The Age of Adaline | Movie Review

Friday, September 16, 2016

My husband and I don't pay for cable at our house, so we indulge ourselves by binge-watching TV shows and movies on Roku channels like Hulu and Netflix. 

I recently came across The Age of Adeline, starring Blake Lively and Harrison Ford on Hulu, and though I was reluctant to watch a chick-flick, I clicked the icon. Hey, why not? Every once in a while, it's good to rest your brain and watch pretty people fall in love on your TV screen. This movie didn't disappoint, as far as typical chick flicks go, either. It had everything: romance, tragedy, faux science, family issues -- all of it, wrapped together tightly in a reel of predictability.

From the first moment the narrative voice began to speak, I knew what to expect. For some reason, though, movies like this one have a strange pull on me, and I watch with intense fascination; as if I don't know what's going to happen.

This one is set in 2014 and follows the tragic life of Adeline Bowman, a woman who, because of a crazy freak accident, has been stuck at age 29 for almost 6 decades. As she packs her bags and prepares to change her name, move, and create her 6th new life under a different name, she falls in love.

I won't give away more than that, as far as the storyline goes. I will say that, though a beautiful and talented girl, I was kind of disappointed that Blake Lively seemed bored through some of the scenes. Maybe it's just her style of acting? It reminded me of the nonchalant high schooler she played in the "Gossip Girl" TV series. Also, throughout the entire movie I was expecting Harrison Ford to play the character she falls in love with, but his role was much more depressing than that.

Overall, this one's a 4 out of 5 stars for me. Probably because it was exactly what I expected, and I watched it exactly when I needed a mental break.

Have you seen The Age of Adeline? Let me know what you thought of the movie in the comments below! 

Ten Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

Friday, September 9, 2016

Do you have a book lover in your life with a birthday coming up? Or, are you getting ready for Christmas a little early this year? I may or may not have just spent the last hour scouring through Etsy's "Gifts for Bookworms" collection (if you want to go through all of it too, you can check it out here). Here are a few ideas from around the web:

Charlotte Bronte, Inspirational Quote, Quote Bracelet, Literary Gifts, Literary Jewellery, Literature Quotes, Jane Eyre, Book Lover Gift
1. This beautiful hand stamped, solid brass cuff bracelet reads "I am no bird and no net ensnares me" from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. You can find this cuff and several other hand-stamped quote jewelry pieces at the Wicked Wordsmith Co. on Etsy.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY - Write Drunk, Edit Sober Quote Necklace, Literary Jewelry, Literary Necklace, Book Lover Gift, Ernest Hemingway Necklace
2. Before searching the Internet for literary gifts, I had never heard this quote from Ernest Hemingway. Did he actually say that? Who knows, but I like the idea of writing drunk and editing sober – I bet a lot of great fiction gets started that way. This pendant necklace can be found on Jack and Roxi's Etsy shop

3. The "BookBook" for your favorite book lover's Macbook. This handmade leather case is made in various sizes for all six-hundred-billion versions of the MacBook you can find (I'm sure you can fit other laptops in them as well), and it comes in two beautiful shades – a rich, textured red, and this classic brown leather. You can find them online at Twelve South.

Book-Scented Perfume
4. Are you SERIOUS right now?! Who knew they made this in cologne form, and why were they hiding it from me all these years? Forget book lovers, this is going to the top of my husband's Christmas list, whether he likes it or not (picture a seductive eyebrow wiggle here). You can find this paperback scented cologne on Amazon.

Personalized Library Embosser
5. Whoa. I always write my name in my books (and sometimes create original artwork related to the theme of the book), but I never considered embossing the pages. What a great idea! Interested in getting one for the book lover on your list? Check them out here.

6. As a book review blogger, taking notes while I read is a must. As a graduate of the Department of English (including a few publishing courses) at my college, writing down the page numbers of typos and misspellings is just second nature. I love the idea of having a pocket-sized journal to keep these notes together and organized. 

