Friday, June 29, 2012

Seeking a Brave Friend for Abraham Lincoln


SEEKING a BRAVE Friend for ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Movie reviews by Lauren

There was a period of time where I didn't get to the movies much. I love films, though, and being a cinema studies minor means that I often have to watch a lot of older ones. However, since being on summer break, I've actually made it out to the theater a lot. So here are three mini reviews of the latest movies I've seen...

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

IMDB Summary: As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.

Review: I saw this movie at midnight last Thursday with my sister and I really enjoyed it! Based on the previews, I thought it would be more of a comedy, but it's really not. Yes, there are humorous moments and I did appreciate those...and Keira Knightley's character, Penny, was a breath of fresh air amidst the imminent end of life. Steve Carrell's character, Dodge, made me think of his character in Crazy, Stupid, Love, when he's depressed at his wife leaving him, because his wife leaves him in this one too. But Penny and Dodge do grow and change and fall in and out of love throughout this film. It's a quiet sort of movie. Not a ton of action, but it makes you think and feel. My eyes were definitely tearing up at the end.



Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

IMDB Summary: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

Review: I saw this movie on Sunday with a friend and my sister. This movie was awesome. It's definitely a historical piece in many ways; the costumes, the setting, the time period. This could possibly throw some people off, but despite it being a historical movie in many ways, it's obviously filled with the ugly, horrifying vampires that terrorize the U.S. These vampires are not attractive. They want to leave the dark they live in, but that doesn't mean they care about people. They brutally kill and there is lots of blood (forewarning for those that hate blood).

Benjamin Walker was amazing as Abe Lincoln. I think he really pulled it off and he was a perfect blend of the Lincoln history we know and the secret side of him that Seth Grahame-Smith created (author and screenwriter). I also loved seeing Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturgess (Abe's hunter mentor) and Jimmi Simpson as Joshua Speed (Abe's boss, and then goes on to work for Abe in the White House). Cooper is known for playing Skye in the movie version of Mamma Mia!, while Simpson is someone I love from the few episodes of Psych he was on!


Brave

IMDB Summary: Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

Review: I went and saw this movie yesterday with my mom. It wasn't something that I was particularly interested in seeing, to be honest, but I am glad I went! Merida is definitely a feisty young lady. She may be brave, but that doesn't mean she doesn't need or ultimately accept the help of others. Her archery skills are spot-on and would put Katniss to shame. Princesses don't use weapons, according to her mom. And Merida seems to think she doesn't need her mom in her life. They both have many misconceptions about the other person, but obviously, they learn to see things in a new light when a spell Merida gets from a witch changes her mom into something she never wanted. This is definitely a mother/daughter type of film, so it was great that I got to go with my mom...who also enjoyed it, and we both agree that the music was wonderful!

I went into the film not knowing who voiced the characters, minus Merida, so it was fun to learn that I actually knew many of them-

The Witch is Julie Walters...or Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter films

Lord Dingwall is Robbie Coltrane...or Hagrid in the Harry Potter films

Lord Macintosh is Craig Ferguson...or the Late Late Show host

Elinor is Emma Thompson...or Professor Trelawny in the Harry Potter films

With all these HP actors, I should probably mention that Kelly MacDonald (Merida) was actually Helena Ravenclaw in the last Harry Potter film!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

DIY Superhero Kit Guest Blog!

Outside of Box

I found this idea online and decided to make a DIY Superhero Kit for my dad! It was perfect and he loved it. The above picture is the outside of the box and the below picture is the inside. To find out where to get the printables, what I actually put in the box, and how I made it my own, then please check out the Guest Blog I did at Daily Dose of Ramblings. This blog is run by Mandy, who I've known since I was about eleven (so a long time!) and she kindly asked me to do a post while she was on vacation this week. I decided to share the gift I made for Father's Day!

Inside of Box

I know I haven't posted too much on my other blog yet, but I do run a site for adult parties (not raunchy, just not first birthdays, etc. Parties we throw for OURSELVES) called All Grown Up Parties, but it will be full of parties, crafts, and all things creative, so if you're at all interested...please follow along and I promise to try and post more regularly. I already have two parties and one craft item to post about, so keep an eye out!

