Entertainment 411: Happy Dance!

Because Autumn is here!

It’s my favorite season. I’m not quite sure why it’s my favorite exactly, since I live in an area where you can’t really see autumn, like with changing of the colors and everything.

Maybe it’s because of Halloween. Except I never was a big fan of Halloween until recently.

Maybe because I consider it an in-between. You know, there is summer and then winter and in between you have spring and fall.

I think it’s because the air is a bit cooler and it rains a bit more than normal.

Whatever the reason, I love Autumn and it. is. here. The first day of Autumn.

And a new season means new releases! Here are some releases I’m really looking forward to.

Cinema

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (premieres September)

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (premieres October – this!)

Inferno (premieres October – and this!)

Dr. Strange (premieres November)

Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them (premieres November – and definitely this!)

Books

There are any books and/or authors on my watch list that comes out this autumn, but I’m playing catch up on others due to my impromptu break.

There are some interesting reads that spark my interest, but I’m still on the fence about:

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye (released May 2016)

Swear on this Live by Renee Carlino (released August 2016)

The Graces by Laure Eve (released September 2016) – actually this is firmly on my list

Timekeeper by Tara Sim (to be released November 2016)

TV

In addition to the shows I am currently following, these piqued my interest this fall.

Designated Survivor (premieres September 2016)

Van Helsing (premiers September 2016)

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (debuts November 2016)

 

 

 

 

Table Talk: The Book Series

Hm, it’s been a while since I’ve put forth a Table Talk post.

So, to reiterate what Table Talk means to me, it’s informal conversation usually occurring around meals. Since my blog focuses on storytelling–I mean, that’s what I’ve noticed anyway considering I talk about books, television, and movies. All forms of storytelling–I take Table Talk to mean informal conversation focusing on storytelling.

And this post is going to focus on the Book Series.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with what a book series is, but to ensure there is no confusion on the matter, a book series is a sequence of books focused on a group of characters. There is usually a main story arch throughout the series and a bunch of little stories in-between. Usually these in-betweens contributes to the overall story arch. A good example of this would be The Twilight Saga. You could read each book separately and out of order, but you really wouldn’t know why Victoria is chasing Bella in Eclipse if you haven’t read Twilight. However, from what I experienced, there is also a second type of book series in which the books in the series can be read as a stand alone. An example of these would be those romance novels that focus on different members of a family. They’re fun to read because some characters reappear in the other stories, but you don’t have to read the first book to understand what’s going on in the second.

Which brings me to my most recently book hangover, The Dark Artifices: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. Ugh! The reason why I really can’t stand book series and yet I can’t stay away from them! I’ll be reviewing Lady Midnight later this week, but reading it made me realize just how much book series frustrate me. And actually, to be fair, it’s not just Dark Artifices. Every single book I read that is part of a book series makes me realize just how much book series frustrates me.

They almost always have a whooper of a cliffhanger. I mean, really. I have never really thrown a book against the wall out of frustration, but the Shadowhunter world has made me come close to doing that, several times. Especially with Infernal Devices. The most frustrating series to date, however, has to be the Arcana Chronicles. I couldn’t believe the cliffhanger Kresley Cole left at the end of The Dead of Winter. I nearly screamed. I did in my mind (I mean, it was in the wee hours of the morning and I didn’t want to wake my family). And you have to wait almost a year, sometimes more, for the next installment in the series. It royally sucks sometimes, especially when the cliffhanger is a really good one.

And I really can’t think of any other reason as to why I don’t enjoy reading through a book series. It’s the wait. I’m in the middle of several book series and it’s left me on edge. There’s the Burned Series by Karen Marie Moning, the Dark Artifices Series by Cassandra Clare, the Sophie Rhodes Ghostly Romance Series by Karen Cantwell, the Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole, the Nick Chronicles by Sherrilyn Kenyon, the County Cork series by Shelia Connolley, the Relatively Dead Series by Shelia Connolley, Magnum Chase Series by Rick Riordan, and others. That’s a lot of series to be stuck in the middle of *pouts*. I think there are only three series that I wasn’t stuck waiting for the next installment. The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, and the Sookie Stackhouse Series.

