Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Small Things {November Edition}

How can I mention this month's favorite things without giving a shout out to Thanksgiving? I love baking and cooking and fall, so Thanksgiving is high on my list of best holidays. We had a very simple dinner this year with my parents and, aside from my poor little girl who wasn't feeling well, it was perfect (don't worry, she's all better now). I love hosting and all the little details that come with it (when the holidays roll around, I fall in love with our chalkboard wall all over again). It's been an amazing year and it was refreshing to slow down and think about all I have to be thankful for--definitely something that I should do more than once a year.

Earlier this month, I celebrated my 28th birthday. My husband bought me this Cup the Ante necklace from Not only is it adorable (I've gotten so many complements on it) but it's also a tribute to my children's novel, The Fantastical Adventures of Pinkletin Frog, and Pinkletin's own dear teacup and spoon. Just one more show of support and encouragement from the best-ever husband.

I've been looking forward to Catching Fire for months and the hubby and I got to have a date earlier this week to go see it. I was not disappointed. SO GOOD. They did an excellent job with the novel adaptation, even better I think, than the first film. And great casting all around (Jennifer Lawrence is amazing, as usual). Catching Fire is my favorite book of the trilogy and I would definitely see the film again. If you get a chance to see this one in the theater, take it! And if you haven't read the books, put them on your Christmas list.

Don't forget to come back Monday for an interview with Erin Healy! You can find out all about her new book, Stranger Things, and get a chance to snag yourself a copy to ring in the New Year!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Small Things {September Edition}

Now that the month is nearly over, here's my September happies. :)

The Goodness of Baked Things

Summer + no air conditioning = no baking, so once the weather starts to cool to a tolerable temperature I happily return to my cookie sheets, bread pans, and muffin tins. In my opinion, coffee/tea/chai without some sort of baked good is just plain wrong and should only occur in the most desperate of circumstances. Sometimes the only thing that gets me through this time of year's crazy days of homeschooling, design work, ballet, and soccer is that golden moment in the afternoon when I can brew a cup of coffee or tea, grab a treat and pretend for ten minutes that I have absolutely nothing else to do. Thankfully the weather has been rainy and chilly and wonderfully fall-ish so I've been able to keep up a steady stream of baked delights to satisfy my mid-afternoon cravings. You can visit my board of deliciousness on Pinterest for some of my favorite recipes.

Watership Down

I'd never heard of this book until one day I was Googling "anthropomorphic animal novels" (say that three times fast) and it popped up on a must-read-classics list. I tried to borrow it from my local library, but it was checked out. Then, in a fantastic turn of events, I stumbled upon a copy in a little used bookstore we visited while on vacation back in August. Typically I'm a very fast reader and a good book lasts about as long as Captain Jack's rum, but I found this book to be a lovely one to just meander through, picking it up here and there to read a chapter or two as I found time. It was absolutely delightful and I can definitely see myself returning to the world of Hazel, Fiver, and their stalwart band of bunnies for many years to come.

Star Wars

Now that I'm done waxing poetic about bunny books, it's time to get my geek on. Or would that be nerd? (According to this article, I could be both, honestly). This month marked a very significant point in my children's lives--their introduction to Star Wars. My five-year-old son is already obsessed, thanks to his love of Angry Birds, which turned into a love for Angry Birds Star Wars, which turned into a love for anything and everything related to Star Wars--especially if it involves Chewbacca. This was his reaction when he finally got to bring home the coveted Angry Birds Star Wars bedding...

Of course my husband and I have strongly encouraged him and decided he was ready to experience the wonder of the real thing. So off to the library we went, where miracle of miracles we were able to snag Episodes I-VI (with III reserved for mommy and daddy only, much to the boy's disappointment. He has now added "...and help me grow faster so I can watch Star Wars three" to his bedtime prayers). I have now heard Darth Vader's theme song being enthusiastically hummed at least three times a day for the last two weeks.
The force is strong with this one.

Be sure to check back in next week...I'm very excited to be introducing some special posts for the month of October!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Recommends (aka my 6am fail)

This week has been one of those weeks where I've been lucky to have ten minutes to do anything that wasn't part of my URGENT MUST DO RIGHT NOW list. Which means after repeated late nights, my attempt to get up this morning at 6am to compose a blog post utterly failed when I turned the alarm off and immediately fell back to sleep. However, since having only one blog post this week makes me feel really, really lame, I've decided to share a few of my favorite recent internet reads and finds...

I love reading @AnneBogel's blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. Not only is her blog title awesome, but we share the same love of indie bookstores, and she's a fellow homeschooling mom. (She's also a pro blogger and huge inspiration.) Last month, her post The Book Isn't Better Than The Movie sparked one of the most interesting discussions I've ever been a part of and it goes to show how varied people's tastes can be when it comes to literature and film. Check it out and then do yourself a favor and browse the rest of her site!

