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Let me apologize in advance: I'm not the regular poster I used to be. I try to keep things interesting around here though, so check back from time to time.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday's Picks (14)

Hooray! It's Thursday again! The week gets away from me so quick! Forgive me if this post comes a bit late...my internet has been wonky for the past couple of days and it may or may not allow me to post. My fingers are crossed that you're actually seeing this on Thursday!

You know the drill: every Thursday, I give you guys my picks for the most awesome books, DVDs and movies coming out over the next week. I give you the summary, why I'm hyped about it, and a trailer video if I can find it. I'd love your thoughts regarding the picks! What are you excited to see? Do you think my picks are whack? Play along! Leave me a comment or make your own post. The button is hanging out in the right sidebar.

Here we go...

This Week's Movie Pick:
NOTHING! I'm serious, there are no new movie releases this week. Next week only offers one US release (and a dismal one at that) and I'm pretty sure the entire month of January is a movie wasteland. Why? I wish I knew. I'm as depressed about it as anyone. I love my movies! I wish I had something to share with you guys! Maybe some peeks at the projects I'm making for my Etsy store will make you happy? Let's give it a shot...

This is going to be a super soft neckwarmer.
I'll be making a ruffly scarf out of the same yarn.
This is that beautiful yarn...
Lion Brand Homespun in Baroque
I'm totally in love with that yarn and currently trying to talk my husband into buying some handspun yarn from Etsy. LOVE IT! I know, totally not movie related. Sorry.

This Week's Book Pick:
The Bloodlust (Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #2)
By L.J. Smith, Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec
Release Date: January 4, 2011
HarperCollins Publishers

Summary (Courtesy of Barnes and Noble):
A new beginning . . .
When Stefan Salvatore's first love turned him into a vampire, his world—and his soul—were destroyed. Now he and his brother, Damon, must flee their hometown, where they risk being discovered . . . and killed.
The brothers head to New Orleans, looking for safe haven. But the city is more dangerous than they ever imagined, full of other vampires—and vampire hunters. Will Stefan's eternal life be forever damned?
Based on the popular CW TV show inspired by the bestselling novels, Stefan's Diaries reveals the truth about what really happened between Stefan, Damon, and Katherine—and how the Vampire Diaries love triangle began.
I'm not a huge fan of The Vampire Diaries books. I LOVE the television series in a desperate and unhealthy way, but the books have seemed a bit cheesy to me. I'm sure that this makes the book pick confusing. I chose this one because it's not just L.J. Smith writing it. Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec are the geniuses that turned an otherwise cheeseball teen vamp series into an amazing show. And do trust, it is an AMAZING show. Plus, HOLY HOTNESS! The love of my television life, Ian Somerhalder, is on the cover of this book! That ALONE is worth the $9 for the paperback, in my opinion. Now, excuse me while I try to control my breathing. I don't have a book trailer for you, but I do have some of the best Ian Somerhalder/Damon Salvatore clips from the TV show! Crap, now I'm hyperventilating again...

This Week's DVD Pick:
Dinner for Schmucks
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Rated PG-13 (Paramount Pictures/Dreamworks)
Starring Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Stephanie Szostak

Summary (Courtesy of IMDB):
When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he's invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.
Steve Carell is a decidedly funny fellow. Paul Rudd also has some serious comedy chops. Couple the two together and you are bound to have a funny movie. Reviews are generally favorable, and the previews are pretty funny, so I have a good feeling about picking this one up. I also feel better about watching it when my kids are awake than I would if I had chosen one of the other DVD releases this week. (Namely The Last Exorcism, which is an Eli Roth film, and would probably give me nightmares for months.) Check out the preview and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Top 10 of 2010

We are mere days away from beginning a new year! The new year means all new possibilities for us as a book blog, and for books in general. Think about all the amazing things that are going to happen in the next year: both The Hunger Games and City of Bones movies will make big production strides, The Mortal Instruments series will be refreshed with a new installment, several other amazing YA series will get new additions, and new ideas will be born. It's so exciting to think of everything that a new year can bring!

With the beginning of a new year, we have to say goodbye to the old one and everything it gave us. This year was not short on amazing, however, and it should definitely be celebrated. Therefore, I give you my top ten book and film releases of 2010. Most of my fellow blog colleagues focus strictly on book releases, but not this lady. We like to keep all forms of entertainment into consideration, so I also plan to drop a little music faves on you at the end. Hope you enjoy the list!

