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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Historical Tidbit: Rise and Fall of the Romanovs

Did you know...that both the first and the last Tsar of Russia were tangled up with the Romanov Clan?

It's true!

These are the grand-duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia, and Maria in 1914, not so long before the Boleshevik Revolution that led to their execution, along with the their mother Alexandra and their father, Nicholas II, last Tsar of Russia. These beautiful girls were raised as royalty, but at these respective ages had relatively little time left to live.

Russia has a fascinating history. The Romanov family wasn't always considered royalty. They were simply a family of powerful nobles, until the mid-sixteenth century when Ivan the Terrible, first Tsar of unified Russia chose one Anastasia Romanovna as his bride. It's interesting to me that both the first and last Tsars in Russian history were entangled with the Romanovs.

Check out the story of how they were raised to royalty, through Ivan the Terrible, in Citadels of Fire. It hit shelves May 27th and is doing well among readers and critics. 

In a world where danger hides in plain sight and no one aspires to more than what they were born to, Inga must find the courage to break the oppressive chains she’s been bound with since birth.
As a maid in the infamous Kremlin, life in 16th-century Russia is bleak and treacherous. That is, until Taras arrives. Convinced that his mother’s death when he was a boy was no mere accident, he returned from England to discover what really happened. While there, he gains favor from the Tsar later known as Ivan the Terrible, the most brutal and notorious ruler ever to sit upon the throne of Russia. Ivan allows him to take a servant, and to save Inga from a brutal boyar intent on raping her, Taras requests Inga to stay in his chambers.
Up against the social confines of the time, the shadowy conspiracies that cloak their history, and the sexual politics of the Russian Imperial court, Inga and Taras must discover their past, plan for their future, and survive the brutality that permeates life within the four walls that tower over them all, or they may end up like so many citizens of ancient Russia: nothing but flesh and bone mortar for the stones of the Kremlin wall.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thoughts for Thursday: Cormac McCarthy

Thoughts for Thursday is a new feature hosted by Musings on Fantasia and LKHill.  In this meme, we share thoughts or quotes that we know or have recently come across. Each week there is a specific subject or theme. These can be quotes from books, quotes by famous people, (quotes by YOU, perhaps ;D). Anything from anywhere is game, though we do ask that you keep your quote to a few sentences at most. Don't quote, for example, entire passages of a book or essay. These can be funny quips, cool sayings, hair-raising antidotes, movie lines, any kind of quote you can think of!

Just have fun, collect awesome sayings by awesome people, and try to be inspired!

This week's theme is Cormac McCarthy! For those who haven't read him, Cormac McCarthy has a beautiful, poetic writing style that doesn't always come across very well on screen, but is unfailingly thought-provoking to read. I always think of him as the writer's writer. His books take a little bit of work to wade through, but it's always worth it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Movie Review: Devil's Knot

In 1993, three young boys went missing from West Memphis, Arkansas. Their bodies were found the next day in a creek and three troubled, teenage boys were accused and convicted of their murders. This movie tells the story of those tragic murders and the subsequent farce of a case that convicted three innocent teens of the crime. I rented it because I'd heard of the case and was interested in learning more.

**I outlined the details of this case in a crime tidbit post on Monday. To read that, click HERE.**

Synopsis: West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993 was a small town of bible belt folk. When three young boys don't make it home one night, the community sets out to look for them. 

Acting/Characters: Reese Witherspoon plays the mother of one of the boys, Stevie Branch, who lives through the misery of the twisted case. As always, she is very convincing in her role. Not the kind of woman who simply wants justice for her child, but one who genuinely wants to know what happened, she plays a discerning woman, swept up by the tide of a case that quickly becomes much bigger than her or her family.

Colin Firth--who I've loved since his days of playing Mr. Darcy--plays a P.I. who attaches himself to the defense, less because he believes the boys to be innocent, and more because he hates the idea of the teens being convicted of a capital crime. It's the digging of him and his team that brings most of the problems with the case to light. Though they ultimately can't stop the conviction, they keep digging to try and churn the truth to the surface.

Plenty of other talented actors also make an appearance. Most aren't A-listers, but they were part of the appeal of the film for me. Even the small parts were often played by actors I know and respect, including Elias Koteas, Mireille Enos, Kevin Durand, Steven Moyer, Alessandro Nivola, and more.