For all my grumbling about book series, the reason I can’t stay away either is the hype and buzz that surrounds a really good series. I’m not saying I need to be the first to read the book or that I even want to (although I really wish I could get on those ARC lists for my favorite authors), but I love the fandom a series produces. As much as I enjoyed reading the Hunger Games, Twilight, and Sookie Stackhouse cover to cover for each book in the series, no need to wait, I couldn’t help but felt I missed out. I missed out in the anticipation of the next book, the discussions over what would happen next, and then the camaraderie that forms among fans of a fictional world.

So, as much as those cliffhangers frustrates me, I will keep going back for more simply to be a part of a bigger world. Besides, after the Harry Potter series, this shouldn’t be too bad, right?

Biblio 411: A Turn for the Bad (County Cork #4)

Author: Shelia Connolly
Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Read: February 15, 2016
The Hook: Ireland, Cork County, Maura + Sean possibilities, Maura + Mick possibilities, just everything in this world.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this series. I really can’t. I can’t think of a good enough sentence or the best adjectives to use to describe how much I love Maura and her world. For those of you who need a recap, here are my other reviews on this series:

Biblio 411: Buried in a Bog (County Cork #1)
Biblio 411: A Scandal in Skibbereen (County Cork #2)
Biblio 411: An Early Wake (County Cork #3)

 

Summary: Maura has been in Ireland for a while now and she’s getting used to life there. As she’s getting comfortable with Cork County, Cork County is getting comfortable with her. She has regulars, a routine, and she’s starting form attachments. Not just with her pub, but with the town and … suitors! We met Sean Murphy in the first book and we see them go on a date in the second book and in the third … well. Let’s just say things get interesting as Mick is now a potential candidate. Yep, Mick. The whole crew is back as well, with Jimmy and Rose. Gillian, from book two returns as well and actually ends up staying with Maura for a bit (and I hope for a bit longer).

As for the conflict in this one, it’s another good one. There’s some suspicious activity and a missing persons. Since Cork County is getting used to Maura, and that she’s a pub owner, most people gather at her pub for news. And since they are becoming more familiar with her, family of the missing person confides in her to help with what they think may have happened–with encouragement from permanent customer and beloved bar patron, Billy. And things get interesting. With the help of a local alcohol sales rep, the new whiskey brewers for help, Mick, Gillian, and others Maura helps the gardi figure things out and Cork County is, again, filled with mystery and adventure.

It totally rocks.

In general, I’m ambivalent about book series but I really love this one (and a few others). As much as I can’t wait to see how the story ends, I really don’t want it to end! County Cork mysteries is one of two Shelia Connolly series I follow, the other being Relatively Dead, and I really enjoy her writing. I’m not sure how to put it. Some people will think it’s rather dry and maybe a bit boring or slow-moving, but I like it. I like that Maura still hasn’t made an official decision to stay in Ireland (I hope she does! I know I would). I like that it’s taking forever for a love interest to develop on Maura’s part (I mean, she’s had to deal with a lot since her grandmother past). I like that mystery is wrapped around history with the touch of genealogy. I love the package deal I get with this series. It’s similar in Relatively Dead (which I still have to read the recent release, which was back in October!). The story may be moving along slowly compared with others, but I love how it’s written. There’s no big drama or suspense or on-the-seat-biting-your-nails moments, but it suits me. And I love it.

And let’s not forget that it is set in Ireland. I love that.

So, thank you for another great read, Ms. Connolly! Can’t wait for next year’s release.

#TBT: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Blog_ScarletLetter

Throw Back Thursdays

Remembered because … 

It was the story that made me fall in love with classic literature.

If you want to get picky, Shakespeare is really the literary works that made me fall in love with classic literature but since his style is different … The Scarlet Letter is the first classic novel I read and made me appreciate the value classic literature provides for the mind.

