Monday, April 3, 2017

I watched Jean of the Joneses...

Title: Jean of the Joneses
Written by: Stella Meghie 
Produced by: Floyd Kane; Amos Adetuyi; Stella Meghie
Directed by: Stella Meghie
Watched/Channel: TV; TV One

My thoughts:

I don’t normally talk about the stuff I watch on TV, especially on Reading on the Rocks. However, I had a lot of thoughts about Jean of the Joneses, so I decided to write about it for the blog anyway.

You know, I really like when I happen to find a movie that totally surprises me, and that’s what happened with Jean of the Joneses. I literally knew nothing about this movie, but it happened to come on before I changed the channel I was watching. And, oh man, you guys, this movie was everything.

Jean of the Joneses is one of the best movies I’ve recently watched. There was something so real about the characters and how they handled and reacted to the situations in their personal and professional lives. A lot of the character development happened gradually, and was done in a way that really added emotional depth to the movie. There was an almost realistic authenticity to it that was pretty amazing, and that made the film entirely engrossing.

I absolutely loved Jean Jones. She was going through a lot of things in her life. She wasn’t a perfect character, but her story was far more interesting because of it. She was at an impasse in her personal life and career, and it was interesting to see how she handled things as they were thrown her way. Jean was a writer. I liked how that detail was ultimately handled because the film presented a different view on the life of a writer. The actress they got to play Jean, Taylour Page, was absolutely phenomenal at portraying such a complex character.

Another thing I particularly liked was the dialogue. It’s one of the reasons why I loved this movie so much. The conversations that went on were so freaking entertaining.

There’s one more thing I want to mention before I close out this post, and that’s the relationships. I’m not going to go into specifics, but I felt like that was something worth noting. This wasn’t the kind of movie that only showed the good. No, it got into the bad and the messiness often involved in truly emotional situations between family and people who love or no longer care enough about each other.

So yeah, Jean of the Joneses was a phenomenal movie. All the stars for this one.

Rating 5/5


Check out the trailer...


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ARC Review & Spotlight: After I Fall by Jessica Scott





Title: After I Fall (Falling, #3)
Author: Jessica Scott
Publisher/Publication Date: Jessica Scott; March 21, 2017
Format/Source: eARC, Publisher
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Readers who want an extended sample can download here:
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Purchase links:
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Book Summary

Her entire life has been a lie. Being with Eli is the most honest thing she’s ever done. 

Parker Hauser lives the perfect life and knows exactly where she's been and where she's going. Parker has to be perfect. Perfect grades, perfect body, perfect life. 

Until she meets Eli Winter. 

Eli throws her entire life into chaos when he denies her the one thing she wants from him. 

One chance encounter stokes her desire for the man who refused to touch her and left her questioning everything. 

When Parker tries to help his new business, the spotlight turns on Eli's military record. And the war he's tried to forget may  destroy them both.

Teaser

Parker
"What do you want?" A murmured question that feels like a demand. The single word I need is lodged in my throat. It’s thick and heavy, filled with potential and promise.
"You," I finally say.
"Why?" Such a complicated question. I search his face, looking for an answer, a lie, something simple to fill the space left by his question.
I lift my hand, afraid he'll see it tremble. It takes every ounce of willpower I've got to slide my fingers over his forearm. I'm surprised by the raw power beneath my touch. I expected the tattoos to be physical manifestations of the violence on his flesh. His skin is hot and smooth. My hand looks pale and small against it.
"You seem…" I lift my eyes to his, never removing my hand. "You seem like a straightforward kind of guy."
A man with rough hands and dark ink carved into his skin. A man so unlike the men I'm used to, it's not even funny. I lift my hand to his cheek, just above the edge of his beard. I've never touched a man with facial hair before. He is still beneath my touch.
A moment before I'm about to press my palm to his cheek, he grips my wrist. Not hard enough to hurt, but he definitely gets my attention.
"Not here." I swallow. My mouth is suddenly dry. "Where?"
He jerks his chin toward the dark hallway behind us. I follow him silently, wishing he was already touching me, making me feel, letting me pretend I matter, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
He leads me through the maze of small tables and patrons at various stages of intoxication. Away from the noise and the smell of fries and smoke and cologne and all the good things that bars have.We step out of the noise and into shadows and silence. He doesn't pounce, doesn't push me against the wall and run those rough hands over my skin.
Instead, he leans against it—a casual, arrogant male.
Waiting. I know for what. For me to make the first move.
For me to step into the space between us. For me to touch him first. I want to. But I am paralyzed. Rooted to the damp concrete beneath my feet. The cool night air might as well be chains, holding me, restraining any thought or movement.
He doesn't move. His arms are folded over his broad, heavy chest, his T-shirt straining against his body. The silence hangs on, stretching and thick and tight.
"Scared?" he finally whispers. A dare. A terrible, wicked promise in that single word.
"Should I be?" My throat is tight and dry.
His answer is nothing I expect.
And everything I want. 

