Holidays and Challenges

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! As you can probably tell, I’ve been taking a break from blogging over this weekend to try and recharge a bit. I love my blogs, but they can eat up a lot of time and be very tiring.

I wanted to also let everyone know about the new challenge I’ve decided to take up for 2014 – yep, it’s never too late to start preparing for the next year! I will be participating in the 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge over at Bookish. I’m not sure what my goal for this will be yet, but according to GoodReads, I own 24 books that are currently on my TBR pile. This is, of course, not counting the other books that I have listed as TBR that I don’t own yet. So for right now, I will aim for 24 books. This might change once I figure out some other goals for next year.

Anyone else want to join? Just click the link above, or go to Evie’s website, and sign up.


Movies I've Seen

Movie Review: Catching Fire

So this is the second Monday that I’ve done a movie review. As much as I’d love to make Movie Mondays a thing, I just don’t see movies all that much. Oh well. Maybe someday?  If I start watching more movies?

On to the review.

Catching Fire Movie

I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to this movie. I loved how they did The Hunger Games (you can see my review for the first movie here) and thought it was probably the best book-to-movie adaptation I had ever seen. Could they pull that off twice?

Yes. Yes they can.

Really, there is only one slightly negative thing I can say about this movie, and it really isn’t a complaint as much as just a comment. In the first movie, I had a hard time remembering that they cut anything. It felt completely seamless. In Catching Fire, I could feel that there were a few things missing. A few places felt a little bit rushed. But really, that was the only thing. They still told the story very well and edited down the manuscript into a well written screenplay that still conveyed the same tension and drama as the book. In short, I got the same feeling watching the movie as I did reading the book, which is always the best compliment that I can give a movie like this.

The acting was amazing, just like last time. Jennifer Lawrence. Oh my goodness. She was BORN to play Katniss. She just gets it! She gives Katniss so much depth, with strength and toughness, but also with vulnerability. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth also did well, but my favorite casting will always and forever be Woody Harrelson as Haymitch and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. They were wonderful and steal every scene they are in.

On the Capitol side, we have Donald Southerland as President Snow, who is suitably sinister in every way, and Stanley Tucci as Cesar Flickerman, who is hilarious in his over-the-top-ness. Seriously, how does he smile like that!

The new Tributes were likewise wonderful. Sam Claflin was a great choice as Finnick. Jena Malone kicked butt as Joanna. Lynn Cohen will BREAK YOUR HEART as Mags.

If you are a fan of the books, and you were a fan of the first movie, you need to go and see this movie right now. It is absolutely wonderful, so wonderful that I saw it twice opening weekend. Get thee to the theater! Now!


Nominated? Me?


So I got a bit of a surprise this weekend. Christine over at “Readerly Musings” nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award! Thank you so much! I’m a little shocked, to be honest, but I’m always a little surprised when anyone says that they read my ramblings here. So yeah, this was completely unexpected.

There are rules, of course:

If you have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award and you choose to accept it, write a blog post about the One Lovely Blog Award in which you:

1. Thank the one that nominated you.
2. Put up the picture for the One Lovely Blog Award.
3. Tell everyone seven things about yourself.
4. Nominate seven other people and tell them that you’ve nominated them.

Thanks again to Christine! And the picture for the One Lovely Blog Award is up at the top of this post, so moving on to rule #3.

Seven Things About Me

  1. I love video games and play them way more than I should. My favorites include Lord of the Rings Online, Fate, Call of Atlantis, and the Portal games.
  2. Due to watching Wil Wheaton’s “TableTop” videos on YouTube, my family has discovered a whole bunch of card and board games to play together. My favorite is so far Munchkin, and I am incredibly competitive. Yes, I will backstab you!
  3. The first time I went to college, right after high school, I was a music major. My instrument was the flute, but I also played the oboe and the piano. Of the three, the only one I still play is the piano, although not very often.
  4. Last year, I finished the rough draft for the book I am writing, a YA fantasy novel currently titled Children of Light.
  5. While I love watching movies, I hate being in movie theaters, due to a combination  of claustrophobia and motion sickness. I can do it, but I feel incredibly anxious the entire time.
  6. Fall is my favorite time of year. I just love it.
  7. One thing that I would really love to learn is how to read Tarot cards. It’s something I’ve never had time to sit down and study, even though I own three decks.

