Tuesday, August 26, 2014

10 Books I Want to Read But Don't Own

Oh my never ending "To Be Read" list. I feel like it never gets shorter. It's a good problem to have. However... it's hard when you don't actually have the books in your possession.

Here are ten book on my TBR list which I don't own:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas


I read the first book in this series, Throne of Glass, not long ago and I really want to read the next one! Someone please tell me it'll be out in paperback soon.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert


I don't know a whole lot about this one, but I've heard some people say it's one of their favorite books to come out this year. It's about ballet but it's also a thriller type of story I think.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour


Another one I don't know a whole lot about - but John Green recommended it and I trust his judgement.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis


I listened to the first book, Across the Universe, on audio earlier this year. It wasn't the greatest thing I've ever read, but it was interesting and I loved the author's take on leadership. I felt like it was a perspective we don't get to see very often. I'm very interested to see what happens next!

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner


And another sequel. But I just have to know what happens when The Maze Runner ends!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them & Quidditch Through the Ages by JK Rowling


I feel like such an awful Harry Potter fan - but I don't have these books. I need them. I need them right now.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


I'm on a big Neil Gaiman kick right now and I want every single book he's written and this is his newest one.

Attack of the Theatre People by Marc Accito


Another sequel and this needs to be in my hands yesterday. If you've been reading my blog at all this year, you know I ADORED How I Paid for College and I was so excited to see there was a sequel because I need more of my Ferris Bueller and Rachel Berry love child.

Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis


My friend Sarah told me to read this book forever ago and I still haven't. But it's by CS Lewis who is amazing so I need to get on it.

To Be or Not to Be: A Choosable Path Adventure by Ryan North


Do you remember those pick your own adventure books when we were kids? Well - this is the same thing. Only for adults. And it's Hamlet. A friend of mine told me I should read this and really, do I need any other reasons?

What books have you been meaning to read but haven't been able to get a hold of yet?

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Kings of New York

So... apparently the VMAs were last night.

I didn't know this until I was already watching the finale of Rising Star (Go Jesse!) and mourning Newsies and their final performance on Broadway. (WAH!) Womp womp.

Oh well.

Apparently Beyonce was awesome - so go her. And Taylor Swift can't dance... neither of these things are new I don't think. So... I didn't really miss much, right?

Sadly though, with it being Music Monday and all, it probably would have been an awesome way to get material for today's blog post. Whoops.

HOWEVER I do have a Newsies song to save the day! (Or seize the day as the case may be?) This show has been running on Broadway since 2012 and I went to see it that year and it was AMAZING. It has it's final performance yesterday and I know a lot of people are sad to see it go.

But there's good news! Newsies is going on tour and I have full intentions of seeing it here in Chicago when it arrives in December/January.

In honor of the show, here is their amazing Tony Awards performance from 2012. Featuring one of the loves of my life - Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly), the incredible dancing of Ryan Steele (Specs), the loveable Andrew Keenan-Bogler (Crutchie) and the rest of the original cast.

Now, pardon me as I go wear my Newsies cap, watch the movie, and go through my book about them and cry.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

When Life is on Pause

There are times in life you feel stuck. Day in and day out you experience the same things over and over again. Things aren't going the way you want them to. Maybe you apply and interview for job after job after job and nothing happens. Or you go on a dating site and talk to as many guys (or girls) as you can and meet some of them and go on dates. Sometimes it even goes past a first date. But then something happens and it falls through. Again. 

We all get into these life ruts. Where we're just stuck and we don't know how to get out. Time moves slower and keeps going on but it doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. We aren't going anywhere. While the days keep going and the months and seasons change, it still feels as though life has been put on pause and no one is pressing the play button. Everyone is moving, but you're just staying still.

But time is a funny thing.

Things in life can change in the blink of an eye. Sometimes for the worse, sometimes better. Just this past weekend I had to go to Indiana with my mom for a wake and a funeral for a relative. She had been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but just in the past week or two she seemed to be doing great. Then... she wasn't. In the blink of an eye, the family's life had changed.

But it's not always that way. Sometimes it changes for the better. These are the moments I try to think about when I'm in a rut.

