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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas & An Announcement

Quick post to say Merry Christmas to all of my followers, and to direct them over to this blog's new home - Coffee, Classics, and Craziness.  I've been thinking about transferring over to Wordpress and/or changing my blog title, and with the new year just around the corner, I figured now was as good a time as any.

See you there!


P.S. I will be leaving this blog up, since I only transferred a select few of my posts onto the new one.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Very Best Time Of The Year

Don't you just love this time of year?

Sometime around November 15th and right on into the New Year, there a certain feeling in the air.  Something atmospheric, hard to describe, and very, very special.  There's an energy in the year fed, I suppose, by brightly coloured lights, a unique type of music called 'Christmas songs', the cold and snow (or slight chill in the air, depending on where you live), the smell of all sorts of delicious baked goods, and a million and one other things that all combine to create what we call 'the Christmas season'.

Christmas Cookies.

My family doesn't really do a Christmas tree or decorations, mistletoe or the Yule log, lots of presents on Christmas Eve/Day or Christmas songs blasting through the house non-stop.  But I still fully appreciate Christmas and everything it means and stands for - to the point of driving my siblings crazy by saying at least three times a day "I just love this time of year!" or "There's such a great atmosphere in the air around Christmas time."  In some ways, I wish this little sliver of the year would never end, even though it wouldn't be the same if every day was Christmas.  Anyway, I just wanted to share a little bit about what this time of year means for me, what it is specifically for me.

Christmas is...
  • Jesus' birth.  Now, I don't believe that Jesus was born on December 25th, but that doesn't mean I can't remember and celebrate His birth at this time of year.  There are so many beautiful Christmas carols that commemorate the miraculous occasion and I love listening to them or singing them in church.  Because without God giving His son to us, there wouldn't be any point to any of this, would there?
  • Christmas songs.  The old ones.  As in, 40's and 50's.  Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller...especially Glenn Miller.  I started listening to his music a few days ago because he's mentioned in a Jack Cavanaugh book I like, as well as a Combat! episode (go figure), so I was curious.  And then I watched 'The Glenn Miller Story' yesterday and, well, I've had the songs running through my head day and night.  I love old music so. much.  40's swing?  Doesn't get much better than that.
  • Cold air and snow.  Just take a good, deep breath.  I love tramping through the snow and breathing in that clean, winter air - so cold it hurts your lungs (in a good way).  There's nothing like crisp, invigorating air on a snowy, winter day.  Am I right?
  • Trees and trimmings and lights.  I go to the mall, and there's huge green ornaments strung from the ceilings, Christmas trees around every corner, pine branches above the warm yellow lights, sparkly red and green giant reindeers on different levels...all of it contributes to the Christmas atmosphere.  The neighbours have their lights out, and it's all so pretty - the reflection of the coloured, sparkly LEDs on the snow.  One of my favorite memories of my family's three year stay on a small farm that was close to one of those nosy, cozy country towns was the enormous display of Christmas lights in the town park.  Every time you drove through the town, you'd see the glowing spectacle in all its glory and it was really something.
  • Christmas spirit.  Everyone's so much more cheerful, friendly, and generous.  It's beautiful.

So, if you want me, I'll be snuggled in a comfy chair with my favorite sweater on, a cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream in my hands, watching 'It's A Wonderful Life'.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 12, 2014

Becoming Nikki Blog Tour: Author Interview

Remember when I blogged a cover reveal for Ashley Elliott's debut novel, Becoming Nikki?  Well, it's really, actually here.  Right here.  Or here.  Check it out, guys (girls?).  It's a great novel and I know ya'll will LOVE it.  You can also enter to win a signed copy here, through Rafflecopter, or here, through Goodreads.  But I highly recommend you purchase it too.  Support a budding author and all that. (*winks*)  Anywho, the real purpose of this post is part of Ze Fabulous Blog Party that Ashley has going right now. (well, actually, it's pretty much over - I'm at the very end of it...not that I mind)

