Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ermyrgrrrdddd! Sner!

Happy Tuesday, y'all! 

For us down here in the South, it is a particularly happy Tuesday indeed.  We're having a SNOW DAY! 

See? Proof!

I know, it isn't a lot of snow; but an inch of snow down here in Tuscaloosa cancels classes and jobs for the day, so it is definitely worth celebrating. Unless you're Liesel. 

She isn't the least bit amused.

I should be taking this opportunity to read my little heart out; however, so far I've:
A. Taken a nap
B. Eaten a sandwich
C. Watched television

Oh well. We can't win them all.  Maybe I'll get started reading before the day is out... Oh look! Josh is home with dinner! ;)

Stay warm, love bugs!

Meet Liesel

Hey there, angel faces! 

I hope y'all had a fantastic weekend and a great Monday!  I went in to last week convinced that I would have a second video up by Thursday, but then I received an email that changed my plans entirely.  So, what was I doing instead of filming and editing?  Well, I was driving four hours to a city in Georgia to pick up this beautiful girl.  Without further ado, I would like you to all meet Liesel!








Liesel is a ten-week-old Siamese who was found in the cold with such a severe upper respiratory infection that her eyes were matted completely shut.  Unfortunately the people who found and helped her couldn't keep her, so her life was once again at risk of ending abruptly at a high-kill shelter.  Cue the dramatic rescue music!  I hopped in the car and brought this little beauty home with me.  She's an absolute angel (unless she's around our other cats!).  The introduction process has been a bit of a struggle.  With the addition of Liesel we are now up to five cats, which is quite a handful.  Bimini, our twelve-year-old female, and Hyde, our seven-year-old male, had to accept two new youngsters back in September when I found Nyx and her brother Griffin on the side of the road.  When we couldn't find them new homes, we added them to ours permanently.  They didn't love the older cats when they first arrived, but they did have each other, which, as it turns out, was a huge help to their adjustment.  Liesel is not adjusting as quickly since she is on her own facing off against four others.  We are pretty good at this by now, so we are starting off really slow; however, even when she's attempting to "play" with the others, she is in a constant state of hissing and growling.  At least she's an absolutely doll when she's just with me and Josh! 

We're happy to do what we can for strays when given the opportunity, but we will never be able to do enough.  We are confident that Liesel will eventually love the rest of our furry family, and I am sure there will be more rescues that will join us in our future. 

I'll keep you all posted on how everything turns out with our little princess!  Hopefully I'll get a couple videos up by the end of the week.

Lovelovelove!
-Jess

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Spook's Apprentice: A Review (Originally posted 7/6/13)



Book Review:
Hi there, sugar beans!  I took last weekend away from this little love nest for work and I finished the book late Sunday night; however, I am just now getting around to writing this review.  Why, you ask, my precious panda princes and princesses?  'MERICA!  That's why.  I'll fill you in on the happenings of this week in my next post.  Without further ado, let's get into the goods!

PLOT: In my previous post I briefly touched on what Joseph Delaney's The Spook's Apprentice was actually about and left off with the main character joining up with the Spook to be his apprentice for a one-month trial period.  The story only got better from there.  I was instantly drawn into the macabre atmosphere created by Delaney and the circumstances surrounding the main character, Tom Ward's, peculiar abilities.  We follow Tom into a haunted house (where his teacher once lived) and the Spook's witch-plagued town of Chipenden (his current residence) through which Tom gets a better understanding of the Spook's bizarre life.  The work is hard, often terrifying, definitely life-threatening, and above all lonely.  The boys in the town are mean to him because of the group's threatening leader, and the only girl he encounters turns out to be a witch.  Although he is warned to avoid any girl with "pointy shoes", Tom is drawn to the young witch Alice and quickly falls victim to her trickery.  When Alice saves him from the pack of wily youths, he makes her a promise to help her out whenever the time may come.  Well, the time comes pretty quickly.  Tom is inevitably tricked into freeing the scary old witch Mother Malkin, whom the Spook has trapped in a hole on his property because killing her would be more dangerous than keeping her somewhat alive.  *SPOILERS* Tom realizes his grave error a moment too late.  Bony Lizzie, another extremely deadly relative of Alice, has tricked the Spook into going away, leaving Tom alone and vulnerable.  Mother Malkin manages to escape and Tom is forced to go after her on his own.  With a bit of luck and new-found confidence, the young apprentice is able to defeat Mother Malkin but not without killing her body thus freeing her soul.  It's quickly revealed to Tom that Alice is actually a pretty descent little witch and her behavior does not exactly reflect on her character so much as it does the strength and terrible power of her elder witch relatives.  The Spook is not as certain as Tom, and upon his return sends her home with Tom to meet and be evaluated by the mysteriously gifted Mrs. Ward.  This is basically where shit really hits the fan.  Tom knows the spirit of Mother Malkin has taken a new form, a form that could already be after him.  Oh boy, is she ever after him.  Not long after returning home, Tom comes face-to-face with the old witch when she takes over the body of the Ward's pig slaughterer.  Using his knowledge of salt and iron, the young apprentice expels Mother Malkin from the man's body and the rest of taken care of by the family pigs, who eat her in a her slithery form and kill her for good.  So we are made to believe, anyway.  I'm not buying the fact that she's gone.  She just seemed way too awful to have been killed so easily; however, that's a debate for another day.  The witch is defeated, but this leaves the Spook to deal with Alice.  He hands the decision over to Tom.  Although he has battled with how he really feels about Alice, his mother believes that she is neither purely good or purely evil, rather stuck somewhere in between the two.  Tom predictably decides to send her off to live with her somewhat "descent" witch aunt on the coast and takes her the distance himself.  The story leaves off guaranteeing the reader that Tom and Alice will be meeting again very soon and I cannot wait.  Tom returns home at the end of his trial run and decides to take on the full apprenticeship.  Boom, story over.  Let's really discuss!