J. Kent Messum's How I Got My Literary Agent feature on Writer's Digest was a huge encouragement to me this past week. His story of determination, audacity, and victory in his journey to publication gave me hope as I face the insanity inducing process of querying. Plus, he ends it with a Hans Solo quote. 

Sometimes it's really easy to get incredibly frustrated and angry over the state of the world. When we're constantly bombarded with stories of people hurting one another and spreading hate (like the recent horrible and ignorant reaction to the newest Miss America), it's no wonder we sometimes fall into the jaded opinion that people are mostly just jerks. Then there's stuff like this, that reminds us how many awesome people really are out there.

Want another video to warm your heart and--unless you're much more stoic than I--bring tears to your eyes? Look no further. You may have seen this video of a foreign cell phone ad pop up in your social media feed. If you haven't watched it yet, you should.

Have a great weekend, folks! I promise to be back next week, even if it means waking up while it's still dark outside. (Hold me to that, will ya?)

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Small Things - June Edition

My happies for this month...

Alice in Wonderland - On Vinyl

A couple weeks ago the hubby and I hit up a little used record store while on a roadtrip. There I discovered a previously unknown fact: Back in the day they made audiobooks on vinyl. I snagged the entirety of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, read by a gentleman with a wonderful British accent. And it cost me a whole dollar. There's something so cozy and inviting about the old record pops and crackles in the background of the narration. The perfect summer version of curling up with a hardcover and a warm fire.

Veronica Mars

Yes, I got ridiculously excited when I found out about the Kickstarter, and yes, my husband and I promptly pledged. Veronica Mars has always been a guilty pleasure. It came out the same year we got married and many a night was spent watching it together. I was almost as upset about the series ending as I was when Amy Sherman-Palladino stopped writing Gilmore Girls episodes. In honor of the upcoming film, we've been watching the series on DVD. I'm currently awaiting the arrival of my Amazon shipment of season one, since a very inconsiderate library patron is literally YEARS overdue on the last 2 discs. Where are the library ninjas when you need them? They could learn a few things from Mars Investigations... 


Summer is here! Maybe not according to your calendar, but it is by mine. My reason for loving summer has nothing to do with the hot weather (I prefer fall, when the temperature is reasonable.) What makes the current season awesome is that school is out--and as a homeschooling family that means mommy gets a break along with the kids. It also means I don't have to feel guilty about sleeping in in the morning if I'm up writing (or reading) until midnight the previous night.

What about you? What's got you smiling this month?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Literary Confessions

I've heard quite a few people talking recently about how it's really easy to put your best self out there when it comes to social media. Posting only the stuff that reveals our awesomeness has become the internet version of showing your mom your clean room, when really everything is just shoved under the bed. So being a writer, avid reader, and now blogger, I decided I should come clean about a few things in my literary life. (After all, I wouldn't want you thinking I'm perfect or anything.) So here goes...

I cannot get through a Jane Austen novel.

I've tried. Both as a teenager and an adult. I even went so far as to buy the fancy, gold-edged, embossed cover, hardback, 4-in-1 Austen collection at Costco a few months ago. And now it just sits on my bookshelf mocking me, the little blue ribbon marking the point of my failure on page 30 of Sense and Sensibility. I would love to cross this off my bucket list, but for now it looks like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is as close as I'm gonna get.

I've read more Young Adult novels as an adult, than I ever did as a teenager.

When I was a teen, they all seemed whiny and angsty and cheesy and dramatic (the one exception being the ever wonderful Anne of Green Gables)--and I was soooo not into that. So, aside from a brief love affair with Cedar River Daydreams (the Christian equivalent of Sweet Valley High--don't ask) I went straight to adult fiction. Thankfully, I'm a writer of middle grade and young adult fiction, so when I'm thirty-something and still picking up books in the teen section of the library, I can call it "research" and not "denial." Let's just hope by then I actually look like an adult and stop being mistaken for a high-schooler by the librarians.

I don't always like the book better than the movie.

Case in point: see my review of  The Silver Linings Playbook. Although, I have been trying much more intentionally to judge books and their accompanying films on their own individual merit. Case in point: Blue Like Jazz. Both different. Both equally amazing. (As in top 5 of my book and movie lists). I do prefer to read the book first. Because I really must be able to compare everything that was or was not in the book while I'm watching the movie. At least until my husband tells me to stop talking and just watch.

I have never read the Harry Potter books.

