Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Movie Review #18: The Librarian-Curse Of The Judas Chalice

Hey there everyone! After much waiting, we were finally able to pick-up a copy of the 3rd Librarian movie at the library. I was so excited to watch this one and I was really hoping it would be more like the 1st one than the 2nd (I didn't really like the second installment, you can check out both reviews using the following links: Quest For The Spear & Return To King Solomon's Mines).

The Librarian: Curse Of The Judas Chalice
Release Year: 2008
Genre: Action Adventure Fantasy
My Rating: 4/5


The Premise: 
--as read on back cover of DVD

"Librarian by day.
Vampire killer by night. 
Noah Wyle (TV's 'ER') is back as Flynn Carson, along with Bob Newhart (Elf) and Jane Curtin (Coneheads), in the most thrilling adventure in THE LIBRARIAN series yet! On a deadly mission  to recover the historic Judas Chalice, Flynn is saved by--and falls in love with--Simone, a dazzling French woman who harbors a terrifying secret. But when double-crossed by a respected professor (Bruce Davison--X-Men, X2) and ambushed by a ruthless gang, Flynn realizes Simone's secret, his true mission and a shocking discovery are all lying within a decaying New Orleans crypt...a crypt that may be holding Prince Vlad Dracul, whom the world has feared for centuries."

The Trailer:



Yes. Well done, we have our humor back! Finally!!! This installment definitely did not disappoint me. I was just as excited watching this sequel as I was watching the very first Librarian. 

Flynn needs a vacation and winds up in the bayou city famous for jazz and Mardi Gras. That's right, we're heading for New Orleans. 


Voodoo, hidden secrets, New Orleans style cemeteries, music, love, pirates and vampires...wait, vampires?? Yes indeed, we have vampires. While I'm typically very wary about vampires in books and movies nowadays, I really like the touch that this element added to this movie. It was actually rather fitting and it made sense. It wasn't overdone, it was melted in perfectly---like a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. 

We still have all the history and random knowledge typical of Flynn's character and lots of entertaining action sequences [absolutely loved the sword sequence at the beginning]. There are puzzles and raging emotions. Heartache and love are key elements in this movie, and I'm rather glad with how it all turned out in the end. I am especially fond of the dash of pirate tossed into the mix. 

I don't want to ruin the movie, so I'll just conclude my review here. You are going to have to watch it for yourself, because if I continue, spoilers will abound {and I'm sure you don't want that}.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: X-Club

I'm doing a little bit of research, so you'll be seeing some Graphic Novels popping up here and there. Yes, that's right. I used research and GNs in the same sentence. I use GNs as research. Research for what?? The book I'm starting on. ^_^ Finally! I'm finally getting some real work done.

What I'm Listening To:

  • Hide by Creed (I love the rhythm, my favorite line is "get lost in time, where there's no reason left to hide"...the guitar is pretty cool too)
  • Headstrong by Trapt (Always matches superhero stuff for some reason)


X-Men: X-Club
Writer: Simon Spurrier, Artist: Paul Davidson
Rating: 4/5

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Blurb:
--as read on back of GN 
"We Do Science!

X-Men: X-ClubIn the wake of Schism, the X-Men's Science Team takes it upon themselves to make a gesture of goodwill on behalf of mutantkind and better the world---using science. But just as construction of the X-Club's state-of-the-art space elevator nears completion, chaos erupts--and it appears to the world mutants are to blame! Can Dr. Nemesis, Madison Jeffries, Kavia Rao and Danger clear the X-Men's name before their experiment backfires? It's a thrilling sci-fi adventure that will surely change how you look at the X-Men---and the periodic table of elements---forever!"
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Things are super chaotic and they're getting even more crazy as the story progresses! Things are completely out of balance, and no one knows why. An Atlantean dies and a ship ends up blowing up---and there's no explanation. So, BIG SURPRISE, mutants get blamed....nothing new there. 

At first, I was really confused and figured it was because I didn't read Schism and that I would just fill in the blanks as I went along. Turns out, I didn't need Schism after all! Everything gets explained in time and my confusion was gone, enabling me to just enjoy the ride. I can honestly say that this was one of the coolest X-Men GNs I've read (and I've read a pretty decent amount). I really liked how they incorporated the strangely affected ocean creatures. 

This one is my favorite of all. It made me laugh. I couldn't help imagining how much Sea World would freak out if Shamu started shooting out random beams of power. I really had to pay attention in order to find this one and I'm SUPER glad I didn't miss it. The artists took the name "Killer Whale" to a whole new level. Shamu's not happy.



 I didn't recognize very many of the characters (except for Scott Summers/Cyclops) and I am totally cool with that, because I was finally able to pick out a favorite character (typically, I can't pick favorites at anything). My favorite is Doctor Nemesis. He is so arrogant and his responses are hilarious. I love his comebacks. The best thing about him though, is his inner thoughts---which are revealed thanks to a starfish attached ridiculously to his head. I was laughing and it was just so much fun.



He got super cool points when he was somehow able to rope and ride a hammerhead shark. That's just epically cool! How often do you see the X-Men do that?!?!






This GN is a lot of fun and I got so turned around with the story line. First the ship blows up and the equilibrium of life gets whacked out. Next thing you know there's a mess dealing with a computer, a pregnant robot chick and just when you think you've seen it all.....in comes the Nazi! That's right, it all traces back to a Nazi. Isn't that how it always goes? Learned one thing though,...apparently a robot and a human can kiss---don't know how, but its possible now.

Overall, this was one great graphic novel. I had a blast reading it and I'm glad that the library had it. I would definitely check this one out again to read over...if only to see the epic pictures--mostly the ones seen above--and to hear the sarcastic comebacks of Dr. Nemesis. =)









Movie Review #17: Logan's Run

Hey! During another trip to our local library, Mom and I picked up another movie. She showed it to me, telling me that she saw it with her family at the drive-in when she was little. So why not give it a shot?? Summer Movie Nights at The Real World According To Sam is happy to present to you this film from the 1970s.


Logan's Run
Release Year: 1976
Genre: Sci-Fi Action Thriller
My Rating: 2/5

The Premise:
(as written on the back of the cover)

"Live it up today, your time is up tomorrow. In the Year of the City 2274, humans forsake the ravaged outer environment by living in a vast, bubbled metropolis. There, computerized servo-mechanisms provide all needs and everyone can pursue endless hedonism. Endless, that is, until Lastday. That's when anyone who's 30 must submit to Carrousel, a soaring, spinning trip to eternity and supposed rebirth.

The screen's first use of laser holography provides some sci-fi kicks in this post-apocalyptic saga honored with a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects. Michael York plays Logan 5, a Sandman authorized to terminate Runners fleeing Carrousel. Logan is almost 30. Catch him if you can."

Based on the 1967 novel of the same title by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, Logan's Run takes us into the future in a time where humans live in a domed city and live for nothing but pleasure. They only live to the age of 30. While it was given an award for its special effects, I am very sad to say that this movie is extremely dated. The concept is extremely intriguing, however I must say that the execution would be much better now, in the 21st century.


