Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018: Hydrate

Instead of resolutions, I usually like to pick a word for the year to focus on. This year, I chose "hydrate", which may seem an odd choice for a book resolution but hear me out.

Hydrate my mind by:
1. Bringing back my "classic book a month". I've been feeling under-stimulated with my reading lately so I think this will help. I've started with Rainbow Valley, the 7th Anne of Green Gables book, but I'm not sure if I will count that as my classic or not. Actually I started with Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and it did not go well, at all. (I dumped it after 90 pages.) If you have a suggestion for a classic for me, please share it below or check out my classic a month and classic tag for ones I've read in the past!

2. Continue blogging my way thru The Baby-Sitters Club books. I enjoy doing this so much so I don't know why I start slacking off every few months. I started my reread almost exactly 7 years ago and I'm barely halfway thru. I want to make a good dent in it this year.

3. Branch out in my genres a bit. Try some poetry and plays again, definitely some nonfiction, not sure what else. Any suggestions for those would be appreciated too!

4. I'm not going to set a blogging goal, aside from the BSC, because I don't want to let myself (and my few readers) down. If I feel like blogging, I will. And a good sign: I was originally just going to have this as a shorter post on my Facebook page but felt like expanding on it here!

5. Get back to taking more Bookstagram pics. I love doing them and seeing them. (My Instagram)

Hydrate my body by:
1. Literally hydrating myself...drinking more water! I do okay, I mostly just drink water anyway, but need to up it a little more, especially at work.

2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. This cold winter air has been killing my skin, especially my lips. (Which reminds me, putting lip balm on right now!)

3. Stop putting so much junk food into my body and put more healthy options in. They make me feel better and I lose weight, imagine that! I've done pretty well (let's not count this last weekend though) so far.

4. Moving more. Yoga, walking, dancing, whatever. See #3 re: feeling better and losing weight.

Hydrate my soul by:
1. Meditating. Calming my mind after a long crazy day at work with 10-15 minutes of just focusing on breathing really helps. My boyfriend recommended the Headspace app so I'm going to give that a shot.

2. Doing the things I love. See all of the above but also getting out into the world, travelling, going to art museums and concerts, just enjoying life. 2017 was amaaaazing and I can't wait to see what the next 12 months bring!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Bookish Halloween Costumes!

Happy Halloween everyone!! Are you doing anything fun tonight? Unfortunately, we're expecting lots of rain, so I may not get many trick or treaters and I am very sad about that. So I may end up watching more Stranger Things (or possibly HalloweenTown 2) and eating all the candy I bought for kids lol. And probably finish Bad Girls Don't Die because I was too spooked out to finish it last night. Seriously, I had to go look at kittens on Pinterest before I could go to sleep.

Did you dress up today for work/school/running errands? I did a low-key cat lady outfit, but mostly it's just my normal clothes with a bit more makeup than usual. :D And today's The Broke & The Bookish TTT topic is perfect if you want a bookish costume. I gathered these mostly from Pinterest so don't have links. (If your pic is shared & you don't want it to be, please contact me & I'll take it down immediately!)

Love this Princess Jellyfish group cosplay!! Especially since they did a before otaku version and after stylish.

Super comfy Arthur cosplay (he was my favorite as a kid), a creepy cute Coraline with her friend, and a seriously adorable Matilda. I've never read Matilda, I should change that...I love the movie!

What a great way to take your littlest one along! This Where the Wild Things Are family is my favorite.

Into mischief? Pippi Longstocking, Sherlock Holmes, or Harriet the Spy are perfect for you!

And of course, no bookish costume list is complete without some Harry Potter goodies. These Snape & Luna teens are perfect, they've got the attitudes down!

And a bonus: when you can't decide on a specific book, just go as a book fairy! (I'm hoping they chose carefully which books to use for this costume lol.)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Review: "Dangerous Love: Sweet Valley High #6"

Dangerous Love: Sweet Valley High #6 by Francine Pascal
3 out of 5 stars

Before Reading: I needed to read some good old trash so went back to my SVH books. :) Todd looks super hot on the cover, the artist really focused on him this time. Check out those arm muscles.

The Main Plot in 50 Words or Less: Todd gets a motorcycle. Liz refuses to ride it, but doesn't want any other girls riding it either.

The Second Plot in 20ish Words or Less: Enid's mom is throwing her a sweet sixteen party and is going completely overboard.

Opening Lines: "I still can't believe you got permission to take the Spider to school today," Jessica Wakefield said, opening the passenger side of the red Fiat convertible. "How'd you do it?"

