Tag Archives: The Cubicle Escapee

Teach English Abroad: A Step by Step Guide by Jeremy Roberts

Summary: A step by step guide on all the things you must complete and things to consider when moving abroad to teach English.

My review: I am reading so much about teaching abroad because I am planning on getting my TEFL certification and I feel like there much information I need to learn prior to making a decision.

This book was more of a step by step guide on what to do once you have your contract and you at are in the country. It is a great guide for once you have your TEFL and you are starting to interview and have made a decision on your school.

When you start reading a lot of these books they do tend to have a lot of the same information but each one gives an insight that is valuable to help you make a great choice. This author stressed the importance of reading your contract. A great guide for after getting your TEFL.

This book also offers a lot of considerations you should take when planning to teach abroad.  I also like that the author was 38 when they left, I will likely be 37 so it was very valuable insight for my age bracket.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: WONDER

When I get out of seeing a really great movie, like WONDER, and I noticed I was the only one in the theater (granted it was a 10 pm showing on weeknight), I start to feel really bad for it, especially when a certain superhero movie is going to kill it at the box office. And I had a more enjoyable time with this movie than I did during that other one I saw just a few hours earlier. It’s a movie meant to tug at your heartstrings, but unlike a lot of duds that tried to do that this past year, this one earns it your lump in your throat and the tears in your eyes. It has a great realistic anti-bullying message, the acting is top notch, and the story went places I didn’t expect it to go. If you are looking for a movie to see other than two superhero films that are out in the theater right now, please go to this and give it a chance. I’ll guarantee you’ll be happy crying by the end credits.

The film, at 1 hour and 50 minutes, swims by at a very brisk pace. The trailer makes it seems like the film is going to be entirely on Auggie Pullman’s point of view, a kid born with Treacher Collins syndrome which is a rare facial deformity, that at once was home schooled by his mother, played by Julia Roberts, is now thrust into middle school life. Having the whole movie being in Auggie’s point of view would have been very generic and the film might not have come together as well. About a third of the way in, the movie switches to several other points of views, such as Auggie’s sister Via, Via’s former best friend Miranda, his best friend Jack Will, and even the bully Julian. While I would’ve loved to see his parents having their own points of view (unfortunately Julia Roberts and especially Owen Wilson are relegated to background characters that only pop up once or twice), I fear that might’ve been too many. The inclusions of all these different points of view was perfect.

The situations feel realistic as well. We don’t get over dramatized actions of bullying that seem like they came straight from the minds of dull Hollywood screenwriters playing everything too over the top and by the book. The characters speak to each other like real people would and because of all this, it develops real audience emotional sympathy, which is hard to do nowadays. Plus, the film is extremely entertaining to the point where I knew that I wanted to watch it again, and soon. Julia Roberts is the best she’s been since August: Osage County, and even though he is barely in it, seeing Owen Wilson in something a little more serious was a nice surprise. All of the kid actors, including the bullies and friends and family members of Auggie were fantastic.

But it is Jacob Trembley playing Auggie that completely steals the show and our hearts. If you don’t know who Jacob Trembley is, he is that exceptional kid that did a hell of a job acting alongside Brie Larson in Room. He was also one of the only decent things about this year’s The Book of Henry as well. This is honestly his best performance thus far and will be a child actor to be reckoned with. Hopefully it transitions him into adulthood just as well. Right away, we sympathize with Auggie, and not just because his face is a tad deformed, but because he has a heart of gold, and just wants to be accepted by people other than his family members. Jacob Trembley brings charm and wit to the role, making Auggie a real person and not just a two dimension, “oh woe is me” type of character that a lot of these Hollywood heart string movies try to do to its audience.

