Friday, January 27, 2012

Joyeux Vendredi!

Hello everyone!  Welcome to the end of the week!  Let's get started on questions and then I'll move on to other things briefly.

TGIF and Follow Friday are brought to you by Ginger @ GReads and Parajunkee.

Buy or Borrow: Where do your books that you read come from?  The bookstore?  The library?  Do you prefer to own a book or have it on loan?

It really depends.  If I read the inner cover and the description sounds interesting, I might just get the book regardless of whether I've read that book before or not.  I will do this most often at Half-Price Books because I can generally find a book that cost anywhere between $1 and $10 apiece, so it's not as bad as spending $22 on a book and hating it in the end.  If I'm iffy on a book, I will wait and borrow it from the library, since those books are the most accessible.  The only bad thing is, there is a three week limit each time you borrow a book and you can borrow a book up to three times before you have to give it back.  For a book you buy, you don't have to give it back, which I really appreciate.  So it very much depends.

Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?

After learning my lesson after two mistakes, I will forever avoid any book that has to do with an already existing role-playing game (*COUGH* Warhammer *COUGH*) and anything that was written after the TV show aired.  It's one thing if a TV show or a movie is adapted from the other book, but it's an entirely different thing if a book is adapted from a TV show or movie.  It's just way too different and you know exactly what's going to happen when you read it any way because you've seen the episode or the movie.  Why bother?

Update Time!

Okay, so tomorrow I'm going to go dress shopping for my dance that is in a week from today (actually, this time next Friday, I'll have been done dancing for an hour).  The exciting thing is, I'm kind of doing this on my own this time.  My sister isn't going to be there to help me pick and neither is my mom.

Tomorrow, I will try and continue finishing up the videos for my LONTEM project that I haven't yet finished. The piece are there, it's the sitting down and editing part that is kind of deterring.  I will tell you that my next video is going to be entirely in French (with English subtitles).  Practicing is fun!

So there you have it!  That's all she wrote!

If you'd like me to drop by for a virtual visit, leave your web address down in the comments area and I will try my best to stop by tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!


The Newly Acquired

Hello there!  So today, I did another Half-Price Books run with my 
lovely friend Avery (whilst switching between German, Spanish, French, and English)!  Here's what I got-- I'm very excited to read these!  

The first is "Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde."  What is really neat is that while it still has the original story, it's also very heavily annotated.  If I ever need it for college, this will come in handy!  Also, I've fallen deeply in love with the cover!

The second is "Saturday" by Ian McEwan.  I'm planning to actually finish "Atonement," but from what I've read so far, I really like his writing style and general story-telling.  So I had no problem picking this up off the bookshelf.

 The third is "Lucky" by Alice Sebold, which turns out to be her memoir.  I love memoirs, so I'm really excited to read this.

The fourth is "Sammy's Hill" by Kristin Gore.  While I was picking through the shelves looking for interesting titles, I spotted this one, became curious, and then instantly fell in love with the cover!

The fifth is the amazing "Save as Draft" by Cavanaugh Lee, which I've already read and reviewed!

Thanks for reading!


Monday, January 23, 2012

May: How to Plant a Garden and Keep it Alive

This past May, I set out to master the art of gardening.  It lasted all the way through the Summer and into the beginning of Fall, so I must have been doing something right.

Thanks for Watching!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Review of 'A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life' by Dana Reinhardt

 "Simone has always felt different, though her life seems pretty normal.  Her mom's a lawyer for the ACLU, so she's grown up spending her Saturdays outside the food co-op, gathering signatures for worthy causes.  Her dad's a political cartoonist who does most of the work around the house.  Her little brother is a jock who seems to know how to do everything just right.  Her best friend has a new boyfriend and is probably about to start having sex.  And Simone has a crush on a really smart and funny guy who spends all of his time with another girl.

But you can tell what really makes Simone different just by looking at her: she doesn't resemble anyone in her family.  She's adopted.  She's always known it, but she's never wanted to know anything about where she came from.  She's happy with her family just as it is, thank you.

