Discussion Post: 10 Books That Have Stayed With Me/The Evolution Of My Reading Tastes

September 18, 2014 Alisa Discussion Post 2 Comments

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I was tagged by my friend Charlene @Bookish Whimsy to post a list of ten books that have really had a big impact on my life.  It is hard to pick just ten, I have read so many wonderful and affecting books over the years that it is difficult to narrow it down. I tend to have periods in my life where books or music were particularly poignant to me and affected the way I thought about the world. So I am going to post them in sections based on the age I read them and how they affected me at the time!

The instructions are as follows:

List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way.  Don’t think too hard.  They don’t have to be the “right” books or great books of literature, just ones that affected you in some way.

 

Childhood/Middlegrade Favorites

As a child I think I was much more focused on action and plot. I wanted a well written and exciting story that really compelled me to keep reading. I always loved fantasy and science fiction, so I was drawn to those kind of stories.

22622886Title: The Chronicles Of Narnia

Author: C.S. Lewis

Genres: Children’s Book, Fantasy

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: This was the first book series really to catch my imagination. I really loved the idea of being transported to a magical realm and having adventures. I grew up with this series and as a result it has always been dear to my heart.

 

98019Title:  Elfquest

Author: Richard and Wendy Pini

GenresFantasy, Comics

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: This is a series of comic books you probably have never heard of but I was obsessed with as a young person. My dad brought these back from California (he was working there for a year and traveling back n’forth) for my sister to read, thinking I was too young for the series. However I was the one who really loved these books and collected them over the years. I think it was part of the reason I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.

 

33Title: The Lord of The Rings

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Genres: Fantasy, Fiction

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: I was truly obsessed with this book series as a young person. I remember on one occasion being caught during my English class reading it underneath my desk instead of reading the assignment given to me by my teacher. The idea once again of small people having adventures really appealed to me and I loved the epic scope of the story.

My Teenage Years

During my teenage years I think I was a bit of a book snob, I tended only read the classics and I spent a lot of time in the library during lunch breaks reading any that I could get my hands on. I remember when I was in after school attempting to put on a version of Hamlet with some of my fellow students, they didn’t appreciate my artistic vision though and just wanted to get to the bit at the end where everyone dies (my acting troupe consisted of a group of seven year old boys).

1934Title: Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: As a teenager I really could relate to these characters, especially Jo March. I was a bit of a tomboy like Jo and I was never good at the social graces, was always getting into scrapes in the same way she did. As well I was drawn to the romances in the story, kissing in the rain under an umbrella seemed the height of romance to me.

 

 

136116Title: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Author:  Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: I think reading this book was the first time I truly fell in love with a fictional character. I was addicted to this story and reread it several times, focusing especially on the romantic bits of the tale. This book had a perfect blend of romance, action and drama. Who can read this book and not fall in love with Sir Percy?

 

569564Title: The Complete Works of Shakespeare

Author: William Shakespeare

Genres: Plays, Drama, Poetry

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: I really loved Shakespeare as a teenager, my favorite plays tended though to be the comedies rather than the tragedies. To this day ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is one of my all time favorite reads and most beloved romance stories.

 

My College Years

My late teen years and early twenties were a difficult time for me, I went through a rather dark and depressed phase. A lot of plans I had for my life were not working out the way I thought they would and I was struggling to find out who I was as a person. These are some of the books that really got me through those dark times and have profoundly affected who I am as a person now.

10210Title: Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Bronte

Genres: Gothic, Romance, Historical Fiction

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: This is my ALL TIME favorite book. It is interesting because I read it when I was younger, liked it but didn’t connect with it the way I did later in life because I don’t think I had the life experience yet to understand it’s themes. I reread this book during college and found myself feeling deeply connected to Jane as a character. I was going through a rough time and it made me feel as though if Jane can endure what happens in her life, I can deal with what happens in mine. I still to this day ask myself ‘What would Jane do?’ in this situation and it helps guide me to what I feel is the right decision.

 

2156Title: Persuasion

Author: Jane Austen

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: Another book where I connected deeply with the main character. I had read all of Austen’s work as a teenager and enjoyed her books immensely. However of all the stories I found myself relating to Anne, her shyness and her insecurities were ones I could relate to. I love that Anne gets a second chance to make her life what she wants it to be and I was rooting for her from beginning to end.

