Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book Review 2015: Joyland

Joyland by Stephen King

College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life- and what comes after- that would change his world forever.

I checked this book out thinking it would be your typical Stephen King horror story. I heard it was a story about a ghost living in an amusement park haunted house ride. That has to be scary, right? It was so much more than that. Yes, there are some "supernatural" aspects to the book, although I personally didn't find it to be all that scary (but again, I like scary stuff). 

The part that stands out most to me is how real the characters become to you. This hasn't happened with a lot of the Stephen King books that I've read. He takes the reader beyond the supernatural stuff. Yes, there is some "supernatural-ness" to it, but it was not your typical "Stephen King weirdness" (readers of his work will understand what I mean by that). I would like to read another story like this from him. I will confess it's the first time I've ever cried while reading a Stephen King novel. And I'm not talking about a little sniffly cry either. I'm talking mascara-running-down-my-face kind of ugly cry. It's almost embarrassing. 

If you keep away from Stephen King books because you don't like scary novels, I think you would enjoy this book. Honestly, the ghost and "scary stuff" ends up being a very small part of the novel. 


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Weekend Update!

I'm taking a little break from What I'm Loving Wednesday. If you came to link up, please comment below so I can go check out your link! :) Don't worry, it will come back, it's not going away for good! :)

First of all, Happy Back to the Future Day! Even if you have never seen the Back to the Future movies, I'm sure by now you are all aware that today, October 21, 2015, is the future date that Marty goes to in the second film. It's not QUITE what they predicted (still bummed that we don't have flying cars or hoverboards). It's strange to think that after today, all of Back to the Future will have taken place in the past. Yes, I'm a nerd. :)

I started a weekend update post on Monday, and never got around to posting it, so you will get that today!

I had a pretty busy weekend, which started on Thursday afternoon. Some friends and I went to the great State Fair of Texas one more time before it shut down for the year. If you live in Texas and have never been, I highly recommend going at least once. It's worth the trip! I went earlier this month too (you can check that out here).

Yes, this sculpture is made completely of butter

With my friend Allan. We have known each other since elementary school!
The famous Fletcher's corny dogs. Yes, corny dogs. That's how we say it here. Lol
I started a great debate on social media after admitting that I put ketchup on my corny dog. I'm not a fan of mustard. I also put ketchup on my hog dogs (which started an even bigger debate). Lol.
Riding the Texas Star, the largest Ferris Wheel in America
Until next year Big Tex!
Friday and Saturday I attended Dallas Comic Con Fan Days. You might remember I attended "the Con" back in May (where I met Dean Cain). My main reason for going this time was to meet Ralph Macchio and William Zabka (from The Karate Kid). William played Johnny, AKA, "the bad guy" (although after meeting him, I'm gonna be so conflicted the next time I watch the movie, he's really a sweet guy). :)

I ran into some friends I met back in May at Comic Con. My friend April and her son were there, it was so good to see them again. We have kept in touch on Facebook and Instagram since May. Last time her son was dressed in a Superman shirt (he told me he would be my Superman). This time he was dressed as Jimmy Olsen (the photographer from Superman). He's so adorable!

Over the weekend, I also ran into another friend I met at my last Con, Mandy. Her costume was awesome!

My first photo op was with William Zabka. Like I said, he was so sweet. I had asked him on Twitter for a hug, and when I told him that, he gave me a big hug and kissed the side of my head. When I picked up my picture afterward, everyone was joking that it looked like an engagement picture. I swear we didn't dress the same on purpose. Lol. 

My friend Monica and I went by his booth later for autographs. He took a picture with us and even asked for another one with just me. I got another hug (and kiss on my cheek). :)

It looks like Marty Kove is pointing at my butt in the background. Lol.
I loved how he signed my picture! :)

I also had the pleasure of meeting Ralph Macchio. Talk about a childhood dream come true! He was also super nice. When I went to his booth to have the picture of us signed, he told me if he had been a girl, his name would have been Rachel. We talked a little baseball (imagine that) and he said he was cheering for the Rangers a few years ago in the playoffs. 