I think about my sister. In just a little over a month she's going to be married. All of the planning and preparations will be over and she'll be married. It's crazy to think about. They've known each other/been dating for about three years now. Which in the grand scheme of things isn't all that long, but it's not as though they met and got married a month later. But, she has told me she knew pretty early on in the relationship he was "the one." They hadn't even been dating a year - maybe not even six months - and they both knew where it was going to go. It all happened pretty fast. It doesn't for all people, but for them it did.

Or I think about a good friend of mine who just began a new job. On a whim she applied for a job in another city. By the end of the month she had a new apartment and a new job in a new city and was making new friends. 

These are the types of stories I try to keep in mind when I'm in a life rut. Sometimes it might seem as though I'm stuck and going nowhere. It might feel like my life is on pause. But the play button could be hit at any moment and life could change quickly. 

Who knows what will happen in a month... a few months... a year from now?

It's exciting to think about - but also scary. We get used to those ruts sometimes. Because we know what will happen and how to handle it. But we don't always know how to handle new jobs, new relationships, new cities, or new lives. 

But isn't that part of what's so great about life changing? It's scary to think about not knowing what's up ahead, but I like that part in a way. Anything can happen. Anyone can pop up. New adventures are waiting down the road. 

We just have to keep hoping and waiting for when it'll happen. It will happen. It might not be in a big loud way. It might be a gradual thing. Where one day you wake up and realize "wow... I'm not where I was a few months ago." 

Or maybe we have to make it happen for ourselves sometimes. God doesn't always just throw something on your lap. Sometimes we have to get out of the rut on our own, and he's there with us along the way or guiding how we make those choices.

Sometimes it takes sending out that long shot job application. Sometimes it's just getting up and deciding "yes, I'll go to that party where I might not know many people." Or going on that first date you were nervous about. Or going on that dream vacation you always wanted.

Or maybe it's just being open to the possibilities. Even though we hate our life ruts and being on pause, we still stay closed up. It's amazing what can happen if we're just open to other things we don't expect.

Maybe it's time to press the play button and do something out of the ordinary. Because perhaps that change in life is just around the corner.

Bout of Books Update:
Total number of books I've read: 2
Pages Read Yesterday/Today: 120
Total Pages Read: 430
Books: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Anna Dressed in Blood  by Kendare Blake

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here's to 10 Years

Yesterday evening, I made my way over to Midway airport to pick up a friend of mine who had been on vacation visiting her family. Her husband was working, so I got to pick her up and go out to dinner. (Win! Especially when said dinner is from Chipotle.) Lately, she and I see each other at church and our little group of friends sit together. Which is awesome, but it also means I don't get a whole lot of one-on-one time with this group of friends due to crazy schedules. So, church is the one time we all (usually) get to see one another. Having the time to drive and have food was exciting.

As we drove she told me as of this week she has been living in Chicago for ten years now. Ten years. A decade. When she moved to Chicago it was when she moved into the dorms at Concordia University River Forest (CURF. Now it's Concordia University Chicago, CUC. Ugh.). I've been thinking a lot about how it's been ten years since high school - you'd think I would put together that it also meant I began college ten years ago.

But for some reason those pieces didn't come together until my friend mentioned it last night. With thinking about the high school students I used to lead graduating, that has been my main focus. High school.

Ten years ago, yes, I graduated high school and closed that chapter in my life. But it was also the beginning of an amazing chapter! So much of my college experience shaped who I am today (although A LOT has changed since then) and the friends I made there are still some of my closest friends I've ever had. I talk to far more people form college than I do from high school. Other than reading random Facebook status updates.

I've been friends with some people for 10 years! It's an awesome friedaversary! (At least for those I met my freshman year...)

Ten years ago this week was when I moved into my dorm and went to Freshman camp.

I made friends who I still talk to - some on a daily basis. Some just on occasion simply to catch up. 

It was in college I started to attend the church where I received my field work training and I am a member of now.

Ten years ago was the start of where countless hours were spent at the local pub, Caribou Coffee, IHOP, and road trips to ALL OF THE WEDDINGS because that's what happens when you go to a small Christian university.

