Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Reading Competition Champion of 2011 is...

No one.

Yeah, probably didn't expect that one. Neither of us because neither of complied to the rules we set last January in our secret hovel known as Rosalie's computer room. I did not read two Christian books and Rosalie didn't read two classics.

So we both failed.

(Although, technically, I won.)

See all the gore and glory below and the check back for the new reading competition starting... tomorrow!

In the words of  Emma Paxton pretending to be Sutton Mercer-- Game on, bitches.

Rules for the 2011 Reading Competition
  1. Must be a book. No textbooks, magazines, blogs, journals, newspapers, etc.
  2. Books that you have read before are allowed, but you must read a never-read-before book in-between old books. More than one new novel in a row is allowed and encouraged.
  3. No reading while the other is driving or hitting.
  4. To qualify for the title of Reading Champion 2011, you must have read at least 2 classic books, 2 Christian/spiritual books, 1 auto/biography and 1 book that is gathering dust in shame on your shelf.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. 374 pages.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. 391 pages.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. 390 pages.
Uglies by Scott Westfield. 425 pages.
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. 280 pages.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 550 pages.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer. 619 pages. (book gathering dust)
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. 331 pages.
When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric & Leslie Ludy. 249 pages. (Christian #1)
Forgotten God by Francis Chan. 166 pages. (Christian #2)
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. 405 pages.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. 530 pages.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. 759 pages.
Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty. 349 pages.
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty. 360 pages.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. 464 pages.
A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. 496 pages.
An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers. 432 pages.

Total: 7570 pages


Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. 280 pages. (1-8)
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty. 360 pages. (1-16)
Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty. 349 pages. (1-16)
Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty. 305 pages. (1-19)
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty. 255 pages. (1-23)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. 281 pages. (1-30) [Classic #1]
On The Road by Jack Kerouac. 307 pages. (2-0) [Classic #2]
Something Blue by Emily Griffin. 338 pages. (2-18)
Generation X by Douglas Coupland. 181 pages. (2-28)
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. 218 pages. (3-3)
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen. 331 pages. (4-20)
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. 485 pages. (5-9)
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare. 453 pages. (5-29)
Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee. 274 pages. (6-3)
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. 243 pages. (6-21)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. 374 pages. (6-26)
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. 345 pages. (7-5) [Book Gathering Dust]
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. 288 pages. (7-14)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. 391 pages. (7-19)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. 400 pages. (7-28)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. 451 pages. (8-11)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. 288 pages. (8-27)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. 352 pages. (9-03)
Vampire Kisses: The Beginning by Ellen Schreiber. 576 pages. (9-22)
A Week at the Airport by Alain de Botton. 107 pages. (10-2)
Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead. 589 pages. (10-5)
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead. 594 pages. (10-12)
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. 452 pages. (10-23)
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. 321 pages. (10-27)
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris. 291 pages. (11-3)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. 222 pages. (11-18) [Memoir/Autobiography]
One Day by David Nicholls. 435 pages. (12-01)
Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. 292 pages. (12-08)
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. 357 pages. (12-15)

Total: 11821 pages

Difference: 4251 pages to Bells.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [6]

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself because that would be cruel and I want to solve these too! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!

How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms


Last Week's Answer:
Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
-Flannery O'Connor
(Love the lady's writing, but this isn't very encouraging :(  )

Monday, November 21, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Would Like to Have at My Thanksgiving Dinner

Top Ten Tuesday is a wonderful little thing dreamed up by the wonders over at The Broke and Bookish, a lovely favorite of mine. I like a good list and this one seemed fun! It's kind of like that question... If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would it be? And people say Einstein or Lincoln or Robert Pattinson. (Guess which one is my answer?) I'm going to go with authors dead or alive because ten authors is a lot to have at one dinner table. I really don't have a clue how these authors are in real life, so seen below are my own romantic notions.

These people are decked out for Thanksgiving.
You can't even sit down at that table.

10. C.S. Lewis--He would just be fascinating to talk to. This is the man who made me more comfortable and understanding of the concepts of heaven and hell. Not only could we have an intense conversation about religious philosophy, he'd also be the guy with really awesome stories and insights into just about everything. I recently picked up a free book of his about the Middle Ages. This guy would be like a wise, genteel grandpa who everyone would gather around at the end of the night by the fire so we could hear about the first Thanksgiving.

9. Stephenie Meyer--Cheesy, but I think it would be so cool to have a conversation with her about Twilight. She's probably so sick of Twilight though and I'd probably become ashamed and talk to her about The Host even though I don't remember The Host enough to have an intelligent conversation with the author of it about it. Not to say it's not a good book, because it is, but it's been awhile since I read it. She would be kind of awkward I think because anyone in my family would go batshiz crazy to meet her, so she would probably just cower in the corner while we threw questions at her.

8. Justin Bieber--He had that autobiography, right? He's I'm not sure, but whatever. He would definitely bring Selena Gomez because they will still be together because he did NOT have a baby and she's best friends with Taylor Swift, so she might come and then I could meet my most favorite celebrity ever! He would be the chill younger cousin I could go hang out with in the family room to play video games with and leave the adults to talking (even though I am 21 and now considered an adult).

