Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Nightlight: A Parody
Nightlight: A Parody

You know, I heard this book was hilarious. And it was funny, but not quite hilarious. Can't say that I loved it. Def did not live up to the hype.  So if you are bored and have absolutely nothing else to read and need a laugh at vampire lovers, go for it. But don't go out of your way to read this. 

The Lost Hero

The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero 
The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero

My brother Matthew has been bugging me to read this book for months, and it finally reached the top of my list this weekend. The Lost Hero follows the Percy Jackson series, but is not necessarily dependent on such. It is about three kids, demigods, named Jason, Leo, and Piper.  Jason has no memory, Leo unintentionally killed his mother in a fire, and Piper's father has disappeared. The are all together on a field trip when disaster strikes and Annabeth arrives to take them to Camp Half-Blood, the camp for demigods.  It gives them a home, keeps them safe from the monsters, and provides a learning environment for them: about themselves, mythology, weaponry.

The story is about Jason and his quest, which Leo and Piper accompany him on, to retrieve his memories and allow all of them to understand their strange visions.  It involves Greek Gods, their Roman counterparts, mythology, important players in Greek mythology, monsters, fights, adventures, and a robotic dragon. 

I found the story delightful to be honest.  I love  mythology and I love catching all the secret little throwbacks Riordan makes to mythology and history. It's great that it's for children, so I can read it quickly and also because I think it's great for kids to read. It's even better when they read things important or relevant, but don't know it. Of course, Greek myths are not of vast importance in today's world, but I still feel that they should be known. So read it! And give it to kids to read!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Am I Unpatriotic?

I have recently been accused of being unpatriotic, which is, of course, showing a lack of love for one's country.  Now, I'm not the first person to stand up and die for my country, but I am most definitely American, am I not? 

I say the pledge.

I  support the troops. 

I vote. . . when I remember 

I believe in and support the constitution.

I have studied up on American History.

I would love to see American historical sites. 

But . . . I'm also more versed in British Monarchs and their consorts than American Presidents. I would take a trip to the Tower of London over D.C.  I would meet Queen Elizabeth II over President Obama. I have multiple non-fiction and historical fiction novels taking place in Europe, but none of early America. I'm much more fascinated with European History than American. But I grew up with American History. My ancestors settled the colonies.  Other ancestors settled the West. I know their stories.  I've heard them all my life. 

Perhaps I'm more interested in histories of the monarchs than of the presidents, because the histories of Europe are much more personal.  No American president had a sister as Queen of France.  No American president had their wife beheaded.  No American president rebelled and started a church of his own (although a presidential candidate did . . .).  No first-lady sucked at English, had an almost impotent and very incompetent husband.  

Clearly I'm more into the gossip rags than the political import. But does that make me unpatriotic?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Birthday to Isadora Duncan!

Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography from Emma Keefe on Vimeo.


Happy Birthday! You are so crazy, I hope you know that.  But you are also phenomenal. You revolutionized the dancing world, and I can't help but love and hate you at the same time, although I am starting to hate writing about you. My paper is way too long and taken far too many revisions.  I loved your book, though. It was super trashy! And, actually, I mean that as a compliment :) It's all nice and gossipy about your lovers; I feel like I really got to you know! Have a great birthday, and make sure your scarf is in the car before it drives off!



Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Virgin Blue

I really didn't like this book!

Okay, that's out of the way. So The Virgin Blue is about this girl, Ella, who moves to France with her husband. Turns out, she's of French descent, but her folks emigrated during the Catholic/Huguenot problems. In stereotypical novel fashion, she starts researching her ancestors, and librarians are more than happy to help her, going out of their way and spending their own time to research her family. The French must be a very helpful people.

Then the novel will flash back to Ella's ancestors. I enjoyed these parts much more, which I have found is generally a problem with this sort of novel. I am always more interested in one of the two stories, usually the historical.  Maybe if it was used more sparingly, as a frame, or a bookend, I would be able to stand it better. 

With these history books, especially Catholic/Huguenot ones, an element of magic is generally present in the women. I'm kind of fascinated by this idea; that men have religion and women have magic. Rephrase: There is a certain mysticism to these women and their rituals, but it isn't like they're casting spells. Just that they believe in a spiritual goddess or female power to help them. This, of course, becomes a major problem for Isabelle, the ancestor, in this book. 

