Friday, August 30, 2013

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks


Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen, art by Faith Erin Hicks

Review by Lauren

copy for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: You wouldn’t expect Nate and Charlie to be friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But they are friends, however unlikely—until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders. At stake is funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms—but not both.

 It's only going to get worse: after both parties are stripped of their funding on grounds of abominable misbehavior, Nate enrolls the club's robot in a battlebot competition in a desperate bid for prize money. Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not. Running away from home on Thanksgiving to illicitly enter a televised robot death match? Of course!

Review: Shen's first book is a mix of genuine friendship, high school hierarchy, and kick-ass robots! Hicks takes this story and uses her lovely black and white drawings to make it come alive. I've only read one other graphic novel illustrated by Hicks, also written by her, which was Friends With Boys. I had some difficulties, I remember, in distinguishing some of the characters but I loved her work overall. This time around, in Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, everyone has their own distinguished look so it's easy to keep track of Nate and Charlie, as well as their respective side of the social pyramid (robot geeks for Nate and cheerleaders for Charlie).

At first, the cheerleaders come off as a bit stereotypical and ridiculous. They are fearsome, rich, and always looking down on others. However, I liked that Shen showed just how much these girls (and the other characters) can grow and change throughout the novel. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is definitely a suitable graphic novel for newbies, I believe, because it's easy to follow and is a suitable length to tell a full story with growth.

As for the main guys, Charlie was definitely not a typical jock. He was popular, but that didn't keep him from being friends with Nate and he also had his own personal issues to deal with that didn't include robots and cheerleader uniforms. While the parents are not completely present, it was nice to see that they were included in the storyline with Charlie throughout the novel. On the other side, you have Nate who is some great comic relief. He's obsessed with the robot competition and will do anything to get the money, even running for class president (as the Student Council controls the money). Nate isn't always the best friend, since he puts his own interests above Charlie's and the two ultimately find themselves battling it out in the race for president.

Shen and Hicks make a wonderful duo, allowing a fairly normal group of high school students to come together in one amusing, realistic, and geeky quest!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Random Thursday: I Can't Wait to See This TV Show...


I've never done this meme before but I thought it could be fun! It's hosted by the lovely ladies above, but I found it on Linny's Vault first. Every week, you are given a new topic that you then discuss on your blog! This week, the topic is...


There are shows that I already watch and can't wait to come back on the air, like Elementary and Glee, but I figured I'd use this post to talk about new Fall TV shows that I think look good.

-I own none of these photos, and all information about the shows comes from TV Guide here!


Back in the Game on ABC, airs Wednesday, September 25 at 8/7c

Batter up! Psych's Maggie Lawson stars as a divorced single mother and former all-star softball player who moves in with her estranged father, Terry "The Cannon" Gannon Sr. (James Caan), a beer-swilling ex-baseball player. Father and daughter reconnect when they start coaching a Little League team together. The comedy comes from Las Vegas' Mark and Robb Cullen, and also stars Ben Koldyke and Lenora Crichlow.

I'll be honest; I wouldn't normally want to watch this, but it stars Maggie Lawson (who I love on Psych - my favorite TV show) so I have to give it a shot! I'm hoping it will surprise me.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Fox, airs Tuesday, September 17 at 8/7c

Parks and Recreation's Dan Goor and Michael Schur bring you TV's newest odd couple: Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher as an immature detective and his tough, by-the-books captain, respectively. Terry Crews, Joe Lo Truglio, Melissa Fumero, Chelsea Peretti and Stephanie Beatriz co-star. No matter how the comedy does, it's already a winner: Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a way better title than The Artist Formerly Known as The 2-2.

Andy Samberg was one of my favorite comedians on SNL so it's exciting to see him in something new. I'm always a sucker for a good comedy, so I'm hoping this one will live up to the clips I've seen.


Dracula on NBC, airs Friday, October 25 at 10/9c

Why create new vampires when you can just revisit the most famous one of all? A reimagining of Bram Stoker's Dracula, the horror thriller, from Carnivale's Daniel Knauf, stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the classic vamp who comes to London posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to introduce Victorian society to modern science (how steampunk!). Of course, Drac is just there to seek revenge on those who've wronged him. Along the way, he falls in love with Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw), who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife. The show was ordered straight-to-series for 10 episodes.

