They’re Real!

They're Real!

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. R.O.U.S.’s (Rodents Of Unusual Size) are real. Meet Patrick, 2-year-old wombat…that is one large rodent. Keep on the lookout for the six-fingered man, and I’m going to go watch Wesley and Buttercup.
As you wish,
Jessica


What Did Harper Lee Do After Mockingbird?

As school starts up again, I started thinking about books (What?  I can’t help it.  I love books) and what students are going to be assigned to read this year.  Some of them can be a struggle to finish (believe me, I remember) but not all of them are dry dusty old tomes that you’ll never pick up again.  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee grabbed me the first time I read it in school, and, for a girl who was constantly reading anyway, finding a book that grabbed my attention and got included on the required reading list was a bit of a revelation.  As with much of the required school reading, we watched the movie starring Gregory Peck after we finished reading the book.   This is a story I’ve never forgotten, and will read again every time I come across my battered paperback copy.  It always made me a little sad that I never got to read anything else by Harper Lee, so this article on 4 Awesome Things Harper Lee Did After Mockingbird really caught my interest.  Have you read it?  What did you think?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 


Take A Deep Breath, The New Doctor Has Arrived

August 23, 2014 ushered in a new Doctor for the well-loved series, Doctor Who as Peter Capaldi takes over the role from Matt Smith.  Okay, as you know, I’m anti-spoilers here, so please email any spoiler-y comments or questions to me at ilovegeekology101@gmail.com.  There are a couple of spoilers for The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor (mostly discussing 11’s regeneration scene), but I’ll put a note before the paragraph with the big spoil-y pieces of information, and it is pretty far down, and in reality, unless you have completely avoided social media you already know about this stuff.

We knew going into this series that the new Doctor would be older and perhaps a little darker, and this first episode, Deep Breath, certainly enforces that.  The transitional episodes have been interesting ones.  My reaction to the new Doctor has always had a bit of the Doctor’s reaction when a regeneration redecorate the TARDIS, “I don’t like it.”  Of course, it didn’t take long until I adjusted to the new face and form and was ready to pick up my feet and run with the new guy.

I don’t think I could say that Who had become boring, but maybe a tad bit predictable.  Capaldi certainly has an opportunity to breathe new life into the series and take us in a direction we haven’t been since Eccleston revived things in 2005.

 

This time though, I didn’t feel the uncertainty of whether I would like the new Doctor, but then again, I think Capaldi’s doctor felt more like he was struggling through the memories of previous generations more than either Eccleston, Tennant or Smith.  They all had their moments of settling into their new faces and bodies, but the aspects of the Doctor’s personality they embodied were quick to shine through.  Capaldi’s Doctor takes longer to shrug off not just 11’s face and form but the others as well, and I think they’re playing up 11’s comment during his regeneration that he will never forget a moment of when the Doctor was me.  References to a lot of previous forms of the Doctor flowed through this first episode of Season 8, and I felt that 12 had to sort through who he had been to figure out who he is going to be.  He still has the wit and humor we expect from the Doctor, but there is an air of unpredictability and uncertainty after this first episode that hasn’t been there in a while.

Fans know that the circumstances of the regeneration play into who comes out the other side(look at Tennant’s comments to the meta-crisis doctor who went home with Rose), and 11’s focus at the end was remembering.  I have a sneaking suspicion that will impact 12’s doctor a lot. The lines on his face reflect the memories he tried so hard to hold onto when he regenerated, because a lot has happened.  Seriously, how old is the Doctor now?  Capaldi, as a fan of Doctor Who since childhood, has an opportunity to resurrect aspects of all the Doctors who’ve come before with this regeneration. We’ve already seen a bit of 10 & 11 for certain, and I’m not nearly as well versed in Classic Who to be certain about earlier Doctors.  Possibly a little 9 snuck his way in, but I’m not sure.  I know I saw a bit of Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor with the finger alongside his nose.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: SPOILERS FOR DAY OF THE DOCTOR AND TIME OF THE DOCTOR AHEAD

doctor-who season 8

11 began as the Doctor who wanted to forget, as revealed in The Day of the Doctor, but went into his regeneration as the Doctor who wants to remember.  That 50th anniversary episode exposed that insecure, wounded side of the Doctor, and events in that episode did quite a bit of healing.  Of course, in true Doctor Who fashion, some of those were ripped open, and began to heal again in The Time of the Doctor.  Really, he destroyed Gallifrey, he saved Gallifrey, the Time Lords nearly start another Time War to come back into the universe, but end up staying where they are and giving the Doctor another regeneration.  All because Clara tells them “if you love him, and you should, help him.”  However, he wasn’t there to hear this plea or recognize the gift was one of love, and that could be something that pops up later on.  Even for the stalwart Doctor this is a lot to take in.

