Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Reviews/ Insights

"It is with utmost trust that we receive the tales of those who would give them to us." - anita shreve

The books that I have read thus far this year...
"The Hunger Games Trilogy" by Suzanne Collins
"Suffer" by E.E. Borton
"50 Shades Trilogy" by E. L. James
"The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks
"The Weight of Water" by Anita Shreve

And while I should refrain from talking about them as a whole because I don't think that would be fair to each one, I will say that they were all good!  At the time, each served it's own purpose of feeding my imagination and sufficing with my own emotions so that they each became an effective litany of memory all placed upon the bookshelf within my mind.  I remember each one well enough to present opinions and/or insights based on emotional connectivity and overall likeness.

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
I went in to this series with high hopes.  I was aware that the first movie was coming out and I had little enough interest (and effective praise from my friends) to purchase the books and delve into the world of the Hunger Games.  It was easy enough to get engrossed in.  I was immediately interested in the whole process of their society and the stark difference between the Capital and the 12 Districts.  And so I read.  To me, the books were well written... there was a lot of emotion and imagination written into the pages and I had very little trouble imagining the scene.  Yes, the children were going to fight to their deaths.  Yes, the chemistry between Katniss and Peeta was intriguing enough to make me worry for their safety, for the sake of the relationship.  Yes, the hunger games were brutal, if not poetic.  All that is all well and good.  But what I didn't account for was my outright questioning of the Collin's intentions by the end of the third book.  I found myself asking why would Collins want the series to end this way?  What are her reasoning's for the heartache?  I think I hold so much trust that authors have the audience's best interest at heart that I am confused when it ends badly... especially when it didn't necessarily need to.  Like I said, I started off with high hopes, but by the end of the third book, I was depressed.  7/10

"Suffer" by E.E. Borton
This was supposed to be a light read.  One of my friends knows the author and I came into the book with the sole purpose of giving it a shot and seeing how they wrote.  I was pleasantly surprised!  It reads much like a show on the USA Network would play out.  It's a story of revenge told from the victim's point of view set in South Florida... images of Burn Notice flash through my mind as we speak.  And I actually think that my predisposed interest in these shows had given me a nice starting point when it came to this book.  The book in itself is quite graphic.  But it needs to be.  The acts warrant the retribution and as the outsider watching everything unfold, it helps the reader get involved in the story.  All in all, I really enjoyed it.  It wasn't high literature, but it was a nice read.  7/10

"50 Shades Trilogy" by E. L. James
I loved these books!  I was extremely leery of entering into them because of all of the controversy.  Even the back covers don't do a good job (in my opinion) of adequately explaining the true nature of the books, but I dove in anyways.  And I haven't looked back.  The books are fabulous!  The amount of emotion that James was able to convey is beyond explanation!  The story is good, the sex is good, and the ending is what is was supposed to be.  This is the first series I have re-read and will do so again in the near future, and time and time again, I'm sure.  Oh, and I have also really enjoyed exploring the music mentioned in the books, casting my top picks for the characters to play in the upcoming theatrical version, and having more appreciation for the playfulness of my husband.  10/10

"The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks
I started reading this right after '50 Shades', and as a result, I found myself trying to dig up the same emotional response.  I just don't think it's that sort of book though...  This is the first Sparks novel I have ever read, and even though I have seen some of his movie adaptations, I wasn't sure how this was going to play out.  I was, however, pleased!  The story was good from the beginning.  I was drawn in, if first out of curiosity, and then continued to read because I was intrigued and it was good, if only mildly "fluffy".  In the end, it was a nice easy read that kept my attention and left me wanting to see the movie (like as soon as it comes out on dvd...!).  8/10

"The Weight of Water" by Anita Shreve
I happened upon this book by chance... it was in the freebie pile at my work and I picked it up because the back cover compelled me enough to read it.  And so I did.  I have to say, compared to my last reads, this one was much more heavy.  I had a bit of trouble navigating between the past and present stories, as they were presented, but can now look back and see that they mirrored each other enough to explain their play.  All in all, it was a good read.  I love a book that has some good life quotes, and for that it gets extra points, but the main plot took a while to get developed.  I guess there was a lot of back story, which is all well and good, but by the end of the book, I sort of felt like the climax had been skimmed over and we had to use the epilogue (of sorts) to figure out what had happened.  Overall, the book was quite melancholy and somber.  I felt sorry for a lot of the characters, as familiar and normal as they may have been, and would have liked to have had more from them.  But apparently there's another book for that: "The Last Time They Met".  I'll have to look into it.  8/10

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


One of my most favorite things is going back and reviewing old projects... Be it school projects, photo albums, or blogs, I love re-reading what I wrote, reacted to, and imagined.  It makes me smile! 

