Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Resolutions


It's time for Follow Friday again! The Blog Hop is on vacation, so our paths will cross sometime on a future Friday. Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee (you can click the graphic above to be taken to the Follow Friday page). This week's question is:

What are your New Years book blogging resolutions?

I guess I've never been very big on resolutions, but incidentally, I started to make a list just a few days ago. I'll split it into smaller categories...

Book Blogging
1. Review a greater variety of books. I've reviewed a lot of Young Adult, but I've drifted from memoirs and classics, both of which I have a fondness for.
2. Complete the challenges I have committed to. I made one for myself, which is to read 50 books in a year and then the 2011 Audio Book challenge, where I will read along and eventually get to 12.
3. Conduct more author interviews. I tried to do this once, and I didn't receive an answer, so I hope to be successful with this in the future.
4. Finish reviewing books that I've already read. I've started this and I've made good progress, though there are still many that are longing to be written about...

General Blogging
1. Keep up and get more involved in the other blogs I follow, support, and contribute to (Ezra, Jude, and Avery's Epic Adventure!; The Rainbow Tour; this blog; etc.).
2. Do my "Learn Something New" project where I learn one new thing every month throughout 2011 (I'm still looking for suggestions for this, by the way. You can leave your suggestions in the comments!)

Life
1. Direct another stop-motion
2. Make a Little Things Scrapbook
3. Figure out what colleges to apply to
4. Appreciate the little things
5. Practice for and participate in NaNoWriMo 2011
6. Bike more/Be more active
7. Make more time for friends
8. Be sociable
9. Stand up for what I believe in
10. Get a job

Thanks for taking a gander at my resolutions! Feel free to leave a comment with your web address and I'll try to get to you as soon as possible. Also, if you can think of something that you've always wanted to learn or have learned and thought it was fun to learn, you can leave that activity in your comment as well. Who knows? You might just be responsible for one of the things I learn in a month!

Thanks for reading and have a Happy New Year!

--Jude

My First Challenge: 2011 Audio Book Challenge!

So far in my blogging exploits, I haven't done any challenges. I've done plenty of blog-hops and follow fridays, but no challenges. So this is my first one. It's hosted by Teresa's Reading Corner (you can click right on her name and be taken to the sign-up page.

There are four milestones to shoot for. They are:
Curious: 3 Audio Books
Fascinated: 6 Audio Books
Addicted: 12 Audio Books
Obsessed: 20 Audio Books

Since I haven't been very big on Audiobooks in the past, I'm hoping to reach the level of "Fascinated," but I'm shooting for "Addicted." Somewhere in there would be nice.

I'll post reviews of these Audio Books like I would had I been reading a paper copy (which I still might do, just to get Audio and Visual thrown in), but I will mark them as part of the challenge and even keep a counter in the sidebar.

If you're participating in this challenge as well, I wish you luck! This should be fun an interesting.

--Jude

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

LOST

How many people came here expecting me to talk about the T.V. series LOST? If that's why you came here, I'm sorry to say that you are mistaken. My story isn't nearly as cut-throat as the real LOST.

But I do have a "Jude was such an idiot" story and you're welcome to take a gander.

Once upon a time, I was sleeping in my bed, only half-asleep, but still dreaming. Suddenly, my door slams open and my mom appears in the doorway, dressed like she's about ready to head out the door (because she was).

"Can you give me a ride to work? I just missed my bus," she said.

Still groggy from not being completely awake, I swung my legs out of bed and went to get pants on. I grabbed the car keys off of my nightstand where my mom had tossed them.

I should quickly explain why my mom didn't just take the car. I had asked to borrow her car because I was going to pick up my boyfriend and my sister's friend from their houses at 12:30 so that we could hang out before heading to a belated Christmas party at 5:00. Continuation...

After going outside, getting sent back in for a coat (even though it was thirty degrees and the warmest it's been in forever), and returning to the car, we were off and running (er, driving) towards down town.
"Do you have gloves?" asked mom.

"No, I didn't even think to grab them..." I confessed.

"Did you bring your phone?" asked mom.

"Oh crap... no, I didn't think to bring that either," I said, already mentally kicking myself.

It was fine. I wasn't that far from home and my mom would give me instructions as we started to get close to her office. She said them to me two or three times, and I was able to repeat them. So, I was off again, on my way home from down town.

