Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's OVER (#30)

BEDA is over. It's officially done/moot/complete.

And can I just say, THANK GOD.

I think people basically hate my blog now due to how much crap I posted this month. I read only 6 books so that means that there were 24 other completely random and meaningless posts. But thankfully people were able to ignore those posts and only comment on the ones that actually had substance. Or at least, that's what I'm concluding because all of the stupid posts had pretty much zero comments. So I commend your intellect. Good job readers.

Some stats:

Pageviews = 3,580

Visits = 2,248

Most viewed post = "I looove You Iowa (#3)" (which I think is pretty much because Steph linked to it and all of her bajillions of readers clickied on it)

Most searched keyword that brought people here = "Liv's Reviews" which makes me happy! People are actually wanting to find me! :)

Fun = I posted about Sara Kadefors' soon to be released book back in March, which was originally published in Sweden, and I got an abnormal number of visits from Sweden this month and three comments on that post from Swedes who think that the American version of the book is going to suck because they took out all the "dirty" sex stuff. I just kinda liked that.

Disappointment = Didn't reach my 150 follower goal, which is not surprising. But thank you to all my current followers!

And basically, I'm just super relieved that this is all over. From now on, I'm going to try to stick to a little schedule.

Monday - Review
Tuesday -
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday/Bits 'n Pieces, switch every other week
Thursday - Weekly Randomness
Friday - Review
Saturday - Booking Through Thursday/Saturday
Sunday - Pictures

So hopefully six posts a week which isn't even a full guarantee because I haven't read eight books in a month ever, this year. But we shall see. I like the idea of some sort of structure.

And that is all from me. Thanks for sticking with me this month, through all of my random horrible-ness. My apologies.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bits 'n Pieces - Tara Altebrando (#29)

Tara Altebrando is the author of the YA novels, The Pursuit of Hapiness and What Happens Here. I read What Happens Here a month or two ago and completely fell in love with it. It was one of the best books I've read this year, by far (review). You can visit Tara's website here and purchase What Happens Here on Amazon. Enjoy the interview! :)

This or that:
Rain or shine?
iPod or mp3 player?
Movies or TV?
Movies on TV
City or country?
Mountains or beaches?
Dots or stripes?
Dogs or cats?
Cooking or eating out?
Husband’s cooking
Coffee or tea?
Books or magazines?

Wonder When You’ll Miss Me by Amanda Davis
Book store-
Um. Amazon. Because it is the only bookstore I can get to easily with any regularity. [I would love to support my local independent but it is smelly and un-alphabetized. ]
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Music artist-
Flaming Lips
I’m not that fancy.
Coffee chain-
I’m not that addicted.
Guilty pleasure-
Crime dramas
Hmmmn. I have a LOT. I’ll say Tournesol, which is a French bistro in Long Island City, Queens. I tend to end up there on special occasions.

Have you ever:
Lived abroad?
Yes. In Dublin for a year and a half.
Gotten a tattoo?
No. I once thought about getting an 8-ball but then realized I wasn’t really THAT good at pool.
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book?
No. Though I did go to a very late, very sold-out showing of the Blair Witch Project on day two, maybe?
Disliked your job?
Yes, but I’ve never actually worked full-time anywhere, so I can’t really complain too much.
Cried during a movie?
All the time. I am a weeper.
Sang karaoke?
Hell’s yeah. And badly.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
1) A hammock; 2) a bucket for building sandcastles; 3) sunscreen 4) a bottle in which to maybe send a message on a piece of (5.) paper.
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life?
I really want to get to Asia and to Australia but right now is not really the time, with my daughter so young. I would like very much to go swimming in those phosphorescent pools somewhere, maybe Bali?
If you could have one super power what would it be?
X-ray vision. I want to know what all that thumping in my daughter’s room is.
What’s your perfect music playlist?
I’m not much of a playlist person. I’m more of an album listener.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of?
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Iceland. It looks like another planet.
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced?
I would have liked to have gone to Coney Island when the big amusement parks of the early 1900s existed. I think I would have liked taking a spin on the human roulette wheel.
What does your dream library look like?
The opposite of my current library, which is in storage bins in my garage.
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Usually new fiction, then YA, then books for littler ones like my daughter.
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be?
The book I’m writing now. Stay tuned!


