Friday, March 30, 2012

Fixation Friday: Hunger Games (Soundtrack)

What's this? A regular segment? Maybe. I'll give it a go for a while and see what becomes of it.

Right now, I am stalking The Hunger Games Songs from District 12 and Beyond. It is soooo good. I usually like soundtracks, but this one is a bit different. None of the (awesome) songs are in the movie. Fact: there was no music that had any lyrics in the actual film. But this, like many soundtracks, really captures the feel of the film and District 12 in particular. It's beautiful and haunting and kind of stripped down. I highly encourage everyone to take a listen or pick the album up.

My faves:
  • Both songs by The Civil Wars (they're so amazing it hurts)
  • Daughter's Lament by The Carolina Chocolate Drops
  • One Engine by The Decemberists (who I normally don't love)
  • Abraham's Daughter by Arcade Fire (who I also don't normally love)
I bring up both The Decemberists and Arcade Fire especially because they're not my favorite bands. Ordinarily, their music is a bit too dark for me. But I guess that's what makes them so perfect for this album; they both share the ability to take feelings of loneliness or desperation and make them have a sound. Even if it isn't always for me, I respect their ability to evoke the sometimes indescribable.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: The Emerald Talisman

I got The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos as a Kindle freebie. I'm glad they decided to post it as one of the weekly offerings because I probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. While Pandos's world of Julia, Nicholas, and their vampire foes was not the most intellectually stimulating place, it was entertaining and fun.

Julia Parker is a sixteen year-old high school student with an empathic ability and an otherwise ordinary teenage existence (complete with catty frenemies, charming new guy, reliable bestie, and unrequited love). She meets the handsome and mysterious Nicholas when she is attacked by an unknown creature and he rescues her (cue Julia's uncontrollable swoon). When disappearances and murders begin to plague her town, Julia discovers Nicholas's secret life as a vampire hunter and the existence of supernatural creatures in her everyday life.

Well, I'm not sure what else to say. The only real issue I had with this story was Julia's uncontrollable swoon over Nicholas. It's not the fact that she was instantly drawn to him that I don't buy. He saved her life, of course she's going to have a mad crush on him. What I don't buy is that becomes a full-blown obsessive love in a matter of days. There are fewer things more powerful than first love, but I wish we could give teens a bit more credit. Julia has her head screwed on straight and it felt a bit forced for her to come completely undone by the magnitude of her feelings for Nicholas.

I did enjoy Pandos's take on vampires and especially the siring process. It was definitely different than what I'm used to seeing and I applaud her ability to bring some fresh ideas to the vampire story. Overall, good read. It's perfect if you're looking for some lighter fare for spring. It is the first of three books in the series and I'll probably end up grabbing those as well.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Hunger Games Fever!

Who's excited for the movie premiere? ME!!!!! (Yes, that deserved at least five exclamation points.) I haven't been this excited for a movie premiere in years. When Twilight (the original) came out in theaters a lot of people (including most of my friends) had no idea what it was, so I ended up going to the movie by my lonesome. For the first HG film, my whole posse is going (yes, I have a posse) and I could not be more excited.

I'm even making shirts for us! Here's mine:

This was the first time I have ever tried to do 'faux' screen printing with iron-on images that I made myself. It took a lot of tedious cutting out of the letters and the Monkingjay, but I couldn't be more excited with how it turned out.

If there is anyone in the universe who hasn't read the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, please do yourself a favor and read the books. They are intense and sad and at times happy. Truly great reads that are now a prerequisite to being my friend.

Sunday can't come fast enough!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Today's Lesson: Emotional Co-Dependency with Fictional Characters

I love to read. Like love it. Though I am an avid fan of several genres, the books I like most are series. I know that I complain about having to wait for the next installment when I begin an unfinished series. But secretly, deep down inside, I love that too. See what I usually don't talk about is how emotionally invested I get in characters and their stories. After a few books, I feel like I know them and have grown attached. To me, there's nothing more depressing than saying goodbye to a character who has been with you for years.

I bring this up because a good friend of mine is in Orlando and going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter today. Now this may be shocking, but I am HUGE Harry Potter fan. I started reading books over a decade ago when I was in high school and am still a loyal fan today. When the series ended in 2007, I was hit with the sadness that comes from seeing a story end. It was especially poignant because the series had been with my through my teenage years, college, and into the real world.

Lucky for me though, I had several more movies and then a theme park left to look forward to. But once the credits rolled on the final film and I ate my Chocolate Frog from the Honey Dukes in Orlando, I was back to that feeling. That final goodbye. For me, that was a very sobering moment. Not just because there was no more new Harry Potter related wonder left to look forward to, but because I was also faced with the reality that I reached the end of that particular chapter of my childhood. I was all grown up, and though Harry and his friends were with me during some important years, it was time for me to move on - without them.

It was a bittersweet ending to the journey and I found that the whole experience could be summed up by the wisest person ever, Dr. Seuss.

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

I now look forward to the day when I can share the enchanting tale of Harry Potter with my own son. I have a feeling that it will be just as magical the next time around :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Gosh! Just, gosh! This book was fantastic! I feel all gushy about it and I haven't felt this excited about a series since Hunger Games (which I started in 2008 thankyouverymuch). What can I say? I have a knack for picking amazing books. I don't really, I just have a great group of ladies I reference on the Nest Book Club. Collectively, I think we've read every book ever written.

Anyways, I was recently traveling for work (boo!) and had some time to myself for reading (hooray!). I picked up Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone on a bit of a whim really. I had heard good things and decided it was worth a go (and $10 on my Kindle). I am so, so glad I did. I was instantly captured in Karou's duel life in Prague and the mysterious world of "Elsewhere". With its amazing creatures, wishes that come true, and bizarre obsession with teeth, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was exquisitely crafted and a joy to read.

We find blue-haired Karou, a seventeen year-old art student, in Prague. She lives a normal life of sketching and gossiping over goulash with her best friend Zuzana at their favorite restaurant Poison Kitchen (charming, no?). She also leads a not so normal life as errand girl to her foster family. Not so weird? Well, her errands involve collecting teeth - animal and otherwise - for Brimstone a lion-raptor-ram hybrid (and by far my favorite character!). Karou's carefully cultivated life comes crashing down as she finds herself in the middle of an otherworldly war. We're introduced to the races of Seraphim and Chimaera and their enduring hatred of one another. A fairly obvious twist halfway through the story takes the narrative in a totally new, and enjoyable, direction.

Taylor's writing was beautiful and effortless. She made the entire scenario, as unlikely as it was, so easy to be a part of and believe in. I loved that. So often in fantasy books you have to work to achieve the level of buy-in that is necessary for the story to come off naturally and in an organic way. Taylor had this in spades. Hers was a style that makes aspiring writers like myself want to throw in the towel. You know when something is so good it forces you to take a hard, evaluating look at yourself and you inevitably come up short? Yeah, this was one of those cases.

I kid, I kid. Kind of.

My only complaint? Yet another series that I didn't know was a series until I was done with the book. Alas, at least I have something to look forward to this year!

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