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Smoke City

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Smoke City really surprised me! I wasn’t so into it at first– the switching perspectives and snippets of newspaper and other media didn’t make it easy to get into the story– but I really connected with it emotionally by the end.

Specters are appearing all of the Los Angeles areas. These “smokes” only last for a few minutes. While they can be startling, they mostly just seem lost.

Meet Marvin– he remembers each and every one of his past lives, and they’ve all been horrible. He’s cursed to live a doomed life over and over again because he lit the fire that killed Joan of Arc. When a girl pops up on TV claiming that Joan has been reincarnated in her body, Marvin needs to meet her.

Then there’s Mike– he was once a great American artist, but his alcoholism has driven away his success, his talent, and his wife. Now he’s working at a fast food restaurant, destroying gallery windows in Portland, and generally spiraling out of control. When he hears that Candice, his now ex-wife who never quite gave up on helping him, has died, he needs to get to LA to her funeral.

And finally, Casper– he just wants to make a TV show about the smokes.

These three go on an unlikely road trip to LA, but what they really find is redemption. Keith Rosson’s “Smoke City” surprised me in its emotional depth. Even the detours (which to be clear, I am generally not a fan of) to characters like Brophy add up to something unique and special.

Want to read it for yourself?!  Here’s a giveaway!  (You can also win and Amazon gift card, so I’d follow that link!)

Bye July!

July’s end is always such a sad thing… man, does summer fly by!  Let’s revisit a couple of my favorite July moments.

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[1] Visiting the Mystic Aquarium! [2] Rhode Island adventures through Wickford [3] all of the hydrangeas [4] sunset walks by Boston harbor [5] Halibut Point State Park! [6] anticipating Rick & Morty’s return with Summer [7] this cool wall of plants [8] strolling through Amazon Books [9] Hey, Pikmin! …which I played all weekend.

What was your favorite thing about July?  Any great August plans?  Follow along on instagram to see what I get up to!

Witch + Wizard

Do you want to win $100 from Amazon?  Well, I’ve got good news for you!

Welcome to the Spring Fever Giveaway Party!

A dozen authors over at YA Author Rendezvous have put an awesome giveaway together – with over TWENTY chances to win!

One grand-prize winner will walk away with a signed, first edition hardback of Witch and Wizard which just so happens to be written by one of the biggest names in fiction – JAMES PATTERSON! On top of that, they get a $100 amazon gift-card!

And all if takes is a minute or two and a few clicks of the mouse.

DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE!

Check out these other amazing prizes they have for you here.

Spring Fever Giveaway!

 

And while you’re all excited about books, check out the video version of Tuesday’s post!

Pokémon 20

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The fact that we haven’t talked about the Pokémon 20th Anniversary yet is a travesty, people; I’m so sorry!  I’ve been a little… scattered, this week especially, but nothing pulls me out of moodiness the way this news can.

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of my favorite game franchise, Pokémon.  To celebrate, Nintendo and the Pokémon Company have lots of presents for us.

Let’s start with the Pokémon 20th Anniversary Edition New Nintendo 3DS bundle that almost makes me upset that I already own a New Nintendo 3DS.  The system comes with both Pokémon Red & Blue installed and two covers– one featuring Charizard and one Blastoise.  Do I need a second New Nintendo 3DS?  This is a serious question I’m asking myself.  This bundle is available February 27th.

On the off chance (aka responsible decision) that I don’t need another New 3DS, Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow are all available for download in the Nintendo e-shop, in all of their original glory.  I still own these games in their original Gameboy cartridge formats, but I’d say this is more convenient than loading AA batteries into my Gameboy color.  Add this to my to-do list for February 27th!

Perhaps the most exciting thing is the year of Mythical Pokémon distributions!  I’ve been marking my calendar to snag each of these:

  • Mew is available in February
  • Celebi is available in March
  • Jirachi is available in April
  • Darkrai is available in May
  • Manaphy is available in June
  • Shamim is available in July
  • Arceus is available in August
  • Victini is available in September
  • Keldeo is available in October
  • Genesect is available in November
  • Meloetta is available in December

 

There are also tons of products, including new TCG cards and rereleases of the movies, available to rent or own through iTunes, Amazon Video, and Google Play as of yesterday!

