Waiting on Wednesday: Anxiously Desirous of Reading Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases book lovers and bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

Waiting on Wednesday

Currently I’m re-reading The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, via audiobook, in great anticipation of the release of Stiletto in June of this year. The Rook was one of my favorite reads in 2012 and I’ve waited a long time to be able to read the continuing story of Myfanwy Thomas, super administrator extraordinaire who is part of a secret government organization of the bizarre and wonderful. You can read my full review of The Rook here.

Stiletto is the sequel and I can’t wait to discover what secret treasures it holds, what questions it ponders, and what revelations will make me think deep dark thoughts. If you haven’t started on this series, grab The Rook from your closest library, or download it on Audible, either way you will discover a wonderful and intricate world of the supernatural and be able to catch up in time to read the next book in the series.

**Slight spoilers for the first book in Stiletto’s description below.**

Stiletto (The Checquy Files, #2)

Summary from Good Reads:

In this spirited sequel, The Rook returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic—and slimy—supernatural war.

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers—and the bureaucratic finesse—to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:

The Checquy—the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural
threats, and…
The Grafters—a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women, who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

Nodds & Nends: NASA’s 3-D Printing Contest, Dear Hank & John, and A Little Cat Nap

NASA had a challenge where they awarded the top three designs of a 3-D printable habitat for Mars. The habitat design that won is called the Mars Ice House and was the brain child of Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office. You can read more about it here.

3D Habitat Team Mars Ice House

How do I know about this random Mars fact? Hank Green is how. I’ve been listening to the Dear Hank & John podcast. John Green is an author of some note.  (I have yet to read his books, they are all sad books from what I’ve heard, and I don’t generally read sad contemporary stories, mostly because that is just normal life. But I’ve heard great things and know I really should get out his stories. ) Anyway, I’ve watched some of his YouTube videos and when I found the podcast that he does with his brother,  I started listening to it. It is hilarious and sometimes a little sad. Hank is a huge science nerd and he has done little snippets about Mars at the end their most recent podcasts and that is how I heard about the printable habitat challenge. It’s just one cool thing after another in my life.

John Green and Hank Green

One recent Facebook find (and sorry, I can’t remember who originally posted it on my wall) is this illustrative take on what it is like to be inside the brain of an introvert. Introverts have given it several thumbs up and I think it can help extroverts understand the other side of things.  My favorite one was the bit on risk. “In other words, introverts feel less excitement from surprise or risk.” Yes. This. Also, this may help explain why people sometimes think I am similar to a cat.

introvert process

Speaking of cats, check out this hilarious and adorable video of a kitten falling asleep while in a not so great position for doing so. I think what is so funny is that we have all done this (maybe not on a kitchen bar stool). [via George Takei FB page]

Deadpool: A Violent Story about Love

Deadpool was an Amazing Movie

My husband and I went with a friend to see Deadpool last week. I didn’t really know anything about the character or the movie, and I purposely went to the theater without an ounce of knowledge. The only thing I knew was that it was rated R, and for a reason, and I saw all those posts by “Deadpool” not to take your kids to see the movie. Deadpool was an amazing movie, definitely my favorite Ryan Reynolds movie, and perhaps my favorite Marvel movie.

Deadpool (2016) Poster

Summary from IMDB:

A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.

******So, I’ll try not to be spoilery, but if you are reading a review of Deadpool I’m going to assume you want some information before hand or have already seen it and want to discuss what you have seen. *****

Clever and Sad

Deadpool was amazing, it was witty, clever, funny, and sad, horrible, tragic, and basically all the feels. This is my favorite movie I’ve seen Ryan Reynolds in. While I haven’t seen every movie he’s done (I don’t watch horror movies) I have  followed his career (and Nathan Fillion’s) since Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Hut and am a fan. He is hilarious. His comedic timing fits the character to a tee, which makes the character’s tragedy all that more sad and depressing.  His face, oh his face in pain, that is burned in my mind.

