3 Books

Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:39 pm
berryandthorn: (red)
Two in-progress, and one abandoned. 

Fourmile by Watt Key
Fourmile's plot is my own special kind of crack: a mysterious (as in most likely running from the law) drifter takes a shine to a lonely, fatherless boy and stays on to help the boy's mother sell the family farm, which has, along with the family's personal life, gone to pot in the last few months. Unfortunately--and I'm not quite sure why--the characters don't live up to the coolness of their story. They're not flat, exactly, but they're just not surprising; in every situation they all react exactly as you'd predict these types of characters would. It's not enough to make me quit reading; I just wish I could love the characters as much as I love the plot. 

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
I gave up on this a quarter of the way through. It's very, very tropey, which is fantastic, but none of those tropes happened to be ones I like. There's a gorgeous yet sinister guy, a beautiful, flighty younger sister, and a main character who's considered plain by the standards of the time but probably wouldn't do too badly for herself today. Which is fine--beauty standards change. But when are we going to get a heroine who'd be considered plain both then and now, or a heroine whose appearance isn't constantly brought up because, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter? That being said, there's an amazing sense of atmosphere--dark and cold and spindly--and the gorgeous yet sinister guy is obviously based on David Bowie from Labyrinth. I might give this one another try someday. Maybe. 

Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule
This'll be my second Ann Rule book; I'm liking it even more than Empty Promises. Small Sacrifices covers the Diane Downs case, which I first heard about on My Favorite Murder (episode 12, I think). The book (obviously) goes into a lot more detail, especially when it comes to Diane's background. You can't exactly pity her--and honestly, I'd be straight up terrified of anyone who did--but it's interesting to see how her childhood most likely influenced what she ended up becoming. 

Some Stuff

Jul. 18th, 2017 11:53 am
berryandthorn: (forest)
  • This month I fell into a bit of a reading slump, and I've been slowly working my way out of it by reading a whole bunch of middle grade books. I just finished Ghost by Jason Reynolds and Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes. Olive's Ocean is an old favorite (I remember listening the audiobook when I was around the same age as the main character, Martha) and oh boy, did it hold up the second time around. I can't help but love how conflicted and miserable Martha is through most of the story because that's, more or less, how I felt when I was twelve: lonely and awkward and tired of everyone, especially everyone in my family. Olive's Ocean is also a very small story--one summer with one family--that still feels huge and deeply emotional. 
  • Ghost is pretty short. Even shorter than Olive's Ocean, which I read all the way through in one day. It's also hilarious, and features two things I adore: a snarky kid narrator and an "inspirational coach" type of character who's almost just as snarky. If anything, I wish that this one had been a little longer, but it's part of a series, so I will be able to spend more time with the characters once the second book comes out. 
  • I emailed in my application for peer tutoring a few days ago. I won't be getting an answer back for a couple more days, but I have a pretty good feeling about my chances. Mostly I'm just worried about filling the position for one of the classes that fits with the rest of my schedule before someone else does. 
  • An idea for a short story was bugging me, so I decided to try writing it down last week. I ended up learning two things. One: I can still write short stories, but two: I don't actually want to write short stories right now. Which feels weird, since I always figured that I did still want to write short stories--I just hadn't come up with any good ideas yet. But ideas aren't the problem. The problem is that I'm just not interested in them. And maybe I was never interested in writing short stories as much as I was interested in publishing short stories...anyway, if I'm going to write, I want to enjoy what I'm writing, so after typing up a couple paragraphs I gave up and dumped it in my "Bits & Pieces" file. It really wasn't a bad beginning. I'm just not interested in continuing it. At all. 
  • Better writing news: my July Horror Movie Spotlight for TFI is up. This month it's I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, which I already talked about here and still have mixed feelings about. I always find things I should have changed in my posts after they're finished and posted, but I don't think this one turned out too bad. You can find it here.  
  • I'm getting caught up on My Favorite Murder. Episode 77 was amazing, and by that I mean it covered two absolutely horrific stories. I haven't listened to Lore in a while, so that's next on my list. 
berryandthorn: (jess)
Sorry for the lack of updates, but, honestly, there hasn't been a whole lot worth writing about. I've been reading. (Mostly) keeping up with my writing goals, which is great. I also got the opportunity to apply to become a peer tutor for one of the FYEX (First Year Experiences) classes at my college, which I'll definitely do. The workload seems pretty reasonable, and I could use the extra credit. It also relates to my major (English Ed), so I really hope I can find a class that fits in with my schedule. 

