Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 13 of 2013

It's hard to believe that it's New Years Eve again. Another year has passed, and a new year is about to begin, full of new books, TV shows and movies that I just can't wait to get my hands on. But I couldn't let 2013 slip by without an ode to some of the best the year had to offer. So without further ado, here are the . . . 
Top 13 of '13:

In no particular order (and some of them aren't actually 2013 releases, just new to me this year) . . .

1. Iron Man 3 
After Iron Man 2 (and the preview which hinted at a much darker tone) I was skeptical, but this one far surpassed my expectations. Definitely hilarious. 

2. Pacific Rim
Yes, this one had mixed reviews. But my fiance and I loved it. Monsters vs. Aliens -- WIN!

3. Thor 2 (aka. Loki stole the movie)
I think I may have liked this one even better than the first Thor. Loki -- please never leave the Marvel franchise. 

4. Almost Human 
One of my new favorite TV shows, it's iRobot meets Blade Runner. A definite win. 

5. Silver Linings Playlist  
It came out in December 2012 but I didn't see it until February. One of my favorite movies of the year, hands down. 

6. Now You See Me 
A real dark horse, this one was just a good time. Heists, funny characters, interesting plot. Fun. 

7. Much Ado About Nothing 
Joss Whedon. WHY HAVE YOU NOT MADE MORE SHAKESPEARE FILMS??? And a special shout out to Nathan Fillion and Alexis Denisof. Job well done. 

8. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 
This movie is ridiculous. And please god make a sequel. 

9. Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades 
I have loved every book in the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series, and this one did NOT disappoint me. 

10. Warm Bodies 
The book, not the movie. It was obviously NOT published in 2013, but I read it this year before going to see the movie (which was decent) and thought it was stunning. 

11. Frozen
This was simply terrific. Loved the story. Loved the songs. Loved the characters (particularly Olaf and Sven). Great job Disney. Thanks for sticking with this new theme of strong female characters. 

12. Tera Nova 
I missed the series when it aired two years ago, but I caught up with it on Netflix this summer. I really wish it weren't cancelled. 

13. Sleepy Hollow 
Hilarious. An excellent, excellent new series. Which probably means that Fox will cancel it soon. Damn you Fox. 

And there they are, what I consider the BEST of 2013. Of course I don't expect many to agree with my (my taste is eclectic and perhaps even a little bizarre). There are a few of you out there I know have already disagreed with some of my best and called them worst, but I stand by my choices. 

And speaking of the worst, here are a few books, movies and TV shows I consider The Biggest Flops of 2013 . . . 

- A Good Day to Die Hard (This one REALLY disappointed me)
- The Wolverine (I should have known)
- Allegiant (What the hell were you thinking Veronica Roth? I'm glad I skipped this one.)
- Oz the Great and Powerful (Just bad. Sorry I paid money to see this.)
- The Great Gatsby (awesome book, terrible adaptation)
- Enders Game (see above ^^^)
- The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (It pains me to see Joss Whedon's name connected with this series)
- Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (It just did NOT hold up to Once Upon a Time)
- Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters (Not even Nathan Fillion could save it)

And before anyone objects that I missed some key movies, let me say that there are a bunch that I just didn't get to. Which just means more fuel for my Netflix queue. Here are a few of the Movies I Wish I'd Seen . . .

- Gangster Squad
- Epic
- World War Z
- Paranoia
- About Time
- The Book Thief
- American Hustle
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- Kill Your Darlings
- Zero Dark Thirty
And the list goes on . . .

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for Insecure Writer's Support Group! If you're looking for support, encouragement, and helpful writing tips, be sure to check out the group at our brand new website (see here).

It's now officially December, my favorite month of the year, and I have to admit that I'm suffering from a severe case of Holiday-itis. I don't really want to write. What I want to do it make (and eat) Christmas cookies. Shop for presents. Go look at Christmas lights and sing holiday carols. And of course, my favorite Christmas activity, go see The Nutcracker Ballet! Which incidentally I plan on going to this coming Sunday.

So how in the face of all this holiday spirit am I supposed to concentrate on diction and grammar? Or something as mundane as active voice?