Plot: For those of you haven’t read it yet. You should. But back to the plot.

First published in 1850, in America, The Scarlet Letter is about this woman who is found guilty of adultery. Her punishment is to be branded with an “A” on her clothing and to also be subjected to public humiliation by standing on a scaffold for three hours. She is also pressed to give up the name of her lover, but she refuses to give up the name of her lover. This sets off a series of events that takes place over a span of years and *SPOILER ALERT** ends in sadness for all parties involved. **END SPOILER ALERT**.

Most memorable part: The opening scene. That’s really what drew my attention in the first place (well, after noticing that the author’s name was Nathaniel and I love the name Nathaniel–if I’m being honest). Chapter 1 is titled “The Prison Door” and it talks about the town and the prison-house. It describes the house and the area surrounding it. But the thing that struck me the most about this book, and motivated me to read it, was this passage:

This rose-bush, by a strange chance, has been kept alive in history; but whether it had merely survived out of the stern old wilderness, so long after the fall of the gigantic pines and oaks that originally overshadowed it,–or whether, as there is fair authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson, as she entered the prison-door,–we shall not take upon us to determine. Finding it so directly on the threshold of our narrative, which is now about to issue from that inauspiciousportal, we could hardly do otherwise than pluck one of its flowers and present it to the reader. It may serve, let us hope, to symbolize some sweet moral blossom, that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow.[1]

I distinctly remember pausing in my reading to ponder that passage. I remember thinking to myself how odd it was that the author would take great pains to describe the town and the prison and yet focus so keenly on this rose. I couldn’t help but see it as a foreshadow of some sort and took it to mean that he was setting the tone in which the story will unfold. I remember feeling both intrigued and uneasy because I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this story won’t end in a happily ever after. In fact, I think I stopped reading a couple of chapters from the end because I couldn’t take it.

WUS!

I know! But  did skim ahead because as much as I couldn’t bring myself to read it all the way through, I wanted to see what happened to our cast of characters and, at the time, I felt it was a sin to not finish reading book.

And I chose this book for a high school book report my sophomore year. It was to draw a movie poster of the book you’re reading and I’m not an artist so I didn’t finish it (that and I was also a procrastinator so I didn’t really start drawing my poster until the morning it was due) but I did draw out what I wanted. I drew the prison house and the rose bush. My idea was to highlight the rose bush somehow.

This book opened my mind to the possibility of reading other classical works and I am forever grateful that this Nathaniel decided to right a book, and that his parents decided to name him Nathaniel.

1. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, (Eldritch Press, 1999)  Accessed January 21, 2016, http://www.eldritchpress.org/nh/sl01.html.

Photo credit: Fiction Writers Review

Reading Challenge 2016: A Book from the Library

Firstly, let me apologize if the formatting of this post is a little off. Our WiFi is down again so I’m posting through my iPad which is proving a tad bit of a challenge when it comes to sizing pictures.

Reading Challenge: A book from the library.  So, first challenge. This could also qualify for a an author I’ve never read either, but I’m sticking with the first one.

Published: Sep 19, 2006

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.

The Hook: It’s an old story from another perspective.

Mixed feelings about this one. I’m just getting that out of the way. I absolutely love it, don’t get me wrong. I even gave it 4-5 Stars on GoodReads.

So, quick review on the plot.

Plot: If you know Shakespeare you have an idea where this is going. Rosalind is the girl Romeo was after just before he saw Juliet, who happens to be Rosaline’s cousin. In this story line, their close cousins, best friends even, and the story starts off with Rosaline in the Healer’s cottage. She has her heart set on become a Healer and has been apprenticing with the Healer for some time. Enter Romeo with Petrucio. Petrucio got beaten pretty badly, breaking a few of his ribs and Romeo has dragged him to the Healer for repair, but the Healer is out in a house call so Rosaline steps up to the challenge. Romeo is smitten with her. Upon leaving the cottage he promises to call on her. Rosaline, of course, finds this humorous since she’s a Capulet and Romeo, is of course, a Montegue. In addition to that fact, she’s sworn off love because of the hardships she’s seen while apprenticing and because she wants to study medicine.

