Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review: Eating The Cheshire Cat by Helen Ellis


Eating The Cheshire Cat
by Helen Ellis

Release: February 13, 2001
Author Info: Website
Publisher: Scribner
Age Group: Young Adult/Adult
Source: Bought (Thrifted $.25)

"Eating the Cheshire Cat" lures us into a world of perfectly planned parties and steep social ladders, where traditional rites of passage take unpredictable and horrifying turns as three girls and their overbearing mothers collide. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, beauty is as beauty does, with axes and knives and killer smiles. Sarina Summers and her mother will stop at nothing to have it all. Nicole Hicks harbors a fierce obsession with Sarina, which repeatedly undermines Mrs. Hicks's ambitious goals. Bitty Jack Carlson, a nice girl from the wrong side of the tracks, is caught in the crossfire but struggles to succeed outside the confines of this outrageous yet eerily familiar Southern community. It's survival of the fittest. Which girl will come out on top?

Covering everything from summer camp to the University of Alabama's Homecoming game, this fast-paced and unforgettable novel will keep readers guessing until the bitter end.

Warning: Mild Spoilers!

Apparently, the subject and style of this book is meant to be dark humour. Whereas I, didn't find it funny. At all.

I had almost no idea what I was walking into starting this book, if I had known, I wouldn't have ever picked it up. All I knew was the story was about three girls that unexpectedly cross paths throughout their lives, each time having more effect on them than the last.
There is so much more to it than that; webs of lies, deceit, trauma, mental illness, obsession, harassment, bullying.
I found this story in a simple phrase to sum up my opinion "Seriously messed up". This book was difficult for me to read, not the book it's self (under 300 pages, took me two sittings), but the issues and situations that were addressed and encountered; most of all, how they were dealt with.

This is a changing narrative book, between three characters; Sarina, Nicole, and Bitty Jack. Each section of the book, 3 total (Through the Looking Glass, Down the Rabbit Hole, and Off With Her Head), serve as a sort of time lapse and the level of seriousness as to what issues the girls have in their lives. (Starting with middle school, high school, and finally college which starts to look into their futures.) From kids, to teens, and finally "(young) adults".

Each time we meet the characters time has passed. Starting at 16 with Sarina, and flashing back to the age of 13, back to 16, from there ages start to blur and school is used as a sort of age gauge. 10 grade, first year of college, second year of college, occasionally playing catch-up to fill in some blanks. Finally the book ends around the 3rd year of college.

Sarina is always the #1 it girl. Miss Popular, Miss Cool, Miss Everyone-else-falls-in-line-behind-her.
Top of the food chain, perfect, perfect, perfect! Sadly only her image is perfect. (Of course) Her personal life is beyond messed up, always plotting, always scheming, always out to turn things into her favour. She will do what she has to, lie, cheat, and manipulate; for what she wants. She is pure evil, if you can even imagine.
But at the same time, I feel bad her, in a twisted way. Most of what she does and thinks, was taught. Thanks to her jaded mother and her failed marriage, and living her life for what she wants, regardless of who she hurts to get it, including herself
What she does, is all she knows. It's all about getting what she wants and living with the thrill of achieving the results, however short lived they might be.

Nicole is Sarina's #2, always. Nicole mother is beyond controlling, always pushing her to be the best, try harder, be better. To the point she completely smothers her daughter. To the point her daughter fails in most areas of her life just to prove her mother wrong. "Push me all you want, but I still control the outcome" even if it ultimately makes her more miserable.
Nicole is crazy about Sarina, while through most of the book it's unsure if she see Sarina as 'more than a friend' but over time the issue becomes addressed. Throughout most of the book, she just adore Sarina, to the point of obsession.
She wants nothing more than to be there for her. To be the one Sarina trusts with everything, to tell everything, to do everything with her. To have someone in her life that cares for her just the way she is, without trying to change or control her. That just wants her in their life.
Once again, in a twisted way, I feel bad for her as well.

Bitty Jack, the daughter from a low-income family in a small 'never heard of it' town. They live and work on a summer camp site where do to their work and living arrangements (able to live on site if they become care-takers of the place) Bitty Jack used to attend as a kid and eventually becomes a counselor during the summer season.
Out of all the girl Bitty Jack as the best grasp on reality and how to work for what you want, not cheat, lie, or steal to get it. Nothing has been handed to her. She understands you can only accomplish through hard work, and while life isn't always easy, it's better to go through it with a bright outlook and positive attitude.
However she sadly crosses paths with Sarina more than a few times, who continues to cause havoc on her life and threats to tear their lives apart. Over time there are negative changes and actions from Bitty Jack as a result of her not-so-easy life.

Each one of them is selfish to a fault. At the end of the day, out for themselves.
While this isn't true for Bitty Jack, life and situations sometimes force her into a corner, and she makes a few horrible decisions, more than once.

All in all this book is just... twisted. At the same time it's like a train-wreck, I couldn't stop reading it to see what would happen.

I can not recommend this book. I can't. I can't even tell you the level of "What the.." I have towards this book.
Which I apologize, is why the "review" is fairly short. (Although it's more like a detailed synopsis, I couldn't find much else to say or explain without entirely ruining the book.)

Recommend: Not recommended, unless you really enjoy what's apparently meant to be 'dark humour' and extreme teen social issues along with questionable mental state.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer Reading: What's on your list?

Hey everyone, I know I missed the official first week of summer, but that's okay! (The first day of summer being June 20th.) As summer is still here and not going anywhere, I think all is fine.