I think Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a fantastic actor, and while I didn't watch him in The Tudors, I'm still excited for him to be on another TV show...and it's primetime as well, so hopefully more people will watch! Love the premise of this one.

***

There are other shows on the TV Guide list that I want to check out, and they might end up being more of a favorite than the ones on this list, but I didn't want to overwhelm you with everything that looks good to me! This would be a long post if I did that. Plus, I work nights a few times a week so I tend to miss a lot of shows, and I'm always taping things to watch later (though I often don't have time) so that's another thing that might keep me from watching some of these shows. I'm excited that Dracula is Friday night so I can hopefully keep up with it!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

 
Waiting on Wednesday, brought to you by Breaking the Spine

First off, I wanted to let you all know that I'm currently in South Carolina on vacation. I've been here since this past Saturday and won't be home until this Saturday. Of course, I'm obviously still posting and trying to comment back...but if getting back to you takes longer than normal, etc. that is most likely why!

Now, back to my Waiting on Wednesday choice. I came across this book a few weeks ago when I was given the chance to look at a Fall sampler of books.

Actors Anonymous by James Franco

Out: October 15, 2013

Official Summary: The actors in James Franco’s brilliant debut novel include a McDonald’s drive-thru operator who spends his shift trying on accents; an ex-child star recalling a massive beachside bacchanal; hospital volunteers and Midwestern transplants; a vampire flick starlet who discovers a cryptic book written by a famous actor gone AWOL; and the ghost of River Phoenix. Then there’s Franco himself, who prowls backstage, peering out between the lines—before taking the stage with fascinating meditations on his art, along with nightmarish tales of excess. “Hollywood has always been a private club,” he writes. “I open the gates. I say welcome. I say, Look inside.”

Told in a dizzying array of styles—from lyric essays and disarming testimonials to hilariously rambling text messages and ghostly footnotes—and loosely modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Actors Anonymous is an intense, wild ride into the dark heart of celebrity.


As you can see from the summary, this book is written by the James Franco, the current actor. Franco, to me, is fascinating and I've always been curious about his non-acting work. I know he's not everyone's style, but this book actually sounds pretty good. The sampler I saw had an excerpt and going through that is what made me put this one on my wish list!

What do you think? Would you give Franco's debut novel a chance?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters


I decided to do Top Ten Tuesday (from The Broke and the Bookish) today since the topic was one I particularly loved.
 
Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Now, I'm not going to say these are my actual top ten when it comes to all books I've ever read. However, sometimes it's difficult for me to remember enough details about certain novels to come up with the right information, which in this case are secondary characters. I know, I know, if I can't remember, they aren't memorable right? But honestly, I don't agree with that since I have such a bad memory when it comes to things and I read so much!

In no particular order...

1. Finnick Odair from the Hunger Games series: he's just fantastic! So much more than the pretty face we hear about.

2. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series: I feel like I'm a bit similar to Luna. She's quirky and weird, and yet she's quite alright being that way (something I'm always trying to be more like). Personally, I wanted Harry and Luna to be together in the end. I just feel like they had a lot in common and Luna always understood him.

3. Patrick from The Perks of Being a Wallflower: I always felt for Patrick. He goes through a lot in the novel, despite everything being told through Charlie's view. I also loved how Patrick was such a good friend.

4. Isaac from The Fault in Our Stars: You have to love Isaac. He's hilarious and wonderful and going through just as much as Hazel and Augustus. Plus, if not for him, readers wouldn't have gotten the famous "Okay" quote.

5. Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series: I could make a whole list with just HP characters, but I'll stop with just two. However, I've always kind of liked Draco. He was a brat, but funny too. As the books go on, Draco became much more complex and everything he has to go through certainly makes him memorable.

6. Lord Henry Wotton from The Picture of Dorian Gray: He's not the best guy, as he definitely leads Dorian astray. But he's memorable for that as well as the philosophies on life he likes to tell Dorian, which are often crazy and funny, but interesting.

7. Guy from Willow by Julia Hoban: Guy is the love interest for Willow, but he's much more than that. Willow is one of my favorite books because it's a gritty contemporary novel that focuses on some harsh sides of life. Guy is a tether for Willow, when she just wants to sink beneath her grief.

8. Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men: I don't know if you'd call Lennie a primary character or a secondary character, but he's always secondary to George, so I'm including him. Lennie is a child in a man's body, unable to recognize his own strength. He does some bad things, but without intent, and you can't help but love him and wish him the best.

9. Ellie from About a Boy by Nick Hornby: I love this book (and the movie too!) and Ellie is certainly a memorable character. She's more prominent in the novel, and ultimately befriends Marcus who could definitely use some people to look out for him.

10. Krystal Weedon from The Casual Vacancy: I said no more Harry Potter characters...but I said nothing about other J.K. Rowling characters. TCV is full of different characters, but I found Krystal fascinating throughout the novel. She doesn't always act the way she should, but she does the best she can and she truly cares about her little brother and wants him to stay safe.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Broken by Elizabeth Pulford


Broken by Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Angus Gomes

Review by Lauren

Book comes out tomorrow, August 27th

copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Zara has one immediate and urgent goal, and it is to find her brother, Jem. She faces a few complications, though, not the least of which is searching for him in her subconscious while she is in a coma.

Zara’s coma has pulled her into the world of Jem’s favorite comic-book hero. But no matter how quickly Zara literally draws her own escape, she is taunted deeper into the fantastical darkness by the comic’s villain, Morven. All the while she is caught between the present with visits from friends and family in the hospital and the past by flashbacks of a traumatic event long ago forgotten.

The search for her brother may help Zara see the light, but in order to find him, she must face her innermost secrets first. In a multi-layered tale that intertwines comic-book/graphic novel elements with first-person narration, Elizabeth Pulford explores the dimensions of hope, love, loyalty, denial, and truth.

Review: Going into this novel, I knew it would deal with some tough issues as Zara is in a coma and on the search for her brother Jem within her own subconscious. I love contemporary novels that deal with unique topics, so I was immediately drawn to Broken, but the fact that it would also include a graphic novel element showing the comic that Zara is stuck in definitely sealed the deal.

Broken is a quick read and I ended up finishing it in only a day. That doesn't mean that it isn't an emotional and intriguing novel. The story is told in first-person point of view so you get plenty of insight into Zara's psyche. While in a coma, she is traveling through her brother's favorite comic book in order to bring him back home. At the same time though, she doesn't realize she's in a coma. She hears people talking to her as they come to visit, especially her best friend Trace. Zara tries to speak to them but they can't hear her and she doesn't understand why everyone keeps speaking as if she isn't even there.

Despite Zara's confusion, she is desperate to find Jem and puts most of her energy into drawing and erasing aspects of the comic book to get where and what she wants. During the comic book moments, the font changes so it's easy to see when Zara is in the comic world and when the book is giving a flashback of Zara's past.

It soon becomes clear that Zara is hiding a big secret and while the basics of it is revealed early on, I don't want to give anything away. However, this secret is part of the answer for Zara on how to find her brother. I'll admit that when I learned what Zara had been through, I was surprised. It wasn't something I'd expected from Broken. However, it just made the book that more intriguing and I was desperate for Zara to realize what she needed to do to begin to heal.

Finally, I loved the addition of the actual comics from Angus Gomes. I had an ARC version, but I assume things will look relatively the same. Every panel is in black and white, showing Zara's trip through the comic book world. There are descriptions atop some of the comics and even quote bubbles coming from characters within them, so it's definitely important to pay attention to the comics. There aren't too many though, if you are someone weary of comics or graphic novels. Honestly, I wish we had a few more, but it had a nice mix overall!

Both author and illustrator are from New Zealand, which I was excited to learn as well, since it's nice to find non-U.S. titles. I think Broken would be a good choice for those that read and enjoyed If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

Friday, August 23, 2013

(Movie Review) The Cornetto Trilogy's Final Film



The Cornetto Trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End

Review by Lauren

I'll admit, I've been a fan of Simon Pegg for awhile...but I hadn't seen the entirety of many of his cult films. I finally remedied that by watching Hot Fuzz with a friend a couple weeks ago and then purchasing Shaun of the Dead the other day. However, I was given the ultimate chance to revel in the awesome films of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost by going to my local AMC and watching The Cornetto Trilogy back-to-back. I've only done this once before, with the latest Batman trilogy, but I had a blast and I knew it would be fun. I was right! There is nothing better than enjoying great films surrounded by nerdy fans.

