Book Sharing

I love books book club nerd blogger

I love books!

I love books book club nerd blogger

All kinds of books. Biographies, history, sci-fi, fantasy, romance and more. Books can take you away to exotic destinations like Narnia, Asgard, Middle Earth, Hogwarts, Galactic Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, Oz, the planet Buzzell and beyond! And if you love books as much as I do, then come over to Instagram @nerdinthesand

In an effort to live a more minimal lifestyle, I’m attempting to pare down my collection of books. This is your gain, readers!! Cause instead of selling my books…I’m just giving them away! That’s right…they’re free. A couple books a week!

If you live in the US, like to read books and have an Instagram account then you could win them. This week I gave away Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige and A Whole New World by Liz Braswell.

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I hope you’ll take my books off my hands and put them into your own! And as I find new reads that I simply love and can’t put down, I’ll make sure to let you know and share them as soon as I do actually put them down.

And for some other book related goodness, come on over to Goodreads and join my Star Wars Book Club!! We read Star Wars books and talk about them and we want you to join us!!Star Wars book club on Goodreads nerd blogger

Binge-Watching (aka Just When I Thought I Was Out They Pull Me Back In)

Just when I thought I was out. They pull me back in gif. Godfather. TV binge watching blog post

Has this ever happened to you? You innocently start a new show. Maybe someone made a suggestion and it sounded interesting, so you follow the thread to see where it takes you. Once you hit the point of no return, which depending on the show can be anywhere from episode 1 (LOST) to episode 4 or 5 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), there’s no going back. With each new episode you dig a deeper hole that you cannot crawl out of. After the end of each subsequent episode you think to yourself, “this will be the last one for tonight. After all, I have to work tomorrow.”

Next thing you know, you’re calling in sick to work because, in your heart, you do you feel a little under the weather, come to think of it. Perhaps you’ve hit a cliff hanger and you can’t possibly be expected to put your big girl/boy pants on and adult today. What if she leaves and never finds out he loves her? What if he’s really dead? What if the whole town really did explode in that fiery ball of destruction?

So you settle in for a sick day…come to find out there are 10 seasons of this show. It’s gonna take a lot more than one measly, little sick day to get you through all the plots your eyes are waiting to behold. But then…a light at the end of the tunnel. A stopping point. A gentle lull in the storyline. It’s not that the show has gotten boring, it just allows you to breathe for a moment. You push stop, go to the bathroom, throw some water on your face and remind yourself that you don’t live in Sunnydale and you aren’t facing an apocalypse. The world is ok and you aren’t President Jeb Bartlett or Jack Bauer. It’s perfectly alright for you to go ahead and live your life outside of the TV screen.

Maybe you grab a snack and think about something else for a minute, maybe you even make it all the way outside where the sun is still shining and the birds don’t even have Netflix.

Then it hits you, that familiar feeling of longing for more, more, more, next, next, next. You look back and forth between nature beckoning you to choose the light and the dark cave that has become your TV watching space. The characters call to you. The darkness calls to you. And just when you thought you were out…they pull you back in.

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Farewell world, God knows when we shall meet again. Perhaps there will be another lull in season 8.

Having a Moment

I was recently described by someone as “busy…in a good way.” As in, always working, always going, always doing, always trying. I do think of that as a good thing. I like to stay busy. I like to think of new projects to try, new songs to write, new blogs to post, new Instagram challenges to complete, new workouts to do. Busy is a very good word to describe me.

Last night when I got home from my long, busy day, I looked up and the moon was so bright. The stars were so pretty. I felt compelled to lay down in my drive way and just stare up at the sky, listening to one of my Spotify playlists. I can’t tell you the last time I just looked up at the stars and thanked God that He made them for me to look up at.

There were days when I was living in New York City that I begged God for a chance to stare up at the stars. But the lights of the city blind us to how bright the stars can be. The moon isn’t quite as awe-inspiring when  you’re standing in the middle of Times Square. So after 8 years, I forgot to stop being busy and to look up.