Another thing that has been commented on is that this Doctor will be a little less empathetic, and it brings to mind Moffat and Gatiss’s other project, Sherlock.  Sherlock’s brain holds a lot of information, but he has to make room by “deleting” things.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what this Doctor has “deleted” in order to bring back all of these other memories. Somewhere, I got an idea that the Doctor read a book “Dealing with Humans 101″ or something like that, and from what I’ve seen so far, it looks like maybe this is some of the information that has been pushed out or  to the side to make room for the memories of his previous regenerations.

This paves the way beautifully for what should be a whirlwind ride this season.  As anyone who has gotten caught up memory can attest, it can be a beautiful trip down memory lane when you’re remembering the good stuff, but life ain’t all good.  The Doctor’s life especially, hasn’t been, and the weight of those darker memories…well, I see a lot of ups and downs in our future, but that just comes along with being a Whovian.

What do you think?  Please send me your theories too! What impressions have you gotten of the new Doctor?

‘Til next time,

Jessica


A Feeble Attempt at Humor?

I don’t compulsively tell puns…that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy it from time to time…I can be very puny!  Fine, occasionally I just can’t resist.

witzelsucht


The New Doctor

Okay, so I’ve watched the new episode and the specials…twice, but I’m still letting it stew about in my brain a bit.  I have lots of unorganized thoughts.  Did any of you watch the new episode of Doctor Who?  What did you think?  Let me know.  I’ll have something going up in about this in a few days, but I want to hear what you guys thought.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Looking for Alaska

looking-for-alaskaThe Fault in Our Stars may have been the first book I’ve read by the insanely popular young adult author, John Green, but it was so good, it ensured it wouldn’t be the last.  Looking for Alaska made the journey to Boston with me, and I, for some reason, didn’t think that reading it on the plane would be a big deal.  It wasn’t, as long as you don’t have a problem with crying openly on a packed aircraft.  Once again Green has impressed me with his ability to connect with people.

You may be asking yourself why I keep reading John Green books if they all have made me cry, and it is a good question.  They’re just so stinking good I can’t help myself.  Although the New Yorker refers to him as “The Teen Whisperer”  his books appeal to a wider audience, because he doesn’t treat his Young Adult audience as people who don’t understand what’s going on in the world.  He treats them like intelligent, caring, individuals who are trying to figure out this life just like everyone else is.  (I’m a firm believer that anyone who tells you they’ve got it all figured out is either deluding themselves or lying).  He cares about his fans, and he’s forged a connection that is apparent in not just his novels but the rest of his public presence. (when you include social media, vlogbrothers, mental floss, crash course, press interviews, etc….it is a considerable presence)  He doesn’t assume that youth automatically denotes a lack of maturity or that age determines who is a “grown-up”.  This imbues his books with something special that appeals to a lot of people.

Looking for Alaska deals with issues such as struggling to find your place somewhere new, friendship, ambition, and grief.  I don’t know about you, but I struggle with these things too…still…probably always.  He approaches these universal problems with humor, truth and sensitivity that is appealing in a way that allows me to take something positive from the novel and apply it in my life.

An incredibly good friend told me recently that I’m not good at introspection…okay, an incredibly loud “HA” escaped her when I mentioned introspection. (She’s probably right since I’ve just decided not to look too closely at that “ha” for the moment.  Actually, she’s usually right, but don’t tell her I said that.)  Books like Green’s help me look a little closer without fear (mostly) and realize I could use more bravery to live in the moment and chase my dreams,recognize the difference between shoving grief in a big dark box and never looking at it again isn’t the same as dealing with lossand good friends can help you get through anything life hurls your way if you let them.  This knowledge is worth the tears.