First off, what does the Cornetto Trilogy mean? Well, it's not like most trilogies where it's a continuing story containing the same characters. What connects these films is Cornetto, a type of ice cream popular in the U.K. Each film has a scene where the ice cream is shown, focusing on a new flavor each time. Shaun of the Dead has strawberry, Hot Fuzz uses the original, and The World's End has mint.

 
Beyond the ice cream, each of these films include Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the lead characters (they are real-life best friends) and are directed by Edgar Wright (he directed Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World). These three guys are an awesome team and I'd see pretty much anything they did.
 
Seeing all the films in a row was great as you were able to watch the progression. I was able to realize that a particular comedic moment is used in all the movies, and each film also includes some of the same actors. For example, Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, Watson in the BBC Sherlock) is in all three movies...with a progressively larger role each time. In The World's End, he is actually one of the main characters.
 
Since Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are older movies, I'll say simply that you should watch them. I would like to focus more on The World's End since it was just released. To start, here is the basic IMDB premise:
 
Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind's only hope for survival.
 
Included in this group of friends is obviously Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, but also Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Paddy Considine. Pegg's character, Gary King, is the only one of the group who has not grown up and improved his life. He decides to re-do the pub crawl and it quickly becomes his one goal for life, something he has to do despite the physical danger he puts himself in.
 
In case the premise above isn't obvious, The World's End is a sci-fi film. All the Cornetto movies are parodies of their genre: zombie/horror, buddy cop, apocalypse. While there is humor throughout the movies, I don't find any of them overly ridiculous. Yes, the plots are crazy and mostly unrealistic, but there are always plot lines that are realistic and utilize the actors' great skills. Pegg in particular shows that he can do emotion, as well as humor. Every single one of these movies has Pegg crying, which is a funny thing to notice or maybe even comment on, but I love it. I like that it makes these characters human. It shows that they don't always have their lives together and that there are people they love beyond anything. The moment in The World's End where Gary King begins to break down was wonderfully done. It brings so much of his personality together, without changing the crazy, free-loving guy you've grown to love.
 
Basically, this is a wonderful trilogy with some fantastic people in front of and behind the camera! There is a lot of cussing (and talking about sex) and some violence in all three movies, so if that bothers you, here is your forewarning. Otherwise, check these films out! They make great movies to watch with friends.
 
---
 
Now I wanted to share something I saw on tumblr recently. These are prints made by Joey Spiotto and I would love to own all of them. I would definitely frame and hang them up in my room.
 
 
These prints are obviously based off the classic Little Golden Books, but called a Little Cornetto Book instead. The author, of course, is always Edgar Wright (as he co-wrote each movie with Simon Pegg, and he's the director). Then, we have a lovely kid's style drawing in honor of each movie. Zombies, guns, and booze aren't kid-friendly, but they are certainly perfect for any child-like, geeky adult (like myself)!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: The Sherlockian by Graham Moore


The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

Review by Lauren

copy for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In December 1893, Sherlock Holmes-adoring Londoners eagerly opened their Strand magazines, anticipating the detective's next adventure, only to find the unthinkable: his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, had killed their hero off. London spiraled into mourning -- crowds sported black armbands in grief -- and railed against Conan Doyle as his assassin.

Then in 1901, just as abruptly as Conan Doyle had "murdered" Holmes in "The Final Problem," he resurrected him. Though the writer kept detailed diaries of his days and work, Conan Doyle never explained this sudden change of heart. After his death, one of his journals from the interim period was discovered to be missing, and in the decades since, has never been found.

Or has it?

When literary researcher Harold White is inducted into the preeminent Sherlock Holmes enthusiast society, The Baker Street Irregulars, he never imagines he's about to be thrust onto the hunt for the holy grail of Holmes-ophiles: the missing diary. But when the world's leading Doylean scholar is found murdered in his hotel room, it is Harold - using wisdom and methods gleaned from countless detective stories - who takes up the search, both for the diary and for the killer.


Review: I'll admit it, I need to read all of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. However, I'm fascinated by all the modern retellings of Sherlock like the TV shows Sherlock and Elementary. As for books, I think it's fun to see how today's authors can utilize Holmes or even his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle...and with The Sherlockian, Moore does the latter. This is one book I wish I had read sooner, but I'm finally trying to pick up review copies I've had for awhile and yet never got too. It may have taken me a bit to read this book, but regardless, it was an amazing novel that blends historical truths and literary imaginings in a flawless fashion.