I simply do not know. If anyone has any advice for curing Holiday-itis, do let me know. Until then you can find me hanging ornaments on my Christmas tree and watching some truly suck-tacular Lifetime Channel holiday films. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Oh How I Miss You Blogfest

Late to the party on this one. Sorry guys. It's been a heck of a week, with a family member that took a bad spill and a friend who gave birth to a little girl a full two months early, I've neglected my blogging. Neglected it greatly, as I missed an IWSG post (my first since I joined the group). So I guess, belatedly, my insecurity for this month is the struggle between life and blogging. But here goes trying to make up for missing this one . . . 

But I made it just it time for the Oh How I Miss You Blogfest. Hosted by Andrew Leon, Alex J. Cavanaugh and Matthew MacNish, this bloghop is to honor the bloggers we really miss, and the ones we would miss if the worst happened and they ceased to grace us with their blogging presence. 

Fortunately for me, few of the bloggers I follow have stopped blogging, so my list here is short. The first would be my good friend Julie at From Pen to Paper. (By the way, she also happens to be the friend of mine that gave birth to a beautiful baby girl that I previously mentioned). Julie's funny and encourage, sharing her journey as a writer in a way that makes me laugh like a lunatic. I miss her posts, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll start up again once she's adjusted to life as a mom. 

The other blogger I miss a lot is Sophie Blackall at Missed Connections. Her artistic representations of posts from the Missed Connections section of the newspaper are breathtaking. Fortunately for me, she put a book together of her illustrations, so I can still look at them whenever I need a little beauty in my life. But I sure wish she posted new ones on her blog these days. 

As for the bloggers I'd miss the most if they stopped posting, that's a tough one. There are so many I count on each week, and so many I'd hate to lose. The Ninja Captain himself (aka. Alex J. Cavanaugh) would be a great and terrible loss. He's both encouraging and entertaining, and usually my first stop on the blog-o-sphere. And of course Mina Burrows, who shares my love of classic literature, vampires, and all related television shows. Her blog is one of my absolute favorites!

And last but not least would be a collection of bloggers - the bloggers that make up the Insecure Writers Support Group. Their posts get me through a lot of rough days when I feel like the publication world is against me and I'll never make it as an author. They are wonderful, and without them the blogging world would be a darker place. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: WINNER

With the dawn of Halloween, so too comes the end of this year's Halloween Howl-Fest. It's been a real blast. And now, for the last and final time, here's how the bracket shaped up. Are you interested to know which film was the winner? Take a look . . . 

That's right! The winner was the 1984 hit, Ghostbusters. Surprised? Excited? I know I was. Ghostbusters has long been one of my favorite movies. And after several weeks of voting, has proved itself Halloween Howl-Fest champion. Three cheers (or should I say howls?) for Ghostbusters!

However, I have to admit, as much as I love Ghostbusters (who couldn't love a movie with such sage advice as "When someone asks if you're a god, you say YES."), I have to admit that there was one other movie I really thought would win. And according to your responses, some of you felt the same way. So my friend Andy suggested that I might consider having a Zombie Champion, aka. a movie cut in one of the earlier rounds that "rose from the dead". . . so to speak. 

Needless to say, it's an idea I felt more than appropriate for this event. So I went through all your comments (from ALL the Howl-Fest posts since the very beginning), and found that there were two movies in particular that people felt were unfairly killed off. And how fortuitous, one of them happens to be my absolute favorite Halloween movie. Want to know witch, I mean which, films win the title of Zombie Champion? 

And what a coincidence; both films are about nemeses that rose from the dead. The perfect Halloween Howl Fest: Zombie Champions. 

Well, I hope you've all enjoyed my Halloween Howl-Fest. I certainty have. And a big thank you to EVERYONE who voted, and in particular to those who voted round, after round, after round. I loved hearing your comments and learning more about everyone's spooky movie taste.  

Oh, and one more thing . . . HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: The Finals

Well, we've finally made it to the last round in my Halloween Howl-Fest. "This is it. Don't get scared."(Sorry, channeling on of my favorite Christmas movies now. Wrong holiday.) 

Anyway, we've come down to the final two movies. Witches versus ghosts. He Who Must Not Be Named versus Who you gonna call?. And it's time to decide which films is going to go all the way. 