I knew I wanted to do an interview with Ashley, but I also knew that I wanted it to be unique.  And so did she.  We put our two minds together (scary thought!) and came up with the idea (well, it was mostly her doing) of conducting the interview via Skype chat.  So, that's what we did.  It was lots of fun, made the interview more interesting (in my humble opinion), and you'll be able to see a bit of our mutual craziness and fangirlyness (that's not a word, right?) because of the format.  Without further ado...the interview!
So, Ashley, tell me and my blog readers a little bit about yourself!
Whhhhheeeell, my name is Ashley, I'm 20 years old - SO OLD! - and I'm a writer.  (Duh.)  I'm also a reader, a musician, a singer, a fangirl, and a movie-and-tv-show-binger.  I'm the second oldest of six and I'm currently pursuing a degree in Humanities through CollegePlus.
And could you tell us a little bit about your new book, Becoming Nikki?
Becoming Nikki is about a girl named Nikki and her brother, Alec.  They ice dance together - which is kinda like ice skating - except it's the only thing they have in common anymore because their relationship is falling apart.  Then, as the result of a swimming accident, Alec loses his memory and Nikki is given the chance to rebuild their relationship from the foundations.  However, she struggles with how much she should help him, and if she should hide anything from him...  Either way, she knows her life will never be the same.  DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN.
Wow.  That sounds...dramatic.
I know, right?  Especially when you add in the DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.
With all that drama, you must've had some pretty interesting sources of inspiration.  Care to share what they were?
Indeedy.  Well, I first started loving ice dancing after watching the 2010 Winter Olympics and I've been obsessed with Meryl Davis and Charlie White ever since.  Pretty sure they're what keep me inspired with Nikki.  As I wrote Nikki, whenever I needed inspiration, I'd either take a break and eat some chocolate or I'd watch a video of Meryl & Charlie ice dancing.  :)
I haven't watched much ice dancing, but I loved reading your descriptions of it in Nikki.  I think the only time I've watched any ice dancing was one woman dancer during the Olympics who danced to some music from Les Miserables.  That's about it.
Oh, it was SO hard to write those!  I am not an ice skater by ANY means - whenever I do it, I always hold on to the railing - but I love it, and I'm kinda-sorta-okay-TOTALLY obsessed with it, so I watch the videos over and over and over until I feel like I've got it just right.  Oh, and I'm also a perfectionist, SO.  : P  Oh, cool!  Meryl and Charlie did a Phantom dance that was just fantastic.  I love it when they do their dances set to music I know!
Well, if the ice dancing scenes were some of the hardest scenes for you to write, what was one of the easiest?
All of the scenes that were only with Nikki and Natalie, her best friend.  I feel like I'm some kind of weird combination of Nikki, who is very introverted and shy, and Natalie, who is absolutely hilarious and makes friends with everyone.  Those scenes were the easiest to write because it was like writing out of the different sides of me.
I love Natalie!  She's one of my favorite characters.
Me, toooo!  People keep asking who my favorite character is and I honestly can't decide!!!  I always say Bennett, though, because he has a special place in my heart.  ;)
Okay, what about top THREE favorite?
Okay, I can do top three.  ;)  Nikki, Dylan, and Natalie are my top three.  Then comes Bennett and Alec.
Wait a sec.  It's been so long since I've read the book that I've completely forgotten who Bennett is. *sigh*  So...who is he exactly?
Hahaha, it's okay.  Bennett is Natalie's ice dancing partner.  I'm pretty sure Natalie and Nikki met through ice dancing.  Bennett and Natalie aren't quite as good as Nikki and Alec, but they're better than most.
Ohhhhh, that's right.  Now I remember.
He’s awesome.
He is.  Anywho...moving on with all the interview questions (*wink*) what is it you'd like people to take away from Nikki?
I think of Nikki as a relationship book.  It's about how to mend relationships that are falling apart and how to heal broken relationships.  But it's great because it's not one of those boring, non-fiction books that talks about relationships and how to fix them and is just totally yawn-worthy.  It's told in a story format.  I read this great quote once about stories... let me see if I can find it....  Ahh, yes.  Here it is.  "If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten." - Rudyard Kipling.  I could go on and on about this because stories are something I'm really passionate about.  But I won't.  ;)
I love that.  Both your answer and the quote.  It's so true!  I remember more from reading a good historical fiction novel than ten non-fiction books.
I know, right?  I think I've learned more about history through stories I've read - like Les Mis and The Scarlet Pimpernel and Dickens and Austen....
Except when it comes to Unbroken.
I'm so glad I recommended that to you, so we can fangirl over it together.  ;)  Guys, if you haven't read Unbroken, DO SO.  As soon as possible.
Definitely.  So, hey, I just thought I'd ask you about your newest writing project - The Art Of Letting Go.  Do you think another self-publishing is in your future?  Or TRADITIONAL publishing?
Ooh, yes.  Good old TAoLG.  *rubs hands together*  Part of me wants to take the easier route and just self-publish it myself, but part of me - the Natalie/adventurous part - wants to try and do - DUN DUNNNN - the traditional route.
That would be awesome!
I know!  It's just incredibly daunting and scary....
Lastly, just for fun, what's your favorite book?  Movie?  TV show?
Ahhhhh, Evaaaaaa.  You KNOW I can't pick a favorite book, movie, or TV show.  No, wait, you know what my favorite TV show is.  ;)  But let's go from the beginning.  One of my favorite books - because I can never narrow it down to an exact Number One Favoritest Book Ever - is Unbroken.  Which we've already glossed over.  It's an amazing story of survival, redemption, and forgiveness.  And I love it.  My favorite movie is....  Oh, gracious, I don't know!!!  Let's go with /Captain America: The First Avenger/ because I LOVE IT SO MUCH.  Because Steve is one of the greatest guys on the silver screen and his story is just... *sigh*  Amazing.
Yes.  I love him so much.  Definitely my favorite superhero.
Duh.  Absolutely.  He blows everybody else out of the water... except maybe Peter Parker.  But that's another blog post topic for another time.  AND MY FAVORITE TV SHOW IS BOY MEETS WORLD AND I DON'T EVEN NEED ANY TIME TO THINK ABOUT IT.  It's one of the most feelsy, powerful, and funniest TV shows I've ever seen.  Bar none.  The end.  Amen and amen.
Ah, YES.  I've got to watch more episodes with you.  SOON.
ABSOLUTELY, YES.  THE SHAWN DRAMA, EVA.  SHAWN DRAMA.  I just found out that Eric's going to be on Girl Meets World, and I did a blog post on it, and I'M SO EXCITEDDDDDD.  The episode of GMW that Shawn is in is premiering tonight, but I can't watch it because (1) I don't have the channel and (2) Even if I did, I can't watch it because I have a concert tonight.  : (((((((  I'll find it on YouTube tomorrow.  ;)
Well, I know you could talk about BMW all day, but time's running out, so we should probably wrap up this interview ;)
Hahahahaha, yeahhhh, I could.  ;)  Well, thank you so much for interviewing me!  This was fun!  :)
It was!  Surprisingly. (I'M KIDDING)  I can't wait to read BN in all its revised glory :)
Haha, it's much better than the version you had to read.  ;)
But that was still awesome.
Well, I'm glad you thought so!
Yep.  That's us.  Two crazy peas in a pod of feels and fandoms and friendship. (*grins*)