Like most people, come summer time I decided to make myself a few summer goals. One of those, being a summer reading list! sadly I only came up with a few things I really wanted to read. I'm hoping to get some more recommendations or find something I really want to read.

Summer Reading List (No order)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My list is actually very short, it's kind of embarrassing. Considering I've already read half of it.
That said, am looking for some recommendations!

Any books out there you think I should give a read?
I'm looking for 2-4 more, at least! I'm hoping to add some more YA to the list but not too many.

What are you guys planning to read? Do you have a reading list or just read what catches your eye/interest?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Extras: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

With my specific "Now a Major Motion Picture"copy of The Help by Kathryn Stockett (See image source link!) there are two extras in the back. Whereas I'm not entirely sure what other version these are included in.
I wanted to share my opinion of them and hopefully spark more thought on the story, maybe some dialogue between readers.

There is an essay by Kathryn Stockett and "Reading Group Guide".

The essay is titled "Too Little, Too Late Kathryn Stockett in her words".The essay tells of her personal life, but mostly of her relationship with her own maid, Demetrie.

Personally, I love little added tidbits of information about someone. Even more so, if it's about their private life, I feel it really fleshes them out as a human being, rather than the person we have set in our minds, that is mostly a name attached to what they've done.
Finding out something personal about them, makes you realize they're just as human as everyone else. Especially if they are willingly sharing it.

The funny thing is, most of what I said in my personal note on the actual review for The Help was said by Kathryn Stockett, herself.
She admitted to having the difficultly of trying to imagine what it much have been like to a black, female, domestic worker in the 60s.  How much she fought with herself about trying to be a voice for these women and their views. While also trying to show the complex relationships and lives of everyone involved.
How embarrassed and ashamed she was for being the topic up because she was taught not to discuss such things, but that they do exist. Trying to sweep them under the table just because you don't think it's appropriate, doesn't make the issue go away. Although some people don't believe or even realize there is an issue.

She talked about her life, her maid, and their relationship. Only to realize how important and special it was after it was gone. How her view of the world, and her life, changed as she grew up. How naive and immature she had been, although maybe based on the time and the South.
While the book is dedicated to her grandfather, she said Demetrie is the reason she wrote the book. For the conversations she never got to have, the things that were never said, and the relationship she wouldn't realize she'd miss. For never asking her about her life and how she felt.

It's only a few pages longs but worth the read.

Reading Group Guide

For those who have not read The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
What followers are discussion questions about the book. Meaning, they are filled with spoilers and an open discussion of the book, it's characters, and events.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

Release: February 10, 2009
Author Info: Website
Publisher: Penguin Books
Age Group: Adult
Source: Bought (Thrifted $.50! Featured)

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

Excuse me while I make a few notes. People have had many things to say on the topics of this book, both in the intentions of good and bad. I'd rather say what I have to, and be done with it. You can skip down to the review if you'd like, but I can't bear to cut out my personal opinions on the issues of the book and the topics addressed within the story.

Notice: Given the fact there is a movie based on this book, I intend to stay as far away from the topic of those differences and my preferences. This is strictly a book review.

Warning: This book does have quite a bit of language and deals with the topic of race during a time of segregation in the South during the 1960s.
Frequent usage of the N-word and some adult situations.
I recommend for 18+.

Personal Note: I know there are people that feel a story such as this is nothing but fluff, hiding behind or using topics such as the ones touched on in this book as a way to write something 'greater' than they might have produced on their own. Using 'controversial' issues as a way to make their stories more important and launch them into a more serious sort of spotlight. Personally, I think that's a bunch of bull. Someone's going to do it no matter what you think or say, the issues are there, the topics will be discussed, get over the possibility of judging someone for it, and judge the product of it. Which at the end of the day is the point, they aren't telling you what opinion to have, they are merely presenting the idea.
The idea of African-American domestic house-workers in the early 60s, and their view of things. It may not be 100% accurate, but I feel presenting the idea and possibility is what brings this story attention. And it should, what were things like back then, how did African-American women live, what did they think of the world, they family they worked for, and the children they cared for? The world was beginning to change, and they were in the middle of it all, living most of their lives (working) in a white household.

I find stories such as these interesting, because of how I've been raised. Let me briefly explain.. I'm from California, where my both of my parents were born and raised, issues such as a race where never an issues even in my parents lives. It was something I never witnessed until I was 5 and had moved to Tennessee. Moving to the South at an early age was a culture shock for me, going from never judging anyone to having everyone judge everyone else, from the colour of their skin, to what accent they had, their native language, to what church you went to (which was never the right one). I spent almost 18 years of my life there.. I can't believe the way some people think and still live. But some people do, it's sad and appalling. /end

Hopefully I didn't bore everyone to death, with that out of the way, let's begin our review!

This book uses the changing of narrative, which is an amazing literary tool when used correctly. While fairly common I feel it takes a very good writer to pull it off well, Kathryn Stockett did more that than; this is by far one of the best changing narrative books I've ever read. I always find the concept interesting, reading from more than one character perspective, however I rarely enjoy it. I can't imagine this book written any other way.
What I appreciate most was, the lack of repeating situations over in different narratives that often, because it does happen. There was also very brief moments of playing 'catch up' between characters to get them up to speed, but it never took long or dragged. Whenever mentioned it added to the situation and what information was being shared.

Let's talk about the characters because they are each different and you see from each of their views, I'll try to avoid saying too much as the summary introduced them decently.