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But last night I remembered. I couldn’t even take a good picture of what had my busy brain standing still. That gif I found is cool, but it’s not what I was looking at. My phone couldn’t accurately capture the beauty of the moment. We live in such a technologically advanced age and still, transcendental moments like that can’t truly be shared with a photograph. There’s something about the experience that just can’t be translated by pixels.

Do you know all the things you miss when you don’t stand still for a moment? Florida is hot and in May, well, it’s not the hottest it can get, but it can be pretty sweat inducing. But at 10pm  when you’re not moving a muscle and you are lying on the ground watching stars, you can feel a breeze. I actually got a little chilly on a May night in Florida. I could smell Jasmine that has overtaken the fence and I could hear planes as they flew by, taking people to destinations that I dream of seeing one day. As the people on those planes slept on their night flight, I watched them and heard them and smelled jasmine and felt the breeze.

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When I was little, I used to think the crescent moon was a completely different moon from the big round one. Of course, as I got older, I learned about lunar cycles and how the light of the moon changes with seasons and ocean tides. And how the crescent and the full moon are the same moon. They just look a little different.

I laid there contemplating how when you watch clouds, you actually have something to watch because clouds change shape as they move through the sky, but stars are constant. They sit proudly in the night sky. They don’t have anything to prove. They don’t need to entertain.

I laid there for 30+ minutes and walked away with probably as many bug bites on my arms and legs, because that’s what happens when you lie on the ground feeling breezes and smelling jasmine and watching planes and contemplating stars. You don’t even realize you’re being bitten, because the beauty of the moment outweighs the pain.You don’t care because something bigger is happening. You have become a part of something bigger. In that moment you aren’t just a girl lying on concrete, staring at the stars…you are a Queen of Narnia. You know the path is before you and the world is behind. You have transcended even just for a moment to be a part of something good and true and something you don’t even understand because you are a soda can and God is the ocean (thanks Francis Chan.)

I’m sad the moment ended, but moments have to come to an end. That’s the nature of moments. That always makes me think of the Sondheim musical “Into the Woods.” My second favorite musical of all time. The baker’s wife has a moment in the woods with Cinderella’s prince and after it’s over she wonders…”What was that?” Moments leave us wondering why we can’t have more of them. But then she sings some of my favorite lyrics in Broadway history…

“Oh, if life were made of moment,

Even now and then a bad one-!

But if life were only moments,

Then you’d never know you had one.”

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Seth Grahame Smith books

If you are a die hard Jane Austen fan, like me, then perhaps you are or were skeptical about the merits of a book that adds blood, gore and the undead into the prim and proper world of Austen’s Regency Era story. Guess what…the resulting work is simply astoundingly fun! A match made in heaven or rather…hell!!

Let me assure you…the movie is no less awesome than the book! I was worried that the film adaptation might skimp on the story and go straight for the gory, but the sweeping romance of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s love story was not sacrificed.

The Highlights

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Mr. Darcy

Sam Riley Mr Darcy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Blog

I was also skeptical about Sam Riley’s, Mr. Darcy. He does not have the countenance that I have come to expect from my Darcy’s. But I have to tell you on the scale from Colin Firth to David Rintoul…I’d place Riley above below Matthew Rhys, but above Elliot Cowan. If only because I’ve never met a Darcy I didn’t like and there are 10, in my estimation, that deserve ranking. Sam Riley definitely gave a solid Darcy performance and upon multiple viewings, I expect him to rise in esteem. The curious thing to me was the timber of his voice. It had a gravelly quality to it that at first I did not care for. But given the dark nature of the zombie apocalypse it started to fit in better than a more refined English accent. All in all, a very charming addition to the Darcy family.

