The Immortal Series: A review

When I went through my books earlier this year, I came across this series.  I started the series several years ago, but I never finished it.  So, I decided I would start purchasing the books and read all the way through the series as part of my summer goals.  I got every book but the last one by the beginning of June and dug in (I borrowed the last one from the library).

Spoilers ahead.

The first book introduces Ever, a girl who loses her family in a tragic car accident and gets shipped off to live with her aunt.  When she wakes in the hospital after that accident, she finds out that she has psychic powers, including the ability to see her dead sister.  At her new school, she meets Damen who reveals that not only are they soulmates, but he made her immortal at the scene of that car accident.

Lots of conflicts and other characters ensue.  I won’t go heavily into the stories of the other books.  Basically, Book one was good, Book two was okay.  Book three I wanted to throw across the room because Ever made the same stupid mistake that she makes in book two.  Book four was just annoying.  Book five was better.  And Book six literally wraps up every single loose end from every other one of the books.

I liked the first book because of the ideas of alchemy and past lives.  I thought that the other books would dig deeper into these past lives, and I love a good historical fiction.  But I feel like the past lives were just a means to an end.  There were a couple of quips about the differences (like medieval times didn’t use toilets…so different!), but it was just so shallow.

The themes finally came out in the last book, which helped me to appreciate the journey, but not as much as I would have liked.  The idea that we live in abundance and not scarcity was a good one and that we should make our choices out of living in abundance That our soul is immortal and that we shouldn’t hold onto our physical self so tightly, knowing that there is more eternal meaning to our life, I can agree with that, too.  But the rest of it got really new age-y, maybe even too much for me.

There was a whole love triangle (there were more than one, actually, but I’m talking about the main one) that I did not agree with.  The “loser” of the triangle I thought should have been the soulmate, and I think the author didn’t do a good job to convince me otherwise, even though there were chapters and chapters of explanation.  It just wasn’t a very good explanation.  Of course, this could probably be true for a lot of YA love triangles.  I just happened to be on the dissenting side this time.  And I feel like out of all the loose ends, this guy’s end wasn’t tied up very well, either.

I feel like I also need to address the fact that sex is a major theme in the book.  The two main characters are unable to consummate their love for much of the story (with some really weird exceptions), and while I think the author was trying to create tension, I don’t think it was very well done.

I feel like the book could have been better in a trilogy, not six books.  The author seemed to draw things out just for the sake of making more money by selling more books than what was necessary.  It just made the plot more tedious to me.  As far as any graphic violence or sexual content, it’s not really there, but it’s very heavy on the new age aspects.  The if I just believe hard enough I can manifest anything for myself, which I don’t think goes well with my own Christian beliefs of struggle and dependence on God and not self.

I give it two out of five stars for the series itself.  You could almost read the first and last books and enjoy the series just as well.  It’s prompted me to get rid of any book series where I just bought the first book and enjoyed it.  I may go back some day and read those other book series, but for now, I’m going to focus on my growing present book-et list.

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The Dark Tower: A Review

I haven’t read this book series by Stephen King, and truthfully, when I walked into the theater, I had forgotten the series was by Stephen King.  I probably would have skipped it if I had known (I won’t even watch the IT trailer.  That thing scarred my childhood).  But I’m glad I didn’t.

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We went to the first showing at our favorite theater.  They were serving brunch and it was delicious.  It was also cheaper, as most first showings of the day usually are.  And it wasn’t that crowded either.

But the movie, itself, was phenomenal.  Talking to Michael afterward, we both agreed that if the Marvel and DC blockbusters didn’t play this summer, this would have easily been our favorite of the season.

The story follows this boy who is being haunted by these dreams of a dark tower, and a series of scenes that involve a man in black and a gunslinger.  Everyone thinks that they are just a reaction to trauma and loss in his own life.  But when the dreams become a reality, he goes on an adventure to another world in order to save his own.

It is not a scary movie, despite being based on a series of a very popular horror/thriller author.  To me, it was a straightforward, good vs bad adventure.  The plot was simple.  There were some graphic-ish scenes of violence, but not gory at all.  I’m thinking of one character who dies and you can see the hole on the forehead.  But no blood or guts.  The bad guy mostly killed by telling the person to stop breathing or by setting them on fire.  But you don’t see them on fire.

Idris Alba and Matthew McConaughey were amazing.  McConaughey wasn’t playing the kind of role I’m used to seeing from him, but he did really well.  It made me want to know more about the man in black, where he came from and why he was so bent on destroying the tower.  But perhaps that’s the point.  To get people to read the book series.

