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Inferno by Dan Brown

Posted by Melissa on January 25, 2014 in Authors, Books |

Summary from Amazon product page:

In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci CodeAngels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

Inferno is classic Dan Brown.  As soon as I started reading, I recognized his familiar story pattern: Robert Langdon happens to meet up with a young woman and they end up getting chased by some secret society/organization/cult while trying to solve some mystery they’ve stumbled upon.  While running for their lives, they come across clues along the way and little by little begin to piece together the puzzle of some magnificent plot invented by a genius lunatic who’s threatening the world or someone very important.  The end is usually filled with twists and turns that for some who aren’t familiar with Dan Brown’s books would be unexpected, but for those who’ve read his Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol, it’s the same old thing.

With that said, did I still love it?  Yes, absolutely!  It was much better than The Lost Symbol and I would say on the same level as the Da Vinci Code.  What I love about Dan Brown’s books is that they are so informative.  I’ve learned a fountain of knowledge about the world of art by reading his books and I love how he cleverly weaves artistic and historical facts into his fiction.  In an interview with BBC news, he describes how he researched all of the places and information that went into the book:

What strikes me as different about Inferno is that Dan Brown also introduces a real world problem into the story and I have to say that this is the first work of fiction where I actually agreed with the bad guy.  It is true that the world is entering a population crisis and it is true that something should be done, but the question is what?  Is what Bertrand Zobrist does in the book ethical?

I think the answer to that question would be a definite, loud, and resounding “no”.  At the same time, I really do think some people in this world should be sterile, especially those couples or single women (like Octomom) who keep having baby after baby after baby when they can’t even afford to feed their first kid and end up becoming a burden on society.  What do we do with these kinds of people?  How do we implement population control without resorting to laws that infringe upon civil rights like the Chinese “one child” policy?

It’s a tough question and one for which I don’t have an answer. Hopefully, someday our world leaders and the leaders of WHO will be able to find a solution.  Until then, we do seem to be plunging ahead into a worldwide meltdown that will more than likely begin when our oil and other natural resources start to run dry.

And this is the genius of Dan Brown’s book.  It’s not just an adventure. It really makes you think about the world’s problems and how to solve them.  It addresses a critical concern and puts it right in front of your face.  No wonder it became a rapid bestseller.

I give it five out of five stars!

FiveStars

 

Happy Reading and Viewing!

~ Melissa

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Sherlock: The Empty Hearse

Posted by Melissa on January 20, 2014 in Books |

If you haven’t seen The Empty Hearse, do not read the following post as there are major spoilers.

So it’s finally here!  The Empty Hearse made it’s debut in America last night and I, like so many other Americans, was glued to the TV for 90 minutes, completely oblivious to anything in the world going on around me, even dinner.  I have to ask myself, why did it take so long to get to America when it aired on New Year’s day in Britain and elsewhere around the world?  And the only answer I can think of is that the British hate us.  They hate us and they know their TV shows are better, so they rub it in our faces and make us wait 19 grueling days to find out what happens to our favorite crime solving team in London.

That’s my theory and I’m stickin’ to it!  :)

But seriously, the first thing that came to mind while watching the first episode of season three was: “They must have so much fun making this show!”

The fun starts at the beginning when we see everyone’s reaction to Sherlock returning to London, back from the dead after two years.

Aaaaaah!

Aaaaaah!

It's you!

It’s you!

You bastard!

You bastard!

It was time to come back.  You've been letting things slide.

It was time to come back. You’ve been letting things slide.

Missed you.

Missed you.

Oh my God!

Oh my God!

Of all the characters, John’s reaction was quite possibly the best I’ve ever seen in TV history.  I have to say I enjoyed Martin Freeman’s performance in this episode the most and I can safely say that both he and Benedict Cumberbatch were born to play these roles.  They were brilliant and the two, along with a terrific supporting cast and brilliant scriptwriting, really make this show worth watching.  It’s really too bad there aren’t more shows out there like it.

In the scene where John sees Sherlock for the first time since the funeral, Sherlock dresses up like a French waiter and thinks he’s going to play a funny joke by springing the news on John that he’s not dead, only to suddenly and shamefully realize that John’s not laughing.  I almost felt sorry for Sherlock in this scene because he doesn’t really know what to do and he says the worst possible things he can say in the situation.  He appears naked and vulnerable in front of his friend.  He no longer has his protective walls around him.  He can no longer use arrogance as a shield and it becomes clear as day that although he’s a genius, he’s socially retarded.  Yet somehow the scene plays out well and ends up being hilariously funny.  So without further explaining, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Can I help you wiz anything, sir?

Can I help you wiz anything, sir?

My personal recommendation is zees last one.