Seven People To Nominate

This was really hard to narrow down, but in the end I picked seven people who are excellent bloggers who either support me in my own blogging experience or inspire me to continue blogging (or both!).

  1. MizB at “Should Be Reading
  2. Cynthia at “Cynthia Stacey
  3. Lipsyy at “Lipsyy Lost & Found
  4. Jan at “Confessions of a Book Ninja
  5. Elizabeth at “Silver’s Reviews
  6. Reviews from a Bookworm
  7. Cleo at “Cleopatra Loves Books

Again, big thanks to Christine from “Readerly Musings” for the nomination!

Books I've Read

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

maze runner

I have some mixed feelings about this one.

Let’s start with the story. Thomas is a boy of about sixteen. He wakes up in a metal box with no memory of anything before being in that box. Once the box is opened, Thomas finds himself surrounded by other boys in a large stone courtyard open to the sky. It is a perfect square surrounded by really tall stone walls with doors set into the middle of each one. This group of boys have built a society inside this courtyard based around the fact that they are in the middle of a gigantic maze. Every day they send runners out in order to try and find a way through, but every day those runners have to be back before dark because those big doors will close and they will be shut out. The main reason this is bad – there are horrible half machine, half blob creatures called Grievers that come out in the dark and attack. Sometimes they kill, but most of the time they sting you, which will leave you with horrible pain and delusions for several days. They call this “the Changing.” The upside is that you might recover some of your memories every time you go through this.

I thought this was an interesting premise. A huge maze, with no visible way out. A Lord-of-the-Flies-type lifestyle, only much more organized and civil. Who are these kids? Why are they there? The ones who have been there the longest have been there for two years. Tons of questions, which is really good to keep you interested in the story. And then, when you think you have some idea of what’s going on, a girl appears in the Box. There has never been a girl in the Maze before. She will change absolutely everything, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

I had two complaints about this book. For one, Thomas is a sympathetic character, to be sure, but he’s not very interesting. Throughout the way there are several things and/or people who tell him that he’s interesting or strange, but he’s not, not really. He can be kind of boring at times. The other issue I had was with the writing. When you take writing classes, or read anything that talks about writing technique, you always hear the phrase, “Show, don’t tell.” It means that instead of just saying, “Johnny was scared,” you need to show what happens to Johnny when he’s scared. Does he break into a sweat? Start shaking? Pee his pants? Or show what has made him so scared. Don’t just tell the reader that he’s scared. Show the reader what scared looks like with Johnny.

And just so we’re clear, there is no Johnny in The Maze Runner.

Make sense? Good, because there was a lot of telling in this book. It obviously wasn’t enough to make me stop reading, since I’m well into the second book in the series right now, but it was enough that I noticed it and it kept getting on my nerves. That said, the other characters, the setting, and the plot were intriguing enough to make me want to know what happens to these people. You know they have to get out of the Maze at some point, but the walls are always moving. And there’s always Grievers out to attack them. It seems like an impossible puzzle, and knowing that they have to solve it somehow makes for a compelling story.

I’ve decided to start using my GoodReads rating to help with my reviews here. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. It’s definitely a good read, but nothing earth shattering. Dashner made me curious as to what happens next, which means I will probably finish the series. Or at least book 2.

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday for November 20th


Good morning and happy Wednesday to one and all. We’re almost through to the weekend! Or halfway there, at least. WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Three questions, three answers. Go!

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, the second book in the Maze Runner series. I also started re-reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card after seeing the movie, just because it’s been a while and there were several things I had forgotten. I’m almost finished and, even after reading it again, I still feel satisfied with how the movie turned out, so that’s a good thing.

What did you recently finish reading?

Recently finished reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner, obviously. The review for that will *hopefully* be posted tomorrow. I’m still working out what I want to say about it.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Current plan is to read The Death Cure, which is the last book in the Maze Runner trilogy. After that, I’m switching back over to the Steampunk Chronicles and reading The Girl in the Clockwork Collar and The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross. There’s also a fourth book in that series coming out next year, The Girl with the Windup Heart, which I am looking forward to reading as well.

Please leave your answers or links to your posts in comments!

