Sunday, September 30, 2012

A few movies

Someone recommended The Other Guys. He said he thought I'd find it funny. I didn't. The actors did a good job with their characters, but it was so not my kind of humor.

AnnaLisa lent the Ever After on DVD. I enjoyed it. I like fairy tales with spunky heroines. And the prince had good hair. That being said, fairy tales are lies we tell our daughters.

Battleship had good special effects, but other than that it was pretty lame and predictable. How they connected the plot to the game was somewhat clever, if a little far-fetched.

I was downtown a few weeks ago (after taking an awesome tour about the architecture of the National Mall), so I stopped in at the Natural History museum and caught an IMAX movie. It was called Coral Reef Adventure. The film was about threats to our coral reefs and what we can do about it. It was good and had a lot of Crosby, Stills & Nash music. I had wanted to see a 3D IMAX movie, but it's probably good that I didn't, because this one made me motion sick. 3D would have been worse.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The National Book Festival

I went to the National Book Festival on Saturday. It is an annual event put on by the Library of Congress and held on the National Mall. I look forward to it and always try to make time to attend. Authors from various genres give lectures, read from their latest books and sign readers' copies. 
I went to listen to Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum discuss the book they recently wrote together. I liked it so much that I braved the book sale tent to purchase a copy. I got it signed. They were both really nice guys.

Michael Mandelbaum & Thomas Friedman sign books

The lines for the book signings

The Capitol and festival pavilions

 I wanted to make sure I got to hear James Dashner speak. He was interesting and funny and nice to the kids. While I was listening to him, a friend I hadn't seen in months just happened to sit down next to me. Funny.

 James Dashner was also very nice when he signed my books. A very cool guy and an excellent story teller.

James Dashner signs books
 After getting my books signed. I made my way back to the Poetry and Prose pavilion to see if I could catch any of Philip Levine's talk. He is the Poet Laureate of the United States. I only caught the tail-end, but I liked what I heard. He said that when he writes poetry he likes to "make the words happy to be together."

Philip Levine
 I had a little extra time, so I looked through the schedule and author bios to see if anyone I might be interested in was presenting. I stopped in to see Maggie Stiefvater. She writes teen books and also plays seven musical instruments, speaks at least one foreign language, was a professional portrait painter, etc. I suck compared to her! She was also pretty funny. The kids were really excited about her. Someone asked her about writer's block. She said that she thinks writer's block is how her subconscious lets her know she's taken a wrong turn. Interesting. I might have to go find some of her books to read on my vacation.

Maggie Stiefvater
 I think everybody my age grew up reading Jerry Spinelli. He's great. Judging by the crowd in the tent, I'm not the only person who thinks so.

Jerry Spinelli

I decided against waiting in what was, no doubt, going to be a very long line to get my book signed by Jerry Spinelli. I decided to make my way back to the Poetry and Prose pavilion. I heard Margot Livesey speak about her new book which is a re-imagining of Jane Eyre. Sounded interesting, and I enjoyed her talk. She said that she has two computers: one for writing fiction and one for everything else. That seems like a good idea for a writer's brain. When she sits down at her fiction computer, her brain knows what it's supposed to do.

Margot Livesey
It was an excellent festival. If you ask anyone else they're experience, it will be totally different than mine. Awesome. It's great to see so many people excited about books and reading.
Crowds, pavilions, and the Washington Monument

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not My Type, Hourglass Door, The Dating Deal

I read three fun books this month, all by LDS authors, and just fun.

First, The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum. I met Lisa at a writers conference last spring and found her to be a delightful, bright person. This made me buy her book (which I'd been meaning to do for a while anyway). I ended up buying it as an audio book, and it was great company while I painted two rooms and a hallway in my house. The story is about a girl, Abby, who thinks she has the perfect boyfriend, but longs for a little less predictability in her life. She definitely gets it when she meets Dante, a handsome new guy at her high school around whom controversy swirls. He makes it a point to be close to her, but when he touches her hand, time literally stops. This is a time-bending story. The writing is very poetic (so if that kind of thing bothers you, consider yourself warned) with a metaphor a minute, but all of them are apt and descriptive. I look forward to the rest of the trilogy.

Next, another audiobook, Not My Type by Melinda Jacobson. Do I love this? I do. The snarkiness was a mile thick and wit just dripped from it. I really liked the main character who started out moping because she was in a dead end sandwich shop job (despite her college degree) and because her fiance dumped her a week before their wedding leaving her with a mountain of debt (so he could pursue his American Idol-type dream) and she's forced to move back home. How she gets herself out of these doldrums is a really fun ride in Jacobson's deft hands. Suffice it to say, internet dating is involved, and blogger stardom. It's really fun. I might listen again.

And last, The Dating Deal by Melanie Marks. Years ago when I first was published by Spring Creek Books, I saw this novel as another one of their selections and thought I bet I'd LOVE this. But I never found it to buy it. Then a couple of weeks ago I ran across Melanie on Twitter, clicked her link and found this as an ebook for a great price. I downloaded it instantly and just devoured the good candy it was. Story: High school girl Megan is dumped and hating her life. She gets up to give a speech in a class and when it's time for questions, the snotty popular girl says, "Since Connor dumped you who are you going to the spring dance with, Miss Goodness and Light?" Megan is at a loss for words until Trent, the most popular guy in school pipes up, "With me. Megan's going with me." Megan has had a crush on Trent forever, but would never say so since he's not a member of her church. They proceed to make a deal. A dating deal. Good times, cotton candy readers, good times.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teen Love Movies!

