Daily Archives

December 29, 2009

About Me, Movies, Television

And now, a holiday review!

I’m coming off a nice long vacation, thanks to my workplace having given the entire lot of us the week of Christmas off. This was as the cool kids say AWESOME, given that it meant that and I were able to have Longest Night without me having to take an extra day off for that. And that was a nice way indeed to fire off a relaxing break.

The weekend of the Solstice was pretty much given over to, aside from a special Solstice Murkjam (more on this in another post), a mighty rewatching of the entire extended edition Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are few movies I can happily watch over and over again, but these? Absolutely. Especially when Dara starts asking me questions about Middle-Earth lore and we get to Tolkiengeek. <3 Plus, this time around I started finally watching a lot of the copious extras in all three sets of discs, which I had never done despite owning these things for years now. I'm sure you all know by now, but yeah, lots of lovely stuff there and I've only barely scratched the surface of it all.

Did a lot of catchup of medical appointments during the week, and the highlight of that was getting to touch bases with both my endocs and say "by the way, I'm working on seriously trying to lose weight, just so you all know". In particular, wanted to check with the thyroid endoc to make sure I coordinate with him about how to reduce my T4 and T3 dosage as I drop pounds. I've already had to start tweaking my intake since I've dropped six pounds or so.

I dropped in on to say hi in between some of those aforementioned medical appointments, and was treated to tea and a cookie and her delightful offspring informing us, when asked where her dump truck was, “it could be ANYWHERE!” Lillian continues to impress me with her smarts. This kid is going to be scary when she gets older. Hell, she’s kind of scary now!

Christmas itself was pleasantly low-key and featured first going out with to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Picoreview: big silly fun if you can buy that this was totally a fluffy, alternate-universe version of Holmes and Watson that didn’t bear too much resemblance to the canon versions. I did like many get a kick out of the chemistry between Holmes and Watson, and felt that poor Mary was sadly underused as a character, and that the actress playing Irene wasn’t quite up to the task of her own character’s awesomeness. But really, the thing I liked the most about the movie? The music. Especially the jigs during the action scenes and the take of “Rocky Road to Dublin”. I may have to buy the soundtrack on the strength of that alone.

Christmas evening, , , and all had dinner with us at the Murk and then we all watched the new Doctor Who, “The End of Time, Part 1”. Most definitely more on this in another post. There are rumblings of another group watch of Part 2 to come.

I closed out this past weekend with going, finally, with Dara to see 2012 before it finally vanishes out of the local theaters. We wound up having to catch it at the Alderwood Mall cinema, which was really kinda crazytalk since the place was swarming with after-Christmas shoppers and getting from our parking spot to the theater was a nerve-wracking exercise in dodging oncoming traffic. But we did manage to get there on time, and once we were actually settled in, despite being too close to the screen for comfort, we had a delightful time. I’m sure many of you already know this by now too, but yeah, this movie was awesomely bad. We’re talking epic levels of MSTable disaster pr0n, which is pretty much exactly what we were there for. Mutating neutrinos, baby!

Didn’t get a damn bit of writing or reading done, but on the whole, I didn’t really mind. I’ve been catching up on fixing broken stuff on this web site instead, and that sits well with me, since the long-undone tasks there were annoying me, and I found fixing those relaxing. I assure you all though that more writing and reading will be coming with the New Year.

And oh yes: with coming home from Virginia on Sunday, we had our little house gift exchange. My nifty l00t: one box of Ninth Doctor DVDs (man, I do love Nine and Rose, I must say), one lovely tin of bath bombs from LUSH, one $50 Barnes and Noble gift card which I promptly spent on five new ebooks, and last but not least, this, which is pretty much the Best Possible Christmas Ornament to Give to Anna, Ever:

Indy Ornament

Carefully, Indy

There’s a button on it that plays the Raiders March when you press it. knows me very, very well. <3

Drollerie Press, Faerie Blood

Drollerie Press giveaway, and also, a bit of sales data!

So over at Drollerie Press we’re in the middle of a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway, featuring several free downloads by a lot of us DP authors–and which will culminate in the giveaway of a free ebook reader a bunch of us are chipping in for! It’s a jetBook Lite, and you can find out more about it and the giveaway in general here. Skim all the site’s recent entries for the downloads available so far!

Meanwhile, I’ve finally gotten a bit of sales data from my editor , who informs me that during 3rd Quarter 2009, I sold 148 copies at Fictionwise! This means I now have 165 confirmed sales so far–and this isn’t counting anything from Mobipocket or Amazon or other sites, not to mention Drollerie’s own store during that period. So when the royalty statement finally shows up, I’m hopeful it’ll have some interesting numbers indeed.

For the home audience–this means that by very rough estimation, I’d be getting somewhere in the vicinity of $375 for these confirmed sales. And if I can confirm another 335 or so, this gets me into the territory of Anna Can Buy a New Guitar. Y’all want me to have one of these lovely things, don’t you? 😉

Well, if you’ve bought Faerie Blood, this is exactly what you’ll be contributing to, and I have not forgotten my pledge in the earliest days of this blog of mine that if I do get that guitar, I will totally post video of myself playing it. And I’ll very likely also do another poll and giveaway, because let’s face it, folks, this will be a guitar you all helped me buy. Which means you totally should have a shot at helping me name it.