At only 2 minutes short of 2 hours, this movie unfortunately drags on much longer than it should. There are about 3 different scenes that feel like the ending, but unfortunately the 2 prior to the ACTUAL end come entirely too soon. Many things in this movie didn't quite add up and there were a lot of scenes that just did not match up. The sequence was very choppy. The scenes did not link or connect very often. I felt like I watched one bit of film, and then another and so on in order to just see the story. I didn't feel the story and I certainly didn't feel immersed in the experience.
Other scenes weren't even necessary. I liked the character of the old man, but the whole deal with the cats just didn't click. The cats were definitely not necessary. The old man could have just lived alone for years and it would have been more effective and contributed more to the movie as a whole. 

Also, one thing I really disliked about this movie, was seeing everything with Logan. Sure, he is the main character and is in practically every scene, but in the end the lack of multiple viewpoints just results in a very limiting experience. Francis never questioned Carrousel or the way things were, but we never really saw how any of the other young people living in the domes felt. You can see their excitement during the first scene of Carrousel, but other than that we know nothing about them. I honestly think that 1 scene presenting a conversation between other minor or extra characters would have been a great way to show the overall attitude and reaction of the humans to their environment and lifestyle. I thought the focus was supposed to be on the way things are in the year 2274, but all I was really given was how one guy sees it all happen. How did things become the way they are in that time?? Why is everyone separated by age using colors? Why are the children so hostile? Who runs the place?!?! Is it run by an actual government, or is it run by the computer? These are questions I had that were never even brought up. These are the questions that, if answered, would have made the movie that much more effective.

For years, there have been plans to produce a remake of this movie (as read here: Logan's Run Remake), based more so on the original novel than on the original movie. Once the remake is completed, I will most definitely watch it. The concepts for this story are great! They show lots of promise. Perhaps with modern technology, the execution will prove far more impressive. One of the main problems I had was with the way the original movie was written. Hopefully there are more talented writers working on the newer version than the ones who worked on the original (no offense intended to any of the original writers). I honestly believe that this movie could be a hit, if done properly. I'm going to do my best to get my hands on a copy of the novel, to see where the original movie [& hopefully future remake] measure up. I would love to see where the differences lie and what could have made the original so much better. I am intrigued by the thought of seeing how well the new production team will adapt Logan's Run for present-day audiences. 

Overall, this film is enjoyable, but not highly thrilling or moving. With outdated special effects and poor writing, Logan's Run leaves much to be desired and I'm very sad to have seen so much promise and potential wasted. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Review: Just Grace

My little sister is an avid reader, just like me and she recently read this book. She liked it and I decided to read it too. So today's book is for the smaller readers.

Just Grace
By Charise Mericle Harper
Rating: 3/5

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Just Grace (Just Grace, #1)Blurb:

Here are some things you will find in this book:
  1. Crinkles the cat, at least until he disappears.
  2. Fantastic friends like Mimi and the glamorous Augustine Dupre, who is from France.
  3. A boy with some unfortunate habits.
  4. And finally, four girls named Grace, which is entirely three Graces too many.


Here are some things you will not find in this book:
  1. A lost friend.
  2. The world's largest sandwich.
  3. A new neighbor who can do hand-stands. 
Maybe they will be in the next book. We will have to wait and see.
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This book is really cute and told from the perspective of Grace, or Just Grace, due to a classroom misunderstanding. We experience her superpower of empathy and get to share all her pint-sized adventures. This time she is making feel-good postcards for her neighbor featuring photos of Crinkles the cat (Mrs. Luther's cat---the neighbor). Sammy Stringer, a boy with disgusting habits who Grace is not fond of at all, is framed for catrobbery because Crinkles is missing. Sammy and Grace will end up having to work together for a short bit of time if they want to find Crinkles and clear up a misunderstanding accidentally caused by Grace's empathy powers. 

Overall, this book is a really quick read, but is really fun since Grace is such a likable character and not overly dramatic like some children's characters tend to be. 

Movie Review #16: Back To The Future Part 2

A few weeks ago, Summer Movie Nights brought you the review for the classic 80s movie: Back To The Future. Today, I'm taking you, once again, to the future...and then back to the present where we will be zipped with Marty McFly back to the past to once more fix the future! Confused yet? Hold on, because things are getting heavy.

Back To The Future Part II
Release Year: 1989
Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy Adventure
My Rating: 4/5

The Premise:
---As found on IMDB written by John Wiggins

"With Marty McFly's parents back together and back in his own time of 1985. He thought that his ordeal of time traveling was over. What he does not know is that it was just the beginning, as Dr. Emmett L. Brown saysthat he has to come to the future with him. Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer come with Doc to the year 2015 where his future family is about to enter turmoil when Marty's son Marty Jr. is about to be in a robbery. Marty and Doc formulate a plan to prevent the robbery from taking place, as they succeed in their mission Marty buys a book called 'Grey's Sports Almanac' which is a futuristic sports statistics book. When Doc throws it away, former school bully Biff Tannen picks it up and discovers Doc's time machine. So he steals it. When he brings it back, Doc and Marty with Jennifer go back to 1985 and realize that things aren't right. Biff has altered time. He is rich and married to Marty's mother Lorainne. Doc and Marty then have to go back in time to 1955 to steal the almanac from Biff and set things right."

The Trailer:



2 Words:  Mind Blown. That's what I was during and after this movie. Turn after turn hit me like acorns being thrown by mangy squirrels. Right when I had it all figured out, WHAM! Bolt of lightning knocked into me a different century, sending me on multiple whirlwinds of adventure. All crazy metaphorical comparisons aside, this is the best sequel to any movie I've ever seen. Sure, some sequels hit the mark and others fall flat onto their movie posters...but this one goes beyond every sequel known to man. It takes the original movie to new heights and even takes the movie one step farther. Everything you saw in the first movie, is about to be layered with events that you never even knew took place.The end was so gripping and left me reaching like a mad person for Back To The Future Part III. I was so scared that I would be disappointed with a sequel to an already classic movie and Back To The Future Part II allowed me to breath a sigh of relief and exhilaration. I could go on and on about this movie, but then I'd be ruining it. Your favorite cast, a flying DeLorean and bad 80s cafes....what more could you want from the sequel to one of Spielberg's and Zemeckis' greatest accomplishments? A movie for all ages, for all times. It doesn't get much heavier than this! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Movie Review #15: Cry Of The Penguins


At the library, we were looking through the movies, as usual, and Alexandria picked this up. For those who don't know, Alexandria loves penguins. They're her favorite animals and she has a decent amount of stuffed penguins. Not to mention that whenever we go to the library, I see at least one penguin book in her stack. We figured we would check it out, just to give it a shot.


Cry Of The Penguins
Release Year: 1971
Genre: Adventure
My Rating: 2/5


The Premise:
(As read on back cover)

"When a womanizing biologist has the opportunity to study a colony of penguins in the Antarctic, he accepts with the intention of impressing a girl, and not for scientific purposes.

However, over the course of his time spent around the penguins, he develops a genuine interest and concern for their fight for survival. Will being so close to nature transform the man's outlook on his own priorities?"

Unfortunately, there is not a trailer for this film, so we're skipping right on to the review.

It apparently isn't a very common movie. I can honestly say that I was expecting a little bit more from this movie than I got. The plot was a generally nice idea, but the execution wasn't so marvelous. This movie could have been a lot better if certain things were changed or added.


Things I Thought Would Have Made the Movie Better:

1) More development between Tara and Richard, because it isn't convincing AT ALL.

