Welcome!

Originally, I wanted to start this blog as a way to challenge myself to read more classic books and meaningful literature.  After looking at lists like “99 Classic Books Challenge“,  “50 Books To Read Before You Die” and “Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime“, I realized, much to my embarrassment, that I have read very few. (Shame! Shame!) Read More

Review of “The Keatyn Chronicles” Books 1-3 by Jillian Dodd

Keatyn Chronicles 1-3.2
Title:
The Keatyn Chronicles Book 1-Stalk Me, Book 2-Kiss Me, Book 3-Date Me
Author: Jillian Dodd

Series: The Keatyn Chronicles
Release Date: Stalk Me-8/20/12, Kiss Me-11/25/12, Date Me-3/21/13

Pages: 939-Books 1-3


BLURB:

Keatyn has everything she ever dreamed. Her life is following the script she wrote for the perfect high school experience. She’s popular, goes to the best parties, dates the hottest guy, and sits at the most-coveted lunch table. She’s just not sure she wants it anymore.  Because, really, things aren’t all that perfect.  It’s exhausting always trying to look and act perfect.  And, deep down, she isn’t sure if she has any true friends.  To add to the drama, her movie star mom has a creepy stalker. 

So she writes a new script. One where all the pieces of her life will come together in perfect harmony. But little does she know, there’s someone who will do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen.  For now, she’s going to pretend she’s just a normal girl,  that he’s not still out there, that he’s not getting desperate, that she will never see him again.  But, she will and this time, she might not get away.

Chronicle Review by Wendy

This is the second time I am reading The Keatyn Chronicles.  The first time through, I remember being impressed with this girl and her confidence.  After reading books 1-3 again, I found that I still love Keatyn’s gumption.  To me, I feel like yes, Keatyn can be superficial and get caught up with popularity and how she is viewed by others…but pretty sure it’s common for most high-schoolers at ages 16 or 17? I love how Jillian Dodd has Keatyn mature in what feels like a natural process…well… as natural as can be expected wrapped in her posh and exclusive environment.  Even though Keatyn’s luxurious surroundings are nothing like my own, I still relate to Keatyn and I understand her thinking and then in turn her decisions.  There are times when I cringe at some juvenile action she takes that I would normally consider questionable.  I will be honest, if I was a fellow classmate of Keatyn’s, seeing her from the outside, I would recognize her wild and free spirit, but also see her actions as reckless and sometimes a little slutty.  In fact, others in the book also judge her behavior critically, but I think these assumptions actually connect us to those other personalities. I love seeing the story unfold from Keatyn’s point of view.  She is so different from me when I was 16 and yet I feel close to her and  I admire her tenacity.  Keatyn is sincere and very thoughtful of her family and friends.  She has a naivety which feels in contradiction with the stereotype of who she appears to be from the outside.  This contradiction just makes her so much more likeable and genuine.  She handles highly stressful, chaotic situations with quick reactions and finesse that many adults wouldn’t be able to execute.

I love that Jillian Dodd includes details in her writing…the kind of details that I like to know to be able to conjure the scene in my own mind…like expressions, moods, hair styles, make-up, clothes that make sense with the weather and situation…The kind of details that describe the scene and the atmosphere and explain the actions of those involved.  I appreciate details that don’t oppose each other, are consistent and improve the story’s flow, but not inconsequential details that make me roll my eyes because I don’t care or just add clutter.

There are a lot of different people introduced and included as a part of Keatyn’s life, especially since she is forced to live two separate lives.  Most of these figures are memorable and stay true to their character throughout the books.  Some are loveable and some, not so much, but Jillian Dodd expertly weaves them into Keatyn’s journey and I find myself caring about them as well.  

Although the story centers around a lot of daily high school experiences and (dare I say it…drama), tension continuously builds regarding Keatyn’s safety and a looming climax concerning the stalker… I seem to have forgotten quite a few details from the last time I read this series, so now I am anxious to finish reading this saga to tie up the loose ends that have escaped me.

 

Wendy’s Rating: 5/6

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Review of “West Side Story” (1961)

West Side StoryG      Crime/Drama/Musical      MGM
Starring: Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer …

A musical in which a modern day Romeo and Juliet are involved in New York street gangs. On the harsh streets of the upper west side, two gangs battle for control of the turf. The situation becomes complicated when a gang members falls in love with a rival’s sister and tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.


