Summer Stories

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What stories do you plan to get lost in this summer?

I don’t know about you, but the slower pace of summer is a great time for me to catch up on my TBR pile and I get super excited about a good summer series on TV and salivate over summer blockbusters at the theater!!!!!

Summer TV

imagesMy summer binge that I am most excited about is Hell on Wheels. The dark western about the construction of the competing railway lines westward into the harsh frontier of the Americas. Season 5 was just released on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. I love watching it on Netflix because I can watch all episodes at once for full effect.

In an effort to seek revenge for the brutal murder of his wife and young son at the hand of Union Soldiers, former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon hunts down their attackers. In doing so, he finds himself the foreman of transcontinental railroad. The “town” that follows the building of the railroad is called “Hell on Wheels” and brings together some of the roughest characters possible. Characters to hate, love and question. This is a true western series with dirt, mud, blood and the hardship of an unfamiliar terrain.

Needless to say, I am extremely excited to hunker down with this fifth and final season of one of my favorites!!

Summer Reads

Aside from book reviews that I am wading through, I have my own TBR pile that will sadly outlive me. However, summer is always a time for me to catch up where I have fallen behind.

Currently I am making my way through the Parasitology trilogy by Mira Grant. This fun, exciting and suspenseful series is a quick read and begs the question – What would we do if we found a cure for…everything! and then discovered  that it could end the human race!!!!!  This is enough of a “zombie” thriller that it keeps my Walking Dead appetite sated for the time being (if that’s possible). (rated PG13 for violence and intensity, language)

**Excellent reads for your middle schooler!

89716 Al Capone Does My Shirts is an interesting novel of historical fiction with a male protagonist. The story describes life on Alcatraz for families of guards, focusing on the activities of their children. Moose, the main character, is 12 and new to the island. He is also the caretaker of his sister, Natalie, who is Autistic – as she would be diagnosed today, but in the setting of the novel, it is unknown as to what makes her different from the other kids.

Gennifer Choldenko’s historical note at the end of the book as almost as interesting as the story itself. While some adaptations were made to the historical context of Alcatraz for effect, Choldenko seems to use quite a bit of interesting research to form her setting and plot. (rated: this novel is completely appropriate for students 6-8th grade and older)

Counting by 7s is a compelling story of loss, grief, coming of age, and individualism. Willow Chance is extraordinary…to most people she is a “weirdo”. But not to her parents. Willow is the precious gift to a couple who was unable to conceive and waited seven years to adopt a baby. 15937108

Now in middle school, Willow’s extremely orderly life is turned completely upside down. Willow often counts by 7s as a calming technique, but even that no longer helps. Despite the pain she experiences, Willow learns what love and relationships are with people other than her parents.

This is a deep and emotional story completely appropriate for students 6-8th grade and older.

Summer Blockbusters

Well, I was finally able to take my kids to see the new adaptation of The Jungle Book. Wow – totally worth it and super fun. New comer Neel Sethi is a fun, energetic and talented choice for Mowgli and accomplishes the job of creating a believable man cub wild enough to be completely at home in the jungle.

The CGI and other cinematic effects bring Kipling’s story to life in a new and amazing way. Christopher Walken as King Louie was perfection. My girls LOVED the movie and we had a blast watching it together on a hot summer afternoon.

This movie is intense and suspenseful. All of us found ourselves jumping in our seats several times. While this movie is not “scary” per se, the intensity may make it inappropriate for small viewers.

And the movie I have waited all year to see, X-MEN: Apocalypse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it did NOT disappoint.  I thought the movie was fun and exciting and everything I would want an “origin” story to include. I’m a huge Patrick Stewart fan, but I really do love James McAvoy as Professor X.

I recently watched Ex Machina on Amazon Prime. Oscar Isaac plays one of the main characters, a disturbingly despicable narcissist with a god-complex. Fittingly, he also plays Apocalypse. Needless to say, Apocalypse is an even more disturbing villain in my opinion because I could catch glimpses of Isaac underneath all that makeup.

Jean Grey, played by Sophie Turner, is far less annoying than normal. I found her much stronger and appealing as a hero than previous adaptations of the character. Scott Summers…meh, not so much.

There have been murmurings and disagreement as to the appropriateness of the Wolverine cameo – I loved it! As he is and will always be, my favorite of the XMEN, I thought it was a spot-on rendition of his escape from Striker. It also established a link between himself and Jean Grey which all fans know will be important later in their story.

I was extremely pleased with this installment of the XMEN saga and highly recommend the film.

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Get your story on…and wear sunscreen!

(stella and sam pic – thebookfarminc.com; Hell on Wheels pic – tvovermind.com; Al Capone and Counting by 7s – goodreads.com; XMEN – imdb.com)

I Dare You to Watch

Today is the day! March 18th! The second season of the Netflix original – Daredevil – premiered today. And let me just say, it’s going to be a long night because I will be binge watching!