And now, I feel like writing.  I've been reading so much lately that I have all of these emotions and opinions and reviews that I want to get down onto some sort of written medium that I can revisit in the future and reflect upon.  I shall make it a goal to review what I read!  Goodness knows I have enough opinions...  :)
That being said, I'll start soon hopefully!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rua Wulf. A review.

Rua Wulf.  The Goat Farm Arts Center.  Atlanta, Ga.
"There is a precipice of choice your toes sharply stand on." - Guide

The story was familiar enough... familiar enough in fact to draw you in.  What with the movie deals, TV appearances, and countless written versions, the tale of Red Riding Hood has become quite the story to tell and re-tell.  So when a chance email revealed the opportunity to experience the story in a never-before-had sort of environment, G and I were happy to give it a whirl.  After all, it was something different, it was close enough to be tempting, and the night was perfect!  And so we went.  Upon first arriving, it took us a second to figure out if we were in the right spot.  We arrived about 40 minutes before we were supposed to, and when we drove down the drive, we saw what appeared to be abandoned buildings, many falling apart (literally) with the windows broken in, huge sliding doors, and random animals roaming about (a turkey, chickens, dogs, a pig, and goats...).  We drove around, looking for any sign of life among the many parked cars, and after a little bit of discovery, it was clear that we had stumbled upon a collection of artists' studios and lofts; an amazing space filled to the brim with energy and creativity - the perfect setting for a play.  We started getting excited...anything that came from this space had to be amazing!  And it so was!

The story was traditional in that there was a young girl with a red riding hood, her mother, grandmother, and the wolf figure.  And while there was the traditional girl-goes-through-woods-to-grandmas-house, there was a deviation from the stone path (as it were) and a new sense of choice that changed your view of how the story really went.  Before long, you were caught up in the passion and intensity of wonder and young love, the awakening of senses and the need for acceptance and love.  And in the end, after everything was out in the open, and the intensity of the confusion and sexual desire between the characters really did have you a bit shaken, you were left in the throws of the after the "happily ever" and for that, you had a new meaning to the story.  It was incredibly well done and delivered... I am still in awe!

One of the things I loved most was the use of the cotton gin ruins as the backdrop for the scenes and the evolution within the story.  You really got to see and explore almost all of the areas (12 acres I think) of the site, and with each place, there was a new part of the story to tell.  And there was even a surprise intermission tea time!  For me, tea time was basically a loose adaptation of something you would find in Alice's Wonderland... or I thought so at least.  Four long skinny tables sitting underneath a ceiling-less building and an endless night sky, lined with white linens, cloth napkins, mismatched china, and chandeliers made from wire, flowers, and tulle.  Very whimsical, and very appropriate!  And as we were sitting there at the long decorated table, sipping our delightfully hot teas and snacking on dainty little cookies, I couldn't help but think that this might be the perfect place for us to be completely blindsided by a turn of events...  Here we were, basically trusting our lives to the souls before us, who were leading us around a dark, crumbling mass of land and dilapidated structures.  We followed them, willingly, (afraid to be left alone in the dark), as they lead us into tight, dark rooms, closed the doors behind us, and subjected us to whatever they pleased.  We were their pawns, and we couldn't help but oblige their every move.  How freely do we offer ourselves to potentially ::sketchy:: situations for the sake of artistic experience?  Apparently even more so freely at the chance to hear a good story, in a cool part of town, with the addition of tea and cookies!  But we trusted them and their intentions, and in the end, they delivered!  The story was amazing (a necessary rearrangement of an all-too-familiar tale), the actors were some of the best performers I've ever seen, and the venue could not have been better.  I think the fact that you had to cling to each other for fear of tripping only heightened our sensitivity to the sounds and bumps that made the story come alive.  And boy were they using it!  It was so much so an art installation come alive!  Flowers were made from deconstructed bottles and jugs, decorated and hung from the trees.  A forest was created inside a building by hanging yards of linen, with dramatic lights playing up the characters with intense shadows.  But for me, just being in that space was enough drama.  I don't think I can convey how truly awesome it was, but if you have the chance, you must experience it!  It was amazing!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Playing in the Dirt

Today, on an impulse, I decided it was time to get the garden going again.  We were at Wally World and I saw a man pushing a big tomato plant around in his buggy, one thing lead to another, and I basically high-tailed it to the garden section and picked out some goodies.  :)  I chose:
- Lemon Boy (tomato)
- Patio Tomato
- Sweet Basil
- Apple Mint
- Cilantro
- 3 flowery/decorative varieties
And when we got home, I went to work.  I hadn't done much with the garden since the end of last year's season, so I had a bit of cleaning up to do.  It felt great to be outside playing in the dirt again!  The weather was perfect, and I was glad to take some extra time tooling around.  I moved some stuff around, tilled the soil up a bit, and got to planting.  And an hour later, it's all good!  I've decided I have room for at least 3 more veggies/tomatoes, and 2 more herbs.  And those should be joining the party in a week or so.  But for now, the high hopes of the luscious garden will keep me happy!