Elizabeth Bennet

Lily James Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie blog

As high as my standards are for Mr. Darcy, they are even higher for the second oldest Bennet sister. Perhaps it’s because I identify so closely with her that I hold her in such high and lofty esteem. Lily James has everything that an Elizabeth Bennet should have. A love of longs walks, a ready wit and oh yeah, she kicks serious zombie ass…a quality I never knew I always wanted in Elizabeth Bennet. Her chemistry with Sam Riley is tangible. Especially in the famous proposal scene, where Mr. Darcy makes his love and his reservations about their match known. Let’s just say Elizabeth, a trained warrior, doesn’t take the insult of his proposal lightly and more than just verbal sparring ensues.

Mr. Collins

Matt Smith Mr. Collins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie blog

It’s the first time I was ever rooting for Mr. Collins, even if just slightly. The incomparable Matt Smith enters the scene as the silly, ridiculous, irreverent Mr. Collins. But where his predecessors have played the role with nauseating smarm, Smith manages to make Collins seem charming (the only other Collins who achieved a level of charm is Maxwell Glick’s Ricky Collins from the You Tube sensation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.) It probably helps that I’m incredibly biased towards loving all things Matt Smith, seeing as he is Doctor Who and all! He will always get my vote. I was happy that Charlotte Lucas got to have such a delightful match, though Charlotte herself in this film is quite forgettable.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Lena Headey Lady Catherine de Bourgh Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie blog

I cannot go further without mentioning another powerhouse in the world of geeky fandom. Lena Headey, Cersei Lanister herself, rounds out this cast as Mr. Collin’s benevolent patroness, the Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Except once again, with delightful twists in store for the fan of this classic story. Lady Catherine is no mere aristocrat sitting on her laurels and passing judgement on the Misses Bennet. She is a hardened warrior who has slayed hoards of zombies and even has an eye patch to show for it (a patch used for necessity, not vanity.) When she confronts Elizabeth about whether or not Darcy has made her an offer of marriage, she does more than ask a few tough questions.

The rest of the players are aptly cast, though widely forgettable. Except for the nefarious Mr. George Wickham who is played by the very charming Jack Huston. So charming, in fact, that I was hoping Wickham would end up being as delightful as the man who played him. Alas, Wickham remains a scoundrel in this adaptation as with all the others.

The Walking unDead

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie blog

As a fan of all things zombie and all things Jane Austen…my standards on both sides are always very high. I equally expect my romance to be sweeping and my head shots to be brutal. So I am happy to say that I was as satisfied with the portrayal of these beloved characters as I was with the zombie effects. The shots were so resounding that I could feel them in my chest. The zombies were believable…the blood and guts visceral. And the action was fast paced and hard-hitting. It’s as much an action movie as it is a romance. What better way to get boys to appreciate the wonderful world of Austen…just add zombies!

All in all, a really fun movie. I watched the entire thing with a gigantic smile on my face. But, reader… I did not walk away unscathed…

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Thanks to Lootcrate for infecting me with the zombie virus!!

The Redemption of Kylo Ren

The question on everyone’s mind lately… “Is Kylo Ren Redeemable?” or as my guest blogger Michael Burgett queried yesterday: “Will Kylo Ren Be Redeemed?” If that question is not on your mind, then you just haven’t seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens enough! Go watch it again and then we can talk!

Reader, you know me by now. I’ve shared many an embarrassing story with you. I’ve told you about my dates and about my family and about my hopes and my dreams. I believe that you truly know me, in all my pie-in-the-sky optimism. So, of course, my answer to both the aforementioned questions would be yes. Yes, Kylo is redeemable and yes, he will be redeemed. In fact, I’d go further and say it is merely a matter of time till he is redeemed. And it is one scene in particular that gives me this hope for the son of Han Solo to find his way back to the Light.

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Han is leaving the Rebel base to go destroy Starkiller and confront his son who has turned so far from the path that Han, Leia and Luke had wanted for him. Leia and Han share a tender moment of goodbye, not knowing that it would be their last moment together. Leia says to Han “there is Light in him.” And as we know, this is a strong theme in the Star Wars universe. The presence of Light is more than just a touch of the good side…it is hope. Padme felt the Light in Anakin. Luke felt the Light in Darth Vader. That pull to the Light is a powerful feeling.