7. Chuck Palahniuk--Have you ever read one of his books? (Most likely, but if you haven't) they're absolutely insane. What goes on in this guy's head? I'd like to hear his life story or what drugs he takes to make that stuff come out of his brain. He's a genius. Chuck would be like cool Uncle Chuck who has crazy adventure stories to tell and is kind of a pariah with the adults in the family but all the kids love him. He would play video games with me and JBiebz.

6. L.J. Smith--I can't decide if this is a real answer or not. I would mostly want her at my Thanksgiving dinner to simply make fun of  her. I feel like she'd be the crazy, ethereal Bohemian aunt (maybe married to Chuck--the floaty pixie to his hardcore meth addiction) who says the most random things completely out of the blue like "Once while hiking, I saw a snow white buck" in the middle of one of Grandpappy Lewis' parables and everyone would kind of nervously giggle and brush it off because she's already lost in thought about something else entirely.

5. Douglas Coupland--Professor Potts, my Youth in the Age of Rock literature professor, once said if you ever had a bunch of small stories and didn't know quite how to string them together, write a novel about a bunch of characters telling stories. Again, maybe I just want a bunch of authors to sit around and tell me stories, but I think Coupland would be the best at it. Like if we had one of those writing contests like the Shelleys (Percy Bysshe and Mary, to you) had in which Frankenstein was created, Coupland would always win. I wish my family was literary enough to have these kinds of contests, but I'd make Coupland my dad at this dinner and he would have a special Thanksgiving competition and I'd write about the turkey coming alive and killing everyone and he'd write a social commentary piece about a backwards Thanksgiving where it's a bunch of turkeys surrounding a human for dinner or something like that.

4. Mindy Kaling--Yay! She just released her book and I can totally count her as an author now! I feel like she would be the single family friend (awkward position, I know, but she could totes handle it) and the two of us would sneak away to talk about boys and chick flicks and when the night was winding down, we would pop in Love Actually or Elf and grab some Ben & Jerry's and enjoy the beginning of the Christmas season with snuggly blankets and fuzzy slippers and forget all the stupidness that being single brings because being single isn't stupid when you got yo' girls!

3. Mark Dunn--Mark's book about an oppressive government changing the rules of language due to letters falling off the statue of the guy who created the sentence with every letter in it (The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.) is a symbol of my love for words, word puzzles, and the playfulness of language in general. I feel like Mark and I could hide in a corner and race each other to solve cryptograms and attempt to make more sentences with every letter in them, whether or not they made any sense. He would be my age, even though he's probably a lot older, and we would delight in the alphabet all night long, sharing secret smiles across the table when someone uses incorrect grammar. Those smiles would mean we will ruthlessly trash this person later in private.

2. Megan McCafferty--Because she created a character that is similar to me, I wish was me, and who I base my life off of. Similar to J.K. below, it would simply just be a dream to have her there. I'd ask her tons about Jessica and Marcus because I love them. I would try to osmosis-ize as many eighties pop culture references that I could and attempt to even further become Jessica Darling. Also, I would bring a potential boyfriend over and ask her how Marcus he is. If this sounds obsessive, it's ok... It is.

1. J.K. Rowling--I feel like this answer is typical, but she's a huge inspiration to me. Having her seated at my Thanksgiving table would basically mean that I would be dedicating the entire day to her because I admire her so much. I think she would be a caring, compassionate aunt who would give me intelligent and sage advice on how to reach my dreams. And I would eat that up.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gratuitous Picture: Writing for the Guardian

This is what I look like when I'm writing an article I really don't want to write: hair up, baggy sweatshirt, sweatpants, drink in hand. Oh, Guardian, challenging me all the time.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Obsessed: Breaking Dawn Part One

Today at midnight, I will be watching Breaking Dawn. I am so freaking stoked. Also, at around 930, I'll be watching Eclipse on the big screen, yet again. Once I get some homework and the first draft of my first major article completed, I will be good to go.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [5]

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!

How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms




Last Week's Answer:
The great thing about the movies is you're giving people little tiny pieces of time that they never forget.
-Jimmy Stewart

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Left Unread for Too Long

Top Ten Tuesday is a wonderful little thing dreamed up by the wonders over at The Broke and Bookish, a lovely favorite of mine. I like a good list and this one seemed a bit challenging (because I don't have my entire book collection with me here at school) and because I don't mind sharing my shame with you.

My actual bookshelf at home
filled with my shot glass collection, my Belle collection,
and other random trinkets that are special to me.

10. Random Sarah Dessen book: I've had two Sarah Dessen books for forever and I just read one this summer (This Lullaby). I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think the other one is Just Listen. I should read it. I've had it for ages.

9. Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall by L.J. Smith: I don't like this series very much. I read the first four Vampire Diaries and when I got to this one, I literally stopped halfway through. It was getting ridiculous. Honestly, the only reason the series started again was because the show is super popular (and I freaking LOVE that show). And there are two more published in the Return series and I think more after that with a different colon-ic title. Plus there are Stefan's Diaries and it makes me sad. It's like writing an eighth Harry Potter book. Just leave that shiz alone.

8. Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge: Rosalie bought this for me out of the blue one summer's day for me to read. It's a very important and special book for her. I will admit I've tried reading it a dozen times, but I just can't get into it. I have a very hard time with Christian books that feel like they are trying too hard... Not exactly saying that's how I feel about this one though. (Sorry, Rose!)