7. I may not be a teacher, but if I ever do decide to become one, this will be the first thing I purchase to hang on the wall of my classroom. I love seeing all of these brilliant authors in one place! I was surprised that it's actually pretty cheap on Amazon

8. I have a set of petrified wood bookends that I just adore – my grandparents brought them to me from Arizona. Since I got them, I have wanted to add interesting bookends to each level of my bookshelf, but haven't found exactly what I wanted... until now. These polished agate geode bookends are beautiful, and affordable to boot! I can't wait to rearrange my bookshelf with these, now!

9. I love games, and I love to write short stories. What could be better than combining the two to combat writer's block, waste time when you should be working, or to pass the time at a dinner party with friends? Honestly, if I were to get this game, I think I might create a new page on this blog and write an entry for each card. Ooooh, NEW GOAL. Does anyone want to get The Storymatic for me? *wink*

10. Okay, so this is actually designed for kids, so they can keep track of the time they spend reading toward a time goal... but I think it would be fun to see exactly how long it takes for me to read a book! I LOVE this idea! This is called a Mark-My-Time Digital Bookmark, and you can get it on Amazon. There are also other varieties to look through!

What's your favorite literary loot from around the web? Share in the comments below!

Instructions for the End of the World | Jamie Kain

Friday, September 2, 2016

Instructions for the End of the World Book
I love to read Young Adult Fiction. Though I'm almost thirty now, I feel like I can still identify with the characters, and I like to pretend like I am in that alternate universe where I have no real responsibilities and can just make decisions on the fly.

I recently finished reading Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain. It's set in the modern-day southwestern U.S., and is told from the point of view of a young woman named Nicole, her sister Izzy, and a local boy named "Wolf."

Nicole and Izzy's dad is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, and is the author of a self-published book called "It's the End of the World as We Know It" - the ultimate guide for doomsday preppers like himself. He has taught his daughters and wife everything they need to know to survive almost every natural disaster, political upheaval and manmade catastrophe imaginable.

 As Nicole, Izzy, and their parents make the 10-hour trek from southern California to the foothills of the Sierra Mountains to live in an abandoned house, the drive is silent. It's obvious their mother doesn't want to be moving from her suburban homestead, and the tension is thick. When they arrive and begin unpacking, it's no surprise to the reader when the mother decides to leave everything and everyone to pursue her own dreams -- the surprise is that the father leaves his daughters to fend for themselves while he goes off hunting for his estranged wife. As a parent myself, I must confess these characters really made me angry. How irresponsible!

While their parents are gone, the girls must feed themselves, clean and finish unpacking, pay bills, and more. When a boy from the neighboring 'hippie commune' shows up and Nicole begins to fall in love with him, I felt like the story took a typical young adult romance story plotline:

  • boy observes girl
  • boy meets girl
  • girl thinks about boy
  • boy and girl become friends
  • things get serious
  • boy and girl have a fight
  • boy and girl are estranged
  • boy saves girl from some sort of issue
  • boy and girl are in love 
  • book ends
With that being said, however, Kain's story satisfied my expectations and rose slightly above. The book was well-written and tied up all loose ends by the final page. Overall, I'd give it three out of five stars. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne

Friday, August 12, 2016

These days there are so many ways for Potterheads to soothe their magical cravings. I've seen wizarding themed cosplay events, Quidditch matches, themed weddings and parties. I have read endless fan fiction and fan theories, and I have participated in and explored all the activities and events that the Harry Potter websites have to offer. One of my favorite experiences was visiting Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando. All of the buildings, window displays, and signs looked like they jumped right out of the Harry Potter movies. The food at the Leaky Cauldron was delicious, and the frozen Butterbeer was amazing. I felt like my inner childhood dreams and fantasies had been realized, but then came the rumors and news about Harry Pottery and the Cursed Child.

