Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars

My boyfriend introduced me to Hank and John Green on YouTube, which later got me into their channel CrashCourse. Let me tell you, these are two amazingly brilliant gentlemen. If you haven't had a chance to check them out, I would highly recommend it. After watching a few of their videos, Boyo mentioned John Green's books. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but, when searching for books in Top 100's lists scattered about the interwebs, I found his books. On every. single. list. Not only that, at least three of them. on every. list.

Breaking down, I went for the most popular (and highest rated) of his books: The Fault In Our Stars. I will never be so internally shattered, yet happy that I did.

The story is, firstly, about Cancer, then about an intellectual girl named Hazel Grace whom meets and falls in love with another Cancer, also an intellectual, Augustus Waters. Hazel is dying, she is perpetually hooked up to an oxygen tank which allows her lungs to fill with the necessary amount of life sustaining oxygen her lungs fail at taking in on their own.

Hazel Grace meets Augustus Waters, a charismatic metaphor, at a support group that he attended for his friend Isaac. The plot revolves around a book of a girl with cancer, and leaves the last sentence of the book unfinished, the ending hanging. The two theorize on the book as they get to know each other until one of them, inevitably, dies.

I have never cried so hard reading a book in my life as I did with this book. It was devastatingly haunting and beautiful. It's only mildly predictable, which is wonderful; what makes this book great is it's honesty. There is no bravery in cancer and no beauty. The winner is never really a winner because it isn't something you can beat; only go into remission from. There is no grace in dying. Lastly, no one is exempt.

It's odd and quite a bit daunting to read about 16 year olds, whom are more well versed and educated that most will ever be. The biggest annoyance about the book for me was when Hazel would suddenly break out into a fit of, "like"s. It's like... and, like... Completely out of character with her the rest of the time. I understand that the author was trying to make Hazel out to be more of a stereotypical teenaged girl, but he threw that out the window when he gave her a functioning and learned brain. Everything else had a wonderful flow. I was completely wrapped up in the characters and in the end, it felt like one of my good friends had passed away. The book was realistic in it's events and the undertakings of each.

Absolutely wonderful.

Overall rating: 9/10

Friday, April 4, 2014


After coming down from the excitement of the Hunger Games series, I was desperate to find a similar series of uprisings and factions. Of course, the best way to find new books is through friends, but after ransacking their book ideas for so long, they had nothing.  I was forced to resort to the next best thing. The inter-webs. Which led to Divergent by Veronica Roth. I was thrilled!

Beatrice’s world is broken up into five Factions with each saying that the world would become better with each of their traits. Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (education), Dauntless (bravery), Candor (truthful), and Amity (peaceful). Each formed with the idea that the world would not have destroyed itself beyond their gates if it they had only had their traits.

She is part of Abnegation; whom devote their lives trying to be truly selfless and humbled, though she finds it hard to be truly selfless like the rest of her family. However, at 16, each member of their society is given a simulation serum, which helps determine what factor they truly belong in. Beatrice’s results are outside the norm, making her a Divergent.

I was remarkably pleased with the writing style and the believability of the faction lives, the reasoning behind each. The plot kept twisting and turning, though we knew our heroine would end up above average as heroines always are. It was intriguing to see the turn of events, how Tris responded to each event and how it shaped her character.

I enjoyed the series! It stayed strong through most of the books (Divergent, Allegiant, and Insurgent), and I will be the first to admit. The ending was truly surprising and had be partially in tears.
In a nutshell:
-Unique storyline
-Adrenaline pumping
-Similar to The Hunger Games
-Four's character breaks from formation and never really recovers.
-Hard to say many with the first book, it's the rest that start to have issues.
Overall Rating: 7/10 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Etiquette and Espionage


All growing up, I imagined being the daughter of a titled Lord and Lady of France or England. At some point, my mom told me about how a “proper lady” scoops her soup away from her body, and then up to her lips. Why that made eating (drinking?) soup proper, I’ll never know, but it did stem a passion for being a well-put together individual, which exuded in a quiet, fairly matured seeming bookworm.

The title alone made me pick up this book, not to mention the steampunk aesthetics. In fact, I didn’t read the premise of the book when I picked it up and started reading.