However, since this is a guest post...you are more than welcome to post here, but please check out Mandy's blog and actually comment on that post too! (same rules apply for here...if you comment on Mandy's blog, I will leave a comment back on your blog as thanks) Follow her as well. Perfect for those that are married, have kids, own a house, like to cook, and/or be creative!


~Lauren

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Once by Anna Carey Blog Tour

Hello everyone, Alicia here! I am thrilled to be a part of the Once Blog Tour! I am currently reading and enjoying Once, which will be out on July 3rd.

When you're being hunted, who can you trust?

For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She's living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America.

But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America.

Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past--and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together--but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.

In this breathless sequel to Eve, Anna Carey returns to her tale of romance, adventure, and sacrifice in a world that is both wonderfully strange and chillingly familiar.


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My Interview with Anna:

What scene was your favorite to write in Once?

Ever since the series began, I’ve wanted to write the scene where Eve meets the King. Though she’s never been face to face with him, he’s been a constant presence in her life. There’s so much mythology surrounding him and The City of Sand, the build up to that moment has been immense.

How did you come up for the names of the characters?

Character’s names come from just about everywhere. Eve is obviously a biblical allusion. Pip is a reference to Great Expectations, which I was finishing reading at the time I started the series. Though I didn’t do it on purpose, I think I pulled Arden’s name from a street sign here in Los Angeles—I drive by it often. I later learned that Eve Arden was a famous actress, which seemed like the universe was confirming those names were right. To me, Eve and Arden have always felt like two halves of the same whole.

How did you come up with the names of places, such as Califia?

I stumbled upon the name Califia when I was doing research online. It’s easy to fall down the internet rabbit hole when you’re writing. You ask one question about wild boar, and suddenly you’re reading about how to turn birch bark into pain relieving tea. Califia (often spelled Calafia) was a warrior queen who ruled women living on the mythical island of California. She’s also been depicted as the Spirit of California. When I read more about her, it seemed like it would be the perfect name for the settlement beyond the bridge.

What are you working on now?

I just finished the third and final book in the Eve trilogy, and am in the beginning phases of a new project. Stay tuned!

What are you currently reading?

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. It’s the memoir of a woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother dies and her marriage dissolves. I’ve always been drawn to survival stories (Hatchet and Lord of the Flies were my first favorites). I’m also reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. It has the perfect blend of humor and heart.

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You can find out more about Anna and the books at her website, twitter and facebook.

Here is the full schedule for the tour:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors by Molly Harper


Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors (Jane Jameson #4) by Molly Harper

Review by: Lauren and Chris

Copy from publisher, all opinions are my own, however

Official Summary: Just as Jane Jameson’s unlife seems to be stabilizing, fate sinks its fangs firmly into her butt. Despite her near-phobia of all things marital, her no-frills nighttime nuptials to her sexy boyfriend Gabriel are coming along smoothly. But the road to wedded bliss gets bumpy when a teenage acquaintance is fatally wounded in front of Jane’s shop and she turns him to save his life. The Council pronounces Jane responsible for the newborn vamp until he can control his thirst.

Jane’s kitchen at River Oaks barely holds enough Faux Type O to satiate the cute teen’s appetite and maintain Gabriel’s jealous streak at a slow simmer. As if keeping her hyperactive childe from sucking the blood out of the entire neighborhood isn’t enough to deal with, the persnickety ghost of Jane’s newly deceased Grandma Ruthie has declared a war on the fanged residents of River Oaks. Suddenly,
choosing monogrammed cocktail napkins and a cake that she can’t eat seems downright relaxing in comparison.

Tensions inside the house are growing…and outside, a sinister force is aiming a stake straight for the center of Gabriel’s heart. Most brides just have to worry about choosing the right dress, but Jane fears that at this rate, she’ll never make it down the aisle for the wedding all nice girls dream of…


Review: Though the publishing company did not know this when they asked me to review the fourth and final book in the Jane Jameson series, I had actually reviewed the first three for Romantic Times magazine, so that little quote on the cover for this book that says RT Book Reviews? Yeah, that's me. For whatever reason, I didn't get the last book for the magazine, so I was really excited to check it out for my blog...since I haven't talked about Molly Harper here and I want you all to know how much I just love her books.