If you are a super hero junkie and you haven’t had the chance to catch season 1 of Marvel’s Daredevil – I highly recommend it. With this new installment to the growing Rolodex (yes, I just dated myself) of super amazing, super fun super hero TV, Marvel has upped its game.

Just in case you are unfamiliar with the back story for Daredevil, Matt Murdock is a lawyer who takes up shop in Hell’s Kitchen with the desire to refurbish and clean up the streets.  As a child he was blinded in an accidental chemical spill. The chemicals stole Murdock’s sight but left him with his other senses so heightened that in his present state he sees better than he did with his eyesight. So, that’s the nutshell.

And can we all say: “Ben Affleck who???” Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock annihilates the 2003 attempt at a live action Daredevil. Cox is far more believable as a character and he pulls off the “dark” quality superbly. Which is perhaps why I’m not incredibly excited about Affleck as Batman…not a great track record in the hero department.  Let’s all just agree to pretend that the 2003 film never happened and go ahead and accept Netflix’s production as the first majorly awesome representation of the “blind” hero.

Because this hour-long drama is made for Netlix audiences, it definitely has advantages over its main stream TV counter parts. There is more blood, majorly kick-ass fight scenes, and the villains are quite a bit more ruthless in Hell’s kitchen than in Starling or Central City. Season 1’s Vincent D’Onofrio would give Malcolm Merlin nightmares. And this season, I can’t wait to hate The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal (Shane) more!

So – if you are looking for some cinema quality action and hardcore super heroism then…

I dare you to watch!

 

Move over Chopin. This is a whole new awakening!

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Ok folks – let’s be honest, do we even have words for last Sunday’s TWD6b premiere? Because, truthfully, it has taken me this long to have the wherewithal to process through it and even write anything! THERE IS JUST SOOOOOO MUCH!!!!

In the end, what really stands out (aside from the merciful death of a kid way too terrified to ever survive the zombie apocalypse to begin with) is the awakening that sweeps images-2through the characters over the course of the episode.

Sam, RIP, realizes that he just can’t escape the monsters.  When Gabriel leaves the group with Judith and Sam stays behind there is a small trace of hope that a new strength will emerge in him. But the truth is that Sam isn’t meant to go on.  He will never survive the monsters. In the end, he is swallowed by them…quite literally.

Whether it is when she is being held captive or has finally arrived at the clinic, Denise awakens to her bravery. In the first days of Rick’s group arriving in Alexandria, and into the invasion of the herd, Denise is fearful and unsure. In these moments of desperation and need she chooses what she is going to do with her fear and allows her bravery to breakthrough.

Morgan’s awakening is one we all saw coming. Sadly. He wants to live peacefully without killing, but his wolf captive forces him to revisit his Zen conversion. When Eastman finds Morgan, the man has been broken down seemingly beyond repair. But Eastman sees life in the bereaved man and pulls him back from the brink of utter destruction. Now that Morgan has found life in desolation, he is desperate to cling to it. So when he has the opportunity to save someone that others may see as beyond saving, he grasps it. The wolf could be a way for Morgan to prove that there is good in everyone and that everyone is worth saving. Unfortunately, it seems that all the captive does is reawaken the lost man Morgan and Eastman had tried to bury.

Gabriel and the original citizens of Alexandria realize that they cannot hide in the dark of uselessly beautiful homes – poor facades blocking the nastiness of the world – or they can step out into the light and fight. They realize that they can die weak and afraid, or they can brandish their weapons and strike out against the danger closing in on them. As the wave of walkers threatens to drown them all, the citizens decide they will not go quietly. Screaming and clawing their way through the melee – hatchets, machetes, Michonne’s katana, axes, and shovels push back the invading masses.

And Rick. Grown so cynical and hopeless. A shadow of the man who put on his sheriff’s uniform and rode a horse to Atlanta with the hope of finding his family. He has lost all images-1faith in anyone he could meet outside his group.  He definitely has none in the people of Alexandria.

In the finale to the first half of the season, Deanna chips away at some of Rick’s hardened shell. Her fortitude and desire to fight but to also believe that the world CAN be rebuilt, seem to give Rick a suggestion of something bright. As the people of Alexandria pour into the streets beside him, hacking down walkers left and right, he is strengthened. His arms fly with renewed vigor. Bolstered by new hope, Rick fights with his comrades until the final burning walker falls.

Beaten, bruised, bloodied, but far from defeated, Rick sits at Carl’s bedside – a familiar picture to fans. The Rick of Alexandria seems to mirror the man who sat in Hershel’s spare bedroom waiting for Carl to awaken from his first gunshot wound. He talks to Carl about his hope of a new world. How he sees what Deanna envisioned and what she desired for humanity. As he speaks, he is not unlike an earlier Rick, pleading for his son to awaken and promising that the world does not lie in complete ruin. While Morgan’s awakening is a tragic realization of the presence of darkness, Rick awakens and begins to step back into the light.