There’s more.  So much more.  We haven’t even talked about Pokken Tournament OR Pokémon Go.  I can’t even contain my excitement, so I’m going to sign off here.

What are you most excited about for 2016, the 20th Anniversary of Pokémon?!

Friday Favorites: Bad TV

It’s no secret that I watch a lot of really bad TV.  When you live alone, TV provides a pretty essential background of dialogue to remind you that there are other people on this planet.  I always have something playing; reality TV that you can completely tune out is perfect for background noise.  I keep it on while I play 3DS, while I write, while I browse online, and while I cook.  (But never while I’m reading; books deserve my full attention.)

I thought I’d take inventory of some of these horrible, guilty pleasure shows, and share them with you here.

Four Weddings

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I make every effort in life not to be a super girly girl, (simply because I’m not one!) but I do have a small fraction of my being that is a girl stereotype.  That part of me is the part that loves Four Weddings.  I’m such a sucker for weddings.  While the dress is probably my favorite part, I prefer Four Weddings to Say Yes to the Dress.  This show lets you see the full picture of four weddings in each episode, and thus gives you insight into all the other fun details of the day.  A friend of my friends was in an episode and I was dying to see that… so I purchased the season on Amazing Instant Video.  This is a great show to leave on as you go about your evening and you might find yourself planning your wedding while you do.

 

Toddlers and Tiaras

IMG_0469This is a car crash of a show: you simply can’t look away.  Complete with absolutely insane parents and ridiculously spoiled children, this show has a plethora of cringe-worthy moments.  Yet, there’s something about Toddlers and Tiaras I love.  I think it’s the poise of these well-polished girls, dressed eerily to look four times their age.  I’m not a parent, and I’d never make my kids do pageants if I were, but if for some reason my kids wanted to, I would go glitz.  Fake hair, fake teeth, tons of make-up: all par for the course.  The tanning I have a problem with, not because little kids shouldn’t be tanned (well, maybe.  But they also shouldn’t look 25.) but because I’m pale.  What’s wrong with being pale?  I’m not defending pageants at all.  I am not a fan.  However, I think a good contestant has a certain control over their movement that any dancer would envy.  I’m impressed and entertained by that full package.

 

Super Nanny

IMG_0475One summer, my brother was interning in the city so he took up residence in my living room.  This wasn’t so bad for me; I simply had to move my no-pants-TV-time from the couch to my bedroom.  I fall asleep to TV, and reality TV you don’t care about is the perfect thing to keep on as you drift away.  Unfortunately for Joey, this was the summer that I was obsessed with Nanny 911 on Netflix.  Sounds of screaming kids wafted through the walls while I snoozed and he begged for silence to sleep.  I don’t know why I started watching Nanny 911.  Maybe I had eaten through everything interesting on Netflix.  After finishing that series, I moved on to Super Nanny, which is sadly the reason I started my Hulu Plus subscription.  Revisiting both, I think I like Super Nanny better.  It’s less gimmicky than Nanny 911, but either will do.  Just keep the volume down low if you’re planning on sleeping through the screams!

 

I guess I’m not feeling too guilty about watching these shows… one of these or a similar show plus the TV’s sleep timer is essential to my nightly routine!

What are you guilty pleasure shows?

I heart streaming television

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On Thursday, amidst the Amazon Fire TV buzz, I read this Mashable piece about its 8 Greatest Competitors. If you didn’t know, I kicked DirecTV to the curb last year and now rely entirely on the internet for TV. My building isn’t wired for cable, so my options are limited. I get by with Netflix, Hulu, and a few select things on my iTunes and Amazon Instant. I also benefit from a Comcast subscription (thanks, Dad!) but am limited to its streaming content only. I have a lot of interest in products like Amazon Fire TV, so I thought I’d share with you how this cable-less girl is still a TV-freak.

