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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

What I Was Into in January

January - usually (to me) the dullest month of the year. I hate to say it, but this year's version of January seemed to be no different. I guess that is just the nature of January, more often than not...at least for me. The cold weather (usually) combined with the return to the monotony of day to day life just somehow drags January down for me. Do you know what I mean? I suppose some people enjoy the new start but I'm such a huge fan of the Christmas season that it takes me almost a month to readjust to "regular" life after December ends. Plus...my living room looks so sad without my twinkling Christmas tree. *sigh* Onward! January is the month to hole up and watch good TV, see some movies and read a few good books - which is exactly what I did.


Books I Read

Insurgent by Veronica Roth - Book number two in the Divergent series; I started this book shortly after Christmas when I'd finished the first part of the trilogy and to be honest, I wasn't 100% sure where this was going. Warring between the factions and the revelation that there are far more "divergent" individuals than anyone thought. As I mentioned above though; I didn't know where the book was going to go but I guess I really didn't see it taking the turn it did. I have to say that nothing about the books has really been what I expected. They're good...but...I don't know; I just can't put my finger on it.

Another series down....

Allegiant by Veronica Roth - This is the third book in the Divergent series and I have to say...I REALLY wasn't expecting the book to go this way. Genetic experiments and government controlled "civilizations" that are watched 24/7 via remote cameras. Absolutely fascinating...but NOT what I thought was going on after the end reveal of book two. I had seen a lot of things online where people were irate about how the book turned out in the end but I have to say that I didn't mind how it ended. I thought it made sense, even if it was sad...or maybe bittersweet is a better way to put it. I'd recommend this book series to anyone who liked the Hunger Games series; its similar but varies enough that it's interesting. Granted; I don't like this series nearly as much as I liked the Hunger Games. I guess that's not a rave review, is it? Oh well, I did enjoy them.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle - I read this here and there, a story at a time since they're basically short stories that are only a few pages long. Investigations, deductions and solutions all in just a few pages - what's not to like? It's also interesting to me to find similarities between the stories and what I watch on TV; especially since the back of my book says "The game; Watson, is afoot!" Absolutely delightful!

Books in the Queue

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard - This book was on the Buzzfeed list of 16 Books to Read Before the Movie adaptation came out. I don't have much time to get busy reading this one because the movie comes out January 31st. A short plot summary: Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited. I'm pretty sure I'll end up seeing this one before I finish the book...although the book is short, so maybe I'll get through it quick! Either way, I can't wait to read the book because it sounds great!

Hey - my book looks like this!
Winters Tale by Mark Helprin - Another book from the Buzzfeed list; the minute I saw a preview for this one I knew I had to read the book! A short synopsis from Wikipedia: Set in 1916 and present-day Manhattan, Winter's Tale follows the story of Peter Lake. Peter Lake is a thief who falls in love with Beverly Penn, a dying girl who has tuberculosis and occupies one of the houses he breaks into. Lake is saved from the insane Irish gangster Pearly Soames and his henchmen by Athansor, a mysterious white horse who becomes his guardian angel. Also, Jessica Brown Findlay plays Beverly - and in case you weren't aware, that's Sybil...from Downton Abbey. I bought this book recently though and yeah...it's going to take some reading because it's huge. The movie comes out February 14th and something tells me I won't be done with the book by then.

Beyond the Wall/Winning the Game of Thrones - These are both books written about the series Game of Thrones; one is a set of essays about different characters and what motivates them while the other book is a series of essays about life in the fictional setting of Westeros. I guess I'm fairly nerdy in my love for all things Game of Thrones and I can't wait to read these books and see what other people just like me have to say about the series. 

The proof of my nerdiness - I read books that de-construct other books I've read.