But I loved this movie. Wonder is wonderful. I don’t care about the stupid pun. It’s a movie that made me have a lump in my throat, and I was completely invested from minute one all the way to the end credits. It is a nice PG rating, and honestly anyone can watch it. And should. I think this movie should be played at every school, every year, as a huge anti-bullying message as well as a just be kind in general type of moralistic journey for our younger generation. It’s not some sappy after school special, it’s a film that feels as real as the tears on your cheek. And that is rare in the cinematic world today.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: JUSTICE LEAGUE (mild spoilers)

We all need to first off admit that Warner Bros. is doing too much of a rush job to try and have DC “catch” up to Marvel. I mean, we’ve only had four films, and one of those films featured just two small cameos by two of the JUSTICE LEAGUE members so really we’ve only had 3. When The Avenger’s came out, every character was introduced and given some kind of arc exposition in a previous film. Here, three of the 5 just had very small cameos in previous adventures, and that is it. Literally no time to fully develop them. So if you go into Justice League thinking it is going to be the end all be all of superhero team ups, you are sorely mistaken. But if you go in there and realize that Warner Bros. is playing catch up, accept that fact, turn off your brain for two hours, and just try to have a fun time, like I did, then you’ll come out of Justice League thinking that it was pretty good, not great, but pretty good, and that the critics are being once again too harsh on a DC film. (I am an avid fan of the Batman V Superman Ultimate Edition cut so take that for what you will with my review here.)

If you are expecting a film better than the first Avengers, you are out of your God forsaken mind, but I did enjoy this more than the really average Age of Ultron. And Justice League has plenty of problems. For one, if you are used to the dark ass tone of Man of Steel, BVS, and Suicide Squad, you are going to have a strong wake up call here. I think what is throwing critics off mostly is the tone of this film. Almost all the darkness of the previous films are gone, and this one is even lighter and more campy than Wonder Woman. (I think Wonder Woman is the be all end all of DCEU films thus far, and think it created the perfect tone all other DC films should use as a blueprint). It’s a very jarring change that if you don’t know that it’s coming, it could throw you for a loop. And it’s all because Zack Snyder is trying to cater to not just the fans that are complaining about too dark of a tone for our DC characters, but also to the studio trying its best to force a artists hands to cater to the masses.

I honestly think that Snyder wanted to make a very different film here than the one presented. And Joss Whedon was brought in to polish things off a bit (also the sad tragedy of Snyder’s daughter killing herself and Snyder’s heart not being really into the movie anymore), but I think with the release date looming and Henry Cavill’s mustache curflaffle (you could definitely tell the parts where Cavill’s mustache for Mission Impossible 6 was CGI’d out, to the point where I almost said out loud, “hey, this is a Joss Whedon directed scene!”), that he couldn’t really do all that much to fix it. If Warner Bros. has told the two men, okay, you each get the cast for 6 months, and you get 6 months to write a script before that, and we won’t interfere with you at all, you would have two completely different, and maybe even better films than this.

Shit, I’m dragging this down aren’t I? And I actually liked the film. I’m just trying to explain the tone problem. It’s not two different tone’s like some of the critics are saying. It’s just a conflicting tone to previous films and studio interference. Would I have liked to see a darker Justice League film a la BVS? I know I’ll get a lot of flack for this but, yes, I really would.

And the tone isn’t even that much of a problem, because I knew it was going to be lighter going in. I’m just giving my thesis on why the Rotten Tomato score is so low.  There are MUCH bigger problems in this film. The CGI is fucking terrible at times, especially when it comes to Superman, his resurrection, and the final last battle. It looked and felt like Star Wars Episode II and III, with the actors just in front of a giant big screen inside a studio with few props. The villain sucks hard as well, and now DC officially has a villain problem a la Marvel. Steppenwolf is a CGI creation that has literally no other purpose than to look and sound menacing while trying to control the world. Completely one dimensional, not even scary, and I didn’t even think he was that much of a threat. He was basically a bigger version of the main bad guy in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. The motherbox plot was kind of a let down as well. Why do these villains always need artifacts to destroy shit?