Often it is the Dark side that is given all the strength of power. And in the past we have witnessed the pull from the Light to the Dark in Anakin’s journey. Kylo’s journey, for us, starts out in the Dark with that sliver of Light still shining inside him. Light that he is desperate to eradicate and turn from.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. All that Light talk happened before Kylo kills his own father, our beloved Han Solo. Tell me something…does one deplorable act completely erase your humanity? Some might say yes, but I say no. (It’s a different story when it comes to the Emperor. Ask me about it sometime!) Kylo is still Leia’s son. And in the end if when Kylo comes back to the Light side, he will have to fully feel his actions on Starkiller base. The Dark side allows you to cloud your true feelings and boil them down into pure anger. But as any person who has experienced anger knows, there’s usually something else going on underneath it. And Supreme Commander Snoke knows this. He is pulling Kylo’s strings the way Emperor Palpatine pulled Anakin’s. The Dark side is manipulation and lies.

Now, I really like the point that Michael in his article yesterday. If this were just a villain, like Darth Vader was back in 1977, then we wouldn’t be having this argument. We don’t argue whether Hannibal Lecter will be redeemed or if Lord Voldemort will come back to the side of good wizardry in the end. But in 1983, when Return of the Jedi was released, George Lucas taught us that even a bad guy as bad as Darth Vader himself could find redemption and bring balance to the Force. Let’s not forget that lesson just because Kylo Ren has no prophecy to bring about his redemption.

We, the viewer, had no idea what history lay underneath Vader’s mask till the prequels came out in 1999. With Kylo, we know a little of his history, but none of his motivation. Why did he turn? What drew him to the Darkness? What lies about Darth Vader’s legacy has he been told? And if he finds out the truth about The Chosen One, will that make a difference?

All will be revealed in due time, reader. We may have to wait a few more months than we want to with Episode VIII being pushed from May 2017 to December 2017. But think of how happy your Star Wars friends will be to have another onslaught of delicious merchandise to acquire that Christmas. It’ll be so easy to shop! So in the end, the wait is worth it. And we can continue our speculation up until the very day when the truth is shared with us.

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In the meantime, I invite you to come join my Nerd in the City book club on Goodreads. So much delicious Star Wars Expanded Universe reading material to dive into and dissect!! Do not miss out!

Now What Do You Do?

If you haven’t yet seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, then I’d venture to say it’s only a matter of time till you do.

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The biggest pop culture event of all time…even the Muggles want to be a part of this. There’s a lot of new people discovering the wonderful world of Star Wars. Maybe they just never devoted the time to watch all 6 movies before (or 3 if you’re a purist.) Maybe they thought it was kid’s stuff, but now are discovering the truth.

Inevitably they’re gonna reach a point where they’re going to wonder…”Now what?” It always happens after the excitement and fervor of a new movie dies down. It happens to me after binge-watching a show or reading a great book series or watching a new Star Wars movie. It’s hard because all you (I) want to do is immerse in the fictional world you’ve (I’ve) just been a part of. It recently happened to me after watching 4 straight seasons of Scandal. It happened after reading Harry Potter, but nowhere has it hit as hard as with the Star Wars Universe.

So…you’ve seen Star Wars. You’re in what Amazon likes to call a #Showhole. But there’s good news. This is where the fun begins. This is when you can start to discover what we die hard fans have been doing to stay in touch with that galaxy far, far away for years.

It’s called the Expanded Universe and it’s marvelous!

Here’s what you’re gonna do…If you’ve been living in a cave and have just emerged after 12 long years and haven’t had time to take a shower and get yourself to the movie theater quite yet…then Step 1 is pretty clear.

Complete Star Wars Saga. Episode I - VI

And if you haven’t gone back and watched the 6 movies that came before then…actually scratch that other Step 1… this is Step 1.