Did you notice any other “awakenings”? I would really like to know what you thought! The rest of this season is going to be incredible. Please connect with me here and let me know all your TWD thoughts!

 

(images: Carl and Rick: enstarz.com    cast fighting stance: huffingtonpost.com                 Sam: amc.com)

1 Week!!! TWD 6B!!!

Oh my goodness!!! I’m so excited for mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead! I really Screenshot_2016-02-07-18-05-30-1can’t wait. And I think these next couple of months are going to be some of the best and most intense that we have seen so far! So start your count down…if you haven’t already!

7 days!

168 hours!

Just a few celebratory Valentine’s TWD memes for your enjoyment. Thanks all of you out there who are so cleverly funny! Check out last weeks 2 week count down post Warriors and the Weapons they Wield – a look at a few TWD characters and their weapons choices.

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Screenshot_2016-02-07-19-35-58-1TWD

The Walking Dead 2 Week Count Down: Let’s Talk Weapons

In honor of our two week count down to the best written drama and my all-time favorite show on television, The Walking Dead, I thought I would open up some discussion on symbolism in this artfully crafted series. One thing that stands out is the choices of weapons for each character. When a warrior chooses a weapon it is almost certainly an extension of himself (or herself). Whether it is Batman and his batarang, Captain America and his shield or Thor and his hammer (although that one may have been more of a family thing) the weapons chosen are an extension of the warrior and his purpose. Should the occasion ever arise in which I myself should need to choose a weapon, I would most definitely choose twin broad swords…although when this should actually be needed, I remain uncertain.

The extension of warrior by weapon is no less obvious in The Walking Dead. There are so many options to cover even down to Merle Dixon’s bladed prosthetic – so appropriate for his weapon to be melded to his body. And his brother Daryl could have chosen nothing other than the “bad-ass” cross bow to go with his Harley and ripped leather coat.

Michonne and her Katana

Michonne for example – and her Katana. A sword is an intimate weapon.  Perhaps not quite as much so as a dagger or knife, but far more intimate than a gun or crossbow. The sword is a weapon that moves as the body moves and has no other propulsion than that of human momentum. The sword forces the warrior closer to the target – often within the enemies striking range. The sword cannot be used at a distance. The warrior must be close enough to hear the enemy breathe, feel the heat radiating from the other body, and in this case, smell the gore of the walking dead. What an incredibly perfect weapon choice for Michonne who has always seemed more intimately entwined with the zombie apocalypse than most other characters. She is the character who lives among the walkers  by disguising herself with her zombie pets. When the group scatters from the prison, it is from deep inside the throngs of a horde that Michonne has her rebirth. It is from within this horde she awakens and comes forth out of the dead with new found hope. But we can even see that in Alexandria, her Katana cannot stay mounted on a wall for long – warrior and weapon are connected.

Then there is Rick Grimes. Rick and his trusty revolver. At first Rick tries to keep up appearances of order and humanity by continuing to wear his sheriff uniform. As his new reality begins to take shape, he first lets go of his hat. A gift and symbol of manhood and

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A reminder that the past is gone. The world has a new reality and that humanity has a whole new face.

hope for his son. Then the shirt and pants are replaced. The one thing that remains a constant is his revolver.  Even in the moments when others in the group are taking up arms with automatic weapons and rifles, Rick keeps his holster belted firmly around his waist, a reminder of who he is and that humanity will survive.

When the group arrives at the prison, Rick buries the revolver and with it, Sheriff Rick Grimes. We see Rick struggle internally with the loss of himself.  He debates with Hershel the idea that they can never come back from the reality of their current situation or the things they have done to survive. Rick is eventually convinced that “the world needs Rick Grimes” the sheriff and he retrieves the weapon. Hershel’s hope is that Rick would find that hope that humanity will prevail. Instead, I think that the revolver becomes a new symbol for Rick. A reminder that the past is gone. The world has a new reality and that humanity has a whole new face.

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And Carol and her tench knife. Talk about intimate weapons! Carol will never awaken from the apocalypse because she is born in the apocalypse. She has found her strength and her identity in this new reality. She cannot leave it outside the walls of Alexandria – it is part of her. The intimate choice of weapon brings her in direct contact with her foe. The strength she has drawn from the new world around her propels her forward in a way in which Carol herself seems to be the weapon and the trench knife an unnecessary redundancy.

But there are more! What character’s weapon choice stands out to you? When the zombie apocalypse befalls us, what will be your choice of weapon?

(The Walking Dead images – amc.com)