Thank you Tara!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm Scared (#28)

Of the world.

It's a big scary place out there and I don't feel like I'm ready for it.

Granted, I'm still a freshman in high school but that does mean that I've only got another year or two before I have to make some big decisions. I'm also learning to drive this summer which is big and scary. And I'm hoping to get my first real, paying, job this summer as well. And all of that is scary to me.

It's scary not only because I'm afraid I'm going to mess it up but also because there's no turning back. I can't go back to the innocent days of elementary and middle school where all I had to worry about was what time my dad was going to pick me up from practice or who to sit with at lunch to keep myself from looking like an out-of-place loser. Those days, while hated at the time, look really good right now.

Things are starting to matter and count towards my future. The grades I get, the extracurriculars I participate in, the groups that I'm a part of, all of that is counting either for or against me. What I do this year and the next and the next is going to affect what colleges I get into and whether I'll actually be able to attend those colleges ($).

It's just seriously nerve-wracking. I don't want to mess up. I want people to like me, I want to do well, I want to have everything come easily. But that's not going to happen all of the time and I think it's about time for me to wake up and smell the flowers. I need to start working harder, caring more, and being more focused and concentrated.

I'm aware of every second that passes, knowing that it's taking away a little more of my childhood that I'm never going to get back. While typing this, I lost about 15 minutes. Each night I lose about 6 hours. I'm just getting older. With that comes knoweledge and experience, yes, but that isn't necessarily a good thing, I don't think.

I wish I could stay in a state of perpetual childhood. How nice would that be?

But there's also a beauty to growing up. It's a graceful process. While I'll never be the same person I was five mintues ago, I'm moving towards a bigger and better me. It depends on the way you look at it.

With school, driving, and aging, comes new wisdom and insights. The way that I use that wisdom and knoweledge is going to be the thing that matters in the long run.

I just hope that I make the right decisions, that I become a good person, that I work hard and am able to reap the benefits.

But nothing's for certain.

I'm doing the best that I can.

I hope it's enough.

Monday, April 27, 2009

5 Things... (#27)

...that have made me happy this past week.

1. Heavy duty long underwear
2. Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies
3. Steaming hot saunas
4. Sitting on top of monkey bars
5. Morning coffee escapadesAmen for the simple things in life.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom (#26)

Eddie is a grizzled war veteran who feels trapped in a meaningless life of fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. As the park has changed over the years - from the Loop-the-Loop to the Pipeline Plunge - so, too, has Eddie changed, from optimistic youth to embittered old age. His days are a dull routine of work, loneliness, and regret.
Then, on his 83rd birthday, Eddie dies in a tragic accident, trying to save a little girl from a falling cart. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his - and then nothing. He awakens in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a lush Garden of Eden, but a place where your earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it. These people may have been loved ones or distant strangers. Yet each of them changed your path forever.
One by one, Eddie's five people illuminate the unseen connections of his earthly life. As the story builds to its stunning conclusion, Eddie desperately seeks redemption in the still-unknown last act of his life: Was it a heroic success or a devastating failure? The answer, which comes from the most unlikely of sources, is an inspirational glimpse of heaven itself.
(Summary from jacket flap)

Whew, that was a long summary.

The Five People You Meet In Heaven is a warmly confusing book. If such a thing is possible.

After first finishing it I was left dissatisfied. It seemed like there had been too much plot for too little book. The writing seemed sparse and unemotional, and the events were logistically improbable.

But after sitting on it a while and letting my thoughts work themselves out, I've come to the conclusion that this is a really wonderful piece of literature.

The prose that I first thought was bare now seems to be simple and effortless, helping to get the story across plainly and effectively. And the improbable events just added a nice dream-like quality to the novel.

