I’m With the Mockingjay

This past weekend once again found my family and me in Lubbock.  You may or may not know this, but Lubbock and I… Well, we don’t really get along.  For some reason, every time I go out there, I have the worst luck.  I get abandoned at an airport, I get sick, the fire alarm goes off at my hotel (because there’s actually a fire), I get snowed in… I don’t know what it is.  Lubbock just doesn’t seem to like me.

I wasn’t going to let that get me down, however, because this weekend, my sister starred in an opera (as a demented eight-year-old) called The Turn of the Screw.  Y’all, this was a seriously creepy show with some incredibly talented singers.  We were all blown away by the performances. And I loved it, of course, because it was a ghost story!


As much as I enjoyed watching my sister act possessed, I think we were both really looking forward to the next morning, when we finally got to see the final installment in the Hunger Games series: Mockingjay Part 2.

Let me just say that I think they could have made Mockingjay into one exceptional movie and it would have been perfect.  I’m not really a fan of this new splitting the last book in a series into two movies.  But the Hunger Games movies are by far the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen, so I can’t complain too much.  This last movie did not disappoint.

So, in the style of all my other movie reviews, I present to you… Mockingjay Part 2!


  • OMG I’m going to cry so much.
  • Peeta!  Poor baby!  😥
  • Aw, Philip Seymour Hoffman.  I wish you were still alive.
  • Commander Paylor!  Woo!  You go girl!  (And we all know you get to be President in the end so BOOYAH)!
  • Hey…. It’s Brienne from Game of Thrones.
  • It’s kind of scary how accurately this parallels what’s going on in today’s world.  I feel like our politicians have done just as good a job of dividing our country as the Capitol did dividing Panem.
  • Aw, wedding!
  • Finnick… 😥
  • You know, I named Sam Morneau in Boy Band after Sam Claflin.  Because he’s adorbs.
  • Wait, she’s stowing away in the delivery crate?  That’s not how it happened in the book.
  • She’s already in the Capitol?  Is this the final siege?  That happened awfully fast.
  • Oh hey, Liam Hemsworth.  I don’t like Gale, but I definitely like you. 😉
  • Also, we totally almost have the same birthday.
  • Okay, people, can we just talk about how seriously adorable Pollux is?  Look at his little man bun and his sweet, expressive eyes.  I think I have a new Panem crush.
  • This is all happening so much faster than it did in the book.  I’m not sure I’m ready for this.
  • Poor Peeta!  Oh, my poor sweet little baker!
  • The siege hasn’t even started and I’m already scared of those sewer lizards.
  • These pods are freaking me out.  Again, too many parallels for what’s actually going on in some parts of the world.  Can you imagine seeing your city, your home, war-torn and deserted?  It’s terrifying.
  • Finnick, why are you smiling?  Is this fun to you?
  • RIP Boggs.  I hate it when the only authority figure you can trust dies.
  • Finnick’s face when he saw his image displayed on TV, just as if he’d died in the Hunger Games!  That boy is giggling!  Oh my goodness.
  • Coin, you are so full of it.
  • President Snow correcting her. HA.
  • Down to the sewers. Nope, nope, nope! There are lizards down there!
  • Oh, POLLUX!  It’s okay my baby!  Please, let me hold you!
  • Oh no.  I can hear them.  Oh no.  They’re coming.  OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.
  • I don’t know if I can watch this.
  • Oh, I am going to have nightmares for sure.
  • Finnick’s final battle.  What a send-off.
  • Seeing his face on that wanted poster… OMG that hurts…
  • I think I officially care more about Pollux than I do about any other character in this entire series.
  • Liam Hemsworth is doing a really good job of making Gale even more of a douchebag than he was in the books.  Wow.
  • The march on the Capitol.  This is it.  We all know what’s coming.  Unless you haven’t read the books or have been living under a rock.  Then I guess you have no idea.  But we know.  We know.
  • That little girl crying over her mom.  This movie is SO sad.
  • There it is.  That lone hovercraft.  I have the chills just thinking about it.  We all know.
  • That’s it.
  • I wish I could say I cared more about Prim as a character.  Her death just didn’t impact me the way it did in the book.  I only care about what happens to her because Katniss cares.
  • Coin is such a scary character, because she’s essentially Snow, but she acts as though she’s good and diplomatic and that she cares about the people of Panem.  She doesn’t.  She’s just as power hungry and evil.  And Julianne Moore does an excellent job of portraying that.
  • Her speech.  HA.  We all know what’s coming.  This is perfect.
  • The letter from Plutarch.  This scene might be the saddest one of all, because he was supposed to deliver that speech.
  • Though to be totally honest, I don’t actually think they would ever work out together.  Still, it was an adorable moment because Effie has a huge crush on him and I think he really respects her even though he’d never admit it.
  • I’m glad they made Haymitch more of a father figure and less of a damaged alcoholic.  He was still broken in a lot of ways, but he was much stronger in the movies than he was in the books.
  • So… Haymitch and Katniss go back to their destroyed district… Totally alone… Amidst the rubble…  How depressing is that?
  • BUTTERCUP. Oh no… Oh no… This is another scene I’ve been dreading.
  • I’m sad for Katniss, of course, but OMG I AM SO SAD FOR THAT CAT.  That cat is making me BAWL.
  • Saddest moment.  Sad animals.  Can’t handle it.
  • REAL.
  • REAL.
  • REAL.
  • Peeta is officially the world’s cutest dad.

All in all, I still get emotional thinking about this movie.  Actually, the series in general.  It’s my favorite.  I love it.  I love everything about it.