This perspective is intertwined with the original story line. I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll just jump to the review.

Review: I love this story line. I really do. If there’s anything I have to grumble about or wish to improve on, it would be the ending. **Spoiler Alert** It ends well enough and it’s a sweet end, but I wish it ended with a wedding. I’ll just leave it at that. **End Spoiler Alert**

I think the meshing of Rosaline’s perspective and the original story was done well. Being written for the Young Adult, I felt the story probably could have used more depth, but for the most part, I loved it. It offered a slightly different light on the events that transpired from the Capulet’s ball and it’s refreshing. As someone who didn’t completely fall in love with Romeo and Juliet’s story as an epic love, this version of events had me clapping and nodding and agreeing completely with Rosaline and Benvolio who argue that being in love is very different from the infatuation that Romeo feels for Rosaline and later Juliet. It tugged at my heartstrings a bit, reading again of the tragic events, especially from Rosaline’s perspective. It was funny, sad, entertaining, and just … enjoyable.

The characters we’ve met before and they pretty much stick to the same personality in this one except Fiedler goes into it a little bit more. I like what she did with Mercutio. I’ve always had a fondness for him and while he is cocky and doesn’t change much in this story, I still can relate to his character a bit. I love some of the point-of-views we see in this timeline. Mercutio, Thybalt, Romeo, and Benvolio add their voice to the narrative, in addition to Rosaline’s. I liked that we see some of the story from the Healer and the Friar as well.

This new take on an old tale is worth read through, if only once. Valid arguments have been made that the language is quasi-Shakespearean and disappointing, but I didn’t mind it, considering it’s a more modern re?-telling. Some felt it wasn’t historical enough and I can see how that can be disappointing as well, but it didn’t bother me. I read and loved Shakespeare’s story and I didn’t expect that from Fiedler. I used what I knew of the story to sort of supplement the atmosphere. That can throw people off, especially since argument can be made that Fiedler shouldn’t have written it for those who may not have read the original, but I would argue they should read Romeo & Juliet first. If only because it will help you understand this story better. Fiedler brings her own voice and experience to the table and I thought she did well with it.

It was a good read and I’m glad to start the year off with this story. It’s going on my favorites list.

Edited 01/06/16 – Updated formatting and grammatical errors.

Edited 01/14/16 – Updated to add a little more commentary.

Snapshot: 2016 Reading Profile

And so it begins. Another year. It’s the time for reflection and a time for goals and all that jazz.

For me? A clean slate of reading goals!  Every book junkie knows this. They can’t wait to start a whole new year of reading.

My Pop Sugar’s Reading Challenge wasn’t met. At 50 books meeting 50 different reading requirements, I met 11 requirements. Granted these eleven requirements sometimes had up to four books in that category, I didn’t meet the 50. Which is a shame, but that only means I need to try it again.

My GoodReads challenge wasn’t met either. My goal was 75 and I only read 51. Granted it was 68% so over half, but still, not 100%. 

Usually, one would be upset or disappointed or … whatever it is you use for failure. I am a little disappointed, but I’m not so much so to understand that it was a challenging year for me. And what’s done is done and can’t be undone so we move forward.

With that said … new reading goals! Because, remember, it’s an excited time for book lovers because we have an excuse to set new book goals. And I am excited.

I’ll be participating in the GoodReads challenge once more. I like their simplicity and the fact they track it for you. In 2013 I read 81 out of 80, in 2014 I read 70 out of 60, and this year I fell short at 51 put 75. This year I’ll start at 55 and see where that takes me. 

In addition to the amount of books I’m shooting, I’m rounding that out with a new challenge circling about the Internet and I’m excited to participate in.

 

It’s not as robust as last year’s PopSugar but considering my commitments this year perhaps it’s what I need to stay in the game and not kill myself keeping up with a challenge.

So, here’s to 2016 and whole new 366 days of reading!