There's Aibileen who is wasting her life away because she sees no other means to providing for herself.
When she's introduce she's beginning to come to the end of her rope, working as a maid all of her life. She specialize in babies, until they start going to school and becoming more like their mothers/fathers. At that point she moves on because she can't stand to see everything she's taught them be over-turned by a women that hasn't paid them any attention or taught them until it's time to 'correct' what they've learned and know about the world.
Aibileen is a fairly quiet, calm, level-headed, loving character. Always ready to give some words of wisdom or bring some reason to the chaos. She put a lot of value into teaching children to feel good about themselves, along with overtime learning she can teach them things about the world before the roles of race begin to set in.

Minny is.. a sass-mouth. She's known for saying what's on her mind and finding herself without a job because of it. At the beginning of the story she crosses paths with Miss Hilly, the ring-leader of anyone-who's-anyone in Jackson, by working for her mother, Miss Walters, who's starting to lose her mind a little (probably more than that..). Hilly sets her up to be out of a job, in planning on taking Minny for herself, as she's known as the best cook in Jackson and Hilly has to have her. Only, everything falls apart and Minny does indeed find herself without a job, and on the wrong side of the worse possible person in Jackson, Miss Hilly.
At home she's got 5 kids, two of who are already old enough to work (and doing so) and an alcoholic husband who is border-line abusive, and only getting worse with time.
She's stuck between a rock and a hard place, putting on a tough act trying to keep her life together, with only Aibileen who sees through her and knows how bad things are.

Miss Skeeter, is that different breed of women that didn't go off to college for her "Mrs." She went to school for an education and a chance to make something of herself in the world, only to find herself back in Jackson, back on her parents farm, and not knowing who the women in Jackson are anymore, especially the ones that used to be her friends. She finds herself no longer able to relate or even enjoy speaking to her old friends, who are more concerned about being married, having babies, and keeping their help in line.
Skeeter dreams of being a writer and gets her chance when someone for a publishing company in New York gives her the time of day, to write her a letter that starts communication on what she needs to do in order to be 'a writer'.

I felt the flow of the characters and their differences worked. There's friction, that never quite boils over, and conflict that is met with reasoning as time goes on. For the most part Miss Skeeter and Aibileen get along, it's Minny that's the problem. Trusting no one, wanting no on in her life, but feels she has to look out for Aibileen, even if she won't admit it.
At the end of the day Aibileen and Minny only have each other to rely on, they know all their worried, dreams, and concerns, they know how to balance each other, even though their personalities are so different. Aibileen knows the times to wave Minny off and when to calm her down, Minny knows when to act up and when to quietly watch. Adding Miss Skeeter to the mix is found to create tension at first, although over time it begins to fade as Minny warms to her. Again, even if she'll never admit it.

What I enjoyed the most, was the differences in the people in Jackson, from the workers to their employers. How you learn more about a person when you talk to their help. Everyone in Jackson has an imagine and reputation to maintain, you don't get close to your help or people see you a 'sympathizer' (to put it simply). That doesn't stop people from treating their help better than some and worse then others.

This book is about there being more to the world and what it holds, most of all when it hasn't been talked about. Things happen, even if no one says anything. How you're raised does effect you, but it doesn't decide who you are or how you see the world.

The few downsides I have to state are the speed of the book. There are moments, around the middle, that the story sort of lulls, waiting on someone or something to set everything back in motion. Going through the characters everyday lives, while interesting, I felt like I was waiting on the main plot line to pick back up.
Along with the passing of time jumping around without being mentioned that often. One side character announces she's expecting, only to be 6-7 months along the next time we see her, followed by a few months after giving birth.

I suppose that's what I like about this book, while the location and the time you assume how things are going to be, after reading you find that things aren't always as they appear. There are people and their families that are different from the rest, that care for their help and treat them better than is ever discussed.
(Anybody that knows anything knows Mississippi was one of the worst places to be African-American during segregation. Although it's not like there was much of a safe place in the South during that time.)

Recommend: Issues of race, segregation, personal stories, drama.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

(FTW) Finds This Week: #2

Finds This Week: #2


"Deals, FTW!"


This is my version of all those "weekly haul" memes. (More Information)

This last week I did some more thrift shopping, while in search of household items and furniture, among those I hit two thrift stores and Target, and found a few things to add to my collections.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Movie Review: Men in Black III

Men in Black III (2012)

Based on: The Men in Black by Lowell Cunningham
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Producer: Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald
Studio: Amblin Entertainment, P+M Image Nation, Hemisphere Media Capital
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Release Date(s): May 23, 2012 (France), May 25, 2012 (United States)
Running Time: 106 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Rating: PG-13

Official Site

Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back... in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K's life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him - secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind. (Source)

Movie Tags: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comedy, Goofy, Imaginative, Quirky

Yes this is a time-travel movie and somewhat of a 'tie-in' to piece in the other movies and the world of MIB after 10 years. The funny thing? It actually works.

Let me say I am a huge fan of MIB when it first came out and while I have seen them all, I can admit when one isn't that great. Even to the point of not being happy to admit that I have seen it.. those of you that have seen Men in Black II should know what I'm talking about.. (While parts of the storyline are valid, the movie wasn't one to be remembered and I'm still trying to block it out..)
This one however, surpasses any expectations set for it along with being better than the previous example of the series. Although, it could be argued that's why it's better.

Bringing a storyline back to life after 10 years, isn't easy; actors age, people won't sign back on, and there's always the factor of trying to introduce not only the old audience but a new one as well. Trying to appeal to new fans while pleasing the old ones.
This being said, it's no surprise that there are new faces to the franchise, although these new ones should not be overlooked; most notable there is the introduction of Josh Brolin as young Agent K who was amazing. It was a pure entertainment to watch him in the role. He went above and beyond, doing the role of Agent K justice.