Though I’ve got to tell y’all, as we were leaving the theater, all just completely wrecked and sobbing, some guy behind us starts singing at the top of his lungs, “SHOT THROUGH THE HEART AND YOU’RE TO BLAME!”  Yeah, that kind of killed the moment.  But it was pretty funny, I have to admit.

Well, I better be off.  I’m going to a NaNoWriMo event at a local library!   Talk to y’all soon!

How M. Night Shyamalan Got His Groove Back

Okay, so my sister and I have this tradition around Christmastime.  It’s called Double Movie Day.  The day before Christmas Eve, we pick out two movies and spend the entire day at the theater.  Last year, we saw The Theory of Everything and Night at the Museum 3.

This year, we decided to push Double Movie Day up a few months because A) my sister was home for the weekend B) and we had two movies that we REALLY wanted to see.

The movies we saw fit right in with the impending Halloween season: The Perfect Guy and The Visit.

As usual, this post WILL contain spoilers.  However, given that one of the films is an M. Night Shyamalan production, I will do my best to keep them to a minimum.

Thoughts on The Perfect Guy

  • This movie kind of looks like an adaptation of The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks.
  • It also kind of looks like a high-budget Lifetime Movie.
  • I can’t wait.
  • Script is a little weak at first, but it tells us what we need to know.  Leah wants to get married and have kids.  Dave doesn’t.  So she ends it.  Fair enough.  Sorry, Dave.  You blew it.
  • Even though I know from the previews that Carter is a creepy psychopathic stalker, the guy playing him is really attractive.
  • His character, however, is so smooth you know that something’s off about him.
  • Public bathroom inside a hole-in-the-wall dance club.  Perfect place to consummate a relationship.
  • AW, she has an orange kitty named Rusty.  I had an orange kitty named Rusty!
  • Oh PLEASE don’t let anything bad happen to Rusty!
  • I don’t think I even need to talk about how fast you run after you see your boyfriend beat someone else to a pulp.
  • Leah, no.  Do not listen to your friend.  She is giving you terrible advice.
  • Karen, you’re the worst friend ever.
  • No!  I KNEW that sicko would take Rusty!  I knew it!  Poor kitty!
  • Oh, good.  Dave is back.  I like Dave.
  • Leah is not a believable single woman.  If my cat was missing, I wouldn’t know how to function.  I wouldn’t be able to live.  I would be curled up in a ball, crying, until she came home.
  • WTF. WHAT. NO. *Spoiler*
  • I feel like this entire movie is a commentary on how the system can’t help victims of stalking/harassment until something bad has already happened.  Leah knows Carter is dangerous.  She knows he’s stalking her.  He has gone out of his way to ruin her ENTIRE life and everything she’s worked for.  But the way the system is set up, no one can actually help her until he does something dangerous and drastic.
  • I do like how the detective is really trying to help her.
  • This is like Criminal Minds with a really good-looking unsub.
  • The house Leah lives in is actually really creepy.  It’s all modern and designer with really big open windows.  I could never live in a house like that.  I wouldn’t feel safe at all.  Plus it’s just not very cozy or homey.
  • I do like the pool though.
  • Provoking crazy people. Such a terrible idea.
  • Oh thank GOD she got Rusty back!
  • Again, you go, girl.

Thoughts on The Visit

  • Okay, M. Night. I love The Sixth Sense, Signs, and The Village.  It’s been a while.  I’m expecting good things.  Good scary things.
  • Small white child rapping.  Stop.  Please.  Stop.
  • Aw, I like the snow.  I know I won’t like it when it’s falling from the sky in February, but since it’s between the months of September and December, I like snow.
  • Old people houses are so creepy in movies.  What’s the deal?
  • Granted, this is supposed to be a creepy movie so I get it.
  • Bedtime at 9:30 and no wifi? That’s a horror movie in and of itself.
  • OMG the game of hide and seek?  This movie is already terrifying.
  • I’m really seeing a lot of classic M. Night in this movie.  Rural setting.  Isolated.  Inside a home where you’re supposed to feel safe.  Eerie nighttime noises that let you know that you’re not alone in the house and that whatever is in there with you is REALLY EFFING CREEPY.
  • I bet the lady playing the grandma had so much fun filming this movie.  It’s probably not often that she gets to scare the pants off of people.  She’s such a cute lady.
  • Okay, I’m beginning to get the impression that the mom is a huge flake.
  • Trying to figure out what the twist will be.  Thinking it probably has something to do with demons or witchcraft or maybe an ancient spell discovered at the well.  There’s sort of an underground/water theme going on.
  • I know the grandma is kind of the possessed one, but the grandpa is freaking me out too.
  • Okay, this might not be the scariest M. Night film of all time, but I think it’s the one that scares me the most and it’s because your grandparents are supposed to love you and take care of you.  They’re not supposed to scare you.
  • Okay, I’ve got to know what this gossip is that everyone keeps talking about.
  • I am freaking out right now.  I’m not even kidding you.  This is terrifying.  OMG.  OMG.
  • No no no no no no no no no no.
  • I might just be scarred for life after this movie.  Oh my God.
  • Hey, lady next to me on your cell phone.  SHUT UP.
  • Good she hung up.
  • I cannot get over this movie.
  • Aw, this is kind of sad.
  • I am throwing some SERIOUS shade at you, lady.
  • So rude.
  • Oh, no.  White child is rapping again.  I’m out.