Teaser Tuesday · Top Ten Tuesdays

Teasers and Top Tens for November 19th

Teaser Tuesday

Hello and welcome to Tuesday here at “Life With No Plot!” This is my favorite blogging day of the week because I get to participate in two fantastic features around the blogisphere. Kicking things off with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Here’s how to play:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“None of us are crazy yet,” Jorge added, walking over to stand next to her. “But it won’t be long.”

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Y’all, this is a weird series. I’m enjoying it, I think, but it’s hard to explain.


Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To “X” Person

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted every week by the folks over at “The Broke and the Bookish.” Book recommendations. They are tricky. I love it when someone recommends a book to me, since I love to read and will read just about anything, regardless of genre. I’m pretty open minded when it comes to my reading choices, but I know most people aren’t. Still, I do enjoy recommending books, just to try and bring new stuff to people, stuff they may not have picked up otherwise.

At the beginning of this year, my husband asked me to recommend twelve books for him to read, one for each month. I was elated! I was so proud! I had no idea what to pick! In the end, I came up with a list that shows just how strange and varied my reading can be. Here they are, in no particular order.

(And yes, you’re getting two bonus books. You’re welcome. 🙂 )

1. Feed by Mira Grant – This book blew me away so much, I wanted to share the experience.

2. Maus by Art Spiegelman – Read this in college and it’s still the best story about the Holocaust I’ve ever read. Plus, we need more graphic novels.

3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Partly because we were going to see the movie, partly because it was one of my favorite books as a kid.

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – Another book that blew me away, although for completely different reasons. Another college read.

5. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – I love a good Arthurian story, and this one is one of the most unique.

6. Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli – A memoir about being in the epicenter of the Harry Potter fandom. A must read for HP fans everywhere.

7. Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss and the Musical RENT by Anthony Rapp – A must read for musical theater fans.

8. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – One of my favorite books of the past couple years. A scavenger hunt through the largest video game ever created? Yes please!

9. Looking for Alaska by John Green – Needed some YA on this list and who better than John Green?

10. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson – See my comment for John Green. Plus, this one is a little spooky, which only makes it more fun.

11. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – Put this one on the list for several friends of ours who had been bugging my husband to read it for years. Well, now he has to. Plus, it’s amazing.

12. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley OR Dracula by Bram Stoker – He hadn’t read either of these, so I let him pick one. Classics of the horror genre and both really good stories that have been perverted by popular culture. Let’s get back to the real stuff, shall we?

So there y0u go. Actually, you go THREE extra books there. My husband has been doing pretty well on the list and, for the most part, has enjoyed all of the ones he’s read so far. Or at least, I don’t think he’s hated any of them. So that’s something. 🙂

Please leave your teasers and top ten lists in comments!

Movies I've Seen

Movie Review: Ender’s Game

This weekend, my husband and I decided to go to the movies. I mentioned a while back that I had some misgivings about going to see Ender’s Game. I still feel conflicted, due to Orson Scott Card’s recent (and not so recent) inflamatory comments, but in the end, I decided to go see it.

enders_game_ver11_xlgI’ve been a fan of this book ever since I was in middle school, so not seeing the movie felt wrong too. Between these mixed feelings, and the nervousness I always get when one of my favorite books gets turned into a movie, AND the fact that I ended up sitting way too close to the screen and that always gives me a little bit of motion sickness . . . I was a bit of a mess.

But anyway, on with the review. I will start off with my complaints, ending with the good stuff. I’m also writing this assuming that you have read the book, so there might be a few minor spoilers

Bad Stuff

1. Ender Wiggin is huge. Not huge in the sense that he’s a big kid (he’s actually quite scrawny), but he’s really tall in the movie. In the book, he was always portrayed as one of the youngest kids to ever be made commander, so he’s always smaller than the other kids. It’s a big deal. Everyone else towers over Ender, especially as he quickly moves through the ranks. In the movie, Ender is taller than most of the kids around. Not a big criticism, but still, it was a bit strange.

2. Ender Wiggin is old. Hard to say this when you’re talking about an actor who is only sixteen (and probably only looks about fourteen or so), but when the character is only ages five through ten years old in the book, then fourteen looks old. Granted, in the book, Ender doesn’t act like a ten year old. He always sounds much older, so seeing him as a teenager wasn’t too much of a stretch. Again, a minor complaint, but still. He should have been a kid, not a teenager.

