Saturday, July 31, 2010

Contest Reminder!!

My contest to win a $60 CSN gift certificate ends TONIGHT, so make sure you head over, fill out the form and enter.

I also want to thank everyone for sticking with the blog and getting me to 300 FOLLOWERS!!! I never thought that would happen and it's an awesome feeling. (Thanks Meredith :D)

I guess this means another contest will be in the works... 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Challenges Completed: 345 Reading Challenge & Fantasy Reading Challenge

I just wanted to post a little update on the status of some challenges.

I completed the 345 Reading Challenge hosted by Chick Loves Lit. Links to the books I read, as well as my reviews can be found by clicking the previous link.

I also completed the Fantasy Reading Challenge which had been hosted by Royal Reviews, but is now hosted by Queen of Happy Endings. The books I read, as well as their reviews can be found by clicking the link.

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

Title: The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
Author: Ben Sherwood
Publisher: Bantam Books
Hardcover, 269 pages
Date Published: March 2, 2004
Description (Taken from Goodreads
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers’ bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still see, talk, and even play catch with Sam’s spirit. But townsfolk whisper that Charlie has never recovered from his loss.

Into his carefully ordered life comes Tess Carroll, a captivating, adventuresome woman training for a solo sailing trip around the globe. Fate steers her boat into a treacherous storm that blows her back to harbor, to a charged encounter with Charlie, and to a surprise more overwhelming than the violent sea itself. Charlie and Tess discover a beautiful and uncommon connection that leads to a race against time and a desperate choice between death and life, between the past and the future, between holding on and letting go.

Luminous, soulful, and filled with unforgettable characters,
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is one of those rare, wise books that reveal the mysteries of the unseen world around us, gently transforming the worst pain of loss into hope, healing, and even laughter. Suspenseful and deeply moving, its startling climax reminds us that sometimes tragedies can bring about miracles if we simply open our hearts
There is so much I could say about The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. It is a touching, emotional journey that will give you hope and make you believe in miracles. Charlie St. Cloud has so much going for him, with all the promise in the world, but when he makes one mistake, he loses it all. The death of Charlie’s brother Sam tears him apart. Yet thirteen years later, Charlie can still see and interact with his dead brother. Every night they play catch. Sherwood could have left the story at that and I think it still would have made for an emotional and heartbreaking story. Add in Tess, a beautiful sailor who hits it off with Charlie just before she’s preparing to sail around the world, and a complicated situation gets even more complex.

Sam lost his life in a terrible tragedy, but so has Charlie. There is a sadness that hides behind Charlie’s dimples and sly grins. He won’t allow himself to truly be happy because of the blame he harbors.
“You know, that amazing feeling that you’re whole, that you’ve got everything you want, that you aren’t missing anything. Sometimes when I wake up, I get it just for a moment. It lasts a few seconds, but then I remember what happened, and how nothing has been the same since.”
Sam and Charlie are two souls who cannot live without the other, but when does the loss of one life justify giving up another?

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud has a serene feel to it, almost as if you’re along for the ride as a spirit, traveling with Charlie and finally seeing all the world has to offer. I loved every aspect of it. Sherwood has such a way with words. Sometimes the most simplistic of sentences carry so much weight with them.
On the horizon, he saw the full moon. God dropped it there, he was sure, as a reminder of our small place in the world. A reminder that what is beautiful is fleeting.
Sherwood presents us with the choice between two worlds, between life and death. The beauty of love, of loss, and of moving on is a miracle that all people experience and Sherwood harnesses that magic so well.
That is the inescapable math of tragedy and the multiplication of grief. Too many good people die a little when they lose someone they love. One death begets two or twenty or one hundred. It’s the same all over the world.
This is a profound story not only shows the magic of life, but also the magic in death.

Opening line: I believe in miracles.

