Thursday, December 30, 2010

Currently Reading: The Christmas Clock

Ah, the joys of the Christmas season. I love it. So much, in fact, that I am still reading Christmas stories. I wish I could prolong the holiday even more, but eventually, all the Christmasiness (yes, I'm making up words)
will be gone and I have to create it on my own. Right now, every thing is still in holiday mode since New Year's Eve is tomorrow (expect a resolutions type post soon!) and people are still visiting family and taking time off work. There are also lovely marathons happening on pretty much every specialty channel. I'm currently flipping between HGTV (Property Virgins) and Food Network (Challenges) while I'm writing this.

I just started reading The Christmas Clock by Kat Martin today and I absolutely love it. It was just released last October and I remember seeing it at work and wanting to read it. Unfortunately, I never got around to it. While I was working this year I happened upon it again and made a note so I would remember to check the library for it (side note: I finallllly got a library card!). Lucky for me, it was there!

I'm just over halfway through the novel, and like I said, I am in love with it - the story, the characters, the tone. It's a small book (eleven chapters, 145 pages, all packaged in a tiny hardcover) so if you're looking for a short novel to read next Christmas in between the five bazillion things you have to do, this is the one for you.

What I really love about this novel so far is that it has the true spirit of Christmas. Lottie Sparks is suffering from a form of Alzheimer's that is rapidly progressing and her biggest worry is that she will not be able to find a home for her eight year old grandson, Teddy, before she is no longer able to take care of him. She's slowly losing her memory, but every time she sees this old Victorian clock in a shop window she remembers her childhood. Teddy knows how much she loves the clock and desperately wants to buy it for her for Christmas.

The Teddy-Lottie storyline was the only one I knew about when I got into reading this, but there is actually a romantic story woven through as well. Sylvia Winters and Joe Dixon used to be in love and were engaged but all of a sudden, Sylvia up and left the small town and moved to the city. Now she's back in town and they are trying to figure out how to get used to seeing each other again. Both of them are in pain and it really gets to me the way things turned out with them. I desperately hope they can work things out.

I'll give you all an update when I finish the novel and let you know if it continued to be a fantastic book!

I hope you all had a magnificent Christmas (I sure did!) and have a Happy New Year as well! :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Believe!

If you've been reading this blog, or if you know me really well, you know that I absolutely love Christmas. There are a couple of movies that I love to watch every year and I've already been able to watch some of them...Love Actually, The Holiday...and have yet to watch a few more...The Santa Clause, Rudolph, Miracle on 34th Street. Another Christmas movie I make a point of watching each year (and what might be my favourite one) is The Polar Express.

Last night I finally got to watch it, and convinced my best friend, her boyfriend, and her sister to watch it with me. We had our Christmas gift exchange and it just happened to coincide with one of the best Christmas movies ever, how could we not watch it? I was the only one who stayed awake for all of it, but that's besides the point :)

I think I tend to forget every year why I adore this movie. It's not really for the animation (though it is really spectacular). What I love is the way it takes me back to when I was a kid and still believed in Santa. Although some of the details are a little fuzzy now, I remember my sister and I picking out the cookies for Santa and making sure there was a carrot out for the reindeer. We didn't have a fireplace, and since Santa could only come in through a fireplace, we created one out of these awesome brick blocks that we had (anyone else remember those?) Every Christmas Eve we would hang our stockings on the blocks and in the morning we would rush into the living room and our stockings would be stuffed full and placed beside the "fireplace." Life was good.

These days, our stockings are still pretty stuffed (yes, my sister and I are totally spoiled by our mom and Grandma) and we actually have a real fireplace. The thing that's missing? That unwavering childhood belief in Santa Claus. And that, I think, is why I love to watch The Polar Express. For a couple of hours I'm able to sit back and watch as a little boy is able to go from doubting Santa's existence to believing in him for the rest of his life. It's kind of nice, and I almost wish that I could still believe myself. Does that make me a little crazy? Maybe. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way.
The last lines in the movie are simple and so very sweet.
"At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe."
If any of you haven't seen this movie yet, I highly recommend it. The book's been a classic for years, and I think that the movie has already established itself as a classic as well. The story is timeless and that is what makes it so great. I actually love it so much that I actually bought it today! :)

Well, that is it for me tonight. I've got a Christmas card to make! Also, some packing to do. But that is slightly less fun.

Have a very merry Christmas everyone, and listen for those bells!