A long 9 years after I attended my first midnight release event for Harry Pottery and the Deathly Hallows, there I was at the bookstore, and it felt so good to feel the feverish Harry Potter hysteria once more. I dawned my Ravenclaw cloak and dusted off my Sirius Black replica wand. I joined other Potterheads for a night filled with Harry Pottery trivia (which of course, my team Ravenclaw won), games, delicious potions, and all around excitement. We counted down the minutes to midnight, and before I knew it, the book was in my hands. I waited until the next day to start reading it, and I tried to put myself in the right frame of mind. I knew this was written as a script and would be very different from reading the original books.

***************************** Spoiler Alert *****************************

When I began reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child parts I & II, I had no idea what to expect as far as the story was concerned. As I was reading, I tried to picture the characters on a stage acting out the scenes, but as much as I attempted to enjoy the script, I found myself put off by the characters and the story line. Ron was always one of my favorites, and he did often act as a source of comedic relief; however, Ron was portrayed as an absolute buffoon in the Cursed Child. Many other readers have pointed out that our characters 
are much older now and have felt the after-effects of the Battle of Hogwarts which could account for such a change in personality and behavior. This idea doesn't really sit with me. While people do change over time, I feel like these characters that we all loved were taken and changed just to suit a story line. Harry, for example, does nothing for years as his son becomes distant and struggles at school. I find it extremely hard to believe that Harry Potter, who taught Dumbledore's Army how to defend themselves and loved Hogwarts school like a home, would sit back and watch his son fail. It works great for the story line, but it feels like an injustice to portray Harry in that way. Speaking of his son, Albus Severus is a complete jerk. Reading the story from his perspective was extremely difficult. He just seemed like a cliche "I've got a chip on my shoulder" and "I've got something to prove" whiny teenager. It's hard to like a story when you don't care about the main character. 

The only aspect that I truly enjoyed was seeing Severus Snape again. <3 I loved seeing how the world might have turned out if Harry hadn't defeated Voldemort. If given the option, I would definitely go see the play. I have heard nothing but good things about the production, and I would love to see if the acting has any effect on my opinion about the script. Read the script and decide for yourself; most fans seems to be split between either loving it or hating, so there's a 50/50 chance that you will enjoy the Cursed Child more than I did.

Although I was a bit disappointed this go around, I am so excited to see the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which hits theaters in November! I love that even though my Harry Potter journey began roughly 19 years ago, the fandom has thrived and lives on, and that there continue to be new ways to enjoy the Harry Potter universe.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Friday, June 3, 2016

Once upon a time in the middle of the forest, there rested a glass coffin. Instead of some slumbering princess, inside slept a handsome boy with horns and pointy ears. Next to the forest was the town of Fairfold, where the residents knew to be wary of the fae. Generation after generation of townsfolk visited the horned boy, enchanted by his strangeness and his beauty. Tourists would come from all over hoping to catch a glimpse of the fae. Every now and then travelers would go missing, some never to return, and some to be found days later, dead. Hazel and her brother, Ben, grew up loving the horned boy just like everyone else. As children, they spent their days romping around the forest, pretending to be brave knights that battled monsters. Though much had changed since childhood, Hazel and Ben still visited the horned boy, until the day he woke up and all hell broke loose.

The Darkest Part of the Forest was an amazing read. Just like all of Holly Black's other books, I couldn't put it down. I love her eerie but charming descriptive style of writing that reverberates the spirit of classic childhood fairy tales. However, while I was reading, I kept pausing because something just seemed off; the story line was a bit chaotic. All the pieces of the puzzle were there, but the pieces just weren't in the right place. Although the disorder was slightly off-putting, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Black has a way of creating worlds and characters that I just can't help but fall in love with.

I think it is important to confess that Holly Black is my all-time favorite author. Black's unique voice and her dark whimsical style of writing breathe life into these gritty fantastic worlds with kick-ass characters that never fail to capture my heart. I find myself rereading her books at least once a year. Was The Darkest Part of the Forest better than my favorite book by Holly Black, Valiant? No, however, this story enchanted me with the same strange, wicked playfulness that is woven into all of her stories. I would recommend this to anyone that loves Faeries, Dark Fantasy, and Young Adult.