Mockingjay Part 1

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Mockingjay Part 1

So, Catching Fire is my favorite book of the series, and I really liked that movie, so I honestly didn’t think MJ part 1 could best that. Well, I think I was wrong. My husband says this is the best movie yet too, and the more I think about it, the more I have to agree with him. And I already want to see it again!

What I dislike most about the book is how for the majority of the story we are engulfed in Katniss’ anger/depression/confusion. And While I understand it all, it left me feeling lethargic myself. I loved how in the movie, we still see her experiencing all of these things, but she’s still present. I understand that Collins is trying to show the reality of war, the effects of PTSD, and the repercussions for all that are involved. But one of the main ways people are taught to cope with PTSD, is to find something to live for; and I don’t see Katniss doing that in Mockingjay, I just felt like she was so selfish and unlikable in the last book – unless she was on the ground fighting. But the movie did a great job at showing her difficult situation and emotional issues while still making her likable. There was a really good article on Buzzfeed about the reasons behind the changes between the book and movie.

And shout out to Josh Hutcherson, who stepped up his acting game and owned tortured Peeta! He was only in the movie for about 10 minutes, but they were a great 10 minutes. I was upset about not seeing more Finnick, and I thought the Gale/Katniss relationship was done really well. Loved Effie replacing the prep team, as we didn’t really get to know them that well in the previous movies. I also really liked how we were taken to the different districts to see how they were responding to the rebellion. And that song, how awesome was that.

I also thought the changes made to 13 worked really well. It’s interesting to see Coin embracing the power that Katniss is providing her, and seeing the slow transition to the manipulative and power hungry Coin we see in the book. The second movie is going to be so good! I can’ wait to see how Peeta tries to come back to himself, watch Katniss get into the rebellion more, and watch Gale and Coin’s transformations. I can’t believe we have to wait a year!

And I know I am going to get a lot of flak for this, but I may like the movie better than the book so far. . .

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Research Inspiration

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I was reading a blog post from one of my favorite bloggers, who was talking about the books she was reading as research for her next WIP, and it got me thinking about my next WIP, and how I should probably start doing some research too!

So, I got on google/goodreads and found four books I am going to read to get more ideas, a feel of the cultural vibe, and more impute on the voice I want to get across. I also realized that my working titled “Dearest Evangeline,” is not all that original, so that will have to go back to the drawing board!

I also went crazy and ordered hard copies of these books, that way I can highlight poignant passages, put post-it’s on the pages, and whatnot. It’s a lot easier for me to have the physical books with my notes at my fingertips than to take notes and make hilightions on my Nook. A lot of people were transitioning to e-readers in college,and I just could not get behind that. Anyway! So here are the books I got, I’m pretty excited about it.

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Stray

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Goodreads Summary:

“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

STRAY is the first in a collection of intertwined stories, all set in a world where magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict doctrine called The Path. A cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Wicked, with a dash of Grimm and Disney thrown in. . .

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That’s pretty much my reaction to this book. I didn’t not like it, but I didn’t love it either. I found the main character’s devotion to The Path was too solid for her to become any sort of rebel. I mean, besides her admittance to herself that she was experiencing all of these taboo emotions – which, a lot of people seemed to be doing – there was basically nothing going for her in the rebellious department. (This actually helped me in my own writing, I noticed that my MC was just as rooted in her beliefs, making her rebellious phase a bit unbelievable.)

I also wasn’t too invested in the romance department of the story. Her little boyfriend is nice and all, but there wasn’t enough connection between them besides her raging hormones for me to really route for them. Overall, I was just kind of bored.

I did think the take on the old fairy tales was fun, it’s a genre I’ve been getting more into lately, but I don’t think I will be continuing this series unless the sequel looks like it improves a lot.

Coming This Week: Nov 24

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Is everyone excited for this short work week? I know I am! Last week was pretty eventful. I went and saw Mockingjay Part 1! I’ll give you all my opinion of it on Friday. We had a military ball on Friday, which was really fun, even though my husband spilled wine on his shirt, so he has to get a new one before our ball this weekend, oh well, I got cake on my dress so I guess I can’t talk. I also got a reasonable amount of writing done, especially in relation to my productivity lately.

So, I am taking Thursday off from blogging as most people will be busy being with family and cooking and whatnot. So Tuesday you will get a book discussion on Stray, a retake on several fairy tales. And Wednesday, I’ll let you know what I am doing to prepare for my next WIP.