In short, I can highly recommend both of these movies.  With The Perfect Guy, you kind of know what you’re getting, but it’s still definitely worth the watch.  I want my mom to see it.  It’s right up her alley.  As far as The Visit goes?  Congratulations, M. Night.  You once again blew my mind, scared me half to death, and kept me lying awake until odd hours of the night telling myself over and over again that there were no creepy old ladies crawling down my hall.

Double Movie Day

Two years ago, my sister insisted that I needed to see Wreck-It Ralph before Christmas.  I turned around and said that she needed to see the first Hobbit movie (although she’s not really a fan of Middle Earth, she loves Martin Freeman).  We decided, what the heck?  Let’s see them both in the same day.  Thus Double Movie Day was born.

This year was our third year in a row to celebrate Double Movie Day.  Last year, we saw Frozen and the second Hobbit.  We could very well have kept up with tradition and gone to see a Disney movie and then the final film in the Hobbit trilogy, but the big white thing in the new Disney movie scares me and I have way too many problems with what I’ve heard of the third Hobbit movie to sit through it in the theater.  Instead, we decided on The Theory of Everything and Night at the Museum 3.

Now, I’m not a reviewer at heart.  However, I do very much love giving my opinion on films.  Instead of making this a beautiful and eloquent piece about the highs and lows of the movies, I’m going to format this post the way I did when I “reviewed” Godzilla over the summer: https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/godzilla-a-very-girly-review/  



Thoughts on The Theory of Everything

*This movie looks so good.  I can’t wait to see it.

*Stephen Hawking is really smart.  I hope I understand this movie.

*I wonder what young Stephen Hawking would have said if someone had told him that he would grow up to be a guest star on The Big Bang Theory.

*I had no idea Stephen Hawking was English.

*Eddie Redmayne is really cute.  I’m attracted to a guy playing a young Stephen Hawking.  I don’t know how to feel about this.

*I love guys in glasses and cardigans.

*This movie is just beautiful.  It’s just a beautiful movie.  The music, the cinematography, the lighting, the camera angles.  Everything about this movie is beautiful.

*OMG his roommate is Khaleesi’s creepy brother.

*He’s hot too.

*Stephen Hawking asked her to dance! This is so romantic!

*OMG his professor is LUPIN!

*He’s not hot.  Sorry, Lupin.

*Must stop thinking about The Big Bang Theory.  

*This movie constantly has me on the verge of tears.

*I’m loving this movie because it makes math, science, and intellect so beautiful.  It’s brilliant and artistic.

*Eddie Redmayne deserves an Oscar nomination.  His portrayal of Stephen Hawking and his initial diagnosis and progression of his Lou Gehrig’s Disease is raw, passionate, and heartbreaking.

*At least we know Stephen Hawking doesn’t die.

“What do Sheldon Cooper and a black hole have in common?  They both suck.  Neener neener.”

Thoughts on Night at the Museum 3

*Robin Williams.

*Rami Malek.  You are so cute.  Why are you not in the first two movies more?  Why are you not in more movies in general? I need more of your cuteness.

*Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson are hilarious together.


*Love Ben Stiller’s caveman doppelganger.

*I LOVE Rebel Wilson!  “What, have you never seen a gorgeous woman before who could be a model if she didn’t love pizza so much?”

*Teddy Roosevelt + Sacajawea = OTP


*The whole exchange between Pharaoh Ben Kingsley and Ben Stiller about basically everything in Exodus is, quite frankly, one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a movie theater in a long time.  “Laugh out loud.  Yeah, that’s what I did.”

*Seriously, Rami Malek.  Be in more movies.  You were so cute in Breaking Dawn but you only had like, two scenes.  You deserve your own saga.

*Why is this movie so funny?  Why am I laughing so hard?  What am I even watching?


*I’m glad Dan Stevens ditched Downton Abbey.  He was never this funny as Matthew.  “Yes, hop, hop, hop!  You are REAL!”

*Owen Wilson, I thought you should know, I’ve always had a weird Texas crush on you.

*Why is no one in London questioning the Knight in Shining Armor riding through the streets on a white steed?  Is this just an everyday thing in London?

*Bus scene.  Hilarious.

I do need to take a moment to be serious here before I end this post.  This was Robin Williams’ final live-action film.  I went in to this film knowing that I probably wouldn’t make it through without tearing up, but I didn’t expect to break down completely.  I’m not going to tell you his final lines in the film, because I think they’re something you need to experience for yourself.  All I can tell you is that they broke my heart.  It seemed a goodbye message, not only to Larry from Teddy, but to all movie-goers from an actor we all loved dearly, and whose absence we still mourn.  It’s not fair that so many movies will exist without Robin Williams.  It’s not fair that such a great and wonderful life was cut short by such a tragic and shattering disease.  I will undoubtedly be seeing this movie again, and I will undoubtedly shed tears once again listening to Robin Williams bid us farewell.

“For Robin Williams. Magic Never Ends.”

Frozen Fever

This might be the most controversial blog post I’ve ever written, but it is something that I feel needs to be said.  I hope I don’t offend any of my readers or lose any friends over this, but I can’t hold it back anymore.  I’ve got to let it go.

I do not think Frozen is the best Disney animated film of all time.  In fact, I don’t even think it’s in the top ten.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Frozen a lot.  My sister and I saw it together and, since it was about sisters, naturally we both cried and loved it.  Leaving the theater, I remember thinking, “Aw, I like Olaf.  And I like Elsa’s dress.  Definitely a cute story.  I’d see it again.”

