Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Take Offs & Landings

Probably my last Margaret Peterson Haddix book (until she publishes a new one), Takeoffs and Landings is not one of my favorites, and is definitely geared towards the pre-teen audience. It tells the story of a small-town, 4H, farming brother and sister, Chuck and Lori, who are finally spending quality time with their mother, for the first time since their father died eight years ago. After he died, their mom started speaking, publicly, about his death and life insurance, which turned her into a motivational speaker. Lori is bitter and feels abandoned, but Chuck is just grateful for the attention. It starts out as an awkward trip; the kids hardly know their mom, and Chuck and Lori, once inseparable, now find each other unbearable. But by the end of their journey, the relationship seems to mend. 

I didn't love this book, but I did enjoy it. I recommend it for a younger set, especially those kids, and maybe even parents, who may relate to Chuck and Lori, those feeling a loss or a disconnect of a parent. It might just give them the boost they need to fix their relationship. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Help

I may be the absolutely last person in the universe to have read The Help, but if, by some chance, I'm wrong and you haven't read it yet, you really should. 

It was amazing and touching. 

What gets me most is that it's the sixties. The sixties. And in the south, they still have their colored help. This is Bewitched. And it's civil rights. It's like my momma could be Mae Mobley, and "the help" has to use a seperate bathroom! They're good enough to raise kids, but not much else. They know how to keep house, but they're "too stupid" to take care of themselves? I'm confused. Which, I suppose, is part of the point of the book. I also liked how it tied in feminism. Everything, all these changes, were just starting. People thought things were fixed. They thought things were fine. Women could vote. Blacks could vote. Everyone got to go to school. Separate but equal. Activists knew better. And because of these people, life is different today. 

Last thought? I don't know why, but I had to check if stockett was white or black. She's white. However, she had a history quite like Miss Skeeter, so that's the connection :) 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sing You Home

Jodi Picoult's latest, Sing You Home, is controversial, same as any other Jodi book.
It deals with miscarriage, IFV, stillbirth.
Embryos as property or people. 
It's all over the place, but so very much together. Jodi was asked why she mixed the topics together, and she said she couldn't see doing them apart. They belonged together.
And in Sing You Home, they most certainly do. 
As always, I feel a little hesitant in recommending Jodi; she's a little risque for the conservative type. I, however, found this one to be not too extreme or explicit.
And, of course, I loved it to death.
Read on!  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spiritual Sunday: Attitude of Gratitude

I am not a very grateful, or thankful, person. In fact, sometimes I make fun of other people for being grateful. I'm a hater; you know that [and sometimes, it's just cheesy, or borderline pathetic. Admit it. I'm right]. But I'm trying to be better. I found some of these quotes which help me understand the importance of being grateful.

"Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves.They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable." Joseph B Worthlin

"Mercies and blessings come in different forms--sometimes as hard things. Yet the Lord said, 'Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things' (D&C 59:7). All things means just that: good things, difficult things--not just some things. He has commanded us to be grateful because He knows being grateful will make us happy. This is another evidence of His love." Bonnie D Parkin

"We need to be more grateful. It's one of the marks of strong character, to have a feeling of thanksgiving and gratitude for blessings that are ours. We need more of that spirit in our homes, in our daily associations, in church, everywhere. It's so easy to cultivate the spirit of appreciation." Ezra Taft Benson

In that spirit, here's my cheesy list of things I'm grateful for:
  • My family, near and far. I'm grateful to have Cass as I husband. I'm grateful to have been raised by my parents, who are always showing their love for me. I'm grateful for my brothers and sisters, my  grandparents, my uncle and cousins. I'm grateful for Cass's family, who has welcomed me whole-heartedly.
  • My jobs, both of them. They can be a struggle at times, but I am so grateful to be employed, and to be working while doing what I love. Teenagers can be a pain, but every so often it's worth it to work with them. And ya'll know how I'm addicted to dance.
  • Books, my other addiction.
  • Cassidy's job. Cass's job has been such a blessing, providing us with income and free board while still allowing him to take 18 credit hours. Life would be so much harder without.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know, sometimes I'm a hater. But I'm trying. And the church really has been a blessing in my life. And I'm so grateful that Cass and I will get to be together for all eternity. 
How about you? What are you grateful for? 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why I Hate the Boys You Like (in books and sometimes movies)

Oft times, especially during the craze of a new book or movie, I hear other girls gossiping in fond admiration over the latest dreamboat. And all I can do is shake my head, because I don't like that dreamy sweetheart at all. In fact, I find him a little creepy, not romantic at all. As y'all probably know, I don't like Edward (Twilight), Ky (Matched, Crossed), or the movie-version of Noah (The Notebook, but only at the beginning).