The Karate Kid himself!
I honestly had only planned on getting pictures with those two, but of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet some other actors who were there (it's what I do). :)

C. Thomas Howell. No, I did NOT call him Ponyboy
James Marsters (Spike, to all you Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans)
John Rhys-Davies. He's been in so many things, including Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, and the TV show Sliders. For the record, he was tickling both of us when we took this picture. He's a flirty old guy.
Shawn and Aaron Ashmore. Both were so sweet. Shawn was Iceman in the X-Men movies and Aaron played Jimmy Olsen in Smallville. The camera that Aaron is wearing was knitted by my friend April. She and her son were only there on Friday, but Aaron wasn't able to attend that day. They gave the camera to Shawn and he promised he would give it to Aaron. I happened to notice that Aaron was wearing the camera at his booth on Saturday. I noticed during our photo op it was by his backpack. I told him my friend was the one who made it and asked if he would wear it for the picture. He said he loved it and to thank my friend.
Michael Rooker (Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy, Days of Thunder). He was funny and very friendly. Maybe a little TOO friendly. He had been playing with my hair before we took the picture.
I finally got to meet some of my Twitter friends while at Comic Con too! :)

John and I have been Twitter friends for several years now

Was so happy to finally meet Devin!

I was also glad I got to see a few of my friends who I don't see all that much these days (life gets to be so busy).

Jonathan and I have been friends since college
My friend John, who happens to be married to my BFF Brandy (I introduced them). :)
Saturday evening I met up with a few members of my Sunday School class for "Supper Club". Since I'm new to the church and the class, I enjoyed getting to know some of my class members. And the food was amazing! I somehow didn't get any pictures of our group though, I was too busy talking and eating (not at the same time though). :)

Sunday I went to church and then spent the afternoon working on crafts for the Trunk or Treat Event my church is hosting next Sunday evening. I suggested a theme for my Sunday School class's "trunk" and that somehow put me in charge of the decorations. I'm having fun with it though, I'll post pictures next week of it! :)

Hope everyone is having a great week!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

Please feel free to link up below!!

I'm loving...
That I posted some book reviews yesterday! I'm slowly getting caught up on them!

I'm loving...
That I opted to stay home Saturday night and clean my apartment instead of going out with friends. After I cleaned I spent the evening reading. As much fun as going out would have been, I enjoyed some "me" time.

I'm loving...
That I got to go to the Stars home opener last Thursday! My sweet friend Monica had an extra ticket and invited me. I got to see some other friends and we saw a Stars 3-0 win!

I'm loving...
That I had dinner with a friend of mine last night (even though I had to drive to Mexico*). But it was still nice. I've had a long week (and it's only Wednesday), so it was nice to spend an evening with a good friend. Plus I like his dog. :)

*Okay, not REALLY Mexico

I'm loving...
Meeting up with my Twitter friends to watch baseball. A good group of us met at Buffalo Wild Wings last Friday morning (yes morning) to watch the Rangers playoff game. It went into extra innings so most of us were there about five hours. It was fun though!

I'm loving...
That I got to see a Rangers playoff game in person this year. Earlier this season I didn't even think it was a possibility. If they can win today, they will advance to the next round. If not, I'm still not disappointed in how this season went- it exceeded all my expectations. Love my Rangers!

I'm loving...
That fans from opposing teams can live in harmony. Lol. My friend Peter (who I hadn't seen in 15 years) is from Canada and is a Blue Jays fan. He was at the game on Sunday and met up with me and my friends at our tailgate. He said he appreciated how nice everyone was to him and his friends. We are all baseball fans! :)

I'm loving...
The new church I've been attending. I'll go more into it in another post, but I love my Sunday School class. I'm a bit younger than the rest of the class, but they have welcomed me with open arms and I love being in the class with them. The ladies are doing a secret pal thing this month called "Boo Buddies". This was my gift this week- it was super cute!

What are you loving today?


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review 2015: My Latest Book Reviews

I've read two books in the past week (I'm still way far behind on my yearly challenge though), so I felt it was time to do post some much needed book reviews.

