Tuesday, August 26, 2014

10 Books I Want to Read But Don't Own

Oh my never ending "To Be Read" list. I feel like it never gets shorter. It's a good problem to have. However... it's hard when you don't actually have the books in your possession.

Here are ten book on my TBR list which I don't own:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas


I read the first book in this series, Throne of Glass, not long ago and I really want to read the next one! Someone please tell me it'll be out in paperback soon.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert


I don't know a whole lot about this one, but I've heard some people say it's one of their favorite books to come out this year. It's about ballet but it's also a thriller type of story I think.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour


Another one I don't know a whole lot about - but John Green recommended it and I trust his judgement.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis


I listened to the first book, Across the Universe, on audio earlier this year. It wasn't the greatest thing I've ever read, but it was interesting and I loved the author's take on leadership. I felt like it was a perspective we don't get to see very often. I'm very interested to see what happens next!

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner


And another sequel. But I just have to know what happens when The Maze Runner ends!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them & Quidditch Through the Ages by JK Rowling


I feel like such an awful Harry Potter fan - but I don't have these books. I need them. I need them right now.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


I'm on a big Neil Gaiman kick right now and I want every single book he's written and this is his newest one.

Attack of the Theatre People by Marc Accito


Another sequel and this needs to be in my hands yesterday. If you've been reading my blog at all this year, you know I ADORED How I Paid for College and I was so excited to see there was a sequel because I need more of my Ferris Bueller and Rachel Berry love child.

Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis


My friend Sarah told me to read this book forever ago and I still haven't. But it's by CS Lewis who is amazing so I need to get on it.

To Be or Not to Be: A Choosable Path Adventure by Ryan North


Do you remember those pick your own adventure books when we were kids? Well - this is the same thing. Only for adults. And it's Hamlet. A friend of mine told me I should read this and really, do I need any other reasons?

What books have you been meaning to read but haven't been able to get a hold of yet?

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Kings of New York

So... apparently the VMAs were last night.

I didn't know this until I was already watching the finale of Rising Star (Go Jesse!) and mourning Newsies and their final performance on Broadway. (WAH!) Womp womp.

Oh well.

Apparently Beyonce was awesome - so go her. And Taylor Swift can't dance... neither of these things are new I don't think. So... I didn't really miss much, right?

Sadly though, with it being Music Monday and all, it probably would have been an awesome way to get material for today's blog post. Whoops.

HOWEVER I do have a Newsies song to save the day! (Or seize the day as the case may be?) This show has been running on Broadway since 2012 and I went to see it that year and it was AMAZING. It has it's final performance yesterday and I know a lot of people are sad to see it go.

But there's good news! Newsies is going on tour and I have full intentions of seeing it here in Chicago when it arrives in December/January.

In honor of the show, here is their amazing Tony Awards performance from 2012. Featuring one of the loves of my life - Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly), the incredible dancing of Ryan Steele (Specs), the loveable Andrew Keenan-Bogler (Crutchie) and the rest of the original cast.

Now, pardon me as I go wear my Newsies cap, watch the movie, and go through my book about them and cry.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

When Life is on Pause

There are times in life you feel stuck. Day in and day out you experience the same things over and over again. Things aren't going the way you want them to. Maybe you apply and interview for job after job after job and nothing happens. Or you go on a dating site and talk to as many guys (or girls) as you can and meet some of them and go on dates. Sometimes it even goes past a first date. But then something happens and it falls through. Again. 

We all get into these life ruts. Where we're just stuck and we don't know how to get out. Time moves slower and keeps going on but it doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. We aren't going anywhere. While the days keep going and the months and seasons change, it still feels as though life has been put on pause and no one is pressing the play button. Everyone is moving, but you're just staying still.

But time is a funny thing.

Things in life can change in the blink of an eye. Sometimes for the worse, sometimes better. Just this past weekend I had to go to Indiana with my mom for a wake and a funeral for a relative. She had been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but just in the past week or two she seemed to be doing great. Then... she wasn't. In the blink of an eye, the family's life had changed.

But it's not always that way. Sometimes it changes for the better. These are the moments I try to think about when I'm in a rut.

I think about my sister. In just a little over a month she's going to be married. All of the planning and preparations will be over and she'll be married. It's crazy to think about. They've known each other/been dating for about three years now. Which in the grand scheme of things isn't all that long, but it's not as though they met and got married a month later. But, she has told me she knew pretty early on in the relationship he was "the one." They hadn't even been dating a year - maybe not even six months - and they both knew where it was going to go. It all happened pretty fast. It doesn't for all people, but for them it did.

