Showing posts from 2013


For those of you who don't know, November is National Novel Writer's Month and the NaNoWriMo organization (at sponsor a challenge to novel writers that they will complete 50,000 words toward their novel in the month of November. I've never done NaNo before, 50,000 words seemed like a crap-ton to get done in one month, and I didn't know if I wanted to commit to something like that. I have a few local friends who are writers who have been discussing doing NaNo recently, but honestly, I didn't think I was going to be one of them.

Then today, I just signed up for it on a whim! :) I figured that by officially signing up for something that will basically keep me accountable, then I'll progress much further on Gayle then if I didn't. Plus, through the course of updating my info on the website, I found out I've already written 13,450 words on Gayle which is pretty awesome! :) Now I'm not shooting for writing an additional 50,000 on top of…

My Mother's Secret by J.L. Witterick

*I was given this book free by the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.*

My Mother's Secret is a work of fiction, but it is based on the basic attributes of a true Holocaust story; Franciszka and Helena Halamajowa were real people who lived in Poland during the German occupation and helped many of their Jewish neighbors escape the concentration camps or death. The story is broken into five parts, each told from a different person's perspective. The writing is direct and informative - fitting to the stark reality of the story. There is no flowery language, and it is not prone to long passages of description. I do not believe that readers will find this style unreadable, but some may find the writing style a bit lacking. That being said, I think that the plot is written well, paced nicely, and it reads very quickly. I did think at times that if the story was set up in a diary or letter format, that the writing style might fit better.


Harper Lee and Peppermint Candy by Paula Hennessy

*I was given this book free by the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.*

I recently read Harper Lee and Peppermint Candy by Paula Hennessy. I would consider it young adult fiction mainly because the protagonist is in her teens. It is realistic fiction also, which in YA, I don't tend to read a lot of. However, going in I didn't have any bias toward the genre. I was actually pleasantly surprised how much I liked it, considering the fact that I read much more sci-fi/fantasy. I thought that the main character Megan was very realistically written, and even though she has a bit of an extreme personality, at first, I thought it was also easy to identify with her. What she goes through and deals with as a teenager doesn't seem that far-fetched for any teen these days, and therefore, her reactions also are within the realm of believability. I also thoroughly liked the grandmother, Addie. She's very comforting and loving like most grandmothe…

Man of Steel

I know I've already missed several movies on my bucket list - not sure if anyone is even aware - but I do completely intend to see them. However, today was my husband's birthday and of all the movies on my bucket list that are out in theatres right now that we haven't seen yet, Man of Steel was his hand's down pick so we went to see it today.

Overall, it was amazing. I thought that the effects were just mind blowing - the increases in technology for cgi have made fantasy, sci-fi, and superhero movies miles ahead of what they once were. I also thought that the movie was very well cast. Anyone who read my bucket list saw that one of the main reasons I wanted to see this movie was because of Henry Cavill, and I have to say he didn't disappoint. I thought that Cavill looked very much the part of Superman, but more so, he played Clark Kent/Superman as a very human, very relatable person. The final scene between Superman and General Zod was especially moving. I also thou…

Gatsby the film

Since it was a holiday weekend, I was able to catch up on two of my bucket list movies. I've already posted my review of the new Star Trek movie. I tried going to see Gatsby on Monday afternoon at my local movie theatre. Unfortunately, the strangest thing happened. The theatre lost power for several hours just minutes into the movie, and the staff told us we could take passes and come back to see our movies on another day. So I had to go back and see the movie today. At least this time around I was the first in the theatre and got the best seat. :)

Some might find it shocking, but it's been years since I've read the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald and I've never seen the older movie with Robert Redford. I did love the book, though, and remember the main points of the plot. However, because it's been so long, I'm not in a position to say how accurate to the book the new film is, and because I haven't seen the older movie as I said, I'm not able to compare it…

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Luckily I was able to see this bucket list movie only one week after it's release, and I'm glad I didn't wait much longer because it was well worth my time. :)

I've pretty much told everyone I know that I have never been much of a trekkie. I know the general story behind the series and have seen several episodes in the original and Next Generation iterations; I think I've even seen the first movie with the original cast. That being said, I went into the first movie of this franchise with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I thought the first movie had tons of great action, great effects, and stellar acting. I thought the main characters were extremely well-cast.