Top 10 of 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Two-Disc Special Edition)Number 10: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Say what you will about the Twilight franchise, I've heard it all. I recognize that the films are mediocre at best. I understand that the writing in the books themselves is not exactly top-notch. I agree that the next two films will probably be awful because the source material is the worst of the series. It doesn't matter, I still love it. I will still be out in full force on opening day with my Team Edward shirt, wishing my husband was a borderline-stalker-sparkly-vampire-whose-babies-would-kill-me. Because, as a woman with operational ovaries and an active libido, I can't not love this franchise. Robert Pattinson haunts my dreams with his unconventionally-yet-unbearably attractiveness. I would have made a significantly better Bella than KStew, though.
My sub-par photo manip skills do not properly reflect the awesomeness of this.
MizzLizzy Bella...how Twilight should have been...far less twitchy.
The Girl With the Dragon TattooNumber 9: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Swedish film release)
I tried to get through the book. I really, really, REALLY tried. But I just couldn't bear another page of Blomkvist reading. I couldn't, no matter how good I knew it would get at the end. I know that the series picks up eventually, but I really wanted to beat my head against the wall while reading Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Lucky for me (and everyone else on the planet), the wonderful country of Sweden has presented us with the film version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. And my, oh my, did they do a great job. If you haven't seen the film, I recommend checking it out before the American film release. The pacing is great, which is such a refreshing change based on how sluggish the book is. Noomi Rapace, who plays Lisbeth Salander, is a very talented actress and breathed amazing life into the character that was, for most of the book, missing. The film is available for Instant Watch on Netflix, so go check it out. Warning: There are some pretty graphic scenes in the film, so wait till the kids go to bed for this one.

Radiant Shadows (Wicked Lovely)Number 8: The Wicked Lovely Series
Melissa Marr has etched herself a permanent place in my heart for one of my favorite writers. She is AMAZING, and so is her Wicked Lovely series. Every book in the series is incredible, especially the most recent releases. (Radiant Shadows got a 5-star review from me on this blog.) I love this series so much that I've made it a point to gobble up all of the little side stories she has out as soon as possible, including the mangas. And I am not a big fan of manga. If you haven't read this series yet, you are missing out big time. It's one of my top series of all time, not just 2010. And I thought I'd have trouble getting into books about faeries...

The Other GuysNumber 7: The Other Guys
This is definitely the funniest movie I saw in 2010. I laughed through the entire thing, sometimes to the point of nearly losing bladder control. Everything about this film was hilarious. It's the best work I've seen from Will Ferrell in a long, long time. His comedic timing was perfect, and Mark Wahlberg was surprisingly incredible this comedic capacity, which is something I hadn't seen from him before. Michael Keaton was another bright spot, ans every scene he was in was hilarious. He stole the show for me big time. Watch this one and you will be on the floor laughing, I promise.

JaneNumber 6: Jane
Jane is now one of my favorite YA novels. The modern take on the classic tale of Jane Eyre is truly awesome. It's a beautiful story of growth, love, loss and rediscovery that I loved being able to share with you all. After having such a great experience with the book, I had an even better experience with my dealing with April Lindner. She's a really great lady! She was so nice and genuine, and her interview is at the top of my list of most awesome things I've done on this blog. If you haven't had a chance to check out the interview, head over to the post here. Also, you can see my review of Jane here.

BloodthirstyNumber 5: Bloodthirsty
This book was HILARIOUS. I was excited to have a chance to review a book that poked fun at the popularity of vampire books (aka The Twilight Effect) without being, well, stupid. There are plenty of book and film offerings that make fun of Twilight and it's vampy buddies by being silly and childish, but this book showed the funny side of the vampire craze in an intelligent, witty and entertaining way. Flynn Meaney is fast becoming a favorite author of mine, and I really look forward to seeing more of her work. Yes, I said her. I know this because I have been arranging a sweet interview to post on here, and she revealed the "secret" to me. I love being privy to hidden information! Check out my 5-star review of Bloodthirsty here.