The idea is simple, yet well played. Set in a Steampunk era, Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger is about a young, rambunctious 14 year old girl, named Sophronia, whom can’t help but getting in trouble. Climbing dumbwaiters (and breaking them for their materials), taking mechanical clocks apart. Typical boy in girl’s garb, she sees no use or need in the art of being a woman when acting a boy is more fun and gratifying. Her mother, Mrs. Temminnick is desperate to reform her daughter, whom gets a scholarship of sorts into Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

There, she finds the Academy is more than what appearances may seem. They do learn the fine art of dance, dress, and of course, etiquette, but also learn to use their feminine wiles to dish out death and espionage.

 The book is, at it's best, alright. The cover attracted me first and foremost, which lead me to glimpse at the title. That was all it took to be placed in my hands for a night's read. The book, however, did not live up to it's covers expectations. Brava to the designer and the person whom thought up the title!
I love steampunk; an avid follower of the Girl Genius Online Comic, and a proper lady at heart (regardless of what my clutzy body will let me be.) whom even studied up on the art of the fan back in highschool! The names bothered me to no end. Not every name in the book had to be laughable or clumsy to imagine saying in your head as you read along. Yes, I understand as a cosplayer that most of the fantasy lies in names, but this book took it a little over the top. 
All in all, I would recommend it for a quick read, and who knows, maybe finish the series. If I come across the other books in a thrift store, I would not be opposed to picking them up as I hate  leaving stories unfinished and grit it out to the bitter end, but would I actively seek it out? No, most likely not.
In a nutshell:
-Finishing school
-Women using their weakness(es) as strengths.
-Naming conventions
-Writing style was on par with 11-14 year olds, rather than the turn it has become.
Overall rating: 6/10

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Born of Illusion

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown is another lovely little find off of GoodReads “unique” book list. I had just finished the Hush, Hush*** series by Becca Fitzpatrick and was interested in finding a good historical fiction series that was well writ and with a better storyline. Now, I’ve always been intrigued with ghosts and magic, but the mastery of creating illusions is amazing.

Luckily, this book is about both.

Based in the 1920’s, Anna is a side act magician in her mother’s faux clairvoyant theatre performances and her partner in crime preforming séances; punishable by imprisonment. Popularity for their show improves as her mother, Marguerite Estella Van Housen, claims Anna’s father is no other than Harry Houdini.  Anna is incredibly gifted with her magic and loves to perform, she and her mother have a unique love-hate relationship. Margueite is the headliner and makes sure every opportunity for Anna to shine on the stage is thwarted.

Unbeknownst to her mother, Anna is not a fraud and has to find a way to hide her gifts from her opportunistic mother. Along the line, Anna meets a strange young man named Cole and together they explore Anna’s powers and unearth things they’d never hoped to find.

Taking place in the beautiful and roaring ‘20’s, the plot involve scientists, mobsters, magic, and of course, love.

The refreshing writing style of Teri Brown comes as a breath of fresh air in the stagnant realm of Young Adult Fiction. The writing is elegant, the characters sharp and witty. I was excited to learn this book is part of a series!

All in all, a great read.

In A Nutshell:
-Houdini’s illegitimate daughter.
-Cairvoyants, Mobsters

-Antagonist is a bit of a flaky character
Overall Rating: 7/10


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

These Broken Stars

I stumbled upon These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman, after a long drought of utterly predictable and not very unique storylines. The book came from a random Bing search, looking for “unique books” one cold and dreary night. There, it lead me to Thus far, I’ve had good luck with their recommendations as it led me to Born of Illusions by Teri Brown, so I head dived into another book off their list.

It starts off set in the future aboard a luxury liner spacecraft, transporting thousands of wealthy and underclass citizens through the galaxy. Onboard is a decorated, underprivileged war hero, Tarver, as well as the most renowned and richest girl in the galaxy, Lilac. The two seem an unlikely pair with her cool, intelligent aloofness and his humble and awkward personality; they aren’t fond of each other for most of the book.

Now at this point, it seems pretty straight forward, however, lovelies, I assure you it is a voyage worth taking.  Catastrophe strikes the luxury liner and suddenly the two are stranded together on what appears to be a deserted, terraforming planet.

This book did not disappoint! It starts off as a typical tale of romance, but the writing style positively captivated me. It was descriptive and fluid; nothing choppy as most young adult fiction tend to be and without the cliché phrases of romance novels. The storyline was unique and while some parts were easily predictable, it managed to raise my adrenaline levels in moments of peril; for my eyes to get misty as it reached the end of the book.

