Friday, May 31, 2013

Ask the Passengers

Two words: Standing Ovation

Is it just me or has the world of Young Adult literature been doing a phenomenal job with addressing tough issues?  Where oh where were these story lines when I was a teen?

A.S. King hit a home run with Ask the Passengers.  She took a very delicate issue and brought it right out into the open, giving teens a heartfelt and realistic perspective.  I can only imagine this is a very daunting (and risky) task for an author.  But not for King.  She completely nailed it and then some.

Astrid Jones is a 17-year-old girl living in squeaky-clean suburbia with her detached family.  Mom is an icy workaholic that cares too much about keeping up appearances.  Dad is a secret pothead who desperately wants to escape his mundane life (and controlling wife).  Sister Ellis is the athletic over-achiever constantly trying to please and impress.  And then there's Astrid.  A down-to-earth thinker who gleans perspective from her philosophy class, hates her judgmental small town, feels misunderstood by her family, and has a serious secret weighing heavy on her heart - she's in love with a girl.

Trusting her secret to no one, Astrid confides in the passengers flying thousands of miles above her quiet spot within the backyard.  She tells them her worries, shares her innermost feelings, and asks them the hardest questions.  They in turn share their own trials which have common threads that connect to Astrid's life.  With much hesitation Astrid finally reveals her truth to only her closest friends but soon finds herself spiraling through a string of lies in order to mask the truth from everyone else ... including herself.

In an almost desperate attempt to come to terms with the events shaping her life, Astrid, taking a cue from her philosophy class, creates an imaginary version of Socrates whom she lovingly nicknames Frank.  The two have conversations about what it means to be completely honest and why it's important to question everything. (The most brilliant literary move I may have ever seen.)

King's story is one that's been told again and again ... but never so poignantly.  It demands the answers to the age-old questions: Who am I?  What is real?  What is love?  It makes no assumptions.  The characters are forced to discover and decide for themselves what truly matters.  Laced with wit and out-of-the-box processing, King provides a sort of therapy for young adults struggling to be free.

Recommended Age: 14 and up

Quality Rating:

I Got Dressed ... For a BBQ

It wasn't just a plain ol' BBQ.  It was a special get-together for close friends who were revealing the gender of their second baby-to-be and I was feeling the love.  Therefore, I just had to wear my heart on my sleeve chest.  I was also feeling some very strong girl vibes and so the pink color was perfect.  

 Shirt: Aeropostale (no longer available) The heart is chiffon!
Under Cami: Target (old)
Boyfriend Capris: Target (old) Loose and oh so comfy!
Flip Flops: Target (old) Disco flashy - gotta love it.
ID Bracelet: SUPER OLD!  My mom gave this to me back in middle school.  Still love it.

Oh and by the way ... I totally called it.  They're having a girl!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Birchbox: April

Whoa.  I am waaaaay behind with my Birchbox reviews.  Despite my sluggish responses to last month's products, it was another great box sponsored by Women's Health magazine.

1. Oribe Beautiful Color Shampoo and Conditioner: This stuff smells GREAT!  Without the lovely scent it would just be another shampoo to me.  I haven't tried the conditioner yet because of my conditioner resistance issues (baby fine hair + conditioner = flat and unhappy hair).  But I'm sure it smells just as nice.

2. Mirenesse Glossy Kiss: Perfect!  By far my favorite product in the box.  I received this lipstick in Quick Kiss which is a very pretty orange-red - think poppy.  The color is very on trend right now and brightens up my face.  The pencil format of this lipstick is easy to apply and helps me control the color.  I would buy this in more shades!

3. Supergoop Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Cream: I have come to accept that I am at that age where I need to start paying more attention to the delicate skin around my eyes.  I can get a bit dry around my eyes and this cream was terrific for combating that.  Very smooth and gentle, this cream left the skin under my eyes feeling soft and non-greasy.  My eyes appeared slightly brighter and fresher upon waking after the previous night's application. Supergoop is super!

4. Skin & Co. Sicilian Body Gel:  Maybe it was the whole Sicilian name that was throwing me off but I kept having visions of a withered (and weathered) old babe bathing with this stuff.  The smell was GROSS!  Shortly after using it I crawled into bed and my husband took a few quick sniffs and asked, "What the hell did you put on?"  My thoughts exactly.  I'll have to try to pawn this one off.

5. Kusmi Tea Paris:  I love tea.  However, I have yet to try these samples.  I prefer my tea during the colder months so it may be a while before I take a sip.  At a whopping $25 per assortment I expect them to be life-altering.

Any Birchbox babes out there?  How did you enjoy your April samples?
Any eye cream users out there?  What brand do you use and love?  I think I need to work this type of product into my nightly routine but without breaking the bank.  Please share your suggestions!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Got Dressed ... For a Bridal Shower

It was a lovely Sunday shower for a dear friend and a great excuse to wear a dress (which I RARELY do).  Cozy-comfy is the name of the game and this outfit was just that.  My only pet peeve is that I wish the dress was a tad longer.  I'm 5'9" so everything is short on me (insert audible sigh).  However, afterwards I decided that I liked the ankle length on me.  I'll just call it The Little House on the Prairie Cut and I'm so down with anything "Little House."

