Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - A Movie Review

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - The Movie

Logan Lerman is gorgeous, but man, this movie was about as bad as the first one.

You can tell they had a bigger budget, which showed in nice ways, but man.  The cheesiness.

This series, written by the amazing Rick Riordan, is one of my favorites.  They are amazing books and Uncle Rick never disappoints.  That being said, the movies suck because Riordan had nothing to do with them.

The films had SO MUCH POTENTIAL because these are epic books with tons of action and awesomeness.  Sadly, they just come off as really cheesy and straight-to-DVD-esque. 

The best part about these movies was Stanley Tucci who is one of my favorite actors.  He was an amazing Dionysus and portrayed him so perfectly.  I also enjoyed Hermes, played by the great Nathan Fillian. 

I know this is a really horrible review, but I'm trying not to tear this film apart and say it wasn't good in nice ways.

Let's focus on the positives:
1. Logan Lerman
2. Bigger Budget
3. Stanley Tucci
4. Nathan Fillian

If I were in the 7-10-year-old range, I would probably love these films as much as the books.  Too bad I'm old and cynical.  If you're in my boat, just stick to the books.

Rating: 2.0/5.0



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud: A Review

Book Review:
Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud


Hello, lovebugs!  Lately I've been in the mood for a new middle grade book or series, so I decided to go browse the children's section at my local Barnes & Noble last week.  I've always been a huge fan of Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Sequence, so when I saw his name and a brand new book behind it, I knew this was the book for me.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Bartimaeus Sequence...

1. The Amulet of Samarkand (2003)
 2. The Golem's Eye (2005)
3. Ptolemy's Gate (2006)
4. The Ring of Solomon (2010)
 
This four-book series tells the tale of young magician-in-training Nathaniel and the 5,000 year old djinni he summons named Bartimaeus.  It's all about magic, power, and revenge with political undertones and very strange friendships.  (This was originally a trilogy but Stroud wrote a fourth book back in 2010 and voila!  It became a sequence.)  I'm not going to give you an elaborate overview of the series since I'm writing a review about something entirely different, but know that these books are awesome.  Awesome.  Read them.

Back to the story! 

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase was staring at me from the shelves when I rounded the corner at Barnes & Noble and my hands reached for it before I knew what was happening.  I was ecstatic!  I had no idea that the amazing Jonathan Stroud had begun a new series!  The Screaming Staircase was published last year and its sequel is already due to come out in two months!  The fates were surely smiling upon me during that shopping trip.  I headed to the cashier, drove straight home, and hopped in my bed to begin my new book.  Do I even have to tell you?  I finished it in one sitting.

PLOT: 
Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud is the first book in a new paranormal/mystery/horror series that takes place in an extremely haunted version of our modern day London.  In this world, ghosts have been a huge problem for the past fifty years.  No one knows what caused "The Problem", but the sudden onset of ghostly appearances across the country has created a sudden need for Psychic Investigations Agencies to take care of these spectres.  Naturally, not every ghostly presence is dangerous; however, there are more powerful, angry spirits who are known to cause a ton of trouble or even death.  These spirits require the attention of child agents to find and destroy the cause of each haunting.  These jobs are extremely dangerous, and, because adults cannot see ghosts, children who show a proclivity to the profession are often trained from a very young age by ex-agents.  One of these children is the young Lucy Carlyle.  Lucy heads to London in search of a job within the bigger agencies of the city.  After many failed interviews, Lucy gets a job at the small firm of Lockwood & Co. lead by the charming young Anthony Lockwood.  They quickly land a case with a very dangerous spirit that goes awry and leads to the burning down of their client's house.  Their carelessness with the ghost of Annie Ward makes finding work nearly impossible with the bad publicity they receive.  They find themselves desperate for work and a way to turn their luck around. 
*SPOILERS* What's worse for the agents of Lockwood & Co. is that Annie Ward's ghost continues to cause trouble.  Confident they did their job correctly and bound her spirit, the young agents are eager to finally put her to rest.  When they begin looking into the Annie Ward's murder for answers, they are suddenly hired by a rich philanthropist who owns Combe Carey Hall, perhaps the most haunted house in the world.  Desperate for money and a case to save their reputations, the agents are torn between what's best for the agency and the best for their lives.  Is this a stroke of good fortune or could it be the death of them?  Lockwood makes the executive decision to take the case, bringing them face-to-face with the Screaming Staircase and the Red Room, two of the most haunted areas of Combe Carey.  They agents of Lockwood & Co. find themselves fighting for their lives as they take on hundreds of disgruntled spirits in the most dangerous battle they have ever known.