3. Slight romantic leanings. It was very slight, but enough that it got on my nerves a little bit. There were a few scenes where it seemed like they were pushing for Ender and Petra to have some sort of relationship. In the book they are friends and that’s it, mostly because Ender is quite a bit younger than Petra is. Also, in the book, again, Ender is a small child. Girls should still be icky.

4. Bean as a launchy. This bothered me more than it probably should, but in the movie, Bean is part of Ender’s launch group. They are peers before they are ever commander/soldier. I don’t know why this bothered me, because it did give Bean more screen time. But it felt wrong.

And . . . those are really my only complaints. None of them are really that distracting. On to the good stuff.

Good Stuff

1. Battle School. Holy crap, did it look awesome! Every time they showed it floating in orbit over the Earth, I got chills, with it’s circular spinning rings, the battle room at the center.

Actually, I should just say that all the special effects were pretty spectacular.

2. The Battle Room. It was stunning. The way they did the special effects with the zero gravity battles was amazing. I have no idea how they did it, but they did it well. I did not expect the walls of the battle room to be transparent. I always pictured them as being opaque, since they were able to control the light during battles to change the set up and the challenges presented. With the Earth right there below them, it is always illuminated. But whatever, it still looked really cool.

3. Casting. Let’s do this one by one, because I didn’t have any complaints here at all.

  • Asa Butterfield – While I thought he was too old and too tall, otherwise he was the perfect Ender. Strong, yet vulnerable. He was really good at showing Ender’s mental state, which is always shaky given the pressure he’s under, and yet always keeping that resolve to go on. He doesn’t look like a hero, but he’s exactly what they needed.
  • Harrison Ford – I was excited about this from the first time I heard about it. He was great as Graff. This is a difficult character. You know he is purposefully putting Ender in more and more difficult situations, and yet you know that he is also trying to do what is best for humanity. You may not like Graff, but you can’t hate him. Harrison Ford pulls off this balance perfectly.
  • Viola Davis and Nonso Anozie – Playing Anderson and Dap respectively, they were both not what I expected, but both brilliant. Dap was much more aggressive in the movie than he is in the book, but you could also see that he cared about these kids. I did not expect Anderson to be played by a woman – I always pictured the character as a man – but the book never specifies. Viola Davis is a great counterpoint to Harrison Ford as a more compassionate voice for Ender, even though she gets overruled.
  • Moises Arias – This was a standout performance to me. They combined Ender’s time Salamander and Rat Army, and also combined the characters of Bonzo Madrid and Rose the Nose into a Bonzo who is competitive to the point of madness and has a cruel, ruthless streak that shows the extreme of what the IF is doing to these kids.
  • All the other Battle School kids – Aramis Knight as Bean, Hailee Steinfeld as Petra, Suraj Partha as Alai, Conor Carroll as Bernard, Khylin Rhambo as Dink – they were all really good. I may not have liked the changes they made with Petra or Bean (or the fact that they completely minimized Dink’s role), the kids themselves were wonderful. And Bean was adorable, the smart aleck he is.

4. The Command School simulations. These were nothing like I expected at all. They were even better. I always pictured Ender looking at a large screen while directing the others in battle. I did not expect the entire room to be a 3D projection of the battle, with ships moving all around them. It was absolutely amazing, and easy to see how a commander could be overwhelmed and come close to the breaking point.

5. The Ending. I will not give away the ending. I will just say this. They kept the integrity of the ending of the book in the movie. I wish I knew someone who hadn’t read the book who will go see the movie so I can see if it’s as shocking in the movie when you aren’t expecting it. Hey, if you go see the movie and you haven’t read the book, let me know what you thought about the ending! Everyone I know has read the book, so they can’t help me here.

So overall, the movie was really, really good. Sure, they had to shorten things and combine things to fit the book into movie parameters, but they did it well. They kept the original heart of the story, and that’s always the main thing I care about when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations. The question is still there – did the end justify the means? Did the fact that Graff helped save mankind justify what he did to Ender and the rest of the kids at Battle School? The book, and by extension the movie, doesn’t answer that, but it does make you think. If you are a fan of the book, I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed, since we have been waiting decades for this. They did a good job.