Like I said, this is the last book about Jane and company but Molly has a werewolf series out (two books so far) and even an upcoming vampire series that takes place in the same town as Jane, just with different characters (the first book is The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires) and I, for one, am very excited to check it out.

This last book, Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors, is full of your typical Jane hijinks though. Someone shoots a poisonous arrow at Gabriel (her fiance) and they are desperate to figure out who it was, a car nearly kills a teenager Jane knows named Jamie (who she then turns into a vampire to keep him alive), and Jane's Grandma Ruthie might be dead but she's taken to haunting Jane's home in order to get her to leave.

For those that don't know this series, you should definitely check it out. It's fun, hilarious, full of adventure, romantic, and did I mention it's hilarious? Jane is a bit snarky and sarcastic but she has a big heart. Gabriel is her fiance who is desperate to keep her safe, but loves Jane the way she is regardless, Jane's mom is a meddlesome lady who somehow knows everything, Jamie is a newly-turned teenage vampire, making Jane a sudden mom, and then you have Jane's friends...

Zeb, Jane's childhood friend, who is married to Jolene (who is a werewolf) and has twins. Then you have Andrea, who is married to Dick Cheney (yep, that's his real name...but don't worry, it's not THAT Dick Cheney). Dick is a vampire and one of Gabriel's oldest friends, even though they haven't always gotten along. Dick is one of my favorite characters in this series and I will greatly miss him. He has all sorts of connections you probably shouldn't ask about, he's funny and innapropriate, and a bit of a ladies' man, but he is willing to do a lot to protect his friends and family...especially in this latest book!

This quote (conversation between Jane and Gabriel) should give you an idea of the type of person Dick is-

"Andrea had a little too much to drink. I ended up pouring her into my car and running back for my purse, only to find that the bartender was getting roughed up."

"By Dick?"

"By some lowlife who thought that being a vampire was a good excuse to shake money out of food-service workers, as opposed to getting a job."

"So, it was Dick," he said as if I was missing his point.

I glared at him. "Would you let me tell the story?"

Just to you know, she is not talking about Dick, but it's still quite a humorous view of the guy!

I'm trying not too give too much away since this is the fourth in a series and I know many of you probably haven't read the first three. I really just want to say that this was another wonderful addition to the series and it concluded well, even though I would love to follow these characters more.

Now, finally, my mom (Chris) has been reading this series along with me so I had her read the final book too before posting this review so I could get a few of her thoughts!

What were your intitial thoughts after reading this book?

That these books are always an enjoyable read and I never want them to end. They're fast, they're funny. You get lost in the book.

Anything you don't like about the book/series?

No, I love them.

Do you have a favorite character?

I like Jane just because she is funny, but I don't really have a favorite. I do like Dick Cheney though. He's funny. He just pops up when you least expect it and he always gives you a little chuckle.

If you had to pick a character from the Jane Jameson series to get their own book, who would it be?

Probably Dick Cheney. I don't know how they could write a book about him, but I think he would be hilarious.

What are your final thoughts about the book, Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors?

I liked the fact that everybody was happy in the end and they learned to love the lives they were given.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pay it Forward Giveaway Hop (INT)


Welcome to the Pay it Forward Giveaway Hop: all blogs are celebrating by giving away something they LOVE and feel deserves more recognition. It's being hosted by Adam of Roof Beam Reader and myself! It was really difficult to figure out what I wanted to give away...since so many things I love deserve more credit, but I finally decided on an author!


One of my all-time favorite books is Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert. It's wonderful and intense and beautiful and heartbreaking and full of real-life issues and musical references and it's just something I feel more people should read.


But if you have read this book, then maybe you want Stephanie's other awesome book that was her debut, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.

Since my giveaway is international, I'm going to offer YOUR CHOICE (click this link to find the books and summaries) of either of these books from The Book Depository (as long as your country is listed on the site).

To Enter: Which book would you want to read and why?

Open to: International, as long as TBD ships to you!

Ends: 12:01 A.M. on Saturday, June 30th!

Extra- if you want more entries...

+2 leave two new comments if you follow this blog

+1 leave one new comment if you follow Stephanie's blog

Check out all the other giveaways now!