I make this sound like Green’s books are depressing, and they’re not.  His characters have great senses of humor, and I find myself laughing far more often than crying.  Looking For Alaska describes a few great, intricate pranks I wish I’d thought of when I had the right audience for that kind of thing.  While the subject matter can get pretty deep, we are talking about a young adult novel, and Green definitely finds that spark to connect his younger audience to his characters and remind his older audience of what it felt like to be that age again.  Humor and fun are a huge part of that.

Honestly, while I will always recommend that parents read what they’re kids are reading for a lot of reasons (none of which include censoring what they read, by the way).  Even if your kids aren’t reading Green’s stuff, I would recommend you do.  His novels really remind me of what it felt like to be a teenager, the good stuff and the bad stuff.  With a teenaged niece and nephew, I realize that it is easy to want to protect them from…everything.  It is hard to remember how important the decisions I made for myself, good and bad, were in shaping the adult I became…am becoming…will become? (No one has ever accused me of being a grown-up)  Being thrown back into that mentality through these novels switched on a lightbulb for me, and stopped me from judging their behavior and decisions (most of the time) and I just started talking to them, free from advice (unless they ask or I can’t help myself), free from disappointment or scorn, and focusing more on just being a really good listener (even if I worry that I may bite through my tongue trying to keep from talking sometimes).  Also, skill with open-ended questions helps…occasionally.  Teenagers don’t always make it easy to talk to them, and remembering what I went through at that age helps me find solid neutral ground where we can meet from time to time.  Also, if they’re not reading the books, most of them saw the movie or have lots of friends who did…a common jumping off place isn’t a bad way to start talking.

The announcement was made that Looking for Alaska would also be adapted for the big screen.  I’m really looking forward to it.  John’s novel Paper Towns will also be adapted for film.  The same team that brought TFiOS to life for fans will be bringing Paper Towns to us on the screen as well, and after seeing what they accomplished with The Fault in Our Stars  I have complete faith them.  Of course, if you haven’t seen The Fault in Our Stars yet, I highly recommend it.

First Lines:

one hundred thirty-six days before

The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party.  To say that I had low expectations would be to underestimate the matter dramatically.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Concealed in Death

concealed in deathRecently, I read another J.D. Robb novel, Concealed in Death, and unlike the last one, this one rejuvenated my enthusiasm for the series until I really started thinking about it.  Yes, I had no idea who’d “done” it.  My suspicions were confirmed, but I didn’t know how they’d pulled the whole thing off until it was revealed.   J.D. Robb, a pseudonym for Nora Roberts, always provides easy entertainment without the necessity of too much brain power, and this provided the break I desperately needed between the first and second Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn.  (St. Aubyn created fascinating characters who are spectacularly broken, and leave a reader feeling drained. Seriously, when a book about a serial killer is considered a break…).

Concealed in  Death provided a great escape without taking too much time or taxing my heart and mind.  Sometimes you need that, but I still remember when her villains were chilling and it was a race to get to the next page to make sure the main character survived (with the shows I watch and books I read, no one is safe!).  The reader does get more insight into Mavis Freestone’s backstory which is always engaging, but I was longing for a bit more…traumatization whether that arrived in the form of emotional turmoil or physical danger, I didn’t really care.

Maybe I’ve become desensitized to the drama and excitement.  There’s plenty of that to go around in the other entertainments I pursue, but still…surely escapism isn’t the only thing these books have left in them, is it?  Maybe, I just want to be pushed.  Think harder, feel more, experience something I haven’t before.  Maybe pure escapism just isn’t for me anymore?  Perhaps, what I really need is a break from both Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb.  These go-to standards for simple entertainment haven’t lived up to my expectations recently.  Night Circus, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Fault in Our Stars… these all far exceeded my expectations, and I’ve got a stack of books by authors I don’t really know waiting to be read.

Now, this could all just be a symptom of wanting to change directions in other areas of my life as well…too much self-introspection for me this afternoon!

First Lines:

Neglect could kill a building brick by brick.  It was, to his mind, more insidious than hurricane or earthquake because as it murdered slowly, quietly, not in rage or passion, but with utter contempt.