OPINION:
This book was non-stop excitement and mystery.  There is constant action and intrigue that leaves the reader dying for more.  Jonathan Stroud is so freaking good at laying out a book in a way that guarantees his readers come back for the rest of the series.  On top of the excitement and mystery, this book was TERRIFYING.  These ghosts, especially the ones of Combe Carey Hall, are frightening!  It was a ton of fun to read at night, but it was also something I probably wouldn't recommend to those faint of heart like myself.  I called Josh to ask him to come home from the library after I finished this late at night because I didn't want to be home alone.  What I loved about this was the fact that it wasn't just scary.  I actually do not like to be scared.  I don't like scary movies, I typically stay away from scary books, I don't go to haunted houses, etc.  It just isn't my thing.  That being said, this book had so many other aspects going on that I really enjoyed the horror too.  I was eager to find out what would happen next and I just couldn't put this book down!  There was a ton of character development but also unanswered questions.  We get to see a lot of what these characters are growing into, but there's still so much to learn about their past and families.  This book gets a 5.0/5.0 stars from me!
 
 My only issue with the book was the title The Screaming Staircase.  The book is more than half of the way over before the staircase is even mentioned.  Yes, it does become a huge part of the ending, but until that one specific part, the majority of the story is about Annie Ward.  This doesn't take away from the story AT ALL, I just thought it was oddly named.

CHARACTERS:
Lucy Carlyle and Anthony Lockwood are also teamed up with George, a pudgy, annoying character who constantly reminds me of Ron Weasley eating chicken legs in the Great Hall, except that I love Ron.
 
Sure, he had his own contributions and minor character development in the story, but I'm going to leave him out of this because that isn't what interests me.

Let's chat about Lucy.  Lucy Carlyle comes from a considerably nasty background where she isn't really loved or valued among her many siblings, but she has always had a gift when it comes to "hearing" the spirits in her town.  This leads her to a job under an ex-agent that leads to a grizzly event and her decision to leave home.  What we see with this story is Lucy returning to a team that she loves and trusts.  She really begins to come into her gifts and we can expect to see a lot from her in the next novel.  *SPOILERS* It was heavily hinted that, though no one has been able to in fifty or so years, Lucy is able to hear the ghosts much like another beloved, notable female agent of the time.  She isn't able to hone in on this power until the very end of the book when she converses with the skull, which brings us to the next book in the series entitled The Whispering Skull.  The ending tells us that we can expect great things from Lucy in the next installment.  Lucy also has yet to share with Lockwood what became of her last team of agents.  Surely that is going to lead to some dramatic moment in the near future.

Anthony Lockwood is a mystery.  He is an incredibly charming and gifted agent who takes initiative and always seems to have himself together.  *SPOILERS* He is also surrounded by a huge, empty house that once belonged to another generation of Lockwoods, about whom he refuses to speak.  Clearly something terrible happened to his parents that will be revealed before the end of the story, but, as for now, your guess is as good as mine. 

Further Speculation: Will romance bloom between the two?  It's hard to say at this point.

WHAT'S NEXT?
Well, if you read the spoilers, there are a few secrets that will hopefully be shared by both Lucy and Anthony.  We may even get to find more about George now that we know he isn't totally useless.  The biggest thing, of course, is the development of Lucy's gift.  Surely this next book will focus on her abilities and how they will change the course of ghost-hunting in its entirety.  Also, at some point they need to discover what happened to start the ghostly appearances in the first place.  What began "The Problem" and how can it be reversed?  I would love to see more focus on the WHYs behind the hauntings versus just getting rid of the problem without asking questions.  

For now we must wait on book two, Lockwood & Co.: The Whispering Skull that comes out on September 16th of this year.
It goes without saying that I can't freaking wait.

I hope you all enjoyed this review!  Please feel free to leave and questions of comments down below.  If you've read this book, did you enjoy it?  How about the Bartimaeus Sequence?  I'd love to hear from you!

I hope you all have a fantastic day, and, as always, thanks for reading!

- Jess

P.S. Further questions or book suggestions can be sent to me at: thejessdujour@gmail.com



Saturday, July 5, 2014

Meet River

Hello, folks.

For the two of you who read this blog, you've probably noticed that I haven't been around for awhile.

Well, this is why.

Meet River, the newest addition in the Tibbs clan:





















This beautiful bundle of joy is our recent rescue and the absolute love of our lives.  She is a golden retriever and, as of today, is fifteen weeks old!  Yes, she's going to a big girl!

