away. Very little bad I have to say. Perhaps I'm a little biased.


The Beautiful: They're using the original introduction. The scruffiness of David Duchovny. Joel McHale as a political conspiracy theorist. Both fantasy scenes in the second episode where they each dream of William. They would have made wonderful parents, dropping him off at school, making sure he knows he can make his own choices on what to believe in. Then the end of it, where Mulder imagines him getting abducted just like his sister Samantha. Way to reminisce X-Files! You're taking me back. I might have to party like it's 1995...(and I'm 7 in my PJs eating cereal for dinner. Hmmm...I might have to do that tonight)








Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas


In the second book in the New York Times bestselling mystery series, Veronica Mars is back with a case that will expose the hidden workings of one of Neptune’s most murderous locations.

The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman's story.

The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why? (Summary from Goodreads) 


Oh Veronica Mars, how I love your snarky, witty intelligence. Plus there's Logan...little else is important.

You really do have to be a fan of Veronica Mars to like the books, but isn't everyone? If they aren't, they should be. I love the relationships between the characters. We got a little Leo. (Does anyone else have trouble taking him seriously after seeing him as Schmidt in New Girl?) We got more Weevil...though I was not happy with him, but I get it. We also got more fun backstory, bringing in characters like Charles Sinclair (Mac's real dad and annoying Madison Sinclair's fake dad) and Grace Manning (Meg's little sister...Meg being Duncan Kane's ex/dead girlfriend/mother of his child...Duncan being Veronica's ex-boyfriend and the late best friend of Veronica Lilly Kane's brother)...and if that was confusing, you get my point. There's a lot of backstory.

That being said, I did read a few reviews from people who knew nothing about the show who said they like it too! They compared it to Nancy Drew, which Veronica basically is a modern day Nancy, so that makes complete sense.

I was super excited to get more of Logan's story. You really get to see his character arc and how much he has changed since the first season of the show. Plus, they got a puppy together and that was all kinds of adorable.

So whether you're a fan of the series or not, you should read this book!


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Booklist: If you like Star Wars, you should read...

I have to admit to you now that I (sinfully) have not seen the new Star Wars movie yet. I'm planning on waiting until it hits the "dollar" theater asap. When that happens, you can bet that I will be posting a review. It will probably be full of spoilers, since everyone else in the world has (1) already seen it and (2) already spoiled it for me :( Part of me has been super excited to see it, and apparently a bigger part is very wary. Everyone that has seen it says that it's awesome, and that gives me very high expectations. 

Anyway, enough of my rantings. Here are ten books to fill the void until Star Wars Episode VIII. 

1. Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Seventeen-year-old Jeth Seagrave, the leader of a ragtag team of teenage mercenaries, skirts the line between honor and the law in an attempt to win freedom for his sister and himself in the form of their parents' old spaceship.

2. A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix
Battling aliens, space pirates, and competitors, Prince Khemri meets a young woman, named Raine, and learns more than he expected about the hidden workings of a vast, intergalactic Empire, and about himself.

3. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship's artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all.

4. Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
Thirteen-year-old Rigg has a secret ability to see the paths of others' pasts, but revelations after his father's death set him on a dangerous quest that brings new threats from those who would either control his destiny or kill him.

5. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
A tale set in a bleak future society torn by class divisions follows the experiences of secret revolutionary Darrow, who after witnessing his wife's execution by an oppressive government joins a revolutionary cell and attempts to infiltrate an elite military academy.

6. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spoones
Flynn, leader of the rebellion on Avon, captures Jubilee "Lee" Chase, captain of the forces sent to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but later saves her and the two, caught between sides in a senseless war, flee together.

7. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.

 8. Legend by Marie Lu
In a dark future, when North America has split into two warring nations, fifteen-year-olds Day, a famous criminal, and prodigy June, the brilliant soldier hired to capture him, discover that they have a common enemy.

9. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Teenaged Amy, a cryogenically frozen passenger on the spaceship Godspeed, wakes up to discover that someone may have tried to murder her.



10.  Darth Vader and Son & Vader's Little Princess
I couldn't leave these off the list. In this comic reimagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other-- except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith.

(All summaries from Novelist library database)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Book Review: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer


If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss. (Summary from Goodreads.com)


I was an English major. I love Sylvia Plath and her novel The Bell Jar.