Other than that, about the most interesting thing I did all week was rewatch The Magnificent Seven and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I love both of these movies to pieces, and for similar reasons; they're both so. much. fun. I think it comes down to the chemistry between the characters--in both stories almost every interaction, between any combination of characters, is a joy to watch. The Magnificent Seven has that very stereotypical classic Western feel that I can't get enough of, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is so vibrant and beautiful and full of over-the-top period details. Especially Gaby's orange dresses. Seriously. Who knew orange could be such a flattering color? 
berryandthorn: (cliffs)
Maybe. Maybe not. We'll see.

Had an absolutely wonderful couple of days while our friend was visiting, but now that she's gone I feel drained and a little sad. On the bright side, I'm aching to get back to writing. I don't have much planned for this week, aside form sorting out some stressful but necessary college stuff, so it shouldn't be too hard to sneak in some long(ish) writing sessions. That and catching up on reading. I just finished Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and have maybe a quarter left of one of those huge "Ann Rule's Crime Files" books.

And, oh yeah, we did end up going to see Spider-Man: Homecoming. It was hilarious. It also deserves its own much longer, gushy post, so for now here are a couple of the not-too-spoilery high points:

Read more... )

1 Movie

Jun. 27th, 2017 06:09 pm
berryandthorn: (rey)
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the HouseImage result for i am the pretty thing that lives in the house poster
So basically: A skittish nurse moves into an isolated country house to care for a long-retired author. The author, Iris Blum, wrote ghost stories, and her most famous novel, The Lady in the Walls, was apparently inspired--surprise, surprise--by actual events. She claimed the story wasn't made up, but told to her by Polly, the ghost of a murdered young woman who'd lived in the house many years before. The nurse, Lily, has never read any of Iris's books, but that doesn't stop her from realizing that odd things are happening. For one, Iris insists on calling her "Polly". For another, a strange black mold's growing on the walls, and something keeps rattling beneath them.

I have kind of mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, it's a slow moving and very, very quiet ghost story that's beautifully filmed and written. On the other hand...it's a slow moving and very, very quiet ghost story. Plot comes second to building up a mood, and even though that mood is decently creepy it can't make up for the fact that not much happens, and what does happen isn't always explained. Leaving a couple threads dangling is great, but I wouldn't have minded a little more info about Polly, and why she decided to "tell" her story to Iris in the first place. (Or did she?) You also never get a clear sense of who these characters are as people. That, though, is the point of the movie, so I can't call it a fault. More or a it's-not-you-it's-me type of deal.

Overall I'd give the title five stars and the story itself three stars. I'll probably spotlight it for my next TFI post, which'll give me the chance to put my thoughts on it in better order. 
berryandthorn: (the walking dead)
Today was exceptionally boring, but not in a bad way. I went to church, then over to a friend's house, played two rounds of the cutest card game ever (Sushi Go!), came home, read a bit, had dinner, went on a drive, came back home again...after this I'll either sleep or binge on Forensic Files episodes. Maybe read some more. I still need to finish Snuff and Galveston, but I also just started The Manny Files by Christian Burch, because I have the memory span of a goldfish and forgot I was already reading two books. The Manny Files reminds me a bit of After Iris by Natasha Farrant; they're both MG books that involve big, eccentric families and male nannies. Which apparently is a match made in storytelling heaven. 

Getting more and more excited for Spider Man: Homecoming. A friend's visiting for the first few days in July and we're hoping to see it together. I loved Tom Holland as Peter in Civil War. He's actually convincing as a teenager and was already building up a good rapport with Tony. If Logan and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have taught me anything, it's that 2017 is the year of Marvel dads sacrificing everything for their kids. Peter and Tony's relationship is a bit different from Logan and Laura's and Peter and Yondu's, but I'm still excited to see where it might go. Also, even though I'm not expecting it in this movie, I'd really, really love a crossover with Daredevil at some point. I mean, come on. They live in the same city. I'm sure they've already bumped into each other.

And while we're on the subject of Marvel, I read a good (and short!) Daredevil fic a few days ago. It's crossover/fusion and features Foggy as a Lovecraftian monster. Also Matt/Foggy, but a cool and creepy read whether you ship them as a couple or not. 

Oh yeah, my not-quite-writer's-block has ended! The stories are back up and running (for now). It proves that all I really needed was a break, plus some time to mull over the plots and decided where I wanted to go next. That was the part I think I was not-so-subconsciously avoiding--plotting is one of my biggest weak spots. 