We adopted River from a shelter in Louisiana where she was due to be euthanized within the next twenty-four hours.  We made contact with someone in Mississippi who met us half-way and hopped in the car at once to get her.  Adoption has become such a huge blessing and we are thankful for all of our adopted/stray babies.  

House-training and training a puppy in general is time-consuming, especially when added into our already busy school and work lives.  Imagine all of this with five cats as well.  Yep.  It's no wonder that I've been busy as hell.

The bigger and smarter that River gets, the more time I'll have to focus on blogging, filming, and reading.  I've missed it but I'm also happy spending my time with my furry family.

I hope that the stories of my furry rescues will influence you all to look into adoption before shelling out hundreds of dollars supporting the business of breeding animals.  Goldens are my favorite breed and River looks pure bred; we were able to save a puppy in need and get our dream dog at the same time.  There are plenty of "designer breed" puppies and kitties in need of adoption at your local shelter.  You can also check websites like petfinder.com if you're in search of a specific breed.

I hope you have a beautiful day and thanks for reading!

- Jess

Good Morning, Universe!



Good morning, beauties!

It's been awhile.  How have you all been?  Hopefully as spectacularly as me. 

I've become one of those people who wakes up at 5:30 every morning (for reasons that will appear in my next post) and I get to see a lot of early morning beauty.  Today I wanted to share my morning with you. 


This is the view over Tuscaloosa, Alabama (5:45 AM) and it is a lovely sight.

I've always been a sucker for sunrises and sunsets - so many of us are!  I have tons of sunset photos that I took when I was a child with my coveted disposable cameras. They've always meant so much to me. 

Life has begun shifting in unexpected ways lately, so the rebirth of this day will undoubtedly become the theme in my near future. I'm not sure what is planned for me and Josh, but we are on the edge of something in both our occupational and educational lives. 

I know that's awfully vague, but I don't know much more than that myself. Change is building. Graduation is in sight. Relocation is inevitable. 

What comes next?  No one knows but Him, and I can't wait to find out.  Until then, I'm waking up with the dawn and rejoicing in every day I have in my sleepy town. 

I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. 

- Jess



Monday, May 19, 2014

Regan Has Too Many Books, the Read-A-Thon

Good evening, fine folks!

As stated in my previous post, I will be participating in Regan from Peruse Project's (YouTube) read-a-thon that she dubbed "Regan Has Too Many Books".  This was a kind of spur-of-the-moment thing she decided to do so it's meant to be more relaxed than this past week's read-a-thon.  Everyone will be using the hashtag #shitihavetoomanybooks to connect on the Twitters.

This gives us all the perfect opportunity to hack away at our to-be-read piles.  Heck, let's make every week a read-a-thon because I have about four hundred books in my house that I haven't read.  (I really wish I were joking.)

What do I plan on reading this week?  That's a grand question.  I don't want to make a huge, overly specific list for the week; however, I'm going to make a few books my priority.

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling



I started reading this book during the BoB RaT last week but only made it 217 pages.  Only 435 to go!  Man, I sure am loving this re-read.

2. The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman


3. The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman


4. Damned by Chuck Palahniuk


This is one of the two books by the beloved Chuck Palahniuk that I haven't read.  He's one of my absolute favorite authors and I cannot wait to get into this book!

So there you have it!  I may stray from these four if the mood strikes me, but this is what I think I'll get to this week.

Are any of you planning on participating in this Regathon?  Let me know down below what you're reading this week!

As always, thanks for reading!  Have a marvelous night!

- Jess 


 

Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon Wrap-Up & Bob the Rat

Good evening, lovelies!

The Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon has officially reached its close!  Congratulations to us all!  We made it!



My initial B.O.B.R.A.T. (Bob Rat... isn't that awesome?  I'm using this forevermore!) goal was ten books.  That seemed a little steep to me too; however, I did manage to read seven!  I'm not overly impressed with myself, but I'm pretty content with that many.

Let's review:

1. The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman - 156 pages; rating - 5.0/5.0 stars
2. The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman- 218 pages; rating - 5.0/5.0 stars
3. Let The Storm Break by Shannon Messenger - 381 pages; rating - 3.75/5.0 stars
4. Doll Bones by Holly Black - 247 pages; rating - 4.0/5.0 stars
5. The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present - 215 pages; rating - 4.0/5.0 stars
6. Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate - 201 pages; rating - 2.0/5.0 stars
7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (re-read) - 870 pages; rating - 5.0/5.0 stars

I also began re-reading the sixth Harry Potter book, so here's my progress with that as well:

8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling - 217/652 pages

This brings my book count to 7.3 and my page count to 2505.