But then the hype started.  Suddenly, everyone everywhere was all about Frozen.  Buzzfeed articles, Pinterest boards, list upon list of why Frozen is the best thing Disney has ever done in the history of ever.  I’ve never seen so many YouTube cover videos in my life.  I like Let It Go, but if I hear one more person who ISN’T Idina Menzel trying to sing it, I might just punch someone.  In the face.  With a computer.

Today, the newest Disney short, Frozen Fever was announced and naturally, the Internet is completely losing it over the impending arrival.  I’m not upset about the upcoming short.  I love Disney.  And like I said, I really do like Frozen.  I just like lots of other Disney movies a whole lot more.


Let’s begin with my sister’s favorite Disney movie of all time, Mulan.  Mulan ROCKS.  For some reason everyone seems to think that Frozen is this groundbreaking movie that proves that women don’t need a man to save them.  Um, HELLO people.  Mulan saved ALL OF CHINA.  She also saved Captain Shang and her entire army of men like, fifty times.  Mulan also features one of the most iconic Disney songs ever recorded (I’ll Make a Man Out of You), an ingenious script (“I’m doomed! And all because Miss Man decided to take her little drag show on the road!”), and more GIRL POWER than all five of the Spice Girls put together.

The Lion King

Talk about a classic.  Featuring the voice talents of James Earl Jones and Jeremy Irons AND a soundtrack by Sir Elton John, The Lion King is easily one of the best Disney movies out there.  On top of that, it’s based off of Hamlet.  This is Shakespeare with lions and meerkats and Rafiki.  Sorry, Elsa, but you can’t beat that.  And that scene when Mufasa comes back to talk to Simba?  Does anyone NOT tear up at that moment?

“Remember who you are…” 

Brother Bear

This might be one of the most underrated Disney movie of all time, but it also happens to be one of my absolute favorites.  This is just a beautiful story with beautiful animation, a fantastic soundtrack by Phil Collins (one of the best), and so many beautifully bittersweet moments that I never make it through a viewing without crying.  There are also killer whales in it.  HOW can you beat a movie with KILLER WHALES?  It’s one of the most moving Disney films out there if you ask me.


Okay, I’ve already dedicated an entire blog post to Hades and how he’s my absolute favorite Disney Villain of all time (https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/why-hades-is-actually-the-best-disney-villain/), but if you ask me, Hercules itself is near the top as far as Disney’s best animated features go.  Greek Mythology is cool.  That is pretty much indisputable.  And Disney took those cool stories and made them bright, colorful, and kid-friendly, all the while keeping them surprisingly historically accurate (speaking as someone who yes, used to watch the animated TV series on Disney Channel).  In my oh so humble opinion, Hercules is one of Disney’s most clever and creative franchises.


It’s hard to think about this one without drawing a few tears, especially due to recent events.  Aladdin truly will never be the same without our beloved Genie, but it has always held a special place in my heart, even before the late, great Robin Williams’ departure.  I loved Aladdin so much as a child that I named my first kitten Jasmine after Princess Jasmine.  She also recently passed and I got a tattoo of Jasmine flowers on my ankle in her honor.  But all that sadness aside, Aladdin is one of the most awesome, colorful, and FUN Disney movies out there.  Heartwarming with high adventure, magic, great music, and probably one of the most charming Disney Princes in history, Aladdin wins all the way around.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This is another of my favorite Disney films that is SO completely underrated.  This is a beautiful movie with a touching story, a heartwarming hero, a completely kick-butt heroine, and one of the best soundtracks with some of the best vocal performances that Disney has EVER created.  I could listen to the opening number, Bells of Notre Dame, on repeat.  In fact, I have.  But seriously, let’s talk about Esmeralda for a minute.  She is the BOMB.  She stands up for what she believes in, is brave, smart, snarky, she sees the inner beauty in people, and she sings one of the most beautiful songs in Disney’s repertoire, God Help the Outcasts.

Meet The Robinsons

I feel like a lot of people forget that this is a Disney movie, but again, it is one of my absolute favorites.  I love everything about this movie.  The characters are wonderful, the script is brilliant, and the ending makes me cry every single time I watch it.  It’s such a wonderful film and again, so underrated.  I wish they would make a sequel to this one!  I’d watch it in a heartbeat.

Beauty and the Beast

Of course, this has to be on the list.  It’s the tale as old as time, one of the most beautiful animated classics of all time, and the first ever animated film to be up for an Academy Award for best picture.  I understand that Frozen won a few Academy Awards, but Beauty and the Beast was a film ahead of its time.  And it’s just beautiful.  Is there a scene or a song more beautiful than the ballroom scene?  Or more chilling than the fight between Gaston and the Beast on the roof?  Or more magical than the Beast’s transformation back into a Prince?

Not even close, Frozen.

Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella 

These three are all together because story-wise, none of them are stellar.  However, as far as storytelling and animation goes, these are MASTERPIECES of their time.  The work of GENIUS.  The heroines, true, are not all that much.  In fact, Snow White is dumber than the apple that almost killed her.  But they were all true works of art and will remain historic classics for all time.  These were the movies that broke down barriers, the magic that started it all.  Disney would not be where it is today without the early Princesses.

All of Pixar.  Ever.

True, these are not just the work of Disney, but Finding Nemo, Monsters IncToy StoryUP, all rise above and beyond Frozen in terms of pretty much everything.