Also, let me get to critics complaints that Ben Affleck doesn’t want to be there anymore and looks bored the entire movie. I don’t think that is necessarily true. I think Affleck signed on to play Batman as a dark, brooding character that has seen his fare shit over 20 years and lost his faith in humanity. He gave his performance his all in BVS, and he was honestly the best part about the film. He even looked like he liked being in his very small role in Suicide Squad. Then the reviews for BVS came in. The whole sad Affleck video happened. He looked crushed. And then comes Justice League, where Affleck is told he needs to loosen up his performance and be lighter. In Justice League Affleck shows not a disinterest of a performance, but a confused one. He knew what to do in BVS but now the director and studio are telling him different, and he doesn’t know really what to do, and it isn’t what he signed up for. You can tell this when he makes one liners in Justice League. Affleck doesn’t pull off these one liners because he doesn’t believe that the character should be saying shit like that, and he’s right. Batman shouldn’t. So in my humble opinion, this is the last time we probably see Affleck as the Dark Knight. Not because of disinterest, but because of confusion.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK, let me get to the good stuff and why I enjoyed the movie. Wonder Woman and The Flash are awesome and steal every scene they are in. Gal Gadot was born to play Wonder Woman and she is really the best part of this movie, and I can’t wait for Wonder Woman 2. Ezra Miller was nice and refreshing as The Flash, with awesome zany one liners, a great Stephen King reference, and a whole lot of positive energy brought into the project. I can’t wait to see the Flashpoint film. Jason Mamoa is also a fresh take on Aquaman that I enjoyed and am interested in the solo film he has coming up. People are casting Ray Fisher as the odd man out in this, but I am one to disagree. Even though I didn’t like Cyborg’s CGI, I liked Ray Fisher’s portrayal, and I believe we would be more invested with his character if he would just get his own solo film. The whole team had great chemistry together, and that is main reason why the movie doesn’t falter and is actually enjoyable. Hell, they even course correct Superman in this. Instead of the brewing depressing being he was in BVS, he is more the Superman in the comics in this, looking for justice, not vengeance, and actually thinking about civilians. I also did like that his resurrection didn’t involve the black suit or long hair, that would’ve been too damn obvious and too many throwbacks to the comics for no apparent reason.

The Batman and Wonder Woman scenes at the beginning of the film were fantastic. I did like the midway through the film battle that was without Superman in that factory like place. The action is very entertaining, even though we don’t really get a masterpiece of a scene like we did with Batman and the warehouse in BVS. We get some nods to some other heroes I thought were pretty cool as well (look for them in the flashback first apocalyptic battle with Steppenwolf). And also, be sure to stay for two post credit scenes. One is funny and fun, and the other was really really freaking cool. It introduces a brand new character. Also, it almost course corrects an annoying as fuck character in one of the previous DCEU movies. Maybe, we’ll have to see more of the tweaked performance.

So I liked Justice League for what it was. If this is just a stepping stone to a greater Justice League 2, then I am glad this movie exists. I can see myself watching it several more times, it is really enjoyable, even with its flaws and narrative plot. But I think it is time to let Zack Snyder go. Bring in some fresh faces and try and let Warner Bros not be so fucking involved. I would love Joss Whedon to do is own, awesome, artistic, uninterrupted Justice League 2. I have a feeling that would be epic. (Age of Ultron sucked I believe because of studio hands as well). I know he has a Batgirl movie, which I’m looking forward to, coming up but, give him the keys to the League. So unlike the critics, which seem to point to this being a Frankenstein monster collaboration of a movie, I would more describe it as Captain America with amnesia, obeying the Socovia Act in Civil War instead of disobeying it. He might not be all quite there in his head, but he still gets the job done.