I don't exactly feel like I read THAT much, but seeing those numbers makes me feel pretty darn good about this week.

How did y'all fair in your reading challenges this week?

Regan from Peruse Project on YouTube is having a low-key, unofficial read-a-thon this week to keep the reading flow going, so I may participate in that one as well.  It starts tomorrow (well, technically today) so we will see how many books I can read this week!

Please let me know down below what you read this week and, if you've read any of the books I read, what you think of them!

Thank you all for reading and have a GLORIOUS night!

- Jess

 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon Update [Day 5]

Good evening, folks!

How goes the reading?

Mine obviously isn't going too great because, as you can tell, I've been spending a lot of time on the Internet!

Thankfully I had a really good reading day and I'm now up to the following books...

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

 

 I am so thrilled to be re-reading this series this year because these books are just SO GOOD.  I can't wait to re-read them for a third time.  This book is my favorite of the seven, so I especially loved diving back into this world and experiencing Dumbledore's Army and Professor Umbridge all over again.  Naturally, this book gets another 5.0/5.0.

6. Doll Bones by Holly Black


Holly Black does creepy very well in this coming-of-age adventure story of three pre-teens in North-Eastern America.  I was expecting this to be either super creepy or not creepy at all because of the middle grade quality; however, the balance is perfect.  You get creeped out, but aren't terrified.  Doll are just creepy, especially those haunted and made from the bones of a dead little girl.  Yep.  Creepy.  I gave this a 4.0/5.0.  It hit home in more ways than one and it was just an overall entertaining read.  I recommend it!

7. Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger


This book is the second book in the series and I found it just as entertaining as the one before it.  It isn't like these books are beautifully written - they aren't; however, they are so different from so many YA fantasy novels.  Sure, the basic plot points are the same, but this book is about SYLPHS.  They are these people who can control the winds and do some pretty kick ass things by wielding its power.  You still have your typical bad guys, good guys, and high school romance, but Messenger also presents you with something that is entirely unique.  The story kept me invested and I can't wait for the next book.  I gave this one a 3.75/5.0.

I'm only seven books into my reading goal, but I'm still pretty proud of it.  Hopefully I can make one final push and get a lot read over the next two days!

Good luck to all of you participating!

Have a beautiful night!

- Jess

The Heroes of Olympus: The Blood of Olympus Cover Reveal

'

This post is pretty self-explanatory. 

Isn't this cover a beaut?

I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait for this book to come out this fall.

We're counting down the days, Uncle Rick!

What do y'all think of the cover?  Which one is your favorite of the series?  Let me know down below!

Have a lovely evening!

- Jess

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon Update [Day 4]

Hello, beauties!

I hope you are all having an amazing week of reading.

My reading goal for the Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon was ten books.  So far, I've read 4.5.

That isn't horrible by any means, but I am now staring a full weekend of work in the face, so I don't know how many books I'll make time for over the next three days.

Here are the books I've finished so far:

1. The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman


I'm not entirely sure if I am going to review these volume by volume, or if I'll wait and do a brief series re-cap when I reach the end.  Either way, I can say that these books get better and better with each volume.  They offer so much beauty and darkness within each one.  I'm a huge fan and give this one a 5.0/5.0 stars.

2. The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman





Again, I loved this volume and it somehow managed to be better than its predecessor.  I, of course, give it a 5.0/5.0 stars.

3. Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate


If you're a fan of the Fallen series, you may like these novellas as well.  However, if you're like me and only like the first novel and continued reading the series only out of a morbid curiosity, then do not read these.  They just weren't good.  I have no attachments to any of the characters whatsoever.  Had I just read the series, I would have liked them better.  Reading them so many years later was just a disappointment.  I hate to say it, but it was just overall pretty boring.  It gets a 2.0/5.0 stars in my book.

4. The Art of Maurice Sendak from 1980 to the Present by Tony Kushner




This book was extremely interesting, filled with a wealth of information I never knew about Sendak as well as a huge collection of his gorgeous artwork.  While the writing wasn't particularly engaging, this is a great read for fans of Sendak's work.  I learned so much about him and saw many pieces from collections I didn't know existed.  I gave it a 4.0/5.0 stars.

So far, I've only finished these four books.