Finally, the Best of All…


I think I’ve made it pretty clear how I feel about The Little Mermaid, but if anyone doesn’t know, you can just check out this blog post here…


Growing up, I truly believed that Ariel was one of my best friends.  I loved everything about The Little Mermaid, and to this day, I can’t hear the opening theme without getting the chills.  Ariel was absolutely my hero growing up.  She was beautiful, she was brave, she followed her heart even when everyone else thought she was weird, and she ALSO saved her Prince (eh-hem… did not need a man to rescue her).  And she was a mermaid and come on, what little girl didn’t want to be a mermaid?  Not to mention Ariel got three movies, her own television series, AND her own Broadway musical.  I think it’s pretty clear that she is the ultimate winner of best Disney Princess ever.

So, that’s just to name a few of the movies which, in my opinion, beat out Frozen as far as best Disney animated classics go.  I didn’t even get to all of them. TarzanAtlantis, and Princess and the Frog are also on the list. But I’m afraid if I type any more, my computer might actually explode.

Frozen was great.  Again, I’m not trying to say it wasn’t.  But when I look back and really compare it to other Disney films, I’m afraid it pales in comparison.

Books, Books, Books

Hi, friends!

The past couple days have been pretty busy.  I attended my first book club meeting as a guest author.  It was so much fun, and all of the ladies just had the sweetest things to say about Cemetery Tours.  It was so encouraging and just a wonderful night.


In preparation for the book club, I took a trip to Barnes and Noble for a gift card for the hostess.  While I was there, of course, I did a little shopping around.  It’s impossible to walk into Barnes and Noble and NOT shop, you know?

As I looked around, I found myself thinking of a Facebook post I’d seen recently about how today’s young people read less than any generation before.  Now, I’m not sure if that’s true or not.  I’m no statistician.  However, as I passed the John Green section, I thought about The Fault in Our Stars, and how it’s been celebrating a nice spot on top of the box office charts.  Apparently, people are shocked that it’s doing so well, but to be honest, I’m surprised that people are surprised.  With the book’s enormous and devoted fan base, how could it not do well?

Then I started thinking about other major blockbuster events and award nominated movies, Divergent, Catching Fire, 12 Years a Slave, Philomena, The Hobbit, etc… and I realized they all had one thing in common.  They are all adaptations of books.  Even television series, The Vampire Diaries, Sherlock, True Blood, GAME OF THRONES, all are based off of BOOKS.

Whether statisticians like to acknowledge it or not, books and authors play a HUGE role in our world today, or at least in the entertainment industry.  And you know, it doesn’t stop there.  We have The Giver, The Maze Runner, Ender’s Game, The Lord of the Rings, Twilight, The Princess Diaries, The Book Thief, The Walking Dead (graphic novel, but still)even Disney based fairy tales go back to books and works of authors like Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm.

And of course, we can’t forget the Wizard himself, Harry Potter.

So many of our cultural phenomena go back to books.  Not all, of course, but enough to think that no, books and reading are not on the way out.  There’s never been a greater time to be a reader or a writer.  John Green, a nerdy guy who started a vlog series with his brother, is quite frankly, a rock star now.  Books and reading are an important part of our lives and our society.  They expand and enrich our worlds, our minds, our perspectives.

Are people reading less today than ever before?  I don’t know.  I don’t know how those things are figured.  But I do know that, while I was working up at my camp, two girls overheard me talking about books and they immediately ran over to ask what I was reading, and if I’d read this or that.  They were so excited, not to talk about the latest pop star or hottest television show, but to talk about books.  If that isn’t encouraging, I don’t know what is.

Speaking of having read this or that, Cemetery Tours is standing strong at 43 reviews, but I still need 7 more by July 1 to reach my goal of 50!

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I hope you all have a great Thursday!  It’s almost Friday the 13th, plus a full Honey Moon!  I’ll be sure to celebrate with my black cat.

My Second Trip to Lubbock

Alright, I’m home again.  This last trip was at least a little less glitchy than the first one.  It was a quick, two-day trip, but I got absolutely no work done, so I’m very happy to be home.  Not only am I awaiting a book from a new author friend in the UK (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19396808-the-sugary-sherburts-and-the-stone-witch), I also won a new book on a Facebook giveaway (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18628472-the-darkness-of-light?from_search=true), which is really exciting, because I never win anything, and I’m reading/proofreading a book for a friend!  So yeah, busy, busy, busy!

However, I really want to get on to tell you about the TWO movies I saw yesterday.  Yep.  TWO.  In one day.  Double Movie Day is sort of a new holiday tradition that my sister and I started last year.

The first movie was Disney’s Frozen.

I loved it.  It was everything a good Disney movie should be; beautiful, funny, and full of GREAT music performed by several Broadway stars.  My sister was really geeking out over that, especially Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff.  It also managed to surprise me and keep me guessing, which I’ve always thought of as kind of a rare thing for a Disney film.  They’re always enjoyable, but it’s usually pretty easy to predict what’s going to happen and I don’t remember the last time a Disney movie really shocked me.  Frozen did it.  It also made me laugh out loud and my sister already has the soundtrack memorized (“Let it Go,” performed by Idina Menzel, is not only my favorite song, but also my favorite part of the movie).

My other favorite part is Olaf!

“I don’t have a skull… Or bones.”

Needless to say, Olaf the Snowman is the best character in Frozen.  My sister and I have pretty much been quoting him non-stop since we stepped out of the theater yesterday afternoon.  When I first saw the previews, I thought he was going to be weird and a little creepy, but it is impossible to not love Olaf.  “I’ll be a… HAPPY SNOWMAN!”  So.  Stinking.  Cute.