This was our last movie of the summer season, and I feel like we ended on a high note. On our way home in the car, we listed our favorites. It came in after Spider-man: Homecoming and Wonder Woman as a strong number three.  Definitely, a recommendation in the theaters or for a night at home.

Going to Downtown McKinney

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I’ve talked about Downtown McKinney before in my blog.  It’s probably my favorite place in the DFW area.  I like the food here, the people.  It’s just a great place all around.  It’s also a great place to take pictures, and just down the road, they have a wonderful farmer’s market.

But recently, I headed to this area to check out their home decor.

I went to several of the shops, and if I’m honest, a lot of them were repetitive.  And a lot of them were like walking through an Etsy shop, but like the same one over and over again.  Halloween decor was starting to show up on the shelves, and this pillow was in at least two, maybe three of the stores – for the same 12 dollar price.12915

Of course, I love the pillow and the reference, just disappointed about the lack of variety in a lot of these stores.  But I did find some stores that stood out from the rest.

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The Antique Company Mall felt a lot like a mercantile or a flea market where the sellers own booths to sell their stuff.  A lot of it didn’t really seem antique, more trendy antique, if that makes sense.

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I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to really search through this particular store, but I’m hopeful that you might find one of a kind finds buried somewhere in this place.  There was a first edition or signed books section in the very back, though none of the books really stood out to me, personally.  It was still a cool place to peruse.

Another store I enjoyed walking through was My Favorite Room.  The name of the store, again, pulled me in, but I enjoyed this store more than most of the ones I had visited that day.

It was gorgeous, with grays and creams outfitting most of the decor.  There were linens in the back and these sewing mannequins everywhere in various states of decorative disrepair.  The only downside, like a lot of these stores, was that it was way too expensive.  I suppose one of the reasons that everything is priced high-end is because the rent for these spaces is expensive as well.  But I was afraid to touch anything in this store.

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This sign pulled me into the store because I love a lot of European decors, especially French or Italian influence, and this store did not disappoint. There were a lot of big pieces but none of it seemed like the other stores.  There were survey maps of England in the back.  And the store smelled amazing (they sell the candles that you smell).  The downside is that the amount of stock seems limited and high priced, but there were a lot of great finds.  The only picture I took was of the French pots in the window because I plan to go back for a few of them to put on my herb garden on my windowsill.

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And I plan to go back soon, anyway, because as I was walking through the stores, I came across Eclair Bistro that has a jazz club inside!  I’ve never been to one, so I’m hoping to convince Michael to take me soon.

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Despite the overpriced items and the repetitive products, I still thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Downtown Mckinney.  Every store I walked into, I was greeted by the people who work there.  They really seem to have a passion for their stores and the things that they sell.  I hope to visit other downtown areas in DFW in the near future, but this is still one of my happy places!

We Escaped!

One fabulous thing we did this weekend was participating in an escape room puzzle game at Escape The Room in Dallas for a friend’s birthday.  For those of you familiar with this particular franchise, we did The Apartment.  It was so much fun.

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Of course, I can’t tell you anything about the game, itself.  I don’t want to spoil it for people because it is quite satisfying to get out before the sixty minutes are up, but I can tell you the basic rules.

You don’t need to use brute force to pry anything up.  Anything nailed down is supposed to be nailed down.  Nothing needs to be hotwired.  I thought that rule was hilarious.  I can’t imagine a number of people who have tried to hotwire a piece of electronics in the room.

Also, of course, no pictures inside the room.  Even the most innocent picture may unintentionally reveal something about the room.

Also, every now and then, the person who is watching in another room will send clues through the TVs or will play applause noises when we get close to figuring out a puzzle.  Paying attention to those cues really helped us.

My own advice is this.  Don’t overthink the puzzles.  It’s not like the impossible quizzes online.  These are pretty straightforward for the most part.

The one thing I will say about our specific experience was that one of the clues or puzzles wasn’t working right, and when we kept trying to solve it, the clue master finally came on the speakers and said that it wasn’t working.  And that it would be better to just focus on the next clue on the TV.  I feel like we might have had a better score if we didn’t have that hiccup, but we still got out before the end of time so I can’t really complain.

The staff was really awesome.  Our clue master was great.  One from our group accidentally hit the panic button that automatically ends the game, but he let us continue since he saw it was an accident.  I’m so glad we had such an understanding staff member looking out for us.