Or I think about a good friend of mine who just began a new job. On a whim she applied for a job in another city. By the end of the month she had a new apartment and a new job in a new city and was making new friends. 

These are the types of stories I try to keep in mind when I'm in a life rut. Sometimes it might seem as though I'm stuck and going nowhere. It might feel like my life is on pause. But the play button could be hit at any moment and life could change quickly. 

Who knows what will happen in a month... a few months... a year from now?

It's exciting to think about - but also scary. We get used to those ruts sometimes. Because we know what will happen and how to handle it. But we don't always know how to handle new jobs, new relationships, new cities, or new lives. 

But isn't that part of what's so great about life changing? It's scary to think about not knowing what's up ahead, but I like that part in a way. Anything can happen. Anyone can pop up. New adventures are waiting down the road. 

We just have to keep hoping and waiting for when it'll happen. It will happen. It might not be in a big loud way. It might be a gradual thing. Where one day you wake up and realize "wow... I'm not where I was a few months ago." 

Or maybe we have to make it happen for ourselves sometimes. God doesn't always just throw something on your lap. Sometimes we have to get out of the rut on our own, and he's there with us along the way or guiding how we make those choices.

Sometimes it takes sending out that long shot job application. Sometimes it's just getting up and deciding "yes, I'll go to that party where I might not know many people." Or going on that first date you were nervous about. Or going on that dream vacation you always wanted.

Or maybe it's just being open to the possibilities. Even though we hate our life ruts and being on pause, we still stay closed up. It's amazing what can happen if we're just open to other things we don't expect.

Maybe it's time to press the play button and do something out of the ordinary. Because perhaps that change in life is just around the corner.

Bout of Books Update:
Total number of books I've read: 2
Pages Read Yesterday/Today: 120
Total Pages Read: 430
Books: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Anna Dressed in Blood  by Kendare Blake

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here's to 10 Years

Yesterday evening, I made my way over to Midway airport to pick up a friend of mine who had been on vacation visiting her family. Her husband was working, so I got to pick her up and go out to dinner. (Win! Especially when said dinner is from Chipotle.) Lately, she and I see each other at church and our little group of friends sit together. Which is awesome, but it also means I don't get a whole lot of one-on-one time with this group of friends due to crazy schedules. So, church is the one time we all (usually) get to see one another. Having the time to drive and have food was exciting.

As we drove she told me as of this week she has been living in Chicago for ten years now. Ten years. A decade. When she moved to Chicago it was when she moved into the dorms at Concordia University River Forest (CURF. Now it's Concordia University Chicago, CUC. Ugh.). I've been thinking a lot about how it's been ten years since high school - you'd think I would put together that it also meant I began college ten years ago.

But for some reason those pieces didn't come together until my friend mentioned it last night. With thinking about the high school students I used to lead graduating, that has been my main focus. High school.

Ten years ago, yes, I graduated high school and closed that chapter in my life. But it was also the beginning of an amazing chapter! So much of my college experience shaped who I am today (although A LOT has changed since then) and the friends I made there are still some of my closest friends I've ever had. I talk to far more people form college than I do from high school. Other than reading random Facebook status updates.

I've been friends with some people for 10 years! It's an awesome friedaversary! (At least for those I met my freshman year...)

Ten years ago this week was when I moved into my dorm and went to Freshman camp.

I made friends who I still talk to - some on a daily basis. Some just on occasion simply to catch up. 

It was in college I started to attend the church where I received my field work training and I am a member of now.

Ten years ago was the start of where countless hours were spent at the local pub, Caribou Coffee, IHOP, and road trips to ALL OF THE WEDDINGS because that's what happens when you go to a small Christian university.

Many of my friends met their future husbands or wives those years.

I added theatre to my major and it basically took over my life - and it was awesome.

I joined the Weeks of Welcome Staff to help other new students be welcome to campus and feel at home there the way I had been when I was a freshman.

Spring breaks were spent in the Appalachian Mountains where I tore down walls and climbed mountains.

It's been a crazy ten years since meeting all of these amazing people, and I'm so grateful! Let's have another awesome ten years, shall we?