2) A scene towards the end where Richard's change of outlook can be demonstrated.

3) A little more thought, because it just isn't logical to take wood from the wimpy shelter you have in order to build a machine (basically a failed catapult), that won't even work in the end. You can't toss off nature's balance, no matter how much it means to you. Even if it sends you into a mentally unstable level.

BOTTOM LINE: Less alcohol, more logic!

The thing that really redeemed this movie from being a 1 Star, was the great penguin footage. I enjoyed that a lot. Alexandria liked it, but wasn't too thrilled with the Adelie penguins (she's more of an emperor penguin type of girl).

Overall, there was lots of potential that wasn't capitalized on. Definitely could have been a great film with just a little more editing and effort. Good for about one watch, but it won't be a family favorite. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Movie Review #14: Sandy The Seal

Yet again, a film picked up at the local library. The cover is the reason for us picking this movie up. Who doesn't love an adorable seal?? So today, The Real World According To Sam brings you:

Sandy The Seal
Release Year: 1969
Genre: Family
My Rating: 3/5

The Premise:
(As read on back cover)

"A movie for the whole family to enjoy, Sandy the Seal begins when a lighthouse keeper finds a seal in need of help. He brings the seal home and asks his children to look after it, not having any idea of the world he's just entered.

Pretty soon, the man and his family are thrown into the world of illegal seal poaching. The seal they found, in fact, is only one of many seals that have been hurt or killed by the poachers. The man and his family find themselves leading the fight against the poachers, trying to rid the town of the abusive hunters and save the seals.

Featuring important moral lessons as well as nonstop entertainment, Sandy the Seal is a  film the whole family can enjoy together. "

This movie is a Digiview film, so therefore it is rather old and I cannot find a trailer. So this is the movie:


This movie was entertaining. Sandy was so cute!! However, it is definitely not the best movie I have ever seen and I have a few bones to pick about it.

I understand that it is a movie and it is all fake,...but I found a couple of things that slightly bothered me. For example, the kids are about 8 & 7 or 9 & 8 and they have way too many freedoms. Yes, they now  have a pet seal, but that doesn't mean they can do whatever they want! Their parents buy them a boat/dinghy and they're just allowed to take it right out on the ocean, no problems. It doesn't end there though. They randomly pull out oxygen tanks and go scuba diving. Just like that! No suits or anything, just their normal swimwear and oxygen tanks. There were sharks and turtles in that shot. The mother tells them something later, but who even allows their kids to possess scuba gear and carry it around like its no big deal?? Not my parents. Also, I would have liked to see more emotion from the children. At times, they seemed almost lifeless.

Overall, Sandy the Seal is entertaining and I might watch it again, but I wouldn't highly recommend it. There was a startling lack of dialogue. The redeeming quality for this movie was Sandy and the seal footage. That was definitely worth my time. This movie would have been good with Sandy and the seals, no people. The actors didn't have that great of an impact.

Book Review: Tuck Everlasting

I found the movie on YouTube around 2 years ago and I loved it. Found out it was a book, so I had to read it [and was lucky enough to enjoy it with my dear friend Ashley]. Even though the movie is very different from the book, I still greatly adore both. This is a beloved children's classic and I have always wanted to read it right as it was happening in the book. A book with wonder and a powerful lesson. The power of summer at its best. The perfect getaway for when we don't feel like staying at home, but can't seem to get out of the house.

What I'm Listening To:

  • Main Title (Tuck Everlasting) by William Ross
  • Love Everlasting by William Ross
  • When You Were Young by The Killers


I have to share my favorite section of the book (ruins nothing, since its part of the prologue) :

            "The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain."



Tuck Everlasting
By Natalie Babbitt
Rating: 5/5

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Blurb:
Tuck Everlasting---taken from back of the book

"Doomed to---or blessed with---eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune."

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This book is in my top 10, for sure. I am even going to go so far to say that when I have a kid, they're going to read this book at least once. Heck, it may even become a bedtime story. That's how highly I consider it. I love all three covers, but my absolute favorite is the one that uses the picture from the movie (below left) (since I'm fond of both equally). The yellow one (above) has a peaceful antique feel and was the cover on the copy I checked out from the library the first time I read it. The third cover, with the girl in the frock (further below) is the most common one that my friends own and that most people purchase. 

Tuck EverlastingGood story, good characters, good setting, and above all GREAT WRITING. I love the style. Babbitt wrote Tuck Everlasting in a way that makes it feel not as if you're reading a book, but as if you're being told the story and through the telling, living it. 

You breathe the scent of the forest and feel the coolness of the water. The crispness of the air and the burning heat come off of the page. The quiet, rickety creaking sounds associated with forests whispers in your ear. This is exactly why I call it a getaway when you're unavoidably stuck in the house. When reading, you're no longer in your favorite chair or lying on your bed or even just splayed out on the couch. You're in a forest in an older time, a simpler time, facing every challenge that comes with the story. You don't read about the Tuck family. You meet them face-to-face and share their simplicity and pain. You don't just watch Winnie Foster's reactions, you perform them with her. You feel her thoughts as your own and long for something more. A little more adventure, a little more room to just....play. You feel like a young kid again, not knowing what you're going to find in this big old world. All you want to do is live, and breath, and play. In this book, all of that is achieved, and we are left with so much more. 

Tuck EverlastingTuck Everlasting revolves around the idea of immortality, but while that is the hub of the story, it is not necessarily what MAKES the story. What makes Tuck Everlasting, is the characters and their reaction to immortality. Each character has their own perspectives and each has to make their own decisions. Winnie is just a child, but in the course of the first week of August, she grows up a lot more than most of us would think possible. While a lot of books these days make a big deal out of the greatness of immortality, Tuck Everlasting shows what immortality really is and the effects that it has on a simple family and the two people who wander into their lives. 

A little quirk that I found enjoyable was the fact that the antagonist has no name (as far as we know). He is just "the man in the yellow suit," which I think tells a lot about his character. He is not particularly villainous, therefore his name doesn't conjure feelings of evil in every sentence where he is mentioned. He is just affected by the Tucks and the spring in a different way than Winnie. He was shaped differently by the thought of immortality, but that does not make him the core of the novel. He just presents a common perspective towards immortality. 

Besides being beautifully written, Tuck Everlasting leaves the reader with something new to ponder after each completion. At first, you may leave with Tuck's great words: "Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live." The next time, you may leave with a new perspective on how to live, or maybe just how to appreciate those you encounter throughout your life. You may think and consider how every person you have met has in some way, shaped your life, no matter how small their influence may have been. After reading this book over about 4 times at least, I've begun to be more observant. Every time I go outside, I notice a few of the minor details that we typically pass over from day to day. The colors of the leaves at different times of the year, or the shapes of shadows on the ground. Even the cracks in the sidewalk or the light bouncing off of water at night call to me now. There's always something new to see when you go out and something to be learned every time this book is re-read. 

I recommend this to everyone, because sometimes, we need to forget the stress we place on ourselves and just live,...breathe,...play. We need to awaken the inner child that has been sleeping for far too long. The next time the first week of August rolls around, take a chance and see what living is about. 