7. How to Walk in High Heels: The Girl's Guide to Everything by Camilla Morton: This was also bought for me by Rosalie. I will say I have read chapters and sections at random, but I really would like to read the whole thing cover to cover because it has seriously some of the best advice ever! I'm disturbingly fashion/make-up/hair/girl impaired. So this is something I've definitely learned a lot from... Now I just need to implement it more.

6. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri: When I read Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies for my Asian literature class my second year of college, I fell in love with Lahiri. I mean, that book was so totally depressing to me, but it was this affliction I felt that really drew me to her work. I went home that summer and found Unaccustomed Earth at a thrift store and bought it without hesitation, but I haven't read it. Maybe I'm scared I'm going to be supes depressed again!

5. Last couple Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books by Ann Brashares: I know for sure I've read the first two. I can't remember if I've read the third one. I'm certain I haven't read the fourth one. Plus, the fifth and final one came out this year I think. But I have number three and number four and I should probably read them. Now I know that there is an end to the series and I'm not going to have to wait for years, I will get on it. I've been itching to read them for quite some time now.

4. Salinger Box Set: I have this really old box set of Salinger's work (not the fancy schmancy one linked, but really old) and I have never read a single one. I know. I know. I've never read Salinger. How could I have never read Salinger. People read Salinger in grade school or high school or whenever. But honestly, I didn't really know these books were classic because I wasn't taught them in high school. It feels like everyone and their mothers read this in school, but I never did. Now everyone and their mother's all like " YOU NEVER READ THIS. WHAT BLASPHEMY!" which makes me not want to read it ever (similar to my aversion of the movie Forrest Gump). I'll read it because I want to read it, which I do. So shut up everyone and their mothers.

3. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: I really want to read this. Ever since it was all the rage and my high school AP Economics teacher read us an excerpt, I've wanted to read it. I will. Eventually.

2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: This has been recommended to me so many times, but I can never force myself to read it. I feel like I want to be at a point in my life where I'm very close to God and much more knowledgeable about Christianity before I start reading it, but my best friend said it might be even more interesting for me to read because I'm not in that place.

1. Sense and Sensibilty by Jane Austen: I started this book when I took the Jane Austen class offered at my school. That was a year ago. Now, these books have always been difficult for me to read. That sounds really depressing to admit, but I have gotten better at reading and understanding them. However, this was also required reading, so that made it also less fun to read (but I did like reading it after learning so much context about it--definitely helpful). I ended up dropping the class because they were going too fast for me to stay on top of the reading (because of my difficulty with it and the fact that it was all of the sudden required). So I'm abou three-quarters of the way through S&S but I just can't make myself finish it. I really should just start over, but that also sounds daunting. I have no idea when this will happen.   (Also, I bought pretty much the entire Jane Austen collection for that class and I really should read them too. We'll just call this top spot Everything by Jane Austen.)  (SORRY FOR ALL THE PARENTHESES!)

A Copyeditor's Rant [1]

Reading a writing project that is truly a copyeditor's worst nightmare. I am trying to not pull my hair out, shoot myself in the face, ect. Seriously, 80 percent of this shit looks copy and pasted straight from the internet. Couldn't even take the time to change the fonts so it looks uniform and like THEY ACTUALLY WROTE IT. It makes me wonder how people decide to become writing majors...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [4]

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!

How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms




Last Week's Answer:
Why is it when we talk to God we're said to be praying, but when God talks to us, we're schizophrenic?
-Lily Tomlin

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review: Living Dead in Dallas

SPOILERS: Possible spoilers if you don't watch the companion television series Tru Blood because I talk about it a lot.

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
Pages: 291
Publisher: ACE
Genre: Fantasy/Mystery
Series: Sookie Stackhouse series
Bought At/Borrowed From: Library bookstore ($2)

Finished: November 3rd, 2011
Reading Competition: Book 30, 10515 pages

Review: I wasn't a huge fan of the first Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Until Dark, so I went into this one with mild trepidation. See, I watched the show before I read the book. I don't know how heavily this sequence of events influenced my opinion of the book, but I actually had liked the show a lot better. I thought the way they set up who was murdering the girls was a lot better and just the recreation of the original plot line seemed more interesting. Though I'm not a huge fan of Tara's story in the show, I like that she's in the show and that Sookie has a friend. It seemed so sad without her. Anyway, the point is, I didn't like the book, but since my mom found novels two through nine at the library bookstore and bought them all, I brought one down to school with me to read in case I wanted an easy read.

And one night, I decided to start it. And I actually got kind of into it. I definitely had to picture all the characters I saw in the show for me to really get into it. It's funny though because some minor detail in the book will be different from show, like a character's relationship to another character or a small plot point that the show drew on but didn't do quite the same, and I see it happening as if it's the show but I have to consciously tweak it to fit what's actually happening in the book. However, it was still a pretty entertaining book.

I'm not 100 percent this is a spoiler because it's in the first chapter and is the mystery the whole book revolved around but basically Lafayette turns up dead in Andy's car at Merlotte's and Sookie wants to find out who really did it (I guess the show's analogous event would be Eggs ending up dead in Andy's car when Jason shoots him by accident.) At first when I found out Lafayette was dead, I almost stopped reading the book. First of all, I love Lafayette in the show. That bitch is my bestie. Though he's got his own crazy dealings going on (fucking Jesus), he's still such an anchor for the other characters in the show. He's tough, but deep down he's got a heart of gold. Second, I saw Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette, at Comic-Con this year and I loved him, so basically killing him off was like killing me off the book.