I want to do it again, as soon as possible.  We had another group with us, and it was so fun working together with them.  I would highly recommend the location in Dallas, but I’m sure they are all a lot of fun!

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: A Review

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Michael and I went to the Moviehouse & Eatery on Saturday, this time to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.  I don’t have a real comprehensive review like I usually do, but instead, just a few thoughts to share.

  1. It’s definitely a movie to see on a large screen, maybe even 3-D.  It is visually stunning, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets a couple of award nominations for the CGI or the costumes.
  2. The plot, to me, was like being on a rollercoaster.  There was a slow build up at the beginning, then they hit you with a lot of information all at once (kind of like they are trying to catch you up to everything so you can understand the story), and then it was one action scene after another until you come to a complete halt at the end.
  3. I liked the idea that love was defined not by chivalrous acts or protection, but by trusting the other person enough to make their decisions on their own.
  4. I was a little disappointed by the ending (no spoilers, don’t worry).  I respected one of the character’s values all throughout the movie.  It was the loyalty to those values that helped the other character to grow.  Then the character just throws those values away in the end.  Not a fan.
  5. I loved the Pearls.  They definitely made this movie what it is.  Loved what they portrayed about beauty, love, and forgiveness.
  6. Rhianna’s character was interesting.  I liked the idea of her character, but I wish I could have seen a little more depth to her story.

Would I recommend this movie?  If you are a 3-D kind of movie watcher, then definitely see it in the theaters.  Otherwise, I think a home rental is sufficient enough to enjoy the film.  I wished that the movie would have been a little meatier with the plot, but the visuals are spectacular.

July Favorites

I know I sound like a broken record at the end of every month, but I just can’t believe it’s already time to do a favorites post.

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Last month, I talked about my bi-annual purchase of skin care and makeup products, and this month I’ve been leaning more towards workout gear.

CLOTHING

I got these ASICS Women’s GEL-190 TR Cross-Training Shoe for my long walks as part of my goals this month. My older trainers weren’t giving me the support I needed in my arches, but these shoes made my feet feel so much better. So, I devoted these shoes to my walks only as to not wear them out too quickly, and my other shoes I use when I volunteer at the SPCA or work outside in the garden.

I wear yoga pants every day, practically. So, it would make sense that the yoga pants I’ve had for several years have finally worn out. It was time to replace them. These pants from Active are exact replacements for ones I already had. I also got them in black because I love how long they are.

These pants from ODODOS were a new buy, which I’m always hesitant to do once I’ve found something I love, but the reviews were great. These pants are so soft and they are extra long as well, which was a bonus.

OTHER PURCHASES
I got this fold-up blanket by Rusee to use when we went to the Red, White and Boom celebration at the beginning of this month. It’s not a soft blanket, more like a soft plastic, but it stayed clean and was easy to fold back up when we were done (even in the dark).

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And probably my favorite purchase this month was our new mattress. We tried one of the online foam mattresses called Tuft and Needle. It’s one of the more established companies. I might write a more detailed review of this later on since we have only had it for about a week, but I loved being able to order it on Amazon, a site I’m more familiar with. So far, we have loved it!

What are some things you have loved this month?

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. These are all things I have used personally. I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself. Thanks!

Teddy’s First Visit to the Vet

We adopted Teddy in February from the SPCA.  He was still under vet care at the SPCA for the first couple of months after his adoption.  But we knew we would eventually want him to go to our favorite vet at the Chase Oaks Animal Clinic in Plano, TX.  Dr. Sanders has taken care of our pups since we first moved here, and we love all of the staff there.

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Jerzee is not so much a fan.  Granted, the majority of her visits involve someone sticking her with a needle.  I don’t blame her.  But she is a good sport, though she does end up being in Michael’s arms by the end of the check up.

Ted was unsure but warmed up as soon as the treats came out.   The vet loved him. He is quite the handsome dog.  And it helped that his check up didn’t involve any needles or anything invasive.  His opinion may change when it comes time to update his vaccinations.

We’ve tried a few other pet clinics here in Dallas, but we always seem to come back here. The important factors of a vet clinic to us are how willing they are to explain any procedure or diagnosis, how patient and calm they are with our dogs, how familiar they are with our dogs (especially after seeing Jerzee for years) and how knowledgeable they are with the latest pet care trends (whether they really are helpful or not). This post isn’t sponsored by them, I just like them that much.  It’s our little pet family, and I would recommend them to anyone!