They're romantic and sappy, but come off a little creepy if not stalker-y. It's kind of like when the boy you like does something and it's cute, but if a boy who likes you, who you don't like, does it, it's just creepy! Case in point: before Cass (in between Cass?) there was a boy. Looking back, not my best choice. Anyway, one day, he sent me a good morning text. And it pissed me off. Later, with Cass? The occasional good morning text was pleasant.

They're (generally) written by girl authors who have yet to learn how to write like a man.

(Not all authors do this! JK Rowling. Jodi Picoult. Suzanne Collins.)

I understand, it's hard. So don't do it.

Because of this, they act like boys think the same way girls think.
Ex: "I want to cover the tree in her name like I would cover her hand with mine."

I want a man -- not a girl in disguise. This makes me worry if maybe I won't like Jane Austen? But it's weird. I just find all these boys creepy! And the thing is, girls really like the boys like that in real life. Like the boys that tuck them into bed at night and give them a kiss on their forehead. Okay, I can see how that can be endearing. But it hits creepy when "he takes such good care of me!" means that you're not equals in your relationship. I get it. I like to be taken care of sometimes, too. But I also take care of Cass. We're adults and we're equals. And, most importantly, he doesn't watch me sleep at night. 

[also, can anyone tell me why there's a hundred spaces between each paragraph??]


Last weekend, Cass and I read Ally Condie's Crossed, a sequel to Matched, and my worst fears came true. . . Ally Condie is a Stephanie Meyers. Okay, that was rude. She's not that bad. But my fears of Crossed turning into more of a Twilight than a Hunger Games came true for sure.

1. The novel lacks voice -- esp because I read this in-between/at the same time as The Help and Sing You Home [reviews coming soon!] which were also told from different perspectives and done much better.

2. Condie says "says" too much. I know she doesn't want to be all "he exclaimed" & "she gasped" all over the page-- but just cut it out. Just dialogue it. "Blah." Enter. Indent. "Talk-ity-talk." Enter. Indent. Carry on. In all fairness, I may have noticed this one more because I was reading it aloud to Cass. I didn't notice it as much while reading silently. 

3. I'm not sure any of my questions were even answered, other than Ky's back-story. But I guess that's why there is a third book . . .

4. I still do not like Ky. He still just creeps me out.

Overall, meh. I'll still read the third when it comes out, but it's just not my type of book. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about guilty pleasure teen books. This one just isn't for me. I think I'll go read The Giver now. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vegas & Ka

Yup. Saw this. Ah-may-zing.

Cass and I went down to Vegas this weekend to spend a few days with Cass's dad, who had been there for a work conference. We got down late Friday night and spent some time driving up and down the strip . . . mostly because we were lost . . .   Saturday we went to Cheesecake Factory for lunch with Morrell's Aunt LaDawn, Uncle BN, and some cousins. We hung out and watched a football game, which ever one it was that the 49's won. Which was pretty exciting at the end, actually! Then we headed back over to the strip to see Cirque Du Soleil's Ka at the MGM Grand. 

It was fantastic. I have wanted to see a Cirque show for years and regret not having gone to a show in Orlando when I could have gotten a Disney Discount, so I was so excited to finally go to a Cirque show. It was fantastic! The upper-body strength of some of the performers . . . wow. This little teeny girl holding up a man. Intense, ya'll. And the man jumping rope on on the circle thing . . . It was great. The only thing I didn't like was the baton twirling part - I thought it was a little lame. But overall, it was fantastic! I loved it! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Errors that Irk

Ya'll know how I'm a hater? 
Well, these are some of the errors that irk me!

~When people use apart when they mean a part.
Example: "I'm so glad you're apart of my life."
 [you're/your is also a problem, but eh]

~Over-correction of I instead of me.
Turns out that's not a picture of I with my friends.

~"Circus Ole"
Ya'll have hear it,
c'mon folks,
~Possessive apostrophes used when the noun is merely plural.
I've seen this, in a classroom--
"Good reader's: predict, infer . . ."