Spoiler: Ella cheats and it bothers me. I don't like her character at all.

And to finish my unclear and scattered review of this book, I feel like Isabelle's story ended quickly and unclearly (whereas she could have an entire novel to herself) and Ella's was unnecessarily drawn out. It was just weird. It got really staccato-y at the end, especially Isabelle's story. I just didn't like it at all. Don't read it.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's Not a Contest

In high school, well, all growing up, really, life seems like a race or a contest. Who has the best grades, who's wearing designer clothes, who made the team, whose boyfriend is cuter, more popular? Who doesn't have a boyfriend? It seems it's all about the boyfriend -- but not because you like him. Because you WON him. You beat out the other girls, and she with the best boyfriend wins.

So my guilty pleasure teenage tv show is Secret Life of the American Teenager. And the girls, in typical teenaged tv fashion, fall in and out of love with each others' boyfriends and baby daddies from episode to episode. And they finally called each other on it, on dating (and sexing up) boys just to make the other girl mad, not because they care about the boy. And it only hurts them in the long run. And it really made me think.

Turns out, life (and love) is not a contest. It's more like a matching game. Some people get flipped over once - boom! - match. Some people get flipped over lots, but no bueno. Some people don't get flipped over for a long time. And that's okay. Our match is not necessarily better or worse than anyone else. Just like in the matching game, all matches have equal points. It's in finding the match that we 'win' so to speak, and become happy. And truly happy people would want others to be happy to, wouldn't they?

And so, just remember. It's not a contest; it's your life.

Look forward to my next post in this series: It's Not a Race.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The City of Ember

This reminds me of both Lois Lowry's Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger as well as Margaret Peterson Haddix's Running Out of Time. This is by no means bad.  City of Ember is written as young adult sci-fi, or perhaps just young adult fiction, but it is still a good read. 

It's about a city entirely in darkness, powered by an underwater generator powered by the river.  They are running out of resources, however, and the lights often flicker and the blackouts are getting longer and longer. It's told from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl and how she tries to solve this problem for herself, her family, and her city. 

It's easy and a fast read. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot as a child; I did enjoy it now. There are a few things that are rather juvenile in her writing and the plot, but it is juvenile, so it's all good. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the aforementioned books and doesn't consider any reading to be 'below them.'

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Steinbeck: The Under Appreciated Artist

I find John Steinbeck to be one of the most under appreciated artists of his time, often overlooked in favor of Fitz or Hemingway.  Now, it's not so much that I love him, but I revere and respect him. I value his work and his place in my library. However, I'm not super into short stories, and I'm definitely more into East of Eden and Of Mice and Men, but I did still enjoy The Red Pony.

The Red Pony is a compilation of four short stories about a farm boy named Jody and his different experiences of coming to age. He learns of the fallibility of adults as he strives to become a man, and in the end, he finally does. He learned responsibility, how to work, how to be leader, how to take care of others. And the story is complete.

This is accompanied by another short story, entitled Junius Maltby, about a boy named Robbie who is raised unnecessarily (and unknowingly) in poverty by his intellectual of a father. However, the community wants to interfere, for Robbie's sake, and it leads to problems.

I did not find either of these stories particularly interesting, or noteworthy, but I don't feel that my time was wasted by reading them, either.

The Story of my Weekend

This weekend was fairly lovely, despite the world ending and the seemingly unrelentless rain, not to mention the construction. So Saturday, Cass and I met at the mall halfway between our houses and had lunch. We then walked around the mall and tried to find something to do. Even movies at the theater didn't look good. So we decided to redbox it and go to Cass's dad's house. We picked Easy A because, you know, we love trashy teenage movies for a dollar. And it was hilarious! Trashy, yes. But definitely hilarious. I think I might be getting old, though, because the patents were, by fat, my favorite characters. The things they said, the way they acted, it was great.