Musical Cinema Review by Audrey

Musicals are usually enjoyable. They over exaggerate situations and play on the stereotypes of life, adding humor and drama.  Obviously, this is not the case for every musical or play out there, but it is a good majority. The charm that musicals hold is irreplaceable and West Side Story captured this perfectly. Since it is based off of Romeo and Juliet, I was expecting the theatrics and over-the-top infatuations. I believe that the actors and actresses portrayed their characters and acted out these situations very well.. I can honestly see why this is such a high profile movie.

Throughout the movie, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. Whether it be more witty comments or wanting the story to progress slightly faster, the movie was just not hitting the mark for me. Being such a famous musical, I was expecting it to be great and maybe a bit timeless. I was pretty surprised that it felt like just another musical that didn’t hold anything amazing and didn’t elevated it to another level. It was just another ‘good’ musical.  Now, I know that many others do not hold this opinion and do in fact put West Side Story on a pedestal. I believe that if I hadn’t gone into it expecting it to be on a level with other spectacular musicals, I would have enjoyed it a bit more.

As a lover of movies, one of the worst feelings is to feel distracted and check to see how much time is left. While watching West Side Story, I found myself doing this. When I check the time during a movie, I know that I am disengaged and just bored.  I had hoped not to be. Like I said, this is one of the worst feelings while watching a movie, and I hated that I felt this way while watching this movie musical.

Audrey’s Rating: 3/6

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“West Side Story” (1961)

West Side StoryG      Crime/Drama/Musical      MGM
Starring: Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer …

A musical in which a modern day Romeo and Juliet are involved in New York street gangs. On the harsh streets of the upper west side, two gangs battle for control of the turf. The situation becomes complicated when a gang members falls in love with a rival’s sister and tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.


Musical Cinema Review by Wendy

When I was in Junior High (AKA-Middle School), my choir put on a production of the musical West Side Story. This story and the music have since been on a pedestal in my mind for over 25 years! (Holy Crow! That makes me feel old!)

While putting our new MuviBox_Logo Dark to use, Audrey and I watched this epic musical together. I was so excited to experience it again and this time with my teenage daughter! The prelude into the show made me feel nostalgic just listening to a compilation of the score. I was excited, I have remembered West Side Story as among one of my favorite musicals for so long!

As we were watching the movie I was struck with a few thoughts:

  • Why are these “gang members” referred to as kids? The actors all look to be in their 20’s some even approaching 30!
  • Why are they all so dirty? Audrey noticed this first, but after she brought it to my attention, I couldn’t get past it… Their clothes and faces are in serious need of washing! I understand it was probably meant to emphasize their poor and less fortunate status, but seriously, poor doesn’t = dirty.  I think adding some visibly worn clothing to the performer’s costumes would have gone a long way!
  • How is it possible for this movie made in 1961 to present ideas in such an outdated and cliché, almost crude depiction and yet over a half a century later, many of these controversial issues still have relevance today! These are major societal issues like…A ‘gang’ family replacing a blood relative family, questionable treatment by law enforcement, ethnic prejudices, all delinquents come from underprivileged and broken homes…the lyrics from “America” are sadly still applicable to some degree, today.  Through comedy and a catchy melody, this performance (my favorite song in the musical) presents opposing points of view, both persist to be valid, even now. For the most part, I believe over the past 50+ years as a whole, society has positively evolved our opinions and attitudes regarding prejudices and stereotypes. Unfortunately, I also see many instances where, as a society, we haven’t yet advanced far enough beyond these primitive beliefs.  Seeing West Side Story, a film that was originally released in 1961again in 2017,  has opened my eyes to this revelation.

It has been more than 25 years since I first fell in love with West Side Story and its amazing score.  After re-watching it I have realized that I still appreciate this story, although now for different reasons and I still consider this sensational soundtrack among my favorite musicals.  My rating was greatly influenced because analyzing this film has challenged me and because I love this musical score.

Wendy’s Rating 5/6

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Review of “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye
Title:
The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Series: N/A
Release Date: July 16, 1951
Pages: 214


BLURB:

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

Classic Challenge – Book Review by Audrey

My first impression of this book was not a very good one. The famous rule of never judging a book by its cover is one that I did not put into use. I was not very excited to read it as it was assigned reading for school. I mean who ever gets excited about a book they have to read for school?  As I read, I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the book.