From left to right:
small curly hair plant,
patio tomato,
flowery things
From left to right:
empty, empty,
sweet basil,
apple mint, cilantro

Sweet Basil - I love this smell!

(happy flower!)

Rosemary - my trooper from last year!  :)  Still growing strong!

From left to right:
empty, empty, (what's left of the asparagus plant) and the lemon boy tomato.

Tootles everyone!  :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Florida Roadtrip 2012

 Saturday (10) -

The tent is up!

Sand dunes!  <3
We have arrived at Anastasia State Park in St.Augustine, FL.  We had a great drive with lots of sunshine, but have arrived to clouds and wind.  The park is great though!  Sand dunes, windswept trees, and private camping sites.  We can already hear the crickets, and with a chance of rain, and the ocean waves crashing in the background, it should make for an interesting night of camping.  Speaking of camping, we still need to get batteries for the air mattress and food for dinner.  We decide to head to historic St.Augustine and had dinner at OC White's...  a quaint little cottage restaurant right on the outskirts of town.  Everything is packed and people are everywhere!  It's good though!  By the time we finish dinner, find a Walmart, get supplies, and head back to camp, it's 9ish and really quiet.  It seems as if everyone is already sleeping...  Oh well, we get the bed set-up, crawl in, and fall asleep, exhausted and happy. 

Sunday (11) -

Pure magic.

Bike Week 2012
We woke up refreshed!  It was amazing sleeping in the tent with the rain, crickets, and waves in the background!  I've never slept better in a tent!  We go ahead and get the camp cleaned up and go look at the ocean.  The wind is still blowing rather fiercely, so getting in isn't an option.  It's beautiful though!  Such a great beach and the dunes are unforgettable!  We have a breakfast of Poptarts and fruit snacks and are soon on our way towards Orlando.  We travel down AIA through Daytona and get to see some bikes.  Bike Week was supposedly in full swing, but it was subdued on a lazy Sunday afternoon...  we probably saw 30 bikes in all, but I'm sure there were more out there...  We keep heading south and then cut west to Orlando.  Ah, more traffic, more crowds, and few options when it comes to lodging.  Did we mention it was Spring Break, bike week, oh and Canada has the week off too!  It makes for a busy Florida.  We lucked out and found a La Quinta near the parks.  We freshened up and then headed to Downtown Disney for the evening.  It was rainy and wet, but there's no denying the magic of the place!  We had a simple dinner at Pollo Campero, dessert at Guiradelli and did some window shopping.  It was great! 

Monday (12) -


We woke up, had breakfast at the hotel, and then headed to Epcot!  Our most favorite Disney park was a lovely detour from our beach vacation, and with sun promised for the day and highs in the 70s, we couldn't pass it up!  We had a great time in the "world of tomorrow" and snacked our way through the "world showcase"!  My favorite thing was the School Bread from Norway.  It is a sweet cardamom flavored pastry, filled with a vanilla custard, topped with coconut and whipped cream. It was fabulous!  Such a great day!  And it was neat to get a little something from all of the different countries, mostly.  After Epcot, we got back to the hotel just in time to relax and watch the second half of the Bachelor.  hehe.

A fruity drink from Haiti!

"school bread" from Norway

Tuesday (13) -

We woke up, ate breakfast, and got on the road pretty early.  We headed east towards Cocoa Beach and Ron Jon's Surf Shop.  I could probably spend some time in there looking at all of the fun stuff.  Very nifty!  We had lunch on the beach at a place called Coconut's on the Beach.  We had some fish dip, bacon wrapped scallops, and the best mussels I've ever had!  The place was nice and open, full of people, and served some great food!  I highly recommend it if you're ever in the area!  From there, we drove south on A1A to Sebastian Inlet State Park.  We got the camp mostly set up and went to see the cove.  The pelicans were soooo close to the pier (probably because of the people fishing) and we even got to see some manatees chilling in the water!  The mosquitoes were out in full force and somehow managed to even attack us through our clothes.  Ouch!  We made sure to put bug spray on our list, and headed to Publix for some grub to grill.  We ended up with small lamb steaks, steamed shrimp, zucchini and squash, salad and some fresh fruit.  It was wonderful!  G did a great job grilling everything up for us!  We headed to the cove to watch the end of the sunset and then read some, crawled into bed, and slept.

