31 January 2014

Movies I Saw in January

Scoop: I do so love Scarlett Johansson.  And Hugh Jackman.  This one was really funny, a 6. I will need to check out the other ones she did with Woody Allen.

Surrogates: We saw this one in Spain; it was on one of the the BBC channels one night after several Doctor Who episodes.  It was ok.  In the future, people use robot bodies they control while they get to stay home and be safe from everything.  It was ok, not fabulous though.  a 4. 

A Good Day to Die Hard: not so good.  Really not so good.  It was kinda like someone had a script for a Bourne movie or some generic modern action movie and decided to change the main character from the agent to the agent's dad and make him John Mclane.  Watch the car chase near the beginning then turn it off.  a 3 only because we had fun making fun of it.

27 January 2014

Books I read on Vacation

I got a lot of reading done on our trip.  After all, we were on planes for probably 24 hours total, plus of course the waiting around in airports.  Also, I didn't seem to need naps as much as the rest of the group so I had some time to myself.  Throw in an afternoon on the beach where the water was too cold to swim and I got a LOT of reading done.  It was really so nice. 

I reread ALL of Sherlock Holmes.  Sort of.  I started this at Christmas but finished up in Spain; I probably did about 40% on this trip. I think the first thing I bought on my Kindle was a "Complete Sherlock Holmes" set because I have been wanting to reread the stories since the Sherlock BBC show started a few years ago.  It was a joy to reread these stories and fun to realize just HOW MUCH they are mashing into the BBC series.  Big chunks of Sherlock's Best Man speech from this past season are taken straight from "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier", one of the two stories in the canon that Sherlock Holmes narrates.  a 7!

So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane: cute and it made me cry. This is the first book in a middle grade series.  Nina and Kit are young wizards in training, receiving this knowledge via books they've found individually, titled So You Want to be a Wizard.  In an attempt to retrieve a pen stolen by a bully, they end up becoming entangled in a war.  There's adventure and some timey-wimey stuff and it really is a lot of fun.  a 6.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrsson- A reread for me. I even posted about it on this blog back in 2010.  Still intense, even after seeing two different movie versions.  worth a read.  a 6.

Nothing O'Clock by Neil Gaiman: actually a short story, or maybe a novella, written for the 50th.  An Eleven and Amy story.  Cute, coooooool villian and, like most of Gaiman's work, I wished it was a bit longer!  a 6. 

26 January 2014

We went on Vacation to Spain



Picture heavy post ahead!

We went to Spain.  We left Nashville on 1/18 and got to Malaga on 1/19.  The overnight flight from NYC to Madrid wasn't bad; I mainly read my Kindle and got a couple hours sleep.  Then we were in Madrid for about 4 hours, in uncomfortable airport chairs and just couldn't sleep.  Once we got to Malaga, B's parents picked us up and we drove to the resort in Marbella, maybe 40 minutes away.  We ate and slept for a few hours and then both of us seemed fine and pretty much jet-lag free!  Monday was also a low key day; we went to the beach and B actually went into the ocean!  It was a chilly 60 degrees and he got right back out.
I only stuck my feet in
B at the beach the second day we were there.  
Beach Chairs

The bit we were on was very stony

Now with Mountains!
B's parents at the beach restaurant
The shuffleboard court was right outside our suite.

 On Tuesday we went to Gibraltar.  We took a taxi tour up to the top and back down, then wandered the shopping district and got some fish 'n' chips.

Yoga Monkey
B and our Taxi Driver Denny.  And a Barbary Ape
B and his new friend.  The taxi driver had asked if we wanted to have a monkey picture like this and we said no.  But the monkeys are so trained (they get treats when they do this) that this one took the initiative himself and climbed B's clothes.
One of the peaks

a bay

Shipping and the cable car cables

Great shot of my hair.  Also, B's mom and a bit of Gibraltar!
Other peak and monkeys
B's parents
 









Elevate another 3 degrees!
Ready for food!
 
I was exhausted.  According to B's mom, we walked over 10,000 steps this day.