It was written in a perspective switching format from Tarver to Lilac to experience it through their minds, while each chapter was ended in an interrogation room. That starts off as a little confusing at first and a little discouraging, but bear with it. It’s a worthy read. I am excited and elated to read the next of the series.

In a nutshell:
-Star Crossed Lovers
-Intergalactic Space Travel
-Captivatingly Written
-Unique Storyline
-Odd chapter breaks and endings with interrogations
-It ended.

Overall rating for the book: 7.5/10

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Back with more to share!

Hello lovelies,

Surprisingly, what made me remember I had a blog was Pinterest. Now, I'm not usually on Pinterest, but find it absolutely useful when looking up alternative cleaning solutions. Such as, the number one best cleaner is white vinegar. The second is baking soda. I've scented my own vinegar with oranges from my own tiny honey mandarin tree which has absolutely outdone itself.

I still have my baby Honda, and Boyo has been restoring (for me because I find other than changing the oil, I've no patience for it). He's putting in a new brake cylinder on the driver side rear wheel and still can't find what's happening with the electrical. (See? I speak Car just a tiny bit). We occasionally spot other older Hondas around here and have spotted other N's around. It's neat to be part of this tiny, old car club and it's still awesome to see people point and smile at the insane cuteness of it all. =]

In the long run, finding my passion is still a bit of a dream. What I'm thinking about is going back to theatre somehow. I still enjoy show tunes, get insanely involved with all of the stories I read/watch/hear. And I loved theatre! Loved it enough to choose to major in it, then pushed the idea out of my own mind with the frightening prospect of not being able to find work. I went through the whole language root and somehow, ended up with SLP. Voila. Now you know my story. It's not uninteresting, but it's not the same. I'm surprised it's taken me as long as it has, really. My goal now is to finish up with SLP, have that as a job and then dabble in theatre. If life happens, I'm prepared for it.

I read an article a few months ago that brought up the idea my generation, here in America, has in regards to working and our overall enjoyment and idea of finding and doing what we're passionate about; being influenced by our baby boomer parents and their experiences. They want us to be happy by doing something we're passionate about. Where that leaves most of us is still in school, and or living with our parents as we put all of our efforts into finding out who we really are, man.

I agree with this article that this has been our motivation. Take a look at this blog, for example. Sorry this is turning hypercritical, but it's about just that.

Anyhow, don't worry about that bit of rambling.

Boyo and I are off on a great adventure after his interview. I am currently waiting at work for it to conclude as we rode two-up, but afterwards, it's out towards Utah we go to pick up his new motorcycle! Yes, yes. The little GS is moving on to a new home and the motorcycle that will carry us to Alaska is coming home. We'll be going on many camping adventures in preparation for the big trip. =]

As Boyo said, the motto of this year is, "Get It Done" (or something along those lines.) To encourage us to do more, rather than plan, wait, and wonder. It's a similar motto to what I had implied when I first met him. =} Then it was just "Well, f* it. Let's do it." Life's too short and it's only money in the end.

Quite contradictory, no?


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Important Update Required!

Hello lovelies,
Let me fill you in on this past year, 2013:
       *Went to Paris, FR. in July.
       *Applied back to SDSU to finish SLP program.
       *Degree in ASL (finishing this semester!)
       *Started working at a *computer* store.
       *Purchased unpainted old Italian bicycle frame called an Olmo.
       *Had Joe Bell paint said Olmo a devastatingly scrumptious shade of red.
       *Stopped working on Voir L'amour Photography to focus on school.
       *Had the most amazing boyfriend (and still do!)
       *Lost a dear friend.
       *The Doctor.
       *Hung out with awesome people whom I am lucky enough (and surprisingly cool/intelligent enough) to call my friends.

Much more happened, but sitting here and trying to remember, well, you know what happens when you try to remember things. These are the most important, in no particular order. =]

What about finding these so-called passions, you ask?

Well, I found one. Paris, France. The current home of my heart. Food, metro, culture, voila! C'est belle.

I've been reading and watching a fair amount of movies lately to try to stimulate creative juices as I have a young adult story idea forming, but it is no where near the drawing board. I find it makes me tired, all this visual stimulation, and miss doing things with my hands- but oh!! The glorious distraction of  blindingly bright screens.

Anyhow, I've to run home. I'm still sitting at work an hour later and they are about to close up shop. More adventures to come.


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