Considering how highly I regarded the first movie, you can imagine I had high hopes for its sequel. When I found out that Benedict Cumberbatch was coming on to play the villain in this movie, I was really excited. I'm a big fan of his work on Sherlock and knew he would br…

Paper Airplane by Kersten L. Kelly

I was given this book by the author for review. It is a collection of stories the author compiled while traveling on airplanes. The stories are true to the author's knowledge, though names and some situations have been changed to protect people's identity.

When I was preparing to read this book, I read the back of the jacket cover and the note from the author/preface to the text. I was impressed with Kelly's writing ability. She writes with a flow and style that is easy to read and understand but that also conveys her intelligence. The jacket cover back got me excited to read the stories too by promising a "tumultuous, distinctive memoir" where "every chapter will capture the mind and sometimes the heart of anyone who jumps into this collection of humanity at its best." That's quite a lead in.

After reading the book, I have to say that I feel that it was a bit of a let down. Don't get me wrong, I think that the stories were well told, and I enjo…

The Everything Guide to Writing a Novel part 1

I've recently started reading this book. The title makes it sound a little cheesy, but I think that any truth you can get from any source that will help you accomplish something is valid. I saw the book The Everything Guide to Writing a Novel at the library one day when I was browsing for a free movie to pick up. I actually decided to check it out because the subtitle read "From completing the first draft to landing a book contract - all you need to fulfill your dreams" and it was written by authors Joyce and Jim Lavene who have published over forty books - I thought, "Maybe this book can teach me a few things that I don't know."

I've read lots of other books about writing through the course of my education and also as just reading for pleasure - from Bird by Bird, The Artist's Way, The Graceful Lie, and Self-editing for Fiction Writers to How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card and On Writing by Stephen King. The great thing is…

Hunger Games the movie

*This is a review of the movie which was on a separate page, but I decided to get rid of my pages and add the content to my posts list.*

I went to see The Hunger Games movie a couple weekends ago, and my overall impression was a good one. I think the filmmakers did an excellent job casting, especially for Katniss. I think that some of the choices of Woody Harrelson were different, but that as a whole, his performance as Haymitch was great. Lenny Kravitz's performance as Cinna was at times a little incongruous, but if I give him a little slack for not being an actual actor, I find that I'm okay with it; he certainly looked the part perfectly. Elizabeth Banks also looked the part of Effie Trinket perfectly, and I think that her choices for the attitude and affectations of a Capitol citizen were spot on.

Some of the scenes they added that weren't in the book were a point of contention for some viewers. I understand, however, that they were necessary. Because the filmmakers di…

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

I recently finished Inheritance, the last book in the Inheritance cycle which began with Eragon. I was truly excited to read the final chapters of Eragon and Saphira's journey and to find out how they would defeat Galbatorix (because I had no doubt from the previous stories' lead up that they would destroy him). I believe that the book was very well-written and showed much growth on Christopher Paolini's part. Many critics have not reviewed his previous works well, especially Eragon, because they believe his writing is too immature. I think that if the reader takes into consideration that Paolini was only 17 when he wrote Eragon, they will cut him some slack about the maturity of the writing and see the story for what it is, an inspired work of great talent by a very young writer. The works are very long, Inheritance is no exception, because I believe Paolini doesn't edit enough content. There are some parts of all the books that I feel could have been cut to pace the…

Bucket List mishap and Iron Man 3

Anyone who is following my Bucket List will notice that I still have not reviewed GI Joe: Retaliation. When I added this title to my list, I was actually really excited to see it because I did enjoy the first movie (especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance). I thought that this installment of the franchise would be even bigger and more action-packed with the addition of actors Bruce Willis and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Unfortunately due to lack of funds, my movie going has been coming later and later from the release dates, and when May 3 rolled around, I only had enough money to watch one movie. I decided to go see Iron Man 3. This does not mean that I will never see GI Joe 2; it just may take me a while. Luckily one of my favorite theatres - The Rave in Columbus - keeps movies in rotation for quite a while, so I may have an opportunity to see it in the next few weeks (although if you look at the Bucket List, there is a movie on it for every weekend in May and alm…

A book review of Water Harvest by Eric Diehl

Water Harvest is an electronic novel that was given to me by the author to review. The book is science fiction in genre and takes place on another planet called Kast'ar.

Kast'ar is orbited by several moons and each of these moons has a colony on it. The colonies aren't able to obtain water from the moons so they take water from Kast'ar. This leaves the inhabitants of Kast'ar to have to combat these harvesters to defend their water supplies for their own survival. The head of the Kast'ar inhabitants is House Alar which is lead by Lord Gar and his son Cairn.