Bout of Books Update:
Total number of books I've read: 1 1/2
Pages Read Yesterday/Today: 160
Total Pages Read: 310
Books: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Anna Dressed in Blood  by Kendare Blake

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Authors I Want to Be My Mentors

The author Stephen King once said "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." (Source)
I haven't read much of Stephen King. As in... I've never read any of his books. I'm way too much of a wuss to even try to pick up The Shinning or anything else like that. (Although, the Facebook book club I'm starting is reading his book Firestarter as our first one. Eek! If you want to be a part of it, click here to join the group.) However, I do respect him as an author because he has written so many novels and short stories. Many of which are best sellers and have inspired others to create movies, TV shows, and pursue their own stories. So, when I hear his words of wisdom when it comes to writing, I listen. 

I particularly agree with this statement about reading. (As does JK Rowling actually.) If you want to write well, you need to read. Granted, you probably don't need to read a kazillion books a year or anything. But you do need to read. Good books, bad books, books in the genre you write about, books outside of that genre, etc. If you don't read, how are you going to learn more about your craft? How are you going to know good writing when you see it?

No matter what your craft or talent is, you most likely have people you look up to. If you play basketball you probably look up to people like Michael Jordan. (Or whoever is popular these days. I don't know sports.) If you are a musician you listen to other musicians. If you're an artist you learn about other artists. I think you get my drift by now.

The same goes for writing. Whether you write fiction, poetry, blogs, etc. you need to read. Read something - anything. Because that's how you learn.

I was thinking about the authors I admire. Not just my favorite books, but authors who I truly look up to. The ones when I read their books I sit in awe of how they paint pictures with their words and form unforgettable characters and stories which sweep me off my feet. These are the authors who I would want to mentor me in my own writing.

Naturally, I went to social media to find out which authors my other "writer type" of friends look up to. They had a variety of different authors they shared with me. Eric Metaxas, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Jane Austen, the apostle Paul, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood, Aaron Allston, Mercedes Lackey, Virgina Wolf, John Green, Neil Gaiman, Gail Simone, Douglas Adams, etc.

All of these are different from the others, but all have something to add to the writing community.

If I were to pick any authors to be my mentors, here's who I would pick.

Elizabeth Chadwick
The Greatest Knight, Lady of the English, Summer Queen, etc.

“Weep now, but tomorrow be strong. Remember who we are and that whatever else is taken from us, they will never strip our honour and our pride.” 
― Elizabeth ChadwickTo Defy a King

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The way she can take true events and people from history and turn them into novels is amazing. I would love to find out how she does all of her research, how she organizes it, and the process she has for creating a story. Yes, some of her methods are... unusual. (I think I heard she goes to psychics or something.) However, she's undeniably a fantastic author.

John Green
The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines

“Writing, or at least good writing, is an outgrowth of that urge to use language to communicate complex ideas and experiences between people. And that’s true whether you’re reading Shakespeare or bad vampire fiction—reading is always an act of empathy. It’s always an imagining of what it’s like to be someone else.” 

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I'll be honest, The Fault in our Stars is my favorite book by him, I've only read two other ones. They were good, don't get me wrong. But I wasn't blown away the way I was with TFioS. However, I do love his videos and I love how real his stories are. Especially TFioS. He has this awesome way of writing stories for young adults which also connect to adults.

Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline

"The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked...that's the moment you may be starting to get it right."

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I've only read two of his books so far, but I have all of them on my "to read" list and I cant wait to dig into them. He creates this beautifully "ordinary" characters and puts them in unreal situations which almost seem normal. I've been blown away by how he puts pieces together for a story and the sense of humor and ridiculousness in his novels. Whenever I've read quotes by him about art and writing and life they resonate with me and I find myself agreeing. I would love to hear him talk about writing, but about life as well. Also - he's written episodes for Doctor Who.

Anne Rice
The Vampire Chronicles

"To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself."

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She is the queen of vampires and the supernatural. She wrote about vampires before it was cool! I'm always entranced when I read The Vampire Chronicles. Her ideas are controversial, powerful, and unique. I love her characters and I find myself wanting to read more about Lestat partly because I still don't 100% understand him, he's so in depth. Also, she does a fantastic job of  connecting with her fans. (AKA- "people of the page.") She's always updating her Facebook page and discussing issues of the world with her fans, and when she's unavailable she makes sure her assistant (Becket) updates for her and lets everyone know who is the one writing. 

JK Rowling
The Harry Potter Series, The Casual Vacancy, The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm

“I didn’t write with a target audience in mind. What excited me was how much I would enjoy writing about Harry. I never thought about writing for children — children’s books chose me. I think if it is a good book anyone will read it.”

