Friday, November 15, 2013

The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick

My wife and I took turns reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret to our son as a bedtime story. We all really liked it, and I wanted to read more by Brian Selznick. On a regular trip to the library I decided to see what they had in for Selznick. Honestly I was really hoping they had his newer one Wonderstruck, but I saw this and figured my son would love anything having to do with magic.

This is a lot shorter than it looks. Like Invention of Hugo Cabret there are words and pictures throughout the book, and I do enjoy his illustrations. The story takes up a little over half of the book. The other half of the book is a brief history of Houdini and how this book came to be published. Both were very interesting, and I enjoyed them, but my 4 year old couldn't care less.

The story is a good one. Victor is a young boy who hero worships Houdini. In a brief moment  in a train station he meets his idol and asks as many questions as he can. If I elaborate any more I will give away the whole story.  

This was a good book that my son and I enjoyed. I will give this three out of five stars for the simple fact that I wanted more. Be warned, I will not spoil anything, but the ending leaves you hanging. I turned the page expecting more and that was it. There could have been a good deal more to the story that would have made this a higher rated title in my mind.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm still here.... (Sort of)

Anyone who reads my blog fairly regularly must have noticed that it has been pretty quiet around here lately. For that I am sorry. I really miss writing these posts, and I miss reading even more. I haven't been able to pick up a book in awhile.

There is big news in my life these days!!! After years of looking for a new job I have finally landed a good one. I have hated working in a retail setting and I have been desperately trying to get a big boy job. I have been in retail for 14 years now and actively looking for something else for a little over six years now. Last Monday I started my new job, but it has taken a lot of my time. I will not have health benefits until January, so I am working my old job part time until then so I can keep my family insured. From now to January I am studying for two certification exams that I will take to keep my new job. This means I am studying like crazy and have yet to actually do what I was hired for.

I am so overwhelmed by it all, and I haven't had time to read anything other than my study materials. Currently I'm over halfway through Doctor Sleep, and it is killing me not being able to continue. It's really good at this point. I'm also close to halfway finished with Insugent which is a series I put off reading until now, and it is enjoyable. There are also a few graphic novels I have sitting in my to-read pile as well that are collecting digital dust. I'm going crazy not being able to read for fun, or blog, or participate in the memes that I look forward to every week.

All I can ask is hang in there. I hope to at least finish the books I'm reading at some point or read the graphic novels, because I can usually read those in under a half hour. Those reviews will of course be posted here. I also had a lot of fun with my Halloween Week, so I am hopeful I can do the same thing for Christmas. There are movies my wife and I watch every Christmas season that I would love to review and talk about with anyone who has seen them. I'm hopeful that studies calm down enough, or I have confidence to back off a bit to write a few reviews.

I still want to blog, and I still love doing it, so don't think this is the end. I'm not burnt out at all, and I am really missing this. I will not be like so many bloggers who get burnt out and stop writing and that's it. I hope to at least have some sort of presence here again soon, so I can keep things interesting to those of you who read me. Wish me luck with my studies, and I hope to be back soon. I'm just on a bit of a hiatus for now. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday- Despicable Me 2

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. This day allows us to share news on upcoming releases that have us on the edge of our seats in anticipation

Well it's movie time again. Recently I have been really excited for a bunch of movies to come to Blu-Ray. This is definitely one of those. I wanted to take my son to go see this movie in the theater so bad because we all loved the first. When this movie came out we just didn't have the money to risk on a 3 year old sitting through it. We still have a dollar show here and I wanted to take him when it finally arrived there. Well it seemed like we just never had the time in our busy lives to go. My heart breaks thinking about not getting to take my son to see it at the theater. Now I 'm very excited that this is finally coming out. 

December 9th is when this will be available to own but of course you can pre-order it now. I was planning on getting this for my son for Christmas but I don't think I can wait. I will more than likely rush out after work on that Tuesday and get it so we can watch it over the weekend. Here is one of the better trailers in case you haven't seen it:

I loved the first one, Steve Carell is hilarious as Gru, and the minions are even better. We laugh so much when we watch the first movie. The first movie is one I have yet to tire of, my son loves to watch it over and over again and I am fine with that. I am really hoping this one is just as good and can't wait to sit down with the family and a bowl of popcorn to share. 

If you have seen this movie let me know what you think in the comments. I still can't wait to see it and I am sure I will love it, but I always like to hear what others think. Talking about movies is just as fun for me as talking about books. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Star Trek Vol 6: After Darkness by Mike Johnson

 I really wish I had read the earlier volumes first. I loved both of the recent Star Trek movies and recently I found that they have a comic book series based off of them. When I saw this was going to follow the movie I thought it would be a lot of fun to continue the story after Into Darkness ended. What I didn't expect was how much would be referenced from previous volumes. A little part of the story revolved around a secret army that Admiral Marcus was creating, but then there was an encounter with Gorn that I missed.

Even thought the synopsis says this is a continuation of the movie, there was very little that had to do with the Klingons and repercussions from events that happened in the movie. Instead this revolves around Spock and his delayed puberty or Pon Far as the Vulcans call it. Even though it wasn't what I expected I enjoyed this story a lot. Even though this wasn't at all what I expected the action of the story line made this a worthwhile read.

Spock is overcome by his emotions because he is half human. Pon Far is taking a much greater toll on him and his rage becomes uncontrollable. He breaks free of restraints and it is up to Krik to and the crew of the enterprise to find him and help him, otherwise he would be lost forever.