While most of this films' plot line seems similar to what we've seen before, expanding on Agent K, his life and trying to farther understand him, there more to this story than meets the eyes. Under the almost typical plot there are plenty of twists, turns, and laughs to be found. Some moments are more pleasing than others, and there are a few that might have you saying "Predictable" this is still an entertaining movie.
Nothing is ever going to stop the complex relationship J and K have. K being distance and J forever trying to figure him out and make him less stiff and strict. K being K and J being J; it's that opposites' relationship that both works and causing never-ending friction, only leaving room for entertainment.

Plot-wise, the general roles of 'good' and 'bad' where displayed along with those fighting to help the good while stopping the bad and save the world, a simple plot, but sometimes there's nothing wrong with simple, when you rely on the characters coming to life and playing the story out. I feel they did, having this movie live up to the expectations set for it.

What I enjoyed the most was the ever growing introduction of aliens and other life forms. There was an alien introduce that was able to see multiply futures, never knowing which was the one they were heading towards, which leads to countless awkward moments. He constantly said things along the lines of "Unless we're in the reality where (thing) happens" *waits for it, it doesn't happen* "Whew, that was a close one." While everyone else lives on none the wiser. Although that's kind of the theme in MIB isn't it?

What I really loved, was the cleverness behind this film. In the sense of not only appealing to it's young audience, in expanding and while introducing it's self to new fans, but also in the sense of playing homage to an older crowd that I feel may have been previously overlooked. With the factor of time travel, there are countless jokes and references to things that aren't around anymore, that might have applied to an older crowd. Both the seriousness of the theme (aka being in the past) and in poking fun; jet-packs the size of a car and the usual, H-U-G-E cellphones.

One of the negative points I have to comment on, it's a very large pet-peeve, the CGI and general computer animated or manipulation of the film. Compared to the other films, there is no question this is the best looking MIB movie in all of it's Sci-fi glory. However, there are still moments of sloppy work which drive me insane. Mostly the villain hopping around, which looked ridiculously fake, no questions asked. I understand some situations can't happen in real life, it should still look 'real'. (I can only explain it as, he looked like Mr. Fantastic, you know stretches and looking like he has no bones, hoping around. Really bothered me.)

I highly recommend this film. Not the MIB we're used to, which isn't a bad thing.
Compared to the other movies, I was felt feeling MIB has lived to a reputation of being over the top, bigger and badder is ultimately better, where as MIB III delivered a story with more heart and soul while not sacrificing anything plot wise. Well other than Tommy Lee Jones not having much time in the spot-light, which makes me sad but still happy to see he would return for the role, if only for awhile.

There are questions answered while others are raised. I feel the journey is worth what we find out, over what is left to be answered or decide for yourself. Which is what the Sci-fi genre is about; the conspiracy and theories the individuals decide on.

There are already questions behind the possibility of MIB IV, I hope it doesn't happen. This movie left on a fairly clean although possibly open-ended note. It could be said to nicely wrap up the series. *Crosses fingers*

Recommended: Sci-fi, Quirky, Time-travel, Adventure.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

(FTW) Finds This Week: #1

Finds This Week: #1

I'm changing it up!

I've decided to go my own way in doing a "Stacking the Shelves" (Hosted by Tynga's Reviews), "Showcase Sunday" (Hosted by Books, Biscuits, and Tea) and "In My Mailbox" (Hosted by The Story Siren) themes (just to name a few), All of which were originally inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie.
Now I won't be going to the extreme of changing my old posts out, although I will no longer be using the In My Mailbox tag. which was the meme I was using.
I will however still link my blog around to mentioned/related 'haul' memes

Why the change?
While there are many possible reasons as to why the change, none of them really matter aside from "Either way you don't win." In addressing the amount of drama I've both saw and still see on occasion flying around, I'd rather not link myself to anyone's "Weekly goodies" memes. If you know what I'm talking about this is all I'm going to say, or rather 'imply' on the matter, if you have no idea why it would matter; Good.
And while it hasn't personally happened to me (that I know of), it wouldn't surprise me if people start to un-follow someone for still using "In My Mailbox" or starting with the newer version "Stacking the Shelves" or "Showcase Sunday".
Either you go with the new trends or stick with the old one. Some people won't be happy with whatever you do, but that's their view of things. While I personally, don't care what most people think about this I really just don't want to put myself in the middle of something I have nothing to do with.

From that I will be; Neutral. Hopefully that is reasonable enough.

There's more to it:
Along with none of those titles really fitting how I go about this. I'm not feeling their style or function. They just aren't my speed in the way I gather books and the fact I also branch out with TV and movies.
I'm pretty much a no one who doesn't expect to receive ARCs or anything of the variety unless it's a giveaway/contest. Even still I'm horribly unlucky in that sense so I don't invest much in having a return. (It's just fun be part of something sometimes. See what people are up to, what they are saying, etc.)

I mostly surf the net, thrift stores, second-hand shops, and look for deals. Which I enjoy. (It's like a mini treasure hunt, only easy on the bank account.. sometimes!)

Also as horrible as it is to admit it, I wanted a clever name. While this isn't the best that's out there, for now it's what I came up with. For those unfamiliar with the term "FTW" it generally means "For The Win" the nerd/gamer in me giggles a little when I attach it to my great deals. Because you'd use the term "FTW" to farther emphasize what caused something great. IE: "Great deals, FTW."
Not the best way to explain the term, but hopefully understandable enough to those that wouldn't normally see or use it.