The second movie was, you guessed it, the midnight premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings movies, so I knew I was going to love Peter Jackson’s take on The Hobbit as well.  I fell absolutely in love with An Unexpected Journey.  Seriously, I loved everything about it.  I loved the new characters, the story, the music, Martin Freeman, everything.

I loved the Desolation of Smaug also, but I didn’t love everything about it.

NOTE: If you haven’t seen it yet, there are a few spoilerish things here, so stop reading if you don’t want to know.

First, what I loved:

1) SMAUG.  Oh my gosh, I love dragons anyway, but Smaug is AWESOME.  The fact that he’s voiced and brought to life by Benedict Cumberbatch might have a little something to do with that, but I think I would have enjoyed his scenes no matter what.  Seeing this great literary monstrosity brought to life was a thrill, and I actually shivered the first time he emerged from the heaping mountains of gold.  His last lines of the film were equally chilling.  “I am Fire.  I am Death.”  Way to go, Benny.  You’re the best.

Oh, I also laughed when Smaug looked at Bilbo and said, “You are familiar with me…” because as we all know, Bilbo and Smaug have met before… at 221B Baker Street!

2) THRANDUIL.  Oh my gosh.  I mean, I already knew I loved Lee Pace, but I kind of wish Peter Jackson would just make an entire movie about Thranduil.  He’s such a bad-a.  Seriously.  I loved him (even if he is kind of a jerk).

3) The Gimli Reference.

4) Every time Richard Armitage spoke.  Or moved.  Or blinked.

I’m not creepy, I swear.

5) Seeing Legolas again.

6) Beorn.

7) Stephen Fry.  I hated his character, but you have to love Stephen Fry no matter what role he plays.

8) Bombur!  Oh my goodness, I laughed out loud whenever that fat dwarf waddled onto the screen.

9) The Ring’s growing influence over Bilbo.  Oh, and STING!  Martin Freeman is just a flawless Hobbit.

10) The way everyone in the theater yelled, “NO!” when the movie ended.

Now for the things I did not love.  Just my opinion.  I hope I don’t offend.

1) There was no singing!  What the heck?  That was one of my favorite things about the first movie.  I loved all the songs, even the deleted ones.  There was one point where I actually thought Smaug was going to burst into song.  That would have been odd, but at least it would have been something!  But no.  The only song I got was the one by Ed Sheeran at the end, and I don’t like that one nearly as much as I like “The Song of the Lonely Mountain.”

2) So.  Many.  Orcs.  WHY?  I mean, one orc battle would have been understandable, two would have been tolerable, but seriously, orcs were shooting and being slaughtered almost every other scene!  They seemed to play a bigger role in this movie than the dwarves!  I understand that Peter Jackson is using this as a prequel/lead up to Lord of the Rings, which it is, but Tolkien’s story was a story about a journey, an adventure.  I don’t think he didn’t even know the significance of the Ring when he wrote the book.  He was just writing a kid’s story.  Too.  Many.  Orcs.  Go.  Away.

3)  Along with all these orcs, we got like, a million scenes of Legolas and Tauriel slaughtering these orcs.  Yeah, we get it.  They’re warriors.  This is not supposed to be a movie about elves killing orcs!  This is supposed to be about Thorin and the dwarves’ quest to take back Erebor.  Again, I feel like Legolas and Taurel played a bigger role in this movie than the dwarves and even Bilbo did!  My guess is that since Legolas was such a popular character from the original series, Peter Jackson wanted to use him as much as he could.  Tauriel, on the other hand, is a Peter Jackson creation.  I think he knew audiences, especially Tolkien purists, would be wary of a new, non-cannon character, so he tried as hard as he could to make people like her.  Unfortunately, in doing so, I feel like he sort of forced her on us.  She was a little too perfect, a little too compassionate, and not at all like a Mirkwood elf would be in Tolkien’s universe.  Evangeline Lilly is lovely and did a wonderful job, but I really did not care for the character.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s a Mary Sue, but I didn’t feel she added anything to the plot.  Other than a useless love triangle, which I will tackle in point 4.

(If anything, we should have had more THRANDUIL).

4) The love triangle.  Seriously, is it so difficult to create a female character and NOT have her be anyone’s love interest?  I’m not trying to be anti-feminist or anything.  I just don’t understand the whole, every-movie-needs-romance thing.  If I want romance, I’ll watch a Nicholas Sparks movie.  But I watch Tolkien for the adventure and the journey and the story.

5) This wasn’t necessarily something I didn’t like, but I couldn’t help but notice that Bard looked exactly like Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean.

6) The SPIDERS!  Oh my GOSH.  I am not arachnophobic, but I was about to faint during that entire scene.  It was even worse than the Acromantula scene in the second Harry Potter movie!!!  And that was pretty bad!  (Note… I put this under things I didn’t like about the movie, but it was actually an effective and fantastic scene.  The fact that I put it under things I disliked is a good thing!)

Bottom line: I liked a lot more things about The Desolation of Smaug than I disliked, and I know I will see it again.

Okay, I’ve been typing at this post for over an hour now.  Time for food.

Frightening Flicks of Halloween

Since it is officially October, I will be in full-fledged Halloween mode for the next thirty days.  To begin the celebration, I have compiled a list of my favorite movies and television shows that I like to watch in preparation for All Hallows Eve!  Enjoy!

Let’s start with a classic.  The Blair Witch Project.  I love this movie.  It is so fantastically creepy.  I’m a big nature fan.  I love hiking and I love the woods.  When I worked as a summer camp counselor, there was this creepy old abandoned cabin that we would always pass on our way to the low ropes course.  It was so eerie and I’m pretty sure it will one day be included in one of my future novels.  Woods by themselves are creepy enough.  You can never know for sure what’s beyond the seemingly endless trees.  I think that’s why I love The Blair Witch Project so much.