Can't Miss Television

Sherlock - Oh, it's back! I won't deny it, when it came on Sunday the 19th, I text my sister the message "SHERLOCK IS ON!!! *running in circles through the house*. So yes, I like Sherlock just a little bit. And Benedict Cumberbatch is only part of the reason I like it just a little bit, I promise. The pay-off for fans was finding out just how Sherlock survived the fall that ended Series two...and let me tell you, while there were a couple theories thrown around, they didn't actually confirm it 100%! It didn't matter though; there was so much greatness to be had in the first two episodes ( I mean, the reunion was both heartfelt and hilarious, drunk Sherlock and John was priceless and that best man speech; if you weren't moved...you have a heart of stone) and the finale is this Sunday and I'm sure it won't disappoint...although I kind of fear what the viewer is in for because the first two episodes have been so wonderful and funny, the finale will probably rip out my heart, stomp on it a little bit and then shove it back in my chest to wait two years for series four. Oh well. I also have to say, I've loved the addition of Mary to the show; I wasn't sure about it but I absolutely love her! Well - three weeks of excellent television have (almost) come and gone. Here's to series four...even if it takes another two years!

Look John....just look. There's Sherlock, he's back!
Downton Abbey - which just a month ago I had never watched before in my life. I have to say, the second episode of this season really put me off. I won't explain why because maybe you watch it and haven't seen that episode or you plan to watch it one day or you could care less...but I am seriously hoping that the season gets better because the first few episodes have been a little bit depressing. The season took a bit of an upturn this past Sunday but there is still so much to resolve. What will Bates do to the man that hurt Anna? Is Edith pregnant...and has she been abandoned by yet another man? Can Mary find love again? Will Alfred get into cooking school? And most importantly, what is that new ladies maid Baxter up to with Thomas? Oh Downton, always so full of intrigue. Also, I want to hear baby Sybil say uh-oh about a thousand more times because that was the cutest thing I've ever heard in my life.

And yes - you've read all of this correctly so far - I will NOT be watching the Super Bowl in full on February 2nd because while I'm willing to record Downton Abbey and watch it later, I will NOT miss Sherlock. Because that is just how I roll. No matter what's happening come 8:45, I'll be on the way home to be in front of the TV for Sherlock at 9 PM! I will be cheering for the Broncos though!


Movies I Watched

Oblivion - Well this movie was...kind of weird. Which is saying something because I tend to like Sci-Fi movies pretty well, but the story line here was kind of...I don't know, it didn't pan out very well for me. It's about a post-apocalyptic Earth where humans have all been moved to something called the Tet, a space station orbiting Earth while two person teams serve five year terms on Earth protecting the power stations that operate the space station. Of course, one of the team members gets a little too curious about Earth being "radioactive" and uninhabitable and the story unfolds from there. I'll be perfectly honest and tell you that I watched this because I was bored on a Friday night and I knew Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was in it - and he's my favorite Lannister on Game of Thrones. Ha-ha! It was a good movie I suppose but I guess it seemed like at the end, the problem resolved itself really quickly/easily. If you like Sci-Fi stuff and need something to pass the time - watch Oblivion. I enjoyed it...for the most part.
Oh yeah - Tom Cruise was in this...which...eh. But Nikolaj? Yep...I'm good with that.

Admission - This movie was suggested to me by a co-worker and I'm really glad I watched it. It had two of my favorite comedic actors in it: Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, who I would honestly watch paint the walls because they are both hilarious. The movie is about an admissions officer at Harvard (Tina Fey) who is encouraged to give a slightly odd young man at a less than conventional high school a chance to get in to Harvard. The twist is that the man that runs the high school (Paul Rudd) is convinced that the young man is the admission's officers son that she gave up for adoption 17 years earlier. The movie was funny but also really touching and had a little bit of a love story thrown in too! I really enjoyed this movie and if you're looking for something that has a little bit of everything, this should be your pick!

August: Osage County - Oh my, such a good movie! Granted, only if you really enjoy watching people act their butts off. I should first mention that I didn't think in a million years that this movie would come to Meridian (or Philadelphia) so when I randomly perused my Fandango app on a Friday night and saw that it was in town, I bought a ticket immediately. The movie follows a dysfunctional (seriously...they have issues) family after the disappearance and subsequent death of the family patriarch; when these folks get together, things just get downright volatile. Having said that, there were a lot of funny moments in the film as well and the acting is just incredible - of course Meryl Streep is amazing...but then when is she not? Julia Roberts stole the show for me though, my Momma made me a big Julia fan from a young age, so I'm always happy to watch her movies. The cast as a whole is so strong and the movie is very entertaining; but if you like your movies to end with everything resolved and wrapped up in a bow, this movie may not be for you since it ends with many loose ends - but then, sometimes life is like that, right?