The story begins when the people of Kast'ar are preparing for the Harvest, and they are overrun by one of the lunar colonies led by Teigor Valiir. Valiir uses advanced technology the houses of Kast'ar haven't seen and is able to completely defeat House Alar, taking Lord Gar, Cairn, and Cairn's love, Neilai. Valiir is also aided by a Guild member named Gezladorn who uses certain substances to g…

The Host

Sorry it took me so long to post about The Host. Funds aren't exactly in a place where I can run to the theatre right when a movie comes out. I apologize for its lateness, but here is my review. :)

   Most people know that this movie is based on a Stephanie Meyer science fiction book, and I am sad to report that I was not able to read the book before I went to see the movie. Therefore, I will not be able to compare the movie to its book. However, I do have some things I'd like to highlight about it.

   I am a fan of Meyer's Twilight series, and that was the main reason I decided to see the movie. It was a completely different viewing experience for me compared to Twilight however, because as I said, I had not read the book, The Host. I went into this movie without any idea of how the plot was supposed to go or what happened to the characters. I have to say my ignorance became a pleasant experience after a while because I was not focused on how many things the filmmakers…

A Good Day to Die Hard - sorry for the delay

I finally went to see A Good Day to Die Hard. I was excited to see this movie because I thought that Live Free Die Hard was really good. All I can say now is that the Die Hard franchise should have stopped with Live Free Die Hard. I don't usually rail on movies because I think that most movies have at least some redeemable qualities. While A Good Day to Die Hard does have some crazy action sequences, especially the ones with the helicopter, and Bruce Willis delivers classic John McClane moments, these qualities were not enough to redeem the complete lack of a cohesive driving plot.

In A Good Day, it was nice to see John McClane's kids all grown up and what they are doing with their lives, but I didn't feel any specific chemistry with the actor who played Jack McClane. I thought that the character arcs for Jack and John were completely predictable - I knew Jack was going to forgive his dad by the end of the movie. In Live Free, Willis had much more chemistry with Justin Lon…

Beautiful Creatures

Second bucket list review, somewhat belated but better late than never.

Richard LaGravenese wrote and directed this adaptation of the first book of the Beautiful Creatures series written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The movie stars relative newcomers Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert as main characters Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes respectively. The supporting roles are cast with real powerhouses - Jeremy Irons as Macon Ravenwood, Viola Davis as Amma, Emmy Rossum as Ridley Duchannes, and Emma Thompson as Sarafine.

The story takes place in a tiny town called Gatlin, South Carolina. Gatlin has a Civil War battle in its past and is populated with what seems to be mostly lower middle class, God-fearing folks who know everything about their neighbors including that the founding family, the Ravenwoods, are really witches. This fact puts Lena Duchannes, Macon Ravenwood's niece, in a position of ridicule as town outcast. This position would be hard enough for an adult but for a you…

Warm Bodies

The time has finally arrived - my review of the first movie on my 20 Movies of 2013 "bucket list" (which is what I'm going to call it from now on) - Warm Bodies! :) My husband and I had planned to see Warm Bodies on Valentine's Day after dinner. However, we only gave ourselves an hour and a half to eat before our movie started, and our restaurant was so packed that we had an hour and fifteen minute wait. Needless to say, we missed the show that night, so we watched it the next day at our local theatre.

My overall impression of the movie was ... I liked it a lot. The actors were well-cast in their respective roles, especially the main character R played by Nicholas Hoult. Hoult portrays a conflicted zombie so well, and my favorite part is *spoiler alert* when he eats the brains of the boyfriend Perry and sees for himself what he has become. Also, I think that Rob Corddry gave an excellent performance as M. His transformation from zombie to human is almost as heart-war…

New Year for Gayle and movies

So it's that time of year again - time to make resolutions. Most people will have abandoned their quests by mid February, but I'm hoping that I will stay true to mine this year because at least one of them could mean the completion of a lifelong dream. As you may have guessed, I have more than one resolution - in fact, I have two. The first may be obvious; I think the second may be a little less so.

First New Year's Resolution
It is my intention to spend some time everyday working on my novel, Gayle. This could mean hours of time, or just 15-20 minutes. It will depend on inspiration of course. It could also mean actually writing, or it could be anything from editing, plot mapping, or just spitballing ideas for the plot or characters off of my husband. As long as I do something each day to further the story of Gayle then I have achieved my goal.

Second New Year's Resolution
Many people who know me know that I am a bit of a movie junkie. I love nothing more than going to t…