OPINION: Let me begin by saying THANK YOU to those of you who fervently recommended this book to me.  You guys are awesome.  I loved this book, and I can say it as simply as that: I loved it.  Delaney does such a fantastic job of creating this creepy setting while simultaneously making you truly love his characters and want to invest in the story itself.  It was a relatively short read and I thought it still managed to be well-written.  I must also say how terrifying some parts were.  This book was completed between the hours of 2am and 5am, which was either a horrific mistake or a perfect companion to aid the tale.  Tom Ward, bless his heart, experiences some hair-on-end moments in this book.  Suddenly my cat would make a noise and I would go from this scary story to jumping clear out of my seat.  I am also a big wuss who is easily scared, so maybe it's just me.  Either way, reading about a deformed old witch rising out of the river and grabbing someone's leg gives me the willies.  Rating: 4.8/5.0 - LOVED IT.

CHARACTERS: While it takes you awhile to get to know the Spook, I really ended up liking him.  His life has been hard, which is something that makes me also like Tom Ward so much more.  He knows how hard his job is going to be, but, as young as he is, he knows it is necessary and accepts that.  In addition to those two, I liked what I saw of Alice as well.  She comes from an extraordinarily powerful family of witches and has shown that she has the propensity for both good and evil inside of her.  I am stoked to see her come back (hopefully) in the next book and see how she develops as a character throughout the series (a suspicion I had confirmed by seeing the last book of the series entitled Alice).  Let's talk about Tom's freaking mother.  *SPOILERS* You are left at the end of the story realizing Tom's mother is a lot more powerful than even the Spook realized.  He has a little chat with her after hearing how she was able to silence the ghasts near their home, something that is apparently near to impossible according to the Spook.  Is she a witch?  She is clearly something of a prophet, but Delaney leaves us hanging.  The Wards are otherwise pretty innocuous as characters.  Tom's oldest brother is a bit of a dick but his wife is a doll and always super kind to Tom, at least until their newborn baby almost gets killed and she bans him from ever visiting during the night again.  Also, the Spook's super religious, spook-hating brother was a pretty big asshole in his brief appearance in this book.  But enough about him.  Who was my favorite character, you ask?  Oh, that's an easy one: the Spook's freaking boggart.  It opens the doors, cleans house, makes dinner, and ends up saving Tom's life in the end.  How freaking adorable is that?  He/she loves compliments and takes the form of a cat that purrs when it is happy.  I mean, come on.  Hands down.

WHAT'S NEXT?  The Spook's Curse, the second book in The Wardstone Chronicles, is presently on its merry little route from Amazon land to my house.  It is expected to arrive in the next two weeks, but I really need it right now.  Like right meow.  It is extremely frustrating that Barnes and Noble does not carry this series because I would have easily purchased another copy of it just to begin instantly reading the next part.  So what's next for Tom?  Well, if you are me, perhaps Mother Malkin isn't as dead as we think.  Will she return? We will have to wait and see.  It is clear that Alice will come back into Tom's life at some point, so that is terribly exciting.  What path will she chose?  Also, what the eff is Tom's mother?  When will we see the Spook's brother again, and what kind of trouble will that meeting bring?  To where did Bony Lizzie run off?  We know she holds a pretty damn good grudge, so we will certainly be seeing her again.  What's going to happen between Tom and his family?  They were super freaked out by his job, so much in fact to keep him visits restricted for hours of the daylight.  Tom has a ton left to learn and will no doubt be getting into all kinds of life-threatening trouble in the next story; but what will become of him?  I guess we will just have to read and find out.