Favorite line(s): “Wherever it is, death isn’t the end. It’s an elevation, really. It’s like catching the moon.”
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

The movie adaptation, Charlie St. Cloud, starring Zac Efron is in theaters today. I plan on seeing it this weekend. Here's the trailer:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednsday: I Am Number Four

Waiting on Wednesdays is an event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

It's been so long since I've done one of these, but I had to let everyone know about this one. I  Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore sounds incredible and I'm so excited for it to come out. Apparently, it's so good that a movie adaptation is already being filmed and stars British cutie Alex Pettyfer. 
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.
I Am Number Four comes out August 3rd.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Passing Strange (7/27/10)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

The Rules:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) or so “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

This week's teaser comes from Passing Strange by Daniel Waters:
My fingers were wet with a bluish fluid. Zombie blood, I guess. Yuck.
So much for leaving a pretty corpse. ~ pg. 6

Karen DeSonne always passed as a normal (if pale) teenager; with her friends, with her family, and at school. Passing cost her the love of her life. And now that Karen’s dead, she’s still passing—this time, as alive. Karen DeSonne just happens to be an extremely human-like zombie. Meanwhile, Karen’s dead friends have been fingered in a high-profile murder, causing a new round of antizombie regulations that have forced them into hiding. Karen soon learns that the “murder” that destroyed their non-life was a hoax, staged by Pete Martinsburg and his bioist zealots. Obtaining enough evidence to expose the fraud and prove her friends’ innocence means doing the unthinkable: becoming Pete’s girlfriend. Karen’s only hope is that the enemy never realizes who she really is—because the consequences would be worse than death.

*Description taken from Goodreads

Monday, July 26, 2010

Check out My New Design!!

I decided to redesign my blog a while back, but I finally got around to doing it. I did both the background and header myself, using various elements from a few different kits I purchased. I'll update my blog soon with the kit info, as well as continue to tweak and add some other things to make it a little more pretty.

So what do you think? Do you like the new design?

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #5) by C.S. Lewis

Title: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #5)
Author: C.S. Lewis
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Paperback, 271 pages
Date Published: July 8, 2002 (Originally 1955)

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
Narnia ... where anything can happen (and most often does) ... and where the adventure begins. The Dawn Treader is the first ship Narnia has seen in centuries. King Caspian has built it for his first voyage to find the seven lords, good men whom his evil uncle Miraz banished when he usurped the throne. The journey takes Edmund, Lucy, their cousin Eustace, and Caspian to the Eastern Islands, beyond the Silver Sea, toward Aslan's country at the End of the World.
This sea-faring fifth installment has everything a lover of Narnia could want. The two youngest Pevensie children (along with their obstinate and annoying cousin Eustace) set sail on a wild journey with the charming Caspian and the ever adventurous Reepicheep. Surprises and new discoveries are around every single bend and I loved it.

The characters truly shined in this one and I was happy to venture back into Narnia with at least some of the Pevensie’s. Eustace is a delightfully awful character to start off, but his part in the story works so well and his growth is amazing for such a short novel. Edmund and Lucy are once again two of my favorite characters, but Reepicheep steals almost every scene he is in. Much like in the film version of Prince Caspian, the little mouse is quite the spitfire and always up for a fight.

The journey through the vastly different islands is both entertaining and enthralling. I was never bored with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and I am even more excited to see the movie this Christmas. This installment was by far my favorite book in the series (thus far).
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Twi-Tour Boston: Day 3, pt. 2 (Kellan Lutz)

I was able to attend the Official Twilight Convention in Boston, MA on July 16-18th. It's a weekend event with actors from the movies, Q&A's, photo-ops, and other fun stuff. Here's my recap..

DAY 3, part 2 (Splitting it into 2 parts because it's so long)
See part 1 with the Wolf Pack
*Click pictures to make them bigger

There was probably about 15 minutes in between the Wolf Pack Q&A and the Q&A for Kellan Lutz, so I quickly ran to the restroom (and brought my camera because you never know when you’ll run into someone in the lobby). As I came out of the bathroom and walked by the escalator from the restaurant, I saw this girl whip out her camera and I look up and see Kellan coming down, so got my camera ready. He walked by pretty quickly, but he slowed down in front of me, so I could get a picture of him (unfortunately not with him). I was giddy after that.