My personal recommendation is zees last one.

It is like a face from zee past.

It is like a face from zee past.

Like an old friend.

Like an old friend.

You!

You!

I thought you were dead!

I thought you were dead!

I realize I owe you an apology.

I realize I owe you an apology.

How could you do that?

Two years you let me grieve! How could you do that?

Before you do anything, let me ask one question.  Are you really going to keep your mustache?

Before you do anything, let me ask one question. Are you really going to keep your mustache?

Arghhhhh!!!!!!!!

Arghhhhh!!!!!!!!

I'm going to kill you!

I’m going to kill you!

Who else knew?

Who else knew?

Seriously, it's not a joke?  You're really keeping that mustache?

Seriously, it’s not a joke? You’re really keeping that mustache?

One word, Sherlock!  That is all I would have needed!

One word, Sherlock! That is all I would have needed!

My help?  You want my help now?

My help? You want my help now?

You have missed this.  Admit it.

You have missed this. Admit it.

BloodyNose2

Aaaah, ouch!

I don't understand.  I said I'm sorry. Isn't that what you're supposed to do?

I don’t understand. I said I’m sorry. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?

Gosh, you don't know anything about human nature, do you?

Gosh, you don’t know anything about human nature, do you?

Human nature?  No.

Human nature? No.

I'll talk him 'round.

I’ll talk him ’round.

You will?

You will?

Benedict Cumberbatch said in an interview that he was worried about what the fans would think of his “new” Sherlock.  He was worried about how they would take his performance (not that he even needs to care, but it says something wonderful about him as a person that he does.)  I see now why he was concerned.  Sherlock has changed. Although I really enjoyed the show and I thought Cumberbatch’s performance was brilliant, I have to admit that I did feel a bit of nostalgia for the old Sherlock.  And I mean the Sherlock we see in the very first episodes.  The withdrawn, aloof, and seemingly uncaring Sherlock.  I actually loved him for his arrogance and his biting quips.  They were hilarious!

“Don’t talk Anderson.  You lower the IQ of the whole street.”

“Why?”,  “Because you’re an idiot.”

“So you scratch their backs?”, “Yes, and I disinfect myself.”

“Brilliant, Anderson.”,  “Really?”,  “Yes, brilliant impression of an idiot.”

Unfortunately, in the Empty Hearse, Sherlock’s witty one-liners are few and far between.  At this point in the story, Sherlock can no longer feign indifference to protect his secret — that he’s an idiot when it comes to human relationships.  So his arrogance and insolence are somewhat gone, especially when dealing with John Watson.  When he sees him again after two years, he reminds me more of Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock, especially in the restaurant scene above as he nicks people’s stuff to disguise himself.  It was very much like in the movie, The Game of Shadows.  He is also like Downey’s Sherlock in that he appears vulnerable and needy in this scene.  He needs his friend to accept him again.  He is no longer the independent Sherlock who can hide behind his walls.  He has formed a bond with someone, someone he needs, and suddenly realizes how alone he is without him.  So, in that scene, he steps out and shows himself publicly and in doing so, makes it glaringly obvious that he has no idea how to relate to people and their emotions.  This facilitates Mary’s very insightful observation about him at the end of their night when she says: “Gosh, you don’t know anything about human nature, do you?”

And speaking of Mary, I thought Martin Freeman’s wife, Amanda Abbington, was beautiful and perfect in the role.  They couldn’t have picked a better actress.  The natural familiarity and chemistry between her and her husband (in the show and in real life) shone through brilliantly on the screen.

I agree.  I am the best thing that's happened to you.

I agree. I am the best thing that’s happened to you.

I also love the relationship the character, Mary, forms with Sherlock as she says to John in the cab: “I like him.”  It’s very different from Guy Ritchie’s Mary.

I like him.

I like him.

Cumberbatch’s real parents were also perfectly cast as Sherlock and Mycroft’s parents in the show.  Forget about nepotism.  There was really no other set of actors who could have pulled it off as convincingly.

There's a big to-do in Parliament today.

There’s a big to-do in Parliament today.

It was great to see more of Sherlock’s personal life come out in this episode — meeting his parents and watching him and his brother talk about their childhood as they play Operation.

Oh bugger!

Oh bugger!

What I found touching about Sherlock’s discussion with his brother is that through all of their intellectual garble as they analyze the hat, Sherlock can all the sudden see something about his brother that he never saw before, that is, before he met his best friend.  Mycroft is lonely and doesn’t know it.

Why would anyone mind?

Why would anyone mind?

I'm not lonely, Sherlock.

I’m not lonely, Sherlock.

How would you know?

How would you know?