That's it for now, angel faces.  Thank you all for reading and have a wonderful Saturday!

   Jess

P.S. You can now send all book/movie recommendation to: thejessdujour@gmail.com

The Spook's Apprentice (Originally posted 6/28/13)

Well hi there, sugar beans!  Did the title of this post make your pants get a little shorter?  I know mine did the second this sexy little edition appeared in my mailbox!  How gorgeous is this cover?!  I was instantly in love.  All of you have told me so many wonderful things about this series for so long.  It took me forever to get, but I finally own this little beauty!
The Spook's Apprentice is the first book is Joseph Delaney's The Wardstone Chronicles, an expansive series currently spanning twelve novels with two companion books.  If you are here in the good ol' U.S. of A., you probably have heard of the series but under the name The Last Apprentice.  It's like the United Kingdom's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; and, once again, the UK has the better cover art.  (In case you haven't gotten it yet, it's the same series but it goes by another name here in North America.)  This frequent suggestion came from Harry Potter fans who needed another series in which to become enthralled and depend heavily upon for friendship, emotional support, and fictional love interests once the HP series came to an earth-shattering end back in 2007.  Many of you have been familiar with Delaney's novels since The Spook's Apprentice appeared in 2004.  For the rest of us, this was a welcome discovery and, so far, one I have become thankful for having recommended to me.

So what's this mess all about?  (*This does not contain spoilers*) The first novel in The Wardstone Chronicles introduces you to Tom Ward, a thirteen-year-old farm boy from The County.  What makes Tom special is that he is the seventh son of a seventh son, a significant event orchestrated by his mother who, like Tom, can see ghosts, spooks, ghasts, and a whole cast of other-worldly things that go bump in the night.  His unfortunate talent, coupled with his financially crippling role as the youngest of seven brothers, lands him the position of the Spook's apprentice.  Spooks are reclusive and mostly avoided, if not entirely feared, by everyone due to their special gifts and terrifying occupation: they remove the nightmarish creatures that often plague citizens and keep everyone safe in the darkness.  In spite of their important roles, Spooks are friendless people and Tom begins his apprenticeship unsure of his commitment to the profession and of what awaits him beyond The County.

This is all I am going to deliver up front, for those of you hiding behind your hands and attempting to casually read this between your fingers.  No spoilers here, no sir no how.  Why, you ask?  I haven't finished reading!  In fact, because this book just arrived in the mail, I am not even to page fifty.  I took this book with me to the gym and read a little while I was on the treadmill.  Do not fear, my angels; I will review this book once I have finished it.  I wanted to introduce you to this novel before my hectic work weekend begins (since working thirty hours does not usually yield frequent blog posts).  Hopefully I can squeeze in a little time this weekend to finish this so far delicious little story and deliver the goods to you all on Monday.

Until then, my panda princes and princesses.  Thank you for reading and have a glorious Friday!

    Jess

P.S. You can send book/movie recommendations to my new email address: thejessdujour@gmail.com

Bonjour! (Originally posted 6/27/13)

Hello, sweet sugar peas!  Welcome to my latest project.
"But Jess, you already had a blog!" 
I know, angel faces; I sure did. 
"So what's the deal, J?" 
Well, little lambs, you wanted more of a centralized, less scattered account of my ramblings - who can blame you? That is the idea behind a new blog. Sometimes it's better to just start over, kna'mean? I will go back through blogs of the olden days and extract book and movie reviews to place here, so those will not be lost forever. The super obscure ramblings are not going to be missed. 

The biggest announcement is: YOUTUBE! Ask and you shall receive, my panda princes and princesses. You've all been asking for ages: "Why don't you BOOKTube?!" The truth is, I have considered it greatly over the past year. I am still not 100% sure this whole experiment will be successful, but I am certainly willing to give it a try. The new blog "thejessdujour" is also to help link my future YouTube channel of the same name. See? I'm just simplifying matters for our whole little family. 

It may be weeks/months before I learn how to video edit and all that jazz; however, in the mean time, you can keep up with new blog posts here and get a healthy serving of Jess du Jour!  

As usual, thanks for reading, sugarplums. Have a BEAUTIFUL day and I'll see you all tomorrow.

     Jess

 P.S. You can now send all of your book/movie suggestions to: thejessdujour@gmail.com