 DressThe Loft FYI: I bought this at 40% off 
CardiganOld Navy  A total steal at $15!
Shoes: Old Navy  I'm addicted - these go with everything!
Bracelets: A gift from Kohl's Lauren Conrad Line
Sunglasses: Super old from God knows where (probably Walgreens - HA!)

The next time I wear this dress I think I'm going to try a more structured look with a belt (brown?), fitted jean jacket, and strappy sandals.  I like pieces that are versatile and this dress can make both a soft and edgy look.  Fun.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Just Can't Get Enough: May

Light-hearted and whimsical tunes are making my ears happy this month.  Cool.  Fresh.  Joyful. 

1. Closer by Tegan and Sara: This song is like a big fat piece of bubble gum.  Perfectly sweet and poppy with the distant memories of an 80's summer night. 

2. Safe and Sound by Capital Cities: Ahhh ... this song is so great!  The unexpected horns that intermittently come forth are so smart.  Overall, a lively and unique spin on a modern alternative song.   

3. The War Within by Churchill:  A superb follow-up to their catchy debut Change.  Beautiful blend of male and female vocals.  Reminds me of another favorite group, Walk Off the Earth.  The fresh melodies are kickin'.

4. Fantasize by Hannah Georgas:  I bee-lined straight to the speakers when I first heard this track.  It put me in a dream-like state with Georgas's breathy and entrancing vocals.  Yummo.

5. Take a Walk by Passion Pit: Indie rock, synthpop, alternative dance, new wave, psychedelic heaven - the genre doesn't matter.  This stuff is just plain catchy and refreshing.   A memorable mesh of an upbeat tempo, synth highlights, youthful vocals, and quirky lyrics.  Thank you, I'll have another!

What tunes are tickling your ears this month?  Pretty please, DO SHARE!  Next to books, music is the other piece of life that I find continuously fulfilling.  Let's chat!   

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Scarlet Letter 2.0

I branched out of my reading comfort zone with Hillary Jordan's When She Woke.  Although I like to think of myself as a reader who will try anything, in reality I tend to nestle into realistic fiction the most.  Out of all the literary genres, science fiction is my least explored.  However, upon reading the synopsis for this book on  the much-loved Goodreads site, I was automatically drawn to its dystopian premise and the correlation to Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.  There were enough realistic elements present to make me feel right at home in terms of reading within my comfort zone but the eerie confinements of a future society nudged me right over the threshold of the sci-fi world.  A great way to ease into a new genre.

The setting is a future America where the divisions between church and state have been erased.  Hannah Payne is a young woman whose life has revolved around church, family, and conformity.  Being repressed by  society, Hannah simply moves through the motions of her life, confident in her beliefs of what's right and what's wrong.  Until one day she awakens in a prison cell, strapped to a table, her skin a bright crimson.  Hannah is a Chrome.  Chromes are criminals who are forced to have their bodies genetically altered to display the color of their crime.  Reds are the worst of all criminals.  Reds are murderers.

Hannah has been convicted of the murder of her unborn child.  To complicate matters Hannah is keeping the identity of the father a secret because of his high-standing reputation within her community and eventually across the country. Their romance was a scandalous one.  One that Hannah has paid the highest price for.

Hannah's journey takes her across the country in the hopes of escaping the cruel and stigmatizing treatment toward Chromes.  Along the way she discovers fresh thoughts and feelings about life and love and freedom and realizes that what she once believed (was forced to believe) is no longer ringing true.  Hannah is a woman fighting for her life. She's fighting for dignity.  She's fighting for second chances.  She's fighting for the truth.

Jordan's take on the classic Hawthorne novel is fresh and smart.  Similar to The Scarlet Letter's Hester Prynne, Hannah Payne (notice the identical initials) morphs into an unlikely heroine.  Readers undisturbed by the heavy issue of abortion will most likely be rooting for Hannah come the end of the novel.  However, I can see where this story could ruffle the feathers of the more conservative thinkers of religion and abortion.  To me, stories are a safe way to approach hot topics and allow yourself to see and feel from different perspectives.  Whether you agree or disagree is not the point but that you are able to step into another's shoes and experience life's challenges through his or her eyes.  Books allow us - no, ENCOURAGE us to do just that.

Are you a sci-fi lover?  What are some of your favorite titles from the genre?  As always, do share!  I love "talking lit" with others.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Blogger Liebster Award

I was recently nominated for a Liebster Award from the lovely Adelma at Beautiful Chapters.  I graciously accept this nomination and thank Adelma for recognizing the new bloggers of the world!  Shall we begin?

1) Each blogger should answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
2) Choose 11 new bloggers to pass the award on to and link them in your post (I'm sorry - I only passed to 5 others.  Call the Liebster Police!)
3) Create 11 new questions for the chosen bloggers.
4) Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
5) Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
6) No tag-backs!