I was supposed to find Washington Avenue. I did find Washington and everything was peachy. That's when I reached 1st Avenue (or was it street? I can't remember...). I was meant to find Portland after I reached Washington Avenue. I was so sure that Portland came before 1st Aven-street, so I went around the block and got back on Washington, only going the opposite way, certain that I would run into Portland and then be on my way home.

Blocks passed. Many, many blocks... down town didn't look the same any more, and I remember that in retrospect. This didn't occur to me when I was driving that I might have gone a wee bit too far. I thought it was a less-developed part of down town. Once more, I panicked and went around the block again so that I could go the other way on Washington-- the direction that I had initially been going in.

I reached 1st Aven-street and I still didn't see Portland. I repeated the story above and went in the opposite direction. I was back in the "under-developed part of down town," except this time, I went farther. I found myself in the northern part of my city. This is known as the scary part of town. I pulled onto another block, hoping to find a not-so-sketchy looking business.

Finally, I found one. I pulled over, parked and locked the car and went up to the business to see if I could get directions. A really nice lady who knew her way around told me to get back on Washington and to stay on that road. I would eventually run into Portland.

I trusted her directions-- I had no other leads, there was little choice for me. I got back onto Washington, again, going in the direction that I initially started going in.

I reached 1st Aven-street, and I started to panic again. But the lady had told me to keep going on Washington until I ran into Portland, so I ignored my panic and kept going.

You thought that I was going to turn around again, didn't you?

I went a couple blocks farther than 1st Aven-street and finally-- at last!-- I reached Portland Avenue. I admit, I let out a cry of joy and delight as I turned onto Portland. I have never been so happy to see that street in my entire life.

I followed Portland and I eventually knew for certain where I was going. I was nice and awake from all of the panicking that I had done while completely lost in down town. I got home and called my mom like she asked me to do when I got home.

"Where have you been?!" she demanded as soon as she knew it was me calling.

"Uh... lost..." I said, embarrassed by having to admit this.

"I thought you had gotten into an accident. I was worried sick!" she said. "I sent dad out to look for you."

Indeed she had. Dad returned a few minutes later.

I had been gone for an entire hour, when it should have taken me twenty minutes at the most to get home and crawl into bed for some well-needed rest.

Morals of this story:
1. Never, ever get out of your car in the scary part of the city.
2. Never, ever talk to strangers.
3. Bring your phone wherever you go in case you need to call your mom for directions.
4. Down town is evil.
5. Be cautious when a blogger puts a graphic for the LOST series in their blog post.

And to think, some of you came here expecting to discuss LOST... Sorry about that :)

--Jude

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things I Did in 2010

  1. Hosted two French students on two different occasions.
  2. Auditioned for Wind Ensemble and got in
  3. Took my SAT and ACT
  4. Got my Driver’s License
  5. Turned seventeen years old
  6. Became a book blogger (I mean a recognized one)
  7. Became a more active video creator, unlike previous years
  8. Participated in NaNoWriMo
  9. Caught a mouse and got rid of it without killing it
  10. Learned how to catch and release crawdads
  11. Had a legitimate dance with Jack—no laughing at how bad we were
  12. Got lost and was able to figure out how to get back home
  13. Stuck with one instrument all year* (bass clarinet)
  14. Drove 150 miles over a weekend to and from Iowa
  15. Toughed it out and auditioned for Pop Singers again
  16. Built a successful snow fort with an actual snow roof
  17. Mastered not getting stuck in the snow (well, I think so)
  18. Biked as often as I could (to summer school, to school, to the lake, etc.)
  19. Learned how to go through a job interview (even though I haven’t been able to use this skill yet)
  20. Became more of a dance master than I thought I was (on Just Dance 2 for Wii J)
  21. Learned how to be a sound-tech
*Freshman year, I started out on clarinet, but later decided to learn the violin, then switched back to clarinet. Sophomore year, another bass clarinet was needed, so switched from regular clarinet to bass clarinet. Junior year, stable bass clarinet.

This list is going to lead up to something (being a list of resolutions), so this isn't just me sitting in front of my computer bragging to you.

What have you done this year? This question is harder than it sounds...

--Jude

P.S. I'm messing around with the background. How do you like this one?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Suggestions?

I have a question for all of you reading this.

I have a project that I want to do over the course of 2011. Every month, I will learn something new and at the end of each month, I will make a video doing that thing that I was supposed to have learned. I think I've made a post talking about this before, but there weren't very many of you then.

My question is:

What is something that you know how to do that you think would be cool for someone else to learn?