Ron Jon's
Mussels, fish dip, bacon-wrapped scallops.  Yumm!

Sebastian Inlet State Park

Pelican - up close and personal

My grillmaster!  :)
Wednesday (14) -


I woke up to my eye hurting more.  I think I scratched it Monday night because it was bothering me all day Tuesday, and being out in the sun was more of a pain then I would've thought.  I was hoping it would get better overnight, but it was worse, so we decided to stop at an eye doctor after getting everything packed up.  Turns out I had a cornea abrasion, and that it would heal in a few days with some medicated eyedrops.  And with that, we continued on our way!   We drove all the way down to Coral Springs, which is just north west of Fort Lauderdale, and made a reservation at a local Marriott.  We had a "family & friends" voucher so we were able to get a good deal.  From there, we headed East to Pompano Beach and got to get in the ocean!  :)  It was splendid!  I got to wear goggles and go underwater, which was great!  I searched for the good shells/ pieces of coral and got to go under the waves instead of being crashed by them.  I even saw a fish!  lol.  After we got dried off, we headed inland and had dinner at a place called Station House.  It was a little fancier than we were expecting, but we decided to go for it and ended up having bruschetta, escargot and lobster (firsts for me!).  And it was so good!  We were impressed!  Then we headed back to the hotel, got cleaned up, and got to relax.

Station House (near Pompano Beach)

Thursday (15) -

We woke up and headed south towards Miami!  There was a 30% chance of rain, but we didn't find that out until we started getting poured on and wondered why...  We were hoping that that was the 30% for the day, and that it would be done!  I love driving around Miami and Coral Gables!  I discovered banyan trees on my first visit years ago and make a habit of seeing them whenever we go down from now on!  They are fabulous!  We had lunch with Gary's grandmother for her birthday.  It was good to see her and catch up!  Then we headed towards the Fair!  Turns out the rain was not done, and it wasn't going to be done for the rest of the day, but we went into the fair anyways and splashed in the puddles nonetheless.  It was neat!  I saw (not rode) some rides that I had never seen before and of course sampled some of the finest fair food around - namely, elephant ears, fried oreos, and fresh squeezed lemonade!  Yumm!  It was nice walking around and seeing the people, the exhibits, and the bright colors, even if it was raining cats and dogs!  From there we headed back North towards the hotel and stopped at Sawgrass Mills to explore!  It's just like Discover Mills (for those ATL folk), but more crowded.  I was amazed by the amount of people we encountered this week in general, but even more so at a mall on a Thursday night.  lol.  It was nice!  I wish I had more time to check out all of the stores, but I guess I'll just have to go back in the near future.

so lush!

outside the fair

raining and pouring
(after the storm at Sawgrass Mills)

Friday (16) -

Along Alligator Alley!

From here we headed across Alligator Alley, and counted 46 real alligators along the way.  Gary was so cute!  As soon as he saw the first one, he was facing the marsh the whole time, looking for little bumps on the water to indicate an alligator!  We originally had thought about staying in Sarasota for the night, but when we got there, everything was so crowded (go figure) and then I wasn't feeling it.  The week had caught up to me and I was tired and cranky, and pretty much ready to go home.  lol.  So we kept driving north, and actually made it all the way up to Lake City before stopping.  Luckily for us, we found a Country Inn and Suites that had an indoor pool, and so we were set!  We spent our last night in Florida at a Bob Evans for dinner, and then at the pool.  And it was just what we needed!  We both slept great that night!

We got pretty familiar with there this week...

Saturday (17) -

From Lake City, we were traveling home!  We hadn't closed off our minds completely to the idea of doing some more activities along the way, as long as we could find something to do, but when push came to shove, we decided to get to Atlanta and then do something around the city instead.  So we stopped at a few of those Florida souvenir shops, got some oranges, and then made our way to Atlanta in no time!  We stopped by Laura's house and caught up with her for a bit and then we all went out to Virginia Highlands and the drive-in!  We had a great time looking around the shops, seeing everyone in green, and had a great dinner at Yeah! Burger!  (Crispy brussel sprouts?  Yes please!)  And then we went to the drive-in!  We saw 21 Jump Street which we all enjoyed, then packed up, and went home.  Our kitties were even there to greet us when we walked in!  :)
Sisters at Yeah! Burger in Virginia Highlands

Crispy Brussel Sprouts, California Love, and a Spindrift

@ the drive-in

anxiously waiting for the show!

(I love this!)


It's great to be home!
We had such a great trip and are already planning our next!  :)