Sherlock HolmesNumber 4: Sherlock Holmes
Robert Downey Jr. has a piece of my heart in his figurative pocket. I LOVE HIM. I have never been disappointed with any of his work, and Sherlock Holmes kept the streak going by being INCREDIBLE. Appropriately funny, action-packed and emotional at just the right parts, Sherlock Holmes was one of the best movies I saw this year. I also liked Jude Law in this one, which doesn't happen for me often. He's not exactly chosen the best films in the past, but lucky for us, this one was top-notch. Rachel McAdams was also very good in the movie, but I expected no less than a stellar performance from her and Mr. Gorgeous Downey Jr. I'm really looking forward to the sequel for this film, which is due out December 2011.

The Girl Who Played With FireNumber 3: The Girl Who Played With Fire (Swedish film release)
The people of Sweden definitely know how to make a great movie. The Girl Who Played With Fire was somehow even better than it's predecessor, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I was pretty much glued to the screen for the entire film, save for one or two pretty graphic scenes. There was a lot less of that than there was in the first film, however. Noomi Rapace brought it again, really blowing her earlier portrayal of Lisbeth Salander out of the water, which was already incredible in it's own right. The film was so good, I considered trying to push through the book series again. Not quite sure if 'll actually do it, though.

The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and MockingjayNumber 2: The Hunger Games Trilogy
This is not only one of the best releases of 2010, but of all time. The Hunger Games is primarily responsible for me starting a book blog, and that's the honest truth. Each installment of this series was written perfectly, in spite of what some fans might call a depressing ending. Of course it's depressing, it's a story about war and violence and terrible loss. I was perfectly satisfied with the ending to the series, as you can tell from my review. I loved this series so much that I got into an RPG and started writing fanfic about it. Isn't that insane?! This also helped perpetuate my love for Robert Downey Jr., who HAS to be Haymitch Abernathy in the film adaptation. Just saying.

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments)Number 1: The Mortal Instruments Series
Oh. My. Gosh. The Mortal Instruments series is the best series I have read, possibly ever in my life. Cassandra Clare is my IDOL. She is such an amazing talent! Every character in this series is perfectly written, the imagery is incredible, the story is moving, the mythology behind it is perfect, everything about this series is PERFECT! I could gush and gush for years about how incredible this series is, but I won't subject you to that. I will, however, link you to my epic review of the series here. I will be reviewing the first installment of the companion series, The Infernal Devices, very soon. You may have heard of it recently: Clockwork Angel...one of the most anticipated books of 2010? Yeah, that one.

I hope you guys liked my top ten list! In closing, I'll leave you with some music videos for my favorite songs of 2010.

Christina Perry: Jar of Hearts
A raw and emotional song with a beautiful video by a woman with a killer voice.

Katy Perry: Firework
This song really showcases Perry's vocal talent, and I love the message.

Neon Trees: 1983
Pretty much everything Neon Trees records is awesome.

Paramore: The Only Exception
Another band that cannot do wrong in my eyes.

Metric: Eclipse [All Yours]
Not my favorite Metric song, but still amazing.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Time Travel Tuesday: Old Hollywood

Time Travel Tuesday is going to be evolving a bit for the new year. Instead of strictly writing about my favorite childhood trappings, I'm going to throw in a mix of things from the past that inspire me. For example, today's theme is Old Hollywood. What qualifies as "Old Hollywood," you say?
This picture is practically dripping with Old Hollywood glam awesomeness.
This timeless style is a real inspiration to me, and the fact that the trends of old come back bigger in today's world makes an old-school broad like me very happy.
Wasn't Liz Taylor AMAZING back in the day? Beautiful.
The reason this style does so much for me is that the classy sophistication is still sexy without being slutty, like some of today's more popular styles. Also, the era embraced full-figured women, which hits home big time for a thicker woman like myself. Ladies were meant to have curves, and old Hollywood was happy to showcase those curves. Makes me wish I was born in the 30's...
I would WORK this swimsuit.
I love when today's fashion reflects the tastes of this era, especially on the red carpet. I really enjoy seeing a throwback to Hollywood's roots. For example:
Elizabeth Banks, working the blonde bombshell look.
My nemesis, Jessica Alba.
So, yeah. I love this stuff. And in closing, I leave you with the great Miss Marilyn Monroe.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Break's Over...Back to Work!!!