I stuck through it. Mainly because I wanted the pages and nothing else on my shelves looks good to read right now (still need my memoir/biography and two Christian books and I'm not inclined to read the ones I brought). In the middle of the plot, these are all these other subplots. The first is that there's a maenad running about Bon Temps and Shreveport wanting a sacrifice from Eric and beats the hell out of Sookie in order to send a message to Eric. Another one is Sookie is summoned by the Dallas vampires in order to solve a mystery for them and gets wrapped up in the Fellowship of the Sun (which confused me because Jason is the one to do so in show). And another one is there's wild sexy orgy parties going on with some of the most awkward characters. And somehow, in the end, all of these ended up coming together.

I was kind of like... uh really? when it all went down. And there's this one part where the maenad is screwing with Sookie and she's focused on that so you don't get to know what's going on with the other people and then it comes to a culmination and you're like... wait, what happened? So, I was kind of confused. Maybe because I had been reading it from like two in the morning until six in the morning.

All in all, entertaining, but I LIKE THE GD SHOW BETTER! So I will leave you with this...

Enjoy that? I sure did. I love that song too. I play it a lot, though I have no one I will do bad things to, unless Robert Pattinson, Ryan Gosling, or Adam Levine happen my way. Please happen my way.

Rated: 5-- Good enough to keep me going in the series, but probably not to ever reread it once I'm done.
Up Next: As you can tell by my currently reading, it could be one of many books, but hopefull it's Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [3]

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!

How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms




Last Week's Answer:
There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate when he can't afford it, and when he can.
-Mark Twain

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

Ok, so NaNoWriMo starts in two hours and I still haven't decided if I 'm going to do it. With a midterm this Friday, it seems unlikely but I want to!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [2]

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!

How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms




Last week's answer:
The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts the minute you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get to the office.
-Robert Frost

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [1]

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! Mostly I will be sharing cryptograms I have done from this book I bought at The Strand called Classic Cryptograms by Billing, Kennedy, Nash, and Masterson. There's 600 and I've done quite a few already. I will never share one I haven't already done myself! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. As this is number one... there's no answer! Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!

How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms
There's a lot of strategy to these and I'll reveal my own hints as we go along, but for now, I'm leaving you on your own!




Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Endings That Left Me With My Mouth Hanging Open

Top Ten Tuesday is a wonderful little thing dreamed up by the wonders over at The Broke and Bookish, a lovely favorite of mine. I like a good list and this one seemed challenging. I'm not very good at remembering things and nothing quite popped right away when I thought about this list. Maybe they weren't very cliffhanger-y, but I bet it's more my forgetful mind than the books themselves.

10. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: I don't think this ending was necessarily mind-blowing. Quite honestly, I can't remember the ending (I know, I really am that bad). All I remember is bad ass Madame Defarge and her kick ass lethal knitting. That was awesome, especially because I knit in class and everyone was like "Ooh... She's the real life Madame Defarge." But the fact that it was a such a small detaila bout the character that was actually really important totally took me off guard and solidified her spot as one of my favorite characters.

9. The Good Patient by Kristin Waterfield Duisberg: This book has such a WTF twist to it that I literally reread the scene multiple times because I was so floored by it. Maybe it's just the psychologist in me, but this book will trip you out and make you question what you think your past was like.

8. SPOILER Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: Maybe it's just me, but I loved that you-know-who was the actual killer. The whole time you think it's blank, but it was actually you-know-who! I even remember calling my mom and saying "Yeah, it's obvious how it ends. They already said it in the beginning" and then calling her back when I finished it saying "So... I was wrong."

7. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay: I had watched the television series long before I found this book. I loved the first season of Dexter, I think it's still the best one so far but I think that about a lot of shows. When I went to read the book, I thought it'd follow down a very similar line. It did, for the most part. But the ending--totally different. I was like WTH?! It's made me very excited to read the second one because it's going to have to go down a totally different line than the show and I want to see what different choice book Dexter makes compared to tv Dexter.

6. Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead: This whole series is a series of cliffhangers, but the one that's left me wanting the most is the fifth installment, Spirit Bound. I didn't expect what happens to happen at all... obviously, but still. I just thought "Oh shoot, how is Rose going to get out of this one?" But she probably does because Last Sacrifice has been out for awhile and though I haven't heard any spoilers yet, I haven't heard anyone complaining either. We'll see how it goes.

5. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer: I never expected to like a series about vampires. I never even thought I would like a single book about them. In fact, when my best friend told me about the books three months before I read them, I completely dismissed them. In fact in fact, I so entirely dismissed them that once I did start reading Twilight, a birthday present, I didn't even know they were the books she had been talking about. Basically, it wasn't necessarily the ending that made my mouth drop, but the fact that I was so invested in these crazy vampire books automatically. Luckily, I had received New Moon and Eclipse for my birthday as well so I had plenty to keep me going.

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling: Wasn't everyone shocked by this? I cried for hours. I went and sat with my mom, tears streaming down my face, telling her my whole world was different, that life wasn't the same. I didn't cry when "it" happened--I think I was literally in shock, but when it was over and I knew there was no possibility of him coming back, I lost it. My mom thought something bad had happened in reality.

3. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous: The ending to this book really messed me up. I cried so had after finishing. I couldn't handle it. I wrote for hours about it, attempting to calm myself down. I've had problems myself and it just scared me so bad that I wouldn't be strong for ever, that I could break down and lose myself. It just made me feel like there was nothing I could do to truly ever save myself. At the same time, it inspired me to continue on and I just tell myself that whatever comes, I will stay strong.

2. The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling: This is by far my favorite book in the entire series. I love the ending of this book, how all of the back story about Harry's parents, Sirius, Lupin, Pettigrew, and Snape all came together into amazingness. You seriously spend the whole book hating Sirius Black and being terrified, once again, for Harry, but there's no need because Sirius is wonderful and loves Harry and wants him to live with him. It's beautiful and I get all happy and then WAM! Lupin changes, Pettigrew runs off, Snape's still a jerk, and all doesn't end how I want it at all. But... for a few minutes, you get to hope with Harry. (This book would probably be number one, except I've read Hunger Games more recently and am still blown away by the books.)

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Honestly, these books were like crack for me this summer. Once one ended, I immediately started reading the next. And there's only three!! WHY?!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want To Reread

Top Ten Tuesday is a wonderful little thing dreamed up by the wonders over at The Broke and Bookish, a lovely favorite of mine. I like a good list and this one seemed fabulous. With my to-read list at Goodreads currently on infinite scroll, it's nice to think about some old favorites and the stories that got me into reading and keep me going as well.

10. Sideways Stories from Wayside High School by Louis Sachar: I loved these stories when I was a kid and I'd pretty much completely forgotten about them until I saw them on Goodreads. It was total facepalm action. I couldn't believe my memory had pushed back some of the greatest characters to ever congregate on the thirteenth floor.

9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle: This is also a book I read in my childhood--specifically in fifth grade in my reading group led by my fourth grade teacher who is also mom to my now best friend (It's a small place where I come from). I remember thinking it was really awesome and totally captivating, but I really don't remember much from the actual story. Definitely time for a reread.

8. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: Ok, so I literally finished this book less than a month ago, but I love it. I loved this story so much and I'm obsessed with how the actual book looks and I want everyone to read it including myself. So go read it!!

7. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares: I've read the first two, possibly three, books in the series and I've recently acquired the fourth. I think there's a fifth one out there where they're all grown-up, which I want to read too. But I want to read them in order because I'm such particular about that sort of thing, so I must break out my dusty copies and get going! Plus, my three best friends from college and I did a traveling shirt this summer (San Diego to Australia/New Zealand to Anaheim to Redding/Hawaii and back to San Diego), so it fits.

6. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, Four Blondes by Candace Bushnell, and The Good Patient by Kristin Waterfield Duisberg: As a psych major and morbidly obsessed with depression and suicide, these three books are fascinating to me. The types of characters featured in these novels impact me and I went through a period where I could really relate to their situations. These books remain with me always as they were there for me in that time and rereading them is not only for the pleasure of rereading a good book, but a reminder of what has made me the person that I am today--a person much stronger than I ever thought I was.

5. The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis: This book really helped me feel comfortable with the idea of a heaven and a hell. Though I wouldn't call myself a knowledgeable Christian, I really feel (or maybe I just hope) that Lewis has some amazing ideas about what comes after death and whether or not there's second chances for those who didn't make it to the pearly gates. I'm not going to get all biblical on you, so whether or not you believe in anything at all, this is still an amazing, thought-provoking book and I recommend it to anyone.

4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas: I don't know if this technically counts as a reread because, although I did read a version of it in high school, I have never read the full novel. We had to read an abridged version for the class. (Boy was I freaked out when I flipped through a friends SparkNotes. It seemed our version didn't even have half of the stuff from the original.) I would really, really, really, really like to read the full thing. I know the movie has basically nothing the same from the book, but I love the movie (Hello! OG Dumbledore Richard Harris is in it!) and I also loved the abridged. Now it's time to gear up for the long haul.

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: It's going to be this kick ass indie flick and I read this book I think when I was ten. I loved the YA section of our little county library, though I'm pretty sure I didn't understand a lot of what I read--this book being one of them. Now it's like the cool thing to do, and though I was cool before it was even cool, I guess I need to get back in the loop.

2. Harry Potter series, Twilight saga, Hunger Games trilogy: I don't need to link them. You know what I'm talking about. You read them too. And you reread them too. And you will probably always reread them for the rest of your life because they're absolutely amazing and deserve to be reread. And I will too.

1. The Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty: This series means absolutely the whole world to me, and that's coming from someone who has Harry Potter and Twilight posters plastered on her walls. Jessica Daring is my number one fictional role model. Marcus Flutie is the number one fictional male I swoon over (although I think I decided my perfect man would be a combination of Marcus Flutie and Jim Halpert-think about it Ms. McCafferty... then create!) These books have each come to me in the right moments of my life, finally culminating at the beginning of the year when I completed my collection of the novels and read them all straight through for the first time. As a fourth year college student who has only a semblance of an idea of what she's looking for in life, I take comfort in knowing that if Jess can do it, so can I. WWJDD?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: Vampire Kisses *Spoilers*

SPOILERS: From first novel of the three. Can't really describe the last two without mentioning the ending of the first.