Ryan Reynolds is great in this movie because he is able to be both comedic and dramatic. When the two genres intertwine so seamlessly, it is not because it is an easy thing to accomplish, it is because both the writers and the actors have accomplish an incredibly hard task and made it look easy (an even harder thing to do). A really well done performance by Reynolds

The Love Interest

Morena Baccarin (of Firefly and Serenity fame) plays Wade’s (Deadpool) love interest, Vanessa. I have always admired her acting chomps and was delighted by the out of control character she plays in this film.  Wade meets Vanessa, who is a prostitute, and the two of them hit it off immediate. Both of them come from rough backgrounds (though we aren’t quite sure what that means) and are living hard lives. This connection is more than just skin deep, it goes to how deeply they end up caring for each other.

I related to this connection because I too have a hard time finding people who can relate to how I grew up and also where I am now in life. Most of my childhood friends are not in the same place I am in today, and new friends I make do not have the same background that I do. In fact, Chris is the only person who really understands both those parts of me. So I connected emotionally to their particular love story. Their love is the reason Wade makes all of his decisions, maybe not the best decisions, but everything he does ties back to how much he loves Vanessa and what he wants from life for her.

Disconnected from Violence

I did not connect as deeply to the violence. In fact, I spent probably a good five to ten minutes total not even looking at the screen, the violence was that graphic. In fact, I thought some of it was rather gratuitous. I see no reason to have a  human character flung against a billboard and then completely splatter across said board into millions of squashy pieces. Plus, the violence was generally followed by a joke.

We get it, everyone has super powers and is a badass physically. Thanks for all the blood and goodnight.  You can take my brain to sleep and deal with the nightmares.

But I was particularly disturb that the horror of the graphic violence was usually countered by a joke . To me, that is a way to disconnect from the violence rather than understand it.However, my husband and our male friend did not appear at all disturbed by the violence and it’s disconnection from emotion. In fact, I will say that no one else in the theater was having as much trouble with it as I was, I know this because I was watching the people and not the screen. So, take from that what you will.

Nudity Gone Wild?

You want to know about the nudity? Well, there is full on female nudity in two scenes and Ryan Reynolds’ very nicely toned butt is shown several times. (Technically there is a scene where Deadpool is completely naked, but is blurry and you really cannot see anything.) The two female nudity scenes make sense story wise and I was OK with them. Generally, I handle nudity much better than violence. I felt that it was appropriate to the story line and actually connected to the overall plot.

Witty Writing

When I went to see Deadpool, I was not expecting anything, except hoping for a good time. By the end of the film, I was blown away by the witty  and clever writing, and how perfectly Ryan Reynolds encapsulated that with his acting. Kudos to everyone involved in an excellent movie. Clever writing, great acting, and a love that thrives in the middle of a violent story, make for a great piece of art.

Top Ten Tuesday: Outside My Comfort Zone

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme by The Broke and the Bookish where fellow book bloggers, and anyone who wants, can contribute to a themed top ten list.  Today’s list is supposed to include: Ten Books I Enjoyed Recently (2015) That Were Outside my Comfort Zone.

Top Ten Tuesday

 My Favorite Genre: Urban Fantasy

I’ll admit that I still pretty much stick to one genre, urban fantasy, but occasionally I do find things because I’m browsing through GoodReads or the library catalog that are surprisingly good reads even though they are  outside my comfort zone. Not surprisingly, I don’t have ten books I’ve read outside my comfort zone. I have a limited amount of time I can devote to reading, and so I tend to go for what I know I will find enjoyable rather than branching out.

Top Five Books I Enjoyed that were Outside My Comfort Zone in 2015

The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1) by Jim Butcher

The Aeronauts Windlass by Jim Butcher

While I have devoured Butcher’s Dresden Files series over the years, I was not able to get into his Codex Alera novels, I generally do not enjoy high fantasy and hard to pronounce (i.e. read and keep them straight) names. But, I decided to give Aeronaut’s Windlass a try, and I ended up really engaging in the story. It is about a world above the clouds where wood is scarce and some lucky people can understand the language of Cats. Espionage, intrigue, and fighting among the different Spires adds excitement to an interesting setting.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes Please is outside my comfort zone because I generally do not read non-fiction. However, I do try to read one memoir/non-fiction book a year and chose Yes Please for 2015. I was expecting great things, because I just adore Amy Poehler and I was not disappointed, she wrote a great book. I love her honesty and vulnerability, she is amazing and human and I want to go to there and meet her some day. You can read my full review here.