This book is about a bunch of messed up kids in an English class who are reading The Bell Jar.

This was my kind of book.

At the beginning of the book, all you know is that Jam is starting at a new school, a school for people who need special attention because they've been through tough experiences. You learn that Jam had a boyfriend and that her boyfriend, Reeve, died. What you don't know though, is how Reeve died. Though Jam constantly thinks of Reeve and how much she misses him, she continues to keep the nature of his death a secret.

When she's put into a Special Topics in English class, the teacher tells her and the other students that they will be reading The Bell Jar and writing in a journal as they read...but when they go to write in the journal, something weird happens. Jam sees Reeve, and he's as alive as the day they met. When she talks to the other students, she discovers that they all experienced strange things as well.

For some weird reason, I like books with unreliable narrators. Maybe because it makes it more of a mystery. I like books that I have to figure out, and this was definitely one of those.

If you're a book nerd or you like books that focus on mental health issues, you should read this book!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Book Review: The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories

From acclaimed YA authors Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff comes The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories.

- A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.
- Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.
- A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream).

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website merryfates.com. Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author's comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors. (Summary from Goodreads.com) 


So I love Maggie Stiefvater. She is ridiculously talented at pretty much everything. Just check out her website: maggiestiefvater.com

After reading My True Love Gave to Me a book of short stories centered around the holidays, I decided that I'd try another book of short stories - and since this one was partly by the amazing Maggie, I decided to read this one! And I'm glad that I did.

As the Goodreads summary says, the book includes comments from all of the authors about their writing styles and processes, which are particularly useful to writers.

I'll admit that some of the stories were a little boring. But most of them were awesome. Some of them were goosebumps and cold chills awesome.

Here were my top ten favorites (in order of appearance):
1. The Vampire Box - Tessa
2. A Murder of Gods - Maggie
3. A History of Love - Maggie
4. Date with a Dragon Slayer - Tessa
5. Scheherazade - Brenna
6. The Deadlier of the Species - Maggie
7. Puddles - Tessa
8. The Last Day of Spring - Maggie
9. Neighbors - Brenna
10. Lazarus Girl - Brenna




Saturday, January 16, 2016

Booklist: If you like Big Bang Theory, you should read...

Are you a fan of The Big Bang Theory? It's only a half hour show, but it's so fun. I have the DVDs of the first five seasons, and anytime I'm feeling blue, I'll just put that in and cheer myself up. The geeky characters are lovable, though some are at times annoying. But they know they're geeky and annoying, and they own it. Plus, there are so many nerdy references and often visits from Wil Wheaton :)




So if you're a fan like me, I've got a great list of books for you! If you like Big Bang Theory, you should read...


1. The curious incident of the dog in night-time by Mark Haddon
Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother. (Summary from NoveList)


2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
At turns funny, sweet, smart, and sad, Fangirl traces Cath’s journey to independence as she begins college, struggles to have an identity separate from her twin sister, find her voice and passion as a writer and fall in love, maybe, for the first time. She's obsessed with and writes fanfiction very much like Harry Potter! (Summary from NoveList)



3. Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
Boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again. (Summary from Goodreads)


4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. (Summary from NoveList)



5. Into the Wild Nerd Yonder: My Life on the Dork Side by Julie Halpern
As her sophomore year begins, Jess knows she's growing apart from her best friends, Char and Bizza, a situation made much worse when Bizza goes poseur-punk in order to pursue Jess' long-time crush. When Jess, who loves math, sewing, and audiobooks, is invited to play Dungeons and Dragons by class nerd Dottie, she discovers that embracing life as a nerd isn't so bad -- especially when there's a cute boy involved who loves role-playing games, too. (Summary from NoveList)



6. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Having been recently dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, recent high school graduate and former child prodigy Colin sets off on a road trip with his best friend to try to find some new direction in life while also trying to create a mathematical formula to explain his relationships.(Summary from NoveList)


7. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco web-design drone and landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything. Soon he embarks on a complex analysis of the customers' behavior and ropes his friends into helping him figure out just what's going on. (Summary from NoveList)



