Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Club Monday: One Kick by Chelsea Cain

When I went into reading One Kick, I was excited. I have loved all of the Heartkiller series books by Chelsea Cain, and I was interested in reading some new characters and a fresh story. At least, I hoped it would be.

It took a bit for me to get excited about One Kick. The story really ramped up towards the middle, but overall it left sort of a strange taste in my mouth. The story followed Kick Lannigan, a trained fighter, archer, and markswoman. As the story unfolds, you find out that Kick used to be Beth, who was abducted at a young age and had some truly terrible things happen to her (if you are not good with suggestions of child abuse, this is definitely not the book for you). She takes it upon herself, along with a mysterious detective named John Bishop, to find children who have been abducted, as she has a sneaking suspicion her abductor has something to do with it.

Without giving too much away, I will say that the book was still moderately exciting, except it felt like an offshoot and too similar a storyline to the Gretchen and Archie storyline from the Heartkiller books. I was not at all disappointed in it and didn't feel like it was a waste of my time completely, but would have much rather it hadn't felt like a transplant of new characters in the oh-so-familiar story. As the first book in a new series, the flat, sudden ending also made it difficult to see a sequel, or series, coming out of it. I am not giving up hope completely, but also hope that the next installment can be refreshing and not so similar to the Heartkiller saga.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Club Monday: Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk

Now, before we get started, here is the description of the book:
From the author of Fight Club, the classic portrait of the damaged contemporary male psyche, now comes this novel about the apocalyptic marketing possibilities of a new product that gives new meaning to the term "self-help."

Penny Harrigan is a low-level associate in a big Manhattan law firm with an apartment in Queens and no love life at all. So it comes as a great shock when she finds herself invited to dinner by one C. Linus Maxwell, a software mega-billionaire and lover of the most gorgeous and accomplished women on earth. After dining at Manhattan's most exclusive restaurant, he whisks Penny off to a hotel suite in Paris, where he proceeds, notebook in hand, to bring her to previously undreamed-of heights of gratification for days on end. What's not to like? This: Penny discovers that she is a test subject for the final development of a line of feminine products to be marketed in a nationwide chain of boutiques called Beautiful You. So potent and effective are these devices that women by the millions line up outside the stores on opening day and then lock themselves in their room with them and stop coming out. Except for batteries. Maxwell's plan for battery-powered world domination must be stopped. But how?
I read the entirety of the book in three sittings. Which to some would be disappointing, but to me was great! I got to experience the accomplished feeling of finishing something and got to read a great book at the same time!

As with most of his works, the beginning of the book is a shocker, which leads the reader to wonder how in the hell we wound up here. And, like the wings of a dragonfly, the story begins to wind itself into the twists and turns that brought the two main protagonists together, really, by chance.

Oh, Penny. Poor Penny. She is a simple gal from Omaha with big dreams that took her to New York City to work as a gofer at a law firm until she (finally) passes the bar exam - which, in two tries, has not worked out. In a chance meeting with C. Linus Maxwell (or, Climax-Well, as he is known in the tabloids), she is flung headfirst into what she first thinks is a romance for the ages, but oh was she wrong. (In this portion of the book, I felt like I was reading a step-cousin of Fifty Shades of Grey, for the record.)

C. Linus Maxwell and his company own tabloids, software companies, and pretty well everything under the sun. What Penny doesn't know is that she is about to be used as a guinea pig for a new line of "personal care products" called Beautiful You. And by "personal care products", I mean sex toys. In case there was any confusion. From their first dinner, Maxwell and Penny are thrust into the spotlight, their story unfolding as front page news - mostly in the tabloids that Maxwell owns.

What she doesn't know is that it is part of Maxwell's master plan to not only keep ninety-eight percent of the women of the world under his thumb via repeated orgasms after his Dragonfly product "breaks" inside them, but, with his little black box, feeding sales of ugly shoes and other items into companies that he owns. Add in additional characters such as Maxwell's former lovers; an award-winning actress, and the female President of the United States, for two. And, it would definitely not be complete without the equivalent of a sexual witch doctor, who lives in a caveside in Nepal.

Without giving too much away, I wouldn't call this Chuck's best or worst work. What I would call it is an entertaining read that sits somewhere in the middle. If you like a quick, good book, and also enjoy Chuck's work as much as I do, Beautiful You is a great choice for your next read.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Back from the dust.

Change can be a really funny thing. And, ironically, it is one of the hardest things to do starting out, but can be an amazing experience. Why bring it up? I have seen a lot of change, personally, in the last few months, and finally found the words to share it with all of you.

For the past six years, I have been living in Milwaukee, but felt as if something was missing. I had a great job and a handful of good friends, but I still didn't feel whole. Every time I would get upset, or every holiday I spent at home with grocery store sushi and chocolate cake (New Year's 2012) made me wonder - just what was I doing? Was a job really worth living hours away from everything, and everyone, I cared about? Eventually, I found that the answer to that question was an overwhelming NO. So, in August, I quit my job, packed everything I owned, and Vegas and Reno, and moved back to my hometown of Green Bay.

To be honest, while I was so afraid of making this big change, and worried about if I was making the right choice, I knew from the first night that I made the right choice. While I left what I knew of my life behind, I have gained so much more. And, to be honest? I would do it all over again.

The thing that helped me solidify my choice was the fact that I felt the pull in my heart of wanting to write again. A pull that I have not felt in years. While as an angsty teenager I couldn't stop, as a stressed-out adult, I couldn't start. Which, obviously, presented a problem. In just a few short months, I am writing again. I picked up a gig at a local publication writing about local music, and kept thinking about this blog.