Until the next time we meet, 
Keep your eyes open to life's many wonders!
                           Sam

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book Review: Glass Houses

I was super excited about this book for a couple of reasons. It is a super talked about series for one. It takes place in Texas!! That is BIG reason number two. And reason #3: Rachel Caine was born at White Sands Missile Range---which, for those of you who don't know---is super close to El Paso. Apparently, she graduated from Socorro High School, which is also here. But anyway, I picked this one up from the library, and it was part of my Summer Reading...so it is book #4!

What I'm Listening To:

  • Devil Town by Tony Lucca  (Completely fits this book! Heard on Friday Night Lights and while I was reading, tossed this song on. Couldn't help it)
  • We Love Like Vampires by Sparks The Rescue (A friend of mine from forever ago liked this song. It popped into my head when I was reading this book)

Glass Houses
Book One of The Morganville Vampires
by Rachel Caine
Rating: 3/5

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Blurb:

Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, #1){Welcome to Morganville, Texas. Don't stay out after dark.}
It's a small college town filled with quirky characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows--one that will spill out into the bright light of day.

Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. The popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks on the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Claire really doesn't have the right connections--to the undead who run the town.

When Claire heads off campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.....

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Wasn't sure what I should have been expecting, but I did like it a little. It wasn't the best book ever, and I had to switch my mindset while reading it, but I might keep reading the series (especially since Caine had to put in that stupid cliffhanger moment at the end).

Claire....didn't like her at first, for several reasons. (I'll list those in a moment) As I was reading though, I realized something. I was reacting. I may not agree with everything she did and we may have our differences, but she was making me react. In the world of reading, that's exactly what I want. I want to care, and I want to react. So that was the "A-ha!"
moment when my lightbulb turned on and drove me to finish this book.

So, why didn't I like Claire?

1. She cries a lot,...but I guess I could be guilty of that sometimes

2. She says she's the stereotypical smart girl (nerd, friendless, picked on). I don't quite agree with this stereotyping, but I've had different experiences being a "stereotypical smart girl." (everyone wants answers and they only know you as 'that one girl who sits up front and knows all the answers' --just forget I have a name) I had plenty of friends, even being a nerd. Not all smart girls are friendless, but I guess I'll just roll with this one being unchangeable.

3. Claire seems rather obsessed with wanting to be 'hot' in Chapter 1. This upset me, because if she was genuinely smart, she would realize that 'hot' isn't necessarily the best adjective for a girl to be labeled with. Plus, there are more things in life besides how you look. Oh well, let's hope she learns in time.

4. Clothes aren't everything, Claire. Especially in a town where you can end up dead.

5. She "loved books, and reading, and learning things-okay, not calculus, but pretty much everything else." This is actually great! Except for the calculus part, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with calculus (quick shout-out to Mr. Fish's 4th pd School of Cal Fish!). I actually enjoyed learning calculus. So I guess that makes me a bigger nerd than Claire....

6. This was one that was just kind of personal. Its probably only me who reacted this way to this little detail. Claire doesn't like video games...*sighs and shakes head* I'm just weird I guess, because that's not really something that would bother the average reader.

That's pretty much it. I kinda wanted to yell at her in some instances (but I wouldn't actually do that out loud, since she's a fictional character in a book and NOT a real person). I was reacting to her character though, so I'll cut her some slack and let her slide this time in the hopes that she'll grow as a character in the long run.

The characters were all pretty interesting. Monica is a first class witch who should have all of the blood in her body sucked out. The plot was interesting, but in a way it was unoriginal. I honestly felt like I had read this already (I haven't, I promise!). Maybe it was deja vu, but who knows. Claire's house mates are all really interesting and I want to see more of them in the future.

There were also a couple of Texas references placed in the book. Some were better done than others. As a Lone Star Teen, I feel it my duty to present these to you.

When she first goes to Glass House, "It occurred to Claire, as the door boomed shut behind her, that there were a couple of ways to interpret that, and one of them--the Texas Chainsaw Massacre way--wasn't good." Ok, this one felt like it was kind of just tossed there for a scare factor set-up. Claire's in a creepy Texas town, so we're just gonna toss in the most popular horror film that takes place in Texas. That's basically what it felt like to me.

Not much later, she is offered chili (which happens to be the state dish of Texas). "Good chili, from the way it smelled. With...garlic?" I guess Caine was trying to make the point that the people living there weren't vampires, but that was really unnecessary to me. All of the good tasting chili bowls have garlic (especially in Texas). I can prove it! Go here: History Of Chili or Here: WCCC Recipes. The vampire-garlic thing in Texas wasn't necessary.

I think that this was the best Texas reference, props to Shane: "Sorry. Last stand at the Alamo." That was good timing with that one, to the point where I didn't even see it coming. Well done.

Overall, the book was good, the characters were interesting and best of all: I REACTED!!! So this book was saved by reaction, making it a 3-star book. I need to read the second book, because Rachel Caine decided to use that cliffhanger marketing technique that I've kind of come to hate.

Enjoy your weekend!
Don't stay out after dark
        Sam

Movie Review #13: The Librarian-Return To King Solomon's Mines

This one was also picked up at the local library. I picked up both of the Librarian movies and I am currently requesting the third! Thank you library!

The Librarian: Return To King Solomon's Mines
Release Year: 2006
Genre: Action Adventure Fantasy
My Rating: 3/5


The Premise:
(As read on back of cover)

"New Continent. New Adventure. Still No Clue. 
You know how riled a librarian gets when Treasure Island is two days overdue? Imagine what happens when villains nab the Librarian's map to King Solomon's mines, the hiding place of fabulous ancient treasures! Noah Wyle again portrays Librarian Flynn Carson, the unlikely book-smart protector of humanity's greatest secrets. Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin and Olympia Dukakis also return in another thrilling adventure set in far-flung corners of the world. This time, the action careens from Cairo to Casablanca to Kenya to the arms of a beautiful archaeologist (Gabrielle Anwar). Can the Librarian escape a watery tomb? Fend off attacking hippos? Cross over a river of fire? Brave a perilous netherworld to defeat an evil mastermind and his henchmen? In short, can he save the world again?"

The Trailer:


I don't know what it is about sequels that just don't line up. The Librarian: Quest for the Spear was absolutely brilliant! Return to King Solomon's Mines? Not so much. Don't get me wrong, it was still really good, it just didn't go the full mile. 

If anything is to blame, I'd say its the serious tone throughout pretty much the entire adventure. We still get to see the world and go after some of history's greatest mysteries, but there's a large lack of wit and I wasn't so inspired this time around. 

Overall, I would watch this one again, but I'd watch Quest for the Spear a lot more. I missed the humor and wit. 

SPOILER ALERT: BEWARE!
Go no further unless you're ok with a 1st movie-2nd movie events-in-between confusion note

What in the heck happened to Nicole? There is absolutely no explanation as to where she disappeared to. For all I know, she could have died. Which upset me, because that bothered me throughout the entire movie while I waited for some explanation. 





Saturday, August 4, 2012

Book Review: Chopsticks

This book was one I received as a giveaway at Goodreads. It came out in February of this year. After reading the description, I thought it sounded pretty cool. I have a certain fondness for music, so let's have at it! I bring you:

What I'm Listening To:

  • I'm In Love With A Girl by Big Star 
(was listening to the songs on the playlists in this book and this one popped up on the side. It's very short, and not the greatest song ever..but it kinda sets part of the tone for this book)


Chopsticks
by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral
Rating: 3/5

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Blurb:

Glory is a piano prodigy.