Kellan Lutz
This was the main event. Everyone was so excited for Kellan to come out. You could literally feel the excitement in the air. He was only there for one day, so he didn’t have any formal autograph signing, just a photo-op.
The gold and preferred patrons did get a pre-signed Emmett photo though. When he finally came out, it was to screams, camera flashes, and lots of people standing up screaming his name.
As usual, Kellan lives to please the ladies. He ran into the crowd and hugged a girl with a poster of him from the Calvin Klein ad. Then he went back on stage and proceeded to show off his Calvin’s (the craziness made my picture blurred, but you can still enjoy it).

The entire thing seemed to fly by and I can’t remember half of the questions, but here’s what I do remember.
-Kellan spoke about his charity that promotes pet adoption. He mentioned how he adopted his dog Kola from a shelter and he rescued his chihuaha Kevin off the streets.
-He doesn’t have a favorite line from the movies (though he did recite the line, “dating an older woman…hot”). He said there are too few Emmett lines to take any of them out
-He shared a funny story from when they were doing Twilight and he was out to dinner with the cast, Catherine Hardwicke, and Stephenie Meyer. He was talking about Emmett’s and Rosalie’s backstory and going into great detail about how he imagined them breaking down houses and just as he was getting to the big bang, Nikki Reed was kicking him under the table and shooting him daggers (as was Catherine Hardwicke) and he realized that he probably should not be saying something like that to Stephenie Meyer, the religious, Mormon mom.
-Thought he could talk to animals like Dr. Doolittle when he was younger because he was always being picked on by his brothers and he had no friends. The animals were his best friends. (Kellan truly adores animals and it really shows)
-A woman from England brought Kellan some gummy bears and asked him to strip for them. In the end, he allowed her to feed them to him and the crowd went crazy. He also threw some gummy bears out to the crowd.
-Is looking forward to Breaking Dawn and having more Emmett and Rosalie scenes but not to Bella kicking his ass in arm wrestling
-Showed the crowd this new trick/exercise that he discovered he could do. It involved taking off all his loose clothing and accessories, doing a handstand, then doing a pushup. All I saw were his feet since everyone was standing, but he was happy he was able to do it on his first attempt.

The crowd was absolutely insane for Kellan. He was so nice too. He wasn’t supposed to sign anything or take pictures, but he was doing both. All the guests sign these giant banners that hang on the sides of the big screens and as Kellan was trying to get to all 4 of them, he would stop and sign stuff, take photos, and say hi to fans. It was insane because tons of people were trying to get up to him.
I was able to say hi and show him my shirt that I wore to his Hot Topic signing last year. He remembered it and as they were trying to get him backstage, I asked him if he would sign it and he said yes. So, I was one of the lucky few to get him to sign (as in right there in front of you) something.

The line for Kellan’s photo-op was HUGE. I think nearly everyone there was getting a picture with him, so I chose to wait for a while and get something to eat. My mom (who went with me because she’s awesome) had to use the restroom and tried to go downstairs, but security wouldn’t let her because Kellan was in the men’s room. He finally came out and snuck through a hotel staff only door to get to his photo-op. When my mom and I made it upstairs to the restaurant, we were waiting to be seated and Kellan pops up out of nowhere through another hotel staff door. I waved to him, and here’s the beginning of my truly fangirly high, and he said ‘hey babe.’ I could have died then because that man is gorgeous and that nearly made my day. Then he asked me where my shirt was and I told him I put it in my car. He was then pushed along through another secret door. Due to my water chugging, the restroom called to me and I started walking to the upstairs one, when Kellan pops up again to go out a different secret door. I ran into him 3 times in two hours. It was kind of awesome. I did mention to his escorts that I was just running to the bathroom, which just happened to be in the same hallway as the secret door and one of the women from the Twilight Lexicon said it was all good and she knew I wasn’t trying to follow him.