Then one day, Rivka calls, and Simone learns who her mother was-- a sixteen-year-old, just like Simone.  Who is Rivka?  What does she want?  Why is she calling now, after all these years?  The answers lead Simone to deeper feelings of anguish and love than she has ever known and prompt her to question everything she has taken for granted about faith, life, the afterlife, and what is means to be a daughter.

Dana Reinhardt's brilliant debut is the irresistible story of the unexpected blessings that fate has in store for Simone."

Finally, a book that has to do with one of my other challenges!

This was a very interesting read.  I liked that this wasn't your typical adoption story (in some ways).  For instance, Simone wasn't particularly upset about being adopted.  She didn't miss her biological mother or father because she didn't know them to start with.  I appreciated the level of (my perceived) reality that Dana Reinhardt included in Simone's adoption story.

There were a few unusual things though.  I found it a little astonishing that Simone wasn't even remotely curious about who her parents were until she actually met Rivka.  In my imagination, kids who are in a similar situation as Simone (as in, they didn't know they're parents themselves) are, at the very least, a little bit curious about who their parents are.  This probably isn't reality though.  Everyone is different.

Another thing that felt unusual is that Rivka was the one to contact Simone, not the other way around.  I always thought that it was up to the child to decide when they want to know about their biological parents and whether or not they want to meet them.  I understand Rivka's situation, but when you're just starting to read this, it might seem a little strange.

One thing I really liked about this book was the Jewish element to it.  Really, it's such a beautiful religion and lifestyle.  The traditions that Rivka introduced to Simone, who initially proclaimed herself to be Atheist, were really quite interesting.  I loved to read about the traditions for the various occasions.  I like the idea of Shabbat.  Judaism seems to have become a theme for me in the past few months.  I may need to do some more investigating.

Something else I didn't really appreciate about this book were the interpersonal relationships.  Simone's adoptive family didn't really have conflicts with each other.  They were okay with Simone giving up their house to host parties.  Simone has a problem with her best friend's boyfriend, but she never does or says anything about it.  Simone and her own boyfriend hit it off perfectly-- little to no awkwardness.  So this is more of a boo about discovering one's self and the power of family.

Overall, an interesting read that, despite its small downfalls, is sure to please the masses.

I give 'A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life':
Thanks for Reading!


A Review of 'Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter' by Steve Dublanica (Audio Book)

"According to The Waiter, eighty percent of customers are nice people just looking for something to eat.  The remaining twenty percent, however, are socially maladjusted psychopaths.  'Waiter rant' offers the server's unique point of view, replete with tales of customer stupidity, arrogant behavior, and unseen bits of human grace transpiring in the most unlikely places.  Through outrageous stories, The Waiter reveals the secrets to getting good service, proper tipping etiquette, and how to keep him from spitting in your food.  The Waiter also shares his ongoing struggle, at age thirty-eight, to figure out if he can finally leave the first job at which he's really thrived."

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when i picked this out at the library.  I only knew what I recognized it from when my friend found a copy at Half-Price Books and she recommended it after she was a ways into it.

Readers/Listeners learn the secrets of tipping, what happens in the kitchen if you tick off the waiters or the cooks, and the various crises and excuses that crop up around many restaurants around the country from The Waiter.  All of these things aren't told to you point-blank though.  No.  As a waiter, the author has numerous stories to tell and loads of advice to give in the process.

Something kind of cool is, this book was essentially started on a blog.  It still exists, too!  Go to Google and type in "Waiter Rant Blog" or something similar.

As a waiter, the author witnesses a plethora of crazy, shocking, and perplexing incidents.  Now, in this book, you too can share in the craziness of being a waiter.

While things like tipping are very important in American society, I thought the author went on about tipping for quite a long time.  What I found most exciting was an incident (several, actually) that occurred in the middle of the summer and how he dealt with the situation.  I was getting a bit of an adrenaline rush just listening.  It was amazing!

'Waiter Rant' is a book meant for young adults and up.  The Waiter keeps you with him all along the way, but you'll always want to keep looking because you want to.  It's quite funny with strong language throughout and is well worth the read/listen!