8. The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion by Chris McCoy
Minutes after eighteen-year-old Bennett Bardo of Gordo, New Mexico, asks Sophie Gilkey, his dream girl, to prom and she says yes, she is abducted by aliens and Bennett catches a ride across the galaxy with a band of misfit musicians to find her. (Summary from NoveList)



9. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (audiobook read by Wil Wheaton!)
Immersing himself in a mid-twenty-first-century technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty, and disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world's creator. (Summary from NoveList)



10. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Don Tillman, a brilliant geneticist, thinks that having women fill out a six-page, double-sided questionnaire before a date is logical and reasonable. Rosie Jarman, an impetuous barmaid, thinks Don should loosen up and learn to live a little. (Summary from NoveList)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Raising My Wand: The Magic of Alan Rickman

Like hundreds of thousands of people across the world, I was shocked to hear the awful news that Alan Rickman passed away on Thursday morning. Cancer took away one of the most talented, compassionate, and inspiring actors the world has ever known and left us all broken hearted.

Rickman was probably most well known for his role as the anti-hero/villain (depending on your definition***) Severus Snape, Hogwarts Postions Master turned Headmaster. He played the role perfectly, never failing to make watchers despise him, but later feel for him. If you go back and re-watch the films after you have seen them all at least once, you will see how Rickman truly plays the professor ambiguously. The good and the bad of his persona are all there if you are paying close attention. In fact you should watch this YouTube video by kcawesome13 showing Snape's scenes in chronological order!


 Alan Rickman made a wonderful Snape, but he did so many other things as well! Here are my top favorite Alan Rickman roles! (oldest to newest; not including Snape because nothing beats that one)

1. Hans Gruber - Die Hard 
Hans was one of the best villains in cinema history! Vulture published a great article about Rickman's acting and how it changed the nature villains in movies. And if you haven't seen Die Hard, you need to. Yippee Kiyay. 

2. Sheriff George of Nottingham - Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
This glorious movie of the 90s is where I was first introduced to the brilliance of Alan Rickman (and Christian Slater). He's the villain, but you feel kind of sorry for him, and he's got some fantastic lines. 


3. Colonel Brandon - Sense and Sensibility
In this movie, you see the man's beauty and by God, you'll fall in love with the him. Because it's Jane Austen, and that's what Jane Austen does. Also, he has amazing chemistry with Kate Winslet.

4. Metatron - Dogma
I first watched this movie with my dad when I was 9 or 10, and I was terrified. I had nightmares about angels killing people for a week. When I got older, my step-brothers convinced me that it was a fantastic movie, so I watched it again, and I agreed. It's genius. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck together with Kevin Smith - the men make good movies, slightly blasphemous, but good. And they couldn't have made this movie with Alan Rickman as Metatron, the voice of God. Snarky, grumpy, and sarcastic - he's perfection. There's a great article about it on Movie Pilot!

5. Dr. Lazarus - Galaxy Quest
I'm going to be completely honest here. I think I saw Galaxy Quest once when it first came out nearly 18 years ago. But I don't really remember it. However, I have heard so much about Rickman's role in the movie and how simple, one liners that could have been silly and scoffed made this movie into the cult classic that it is. I just had to put it on here. Also, I plan on watching it this weekend!


6. Harry - Love Actually
He's a bit of a jerk in this one, but look a rare smile! 

7. Dr. Alfred Blalock - Something the Lord Made
An HBO movie about the black cardiac pioneer Vivien Thomas and his complex and volatile partnership with white surgeon Alfred Blalock, the world famous "Blue Baby doctor" who pioneered modern heart surgery - and man, is it good. (Summary from Wikipedia because I'm lazy)

8. Marvin the Robot - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Just watch the compilation above.

 
9. Judge Turpin - Sweeney Todd
Villain again! But dude, he's good at it. Also, you can hear him singing a duet of Pretty Woman with Johnny Depp!!!

10. Absalom or The Blue Caterpillar - Alice in Wonderland/Alice Through the Looking Glass
In my opinion (I almost typed opium...fitting), the caterpillar is one of the best characters in Alice. Wise and full of riddles, sarcastic, but truly giving good advice - I feel like this is pretty much the epitome of Alan Rickman, a little of all his characters in one.

Alright, time to go binge watch some movies, guys.


Rest in Peace, Mr. Rickman. I raise my wand to you.

***Stay tuned for a separate post on heroes and villains!

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