I'm pretty open when it comes to suggestions, but I do need to narrow down my list to twelve things. Suggest as many as you want! The more options, the merrier!

Thanks for your help (again)!

--Jude

A Review of 'Breaking Dawn' by Stephenie Meyer

Jude! Why can't you ever go in order! Gosh...

Sorry guys...

When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?

To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black; she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fate of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella’s life—first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse—seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed… forever?

The astonishing, breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.

I had a babysitting job when this came out, but my mumzy was nice enough to go out into the craziness and get it for me so that I could read it on my trip to the Boundary Waters. It survived that trip too, though I’m not sure if the people carrying the Duluth packs were very happy that I brought a book that was three or four inches thick.

The concept of a vampire having a child with a human was an interesting concept. It was gory and violent, but that part was well-written. Bella was crazy enough to go through with giving birth to this parasite that was growing rapidly inside her (seriously, the growing of the fetus only a few weeks at most). She ended up killing herself over that half-vampire child, so she also got her wish to be a vampire, although it was the last thing that Edward wanted to do.

It was different to see Edward genuinely helpless. In every other situation that he was in from Twilight through Eclipse, he was able to rescue Bella and reverse the problem. This was not the case in Breaking Dawn. He can’t help Bella without killing his offspring and hurting Bella or killing her. He can’t make the situation better because whether or not he wants it to happen, Bella has wanted to be a vampire since Twilight. Nothing is going to stop her from getting that and Edward will do very little to deny her.

Finally, after the whole ordeal of giving birth and figuring out what was going to happen to Bella, there comes a time when the baby has to be named. What does Bella name her child? Renesmée Carly Cullen. She combines her parents and Edward’s parents’ names together. Renee and Esmé and Charlie and Carlisle. Really? The gesture is sweet, but it sounds like Stephenie Meyer was running short on ideas and couldn’t think of a new name entirely, so she used existing characters’ names. I do give her credit though, because the name could have been so much worse… bad combinations must have been plentiful. It’s not an ugly name, it just feels slightly unoriginal, if you see where I’m coming from.

What was cool was when all of those other clans (or are they called covens?) of vampires come to Forks from around the world purely because there is a threat from the Volturi. It was really cool and then the build-up is great. There’s a stand-off and everyone is staring each other down. You think there’s going to be an epic battle. You look at how many pages are left and you think, “Well, Mrs. Meyer could certainly fit a decent battle in there. There won’t need to be too much wrap-up.” If you thought that, you would be wrong. Everyone stares at each other, somehow (I can’t really remember) they decide that they don’t want to fight any more and everything is well with the world.

Huh? Wait, what did I miss?

One thing I’m not too sure about was how each part was in a different perspective. It switched between Jacob and Bella. While reading it, I felt like Jacob’s part added a good amount of what was happening, because Bella probably wouldn’t have told us this part, being that she’s incredibly pregnant and getting sick a lot of the time. I can’t say that I was terribly excited about reading Jacob’s part though.

This was an okay book. It had a strong beginning with a beautiful wedding, a wonderful honeymoon with a good romance scene, and tons of gore and violence. After the first two hundred pages or so, everything started to falter and the ending fell flat.

I give ‘Breaking Dawn’:

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

Thoughts on Life and Zombieland

Today (well, technically yesterday) I had a day where I did a lot of deep thinking. It all started with watching ‘Zombieland’…

If you’re familiar with the movie, you’ll know that everyone, at least in the United States, has been turned into zombies except for four people and Bill Murray. You would never pick these four people to take a road trip together so that they can get to Pacific Play Land where there are, supposedly, no zombies whatsoever.

Columbus has this tiny notepad where he wrote down some personal rules that he keeps and refers to often throughout the movie.

First thing that I thought about: How much I really, really want to take a road trip. I don’t really care where we end up going. Heck, I’m game for just taking whatever strip of highway looks best and then getting the Google map later so that we can get back. The big thing that I want to do is see the world and what better way to do that than to get lost and find all the good hiding places?

Second thing: How Columbus’ rules really can and should apply to real life. Seatbelts, that’s obvious. Double tap was a little harder. The only thing that I can think of since I wrote this as a draft at 2:17 in the morning is food. If you’re not entirely sure if your food is ready, cook it again for a little bit longer. Appreciate the little things, absolutely. Lots of people are so worried about the big picture: a crumbling economy, politics and whether or not it’s working to their advantage, health care, parents, children… it’s all so overwhelming when you step back and take it all in. In the big mosaic of life, when you step back too far, you miss those intricate patterns that you would have easily have caught had you been standing closer to the wall.