The Finds

This last week I was shown around some of thrift stores in my new location. I was luckily enough to find a couple of them with decent book sections!

I also found a cute little second hand book shop, but was unable to do any shopping. Thanks to an extremely rude customer, which resulted in me walking out. (Was not happy that day.) Hopefully I will try to go back and browse again in the future.

This week I got 4 books for under $5 (with tax)!


Thrift Store #1

The Help by Kathryn Stockett $.50

(Check the image out on the left for the copy I own.)
I wanted to show that I purchased the "Movie-Tie-In) edition, which I'd normally be less inclined to by, but with a price tag of $.50, I wasn't going to walk away from it.
The main reason I wanted to feature this edition is because it has an essay by the author along with 'discussion questions'.
I plan to add those into my review.

I have already seen the movies, when it came out, which is very rare for me to do, and I loved it! I've seen a few time since but it's still as good as the first time.
Easily said I was thrilled to see this book for $.50. Even saw it somewhere else for $5 that day and laughed to myself.

The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus, #1) by Rick Riordan $1.00

This poor poor book! It's been though hell and back. While not my ideal copy, for $1 I'm not going to complain much. I saw it and went "I'm buying you and going to treat you like gold!'

I'm a big fan of Rick Riordan, truly in love with the Percy Jackson series, when I found this there was no question if I was going to buy it or not.

This book was owned by a little girl, which explains why it's so beat up, which I discovered on the first two pages she labeled it and herself as the daughter of Posiden/Nepture. (One on one page one on the other.) I thought it was cute.
It's little quirks like that I love finding hidden in second-hand treasures.
Even with the shape this (poor poor) book is in, I still think it' a great find.

Thrift Store #2

L.A. Candy (L.A. Candy, #1) by Lauren Conrad $2

I won't lie, I've heard very mixed feelings about this book. I however, love Lauren Conrad, not for Laguna Beach or The Hills, but because what she's done. She went to school, she got a job, she's tried to keep out of drama and most of her 'personal life' out of the lime-light, she has her head on her shoulders.

Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic #1) by Sophie Kinsella $.50

I found this while skimming through the Chick-Lit and thought for $.50, no big deal. I heard it cute, although some mixed reviews and a fairly 'iffy' movie based on the book it's self.


Castle: Season 2 & 3
I'm also already done with both of these already. I do love me some Nathan Fillion..

Current Bookmark:

This is something new I wanted to start. While I don't usually have great bookmarks and this won't always be featured, I did want to show my 'current bookmark' on occasion. That is when I have one that's really cute, cool, or just interesting looking.
Inspired by Liza @ Reading with ABC, known as "Bookmark This Week", seen here Bookmark This Week.

This is the card I got out of a Zoltar machine. I'm a Scorpio, by the way.
The funny thing about this card, my mother is an Aries and my father is a Libra, and the roles it's implying, would usually be reversed.
Let's not argue about how much effort or even faith I put into fortune telling or even horoscopes, nonetheless I think they're interesting. Nothing wrong with wasting a few quarters on a machine for fun.

I hope everyone else found some great stuff this week!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mini Movie Review: #1 Mark of Love, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, and Hello Sister, Goodbye Life

Mini Movie Review: #1
Mark of Love, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, and Hello Sister, Goodbye Life

Personal Note: This is a post I started back in April but because of my personal life I never got around to finish and posting. I however, still wanted to share my opinions on these not-so-great movies.

I've watched some not so great movies recently. Wanting to really start on review movies in general, although feeling these movies in question didn't contain enough content to feature a review each (also doubting I would be able to produce enough content about each of them that would worthy of posting) I decided on a mini review to feature all of them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Repost: Which Books Should You Read This Summer?

I saw this over on Kah Cherub's blog NotJustNonsense and had to share.

Someone put a lot of time and thought into this, it's great.

Warning: Large image below the cut!

Monday, May 7, 2012

In My Mailbox #2

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @  The Story Siren to share the books and goodies you've gotten.

I hope everyone had a great week!

This post is for the last two weeks as I've made some great finds during that time.

While I don't expect to make an In My Mailbox post very often, I couldn't pass up making one today. I am a terrible person, I got lots on Amazon's Free Kindle lists!

Oh man, I think we've all been there haven't we? That wonderful feeling of finding books for free but then that horrible feeling of "What have I done to myself?" getting lost in the thrill only to collect more books than you know what to do with. (I don't know about you but I usually end up spending an hour *cough*or more*cough* picking through those "Top 100 Free" lists.)

That said, I wanted to feature some of the finds I found, considering some of them were on my wishlist!
Now I have no problem with self-published or unknown authors. Heck, I read ALL of the Trylle Trilogy before most people heard of Amanda Hocking. (Along with gushing that more people needed to read them!)
These aren't all of my finds, simply some of the ones I wanted to highlight.

Bought (Free):

I'd like to show off my wishlist finds first.

(In order of image)

Betrayal (The Descendants #1) by Mayandree Michel
Breathless (The Blue Fire Saga #1) by Scott Prussing
Frey (The Frey Saga #1) by Melissa Wright
The Mind Readers (Mind Readers #1) by Lori Brighton
Charity Moon by DeAnna Kinney

I am one happy camper!

New Finds:

Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1) by Karina Halle
Set in Stone by Beth Balmanno
The Overtaking by Victorine E. Lieske
Branded (Fall of Angels #1) by Keary Taylor

Other Finds:

These are mostly random free books I found on Amazon, most of them are light reads or rather silly. Most of these are not in my general area of interest, but after reading the summaries I thought I'd give them a try.