Pages: 576
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Paranormal Romance
Series: Three is Vampire Kisses series
Bought At/Borrowed From: Library bookstore

Finished: September 22, 2011
Reading Competition: Book 24, 8125

Review: This book is comprised of the first three novels from the Vampire Kisses series by Ellen Schreiber. The series follows main character Raven, a goth-to-the-extreme girl obsessed with all things dark, black, and vampiric, stuck in a Ralph Lauren golf club town aptly named Dullsville. She is the only out of place person in the whole town, preferring head-to-toe black ensembles instead of the pastels and plaids worn by the rest of her town. Raven keeps company with Becky, a girl from the wrong side of train tracks who likes Raven for who she is and probably because Raven is the only girl to ever stick up for her. Dullsville becomes happening when a new family moves into the haunted mansion at the top of the hill by the cemetery. No one in town ever sees anyone from the family except the butler, who only ventures out at night to do the shopping. Rumors spread quickly through town that the new family is full of vampires. When Raven hears about them, she is more than intrigued and becomes determined to find out more. (Summary only covers first novel.)

I'm not going to lie, I almost enjoyed myself while reading the first novel, Vampire Kisses. I thought it was interesting to read a vampire love story from the point of view of girl already obsessed with vampires, not accidentally wandering into the world. Raven is much different than other YA paranormal romance heroines and I enjoyed the fresh take on the genre. However semi-original the character is, she gets old really quickly. As if the constant reminders of her "uniqueness" in Dullsville from her spoiled, rich kid peers aren't enough, Raven also loves to remind her reader. From detailed descriptions of her all black outfits that seem straight from a Hot Topic, or should I say "Hot Gothics," and her bedroom accessories from various dark cult flicks to her morbid adorations about her gothic "knight of the night" boyfriend, it seems Raven's life pretty much comprises about how to be as goth as possible. Maybe I'm stereotyping, but her voice in the novel reminds me nothing of a goth at all. In fact, she reminds me of a cheerleader, but instead of saying "Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod!" she says "I'magoth, I'magoth, I'magoth!" Maybe it would have been much worse if she had been the stereotypical goth, but I possibly could have stayed interested in the series if it weren't for how much Raven annoyed me. I really don't need to be told eighty million times that Raven is a goth (see, even I keep repeating the sentiment! Probably because it's 97% of the novel.) because much of the conflict is based on the difference between her and her classmates, with the majority of it revolving around Trevor, the elite, super popular soccer god. I want to be clear, I have no problems with goth as a lifestyle, a fashion decision, a group, etc... Just the one girl.

I will also mention that I wasn't quite sure I liked Raven's relationship with Alexander. I get their both super goth and lonely and Raven wants to be a vampire with him and they make a perfect gothic pair, but I wasn't sure what else their love was based off of.They do get through some pretty sticky situations together in these first three books, so maybe it's brought them closer together, but I'm a very harsh judger of relationships, even fictional ones, so it may just be that.

Ok, something I liked now... Sheesh. I love how rebellious Raven is. Her family was once like her and in a major way shaped the goth person that Raven is today, but they changed to fit in more with their country club surroundings. Raven is someone who doesn't care what people think about her, sticks up for the people she loves and what she believes in, and will even help those who have hurt her the most in the past. She is a strong-willed character and it's good to see a main character like that. The series was given the ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers award and I'm actually glad it did--maybe Raven will spark a connection in someone who wouldn't normally read because they find similarities between the two. And though she can be annoying, she's got a character and an integrity we could all learn from.

The novels are pretty easy reads. I read the first one in one day while on vacation and it kept me mildly entertained. By the time, I got halfway through the second, I was bored and by the third, I was begging for it to end. I really only finished the third one to get the pages for the reading competition. But, if you are still wildly interested in paranormal romance or maybe you're like Raven, this book is probably going to keep your attention for a little bit.

Rated: 2 -- I will never go back to this series.
Up Next: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Oh My Bookstore: MFOL

PO Box 1017
Wailuku HI 96793

"In the early days of our Society, Book Fair Days, held in various shopping centers, were the only way to dispose of surplus books. Around 1984, the MFOL opened their first year-round location on Waiehu Beach Road, subsequently moving to the present location in Puunene approximately three years later. The old building is part of the Puunene School, which ceased operating as a school many years ago. Staffed exclusively by volunteers, who are knowledgeable and accommodating to say the least, this is surely 'bargain city,' with hardbacks, paperbacks, and magazines. The suggested donation is ten cents each (a few select books may have a higher suggested donation amount). Our qualified estimate is in excess of 180,000 books to choose from! A visit to the Used Book is always worthwhile, and we're very easy to find." -Maui Friends of the Library Website, quotation and picture

Let's play Two Truths and a Lie with the quote above. Read it, think about it, ok... Which part is a lie.

If you said that there cannot be 180, 000 books in that tiny little place, you are wrong. The building is small, a little dirty, and I have no idea how it actually stays protected from the elements, but there are a ton of books in there. Maybe 180,000, maybe not, but there sure as heck seemed like it. There were floor to ceiling bookshelves around all the edges, plus in lines throughout the middle of the room. There's also a little back room which mostly held romance novels, I think. With the ONE Borders out of business now, I think this is Oahu's only place to buy books, so it should definitely have a lot. And with what they do with the money--fund scholarships for students who want to become librarians and help with funding programs outside of the library's budget--they need a lot of books to do those kinds of things. Also, they're basically the only place in Oahu where you can donate books and media, so they're helping keep quality items out of landfills... and what book isn't a quality item? (Stop thinking Twilight!)