Many of my friends met their future husbands or wives those years.

I added theatre to my major and it basically took over my life - and it was awesome.

I joined the Weeks of Welcome Staff to help other new students be welcome to campus and feel at home there the way I had been when I was a freshman.

Spring breaks were spent in the Appalachian Mountains where I tore down walls and climbed mountains.

It's been a crazy ten years since meeting all of these amazing people, and I'm so grateful! Let's have another awesome ten years, shall we?

Bout of Books Update:
Total number of books I've read: 1 1/2
Pages Read Yesterday/Today: 160
Total Pages Read: 310
Books: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Anna Dressed in Blood  by Kendare Blake

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Authors I Want to Be My Mentors

The author Stephen King once said "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." (Source)
I haven't read much of Stephen King. As in... I've never read any of his books. I'm way too much of a wuss to even try to pick up The Shinning or anything else like that. (Although, the Facebook book club I'm starting is reading his book Firestarter as our first one. Eek! If you want to be a part of it, click here to join the group.) However, I do respect him as an author because he has written so many novels and short stories. Many of which are best sellers and have inspired others to create movies, TV shows, and pursue their own stories. So, when I hear his words of wisdom when it comes to writing, I listen. 

I particularly agree with this statement about reading. (As does JK Rowling actually.) If you want to write well, you need to read. Granted, you probably don't need to read a kazillion books a year or anything. But you do need to read. Good books, bad books, books in the genre you write about, books outside of that genre, etc. If you don't read, how are you going to learn more about your craft? How are you going to know good writing when you see it?

No matter what your craft or talent is, you most likely have people you look up to. If you play basketball you probably look up to people like Michael Jordan. (Or whoever is popular these days. I don't know sports.) If you are a musician you listen to other musicians. If you're an artist you learn about other artists. I think you get my drift by now.

The same goes for writing. Whether you write fiction, poetry, blogs, etc. you need to read. Read something - anything. Because that's how you learn.

I was thinking about the authors I admire. Not just my favorite books, but authors who I truly look up to. The ones when I read their books I sit in awe of how they paint pictures with their words and form unforgettable characters and stories which sweep me off my feet. These are the authors who I would want to mentor me in my own writing.

Naturally, I went to social media to find out which authors my other "writer type" of friends look up to. They had a variety of different authors they shared with me. Eric Metaxas, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Jane Austen, the apostle Paul, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood, Aaron Allston, Mercedes Lackey, Virgina Wolf, John Green, Neil Gaiman, Gail Simone, Douglas Adams, etc.

All of these are different from the others, but all have something to add to the writing community.

If I were to pick any authors to be my mentors, here's who I would pick.

Elizabeth Chadwick
The Greatest Knight, Lady of the English, Summer Queen, etc.

“Weep now, but tomorrow be strong. Remember who we are and that whatever else is taken from us, they will never strip our honour and our pride.” 
― Elizabeth ChadwickTo Defy a King

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The way she can take true events and people from history and turn them into novels is amazing. I would love to find out how she does all of her research, how she organizes it, and the process she has for creating a story. Yes, some of her methods are... unusual. (I think I heard she goes to psychics or something.) However, she's undeniably a fantastic author.

John Green
The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines

“Writing, or at least good writing, is an outgrowth of that urge to use language to communicate complex ideas and experiences between people. And that’s true whether you’re reading Shakespeare or bad vampire fiction—reading is always an act of empathy. It’s always an imagining of what it’s like to be someone else.” 

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I'll be honest, The Fault in our Stars is my favorite book by him, I've only read two other ones. They were good, don't get me wrong. But I wasn't blown away the way I was with TFioS. However, I do love his videos and I love how real his stories are. Especially TFioS. He has this awesome way of writing stories for young adults which also connect to adults.

Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline

"The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked...that's the moment you may be starting to get it right."

