Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yes. I read another book. And watched another movie.

So, are you confused?

Is this not supposed to be a blog following my 101 List accomplisments? Why does it look so much like a book/movie review blog?

Are these questions you're asking yourself?

I know. Enough with the books and movies already, right?!

But that's all I seem to be doing on the 101 Adventure these days. Watching movies and reading books. What a wild ride, eh?

I swear. Summer is here, and I'm going to start doing some more "adventurous" things. Maybe zip-lining? I'd like to go to High Falls. Hoping to wiggle in a trip to T.O. some weekend, and might even go by train. Camping? Boat ride? Spider dogs? All possibilities in the months to come.

So stay tuned.

But for now, I'm going to tell you all how much I love love loved Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, the eighth book crossed off for #19 - Read 10 books in one year.

I missed out on seeing the flick while it was still in theatres, so I decided I'd better read the book before the movie came out on DVD. My local library got the book in a few weeks ago, and I just happened to be there the day it arrived. The librarian offered me first crack at it, and I'm so glad I took it.

It was one of those books. It swallowed me up and I became totally engrossed with the story. It was a completely different time, a completely different world, and I was entirely intrigued by it.

The story begins at the height of the Great Depression, with young Jacob Jankowski receiving the biggest jolt of his life: the untimely and tragic death of his parents, only days before he's to write his finals at Cornell University, where he is about to graduate as a veterinarian. After discovering that his father, also a vet, had no savings and was mortgaging his home in order to pay for his son's education, Jacob realizes he is completely lost and alone. Caught in a whirlwind of pain, he runs away and jumps a train in an attempt to escape his misery.

Jacob discovers very quickly he has landed on the train of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. He has literally, though unintentionally, run away with the circus. Jacob survives the first few uncertain days as several kind-hearted members of the Flying Squadron take him under their wings, but when the owner of the traveling circus catches wind that he's a university-trained veterinarian, Jacob's stock goes up, and he's offered full employment with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

Jacob then meets Marlena, the star of the Equestrian Show, and her husband, August, the animal trainer with a mean streak. Throw in a temperamental elephant named Rosie, a dwarf named Walter, a dog named Queenie, and an old cripple named Camel... and then the adventures really begin for Jacob.

I seriously couldn't put it down. I'm usually a "chapter before bedtime" reader, but I was forgoing television for this book. That's big. It also helped that I got to picture Rob Pattinson as Jacob, and Reese Witherspoon as Marlena. Now I really can't wait to see the movie!

I also got one of those tricky letters crossed off my list for #30 - Watch 26 movies I've never seen before starting with each letter of the alphabet. On Friday night, Lindsay, Ryan, and I ignored the Great Flood of 2011 and went to see X-Men: First Class in theatres.

I know. I don't look like an X-Men kind of girl, right? The truth is, I'm not. Usually. But I bought the first three movies on DVD during the most crazy part of my James Marsden phase. (He plays Cyclops.)


So when Lindsay suggested going to see First Class, I jumped. Find out how the mutants originally began? Sure. Why not.

It was entertaining. The whole plot was tied in with the Cuban Missile Crisis, so it was a neat way to integrate history into the fictional story, which is the prequel of the battle between 'good' mutants and 'bad' mutants. The origin of the relationship between Professor Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto) is discovered, as well as some of the mutant characters we become familiar with in the trilogy. We also find out the reason Professor X is in a wheelchair. ( And probably a ton of other little bits and pieces that X-Men diehards would pick up on that I did not).

I enjoyed it. A little disappointed that Cyclops didn't play a role in it, but a fun movie nonetheless. And very happy to get the "X" movie crossed off, because how many other movies could possibly begin with the letter X?!

Highly recommend both Water for Elephants and X-Men: First Class!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Yet another book down!

I'm just rollin' through #19 - Read 10 books in one year. After finishing The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell - the latest selection for our book club - I now have only three more books to read to complete this task! (And I'm already half-way done book #8, Water for Elephants - I just can't put it down!)

As for The Carrie Diaries, it was a fun, quick read. I'm a big Sex and the City fan, so it was neat to take a stroll back, and find out who Carrie Bradshaw was in high school, and how she was launched into the phase of her life that we SATC fans are so familiar with.