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

As, I mentioned above, I am not usually a fan of high fantasy. I could not finish a very famous book series that is now a very famous television series because it was just too high fantasy. I find that a lot of characters in high fantasy are not easy for me to relate to and I have a hard time enjoying a story for the sake of the story, I need to me able to emotionally connect and feel safe in that connection. That rarely happens in high fantasy, usually the life of the main character is in such danger, that I cannot connect and therefore end up hating the character and the story. However, I really connected to Kvothe. This might be partly because as he is telling his life story I know he makes it out, at least alive if not unharmed. I felt safe emotionally connecting to him, though I despised his choice in women. He may be unpredictable and a hothead, but he had a good heart and he watched out for his friends. You can read my full review here.

Floors by Patrick Carman

Floors by Patrick Carman

Floors is a middle grade children’s book, and very much outside my comfort zone. I tried a few young young adult books last year and this was my favorite. Leo, the main character, is growing up and learning more and more about the Whippet Hotel where he lives, plus he has a mystery  to solve. What’s not to like?! It was a fun read, that was well written, had a couple of too goofy moments to be real, but enough real life that I connected to the story even though I am far beyond middle grade years. You can read my full review here.

Unnatural Acts (Dan Shamble, Zombie PI, #2) by Kevin J. Anderson

Unnatural Acts (Dan Shamble, Zombie PI, #2) by Kevin J. Anderson

I like urban fantasy, which I would say this falls under, but it is a very specific subset, the zombie genre, and that I do not read a lot of. I have tried a few and they are OK, but I really like the Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. series. I’m not always a fan of the details about zombie bodily upkeep, ’cause I find that icky, but Dan Shamble, his lawyer work partner, and ghostly girlfriend are great characters. Each book has a unique story line while also exploring the reason Dan was killed and became a zombie. It’s a zombie mystery sub-sub genre and I really enjoy reading these books. Plus, the lawyer in this book is a smart woman, who does good, and is a refreshing change of pace in how authors like to write about lawyers. So, I like that part of it too.

Nodds & Nends: Star Wars Wipers, Crochet Chemistry Set, and Zero Gravity Dancing

{Edit: WordPress is driving me batty. I cannot get the right version of this post to go up. I apologize for it’s hackneyed look. I’m trying here.}

One of my favorite celebrities to follow on FB is George Takei. He and his team post some awesome geeky stuff. (Yes, I follow celebrities, Mindy Kaling is hilarious, stop judging.) Recently George Takei posted this awesome picture of Darth Vader as a windshield wiper. It is the bomb. 

 Also seen on FB recently, this crochet chemistry set. Which I may have to figure out if I can make something similar, just because it is awesome. Unfortunately, the artist is not selling this set or the pattern. But still super amazing just to view.  [via here and here]

Watch this video from OK Go. If you can. Guh, WordPress.

Television Review: Superstore is Super Accurate

Superstore is a comedy show currently in it’s first season starring America Ferrera and Ben Feldman with a cast of characters that can be found in any large retail establishment. A work place comedy, this show strikes the right balance of crazy co-workers and the strange things that happen when you work on retail. 

Each episode has had me laughing within seconds, but my favorite episode so far is the one that starts out with a customer still in the store 20 minutes after closing. This happens ALLLLL the time and it can be frustrating. Especially if the person is just dithering about whether or not to buy something unimportant like a trashcan. FYI, the people who come in at the last minute are always the people who have no social grace. They leave items where they don’t belong, they ask a bunch of questions, and often leave without paying for anything. So, I will admit that I just loved Mateo’s solution to the problem!