Never thought that I would get that from ‘Zombieland’!

(My actual elementary school, just several years ago when there was no areal mural. Excuse the bad quality)

Later, when I decided to exit my room and actually be social, I went into my basement where my mom was getting ready for bed and my sister was watching a movie on TBS. It just happened to be ‘Forest Gump.’ I’m not sure what caused her to get up, but my sister got up, left the room, and returned with her box of stuff from grade school. It seemed like a cool idea, so I followed suite and went and retrieved mine

Old art projects, crappy yearbooks, humongous handwriting that I can’t even dream of reading any more… it’s a huge nostalgia-fest, but it was really nice to just take stuff out of our boxes and show each other what really weird people we used to be. My sister spelled enough like “e-nuff” and I thought that bears “lay their babies” like a bird would lay an egg. So we weren’t the brightest bulbs in the tanning bed… We laughed at horrible spelling and grammar (alright, I did. It was horrendous…), bad pictures that were taken when our hair was cropped too short, we had gained a lot of weight (something I’m still ashamed about to this day, because whenever one of my former classmates finds a picture, they always point out how big I was), or we just looked funny in general…

My entire point of this section of this entry is that I learned just how much I’ve changed over the years. I’m not going to go so far as to say that this had a larger impact on me than on my sister (because she’s about to enter high school and that’s a big step), but since I’m three years older than her, there’s more stuff for me to go through and recollect and remember; she was in fifth grade three years ago and I was in fifth grade six years ago.

I’ve changed a lot. I don’t feel like the crazy-cat-lady that I deem my younger self to be (I’m hardly joking when I say this). I don’t want to be President when I’m forty-six, my notion that you had to be sixteen years old to start babysitting was false… my drawing style has changed significantly. I don’t use crayons nearly as often. I don’t pass notes to my best friend any more because we go to different schools and hardly see each other any more. We do email a lot though. I hope that my writing has improved significantly. Coherent sentences would be nice at the very least… I don’t feel blind to life as I kind of perceived while going through my stuff. I thought I knew so much at such a young age, but I was just a ten year old kid. I can’t know everything. I can’t be completely prepared, because certain curveballs just won’t come my way while others will. As scary as all of that might sound, that makes me feel a little bit better about myself now. If I’ve gotten through all of that crap that happened starting twelve years ago, I feel like I can take on the next great adventure with my head held high and with confident actions.

I’m sorry if this was incredibly dull for you to read, but I felt like I need to write this and I feel so much better! If nothing else, this will be good material for a future story.

Thanks for reading! I’ll try and get some more reviews up in the next few days.

--Jude

A Review of 'The Dead and the Gone' by Susan Beth Pfeffer

When life as Alex Morales had known it changed forever, he was working behind the counter at Joey’s Pizza. He was worried about getting elected as senior class president and making the grades to land him in a good college. He never expected that an asteroid would hit the moon, knocking it closer in orbit to the earth and catastrophically altering the earth’s climate.

He never expected to be fighting just to stay alive.

Susan Beth Pfeffer’s ‘Life As We Knew It’ enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event from a small-town perspective. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of a seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican New Yorker. When Alex’s parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland.

With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.

I remember when I first laid eyes on this book. I had just entered Barnes and Noble, went down the stairs, and their was a display right in front of me. The first thing I noticed was the moon. I thought, “Hey! That looks like ‘Life As We Knew It’!” Sure enough, same author, same concept. I got so excited because I had no idea that there was a sequel. Er, companion book. Pardon me.

I loved ‘Life As We Knew It’ and it was cool to take a different approach to the same story. They kept talking about New York, Denver, Washington… those big places that you always hear about, so it was nice to actually get a glimpse from someone that was there rather than less-than-reliable radio broadcasts.

I felt bad that Alex pretty much had to be the father figure when his parents never returned to their apartment. There was just so much insecurity. Alex and his family knew that they should probably get out and go somewhere safe, but there was always that nagging thought, “What if our parents come back? They won’t know where we are or where we’re headed.” That’s got to be a horrible position to be in.

Then there’s taking care of your family. One of your family members has asthma. As I read this, I always had Alex’s asthmatic sister in the back of my mind. She was in constant danger, especially as the air quality decreased due to volcanic eruptions, however distant they were.