Star Wars Rebels Disney XD

Next up is the television universe created by Cartoon Network and Disney XD in the form of Clone Wars (seasons 1-6 available on Netflix) and Rebels (season 1 available on Netflix, season 2 currently airing on Disney XD.)

New Expanded Universe Novels by Disney Story Group

After watching all that, go to your local book store and pick up the newest novels in the Expanded Universe: Dark Disciple, Lords of the Sith, Tarkin, A New Dawn, Heir to the Jedi, Aftermath, Lost Stars, etc. These novels start to build the world around what you know and have seen on screen. They fill in the blanks and flesh out the questions. They also allow supporting characters to have rich story lines.

Star Wars Comic Books by Marvel

After you’ve read all that, head to your local comic book store and dive into the Expanded Universe created by Marvel Comics. The comic runs for Star Wars, Lando, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Kanan… The best thing about all this material is that is fits together like one giant puzzle. Each component working with the rest. It’s very impressive!

If you’ve done all that and are still thirsty for more. Go see Episode VII 2 or 3 or 12 more times so you know the dialogue by heart and then…

Go deep or go home.

Star Wars Legends Expanded Universe Timothy Zahn

The Star Wars Universe goes beyond Disney cannon. But I warn you, this step is not for the faint of heart. It involves heart break, misery and long hours reading amazing stories that are now considered mere Legend in the Star Wars Universe.

You wanted more and here it is! Silver platter not included!

Finding Inspiration

I’m a pretty inspired person. I find inspiration in music. I find it in movies. I find it in books and blogs and friendships and in daily quiet time with God. Out here in California I find it when simply gazing at the sunshiney sky or a perfectly placed palm tree.
But sometimes the well runs dry.
So I made a list of the things that usually help me get my inspirational groove back.

Step 1: Turn to God
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This is usually the first place I turn. I admit, sometimes it takes a back burner in the quest for motivation and inspiration. But it should always be first. My favorite devotions are “My Utmost for the Highest” by Oswald Chambers and “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. I try to do these consistently. When I reach a stagnant moment, I will always have a place to turn.

Step 2: Make a List
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After placing my path back in God’s hands (time and again) I try and list the dreams He’s placed on my heart. The passions that I can’t shake. The “unreasonable,” “unaccomplishable” musings that fill my brain and heart constantly. In list form, they seem much more attainable!

Step 3: Watch any and all Marvel movies
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For some reason the MCU really sparks my imagination! I dream of being a superhero. I dream of saving the world. And after watching Captain America or Avengers, it just seems easier to accomplish.

Step 4: Walk, Run, Jump, Spin
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When I’m in a season of laziness and drought, it’s easy to forget or ignore the things I love most. Happiness doesn’t seem attainable in the darker moments. But I love working out! I really do. I had a guy at Crunch gym, a guy who was trying to sell me on a membership by the way, tell me that people work out to lose weight or gain weight or look better, but never because they love it. To which I responded, that’s nice…show me to my spin class. Cause I love spinning!! The feel of aching muscles, muscles that you may have forgotten existed is what keeps me moving.

Step 5: Read
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In addition to my Bible and my daily devotionals, I love to read biographies and autobiographies of inspiring people. People like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and Bobby Kennedy and Mindy Kaling and Ellen Degeneres and Rock Hudson and Felicia Day and Amy Poehler and anyone else who strikes me as an inspiration. Their stories inspire my own.

Step 6: Write
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How can you expect to write about life if you aren’t living one. Staying home and catching up on 11 seasons of Supernatural may lead to some searing pieces about the show, but it won’t give you life experiences or insight into the greater struggle. So do all the other steps on this list and then write it all down. Share your life with people. Or take up a challenge like #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) I’ve never written a book in my life…but I’m gonna try it!

How do you stay inspired when inspiration seems lost?