After the movie, Cass's dad, Morrell, took us to dinner at Fridays. It was really nice. He's a sweetie and it was great to just hang out. After dinner we went back to the house and watched tv. And then it took me two hours to get home because of construction.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Heresies of Nature

"Boy, you and Job and Anne Frank . . . Believing despite the evidence"
Margaret Blair Young

This book tells the story of a 'traditional' Utah family in a not-so-traditional situation.  The oldest daughter has left her husband and the mother  is dying from MS. The father and two girls still at home struggle to take care of the mother and continue on with life.  This book is about choices, struggles, faith, finding faith, losing faith, holding on to it despite everything. This book is about your faith being tried, about having hope for the future.  Its about families and relationships. It's about life and its trials. 

I really enjoyed this novel.  It made me cry a lot-- especially at the end. However, right before I loved it, I hated it terrible. I couldn't understand why people would make such choices, how life could be so hard, why anyone would hurt someone else in that way.  But then it ended. And it was beautiful. It gave me hope. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Little House

As you know, I absolutely LOVE Philippa Gregory. She could write just about anything at this point, I'm so hooked.  I've been trying to get my hands on this book for some time, but it was rather hard to find for a reasonable price. So I finally got my hands on this book, and devoured it in three days. 

The Little House is about a woman, Ruth, who, having no family of her own, is completely enveloped by her husband and his parents.  They are very controlling, forcing a move to a house down the lane, and taking over the care of the baby -- who they made Ruth give up her career to have. Ruth never wanted the baby, not now at any rate, and suffers from horrible postpartum.  The novel discusses her journey through her depression, her relationship with her husband, her baby, and her in-laws. And ends with a nice little twist, which I shall not divulge. 

As always, I enjoyed the novel by Gregory, it was the first of her non-historical fictions for me, and I strongly recommend this book, especially to mothers (even though I know nothing about motherhood firsthand). She seems to have quite the grasp on the situation Ruth is dealing with, and presents it in a great way. It is not a light book, but it is easy and enjoyable to read. The characters and the story were easy to relate to, and very realistic. I loved it. Now ya'll go read it!

The Gideon Trilogy

Linda Buckley-Archer

A few months ago, I ran out of books to read. Okay, just kidding. But I wanted to read something light in the form of juvenile or young adult fiction. So I went through Matthew's books and found  The Time Travelers. It's about two kids, city-boy Peter and farm-girl Kate, who accidentally end up in 18th century London. The series continues -- as various problems arise from time travel -- with The Time Thief and Time Quake

Buckley-Archer brings an interesting perspective to time travel, and does it in a manner that does not get two confusing and tangled up, as most do, which is why I generally do not dabble in time travel literature, but she presents it in a clear, understanding manner. There is no traveling to the past or the future and hiding from themselves, no meeting themselves in another age, none of the usual time travel problems found in fiction. Of course, there are problems to the time travel, which is discussed most clearly and efficiently in the third novel, but they are more of the moral and ethical dilemma. 

I really enjoyed this series. It was a light easy read and was perfectly suited to reading over the course of months, whenever I found the time during my busy school schedule. Surprisingly, Matthew never finished the first book, claiming he didn't like it.  Both my mother and I feel that he would have enjoyed it if he had finished. It's promoted as a book for kids who love Harry Potter, and I definitely support that assessment. I highly recommend this series for children of all ages :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Eugenics Today

As we know, I am a huge nerd. This means that at work I listen to a rather educational sort of podcast. Yesterday it was one from 'How Stuff Works' about eugenics and it really got me thinking. The concept is nothing new to me, and I have problems with the hiding of it in American History, but the apparent current relevance of it is new knowledge for me. There is a program called Project Prevention where this woman will pay addicts for being sterilized or getting a long term IUD. The purpose of this is to prevent pregnancy of addicts.  The numbers of unwanted pregnancies are huge, resulting in miscarriages, still births, and sickly children.  The babies are often premature, addicted, and have problems throughout their lives.  Many end up in foster care, which can be just as harmful and deserves a post all of its own, and later become addicts. Their addicted parents are unable to take care of them and the burden is shifted to the state. 

Financially, for the government (and perhaps even the parents) the $300 one can garnish from sterilization is much better than pregnancy and child related costs.  The children are generally unwanted by the parents in the first place, and are merely a financial burden for the state. For the children, it is much better to not be born in that sort of situation. It seems to be a win-win. 