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I've only read two of his books so far, but I have all of them on my "to read" list and I cant wait to dig into them. He creates this beautifully "ordinary" characters and puts them in unreal situations which almost seem normal. I've been blown away by how he puts pieces together for a story and the sense of humor and ridiculousness in his novels. Whenever I've read quotes by him about art and writing and life they resonate with me and I find myself agreeing. I would love to hear him talk about writing, but about life as well. Also - he's written episodes for Doctor Who.

Anne Rice
The Vampire Chronicles

"To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself."

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She is the queen of vampires and the supernatural. She wrote about vampires before it was cool! I'm always entranced when I read The Vampire Chronicles. Her ideas are controversial, powerful, and unique. I love her characters and I find myself wanting to read more about Lestat partly because I still don't 100% understand him, he's so in depth. Also, she does a fantastic job of  connecting with her fans. (AKA- "people of the page.") She's always updating her Facebook page and discussing issues of the world with her fans, and when she's unavailable she makes sure her assistant (Becket) updates for her and lets everyone know who is the one writing. 

JK Rowling
The Harry Potter Series, The Casual Vacancy, The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm

“I didn’t write with a target audience in mind. What excited me was how much I would enjoy writing about Harry. I never thought about writing for children — children’s books chose me. I think if it is a good book anyone will read it.”

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Let's be honest - she's fantastic. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone she's on my list. Harry Potter has some of the greatest storytelling and most memorable characters of this age. She's able to create a beautiful fantasy world and story, while also discussing intense issues like prejudice, justice, family, depression, love, and friendship, in a way anyone of any age can connect and learn from. But even beyond Harry Potter, she's great. The Casual Vacancy may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the characters were still wonderfully made and the story was written well. I haven't read either The Cuckoo's Calling  or The Silkworm yet, but I've heard great things and I'm excited to read them. And she did it while not even using her own name. Yes, the books probably sold a lot more once it leaked she was the author. However, from what I've heard The Cuckoo's Calling did just fine before then.

Rainbow Rowell
Attachments, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Landline

"I find love stories satisfying when you can see the work - when you can really watch people find each other and fall in love, a little bit at a time. I like slow burns. Falling in love is so good; why would you want to rush it?"
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She has become more of a recent hit- but I think we'll be seeing more of her as the years go on. Her characters and stories feel so real. It's as though these are people I would see walking around my neighborhood, on campus, and at the store. Also - her twitter is hilarious and I feel like we would laugh a lot AND Fangirl was a NaNoWriMo novel.

Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus

"I think that's a hallmark of a really good story that it has readers that it speaks to more than others."
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Another NaNoWriMo author and the author of one of my all time favorite books. She's a creator of fairy tales and magic and wonder and love. Nearly everything I love in the world is in her book and I can't wait for her to write another. 

Then again... maybe I wouldn't have them mentor me. I'd be too afraid to show them anything I write for fear of them hating it! (haha.) If you could pick any writers (or someone in your field) to mentor you, who would you pick?

Monday/Tuesday Bout of Books Update
Total number of books I've read: 1
Total number of pages I've read: 164
Books: Completed American Gods and began Anna Dressed in Blood

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rising Star

Does anyone else watch the TV show Rising Star? It's another music competition but what's different about it is that you vote for the singers live through an app. It's pretty fun.

Well, next week is the season finale and there is one singer who I LOVE name dJesseand I hope he wins. (Although the others are excellent too.) He sings old rock music and when you first hear him talk you'd never expect him to have the power house voice he has because he's so soft spoken. But the moment he has a guitar and gets onstage it's a whole other story. He did this awesome cover of Michael Jackson's "Bille Jean." 

If you want to watch, here's the link to his performance: http://youtu.be/oQRjdOkm5Ak

What music are you listening to right now? Link up with Music Monday and let me know Sorry it's such a short post today. I had to go to Indiana for some family stuff, but I'll be back home tomorrow!

I'm working on finishing American Gods by Neil Gaiman and I only have about 120 pages left! So I'll finish it today and get going on my next one!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bout of Books Goals

Before I go to writing about my Bout of Books goals - I just want to say how happy I am about how peaceful Ferguson was yesterday. I know there are still so many problems and things there/in the world aren't going sin g to magically go away. But they seemed to approach thing in peace yesterday and I think that should be celebrated. It's those small steps which make progress happen.