It was the way that it was written, the way everything fit together so nicely, that made it all work. Now, I can definitely see why this is a book that has been remembered.

This is the first book of Mitch Albom's that I've read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me think about things in a different way. It was well-written, graceful, and just an all-around good book.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #31: Symbolism (#25)

On Saturday

It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

*points to Life of Pi post*

Life of Pi was published in 2003, I think, and it is chock-full of symbolism. It's got symbolism a plenty. As does The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

But yeah, I do agree that modern fiction just tells the story. It uses the character and the plot to explain and illustrate its meaning rather than having the reader decipher what that picture of a daffodil on the wall could mean.

And I do think that symbolism is slowly dying out. An author here and there still uses it but it's not as prevalent as it used to be.

Growing up on "modern literature" I wasn't really trained to look for and to try to interpret symbolism. When it's present in books I totally miss it. Which I guess is what English class is for.

For the most part, I think the teachers are right on in the symbolism that they see in books. It all makes sense to me. But I wouldn't have seen it myself so I don't think I can really criticize them for how they interpreted the book because they obviously did far better than me.

I do like symbolism. It's a like a treasure trove of hidden stuff waiting to be unearthed. :P

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Decline of Literature (#24)

I am writing an opinion piece for my school's newspaper about the decline of literature. *insert ominous music here*

I'm actually quite excited about this as it is a topic I'm very passionate about.

I love books. I love reading. I love literature in general. Therefore, it saddens me that so many people are turning to video games, movies, music, instead of books.

I have nothing against movies and music (video games, maybe). I am an avid movie fan. I go to our little local theater almost every other week. And I have an enormous iTunes library. The only dirt I have with them is that they're replacing books.

Books have messages. Books have meaning. Books have actual content that you can hold in your hands. They have shaped human civilization for as long as anyone can remember. Literature is the building bock of society.

But more recently, people's minds have been turning to this:Books are seen as just another form of entertainment. And why read? Why use your brain when instead you could be decimating evil villians with one swish of your Wii remote or listening to Taylor Swift sing about her elusive romeo?

But books are not just another form of entertainment. That's where people's perceptions go awry. While yes, books can be very entertaining, they also have a lot more to offer. They have perspectives and opinions.

The problem is that while America's literacy rate is slowly inching upward (it is, I did my research), the number of books that are being picked up is slowly inching downwards. Does this make any sense? No. Nonono.

Why are people so dumb? Why can't they just go out to their local indie bookstore and pick up the first appealing book that they see. Sit down and read it and see where it takes them.

Now I have some questions for you...(comment please?)

What do you think about all of this?
What does it mean for the future of our society?
What does literature mean to you?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday #10 - Touch by Francine Prose (#22)

What really happened at the back of the bus?

Did they, or didn't they?

Did she, or didn't she?

Something happened to fourteen-year-old Maisie Willard—something involving her three friends, all boys. But their stories don't match, and the rumors spin out of control. Then other people get involved . . . the school, the parents, the lawyers. The incident at the back of the bus becomes the center of Maisie's life and the talk of the school, and, horribly, it becomes news. With just a few words and a touch, the kids and their community are changed forever.

From nationally acclaimed author Francine Prose comes an unforgettable story about the difficulties of telling the truth, the consequences of lying, and the most dangerous twist of all—the possibility that you yourself will come to believe something that you know isn't true.

Could be awesomely edgy. Could be a disaster. But I like the cover and I think I'm going to like the book...we shall see. Hopefully the "back of the bus" incident doesn't disappoint.

Released June 16, 2009.

ALSO: followfollowfollow. 41 more followers in 8 days? yikes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (#21)

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding tis breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing ooks from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.
(Summary from back of book)

I have a strange fascination with the Holocaust. That human beings, my own species, are capable of something so horrendous is just beyond words. My interest in it, now that I've thought about it, stems from a need to do the memories of those people justice. I've watch The Boy In The Striped Pajamas and sobbed through the whole thing, I've spent over two hours at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and I've read books like this one. I know it sounds petty and naive, but experiencing that kind of stuff makes me feel better about what happened. It makes me feel like I'm one more person whose eyes have been opened.

