Tag Archives: books

A Shack-Inspired Birthday Reflection

Ever since I saw The Shack this weekend, I haven’t been able to get its themes out of my head. Frankly, would I even want that? Nope. I think it’s great that the story sticks with me so much!

The Shack is a heartfelt story about a man, named Mack, who is lead back to life by God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Literally, they appear in a shack in the woods and spend the weekend with him. Whether you’re Christian or not, it’s a good story that can reground the best of humanity within you: being good to one another, forgiving those who do wrong against you, and spreading love.

Every time I read–or now watch–The Shack, I feel like a child again.

And, especially now in my life, it’s a message I need reiterated to me.

I have found myself, especially in the past, in seemingly hurricane-like chaotic years, not focusing on love–or trusting in God–as much as I really should’ve been doing. Since Choy, my beloved feline companion died, events have transpired that have shaken me. Frankly, they’ve taken me, unwillingly, a bit away from focusing on God. My belief in him has still been strong, of course. It always will be. However, I realize in hindsight that I was going through the motions of living a strong faith; specifically, I focused on my worries rather than putting my trust in Him. It’s amazing how we can get lost in our own battles, and our fears of the future, and forget to put our trust in God–to trust things will work out the best way they should.

Truly, it’s hard to put your trust in something you can’t see. And that’s the theme of The Shack: God is always with you, his love will guide you, just let him show you the way. (Or, for those who prefer, let “her” show you the way.)

This year, as my birthday approached, I’ve been feeling more emotional as of late. Last year, I spent my special day at Cleveland Clinic Main Campus, watching my father go in for melanoma surgery. Mom and I left my dad late that night, after we knew he was safe, settled and the surgery was successful. On the way home, we stopped at Olive Garden and I blew out a candle in an apple crisp dessert.

A simple, small, somewhat melancholic birthday that fell right in place with the rest of 2016.

But it’s not that specific day itself that makes me bittersweet about my birthday, it’s how the year went after dad’s surgery. That landmark moment seemed to catapult my family and I into a variety of stunning developments that grew me into a stronger Katie today. In part, I wish that some things didn’t happen; mom’s brain bleed last April, for example. But, for the most part, I’m happy for how much I’ve grown out of my shell. For example, I’ve found a hidden talent in bookkeeping that I could hone to subsidize my writing career and support my family.

All in all, even if my birthday feels a tad bittersweet, I still remain stubbornly optimistic to see the good that this new birth year brings.

I fervently aim to finish my book and get it out to agents by the time I go to New Orleans, but I am also, now, looking forward to pursuing this bookkeeping career. (If I’m being honest, I wasn’t entirely set on it until now.) I’m excited for Dan, the boyfriend, and I to get engaged and set our combined goals in motion. And I aim, with God’s help, to let my life–and the lives of those around me–be as little stressed as possible. (Especially after the taxes are completed! Hah!)

I impart this wisdom to all of you: hope is never gone, love never leaves, God never deserts you, unless you let it go yourself. As the infamous Dustin Pari says: “#NeverGiveUp!” 


For more birthday reflections and ramblings, check out my companion Youtube video, and, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, subscribe to my channel and blog!

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Well, jeez. Apparently my 2016 theme is the apocalypse and post-apocalyptic survival. Last month the focus was The Walking Dead. This month, four days in, I’ve finally watched Mad Max: Fury Road and The 5th Wave. (While, yeah. I’m frankly just waiting for TWD to return.) Both movies were good. However, I really enjoyed The 5th Wave.

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Short summary of The 5th Wave (via Google search):

“The human race stands on the brink of extinction as a series of alien attacks decimate the planet, causing earthquakes, tsunamis and disease. Separated from her family, Ohio teenager Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) will do whatever it takes to reunite with her brother Sam. Fate leads her to form an alliance with Evan Walker (Alex Roe), a mysterious young man who may be her last hope. Forced to trust each other, Cassie and Evan fight for survival during the fifth assault from the invaders.”