Rank of DCEU Movies:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Man of Steel
  3. Justice League
  4. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Cut
  5. Suicide Squad

Out of the Shadows by Ashlee Nicole Bye

Out of the Shadows
by Ashlee Nicole Bye
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Release Date: April 2017


Summary:

From the streets of Melbourne to the bowels of Westminster, the delicate balance between life and death that is so painstakingly maintained by the reapers of The Order of Dark and Light is being tested by the return of an ancient threat. Tensions are rising within the hidden world of The Shadowlands and if this threat is not contained war will be inevitable. And the destruction of the human world is bound to follow in its wake.
 
Amidst this tension, eighteen year-old Sachi Manning is struggling to cope with the grief and guilt that has plagued her ever since her best friend was murdered six months earlier—that is, until she spots him seemingly alive and well and being held at scythe point by a hooded figure who looks more like a GQ model than the Grim Reaper.
 
Sachi shouldn’t be able to see through the glamours that shield Shadowlanders from the human world, so the reaper in question wants some answers. And so begins the craziest couple of weeks of Sachi’s life as she is drawn into a world of mysteries, magic, monsters, and mayhem, encountering dragons, faeries, soul-sucking demons, not-so-grim reapers, and even the Horseman of Death.
With a mix of heart, humour and hair-raising action, Out of the Shadows is the adventure of an afterlifetime, perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Paula Weston.


Paperback: 
 
Praise for Out of
the Shadows
“…it’s
flawlessly written
. Ashlee Nicole Bye really knows how to write a
story. She has her own voice, the kind that pulls you in and really makes
the world come to life.
Bibliophile Ramblings
“…new
authors can either be a smack bang hit or disappointing miss- Ashlee Nicole Bye
is definitely a big old hit! Being her first novel, her writing is beyond
amazing
and I cannot wait to see what else she comes up with! The pacing
flows, the writing is descriptive but not overly so, the world is unique and
the characters are amazing
.” –
Bookishfix
I
loved Out of the Shadows.
Sachi’s world is amazingly complex, full of
supernatural creatures, competing factions and a complicated process for
managing what happens to souls when they die.” –
Cassandra Page, author of Isla’s
Inheritance
This
book was fantastic and promises to be a brilliant series
. It is a
delightful read full of page-turning action and intriguing characters with a
hefty dose of humour
. A feisty heroine, hot guys, demons, reapers…Out
of the Shadows has it all!
” –
Cheryl, Goodreads reviewer
…the
entire concept of this sic-fi/fantasy world is on point. The description and
the writing style make for an enjoyable, hard to put down read.
I can’t
wait to see just what is in store for these characters.” –
Jennifer
Leigh, author of Incognito
“How
come no one knows about this book? It would be a best-seller if they
did!”

Malissa, Goodreads reviewer

One
successful debut for Ashlee Nicole Bye!
Truly succeeded in
captivating me into the Shadowlands world. I loved this book and the
characters even more.
” –
Viridiana, Goodreads reviewer
 