I finished this book about thirty minutes ago so I'm probably not qualified to give an opinion. Let me sum it up in a few quick sentences.

This is a book everyone should read.
It's a book that displays the best and the worst of human beings.
It's a book that will tear your heart out.
This is a book that makes you feel like you really can be a part of something greater.
It's a book that shows that death may not be that scary after all.
And most of all, it's a book of hope.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Little things... (#20)

In my journalism class we had to read and take notes on a packet that was about how you should write a review. There were some pretty fun quotes in there I thought you guys would like. I think they definitely fit.

Those who comment on the arts...Regardless of the level at which they perform, have several things in common. First and foremost is an innate love of the arts. The reviewer wants to go to the theater or concert hall or gallery. Reviewers will admit privately that they have the best job in the world. Second, the reviewer genuinely wants the object of his interest to be successful. This again flies in the face of popular misconception. Any reviewer would rather write good things than bad things, and would rather see (read) good things than bad things.

Also, yes, I'm still reading The Book Thief. It is one looong but good book. I'm really enjoying it. It's full of great description like this -

Yes, it was white.
It felt as though the whole globe was dressed in snow. Like it had pulled it on, the way you pull on a sweater. Next to the train line, footprints were sunken to their shins. Trees wore blankets of ice.
As you might expect, someone had died.

Another little tidbit - I think that I mentioned that if I got to 150 followers by the end of April then there might be a surprise. Well. That surprise now entails a copy of Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian, a $5 starbucks giftcard, and...other stuff. SO. If I do get to 150 followers in 10 days (which I find highly unlikely) there will be some fun stuff going on. I'm pretty skeptical that I'm even going to get close, but hey, a girl can wish. Plus, if you post about my plight on all of your lovely blogs you might be a teensy bit more likely to win the surprise. Just saying.

And some personal, non-literary news:
I bought the typewriter that I linked to in my last Booking Through Thursday post. I am so excited to get it and, if I do say so myself, it's completely adorable. The bad part is that I'm a horrible money manager so I had to get my brother to loan me money to buy it. And he's charging interest...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Life of Pi (#20)

When my teacher announced that we were going to be reading this in class I was a little skeptical. It's a really hyped book and I thought it was a little weird that we weren't dedicating our time to F. Scott Fitzgerald or Shakespeare. But once I started reading I began to realize why my teacher had picked this book for us to read.

I don't usually write about the books we read for school, but I have to break that unwritten rule for this book. Because, simply put, Life of Pi was amazing. And I'm really glad that I read this in school because there's actually a ton of symbolism that I wouldn't pick up on if I read it by myself.

For example; when Pi's on the boat, everything is orange - the tiger, the life jackets, the whistle, the tarp, etc. Had I been reading this alone, I wouldn't have realized that orange was the only mentioned color. And that in fact, orange is representative of the second Hindu chakra which in turn represents relationships, violence, basic emotional needs, and pleasure. And that Richard Parker himself is sort of the embodiment of the second chakra. Yeah. That's the kind of crazy symbolism stuff I'm talking about.

Also, I learned that Richard Parker's name isn't a coincidence or just some random thing Yann Martel came up with off the top of his head. In Edgar Allan Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, published in 1838, Richard Parker is a mutinous sailor on the whaling ship Grampus. After the ship capsizes in a storm, he and three other survivors draw lots upon Parker's suggestion to kill one of them to sustain the others. Parker then gets cannibalized. In 1846, the Francis Spaight foundered at sea. The survivors resorted to cannibalism, with seaman Richard Parker being the victim. In 1884, the yacht Mignonette sank. Four people survived, drifted in a life boat, and finally killed one of them, the cabin boy Richard Parker, for food (thank you Wikipedia).

Edgar Allen Poe's fictional book was published 40 years before the canibalism of the first Richard Parker. Poe's character had the same name and was in the same predicament as a real life man 40 years later. That is just plain freaky if you ask me.