My Early Thirties (What I am reading now)

Over the years I think my taste in reading has changed a lot, I don’t have as much free time so I am really selective about what chose to read.  I think I tend to select books that I think will de-stress me or take me to another place/time. I definitely have discovered a love of YA books in recent years and have enjoyed getting involved in the blogging community.

15795357Title: Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: I could really relate to Eleanor in this book, I never fit in during school and I always felt I stuck out like a sore thumb in the worst ways possible. I found her character arch and journey to be so real and so emotionally compelling. I felt the same way about her novel Fangirl and I think if you haven’t read her novels you should!

 

T10194157itle:  The Grisha Trilogy

Author:  Leigh Bardugo

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Find this book on Goodreads

Why This Book(s) Has Stayed With Me: This was the book I think that really got me into blogging! I really wanted to talk about how much I loved this story and how compelling I found it. It’s a great story with action, adventure, romance that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end!

 

 I tag: Quinn’s Book Nook , Ode to Jo and Katniss and Rally The Readers! 
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Graphic Novel Review: Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

September 17, 2014 Alisa Graphic Novel Reviews, Graphic Novel: Middle Grade 1 Comment

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SistersSisters

Author:  Raina Telgemeier

Published: August 26th 2014 by Scholastic

Genres:  Middle Grade, Realistic

Find this book on Goodreads

 

Blurb: Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.

Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

 Things I liked:

  • I like the way this book shows the evolution of a relationship between the sisters from the moment Amara is born right through to their teen years. I felt this was effective and allowed us to see these characters in different phases of their childhood.
  • While the focus is definitely on the relationship between the sisters the book gives plenty of attention to the other relationships within the family.
  • I felt that the story does a good job of showing and discussing the difficulties in the relationship between Raina and Amara’s parents. The decision not to give us a definitive answer about what happened to the parents leaves us asking that question at the end but I think it was right to do so – this is, after all, the story about how they learned to get along with each other and we know at the end that whatever happens with the parents they now have that relationship to draw strength from.

Things I disliked:

  • There is a bit in the story where their pet snake which they think is dead slithers out from underneath a seat and terrifies the girls. It’s not that I have any problem with how this part of the story was told but – EEPS!

Favorite Moment:

I was really invested in the relationship between Raina and Amara so the moment when they come to an accord and Amara gives Raina the batteries was moving and made me very, very happy.

What I thought of the art style:

 

Sisters

As I have said before, I really dig Raina Telgemeier’s artwork and this is no exception. Her characters are boldly drawn with lots of personality and I look forward to her next graphic novel.

 Alisa’s Verdict:

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I really like the way that Raina Telgemeier draws on her personal experiences to create her graphic novels. She creates appealing characters that we can easily relate to and explores many of the difficult challenges and pains of childhood without becoming overly sentimental. I have an older sister so I could really relate to some of the challenges that Raina and Amara face but also the joy of having a sister.

I liked this every bit as much as Smile and I hope that the author continues to do these autobiographical graphic novels because I am really attached to comic book Raina!

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Book Review: The Curse of Maleficent by Elizabeth Rudnick

September 15, 2014 Alisa Fantasy, Middle Grade 6 Comments

 

Book Review: The Curse of Maleficent

 

CurseofMaleficentThe Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty

Author: Elizabeth Rudnick

Published: April 29th 2014 by Disney Press

Genres:  Childrens, Fantasy, Media tie-in

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: A deluxe novelization of the Walt Disney Studios film Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. This visually dazzling live action film explores the origins of one of the most iconic Disney villains: Maleficent, the infamous fairy who curses Princess Aurora in Disney’s animated classic Sleeping Beauty. This ‘origin’ story is told from Maleficent’s perspective, intersecting with the classic in both familiar and unexpected ways.

 

Alisa’s Review:

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Maleficent is one of my favorite Disney villains.

Actually, that’s not true. Maleficent is my favorite Disney villain, so I had to go and see the movie when it came out this Summer and when I discovered that there were two tie-in novels that promised to tell the story from other characters’ perspectives… Well, I had to get those too.

Elizabeth Rudnick’s novel is written for Middle Grade readers and is based around the events of the recent movie. It is not a straight novelization of the script though as the author splits the novel into three sections each narrated by a different supporting character: Robin, Knotgrass and Aurora.

This approach is interesting and it does help to add some value to this as an adaptation as we get to hear the thoughts of some of the characters on the events they are witnessing. However though it adds value for those who have seen the movie, people who read this first may find elements disjointed or hard to follow.