Unfortunately, the linky isn't working for me right now. I will try and fix it later when I have more time, but for NOW, visit this LINK to find the other giveaway hoppers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Romantic Times Roundup - July Issue


Romantic Times Roundup- July Issue

Some of you may know this, but I review at least one book for Romantic Times magazine every month. I decided it might be fun to do a new feature on my blog where I highlight books that I have found via each new issue of RT and now wish to read. I will even try and end each post with the title(s) that I reviewed in the magazine.


God Save the Queen by Kate Locke

Buy on Amazon

-I'm a bit obsessed with all things England, the cover is pretty rad, and it just sounds like the start of a really fun series!

Summary-

Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist. The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns. Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.


Murder for Choir (A Glee Club Mystery) by Joelle Charbonneau

Buy on Amazon

-If you know me, you know that I'm a bit obsessed with Glee, so I was stoked to hear about this start to a new series! It sounds like a ton of fun!

Summary-

Even as a struggling opera singer, Paige Marshall has never seen anything like the cutthroat competition of the Prospect Glen High School show choir. Coaching these championship-hungry students may be her toughest gig yet...

Especially when her best young male singer is suspected of killing the arrogant coach of Prospect Glen's fiercest rival. To clear his name, Paige will have to sort through a chorus of suspects, and go note-for-note with a killer who wants her out of the spotlight for good.



One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

-I've always been fascinated by school shootings, and this is definitely a very unique take on that topic. It sounds like an intense, but very fascinating read!
Summary-
In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town's children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again.

Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.


And finally...in July's RT Issue, I reviewed:


Night Seeker by Yasmine Galenorn, which is an Urban Fantasy novel.

Buy on Amazon

Summary-

Eons ago, vampires tried to turn the dark Fae to harness their magic, only to create a demonic enemy more powerful than they could have imagined. Now, the Vampiric Fae are on the move, hunting anyone in their path. As the war with the vampires ratchets up, Myst, Queen of the Indigo Court, enshrouds New Forest in her chilling grasp.

Cicely Waters, owl shifter and Wind Witch, has rescued the Fae Prince Grieve at a great cost. Their reunion has lost them the allegiance of the Summer Queen--and the tolerance of the vampires. In desperation they turn to the Consortium for help. Now, to regain the good will of Lainule, they must dare to enter the heart of Myst's realm. But as Cicely and Grieve embark on their search for the heartstone of Summer, Winter is already wreaking her terrifying revenge.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Benefits of Textbook Rentals


The Benefits of Renting Textbooks in College by Lauren

Textbook rentals are something that I have heard about in the past few years. Whenever I go to my school’s bookstore at the start of every semester, I am offered the chance to rent my books. While I have not personally done so yet, it is something I am thinking of doing in the future as I go into my last year of undergraduate school. Books are crazy expensive and I feel like the prices are continuously going up. If you know anything about the life of a college student…we have a lot to pay for…from tuition to books to supplies. Some students even pay for room and board, food, and not to mention clothes/entertainment/etc.

Renting textbooks can be one way that you save money. Book Rentals is one such website that allows you to rent books for your classes. A customer commented on the site that they spent only $60 for a semester of books instead of the usual $200. Like I stated above, I have always bought my books but that’s because they are generally not as expensive as, say, a science major, and I can sell mine back at the end of the semester and  get some money back.

If you rent textbooks… you can’t sell them back, but you are more than likely going to save so much more money. I would seriously consider renting your books if you look into the prices and renting is much cheaper than buying. You just need to consider if you want to save your books (as some do) or if you’re sure you will be trying to get rid of them by the end of your classes. If you don’t want them, then I would rent.


This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Movie Review: Rock of Ages


Rock of Ages

Movie review by Lauren

I saw Rock of Ages the Musical live and LOVED it. It's one of my favorites. Just like Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages is a musical where you go in knowing most - if not all- the songs. You get classic hits from the likes of Journey, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and more.

As for the movie...well, the musical is my favorite out of the two versions, but I did highly enjoy the film and it's something I would definitely see again. I was a bit weirded out for awhile that Tom Cruise was playing crazy rocker Stacee Jaxx, but he actualy did a good job. Maybe it would have been better to have a lesser-known actor play Stacee, but I think Cruise pulled it off and his singing voice was awesome. Kudos to him.

