Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thank You and Happy New Year!

Before 2010 rolls in, I'd like to thank everyone who has ever visited this blog. I love getting new readers and your comments always make my day! When I first started this blog, I never expected anyone except for my mom and sister to read my posts, so I really appreciate that you've taken the time to come over here and leave a comment. I'm very grateful for all your support and encouragement.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Retrospection: The Best Books of 2009

In 2009, I read a total of 154 books, which is a far cry from the 30 or so books I read last year. I'd like to acknowledge some of the best books I read each month, since I can't pick just one. (Just a side note: several of these books were not published in 2009, but I only read them this year.)

Best Books of January
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

Best Books of February
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Best Books of March
Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart

Best Books of April
Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller
Warriors (Power of Three): Sunrise by Erin Hunter

Best Books of May
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Undercover by Beth Kephart
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Best Books of June
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley

Best Books of July
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Slept Away by Julie Kraut
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Best Books of August
Warriors: Bluestar's Prophecy by Erin Hunter
Pendragon: The Soldiers of Halla by D. J. MacHale
The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson

Best Books of September
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Best Books of October
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Forest Born by Shannon Hale
Faith, Hope, and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Best Books of November
The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart
Warriors (Omen of the Stars): The Fourth Apprentice by Erin Hunter

Best Books of December
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
Calamity Jack by Shannon, Dean, and Nathan Hale
The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

Friday, December 25, 2009


Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Polar Express

I watched The Polar Express again last night for the third time, and I have to say that it is my favorite movie ever.

I love reading the picture book and seeing how the storyline was expanded in the movie to add more action. I love the characters and the animation and the music and the setting. So many of the scenes were amazing and left me with this weird happy feeling.

Most importantly, I love the message in the movie. Near the middle of the story, the Conductor says, "Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see." And I think that basically sums up what the holiday season is all about.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

there is a lot of awesomeness contained in this post*

Yesterday was the first time I actually experimented with all the settings on my dad's camera. For all the photos below, I basically used the same "close-up" setting, but many of them turned out quite differently from what I expected.



These next two are my absolute favorites!



This one came out too dark, but I still like the hints of blue:


This is one of my favorite ornaments:


* as quoted by my sister Maya

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Out of heaven, to bless the high places*

(Stealing this "happiness list" idea from Cuileann for today)

- Calamity Jack in the mail yesterday! I wish the inside was in color, but I finished it today in one sitting and it was great!


- Lindt milk chocolate bars with white chocolate on the inside. Yum...

- This song. It's overly happy but fun to sing along to.

- My new socks! They are so comfy and I love wearing them!


- Our Christmas tree. (It looks basically like last year's.) It reflects off the piano and makes my etude practices more tolerable. :-)

- I am (hopefully) going to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" on Wednesday!

*from The Trickle-Down Theory of Happiness by Philip Appleman

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guest Post: LM Preston on Trusting in Yourself

Yesterday, I posted up a review of LM Preston's upcoming debut novel, Explorer X- Alpha. Today, I'm excited to present the very first guest post on my blog. Here's LM Preston on "Trusting in Yourself."

*****

TRUSTING IN YOURSELF

Trusting your own gut feelings is one of the best gifts of being a human or an intelligent being. We all get that little ‘twinge’ when something just isn’t right. When that happens…LISTEN TO IT! Trust yourself or your ‘gut’ some call it. Trust it at all times, it will never steer you wrong.

When I was young I lived in the inner-city of Washington , DC . The neighborhood I called home, had gangs, drugs, muggers, killers, and lots of kids and family nearby. However, with all of these things present, I didn’t realize that my gut instincts were strengthening with each day I played outside, walked to school, to the bus, or traveled the city alone.

I never understood why my grandmother, affectionately named NaNa, didn’t want me to leave my block to go to the store alone. Or why, I wasn’t allowed to cut through the alleys to get to my cousin’s house, and the numerous list of things I was told to watch out for.

My main character in EXPLORER X – Alpha realizes that something isn’t quite right with the immunization he is given. Aadi takes the initiative as asks the Doctor why it is being given to him. In addition to this finding, Aadi confirms his concerns with others.

Here are some steps to take in trusting yourself in all things;

LISTEN TO THAT ‘TWINGE’ IN YOUR GUT

When you are in a situation with a friend or an adult, and you get that feeling that something isn’t quite right, then you are most likely correct. Learn yourself, and test this ability.

If your friend tells you that you should sneak out to go to that great party that so-and-so is going to, then you feel this tickle in your tummy, and you hesitate. This is your gut talking to you. It’s telling you … hold on … don’t jump into this.

Listen to it. Find out how your gut talks to you. Think of all those times you got into major trouble, and ponder over what you felt just before you did the deed that got you into that mess. That’s how you learn how your psyche talks to you.

TAKE A STEP BACK, AND ASK QUESTIONS

Never, ever, feel like you don’t have the right to ask a question. Asking a question only gets you in trouble when it hasn’t been asked, or the person of whom you are asking the question doesn’t want to give you an answer.

Don’t think I’m right on this? Test it, and think back to times when the person of whom you asked a question reacted negatively. In most cases, it is because they don’t want to give you an answer.

Asking the question is never, ever wrong. You have the right. So use it when you are in those situations where your gut is telling you that something is just not adding up.

IF IT DOESN’T ADD UP THEN IT DOESN’T ADD UP

When something doesn’t make sense, or the story just sounds down right disjointed, and your gut is telling you that something is off. Then trust your gut, something is off.

This is a saying my Nana used to tell me when I would give her a scenario of what a friend told me, or did to me.

“Honey, if it don’t add up, it won’t add up.. Something is definitely not right with that story.”

Do you know in each instance she said this, she was absolutely correct.

TAKE ACTION

If you get that feeling something isn’t right take action.

In EXPLORER X – Alpha Aadi and Eirena, his co-pilot investigate their gut feeling that something is off about their camp with their team. They find that terrible things have been done to them.

There are several ways to take action. Here are some:

- Just tuck the knowledge away, and wait for the truth to reveal itself. Believe it or not this happens a lot in life. The truth has a way of coming out. Sometimes it happens quickly, and sometimes it takes a long, long time.

- Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in order to get the answers you want. You can ask anyone questions, and that may solve the mystery.

- Run away or stay away. If you are in a situation where an adult or a peer appears to be leading you in a direction that you feel is not safe. Run. There is no harm in running away from or staying away from someone.

TAKE ACTION

Realize that you have control of your destiny. No matter what happens to you in your life, you can learn from it all and become a better person. Making the same mistakes will become harder the more you learn to trust your gut instincts, and yourself.


by: LM Preston, Author of EXPLORER X - Alpha,
www.lmpreston.com

*****

Thank you very much!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Explorer X- Alpha

by LM Preston

This book takes place waaayyyy in the future, when space travel is easy, quick, and accessible. Aadi is disappointed when his parents send him to space camp rather than sports or technology camp. But after receiving an camp immunization for his travels in space, Aadi and a couple of friends realize that they are part of a sinister plot to take over not just Earth, but other planets and galaxies as well. When Aadi and his friend Eirena crash on a distant galaxy, they are immediately thrown into the raging conflict between the natives and are forced to change and use their powers for survival.

I'm not usually a big fan of science fiction, but this book caught my eye because the story seemed to be original and interesting. The beginning was a little slow and several sentences were phrased really awkwardly (I thought that more contractions could have been used, for one.), but the plot picked up and the writing eventually became less uptight. I thought that the book was full of action- after the slow start, there was straight action all throughout the ending. There were a lot of suspenseful parts as well, and I almost felt like I was watching a movie the whole time.

I also liked reading about all the cool technology incorporated into the story. My favorites were all the simulators for racing and practicing how to use the space vehicles... they sounded awesome!

I would probably recommend this book to teenagers from around 12 to 15, especially for those readers who prefer comic books and such. I think this book would really excite those people and get them interested in reading more!

Coming out in February 2010.

(Review copy provided by publisher.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kidz Book Buzz Blog Tour: Just Grace and the Snack Attack

by Charise Mericle Harper

Just Grace and the Snack Attack is a short, fun book about the ever-interesting life of a third grader named Grace. When conflict arises in the lunchroom over exotic and strange food, Grace's class is required to do a unit on food from around the world in order to solve the problem. Grace decides to learn about unusual potato chip flavors as part of her project.

As short side stories, Grace gets jealous of her best friend, makes a "zine," and more.

This book is the fifth one in the Just Grace series. Even though I haven't read the first four, I had no problem following the storyline and keeping track of characters. The writing was simplistic, but great for younger children. I loved how there was some sarcasm and "oblivion" weaved into the writing - younger readers probably wouldn't catch it, but it really added to Grace's character and narration.

There were tons of sketches throughout the book as well... perfect for reluctant readers. They also helped explain some of the more vague aspects of the story.

Overall, something that elementary students will definitely enjoy. (This book is targeted towards kids around 9-12 years old, but in my opinion, it would be more enjoyable for those in the 7-9 range.) And despite the reading level, older readers will also get a kick out of this!


Check out the other blogs on this tour!

The Hungry Readers, Our Big Earth, All About Children’s Books, Looking Glass Reviews, Fireside Musings, Green Bean Teen Queen, KidzBookBuzz.com, Book Crumbs, My Own Little Corner of the World, Reading is My Superpower, Never Jam Today, The 160 Acre Woods, Carrie’s YA Bookshelf, Everyday Reading, Cafe of Dreams

(Review copy provided by publisher.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fanfiction: Chapter 3 (Gringotts, the Wizarding Bank)

FYI... you'll be seeing a lot of weird house-elf names in this chapter...

At the Great Hall, an assembly was there. Dumbledore was at the staff table, his hands on the microphone. “Students, we are now going to learn about opening vaults in Gringotts. Tomorrow, we will take a trip to Gringotts. You each have to bring a Galleon and come. You will open your own place in Gringotts to keep your money. If you are scared, don’t worry. The tiny cars that you ride in are fun, trust me.” The little kids smiled. “A few house elves will be in cars behind you to ensure safety,” he added.

The next morning, the elves woke up delightedly. “Dobby sir needs to help today,” he said whenever a student approached. He also had to give his gift to Dumbledore. When Dumbledore walked past, Dobby stuck his head out. “Professor Dumbledore, Dobby sir has a gift for you,” he said, presenting a badly wrapped brown package.

When Dumbledore opened it, he found two socks. One was blue and gold with patterns of moons and stars, and the other was red and green with Sorting Hats all over it. Dumbledore barely had any socks and was utterly delighted when he got his gift.

“Um, well, thanks, Dobby,” Dumbledore said awkwardly. Dobby started to sob with happiness, and then stopped. Dumbledore then pulled off his ratty old socks and pulled on Dobby’s socks, which caused Dobby’s eyes to leak with happy tears.

“Dobby sir needs to go now. We is making food for the big feast!” And Dobby disappeared.

Hogwarts got ready for the big trip. They traveled through the Hogwarts train to a place with bricks. Dumbledore tapped on one of them to enter Diagon Alley, where Gringotts was.

Teachers were keeping close watch over the students. “Weasley!” Professor McGonagall snapped. “Where in the world is your Galleon?” Ron Weasley looked at her sadly.

“Professor, I don’t have any. I don’t have money. My mum needs it to keep us,” he explained.

Minerva’s eyes widened.

“No money?” she repeated, staring after him.

It didn’t matter. Dobby was pushing through the crowd, clutching a bulging sack. “Dobby has money for you, sir!” he squeaked, opening the bag. He pulled out a handful of shiny Galleons and gave them to Ron.

“Thanks a lot, Dobby!” he said excitedly. “How can I ever pay you?” Dobby’s tennis ball yellow-green eyes welled up with tears.

“Nothing, sir! It are nothing, this is!” Dobby said, disappearing again.

Dumbledore stood at the front of the crowd. He pointed his wand at his throat and clearly said, “Sonorus!” His voice was magically amplified. “Students, please follow the group of house elves you are with. They will lead you to your cart. Gryffindor elves, you are Winky, Dobby, Rizzy, Frizzy, and Meemo.” Rizzy was enthusiastic.

“Frizzy gets to be with me!” she crowed. Rizzy and Frizzy were twins. Dumbledore cleared his throat.

“Ahem. The Hufflepuff elves are Cakey, Sticky, Potty, Weemee, and Apple. The Ravenclaw elves are Dummy, Stupidy, Dusty, Cleany, and Neat. The Slytherin elves are Kreacher, Darkly, Nasty, Meanly, and Voldemort.”

“Ahhhhh!” cried the Slytherins in fear. People winced.

“Is the real He-Who-Must-Not-Named here?” Winky asked fearfully. “The house elf named Voldemort is not the real Dark Lord. The house elf just prefers that name,” Dumbledore assured them. Draco Malfoy, whose father was a helper of Voldemort, smirked.

“We got all the dark and death eater type ones,” he said, smiling. Then Dumbledore pointed his wand again to his throat.

“Quietus!” he muttered, making his voice regular again.

Kreacher muttered to himself. “Yes, poor mistress needs me, she is not getting well without poor Kreacher, yes scums, filthy mudbloods, roaming ‘round the house, came here on Dumbledore’s orders, the barmy old codger is the headmaster, oh poor Kreacher! My mistress is needing me, the house is out of control, who is there to take care of poor mistress?” he muttered darkly as he helped Slytherins into tiny carts.

After this comes a giant description of Gringotts, which I'm sure you're all familiar with. Then...

After everyone had got into a cart, the goblins took everyone to a section of Gringotts. There were lots of tiny doors which only goblins could open. If a person or house-elf tried to open it, they would go mad. One by one, goblins opened the doors and put the money in it. Then they sealed the door and placed a label on each door.

On the way back, the students found a Death Eater guarding a door. “What do you have?” Dumbledore asked politely.

“Oh, I am guarding something for my master. It is a weapon,” the Death Eater replied furiously, his eyes flashing.

“Oops,” he said, covering his mouth and narrowing his eyes at Dumbledore. “Why did you make me tell you? It is none of your business, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore!” the Death Eater yelled, pulling out his wand.

It was too late. Dumbledore had already sent a hex at the Death Eater. The Death Eater was stunned. “Okay,” he said, looking at Griphook, a goblin. “Could you open this up?”

Griphook nodded and opened the door. Inside was a grubby little brown package.

Dumbledore picked up the package and opened it. Inside was a double wand with a sword attached. “So,” he said, smiling. “This is the weapon. Let’s see what Voldemort will make of this. He won’t be too happy to hear this.”

He pointed his own wand at the package and said, “Avada Kedavra!” The package burst into flame and then disappeared. “Thanks, Griphook,” he said. And then everyone got into carts and went through the tracks out the door.

Coming up... Quidditch games, songs, and more!

Part 1
Part 2

Friday, December 11, 2009

Exaggeration

an original, rule-breaking sonnet from school:
(14 lines/1o syllables in each line and a halfhearted and pathetic attempt at iambic pentameter)

The funny thing is that I don't agree
With anything at all you say to me.
You smile and go on like nothing is wrong,
But your voice sounds like an out-of-tune song.
You know, if you want to stop by my "place,"
You'd realize your works are lacking a base.
Pause when you get to the end of most lines
and you'll find poems in emerald mines.
Your thoughts are clich├ęd like a dusty fringe
And they way you explain them makes me cringe.
It's silly how you think that you're always right,
As if you have some amazing foresight.
And even though you'll never read my clue,
The ironic thing is: this is for you.

(Poetry Friday roundup here.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Resurrection of Dobby and Winky!

Remember my Harry Potter fanfic? (Part 1 and 2) And remember how I said that I had lost 160 pages of it?

Well, it's all back! My sister recently recovered the whole document and it's still intact. YAYYYYYY!!!! I am so excited.


I'll put up Chapter 3 over the weekend. :-)

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Midnight Clear

by Katherine Paterson

A Midnight Clear is a compilation of 5 short Christmas stories, ranging from the topics of holiday volunteer work to Christmas preparations and more. All of the stories are wonderfully told and manage to convey a message in about 20 pages. Each one subtly brings up a different ethical value such as good sportsmanship and perseverance, but the theme of compassion and kindness is present in every story.

I read this fairly quickly and enjoyed it; some of the stories are a little old since this book was published in 1995, but they are interesting all the same. Children from ages 9-12 will most likely enjoy this, but there's something in here for everyone.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Links Around the Internet

For Poetry Friday today, I was going to put up a sonnet that I had written for class a couple weeks ago. But I forgot it at school. So I'll put that up next week.

As for now, I read several wonderful things this week online that I'd like to share:

Danielle has a lovely, mouth-watering, original poem up today for Poetry Friday.

On her blog, Steph Su has a thought-provoking piece up about YA literature in classrooms. Go over, read the post, and put in your two-cents about it!

I discovered a website yesterday which is perfect for the obsessive Harry Potter fan: Average Wizard. (For those of you who know about My Life is Average, Average Wizard is like a Harry Potter version of MLIA.) It has little tidbits about Harry Potter in people's lives, ranging from funny to just plain awesome. I'm going to see New Moon on Sunday (it got postponed from last week) and now I'm tempted to go dressed as a student from Hogwarts...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Happy Birthday, Danielle!

I'd like to shout out to a very special girl... Danielle! She's turning 17 today and I wish her a very happy birthday! She is a very interesting person and so much fun to talk to, and her blog is wonderful as well. (Plus, I think that anyone with the blog title "Sesquipedalian" is automatically awesome.)

So please go on over and wish her a terrific birthday!

Monday, November 30, 2009

113 Things to do by 13


by Brittany MacLeod (with a little help from her mom, Terri MacLeod)


113 Things to do by 13 is a short, fun book about 113 things that young teenagers should do before they turn 13. (To be honest, I haven't done several of them.) This colorful, eye-catching book covers a large variety of topics, from self-esteem and makeup to bullying, going green, food fights, and more.


I really enjoyed reading this, and had a blast looking through all the pictures. There are lots of tips from celebrities and "experts" on different matters: for example, Taylor Swift talks about goals and dreams while Matt Lauer (from the Today Show) discusses his favorite vacation spots.


This book is quite inspiring as well - after reading #96 (Floss your teeth.), I think I'm going to do that tonight. :-) 113 Things to do by 13 is definitely something for teenage girls to check out... you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Art... with Books?

I recently saw these pictures on the internet. I don't know if they were originally created to look like this (I hope so! I wouldn't want any books to be cut up and ruined.), but they are quite interesting. Here are a few:

I don't know how you would read this one:

Or this one:

But this one is cool and creepy at the same time:


A lot of the pictures were really scary and the books looked like they had been gruesomely mutilated, so I didn't want to put those up. :-O

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I've been interviewed!

The Nerdette (a.k.a. bookbutterfly) has featured me over at her blog! Go over and check it out! There are lots and lots of terrific interview questions that I had so much fun answering, and bookbutterfly's blog is fabulous as well.

Thank you so much, bookbutterfly!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Linkage is a funny word

The Story Siren is having an amazing contest over at her blog in celebration of her 1000+ followers! Go and enter! (You have to be 13 or older, I believe...)

The third Lightning Thief trailer is out, and it looks cool! I'm just wondering who the lady at 1:02 is. My friend and I have been running through different characters and no one seems to fit. Except Persephone. And she wasn't even in the first book anyways. Any ideas?

Gracias to Beth Kephart for this post. You're welcome, Beth! :D

I'm going to watch New Moon on Sunday! I'm quite excited, actually. I've heard mixed reviews about it, but the trailer made me laugh and I think it'll be funny (the kind of funny where it's not supposed to be funny but makes you laugh anyways).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Heart is Not a Size

by Beth Kephart

Georgia knows what it means to keep secrets. She knows how to ignore things. She knows that some things are better left unsaid... Or are they? When Georgia and her best friend, Riley, travel along with nine other suburban Pennsylvania kids to Anapra, a squatter's village in the heat-flattened border city of Juarez, Mexico, secrets seem to percolate and threaten both a friendship and a life. Certainties unravel. Reality changes. And Georgia is left to figure out who she is outside the world she's always known.

(From back summary)

The Heart is Not a Size is, by far, Beth Kephart's best YA novel yet. It's an incredibly lovely story about finding out who you really are. The plot was terrific and moved at a good pace, and the writing was stellar- beautiful and poetic, yet simple and heartfelt.

One wonderful thing about this book was that it was mostly set in Juarez, Mexico. Reading about life in places like Juarez really opened my eyes to poverty and living conditions around the world. I had no idea that there were communities like Anapra, where there were no bathrooms and just sand stretching on and on. That aspect of the story made it quite interesting and educational as well, and it was really touching to read about how hopeful the children there were, despite their surroundings.

What I most enjoyed about this book was the recurring theme of friendship. It's hard to find good books nowadays that really focus on friendship and support and compassion, but Heart encompasses all those ideas. I loved seeing the ups and downs of Georgia and Riley's friendship, and how both of them dealt with those changes. I loved seeing the bonding between the teenage volunteers and the young Juarez children. All the relationships were so realistic, making the characters quite tangible.

Even though this book deals with some serious issues such as anorexia, I think it's a must read for teenagers. The Heart is Not a Size is a truly exemplary novel about friendship and identity, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Coming out in March 2010.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

you'll never know what you'll find on google...

I was fooling around on Google last weekend and found TONS of amazing, supercool stuff!

For those people who have an iGoogle page:
Every morning, at 3:14 am, a special "Easter Egg" pops up on several of the Google themes. Go here for a full list. I think that I'll get up and check sometime during vacation. :-)

A lot of fun stuff about Google here...

And finally, the coolest thing (in my opinion). For those of you who use Google Reader, go here and try it out!


I know I've been kind of slacking off on good blog posts lately. I've been really busy, but I promise that there will be more stuff next week (possibly including some reviews!).

Friday, November 13, 2009

friday fun

I got this writing award from Enna-Rin (thanks!):






as well as this 8-question meme from her as well:

Six names you go by:

I've been called several things in my life... too many to count. My favorite one is "Conniving Shrew." Not that I'd actually do anything illegal...

Three things you're wearing right now:

Jeans. Magenta and orange sweater. Magenta and orange scarf.

Three things you did last night/yesterday/today:

Started reading Ice by Sarah Beth Durst/Laughed at Taylor Swift's overly dramatic, chair-throwing performance at the CMA's/Wrote a sonnet.

Two things you ate today:

A banana and a burrito.

Two things you are going to do tomorrow:

Go to a math competition and work on my history project.

Your three favorite beverages:

Water, soda, and apple cider (either warm or sparkling).


I tag anyone who wants to do this!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

remember?

This week is Baby-Sitters Club Week over at My Friend Amy. The BSC books were my absolute favorite when I was younger, and I decided to do a memory post about my first experiences with the series.

I don't know exactly how I got started on them - I think it was just by coincidence that I picked one out of the shelves at the local library. This was in kindergarten. I started with the Baby-Sitters Little Sister series (featuring Karen, Kristy's younger stepsister). I began by reading slowly, savoring the fact that I was reading a chapter book (!) and stumbling over all the hard words.

First grade. I continued reading the Little Sister series. My teacher thought I was "advanced" in reading and told me to pick books from the third grade reading shelf. I saw "Kristy's Big Day," one of the original BSC books, and thought "Hey! I read these books! Let me try this one out."

Well, it proved to be harder then I expected. I hardly recognized any of the characters, and back then, the font was so small and the words were so big! I gave up and went back to the world of Karen and her friends.

In second grade, I was gobbling up the Little Sister series. I would go to the library every week and come out with a teetering stack of ten new books to read. I read book after book about Karen's holidays, school events, friends, and more.

And then in third grade, I finally tried the actual BSC books again. They were much easier to read and so much fun! I remember being in awe of how cool all the characters were, and I wished I could be in junior high like them and do all those awesome things like babysit and go shopping and everything. (Just for the record, I have never had a babysitting job in my entire life, even after reading these books.) Fourth grade came and went and I was still reading the books. All my friends had gotten into them too.

In fifth grade, I started moving away from the series and more towards stand-alone books from authors like Sharon Creech and Janet Lee Carey. I still collected the BSC books and read them whenever I could, though.

Now, I own several BSC books, ranging from the very first one to others that were published much later, when new characters had come in and old characters had left. Even now, whenever I see BSC books at a garage sale or something, I'll always get a few just for the fun of reading them. I recently reread my whole collection, and I'm surprised at how timeless they are. Although a lot of the covers and dialogue are so corny, I still immensely enjoy reading them.

So, to all Baby-Sitters Club fans- reread one of the books this week! Go over to Amy's blog and check out the other BSC posts! I'm sure you won't be disappointed :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Green Books Campaign: Valentine's Fall

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today, 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.


Well, the book I was supposed to be reviewing is called Valentine's Fall, and it's by Cary Fagan. And it seemed to be about someone called Valentine who fell off the school roof and died.

However, I never finished it. I actually never got past the first 3 pages. It was just so incredibly boring and choppy and made absolutely no sense. There was no dialogue at all from what I read, the chapters were each one page long and kept changing topics, and it didn't get my attention at all. So I had to put it down.

However, the good thing about this book is that it's eco-friendly! It's printed on FSC-certified paper and the pages were very white and clean :) I'm glad that companies such as Eco-Libris are really taking steps to increase awareness about safe environmental efforts. I hope you all check out the other reviews in this campaign!

Friday, November 06, 2009

tuesday morning

7 am: fog.

bubblegum clouds against a pale blue sky
and the edges of the moon are
blurred

wispy like
the smudge on the
car window

frosted opaque except for the
words you traced yesterday.

and the horizon is orange now
as i walk into the fog

carried on a fragile
wind.

(Poetry Friday roundup here.)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

actually, these come in sets of three

From Kirthi

The Dragon's Loyalty Award is for those followers who are the most loyal and give bloggers joy by commenting regularly and with their support.

Thanks, Kirthi! I'm passing this on to anyone who has ever commented on my blog. You guys are great! Your comments make my day.

Monday, November 02, 2009

You don't want to miss out on this!

Fangs, Fur, and Fey is having an AMAZING contest over at their blog in celebration of their three year blog anniversary. They're giving away a Kindle to one lucky winner, and 22 other winners will receive $20 gift cards to a bookstore of their choice (there are 5 to pick from).

I would enter if I were you :) Go on over to read all about it and find out how to enter!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Just like last year, I'm posting up some Halloween pictures we just took. This year, Maya and I stayed home, handed out candy, and basically just goofed off. Our costumes are the same as last year's.

We went to Microsoft yesterday to "trick-or-treat"- the fancy word for "running-to-all-the-candy-boxes-you-see and-grabbing-as-much-candy-as-you-can-when-nobody-is-looking." So we ended up having a LOT of candy to hand out :)


CANDY!!!!!!!!

Don't look at me!

Fooling around...


Don't mess with me!

The little details of my costume:


Me and my secrets :D


And finally, around 8 PM:

Hope you had a great Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

(Found this picture on Google Images.)

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jack-o'-Lanterns

(Found this picture on Google Images.)

Goblins
On the porches
Glare with slitted eyes,
Waiting for their callers:
Children in disguise.

Throats of
Liquid fire,
Eyes of candle flame-
Demons in the darkness,
Pumpkins when they're tame.

-by Ann Pedtke

(Poetry Friday roundup here.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another Award :-)

Q is right- awards do come in sets of two! I got the "I Love Your Blog" Award from Kiki yesterday:


Thanks, Kiki! I'm going to pass this on to:

Milli from Everything Crazy
Eden from Garden of Edee
Bookworm from A Sea of Books

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Award!


I just got the "Sheer Awesomeness" blog award from Judi, who has a fabulous blog as well.

I'm passing this on to:

Cate from Sparrow Review
Enna Isilee from Squeaky Books
Kiki from Pages

And if anyone else wants to put this award up on their blog, feel free to!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Forest Born

by Shannon Hale

In order to excape her confusing and chaotic life in the Forest, Rin (Razo's brother) travels with her brother to Bayern. There, she gets caught up in a mysterious adventure with the three Fire Sisters (Isi, Enna, and Dasha). Along the way, she learns who she really is and what she wants with her life.

Another fabulous Book of Bayern! Although not my favorite, I enjoyed catching up with all the old characters. I also liked getting to know about the "speakings" better and learning more about the cities surrounding Bayern. There were a few great twists in the book, the writing was terrific as usual, and the plot was fast-paced and suspenseful. A must-read for Shannon Hale fans!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Holus-bolus, I learned some new words!

I was scrolling through Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day archives, and I came across tons of awesome words that I've never heard of! Here are just a few:

popinjay- a strutting, supercilious person
The popinjay refused to help us with our physics project because she was too busy practicing for her modeling class; therefore, she failed the class.

sockdolager- exceptional
I went to the fireworks show last night. It was sockdolager!

ripsnorter- a humdinger
The new video game is a ripsnorter!

holus-bolus- all at once
Holus-bolus, the lights turned off and everyone started screaming.

plumply- forthrightly, without hesitation
She went up to the teacher and plumply asked to retake her test.

So...
Holus-bolus, the popinjay plumply got up in the middle of the sockdolager violin concert and complained loudly about the violinist; according to her, even a heavy metal concert would be a ripsnorter compared to this classical music.

I can't wait to use these words in a conversation! :-)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Old Houses

On cold,
dark nights
old houses
talk to themselves:
midnight tales
of whispered secrets,
wild romps,
late night vigils--
stories of life
and death--
but mostly life.
Listen, you'll hear.

-by Sharon Hart Addy


I love this one! It's been really dark and overcast here lately, and reading this poem made me shiver.

(Poetry Friday roundup here.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Books I've Been Reading

I did one of these in January, and another one in May. It's just a short compilation (with mini-reviews) of some of the books I've just finished.


Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones... I can't believe I hadn't read this before! It's fantastical and wonderful and the kind of book you wish you had written yourself. I loved how witty all the characters were, and the plot was fast-paced and suspenseful. A lot of people have recommended the movie to me, so hopefully I will be watching that soon!



Another great read: Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. It was such a perfectly written book, while retelling a famous Norse (?) fairytale at the same time. Although the plot was very predictable, I still enjoyed it a lot. Ice by Sarah Beth Durst has just come out too (I believe it is a retelling of the same fairytale) and I'm planning on getting that soon.



City of Bones by Cassandra Clare... another terrific book that I never got around to reading until now. It's mildly violent, but extremely action-packed and full of amazing twists and turns. Most of the characters kind of bugged me (except for Luke!) and the ending may be a little controversial, but overall a terrific novel.




One middle grade book I read about a month about was A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. It was a cute, quick read, but lacked much character development and action. I'd still recommend it though- it's pretty short, so you should be able to finish it in an hour or so.





I recently discovered the Araminta Spookie books, and they looked fun, so I decided to try the first one: My Haunted House by Angie Sage. It was the perfect read since Halloween is coming up, but it ended a little abruptly and was hard to believe. I think that's because the characters weren't well developed and the descriptions weren't realistic enough. But younger readers will definitely love this series. I'm probably going to read the rest of the books too.



And... I finally got Forest Born by Shannon Hale! And I read it! It was amazing -- definitely not Shannon Hale's best (The Goose Girl will always be my favorite), but still really really good. I just wish there was more Geric and Finn in there :) I'm going to be posting up a proper review of that book soon.



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Help: I need to find a Bible

I need help finding a Bible.

I'm required to purchase one for school purposes (we will be reading parts of it sometime soon in English class). My teacher prefers the Revised Standard Version or the King James Version, but he says that any version that includes both Old and New Testaments would be fine too.

I've been looking on Amazon, and there are so many different versions that I'm not sure which one is best. From looking at reviews, some are slightly inaccurate while others have too-thin paper or too-small fonts.

If anyone has a recommendation for a Bible that fits the requirements above and isn't too expensive, I would really appreciate it. I don't know the difference between all the different versions and editions, so any help would be much appreciated. (And if you could include the Amazon link, that would be terrific.)

Friday, October 09, 2009

untitled

Full moon in the sky

which means that both of us,
the moon and I, will be on the
dark side of the earth tonight

It is quiet here,
the moon standing vigil
and the trees painting shadows on the dark houses.

(there is an abandoned picture book on my lap,
all vibrant colors and once-upon-a-time stories)

The wind sweeps past,
fluttering the corners of the book
as if sifting for nonexistant gold--
turning the pages, one by one.

(Poetry Friday roundup here.)

P.S.- I've been reading tons of great Halloween poems lately, so you can expect to see a lot of poetry coming up this month!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ice (Giveaway Info at Squeaky Books)


The next hit book by Sarah Beth Durst, author of Into the Wild.

This book is based in modern times, up in Alaska and the arctic. Cassie lives with her father and their team at a research station in the middle of the ice-desert. Cassie's grandmother often told Cassie the story of how her mother was promised to the Polar bear king by her father the North Wind, but then she fell in love with a human man and the Polar Bear King(love him!) agreed to protect her from the North Wind's wrath, on the condition that their first-born daughter be his wife. But North Wind found her anyway blew her to the edge of the earth to be with the trolls.

Now it's Cassie's 18th birthday, and the Polar Bear King has come for her.

Enna Isilee ranted and raved about the awesomeness of this book over at her blog, and now she's offering anyone an opportunity to own it.

This giveaway is awesome and easy, head here to enter the drawing and to get more information (open to US residents only).

(Copied right off Enna Isilee's blog, Squeaky Books. This book sounds awesome and I'm looking forward to reading it!)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Stealing Death

by Janet Lee Carey

After a fire kills most of Kipp's family and destroys his home, Kipp attempts to stop death in order to get rid of suffering in the world. How? By stealing Death's soul sack and keeping it away from those who are on the verge of dying. With this goal in mind, Kipp embarks on a fantastical journey in order to truly master death.

Stealing Death is a very rich, fast-paced novel similar in style to many of Janet Lee Carey's other works. Although the idea of "stealing death" is quite common, the way which the characters went about it was very original and interesting. I loved all of the characters and how realistic they seemed -- Kipp went through so many of the challenges and mental hardships that most of us go through today, and his friend Zalika was the kind of spunky, independent girl that most girls want be like. The cultural aspect of the book (the African words and traditions) enriched the book so much and made it unlike any other book I've read. For all ages, this exciting novel (with the awesome cover!) is something you don't want to miss.

Friday, October 02, 2009

one of my favorite statues


I'm always amazed at the creativity and artistic thought that people put into their artwork. I pass by this particular statue a few times a month, and I thought I'd share it with you. I love how the acrobats are incorporated into the architecture of the whole building.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Charlotte's Nasty, Nasty Web...?

This week is Banned Books Week.

Yesterday, I was looking at a particular list of "banned" books, and I was surprised at the books that were on there. Charlotte's Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Lyddie, James and the Giant Peach, and much more. Scrolling through the whole list, I realized that I've read around half of the books on there! Most of those books, I never even considered as possibly "banned." But I guess everyone has different opinions on these things.

So, my challenge for all of you this week - read something banned, whether it be rereading the Harry Potter series or trying something new! A lot of the books on the "banned" list are truly gems and shouldn't be missed out on.

P.S. I find it interesting that Twilight isn't listed as a banned book.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Last night, I went to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3D with a couple of friends. The movie is basically about a boy (Flint Lockwood) who wants to be an inventor. He comes up with tons of different inventions, none of which are appreciated. When he finally invents a machine to convert water into food, he becomes super famous in his rainy, sardine-filled town of Swallow Falls. However, when the food falling from the sky starts getting more and more dangerous, Flint has to come up with some way to stop the food before world destruction occurs.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was one of the funniest and most entertaining movies I've seen in a while. All the characters were so cute, and there was a lot of witty humor in the movie to add to their personalities. The 3D was brilliant -- it really made the movie more enjoyable and added a depth to the movie that 2D could have never given. The animation was wonderful -- the food looked sooo delicious (make sure you buy something to eat if you go watch this) and the sight of radioactive clouds over the ocean during sunset was absolutely breath-taking. I know I sound weird, but the 3D and animation combined in this movie made it surprisingly realistic. I felt like I was actually in Swallow Falls the whole time.


There were a few underlying messages in the movie, but unlike other movies, they're not blatantly stated. What I loved about them was the way that just simple words were used to convey the importance of love, imagination, and reaching for your dreams.


Overall, an awesome movie that I would definitely go see over and over again. It's now my new favorite, and must-see if you haven't seen it yet!

(If you're interested, you can view the trailer here. Also, check out this super-cute virtual food fight game on the movie website. It makes more sense once you've watched the movie, but it's still fun to play nonetheless. Thanks to Shelf Elf for all these links!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Maya!

Maya:
thank you so much for being so hilarious every day,
listening to my silly school stories all the time (and adding your own stories in),
patiently bearing with my frequent bookish rants,
keeping me updated about everything on Twitter and in the internet world,
bringing me snacks and milk and water when I'm too lazy to do it myself,
coming up with random games for us to play to pass the time,
and just for being an awesome sister.
Happy birthday.
12 is that lovely age when you can
slouch down in restaurants and pretend to be
11 so you can get the child entrees,
get first-hand experiences of all the
drama and fun in middle school,
travel everywhere and actually understand
what you're seeing for once :-)
and much much more--
I hope you enjoy every single second of it.

(Please go over to Maya's blog and wish her a very happy birthday!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Lightning Thief trailer 2!

The second Percy Jackson trailer is out! This one is even cooler than the first one. It looks so epic and I was basically hyperventilating as I watched it. Enjoy! :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reflection


my reflection in this mirror is like the Gassan 121*,
sparkling as the sun pours into the room

and I watch drops of water roll down the glass like racehorses
kicking up the sand

until they pool at the bottom like a glassy ocean
the color of the sky on a cloudy morning
melting into the hard gray steel.

(for the first time I can see the
dust twirling in the sunset behind the trees.)

I am surrounded by bright pink flowers,
all swaying to their own music.

*I saw this diamond (shown in the image at the top) at the Gassan headquarters in Amsterdam, Holland.

(Poetry Friday roundup here.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stealing Death Booklaunch Recap

Last Saturday, my mom, my sister, and I went to Janet Lee Carey's book release party for her new book, Stealing Death. The party was so much fun! (Pictures are up here.) We got a chance to talk to lots of awesome people, including the incredibly friendly readergirlz divas Justina Chen Headley and Holly Cupala.

Currently I'm reading Stealing Death (and it's amazing so far -- you can expect a review soon!). For now, I'll leave you with this happymaking picture:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Fanfiction

Due to popular demand, I am posting up more of my Harry Potter fanfic from third grade. (You can read the first part here.) The writing is in Georgia and my comments are in Verdana.

Hogwarts awoke to find a bright morning full of sunshine. The Great Hall was full of chatting as it was normally, and it started to fill up as students and staff arrived for breakfast. Students quickly filled up and waited for dismissal. Then the daily announcements came.

“Remember, school parties are today. Dress up nicely,” Dumbledore announced. Snape sighed. “What is it, Severus?”

“Oh, I just don’t like dressing up. It makes me nervous,” Snape said quickly. Professor McGonagall peered at him through her heavily rimmed spectacles.


“You better get used to it, Severus. There are going to be a lot of parties this year,” Minerva McGonagall advised.

The students, however, were excited about wearing their dress clothes that had been collecting dust, sitting in their suitcases, ready to be worn.

Professor Sprout clapped her pudgy little hands. “Is there a problem, Professor Sprout?” Minerva asked.

“Oh, no, no, nothing like that. It’s just that.........” she hesitated. “Yes?” prompted Albus. “Well, it’s just that...... I don’t have anything to wear and I have no knowledge about parties!”

The Great Hall burst into laughter. Professor Sprout turned red and seemed embarrassed. “Don’t worry,” said Professor Vector kindly. “I have some dresses and accessories that you can borrow and keep! I can also teach you about parties.”

Professor Sprout turned normal. She faced Professor Vector and said, “Why, thank you. I will treasure this piece of warmth that you have given me.”

Professor Sinistra smiled mischievously. She rubbed her hands and prepared for her daring trick. On the count of three, she jumped up, ran up to the microphone, and took over. “Now, kids, let’s do the mamba!” she shouted into the mike, wiggling her body.

The professors looked surprised. Albus Dumbledore looked ready to have a fit of giggles.