 

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Comic Book Confusion

SagaI’m dipping my foot into the world of comic books, slowly but surely.  Apparently, I started off at what people who know comic books tell me is the top, Sandman.  I’ve been warned that I may be let down by others, but after finishing Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed Sandman several people recommended Saga.   Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you who recommended this.  I’m loving it.

Published by Image Comics, written by Brian Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples, this series has won three Eisner awards and a Hugo for Best Graphic Story.  You get this great star-crossed lovers plot line.  Their worlds are at war, and a relationship between them threatens all the propaganda and indoctrination of the masses both sides have built up to sustain said war.  Lying cats, bounty hunters, ghosts, and the drama of keeping a newborn alive while on the run keep things fast paced and interesting.

So interesting my frustration nearly got the better of me when I couldn’t find more after volume 1.  See I have no idea how this comic book publishing thing works, and while there’s a used book store that usually carries a good selection, my first foray into a comic book store was…well, I understand the stereotype a bit more now.  Also, it smelled weird.  There are a couple of other stores in town I want to check out, and someone said something about having a standing monthly order to get new issues.

I’ve also picked up a few issues of other things here and there, but I’ll go back and be unable to find anything else in the series…hence frustration.  What do you think?  Truthfully, I’d rather give my money to a local business, but is it worth not finding the new stuff?  I’m almost to the Barnes & Noble, trade paperback stage…there’s just so much, and I really don’t know where to start.

I need some assistance here, people.  I know I like X-men, all the members of the Avengers, and Deadpool seems hilarious too, but I don’t know where to begin.  I picked up a few issues of The Winter Soldier and I really liked that too, but haven’t been able to find anything else.  Apparently, I’m keeping things on the Marvel side for right now.  (Also, because I think DC is stupid for not giving us a Wonder Woman movie, but that is an entirely separate issue.)  So many options, so many crossovers, so much confusion!   Recommendations?  Help!

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. I did find Saga volumes 2 and 3, so I think I’m caught up?


Kelly Armstrong’s Series Moves to Television

 

A few years ago, I discovered Kelly Armstrong’s Otherworld series, and read as fast as my little brain could go. (although I’ve been seriously lax, because I found several books on her site that I hadn’t read yet!)  I really enjoy Elena, Jeremy, Clay and the others in this world, so when I saw there was a SyFy television show about them, I couldn’t pass it up.  Actually, I tried to pass it up, but wasn’t able to resist.  I’d gone one a long journey with these people, and I didn’t want to be disappointed by who Hollywood may or may not have turned them into.  Fortunately, I am far enough removed from reading the books that nothing bothered me too much.  I watched all fourteen episodes in a week. (Yeah, I know bingeing on anything whether it is television, food or booze is a bad idea.)

I felt like Elena was cast well, although she comes across a bit angrier in the show than I remember in the book.  She also doesn’t have the edge that I believe has to be inherent if you’re playing the only female werewolf in existence.  (They might also mention she’s the only female werewolf earlier, since it plays a huge role in the motivation of other characters.) Maybe that anger I see is meant to be her “edge” but, if so, they didn’t get it.

Clay tries to do “Southern” and fails spectacularly, but doesn’t do too badly with much of the rest of the character.  The books discuss the animalistic side of Clay quite a bit, but that doesn’t come across too well in the show.  Some lengthy looks and flashback scenes are providing the sense that Clay embraces the animal more than some of the others, and a creative writing teacher once told me that needing to use flashbacks is a sign of substandard writing.  This feels like they had to use the flashbacks because there was no other way.  While Armstrong doesn’t use a lot of flashback, if any, in the novels, she also has the ability to draw on that internal monologue that you can’t get across on the screen.  Truthfully, I think they would do better to have a character watching a documentary about wolves in the wild explaining all the posturing and complexity inherent in the pack system than using flashbacks to depict what’s going on with Clay and Elena. (Their history gets a bit…complicated.)