What is great about this show is that it dramatizes some things, but really it is extremely realistic about what it is like to work in retail. Bosses who are trying to do what Corporate demands, but also take care of their employees. Co-workers whose drama seeps into your own life. Customers who don’t realize that they are not unique in their inability to figure out what is going on, that they are not the only person in the store, and that staying twenty minutes past a store’s closing is super not cool.

I’m also quite impressed with all the acting. I love America Ferrera, but the other actors have a good grasp on their characters. And, while they are characters, the actors play them with a solid grasp on reality so that they do not come off as completely cartoonish caricatures of people, but reminded me instead of so-and-so who I used to work with. The setting isn’t really ever different, just the store. We have yet to see much beyond the parking lot, but I like the simplicity of it. There is definitely an understanding that retail work is a world of its own.

If you want a fun comedy to check out, give Superstore a try.

Movie Review: Hail, Caesar!

Last night my husband and I went out with some peeps to catch the latest Coen brothers movie, Hail, Caesar! It was everything I was hoping for, but I’ll readily admit my bias toward liking a Coen brothers movie. Their quirky, witty, intelligent films are a reliable source of entertainment. Just the other night my husband and I watched The Ladykillers on Netflix without knowing who wrote it, and by a third of the way into the movie I remarking to Chris, “Wow, this really is similar to a Coen brothers movie.” Low and behold, that was because it is. In spite of my readily admitted bias, I think many people will enjoy Hail, Caesar!

Hail, Caesar! (2016) Poster

 Summary from IMBD:

Hail Caesar! Follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer for Capital Pictures in the 1950s, who cleans up and solves problems for big names and stars in the industry. But when studio star Baird Whitlock disappears, Mannix has to deal with more than just the fix.

First of all, the cast of characters and the casting of the actors in this particular film is perfection. Everyone, from go-to-Coen-actress Frances McDormand, as film editor C. C. Calhoun, to Ralph Fiennes as director Laurence Laurentz, and a galore of other Hollywood A-listers make an appearance in this film. Josh Brolin carries the story as his character, Eddie Mannix, works his way through several messes all while dealing with twin reporters played by Tilda Swinton.

There was so much to love about this movie, but I’ll pick my five bright spots of the film.

  • Alden Ehrenreich’s rope tricks. Ehrenreich plays Hobie Doyle a western movie star who gets set up to be in a drama movie which is outside of his comfort zone. His character is both a hoot and a hero. His boyish charms endear the character to the audience, even through some awkward scenes, and his smile is just so sweet. Plus, I loved all of his rope tricks!

  • Tilda Swinton’s twins. Tilda Swinton plays twins who are journalists that compete with each other. It was amazing. I loved all of her outfits and admired Mannix’s ability to tell the two women apart. I sure couldn’t.😉

  • Scarlett Johansson’s accent. Scarlett plays DeeAnna Moran, a synchronized swimmer/actress from Brooklyn. DeeAnn’s sweet swimmer demeanor is in sharp contrast to her harsh accented  rough around the edges character and the misnomer of sweetness is played to perfection by Scarlett.

Click to view full size image

  • Channing Tatum’s dance number. Channing plays tap dancer/actor/singer Burt Gurney who is not as nice as his sweet smiling face would lead everyone to believe. I loved the dance number soooo much! It was such a great throw back to movies from the 50’s that I have enjoyed, and the homoerotic subtext was such a great little piece of commentary that it had me giggling in appreciation.

channing tatum

  • Veronica Osorio’s pretty face. Veronic Osorio plays actress/dancer Carlotta Valdez and steals the show in her scenes with Alden Ehrenreich. Definitely an up and coming star to watch, I’ve already developed a girl crush on Veronica and plan to see what other things she has been in that I can track down.

More than just a fun film about the industry in the 50s, Hail, Caesar! is also a social commentary on Hollywood film making while using that same industry as its medium for the examination.  This commentary is made in both subtle and not so subtle ways, with characters actions showing what the Coen brothers are remarking on and soliloquies by other characters expounding on those observations about Hollywood in a more forthright way. While full of a cast of bright characters, each plays a special part in showing what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood centered around one man who tries to fix all the problems that other people make.