Harold White is a Sherlock Holmes scholar in 2010, and obsessed with anything mysterious or Sherlock Holmes. Therefore, when another scholar is killed, White finds himself pursuing the killer and the lost diary of Conan Doyle that had supposedly been found by the now deceased Sherlockian. Every other chapter features White and his quest for the truth, while the rest of the chapters go back to Arthur Conan Doyle, revealing the secrets that this lost diary holds.

I love when modern books use classic authors as characters, as it's interesting to imagine what these men and women were like while alive. Moore created a fascinating Doyle who wanted to be known for his own genius and not merely as the "companion" of Sherlock Holmes, who the fans would like to imagine is actually real. As for his partner-in-crime, Bram Stoker (author of Dracula), Moore imagines a gruff man who is wise to the darker areas of London, making him a wonderful asset to Doyle on his question to find a real-life murderer.

Going back and forth between 1900 and 2010 kept the pace flowing, as each storyline added its own sense of suspense, mystery, and murder. It was also exciting to learn things in 2010 that you ultimately "experience" in 1900. I do want to note that there are things mentioned about Sherlock  Holmes stories throughout the book so if you're that worried about spoilers, I'd read Holmes' original tales first. As for me, I didn't mind the details as most stories weren't spoiled and besides, The Sherlockian is definitely worth reading!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tune in Tuesday with Theo Katzman

 
Tune in Tuesday is brought to you by Kate's Tales of Books and Bands

Today I bring you Theo Katzman. You can visit his website and listen to some songs!

Or you can watch the official video for Theo's song "Brooklyn."


"You make Detroit feel so far away
And I've only
Known you a day
(I haven't even known you a day)
True like New York, but you lie like L.A.
And I've only
Known you a day
(I haven't even know you a day)"
-"Brooklyn"

I saw Darren Criss live a few months ago and his opening act was Theo Katzman, a good friend of his. It was the first time I'd heard Theo but I immediately enjoyed him. He's fun to watch live and has some great songs. If you would like to see him live, check out the upcoming tour dates.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bunbury Photos: Bethesda Rocks It Out

photo by Kari Becker

During the Bunbury Festival weekend, I posted an interview with the band Bethesda, which you can check out here (please do!) Unfortunately, Bethesda played on Sunday (when I could not attend, because I had to work) but my sister was able to attend their show and got some fun photos I wanted to share with everyone! She said the show was very enjoyable, and she even got some crowd shots to show the fun everyone else was having!

Check out Bethesda on their website

photo by Kari Becker
 
 
photo by Kari Becker
 
 
photo by Kari Becker
 
Crowd Shots!!!
 
photo by Kari Becker
 
photo by Kari Becker

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Graphic Novel Wish List


I've mentioned it before, but I took a graphic novel class awhile ago and I loved it. I found that I wanted to read more books in this format...and hopefully I've been showcasing some new titles on the blog. However, I want to read more! I need to utilize my library or my own money to keep up with all the titles I think sound great. At any rate, I thought I'd share what books I want to read soon and see if anyone had any thoughts or other ideas I should add to my list!

-Lauren

Americus by MK Reed, art by Jonathan Hill

Neal Barton just wants to read in peace. Unluckily for him, some local Christian activists are trying to get his favorite fantasy series banned from the Americus public library on grounds of immoral content and heresy. Something has to be done, and it looks like quiet, shy Neal is going to have to do it. With youth services librarian Charlotte Murphy at his back, Neal finds himself leading the charge to defend the mega-bestselling fantasy series that makes his life worth living.


My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, "Jeff" was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche—a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates.


Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.

Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to “cure” an otherwise brilliant mind.



Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen, art by Jonathan Case

Throughout the 1980s, the highest priority of Seattle-area police was the apprehension of the Green River Killer, the man responsible for the murders of dozens of women. But in 1990, with the body count numbering at least forty-eight, the case was put in the hands of a single detective, Tom Jensen. After twenty years, when the killer was finally captured with the help of DNA technology, Jensen and fellow detectives spent 188 days interviewing Gary Leon Ridgway in an effort to learn his most closely held secrets-an epic confrontation with evil that proved as disturbing and surreal as can be imagined. Written by Jensen's own son, acclaimed entertainment journalist Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story presents the ultimate insider's account of America's most prolific serial killer.


a + e 4ever by Ilike Merey

Asher Machnik is a teenage boy cursed with a beautiful androgynous face. Guys punch him, girls slag him and by high school he's developed an intense fear of being touched. Art remains his only escape from an otherwise emotionally empty life. Eulalie Mason is the lonely, tough-talking dyke from school who befriends Ash. The only one to see and accept all of his sides as a loner, a fellow artist and a best friend, she's starting to wonder if ash is ever going to see all of her.... a + e 4EVER is a graphic novel set in that ambiguous crossroads where love and friendship, boy and girl, straight and gay meet. It goes where few books have ventured, into genderqueer life, where affections aren't black and white.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: Genius by Steven T. Seagle


Genius by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen

Review by Lauren

copy for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Ted Marx works hard at his career as a quantum physicist. But lately the demands of his job have begun to overwhelm him. Then Ted makes a startling discovery: his wife's father once knew Einstein and claims that Einstein entrusted to him a final, devastating secret—a secret even more profound and shattering than the work that led to the first atom bombs. If Ted can convince his father-in-law to tell him what Einstein had to say, his job will be safe. But does he dare reveal Einstein's most dangerous secret to those who might exploit it?

Review: Genius has an interesting premise, as the main character, Ted, is just as the title says. Except his one great breakthrough might be behind him. How do you continue working among other geniuses when they are achieving so much more? Ted worries a lot. He worries about his son who might be growing up a bit too fast. He worries about his daughter who is smart, like him, but just wants to fit in. He worries about his wife, who might be really sick and if he doesn't keep his job, how can he afford to help her? And finally...he worries about whether he should extract the secret his father-in-law holds; the secret Einstein told him to never tell anyone else.

Despite being years after his death, Einstein plays a large role in this novel. He's Ted's idol and someone Ted speaks to in his dreams in order to find the answers for his life. Ted thinks Einstein's untold theory could rejuvenate his career and keep his family intact, but Einstein eventually shows Ted much more than that.

Genius is a fascinating book and I'm excited to have gotten the chance to read it. I'm not a science person by any means, yet most of what was discussed isn't terribly difficult to understand. Regardless, the science jargon doesn't take up much of the book. Genius really is more than the title shows, as Ted ultimately cares about his family and not his job. Will he do whatever it takes to help them, though, or will he find a way to change things without affecting his conscious?

Most of the artwork is fairly muted, with a lot of greys, blues, browns, with a random burst of color, such as red, for certain clothes or items. As this is very much a thinking book, I feel like the color scheme works.

A page from the novel-

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tune in Tuesday with Mads Langer



Tune in Tuesday, courtesy of Kate's Tales of Books and Bands

There are a lot of fun memes on Tuesday, and I can't do them all, so I figured today would be a good day to try out Tune in Tuesday since I do love music!

My pick today is Mads Langer
 

Mads is from Denmark and I believe I found him via Tumblr, but I can't be 100 percent sure. At any rate, he's an amazing singer with some lovely songs. I wanted to share a couple below, but you can visit his website or search youtube for more by him.

"Heartquake" by Mads Langer


"I'm full of fascination
Right now it feels like the world is gonna last forever
And your determination seems to change the situation
We both surrender"
 
"Elephant" by Mads Langer


"Mysterious, mysterious
As she is walking towards me
Oblivious, I'm oblivious
To what is happening around me
She's covering her face
And I try to catch her eyes"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Movie Review- Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters



Movie Review - Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: In order to restore their dying safe haven, the son of Poseidon and his friends embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece while trying to stop an ancient evil from rising.

Review: As someone who hasn't read the Percy Jackson books, I really enjoyed this movie. I haven't watched the first film in a long time, and I do wish I had gotten a little more updated before jumping into Sea of Monsters. Regardless, it was fun to see Percy and his friends again as they set out on another quest!

While I liked the movie, my friend (who has read most of the books) did not like it. She said it was okay for awhile, but the end was completely different from the book and she hated that. This is obviously an issue for many people - the differences between books and movies - so if you're going to be bothered by that, you probably won't like the movie either. But if you don't mind that things are different, or you're like me and haven't read the books, this could be an enjoyable film to see with the family!