After her mother died, she retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her with the goal of playing sold-put shows at  Carnegie Hall and across the globe. Now, Glory has disappeared. Chopsticks shows us the events leading up to her disappearance, and we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. She loses herself in his paintings and drawings, mix CDs, and late-night IM conversations. Frank becomes both her touchstone to the world--and her escape from reality. The farther she falls, the more she is unable to play anything but the song Chopsticks, which represents her relationship with Frank; F and G notes moving closer together, and farther apart. 

But nothing is what it seems, and it's up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along...
----------------------------------------------------------------------

This book took me by surprise. Not because of the story being told, but the WAY in which it was told. Chopsticks is told through images. Every page is a different image. We are shown photographs from scrapbooks and newspaper clippings. There are IM windows and random papers. It was really quick to get through, and the story was kind of enjoyable. 

But, I have some problems with the summary. I feel like I wasn't given the proper picture...so I'll see if I can tweak this better. Glory plays piano. Yes, she is a prodigy. Her schedule is filled with lots of hours of piano practice (around 7) plus a few lessons. So already, we as readers realize that she does not attend school (as many prodigies don't so they can focus on their respective talents). The summary said that Glory retreated into herself and her music after her mother died. I don't quite believe that. Yes, the death of her mother may have played a role in this, but overall I don't think that's the least of it. Also, the concluding sentence, ''But nothing is what it seems, and it's up to the reader to decide  what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along...", just doesn't do it for me. As the reader, I met the characters, experienced the story and I'm not quite sure what this line is supposed to mean. Is Glory supposed to be crazy? Or is it just that the overall logic of the conclusion is goofed up? I don't see madness here. I see a girl with no outside experience finding someone she experiences something other than music with. I find her as a girl who needs something else and possibly goes about the wrong way to getting something a little different paced. It may not have been the best choice, but something she needed to do for herself and if it was a mistake, she'll find out in time and find a way to fix it.

My Conclusion About This Whole Thing:
Glory's father pry took the death of his wife very hard. He basically takes over Glory's life (in my opinion) and is, ultimately, (I believe) the reason Glory left. First of all, she has no social life. Its just always her and the piano. If she had contact with outside people, I'm sure things might have been different. Frank is all she new outside of her music life and her father. Its also a plus that he ended up being an artist and therefore saw things in a different perspective. 
I don't think she's crazy and her decision may have been a little off in the end, but given that she doesn't have a mother figure and her father is creating more friction even if he doesn't intend to...it was almost inevitable. Given more leash, I think Glory would have stayed, content with where she was. 
It was a decent "read" but definitely not the best thing I ever read. I think more could have been done to improve the story (especially with the format it is in), but overall it was a generally nice book with some very artistic touches. I thought the playlists were a nice touch...I may not be totally in love with every song on them, but I'm very fond of playlists and I will take the time to listen to the songs on them when I can (always thought it'd be cool to have someone create a playlist especially for me). 

OVERALL:
Nice format, sweet simple story, average characters...a nice book for a warm summer day. =)

Movie Review #12: The Librarian-Quest For The Spear

Another movie from the library, I picked this one up because I liked the title. It seemed adventurous and had comedy potential. Plus, librarians/nerds and ancient treasures are amazing!
The Real World According To Sam presents the TNT made for TV movie:

The Librarian: Quest For The Spear
Release Year: 2004
Genre: Action Comedy Adventure
My Rating: 5/5


The premise:
(As read on the back cover)

"To be a librarian, you must master the Dewey Decimal System, ace internet research and, if you're new librarian Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle), save the world! Wyle (ER) heads a sterling cast in a fun, fantastical, special effects-laden adventure that soars around the world form the Metropolitan Library to the Amazon jungle to the Himalayas. Geeky Carsen lands a job as the Librarian, keeper of such top-secret Met treasures as Excalibur and Pandora's Box. Then the Serpent Brotherhood, seeking world domination, steals one of three parts of the magical Spear of Destiny from the library. Only Flynn, aided by a gorgeous bodyguard, has the knowhow to thwart their plan. But does he know how to be a hero? He will--even if he has to gouge, kick, punch, brave Mayan death traps and plunge off icy precipices every inch of the way!"

The trailer:


I really enjoyed this movie! When it finished, I was pretty pumped. I was excited to learn (that sounds really nerdy, but its completely true). I wanted to go to the library and immerse myself in the wonderful world of books. But it was around 10 PM, so obviously the library was closed. 

This movie has everything. Its funny, its witty, its full of suspense and adventure, it emits intelligence, there is history everywhere, we travel the world from our living rooms, and the most secret, magical treasures are presented. There is something for everyone in this made-for-TV-movie. 

The adventure reaches that of daredevils and the fight sequences are definitely fun. Wit abounds and the characters are memorable. Definitely worth the time to pick up and watch a couple times over. 

The Librarian is a must watch. I highly recommend it to everyone. Please rent it or borrow it from your local library NOW! I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. I know I wasn't.  =D

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Movie Review #11: Eat Pray Love

Mom recently picked this one up at the library. We really enjoy watching the Big Bang Theory and Raj mentioned this movie in one of the episodes. We just had to watch it for ourselves.
The Real World According To Sam gives you:

Eat Pray Love
Release Year: 2010
Genre: Romantic Drama
My Rating: 3/5

The premise:   (as read on the movie cover)

"Believing there's more to life than a husband, house and career, Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) finds herself with  a new appetite for life in this inspiring true story, based on the bestselling book. She leaves New York and embarks on a yearlong journey--traveling to Italy, India and Bali--seeking self-discovery through good food, meditation and the prospect of finding true love. James Franco, Billy Crudup and Javier Bardem co-star in this sumptuous and uplifting adventure filled with humor and heart."

Trailer:

When I first watched this movie, I had heard of the novel but had never really looked at it or knew what it was about. As I was watching I was under the impression that a lady had written a novel and it was turned into a movie. At certain parts in the movie I was thinking, "Who wrote this stuff?"  and "This scene would be better if.." After the movie, I was watching the credits and saw that it said based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert. I found it odd that an author would go so far as to name a character after themselves. Sure they base certain characteristics or quirks but never a whole name. Then I went online and looked at the book to get a better feel for what I watched and that was when I realized that it was a memoir. A true story...of someone's life. I felt kinda silly. Now I realize why this movie played out the way it did. 

Taking it as a fictional story I was thrown by some of the events and the lack of connection between some of the places and occurrences. Knowing it to be a memoir, it makes sense that everything wouldn't fit into place. It also throws into relief the fact that things from the book probably weren't included in the movie so I have the opportunity to read it later and accept it for what it truly is. 

Overall, there is a lot to be learned from this movie, whether you know if it is a memoir or not. Definitely gives you something to ponder and things to learn about yourself. This is the type of movie that leaves you with something, even if you don't realize it when you're watching it. You walk away with new ideas and ways of seeing the world around you. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Review: Introduction To Archaeology

I've always had a pretty decent interest in Archaeology ever since I was little. I absolutely love going to museums and lately I've decided to start over with my 'education.' I'm starting from the beginning and working my way up through time. I'll be reading everything from history, to folktales, to classics and the thinkers. Archaeology is a good place to start since it mostly covers the part of history that came before writing really started.