Closing Lines: Yet Elizabeth remained unresponsive, her eyes closed to the world around her.

Best WTF Lines: Elizabeth to Lila: "Listen, you haven't seen Todd around, have you?"
"Have you tried the lost and found?" Lila purred.

"How's my favorite motorcycle mama?"

"You have my word that you'll never see your daughter on my bike." Good use of words there, Todd.

Enid's mom: "I'm not going to use a person whose idea of haute cuisine is pigs in blankets."

"Dreams have a way of turning sour when they become real."

Happenings in SV: The Dairi Burger gets a makeover and a questionable new hot clam special.

The twins are forbidden (and don't want to) from riding on any motorcycles, after their cousin, Rexy, (oh Rexy, you're so sexy) dies in an accident the day after buying his bike. I'm truly surprised that Jessica is okay with this rule and am wondering if it is contradicted later on. I can't see her not getting on the back of some bad boy's bike. Todd is disappointed that Liz won't ride with him and even tries to convince her parents. Yeah right. He gives other girls rides until Liz finally confesses that it makes her jealous. In the end, he decides to sell the bike because it's no fun without a hot blonde pressed up against his back.

Jessica has a new boy toy but dumps him for Enid's cousin. Enid's mom throws her a huge, extravagant 16th birthday party because she's so glad Enid's not on the drugs anymore. Jess abandons Liz after the party to go make-out with her new toy and Liz has no choice (sure) but to ride on the back of Todd's motorcycle. Of course, they get in an accident, thanks to drunk driver Crunch McAllister. Todd's okay but Liz wasn't wearing a helmet and is in a coma at the end of the book.

Fashion Icons: [Elizabeth had] her hair tied back with a blue ribbon, dressed in jeans, blue oxford shirt, and dark blue blazer, [she] looked as fresh and attractive as could be.

She thought [Mr Collins] the strawberry-blond teacher looked especially handsome in the blue crewneck sweater he wore with jeans and a tweed jacket. It wasn't hard to see why practically every girl in school had had a crush on him at one time or another.

[Helping Jess find a dress for the party] "You know that green polka-dot dress with the puff sleeves? I think it would look terrific on you." No, no it wouldn't.

After much searching, [Jessica] had finally found an outfit that did her justice, a black-and-white satin jumpsuit held in place by two tiny spaghetti straps. With her hair piled atop her head and long black-and-white earrings dangling from her lobes, Jessica looked stunning. Brian was a fitting companion, his six-foot-plus body shown off by the Egyptian cotton dress shirt and charcoal-gray pants he wore.

Twin Hijinks: No hijinks, but Jessica has some twintuition when Elizabeth gets in her accident. And at the hospital, she tries to mind-meld with her or something.

Other Thoughts: Guy Chesney, the keyboardist for The Droids, hits on Liz and comes across as kind of creepy. Foreshadowing? This book ends on a cliffhanger and I do NOT have the next book and I'm so annoyed!! How will I know if she makes it?? Spoiler: she does. ;) The ending is very "after school special" but I think it was well done actually. I teared up a little when Jessica was talking to the comatose Elizabeth and saying how she couldn't live without her and such. She also promised to be better if Liz recovered, but we all now how that worked out.

The Next Book*: Will Elizabeth live or die? Find out in Sweet Valley High #7, DEAR SISTER.

*(not necessarily what I'll be reading)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

TILT: Spooky Reads for Halloween!

Continuing my Halloween obsession for this week's Things I Love Thursday, I'm going to share the books I picked out to get me in the spine tingling, hair raising, hold back a shriek of terror, Halloween mood! And hey, share your favorite spooky reads too...I always love getting new recommendations for next year.

These are the books I finally settled on to actually read. I always remembered Die Softly as being one of my favorite Christopher Pike books, but wow it did not live up to the memories! I recommend Master of Murder instead. The Bad News Ballet (or Scrambled Legs) book was a fun quick read one evening. And I just started Bad Girls Don't Die a few nights ago and am enjoying it so far. Not sure if I'll get to Steinbeck's Ghost but since he's my favorite author, I just had to pick this one up.

I was reading TheBookRat's blog yesterday and they had some awesome Halloween recommendations, but the one that stood out the most for me was The Accident Season. The Goodreads summary:

It's the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

Doesn't that sound intriguing? I immediately went to Amazon and ordered it; it should be here just in time for the weekend. I can't wait! (I may have also bought 2 Christmas books. :D I gotta get started early lol.)

Another fun one I picked up at the Half Price Books clearance sale last weekend was this Zombie Haiku poetry book by Ryan Mecum. It's got some surprisingly good little poems mixed in with the funny and gruesome. I'm trying to read a few each day.