Last note--the music video for one of my latest favorite songs is adorable:

berryandthorn: (gamora)
I stared the day combing through old Taste of Home magazines for recipes, especially recipes that didn't require a whole ton of prep time. My twin sister and I will be moving into an apartment on campus at the end of August, and even though I can cook plenty of things for myself I'll feel better with a collection of recipes to fall back on. Anything that looked good and not too expensive went into a binder--if I were craftier I'd try to put together a cute homemade recipe book, but I'm not. A binder it is.

My two main writing projects are both at a standstill. It's not exactly writer's block, since I know where I want to go, plot-wise, with them both. It's not that I don't want to write, either. It's that working on them lately feels like trying to squeeze leftover toothpaste from the bottom of the tube. Words aren't coming. It's frustrating, but I decided I'd rather take a break than make myself miserable. I still feel a little guilty, but that's better than forcing myself to work on something until I hate it. 

On the bright side, I've been distracting myself by reading Walking Dead fanfic and more Terry Pratchett, and my TFI post, "Here's Why You Should Read Monstress" went up on Tuesday. 

berryandthorn: (sea)
Welp, I fell down a The Walking Dead rabbit hole again. It was in my list of top-ten favorites until I started college and just didn't have time to keep up with it. So now I'm spoiled for everything that's happened since season 5, but just starting to work my through season 6. Oh well. The season 7 premier is something I'd rather be emotionally prepared for.

Writing's going well. Slowly and only semi-steadily, but it's been fun. I do have to find some non-writing related hobbies (or projects or chores or something), though. I'm tired of sitting at my desk all day. And, as much as I love writing, it can't be my only outlet--when that happens, I start obsessing over every single sentence and feeling like crap if those sentences don't sound completely perfect. I want to enjoy writing, but I also want to enjoy other things. I want to make all kinds of stuff, not drive myself crazy over one poor story. My sister and I want to put together a recipe binder for when we move out at the end of the summer, so that should help. I also need to keep studying for my Praxis Core exams. 

Reading-wise, I just started Snuff by Terry Pratchett and Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto. Of the two I'm liking Snuff better, though they're both well-written and it isn't fair to compare anyone to Terry Pratchett. I also finished Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (decent) and Ghosts Along the Cumberland by William Lynwood Montell (kind of dry, but interesting). 

On a side note, has anyone else seen the trailer for Peter and Wendy? It aired on ITV in 2015, but as far as I can tell it's never been released in the US and DVDs are hard to come by. I'm always up for a new version of Peter Pan, and this one looks fun; the idea of tying it in with the Great Ormond Street Hospital is something I'd have loved to come up with.  
 
 
berryandthorn: (gamora)
You know, it's just a thought, but when you have to start piling books on the floor (because there's absolutely no room for them anywhere else) it miiiigght be time to return some to the library. 
berryandthorn: (sea)
My sister decided she was up for some adventure and drove me and two of her friends down there for the day yesterday. I planned on coming home (we made it back around 7:00) refreshed, inspired, and ready to work on my writing for a few hours before turning in. Obviously I got home and did nothing besides watch a little TV, eat, and conk out, but I still had a great time at the beach. The water was cold, but not freezing, and once it got too windy for swimming and/or tanning we explored the boardwalk for a few hours before heading out. This was my first trip to Delaware in a few years, and I completely forgot how flat it is--makes for easy driving, but I'm so used to hills, dips, and turns that it all looked just a little off to me. It was still a beautiful drive, especially when we crossed the Bay Bridge. 

In other news, I'm 60 pages or so into Drums of Autumn (so still at the very beginning, more or less). I've got to admit that I'm not as fascinated by Brianna and Roger's romance as I am by Claire and Jamie's, but it's interesting and cute enough to keep me from skimming. So far all of the Outlander books have been a little tricky for me, not because I don't enjoy them but because I have to be in exactly the right kind of mood when I read them: an I-don't-give-a-crap-if-this-is-cheesy-and/or-five-billion-pages kind of mood. The characters are what keep drawing me back (Jamie and Claire could travel to space at this point and I'd still be invested), and I love how each book so far puts in a new historical setting--18th century Scotland just before the Jacobite Rebellion, 18th-century France, 18th-century Scotland during the Jacobite Rebellion, the West Indies during the Age of Sail, and now the American colonies. Their journey has been such a joy so far; I'm glad I'm nowhere near the end. 

3 Movies

May. 31st, 2017 12:10 am
berryandthorn: (jess)
Two knocked off the Netflix to-watch list on Memorial Day, and one watched yesterday evening. 