So I think Yann Martel was pretty stinking smart to name his tiger that. It only makes sense.

But that wasn't my favorite part of the book. My favorite part was the ending, where you're presented with all of this stuff and left to decide for yourself what to think. But for me, that wasn't the point. I think the point of the book was to prove that it doesn't really matter if those events happened. Is the reality of the story really what matters? Isn't it the story and its meaning that actually matter? It's all about what you perceive to be reality and how you react to things based on that.

So basically, this book is amazing. Read it if you haven't.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #30: Windfall (#18)

On Saturday

What would you spend an unexpected windfall on? Say … $50? How about $500?

Okay. You guys are going to laugh at me. But I am so broke that I have an ongoing wish list of stuff that I keep on my computer and add to continuously so that when a time comes that I actually have money, I have priorities and know what I want to spend it on. Pathetic? Yes. But I have to keep track of this kind of stuff. It's the hidden OCDishness in me that's coming out.

Some of the stuff on this wishlist=
A vintage typewriter like this baby. SO CUTE. The clickety clack of the keys just calls to me.
Brightly colored Keds for the summer. Yum.
This tote.
An Orangina poster.

And some other stuff...I'm shamefully materialistic. Sorry. But that $50 or $500 (if I even payed taxes) would be put to good use for sure. :P

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Song for Spring (#17)

Breathe and I'll carry you away into the velvet sky
And we'll stir the stars around and watch them fall away
Into the Hudson Bay and plummet out of sight and sound
The open summer breeze will sweep you through the hills
Where I live in the Alpine heights
Below the northern lights I spend my coldest nights alone awake
And thinking of the weekend we were in love
(The weekend we were in love)

Home among these mountain tops can be so awfully dull
A thousand miles from the tide
Put photos on the walls of New York shopping malls
Distract me so I stay inside
I wish the rocket stayed over the promenade 'cuz I would make a hook
And I fish them from the sky
My darling she and I were hanging on so take us high
To sing the world goodbye

I am floating away lost in a silent ballet
I'm dreaming you're out in the blue and I am right beside you

Awake to take in the view
Late nights and early parades
Still photos and noisy arcades
My darling we're both on the wing
Look down and keep on singing and we can go anywhere

On The Wing - Owl City

MySpace Music Playlist at

*** I apologize for all the non-book posts...I'm trying to come up with an idea for a new, book-related feature. I'm also trying to read faster. Sorrysorrysorry.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Personalities/Classifications (#16)

In one of my classes at school, our teacher had us take these personality surveys. They were pretty typical questions and at the end they gave you a label - a four letter sequence. Turns out I'm ISTJ. We then received a packet with information about our types. It seems weird that the essence of your personality can be contained on a piece of paper doesn't it? And weirdly enough, almost everything that was supposedly typical for an ISTJ person matches me, which kind of makes me feel less unique/original. The fact that my little quirks and passions can be predicted like that is rather disturbing.

"ISTJs are characterized by decisiveness in practical affairs, are the guardians of time-honored intstitutions, and, if only one adjective could be elected, dependable would best describe this type."

"They perform their duties without flourish or fanfare; therefore, the dedication they bring to their work can go unnoticed and unappreciated."

"Often this type seem to have ice in their veins, for people fail to see an ISTJs vulnerability to criticism."

"ISTJs have a distaste for and distrust of fanciness in speech, dress, or home. The clothes of an ISTJ tend to be practical and durable rather than in the latest style or luxurious."

That totally describes me. Although, I have to say, I do like a little bit of fanciness. :) I'm not a bland person.

There were some other pieces of the article that I was skeptical of. Like, it says that I will marry an irresponsible person and our relationship will be more parent-to-child than adult-to-adult. And that that irresponsible person will be an alcoholic...uh-huh, no.

This personality thing really made me think though; can everyone be classified like this? Are humans and their personalities really this predictable? Are patterns like this that evident?