Sleeping Handsome by Jean Haus
Spying in High Heels (A High Heels Mystery #1) by Gemma Halliday
Harper Madigan: Junior High Private Eye by Chelsea Campbell
My Life as the Ugly Stepsister by Juli Alexander


I was in Target a few days ago and picked through their DVD section, I freaked out over all the $5 movies and TV series.
Grounded for Life: Season 1 & 2
I LOVE this series! I've been eyeing the different seasons on Amazon for a good year or more, but when I saw them for $5 each I had to jump on them.
(I've already watched them and want more)

3rd Rock From the Sun: Season 3 & 4

This is my mother's Mother Day present, I wanted to those it off because it was only $10!
I gave her season 1 & 2 as a gift not that long ago.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TV Review: Jane by Design

Jane by Design (2012)
Season 1 (Volume 1)

Jane Quimby (Erica Dasher) is a teenager who is mistaken for an adult and lands a job in a hip fashion house, Donovan Decker. She must balance her high school life and her job. She has her best friend Billy (Nick Roux) help her out. While LuLu (Meagan Tandy), a girl who has been mean to Jane since the seventh grade, seems to have it in for her. Jane's father died and her mother has run away unbeknownst where to Jane and Ben. Her brother Ben (David Clayton Rogers) tries to make money by getting jobs, but they never seem to work out, until he lands a job as the athletic assistant at Jane's school.
At Donovan Decker Jane discovers a word full of fashion challenges working for Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell) and tackles them with the help of her co-workers, Jeremy Jones, (Rowley Dennis), India Jourdain (India de Beaufort), Carter (Ser'Darius Blain) and Birdie (Brooke Lyons).

Jane tries to be the best at her job and her school, juggling the everyday challenges of high school and the world of fashion.

Notice: This is yet another series that aired half of their 'first season' in order to have more produce (Once Upon a Time is another example).

This is a review for the first 10 episodes in season one which aired as of March 6, 2012.
8 more episodes to come starting June 5, 2012.

Note: There is a lot I have to talk about, to help sort that I split the review into three sections; Characters, Fashion, and Plot.
Due to the nature of this review and the series, I was forced to skip over or completely leave out sections of information and the opinions attached to them, as I did not want to make a spoiler filled review.

There are no spoilers here.

This is one of those things you hope to love, you try love, but you just can't do it. I could not love this series.
Granted, the plot is interesting, the story is cute, and the characters are charming but I just feel like there was something missing from the main ingredients, something didn't work it all together to create that perfect harmony; to make the story along with it's characters flow and really come to life.

Maybe it has to do with how everything about this story is unbelievable, to the point of being unrealistic, which makes the entire story (and the characters) unrelatable! I found very few characters appealing, in the sense that I would actually care much about them or their story.


First let me state that there are so many 'minor' character in this series, at least in my eyes. Jane is the main character and has a story and focus every episode, once in awhile another member gets highlighted. Although not as often as I would have liked. The way I see it, Jane is the only main character because the story is so heavily focused on her.

Jane..  is perfect, although no one besides her brother and best friend Billy see it! She's smart, witty, slightly quirky, charming, cheerful, honest, hardworking, and above has her head on her shoulders. She's a bit of a trendsetter although no one quite seems to see.. Being all these things she labeled as 'different' and pushed into the outcast social status of high school.
Which I don't get. Jane is a nice girl there is no reason that she shouldn't have more friends or know people. Then again there's only about five character IN the entire high school that she seems to know. What is with that?!

Jane being the way she is, I find this, a load of bull. I'm sorry. She's too perfect, at almost every turn. Then half way through the series Jane looses herself a little. She does a 180 personality-wise and starts doing whatever she wants. I felt it was the mind set "I'm acting like an adult, so I will continue that in doing what I feel and see is fit." When she is nothing more than a child. The power and responsibility of her life, really starts to go to her head.

All in all, I couldn't stand Jane. Which is probably why I didn't like this series more. I felt her to be completely unrelatable. She has no idea how to read people, ever. She can't see what's staring her in the face until someone else points it out, she's far too trustworthy and naive about people, she takes everything on to herself without speaking to anyone but her best friend, to top it off she's had a crush on only one guy, ever. (Although I do get the "One person" mindset.)
I felt she was a shallow character, so many great personality traits that fell ended up falling through plot-wise.

Honestly, I enjoyed the minor characters and their story-lines more. There are side romances and complications that I really couldn't wait to see play out.

Such as her brother Ben, I LOVED BEN! He's amazing.. funny, weird, awkward, such a dork, and beyond adorable. He's working his hardest to provide a life for both him and Jane. He was that star jock in high school who lost everything shortly after and in turn lost his identity. Ben as a guy who got lost behind the responsibility of suddenly becoming the adult for both of Jane and himself in order to provide for both of them.
There are countless scenes when that very fact comes up and he handles it so well. While he's struggling and stumbling along. I stand by the belief he is an amazing adult and influence in Jane's life.
His character (I mean personality and overall being) is wonderful. I can't explain it any other way than I would love to know a guy like this. His storyline is very minor but probably my favourite.