The next day we went to a little mountain town, Mijas, to see a flamenco show, which ended up being canceled.  The town was pretty though!
B's dad
 
Very Pretty


crowded streets

Can't imagine living here

Steep

another great view

A church

 
B chillin' in Mijas

Thursday we went to The Alhambra.  About a 2 hour drive from our hotel, The Alhambra is a Moorish palace in Granada.  They started building it in the 9th(!) century and continued through the 15th century, when it became Spanish. It was a gorgeous place and so OLD!  I thought Vermont felt old before I went here. 
 
Me, looking at the ceiling

Alhambra and Grounds

More Fountains
The Lion Fountain

A "starry" ceiling.  This looked so amazing in real life.  It was really high up and the room was quite dark so you really had the impression that this was the night sky.
There were a lot of fountains and water features

Also, the ceilings were all cool.  B took some great 3D pics with his camera.

A Niche

Courtyard with Pool

Of course, I bought book-related souvenirs.  Washington Irving stayed at Alhambra in 1829.
Friday we went to Fuengirola as I wanted to drag everyone to a Roman archaeological site.  We parked at the beach and walked to the site.  Then we went back to the resort beach and sat in the sun.  Finally, we sat at the bar for dessert and sunset!
One of many, many roundabouts

Baths

Baths again
B at the Baths
The Fuengirola beach was more sandy.

I'm not frowning.  B had me look straight at the sun for this picture. 

It's going
You can see Africa! 
part of the resort

On Saturday we flew home, which was pretty good until NYC when it became awful.  Overall though it was an amazing trip.  These are not even a tenth of the pictures we took but I hope it gives a bit of an overview.  We had a wonderful time and I learned:
  • I've got a damn fine sense of direction
  • Spanish general food (OJ, Jam, sauces) are less sweet than I'm used to
  • Spanish sweets are awesome
  • I also really like English sweets, though i only managed two flavors of Cornetto
  • Having 1 and 2 "dollar" coins is pretty cool
  • You are supposed to soak salted cod for 24 hours before trying to eat it
  • I don't mind hot tubs if they aren't too hot.
  • I'm getting much better about flying.
 Hope everyone else had a great week!

05 January 2014

Anna, Dressed in Blood

Continuing my attempt to get a better understanding of Young Adult lit, I finished up Anna, Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake last night.  I was actually almost done with it before our vacation but I just couldn't justify taking it with me on the trip for only the 45 minutes it would take me to finish the book.  The entertainment-to-weight ratio just didn't work out.  

 It, like many YA books, moves FAST.  People meet one day, are best friends the next, and are fighting monsters together 2 days after that.  It's a bit strange because it doesn't have to be that way.  In this book, Cas travels from town to town with his mother, killing ghosts.  Ghosts that can kill people.  He gets to Canada to tackle a ghost named Anna and finds out she is more than a match for him.  Luckily, she falls for him.  It gets quite complicated after that.  

It was an ok read.  Not the best YA i've read but certainly not the worst.  I'll be looking up the sequel.  a 5.

04 January 2014

The Faithful Executioner

Happy New Year everyone!

After hardly reading any non-fiction last year, the first book I finished this year was a non-fiction book!  Back in October, I went to the Southern Festival of Books.  While waiting on the Sherlock Holmes panel, I decided to see a Vanderbilt professor, Joel Harrington, speak about his book The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century.  

The details about Franz Schmidt (the executioner of the title), his life and profession were absorbing.  Yes, there's a bit of blood and guts involved but it isn't sensationalized. It is really interesting.  Nuremberg, where Schmidt worked most of his life, was actually one of the more progressive cities in Germany.  It avoided almost all of the witch craze and had a big emphasis on laws and order.  At that time there were no prisons, just jail for temporary things (like pretrial or between trial and the execution).  Most of the people executed were longtime offenders and many had killed people themselves.  But it's the story of the executioner's life that really involves the reader. It is noble and tragic and real.  Definitely worth a read.  a 6.