Nor are the three narrators of equal value. Aurora’s chapters offer the most insight as we read the development of her relationship with Maleficent while Robin’s contribution, though brief, also provides some important background to the story. I found the chapters narrated by Knotgrass, which make up the bulk of this novel, to be the least satisfying as she really does not witness or understand much of what happens during Aurora’s childhood. While some of her thoughts can be funny, they really do not add to our understanding of the story.

The book is peppered with beautiful illustrations that will help younger readers to visualize the story and Rudnick’s writing style is pleasant and easy to read. Even though I am not part of its target audience, I quite enjoyed reading this and I think it might appeal to young fans of the movie.

 

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Weekly Roundup: Baby Showers

September 14, 2014 Alisa weekly roundup 3 Comments

weekly roundup5What is going on the blogs:

 

pictureusreadingbanner3Picture Us Reading:

Book Review:  Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

Graphic Novel Review: Ruse: The Victorian Guide To Murder

Discussion Post: Disney Musicals: The Little Mermaid

 

cropped-twglogoThose Who Geek:

Twilight Zone: Escape Clause

Top Five: Robots

Veronica Mars: The Return Of The Kane

Star Trek: The Man Trap

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

The Eleventh Doctor: The Friendly Place

Doctor Who Season 8: Listen

Outlander: The Garrison Commander

Awesome Blogger Posts:

Charlene@Bookish Whimsy- Does a post each week called the Refined Reader- this weeks post about the therapeutic aspects of reading I really liked!

Oh! The Books-  Is doing a bookish event for the Halloween season, looks like fun!  

Life Stuff:

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  • Had my baby shower at work this week and it was lovely! I got SO many diapers, lotions, body wash, etc. that are going to be so useful when getting started. My due date is officially one week from now! I can’t even believe how fast it has gone. Look how cute my cake is!
  • Super busy week again, trying to get my room in good order so that my sub will have no trouble finding supplies etc. I go out on leave this Wednesday!
  • I am planning to get back into the groove of reading this week as I will have some time as I wait for the baby to show up!  :)
  • Getting really tired lately. I think it’s because I am not sleeping very well, it is hard to get comfortable.
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Feature and Follow: The Dark Ages

September 12, 2014 Alisa Uncategorized 16 Comments

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Question: Before blogging (dark times people!) how would you find out about new books or did you? ?

librarian-clipart-pc5yERxcBWell as a young person I mostly got recommendations from Librarians, because my mom was one and I was at the library all the time. My Mother really pushed me to read the classics, something I am really glad of now because I feel like I have a good grasp of the language of various historical periods and have no problem understanding Shakespeare or Chaucer etc. It also lead me to reading Jane Eyre and the novels of Jane Austen, which are some of my favorite reads of all time.  As an adult I rely more on the recommendations of friends and fellow bloggers, but I always trust librarians to give me good advice on reading choices. 

I love meeting and getting to know new bloggers. I have two blogs that I post reviews for the first is Picture Us Reading which is primarily book focused and the second is Those Who Geek which includes book/comic reviews but is more popular culture focused. You can follow me via either of these blogs and I will be sure to follow back, just leave a comment below to tell me you have!

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Discussion Post: Disney Musicals: The Little Mermaid

September 11, 2014 Alisa Disney Musicals, Project: Disney 12 Comments

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215px-The_Little_Mermaid_Musical_PlaybillThe Little Mermaid: Musical

Adapted From: The Little Mermaid (1989)

Which Was Adapted From: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

Blurb: The Little Mermaid is a stage musical produced by Disney Theatrical, based on the animated 1989 Disney film of the same name and the classic story of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen about a mermaid who dreams of the world above the sea and gives up her beautiful voice to find love.

clo my little mermaid picture

 

What I Enjoyed About This Musical:

  • The use of bright and vivid colors for the set design, it was so beautiful just like the film.
  • Every major character gets their song/moment in this musical, even Prince Eric gets a ballad.
  • The background information we get on Ursula, in the film there is a question mark as to why she has a grudge against Triton and it is clearly explained in this musical.
  • Lots of new songs! Some of my favorites are “I Want The Good Times Back”. “One Step Closer” and “She’s In Love.”