This was as good, if not better, than ‘Life As We Knew It.’ It keeps you on the edge of your seat and always thinking.

I give ‘The Dead and the Gone’:

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Under my Christmas Tree

Happy After-Christmas!

This year was an amazing year for books. My family was so supportive of my outrageous reading habits and for that, I really appreciate it (I think they did too, because basically anything I asked for could be obtained online, which meant one less trip out somewhere).

I just thought that I would share my new treasures with you! Here they are:
(By getting this book, I now have every book written by John Green. At least the non-collaboration ones).
Cartoon Clinic: The Doctor Will See You Now! by Ben Cormack
(This one looks pretty cool because it has everything from simple stick figures all the way to how to draw the formation of the hand in cartoon detail, which will be really helpful in the future).
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
(Expect a review of this in the future. I hadn't read it in a while, so I didn't post one).
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
(Now I have all of the Moon Series books!)
Life In Pictures: The Beatles
(I love these photo anthologies. It's really cool to see the Beatles through the ages)
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
(Expect a review of this in the future as well!)
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
1984 by George Orwell
(Now I can give my friend his copy back!)
Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
(I was really excited to find this under the tree because I really, really enjoyed it when I read it. Expect a review of this in the future as well!)
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
(My sister was lovely enough to get me this for Christmas. I got her make-up, she got me a book, and were the happiest clams in the world! Thanks Shenanigans!
I've seen the movie and I was very impressed with it, but now it's time to give the book a shot. Expect a review of this in the future).

I hope Santa treated you equally as well!

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Few Announcements

1. Happiness is a good stack of books. Thank you so much mom, dad, and Shannon!

2. It's Christmas Eve, so Happy Christmas (and I know I've mentioned this already). Spend some time with the people you love and make time for people you don't even know; give back a little.

3. I have a page that I want to bring to your attention. Some friends of mine started this website that involves a lot of outside help, so I thought that if I could send a few of you their way, that would really make their Christmas. Only do this if you're interested!

The Rainbow Tour

They're trying to support something they genuinely care about, so if you have something to add (a personal experience, a story, art, etc.) they would really appreciate if you sent them something! You can click right on the graphic above an you'll be taken to the page.

4. There will be one more review tonight... don't hate me!

That's all I wanted to tell you. I bet you're really tired of hearing from me, aren't you? I really don't have much of a life these days... I've squandered my two weeks on the computer, taking pictures, writing, and reading.

Be safe this weekend!

--Jude

A Review of 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' by Ann Brashares

I lied... one more review and then I'll stop for a few days.

Once there was a pair of pants. Just an ordinary pair of jeans. But these pants, the Traveling Pants, went on to do great things. This is the story of the four friends who made it possible.

Lena: Accompanies the Pants on their stay in Greece. But in a moment without any pants, she sparks a chain of events in which the person she suddenly distrusts most is herself.

Tibby: Invites the Pants to cameo in her suckumentary about the lameness of her hometown, then lends them to a kid who’s about to star in the most surprising scenes.

Bridget: In an act of Pants bravado, tries to sneak them onto a soccer field in Baja California… and hopes they’ll help her make a conquest of love.

Carmen: Is ashamed as the Pants witness her transformation from the saucy Carmen Carmeena into the wicked stepdaughter when her summer vacation doesn’t go as she planned.

Quirky, irreverent, and written from the heart, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is the story of four best friends, the biggest summer of their lives, and the magical pants that bring it all together… an extraordinary celebration of life, laughter, roots, and self-discovery.

This series is one of my favorites. There’s just something cool about having really close friends like this that makes me feel fuzzy inside. These girls—women—are so different from each other and it’s so cool seeing them come together and interact with the other, when they do.

Okay, I have a story to tell.

My friend turned probably eleven or twelve and she had a sleepover as her birthday party. We decided that we wanted to stay up as late as possible (which ended up being two in the morning, but technically 1:00 AM because it was day-light savings time). Until we all fell asleep, we started to talk about this book and then decided that we wanted to do something similar. We went through our clothes looking for ones that first looked cool and then second that fit every single one of us in the room. We finally found this tank top that made me think of something the lead singer of ‘Within Temptation’ would wear.

This song gives me goosebumps, by the way. I would kill to attend a concert such as this one.

I liked how this book was kind of split up into four stories. One for each girl. I found myself getting excited for certain chapters of the book—Lena’s for instance. I loved that her story was set in Greece and things that I have never experienced before. I think I was least excited about Carmen’s chapters mainly because she was angry a majority of the time. With good reason, granted, but you would think that she would eventually realize how much she was hurting everyone in the house just by being angry. I just found that I couldn’t relate to Carmen as well as the other characters.

This was a very well-developed first installment of the series. I liked watching them grow up and mature through each book. I won’t go into too many details though, because I do hope to review those in the future as well.

I give ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’:

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

A Review of 'The Giver' by Lois Lowry

Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.

When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it’s time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Probably one of the first dystopian novels everyone reads. I know I had to read it for school, and from there, I went on to the sequel and so forth.

It’s always interesting to remove yourself from the life you know and replace yourself in a, for all intents and purposes, perfect world. What I’ve come to learn from dystopian novels is just how cold perfection really is. We strive for it, but once we hit it, then what do we do? There’s nothing to improve, nothing to shoot off of… it’s been completely solved.

What was really interesting to read about was how Jonas was put back into a world that we, the readers, are used to. His reactions to the little things that we take for granted—sled rides—and then the different kinds of pain that we feel—sadness, physical pain, for instance—they were eye opening. We’re so used to these things that we don’t notice them as much as we should.

The part that was really giving me reason to cringe and cry was when one of the birth mothers had twins and they had to decide which was stronger. The stronger baby got to live, but the other baby was taken away and euthanized, for lack of a better word. It scared the crap out of me and that was the most horrendous scene I’ve ever had to read in a book.

I give ‘The Giver’:

"Jude, why have you been posting so many reviews lately? I'm kind of buried right now." Well, I had some written out before, so I thought that I would get those posted. I haven't posted anything for several days, so there's just been an explosion of reviews. I'm sorry if you haven't been able to keep up very easily. I think this is my last one for a while. Of course I'll still keep writing them, they just won't be posted the same day that I write them is all.

For those of you that celebrate, Happy Christmas (Eve!). Happy belated Hanukkah! I think I completely missed wishing those people happy Hanukkah... and I know for sure that I missed Ede (is that the proper spelling?), so Happy belated Ede as well! Happy Kwanzaa too :)

So summarize, Happy Holidays (belated or otherwise) and have a safe weekend. Especially if you're traveling.

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

A Review of 'Twilight' by Stephenie Meyer

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife—between desire and danger. Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

(From Goodreads)

“Urg… why do you do this to us?! And on Christmas Eve!!” Hey, I can’t deny that I’ve read Twilight. In fact, I can’t deny that I’ve read the entire Twilight series and I was among those many fan girls that was really exciting for ‘Breaking Dawn.’ Let’s move on, shall we?

I liked the concept of a Vampire romance novel, but mainly because I hadn’t read any vampire books to speak of. Not even ‘Interview with the Vampire.’

It’s a cool idea having someone who is virtually indestructible (I say virtually, because there are ways to kill a vampire) be with someone who is as fragile and clumsy as Bella Swan.

There are arguments that ‘Twilight’ is anti-feminist. I see their points. Bella is not the strongest heroine on the planet. She cooks dinner for her father. She relies so much on Edward Cullen. While these points are true, I have some other points to bring up. I have nothing to counter that Bella is not the strongest heroine, but her father never once demands that she make him dinner. She used to make dinner for her mom all the time, so it’s what she’s used to. While Bella does rely on Edward a lot, she’s pretty brave to deceive Edward and go off to save her mother—though those who read the book know how that whole shindig went down).

My favorite scene was the ballet studio. Just the vision I had in my head was cool! The mirrors on every wall, vampires jumping around everywhere… it felt like a lot of work went into this scene, which I really appreciated.

I didn’t find Bella and Edward’s relationship all that real. You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh, he’s a vampire. No one has a legitimate vampire boyfriend.” I’m talking about their actual relationship. Though we don’t know Edward’s full romantic history before he was a vampire, he acted as if he had never even talked to a girl when he met Bella. He was incredibly protective of her, telling her to be careful and watch out for everything. He even snuck into her room to watch her sleep. That’s incredibly creepy! No normal boyfriend or girlfriend would sneak into their significant other’s room just to watch them sleep.

Alice was my favorite vampire. She was a cute person and she had my favorite power of all—seeing into the future. What I liked was that she couldn’t really control her power, because the future is susceptible to the present.

Overall, I think Stephenie Meyer had an interesting first novel, but it could use some more work.

I give ‘Twilight’:

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

A Review of 'Th1rteen R3asons Why' by Jay Asher

You can’t stop the future…

You can’t rewind the past…

The only way to learn the secret…

…is to press play.

Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead, he reasons. Her secrets should be buried with her.

Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes—and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his small town…

…and what he discovers changes his life forever.”

This was difficult to read. It’s not that it was badly written, no, in fact, that’s the opposite of what this book is. I mean that it was dense; there is a lot to take in.

I haven’t read too many books that involve suicide, but out of the ones that I have read, this one is different in a few ways.

  1. It’s completely about suicide. Of the books that I’ve read, they mostly involve the suicide of a minor character or to a major character who (thank goodness) gets help. This book is everything that leads up to Hannah’s untimely death.
  1. The other books didn’t involve audio tapes with a last message.
  1. This book involved actual reasons whereas in other books, the families and friends are left to wonder why.

As soon as I started reading and the first lines on side A of the first tape were said, my heart started thudding because I was genuinely worried for Clay.

The painful part about reading this is you know how all of this ends, even though you might not know how everything got to that last point right away.

By reading this book, I have realized how much I can affect another person just by doing or saying something that seems really harmless. It has really made me step back to think before I speak.

This was a very well-written, sad, and eye-opening book. For that, I give ‘Th1rteen R3asons Why’:

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Review of 'Bridge to Terabithia' by Katherine Paterson

Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side of the playground and outruns everyone.

That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Leslie has imagination. Together, she and Jess create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

Once again, I saw the movie before I read the book. Oops.

This is probably a middle grade book because of the age of the characters, Leslie and Jess.

My personal favorite character was Leslie. For this reason, I almost cried at the end (the only problem is, I don’t cry during books or movies unless an animal dies. No joke).

Side-note: Is there anyone out there that can’t cry during sad books and movies no matter how much you want to? Resume review.

I could relate to Leslie pretty well I think. She’s a creative spirit (and I like to think that I am too). She likes to make up stories and she makes everything come to life (I’m so jealous. That’s hard to do well).

Jess seems like the kind of guy everyone should want to be friends with. I feel like I shouldn’t be able to relate to him on a personality level, but I do. He’s soft-spoken (except when talking to Leslie or his teacher, Miss Edmunds). He’s also a creative spirit, but in a different way.

This book made me jealous because these two very well-developed characters are able to create a world and make it real to themselves—and it’s so cool!

Overall, I give this book:

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

A Review of 'Four Stupid Cupids' by Gregory Maguire

What makes boys fidget, girls sigh, and everyone a little loopy?

When four reckless mythical flying babies break loose from the ancient urn Fawn’s aunt sent her from Greece, the boys in Fawn’s class squirm in their seats—and the girls start scheming. With help from these cupids, the members of the all-girls Tattletales club could make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one for their heartbroken teacher, Miss Earth. Little do they know just how crazy Valentine’s Day will be, now that four cupids with rusty shooting skills are on the case!

It’s a book for a younger audience, but let me tell you, my copy has certainly been well-loved.

I found this book to be completely endearing as Miss Earth’s students try to get her to fall in love. You see, her first husband (or maybe it’s her fiancé) was run over by the Santa float in a parade. Tragic…

This book was also the opposite of how I remember elementary school (save for third and fifth grade, maybe). The boys and girls were not very nice to each other (I was going to use the word ‘vicious,’ but that’s not a very fitting word).

The cupids, Milos, Naxos, Kos, and Rhoda, were fun to read about as well!

Seeing as this book is short enough that anything more that I say could give it away, I will leave this review as it is. I give this book:

3 1/2 stars, actually.

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

A Review of 'The Scarlet Letter' by Nathaniel Hawthorne

’The Scarlet Letter’ is a dramatic allegory of the social consequences of adultery and the subversive force of personal desire in a community of laws. The transgression of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, the innate lawlessness of their illegitimate child, Pearl, and the torturous jealousy of the husband Roger Chillingworth eventually erupt through the stern reserve of Puritan Boston.

It feels like I’m coming full circle by posting this… after all, I did initially create this blog for my 10th grade English class (hence the stupid web address) and we just happened to be reading this book at the time. Mr. D, consider this a sort-of-assignment turned it…

I’ve read about Puritan society in history books, but this was the first time that I had read about this kind of society in a work of fiction. I didn’t realize just how strict this society was.

Everyone freaked out because Hester Prynne had a baby while she was still technically married (her husband was no where to be found. She had come to America before him) but it wasn’t her husband’s baby. In fact, no one in town knew who the father was and Hester Prynne refused to offer up that information. Because of this, Hester spent a little time in prison and was forced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ for adultery on her breast.

I liked that Hester was not the incriminating type; she received her punishment and followed through with it. She didn’t give the name of Pearl’s father.

Overall, a very powerful book. Once you get past some of the difficult language and metaphors, it’s pretty simple to understand. Most students who read this complain and moan about it till this day, but I actually liked it. I give this:

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

A Review of 'An Abundance of Katherines' by John Green

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. He’s also a washed-up child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge-Judy-obsessed best friend. Colin’s on a mission to prove the Theorem of underlying Katherine predictability which will predict the future of relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl. Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin’s hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere.”

The cool thing about John Green’s books is that you definitely don’t have to read them more than once in order for you to remember everything about the books. That’s how it is for me, any way…

I never thought that I would like a book that relied on math to help move the story forward. It just goes to show you, we might not know ourselves as well as we think.

It was humorous that Colin had only ever dated girls named Katherine. Not Catherine, Katherine.

What really drew me in was the road trip that Colin went on. Road trips are so much fun! I’ve only ever been on a road trip with some friends from my church (we went to New Orleans). I like how you get to know everyone better just by driving around and talking to everyone. The people you meet and things you experience are life-changing.

John Green’s characters made me smile, laugh… generally sympathize with their emotions… sometimes on both sides of one problem.

‘An Abundance of Katherines’ was very well-written and highly enjoyable, even though the anagrams confused the heck out of me and even though I usually don’t enjoy math.

I give ‘An Abundance of Katherines’:

Thanks for reading!

--Jude

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My New Love

I recently got a new Nikon camera (saved up, not for my birthday). In order to learn how to use it, I have to take thousands of bad pictures and press every button. Here are some of the successes that I've managed to come up with:
P.S. We'll get back to regular book reviews soon. I just haven't posted in a while and I thought that this would be a good quick one. Enjoy!
What could it be?
Oh my! It's the Christmas tree!
We have a star lantern in our kitchen. I love it so much!

There's even a setting on my camera that assists me in making Panoramas like this one:
It got a little screwed up with the picture on the wall, but for the most part, I think it turned out okay.

You can click the pictures to make them bigger if you want...

Thanks for reading/looking! Also, thank you (even to those who aren't reading this) for your birthday wishes in the comments, on my Facebook wall, in my text message inbox, phone calls, visits, and email messages! You guys all mean so much to me!

--Jude

Monday, December 20, 2010

Things You Can Do Once You're Seventeen

That's right, I made a list. Why would I do this? Because I was curious what I could do, now that I'm seventeen.
1. Buy video games that are rated 'M' for mature

This is rather exciting, even though I don't play video games :)

2. Buy dry ice

I heard this while eavesdropping at the State Fair, so who knows if it's true. If it is, what would I do with dry ice? We already have fourteen inches of snow here!

3. File for legal emancipation

No thanks. I don't have a job, I don't have a car, so filing for emancipation would just leave me in one of the worst positions possible. I'll just stay at home with my parents and little sister for another year (or however long it is until I go to college)

4. Get married in some states

Thanks, but no thanks. If early emancipation freaks me out now, marriage will only do a better job of it. I'm not ready to settle down and get married yet.

5. Watch R-rated movies

This I will definitely take advantage of!

6. Curfew laws don't apply to me in some states

I don't go out much, and if I do, it's no later than 10 PM unless it's New Years.

7. Can be tried as an adult in court

I don't plan on using this at all.

8. Work full-time without my parent's consent

I can't even get a part-time job. Besides, I have to go to school. What were these law makers thinking?

9. Buy spray paint

Okay, I'm not one of those hooligans that goes out and spray paints gang symbols everywhere, but this does sound rather exciting.

10. Join the Marines

Absolutely not.

11. Become an organ donor

What does the 'Organ donor' thing on my driver's license mean then? Wasn't I already an organ donor? Or does that mean that if my friend needs a lung or a kidney that I can donate mine (given that we have the same blood type and everything)?

12. I'm going to add my own now:
Scare the crap out of my parents because they think they're getting old now

All because I got a year older :)

Any who, thank you for dropping by today. Have a good week! Now, I'm off to go celebrate my Date of Birth in one way or another...

Thanks for reading!

--Jude