And that's what I'm loving this week! What about you? Are you into themed seasonal reads or no? What books or tv shows or movies are you obsessed with right now? I've extended my theme into my tv shows even and am loving a children's/young adult tv series on Netflix called The Worst Witch. It's like Harry Potter, but all girls! I love it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: "Zombies vs Unicorns"

Zombies vs Unicorns edited by Justine Larbalestier & Holly Black
3 out of 5 stars (for the whole book)

This book has been around for ages and I'm sure you've seen or heard about it before now. I've almost bought it many times, but for one reason or another never did. Until I was at Half Price Books and they had a big stack of them at the front and boyfriend was super intrigued by it. (Not that I think/expect he'll read it, it's not his style at all.) So I finally gave in and bought it. I can't say that it was completely worth it; I can see why they had so many and why it was on clearance.

Apparently there's a lifelong battle of which is better: zombies or unicorns. I've never heard of this battle and I don't think anyone else had either until the 2 authors/editors/friends made it up. So they decided to gather up some of their fellow author friends and have them write a short story that will supposedly convince us which is better. Unfortunately, the stories are very up and down. I almost gave up after the first story, it was so bad. And the intros Larbalestier & Black did before each story really just annoyed the crap out of me. They were trying way too hard to be edgy and controversial, or something, but it just came across as obnoxious. I'm glad I kept going though, as I did find some gems and even a series that I'm interested in reading now.

Since there's 12 stories and I don't want this review to be excessively long (like it isn't already), I'm just going to do a one liner-ish describing each story and what I liked/didn't like about it. And consider this review full of spoilers, because I had some questions on some of the stories and would love some answers if anyone has them! I will say I started out Team Unicorn but by the end was firmly Team Zombie.
(I love Snapchat lol)

1. (unicorn) The Highest Justice by Garth Nix: 1 star
A princess gets justice for the murder/zombifying of her mother, the Queen. Felt like something I would have written in the 5th grade.

2. (zombie) Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson: 4 stars
A boy with a brain-devouring prion (zombie) tries not to eat the guy he's crushing on. Enjoyed it, especially the boys' relationship. Was left with more questions at the end though: had Jack been bitten before? Was he or his dad already a zombie?

3. (unicorn) Purity Test by Naomi Novik: 2 stars
A unicorn needs to find a virgin in New York City to save some baby unicorns from an evil wizard (Harry Potter reference). Gave it an extra star for baby unicorns that drink chocolate milk. I was quickly becoming Team Zombie after this story.

4. (zombie) Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan: 4 stars
Izza's father takes over an island after the Return and protects it from the mudo (mute, zombies) and pirates. Until he can't. Best story so far, loved the before and after parts, and Izza taking charge in the end. Plus, I totally knew the pirate guy was the kid from before.

5. (unicorn) A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan: 2 stars
A unicorn leads a young man in medieval times to a girl that has been attacked. The guy is accused of attacking her, the princess. The second half of the story focuses on the princess, who is banished for being pregnant and unmarried. Turns out the unicorn is the baby daddy. Yeah. It started out decent but then got really weird. The switch of characters in the middle completely threw me and I lost track of the first guy for awhile. Guessing he was the head in the bag. And the ending was ew.
6. (zombie) The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson: 5 stars
A girl is hired to be a nanny for a famous actress in England. The children are a little...odd. Loved it, perfect short story. All I could picture for the actress was Angelina Jolie; pretty sure it was intentional. Who is taking care of them all at the end though? I guess the actress called in some people before she turned completely.

7. (unicorn) The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund: 5 stars
Teenage girl realizes she can tame and train unicorns, who are usually evil killers in this version. She raises a baby unicorn that she had saved from a travelling freak show but things start unravelling when the baby's killer instincts start kicking in. Finally a truly excellent unicorn story. I had knocked this down a star at first because the ending was so abrupt and I needed MORE BABY KILLER UNICORN but then I saw it was part of a series so I bumped it back up. (And added the series to my to-buy list)

8. (zombie) Inoculata by Scott Westerfeld:3 stars
A small group of humans try to stay safe in a small camp surrounded by zombies. The teens infect themselves on purpose and don't turn completely Zee and run away from the camp. The real zombies follow, because they're bored. That's where the story stops, which is super frustrating. I like Westerfeld's books a lot and this feels like just the beginning of a series for him.

9. (unicorn) Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot: 3 stars
A girl gets a unicorn for her 17th birthday from her wacky aunt. She thinks it's totally lame and considers selling it on eBay, until the unicorn helps her get revenge on her ex-boyfriend. I would never sell my unicorn on eBay. A decent story. Probably more like 4 stars, compared to the other unicorn stories.