And then enters the problems of eugenics, improving the genetics of the population for the benefit of further generations. Eugenics has a negative connotation, especially for its use by Nazi Germany, to promote a supreme race. Project Prevention also appears to be targeting minorities, but one must remember that the minorities over-represent themselves socio-economically in poverty, drug addiction, etc, but Project Prevention is determinedly not racist. Another problem is that they are apparently bribing these women, buying their reproductive rights, who are not even in their right mind to make that sort of decision. Some feel that the money could be better spent providing care and help for the addicts, to help them to make their reproductive decisions on their own and aid them to be better mothers to the children they already have, and eventually regain custody of their children in foster care. 

Initially, this seemed like a good idea to me. These people have ruined their lives and are bringing children -- who have no choice in the matter - to this earth with no means to provide for them. I am all about taking care of children and making the world a better place for them. I like to pretend I am analytical and logical and that I can look at things without feelings. Financially this is great. But then I start to think about it. And it's totally legal, and the women are choosing to take the money and get sterilized.  But what is to stop shelters or recovery centers from making sterilization a requirement? Or even the government? Who gets to make these decisions?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Disneyland Trip 2011!

 On Monday we got up at four, drove to California, checked into the hotel, and caught a bus to Disneyland! 

On Tuesday, Mom, Cass, and I had lunch at the Blue Bayou (the one in Pirates) and it was delicious! They had the best green beans I have ever had in my entire life! Later, we ventured into California adventure for a bit and road our favorite ride: Toy Story Midway Mania!!!!

On Wednesday, we met two of our favorite characters, Jessie and Woody! We then dined with two of our favorite characters: Ed and Kathleen! My mom's Aunt Kathleen has an annual pass and was able to come to the park and visit us. After an all-you-can-eat BBQ with fantastic ribs, we headed back over to California Adventure, where we all got soaked on Grizzly Bear River Rapids!

Thursday we had our Magic Morning, so Cass and I went on Buzz Lightyear's AstroBlasters over and over, and he got one of the top ten scores of the day! (Granted, it was in the morning. . . :) )

 Friday was our lazy day. We went on Mark Twain's Steamboat and then over to Pirate's Lair (Formerly known as Tom Sawyer's Island)

And Saturday we went to the swap meet and the beach!
We had a great trip!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Road Trip!

California, here we come, right back where we started from, California!

 As we speak, I am headed to the land of milk and honey, back to paradise! As my "graduation present", we were going to go on a girl trip to Disneyland. But my brother-in-law had never been, and my sister wanted him to come too. And if he got to come, I wanted my betrothed, Cass, to come too! So the six of us (me and Cass, Jenn and Adam, Mom and Jord) are on the way to California in an Astro Van! 

It's been two years since our last trip to Disneyland, and I super excited! It's Adam's first time, Jordyn is still young enough that she's fun but tall enough to ride almost all of the rides, and I'm really just excited to go to Disneyland with Cass, too! 

The drive is long and boring, but I don't have to drive! And we're fun on road trips anyway :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011


"They're not going to send a crazy man out to be killed, are they?"
"Who else would go?"

Basically, this book is about how war sucks. I didn't really enjoy it that much.  It brings many different thought and moral dilemmas to light, but I didn't find it to be written all that clearly. 

Interesting to note, Catch-22 was not the original title, which leads me to believe that the book came before the saying. But Hugh Nibley said it was the most accurate war book he'd ever read, so that must be true!  

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

My mom is amazing, and has been for the past . . . twenty something years :) 
She loves me and cares about me. She has cheered me on for years of dance and various performances. The first time she missed a competition of mine was when she was in the hospital, giving birth to Jordyn. I swear my mom had no life other than being my mom -- especially while I was in high school.  She would endure the first half of football and basketball games just to watch me dance for two or three minutes at half time. 
My mom has always been a source of love and support for me. I'm grateful to have her in my life. She is the perfect mom for me!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Soul Mates and Free Agency

As I am approaching marriage, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of having a soul mate. A part of me likes the idea, the thought that there is someone made just for me. My perfect match. But it kind of bothers me too. Like the "other half" saying.  That's like I'm not complete all on my own. But then there is something to be said for how your lover completes you, makes you a better person, too, all at the same time. Or are we just drawn to the type of person that makes us want to be a better person? 