My Thoughts

At first it was difficult to get into After I Fall by Jessica Scott—I just couldn't see where the plot was going. As it progressed and more information was revealed about Eli’s and Parker's histories, the story quickly began to turn around. While this book was super steamy, it was the characters that made the story. I like the fact that Scott chooses characters outside of the norm to be the heroine and hero. And I love how the secondary characters are incorporated into the story. The multilayered relationships added a touch of realism.  Scott put Parker in a situation in which she was a prisoner of her circumstances. Her history involved being in both controlling and abusive relationships. I appreciate the fact that the author brought other forms of abuse to light—especially when dealing with people in a position of power. I can't say much more about the story, because I don't want to include spoilers. However, I do recommend picking up a copy, because it's worth the read!

Rating 4/5

I received a copy of After I Fall from the Publisher for this review.



About The Author

Jessica Scott is an Iraq war veteran, an active duty army officer and the USA Today bestselling author of novels set in the heart of America’s Army. She is the mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, and wife to a retired NCO.

She is the bestselling author of the Homefront series and the Falling series, both about soldiers and veterans adjusting to life after returning from the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. Her bestselling Falling series features soldiers integrating into life on college campuses.

She's also written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/New Dawn and has had the honor of serving as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas twice.

She's holds phd in morality in Sociology with Duke University and she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.
Jessica is also an active member of the Military Writers Guild.

Her debut novel Because of You launched the return of Random House's Loveswept digital imprint and launched the start of the ever popular contemporary military romance genre. 

Check Out More Books from the Series!!!


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and The Power of Seeing by Damion Searls

The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and The Power of SeeingTitle: The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and The Power of Seeing
Author: Damion Searls
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown; February 21, 2017
Genre: Nonfiction; Phsychology; History; Biography 
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The captivating, untold story of Hermann Rorschach and his famous inkblot test, which has shaped our view of human personality and become a fixture in popular culture...

In 1917, working alone in a remote Swiss asylum, psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devised an experiment to probe the human mind. For years he had grappled with the theories of Freud and Jung while also absorbing the aesthetic of a new generation of modern artists. He had come to believe that who we are is less a matter of what we say, as Freud thought, than what we see. Rorschach himself was a visual artist, and his test, a set of ten carefully designed inkblots, quickly made its way to America, where it took on a life of its own. Co-opted by the military after Pearl Harbor, it was a fixture at the Nuremberg trials and in the jungles of Vietnam. It became an advertising staple, a cliché in Hollywood and journalism, and an inspiration to everyone from Andy Warhol to Jay-Z. The test was also given to millions of defendants, job applicants, parents in custody battles, workers applying for jobs, and people suffering from mental illness—or simply trying to understand themselves better. And it is still used today.

Damion Searls draws on unpublished letters and diaries, and a cache of previously unknown interviews with Rorschach’s family, friends, and colleagues, to tell the unlikely story of the test’s creation, its controversial reinvention, and its remarkable endurance—and what it all reveals about the power of perception. Elegant and original, The Inkblots shines a light on the twentieth century’s most visionary synthesis of art and science.



My Thoughts:

Whew. It seems like I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, and The Inkblots is the latest. The Inkblots by Damion Searls was a fascinating look at the life of Herman 
Rorschach and his contribution to psychology: the inkblots. I’ve heard of the inkblots before. But then, who hasn’t? As the book states, Rorschach inkblots are widely known, but I haven’t encountered much talk about the person who actually created them. So, I was really excited to get this book for review.

Whenever I tackled a nonfiction book, I always go into it with the understanding that it’ll probably take me a little longer to read. The Inkblots isn’t that long but it is still a hefty book. Despite how wordy this book was, it was still a thought-provoking read that was worth the time I spent on it. I enjoy reading about things, but I also like when I find a book that details the life of the person who created that said thing. In that way, The Inkblots excels.

There were a lot of details about Rorschach's life. It started from the time when he was a child, explained what his home life was like and followed him through the years as he went to school, gained experience, and started a family. This book partly focused on his character. There were a lot of pages spent explaining how he went about his approach to psychology. For me, one of the more interesting sections of this book was the part where 
Rorschach was actually developing his inkblots, and the early process of his method of administering the test to patients. Another interesting part took place after his death, when the inkblots were being developed into a usable test.