Logan Lerman does a great job as Percy, and I love how he shows both vulnerability and strength in equal measures. He's definitely a young actor I love and I can't wait to see what else he does in the future.

A fun addition to this movie was Nathan Fillion as Hermes. He makes a great joke about awesome shows only lasting one season --  it was a cute little "inside joke" if you will.

Overall, an adventurous movie that many would enjoy. Great for guys and girls, which is always a plus!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky


Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

Review by Lauren

copy from the author, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: After everything that happened—my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup—jumping back into the dating game seemed like the least healthy thing I could do. It’s not that I didn’t want to fall in love again, since that’s about the best feeling ever. But as a busy college premed still raw from heartbreak, which is the worst feeling ever, I figured I’d lie low for a while. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, an impossibly amazing—and devastatingly cute—guy came along, and I learned that having a new boyfriend is the quickest way to recover from losing your old one. 

The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered.

But I couldn’t avoid my future forever. 

Review: When I was offered the chance to read this book for possible review, I was also given the option of reading the first book, Anatomy of a Boyfriend. However, I was assured these books were written to be companion novels and I didn't have to read the first. I decided to go ahead and check out Single Girl on its own. While many will want to know more about Dominique's first whirlwind romance, this novel is capable of being read on its own. Dom references her ex and the experiences they shared enough for readers to get a good idea of what happened and why Dom is currently dedicated to focusing on her studies instead of finding her next big love.

The summer between her freshmen and sophomore year in college, though, Dom meets a wonderful boy named Guy who shows her things about relationships and life that she never knew before. It's a quick romance, but not one without its troubles. Dom isn't used to being physical for the sake of it; she's more the "fall in love and imagine a future together" type. Guy isn't like that though, and Dom deals with many misgivings and questions throughout Single Girl. I enjoyed that Guy wasn't the perfect person. He had his faults and some things he believed about love were ideas I didn't personally agree with, so it was easy to want Dom to run away before her heart got even more entangled.

Something I loved about this book is that Dom is in college and therefore, I would count this novel as New Adult. It's different from a lot of NA summaries I've read too. Dom might not be a single girl the entire time, but she certainly isn't a romance expert. Her best friend Amy is a notorious flirt, except she's in an exclusive relationship. Guy seems like the perfect fit for Dom, but he's realistic about relationships and doesn't see a future past the summer. With these two surrounding her, Dom isn't sure what she actually wants anymore.

Dom is an enjoyable narrator. Since she's going to school to become a doctor, she worries a lot about health and safety...making her issues with safe sex and getting tested even more realistic. There are certainly a lot of details concerning sex, including a scene where Dom visits a gynecologist. These are all important things and it's nice to know books like these do exist for girls. They are straightforward, fairly realistic, and yet they don't ignore the reality of sex, where not everyone stays abstinent until marriage.

I would definitely recommend this book for older readers, but I do recommend it!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Goodbye, Rebel Blue

 
Waiting on Wednesday, brought to you by Breaking the Spine.

Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Official Summary: Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she's known) decides to complete the dead girl's bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed-a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy-particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself.

Why I Want This: I've come across a few books where someone does another person's bucket list, and I always like the idea, but I don't remember ever actually reading one. However, I do want to check out Rebel Blue for the interesting premise and what seems to be some lovely characters. You know me, I love some great characterization.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt


Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt

Review by Lauren

copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Welcome to the city of Red Wheelbarrow, where the world's greatest detective has yet to meet the crime he can't solve—every criminal in Red Wheelbarrow is caught and convicted thanks to Detective Gould's brilliant mind and cutting-edge spy technology.

But lately there has been a rash of crimes so eccentric and random that even Detective Gould is stumped. Will he discover the connection between the compulsive chair thief, the novelist who uses purloined street signs to write her magnum opus, and the photographer who secretly documents peoples' most anguished personal moments? Or will Detective Gould finally meet his match?

Review: Red Handed is a fascinating mystery story, made only more interesting through the graphic format. Like most graphic novels, this was a fairly quick read...but not too fast. It's actually one of those books that going back and re-reading would probably help understanding. Everything seems random and mixed up until you get near the end and finally realize that things are more connected than first appearances showed.

I wish that I had time to read the book again, but as I did not, I'm still a bit confused about how certain aspects of the story connect. Regardless, I found Red Handed to be a novel worth thinking about. Throughout the book there are some philosophical conversations about the nature of crime.