While there might be definite patterns, it makes me uncomfortable to think that people are that alike. I like to think of myself as unique and different. And while only six percent of the population has the same type as me, I don't think any of those people are exactly like me. I almost don't think that people should be catagorized and labeled like this. I don't know...maybe I'm just confusing myself.

What do you think? And have you ever taken a survey like this?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bits 'n Pieces - Robin Brande (#15)

Robin Brande is the author of the young adult novel, Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature (review here) and the upcoming book, Fat Cat, to be released this coming fall. She's one of the nicest authors I've met so far, and her answers to my questions are quite awesome. Enjoy!

This or that:
Rain or shine?
Shine, for sure. I don’t know how people live under gray skies or where it’s cold all the time. Brrr.
iPod or mp3 player?
iPod, and I only just got it a few months ago as a gift from my best friend because she was sick of me not having one!
Movies or TV?
Hm, that’s a tough one. I’m going to go with movies, but there are certain TV shows I love, too--Lost, Top Chef, Project Runway, and Masterpiece Classic in particular.
City or country?
Country, please. Love the mountains, the streams, big tall pine trees—very relaxing to be around.
Mountains or beaches?
See above. I’ve never been a fan of beaches because I’m a pasty-skinned girl who either freckles or burns. Also, I’ve never been quite comfortable around the ocean since seeing Jaws when I was a young girl. You understand.
Dots or stripes?
Never thought of this! Um, stripes? More uniform and easy on the eyes.
Dogs or cats?
DOGS!!!!!! My mother wouldn’t let me have pets when I was a kid, so I always had an imaginary dog (do not laugh). That dog was awesome. He’d always bark at my piano teacher when she was being mean to me. Of course, she couldn’t hear him . . .
Now that I’m an adult I’ve had a series of dogs, and they make me happier than I can say. My dog right now is a big black Lab named Bear—a dog some people might recognize from my novel Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature.
Cooking or eating out?
I love to bake—breads, cookies, etc.—but I’m not real big on making the main course. So I have a few places I love to go for takeout—Ethiopian and Vietnamese food in particular. Otherwise I’ll just whip up some bean burros at home. I keep it pretty simple.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, and Starbucks in particular. My day doesn’t really start until I’ve got some of that in me.
Books or magazines?
Books. I need to stop subscribing to so many magazines, because I never keep up with them and they just pile up around the house. But they’re great for taking along when you know you’ll have to wait someplace. But mostly it’s books. I have multiple ones going at the same time, and read them at different parts of the day—I have a coffee book, a lunch book, a bedtime book, and usually also a book I’m reading for research for my next novel. Some days it’s a little hard to keep all the plots straight in my brain, but at least this way I get to read most of the books I’m dying to dive into.

It’s a tie: The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Both are just masterpieces.
Book store-
Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, AZ
Lord of the Rings (technically three movies, but they’re all my favorites)
Music artist-
John Mayer
Website- She’s so funny, and posts such hilarious stuff.
Levi Strauss
Coffee chain-
Guilty pleasure-
Going to a movie alone in the middle of the day. It’s one of the perks of being a writer!
Candle 79 in New York City