As we are several thousand miles and an ocean away from any of our family, one of my besties and I are forcing our other halves to have a nice dinner party. So Thursday I will be at her house cooking and drinking wine, while the guys fight over what football game to watch. I hope all of you have fun plans too!

Here comes Thanksgiving!

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pumpkin-patch-1In celebration of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share one of my specialties, pumpkin cheesecake! I got this recipe from somewhere – most likely the cooking channel, and adapted it to fit my tastes. I love the traditional pumpkin pie flavors in the creamy setting of a cheesecake, it makes it so much more decadent! You can get crazy with the crust; personally, my preference is amaretti cookies, but those can be hard to find sometimes, so this year it’s gingerbread cookies! If you have a World Market nearby, I highly recommend picking up one of their tins of ginger cookies – I hate ginger and I love those cookies (and so do my ponies!). Everything else is pretty straight forward.

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup of cookie crumbs
  • 3 Tbs. brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch spring form pan and line with parchment paper and covered in foil on the outside (you are going to bake the cake in a water bath, so you don’t want any of the water seeping in through the pan). In a food processor, mix the cookie crumbs, brown sugar, salt, and butter. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer with your fingers. Back for about 12 minutes, or until it starts to brown. Set aside and let cool on rack while preparing the filling.

For the Filling:

  • 3 packages (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 15 oz. pureed pumpkin
  • 3 Tbs sour cream
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium for about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and mix for about 1 minute (we are trying to incorporate air to make the cake nice and fluffy). Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one is incorporated. Add the pumpkin, sour cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and salt. Mix for 30 seconds, pour into the cooled crust. Place the pan in the center of a baking sheet, carefully pour hot water into the pan until there is about 1/4 of an inch of water. The water bath is key to keeping the cheesecake moist and silky (and not cracking!). Turn the oven down to 325F and back for about 1 hour, or until it is just set in the middle. Remove cake from the oven and let cool at room temperature (imperative that you let it cool completely or it will crack when you put in the fridge), then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

I also like to top my cheesecake with some amaretto whipped cream!

 

 

Beware the Wild

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Goodredas Summary:

It’s an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp — the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn’t return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp’s done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance — and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.

This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.

Right away I fell in love with the language and the ease of Parker’s prose. It’s lyrical and vivid and I can hear the Louisiana accent underlying the narration. I really appreciated how original this story is, I’ve never read anything like it – yet it gave me the vibe of a good Gothic novel. It’s not outright scary, but it definitely has a creepy factor.

I like Sterling and Heath, and they both have some good growth throughout the couple weeks the book takes place. I also like that their relationship was based off an ongoing attraction, they didn’t have “instalove,” and it didn’t take over the story. Heath was there to support Sterling and to help her come to terms with the true nature of the swamp, while Sterling helped Heath face his fear of it.

Honestly, I couldn’t relate to Sterling’s relationship with her brother, but I think that’s because I am an only child and have never had that sort of relationship. The element of domestic violence did help me understand why her brother was so important to her, and along with her resulting eating disorder when she can’t face the thought of him leaving – brought in a really interesting and real element to the story that I appreciated and don’t often see.

I’m glad it’s a stand alone novel, and I will definitely keep my eye on Parker to see what she comes up with next.

WIP to MS

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Reading from a fellow NaNo camper and blogger about how she just finished her WIP and it’s now a MS (Congrats!!), made me think, I’m still calling my story a WIP, even though the first draft is done, why?

First, probably because I just never thought about it all that much. But really, because I don’t feel like it’s anywhere near being done enough to be promoted to MS. I still think it has good bones, but I feel like I’m rewriting it. I have been rewriting the entire introductory chapters, and I got into actual edits this weekend. I know I’m going to have a lot more to rewrite though. And until I get to a point where I am happy with the story, and the characters, and I am no longer making big changes, I’m going to continue to call Recovery a work in progress.

How do you get to the stage where you are confident enough to take your WIP to a MS? I know I have a ways to go until I am comfortable to make that change, but I also have very little experience with all this writing fiction stuff, so I’m on a learning curve. I’m loving all this learning though, I’ve learned about my process, what my imagination is capable of, and so much about my characters. But it’s going to be a long road for me.