I also enjoyed Billy, Jane's best friend.
Occasionally he was hit a miss, but mostly because he's still in that stage of trying to find himself. (Who isn't?!) He make a few mistakes here and there, slips, but learns. Billy tends to drift in and out of the spotlight, sometimes falling on the back burner to focus on larger conflicts going on.
He's that typical rough looking guy, who actually isn't.. usually. That great guy that gets overlooked, dragged around, and misunderstood because he doesn't follow the typical roles of males in high school or act like the rest of them. It also probably doesn't help that is best friend is a girl, and they closeness is one to be questionable at times.
It took me awhile to understand, but once I got it, I understood they really are just perfect friends. Billy and Jane will always have each others backs.

Minor Cast: Thoughts

Jeremy, honestly I don't know what to think of that guy. He's all over the map. Sometimes he's good and then that jerk streak comes out and leaves you in a tail-spin.
Lulu was a pure witch. While I can't say I can completely understand why, the actress was great. I hear playing mean is a lot of fun, she seemed to enjoy it, and was great at it!
India was... a very interesting and complex character. Completely misunderstood although that's mostly likely her own doing. Sometimes I found myself cheering for her and other times I was hoping she'd 'get hers'.
Nick is completely loveable. Although I found him to be unreadable at time.. never knowing what he might be thinking or likely to due. Luckily he threw a few curve balls that lead to some great surprises.
Carter (who isn't mentioned in summary), I love this guy! He works at the design house and is a great guy. Very trust worthy and helpful.While you wonder where he's loyal, I found him to be a bit like me in a work place. My ears are open and I won't betray anyone but that doesn't mean I wholeheartedly follow them either.
Rita, I loved her! She's Jane's guidance counselor, I really can't say more than that as she has a very minor storyline but it's... sweet and surprising.


Considering this is a fashion show, I have to bring it up. Now I do not claim to be a trendsetter or a fashionaista, but I do not understand what is 'in' and what is 'fashion' sometimes. Usually I can go along with it, something grand and beautiful, you lose me once you head into strange; odd hats, hair pieces, and just questionable fashion choices.

One of the biggest things that bothered me, Jane wore the SAME STYLE almost every time we saw her. It's the style she's wearing in the image at the top of the page. She has a high-waist skirt that shows off her small waist, sometimes with a belt to farther empathize that, and heels. She looks nice in it but I got sick of seeing the same thing in the 'fashion' show.
Along with the pairing, I don't get it! Look at that image, it's a dark purple shirt, with a bright pink skirt (which is this odd petticoat looking design), with yellow and silver shoes. Am I the only one going "What is that?" but maybe that's just me.
Some of the fashion was amazing and others were just weird. I don't understand what part of 'fashion' means throwing out the strangest most 'darning' designs and outfits.

What I also didn't get, was how Jane was so easily passed as 'okay/acceptable' in the fashion world. Sure she's into fashion, shown fixing or making changes to her own clothes, but where did she get those? Every time she goes into work she literally changes into a new outfit. I kept asking myself, for someone who's coming from a family that's struggling (majorly struggling), how is it she had such nice clothes. She did mention at one point she shopped at a vintage/thrift store. But still, enough for people to make comments on her purse/bags once in awhile. I wasn't really buying it.


Each episode being the same basically the same situation over and over again. Which honestly drove me insane after awhile.
Jane walks in, puts her foot in her mouth (usually by being 'honest'), ends up in a sticky situation, and tries to work her way out. Which is fine, sticky complicated situations happen, but almost every character reacts to her the same way.
When it come to Jane, it's black and white. Characters either love her or hate her, and forever act accordingly. There is so much of that "she's a breath of fresh air", which again leads to "I love it, it's refreshing" or "I hate it, things were nice how they were."
There are a few moments of lingering questionable feelings but those leave almost a suddenly as they arrived.

I can't say much more, although I want to or it would give way to spoilers.

One of the biggest flaws I found to be in the show, was the entire setup. Jane gets hired as a personal assistant, who only works part-time. For someone who handles all of their boss' assignments and schedule, that's a bit much for part-time work is it not?
I reason that plot with the fact she's in school and it wouldn't have worked out any other way, but still would it have even worked out at all?
Along with how much work she actually does for 'part time'. If she goes into work around 11am-1pm and stays until even 8pm that's close to 8 hours to work. Doing that 5 days a week that's treading awfully close to full time, especially with how much extra work comes up that forces her to stay late. (Usually coming home well after dark occasionally have Ben ask where she was/why she's so late.)
Then there's the matter of bagging a part time job that pays $34,000 a year. WHAT?! I'd sign up for that!
Just crazy...

That's probably just over thinking it, but a few examples that bothered me the entire time. Everything just, doesn't work out. It doesn't make sense.

The story is very colourful and quirky, however there are far too many plot holes for me to actually take it seriously. While I understand television is made for things that would never happen I also believe within that there should be some reason, logic, and relatability to.. something within the story.
This show had so many questions that were left completely open and walked a line of being silly.

Recommended: Younger teen, interest in fashion, quirky, light-hearted.

Official Site | IMDb | Wikipedia

Monday, April 23, 2012

Movie Review: 35 and Ticking

35 and Ticking (2011)

Director: Russ Parr
Producer: Russ Parr, Kym Whitley
Release date: May 20, 2011
Running time: 108 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Rating: R

Centering around the lives of Victoria, Zenobia , Cleavon, and Phil -- all friends approaching the age of 35 and struggling to build the families they've always dreamed of. While Zenobia (Nicole Ari Parker) is still looking for a man, Victoria (Tamala Jones) is married to a man who doesn't want children. Cleavon (Kevin Hart), meanwhile, is too geeky to get a woman, and Phil (Keith Robinson) is already married with children, but his wife is not very interested in being a mother. All four of them try to rectify their romantic lives and futures while their biological clocks tick away. (Source)

Movie Tags: Romantic Comedy, Emotional, Goofy, Sentimental

Note: There are some adult situations and context. Please note the R rating.