Jeremy was the one that bugged me the most.  The casting for this character is essential because Jeremy plays such a huge role and ties together other characters as well, and it isn’t that he’s terrible by any stretch of the imagination.  He just lacks the certain oomph (yes, that’s the technical term) that the alpha needs.  After a few episodes, I saw a bit more of what I think is needed, but it was a developed sense of his power and menace.  If this hadn’t been a Netflix viewing, I probably wouldn’t have watched another episode after that first one.

After watching the first season, I am inspired to re-read the series, and pick up the books I’ve missed.  The show was picked up for a second season, and will return to SyFy in 2015.  I’ll probably watch it…but only if it doesn’t conflict with a better show.  This may be a great for people new to this story, but for long-time fans like me…it didn’t live up to what I think could be done with this world and these characters.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss PeregrineI know. I’m a bad blogger. Lately I’ve kind of become a bit of a hermit, but all that’s changing. I’ve missed you guys!

My hermit status has been good for quite a bit of reading, so this will be the first of several new book reviews.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs has been calling to me since it was first released, but I resisted mightily. Then I saw a second book had been released, and I figured I needed to see what was up with this monochromatic covered book.  I actually did not notice the girl on the cover is floating until I saw her photograph again inside the novel.

Riggs has built a wonderful world, and I enjoyed every minute I got to spend there with these peculiar children. The characters have depth, and reveal themselves slowly. The lush backdrop of Wales is vibrant, and the intriguing storyline captured and held my attention.

I began my adventures with Jacob late in the evening last week. I’d been to a baseball game with friends, and I needed to unwind a bit. Why I thought Jacob and these peculiar children would be something I could put down easily, I don’t know. I actually did the stereotypical, falling asleep with all the lights on, propped up in bed with the book next to me, and when I woke up, I immediately wanted to dive back in.

Jacob’s grandfather tells him stories of peculiar children he grew up with in a home during World War II.  These outlandish stories capture Jacob’s attention, and although he questions the validity of a boy with bees living inside of him, a girl who levitates, or an invisible boy, his grandfather says he’s telling the truth. Jacob believes him.

However, as happens all too often, Jacob grows up. His parents convince him these are just stories, and it isn’t real. After his grandfather’s death, Jacob searches to connect with the person who knew him best, with his heritage.  He need to find out what inspired these fantastical stories his grandfather insisted were true, so Jacob decides to travel to Wales where this home is located.

Most of us are looking at where we came from, the people and traditions that influenced the way we are raised, and that turns Jacob into someone we can see ourselves in. This fantastic search for these odd children becomes something we can believe in as well, because we’ve all gone looking for something in our family’s history.

In a world in which we’re meant to be more connected through this amazing technology at our fingertips, we feel more adrift. Genealogy studies have skyrocketed, and I think that many of us are looking for an anchor, for roots to hold us steady as the world spins faster and faster around us.

Ransom Riggs’s character is doing the same thing. Jacob’s world is spinning out of control. Decisions about his future are being made for him, and he just needs something to hold on to. Something solid and real and unchanging.

Can he find what he’s looking for in Wales? Does Jacob find the stability he needs in the home his grandfather spoke of so often? Is what he finds better or worse? Do you have to have a clear picture of the past in order to embrace your future? Maybe Hollow City will provide more answers.

One of my favorite things about this book is the photographs. Riggs found these wonderfully peculiar photos that are scattered throughout the novel, and they really enhance the story in a way that illustrations and descriptions can’t do. They add a realism to the story that makes you wonder and want to believe in these odd kids and their world.  It adds another layer to an already nuanced and engaging novel.

This quirky, strange and wonderful book turned out to be so much more than the easy, slightly spooky, read I expected. I immediately went out to purchase the next installment, and as much as I’d like to dive in right away, I’m letting Jacob and his world percolate a bit.  It isn’t like I’m going far, the final installment of the Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn is sitting on my coffee table now, just waiting for me to finish it.  And while it is separated from Jacob’s Wales by a few years, it’s still in Great Britain, so, geographically anyway, I haven’t moved much.  (Although, as characters go, Patrick Melrose and Jacob are nearly polar opposites in many ways.)

 

First Lines:

 I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.  The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After.  Like many of the extraordinary things to come, it involved my grandfather, Abraham Portman.

 

‘Til next time,
Jessica

 


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