Universal Studios Hollywood

universal-studios-hollywood-9752.jpg

I’ve been a little absentee lately and that’s because I’ve been on vacation up and down the west coast. Started by going down the Oregon coast. Snuck a peek at the Goonie’s house every and other ridiculous reason to stop and gawk at the sites. Made my way to Reno for a couple of days and then down to California. While there have been many, many reasons to be excited on this trip (Random Arcades, Winchester Mansion,  National History Museum, The Endeavor, just to name a few) one of my personal favorites has been visiting Universal Studio’s Hollywood.

The last time I was at Universal Studios, 1920x821_Secondary_Carousel_ffsc_v2-1169x500King Kong nearly scared the piss out of me despite the banana’s in the air, I cried at Jaws, and basically had a miserable time. Fast forward more than twenty-five years. Universal Studios is a completely different place. While the studio tour is still there, it too has been overhauled. As many of you know, I’m obsessed with Fast and the Furious. So much to my surprise, the Studio Tour has the two largest 4D interactive screens in the world. One of them is raceharrypotterupdated-es_0.jpg against time with Vin. I’m just saying, I may have road the entire hour plus long Studio Tour three times, just so I could race again and again.

Of course whatever else I did in Universal, (sorry Jurassic and Springfeild, you we’re cool, just not as cool) nothing would compare to Hogwarts. Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade, Honeydukes, Olivander’s, the Three Broomsticks, the Hogshead, or the Lights of Hogwarts. Magic. I was sitting in the Three Broomsticks nearly in tears the first time. I was sitting inside of of my favorite books. Magic. Pure and utter magic. I know that the Hollywood version of Hogwarts is half the size… a quarter of the size of Orlando’s but I still loved it. I loved every minute there. Plus, has anyone had Butterbeer??!! OMG. Frozen Butterbeer is a godsend. Pumpkin Juice both carbonated and original is a bit on the sweet side for me, but man… frozen butterbeer is where it’s at every time.

Anyway, this is my long winded way of saying, I’m still around, I’ve just been on vacation for about five weeks. I’m headed home at the end of the week. Making a pit stop at the Jelly Belly factory and I’m going to try and avoid the crazy and get through Oregon before the ellipse Monday. When I get a little more time, I’ll try to share some more stories and some of my own pictures from this trip.

It’s been a blast.

Alex & Eliza

AlexAndEliza_header.jpg

 

I have been obsessed with the Hamelton soundtrack. There I said it. My student’s swayed me at the end of the school year and I’ve been enamored ever since.

Alex & Eliza seemed like a perfect opportunity to live in my Hamelton bubble a little longer. While much more innocent, a bit slower, and wrought with against, I enjoyed this book a lot. It takes its own liberties with Hamelton’s story (as does the Hamelton play) and I think they enhance the story De La Cruz tells. What I can appreciate more than anything, De La Cruz is telling a different story. One all her own. Eliza is a main Character in this book, half the story told through her eyes, the other half through Alexander’s. This is a story about love above all other things. While Hamelton, the musical, was about so much more than just their love.

I’m confident the characters are not teenagers (historically speaking they were not around this time) the book feels like a YA. I believe it is a YA but more than whether or not it is, it feels like one. Some books don’t. That being said, it’s a surface story. A bit lighter than I wanted. I wanted more. I wanted more detail, more history, just more.

I have a love for Melissa De La Cruz and it has not changed. This book wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but I struggled to put it down all the same.

 

 

 

FEED

71XkGTHZh9L.jpg

We cured everything, cancer, common cold, and well…. we caused the Zombie Apocalypse. Twenty years after the rising life has moved on. Not to say it’s any better, but it’s continued. The landscape of America has drastically changed from politics to lawn parties. It’s a different America then the one we were raised in. Georgia and Shaun Mason are on following a story so big, it might explain why the rising happened and who’s prevented a cure. When the dead begin to uprise, so did the art of news. Hollywood was no longer the center of attention and large news sources couldn’t be trusted to be honest. When the dead started to rise, so did the likes of young bloggers who had a sense of what journalism needed, a healthy dose of integrity.

When Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) wrote FEED, I don’t know think she knew how politically poignant it would be a few short years later. Or maybe she did. Admittedly, Grant is pretty bad ass. In the truest of Grant/McGuire fashion, there is incredible world building and realness to her novels. Feed has clearly been researched and then when you think it’s been researched enough, it’s researched some more.