Though I must admit, the first time I watched it, I didn’t get the ending at all.  My sister got really mad at me.

Suitable for an author of ghost stories, the next movie on the list is M. Night Shyamalan’s spooktacular The Sixth Sense.  I’ll never forget the night I first watched this movie, because it was the same night a string of tornadoes ravaged through Oklahoma City and we were feeling the effects all the way in Dallas, so it was already a creepy kind of night.  I’ll tell you, this movie about scared the pants off of me, especially Mischa Barton puking.  I don’t like puke.  I can’t even handle when my friend’s new baby spits up.  How does Mr. Shyamalan expect me to cope with a really creepy ghost lurking around in Cole’s room and puking?  Anyway, you don’t need me to tell you that this is an excellent movies and one of my favorite shows to watch to get me in the Halloween spirit.

The Omen.  I actually watched the 2006 version before the original, but needless to say, the original is infinitely better, mostly thanks to Mr. Gregory Peck.  I’m a Christian, so the idea of demons and Satan are extra creepy because I do believe in them.  After all, if you believe in one, you must believe in the other.

Okay, so I am supposed to be a mature 25-year-old woman with a Master’s degree, but the truth is, I am a huge kid at heart.  Another one of my favorite ghost stories comes to life with Casper.  I want that mansion.  Seriously, it is the coolest building ever.  And the scene at the end when he comes down the stairs for the dance?  I tear up every time.  No joke.  Great family-friendly Halloween movie!

Another classic, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  I think this was the first Rated R movie I ever saw.  My mom let my sister and me watch it when we were really little, I think because she has a huge crush on Gary Oldman.  This is a beautiful movie.  It’s actually one of the few movies that I enjoy more than the book.  The book is nice and creepy, of course, but I was very disappointed by how un-romantic it was.  Come on, Bram Stoker!  What, do you think I read this for the vampires?  The movie adaptation, however, has everything a good Halloween movie should have; a haunted castle, suspense, a chase scene, vampires, monsters, a creepy tomb scene, and just enough romance to make a girl sigh.

Growing up, I used to be obsessed with all those haunted reality shows on The 13 Days of Halloween or something.  My mom, my sister, and I watched all the specials every year, because they were so interesting.  However, for some reason, I could never really get into ghost hunting reality shows.  That all changed the day I discovered Ghost Adventures.  I’m glad I found them too, because they inspired the paranormal investigation aspect of Cemetery Tours.  Thanks, guys!

You’ve probably heard of these guys.  They do an YouTube series called Marble Hornets, and let me tell you that watching it alone at night is probably one of the worst things you can do.  This web series is terrifying.  Slenderman?  No thank you.

I’ll admit it.  I am a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s earlier works.  The Village is one of my absolute favorites.  At first, I was very disappointed by the “twist” at the end, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate the movie more for what it is.  It’s an incredibly interesting and well-executed concept.  I also loved seeing Adrien Brody play Noah.  He did a fantastic job with a kind of character who isn’t often seen in movies in such a way.

Okay, like I said, I am a huge kid at heart.  No October is complete with a Scooby Doo marathon.  Honestly, I really don’t think anyone ever outgrows those meddling kids or their dog.

Another great vampire classic, Interview with the Vampire.  I love how this is actually an autobiography of a vampire.  It’s not just the scary bits.  It goes into what it would be like to live that life.  It’s fascinating.  It’s a dark, beautiful, mystifying movie that I would recommend to anyone.  Anne Rice is a great author, and one day, I will finish reading The Vampire Chronicles.

My Ghost Story Caught on Camera.  All I can say is some of these episodes make me want to spray my house down with Holy Water and then never go anywhere ever again.  Seriously, even for skeptics, this is a really creepy show.  Real people with real photographs and videos of unexplained figures and anomalies.  It really makes you think.

The pumpkin carving classic for my family, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  This is the movie we watch every year on the day before Halloween.  How anyone can not love this movie is beyond me.

“I got a rock.”

“If you try to hold my hand, I’ll slug you!”

“Awwwwwww!  You didn’t tell me you were gonna kill it!!!!”

My absolute favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie, Signs.  It’s actually one of my sister’s favorite movies of all time.  She is scared to death of aliens, and this movie freaks her out to no end, but she seriously loves it.  The scariest part for me is the scene when you can hear the aliens just outside on the porch, hitting wind chimes as they pass by the windows!

This next movie is actually the scariest in my opinion, because it could actually happen.  I’m a believer in alien life, but not so much in alien invasions (though I am convinced I saw a UFO when I was 5).  I’m a believer in demons and ghosts, but I believe that my faith in God will protect me from demons and if there are ghosts in my house, I’m pretty sure they’re friendly.  The Strangers, however?  Home invasions?  No way.  Feeling threatened in the one place you’re supposed to have complete and utter sanctuary?  Having someone break into my house is probably one of my absolute biggest fears.

So, if home invasions are my biggest real fear, my biggest fake/monster fear is ZOMBIES.  I am absolutely terrified of zombies the way that my sister is absolutely terrified of aliens.  I think it has something to do with them being empty shells.  You can’t reason with them.  You can’t talk to them.  There is no humanity left at all.  That being said, I love The Walking Dead.  I actually began watching it because I’m so scared of zombies and I guess I’m kind of a masochist.  The number of nightmares I have has gone up considerably since I started watching, but you know what?  It’s such a good show that I don’t even care.  By the way, I totally watch for the zombies, and not for Daryl Dixon.