There are a few other little story lines that happen in this graphic novel, but I didn't care to much about them. It didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. The art work was pretty good in this book. The characters are drawn as the actors from the movies and some were drawn better than others. It isn't the best artwork in a comic I have seen but I have seen worse.

I liked this book and I am glad I read it. I will give this book 3 stars. I might have rated it higher is the art work was better and the other story lines were interesting enough to make me want to rush out when Vol 7 is available. For now I am content having read this but not to interested in continuing the series.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Normally I am not a big fan of YA. I read the Hunger games and really liked it so I try to keep an open mind and trust in my wife's judgement when picking up a YA title. I also like Dystopian style books so I was curious as to what this one was about and figured it would be worth try. Tons of people I know have read it and loved this series so it has sat on my to-read list for a long time. Just recently the reserve my wife set up at the library came in and  we decided this was as good a time as any to read this together.

I have thought a lot about what I was going to say in this review and here it is; I liked it, but I am not really sure why. Has this ever happened to you? I really liked the book once it got to the ending and I am anxious to read the next, but other than that I am just lost as to what all I should say. Here are some thoughts I had while reading this and I hope I can get a decent review from these.

First of all, I'm surprised that I ended up liking this as much as I did. Most of the book for me was boring and slow moving. There was a lot of character development that needed to be there to set up the series and I understand that, but I felt it needed more action. It wasn't until about three quarters through the book that I finally got sucked in and couldn't put this down. I'm glad I stuck with it because if I would have just DNF this book I would have missed a great ending. My stubbornness won out on this one. The end was very fast passed but  at times felt a little rushed. The story took an interesting turn and that was enough to make me rush out to the library and pick up book two as soon as I could. I have it but still haven't started it just yet.

I did like the characters, even though the whole teen romance thing is lost on me. I was a nerd in high school and never had any dates so I skipped the whole  emotional roller coaster, for the most part. I still remember my teen years being horrible but that is neither here nor there. Tris is a very likeable character and I tended to compare her to Katniss from Hunger Games. I wanted to know what was going to happen to here next. Being from a different faction she took a lot of abuse from other initiates and I felt for her. I wasn't beat up in high school but I did take quite a bit of abuse back then so I connected with Tris in this aspect. With Tris's character there was just enough mystery about her and other characters that made me want to learn more.

Overall I liked this book once I finished. I am going to give this 3.5-4 stars. Aside from the ending feeling rushed and the bulk of the beginning being a slow read, this was still worth rating so highly and I'm glad I pressed on. Can't wait to see what is next in book two.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Hangover, and R.I.P. Wrap Up

The Halloween Hangover; this isn't because of having to much to drink the night before and now suffering from bad decisions. I mean the day after Trick-or-Treating, binge candy eating, and lack of sleep. When I was a kid I can remember trying to stay out as late as I could and fill my pillowcase with as much free candy as possible. By the end of the night my knees hurt, I was usually cold and wet (since it usually is cold and rainy here in Missouri on Halloween), and my tummy hurt from an over eating of candy.

These days the feeling is a little different. Now that I have kids of my own I am so excited to chase my son from house to house as his excitement flows out of him. Watching him run in his costume and laugh like a crazy person is intoxicating. After Trick-Or-Treating we dug through the candy to throw away any open or damaged candy, and all enjoyed a piece (or two) and then it was off to bed. Today I'm tired, my knees hurt and I really shouldn't have had that second Halloween cupcake at my Aunt's house before we went home.Even after all of that I can't wait to do this all again next year.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the weather changing to cold and the leaves turning on the trees. Carving pumpkins and my wife baking anything she can with pumpkin in it is something I look forward to every year. I also have an excuse to watch tons of horror movies and read scary stories. This year I started blogging in July and was pointed in the direction of the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. This was the perfect challenge for me and I had a blast doing it. This challenge consists of reading any type of Mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, supernatural, and fantasy books or short stories. There was a group read that I didn't have time to participate in this year but might try to next year. For this challenge you could also include your reviews for any type of spooky movies or shows. This was something that I really got excited about and I actually did quite a bit for this challenge.

Book wise I read:
Sons of Moriarty and More Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Loren D Estleman
Locke and Key Vol 5: Clockworks by Joe Hill
Joyland by Stephen King
The October List by Jeffery Deaver

I started Doctor Sleep by Stephen King and I am over half way finished, but I wasn't able to finish before the end of the challenge. Still it has been the perfect creepy book for this time of year and I am really enjoying it. Keep an eye out for my review here once I finish.

I love scary movies and it was a blast to be able to include my movie reviews as part of this challenge. I watched a bunch of Horror movies this year but not as many as normal. Having a little one command your attention and a very disappointing World Series to watch and cuss at took time away from my horror movie viewing.

Movies I watched and reviewed for this challenge were:
Evil Dead (2013)
Sinister (2012)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Friday the 13th (2009)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007)

I would have watch a bunch more but these and their originals are my favorites and I make sure to watch them every year. This was one of the best Halloweens I have had and I can't wait for next year. One of these days I will be able to decorate my home outrageously scary and pass along my morbid weirdness to my kids. I'm already thinking about ideas for next years Jack-O-Lantern, and costume ideas if we are able to throw a Halloween party.

Alas, it is time to put Halloween behind me and begin gearing up for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and normal life. It was wonderful to share my favorite time of year with everyone here on my blog and with the R.I.P. challenge. The last thing I will leave you with is a picture of our Jack-O- Lantern. My son was so proud to have designed this pumpkin. I would have preferred scarier, but he picked out the eyes, nose, and mouth to make the face he wanted. Hope everyone who takes part in Halloween had a great day and I look forward to having Halloween Week here next year.