Excellent movie. Amazing acting. Loved it.
The Fifth Estate - I wanted to see this when it came out last October but of course, it didn't come to Meridian or Philadelphia (surprise, surprise) and so I've been waiting for it to hit Redbox or Pay Per View. I got lucky on my snow day and discovered it was on Pay Per View, so I settled in to watch it! The movie is about Julian Assange and Wikileaks and the movie itself was actively hounded by Julian Assange himself who fought to keep the movie first from being made and then from being released. It's easy to understand why once you see the movie - and while it's been noted that the movie portrays Assange in a "good" light - Assange is a daunting figure. If the movie is to be believed, he is a man committed to revealing the truth, no matter the cost, no matter the people he alienates. I am intrigued by the very idea of the movie; that we are the Fifth Estate; we are, at this point in history able to actively take part in the news that is released, how it s released - which is an eye-opening concept in an age where news media can be twisted to please certain people and paint others in a more compelling light.

Really interesting movie...I still think Julian Assange looks absolutely crazy...even played by Benedict Cumberbatch. 
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone - What a weird movie. I love Steve Carrell and so I recorded this when I saw it was coming on HBO one weekend and when the snow day of January 28th was extended to at least noon on January 29th, I decided to stay up a little later and watch it. Parts of the movie were only slightly funny but I thought the character that Jim Carrey played was alarmingly similar to Criss Angel/David Blaine; as in, he did things that weren't necessarily magical but were just strange human feats. As goofy as the movie was, I do agree with the general plot line - magic isn't stupid human feats, it's illusion and sleight of hand. That being said, I'd maybe only watch this if you wanted to watch something pretty mindless. Ha-ha!


Music I Listened To
Music from Series One & Two of Sherlock - I'm on a major Sherlock kick right now, so I've been listening to my Sherlock CD's almost non-stop this month. This is mostly the only thing I've really wanted to listen to but it's also because I just haven't found too many songs this month to listen to....except one...

Number 7 - easily my favorite track!

Pompeii by Bastille - which was introduced to me by my lovely little sister. The catchy beat has been great for my new found exercise habit and so I definitely have been cranking this song up when I'm on the treadmill. I was rocking out to it a few Saturdays ago, walking Watson out at the lake and Watson's steps happened to be  in sync with the music...which cracked me up. So, whether walking a dog, walking on the treadmill or just rocking out in my car, I do love this song!

Yummy in My Tummy

This one is ironic because honestly, the only thing I've been eating for the past month is supper each night. I guess I'm getting insane quantities of fruits these days though since the shakes I have for breakfast and lunch are pretty much fruit with shake mix and almond milk. So...I haven't exactly eaten anything that just blew me away. Except when I made myself some chicken enchiladas one night - because you can't ever go wrong with those!

Almonds are suddenly a thing though. I have to eat "sensible" snacks and I've never really loved almonds very much but I discovered Blue Diamond Habenero BBQ almonds and I could eat those by the bucket load. They also make Toasted Coconut almonds and those are pretty darn delightful as well.


What I'm Looking Forward to in February

I guess there are a couple things I'm looking forward to in February. First of all, my office has kindly decided to start giving each one of it's employees a Friday afternoon off with pay, on a rotating schedule of course. My first Friday afternoon of freedom is on the 21st, so I'm most definitely looking forward to that. Whatever will I do with a whole Friday afternoon? Well, that leads me to one of the other things I'm looking forward to...

Some movies! I'm really looking forward to seeing two movies in February. The first thing I want to see is Winters Tale, the movie adaptation based on the (huge) book that I'm going to start reading soon! The other movie I want to see is Pompeii, a romance/action-adventure type movie set in the city of Pompeii on the days building up to and the day of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Pompeii comes out the very day that I have the afternoon off, so something tells me I've already found myself something to do on my afternoon off!

No love letters...but maybe a package?

Lastly - I suppose I look forward to aspects of Valentine's day. Obviously I have no special someone in my life but my parents always send a nice little package of goodies for Valentine's day and I always anticipate seeing what my sweet Dad and Mom have picked out each year. So, while I may not have someone to love on the special day...I do have quite a few people who love me! 

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