If you said the suggested donation price has to be more than 10 cents, you are wrong again. Yes, the books are indeed 10 cents. Didn't quite comprehend it? 10 CENTS! I'm not kidding. If I literally hadn't been on my way to the airport and had a day to repack my luggage to fit more books, by all means, I would have bought a hell of a lot more books here. And it says that a few can be priced at a dollar and upwards... but the key word is few. In my whole time in the store, I only found one. ONE. And it is probably worth way more than a dollar. It was insane. I was picking up beautiful, brand new looking, hardcover books searching for the telltale yellow dot that this amazing piece of literary finery was more than ten cents, but they weren't. Oh no. I found sooo many books that I had been wanting. And see those books in the picture on the outside of the store? Those books are FREE! Yes free! Not only are they basically giving books away at 10 cents, but they are ACTUALLY giving books away too. And the free books are pretty awesome--I found one little gem called Chuck Norris vs. Mr. T... Yeah, that's a keeper! It was so cool. I want to live there... In the bookstore yes. Actually, I don't because I can pretty much get the books for free anyway. I ended up with one 1$ book, eight 10cents books, and one Disney sing-along video, also 10 cents, for a total of $1.90. Yes, nine books and a classic movie for under 2$ (Don't worry... I definitely made a large monetary donation to them anyway.)

No, the lie in that above quote is that it is easy to find. Let me tell you, it is not. First you have to go on this road that smells like fart (no lie) because of the sugar mill then go around the sugar mill on some scary as road, then you have to cross this rickety "bridge" and go down a super dirty dirt road around the school until finally you get there. My dad and I tried to go one time and we got lost down some street in the middle of the sugar cane fields. The next time we went, we called when we got to the scary road and made them stay on the phone with us until they got there. They were nice about it though.

Anyway, it's an AMAZING store doing AMAZING things and it should be able to keep on doing what it's doing. If you feel the urge to help save the Hawaiian Public Library System, or at least keep it free to its patrons, please follow this link to find ways you can contribute! It is seriously a worthwhile use of your time because these amazing volunteers deserve it.

Bookstore Rating: 5 (How can you beat 10cents books for a good cause?)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Garage Sale Saturday

Garage Sale Saturday is my favorite day of the week. My whole family gets up early, piles into our mini-van, and scopes out the streets for deals. We are a family of bargain hunters and if there's one thing I can't pass up, it's a cheap book. I thought it would be interesting to find out just how big of a bargain book fiend I am! Each week, I'll write where I got each book, how much it costs, and how much I saved from the original cover price by buying it from not a book store.

This week I bought:

Library Book Store-- all proceeds go to help fund the local library
  • The Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics by W. John Campbell
    Cover Price: $9.95 Paid: $3.50 Savings: 65%

  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (International Collectors Library Edition)
    Amazon Price: $1.34 to $200 Paid: $3 Savings: Either none or a lot

  • Treasury of World Masterpieces: Jane Austen (contains four novels)
    Amazon Price: $1.15 to $60 Paid: $3.50 Savings: Either none or a lot

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    Amazon Price: $2.50 to $46 Paid: $2 Savings: At least 20%

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Reader's Digest Edition)
    Ebay Price: $24.95 Paid: $2 Savings: 92%

  • Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (Reader's Digest Edition)
    Amazon Price: $3.55 to $35 Paid: $2 Savings: 44%

  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Reader's Digest Edition)
    Amazon Price: $4 to $35 Paid: $2 Savings: 50%

  • The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London (Reader's Digest Edition)
    Amazon Price: $16.35 Paid: $2 Savings: 87%

    Notes: I bought all of these because there all really old looking with amazing looking spines- think Beast's library pretty. I one day want a library in my own house and these would look awesome behind a huge mahogany desk. You know what I'm talking about.

Barnes & Noble Online--
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    Cover Price: $10.99 Paid: $5.84 Savings: 47%

  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    Cover Price: $17.99 Paid: $9.56 Savings: 47%

  • Pretty Little Liars (Box Set 1-4) by Sara Shepard
    Cover Price: $29.99 Paid: $17.04 Savings: 43%

    Notes: There was a special one day only 50% off the top 200 YA novels (I know! I was freaking out too!!) And I was deciding on the PLL box set because I wanted to get as a gift for my mom (but she did just buy the first one at the Border's going-out-of-business sale) yet this was totally cheaper than finding the other three separately. So I was a little torn, so I waited. And then I missed the sale because of time zone differences- apparently west coast has to go by east coast :( - and I lost the deals. But looking at the savings, it was still pretty close and these are books I've wanted for awhile, plus one's a gift, so I ended up talking myself into it. It's not hard to talk myself into buying books.
American Cancer Society Discovery Shop-- all proceeds go to the fight against cancer
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
    Cover Price: $19.95 Paid: $3 Savings: 85%

  • The Oxford Book of Short Stories by V. S. Pritchett
    Amazon Price: $2 Paid: $3 Savings: none :(

  • The Unabridged Mark Twain
    Amazon Price: $10 Paid: $3 Savings: 70%

    Notes: I needed a new Harry Potter. The first book is falling apart. I've approximated I've read it 16 times, so... I probably should have a second copy on hand. The other were just super awesome and are being added to my "shelf of really awesome looking books."