Although Holden was a high schooler full of sass and also a rule breaker, I related to him as he was struggling with inner demons. This is something all of us can relate to without having to say it out loud or shout it. We all have something that is a daily struggle for us, and for Holden it was a few different things. Salinger could not have created a better  main character for the story. On top of having Holden, minor characters pop up and every chapter introduces a new people that have shaped him to be the person he was. As the story progresses, I will admit, weird scenarios come up, making the story something quite unique.

At the beginning, you know that Holden is in a hospital of some kind, and the whole story is told leading up to why and how he is where he is. Clues are shouted throughout the book and his thoughts are not thoughts a typical person would hold. This only made me connect to The Catcher in the Rye even more.

I could talk for a while about this book because there were a lot of different emotions portrayed throughout, but I sadly cannot put all my thoughts into this review. All I can do is say that this book has impacted my life, mostly good but also in a way that can’t be explained but felt. I know that sounds cheesy but it is the truth.  I have discovered that these are the books that you strive to find in life.

Audrey’s Rating: 6/6

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Review of “Daredevil” TV Series

Daredevil TVTitle: Daredevil
Network: Netflix Original Series
First Aired: April 10, 2015-Season One
Status: 2016-Season Two, renewed for Season Three but will not air until after Marvel’s The Defenders is released on August 18, 2017.
Genre: Action, Superhero, Crime Drama


BLURB:

Matt Murdock, with his other senses superhumanly enhanced, fights crime as a blind lawyer by day, and vigilante by night.

Current Crusades Review by Audrey

Walking into the darker side of the Marvel world, Daredevil depicts the ugly and gruesome city of Hell’s Kitchen. In this city, the rich feed off of the poor, but not everyone sees the bad and shady. Being a lawyer, Matt Murdock had hoped to shed some light of justice on his beloved city. The passion Matt has for his city is what makes him a great Daredevil and hero to Hell’s Kitchen.

While watching the show, I found that even though the beginning of episode one starts slower, it quickly speeds up and catches your attention. The bonds you start to feel with the main characters like Foggy, Karen and Matt are attachments that only strengthen as you continue to watch. Everyone knows that with amazing protagonists like these, villains of equal caliber have to hold up as well. Daredevil does not disappoint. On top of this, molding all of their other Marvel TV shows together is just another way that makes me love Daredevil even more.

The casting is another major appeal as the actors play their roles very well and bring out the emotion to their fullest. Even as new people are added, they still hold up the acting and make the show appealing and fun to watch. The enjoyment level I get from watching this show is pretty high, and I can’t wait for the new season to finally come one, whenever that is.

Audrey’s Rating 5:6

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Impressive Literary Parents/Guardians

Ten Most Impressive Literary Parents/Guardians

Parent Circus Monkeys

Codex by Wendy:
    1. Arthur and Molly Weasley – Parents of William, Charles, Percy, Fred & George, Ronald and Ginevra Weasley from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
      Magic-folk and Muggles, we all relate to this very endearing couple.  
    2. Kate Brown – Aunt of Audrey Marshall from The Voice by Jennifer Anne Davis
      Every girl needs an aunt like this! She becomes Audrey’s escape, safe-haven, support and friend.
    3. A tie between two different sets of royal parents…
      King Maxon and Queen America – Parents of Eadlyn Schreave from The Heir-Book 4 in the Selection Series by Kiera Cass
      Empress Rema and Emperor Darmik – Parents of Allyssa from Reign of Secrets Series by Jennifer Anne Davis
      After reading these (now parents) amazing stories, I feel a special connection to them and enjoy their parenting.  I love to read the “To Be Continued”… 
    4. Sam Riedel – “Adoptive” Father of Gabrielle Winters from Hope(less)-Book 1 of Judgement of the Six Series by Melissa Haag
      Sam is the epitome of what an ‘adoptive’ father should be.  He is Gabby’s rescuer, her protector and his love for her is pure.                                            
    5. Abby Johnston and Tommy Stevens – Parents of Keatyn Douglas from The Keatyn Chronicles by Jillian Dodd
      Famous movie star parents who are super cool, loving, not crazy, and don’t over-parent…Wow, who knew?…oh, wait…these are fictional characters.  
    6. Lilly Pierce – Mother of Jaques Pierce from The Grey Wolves Series by Quinn Loftis
      L
      illy is a tender mom who is made relevant because she feels youthful.  She becomes more influential throughout the story, eventually becoming a heroine herself!
    7. Jocelyn Fray and Luke Garroway – Mother and Step-in Father of Clary Fairchild from The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
      In-spite of the deception, these two genuinely love and fiercely protect Clary.
    8. Mr. Bennett – Father of Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine and Lydia Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
      Mr Bennett is one of the few adults in this book with redeeming qualities and he is a master of sarcasm before it was ‘a thing’. 
    9. Carlisle and Esme Cullen – “Adoptive Parents” of Edward, Rosalie, Emmett, Alice and Jasper from The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
      I’m making a list of cool parents who fiercely protect their family…these two beautiful parents have got to be included!
    10. Grandma – 70 yr old, Asian grandmother of Maya Lindberg from All I’ve Never Wanted by Ana Huang
      She feels so genuine and she may have some of the funniest lines ever! 