Changes From The Movie:

  • Ursula is King Triton’s evil sister, who is set on vengeance and wants to take over as ruler of the sea.
  • Ursula uses a shell to spy on Ariel and later this is the key to destroying her.
  • Eric’s dog Max is noticeably absent from this musical.
  • Instead of Ursula pretending to be Ariel in this version their is a music contest that Eric hosts to find the girl of his dreams and eventually Ariel convinces him it is her.
  • Eric takes a more active role in the musical versus the film.
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Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to see this musical finally! I missed some of the elements of the film, such as the awesome transformation of Ursula into a human being and the way she tricks Eric. However we get to see Ariel and Eric interact even more in this musical and it is nice that Eric gets some moments to shine. I think perhaps of all the Disney musicals I have seen, save perhaps Mary Poppins, this one features the most amount of additions and  changes to the sequences of event. However that being said it definitely feels like the 1989 film I fell in love with as a young girl. I loved the additional songs, especially the extension of Ursula’s role and back story, that was really fun!

I do wish however I had been able to see this musical in a bigger and more expansive venue, I got the sense they really struggled with the movements and set elements on a smaller stage. Whereas when I saw the Lion King, I was able to see it on a permanent stage in London which was really awesome and did justice to the amazing set design of that musical. The Little Mermaid was very vivid and colorful but instead of tails the mermaids had long and flowing skirts, which I felt didn’t read as well as actual fins. Though I really like Ursula’s costume, I wish the octopus tails had more realistic movement to them as most of the time it was Flotsam and Jetsam moving them for her. I absolutely loved the actor and the costume for Sebastian, it was really spot on! If you are fan of the Little Mermaid I think this musical is a must see, it was amazing getting to see a movie I love so much brought to life on stage.

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I got for myself this snow globe so I could always remember the experience of seeing this musical! I also have one for Beauty and The Beast, wish I had snagged one for The Lion King but I was concerned about taking it through airport security!

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Graphic Novel Review: Ruse: The Victorian Guide To Murder by Mark Waid

September 10, 2014 Alisa Graphic Novel Reviews, Graphic Novel: Mystery 2 Comments

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RUSE_comic_coverRuse: The Victorian Guide To Murder

Author: Mark Waid

Published: Published October 5th 2011 by Marvel

Genres:  Adult, Mystery, Victorian

Find this book on Goodreads

BlurbRenowned as the Victorian world’s greatest detective, Simon Archard is the most intelligent of men. But when he crosses paths with the mysterious and enchanting Emma Bishop, has the smartest man in the world met his equal? Brought to readers by superstar writer Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man) and red-hot artist Mirco Pierfederici (Tron: Original Movie Adaptation), this is the new comic series that’ll leave you breathless

Things I liked:

  • I was really drawn to the idea of a female Victorian detective.
  • The murder mystery that is introduced at the start of the story is interesting and I wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Things I disliked:

  • The solution to the mystery is pretty predictable in spite of some attempts at misdirection.
  • While I was excited at the idea of a female lead but Emma Bishop feels much more like a sidekick, detracting from the idea that this is a meeting of equals.

Favorite Moment:

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I liked the moment where Emma Bishop is pushed into a situation where she is forced to fight and she rises to the occasion.

What I thought of the art style:

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While there are some individually striking panels, I felt that the artwork in this graphic novel was really inconsistent with faces varying significantly, making some characters hard to distinguish.

 Alisa’s Verdict:

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I came to this graphic novel with really high hopes based on a blurb which seemed to promise an exciting Victorian mystery adventure with a pair of evenly-matched detectives trying to get to the bottom of a crime. Instead I felt there was a strong imbalance in the pairing with Simon cast in the Sherlock Holmes role and Emma feeling like a sidekick in his story.

While this was disappointing, the bigger problem was that the story feels very derivative of the Sherlock Holmes story at points. He even has a Moriarty-like arch-enemy to spar with.

Though the mystery was intriguing when it was first introduced, there are few surprises to be found. I hoped for an ingenious solution worthy of the great detective but when the answers came they were exactly what I had expected from the beginning.