I love teen love movies. This weekend was movie weekend and we searched on Netflix streaming for teen romance. Jackpot!

16-Love. This fun teen film is about a driven champion teen tennis player girl and the mediocre boy tennis player who pursues her and distracts her from her career. Good clean fun! I found the acting engaging, and while the story isn't deep, it's diverting and nice escapism.

Geek Charming. This is a Disney Channel Original Movie from last year. I'd seen the ads for it and thought, meh, but on teen love weekend, it popped back up. And I'm so glad it did! Honestly, I could watch this again. The love interests (as well as some supporting parts) had these great character arcs, and even though it should have been predictable, I was just along for the ride. Story is: vapid popular girl is dying to be the Blossom Queen and needs to be elected. Film Club guy needs a subject for the regional film festival and wants to do a hard-hitting expose on popularity. He chooses vapid girl. His teachers and mother all tell him to "seek for the truth and tell it," even if it isn't what he expects the truth to be. Charming.

The Book and the Rose. This was a short film and it was nominated for an Oscar, from what I read. It was absolutely lovely. Man and woman fall in love through letters during wartime. Finally they meet. The twist at the end gave me chills and made me get in touch with my inner romantic.

The Jerk Theory. This movie had to be muted roughly 1/3 of the time. The portions of the story with the two love interests were very fun. Every time the sidekicks (or the disgusting Danny Bonaduce cameo) or the priest (Tom Arnold) appeared, it was offensive (i.e., explicit sex talk, very rude references to Catholic Church beliefs.) We muted. Others may choose to avoid it altogether. Which was a shame, because the concept has possibilities: a guy is sick of being dumped for being the nice guy, so he takes on a jerk persona and becomes super popular with girls. Then, a girl he's sincerely interested in won't give him the time of day because she doesn't like jerks. Truthfully, I wish I'd written this story instead. I'd have made it waaaaay more fun and less...gross. Too bad.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Decoy Bride, Something Borrowed, The Secret World of Arrietty

Now onto the movies I've seen recently. I watched Decoy Bride also (Jennifer talked about it a few posts below).  I liked it too! The storyline was fun and it's clean.  It definitely helped that David Tennant was in it, who is really ridiculously good-looking :).   And overall it was a good show! 

I watched Something Borrowed.  There were some cute parts, but I would not recommend it. 

I also watched The Secret World of Arrietty.  It is a Japanese anime film by Studio Ghibli.  It is about little borrowers who live underneath a house in the country and the daughter is discovered by one of the big people and life turns interesting.  I liked it!  It is good stuff!    

Unbroken, Dragons, African Tales, and The Five People You Meet in Heaven

I haven't updated in a while so I will do two posts. One for the books and the other for the movies.  I recently finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and I loved it!  It is a biography of Louis Zamperini who was an American runner in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  When World War 2 started, he joined the air force.  This book tells Louis' story from his childhood, to his service in World War 2, his life in Japanese POW camps and then his adjustment to life after the war.  It is a fascinating read.  I was captivated from page one.  I must say there are some very disturbing accounts in here (as you can imagine from a man who survived World War 2) and it is a tear-jerker but it is so worth it.

I also read a Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons  by Cressida Cowell.  This is another book in the How to Train Your Dragon series.  They are a fun and easy read!

I read The Girl Who Married a Lion and Other Tales from Africa by Alexander McCall Smith.  Some things I learned about the African culture from these tales is that hares are cunning animals and that hares and lions are enemies.  Gratitude is important and don't cast out a person from your village who has saved the life of the town.  Be loyal to your friends and family. Don't be selfish because one day it will come back and bite you in the patootie. The hyena and the elephant live far away from people because they could not control themselves when it came to eating farmers' crops and they were ashamed of their lack of control and decided to willingly move far away from everyone else. It was interesting, a little odd, but I liked it!

I read The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.  I liked this book.  It made me think about how we are all connected and how we all influence each others lives whether great or small, but we may not know it until we pass on to the next life.  It is an interesting read and it's a pretty easy read but I am not a big fan of his style of writing in this book.  

Monday, September 3, 2012


I wish I'd had Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain when I was in high school. Or maybe middle school. Or even elementary school when one of my teachers told me I was different.

I didn't need this book to tell me I'm an introvert; I already knew that. But it did explain a lot of the qualities I have that I didn't recognize as part of my introversion. This book explains the research behind introversion and extroversion in an clear, interesting and readable way. Cain explains why we undervalue introverts in American culture and how introverts often undervalue themselves often wishing they could be more like the extroverts. People, mistakenly, believe that extroverts are smarter, work harder, and are more attractive than introverts. Cain also gives insights into how our society can appreciate and work with introverts to the benefit of everyone. She profiles introverts who created beautiful art and invented things we all use everyday, such as the personal computer. We have something to offer! Who knew!

Mostly this book gave me "permission" (for lack of a better word, I guess) to be myself and to use these qualities rather than fight my natural instincts and to stop thinking I should fix myself. This is a wonderful book for anyone who is an introvert or knows an introvert, so basically everybody.

Amazon has Q & A with Susan Cain. Scroll down the page.