Sky
So basically: Romy, a French woman road-tripping through California with her abusive husband, ends up knocking out said abusive husband and going on the run after he tries to rape her. She meets a man in Las Vegas named DiegoImage result for sky movie poster and, after he gives her his address, moves to his small town to settle down with him. 

First of all, Diane Kruger plays Romy and Norman Reedus plays Diego. Going in, they were my only reason for watching, but even though they were both fantastic I wouldn't call Sky a romance, exactly. There are romantic parts to it (and those romantic parts are all wonderful and tender and unexpectedly sad), but the story was really more about Romy's struggle to make a new life for herself. There's also a lot of focus on her friendships with other women, which is something I'd love to see done in more movies. So, yeah, this one was totally my jam and a movie I'll definitely rewatch. I also adored Billie, Diego's sister-in-law, who's played by Lena Dunham. Really wish she'd gotten more than two scenes. 



St. Vincent

So basically: A crusty old man who just wants to be left alone with his cat decides to babysit his next door neighbor's son in order to earn some money. They bond as he teaches the kid how to punch and gamble, drags him along on after school "errands", and makes him mow his (completely grassless) backyard.
Image result for st vincent 2014 movie

This one was pretty good. I didn't like it as much as Sky, but it's funnier and a little (okay--a lot) happier. Naomi Watts plays a Russian character whose Russian accent wasn't completely terrible, so that was a plus. Chris O'Dowd was Brother Geraghty, the world's most awesome Catholic school teacher, and the end-of-year "Saints Among Us" school project was cheesy, but also THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER. I zoned out a little in the middle, but the ending more than made up for it. 



The Salvation

So basically: Jon, a Danish immigrant in the Old West, shoots and kills the men who murdered his wife and son. Unfortunately, one of the murdered men, Paul, has a brother who's even more of a psycho than he is. Delarue, the brother, kills three people in the town as retribution, and plans on killing Jon Image result for the salvation movie posteronce he's caught. But Jon doesn't plan on making it easy for him. 

I liked Mads Mikkelsen as Jon and Eva Green as Madelaine, Paul's mute widow. It would have been nice if they'd shared more than one major scene together, even though it was a heck of a scene. The movie isn't especially shippy, so at the end you're left to draw your own conclusions about where their relationship might go, which was cool. On the whole, though, this movie didn't quite draw me in as much as I was hoping it would. It's slow-moving, without a whole lot of dialogue, and Delarue is so irredeemably evil (He even wears a black hat!) that it comes off as annoying, not scary. 
berryandthorn: (gamora)
Well, God only knows how long this will last. 

I don't have the best track record when it comes to blogging. But, after a couple years of bopping around on blogspot, here I am. I like that Dreamwidth's a little more unstructured (journal entries as opposed to blog entries--not sure why I like those better; I just do) and also more interactive. I can be shy, but I love getting to know people and gushing about fandoms, and this seems like the perfect site for both. I should be able to post pretty regularly during the summer, but once college starts back up again all bets are off. I'll also most likely be posting a whole lot about what I've been reading and watching. Maybe a little bit about what I've been writing, assuming I have been writing something.

What I Like to Read:

Anything, really, as long as it's well-written. I have a huge soft spot for young adult and middle grade, especially if they happen to be fantasy, contemporary, or horror. I also love memoirs (just finished rereading The Glass Castle!), mysteries, romances, historical fiction, books set in Appalachia, books about poor or working-class characters, pretty much anything by Terry Pratchett, S.E. Hinton, and Neil Gaiman; war stories, classics, books about books, comics, and short stories. Books that make me cry are obviously the best. I also read an ungodly amount of fanfic.

What I Like to Watch:

TV shows, movies, and sometimes documentaries. Currently I'm obsessed with the Marvel Netflix shows, Call the Midwife, Outlander, Star Wars, Pacific Rim, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Logan. I'm just starting to get caught up on The Walking Dead, and, hopefully, Supernatural. I mostly watch documentaries about true crime (Casting JonBenet), urban legends (Killer Legends), or both (Cropsey). I also loved 13th and Dear Zachary

What I Like to Listen To: 

My two favorite podcasts are Lore and My Favorite Murder. Music-wise I listen to a lot of pop, rock, and movie soundtracks. James Newton Howard is one of my favorite composers. 

What I Like to Write:

I haven't been writing much original fiction lately, but when I do it's usually young adult or middle grade, and mostly fantasy. I also write monthly blog posts for The Fangirl Initiative

Okay. That's probably enough to start with. Hoping to stick with this and find plenty of people who share my interests, or who just want to talk. :)

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