Then came dinner and staring at the slowly dwindling photo-op line.

Photo-op with Kellan Lutz:
I was the 4th to last person in line for the photo-op and I wanted it that way. I figured if I was last, I might have more time to talk to Kellan and not get rushed along. These rude, grown women told me that they had permission to be last (way to be adults ladies). I didn’t make a big deal about it and just went in front of them. When I finally got up to Kellan, he grabbed a hold of me. The guy really squeezes you. I told him that I wanted him to remember my name for the next time I saw him. He stopped the guy from taking the picture, turned, was holding my shoulders, and said “Nikki. That’s easy enough.” We took our picture, I asked if he got the little gift I left with the Creation Entertainment people for him (it was a little Emmett ornament that I made) and he said he hadn’t looked at anything yet, but he would make sure he checked it out. I then hugged him goodbye and went to leave. I think they were rushing him along through the huge line, so not many people got hugs from him because I got a couple of not-so-nice looks on my way out. I was completely giddy and couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face after that. The photo-op took place so late in the day that they weren’t printing the pictures, but they’ll mail them, so I’m not sure how it turned out yet. I’ll try to post it when I get it though.

Kellan did in fact get the little ornament because he posted a thank you on his twitter about it. I forgot to put my twitter name in the note I left with it, but he just he put my actual name. I'm pretty happy about it and I really hope he comes back to Boston soon.

Twi-Tour Boston: Day 3, pt. 1 (Wolf Pack)

I was able to attend the Official Twilight Convention in Boston, MA on July 16-18th. It's a weekend event with actors from the movies, Q&A's, photo-ops, and other fun stuff. Here's my recap..

DAY 3: (Splitting it into two posts because it's so long)

Wolf Pack (Kiowa, Bronson, BooBoo):
Kiowa & Bronson were a little late to the Q&A, but so were we, so it was all good
-The boys were having everyone snap their fingers instead of clapping.
-BooBoo prefers standing during the Q&A’s (he didn’t sit during any of the 3 he did)
-Bronson is hilarious. He has such a vibrant personality and he tries to make sure everyone is having fun
-Kiowa is much quieter than Bronson and BooBoo.
-Bronson drinks a lot of water. He went through 5 or 6 bottles while on stage, including drinking Kiowa’s half full bottle
-There were many similar questions as the ones asked during the previous Q&A’s
-Weird fan encounters include:
    BooBoo: An older woman doing a photo-op with him, then asking him if he wanted to make out
    Bronson: Was given granny panties with his face on them
-Kiowa hates it when people mispronounce his name (it’s like Iowa with a K in the beginning)
-There were a lot of ‘party trick’ demonstrations and just odd ‘can you do this’ things, including some weird arm tricks, tongue twisters, rub your belly and pat your head, and flipping your hands and making glasses. It was quite amusing to watch the boys do these random things.
-The first time BooBoo was recognized for Eclipse was at the airport. He said his hair was long and he thought it looked all messy and he couldn’t believe that would be everyone’s first impression of him
-The Hillywood Show announced that they only had time for one more question, but the boys didn’t care. The three of them went out into the audience and were answering some more questions. Kiowa stopped right next to me and I asked him to pose for a picture, which he did >>>>>>>

Photo-op with the Wolf Pack: 
The line was much shorter for the Wolf Pack because they had a photo-op the day before as well, so most people did it then. When I got up there, I was pleasantly surprised to see BooBoo with the pack as well because it only said that Chaske, Alex, Bronson, and Kiowa would be there. I loved standing in the middle of almost the entire wolf pack. I had asked if two of them would mind kneeling down and pretending to howl like wolves to make the photo that much more awesome and Ki was all for it. Bronson said he had a bum leg, so he didn’t do it as well, but I absolutely adore my photo. They were all so nice and thanked me for coming. Just a side note, Chaske (who plays Sam) has the most amazing voice. I could listen to him forever and Kiowa is truly a goofball, as is Bronson. Alex is gorgeous and BooBoo was a sweetheart.