Now - onto Bout of Books!

The challenge starts on Monday and I think I'm ready to hit the books. ;-) Here are some of my goals for the week:

- Finish American Gods  by Neil Gaiman if I haven't already by then. I've been working on this book for FOREVER and I have no idea why it's taking me so long to get through it. It's a great book and I'm loving it, but it's pretty long and I keep reading other books while I'm reading this one.


- Read one book from my Kindle/Nook shelves which have been sitting on my iPad for a long time. I have so many books which have just been sitting there and I haven't read yet and I need to get to them. I'm thinking it'll be My Exile Lifestyle by Colin Wright, Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger, or Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. However, there are several others which are possibilities.


- Read a book on my "real" bookshelves which have been sitting there the longest. I have a lot of books in the same boat as my ebooks. They need to be read! I'm thinking it'll be The Cuckoo's Calling  by Robert Galibrath (JK Rowling... and this would also work for my ebook goal), The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock, or Heartless by  Paper Towns by John Green.


- Read at least 3 books. This would mean I would complete my ebook and "real" book goals, and possibly one other book if I finish American Gods before Monday.

- Read at least 150 pages a day.

So... here's hoping I do better on my goals this time around!

Bout of Books

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Overwhelmed, Lord of the Rings, Les Mis, and Polar Bears

For Vlog Every Day August (VEDA) I made a video about my reaction to Ferguson, MO. If you'd like to see it, here you go. I feel like the video explains everything of how I'm feeling right now.

Please keep the people of Missouri in your thoughts and prayers as well as the rest of us who are just trying to figure out what's happening and how to react.

Simple Moments Stick

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bout of Books - Part 2

Remember a few months ago I tried this thing called Bout of Books? Then I had work and I got sick and couldn't keep my eyes open - thus not completing my goals? Yeah. That. Apparently there's another one coming up! I'm thinking since the preschool isn't in session again until September - I might actually be able to do better this time around!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Bout of Books

So, what do you think? I haven't set my goals yet. That'll be another post. What types of goals do you think I should have? Are you participating in Bout of Books?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Yes, You Can Cry Over a Celebrity

Too many times when a celebrity dies I hear various complaints from people. How we shouldn't make a big deal about them. How we didn't know them. How there are other big things happening in the world which need our attention. Etc.

Thankfully, I haven't heard any of these complaints about the recent passing of Robin Williams. 

As sad as I was reading the endless posts on Twitter and Facebook about Robin Williams, it also was endearing. Some truly awful things have been happening in the country and world lately. My family watches two or three news shows a night and it's depressing. I hate watching or even having it on in the background because I don't want the constant reminder of how many awful things are in the world.

But we can still come together and mourn, but also celebrate an amazing life. Movies and comedy we've known our entire lives and still laugh and cry over.

Because, even if we didn't know them, it's okay to mourn the death of someone famous. 

I remember in high school my friend and I were recognizing the anniversary of when John Lennon died. I was talking about it in class and a guy who sat behind me started to complain about how it didn't matter. Just because this guy was famous didn't mean we should be talking about it years and years later.

Or even just last year when Cory Monetith from Glee died, I heard people sharing how ridiculous they thought it was that so many people were mourning him.

First... It's John Lennon. Just... Really?

Second, what's so wrong in recognizing their life and death?

Remembering them is important. They were still people. They made mistakes and had the skeletons in their closet out for all of the world to see. Many times theses celebrities have awful pasts and
major issues. But they were still people. We remember our own loved ones, and we can remember those we've never met as well. Because they were people. They were people God created and loved. 

And their work was important. Yes, sometimes they made jokes or awful dance club music or just drove around a car really fast. But it made people smile. For those few moments, the outside world was gone and people were entertained. We laughed and cried during movies and TV shows. 

Because art is important. I want people to know that just because someone wasn't in politics or started a movement, or fought against the injustices of the world, and made art instead (even if it seemed silly at times), it doesn't mean it wasn't important or meaningful.

Art touches us and moves us. It shows us how we feel, what we want the world to be like, and changes us. We need those people in the world. They help to change the world in their own way.