 1) I have the amazing ability to feel restless and lazy at the same time.
 2) I have a thing for nostalgia.
 3) I live for back tickles and would pay cash for them (thankfully, my hubby gives them for free).
 4) I don't have a middle name and people always think that's weird.
 5) I shy away from heels because they make me a towering 6 feet tall and that's just plain awkward. 
 6) I have a serious Triscuit addiction.
 7) I have a yellow Chihuahua named Chico.  He's a total weenie.
 8) I got married on Friday the 13th and again, people always think that's weird.
 9) I have secret rock star aspirations.
10) No matter what, anytime I stumble across the movie Goodfellas on t.v., I must stop whatever I'm doing and watch it to the end.  Every time.
11) If I could just read books for a living, my life would be perfect.

1) What is the first thing you do in the morning?
I let my little buttered biscuit out to go potty.  His morning bladder needs come before mine.  Is that wrong?
2) If the characters from TV shows or the book world are real, who would you want to be with? (Examples: Will Herodale from TID, Damon from Vampire Diaries, or the Doctor from Doctor Who)
Easy!  I would hang out with Roseanne Conner and Jackie Harris from the sitcom, Roseanne and Auggie Pullman from the novel, Wonder.
3) What is one thing that you are exceptional at?
Adapting.  I may be silently kicking and screaming on the inside but you'd never know it on the outside.  I roll with the punches (and perhaps put up a good front).
4) What is one beauty product that failed to impress you?
A few months ago I purchased an eye shadow stick by Neutrogena.  The consistency of the shadow was very strange and left a thick, sticky feeling.  It felt like someone was trying to tape my eyelids shut all day.  Uh, no thanks.
5) If you can have any pet in the world, what would it be?
I already have him.  My adopted first-born, Chico Montoya.  Equal parts baby, pest, and joy.  Wouldn't trade him in for any other pet.
6) Quick, list the five people you would want to meet! (Real or not real.)
Emily Bronte, U2 (that's 4 people in 1 - cheating?), Dr. Seuss, Donalyn Miller (author and teacher), and Chelsea Handler (even though she scares me)
7) If you have a million dollars, what would you spend it on? 
I would finish ALL the updates for our house, sock most of it away for future needs, and then probably use a portion to purchase LOADS of books for my local library and school.
8) What are you currently reading? (Ex: Magazines, Newspaper, Article, Books!)
Books: Inkheart, The Boy Kings of Texas (both are FABULOUS)
Mags: Parents and the newest AAA catalog
9) Have you ever done any DIY projects? If so, what did you make? (Take a picture if you can!)
Why yes I have.  See the latest here:
10) If you had a book that could be worth a lot of money, would you sell it or keep it? (Ex: A signed copy of the first Harry Potter book.)
Hmm... depends on the book.  If it's a story I personally cherish I'd keep it.  If it's a copy of Great Expectations then I'd sell that thing faster than you can say "overrated."
11) How are you enjoying your blogging life so far? Future goals?
Loving it!  No goals.  Just enjoying the ride.

1) Name the top three foods that leave you in panic mode when you run out of them.
2) What color looks best on you?  What color are you unable to pull off despite how much you try?
3) What is the best part of your day?
4) Name your number one favorite techie gadget you cannot function without.
5) List the top three songs that are spinning in your player ... and head.
6) Tea or coffee?
7) Do you have a doppelganger (a celebrity look-alike)?
8) The BEST thing you've read recently.
9) What brings you inner peace and makes you feel whole?
10) A favorite childhood memory?
11) What's your favorite aspect of blogging?

And my nominees are...

Now let's get out there and discover some new blogs!  Not a new blogger?  Feel free to chime in with your comments and/or answers.  The more the merrier!

Friday, May 3, 2013

I Got Dressed ... For a Gig

This is my first style post.  I feel a bit like a cheese head but I'm going to assume that's normal ... right?   I think it's fair to say I have no.clue.what.I'm.doing when it comes to photography (and posing) but I do know one thing: do not pose in front of an object that is the SAME color as your clothes.  I mean really. What was I thinking?

Anyhoo, regardless of my poor photog skills and lack of common sense, I wanted to jump on this "What I Wore" bandwagon for one simple reason - I love clothes!  I have no idea how to describe my style except that I simply wear what I like.  I do not buy expensive clothes because I would be in debt.  No Gucci on this blog.

Okay.  Let's get on with it...

This is the outfit I wore to my husband's last gig.  He's the bassist in a cover band and yes, I am a groupie.  Typically I would wear something edgy in black to appear hip and sexy as I try to reclaim the youth of my early 20's.  BUT, this time around my older self took over and I went in the complete opposite direction: pastels.  Call me a Golden Girl if you will, but I just couldn't help myself.  I needed to channel some spring time vibes despite the fact that I'd be hanging out in a darkly lit lounge for three plus hours.    
 Sweater: Old Navy ~ I love the open weave and it's so soft!
JeansThe Loft ~ My first pair of pink jeans since 2nd Grade and they are super fun!
Shoes: Old Navy (similar but not the same color or texture) ~ My new favorite flats!
I'm also wearing some cute jewelry but of course I didn't think to take any close-ups of it.  Duh.  Next time, I guess.

No get out there Golden Girls and get your pastels on!