Again, the link to buy Nikki is here.  Go do it.  You know you want to.


Ashley Elliott is a writer, reader, musician, photographer, tree-climber, and Leaguette. She speaks fluently in movie quotes and spends most of her time fangirling over her latest obsession. In her free time, she enjoys laughing with her friends, laughing over Christian indie films (but secretly loving them), and laughing with her five crazy siblings. Ashley is a homeschool graduate and is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Humanities through CollegePlus. She lives in Georgia with her parents and siblings, and doesn't have any pets.


Friday, December 05, 2014

Movie Review: Saints and Soldiers

Saints and Soldiers - Christian Movie/Film on DVD/Blu-ray.

Based on actual events, Saints and Soldiers tells the gripping story of a small band of Allied soldiers trapped behind enemy lines with information that could save thousands of American lives. Outgunned and ill-equipped, they battle a frigid wilderness and roving German troops in order to smuggle the critical intelligence back to Allied territory.

I blame my brothers.

They were the ones who got me to watch this film in the first place.  They'd seen it before and detailed all the funny parts in such a way that I wanted to see it too.  I wasn't really interested in WWII at the time (that would come later), but I had an empty night that needed to be filled and since there was nothing better to do, I decided to give Saints and Soldiers a go.  I thought it would be a typical, somewhat boring war movie that was peppered with funny moments.  No.  No, no, no.

For the first hour or so, things were fine. (except for the initial massacre scene which was cry-worthy)  A band of soldiers trying to get important information behind enemy lines.  There was excitement and danger and few moments that made me choke up a little.  There was characterization.  There was plot.  There was, I'll admit, humour.  And none of it was boring.  All good, right?  Then came the last half hour of the film and, honestly, it's like act two of Les Miserables.  People started dying, lots of people, all the characters I'd come to care about, and it was awful.  As in 'staring at the screen and ugly crying' awful.  Oh...I just remembered that I actually knew about one character's death, because my brothers told me, but I totally forgot about it until it actually happened.  That was horrible.

I never asked for any of it!  I thought it was just going to be a regular war movie, like the ones from 'the olden days', where none of the main characters died, the mission was a total success, and everyone went on their merry way by the end. (actually, I take that back about characters never dying in old movies - have you seen The Devil's Brigade?)  Nope.  Not happening.  And then I re-watched it a few days ago, thinking that maybe it wasn't so bad as I remembered.  It was.  It was actually worse, because whenever I laughed during the funny scenes, I felt guilty because the screenwriters take all the funny moments and turn them into something absolutely heartbreaking right near the end. (trying to stay away from spoilers mainly for you, Ashley)  Whyyyyyy???

There will be never be a day I don't feel emotional about Deacon.

Okay, okay.  I guess I should try to write this like a proper review.  So I'll talk about the characters.

If I can manage to do that without bursting into tears.