At times, it was a little juvenile - sort of like a glorified edition of the Sweet Valley High series - but what more could you expect from a story about a gang of high school students, riding the rollercoaster of Senior Year? I'm eleven years removed from high school, but I still remember what that last year was like. It was filled with highs and lows, and each one felt like it was the end of the world. Little did we know... I think the author did a good job of capturing what life would be like for a group of misfit teens, standing on the cusp of the rest of their lives.

I also really enjoyed the little twist at the end; the hint that Carrie's about to meet at least once of her future best friends whom we've all come to know and love over the years. I'm hoping to get Summer and the City sometime soon, which is the follow-up to this book, so that I can find out how Carrie's first summer of freedom in New York goes.

It's a must-read for SATC fans, especially for younger women who may be interested in starting to watch the episodes. It's also a fun read for those of us who have already been through the six seasons and two movies; to see where it really all began!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

#89 - A lot of blogs written.

I was about two weeks into May when I realized I had written a blog every weekday so far that month. This is usually a rare occurance for me. I usually miss at least once or twice a week, if not more. That was why I included on my 101 List #89 - Write a blog post for Jill's World or Jill's 101 Adventure every weekday for a month. It would be a challenge for sure!

So once I realized I had two weeks down, I figured May would be that month.

What a dumb, dumb idea. May is kind of a busy month. So while I try to get my blog written the night before just to post in the morning, that doesn't always go as planned. That left me scrambling some days to get a blog up before the clock struck midnight, so that I could say I had written a post that day.

Then there was the great BLOGGER MALFUNCTION OF 2011, which took place smack-dab in the middle of it all. Somehow, I escaped unscathed. One of my posts vanished for a few days, but reappeard again. Phewf.

So here, as proof, are links to allll of my posts for the month of May. Go back and read 'em again if you want. There were some fun ones in there!

May 1 - Sunday, no blog
May 2 - Getting to Know You, Royal Wedding Edition
May 3 - Need something to smile about today? Look no further.
May 4 - Feeling like a "SO WHAT" Wednesday
May 5 - A feeble attempt at writing a shorter Survivor/Idol Mash-Up
May 6 - I want to be a dancer.
May 7 - Saturday
May 8 - Sunday
May 9 - That lunatic cutting their grass over and over? That's me.
May 10 - The Turkey Blog
May 11 - It's a "We Want to Know Wednesday"!!
May 12 - I don't need a puppy anymore. I have a whole LITTER. (This is the post that went missing during the BLOGGER MALFUNCTION OF 2011. It almost ruined this whole project.)
May 13 - Friday Randomness
May 14 - Saturday
May 15 - Sunday
May 16 - I'm so tiiiiiiirrrrred
May 17 - B Movie - a RIOT!
May 18 - The Single Girl Files: Somewhere Between Heaven & Hell
May 19 - A Tale of Grass-Cutting Woe
May 20 - A Random Friday-of-the-long-weekend
May 21 - Saturday
May 22 - Sunday
May 23 - How I Survived the Apocalypse (or, just another May 2-4 Weekend) (Bonus points - I blogged on a holiday Monday!!)
May 24 - N Movie - Anything with Ashton is okay by me...
May 25 - Look Out! It's a "Jill's Gonna Ramble" Wednesday!! AND Oh, and I almost forgot... (What the...?? Two posts in one day?? DOUBLE BONUS POINTS!!!)
May 26 - Oprah's Farewell + American Idol Finale = Awesome Night
May 27 - Friday Confessional. Because I'm too busy. (We almost lost 'er here, folks. This was a crazybusy day. I finally found two minutes to throw a bunch of words together and call it a "blog post". I couldn't lose so late in the game!!)
May 28 - Saturday
May 29 - Sunday
May 30 - Another Book Down
May 31 - My Latest Purchase. AKA, the reason I should not be allowed to have a credit card.

Fitting that the last blog of the month also wins the "LONGEST TITLE EVER" award.

So #89 is complete! And I must pat myself on the back for this one, 'cause it was a toughie!!