Excerpt:
From chapter one:
As Julian studied the mangled remains of the
boy who had once been Campbell Locke, it was easy to see how the humans could
have mistaken the death for a homicide. The latest in a string of vicious
murders by the now infamous ‘Melbourne Slasher’, who had plagued the streets of
this city for near on three months now—or so the papers said.
             The
teenager’s throat had been slashed with what, to human eyes, looked like a
knife. But Julian knew better—that wound was the result of an incredibly sharp
claw.
             Julian
had positioned himself on a first floor window ledge not ten metres away from
the crime scene. It was the perfect vantage point, or would have been had his
legs not been cramping from the awkward crouching position he’d been forced to
assume in order to balance his tall frame on the narrow ledge. The
preternatural eyesight bestowed upon him almost a century and a half ago
allowed Julian to make out every detail of the narrow alleyway: the ground a
peculiar patchwork of cobbles, concrete, and bitumen; walls the brick exterior
of low rise buildings whose original colour could not be determined through the
layers of graffiti—some of which, Julian had to admit, was quite remarkable.
There was a blue industrial rubbish bin set up against the wall of the nightclub
that backed on to the alley, overflowing with black bags and glass bottles.
Julian could feel the vibration of the heavy bass from the club’s music
thrumming through the walls around him. The song was something modern, with a
powerful female voice interweaving through a thumping dance beat. He couldn’t
say what it was called—it all sounded so similar to him.
             At
the mouth of the alley, a row of uniformed police officers stood guard over the
crime scene, sending any curious onlookers on their way. Julian was tempted to
move closer. To walk right up to the crime scene and stand amongst the mingling
investigators. After all, with his invisibility glamour in place no one would
be able to see him.
             But
it was a risk he could not afford. He was well aware of how far crime scene
technology had progressed since his time amongst humans. They had something
called ‘forensics’ now, where scientists could track a killer using the
smallest piece of evidence: a drop of blood, a strand of hair, even the tread
of dirt from a foreign location. Julian frowned as he glanced at his boots, the
soles of which were crusted with the remains of the faery he’d disposed of
three hours earlier. These humans would be baffled enough as it were with the
lack of evidence to be found at this scene, he didn’t think it wise to confuse
them further with the presence of an otherworldly substance. Not to mention
that the invisibility glamour was somehow affected by flash photography—he was
not in the mood to explain to Lord Mortem why there had been a ‘ghost’ sighting
at the most recent ‘murder’ scene. 
             An
awareness brushed across Julian’s mind and he immediately looked up, scanning
the rooftop opposite. It didn’t take long to spot Moss; he had his hood down
and even without Julian’s superior vision, it would have been difficult for him
to miss that mop of bleached dreadlocks contrasting starkly against the
midnight sky.
             Julian
swept his gaze over the crime scene one last time before letting the ledge fall
away from him. It was a split second of dark emptiness as he passed through the
shadows, and then he was standing on the roof next to Moss.
             ‘Crazy
night, dude,’ Moss said in his Floridian surfer drawl.
             Julian
ran his eyes over his friend. They had gone their separate ways tonight, and it
was clear by the smears of blood over Moss’s face and the tear in his sleeve
he’d had almost as interesting a night as Julian. Moss always looked slightly
rumpled, though; unlike Julian, who, even after killing the banshee that had
been about to take centre stage in front of twenty thousand humans under the
guise of a popular musician, a passionate kiss of gratitude from said musician
(whose memory Julian had, most unfortunately, been obligated to alter moments
later), and crouching on the window ledge for a good two hours, was still as
tidy and well-pressed as usual, not a hair out of place.
             ‘You
could say that,’ Julian said. Though a hundred and forty years had passed, he
still spoke with the same accent and manner he had cultivated during his life
as the son of an English peer. He would have liked to believe there was little
else from that life that remained, though he knew this was not the case.
             ‘So,
this one makes three.’ An uncharacteristically sombre expression crossed Moss’s
face. ‘Any ideas?’
             Julian
shook his head. ‘Something with claws—which narrows it down to at least a
thousand Shadowlanders.’
             ‘It’s
hot.’ Moss emphasised the statement by rubbing the back of his forearm over his
sweat-streaked brow. It was indeed. The Australian summer was only a week away,
and Melbourne had been hit with a blast of the kind of humidity usually
reserved for the northern parts of the country. ‘That should rule out an
Infernal creature, yeah?’ 

             Julian
frowned. ‘I think it would be foolish to rule anything out at this stage.’ 
 
About the Author
Ashlee Nicole Bye is the author of the SHADOWLANDS series, the first book of which–OUT OF THE SHADOWS–was published in April 2017.


 


She was born and raised in the always amazing city of Melbourne, Australia. She’s a total history geek, a book nerd (of course!), loves watching sport, and is just a little but obsessed with anything fantasy and science fiction related.


 

 

She’s a doting auntie to three awesome little guys and the mum of a crazy fur baby, a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy named Sadie. She’s also vision impaired and writes all her stories with the help of Apple’s awesome zoom commands and super-sized fonts.
Author Links:
    

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