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.

Walk/Run:

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.

Walk:

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.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March 2015 Plans


This is a very late March Plans but I haven't been able to get into reading or blogging for a while. I'm in the biggest reading slump! But, now that classwork has cooled down a bit I'll be posting more regularly and finally getting some reading done. 

I know it's not spring yet but it's coming up soon and I'm sure most of you living with cold weather are ecstatic for a break from the cold. Unless you really, really like snow. It's just hot over here all the time or it's windy. Mostly it's hot which is how I like my weather.

I'm really happy that I'll be able to see what everyone's been reading and doing the last four weeks. I have a lot of catching up to do.

February Stats

Total Books Read: 4
YA Books: 4
MG/Children's Books: 0
Adult Books: 0
Graphic Novel/Manga: 0
Picture Books: 0

Books that fit into my yearly challenges:

Reading Road Trip Challenge: 0
Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge: 0
2015 Monthly Motif Challenge: 1
The Color Coded Reading Challenge: 0
2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge: 0
Prequel and Sequel Challenge: 0
Fairytale Challenge: 0
2015 Audiobook Challenge: 0
Snagged @ the Library Challenge: 2
Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge: 0
The Re-Read Challenge: 0
NetGalley Reading Challenge: 0
I Love Picture Books Challenge: 0

Pages Read: 1,630

Books Read:
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
How (Not) to Fall in Love by Lisa Brown Roberts
Henge by Realm Lovejoy
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Favorite Read:
Henge by Realm Lovejoy


March Plans

I wasn't able to read a series last month so that's my goal again this month until I complete it finally. I want to just get back into reading regularly as well as read a bunch of books on my to read list. My first March read will be:


What have you read so far in March?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blog Tour: Langston's Daughters

The Lockwood Legacy #1. Skye House (Dec. 2014) 
Kate, Jenny, and Mandy. Langston Lockwood’s daughters. His tyranny drove them away. His suicide draws them home. They inherit his land, his millions, and his mysteries. Meet the women of the Rocking L and the men who come into their lives. Together, they begin the journey to discover the truth about The Lockwood Legacy. From the pain of the past they find the strength to build a dynasty.

                            

 


Welcome to my tour stop for Langston's Daughters by Juliette Harper. This is an adult contemporary mystery that is also very focused on family, small town and ranch life as well as some clean romance. This is the first in the series. It is appropriate for ages 16+.
The tour runs Feb. 23- March 6 with reviews, author interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the tour page for more information.
Excerpt
Kate held her tongue until the fifth suitcase hit the ground. "Mandy, for God's sake, how many clothes can one woman need?"

When her baby sister flashed her that award-winning smile, the one that had taken her all the way to the stage of the Miss Texas Pageant, Kate softened in spite of herself. Mandy was a clothes horse, but she was a thoroughbred clothes horse and far too sweet for her own good.

"I wasn't sure what to wear to the . . . service," Mandy said, her voice cracking a little.

"Baby Sister, since when do you not know how to dress for the Methodist Church?"

Mandy's eyes brightened a little when Kate came down the walk and picked up three of the bags. "Think you can handle the other two, or are you afraid you'll break a nail?"

"Oh, these are acrylic."

"Of course they are," Kate said wryly.

Just as they turned to go up the walk, the sound of tires on the rough road made them look up. Jenny maneuvered the rented SUV behind Mandy's car and cut the engine. The instant she got out Kate said, "You shut the gate?"

Jenny's nerves were already strained. "When have I ever forgotten to shut the gate?" she snapped.

"You live in New York City," Kate countered.

"I grew up in Texas," Jenny shot back.

Mandy angled herself between the two of them and held up her hands. "Now you all stop. Just stop it. Daddy's not even in his grave yet and you're bickering like we were all teenagers again. You didn't ask me if I shut the gate, Katie, and I'm the one who left it open my freshman year and let all the kid goats loose in the road."

Jenny and Kate exchanged a knowing glance and then all three burst out laughing. "And Daddy made you round them up," Jenny said.

"Try to round them up," Kate corrected.

"I can still see her out there in that short skirt," Jenny snickered.

"Oh, come on y’all," Kate whined, in a perfect imitation of her baby sister's voice. "Please go back through the gate."

"Well, Daddy never made me work the stock the way you all did," Mandy said defensively, but with a grin. "I thought if I asked them nice like."

"You got a car full of suitcases, too?" Kate asked, shifting the weight of Mandy's bags in her arms.

"No, just carry on."

Jenny retrieved her bag from the backseat of the SUV and the three of them crossed the yard and stepped up on the porch. The interior of the house was dimly lit, the shades drawn against the afternoon sun, stirring faintly from time to time when a breath of breeze came along.

Without a word they each walked to their old rooms. When Mandy turned the knob and took a step into the room, she gasped, "Nothing's changed!"

"What, you expected Daddy to clean out a room?" Kate asked, moving past her and putting the suitcases down at the foot of the white canopy bed.

Mandy moved over to the dressing table and tentatively touched a desiccated homecoming mum corsage. "I didn't think he'd just shut the door."

"That's all he was ever good at," Jenny said from the hall, "shutting doors."
     

About the Author



Juliette Harper is the pen name used by the writing team of Patricia Pauletti and Rana K. Williamson. Like the characters of their debut series, The Lockwood Legacy, Juliette is a merging of their creative energies.


Pauletti, an Easterner of Italian descent, is an accomplished musician with an eye for art and design. Williamson, a Texan from a long line of hardheaded Scots, knows the world of the Lockwoods like the back of her hand.

“We decided to write under a pen name because neither one of us by ourselves could have created Kate, Jenny, Mandy, and their world,” says Pauletti. “Juliette is a little bit of us both. We want to be her when we grow up.”

“Patti teases me that I just don’t want to own up to writing a book with romance in it,” Williamson adds, “but that’s not true. I like the Lockwood women and the way they tackle everything life throws at them. And before we’re done, they’ll be ducking a lot. I imagine coming into the office every day and saying, ‘Okay Juliette, what’s going to happen now?’ She tells us, and we get it down on paper.”



Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
This book tour was organized by CBB Book Promotions



Monday, March 2, 2015

March Reading Road Trip Challenge Link-Up


I only read one book for this challenge all February long! I'm actually not surprised because February has always been a slow month for me. At least I think so because January is always a big reading month for me and school starts getting serious in February. I was pretty proud that I finally read The Host which was super long and slow paced.


The Host is very much like the movie if you wanted to know; just less action. I linked up one book in February thanks to a fellow challenger who reminded me that Never Never was set in Louisiana. Never Never was amazing by the way. 

So how did you do this past month? What books are you planning to read in March? Make sure to let me know in the comments and link up your review updates below using this format:

State (Book) @ blog/twitter/goodreads. 
For example: Florida (Because of Winn-Dixie) @BooksOnHerMind

If you want to check out what this challenge is all about you can go here. Thanks to all who are participating! Remember if you need help ask and I will answer.

Link Up!