Despite all of these terrific aspects of The Empty Hearse, there were a few small disappointments.  One of them was the relationship between Molly and Sherlock.  I was disappointed that they didn’t end up together because you can tell that she really loves him.  The scene below where she tells him she’s engaged was particularly heartbreaking.

I'm engaged.

I’m engaged.

Congratulations.

Congratulations.

I was really hoping they’d end up like this:

SherlockMollyKiss

The picture above is not what really happened, by the way.  It’s a scene from one of Anderson’s “how Sherlock survived” theories.

And speaking of Anderson, I have to say I was truly disappointed in Anderson and his whole Empty Hearse club.  The fact that Anderson goes semi-insane, loses his job, neglects his personal hygiene, and starts a “how Sherlock survived” club was so ludicrous, I had a hard time watching.

There, there, Anderson.

There, there, Anderson.

This is Anderson?  The one who hated Sherlock?  The one who wouldn’t work with him in the Study in Pink?  The one who conspired with Donovan to arrest him for attempted murder in the Reichenbach Fall?  His total transformation was way too out of character (and where was Donovan in this show, btw?  She was completely missing. Not that I’m complaining, but her absence went without any explanation whatsoever.)

I admit, I was worried something silly like this — Anderson’s side story — would be written into the show given the enormous amount of fame it has acquired.  I was worried that it would get over-sensationalized and it did.  But then again, maybe this is just the scriptwriters’ way of ridiculing the huge online world of Sherlock fan fiction and the insane media hype that has been built up so gloriously around it.  That could be.  Steven Moffat strikes me as the type of person who might do that.  :)

The last little annoyance with The Empty Hearse was that we don’t really find out how he did it.  Sherlock faking his death, that is.  Toward the end, he gives Anderson a brief run down of events, but even Anderson admits that he is the last person Sherlock would tell and so we are left hanging with no real explanation.  Even when John asks him at the end how he did it, Sherlock doesn’t give him a straight answer.

You are going to tell me how you did it?  How you jumped off that building and survived?

You are going to tell me how you did it? How you jumped off that building and survived?

You know my methods, John.  I am known to be indestructible.

You know my methods, John. I am known to be indestructible.

The only fact I got out of Sherlock’s explanations to his friends was that Mycroft was involved which sheds light on the out-of-character annoyance I spoke of in my last post on Sherlock.  I had wondered about Mycroft’s involvement.  I knew there had to be an explanation for his lack of empathy.  It was too out of character for him.  And there it was.  So, I’m satisfied.  :)

But after all this, my absolute favorite part of the show was the ending — the exchange between John and Sherlock.  It was best part of the entire episode.

When I was at your grave, I asked you for one more miracle.  I asked you to stop being dead.

When I was at your grave, I asked you for one more miracle. I asked you to stop being dead.

I know.  I was there.  I heard you.

I know. I was there. I heard you.

Thank you, BBC!  Now I can patiently wait for the next episode: The Sign of Three.

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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Breaking My Silence

Posted by Melissa on January 16, 2014 in Random Thoughts |

I’m writing this post today because I feel like there is something that really needs to be said.  Ever since October of 2011, I have been libeled relentlessly by several people, mostly book bloggers from Goodreads.com, because I spoke out against the author abuse I found running rampant on the site.  For almost two years now, these people have been claiming I did and said things I have never done.  I’m writing this post today to set the record straight.  Below are two lists describing exactly what I have done and what I have not done.  This is the truth about me.

These are the things I HAVE NEVER done:

  1. I have never attacked or harassed reviewers of my books.
  2. I have never published private information about another person, or “doxxed” them through unethical means.
  3. I have never attacked or harassed other authors, nor have I ever placed revenge one-star reviews on another author’s book or created fake accounts to do it.
  4. I have never created fake accounts on Goodreads or Amazon just to place five-star reviews on my own books and inflate their ratings.
  5. I have never bought reviews for my books.
  6. I have never review-swapped with another author.
  7. I do not run STGRB.  I am not Athena Parker, or anyone else who is behind that blog.

