Please Vote!

For those of you who are US citizens, today is election day.  It is a midterm election which in the past have shown to have embarrassing small turnouts.  So I decided to write a post today asking if you are registered to vote, please go out and vote.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for – that is your own choice and responsibility.

The average turn-out for a midterm election is 40% according to Fairvote.com.  That is less than half the population that is eligible to vote.  It’s even less for elections that are purely local or primaries.  Being involved in your government is the first tool to making a change in the government.

Imagine that you are having a pizza party and there are ten people.  Four people get together and decide that the pizza is going to have sardines and pineapple. They asked everyone but 6 people decided to not participate in the choosing of toppings.   That is what is happening during midterm elections.  Only 4 of those ten people able to have a say are actually putting any input in.  Most Presidential elections are only having 60% which is still embarrassing low.

Do not let your government be that way.  Please vote today, and have a say in your local offices as well as federal.  Local is even more important then federal as it is most likely to affect you personally as well as many of the future federal politicians will seek local positions first on their way to Washington.  Choose good people to lay the foundation of the future.

Right now anyone over the age of 18 can register to vote.  It was not always that way.  Women and minorities have had to fight a long battle to gain the vote.  We should all appreciate that fight and use our right to vote.

There are many online resources to help you find out where you can vote and how long the polls will be open.  In particular there is Vote.org which has information about your rights as a voter and also can help you find your local polling place.

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October Arrives!

October is a pretty busy month for me, but I’m hoping to get back on the schedule I had for myself for this blog with three weekly posts on Monday/Wednesday/Friday.  Since I wasn’t sure what to write about first to kick off the month, I decided to doa  general post about what is coming up.

This month is going to have a couple Halloween/Dia de Muertos themed posts, as well as the normal book reviews, movie reviews, and hopefully at least 2 new Women of History posts. It is also Nano Prep Month, so it might be shorter posts as I focus on doing the prep work for Nano (for those who aren’t familar, visit the Nano Website).  That will be the focus next month, so I’m also going to try and get ahead on posts so that I have them pre-scheduled rather then writing them as I go since I’ll be working (for once) on an original novel next month.

As for the Bookit-reviews, I’ve made the decision to reduce my goal to 30 books.  I think the original goal of 52 is not achievable at this point.  Hopefully I can achieve the new goal.  I’m also starting to write down a list of books I’ve bought and haven’t read yet to start 2019 off (and finish off this year a bit too).  If you have any recommendations for books I should read, please let me know.

Hope you are all having a lovely Fall so far.

Bookit Review: #22 Voyager

Title:  Voyager (Outlander #3)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publication Date: October 2004 (Originally 1993
Genre:  Historical Romance/Science Fiction/Time Travel
My Final Grade:A

So far, Voyager is my favorite of the Outlander books.  This is for several reasons.  One, it has multiple point of views, even though Claire’s POV is still told in first person while everyone else is told in third person which can be a bit awkward at times.  It gives us a better sense of how Jamie views things, as well as Roger and Brianna who play major roles in this story, and even more so in the next book, Drums of Autumn.  It also varies away from some of the troublesome aspects of the first two books, although not completely.

Voyager begins in the 1960s with Brianna, Roger and Claire searching for the truth about Jamie.  They found out he survived Culloden, and follow the trail down to finding him as a printer under an alias.  As they search, we get to see the story from Jamie’s point of view of the missing years.   We also wrap up a few lingering questions from the first book, and get a few flashbacks to Claire’s life with Frank and Brianna over the last 20 years.

Brianna eventually convinces her mother to go back, and the bulk of the book is Claire’s adventures in the mid 1760s, including traveling from Edinburgh, to Lallybroch to eventually Jamaica and the American Colonies.  This book also explores several different types of relationships.  It brings back Lord John Grey, who was featured as a teenager in Dragonfly but now is a Major in the British Army. He is in love with Jamie (as it appears most of the characters are – another criticism I have of this series), but unlike the previous two homosexual characters isn’t portrayed as a horrible person.