My New Favorite Words…

I’d been begging D and H for weeks, to let me read Harry Potter to them. They hemmed. They hawed. They’d heard of Harry Potter, of course. Who hasn’t! But they just weren’t exactly eager to sit still for a chapter a night. However I persisted saying, “You’re gonna love it…I promise!”
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One night they finally relented and allowed me to read one chapter. Just one chapter. Which they fell asleep to. The next night they let me read another chapter and again…they fell asleep.
I was starting to despair. What if they didn’t like it? What if Chapter 2 was as far as we’d ever get? What if they’d never know the magic and wonders waiting for them at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry???
(First world problem…I know!)

But see, one of the great joys of nerdom is sharing favorite fandoms with the next generation. It’s the closest we can get to reading a favorite book or watching a favorite movie all over again, with fresh eyes. The kids had adored Back to the Future, were properly obsessed with all things Star Wars. But at 9 years old, they were the perfect age for Harry’s adventures! I didn’t want to miss this chance to introduce them to J.K.Rowling’s masterpiece.

But I repeat… they weren’t having any of it. Until one morning…right around chapter 5… I came downstairs, as usual. I grabbed my big cup of tea, asked the kids how they slept and what they wanted for breakfast, when D said these musical, magical, new favorite words….
“Lizzie, can we start reading more Harry Potter everyday?”
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I almost dropped my teacup out of pure shock and joy.

“Really?” I said hopefully.
“Yeah!” he said. “Could we even start now? And read this morning before school?”

I’m pretty sure my body did an involuntary, celebratory jig. Best…words…ever spoken by a 9 year old boy to me!!

They’re both hooked (D more than H, but I’ll take what I can get! The girl will get it soon!) They’re waiting with baited breath as we read chapter to chapter. They already love Hagrid, are intrigued by Harry and can’t wait to hear more about Hogwarts. D even said to me,

” Lizzie, you do really good voices. But if you need a goblin voice, I can do it. Cause I’m really good at minion impressions.”

Life is good. The torch is passed and I’m a happy little nerd!!

Raising a Kid in the Apocalypse

The Walking Dead has taught us, the viewers, many valuable apocalyptic life lessons over the last 5 seasons. Season 6 kicked off with a bang on Sunday and I’m sure there will be brand new lessons to learn.

Perhaps one of the most intricate lessons we’ve been learning is how to raise a kid amidst a zombie apocalypse. Information that I’m sure will come in handy one day. Hey, if Glenn and Maggie make it, they may be able to benefit from Rick’s experience raising Judith and Carl.
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1. Role Models are Important
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Carol has become a surrogate mother to little Judith, in the absence of Judith’s deceased momma, Lori. Sure…she’s a killer, but it’s only ever been out of necessity and to protect the family. And if that means killing psychotic kids, disease-ridden women, crazy cannibals or the run of the mill zombie, then so be it. What better role model is there for a 2 year old baby girl, really?

2. Learning from Big Brother
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Carl loves his baby sister. And sure…he had to kill his own mother, but she was a zombie. What’s a son to do? Plus big brother will be able to teach little Judith to shoot one day. And if she makes it through her terrible two’s, she’s gonna need those skills!

3. Father Knows Best
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Rick loves that little girl! That much we know. Sure…he’s murdered countless people. Being the leader of the pack in a zombie apocalypse means making the tough call. And desperate times call for a swift stab to the temple. You better believe that Rick will do whatever it takes to protect his daughter from the evil undead of this world!! There is no greater love than this: that a man would lay down a score of zombies to save the life of his friends and family.

4. Home is Where the Heart Is
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The farmhouse…er. The prison…uh-uh. Terminus…definitely not. Alexandria…ummmm. Ok, so home may be a fluid concept when you’re faced with hoards of flesh eating zombies. But that hasn’t stopped Rick from trying to find a place for Judith, Carl and Co. to call home. Is it his fault that just when they all get comfortable, everything goes to hell in a hand basket? No. He keeps hoping. He keeps trying. He keeps fighting. That’s what a good father does.

Here’s hoping the rest of season 7 is a little brighter for little baby Judith and her extended apocalypse family!!
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