I saw the movie wiith my mom and sister, and afterwards, my mom commented that Julianne Hough (she plays country girl Sherrie who comes to Hollywood to sing) isn't really an actor, but she has a good voice. While Hough is an actor, of course, I can see what she means. Her voice was nice and overall, she did a good job, but she really is a better singer/dancer than an actress.

Actor Diego Boneta

However, I was really blown away by the other lead, Diego Boneta (who played rocker Drew). Personally, I think he's an awesome actor and he has an really amazing voice. He is one I'd be on the lookout for in future projects. I also liked that he was relatively unknown before this role. It worked out well, because I could get lost in the idea that Drew was real.

The rest of the cast was awesome. Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin were a lot of fun, Catherine Zeta-Jones is one kick-ass singer, Mary J. Blige played the perfect part, and Paul Giamatti played a crazy, typically selfish manager...but I liked that the artists didn't always let him get away with things. At least not for long.

Overall, if you're interested in this movie, I would go and check it out. One of my favorite musical numbers was "Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi...sung by Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) in the film. I thought it was done really well, and I just love that song. Plus, it does give you an insight into Jaxx's life...which is cool!

Random Fact: Constantine Maroulis, who originated the role of Drew on Broadway, makes a cameo appearance in the film...with an amusing line and everything!

Final Say: It's full of over-the-top characters singing classic rock songs...blended together in one wild romp of a film!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ripley's Believe It or Not: Unbelievable Stories for Guys



Review by: Lauren

Copy sent for review, all opinions are our own

Official Summary: The perfect gift for the man in your life. This title will engage its audience with stories, facts and charts that men can relate to. This title takes the unbelievable and strange facts that Ripley's is known for and expands upon these stories to make a fun and entertaining book for men. Did you know that military hot-air balloons and submarines were used in the American Civil War? Did you know that the Japanese Earthquake shortened a day? What about before Madoff? What was the first ponzi scheme? How about the craziest true plots of the CIA? This title will engage an adult male audience with all the unique and fun stories that Ripley's is famous for.

Review: We all know the Ripley's books. They are large coffee-table size, with colorful photos and tons of awesome facts. These are meant to be enjoyed by a variety of readers, but I'm sure they are often loved moreso by kids because of the large book size and crazy pictures. I do enjoy the Ripley books, but I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to actual photos so seeing certain bugs or things that people have done to their bodies creeps me out.

However, this is where the Unbelieveable Stories for Guys comes in! The hardback book (also available in  e-book) is pretty much your average book size and it contains no photos. Instead, the book is broken into sections and conatins a variety of facts. A fact or "mini story" as I call it is written first in bold black. After that, the rest of the story is written. Sometimes the facts are short enough to all be in bold. Sections include Body, History, Politics...and one of my favorites, The Arts.

While the book says "for guys" it's obviously not just for them. There are certainly some gross stories that might appeal more to guys than girls, but that's not what the book is all about. I found most of these anecdotes to be quite fascinating and the book is full of information that I didn't already know, which is ideal!

It's a perfect gift to give the person who has everything or simply thinks he knows everything.

From Ripleys.com, here is a page from the Sports and Games section of the book. Click the picture or this link to read it more fully.

One of my favorite parts in the book is a two-page "spread" of Infamous Last Words. I find last words to be quite interesting, so it was cool to see the sad, humorous, and just a bit shocking final words of a select few.

In honor of Father's Day, I had to share this book...perfect for males and females, readers and non-readers, and full of fun facts that will answer questions, give you more questions, and generally make learning a bit more fun. I even read quite a few of these facts out loud to my family, who genuinely enjoyed it as well! Pick up a copy and find the story about a hard-to-catch driver in Ireland to see why my family was laughing out loud.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pretty Little Liars Fashion

The fashion sense from the girls of Pretty Little Liars never fails to impress. Whether it’s during a fashion show, Masquerade Ball or for Halloween the girls are always dressed to impress.

all photos were available to use for promotional purposes

Some favorite Pretty Little Liars Fashion Moments of Season 2

Rosewood Charity Fashion Show


Troian Bellisario as Spencer Hastings and Shay Mitchell as Emily Fields...I just really like these outfits and the colors really pop. Great for the summer! And the purple on Emily is beautiful.