10.(zombie) Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare: 3 stars
In Zombietown, the dead come back and get menial jobs, like street sweeper. Adele's boyfriend, James, is killed by his uncle, the current Duke, so that James won't become his successor. Of course, James comes back to "life", with Adele's help and accuses his murderer. Enjoyed it but was missing a little something; not sure what though. I liked all the zombies coming to James' side. Why could James talk but the other zombies didn't? And Adele seemed totally snobby after she became the Duke's wife-to-be.

11.(unicorn) The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey: 1 star
A unicorn wanders the earth, over hundreds (thousands?) of years, the only one of his kind (supposedly). He has healing powers that work on humans, but if he takes too much, he can kill them. This gives him a super high, so he starts doing it more and more. Guess what gives him the best high? Killing babies. Yeah. He goes thru a cycle of doing this and despising himself for it and wanting to die. Of course, his healing powers stop that. Until he finds a girl willing to help him, in a most grotesque fashion. I hated this story. HATED IT. Every single page of it.

12.(zombie) Prom Night by Libba Bray: 3 stars
The zombie virus starts with the adults in this story, forcing the kids to step up and take control. (Similar to Michael Grant's Gone series) A pretty good story but needed a little more, like a lot of the others. I read in someone else's review that the girl at the end, hugging everyone at prom and saying "sorry" over and over, was actually infected by her boyfriend and so she was bringing the virus to the small town. Is this true? I never would have seen that on my own. Also, who was coming in the tunnels? I need to knooow!!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Review: "We Are Okay"

 We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
4 out of 5 stars

I love Nina LaCour's books. The Disenchantments is one of my favorite books period and I just really love her writing style in general. I picked it up on impulse at Barnes & Noble one day (I hardly ever buy books there anymore, so this was pretty special) because the cover caught my eye and then the author. The actual book is really beautiful. The artwork grabs you in and it has a slight texture to it that makes it feel expensive. Even the inside cover is pretty. This is a book meant to be displayed on your shelf.

All that said, I had a really hard time rating this one. I really loved the words and how she used them but I also needed more to the actual story, so it was kind of difficult to decipher how I really felt about it. Maybe writing this review will help!

Marin is the only person left in her college dorm over Christmas break and she's kind of fine with that. She's been running and hiding from her past for months and it's a relief to not have to pretend everything is okay. We don't get a clear idea of what she's running from, not right away. And honestly, I don't think we ever get the full scope of what's happened. That's part of why I had issues with it. Marin was raised by her grandfather, who is this amazing character on his own. He dies shortly after the book starts but even to the end, we don't really know what happens. The story goes back and forth from the present, in snowy New York, to about six months prior, in sunny California.

"I remember the whole beginning as a succession of flights and drops, a little seesaw of the right throbs and the wrong." (from The Turn of the Screw, which I am now interested in reading!)

Marin's mother was a surfer, who died in the ocean when Marin was 3. She doesn't remember anything about her, Gramps won't talk about her or show her pictures, but random strangers will stop Marin on the beach to tell her stories and give her seashells. It's almost like her mother's ghost is following her around. Ghosts are a prevalent theme throughout. But she has her best friend Mabel to keep her sane. Until she can't anymore and Marin flees to the other side of the country. Mabel comes to visit her on break and tries to convince her to come home to Cali, but Marin won't/can't. She can barely handle being with Mabel for 3 days.

"Not enough hope. Everything is despair. Everything is suffering. What I mean is don't be a person who seeks out grief. There is enough of that in life."

I just realized, just this minute, why I do love this book so much. It reminds me of Jandy Nelson's books, especially I'll Give You The Sun. There's unmistakable sadness in both but also beauty, in words and thoughts. They also both explore artwork and make you think and want to do something. The girls discuss Frida Kahlo's painting The Two Fridas (which I was lucky enough to see recently at the Dallas Museum of Art) and it's beautiful.

"...the whole one is trying to pull the wounded one back to her, as if she could undo what's happened. Or the wounded one is guiding her old self into her new life. Or it could be that they've separated almost entirely from each other, and they are holding hands as a last moment of connection before they break apart completely."

So yes, I've decided it deserves the 4 stars I initially gave it. This is a quiet book, you don't think much is happening, but it still moves you, makes you feel. And when you finish it, you'll continue to think about it for days. That's what makes a book good right? If you're still thinking about it, even negatively, it's doing its job.

I was okay just a moment ago. I will learn how to be okay again.