 

Roku 2

My brother bought me my Roku 2 for Christmas last year, and I love it. I got the accompanying TV for my birthday, and thus have a new set up in my bedroom that’s basically changed my life. Roku streams Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, and a selection of channels. For example, Lifetime has a channel on Roku, so instead of watching Dance Moms on my laptop, I can watch it on a TV! The Roku itself is not a monthly subscription, you just register and account and you’re off. Some channels are free (like Lifetime, PBS, stuff like that) and some you need a subscription for— Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go. Unfortunately, HBO Go doesn’t steam on my Roku… it’s backed by Comcast and Comcast HBO accounts are not good to go for Roku.

Xbox 360

My original TV machine and the reason I felt confident enough to get rid of cable, Xbox Live Gold keeps me watching Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and Youtube! My Xbox sits in my living room on my big TV and thus acts as my main source of visual content. My internet connection is a bit rough (I have Clear as a service, because again, no wires in my building) so it tends to blink off occasionally interrupting my shows. That’s a bummer, and the reason I don’t play Xbox Live ever— I’d be impossible to get through a game! Xbox Live Gold service is necessary to stream and it’s a costly service itself.

iPad

I’m slightly in love with my iPad. I’m still in the market for a portable keyboard so I can take it to the beach house for blogging purposes this summer— the touch screen doesn’t make for easy typing! I bring my iPad most places in lieu of a laptop. It is everything I need for an overnight trip to my parents’ or a weekend stay at a friend’s. The following apps make this a lovable machine: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video, Comcast Xfinity, and Viki. The great thing is that every service has an app, so the iPad is the most universal of my devices. While there are some things I can watch only on certain devices/TVs, I can watch pretty much everything on the iPad! I sleep with it. It’s normal.

Wii/Wii U

I mention these because the article mentions Wii U. You all know that I just bought a Wii U, and I could certainly steam Netflix and such on this guy. It sits on the shelf below my Roku, so I don’t need it for those purposes. The same goes with my Wii, which sits in my living room next to the Xbox. I’m pretty sure it streams Netflix too, but I’ve never used it as such. My Nintendo devices are only for gaming, I guess. Does anybody know if there’s a subscription services to be able to stream on these babies? Perhaps it’s something to consider.

 

So it’s obvious why I’m interested in devices like Amazon Fire TV, but it’s also pretty evident that I don’t need any more TV streaming devices! As an Apple user, I am, however, still pretty interested in the Apple TV… we have them at work and they seem awesome. I don’t see an Amazon Fire TV in my future, but the price is low and the product does great things. Has anybody picked one up yet? I’d love to hear what you think about it!

The Piemaker

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In honor of tomorrow being Pi Day (as in π, 3.14159 and so on), I’m talking about a different pie today.  If you haven’t seen Pushing Daisies, you are seriously missing out.  This show was undisputedly cancelled too soon.  It’s everything I like in a show: visually stunning, detectives and mysteries, musical elements, and a little bit of creepy!

Ned, The Piemaker, (Lee Pace) has the ability to bring things back from the dead with one touch.  Another touch and boom: dead forever.  Leave someone alive for too long (over one minute) and someone else dies.  He is the owner of The Pie Hole, as in shut your.

Fellow employee Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth) is in love with The Piemaker, and thankfully her feelings occasionally manifest in song.  Olive Snook is one of my favorite TV characters and my spirit animal.

Ned uses his reincarnation power to solve mysteries with Private Eye, Emerson Cod (Chi McBride).  When Ned brings back his childhood sweetheart, a girl named Chuck (Anna Friel), he can’t bring himself to let her die.  Chuck’s agoraphobic aunts (Ellen Green and Swoozie Kurtz) are weird and wonderful, bringing more love and fun into this little show.

Pushing Daisies is a quirky, colorful adventure.  I cannot stress enough that you need to watch this show!

If you have Amazon Prime, the two seasons that make up the series are on Instant Video for free.  If you haven’t taken advantage of the 30-day free trial offer, I suggest you do!

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On a very loosely related note, fun fact: MIT choses to celebrate this mathematical constant by releasing its admission decisions on this day!  I think that statement alone accurately encompasses the spirit of MIT– such a neat place!  Good luck to any applicants out there!