I give 'Waiter Rant':
Thanks for Reading!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


If SOPA and PIPA are passed, this is all you will see of this blog and every other blog that has ever been created ever.  Not to mention YouTube, Tumblr, The Oatmeal, and many other creative websites.  Please don't censor the internet.  You can sign a petition here:

A Review of 'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green

"Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis.  But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, 'The Fault in Our Stars' is award-winning-author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love."

Like many Nerdfighters around the world, I was doing a happy dance the day this book came out.  Not two or three days later, I received my copy and devoured it as fast as I could while simultaneously juggling health and everything else (I finished forever, by the way!).  I'm going to try and go forth with this review as spoiler free as possible, because it's my understanding that the book hasn't been released in other countries just yet.

One thing I absolutely love about John Green's writing is the characters.  They're always so intelligent and humorous and people that you would love to be friends with in real life.  Hazel, Gus, and Isaac are no exception to this trend.  Gus is basically my fictional boyfriend.  He's absolutely perfect-- he's not a pervert that wants to get in everyone's pants.  Despite his situation (ooh vague statements...) he's surprisingly upbeat.

"The Fault in Our Stars" was the first book I've ever cried during.  Sure, there are a number of sad books that I have read, but none have moved me in such a way that real tears came to my eyes.  It was the heartbreaking lines that did it, mostly.  I desperately wish I could tell you which ones, but I don't want to spoil it and I feel like those lines would do just that.  Those lines and scenes were just beautiful in the worst way possible (if that makes any sense at all).

It's always really special when you feel like you know the author personally-- as a friend.  I've watched The Vlogbrothers on YouTube for some time now and through those videos, I've gotten to know both Hank and John Green a little.  I feel proud when either of them are mentioned for the great things they do.  It's like feeling pride in an IRL friend.

"The Fault in Our Stars" is a beautifully written stand-alone novel that teens and adults alike can read and fall in love with.

I give "The Fault in Ours Stars":
Thanks for Reading!


P.S. It's so exciting having a book signed by one of your favorite authors!

A Review of 'The Golden Compass' by Philip Pullman (Audio Book)

"Lyra is content to run wild among the scholars of Jordan College, with daemon familiar always by her side.  The arrival of Lyra's fearsome uncle, Lord Astriel, to Jordan College draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle-- a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears.  As she hurtles toward danger in the far North, young Lyra never suspects the shocking truth...

Philip Pullman's award-winning 'The Golden Compass' is a masterwork of storytelling and suspense, critically acclaimed and hailed as a modern fantasy classic."

I've had this book recommended to me by an IRL friend (she's the one who lent me the book in the first place) and also by a blogger who reviewed the entire "His Dark Materials" trilogy.  Click HERE to pay him a visit!

I'm glad that I read this book.  It was a good adventure story that left me wanting more at the end (good thing there are two more books!).

I listened to this book as opposed to reading a hard copy of it.  This is another excellent audio book because there is an entire cast of voice actors that make the book seem more like a radio show (I use 'show' loosely here).  I loved the voice of Lyra and now I want an armored bear ("BEARS!!!")

(I don't know about you, but I think they're kind of cute... in a slightly terrifying way)

I wasn't quite sure why I wasn't allowed to read these when I was younger.  I'm still not quite sure why-- I know that there are atheistic themes in this book, but they're just that.  Themes.  It's nothing new-- people struggle with this every day.  But it's important to think and talk about it, as Philip Pullman did moreso towards the end of this installment.  Any way, I found myself focusing more on the actual plot rather than searching for the themes.

This was a beautiful first installment to the series.  I feel like I can't write an awesome review until after I continue the series, but I will still write about the individual books in the series.  I can't wait to read the rest!

I give 'The Golden Compass':
Thanks for Reading!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Public Service Announcement: Abstinence

This should be the last health video I do.  We'll get back to our regularly scheduled program shortly.

Thanks for watching!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

You Went Where?