It's not just about Robin Williams. It's all of those awesome actors, musicians, writers, directors, etc. who have left their mark and we miss. I think about that part of the Academy Awards and they recognize all who had passed that year in the movie industry. Some of the names I know, but there are many I don't. But every year a lump comes to my throat to think of all of those people.

First - because they were people. Every life is valuable.

Second- because they helped create art. No matter how large or small their role was or what sort of thing they did. They helped create something which touched others. It's important and needs to be recognized.

So yes, you can mourn when your favorite actor or singer or heck even athlete dies. Marathon their movies and tv shows. Here's to you, you wonderful artists and comedians and performers of the past whom we miss. Because it matters.

And my friends, we never know what battle people are fighting. Please, be kind to each other, and if you ever need a shoulder to cry on or lean against, I'm here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Soundtrack of my Life

I don't know about you, but I feel like I always have background music going in my life. It's almost as though there's a soundtrack to my life. For example, whenever I hear "If You're Not the One" by Daniel Bedingfield or "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana (odd combo... I know) I will always be transported back to the summer before my senior year of high school. Long summer nights with one of my close friends, spending every minute together, talking about everything, and reading Order of the Phoenix to each other. Or "Saide Hawkins Dance" by Relient K and "Rawkfist" by Thousand Foot Krutch are the anthems of when I was in youth group.

Do you have those songs which seem to be in the background of your life? The ones where if someone made a movie about you, you know they would need to be in the soundtrack?

Music is always there in the background for me. In the car, blogging, reading, writing, etc. I even have music for my characters which when they pop up on my iPod I can't help but start plotting and getting into their heads.

I think that is part of why I was drawn to instruments like piano and guitar. They're the ones which are staples in all types of music. They're always there in the background.

I started to play piano when I was in fourth grade and I loved it. I can't say I was the greatest piano player ever, but I wasn't bad. I stopped taking lessons at some point, and that put a stall on my increasing my skills. However, by this point though I had picked up the clarinet and I was deep into band in high school and singing for choir. The clarinet is awesome and I love it, but it's not one you usually pick up to play with friends and jam or something.

However, I also had decided to pick up the guitar. When I was in 8th grade I bought one with my confirmation and graduation money thinking it would be a great way to learn how to play more popular music and maybe even try to write my own. I tried to take lessons, but for some reason it just didn't take. For years my guitar has been sitting to the side untouched. I think it's because the instrument itself it too large for me. It was bulky and my fingers weren't strong enough to get the chords.

So I kind of gave up on finding that perfect background instrument. The one I could just pick up and play.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I was watching a Carrie Hope Fletcher video on YouTube. She's one of my favorite YouTubers and she was playing a song wither her ukulele. I thought "I could totally do that."

So... I did. After some awesome encouragement from my friends via Facebook and Twitter I went online and ordered a $50 pink ukulele.

I haven't been able to put it down since. Trust me, putting it down to work on my blog is a struggle. I love playing it! I was nervous it might be the guitar all over again. I was worried my fingers wouldn't be strong enough or long enough to get everything.

But it's been awesome! It's only been a little over a week - so I might be jumping the gun a bit. But I feel like I've finally found that background music I've been searching for. Even the first weekend of getting in delivered to my door I was sitting around on the couch lazily playing as I hung out with people. It's something I can just carry around with me and play whenever I feel like.

It's like finding the soundtrack to my life.

Any song suggestions for me to learn?

I'm also linking up with Mingle Monday!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Oh Honey

Over the weekend I was talking with my sister, my aunt, and a friend about a situation my sister was in. She was frustrated about it and I tried to put it in a bit more of a positive light. She reacted by saying "Oh honey."

You know... How I Met Your Mother style.

After a short discussion we changed subjects and the night went on. However, my sister's reaction to my statement stuck with me. Usually things like this don't bother me, but this time it did. (Things have been cleared up since then and it's all good - just fyi!)

It got me to thinking. Why is it that when people try to see something positive or the good side of others, they are considered naive and their opinion is generally not taken seriously?