 

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Book Review: Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

September 8, 2014 Alisa Adult, Book Reviews, Mystery, Thriller 8 Comments

 

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TanlineVeronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

Author: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Published: March 25th 2014 by Vintage

Genres: Adult Mystery, Media Tie-in, Thriller

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

In Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas has created a groundbreaking female detective who’s part Phillip Marlowe, part Nancy Drew, and all snark. With its sharp plot and clever twists, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaAnyone who has checked out our other blog, Those Who Geek, may have seen some of the posts I have done with Aidan where we are reviewing Veronica Mars in order from the very beginning. It’s a show that I love for its clever scripting, great characters and interesting setting. It ran for three seasons and is one of those shows that always turns up on ‘cancelled too soon’ lists. Last year the character returned in a new big screen adventure that I really enjoyed. That movie left me wanting more.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line is more. It directly follows on from the events of the film and develops each of the main characters’ storylines. The show’s creator, Rob Thomas, has already said that all of the developments from this book and its sequels will be kept in any future television or movies. I was really happy that the novel addresses the choices Veronica made in the movie and I think it does a great job of capturing the series’ tone and style.

I did wonder how well the characters would translate onto the page. Part of their appeal has always been the wonderful cast who give each of their characters so much personality. I was amazed though just how well the authors replicate the characters’ voices. There are so many scenes in this book where it was easy to imagine how the scene would have been played on screen. Veronica’s voice is particularly well captured and she is every bit as smart and spunky here as she was on screen. I also loved that so many of the supporting characters directly appear or are referenced.

The meat of this book though is the mystery and I thought it delivered a really great story. The premise, Veronica being hired by a hotel to try to find out what happened to a girl who disappears during Spring Break, feels true to the series and the case takes Veronica into some really interesting and dangerous places. Some of the developments manage to give the case some very personal ties for Veronica, which adds emotional depth to the story, and I thought the authors did a good job of planting the clues to what is going on. It all leads to a smart and satisfying ending that left me eagerly looking forward to the next book in this series.

rating5
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Weekly Roundup: Fall

September 7, 2014 Alisa Uncategorized 6 Comments

weekly roundup5What is going on the blogs:

 

pictureusreadingbanner3Picture Us Reading:

Book Review: Sun, Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

Graphic Novel Review: Drama

Discussion Post: Movie Review: Divergent

 

cropped-twglogoThose Who Geek:

Twilight Zone: Walking Distance

Top Five: Gadgets We Wish Existed

Veronica Mars: You Think You Know Someone

Star Trek: The Enemy Within

Doctor Who: Revenge of The Swarm

Doctor Who Season 8: Robot of Sherwood

Outlander: Rent

Awesome Blogger Posts:

Kim@ YA Asylum- Is doing  a series of playlists for her favorite books, the first is Fangirl!

Quinn@ Quinn’s Book Nook- Did a great discussion piece on how we relate to characters in books.

Ashtyn@ Wonderland’s Reader- Posts about villains in books, I always love a good villainous character in a story.

Life Stuff:

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  • I love fall, it is my favorite time of the year. I was excited about the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, however since I am pregnant I can’t have a lot of caffeine or sugar! ALAS! WOE! Still I had one tall, decaf coffee but I shall have to wait until after the baby is born before I can have any again (will still have to limit caffeine though). I miss being able to drink lots of coffee though.
  • Aidan had a baby shower at his work this week and we have lots of cute baby stuff now, need to post some pictures. I know I am getting a shower as well at work, though I am not supposed to know LOL :) People have been SO generous we are overjoyed with all the neat stuff we have gotten, I just need to sort through and organize it all.
  • Feeling very sore and tired this week, only two weeks to go though!
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Feature and Follow: Writer, yes or no?

September 5, 2014 Alisa Uncategorized 22 Comments

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Question: Are you also a writer and what genre or did you ever consider writing?

 

1195421944619161676typewriter_john_olsen_01_svg_medI am an aspiring writer, as in I like the idea of writing and yet have never put pen to paper in an effort to truly commit myself to writing a book! LOL I have this idea for a book that I want to write it involves time travel and the 1920’s, I think it’s a fun idea but it involves a lot of research and I haven’t really had enough time to commit to really charting the story out. I know excuses, excuses, excuses, if I am ever going to write the book I need to put in the time but I think a bit of me is scared to start because what if it is just terrible, I have to give up on the notion of the idea and it’s the best one I have ever come up with! So yes, I like the idea of writing a book the big question mark is whether or not I will ever actually commit to writing the first sentence! LOL

I love meeting and getting to know new bloggers. I have two blogs that I post reviews for the first is Picture Us Reading which is primarily book focused and the second is Those Who Geek which includes book/comic reviews but is more popular culture focused. You can follow me via either of these blogs and I will be sure to follow back, just leave a comment below to tell me you have!

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