This film was surprising. I personally feel that the blub that I read was not descriptive, going in I didn't know what to expect. (I made sure to find the better one for my review.) That said, I'm happy with what I found, however there are some flaws and pit falls along the way.

We follow four friends, two of who are struggling to keep their marriages and to keep their romance alive, one maybe more than the other but each struggling in their own way. The other two are single with no prospects in sight, still looking for love at the age of 35 and 37 (I believe).

I'd like to address the matter of the main characters age first because it plays a major role in all aspects of the movie. I bring that up because I find that stories with older characters lead to very different types of storytelling, it's only natural. The characters are more open and honestly, they aren't afraid to tell it like it is because they're done playing games and having everyone running around. They want a real relationship and aren't shy to voicing it, which usually leads to hilarity in many situations.

Since this movie follows four different characters I wanted to give each one a small introduction and my feelings on their story before giving an overall opinion.

Zenobia (37) is a sports anchor who hasn't met the right man yet or a man worth her time. She's very quick to judge and pass people over, while I consider it to be a major flaw it comes with her job. It's difficult for her to meet new people when most of them already know who she is because of her show. She wants someone that will take enough time to see her as the person she is and not just someone who's on TV.
I found Zenobia to be a typical hard-working women to put her career first and didn't think much of a relationships only to look in the mirror and go "I want a life beyond my work" and have no idea how she got where she is or how to go about changing that. The story was a bit typical but had some seriously hilarious moments.
In the beginning Zenobia is easily set as the main character but quickly become over-shadowed having her story thrown to the back burner as other characters stories begin to play out.

Victoria (37) is married to a hard-working responsible man and in a fairly stable place in life. Through the struggles of Zenobia, Victoria realizes she's ready to start a family, although not completely supported by her husband in the decision.
I found Victoria's story to be the one without a lot going on. There's a few major conflicts but overall not much happens with her. She appears once in awhile and then doesn't show up, dealing with her own things.
Overall I felt she didn't have the best story. I wasn't interested in the conflict or resolve as much as the others. She was a great friend to have when they needed her but she wasn't around most of the time.

Phil (35?) is working himself to the bone. Between juggling two kids and a wife that is never around to help out or spend time with him and their family, along with having to provide for all of them. From the beginning there's conflict in his marriage and between how their group feels about it, mostly his wife.
I liked Phil's story the most. It's one of those moments when you see a man that is honestly trying his hardest to make life, family, and love work. He's trying to balance and juggle everything, but somehow usually ends up with life handing him the short end of the stick.

Cleavon (35) is a lazy-bum. He's never had a 'real job' or stood on his own two feet. He slid by for most of his life and doesn't have interest in doing any more. Celvon not a smooth talker or a cool guy, that's putting it lightly! He is awkward and shy to the extreme. Always always finding himself in awkward situations with his foot in his mouth. And yet he tries, oh does he try.
His story is by far the funnies and raunchiest, the entire reason this has an R rating, which I found to be more hilarious than anything else
He's a typical guy, set in his ways and bound to make an idiot out of himself. He's generally considered to be the 'little kid' of the group often pushed into something by the rest of them, to then have them hover to see how it works out. (Don't you hate it when your friends do that?!)
About half way in I felt Cleavon became more of a major player in the overall story. In the beginning he's there for comic relief but over time he enters the spot-light and begins to try and find himself.

The biggest grip I have about this movie is transition scenes. I found more than a few of them to be very weak. The reasoning or drive behind a situation or a character [sudden] actions was full of holes. I felt these weak moments were usually setup in order to lead to a more important or dramatic scene. Leaving me to be semi-understandable in that sense.

As I'm sure it's clearly obvious by now, I enjoyed the comedy here. On occasion it was hit and miss but mostly hit. I found myself laughing more than I ever expected to and enjoyed watching awkward situations play out. There are a few subtle sign of following stereotypes which I felt it was for comic relief and faded once you got hooked into the stories.
I also love the element of tie-in. While each of the four friends have their very different lives, at the end of the day they find themselves relying on each other. Sometimes more than I felt most [real] people would admit to. It's an amazing thing to know no matter how terrible your day is a friend to comfort you, let you try on their shoulder, or just listen; is a phone call away. Again I feel this comes form the difference of age. They're friendships have lasted this long, why would they suddenly stop?

There's a little bad but mostly good. Some flaws are a little harder to over look than others but overall I still enjoyed this movie.
Easily said, might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Recommend: If you enjoy emotional family drama, romance, quirkiness, and comedy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox #1

 In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @  The Story Siren to share the books and goodies you've gotten.

I hope everyone had a great week!

This is my first In My Mailbox, please bear with me.

I have been holding off posting this, knowing I was getting a couple of things in the mail. Although has I'm new to this I haven't received much, but still thought I would share!

I have received two wonderful things from fellow bloggers that I would like to thank.

Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good by Kevin Smith

I received this audiobook from Laura @ Owl Tell You About It

Easter Candy!
A friend of mine got me a ton of Easter candy, here's some of it.

I'm not even going to admit how much of the candy that is.. *cough*
But it's a lot of chocolate..

Signed Slide Bookmark (Slide by Jill Hathaway)

From Ed and Em @ Ed and Em's Reviews
Love it! This bookmark is so pretty, I'm already using it.

Notice: This entry is a backdate originally posted on April 24th, marked for April 22nd.