With a quick glance at the Rotten Tomatoes score of the movie (Critics: 16%, Audience: 48%), I actually don’t get it. The plot was decent: it had a good pace and the logic made sense. The movie wasn’t horribly predictable either. Maybe there were a few cliches, but, hey, cliches are going to happen in some form, in every story. You can’t avoid them. The acting was phenomenal, the movie had it’s tense moments, and the book itself (I read the first couple pages via Kindle tonight) is very well written… a lot better than other YA novels that are getting screen time.

One of the reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes blames the lack of interest in The 5th Wave on the over-saturation of the YA market right now. While I do recognize that a lot of ads, TV shows, movies, and books seem to target the young adult market, I don’t think that’s 100% the reason why people aren’t as interested in The 5th Wave. I honestly was half-and-half about seeing the movie because, simply, aliens have been done–over, and over, and over again. Since the 1950s when The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds classics released, Earth has had their imaginations looking upwards.

Storytellers of varying eras have thrown every alien, post-apocalyptic conspiracy at their audiences. Remember how I talked about cliches? Well alien horror movies could, arguably, be a subclause of trope themselves. Just like zombies, haunted houses, romantic encounters, and murder mysteries.

It’s our job as storytellers to come up with new ways of telling a familiar story. And Rick Yancey has done it with his series.

For example, the concept itself of “Waves” is very intriguing. Like, yes. They’ve been seen before. However, these attacks haven’t been seen together (as far as I know: I haven’t viewed every apocalyptic story). At the very least, the thought of multiple attacks from a group of Beings hell-bent on destroying our species is enough to get the adrenaline going.

I definitely do suggest checking out The 5th Wave. I’m not sure that I’ll go out and get the novels right away, mainly because I have so many books to catch up on and I’m stubborn. But when viewing the trailer, my “Movie Geek Sixth Sense” tingled. It’s a great ride.

Check out The 5th Wave trailer:

Honestly, I think I’ll keep on this pattern and watch The Road next. Maybe. I’ve heard it’s good though. This is all a secret way to bide time until The Walking Dead comes on V-day. Hah!

What apocalyptic stories do you friends suggest? Comment below!

Have a great week, friends and fans! I’ll see you on Friday with the next installment to my Transformers series!

2015 Favorites; 2016 Resolutions

Lord almighty! I cannot believe 2016 is upon us already! Honestly, 2015 was a bit of a challenge for me. I’m happy for the lessons I’ve learned this year, but I would be lying if I wasn’t excited for 2016. I hope for me and my family that it is a good year; it seems the recent years have been a bit of a challenge for us. I’m also looking forward to finally accomplishing some goals in 2016, but more on that later.

First, a bit of fun. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite movies, music, books, and TV shows of 2015. Not all of them were released in 2015, but I encountered them this year.

Here we go!

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Favorite movie: (A TIE!) Jurassic World and No Escape.

2015 was a year of nostalgia: Star Wars launched a new trilogy, The Hunger Games ended, and Jurassic Park’s reboot, for me, started it all. I was never a huge fan of dinosaurs and Jurassic Park wasn’t a series I was entirely devoted to until recently. Frankly, I was more loyal to the classic adventures I grew up with (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and James Bond). However, to pay tribute to the great Steven Spielberg, I decided to go to the reboot.

I. Was. Not. Disappointed!

What especially caught my attention was Chris Pratt’s devotion to his Indiana-Jones-like-dinosaur-trainer: a character who was full of heart but a total “badass” (as one of the nephews put it).

Whether you’re a Jurassic Park fan or not, I strongly encourage you to see Jurassic World. The plot is well done, the action is gripping, and the nostalgia is purely palpable.

Speaking of badass movies, No Escape was probably my most favorite film of 2015. When I first watched the trailers, I thought I’d pass on the movie. However, what got me into the theaters was Owen Wilson; it was a first to see him in a serious, action-packed role (vs a comedy like Zoolander) and I wanted to see how well he did. I will tell you: he did not disappoint in the least!

Furthermore, No Escape brings up an issue that not everyone thinks about: monopoly in a third-world country. The cause of the uprising in the unnamed South-East Asia country is, put plainly, a first-world country taking control of their resources. Owen Wilson is unknowingly a part of this takeover and he puts his family in the center of it.