I was slightly uncomfortable with the portrayal of Yi Tien Cho, in a related notion.  I couldn’t tell if it was the character himself or the fact that it was a portrayal of the first major minority character for the series (outside of Joe Abernathy who is barely seen).  However, from what I have found out, he is loosely based on a real person and perhaps some of that comes from that.  Still, I wasn’t sure if the portrayal was fair or not.

The relationships in this book that are explored are the several different types of family.  It explores the idea of adoption/step-parenting (Jamie & Claire with Fergus, Frank with Brianna,  Jamie with the McKimmie girls. Roger Wakefield & his great-Uncle, John Grey & Willie), Multigenerational (Jenny, Ian and the Murrys), separation (Jamie & Brianna as well as Jamie & Willie) amongst some.  It also takes into consideration the aftereffects on Claire’s relationships outside Jamie – like with Jenny and Geillis.

While this book is still full of misadventures, and Jamie & Claire are rarely in a moment of calm, it does seem to be happier (outside of Ian) and some issues are addressed instead of either of the main characters pushing it aside like has happened in previous books.  It also has a decrease in the amount of sexual violence that seemed to be prevalent in the previous two books.  There is one scene towards the end with Yi Tien Cho that was concerning in regards to sexual violence but in comparison to the other novels this book is quite an improvement.

My final grade is A.

Bookit Review #21: Dragonfly in Amber

Title: Dragonfly in Amber
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Published: October 2004 (current edition) (original Print in 1992)
Genre: Romance/Sci-fi & Fantasy/Historical
My grade: B

Continue reading

Bookit #20: Outlander

Title: Outlander (Part 1 of the Outlander Series)
Author:  Diana Gabaldon
Publication:  2004 (ebook) 1991 (original Publication)
Medium:  Kindle eBook
Grade: A

NOTE:  Some minor spoilers for the TV show and a trigger warning for rape.
Many months ago a good friend of mine told me I should read Outlander. It did in fact seem right up my ally as far as books I like to read (History, science fiction, mystery and romance), but I kept pushing it off.  But I finally watched the first season of Outlander last month and decided to read the book.

Usually I read the book first, then watch the TV show/Movie based on it.  However, this time I did not.  It did allow me to appreciate some of the narrative changes the TV writers made.  The show is relatively close to the events of the book up till the last few episodes, although they expand on things in some places and leave out others.

I am not a big fan of first person, as Outlander is (from Claire’s POV).  There are some exceptions though (such as the Hunger Games) and Outlander has ended up being one of them despite the fact that I wish some of it was in Jamie’s pov.  The story is about Claire Beachamp-Randall, a combat nurse from WWII.  She’s visiting Scotland with her husband in an effort to reconnect after the war when she is accidentally whisked from her time (1945) to another (1743).  She finds it difficult to adjust to live 202 years before what she knew, and it causes a few adventures.

Writing wise, it’s not the best novel I ever read, but it kept me interested.  As I said, some of the narrative changes in the early episodes of the show made sense to fill in some of the gaps in the book.  It smoothed things out as it were,  However, later changes made less sense.

I’m also not sure how historically accurate this book is, but it kept me interested enough that I didn’t really need to know – though I did look some of the outside characters like the Duke of Sandringham (Not a real guy) and Lord Lovat, Jamie’s Grandfather (actually a real guy).  A lot of the characters are interesting, even if they are fairly minor.   Black Jack Randall is creepy in all his scenes (which makes me feel sorry for his great-great so forth grandson Frank), and Dougal I can’t get a hold on whether he is someone I shouldn’t mind or someone I should place in the enemy column (Both in the TV show and the book.  More so the TV series).

I know that the next book takes place in France but I will miss the lovely characters of Castle Leoch and the Scottish Highlands.

My only real issue with the book is that rape is used a bit too often as a cause for drama.  Some of it makes sense with the characters used (mainly Black Jack Randall) but other times it just seems repative and even more uncomfortable it is by default.

I am glad my friend convinced me to read this, and I’m looking forward to reviewing Dragonfly in Amber (book 2) soon.  I feel this is also a book that once I finish the series I’ll be back to re-read and connect some of the dots I missed the first time around.