~When of is used instead of have. 
I know it's a problem. We all say could've, would've, should've,
I've even been caught with couldn't've. I know that's bad. But this is worse.
"We could of had it all."
NO! Never! Please! Stop!

~And my last irking error, for today, is not really an error, 
but truly a problem nonetheless. 
It's this whole "good v well" problem.
If you answer that you're well when someone has already said they're good-
you sound stuck up.
And sometimes it just gets confusing when to say it. But still.
You're good at something.
But you're feeling well.
Which really gets into the bad/poorly problem. . . 

Well, folks. Thanks for stickin with me through today's rant.
And, yes, "stickin" was on purpose.
Sometimes I'm a hick.
But really, I hope I didn't make any errors in this post!
That would be embarrassing.

The Zookeeper's Wife

One of my dearest friends recommended this book for me after she loved it. It's a war story, surrounding WWII, dealing with the German invasion of Poland and the ghettoization, concentration, and killing of the Jews.  Zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski struggle to raise their family and save their zoo, all while hosting an array of Jewish "visitors" on the zoo grounds. It's an interesting story, and clearly heroic, but I honestly found the writing a little dry. There was a lot of (to me) unnecessary background information. It felt more like a senior thesis than a book. However, it is non-fiction, which is usually on the drier side. I just was expecting it to be a little more exciting. Sometimes I think maybe I have this problem where I want all books to be fiction? But I do enjoy autobiographies. So I'm just not sure. Maybe I'm the problem? Either way, this was a good book, just not exactly a thriller. I give it a half-hearted recommendation. Read on!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Circus Galacticus

To be quite honest, I picked up Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan because of the cover. It was on the new book display and it caught my eye. It's kind of a cute book and has a pretty good premise, but not super well thought out or creative, nor was it very well written. I felt like I was being told the story by a super hyper gossipy teenager. It was your basic where-do-I-belong teenage story. In space. Can't say I loved it.

Hawkes Harbor

As ya'll know, I loved The Outsiders and enjoyed That Was Then, This Is Now, so when I saw Hawkes Harbor, in the ADULT section of the library, I figured I'd give it a go. After all, it's Hinton.

Unfortunately, she wrote better as a sixteen year old than as an adult. Hawkes Harbor had an interesting concept, a unique take on vampires, but in trying to be mysterious she comes off as vague and the story seems lacking. And to be quite honest, if the flap had said anything about vampires, I probably would have put the book back on the shelf. I'm not entirely sure it was worth the read.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why should I care more than you do?

My jobs are different, but they're very much the same. In both of my jobs, it is my responsibility to help my students to do better. At school, I help them with their work. And at dance, well, I help them to be better dancers. But I can only help them as much as they let me. They can have goals, but if they don't let me help them, they won't achieve their goals. If they don't accept my help, accept that I have been there, that I do, in fact, know what I am talking about, they won't make it. They can't do it alone. No one can. And I am learning, maybe the hard way, that I can't put in more effort than they do. They have to care, too. Sometimes, I think I care more than they do. And I really just can't do that anymore. Because then it hurts to much when they turn on me, make me the bad guy-- when they can't see that I am only looking out for them. I want my students, all of them, to do better. But some of them don't want that for themselves. Or, rather, they don't want to put in the work necessary. And then I just can't help them anymore.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Paris Wife

I've never been much of a Hemingway fan, though as a self-proclaimed vivid reader, I desire to be well versed and am familiar with his text. That being said, I was excited to read Paula McLain's The Paris Wife, the story of Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. I'm not so interested in the works of the "Lost Generation" -- but their lives have proven to be interesting, and I do need to give their works another go.

Ernest and Hadley were newly married on their Paris arrival, and he was not yet the literary genius many now consider him to be. It was interesting to read of The Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach's bookstore and a gathering place for many of the "Lost Generation." We get to meet the Fitzgeralds, Zelda and F Scott; Gertrude Stein and her lover Alice; Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear. Joyce is talked about but not present. Throughout the novel we see Hemingway's writing process and the journey to The Sun Also Rises, as well as see the connections from the writing to real life. Sadly, Hadley is not a character in The Sun Also Rises, and that is when the descent of their marriage occurs.
The Paris Wife is a love story, yes, but it is also a desperate story, a story about a writer, a story about ghosts that haunt, a story of how a couple can seem so solid, how a woman can still love a man, and their marriage cannot last. It is a love story and perhaps a tragedy. Hadley always loved Ernest, at least cared for him; he held a special place in her heart. But not so for he. 