Have you ever:
Lived abroad?
Gotten a tattoo?
Never. So many hygiene issues my mother beat into my head—I’m lucky I’m able to take showers in hotel rooms without wearing sandals.
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book?
Yes—the second Lord of the Rings movie, The Two Towers.
Disliked your job?
Oh, yes. I used to be a trial lawyer. We’ll just leave it at that.
Cried during a movie?
Uh, when do I not cry? I’m the biggest blubberer I know. I have to fight hard not to make sounds.
Sang karaoke?
No, thank you. Having a big brother has cured me of wanting to make a public spectacle of myself—plenty of ridicule at home.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
A lighter, lighter fluid, matches, flint (for lighting fires—see a concern here?), and a solar still for converting salt water to regular water. As long as I had fire and water, I could figure out the rest.
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life?
Learn to drive stick shift (I know, one of these days), swim with dolphins (despite my Jaws paranoia), visit New Zealand (mostly to look at the places where they filmed Lord of the Rings), write a book or screenplay that gets made into a movie (I’d like to do this more than once), and read all the books I’ve ever wanted to read (that list keeps growing faster than I can keep up with it).
If you could have one super power what would it be?
Invisibility. Definitely. Okay, or maybe flying. Both if you’re being generous.
What’s your perfect music playlist?
Bits of John Mayer, Michael McDonald, Chaka Khan, Kenny Loggins, the Beach Boys, the BeeGees—lots of old school, mellow music. Perfect for playing in the background while I write.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of? Salsa. It’s like part of my bloodstream.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
New Zealand. I really want to see the beautiful country they used for Lord of the Rings.
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced? What a great, but hard, question! I can’t even answer it, it’s so hard. The choices are endless. Sorry to cop out, but you just busted my brain.
What does your dream library look like?
A big, deep couch where I can read/nap with my dog on one end; every wall covered by floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with everything I should read, want to read, will want to read (it replenishes itself every month with the best books that just came out). I would also have a spare brain and several spare sets of eyes in there so I could actually read everything I need to read in this one lifetime. It just seems impossible.
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
New releases in the adult section, then I head straight to young adult.
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be?
Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness by the ancient philosopher Epictetus.
Thank you so much Robin! And you should all definitely read Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature - it's the perfect summer read.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mid-April Pollage (#14)

Want to add anything? Tell me your loves/hates in the comments. If you need to, do it anonymously. I just wanna KNOW.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Willow by Julia Hoban (#13)

Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow Randall's parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it - Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed.
Now seventeen, Willow has left behind her home, friends, and school - numbing the grim reality of her new life by secretly cutting herself. But everything changes when one of Willow's new classmates, a boy as sensitive and thoughtful as she is, discovers Willow's secret and refuses to let her destroy herself.
(Summary from back of ARC)

The rule of thumb for professional reviewers and critics is to not read a review of something that you yourself are going to review before you actually review it. It messes with your brain and screws with your opinions. I don't really follow that. I like to see what other people think. And how weird would it be for me to be friends with all of these bloggers and just not read what they have to say? Yeah, it would be bad.

But I really wish I would've refrained from reading other reviews of Willow. With each shining and worshipful review that I read, I got more and more excited about reading this supposedly phenomenal book. And when I actually sat down to read it, I was slightly disappointed. I think I had also sort of hard-wired myself to look for flaws and imperfections in the book - to prove those other reviews wrong. Which is sad. I didn't let myself just sit back and enjoy the book.

The major thing that irked me about the book was how one-dimensional and flat the characters were. All the characters were like that. They only had one side to them. The author tried to add a little spice and a little more dimension to some of the characters here and there but her efforts fell short. While reading, I felt like I'd never meet these kind of people in real life. They'd never have these kind of personalities and they'd never act like this. They were all just unreal and sort of lifeless.

I don't know if there's anything else that was bad about Willow, but if you have bad characters, the book's already doomed, I think. It would take an amazing plot and some flawless writing to save a book like that. And I do think that Willow had that. It was definitely the story line and the execution that saved it.

I haven't read a book about cutting before. Ever. So that in itself was a plus for this novel. It's the first time I've ever experienced this subject matter so I have nothing to compare it to. But in my opinion, the topic was treated with honesty and openness. It's definitely a delicate subject and I think that Julia Hoban treated Willow and her story with respect which was nice. Also, the scenes in which the cutting takes place are amazingly well written. While reading I actually felt myself getting a little bit queasy and beyond that, I just felt so bad for Willow. I was impressed that Ms. Hoban was able to instill those emotions. In a way, it made me happy.

Also, the other thing that worked with Willow was how the book didn't focus just on cutting it also dealt with a plethora of other issues: romance, murder, being an orphan, sibling relationships, etc. This book really packed a punch.

So maybe this book wasn't as fabulous as everyone else has said, but it still deserves a spot on your reading list.

Thanks to Khy for the boook. You're awesome.

Sunday, April 12, 2009