I can see you seriously considering clicking unfriend--unfollow--unsubscribe, so I won't mention the other series that I've also not read. *cough*--vampires--*cough*

What about you? Any confessions to make? Unread books that make fellow readers gasp in horror? Films you loved based on books you were less amorous over? Novels you're slightly embarrassed to admit to reading? Go ahead and share. It's good for the soul.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In the Flesh

A couple of nights ago my husband and I watched the movie Ruby Sparks. In the film, the main character, Calvin, is struggling with a massive case of writer's block. After his shrink gives him an impromptu writing assignment, Calvin has a dream about a beautiful red-haired girl and begins writing about her. And then the unbelievable happens--Ruby appears, in the flesh, in Calvin's house. He fell in love with her from the moment he began her story, and his attachment only deepens now that she's real. Of course this creates conflict when he realizes he can control her actions and emotions through his typewriter.

Throughout the film I was enchanted with the idea that Calvin had created a character who was so well written that she could slip into the world and no one would know she was made of ink and paper. He knew every detail of her life, who she was, and what had shaped her. When Calvin is describing Ruby to his shrink, he slips into this beautiful narrative that delves so much deeper than what she looks like or her favorite foods. 

This brought to mind my own characters and how well--or not so well--I know them. If they suddenly appeared and a stranger asked them about their life--their family, what they do, what they love, what defining moments shaped who they are--would my characters be able to answer? Would they be able to reply confidently, in a way consistent with their personality? Would there be enough backstory, enough thought-out, relatable details, for my characters to take on a life of their own and make it in the real world without being found out?

Image courtesy of jannoon028 at
So I started thinking about my next project and my main character, Abbey. What does she look like? How does she wear her hair? These are pretty basic, so I asked myself "why?" Why does she wear her hair like that? I know her favorite books, but why are they her favorites? (This lead to the discovery that she feels Nancy Drew is far inferior to Sherlock Holmes.). I looked at some of the personality traits I'm drawn to the most in Abbey and realized it's because I share them (which helps me write these parts of her with more authenticity). I asked Abbey how she's different from those around her and whether she's okay with that (she is) and if she would be willing to maybe change the way she thinks about some things (she might eventually). And I soon found that one of the biggest perks to getting to know Abbey better is the more I know about her, the more the pieces of my plot's puzzle start to fall into place.

I've been wanting to watch Ruby Sparks for a while, but I'm glad I ended up watching it now (perfect timing since my writing group just happens to currently be discussing character development and interviewing your characters) because it inspired me to seriously delve into this process. Because really, my characters are a part of me and I owe it to them to get to know them well enough to tell their stories properly.

Hemingway said it well: "When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

You've heard the saying "never judge a book by its cover." Well in the case of Warm Bodies it's more like never judge a book by its movie trailer.

Don't get me wrong, I love the look of the film. Seeing the trailer was what got me interested in the story in the first place, and when I found out it was adapted from a novel, I knew I had to read it. But when I picked up the book, I was expecting something humorous; something along the lines of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies--thoroughly enjoyable, but so over the top it becomes almost comical.

What I found was a heartwarming story of hope, love, and choosing life.

R is a zombie. He wishes he could put into words the eloquent thoughts in his head, wishes he could remember more of his name than just the first letter. He doesn't want to be dead, doesn't enjoy eating the living, but that's just the way it is.

Until the memories.

Not his memories, but those of Perry, the young man whose brain R has just consumed. And when R chooses to save the life of Perry's girlfriend Julie, he sets off a chain of events that shakes what's left of the worlds of both the Living and the Dead.

My first clue that I was in for a surprise came in the first chapter. R is introducing himself, explaining what life is like when you're the walking dead. In an incredibly feeling inner dialogue, R mourns the loss of his and his fellow zombies' names because, "I'd like to love them but I don't know who they are." As the story progressed, I continued to be amazed by how touching and heartfelt it was. Even the love story seemed to fade in the midst of R's quest to give himself--and the rest of the world--a second chance at life.

As he and Julie struggle to fight the hierarchy and provoke change, you discover an eerie resemblance between the world of the Dead and the world of the Living. As R describes the zombie world with words like, "...the abandoning of quests, the surrendering of desires, the settling in and settling down that is the inevitable fate of the Dead" he could just as well be describing the living, who have made staying alive their number one priority while forgetting what it really means to live.

So much about this book is impressive. The pages are filled with R's deep, reflective thoughts on life and hope, which are downright inspiring. The characters are complex and authentic. Marion manages to create a zombie that you find yourself immediately rooting for, and more than that, a zombie that's not just a shuffling, possessed, broken figure of rotting flesh, but an altered human, with lingering emotions, thoughts and desires. In the end, I think readers like myself will find that while this book has all the elements of a great zombie story, it ultimately becomes much more than that--a beautiful tale of fighting for a second chance at life.

One last note for those of you who like to be forewarned: There's plenty of blood and gore and several uses of the "f" word, so despite the pg-13 movie rating, this is adult fiction.