Ultimately, though, the really important thing to note here is that holy crap 165 of you out there have bought my book. I really hope you’re all enjoying it! And I thank you for your support.

Book Log

Book Log #101: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

It was pretty much inevitable that, after loving Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as much as I did, I’d have to check out Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, the followup offering by the same press. In a nutshell: not as fun for me as P&P&Z, although it did still have its redeeming qualities.

I’ll say right out that unlike Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility never seized my attention nearly so much–in no small part because S&S didn’t have the absolutely amazing A&E adaptation to recommend it. (Mmm, Colin Firth as Darcy!) I do actually own a copy of S&S, but I didn’t remember a thing about it. So I went into Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters not knowing at all what to expect. Aside from, well, sea monsters.

This is a Britain where for reasons that are never revealed, all aquatic life in the world has suddenly turned seethingly hostile to humanity. Humanity has had to respond accordingly by altering social customs to place high value upon swimming, sailing, fishing, and any other skill that will improve one’s chances against oceangoing menance. In this setting, we have the Dashwood sisters exiled from their childhood home (as per the original) and embarking upon adventures involving monsters, pirates, a suitor cursed with slimy tentacles growing on his chin, and mysterious natives chanting prayers to unspeakable creatures of the deep (not really as per the original at all). There’s even a bit of steampunky interest when the sisters visit Sub-Marine Station Beta.

All of which are fun elements to throw into a story, but for me, they just didn’t mesh nearly as seamlessly as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies did. There are moments of humor–and I will give this book props for never descending into blatant sexual innuendo or jokes about bodily functions, which was P&P&Z’s one failing.

But it never quite got to the point of unrepentantly sailing past stupid and all the way into “awesome”, I fear. That said? “That was pretty neat” is still not bad at all. Three stars.

Book Log

Book Log #100: Confessions of the Creature, by Gary Inbinder

It’s a challenge and a half to try to write a sequel to no less august a book than Frankenstein, and for that alone, I must give my fellow Drollerie author Gary Inbinder props. I’m also pleased to say that although there were parts of the book that didn’t work as much for me, by and large, I feel he did an excellent job at his appointed task!

The opening of the book does ask you to accept the idea that sorcery of a kind exists in the Frankenstein universe, since the entire plot only gets underway when the monster, fresh from killing his creator, is taken in by an old Russian witch. In repayment for his working for her, she grants him his greatest wish: to be human and to be able to have a real life of his own. If you’re used to the version of the Frankenstein story more popularly depicted in the movies, the presence of magic may be jarring; however, my spouse pointed out quite correctly that the original story does heavily pursue the idea that Victor Frankenstein was dabbling as much in black magic as he was forbidden science in creating his monster. So it’s not too much of a stretch for me to allow for actual magic existing in this world.

But. This is really only the start of the plot, and the greatest portion of it by far is taken up by the creature–now calling himself Viktor Viktorovich–not only winning himself a life and a family in Russia, but achieving a meteoric rise to power. In fact, the vast majority of the plot is taken up with his participation in the wars against Napoleon. For me as a reader this had quite a bit of interest, but the real heart of the story doesn’t come until the final third, when the truth of Viktor’s origins begins to come back to haunt him.

And this is also where the story ultimately let me down a bit, since I was expecting more creepiness than I actually got, and one plot device in particular that was used as part of Frankenstein’s backstory struck me as quite unnecessary. But that said, overall I did find this a gripping read, and it’s worth checking out if you liked the original. Four stars.

Book Log

Book Log #99: Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead, by Steve Perry

I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan. To the tune of Raiders of the Lost Ark remaining my all-time favorite movie ever, and collecting every one of the novels I could get my hands on. I even went to go see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull twice.

So this should give you the proper context when I say that I really, really wanted to like Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead. It combines two of my favorite things: Indy and zombies! Plus, it’s a story that’s set during World War II and which included Mac, the character we saw in Crystal Skull. So, cool, I thought, we can get a glimpse into what actually happened to Indy during World War II, which was one of the interesting little side details about the movie.

The big problem is, the character occupying the lead role of this story is not the Indiana Jones I know and love. He’s too prone to bursting into dry, didactic lectures, a habit we never once saw him have in any of the movies, including the last one. This character failure alone distracted me a lot from the story, and made it difficult for me to enjoy some of the other aspects of this version of Indy that I did like–for example, since this is an Indy up in his 40’s, it did seem reasonable to me that he was starting to get sensitive about his age and yet was still quite capable of being charmed by, and charming to, the young female lead.

A similar lack of character development pretty much plagued the bad guys as well, for the most part: the German and Japanese commanders. Since this is a WWII setting, it’s pretty much inevitable that we’d have Japanese forces involved along with the Nazis, and to be fair, this does add a bit of nice variety. And there’s quite a bit of plotting and counter-plotting between the two commanders as they both try to catch up with Indy and Mac to get the final MacGuffin. But none of it had quite the punch it should have had for me, and only occasionally did either of the commanders ever seem like real characters. They definitely paled in comparison to the actual primary bad guy: the voodoo sorcerer who was controlling the zombies.

And I will say that okay, sure, the zombie part of the plot was entertaining enough. But on the whole the story didn’t feel enough like a proper Indiana Jones story to me–because Indy just didn’t feel enough like Indy. Two stars.