I really liked this film. You have to watch closely and note names of characters so you know who they're talking about in the courtroom, but I think they did a good job of showing what happened, how many people were involved, and how so many obvious blunders could be swept under the rug and untruths so easily believed. 

I'll warn that the beginning is hard to watch. While not terribly explicit, you do see them pull the nude bodies of the boys out of the water, and your heart will definitely hurt. If you know the details of the case, the final convictions aren't shocking, but the afterward in which they describe different things that came to light in subsequent years will make you gasp. It becomes fairly obvious to the discerning viewer what actually happened, but justice was not and still has not been served here, which makes it quite tragic all around.

The film is dedicated to the memory of the three boys who died that night, which I thought was touching. 

Overall, if you like true crime or have any interest in this case, you'll like Devil's Knot. I thought it was well put together and did a good job showing the ins and outs of what happened. It's the kind of thing that happens very little any more, thanks to the technology of forensic science, but must still be guarded against. 

Has anyone else seen this film? What did you think of it?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Crime Tidbit: The Case of the West Memphis Three

Do you know...about the 1993 West Memphis Murders?

It's really a fascinating--and of course tragic--case. I first heard about it when I read that Peter Jackson made a documentary called West of Memphis which lays out the case. 

The Facts: Three eight-year-old boys, Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers, went missing. Their bodies were found the next day in a creek in Robin Hood woods, near their homes in West Memphis, Arkansas. The boys were nude, their ankles and wrists hogtied with their own shoe laces. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunburns and Marathons

So this will be short and sweet today. If you want to read my Game of Thrones recap (last night was the fourth season's finale!) check out my other blog.

Me and my niece waiting at the marathon finish line!
For this one, let me just say that I may be a bit absent this week. Usually I pre-write most of my posts over the weekend, because I just don't have time during the week to create them. This past weekend, two of my sisters ran in the UVU Marathon in Provo, Utah. I went down there (about two hours south of me) and stayed in a motel with them so I could care for my niece while her mom ran. I waited for them at the finish line for about 90 minutes, which resulted in a sunburn on my arms, neck, and chest. First one of the season. Gotta love it.

Then we headed to another sister's house in the afternoon to celebrate both her and my brother's birthday. And today was Father's Day, of course. A fun weekend, but extremely busy!

My point is that I got exactly two blog posts written, both of which went up today. So, I may or may not post again until next week. I'll try, but no promises. I will return to my regular scheduled programming next week, though. Please bear with me. 

(And have a fantastic week yourself. :D)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thoughts for Thursday: Pursuit of Perfection

Thoughts for Thursday is a new feature hosted by Musings on Fantasia and LKHill.  In this meme, we share thoughts or quotes that we know or have recently come across. Each week there is a specific subject or theme. These can be quotes from books, quotes by famous people, (quotes by YOU, perhaps ;D). Anything from anywhere is game, though we do ask that you keep your quote to a few sentences at most. Don't quote, for example, entire passages of a book or essay. These can be funny quips, cool sayings, hair-raising antidotes, movie lines, any kind of quote you can think of!

Just have fun, collect awesome sayings by awesome people, and try to be inspired!

This week's theme is the Pursuit of Perfection!

"Too late, I found you can't wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else."--Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

"When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, thy will become what they should be."--Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection

"You say that I'm nobody, and you agree that nobody's perfect. Based on logic, I'm a perfect person according to your opinion."--Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

"Our most significant opportunities will be found in the times of greatest difficulty."--Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection

"If everything is imperfect in this imperfet world, love is most perfect in its perfect imperfection."--Gunnar Bjornstrand

What is your favorite quote about perfection? Do you have one to add?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Okay, so I've had all KINDS of issues with this book review. The first time it went up, I created the post but hadn't finished the book yet and so hadn't actually filled in the review part, and somehow, accidentally published it. Then I wrote the review and published it for real, but for some reason, it wasn't showing up right on the blog. It's still looked largely blank. Why? I have no idea. I'm sure it was an operator problem. My life has been crazy lately and I haven't been putting the time and energy into my blogs that I should. This is me, trying to remedy that. So, here's the review. For real this time. I hope. *crosses fingers*

I finally read this book! I wanted to get it read before I saw the film. Though, admittedly, I don't know when that will be.