What I'm Listening To:

  • You're Hand In Mine by Explosions In The Sky
  • Hello Beastie by Hans Zimmer 


An Introduction To Archaeology
by Lesley and Roy Adkins
Rating: 3/5

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Blurb:

(As taken from inside jacket cover of book)

     "Archaeology has had an irreversible impact on how we think of the past: it alone has hugely extended our idea of how long people have been on the earth and its rigorous method has replaced speculation as a way of filling gaps in our knowledge  of previous civilizations.
     Although archaeology is often seen as an academic subject, it concerns us all: it is only through archaeology that we can answer the fundamental questions about humankind: where we came from; how societies evolve; why the majority of peoples changed from hunting and gathering to settled farming; why we lost our hair; when art developed; and the fascinating details of everyday life that even civilizations who had a script never wrote down.
     This book is an ideal guide to modern archaeology: it explains the techniques used by archaeologists, the detective work involved, and the surprising variety of evidence that can provide information about the past.      
     Finally the importance of archaeology in today's society is discussed and guidance is given on how to find out more or become actively involved in discovering the past of humankind."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This book was great for me to get my foot in the door. It gives basic, easily comprehensible information that was very concise. I learned quite a few new things. 7 quick chapters full of information (enough to fill 3 front and back pages of notes---with skipped spaces of course). This book covers everything from who studies archaeology, to how sites get buried and destroyed and even goes into the techniques of excavation, records taken and the process of post excavation analysis. I feel so much more enriched already. I'm hoping I'll be able to study archaeology a little more in depth with a couple of other books I picked up from the library. I'm more ready to learn than ever! 


Until the next review, 
Keep your brains open so knowledge can flow in! ^_^

Movie Review #10: Midnight In Paris

I heard about this movie from my last English teacher. She recommended it to me and when I saw it at the library, I jumped at the opportunity to watch it. It's been on my To-Watch list for a while now. Without further ado, I bring you:


Midnight In Paris
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Romantic Comedy
My Rating: 4/5

The Premise: 
(As written on back cover)

"This is a romantic comedy set in Paris about a family that goes there because of business, and two young people who are engaged to be married in the fall, have experiences there that change their lives. It's about a young man's great love for a city, Paris, and the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better."

Trailer: 

The premise and trailer don't really get the gist of the movie across. Gil Pender is a writer. He works in Hollywood and writes stuff for movies. He doesn't really like what he does, it was just something he ended up doing. Lately, he's been working on a novel. He never lets anyone see it. Gil is set to marry Inez. The more you see them interact, the more you realize just how differently they see things. At midnight in a certain place in Paris, a car pulls up and transports Gil back in time. He meets famous authors and artists who impact him in great ways. 
That's a better general idea. This movie left me feeling really good. It was simple and to the point. It didn't take too many unnecessary turns, but it wasn't totally closed at the end. It was cool to see all of the different authors and artists in their own elements. I've never been too fond of Picasso's work and Dali was really quirky. The Fitzgeralds were rather interesting. Overall, this was a nice film, nothing too major, but still good. 
I like the way this film used the different characters to portray the plot. Not everything was said, but everything could be discovered by actions and reactions (If you watch it, you'll see what I mean). The differing viewpoints between Gil and Inez were used well. I could understand why their relationship pans out the way it does.
<[This is totally unnecessary but I feel like telling this little story concerning an observation and connection I made. When Gil is talking about how great the rain is and Inez just wants to get out of it, I'm reminded of when we went on vacation this summer. We were in San Antonio at Sea World and it would randomly rain here and again. Whenever it would rain, you could see all the guests scrambling for cover. That kinda confused me and seemed a bit ironic. They paid to go to SeaWorld where its pretty much a given that you're going to get wet, but they run from free water. They didn't want to get wet but then you see them on water rides and sitting in the Splash Zone during the shows.]>
Anyway, this movie is definitely good. Sometimes it lacks a bit (like in Owen Wilson's reactions), but it is a movie that can be enjoyed for its overall simplicity. 


Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: Shakespeare For Dummies

For those who don't know, this fall I'll be a freshman in college. I was checking the textbooks I'll be needing and found out that for my theater class, I'll need Othello by Shakespeare. I decided to begin reading it a bit early. But before I read it, I wanted to brush up on my Shakespeare and get some background information.

What I'm Listening To:
  • Ain't Got Nothin' On Us by John Michael Montgomery
  • Love Story by Taylor Swift
  • Juliet by LMNT


Shakespeare For Dummies
By John Doyle and Ray Lischner
Rating: 4/5

Summary:

This book contains a background on the life of William Shakespeare, summaries for each of Shakespeare's plays, how to watch a play, where the best Shakespearean performances are, Shakespeare's poetry, and Shakespearean grammar and vocabulary.


This book was very easy to understand. It made Shakespeare enjoyable and approachable. It had lots of helpful tips for reading and watching Shakespeare's many plays. I really liked the play summaries. They're extremely useful for familiarizing yourself with Shakespeare's numerous works. I also was grateful for the explanation of Shakespeare's plots and the types of things he liked to use in his writing. A better comprehension regarding Shakespearean humor is also gained by reading this book. I read it cover to cover and I believe that it helped me a lot. I'll have a really easy time getting into Othello. 

Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who has read or who is going to read Shakespeare. As one of the best playwrights, it is highly recommended that you be familiar with his work, since numerous movies, books, and songs reference his plays and sonnets. Definitely worth the time to work through. Great store of knowledge to be acquired here. 

Until our next meeting,
I bid thee adieu! 
^_^

Movie Review #9: Happiness Is A Warm Blanket Charlie Brown

I've always been rather fond of The Peanuts. I am a holiday special watcher. My sister checked this out from the library and at first I was excited. Tonight's Summer Movie Night is:

Happiness Is A Warm Blanket Charlie Brown
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Animated Family Comedy
My Rating: 2/5

The premise:
----As taken from the back cover

"Linus and his blue blanket go together like peanut butter and jelly, sunny days and baseball games, Snoopy and Woodstock. But when Linus discovers his Grandma disapproves of his childish attachment, he wonders if it's time to ditch that blanket. Linus enlists the help of best buddy Charlie Brown to keep the security object away form him. When that doesn't work, he turns to his older sister, amateur psychiatrist Lucy, for some tough love. Can Linus kick his habit once and for all? Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown is sure to snugly wrap your whole family in happiness."

The Trailer:


I was really disappointed with this Peanuts cartoon. The cover is so deceptive! It looks happy and sweet, like most Peanuts videos tend to be. I am used to Lucy being a jerk and Schroeder ignoring her. Charlie Brown always has security issues since everybody picks on him. But seriously? What happened to the Peanuts I used to know. I have never been so upset with a cartoon in my life! I am so sad that this is what the Peanuts have come to. Linus doesn't really even go to Lucy for help, she just butts in as usual with her mean-ness. What is so wrong with Linus having his security blanket? I didn't like his grandma at all. I can't imagine any real grandparents acting that way since I've only been around nice, loving grandparents my entire life. 
This cartoon just made me sad and a little mad. I have one question: Why are all the girls so mean?? I don't like that at all, because not all girls are mean. All girls can BE mean, but not all girls CHOOSE to be. That kinda upset me...besides the fact that everyone is insecure and they're getting onto Linus for having a way to get a sense of security. 
I guess this cartoon can serve as a way to teach a valuable lesson, but I don't really like the way the characters were presented. It was horrible and I can't sugarcoat it. 