I really liked this reading, it was thick in content, but enjoyable. It made me want to write more. It made me want to read about Zelda and Fitz (for it seems that he was Gatsby). And isn't that what good books do? Make you want to read more? Make you want to live your life just a little different? 

I have not really been exposed to the "Lost Generation" before, other than in school, and it was really neat to read about their lives and how their work was so intertwined with their very being. I can't say that I loved this book, but I highly recommend it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hong Kong Here We Come!

It's a posh, posh traveling life for us! In May, Cass and I will be going on a lovely journey to Hong Kong! He's so excited to go back and I'm so excited to see it for the first time! We are so lucky to have this opportunity; it may be our only chance to get over there!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Flashback Friday: Mazatlan

 December 2007: Dad, Jord, Jenn, Ma, me, Am, Michael, Matthew

This picture is of us horseback riding on the beach in Mazatlan.
We went on a Mexican Riviera Cruise with our extended family.
We had a great time & I can't wait to go again! I love my family!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

I have a great big chimney sweeping, car flying, singing and dancing crush 
on one Mr Dick van Dyke.
Let's be real- Who doesn't? 
He's amazingly talented, even in his post-retirement age days.
He wrote this book about himself, and I absolutely adore it.
And him.
Oh Dick, I swoon.
He's quite an amazing man, in addition to the song-and-dance man
we all know and love.
His life has truly been lucky; he is so lucky.
He married his high school sweetheart and stayed with her almost 
entirely through thick and thin. She gave him four children. She stayed with him during the early, struggling years. And when they parted, he made sure she would want for nothing.
The one thing I admire most about Dick?
He made a promise to never be in anything he couldn't watch with his children.
He didn't want to tarnish his name or his character.
And you know how we all like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but it's kind of missing that Disney Magic? That little spark that just makes you sit in awe and wonder? 
Dick knows that too. He actually turned it down quite a few times before he agreed to it.
I just love this man. 
All I want is one last Dick-and-Julie song-and-dance classic.
Dick? Julie? Robert Iger? Can you help a sister out?
I think Walt would approve!!!

So anyway, if you love Dick as I do, read this book. Watch Mary Poppins.
.: magic :.

Monday, January 2, 2012


I'd had a faint interest in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, but [as you can probably guess] I initially was interested in Uprising because it's by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Told from the view points of three young girls- Yetta, Bella, and Jane- we also see how the factory conditions, the strike, and the fire, affected all those in the building. 

This book was the perfect storm for my cravings. Historical Fiction. MPH. YA novel. It was fascinating, and factual in events. The characters were relate-able. They were very real, very much the people I would picture working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. And, as a side note, it showed how far women have come in the last century, as well as workers conditions. I highly recommend it. 

And for those of you who are wondering- Triangle is the name of the company, although a shirtwaist does form you, relatively, into a triangle. And a shirtwaist looks like this: 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

[oops, almost typed revolutions]

I'm not generally a New-Year's-Resolutions-Type
Probably because I never follow through on any of my goal
I kind of lack self motivation

Cass, on the other hand, is the resolution type
or maybe it's just cuz we're married now
& he thinks we should make some goals together

So we did!

1. Live A Healthier Lifestyle
we are super unhealthy.
So now we're trying to be more healthy.
Walks together
Less fatty food, more chicken and fish
And less eating out
also, we're going to try waking up at a reasonable hour
{it's really hard when your job doesn't start til 10:45}

 2. More Spiritual Lifestyle
we try hard, but our spirituality is often pushed aside
mostly because we're lazy
I'd say busy, but lazy is really the case

3. Do not get arrested 
     I stole this from a friend who includes goals they're sure to fulfill. 
I figured I'd like to at least accomplish one goal :)
So this year, we resolve to these
-No Drug trafficking
-No money laundering
-No public urination or other sex offenses
-No importing of illegal goods or bads

I thought maybe I should have some goals for myself, too
In accordance with a Healthier Lifestyle-
I want to dance more with my dance classes
Mostly this means stretching and conditioning
Hello sit ups, butt ups, and more!

My other goal is in regard to my Books-
I have a bunch of friends with goals about reading books
That's not really a problem for me (if you hadn't noticed)
but I would like to work on [a] reading the books I have
aka not buying new ones
[b]  reading books on my own level.
ya'll know I love YA books

So those are my goals for the new year. 
Wish me luck!