I think that was my favorite part of this book: getting to see how 
Rorschach's experiences led to the creation of his inkblots, and how they developed into what they are today after his death. There were a few minor details that I disliked, but other than that, the rest was good.

So yeah, the Inkblots will probably be my last nonfiction read for a while. I’m going to spend some time reading fiction for now, but nevertheless, The Inkblots was a great book.



Rating 4/5

This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the author...

Damion Searls has written for Harper's, n+1, and The Paris Review, and had translated the work of authors including Rainer Maria Rilke, Marcel Proust, and five Nobel Prize winners. He has been the recipient of the Guggenheim NEA, and Cullman Center Fellowship...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte by Carol Berkin

Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson BonaparteTitle: Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte
Author: Carol Berkin
Publisher/Publication Date: Knopf; February 11, 2014
Genre: Nonfiction; History; Biogrophy 
Source/Format: Purchased; Hardcover

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In Wondrous Beauty, Carol Berkin tells the story of this audacious, outsized life. We see how the news of the union infuriated Napoleon and resulted in his banning the then ­pregnant Betsy Bonaparte from disembarking in any European port, offering his brother the threat of remaining married to that “American girl” and forfeiting all wealth and power—or renouncing her, marrying a woman of Napoleon’s choice, and reaping the benefits. Jérôme ended the marriage posthaste and was made king of Westphalia; Betsy fled to England, gave birth to her son and only child, Jérôme’s namesake, and was embraced by the English press, who boasted that their nation had opened its arms to the cruelly abandoned young wife. Berkin writes that this naïve, headstrong American girl returned to Baltimore a wiser, independent woman, refusing to seek social redemption or a return to obscurity through a quiet marriage to a member of Baltimore’s merchant class. Instead she was courted by many, indifferent to all, and initiated a dangerous game of politics—a battle for a pension from Napoleon—which she won: her pension from the French government arrived each month until Napoleon’s exile.

Using Betsy Bonaparte’s extensive letters, the author makes clear that the “belle of Baltimore” disdained America’s obsession with moneymaking, its growing ethos of democracy, and its rigid gender roles that confined women to the parlor and the nursery; that she sought instead a European society where women created salons devoted to intellectual life—where she was embraced by many who took into their confidence, such as Madame de Staël, Madame Récamier, the aging Marquise de Villette (goddaughter of Voltaire), among others—and where aristocracy, based on birth and breeding rather than commerce, dominated society. Wondrous Beauty is a riveting portrait of a woman torn between two worlds, unable to find peace in either—one a provincial, convention-bound new America; the other a sophisticated, extravagant Old World Europe that embraced freedoms, a Europe ultimately swallowed up by decadence and idleness. A stunning revelation of an extraordinary age...


My Thoughts:

I decided to give this one a try since it has been some time since I last read a book that was nonfiction. I read the synopsis and thought, “Hey, this might not be a bad book." And you know, after reading Wondrous Beauty by Carol Berkin I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes life is as strange as fiction. There are some things you just can’t make up, and Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson Bonaparte’s life was worth reading about. Her story perfectly illustrates the life of an ambitious woman living in the nineteenth-century.

Oddly enough, this was the first time I’ve actually heard of her.

This book opens by briefly telling about Elizabeth’s father before following her life as she was growing up, her subsequent albeit brief marriage to Jérôme Bonaparte (younger brother to Napoleon Bonaparte) and her life thereafter—all the way up until her death. Wondrous Beauty portrays the life of Elizabeth as a mixture of years spent in the limelight as somewhat of a celebrity renowned for her beauty, intelligence, and wit. The book also portrays her as a woman charmed by nineteenth-century extravagant European lifestyle with a clear disdain for her Baltimore roots. Despite all those things, she also suffered a lot of disappointment throughout her life, and it steadily changed her. I also felt that it was fascinating to see how parts of her personal ideology contradicted her actions.

This book makes use of her letters, which are quoted throughout. They were extensively detailed and offered a lot of insight into her life and how she felt about things that were happening to and around her.

Wondrous Beauty is one of those books that I enjoy because it sheds light on another part of history, a story that I might not have known about otherwise. Wonderous Beauty was simply a fantastic, thought-provoking read.


Rating 4/5

About the Author (from the back of the book)...