Parental Quote Believe

 

 

 

    Review of “Shadowhunters” TV Series

    Shadowhunters

    Title: Shadowhunters
    Network: Freeform

    First Aired: January 12, 2016-Season One
    Status: 2017-Season Two, renewed for 2018-Season Three
    Genre: Supernatural Drama, Action, Fantasy, Romance


    BLURB:

    Shadowhunters is an American supernatural drama television series, loosely based on the popular book series The Mortal Instruments written by Cassandra Clare.  The story follows Clary Fray who discovers a surprise concerning her life. The teenager is not who she thinks she is — she comes from a long line of human-angel hybrids, called Shadowhunters, who hunt demons.  Clary relies on fellow hunters Jace, Isabelle and Alec to help her navigate the dark world. While living in this new world among creatures like vampires, werewolves, fae and warlocks, Clary and her best friend Simon, who is also thrust into this dark world, work together to protect mundanes (humans) and down-worlders alike. 

    Current Crusades Review by Wendy

    When Audrey and I first learned there would be a new TV series based on Cassandra Clare’s world of The Mortal Instruments, we were pretty excited.  A little apprehensive because, the attempt to translate The Mortal Instruments:City of Bones into a box-office hit, didn’t exactly live up to expectations.  Like many other millions of fans, we fell in love with the Downworld Cassandra Clare created and the characters she conceived.  The Mortal Instruments is one of Audrey’s very favorite book series and The Infernal Devices is one of mine! We DVR’d the first episode and together watched it with skeptical eyes and hopeful hearts.

    Fortunately, the show actually delivered!  I think we had both lowered our expectations on what we would see, but after watching that first episode, we were pleasantly appeased.  The story line in the first season followed the book’s version for the most part, but not rigidly.  The producers, directors and actors of this series have managed to interpret the essence of each character and capture the spirit of the overall story.  As we are watching this second season, I am really engaged as unfamiliar situations develop.   While some events still emulate the original, I love that each episode is not just a mirror image of the book’s chapters unfolding.  I prefer the television series cast of Shadowhunters to that of the movie, City of Bones.   Don’t get me wrong, I fully recognize that the acting isn’t always stellar but I find myself invested in these characters and eager for each episode.  For me, the one exception is Magnus Bane.  Godfrey Gao, who portrayed Magnus in The Mortal Instruments movie, felt more believable to me as Magnus than Harry Shum Jr. who is Magnus in this TV series.  Harry Shum Jr. is okay as Magnus, but because I love the Magnus Bane Cassandra Clare created, I want to see him eloquently portrayed, with all the magic that IS Magnus Bane.  The brother/sister duo of Alec and Isabelle is so spot on!  This Jace and Clary were cast fittingly and even though I was initially timid about Alberto Rosende as Simon because I thought Robert Sheehan, who played Simon in the movie was close to perfect,  this new Simon has won me over too!  The onscreen chemistry of this TV cast as a whole seems to override any of my negatives.  Fingers crossed this series continues for many seasons to come.

    Wendy’s Rating: 4/6

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