**No real spoilers here, but I do discuss a few plot points in some detail, so if you want to know nothing, then skip this review.**

Summary:  Hazel is sixteen and has a terminal case of cancer. Though at this point in her life, she is doing okay, she and her parents know that she probably won't live into adulthood. She meets a boy named Augustus Waters in a cancer support group. He's one leg short but in remission, and the two connect in a morbid-cancer-humor sort of way. They just get one another and soon begin to date.

Characters: I thought both main characters--Hazel and Gus--were pretty good. This is definitely a YA book, which means they're teens. But, because they've both been sick most of their lives, they aren't as whiny and angsty and teen-drama-ish as most YA characters are. They're also both very intelligent. Again, as a result of their respective illnesses, they haven't had the ability to do much except sit around and read, watch TV and play video games. They both have very rye, overblown (albeit morbid) senses of humor, which I enjoyed immensely.

They're also both very human. John Green can write raw human beings like nobody's business.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today's teasers come from Enclave by Ann Aguirre. This is one that's been on my TBR list for a long time, and I finally got a copy for Christmas, but am just now getting around to it.

Nimble looked thoughtful. "What do you think a wedding is?" 
"Some kind of party? Maybe like we have after naming day?" I did wonder why the paper had been sealed in a box full of sweet-smelling powder, but I had long since accepted that I'd never understand everything. In the enclave, it mattered more that we performed well in our allotted roles. Life didn't permit extensive curiosity; there was no time for it. (Pg. 25, Kindle edition)

What are you reading this week?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Historical Tidbit / Movie Review: Pompeii

So this past week I finally got around to watching the film, Pompeii, which I've been wanting to see for awhile. Because it's based on a true event, I thought I'd combine the review with a historical tidbit. I'll do the tidbit first--the truth behind Pompeii's history--and the movie review will be below.

Pompeii Forum and Vesuvius in distance. (Source)
Pompeii was a city/town near modern-day Naples. It sat roughly 8 miles from the base of Mount Vesuvius. On August 24, of 79 A.D., the volcano erupted, famously killing most of Pompeii's 20,000 residents by covering them in 13-25 feet of ash. Reports of people still lying in their beds and bread still baking in their ovens are famous facts surrounding this ancient tragedy. No one could understand why the people didn't run or how they wouldn't have understood that the volcano was erupting.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Top 10 Books in my Beach Bag this Summer (All covers courtesy of goodreads.com unless otherwise linked.)

I don't know if I'll even see a beach this summer! Hopefully so. We'll see. These aren't particularly beachy reads, but they're the top books I have lined up to read this summer, so if I DO make it to the beach, I'll definitely take a few of them. My theme is to either 1) finish series I've started 2) read books by authors I like that have been on my kindle WAY too long, or 3) read a book I have by an author I've never read but have been meaning to get to.

Successful Launch Party!!!

Saturday was the launch party for Citadels of Fire, and it was a smash success! Lots of friends, family, and colleagues from all over came to support me. I think I had thirty or forty people there. Most of them bought copies (some more than one *squee*) and I had quite a few customers who were simply shopping around in Barnes and Noble come up and talk to me about the book and buy copies as well.

I didn't ever do a reading--the flow of things was more open house than captive audience--but I didn't mind that. I was constantly talking to different people about the book, and the time just flew by. My wonderful publicist Marissa from Jolly Fish Press stopped by, which was great because I'd never met her in person before. We just correspond via email. It was great to finally put a face to a name. 

And of course, a couple of my fellow JFP authors came out to support me as well, which I very much appreciated. Thanks Johnny and Elsie! :D

Overall, I thought it was a great success. Below are a few pictures. (Now if I can only master the art of selling a million copies! Hmm...)

Me and my 3-year old niece Cheveya, who
was much more interested in running around
the store and finding books of her own to
read than she was about my 
Me at my Citadels of Fire launch party.

Me and Author Johnny Worthen.
As you can see, he'smaking me laugh.
See his page HERE.
Me and my teenage brothers, who all put on
Facebook that their sister was a celebrity
and they were proud of her. *heart melts*

Any tips for things I could have done to make it an even bigger success?