These are the things I HAVE done:

  1. In October of 2011, I was perusing Goodreads reviews of a book I wanted to read by another author and found an extremely offensive, author-bashing review.  I made a comment on the review that I thought it was inappropriate.  I was attacked by a gang of Goodreads bullies.  I stood my ground and defended my position.  Afterwards, I wrote a blog post about my experience called Unacceptable Behavior.
  2. In February of 2012, I joined K.C. Neal’s Spread Love Not Hate anti-bullying campaign and wrote a post about the Goodreads bullies whom I had observed launch organized attacks on authors they didn’t like.  I was again attacked and so were my books.  They were showered with one-star reviews that were mostly about me and not my books.  I left Goodreads shortly afterwards.
  3. I have paid for reviews in the form of Bookrooster.com and blog tours with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours.  In other words, I paid a third party a fee and they distributed my books to readers/reviewers/blog tour hosts who read them and wrote reviews for their blogs, for Amazon, and for Goodreads.  Therefore, if there are several Amazon reviews on my books that are not verified purchases, that is why.  In addition, my first book, The Raie’Chaelia, is also free on Kobo, on Amazon, and in my online bookstore.  Therefore, purchase of that book is not necessary in order to read it.
  4. I left Goodreads in February of 2012 and I never intend to return.
  5. I have only ever responded positively to readers/reviewers of my books, either thanking them for their review or offering a refund if they didn’t enjoy them.
  6. I have only ever been supportive of other authors and have done my best to help them succeed.

For the past two years, I have been libeled, stalked, attacked, and threatened (by phone) all because I witnessed an injustice being done on a website (Goodreads) and instead of cowering in silence, I decided to speak out openly against it.  I’m not the only one who has spoken out.  Many others have as well. The fact that the problem escalated to the point where it was brought not just to national, but international attention and the fact that Goodreads had to act in order to correct it proves that I was right and that I’ve been a victim of bullying and abuse.  I am tired of being targeted, especially by those who should know better.

That is all I wanted to say.

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Ode to the Booble: A Portly Beagle

Posted by Melissa on January 12, 2014 in Random Thoughts |
Below is a poem written by my nephew in iambic pentameter for his beloved Beagle, Ruffles. :) 29698_103425746370811_6879179_n
My beagle is not just any other canine
Who sleeps and eats and barks etcetera
An animal content to remain all day supine.
Of talents he possesses a plethora.
Capable of eating a 12-inch pizza alone
Maybe he would die groaning on the floor.
But no! a person never would have known
In fact, maybe he could have eaten 2 more.
Such a beagle can be a tri-colored pain,
But he makes you love him although imperious,
He only barks once but not to complain
Just to tell you he’s really serious!
You would never find his breed on Google,
He’s not a Beagle, he’s a Booble.
~ Ian Nicholas Derrick

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First Outlander Trailer

Posted by Melissa on January 12, 2014 in Authors, Books, Movies |

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is coming to Starz!  So excited!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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The Truth About Gingers

Posted by Melissa on January 8, 2014 in Random Thoughts |

This is funny!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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To Protect and Infect

Posted by Melissa on January 7, 2014 in News, Random Thoughts |

The NSA has gone too far.  Spying on our personal computers is a violation of civil liberties and our right to privacy.  Thank God for people like Jacob Appelbaum.  Below, he gives an hour long talk on the issue, educating the public about what the NSA is doing, how we can stay aware, and what we can do to protect ourselves:

For a more detailed description of the video, this article says:

This is a terrific presentation from tech researcher and journalist Jacob Appelbaum. At December’s Chaos Computer Congress in Hamburg, he presented the latest documented revelations about how deep the NSA spying rabbit hole really goes.

Appelbaum timed his talk to come out at the same time as a Der Spiegel article detailing the discovery of an NSA group called TAO, which helps the agency spy on citizens’ private computers — even intercepting computer deliveries to add backdoors to targeted people’s machines. Working with the German news magazine, Appelbaum carefully explains what he found and how it affects ordinary people around the world.

The extreme overzealousness of the NSA’s spying programs has been revealed bit by bit in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations last year. Now, even conservative politicians like Republican Sen. Rand Paul are saying that the NSA is going too far. Paul recently threatened to sue the federal government for spying on its own citizens.

I applaud those like Jacob Appelbaum, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden who are exposing the NSA’s activities and educating the public about it.  Governments, especially those that preach democracy and freedom, should not be spying on its own citizens without their knowledge.  And I’m sad to say that our government is trying to silence these men who have brought us this information and who are trying to create transparency around the world.

In this day and age, transparency is essential.  When you’ve got people in power who are not being held in check, who are not being held accountable for their actions, it creates the perfect breeding ground for corruption.  Civil liberties get violated and everything we’ve worked for since America was founded is sabotaged.  The people who work in our government need to remember that they are public servants, that we pay their salaries, and that they work for us. Not the other way around.

Write to your congressmen.  Tell them to put a stop to this.  Don’t let the NSA take away your freedom.

~ Melissa

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Interstellar

Posted by Melissa on January 3, 2014 in Movies |

Interesting!  Coming November 2014!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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Happy New Year!

Posted by Melissa on January 1, 2014 in Events, Random Thoughts |

Blessings and good fortune to all for the coming year!

Happy-New-Year-Wishes-2014-Wallpapers

Happy New Year!

~ Melissa

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