Going into blogging seems easy - making a blog work with the rest of your life is the part that's hard. When I started this blog several years ago, I had no idea where I wanted it to go or what I wanted from it. Now, I have a much better idea.

So, where do we go from here? I am intending to bring An Epic Liz back to a normal posting schedule, and bring in a bit more of my voice. As an admitted beauty product junkie, I want to bring in some reviews of products I like, and new things I check out. I want to keep reading and reviewing books as a one-woman book club. I want to give you guys a taste of my life,  and - for the first time - be honest about who I am and how I feel. It's just a little funny that it took two months and a move across the state to help me find my voice again.

As always, thank you for reading and being patient with me. I am diligently working to bring An Epic Liz back from the dust, and better than ever.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How I Spent My Single Lady Valentine's Day

I know, I know, it's been awhile. I assure you, though, I've been working on a lot of stuff that's going to start making this blog awesome again. I have been working on myself a lot, and figuring out what I want and don't want out of life. Most important? I've been doing some new stuff and I'm ready to tell you guys all about it. But! That's not what this post is about.

For most of my adult life, I have been alone on Valentine's Day. And honestly? It doesn't really matter to me. It always feels fake to take just one day a year to celebrate the love we should be celebrating, and embracing, every day instead of just being horrible to each other. There are arguments on both sides of the table, whether it's a Hallmark holiday or a blemished day in history. I try to take it for what it is currently and basically tolerate everything being red and pink and all of the lovey-dovey stuff for the half price chocolate on February 15th. Hey, at least I'm honest.

This year, though... this year's plans were some of the best I've made in awhile. And what were those plans, you might ask? Simple. See Robocop. Eat pretzel bites. Be happy. And that is precisely. what. I. did.

As for the film, I really, really loved it. I haven't seen the original in awhile so I can't compare the two, but what I will say is that Robocop is definitely worth your ten bucks. I had heard reviewers saying both that it was great and that it was horrible. I like to make my own choices, so I went in with a blank slate and an open mind.

Robocop is about a future in which we are utilizing robots overseas instead of humans to keep the peace. There is much argument between politicians over whether or not the robots can be used stateside, with Detroit as the focus. Detroit of 2028 (when the film takes place) is not much different than it is now, with crime plaguing the streets and police officers attempting to keep the peace. Detective Alex Murphy (played by Joel Kinnaman from The Killing) is critically injured in the line of duty, and his wife is approached by the Omnicorp conglomerate with a way for her to keep him alive - by using him to test out a half man/half machine law enforcement officer.

I don't want to give away too much, but what I want to say is that I did not leave disappointed whatsoever. The supporting actors were all wonderful, from Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman as the CEO and a researcher for Omnicorp to Samuel L. Jackson as a television personality, the film was cast wonderfully. The other big thing I noticed? The film was about thirty percent gun fights and explosions, but the film was not ultraviolent, as I have gotten used to with almost every film that comes out. And the lack of real violence made it enjoyable. The other theme that really came out was the humanity of all of the characters. Whether intentional or not, the fight between the man and machine and heart versus computer made the viewer wondering which side would win out. All in all, two hours of great entertainment that's totally worth your ten bucks.

I also figured that since it is Valentine's Day and all, that I would have no issue getting into the theater, since most girls are into romantic comedies, especially given the date on the calendar. I was right about that - there were only about twenty people in the theater, mostly teenagers. I just remembered the good karma moment I had, so I'll add that too.

Sitting at the end of the aisle, I was too distracted by my pretzel bites to notice when one of the kids dropped $10 out of their pocket when it happened. When they came back, I asked one if they were looking for it and she said no, so I put it in my pocket and figured worst case scenario, I'd walk out with an extra $10. One of the other girls came up to me in a total panic and asked if I found the money, so I gave it back. Er go, I could have been a total jerk, but I chose not to.

Even though it's not Valentine's Day anymore, I hope everyone had a great day. What did you all do?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 is almost here…. Happy New Year!

As 2013 draws to a close, I think about the year that's passed and what I'd like to change in the future. I don't like to call these changes resolutions, since resolutions are something that aren't really stuck to. I like to make changes that stick.

Of course, every year ending leads to some measure of reflection. For me, I'm another year older, a little wiser (at least I think), and a better person as time goes on. So, without further ado… a list of things I'd like to keep doing, and things I'd like to start doing ahead of the new year.

1. Keep up with my fitness routine. 2013 was great for that. I really started working out in February, and I've found myself very near the 30 pound weight loss mark. I'm proud of myself, and plan to keep going. I have loved the feeling of pushing myself and making changes that will last for years to come.

2. Be a more consistent writer. Not just blog posts, but writing in general. Writing is something that I have always loved to do, but something I haven't made as much time for as I would like. Of course, I am still figuring out my blogging voice, and am planning to continue and improve.

3. Keep on crafting. I didn't do as well with my business this year as I would have liked, but it is not something I want to give up on. I want to continue making things in my offseason and do what I can to have a ton of new stuff in 2014. In case you didn't know, my business, Blackheart Knits & Crafts, is located on Etsy here.

4. Meet some new people. I think everyone wants to expand their circle of friends, but this is one thing I am really terrible at. I would like to maybe find a knitting circle or book club, and be more outgoing all things considered. I have to get over myself and realize that not everything is a negative when it comes to other people.

5. Get better at cooking. I have found a few recipes to try in 2013 that I've really loved, and I really love putting everything together. From store to pan, cooking is something I really want to get better at.

There's mine! What are your New Year's non-resolutions?