I'll be sad to see the end of this Howl-Fest. It's been a lot of fun. But all good things must come to an end. So cast a spell . . . I mean your vote, and let me know which movie you think deserves to win this year's Halloween Howl-Fest!

P.S. On a separate note, are there any other movies you wish had made it further? I know there are a few I am devastated about. Take one more look at the bracket and let me know if there are any films you think we slashed too soon . . .

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Firefly Halloween

I'm taking a moment to briefly interrupt this Halloween Howl-Fest in order to share with you the most epic of Halloween costumes. Two years ago I was Alice from Resident Evil. Last year my friends and I all went as superheroes. But this year. Oh, this year was epic. Because this year we went as . . . 

The Cast of Firefly

Wash, Captain Mal Reynolds, Jayne, Zoe and Kaylee
My Fiance and I as "Mal and Kaylee"
Mark as "Jayne" (and of course, Vera)

Andy as "Wash" (and his dinos)
Tina as "Zoe"

It was without a doubt one of the best Halloween costumes I have ever been apart of. Of course, I wish we'd had Book, Inara, Simon and River as well, but we were awesome as the original crew of the Serenity. We had over thirty people recognize us, and nine people ask to take our photograph. I hope you all had as much fun for Halloween as we did!

[Oh, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for the Finals Round of the Halloween Howl-Fest.]

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: Semi Finals

I have to admit, I've been secretly rooting for these Top 4 films since the beginning. They're some of my favorite Halloween flicks, and I'm thrilled that they made it to the Semi-Finals. The problem is, now I don't know which two I think should be knocked out. Good thing it's up to you guys! Take a look . . .

So, which movies do you think should move on? Will it be family friendly witches, or one of the greatest horror films of all time? A team of four against an angry hoard, or . . . well, another team of four against a different type of angry hoard? Only you guys can decide! Happy voting.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: Quarter Finals

Well, we finally made it to the Quarter Finals of this year's Halloween Howl-Fest. Are you interested to know which teams . . . I mean films, made it into the Top 8? Take a look at which movies you voted as the most haunted, spooky, terrifying and flat out awesome of this bracket!

So, what do you think? Any surprise dark horses? Movies you wish had made it further? I have to admit, I kind of thought (and hoped) Hocus Pocus would sweep the whole thing. But there are still eight awesome films to vote for, and only YOU can decide which one will go all the way. So cast your vote and let me know which four should make it to the Semi Finals!

Happy voting!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: Monstrous (Round 3)

Well, I can't say I'm shocked at the outcome of this one. With the exception of Hellboy and The Mummy (which went back and forth), the votes were pretty well stacked in certain movies' favor. Take a look at the Top 4 Monstrous movies . . . 

These are some pretty great movies you guys have picked - it's going to be tough to narrow it down to just two! Let me know which films should move on. And don't forget to check back MONDAY to see which films from the Magical, Supernatural, Undead and Monstrous conferences made it into the Quarter Finals. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: Monstrous (Round 2)

It's been interesting this week, with the addition of the triple-header. I thought it might split the votes a little more, but nope. There were three runaway wins on this one. Take a look at which films made it into Round 2 . . .

And don't forget to check back Friday to see which movies made it to the next round!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: Monstrous (Round 1)

We've made it to the final conference in my Halloween Howl-Fest, and it's a killer! Well, not literally, but some of the characters sure are. For this round we're dealing with monsters, everything from ghouls to werewolves. And for the first time in this challenge, we'll be looking at a couple triple-headers (aka. three movies going against one another instead of just two). Remember, you can still only vote for ONE of the three movies. 

Take a look below and let me know which movies you'd like to see make it to Round 2 . . .

I hope you all have a monstrous Monday! And a special shout out to the best cousin in the whole wide world. Happy Birthday Allie!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: Undead (Round 3)

I'm definitely pleased with this week's voting. Three out of the top four movies were the ones I was going for. My picks were definitely better for this particular conference. What about you guys? Any surprises? Disappointments? Take a look at the Top 4 teams . . . 