I did it! I survived Christmas!!!
Hello my dear bloggy friends! I missed you guys! I hope your Christmas holiday was a memorable one! Ours was fun and crazy, and I'm still cleaning up after it! Both kids got these super cute rolling suitcases from their Nana, which my son loved and has been rolling around with him since he got it. Santa came through in a big way this year as well, dropping off a Foofa doll for my daughter and a Buzz Lightyear for my son. There were some very happy children in the TLL household this week!

Now that Christmas is over and done with, it's back to business as usual here at Things Liz Loves, only better. The Things Liz Makes Etsy store is in production now and should be running with items very soon. Also, with the holidays out of the way, I expect to have an interview with author Flynn Meaney to share with you all. The first book review of 2011 is in the works right now, so prepare yourselves for that as well! Mark your calendar for Valentine's Day, as there will be a pretty huge follower appreciation giveaway hop that we're participating in, and you won't want to miss it! As you can see, the New Year is bringing a whole lot of awesome to Things Liz Loves! I hope you'll all stick around to be a part of it!

I'll see you all tomorrow for Time Travel Tuesday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Break

Hiya, bloggy buddies! I hope all of your holiday plans are moving smoothly!

I know that this would normally be a Time Travel Tuesday post, but with Christmas looming in the not-so-distant future, I decided to take the rest of the week off and focus on finishing up my last-minute gifts. Hopefully this won't upset you guys, since I'm sure most of you are too busy to care.

I will be back next week with your regularly scheduled blogging. Also, just a heads up for the fans of my handmade crochet goodies: my Etsy store is up and will be running with items just after the New Year. I'm calling it Things Liz Makes, since I'm Liz, and I made the things. Ha! Clever. Look out for a link and more information in the coming weeks. You can also look forward to seeing an interview with author Flynn Meaney in the next couple of weeks. I'm just waiting on the return email, then you guys get the inside scoop! Thanks for your patience, and I'll see you all next week!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Author Interview: April Lindner

This picture is referenced in the interview,
but it was so awesome I had to head the post with it.
I'm very excited to start the week with such an awesome interview! Today, we're being joined by April Lindner, author of Jane. April is also an Associate Professor of English at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, PA and a poet. Here are some fun facts about her from her website:
I was born in North Merrick, NY, and though I've lived many places since then, I will always be a New Yorker at heart.
I've been writing stories and poems ever since I could hold a pen.
I started out majoring in art but soon realized my talents lay elsewhere. But I'm still a champion doodler.
My sister is a roller derby queen and one of my best friends.
I'm the mother of two teenage sons. My older son, Eli St. Amant, is a member of the hot new rave rap band Split Genetics.
My younger son Noah is pretty great too, and after several summers at zoo camp is an experienced handler of rabbits and hedgehogs. He hopes to graduate to owls.
I teach creative writing, freshman composition, and literature at St. Joe's.
In August, I was Hot Blogger of the Month at agent Bree Ogden's This Literary Life Blog.
In high school I wrote a rock opera about the tragic love between punk rocker Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungeon.
You can read more fun stuff about April on her website and in the amazing interview below!

Jane1. Jane is a modern retelling of the classic Jane Eyre. (as you know!) What inspired you to revamp the story?

I love retellings, and Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite novel. For years I’ve wanted to combine the two things and write a retelling of Jane Eyre, but I couldn’t figure out a modern equivalent for the class difference that stands between Jane and Mr. Rochester. When it occurred to me that Mr. Rochester could be a rock star, I realized I was on to something, and I started writing the next morning.

2. What is next for you? Can we hope for more of Jane and Mr. Rathburn's story?

Wuthering HeightsI haven’t ruled out a sequel to Jane, but for now I’m working on a modernization of Wuthering Heights, my other favorite novel. The novel is set in a nightclub on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Catherine is the nightclub owner’s daughter, and the Heathcliff character is a hungry punk rocker.

3. What surprised you the most about the publishing process?

I don’t know if this counts as “process,” but I’ve been amazed to discover the community of enthusiastic book bloggers who are out there hungrily reading and reviewing stacks and stacks of books. You hear all the time that nobody reads anymore, but that turns out not to be true at all.

Jane Eyre4. What is your favorite literary work of all time and why?

Oh, Jane Eyre, without doubt. It has everything—romance, mystery, social analysis, insightful character development and gorgeous prose.