Seriously.  I have so. many. feelings. about each and every character.  There's Deacon, the shell-shocked anti-hero who never misses a shot (except once...), who read his Bible and prays, who never kissed his wife until their wedding day (UGGGGGH.  My heart.  Melted.), who just found out his wife's expecting a baby, who's tortured by memories of a mission gone wrong.  Deacon is my favorite character and I doubt I'll ever be able to pass a day without having feels about him.  He's one of my favorite fictional characters, period.

Then there's all the other characters.  Gunderson, the sergeant who I didn't expect to like all that much but ended up liking nearly as much as Deacon.  Kendrick, a Southern private who lends comic relief to the film.  Gould, the more-than-a-little obnoxious medic who has the biggest character changes of anyone.  And Winley, the British flight sergeant who carries important information in a handwritten code only he can read (so they kind of have to get him back in one piece).

Filmed in a month, on a budget of less than a million, Saints and Soldiers is still one of the finer war movies I've ever seen.  The story, perhaps, isn't the most original - a small band of soldiers have to get important information back to their lines - but it's presented well and the acting is phenomenal.  A lot of indie films have less than stellar actors and actresses, but the casting director for Saints and Soldiers pulled together an amazing cast.  There isn't one moment, in my opinion, where the acting faltered.  Especially not the death scenes, which are kind of hard to pull off without being cheesy.

All in all, Saints and Soldiers is an excellent war movie, an emotionally satisfying story, and a triumph for independent films everywhere.  I can't recommend it highly enough.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

I'm Baaaaack!

My new favorite thing.  TOTALLY.
Well.  I really don't know how to begin this post.  There are tons of things I want to write about, but where to start?  I guess I could share the fact that I won NaNoWriMo.  Again. (second time in a row!)  I've also written two blog posts in the past month (here and here), wrote some fan-fiction along with my NaNo novel, watched some new movies, read some new books, and just generally have had an amazing month.  Oh, and I also changed the blog design because I was bored, but it's not doing anything for me, so I'm going to change it again.  Probably something Frozen-ish, because it's that time of year.

I've read a lot of books during this past month.  The entire Great Awakenings series, While We're Far Apart, the Legend trilogy, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Giver, the YA adaption of Unbroken, Insurgent, and Allegiant.  DON'T EVER READ ALLEGIANT.  And I'm not saying that as a weepy, distraught fangirl who adores the series and is completely heartbroken over Tris' death but still thinks it was the right thing for her to do.  No.  I didn't cry, I found Tris' death incredibly selfish, and the entire book was one long, angsty bore-fest.  And then I hear that they're splitting it into two movies.  What-?  Why-?  Why would you do that?

On the up side, most of the other books I read last month were great.  To Kill A Mockingbird (ahhhh, I keep typing 'mockingjay') especially.  As soon as I read the book, I watched movie, and I now love both the book and the movie.  And Atticus.  And Gregory Peck.  I also read The Giver in preparation for the movie (which was great) and I think this last read-through really cemented my liking and admiration for TG.  It took about four re-reads for me to really get it, but I'm glad that I finally have now.  Anyway, the movie was good.  Not one of my top favorites, but it was a much better adaption of the book than the trailers showed.  And TG hasn't been rooted in my life since childhood, so I probably don't feel as strongly about the changes as most other fans.

Exclusive: All New ‘The Giver’ Challenge Starts Now! Find out the next phase!

I've also watched a slew of animated films recently.  Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2, Madagascar 2, Madagascar 3, How To Train Your Dragon, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2...a bunch of movies like that.  The only one I really liked and thought rose above the typical animated movie cliches was HTTYD (hence the blog design).  Oh, and Cloudy 2 was pretty good as well.  Not as much as the first movie, but when are sequels ever better?  I miiiiight review both Cloudy movies some time, along with HTTYD and Kung Fu Panda - maybe another one of those 'favorite animated movies' posts. (KFP was okay.  I enjoyed certain elements of it, but it's not an overall favorite.)


Oh, and I watched Saints & Soldiers last night. (second time)  ACK.  I love it and hate it at the same time.  My next post will probably be a review, so there'll be more details there about why I have such a big love/hate relationship and what it's all about.  But let me just say that for an indie film with a budget of less than a million, the creators of S&S did an outstanding job.  Absolutely outstanding.  Annnnnd speaking of WWII movies, I've also been watching Combat! a lot.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned the show on this blog before or not, but you'll probably be hearing about it semi-frequently, as it's my current fandom.  I wrote some fan-fiction surrounding it for NaNo, and for me, that's a big sign of how obsessed I am.  If I write fan-fiction for a show or a book or a movie, I'm pretty 'into' it.

And that's about it for now.  Just a little update post that I hope to follow-up quite soon with a regular blogging schedule.


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