Okay, here’s another movie that you should never watch alone at night.  Paranormal Activity.  Now, I’m not sure how many bad sequels this movie has spawned, but they all sucked.  The first one, however, genuinely scared the living daylights out of me.  I first saw it around midnight a few Halloweens back.  My friends and I were screaming so much, I woke up with a sore throat the next day.

Finally, I saved the absolute best Halloween movie for last… Hocus Pocus!!!  I feel like nothing I say can do this movie justice.  It’s simply the best.  I’ve already watched it once this year and it’s only the second day of October.  I’ll probably watch it at least two or three more times before Halloween actually gets here.  One of my  best friends has actually never seen it, so that needs to be remedied immediately.  How can you live 25 years an NOT watch the best Halloween movie of all time?  Seriously, there is nothing I don’t love about this movie.

You may have noticed that I left one Halloween cult classic off the list.  Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.  While I am a huge fan of the opening number, This is Halloween, I hate to say that I have never been able to get into this movie.  I’ve tried!  Believe me, I’ve tried!  So many of my friends just rave about it!  I guess I’m just not a Tim Burton fan.  I mean, I enjoy Edward Scissorhands and I liked his version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory better than the creepy original, but for some reason, I just get bored during most of his stuff.  I didn’t even try to watch Frakenweenie, however, because the freaking previews made me cry.

Happy October, everyone!

PS – I have sold 97 copies of Cemetery Tours!  Anyone want to help make that an even 100?  It’s on sale!  😉


How to Survive A Horror Flick

As I write this, I am watching Sinister with my mom and my sister.  I’ve been wanting to see it ever since my sister, who is not easily spooked, declared it the most disturbing movie she’d ever seen.  So disturbing, in fact, that she told me that I wasn’t allowed to see it.  She thinks I’m a wimp because I got scared watching The Woman in Black with Harry Pot – I mean Daniel Radcliffe.  

I won’t deny that this movie is very disturbing.  But my sister told me so much about it, that I knew what to expect, so I’m pretty okay right now.  What usually scares me most about horror movies (like The Woman in Black) is when things jump out and surprise you.  I am very easily startled.  My sister is a bit smarter than I am, so she gets freaked out by all the deep, twisted psychological stuff.  Me?  I scream every time something pops out of the darkness and yells, “BOO!”  

Anyway, watching this movie, I realized that characters in these horror flicks would have a much better chance of survival if they stuck to a few basic guidelines.

1.  Don’t go in the attic.  Nothing good ever comes from going into the attic.  The same goes for the basement and especially the woods.  NEVER EVER GO INTO THE WOODS.       

2.  Never tell the antagonist or psychotic stalker or crazy killer that you’re going to call the police.  When you’re in a situation with an antagonist, you don’t provoke them.  You tell them exactly what they want to hear, play along, so that as soon as they leave, you can make a run for it.  Then call the police.    

3.  Don’t try to be the hero.  It’s never pathetic to ask for help, especially from someone who knows what they’re doing.

4.  On the flip side, if you are a side character in a horror movie, never offer to help the protagonist, especially if you are the only person who can help.  You will always end up dead at that pivotal moment when you are the protagonist’s only hope.

5.  The moment you realize there is something wrong, bail.  Get the heck out of the haunted house or creepy forest as fast as your feet can carry you.  

Bonus:  Don’t marry crazy artists or writers who get so obsessed with their craft that they go crazy.  



Today was relatively uneventful.  I’ve been sick with some sort of upper respiratory thing since last Saturday.  I was better yesterday, but this morning, I woke up with another sore throat.  Hopefully it’s just having one last hurrah before it finally leaves my body once and for all!  Or at least until next time… 

On a more writing-related note, I’m going to meet with the woman who edited my manuscript on Monday.  I’m very excited to hear her thoughts and critiques.  Slightly less excited about editing again since it always takes a lot longer than I think it will, but I am looking forward to taking the final steps to improving my book and hopefully getting it ready to send out to agents and publishers (that is, if they ask to see it).  I guess that means my next step, after editing, will be writing a really outstanding query letter.  

Easier said than done.  

In the mean time, here are some scandalous confessions.  

1.  I don’t like reading, writing, or watching action scenes.  I think they’re so boring.  

2.  The only classic old movie that I really enjoy is White Christmas.

3.  I despise Hagrid from Harry Potter.  I resent him for living while all of my favorite characters ended up dead or earless.  

4.  I’ve never seen the original Star Wars trilogy because Yoda scares me.

5.  My favorite movie in the world is Titanic and I still bawl my eyes out every time I watch it.

6.  Ironically, I’ve never watched Titanic all the way through.  I always skip the beginning because sunken ships also scare me.  

7.  Whenever I start a new story, I create a specific playlist on iTunes that I think would be the soundtrack to the movie.  When I actually start to write that story, everything plays out like a movie in my head, and I write what I see.  

8.  I don’t understand anyone who thinks that Katniss should have ended up with Gale.  

9.  I tried reading A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle in elementary school but I stopped because I got jealous of Vicky’s ability to communicate with dolphins.  I finally read it at the beginning of 2010 after watching the Disney Channel Original Movie on YouTube.  It is now one of my very favorite books.  

For the life of me, I can’t think of a Number 10, so I think I’ll just get back to writing my new manuscript and leave it at that!  

Until next time! 🙂