5. Jane gets optioned for a movie. Who is your dream cast?

I could see that...
"Come to Haiti with me." Yes sir!
I picture Jane being played by some wonderful newcomer I haven’t heard of yet, but if I have to pick someone already making movies, I’d choose Carey Mulligan. Maybe James Franco could play Nico? I think he can do just about anything. James McAvoy would be fantastic too, though he’d need smoke-gray contact lenses. I can imagine Idina Menzel playing Bianca Ingram, the celebrity photojournalist who has her eye on Nico. And Alex Pettyfer would be great as River St. John, Nico’s chief competition for Jane’s heart.

6. How much of your characters is a reflection of yourself or someone you know?

I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was a sophomore in high school and I wanted to be like her—romantic but level headed, and true to her values. As a young woman I sometimes even made a point of trying to be like her, so it might be more accurate to say that I’m a reflection of Jane Eyre. However, some of my own character did creep into Jane Moore. I’m pretty shy, though I work hard to hide it, and Jane wound up sharing that trait.

Reader Questions:

1. From Stacy: I would be interested to know about your writing techniques - how extensively you outline/plan out your books and what your writing schedule is like.
When writing Jane, I stuck pretty closely to the original plot, so I went into the project with a strong sense of where I wanted the story to go. The novel I’m working on now is a much looser interpretation of an existing novel. I wrote the first draft with only the roughest of outlines to see where it would take me, but then I had to go back in and make a detailed outline and rewrite accordingly. The novel involves two interwoven storylines, and I had to outline in detail to make sure they fit neatly together.

Jane Eyre (Optimized for Kindle)As for my schedule, when I’m not teaching, I try to write from nine until three, when my kids get home. I don’t dare write on mornings when I have to teach or grade because I get so wrapped up in my imaginary world I might lose my way back.

2. From Cici: Do you feel any deep personal connection to any of your characters? If so, what connects you to the character?
Apart from my connection to Jane herself, I feel most attached to the characters who were kind to Jane when she was in need of human connection. I’m particularly fond of Yvonne and Kitty, the significant others of Nico’s band members, and Diana, who rescues Jane from homelessness and becomes her best friend. Yvonne and Kitty surprised me; I meant for them to be snobs like Mr. Rochester’s retinue of friends in Jane Eyre, but as I was putting them on the page they thwarted my intentions by taking Jane under their wing and being truly sweet to her.
Darkness on the Edge of Town

3. From Jacque: Do you have a personal connection w/ a rock star?
I’m an out-of-control Bruce Springsteen fan; when he’s on tour I attend multiple shows and stand in line for hours for the chance to get close to the stage. There are many other musicians and bands I enjoy, but my love of Bruce knows no bounds.

4. From Vivien: Did you have to do any research for your book?
A little, but I mostly chose situations and settings I was familiar with. I didn't research the daily life of a rock star as much as I fantasized about what it must be like—how he would spend his days and what sorts of people would pass through his home.

Quick Picks:
On Beauty1. Best book you've read this year? On Beauty by Zadie Smith (a modernization of E. M. Forster’s Howards End.)

2. Best movie you've seen this year? The Kids Are All Right.

3. Favorite place you've traveled to recently? I spent a month last summer in Greece, teaching creative writing on a study tour. With its steep cliffs, white buildings and deep blue sea, Santorini has to be the most beautiful spot on the planet.

The Kids Are All Right4. Best new food you've tried? It would have to be one of the many dishes I tried in Greece. Stuffed eggplant doesn’t sound all that glamorous, but the one I had on Santorini was astoundingly good.

5. Last thing you made with your hands? (besides the books you've written of course!) The chicken cacciatore I cooked the other night.

6. Biggest risk you've taken this year? I rode a mule up a cliff in Santorini, and I can supply the picture to prove it! (the picture at the top of the post is the proof!) I’m terrified of heights and there were moments when the mule was right up against a little stone wall between the footpath and a very steep plummet into the sea. I shrieked with laughter and terror the whole way up, but I was proud of myself for not chickening out.

7. Favorite non-writing activity? Listening to live music with friends.

Thanks again to April for the amazing interview! Be sure to pick up Jane from Amazon below. You can also check out the Jane Facebook page, April's Facebook page and her website.
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