Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Bewitching of Alison Allbright by Alan Davidson

Standalone. Straw Hat (May 2012) Own
Alison Allbright has always sought refuge in day dreams - of having a glamorous mother and a lovely home, of being an exciting person, of doing all the things that the others at high school do - and more. When Mrs Considine appears, spinning her amazing web of fantasy and making those dreams come true, Alison is completely bewitched....until she discovers the catch.


I don't really know what I was expecting from The Bewitching of Alison Allbright but what I got was this mysterious, makes-you-think story that I had to finish in one sitting. 

Alison Allbright is selfish and shallow. You would think that would have dissuaded me from reading this book but I could understand her naivety of wanting so much more than she has especially at her age. I can see that part of her personality turning some people off especially as the story progresses but there was something so mesmerizing about what was going on in the story that it didn't bother me. There was also a balance to Alison's personality. She was pretty shy and down on herself. I can understand shy so I felt like I could understand Alison in some small degree. 

I wasn't always sure about what was up with Alison and Mrs. Condisine - this rich woman who just shows up in Alison's life. I had like three theories going on at once. After a while it was clear which theory won out but there were these layers to Mrs. Condisine that kept on being brought up. There were a lot of "what the?" moments because things... they get intense. I could not honestly say how this story was going to end. It was always up in the air and I'm thinking towards the end "Is this going to end like I think it is because if it does then wow!" 

Alison Allbright and her story has many layers to it so I was never bored. I was always fascinated by what on Earth was going to be revealed next or how was everything going to end. It would have been great if this short story was longer however, The Bewitching of Alison Allbright didn't feel too short at all while I was reading it. It felt like a complete story that had me guessing the whole time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Standalone. First Second (Oct. 2014) Own
Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. 
But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer--a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake. 

Video games and economics combine to create a beautifully illustrated and globally aware graphic novel. When I first discovered In Real Life I was aware that it was about video games and that's something I've never read about before. I also was always so drawn to the cover because it's just so cool. When I finally had In Real Life in my hand, I instantly fell for the illustrations inside which was no surprise. Jen Wang seriously knows how to create vibrant, lively art. 

The preface really gave me an idea of what this story was really about and it wasn't mainly about video games. It was about seeing how other people live and the decisions we as a society can make to help people who live in an unfair environment.

Our protagonist Anda signs up to play Coarsegold Online which is an international online game that compares to basically all rpg video games. I love playing video games so this story felt natural and Anda was relatable to me.

Anda is just an ordinary girl who creates an avatar and plays Coarsegold Online. She meets online friends, two in particular, Lucy and Raymond. Anda and Lucy team up to get real cash from the game which isn't totally legal. They get the cash by selling gold they receive from the game. That's where they meet the gold farmers and where Anda meets Raymond. Turns out Raymond's job is to farm gold in the game. 

The story starts from playing a video game to Anda realizing that people living elsewhere have a completely different and unfair life experience than she has had. It was really interesting to see a graphic novel bringing up real issues that impact people's daily life. I've never read any graphic novel like it before. I thoroughly enjoyed where the story took me and how Anda responded to all that she learned. In Real Life can be a real eye opener or reminder to how much injustice goes on in the world and how with enough support we can help a small part of it. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

#FitReaders: March 13th Check-In

#FitReaders: It's been forever since I posted an update so I'm writing down all that I have done fitness wise these past four weeks. I need to be more consistent and do what I did in four weeks in one week.

0.78 miles in 8 min. 34 sec.
1.36 miles in 17 min. 17 sec.
0.78 miles in 8 min. 31 sec.
2.11 miles in 30 min. 3 sec.
2 miles in 30 min. 1 sec.
0.53 miles in 7 min. 37 sec.

Around 17 hours (Went to Universal!)

Workout Videos:
10 min. Lower Body Workout - 10 min.
Tank Top Arms - 8 min.
No Equipment Upper Body Workout - 12 min.
Quick Ab Workout - 3 min.
Fat Burning Tank Top Arms - 32 min.
Adios Love Handles - 10 min.
Butt and Thigh Pilates - 11 min.
The Scientific 7 Minute Workout Video - 7 min.
Fat Burning Tank Top Arms - 32 min.

Water Intake:
Around 524 oz of water
How did you do this week?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ella Takes the Cake by Carmela and Steven D'Amico

Series. Arthur A. Levine Books (Sept. 2005) Library
Ella may be little, but she still wants to be a big help. Only, her mother says she's to small to slice the cakes, too young to bake the cookies... how's to do ANYTHING important? Ella finally gets the chance to make a big cake delivery, but with a runaway cart and that troublemaker Belinda Blue on the loose, can she get the job done? Ella better hang on to her good luck hat -- it looks like she's in for a bumpy ride!


All Ella wants to do is help her mom in anyway at her family's bakery. But, Ella is just too small to do anything important. All she's allowed to do is sweep the floor, not anything important like helping take out macaroons from the oven or slicing a piece of pineapple pie for a customer. It's only when Mr Banjo, the delivery man, leaves a cake behind that Ella has a moment to shine and show her mom that she can be a big help. 

This was a very cute book with illustrations that reminded me of The Adventures of Babar (Although, it could have been also been the fact that this book's characters are elephants). This husband and wife team worked really well together to create a story and characters that were both really fun to read about. I enjoyed the illustrations particularly. I just thought they were so cute and they are still enticing me to draw Ella riding her cart filled with cake. 

Ella has one main obstacle she has to confront. You would think it would be her being too small but really it's two words: Belinda Blue. Belinda Blue is a very inconsiderate, pushy elephant who doesn't take no for an answer. She puts Ella in positions that have her compromising the arrival of her cake delivery. I think Belinda brings up a great conversation for parents to talk to their kids about bullies or people who only think of themselves. It would have been nice to see Ella tell Belinda how she feels about her actions but maybe in another one of Ella's books.

I noticed Ella only seems to have one parent. I haven't read any other books about her so I don't know if it is true. If Ella has a single parent I think that's really inspiring and shows diversity in the way families can be different from one another. Her mom being a single parent and a business owner? I loved that about this book. 

I would recommend reading Ella Takes the Cake. It was a very cute book that is a conversation starter. I would also recommend reading Ella's first book, Ella the Elegant Elephant, before this one since there was reference to Ella's lucky hat and of course so you can understand the basics of Ella's life in Little Village.

By the way, the book series was created into a TV series called Ella the Elephant.