I see this happen over and over again with various topics. From discussing people, to situations, to world issues, to even books and movies. In theory, we love people who are positive. I think of the famous quote by Anne Frank: "Despite everything, I think that people are really good at heart." We hear this and we're all "She's so inspiring! She's so strong! How awesome is that?!"

But if Anne Frank wasn't you know... Anne Frank... and just another girl and we were sitting in at a coffee shop complaining about people and life and she said that, our reaction would probably be more... "Oh, honey." We'd think it was a sweet and cute statement, but probably wouldn't take it very seriously.

Or what about books, movies, and TV shows. If a story doesn't have death, jaded characters, and such, it's not considered realistic and not always taken as seriously. If a story has a happy ending, sometimes it's seen as being cliche.

When talking about hot topics we are always complaining about the world and the state of our culture. People who criticize such things are usually seen as intelligent because they can point out flaws. But when someone sees positive things in the world, culture, and pop culture, they aren't as informed or educated.

Why is this the case?

It's so easy for us to complain, to see bad things around us, to see how awful people can be, etc. In a way, it's harder to see the positive side of things. So why is it that when people tend to be positive, they're seen more as naive?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for being informed about the world and seeing things realistically, and there are moments for "Oh Honey..." But that doesn't mean I should assume everything is awful.

For example:  when I hang out with my friends downtown we try as much as we can to travel in groups and my friends who live there always walk me to my car to be safe. These are smart things to do. However, that doesn't mean I think every person I come across is going to attack me. Generally, I think everyone is just trying to do their own thing.

There are bad things and bad people in the world - but does that mean we should automatically assume everything and everyone is bad? I don't think so.

I don't know about you, but I would rather others assume I'm a kind person than a jerk. Shouldn't we try to do the same for others?

What do you all think? Is it just me, or do you see this trend as well?

Also- I'm starting a Facebook Book Club called The Book Worms! We're planning on starting our first book in September but we're still deciding on how often we'll "meet" and what to read. If you want to join the group click this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1464666840456806/

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Long Summer Day Book Review

A few weeks ago I received an email from NetGalley about a book called Long Summer Day by RF Delderfield and it is the first in a trilogy called Horseman Riding By. It was a re-release of a best-seller and they asked if I would be interested in reading it because I enjoyed Downton Abbey

Summary Without Spoilers:

The synopsis which was emailed to me said this:

"After serving his country in the Boer War, injured Lieutenant Paul Craddock returns to England to resume civilian life. But things have changed since he joined the Imperial Yeomanry three years ago. His father has died, leaving Paul as heir to a scrap metal business he has no intention of continuing. Instead, he purchases an auctioned-off thirteen-hundred-acre estate in a secluded corner of Devon. Neglected and overgrown, Shallowford becomes the symbol of all that Paul has lost-and a reminder of the gentle place his homeland once was. And here, on this sprawling stretch of land, he will be changed by his love for two women: fiercely independent Grace Lovell, and lovely, demure Claire Derwent."

My Thoughts:

The Characters- There weren't many characters I grew very attached to in this book, unfortunately. At the start of the novel, they seemed interesting and I was excited to follow their lives. Paul was young and enthusiastic, Grace was different and interesting, Claire was naive but sweet, etc. Then as the story went on, I found myself disliking them more and more. I think a large part of this was how the story dealt with feminism and the suffrage movement. The way women were portrayed in this book bothered me. I can't be sure if it was accurate for the time period or not, but I know for a modern audience some of the situations and portrayals were hard to deal with. Simply because a woman is passionate about the right to vote, it doesn't mean they hate all men. This was only one example. Or how they were always described by their sexuality. It was very old fashioned, and the men were allowed to do whatever they wanted but the women weren't. I understand this is how it was in this time period, but you can still create good female characters while staying in the confines of the culture of the time. However, Claire grew on me as the story went on and I also enjoyed Ikey's character who became Paul's ward.