And of course, don't forget. I won't be posting the Top 2 until Monday, October 21st when I announce the Quarter Finals for all four conferences. But please check back this coming Monday (the 14th) for the Top 16 teams in the final conference: Monstrous! Have a great weekend everyone. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Norse Gods Blogfest

I have to admit while I've long studied Greek and Roman mythologies, it's only recently that I've become interested in that of the Scandinavian (or Norse) descent. It's an interest sprung from my love of Marvel's Thor (comic books and movie) and my father's recent interest in Vikings culture. But when I saw that there would be a Norse Gods Blogfest hosted by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh to celebrate the release of Secrets of the Ash Tree by blogger Siv Maria Ottem, I wanted to get in on the action. 

I figured that most people would choose to talk about Thor or Loki, the two most popular Norse gods, so instead I thought I'd write about Baldr, the god of light, joy, beauty and innocence. The son of Odin and Frigg, he was the brother of Loki, and much beloved. When Baldr had a dream about his own death, his mother asked every creature to take an oath not to harm him. Every creature apart from mistletoe that is, whom she'd thought too small and weak to cause him harm. Thinking him invincible, the gods then gathered to celebrate by throwing darts and spears at him, knowing he could not be harmed. 

When jealous Loki heard of this, he travelled into the woods and retrieved a branch of mistletoe. Returning to the festivities and gave the branch to Baldr's blind brother Hod, who was not participating in the game because he couldn't aim. Loki offered to help guide Hod's hand, and together they threw the spear at Baldr, who died instantly. 

It was a tragic death, taking from the world the god of light and joy, as well as leading to the death of Hod as punishment for unknowingly killing his brother. I've always thought it a sad tale, and one that stayed with me for years. 

I hope you enjoyed the tale of Baldr, Hod and Loki. What are your favorite Norse gods? And don't forget to check out my Halloween Howl-Fest!

Halloween Howl-Fest: Undead (Round 2)

Thanks to everyone who voted for the Undead: Round 1 of my Halloween Howl-Fest. Check out which teams moved on and be sure to let me know who you'd like see make it to Round 3!

Happy blogging!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: Undead (Round 1)

I have to say I've been waiting to get to the Undead conference of my Halloween Howl-Fest since the beginning. Some of my favorite movies made it into this category . . . and here's hoping they make it to the next round.  But what are your favorites? Do you prefer zombies or vampires? Paranormal middle schoolers or teenage vampire slayers? Let me know by casting your vote!

I can't wait to see what everyone votes for! Are there any other movies you think I should have added to the list? I'm always on the hunt for new supernatural fright fests. And as always, happy blogging!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Halloween Howl-Fest: Supernatural (Round 3)

Thanks everyone for all the congratulations and best wishes! I hope everyone's week has been as good as mine. As for the Halloween Howl-Fest, check out which films made it into Round 3 . . .

Don't forget, I won't be posting the top 2 teams until Monday, October 21st when the Quarter Finals for all three conferences are announced. So you can still vote for your favorites up until then. But definitely check back on Monday when I'll announce the top 16 teams of the UNDEAD conference. This is going to be a fun one. 

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

IWSG and Halloween Howl-Fest: Supernatural (Round 2)

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by my favorite blogger and author of the CassaFire series, Alex J. Cavanaugh. A big thank you to this month's co-hosts, Julie Luek, Rachna Chabria, Beverly Fox and Ilima Todd. 

This month I am thrilled to announce that I'm feeling rather secure (not because anything great has happened in my writing career, but because I'm on cloud 9 after getting engaged last Friday), so rather than whining about my writing woes as I usually do I simply going to say JUST KEEP SWIMMING! I've settles on this as my writing mantra for the month, and I think it's an excellent mantra to stand behind. Give it a try with me!

And now, back to my Halloween Howl-Fest. I probably definitely wouldn't have predicted this going into Round 2 of the Supernatural Conference, but it appears that most people prefer classic films to their more modern supernatural counterparts. Poltergeist beat out the ever popular Paranormal Activity. The Shining trounced The Haunting. Who'd have thought? I mean, that's my personal preference, but I didn't expect people would vote the same way. What an excellent surprise! 

Check out which movies made past Round 1. . . 

Don't forget to check back Friday to vote see which films made it to Round 3 and cast your votes! Happy October!