While at times, info-dumping occurs, (Always intelligent and they feel necessary to the story) and I would have been more surprised if the antagonist of the story had been a different character, I still enjoyed this book an insane amount. There are zombies, political undercurrents (something I normally don’t care for but it’s written so well I can’t help but love it), and unique relationships which aren’t common. I was griped from page one to page six-hundred-and-one.

I haven’t had much luck on book twos lately, so I’ll hold off for now on reading it. Not because it won’t be great, but because I want to enjoy this feeling some more before I chance loosing it. Mark my words, I will read book two and I am excited at the prospect of greatness.

 

#GirlBoss

515mDsAAP3L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I am a girl boss and if we’re all being perfectly honest, you can be too.

I started watching the new Netflix original #GirlBoss a couple of weeks ago and damn if I wasn’t pulled in right away. It’s smart, funny, and…wait for it… Loosely based on true events. That was enough for me to go digging for the book. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal, was a quick click away. While the audiobook was not read by Amoruso, it was still a good read.

Was the book as good as good as the show? Shockingly no. I really expected that the book would rise above the show but it did not. This was one of those rare moment when Netflix outshines everyone and made #GIRLBOSS just slightly flater than I’d hoped for. It did have some fun moments, and some good advice about being your own girl boss,  but all in all, I think this was one of those situations, where the Netflix has the magical ability of turning an okay book into A+ tv.

girlboss.jpg

Pandemonium

bookcover_home_pandemonium@2x_New.jpeg

Book two from Lauren Oliver, in the DELERIUM series, PANDEMONIUM. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. When I read DELERIUM, I couldn’t put it down, I couldn’t stop listening. But book two… meh. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t as page turny as the first. Well, up until the last page. That last page forces me to read book three. But overall, my book two theory takes hold for another crushing win.

Lena is back and the world is as dangerous as ever. In the second installment, Lena is in the Wilds and a part of the growing resistance. She’s left her old self behind in Portland, with Alex, the boy who she fell in love with, who was shot down, murdered in front of her. Grief sucks her and almost swallows her whole. Surviving in the unregulated Wilds is hard and the leader, Raven, is not about to let her slack off.

Lana is sent on a mission that takes her to observe 18-year-old Julian Fineman, the prominent son of a cured in New York. He hasn’t undergone the cure yet because of previous surgeries due to a brain tumor. On the day of Julian’s cure, Lena and Julian end up imprisoned together. A bond forms and although I personally don’t know how I feel about it, it’s sweet.

PANDEMONIUM alternates between “Then” and “Now” chapters taking place roughly six months apart. I wasn’t sure I liked it at first but Oliver does a seamless job and I don’t think it would have had the same impact had the story been told from beginning to end.

I think I’ll have a final decision on the Lena front after I read book three. I will have to know how this ends. Considering what’s happened in books two, book three will be a storm.

 

Delirium

bookcover_home_delirium@2x_New.jpeg

What if Love was outlawed? In Lauren Oliver’s book DELIRIUM, Love is a disease and there is a cure. All citizens of the United States must take the cure at age eighteen and be rid of the disease once and f28664211896or all. City’s are fenced in to protect the citizens from the Wilds where love sympathizers lurk. Lena is less than three months away from her cure date. She’s counting down the days until she’s matched with her future husband and is ready to be out from under her aunt’s thumb. Everything changes when she meets Alex. He’s a guard with secrets. Secrets and a wild past. What would you do for love?

I enjoyed DELIRIUM so much. I went in hesitantly. Unbelieving that O266964fe496904d37f5340c14a35a689.jpegliver could write yet another mind blowing book. Can she continue to produce amazing books? Is she flawed? Maybe but I didn’t see it in in this book. I’m a sucker for a good dystopian book. And the premise of LOVE being outlawed = Mind Blown. I loved how she managed to keep a lot of the book grounded around a semi-normal society. It wasn’t like THE GIVER or MATCHED or even DIVERGENT. It takes place in Portland and could easily be mistaken for a normal city. Minus the regulators, fences, and every person over the age of eighteen walking around like happy zombies.

I’m excited to take on book two. I don’t even feel the need for a break between books, like I often do in series. I’m ready to delve feet first and find out what happens to Lena and Alex. The cliffhanger ending is impossible to walk away from. 9f5a03023528442320b1ce8605b3d8f6.jpeg

Before I fall

Image result for before I fall

If there is one story I can read, reimagined time and time again, it’s the groundhog day – 12 days of chirstmas – butterfly effect – repete this day until you finally get it right – story. BEFORE I FALL was the perfect reimagined version of this. I was a fan of Lauren Oliver when I read PANIC, but I’m in love with her after BEFORE I FALL.