If given the opportunity, I wouldn't take it. This is a definite miss and worth passing up. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Author Interview with Regina Jeffers

This is an interview with Regina Jeffers, Author of Vampire Darcy's Desire.  Originally it was posted along with the review for Vampire Darcy's Desire, but I've decided to alter a few small things. I think its so much more convenient to be able to access the interview apart from the review. So much easier on the eyes! Without further ado, let's get onto the interview!!!


     Q: What was the first Jane Austen novel that you read? At what age? How long have you been reading Jane Austen?

I have been in love with Jane Austen’s stories for as long as I can remember. When I was twelve, I read Pride and Prejudice and was hooked. Perhaps, it was being a product of the 1950s and 1960s. Those decades were a male dominated period (Have you ever watched “Mad Men”?). Jane Austen’s works looked at society through a comedic screen while examining issues found in a male dominated world. Charlotte Lucas symbolizes the prevailing attitude toward women, while Elizabeth Bennet does not condemn feminine “virtues,” but rather balances them with a sensible mind. In each of Austen’s novels, the main characters have experiences that create a profound and permanent transformation (Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice; Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility; Emma Woodhouse in Emma; Anne Elliot in Persuasion; Catherine Morland inNorthanger Abbey; and Edmund in Mansfield Park). Austen’s witty, satirical approach to her subjects resonates across the centuries.

Q: Have you read all of Jane Austen's Works? Which one is your favorite?

I have read all of Austen’s six novels repeatedly, but not equally. Emma and Mansfield Parkhave seen less “rereadings” than have Pride and Prejudice, which I read a minimum of twice per year. Pride and Prejudice is the one with which I deal the most often and by far, Austen’s most popular title. However, I am equally as fond of Persuasion, which was Austen’s last novel and the one with the most mature voice.

Q: What about Jane Austen drew you to become a Janeite? How long have you been a member of the Jane Austen Society of America? Do you have anything interesting to relate about your membership?


I seriously believe that Austen’s intertextual reinscriptions of Restoration comedy have echoes in contemporary literature. Being a Janeite allows me to share those beliefs with people of a like mind. Reading a historical novel in its period requires the reader to understand the period, as well as the social distance from the present. Despite Austen being a part of the Society of which she wrote, her works display a “distance” from the time period, and that “distance” marks Austen’s voice as one more distinct than others of her time. Jane Austen was sophisticated, subtle, and very intelligent in her handling of complex issues. Austen’s women were women of sense; they embodied the notion of rational love. Today’s audience has paradoxically maintained Austen’s “formula.”

Being a Janeite (a term coined by George Saintsbury in 1894) is not always easy, especially for an author of Austen-inspired adaptations/sequels. Those who love Austen feel she is their “best friend,” and they are very protective of her. For many years, ANY adaptation was treated as an inferior product of fan fiction. But, of late, several of those who specialize in Austen fiction have been featured as part of the annual JASNA programs. It is like “coming out of the closet.” For many years, we have kept our “secret” from other JASNA members. Now, we are “accepted” within the Austen community.

Q: Had you ever written in the Gothic-style prior to Vampire Darcy's Desire?

Truthfully, the initial concept came from the publisher Ulysses Press. When one of the editors approached me on the project, my rankles immediately rose because, to me, Pride and Prejudice is the most perfect novel ever written, and the thoughts of someone abusing that story line sent me into a state of amusement mixed with irritation. However, after discussing the idea with close friends and with my editor, I realized I could maintain integrity in the story line because of my love for and knowledge of the Austen oeuvre.
I could not abide conceptualizing Darcy as the vampire who seduces Elizabeth. If vampirism was to be added to the tale, I wanted Darcy portrayed as a poetic tragic hero rather than as an embodiment of evil. I also wanted to control the representation of sexuality, the combination of horror and lust. As in Austen’s work, Darcy would desire Elizabeth and would be willing to put aside his beliefs and lifestyle in order to earn her love.

Q: Is there anything in Vampire Darcy's Desire that you would change if you could?

The book is open at the end to allow a sequel. As yet, that sequel has not been commissioned. If I had to rewrite part of the book, I might tweak the ending to give the readers more closure.

Q: What was the hardest part about writing Vampire Darcy's Desire?

As I said earlier, this project was my publisher’s idea. Originally, I could not see Darcy as a predatory vampire. (Spoiler: In Vampire Darcy’s Desire, he is a dhampir; Wickham is the vampire.) Yet, once I had reconciled myself to the concept, I treated the project as I always do. I began with lots of research. As Dracula did not appear until the late 1890s, I needed to fall back on the traditional vampire legends–those steeped in Slavic folklore. Pride and Prejudice is set in 1811-1812. Therefore, the characters would still hold limited knowledge of vampires and how they operate.

First, I incorporated the legend of Cernunnos into the story line. Many experts believe Cernunnos’ image is the one upon which the Devil is derived. Cernunnos is known as “the horned one.” I added to that the mythical powers of the “Holy Island” (Lindisfarne), as well as the Baobhan Síth, and mixed in a traditional Scottish ballad, “Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor.” The combination has been well received. Traditional vampiric tales do not cast the vampire as a deliciously handsome “bad boy” that we see in contemporary vampiric tales. The vampire is truly evil, and I tried to keep that in mind as I wrote the piece. For a woman who had read few vampire tales since she had devoured Anne Rice’s stories ofLestat de Lioncourt, this was a real challenge. For many of my fans, VDD remains their favorite book.

Q: Which characters are you most drawn to in Vampire Darcy's Desire?

I am desperately in love with Colonel Fitzwilliam. In all my other Austen novels, the Colonel’s first name is “Edward,” named for my father (Jane Austen never gives us a Christian name for the character), but in this one I wished to expound on that part ofPride and Prejudice where Austen hints that if the lady possessed a larger dowry, the good Colonel might be attracted to Elizabeth Bennet . (As a minor son, the Colonel must marry a woman with a larger fortune and is unable to act upon his interest in Elizabeth.) Therefore, in VDD, I gave the character a different name from my other Austen sequels because he was to act “differently”–act upon his interest in the woman his cousin desired. Colonel Fitzwilliam became “Damon.” The Greek story of Damon and Pythias is meant to symbolize friendship. My “Damon” is Darcy’s friend, but also his competitor.

Q: Which character in Vampire Darcy's Desire was the most fun to write?

George Wickham is so utterly despicable that one has to admire him. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the hero, but everyone loves a strong antagonist. Wickham comes up with delightfully evil ways to torment Darcy, but there is also a bit of vulnerability that makes him appealing to my readers. People cheer for his downfall, but they hold a bit of empathy for him because he is equally a victim in this tragic scenario.