Aren't they beautiful? B&N order didn't come in yet, so only my other purchases are there!

Total spent: $61.44 (too much--believe me this is a big week!)

Best Deal: Possibly.... Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sloppy Firsts: Ten Years of Love

I stumbled across Sloppy Firsts in a thrift store. It's how I normally pick up my books, so buying this slightly tattered bright green paperback was nothing out of the ordinary as I handed over my precious $1.50. However, I was wrong.

Below I give you the essay I wrote just this year for my personal narrative class on why Sloppy Firsts and the rest of the Jessica Darling series has been the most impacting and my all time favorite book series ever.

It’s silly really how much I have shaped my life around a fictional character, but from the moment I first opened the pages of Sloppy Firsts, I knew I had found my best fictitious friend. We had multiple similarities that were apparent from the beginning. We both ran track and cross country in high school. We both lived in cities that could easily tie for the most boring places in existence. We both were model students, acquiring an abundance of academic accolades at our respective institutions of information. We also both had a penchant for falling for guys that were gay.

It started out simply. I read the first book in the series my sophomore year of high school, the same year the book took place for Jessica Darling. I bonded instantly to her sarcastic and witty prose, her cultural references that peppered her diary entries, and the way she observed, analyzed, then ripped apart every character that came across her path. I related to her, yet I also wanted to be her. Since then my life has followed a similar course to her own. And as she has grown in the series, I have grown with her.

I have always been attracted to psychology. As far back as I can remember, I have always been the peacemaker to my parents’ problems, therapist to teenage troubles, advisor on angst, counselor during crisis. I have always agonized over the minutia of not only my life, but everyone else’s, spending much of my time in my own head analyzing everything to the point where I end up in circles. Jessica is the one who put these feelings on my future down on paper perfectly—“If I was going to analyze and obsess endlessly anyway, I might as well get paid for it.” It was then I decided I would major in psychology and one day become a psychologist, hoping to focus on developmental psychology and counseling teenagers. Of course, I wanted to go to Colombia like Jessica. I even applied, hoping beyond all hope I could follow my fictional favorite to the university of our dreams, but I didn’t get in. No matter, I still had the books and my hard drive of documents and music named after Marcus.

Now, I look back on my choice of major with trepidation. Through all of my three years in college, I knew UCSD was not providing me with what I really wanted out of my major. I wanted to learn how to be able to talk to somebody when they were having problems, give them true answers and not simply give them whatever I could come up with in the moment. I wanted to be able to be confident in what I told people when they came to talk to me. Instead, I can tell you what construct validity is and the sympathetic nervous system’s response to anger and about a million different studies involving rhesus monkeys (or were they all the same study just mentioned too many times in too many different classes?). I can sit down to a multiple choice test, regurgitate information I only read yesterday, and ace it. And although I have more knowledge about how people work, I still do not feel like I could talk to someone about their issues properly.

In the fictional world, Jessica was going through a similar crisis. In financial ruin and taking on incredible amounts of units to graduate early from Colombia, she realized she had no idea what she wanted to do, or even could do, with her psychology degree. And honestly, what can you do these days with a degree that’s not engineering, biology, chemistry, or biochemengineering?

In the midst of our college calamities, we both turned to what we realize we had loved all along—writing. Jessica graduated and found an internship at a unique, hip magazine that resulted in her quitting when her boss called a group meeting to hear a lecture on sex toys and practice fellatio on dildoes suction cupped to the conference table. But eventually, Jessica found herself as part of a non-profit organization founded by her friend which helps high school students realize their importance and significance in life by simply listening and recording their stories. She travelled all across the country, going from school to school, listening to teenagers tell their life stories and describe what it’s like to be them, letting them be heard.

After realizing how much I truly did love reading and writing in my playwriting class, I picked up my minor in writing last year as an outlet, something to exercise my creativity and imagination, something to prevent me from killing myself in same old, same old psychology classes I was growing weary of. It started as simply that—an outlet. However, writing took on a whole new place in my life. Though I blog and have written a fiction piece here and there for fun, writing never seemed to be the must-have for me that it seemed to be for others I knew who wrote. Yet that has changed as I have started taking more and more writing classes and less and less psychology classes, as I have started pursuing a copyediting certificate from UCSD Extension, as I have researched different graduate school programs for writing and publishing, as I have applied and been accepted as a writer for UCSD's newspaper, The Guardian (Jessica also wrote for her school paper).

I have come to understand that writing has always been a major part of my life, though in times it has taken a backseat in my conscious. I have always created stories in my head, living my life in imagination, and am just now recognizing that they all need to be written down… quick before I lose them. And it’s not just my stories that matter to me—it’s the stories of others. I love listening to what people have to tell me about their lives, where they have come from and how that is shaped them to be who they are at that very moment. I think it’s the psychologist still in me. But that simply goes right back to my fictitious best friend—I love that Jessica ended up where she did in her career. As a lover of a good story and a psychology enthusiast with a passion for teenagers—and most importantly their stories—I feel like Jessica ultimately has my dream career. After years, not only am I still like her, I still want to be her.