As a final note, the book is not nearly as R rated as the TV-show (since it is on STARZ) ended up being.  There is a lot more fade to black.  Still, it is an adult romance novel, so I would probably not let your younger kids read it yet.

Bookit Review 19: Beautiful Player

Title:  Beautiful Player (Book 3 of the Beautiful Bastard Series)
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Romance/Adult
Publication Date: May 29, 2018  (reissued – original date is 2013)
My Grade: B
Format: Paperback

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel.  It uses the Friends to lovers trope, but feels natural and not awkward in its pacing. It was a nice change from some of the romance novels I’ve been reading this year that have really awkward pacing or decide to forego a natural feeling plot for more sex scenes.

This book is adult, and has descriptive love scenes so I don’t recommend this for younger readers.   However I don’t feel the love scenes override the character development and plot progression (what little plot there actually is) which as I said I’ve been finding happening a lot in this genre.  The minor characters aren’t really developed well, but I found out afterwards this is part of a book series so perhaps its assumed that we are aware of the characters already.  I feel a little development would have been nice since this series is built on being interconnected novels that you can read individually and not as a series. I’m a bit weary having found out the first book is a revitalized Twilight fanfic (those haven’t turned out to be good reads for me because I never liked Twilight that much to begin with) but I’m willing to give it a chance.

This is the third book in the series, so I might read the other ones since I found this one enjoyable and not overdone.    I did find the summary given in some of the advertising was a bit much. The whole “My Fair Lady” comparison is a little thing. I think I might have enjoyed more of the main couple without a focus on each other but then again this is in fact a romance novel so it goes with the genre.  My perfect book however would blend a good plot with good romance.

My final grade is a B-.  I enjoyed it, but it could be better.  Again, it is descriptive so it’s not for younger readers.  I may or may not read the other books in the series to get a better sense of Christina Lauren’s writing.  I’ll probably skip the first book though.  I also feel it could have used a more supportive backlot to frame the romance part of it.

Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Second in Jurassic World Trilogy; fifth in Jurassic series all together)
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action/Adventure, Superhero, Comedy
Release Date: June 22, 2018  (Seen July 4th)
Director: J.A. Bayona
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall,  Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Isabella Sermon, James Cromwell, BD Wong, and Jeff Goldblum.

My friends and I went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on July 4th in a desperate need for air conditioning, but we all were fans of the Jurassic Park Movies.   I loved Jurassic World and its two main characters.  Unlike the original trilogy, these films are more interconnected.  In this sequel ot the 2015 film, we find Claire and Owen on opposite paths.  he’s building a cabin in the wilderness, quite happy never to see a dinosaur again while Claire is actively working to save the animals.  Isla Nublar has a secret volcano that is about to erupt, and Benjamin Lockwood, a former associate of John Hammond has decided to use one of his islands as a sanctuary for the dinosaurs if Claire can get them transported.  Eli Mills, his personal assistant asks her to bring in Owen, who she hasn’t seen in an unknown amount of time.

Henry Wu makes another appearance, apparently having cracked since what happened on Jurassic Park (the first film) and is now just creating because he can create.  He’s made another hybrid, and Mills is willing to sell it to make millions.

On one hand the movie does deal with some well done tropes within the series, but it also has an interesting take on them.  For example, we get a greater look at what it would be like to be a vet for dinosaurs.

Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Ian Malcolm, warning Congress about the dangers they are going to face. I have to admit I was surprised about how little time he is actually in the movie, but thematically it worked very well.  It also makes me hope the third film (due sometime in 3ish years) will incorporate more of the characters from the original trilogy.

I also like the development of Owen and Claire as characters.  While they aren’t together in this film, their characters aren’t reset.  Their relationship is different, with three years behind them.   I enjoy their development as individuals and as a couple.  I also enjoy the introduction of Franklin and Zia.  I will be happy to see them again in the next film.

The only real issue I had with the movie is that there is a lot of foreshadowing (or appearance of foreshadowing) for something that didn’t seem realised.  Its hard to really explain that without giving a good amount of the plot away.  Since this is a new release and is in fact still in theaters I’m trying not to do that.

As an added bonus the film finally brings about what is implied from the end of Jurassic Park III.

My final grade is A-.