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

From the first pages, Oliver grips you and drags you into the depths of her story. Wave of emotions pound at you until the very last page. I worried that living the same seven days would fall flat on paper but Oliver manages to raise questions about love, life, death, and how we are all interconnected. In a lot of ways this reminds me of Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. It explores some of those same themes, what you do in life effects those around you. Living seven days through Sam’s eyes, was heart breaking, exilerating, and shatering all in the same breath.

Growing up, I was Juliet Skyes. I had my own version of Sam’s group. I never went so far as to consider suicide over their mean and hateful pranks, but I was lucky. I knew that after high school, none of it would mater anymore. I’d get a fresh start and they’d still be the shity person they were. Sometimes all of that’s hard to admit. No one wants to admit that they were bullied in school. Or that they were a bully.

I loved the transformation we see Sam go through. From mean girl to a girl who cares. She makes personal amends in every aspect of her life. With her parrents, sister, friends, people she doesn’t know, and ultimetly with the one person who needs it the most.

BEFORE I FALL was thoughtfully writen and it will go down as one of my favorites for years to come.

 

 

Fangirl

h.jpeg

FANGIRL is my third Rainbow Rowell book and so maybe my love of ELEANOR AND PARK and KINDRED SPIRITS should have been the clue that reading more of Rainbow’s stuff was a good idea. But if I’m being honest, I had this fear that I’d be let down. It happens sometimes. You build an author up in your head and then fall that much harder when they fail to meet such high expectations. Maybe ELANOR AND PARK was a fluke and when I read FANGIRL or any other book by Rainbow, I’d be disappointed. I couldn’t face being such a low after I’d fallen so hard for the other two books.

I wasn’t disappointed.

There are so many reasons to love FANGIRL. So many reasons to run screaming through the streets, praising this book. Beyond whatever I can say, what I love about this book is the way it stirs my heart and warms my soul. It’s like drinking a cup of something I didn’t know I was missing.

Cather is a Simon Snow fan. She’s also one of the most popular writers of Fanfiction online. Being a fan has been Cath’s whole life. It’s the one thing she’s really good at. She and her twin sister Wren have drifted apart. College has brought on some new challenges. Cath is on her own for the first time and far out of her comfort zone. Her English professor believes that fanfiction is the equivalent of plagiarism. Her roommate is moody with a charming boyfriend who is always around. Oh and the boy at the library who only wants to use her words. Does moving on mean she has to give up Simon too?

This was beautifully written. I’m liquid and in love. Watch me pretend like I wasn’t a big fan before… because yea, it’s official, I love Rainbow Rowell. Hard. I love her books so hard I want to force them down my friend’s throats until they have to like her too. That’s not weird is it?

Save

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory 


I Miranda Boyer have never read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Well, I hadn’t until yesterday anyway. The thing is, unlike everyone around me, I was never a fan of the movie. Either of them. It just didn’t tickle my funny bone or make me dreamy. Roald Dahl’s book however, that’s another story. 

From the beginning it has that same Dahl voice I’ve come to love. It’s vibrent, it’s  engaging, it’s endearing and full of magic.  I love that a common them in Dahl’s books, involves some grown ups being bad and rightfully punished for their actions. No this case children as well. There are always strong good and bad themes. If you are good, good things happen to you. If you’re bad, bad things happen to you. 

I can officially check off Charlie pt. 1 and Matilda  from my Dahl collection. I’d like to make my way through them all this year. Wish me luck! 

Ronit & Jamil

Image result for ronit & Jamil

RONIT & JAMIL by Pamela L. Laskin is a Lyrical novel in verse. It’s a fresh retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where the star-crossed lovers are in modern-day Israel and Palestine stuck in the middle of their countries conflict.

There were a lot of reasons I picked up this book: the cover art is beautiful, the idea of a modern Romeo & Juliet, and I’m a sucker for star-crossed love – end of story. While the poetry is beautiful at times, it does come across very middle grade. I’m not sure who the audience is supposed to be, but it feels young. Truth be told, wasn’t Juliet 12? So maybe that is the intent.

I thought it was interesting that the verses almost seemed to mirror on her side and his throughout the book. They each have individual lives, on either border of Israel and Palestine, but they are so similar. Even the day to day is similar. I could be off base here, but it felt like the author was trying to convey that despite their differences, these countries are more alike than they maybe would like to admit. So for that reason, I thought it was beautiful rendition. I don’t know that the audience as a whole would appreciate the themes in this book, and for that, I’m a little sad.