I'm halfway finished with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but, as this is my favorite in the series, I am taking my time with it.


Are you guys and gals fairing well with your reading goals this week?  Comment below and let me know!

As always, thanks for reading and have a beautiful evening!

- Jess


Credit Card Fraud and Being Banned From Book Outlet

Having someone use your credit card to go on a shopping spree can be a financially crippling invasion of one's privacy.

Having that shopping spree be on something you love most in the world?  That's just a huge slap in the face.

At the end of last year I decided to check out this mythical place called The Book Outlet online.  I had a handful of $5.00 coupons given to me by a friend, so why not?  Who doesn't love cheap books? So I did, and they had cheap books galore.

Before I ever got around to placing my first order, I saw where around $500.00 had been charged to my credit card on The Book Outlet.  I only wish that would've been my order.  $500.00 on books?  Man, that'd be sweet! 

So I had my card cancelled, contacted the folks over at TBO online, and went through the necessary channels to stop the money from going through.  To make a long story short, I now have a new card and my credit card company ruled in my favor and credited the money back to my account.

However, I didn't realize until today that I am expressly forbidden from using The Book Outlet ever again.  I assumed that having a brand new card would solve the problem and I could create a new account and begin cashing in on their awesome deals! 

That isn't the case at all.

According to them, the fraud that I "claimed" on my previous card renders my purchases as liabilities.  Since the company took a hit and the merchandize was never accounted for, they do not want to risk any further orders from yours truly being fraudulent.

Now, being that I have a delicate disposition, this was a huge blow to me and my sensitive feelings.  This conversation hurt me!  "They're accusing me of lying? They don't know me!"

I suppose I never realized that TBO is such a small company.  Otherwise, I doubt this conversation would've ever taken place.  I mean Wal-Mart wouldn't care if they were in their shoes, but they're a huge corporation.  TBO apparently is not.

Naturally I have a friend who has an account and I order books through her account all the time, so it isn't a huge to-do.  It just sucks.

Now I have this huge shadow cast over me by book-lovers who think I'm a book thief, and not the wonderful Markus Zusak kind!  It's pretty disheartening.

Naturally by biggest heart-stabbing moment begs the question: "Whodunnit?"

This is where I totally sympathize with TBO. 

There were two separate orders placed on The Book Outlet that totaled over $500.00 and a handful on Amazon that, thankfully, I caught in time to cancel.

Here's the rub: TBO orders were addressed to me and were presumably taken by the crook himself. 

Do you follow?

They know me.  Or at least know of me. 

This makes things awfully personal.

Either:
1. Someone out there is my undiscovered nemesis who has intentionally been making life very difficult for me
2. It's just someone (local) who happened upon my credit card information by hacking into my
 computer/accounts
Or
3. It's someone I know, who possibly accessed my computer right under my nose and came back later for their stolen merchandize.

(In retrospect, I don't know how my credit card company filed in my favor.  The only thing I had going for my case was the fact that TBO was in contact ABOUT my orders with an unknown email address that is no longer in existence.)

I like to think I don't associate with a lot of crooks, but we've been known to throw many an unsupervised party where strangers have come and gone at their own volition.

Having folks steal from you sucks.

Having an awesome, outlet book store ban you sucks.

Yet there are lessons to be learned here.

For one, never put all of your information on a computer that doesn't have a password.  I trust entirely too much and this is definitely a huge mistake. 

In fact, don't have ALL of your information in ONE place.  Use complicated passwords that are hard to hack.  Never save any financial information that could be accessed by anyone.

Just be smart, folks, unlike me.

Have a glorious evening!

- Jess









Monday, May 12, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 Read-A-Thon

Hey, y'all!

At the very last minute I decided to participate in this year's Bout of Books Read-A-Thon!

 
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.

I'm pretty excited about this!  I have never done a read-a-thon before so I'm a little anxious.  I'm aiming for a very ambitious week of reading, but you never know how these things are going to turn out.  Here's what I'll definitely be starting this week:

1. The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman


2. The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman


3. The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman


4. The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman


5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling


6. Stormdancer (The Lotus War Book One) by Jay Kristoff


7. Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate


8. Written in Red by Anne Bishop


9. Let The Storm Break by Shannon Messenger


 10. Doll Bones by Holly Black


This is awfully ambitious, but why not, right?  It's my first read-a-thon so I might as well be a little crazy.

What are you guys reading this week?  Are any of you participating in the Bout of Books Read-A-Thon?  Comment below and let me know!

Thanks for reading and have a glorious evening!

- Jess