Q: Can you briefly describe Darcy the Dhampir? How is he different from Jane Austen’s Darcy? 
A Dhampir, the product of the union between a vampire and a human, probably finds its origin in Serbian folklore. Modern fiction holds many examples: Blade (a Marvel comic brought to life by Wesley Snipes on the screen), the character Connor in the TV seriesAngel (the show’s male equivalent of a Slayer), and Renesmee (the daughter of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn). Traditionally, a Dhampir has the ability to see vampires, even when they are cloaked with the power of invisibility. They generally have similar vampire powers with only a few complications. 
This new Darcy possesses many of the qualities the reader notes in Austen’s character. He is “withdrawn” from society, is generous to those he affects, is protective of his sister and his estate, and has a sharp wit. He is amused by Elizabeth’s verbal battles and is attracted to her physically. Darcy denies this attraction initially and then makes changes in his life to win and to keep Elizabeth’s regard. 
In order to end the curse of vampirism passed on to the first-born son of each generation, Darcy the Dhampir has decided he will never marry. He considers it to be the honorable action. No previous generation has ever succeeded in defeating George Wickham, but this Fitzwilliam Darcy is less likely to succumb to the temptation of eternal life, so Wickham must resort to different tactics to exact revenge. 
Austen’s Darcy says, “I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit…. I was spoiled by my parents…allowed, encouraged, almost taught to be selfish and overbearing....” This characteristic plays well in the Dhampir Darcy’s pursuit of Elizabeth. He more aggressively persists in winning her affection.

Q: About how long did it take you to research and write Vampire Darcy's Desire?

I spent approximately three weeks doing extensive research on vampiric legends, as well as the ways to kill a vampire. Choosing the setting for the story also required a bit of luck. In Austen’s original storyline, Wickham and Lydia Bennet are sent to Newcastle. As Northumberland (in which Newcastle can be found) is the county closest to Scotland, the Scottish vampire legends became the basis for my story. However, the research did not stop at that point. As I write, the story sometimes takes a twist or a turn, and that requires additional research.

Q: Do you prefer to plan and outline before writing or do you just jump in and see where it leads?

I am truly a pantser. I have a “list” of events that will occur in my piece, but I do notoutline and plot each detail. I open a spiral notebook and begin to write. Often times (ALWAYS!!!!), the story takes on a life of its own. It plays (as if it is a movie I can rewind over and over until I get it right) in my head as I seek sleep each night. I’m constantly saying, “He wouldn’t say that” or “She would act more surprised” or “That would be so cool.” The plot is the key through which the characters are defined.

Q: What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

I do not write comedic scenes well. With comedy, a person must not only take note of those characteristics that define his subject, but he must exaggerate those qualities in order to achieve a humorous effect. I possess a very refined humor, one generally based on word manipulation (no bathroom humor for me), but I have difficulty bringing the situation to a “ridiculous” conclusion. I do not do exaggeration and distortion well. I suppose that the line between tragedy and comedy does truly run thin and indistinct.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I still hand write my novels. I write with a black ink pen and use a wide ruled spiral notebook. Then I word process the pages. By that time, the book has had several rewrites (arrows up and down the page, White Out, scratched out lines, inserted words, etc.). All these checks and rechecks affect the writing process. When the novel goes to print, there are few major rewrites with which to deal.

Q: Do you have advice to give young or beginning writers?

Writing professionally is more than “putting pen to paper.” The publishing world is in transition. It is more difficult to find a traditional publisher. Agents and editors are picking up fewer authors. There is also the number of hours that a person must spend in self-promotion. I spend a minimum of three hours daily on social media. Keeping one’s name in the public is essential, and publishers expect their authors to take some of the responsibility for the book’s success. We have seen phenomenal stories of success, but for each of those who skyrocket to fame, there are thousands of writers who struggle to know a modicum of success. There is little glory. One must write because he can do nothing else. It must be an “obsession.” One does not write for fame and fortune.

Q: What is your favorite Pride and Prejudice adaptation? Why?

I assume you mean the favorite from among my seven. This is a difficult question for I love each for different reasons. Darcy’s Passions was my first novel. It is a retelling ofPride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view and was the idea of my Advanced Placement students. Its sequel, Darcy’s Tempation, was a Booksellers Best Award Finalist in 2009. It proves that Darcy and Elizabeth are the perfect couple. Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion retells Austen’s novel from Frederick Wentworth’s point of view. I would love to do a sequel for this story line. Christmas at Pemberley is a finalist in Inspirational Romance for the Write Touch Readers Award. It speaks of the true meaning of Christmas.Vampire Darcy’s Desire provided me the opportunity to experiment with the paranormal genre, but I am most proud of how the characters stay true to Austen’s originals while delving in the bizarre. The Phantom of Pemberley was my first cozy mystery and is one of my most successful novels. I recently followed (April 2012) with another cozy entitled The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy. Ulysses Press has contracted for a third cozy for release in the spring of 2013. Needless to say, my publisher believes that I have a voice in this genre.

All that being said, I had the most fun writing The Phantom of Pemberley. I am a big mystery fan, and the challenge of writing a story where the readers did not figure out the ending prior to the last chapter appealed to me.

Q: What subjects, themes and dilemmas of the Regency period do you return to time and again?  What subjects have you introduced?

The true Regency Period lasted only nine years, from 1811 to 1820. Most writers of the period place their stories somewhere between 1800 and 1820; however, a few feature everything from the French Revolution to the Reform. When I am creating a Jane Austen adaptation, my setting is defined by Austen’s original story line. In my original Regencies, I tend to place my characters in situations that occur between 1810 and 1815. It is the time period of which I am most familiar.

The Regency is characterized by both elegance and vulgarity. Social norms and interactions were carefully scripted. Society’s tone was set by the ever-decadent Prince Regent. George IV was a man of intelligence and impeccable manners, when the situation so suited him, but he was also notorious for his appalling extravagances. Society in the early nineteenth century had become more egalitarian, and the nouveaux riche had loosened the standards of acceptance. It was a time of great transition. Yet, it was still a time when a pauper with a title had more influence than the richest tradesman. Women’s lack of choices remains a consistent theme.

I like to discover unusual facts and incorporate them into my story lines. The events of Peterloo appear in “His Irish Eve”; the efforts of Lord Cochrane to bring “chemical warfare” to the Napoleonic Wars can be found in Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion; the legend of the Shadow Man is a central part of The Phantom of Pemberley; well dressing ceremonies play out in Darcy’s Temptation; and the “rebirth” of St. Cuthbert in Vampire Darcy’s Desire; I also like to add what we think of as “modern” issues to the past: dissociative identity disorder; sexual abuse; OCD; and the infamous generation gap.
My latest book, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, includes the Scottish legend of Sawney Bean, the weather conditions at Waterloo, and the first railroad system in Scotland.





Book Blurb for The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy:
Shackled in the dungeon of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor – the estate’s master. Yet, placing her trust in him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.

Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana Darcy has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.

How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced – finding Georgiana before it is too late.

Website – www.rjeffers.com
Twitter - @reginajeffers
Publisher – Ulysses Press http://ulyssespress.com/


Bio                                                                          
Photo 
Regina Jeffers, an English teacher for thirty-nine years, considers herself a Jane Austen enthusiast. She is the author of 13 novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, and A Touch of Cashémere. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, as well as a Smithsonian presenter, Jeffers often serves as a media literacy consultant. She resides outside of Charlotte, NC, where she spends time teaching her new grandson the joys of being a child. 



Thank y'all for reading today's post.  HUGE THANKS to Mrs. Jeffers for taking the time to do this interview! =D
Until the next time, 
           Farewell!!