Wolf Pack (Chaske Spencer & Alex Meraz):
I ran into both Alex and Chaske as they were going into the auditorium, but they were being rushed along, so I only got to say hello.
-Chaske spoke a little more about Be the Shift
-The first time the wolf pack was recognized was when they all went out to dinner together. There was a guy trying to inconspicuously snap their pictures while they ate, but they all saw him. When they went outside, they weren’t prepared for all the paparazzi, but Taylor was. Alex said he popped his collar on his jacket and looked amazing. He said the rest of them all had stupid facial expressions, but Taylor looked incredible.
-They both like bacon (another random question)
-Their perfect woman would cook and do dishes.
-Chaske’s favorite Disney princess is Cinderella and Alex’s is Pocahontas. He said he used to love that movie and knew the songs.
-If they were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring 3 things, they would bring: 1 - an ipod (actually Apple would hook them up because Bill Gates’ daughter is a Twilight fan and they would have all ipod accessories including a battery that never dies); 2 – the entire cheerleading squad from the Dallas Cowboys (these cheerleaders would all be wearing backpacks full of food); 3 – Dave Chappelle to keep them entertained (Dave would also be wearing a huge backpack, but it would be full of water)
-Alex and Taylor would often try to one up each other on set

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See part 2 with Kellan Lutz~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Autographs with the Wolf Pack:
The line moved pretty fast and I was still floating on my Kellan cloud 9 (see Day 3, pt. 2) when I got up to the pack.
They were all very nice and I told Chaske I had bought a water bottle from the Be The Shift booth that he had signed. I literally just missed him when I bought it and he told me he was only in there for about 10 minutes.
Alex was very kind and we were talking tattoos. He has a wedding band tattooed on his finger and he told me it hurt a lot. I showed him the tattoo I have on my leg and said my tattoo hurt too. He told me my tat was incredible, which I couldn’t agree with more. He also told me he has one on his foot that is his tribe’s symbol of the creation of life. It sounds intense and I wish I could have seen it.
Bronson was super nice and was all about personalizing everyone’s photos. He even drew a little wolf paw print on the pictures. I asked him about why he was limping and he said he fell when he was rollerblading.
Kiowa seemed all lonely on the end, but joked with him about how he was doodling on the tablecloth. I also thanked him for the photo-op and how he howled like a wolf. He said it was no problem at all and thanked me for coming.

The weekend came to an amazing close and after such an awesome experience (which was more than I expected) I think I’ll go again in the future.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #4) by C.S. Lewis

Title: Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #4)
Author: C.S. Lewis
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Paperback, 221 pages
Date Published: July 8, 2002 (Originally 1955)

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
A prince fights for his crown. Narnia... where animals talk... where trees walk... here a battle is about to begin. A prince denied his rightful throne gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.
The magic returns in this fourth installment in the Chronicles of Narnia. The Pevensie children return to Narnia and with them come the magic that I have grown accustomed to. The characters are already established, so I was able to instantly feel that connection and care for them, which  just didn't occur with the previous novel. The politics between different lands was not as large a role here either, so the story never felt weighed down by more boring plotlines. The focus remained on the characters and that works so much better.

The entire time I was reading Prince Caspian, I couldn't help but compare it to the film version. The two are quite different and should really be viewed as two entirely unique interpretations of a similar story. My feelings towards the book are hindered a bit by having seen the movie, but I still enjoyed the book. Edmund is by far my favorite character (as he is in the movies), but I enjoyed this version of Caspian and many of the Narnians grabbed my attention. Lewis has a unique skill of being able to imbue magic into the most seemingly mundane subjects and he does it so well. This installment brought Narnia back to life and gave me that magic I was searching for. 

Not my favorite, but still magical
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.
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