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Let's be honest - she's fantastic. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone she's on my list. Harry Potter has some of the greatest storytelling and most memorable characters of this age. She's able to create a beautiful fantasy world and story, while also discussing intense issues like prejudice, justice, family, depression, love, and friendship, in a way anyone of any age can connect and learn from. But even beyond Harry Potter, she's great. The Casual Vacancy may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the characters were still wonderfully made and the story was written well. I haven't read either The Cuckoo's Calling  or The Silkworm yet, but I've heard great things and I'm excited to read them. And she did it while not even using her own name. Yes, the books probably sold a lot more once it leaked she was the author. However, from what I've heard The Cuckoo's Calling did just fine before then.

Rainbow Rowell
Attachments, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Landline

"I find love stories satisfying when you can see the work - when you can really watch people find each other and fall in love, a little bit at a time. I like slow burns. Falling in love is so good; why would you want to rush it?"
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She has become more of a recent hit- but I think we'll be seeing more of her as the years go on. Her characters and stories feel so real. It's as though these are people I would see walking around my neighborhood, on campus, and at the store. Also - her twitter is hilarious and I feel like we would laugh a lot AND Fangirl was a NaNoWriMo novel.

Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus

"I think that's a hallmark of a really good story that it has readers that it speaks to more than others."
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Another NaNoWriMo author and the author of one of my all time favorite books. She's a creator of fairy tales and magic and wonder and love. Nearly everything I love in the world is in her book and I can't wait for her to write another. 

Then again... maybe I wouldn't have them mentor me. I'd be too afraid to show them anything I write for fear of them hating it! (haha.) If you could pick any writers (or someone in your field) to mentor you, who would you pick?

Monday/Tuesday Bout of Books Update
Total number of books I've read: 1
Total number of pages I've read: 164
Books: Completed American Gods and began Anna Dressed in Blood

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rising Star

Does anyone else watch the TV show Rising Star? It's another music competition but what's different about it is that you vote for the singers live through an app. It's pretty fun.

Well, next week is the season finale and there is one singer who I LOVE name dJesseand I hope he wins. (Although the others are excellent too.) He sings old rock music and when you first hear him talk you'd never expect him to have the power house voice he has because he's so soft spoken. But the moment he has a guitar and gets onstage it's a whole other story. He did this awesome cover of Michael Jackson's "Bille Jean." 

If you want to watch, here's the link to his performance: http://youtu.be/oQRjdOkm5Ak

What music are you listening to right now? Link up with Music Monday and let me know Sorry it's such a short post today. I had to go to Indiana for some family stuff, but I'll be back home tomorrow!

I'm working on finishing American Gods by Neil Gaiman and I only have about 120 pages left! So I'll finish it today and get going on my next one!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bout of Books Goals

Before I go to writing about my Bout of Books goals - I just want to say how happy I am about how peaceful Ferguson was yesterday. I know there are still so many problems and things there/in the world aren't going sin g to magically go away. But they seemed to approach thing in peace yesterday and I think that should be celebrated. It's those small steps which make progress happen.

Now - onto Bout of Books!

The challenge starts on Monday and I think I'm ready to hit the books. ;-) Here are some of my goals for the week:

- Finish American Gods  by Neil Gaiman if I haven't already by then. I've been working on this book for FOREVER and I have no idea why it's taking me so long to get through it. It's a great book and I'm loving it, but it's pretty long and I keep reading other books while I'm reading this one.


- Read one book from my Kindle/Nook shelves which have been sitting on my iPad for a long time. I have so many books which have just been sitting there and I haven't read yet and I need to get to them. I'm thinking it'll be My Exile Lifestyle by Colin Wright, Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger, or Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. However, there are several others which are possibilities.


- Read a book on my "real" bookshelves which have been sitting there the longest. I have a lot of books in the same boat as my ebooks. They need to be read! I'm thinking it'll be The Cuckoo's Calling  by Robert Galibrath (JK Rowling... and this would also work for my ebook goal), The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock, or Heartless by  Paper Towns by John Green.


- Read at least 3 books. This would mean I would complete my ebook and "real" book goals, and possibly one other book if I finish American Gods before Monday.

- Read at least 150 pages a day.

So... here's hoping I do better on my goals this time around!

Bout of Books

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Overwhelmed, Lord of the Rings, Les Mis, and Polar Bears

For Vlog Every Day August (VEDA) I made a video about my reaction to Ferguson, MO. If you'd like to see it, here you go. I feel like the video explains everything of how I'm feeling right now.

Please keep the people of Missouri in your thoughts and prayers as well as the rest of us who are just trying to figure out what's happening and how to react.

Simple Moments Stick