**All reviews published on Randomness With Rachel are done on a five-star rating system. The reviews are solely my opinion and no one else's. Randomness With Rachel does not receive any incentives or compensations for reviews.** 

Truth or Dare Trilogy by Jacqueline Green
(Truth or Dare, Secrets and Lies, Kiss and Tell)

This was a Young Adults series I accidentally discovered at the library. I was watching a TV show called Secrets and Lies, so the title of that book caught my eye. I noticed it was book two of a trilogy, so I checked  it out along with the first book of the series. I then went back for book three after I finished the first two.

I've never seen the TV show Pretty Little Liars, but a lot of people who wrote reviews of this series compared it to that show. The novels are based around a group of girls who receive dares from an anonymous person. If they don't play along, the darer threatens to reveal a deep dark secret about them. They are on a mission to find out who is behind the dares. It's kind of a "trust no one" situation for them. Could one of the girls receiving dares actually be the darer? Is it another close friend? Could it be a teacher? Etc.

I grew up reading Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine, and this author's writing had that kind of "feel" to it (which I enjoyed, it reminded me of the books I liked when I was younger). Some of the situations in the novel were very "teen-based", seeing that it is a YA novel. So there was some teen angst and teen melodrama. But it wasn't too distracting.

In the first book the author did a good job introducing the characters and keeping the reader interested in what was going to happen next. There seemed to be a lot of "supporting" characters, and there were times I had to stop and remember who was who. The second book in the series took me a while to get into, but halfway through I couldn't put it down and stayed up late to finish it. I was afraid that the author would just take book one and rewrite it, but she did a good job continuing the story without making it the exact same plot and story as the first one. The third book was well written and did a good job of wrapping up the story without rushing the ending (I hate when I read a series and the author rushes the ending in the last few pages). She also didn't draw it out too long. There were some plot twists and surprises, and there were some things that were predictable, but they were still an enjoyable read. Not a "must read", but worth checking out if you want something easy to read.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

I just started watching the TV show Castle this past year. I was at the library recently and noticed a book by Richard Castle. I was like, how funny, that's Nathan Fillion's character on the TV show. Then I noticed the name of the book was the same book he wrote in the first season. Evidently SOMEONE (ABC won't say who) is writing books under the pen name Richard Castle and publishing them. I read online that whenever the character on the show writes a book, it is actually published (so there is a whole series of these books). The bio for the author is the one from the show, and Nathan Fillion's picture is on the book jacket. If you watch the TV show Castle at all, the book is very similar to the TV show (seeing that on the show he based the books on the detectives he worked with). If you don't watch Castle, the book reads like most TV detective shows. 

This particular story revolves around a female detective named Nikki Heat who is being "shadowed" by a writer (just like the TV show). He gets in her way and on her nerves, but she is still impressed by his witty charm and good looks (we can all see where this is going). It's not a "top-rated" mystery novel by any means, but I found that it was an entertaining read. But that might be because I like the TV show (I can't tell). I plan to check out some of the other books in the series, but they aren't at the top of my list right now. 

Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

I picked up another YA novel at the library (if you shy away from YA novels because you feel they are "beneath you" or "too young for you", you really should check some out, they are usually quite good). 

Julep Dupree tells a lot of lies. She and her father are both professional con-artists (despite the fact she is only in high school). She spends a lot of time running scams for her classmates (from fake IDs to pretending to be a representative from a college, just to fool parents into thinking their kid is really applying for higher education). She's also good at getting a free coffee or latte at a Starbucks-esque type coffee shop. One day she comes home to find her apartment ransacked and her father missing. She, along with her male best friend Sam, keep it a secret that her father is missing as she goes all Veronica Mars in playing detective to find her dad. She stays by herself in her ransacked apartment and gets money to live on by running more scams for her classmates. Oh, and her friend Sam has this "mad" hacker knowledge that allows him to get into the school database and even government databases. I'm not sure how realistic that is, but who knows, kids are smart these days when it comes to computers and technology. 