The Premise- I liked the premise a lot. I love historical fiction and learning about how people might have lived in the past. This book is definitely about the day to day lives of Victorian British country life. I love that! I will say though, it doesn't make for quick reading. It's a very large book and it took me longer than I had anticipated. There is definitely drama. (Scandal! Shipwreck! Babies! Deaths! Womens Vote!) However, if you are looking for a fast-paced novel, this isn't the book for you.

Overall- I enjoyed this book. I liked looking into the lives of the people in the Valley and learning more about British history. However, I had a hard time getting over the way women were portrayed and it read slower than other books I tend to enjoy. There are two other books following this one and I am a little curious because they seem to go more into WWI and WWII (which I love!) and might go more into Ikey's story who was a character I enjoyed.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Long Summer Day
Author: R.F. Delderfield
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media

The book is available now!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fantasy Novels 101

I love the fantasy genre of fiction. I love being able to be taken to another world where anything can happen. I feel like sometimes fantasy gets a bad reputation for being just for kids or something because there's magic. I don't think that's the case. What's so awesome about fantasy is you can deal with real issues and problems and emotions but in this epic world and I think sometimes it helps us to learn even better than we would be able to reading "normal" fiction. It's a great way to portray people and situations and issues so we think about them in a different way.

And you know... dragons, fairies, and such are awesome.

If I met someone who had never read any fantasy novels ever and wanted a taste of what the genre is, these are ten books I would recommend. Think of this as Fantasy 101.

Peter Pan by JM Barrie

It's a classic and everyone knows the story and movies. But how many people have really read the book? Or maybe they've read it when they were a kid and it's been awhile. I'm all about going back to the original and seeing where it all started.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone by JK Rowling

Because... obviously! I love Harry Potter, but this series has become a staple in the fantasy genre. In fact, it's opened the doors and influenced modern childrens/young adult/fantasy novels. Therefore, if you haven't read Harry Potter, you need to.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Another classic - but one I truly feel like not many people have read. Let me tell you - IT IS WAY DIFFERENT THAN THE MOVIE! When you see movies like The Great and Powerful Oz, it's more based on/inspired by the books, not the movie from 1939 with Judy Garland. Trust me - there is a HUGE difference. Besides, this book was kind of like the Harry Potter of it's day. Everyone read and loved this book and all of the ones which followed. (Yes, it's a series.) This is a must if you want to see some of the roots of the fantasy genre.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is another staple for fantasy/science fiction. I hadn't read any of his books before and a friend told me this was a great introduction to his writing. It's fantastic! It's about this normal guy who falls into this other world under the streets of London.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The Hobbit is probably one of the best introductions to JRR Tolkien and Middle Earth. Let's be honest - The Lord of the Rings trilogy is kind of intimidating. The Hobbit though is much less so. I read it in 7th grade for a literature class and it definitely one of the books which made me want to read more Tolkien and other fantasy novels.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

I know, it's another children's book, and it could be taken as science fiction depending on how you define things. However, it's also another classic about time travel and space and going on great adventures. There's crazy creatures and planet hopping and other awesome things in it.

The Princess Bride by William Golden

No, it's not just a hilarious movie. It's a book too! If you love the movie, you need to read the book too.

The Works of the Brothers Grimm

Okay, you don't have to read every single one of their fairy tales. (There are a lot of them!) But you can find collections of these classic stories and I think they're fascinating. We all are familiar with fairy tales, but most of the time it's modern versions. Or even 1930s versions from Disney. Some of these aren't even the originals, but just the Grimm brothers version. But if you love fairy tales, you have to go back to the start and see where it all came from. Also, there are a ton of stories which aren't as famous which are still awesome!

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Why are so many fantasy books written for children? I don't know! But honestly, just because it's technically a "childrens" book that doesn't mean adults don't love and appreciate them. If you go in chronological order for The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician's Son is first. However, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first one which was published and the most famous of the Chronicles. Yes, it's also Christian fantasy, but whether or not you are a Christian you'll still love this book. Who doesn't want to find a magical world while going through their closet?

Today I'm linking up with The Broke and Bookish for 10 on Tuesday where I recommend 10 books of a specific genre to someone who has not read any. You can link up by clicking here.

What books would you tell someone to read if they had never read any fantasy? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned?