Long Time, No Read (and other update-like things)

School sucks. At this point primarily because it is exam time. But also because of the extreme lack of reading that has occurred over the last 3 and a half months. Every time I go to the blog, I can see “50 Book Challenge”, sitting at the top, just taunting me. I am  half way through, at 25 books with 5 months left. It was going pretty well and I was reading a ton in the summer. But then school started and all I have read is a chapter and a half of what would have been a great book, had I not developed a sense of dislike due to the $1.30 of over dues I had to pay on it. Fortunately,the break is almost here, so I finally have time to buckle down and engulf myself in some lovely literary works. First on the list is John Grisham’s King of Torts, since I love his work and it’s sitting right next to me. After that I think I’ll tackle whatever is on my bookshelf. There is a lot there that I have yet to read.

On another note, I think I’m going to do another 12 days of crafting again this year. I’ve been in a creative rut for the last few months and it’s driving me nuts. There are people who can’t go days without writing or drawing. For me, it’s making or repurposing something and it has been months. I’m about to tear my room apart just so I can glue it back together. So once more, when the break starts and time suddenly appears in abundence, I will get crafting, creating whatever my heart desires for 12 straight days. I will post each creation and the background/inspiration/tutorial if there is one, for those 12 days, with Christmas being the last finale. Last year on facebook I only made it to 8 days but this year will be different! I’m oh so excited 🙂

And finally, ending with a completely different subject – driving. It’s no new fact on this blog that I’ve had my issues with driving (click here) but hopefully those will all be conquered because just a few days before Christmas, I’m going to take the final driving exam. If I pass it means I can basically drive in any province, in the states, and internationally should I so desire. I nervous as hell because it’s winter driving and I get freaked out easily, which isn’t very good. But driving is all about being knowledgable and confident, so hopefully I can be those two and have a good test.

*sighhhh* the holiday season is here…

50BC Book Reviews #2

Greek’s cooler than English
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (****): Recently I decided to start reading the Harry Potter series since the movies were over and I don’t feel any pressure to read them. I’m one of those people who started reading the books but then saw the movies and never finished the series. I only made it through half of the Chamber of Secrets because I saw the movie and the spiders freaked me out so much that I didn’t want to finish the book. Well that was years ago and I’m glad I decided have another go at them. Surprisingly, (or unsurprisingly depending on your HP beliefs), I really enjoyed the first book. I felt like I was starting something pretty cool but enjoying it for what I wanted it to be and not what others expected (pretty deep for a book eh?). I really like the storyline, and although I know what will happen in general, I’m excited to see the differences between the movie and books and understand the whole Harry Potter world in a different way.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (****): I really enjoyed this one as well – more than the first. As each of the events went by, I could picture the movies scenes in head. At times it bugs me that when you read a book and see a movie, the actor(s) become the face you visualize when you read. But in the case of Harry Potter, who is so iconic, I don’t mind and wouldn’t be able to picture anyone else anyways. The first book was more like an introduction to the wizard world and I felt like this book was a chance to get to explore the characters a little more and expanded on subplot that I’m sure will make an appearance later in the books. I’m excited to read the next one!
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley (****): This book was actually recommended to me by Little Orange Jeep Girl awhile ago and I finally got around to reading it. And I am very glad I did. The basic story line follows a girl with a large port-wine stain on her face and some of her difficulties with family and friends. But it is actually much deeper than just a story about beauty. The family aspect of her life, with her controlling and abusive father and her compliant mother is very intriguing. But one of my favourite parts is the romantic aspect between the main character and a boy she meets haphazardly. It is truly a captivating book that brings many surprises as well as thought provoking questions and thoughts.
The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs (***1/2): I was quite pleased with this book. It was my first time reading one of Jacobs books, although I have heard about his other two books The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically. The book consists of experiments that Jacobs performs in different aspects of his life, usually for a month at the time. For example, in one chapter he outsources his entire to India, including everything from arguing with his wife to emailing his boss. It is a very amusing and funny book that I read pretty quickly. I’m anxious to read his others.

Nobody Move by Denis Johnson (**): Oh God, I hated that book. I only finished it out of pure dedication. I don’t even know how to describe it. *throw my hands up in frustration* I bought it for three reasons: 1) it cost 2 bucks (I was born cheap), 2) the outer cover had bullet holes and big font, 3) the cover said National Book Award winner. Boy was I disappointed to learn that it was not this book, but another one of the author’s, that had won the award. -_- And this happened to be the book he wrote in a different style. My dislike is deep, in case you have not noticed. It is an organized crime sorta book, but on a small scale. Some things that I didn’t like were: the “scenes” (the proper literary term escapes me) – they were choppy; the plot was hard to follow at times; there were hardly any transitions from one paragraph to another; there were no chapters, just four sections; I could go on really, but I think you get the point. It got two stars because the plot concept was decent enough.

50 Book Challenge (#5)

I’m half way there! 🙂

Read/Listened to:
Born Red by Gao Yuan (*****)
Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (audio book) (****)
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (****)
Rosaura a las diez by Marco Denevi (in my Spanish Lit class – very good book) (****)
Paper Towns by John Green (actually went out and bought it after I read it) (**** 1/2)
The Gospel According to Peanuts by Robert L. Short (***1/2)
The Art of War by Sun Tzu (ebook) (***)
Looking For Alaska by John Green (****)
The Associate by John Grisham (***)
Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy by Ira Sukrungruang (***)
Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally be better than everyone else by Clinton Kelly (I felt terribly unfabulous after reading this) (***)
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton (*** 1/2)
Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes (*** 1/2) (I saw the Disney movie about a week ago so I already knew what was going to happen)
Airframe by Michael Crichton (****)
Next by Michael Crichton (****)
The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa (*****) 
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (*****)
Elixir by Hilary Duff (***)
Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (****)
The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel  (graphic novel) (***)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (****)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (****)
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley (****)
The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs (***1/2)
Nobody Move by Denis Johnson (**)

Reading:

Dreams from My Father – A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
Canada’s Prime Ministers – Macdonald to Trudeau under the direction of Ramsay Cook and Réal Bélanger

To Read (in no particular order):

The Great Gatsby  by Francis Scott Fitzgerald (ebook)
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
The Confession by John Grisham 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

25/50


As of August 31st 2011

ratings out of 5 stars (*****)

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Other Awesome Children’s Books

The other day I was at a family friend’s house, eating breakfast when I saw Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days sitting on the table. I had never read any of the series but I’ve heard a lot about it as well as the movies because I watch waaaayyyyy too much Family Channel (Canada’s Disney Channel with some good ol’ canuck content mixed in there for good measure). I picked up the book as I was munching on some chicken and spent the next hour/hour and a half reading this hilariously funny and entertaining piece of literature. Many parts had me laughing out loud, to which my brother commented that I was enjoying the book more than I should be.

Reading that book got me thinking about what books I used to like when I was younger and in elementary school. So in my usual tradition, I thought I’d compile a list (surprise!).

Series/Groups

Junie B. Jones: This was one of my favourite novel series when I was in kindergarten – grade 2. Even now, the misspelling and strange situations that Ms. Junie B. Jones gets herself into amuse me. Despite all her quirks, I always liked her originality, bizarre way of doing things and awful spelling.

The Magic Tree House: Both me and my brother were avid readers of these novels, following each magical adventure and the main characters Jack and Annie. I always thought that Annie was kind of stupid because she never listened to logical, older, and a bit uptight Jack, but she had a big heart. And the spinoff novels and books? Read those too. I loved the series so much that in the 3rd grade, I stole one of the books from the library! Yeah. I was that cool 😛


You Are Special & If Only I Had A Nose: These illustrated children’s books, written by Max Lucado, are great. In my six grade class, we read both of them and had discussions about looks, acceptance, all that good stuff. Lucado is a christian writer and his other illustrated books are just as awesome, but in grade six, we had no clue about the religious background and I never figured it out for years. I own about six of his books and I  highly recommend them. They are beautifully illustrated and written.

Arthur/Franklin Books: I read most of the picture books and the Arthur novels. It was a great combination: the books stimulated my reading, while at the same time, I was a fan of the shows, developing my love for television at an early age. 🙂

Robert Munch + Dr. Seuss = ♥: How can I pick just one of any of these great author’s books? They are always entertaining and visually engaging. Some of my favourite Munch books are, Love You Forever, Ribbon Rescue, Purple, Green and Yellow, and Pigs and Promise is a Promise. The website just made me want to head out to my library and borrow the whole kids section. My favourite Dr. Seuss books were Fox in Sox, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat. 

Individual Books

 Perhaps the most sarcastic and odd children’s fairy tale books out there. But perhaps the most fantastic.
By the same people as The Stinky Cheese Man and just as funny. The best version of the story I have yet to hear. 
One of my first grade loves. I mean who doesn’t love sharks that want to eat their teachers?
Lovely. Just lovely.
Saddest book ever. Stuffed animals hold a very dear place in my heart.
I’m not sure what to say about this book, except I really liked it as a kid and never read any of the other Piggle-Wiggle books.
My black history lesson – great book.
What were some of your favourite children’s books/series?

50BC Book Reviews #1

Hello! To go along with the 50 Book Challenge, I’m going to do sort of a mini review on the latest books that I added to explain the ratings and give a sense of what I thought of the books. So let’s start!

Next by Michael Crichton: Crichton is one of my favourite authors and I really enjoyed this book on all types and aspects of genetic engineering. He has a way of creating riveting fictional books steeped in heavily researched facts and scientific opinions, while at the same time giving his own thoughts on the matter. The style was written like a lot of his other books, with multiple story lines seemingly separated but joining when the time is right. I read this book just after I finished watching the television show Regenesis, a show based on genetics as well. It was interesting to compare the scenarios and factual content between the book and the show and see how each dealt with the problems that arise when we alter our world too much. I highly recommend this book, although the ending was not my favourite.

The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa: This book is a translation from the original french and is beautifully written. It takes place in Northern China, during the time of the Japanese occupation. One of two main story-lines revolves around a teenage Chinese girl and her times dealing with her sister, friends, family and love, for both people and country. Alternately, the story of a Japanese solider who struggles in the foreign land of China and with the hardships of war, is weaved in seamlessly. These two lives eventually cross in a public square where the ancient game of go is played. It is there that fate intervenes and their lives come together. The story is skillfully written and you become involved with each character; their emotions become your own. I lost the book for two weeks while I was in the midst of reading it. For those two weeks I kept wondering, where is that little pink book? for I need to know what becomes of these two burdened souls. It is truly engaging, until the very end.

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne: I really, really liked this book. Written in the 1800’s, it follows the voyage of a British man and his servant as they try to cross the world in 80 days, using all means of modern transportation in multiple countries. Their trip takes them from London, to Egypt, then India, China, Japan and the U.S and other places in between. One concern I had when before I started reading it was that it would be hard to read, because grammatical structure was different at that time. But thankfully it was not and was very interesting. The thoughts and perceptions of the characters, mainly the servant, were quite amusing, partly because of the British and French perspectives they were given from. If you are looking for a good read (that’s less than 200 pages), filled with adventure and impossible feats, this is definitely the book for you.

Elixir by Hilary Duff: I was a bit wary of reading Elixir. I have been a Hilary Duff fan ever since Lizzie McGuire, but she is not a writer. Though I will admit, she surprised me. It is a supernatural type book, and thankfully it does not involve vampires or werewolves. This genre is not usually something I read but the book was fairly interesting. The story revolves around a 17 year old girl whose father disappeared the year before. She is a photographer and recently she notices a figure who is showing up in many of her photos. As she searches for answers, she learns the truth about her father’s past while discovering her own. She meets this mysterious figure and a series of strange and unexpected events take place. For a first novel by a first time writer it is pretty good. It is the first in a series. The book was co-written by Elise Allen.

Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: This is my first time reading any Sherlock Holmes books, although I have seen many movie and miniseries adaptations (BBC’s Sherlock and the Robert Downie Jr.’s movie are the best). He is every bit as clever and deductive as the visual versions lead him to be, although I find him more likeable than many of his on-screen counterparts depict him as. This particular story and case focused on the murder of a man found in an abandoned house. It also introduced how Watson, Holmes’ assistant and roommate, and the detective himself came to meet. The story flowed wonderfully and was not hard to follow. What impressed me the most was the writing. One section of the book was a flashback type scenario that presented a story-line to explain the murderer’s motive. It was one of the most compelling pieces of story I have read recently. It was set in America in a different society and in my opinion demonstrated the versatility of Sir Doyle as a writer. I look forward to reading a great many more Sherlock Holmes Mysteries.

Library Sales

I was at the library today paying some unreasonably high late fines (they ban your borrowing privileges once you reach a certain limit -_-), and when I was done, I walked over to my favourite section: Books for sale!! (it’s labelled with that exact enthusiasm). I don’t know if a lot of libraries out there do this, but many libraries in Canada sell books for really cheap. Usually there is something wrong with them that prevents them from staying in circulation but basically it’s just a used book. If you have no issue with that, then you’re set. I am a really cheap person so I love this sort of stuff (or even better, when my high school library would give books away for free at the end of the year). My library sells all sorts of stuff – mainly in English and Chinese – from gardening to cooking to erotic novels depicts old Japanese society. Today I got 5 books for $4.50, which is awesome!! It’s cheaper than at a used book store or clearance at Chapters (another section which I frequent). I am just so excited to read them and I thought I’d share.

 
Today I got: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (famous Canadian author) 
Diners, Drive-ins and Dives by Guy Fieri 
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne 
Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder by Gyles Brandreth 
On the Road by Jacl Kerouac

And below are some others I have collected from over the years. All a buck or less 🙂

The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith (a No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Novel)
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa (I’m almost done reading it – soo good!)
More by Austin Clarke (another famous Canadian author)
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton (published posthumously) 
Adam and Eve and Pinch Me by Julie Johnston (once more, Canadian)
Some of these books are/will be on my 50 book challenge and I am quite excited to get reading 🙂

50 Book Challenge (#1)

Mi lista!! The “to read” list will probably change based on what’s around me or if I find something I really wanna read. I included audio books to my list and it’s pretty much in order of how I read them.

Any suggestions?? Leave a comment 🙂

Read/Listened to:
Born Red by Gao Yuan (*****)
Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (audio book) (****)
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (****)
Rosaura a las diez by Marco Denevi (in my Spanish Lit class – very good book) (****)
Paper Towns by John Green (actually went out and bought it after i read it) (**** 1/2)

Reading/Listening to:
SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (sequel to Freakonomics) (audio book)
The Siege by Ismail Kadare
The Gospel According to Peanuts by Robert L. Short

To Read:
The Associate by John Grisham
Next by Michael Crichton
Balance of Power by Tom Clancy
Avant de te dire adieu by Mary Higgins Clark (a french translation)
Theories for Everything by John Langone, Bruce Stutz, Andrea Gianopoulos (a National Geo book)
Looking for Alaska by John Green

5/50

♥ Turtles

p.s. How bout a J-Lo flash back for y’all??  ♥♥♥♥ this song

Challenges

Because it’s cute

Lately I’ve been thinking about ways to motivate myself into doing what needs to be done, or what I would like to do. Like right now, I supposed to be preparing a five minute oral Spanish presentation for tomorrow for which I have no research or desire to do. The guy I’m doing (José Martí), was someone I studied in gr 11 English and because of my hoarding habits, I still have my report, sources and PowerPoint. I’m procrastinating and will probably just translate everything. But see, that’s my problem, no motivation. Oh, and I get distracted by television very very very very very very very very very often.

But in terms of things I would like to do, I have decided to set some goals for myself. After spending copious hours on YourPants, I came across three challenges I’m going to attempt.

#1) 50 Book Challenge

I love to read but I never seem to finish books. I would start them, get half way through, start another and so on and so on. And if I remember the plot well enough, I don’t go back until I forgot what exactly has happened. For example, the excellently written book, A Telling of Stars, by Caitlin Sweet, is one I have started about 5 times. Each time I get a bit further, and although this is one of the few books I own and one that has quite fantastic, I have yet to finish it. So that’s why I’m doing this. 50 books in one year. It’s doable.

#2) 30 Day Drawing/Art Challenge

The “/Art” part was really needed cuz I’m a crap drawer. I’m good at “turning junk into cool junk” as one of my friend’s dad said, but drawing is a weakness. Each day there is a new theme that I shall attempt to tackle. I’ve never taken a class or had any natural ability, but hey. What the heck.

#3) Project 365

I don’t know how well this one will turn out or even if it will be sucessful, but I’ll try. It’s basically taking a picture everyday. There is already one obstacle seeing as I am not currently in possesion of a decent camera, but I guess that will just force me to be creative 🙂

I won’t post updates daily cuz it’s really not that interesting and I’m trying to limit my computer time, so weekly I guess (although the book thing will probably be less since a book a week is NOT happening at this time).

These should be quite the interesting challenges… anywho, back to Spanish -_-

♥ Turtles
F.Y.I. If you have 3 quarters, 4 dimes, and 4 pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
 
Edit!!!

 No longer am I doing the art challenge, but a poem challenge where I write a poem everyday for as long as I can. More here 🙂