Carol Berkin received her A.B. from Barnard College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. She taught at Baruch College from 1972 to 2008 and has taught at the Graduate Center for the City University of New York since 1983. She is currently Baruch Presidential Professor of History. Berkin is the author of numerous books, among them Civil War Wives, Revolutionary Mothers, A brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution as well as articles and reviews. She lives in New York City and Guilford, Connecticut...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Review: Unfriending My Ex (and Other Things I'll Never Do) by Kim Stolz

Unfriending My Ex: And Other Things I'll Never DoTitle: Unfriending My Ex: And Other Things I'll Never Do
Author: Kim Stolz
Publisher/Publication Date: Scribner; June 24, 2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Source/Format: Purchased; Hardcover

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

An incisive, hilarious, and brutally honest memoir about life online and about how our obsessive connectivity is making us more disconnected;from former reality show contestant, MTV VJ, restauranteur, and go-to voice for millenials...

Social media and technology have fundamentally altered the way we do business, couple and break up, develop friendships, and construct our identities and our notions of aspiration and fame. We make decisions about where we'll go based on whether it's Instagrammable. We don't have friends, we have followers. For an entire generation, an experience not captured on social media might as well not have happened at all.

As someone whose identity has been forged by reality TV (as a contestant on America's Next Top Model) and social media and mobile technology, Kim Stolz is deeply obsessed with the subject. She has a hard time putting her phone down. And yet she remembers what life was like before technology-induced ADD, before life had become a string of late-night texts, Snapchats, endless selfies, that sinking feeling you get when you realize you've hit reply all by mistake. It's hard to imagine now, but there was once a time before we wasted a full hour emptily clicking through a semi-stranger's vacation pictures on Facebook, a time before every ex, every meaningless fling was a mere click away.  Unfriending My Ex (And Other Things I'll Never Do) is the first book to document the hilarity of the social media revolution from the inside; it chronicles a life filtered through our obsessive relationship with technology. The book is as eye-opening as it is entertaining as it proceeds through the various ways in which social media and mobile technology have generated empathy deficits and left us all with the attention spans of fruit flies;and the sad fact that in spite all of this, we find it impossible to switch our devices off...


My Thoughts:

I’m telling you, it took me all of two times of seeing Unfriending my Ex (and Other Things I’ll Never Do) by Kim Stolz in the store for me to finally just buy the book. I remember Kim Stolz from when she competed on America’s Next Top Model, when I still actively watched the show, which was a very long time ago. I didn’t really make the connection until I gave the synopsis a full read. I was interested. And you know what? That interest paid off, because Unfriending my Ex was a pretty interesting and surprisingly insightful book. Unfriending my Ex was the kind of book that made me really think more about the subject of what I was reading. I liked Stolz approach to the topic, and her writing was concise and engaging, which made getting into the book pretty easy. 
Unfriending my Ex was mostly about Kim Stolz and her use of internet and addiction to social media. It kind of follows her as she conducts an experiment by temporarily quitting social media. A lot of the book was spent exploring her thoughts about her experience and the lessons she learned while on her social media hiatus. The challenge that Stolz imposed on herself was interesting to read about, specifically her reaction to being without her phone for a straight week. Stolz made a lot of good points, and reading this book definitely made me evaluate the way I use social media and how often I’m logged in, if at all. Overall, I feel like I made a great choice by picking this one up.  


Rating 4/5

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ARC Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the NightingaleTitle: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; January 10, 2017 
Genre: Fantasy
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent. As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales...


My Thoughts:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is one of my most anticipated 2017 releases. I was very excited to finally start this one and wasn’t disappointed with what I read. The Bear and the Nightingale was a fantastic book. It is my new favorite thing. The writing was descriptive and atmospheric. The story, while slow to begin, was ultimately engaging and compelling, and the setting gave the book a fairytale like ambiance. I’ve come to the conclusion that The Bear and the Nightingale was just my kind of book.

The characters, well, there were some that I just didn’t enjoy reading about as much as others, but for the most part, they were great. Vasilisa was the main character of The Bear and the Nightingale. This was her story and it showed. I liked her personality. Most of all, I liked how she was just herself despite all that happened to her. Also, the horses—I won’t get into their role too much since it would be a spoiler, but they were fantastic and I loved them.

I think what I liked most about this book was the pace of the story. Typically, if a story moves too slowly it runs the risk of losing my interest. The Bear and the Nightingale was far from boring. This story had layers of detail found in the folklore and traditions. It had a lot going on, both in the character’s everyday lives, and the story that slowly unfolded around them. Religion and faith was one of the more prominent elements of the story, and I did like how it was incorporated into the lives of the characters.

The Bear and the Nightingale isn’t that short of a book, but I felt like it flew by so quickly. It was easy to get lost in the story, and those are the best kinds of books in my opinion. By the time the book ended, I was already wishing for more. I’m really impressed with this book, and I’m definitely going to continue on with this series.



Rating 4.5/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!








Have A Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year! 
Reading on the Rocks




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