For example, here is an excerpt (the bold shows a different speaker; their lines are bolded in the actual text)-

Is stealing a loaf of bread which leads to someone dying, murder?

A victimless crime isn't a crime at all.

There is no such thing as a victimless crime.

There are crimes that save lives.

Really.

Really. That electric chair? You know how many people it killed?

Executed.

taken from pg. 29 of a final copy

It certainly leaves a lot to think about and discuss. Red Handed is a curious little book, but honestly, it would be a perfect choice for a book club.

The artwork is well done- everything is in color but in sorted of muted tones. Nothing is too striking, which just opens up the words to be the most shocking addition to the book.

Worth reading! Definitely!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gift Guide of Cheap Shipping Costs

Gift Guide of Cheap Shipping Costs
 
When I asked people about ideas to do for gift guides, a few of you seemed interested in finding online shops that offered free or cheap shipping. This is certainly something I could try and do again in the future, with new shops, but I wanted to share what I had at the moment. Again, leave any gift guide ideas in the comments. And don't worry, I have the last post to go off of too.
 
-Lauren
 
No More Rack- $2 flat rate shipping per item. They ship to the Continental U.S. and no sales tax except to New York state.
 
I love this website because there are new items added every day. You definitely have to keep checking back to find what you want, but they offer a lot of great items from electronics, to household goods, to jewelry, to clothes, to makeup, etc. I've already bought a few items from them and it always turns out well! They tell you about the product, the original price, and then what you have to pay (plus the $2 shipping per item). Obviously, for certain items, you might want to check out the internet to see if you can find a better deal...but some items are obviously a steal! Great place to find unique gifts for a low price and low, low shipping!
 

Nordstrom - free standard shipping in the U.S. - even Alaska and Hawaii. No minimum purchase needed. You get free returns too.

Nordstrom is certainly a pricey store, so there are things you wouldn't necessarily want to buy...but free shipping in the U.S. does help lower costs. However, if you look around online, you can get some nicely priced gift items for the home, etc.


The Book Depository- free shipping worldwide, as long as you live in a country on this list!

I'm sure all of you know about The Book Depository. It's a great place to buy your books online since you don't have to pay for the shipping costs. Sometimes the books are even cheaper here than at Amazon or some other website. However, I wanted to include TBD on this list because you can also buy some fun gift items on this site, apart from books. I wasn't aware of this for awhile so I figured I might not be the only one.

One of the easiest ways to find some of these fun items is to go here. I simply logged onto the site, clicked Stationary in the left hand list of categories, and then clicked All Category Books at the top.

Here are some of the items I found by doing so -

Tim Burton playing cards from $4.99 - buy it here

Sukie Button Factory (kit) for $14.97 - buy it here

Origami Paper for $4.95 - buy it here


Desk Notes Keep Calm and Carry On for $7.43 - buy it here

Office Kit (inspired by the TV show "The Office") for $17.00 - buy it here

Cupcake Shoppe Stationary for $8.68 - buy it here
 
 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Grammarly- Helping Writers Succeed



I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because even those with an English degree can admit grammar can be difficult.

As most of you reading this are fellow bloggers, you know how important it is to present your best side to the online world. Obviously, that includes the way that you write. You don't want your reviews to sound like an essay for an English class, per se, but you do want people to understand what you're saying, right? I've noticed mistakes in my own posts before and I do try and change what I can, but sometimes you just don't have a lot of time. It's nice to get help where you can.

Apart from blogging, I write in other areas of my life. For one, I just finished undergrad in English Literature and boy do you need a lot of help! I tried to have people look over as many of my papers as I could, because being in all those English classes doesn't mean I'm the expert. It's always harder to find mistakes in your own writing, I think. Would you agree? Now, I'll be starting grad school in a few weeks. I'm nervous, but getting any help I can is always a relief.

Finally, I love to write for fun. One of my lifetime goals is to be a published author. I haven't had as much time to write for my own sake lately, but I know when I do, I'll need grammar help. Even the most famous authors out there have editors after all. If you don't have a critique partner (and I am lucky to have one!), but even if you do, you want to take advantage of any help you can find.

What about you? What do you do to make sure your writing is the best it can be?


this is a sponsored post from Grammarly- everything written are my own opinions though!