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Love Affair with Ron Weasley

Ok, so it's more of an imaginary love affair. Particularly as Ron Weasley is a fictional character, but, there it is. I love Ron Weasley.

Technically, this is Rupert Grint, but I love him too!

Don't worry, I'm not (totally) crazy. I just think the red haired best friend of Harry Potter doesn't get enough loving. So, to start off my post about the latest Harry Potter movie, I would declare my love for one Ronald Weasley.

Now that that's out of the way...onto discussing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. My sister and I went to watch the movie a few weeks ago now (on one of my many snow days) and I've been meaning to write about it for awhile but between snow days and working two jobs and it being, you know, Christmas, I've been busy!

I thought Deathly Hallows Part 1 was really well done and perfectly captured the dark atmosphere of the seventh story. The kids are growing up and facing things that no seventeen year old (magical or otherwise) should ever deal with. Anyone who has grown up with the story or is totally and completely obsessed with it will know what it was like to watch the intense scenes and get goosebumps. I remember tons of people (myself included) actually getting shivers from just the trailer! Rowling is a genius storyteller and I think the actors were able to perfectly capture what she was trying to describe in the novels. 

Emma Watson = amazing
One of my favourite scenes actually came at the very beginning of the movie. In the book, Hermione erases the memory of her parents to make sure they are not in any danger if they are ever interrogated by the dark wizards. This is just explained to Harry and Ron after the fact, but in the movie, they actually show her taking the memories from her mom and dad. I thought it was just so much more powerful to see this happening instead of just hearing about it later. My sister, on the other hand, didn't like it. But, this blog is about my thoughts, not hers! :)

Another scene that perfectly illustrates the fact that the characters (and actors) are growing up, is when Ron has to destroy the necklace. It is such an evil object that it manifests itself into everything that Ron is dreading, is jealous of, or is scared of. It was just an incredible amount of dark feelings (which we knew from the book) but Grint was able to really make us feel for him and then have us feeling happy/proud/impressed when he is able to finally destroy the Horcrux. It is a shining moment for Ron Weasley and I'm pleased with the way it was done in the movie. Is it any wonder I totally love this character?

It was sort of surprising (but it shouldn't have been) that some characters were barely in the movie. For example, Neville had a grand total of one scene and one line, and we only see Draco, Snape and Luna a couple of times. Part of that feeling probably came from the fact that I didn't know exactly where they were going to split the movie. My sister made a good point and said that they should have ended it as soon as they got to the Malfoy manor. I think that would have made a pretty powerful ending. The snatchers get Harry, Ron, and Hermione and then show up to the house with the grand gate in front of them, and then it ends. Intense, no?
Doesn't this give you chills?
I'm already looking forward to the next installment. I have a feeling I may lose it a few times and start crying when some very important characters die. I think that the final two films really gave the actors the chance to grow and tackle some very tough story lines. They have always been great, don't get me wrong, but since they've all spent so much time with these characters and have grown as actors, the performances were just that much more powerful.

I hope this post wasn't too rambling or off topic. Once I get started on Harry Potter, it's hard to stop! I also didn't want to give too much of the movie away. Besides, I'm not all about the typical "reviews." Hopefully I've convinced some of you non-Harry Potter people to at least watch the movies (how have you stayed away from something this amazing for so long?)

Enjoy the last few shopping days before Christmas, and good luck to my fellow retail salespeople. We'll get through the madness. I hope to write another Christmassy post before the actual holiday creeps up on me (by the way, anyone else totally surprised that Christmas is NEXT WEEKEND? Eek!). Have a great week everyone! :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge!

I've just started a challenge! It sounds like it could be pretty fun, and will provide a bunch of posts for my blog.
The blog Chick Lit Plus has just started this new challenge for 2011. (The page with all the instructions is here as well as linked on the right of my blog, if you haven't seen it) The basic point is to read 12 chick lit books throughout 2011, two of which need to be debut authors (that might be harder to figure out!) I read a ton throughout the year anyways so that won't be a problem for me. What might be difficult is choosing which ones to review on here!
I think it'll be a lot of fun because I'll get to read about what others are reading and pick up some new books and authors. I think that's a great thing about the blogosphere, how you can see what others are doing and read what they think.
Speaking of reading about what others think, stay tuned in 2011 for my reviews on my chick lit reads. And, if any of you are chick lit fanatics, or are looking for something new to try, join the challenge yourself!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Silver white winters that melt into springs...

...these are a few of my favourite things!