No Escape is certainly action-packed and very violent, as an uprising would be. The pace of the plot is wonderful: fast enough to keep the heart pounding, but it slows down at the appropriate points when Owen Wilson discovers exactly what his employers have been up to. I definitely suggest seeing it.


 

Favorite song: Lost Stars, sung by Adam Levine.

Lost Stars is an original song found in the movie Begin Again with Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. It was nominated in the 2015 Academy Awards for Best Original Song, which was well deserved (however, it did lose to Glory). The lyrics of the song are poetic and entirely soul-felt. I doubt there is a person in the world who wouldn’t identify with the story it weaves.

The chorus alone gives me chills as the song builds in its ballad:

“And God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young.
It’s hunting season and the lambs are on the run,
Searching for meaning.
But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?”

 

Another astounding thing: this song stands apart. It complements Begin Again, but it’s a song you can put your own meaning, your own story to. It’s universal.


 

Favorite book: Welcome to Night Vale

Oh, Night Vale. Ever since I started listening to the famous podcast, around two years ago, my love for Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor’s “quiet desert community” has grown. I was SO FLIPPING EXCITED to delve into their novel that expanded beyond Cecil’s narration. What’s even better is how the podcast mentions the events of the novel here and there, only being blunt about its existence in the novel excerpt clip above. (I think a few episodes ago Cecil mentioned “that King City fiasco.”)

God, Night Vale will always be one of my most favorite works of creation EVER. AND THEY’RE COMING OUT WITH THREE BOOKS NEXT YEAR!! AHH!

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*cough* Anyways–


 

Favorite TV shows: Supernatural and Expedition Unknown
Ok. Yes. I couldn’t let the new year begin without mentioned my TWO MOST FAVORITE TV SHOWS!! (Seriously. Go check out my Tumblr: Supernatural is almost all I reblog; and I’m always fangirling over Josh Gates in my various social platforms.)

Supernatural has, and always will be, my top favorite show. There’s a reason why it’s currently airing season 11. For most people, it has to do with the brotherly relationship between Sam and Dean Winchester. However, while I do love the Winchester brothers, they aren’t my favorite characters. Castiel, Gabriel, Lucifer, and Balthazar are. In short, I love how they weave known mythology into the show and put twists on it. Especially ever since season 4, I’ve absolutely adored the angel mythology. Supernatural is the only medium that writes angels the way I believe they should be written (except for the “angels are dicks” thing, because, let’s face it: they aren’t).

I’ve especially loved how season 11 is feeling a lot like season 5. They’re focusing on Biblical mythology again and are bringing back well-loved characters for cameos (Lucifer just appeared in the most recent episode: “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” EEK!)

My second favorite TV show has to be Expedition Unknown. I’m a legend junkie with a passion for traveling and exploring cultures. However, I do like where I live… and I don’t want to travel nearly as much as Josh Gates does. Frankly, two-five trips a year will do me good.

But I love seeing what new adventures Josh Gates gets himself into. From searching for Amelia Earhart’s remains to investigating the True Cross of Christ, Josh Gates is always bringing new things to talk about on his show. He brings us along as he rock climbs, scuba dives, and crawls through caves.

In May this year, I met him for the second time and it’s only made me more adamant to watch his show. He is kind-hearted, brave, a joker, and so passionate about his job. Literally, it’s like he’s our Universe’s Indiana Jones.

He’s my role model… and I don’t think I’ll ever stop watching Expedition Unknown.


So that’s my list of 2015 favorites. Honestly, my head is kind of buzzing right now from the processing overload! But my Goodbye to 2015 post isn’t complete until I divulge in my 2016 resolutions. After all, it’s traditional to have goals for the new year, not to mention a good thing to do to keep procrastination at bay.

My plans for 2016 remain the same as they have for the past few years:

  1. Lose 50 pounds; feel healthy and capable of anything!
  2. Finish my first novel and get it put out into the world.

However, I do have goals for my social media profiles: I would like to keep to a schedule. Update my blog weekly, my Youtube videos every two weeks, and post to my Facebook page daily. Especially concerning the content of this blog, I would love to write more reviews; consider this 2015 recap the beginning of said reviews!

So, have a Happy New Year duckies. Say a generous thanks to 2015 and grasp 2016 by the hand — it’s almost here!