The Church does not believe in soul mates, in there being even just one perfect person for you.  But it does believe in a pre-mortal existence, and we know that we had all sorts of relationships before we came to earth.  There is nothing saying that it's not possible to have met your eternal companion before this life. However, the concept of free agency clearly negates the possibility, or at least the necessity, of soul mates. If there is one person specifically for us, then we are not free to choose them on this earth. We would be predestined to meet them, love them, and marry them.  There would be no choice involved, which is contrary to free agency. 

Yet, a part of me likes the idea of having known Cass before, but I think of it in a different way. More pure and innocent, like kindergarteners.  Not like on Saturday's Warrior where we sang and danced and promised to meet each other.  Just friends, talking about what earth life would be like, about our hopes, fears, and all that. 

So I have come to the decision that it is possible for people to have known their significant other before they came to earth, but were not necessarily in love the way we are on earth. Nor do I believe that everyone must have known in heaven, because there are so very many people on earth just right now, not to mention all those before and after our life time. And so, it's  a nice thought, but I do not believe in soul mates or foreordained lovers. Free agency overrules that concept.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Once upon a time . . .

. . . there was a young girl who dreamed of a wedding in August with the reception outside.  She had it all planned out. But then her betrothed received his dream (for a college student) job. He would have to be in Cedar for the entire month of August. The wedding date had to change. 

The girl was crushed, but also excited.  This job was a blessing; they would now have a place to live. But the yard would not be done. She started stressing. Would her dress get here in time? Could she plan everything in time? What if their wasn't an opening at the Salt Lake Temple? Could she really get married in Provo?!?!

And then she took a deep breath.  And things began to come together. They decided on a Monday wedding because of all the business of the job, and the temple was open.  Her dress was scheduled to arrive at least three weeks before the wedding. And family friends were able to arrange a bargain on a reception hall. The colors had already been decided on, making dressing the siblings a cinch. 

And the evil stress was crushed!

Now, to find a job . . .

A Wedding in December

Anita Shreve

I read A Wedding in December last weekend.  It was a nice light read, what one might categorize as a beach or vacation book. I like to switch up reading heavy books and light books, and I knew this would be light from the get go, so I enjoyed it. It was a reunion-style book, high school friends meeting up after some 20 odd years for the wedding of two classmates who had been high school sweethearts.  And, of course, there is the secret. They allude to the secret multiple times throughout the course of the story, culminating with different degrees of the secret being revealed after the wedding -- which is kind of a let down -- and then the book ends.  It kind of bothered me that this book had no denouement.  I sort of think that was Shreve's purpose, to leave it open to interpretation, and to encourage the reader to evaluate their missed opportunities, their missed stories. 

Overall, this was a form book. But it was a nice distraction, and a light, easy read --especially if you have a high school reunion coming up, a secret, and lost lover with whom you'd like to reconnect. 

In case you forgot . . .

I'm a complete nerd. I am completely fascinated with the history of the British Monarchy. I love King Henry VIII. I love Anne Boleyn.

I even love Mary, Elizabeth, and Mary Queen of Scots. And I super love, albeit mainly from pity, Lady Jane Grey the nine days queen. Her story is tragic.As you can see, I love history, especially historical fiction. (shout out to Philippa Gregory! I actually spent part of this weekend's drive to Cedar listening to a podcast of hers on Henry and his women, in addition to one by Allison Weir)

And now, I love The King's Speech and George VI. (I'm also super grateful that his brother abdicated. Both he and Wallace Simpson were Nazi lovers) I really found this film to be absolutely brilliant. I'm not well read on George VI but I still enjoyed the movie a lot. Now, I have to be honest. I have a problem with this movie being rated R, insofar as many R rated movie ARE complete smut! I mean, look at movies like The Hangover or Pineapple Express. Those movies do not interest me at all, on any level. And to give them and The King's Speech and equal "badness" rating is completely beyond me.

So there you have it. I'm a nerd. You know, just in case you forgot.