I had a couple of snow days this week and I got to thinking about my favourite movies, books, and tv shows. Yeah, I had quite a bit of time on my hands :) But come on, look at this picture of where I work (well, one of my jobs...and by the way, they barely ever get snow!)

Good times, no?

Anyways, back to my lists. I have decided to include the top five from each of the categories. Hope it's not too boring for you, but I'm in the mood to talk all about myself! Some of these were chosen because they really are beyond amazing, but others I really like because they're comforting and familiar and never ever get sick of them. So don't judge too harshly!


1. Harry Potter series
2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series
3. This Lullaby or Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (ok...I cheated a bit here, but I love all of hers, hard to choose just one!)
4. The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
5. Jessica Darling series - Megan McCafferty (Sloppy Firsts was the first...five in total)
What almost made it: Pride and Prejudice and Twilight Saga

TV Shows (fun fact, I own at least the first season of the top five)
1. Gilmore Girls
2. House
3. Bones
4. The O.C.
5. Glee
What almost made the list: Being Erica and Parenthood


1. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
2. Princess Diaries
3. Bull Durham
4. Lucky Seven
5. Pride and Prejudice
What almost made it: Devil Wears Prada and 500 Days of Summer

Disney Characters (for something whimsical)
1. Cinderella (the story was like a lullaby for me when I was young!)
2. Winnie the Pooh
3. Ariel (The Little Mermaid for you non-Disney folk)
4. Princess Mia (from The Princess Diaries)
5. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
What almost made it: Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)

Feel free to add your own favourites in the comments below! Can you think of any other lists I can add? You can also be curious and ask why I may have chosen a particular title or thing to put on my list :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

My Christmas Tree for 2010!
'Tis the season for an abundance of Christmas loveliness.

One of the (many) things I love about this holiday is the number of books, tv specials, and movies that are available. It's amazing. Right now, for example, I am watching The Holiday, an excellent movie to start the Christmas season. I've had some crazy Decembers in the last five years, which meant that I never had much time to read a lot of Christmas-themed books before the actual holiday. Christmas movies, on the other hand, were one of the only things to help my roommates and I through finals. We had a tradition, the girls and I. Every year we would order the festive special from Swiss Chalet, make a gingerbread house, exchange our Secret Santa gifts, and watch Love Actually. Of course, sometimes we would drag this out over the few weeks of exams to make things more festive around the house. (In full disclosure, we kept our tree up one year until about March or April. Part was laziness, part was that it was amusing as hell). I really miss you girls!

I'm not sure when my mom and I became particularly obsessed with reading Christmas books but we most definitely are. Since I was away at school she would be the one to go to the library and borrow at least five Christmas books (again, in full disclosure, most of them romances) for the two of us to read. I haven't been able to get any yet this year (since I've just moved I haven't gotten around to checking out the library here. Shocking, I know) but my plan is to find some soon!

In the meantime, however, I will watch a multitude of Christmas movies and tv shows. Like I said, I'm watching The Holiday right now. I just watched a movie on the W Network on Monday while I was holed up in a (very nice) hotel room. I'm not ashamed to say that watching that movie pretty much made my night! I love that there are so many different things to watch on tv, classics like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Miracle on 34th Street, as well as newer movies like Santa Baby and Love Actually. Just like Christmas books, I like my holiday movies with a focus on romance. What can I say? I'm a girl and am a sucker for a (slightly cheesy) love story.

It's fun to watch some of the movies that focus on Santa and the North Pole. I think I like those ones because, for an hour or so, I can pretend that Santa still exists and can feel like I did when I was a kid. Ridiculous? Maybe. But I'm sure that was what they intended when they made some of these movies.

I think the thing I love about all the movies and books with a Christmas theme is that they remind me of what the holiday is really all about. It's not about buying a ton of gifts and spending lots of money, or having a massive wish list. It's about family, traditions, and spending time with the people you love. I think those ideas kind of get lost in the crowds, sometimes quite literally. I love getting gifts for people and finding the perfect gift for someone. What I hate is having to fight with all the crowds at the malls trying to get that perfect gift. But, sometimes it's worth it, when that person opens that gift and absolutely loves it. Right?

I don't think I'm the only one who is totally obsessed with Christmas and all the fun to be had around this holiday. Anyone want to weigh in on this? I'd love to hear other people's thoughts. :) It must get boring, reading about my ideas all the time!

I'm sure this won't be the last Christmas post I write this year, so stay tuned for more holiday goodness! Night!