The plot itself was pretty good, and had a lot of potential, but there were parts of it that just made me go "oh good grief". **Somewhat spoiler coming up, but not enough to ruin the book.** Sam is the only one she has ever trusted and ever confides in but all of a sudden when the hunky Tyler starts paying attention to her (which came out of no where I might add), she loses her cool and then breaks down and spills her deepest secrets to him. Please. Get a grip girl. I think this made me take away a half star on my review, I was originally going to give it 3.5 stars. But again, it's a YA book, I should have expected the teen angst.

The ending was better than I expected, and had a plot twist or two (that I can't go into without ruining it). I think this was the author's first book. She wrote another one in this series. I'm willing to give another book of hers a chance to see how her storytelling improves. I can tell by her writing that the talent is there, she just needs to find her "groove". 

Happy reading!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

I'm loving...
That it's okay I've only been updating my blog once a week. Last year I only updated my blog 34 times. This year I've updated it 65 times (and it's only October). I'm doing a much better job this year. Who knows, maybe next year I'll be back to three or four times a week! :)

I'm loving...
That my Texas Rangers are AL West Champions. NO ONE thought we would win the AL West. The majority of the baseball "experts" picked us to finish last. I have no clue what the playoffs hold in store for us, but I'm enjoying the ride. The Rangers exceeded all my expectations this year. I was there on Sunday when they clinched the AL West title. It was greatness. I'll be there again on Sunday for Game 3 of the ALDS against the Toronto Blue Jays.

I'm loving...
My Twitter friends. I went to the game on Thursday with my friend Dawn (we orignally met on Twitter). Then a group of my "Rangers Twitter" friends and I tailgated before the game on Saturday (we had hoped the Rangers would win that day and clinch the title. We will NOT discuss how that game went). The tailgate and hanging out with my friends was the best part of the day by far!

With my friend Dawn on Thursday night- we had amazing seats behind home plate!
 When I started using Twitter over five years ago, I had no clue what to expect. At first I found it a way to keep up with sports news and even some celebrities. And then slowly I got involved in "Rangers Twitter". It's just a group of Rangers fans from all of Texas and other parts of the US who talk baseball. We might not agree on everything else, but we always have our mutual love of our favorite baseball team (through the good times and the heartaches). I never in a million years dreamed I would form friendships over this social media site, but I have met many people who have become so important to me. I don't expect everyone to understand Twitter, but I'm glad I found it and the friends I've made on it

I'm loving...
That even fans from opposing teams can sit next to each other and enjoy a good baseball game. At the Rangers game on Thursday, three Angels fans sat next to us (that is the team the Rangers were playing). They were in town because they had a layover on their way back home to California, so they decided to check out a baseball game. Despite the fact they were cheering for the Angels, they were very nice and we had great conversations. They were funny. The Rangers won, but they congratulated us and wished us luck in the playoffs. I asked if I could take a picture with them (because of COURSE I would ask to take a picture with strangers). Lol.

I'm loving...
That the best part of my day on Sunday wasn't the Rangers winning the AL West, but it was seeing this cutie (he is the son of a friend of mine). His birthday was last week and I had a gift for him- two books and some packs of baseball cards. I was told he was very excited about the gift. :)

I'm loving...
The State Fair of Texas. I went last Friday with a friend of mine. We were able to score last minute free tickets into the fair (which was awesome) and enjoyed an afternoon and evening walking around taking in the sites, exhibits, and car shows. My great-nephew C won a blue ribbon on one of his art pieces and he just happened to be there that day with his school (so I was able to get a picture with him). :)

Me and my nephew C. The sun was on our faces, which is why I look paler than usual
You HAVE to take a picture with Big Tex at the Fair. I'm serious, I'm pretty sure it's a state law
I sit in this swing every year. It's so comfortable and relaxing. One day I'll have a house with a back porch so I can buy this swing. Lol
Just a group of famous musicians from Texas...

I'm loving...
That I might actually get to sleep in on Saturday. I don't currently have any plans and the thought of being able to just sleep without an alarm sounds amazing. No one ask me to do anything on Saturday. Lol.

What are YOU loving today? Link up below! :)