"Jude, you haven't really been posting on here very much.  Where have you gone?"

That's right.  I've joined the dark side.  I've started my positivity blog over on Tumblr (I promise I haven't been posting reviews, I'd never cheat on you like that, blogger).

So yeah.  If you're a tumblogger yourself, you can click HERE and stop by for a visit (you can stop by even if you're not a tumblogger).  Does anyone else here have a tumblr?

I didn't want to tell you guys that this was officially happening, because I didn't want to say I'd do it and then end up hating it, but I actually really like it thus far.

Have a lovely weekend!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Memes!

Welcome to Friday!  I hope you all had peachy-keen days today!

2012 Must Read: Which books are at the top of your list to be read this year (new or old releases)?

 A lot of these books I've started already.  a couple of them I'm currently reading, but I plan on finishing them. I started "A Million Little Pieces" last year, but it's such a hefty read (not that it's long, only that it deals with difficult topics) that I didn't finish it.

I received my copy of "The Fault in Our Stars" yesterday-- I was so excited!  I'm about half-way done right now!

 I tried to read "Pride and Prejudice" before, but I don't think I was in the right mind set to read it, so I didn't get very far.

I found an old copy of "Wuthering Heights" at a garage sale and I haven't read it yet, so I hope to finish that this summer so I can make some literary friends and impress them with my wide range of reading.

I'm currently reading "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" and it's quite good, but I've been lacking in time, and I will be until second semester starts probably.

"Mockingjay" is a book that I borrowed from my mom's co-worker who's basically my long-lost twin, but a bit older.  I haven't gotten very far in it, but I'm not quite sure why, because I thought the beginning of the series was decent.

I can't wait to read these in 2012!

Many readers/bloggers are big music fans.  Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012

My Chemical Romance (I LOVE them!)
Jack's Mannequin (I LOVE him!)
KYO (They're so neat!  They're a French band)

Thanks for stopping by!  Leave you web address in the form of a comment below and I'll try my best to stop by for a visit between health assignments.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Body Image: A Video

This is a final project that I did for health.  I'm pretty happy with it considering it's relatively last-minute (the last day to turn in anything is Wednesday and I'm sitting at 43% instead of 80%).  Tell me what you think!

Thanks for watching!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Review of 'Giovanni's Room' by James Baldwin

"Set in the 1950's Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality.  With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart."

This was a book that I had to read for school.  Lately, I've been enjoying the books we've read very much.  Even though the class itself is challenging (I'm probably being graded somewhere in the C family), I've quite enjoyed it and I'm going to miss it when it's over.

'Giovanni's Room' started out a little slow, but soon picked up speed as we met Guillaume, Jacques, Giovanni himself, and became more familiar with David, the main character.  It became even more interesting when Hella (David's girlfriend) returns from Spain and meets Giovanni.

This book is primarily about David struggling with his sexuality-- dealing with societal pressures, mainly.  It's a little painful to see him go to Giovanni while Hella is gone only to return to Hella because that's how men are "supposed" to behave.  David is his own Judas in that he betrays himself-- he's not true to himself for staying with Hella.  He ends up hurting more people than he helps by not being true to himself.

Something interesting is the way women are talked about in this book.  Being a woman, female, or being feminine seems to be a bad thing.  Hella tells David that if he stays with her, she will put the books away and essentially be a stereotypical woman.  One quote that I found particularly shocking was, "Hell, I want to be knocked up.  I want to start having babies.  In a way, it's all I'm good for." (123) This is said by Hella, the only female character that really makes an appearance.

It's controversial for a number of reasons, but honestly, I feel as though it makes the book that much more interesting.

This book is not too hard to understand, which is quite nice for me, because I have to write a paper on it.

Overall, 'Giovanni's Room' deals with many difficult and sensitive topics, but is well worth the read.

I give 'Giovanni's Room':
Thanks for Reading!


P.S. Once next semester gets underway, I hope to have more reviews coming out.  I'm taking a non-CIS Literature and Film class, so it should be much easier to deal with.  I'm only half regretting not taking the college writing class (which is CIS or College in the Schools).  So good news for you guys, but iffy-leaning-good-thing for me, I suppose.  I think I'll like it a lot once we actually get started.