All the students burst into peals of laughter. “C’mon, let’s do it!” Sinistra screamed, now waving her hands, tapping her feet and going wild. Everyone stood up and started shaking their hips, flipping around, twisting, you name it.

A little later...

It was time for the dressing time to begin. Now, let’s take some time to see what the staff was wearing. Professor Sprout was wearing a green half sleeved dress with glitter all over it. She had an emerald necklace and emerald earrings. Her hair was in an elegant bun tied by a green velvet bow. On her feet were high heeled green slippers with gold glitter. Her hair had lots of glitter too.

Snape was wearing a maroon dress robe with pictures of potions all over it. His black hair was combed in a curl, and he was wearing soft brown oxfords.

Minerva had a red sleeveless tank top matched with a red and white plaid skirt. Her hair was let down and braided, with red ribbons going through the braids. Her legs were covered by dark stockings, and she was wearing black dress shoes.

Sinistra had a white lace dress with red, gold, silver, and green trimmings. She had long black pants and a long, flowing red robe. Her hair was in a braided bun tied with a yellow and orange striped ribbon. She certainly looked colorful.

Professor Vector had on a baby blue full sleeved shirt, neatly ironed with no wrinkled. Over it was a yellow thin vest, and over that was a pale pink robe with shining suns all over it. She had on yellow dress pants. Her hair was but into lots of tiny little braids dyed pink, blue, and yellow. Her feet were covered by bunny slippers. She had all the baby colors- blue, yellow, and pink on.

Professor Flitwick was wearing a white shirt and black pants. His feet were covered by black dress polished shoes. He was wearing black robes with rainbows and bunnies and frogs and shooting stars.

Hagrid was wearing a black suit with polished shoes. His hair was slicked back by axle grease and he was wearing a tie with hippogriffs on it.

There was no Defense against the Dark Arts this year, so there was no teacher for it.

Albus Dumbledore was wearing a red shirt, black pants, and navy blue with yellow moons all over it.

The children looked magnificent in their dress robes and clothes.

The party began. “Let’s start!” squeaked tiny Professor Flitwick.

“Yes!” screamed the students.

“We can’t wait,” added Pansy Parkington in a mocking voice.

“Yes, we can’t wait,” repeated Draco Malfoy sarcastically. “This party is no good.”

“What did you just say?” asked the headmaster, his wand aloft, face furious.

“I said, this party is no good.” Malfoy turned away and went to the group of people gathered around a hopping toad.

“Wait!” called Dumbledore. No one heard. “Wait.” No one. Suddenly, he got a brainstorm. He whispered his plan to Flitwick, who nodded and hurried off in search of something.

When he came back, he was holding some Filibuster Fireworks. Albus Dumbledore went close to the group and carefully let some fireworks near Malfoy.

He screamed and whirled around. “Petrific Totalus!” he screamed.

Dumbledore dodged it and shouted, “Crucio!”

Malfoy screamed again. He managed to get up and said, “Dumbledore, if you do this one more time, I’ll tell my father. He can tell Cornelius Fudge.”

Dumbledore regarded him coolly. “If you tell Lucius,” he started, his blue eyes gazing at Malfoy, “I can tell them that you started it. I have the whole scene on tape.” He held up a tape recorder.

“What-!” Malfoy tried to grab the tape, but Dumbledore held it out of his reach, his blue eyes twinkling behind his half-moon gold spectacles.

“Albus! What are you doing! Let out the food!” hollered Minerva. He flicked his wand and food appeared. “Good,” said Minerva, satisfied and contented. The students sat down to enjoy the food.

A random part...

Snape fainted. It was because he went up to talk with Professor Sinistra, but the steps had a spell on it that made people who walked on it faint. Everyone in Hogwarts knew this except for Snape and the Slytherins. Since Snape fainted, the Slytherins, only, had to get child labor by having to carry heavy tons of buckets of water to dump over Snape to revive him.

And at the end of the chapter...

After the party was over, everyone went to bed. Today, Minerva was to check the Gryffindors and see if they were sleeping. They weren’t.

“10 points from Gryffindor! Lights were out an hour ago. Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves? I will come and see soon if you are asleep.” Minerva turned and went out.

Meanwhile, the Gryffindors had a plan. “When Professor McGonagall comes, let’s hide behind the beds. She will have to do the summoning spell and then we will come zooming at her and knock her over,” Ginny suggested.

“Good idea,” everyone agreed in unison. They hid behind their beds.

When Minerva came in, she said, “Oh, my dear. Where are the students? Accio!” Students came zooming from their beds everywhere. They did knock her over, but they had to get immediately in bed because Dumbledore was coming in.

“What a day this has been,” he sighed when he saw the mess.


That was fun :) Hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Behind Every Illusion

by Christina Harner

"All creatures born of human parents must be human and therefore must be ordinary."

Even timid eighteen-year-old Tatiana Lewis wholeheartedly accepts this logic. So when she begins to experience unusual changes, she has no clue where to turn and instead keeps her new abilities a secret. But her best friend and brother, Isaac, sees past her illusions and together they explore the significance of her differences and search out the meaning behind them.

Amidst tragedy, unimaginable transformations and an unexpected friendship, Tatiana has to learn to reveal the girl hidden behind her illusions and what it means to face the world in order to preserve not only the forest but her very existence.

(snatched from book website)

I don't want to give anything away, but Behind Every Illusion is a unique take on a traditional story line. It's a clever mix of fantasy and realistic fiction (with maybe a little sci-fi thrown in). In my opinion, all of the characters were pretty relatable, despite the fact that I share hardly any similarities with them. I really liked the plot progression in the story; it didn't move along too slowly, but instead moved at a pace that really helped make the story more realistic. There are some shockers in this book too, which just made everything more suspenseful.

The only thing that bugged me was that sometimes, there was a little more "tell" than "show" in the writing. I thought some sentences were a little too blunt and could have maybe been phrased a little better.

Other than that, a lovely debut (with a pretty cover) from a promising author! I'm looking forward to more books in this series.