A Review of 'Annexed' by Sharon Dogar (Audio Book)

"'I look out the window into the street... I'm meant to be at Mr. Frank's workplace in a few hours.  We're arriving separately, all of us.  We'll walk into the building just like it was any other visit-- only this time we'll never walk out again.'

What was it like hiding in the annex with Anne Frank?  To be with Anne Frank every day while she wrote so passionately in her diary?  To be in a secret world within a world at war-- alive on the inside, everything dying on the outside?

Peter Van Pels and his family have lost their country, their home, and their freedom, and now they are fighting desperately to remain alive.

Look through Peter's eyes.

He has a story to tell, too.

Are you listening?"

I've been having trouble finding time to just sit down and read a physical book.  While I wasn't originally aware of this book when it came to creating my 'To Be Read' list, I'm pleased that my library carried an audio book version of this book.

Listening to this book seems to be the way to go because of the way it's written.  "Are you listening?"  Even though Peter Van Pels never actually wrote this, it was like having Peter actually speak to you, telling another side of the story Anne Frank told in her diary but then going farther and talking about being in a death camp, up until the day he supposedly died (that's the tricky part about the Holocaust-- so many deaths and only so much documentation).

With Anne, we have an idea of what it was like to grow up as a girl into a woman in the secret annex, but now we have an idea (of course it's speculation, because this is historical fiction, but some of this can be backed up with Anne's diary) of what it was like to grow from a boy into a man in the same setting.  The only difference is, Peter seems to delve a little bit deeper into such topics as love, questioning religion, that sort of thing.  Things that are quite normal for a teenager to go through as they discover just who they are.

One thing that really worked for this audio book was the use of many voices, that is, multiple voice actors.  It was really neat and quite effective.

Something that I didn't like was the person playing Peter.  Very often, he would drift into this dreamy, deep-in-thought sort of voice.  This became particularly annoying when Peter was in Auschwitz, because this part spanned over several months (that sounds terrible when I put it that way).

At the end of the audio book, the author herself spoke.  There, she dictated to her listeners a rough timeline of everyone in the annex-- who they were, when they died, how they died, and how old they were when they died.  It was absolutely shocking.

Overall, a very well-written piece of historical fiction.  It felt very real and it was insightful in places where I don't remember Anne Frank ever offering an opinion.

I give 'Annexed':
Thanks for Reading!


Sunday, January 1, 2012


For Blogging

  • Read a bigger variety of books
  • More videos!  
  • Finish things that I began in 2011 before moving on to something new
  • More projects
  • Successfully complete challenges
For YouTube
  • Vlog every day in one month (June?)
  • Make teaching videos (maybe)
  • Make only positive comments and walking away from the not-so-good videos.  Someone will tell them what's not working.
For Life
  • Seriously, procrastinating
  • Become more organized (already in the process)
  • Be more positive (Maybe start a Positive Tumblog?  That seems like the place for shorter postings)
  • Appreciate what I have
  • Don't be too critical
Yeah.  I think that's a good list for now.  It's definitely subject to change though.

Thanks for reading!


2012 Reading for Fun 50 Book Challenge!

Hello there!  If you joined us last year for the 2011 Reading for Fun 50 Book challenge, welcome back!  If not, no worries, everything will be explained in full.

This is a challenge purely so that at the end of 2012, you can say, "I've read 50+ books this year!" and then proceed to gloat to your heart's desire.  There really aren't any limitations.  You can read whatever you want (heck, even crossing over with other challenges, unless you want to make things a little more difficult and keep this challenge separate from your other challenges).  The sky is the limit for you!  Enjoy yourself!

If you're thinking of joining in, leave a comment below with your web address so that I (and whoever decides to join in) can come by and visit you!  I'm not very good at operating linky lists I'm afraid, otherwise I would absolutely put one on this post.

Enjoy your reading this year and Happy Challenging!


2012 Reading Challenges!

 The first challenge I'm doing in the Adoption Reading Challenge.  My goal is to read 6 books about adoption-- 3 nonfiction/3fiction.

1 / 6 books words. 17% done!
Click HERE to join in the fun!

The second challenge I'm doing is The Century Challenge, where I'm going to cover a Quarter of a Century (that's the goal-- 25 books)
I'll be tackling 1950-1974.  Wish me luck!

0 / 25 books. 0% done!
Click HERE to join in the fun (or at least know the guidelines, since it's a challenge from last year)!

My third challenge is going to be the 2012 Audio Book Challenge with a goal of 25 audio books!

5 / 25 audio books. 20% done!
Click HERE to join in the fun!

My fourth challenge is the 2012 Go Indie Reading Challenge!  My goal is to read 5 Indie Books (mostly because I have no idea how to find them, but this could be adjusted later if I get the hang of finding a lot of these kinds of books).

0 / 5 books. 0% done!
Click HERE to join in the fun!

My fifth challenge is the Off The Shelf 2012 challenge!  I liked it so much the first time, I'm going to do it again!  I'm going to try and read 15 books that I already own.

13 / 15 books. 87% done!
Click HERE to join in the fun!

My sixth challenge is the Dystopia 2012 Challenge!  I'm choosing the Contagion level of 15 books.

2 / 15 books. 13% done!
Click HERE to join in the fun!

My seventh and final challenge is the 2012 Reading for Fun 50 Books Challenge!  It's of my own design and there will be a separate post for this.

33 / 50 books. 66% done!
Click HERE to join the fun!

So after reading through these, you're probably thinking, "Jude!  You're completely insane!"  More than likely yes, but I guess you need a little of that to take on a challenge.  I'm rationalizing the sheer number of goals I have by saying that there will be a lot of crossover between my 2012 Reading for Fun 50 Book Challenge and the 2012 Audio Book Challenge, so it'll work out.  

Happy Challenging this 2012!


2011 Challenge Review

So this past year, I tried to complete some challenges for the first time in my personal blogging history.  I had five that I wanted to do (three of them were self-created, however).  I'll kind of go through them now.
In 2011, I did the 2011 Audio Book Challenge (brought to you by Teresa's Reading Corner), and my goal was to listen to 12 Audio Books.  I successfully completed all 12 Audio Books and reviewed them (I labeled them as Audio Books in the review title).  In the beginning, this was a little bit of a challenge, because I wasn't really good at only listening and taking in information, but after listening to 12, I've fallen in love with audio books!  I plan on doing this challenge again, but raising the bar a little bit.  I'm going to do a separate post for this though.
The second challenge I did was the Off The Shelf Challenge.  I really liked this one because it forces me to look through my own shelves instead of those of the library's and read what I already own (there are many, because of Half-Price Books spoiling me so).  I successfully read five books that I own and haven't read!
The third challenge was of my own design, and that was the 2011 Reading for Fun 50 Book Challenge.  My goal was to read 50 books in 2011, and I exceeded my goal by at least one, if not two, three, or four books, which is exciting.  I'm going to create a 2012 version of this challenge, but I'm crap when it comes to link lists, so if you want to join in on this (it's really not that hard, because there are crossovers with the other challenges you might be doing).
The fourth challenge was a little unusual.  My boyfriend shared one of his books with me-- a Warhammer book-- because he's trying to find one that I like.  I failed this challenge miserably, completing 28 out of 762 pages.  Honestly, it's a little boring, but I will try and suffer through it.  I hate not finishing books that I've started.
The fifth challenge I did was another that I created-- the Goosebumps Challenge.  I also failed that because as soon as I finished creating it, I no longer wanted to read Goosebumps.  I think school began, otherwise I had better things to read.  So... yeah.  That just didn't work out.  I won't be creating a 2012 version of this (though if you joined in and you really liked it, by all means, start it up yourself, even if it's on your own).

So that's it for last year's challenges!  There will be two more posts today, so stay tuned for more!

Thanks for reading!