Halloween Party
Shay Mitchell as Emily Fields again...I love her little Indian/Pocahontas costume for the Halloween party. I would totally wear this, and the pigtails are adorable!

Masquerade Ball
Troian Bellisario as Spencer Hastings, Shay Mitchell as Emily Fields, Ashley Benson as Hanna Marin and Lucy Hale as Aria Montgomery. And finally, we have the Masquerade Ball and I love ALL of these outfits. Seriously, they are all beautiful and flowy and fun. Spencer's yellow is too cute, Emily's blue is chic and stunning, Hanna's white makes her look like a cute fairy, and Aria's red and black combo is daring and gorgeous!

Buy Pretty Little Liars Season 2 on DVD Now!

Pretty Little Liars: Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC Family 

I have been hired by Warner Bros WBWord division to raise awareness for Pretty Little Liars.

Immaculate Resurrections (Book I)- Rise of the Antichrist by Randall Lowe


Immaculate Resurrections
Book I: Rise of the Antichrist
By Randall Lowe

Review from Lauren

Copy from author, all opinions are our own

Official Summary: Welcome to college, Felix. By the way, you're the Second Coming. And the Antichrist, well, he lives on the other side of town...

Felix August enrolls at Portland College with two goals: prove that he belongs at the school, even though he cheated on the SAT, and crack the starting lineup on the football team. But when Bill Stout, the school's groundskeeper, tells Felix that Landry Ashfield, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, is the Antichrist, and that Felix is the reincarnation of a long-dead Druid who is known throughout the world by another name, the Second Coming of Christ, his life changes forever.

Already struggling to cope with a recent tragedy in his life, Felix's desire to fit in at school and be like all the other students on campus is complicated by the knowledge that he could be the Second Coming. And although Felix could have never imagined a stranger way for any freshman to begin his college career, as the semester unfolds, an ordinary college life of football, partying and pursuing girls with his reality star roommate almost seems possible. But a horrifying recurring nightmare not only threatens to undermine Felix's attempt at normalcy, it may reveal a disturbing secret from his past.

Review: I should probably point out right here that if you're a really religious person, you might not appreciate this retelling of history. However, it's not really a religious book, per se, as Felix isn't really the second coming of Jesus and the Antichrist is really a drestian. You'll have to read the book to fully understand as the history is fully explained.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. It was interesting for a few reasons-

1. It's a unique plot for sure and a definite departure from the typical angel/demon stories we normally get (no demons/angels in here...unless you count the "Antichrist" Landry Ashfield a demon...but that's really in words only).

2. It starts off in the past and you don't even get to Felix starting college for a few chapters, but I liked this, because it allows you to understand Bill Stout a bit better (he's the college groundskeeper who knows way more about Felix than Felix does himself) and you even get the background on Felix's mom, who is in a mental instituion as well, which is very fascinating. These were actually some of my favorite parts. I know, I know, it's not really the main story, but it grabbed my attention.

3. Felix is in college! I love books set in college because it's not very often YA goes there. And boy, is Felix in college. You get hook-ups, drinking, parties, and lots of late nights studying...but don't worry, it's all done in a pretty tasteful way, so you don't have too much to worry about if that's not your thing.

4. LUCAS!! Lucas is Felix's roommate and man, he is hilarious! I felt like Lucas was the epitome of your typical college dude, but in a fun, humorous way...plus, he's a good friend. I'd have to say that Lucas is one of my favorite characters...if not my actual favorite.

My not so favorite parts of the book were as follows-

1. Sometimes there really was too much description. Felix goes to Portland College, which I know doesn't actually exist, but it felt like some of the facts about the place were a bit too much...at least for me. I know some people like to know these type of things but I can only hand so much description in a book unless I feel like it's really necessary.

2. Sometimes the characters didn't really sound REAL, if that makes sense. Just the way they talked felt a bit forced...but it didn't happen all that often, so it was cool. Lucas, as I mentioned above, was awesome and as far as I remember, everything he said felt real and "relateable" in terms of "he sounds like someone you know or have met".

In general, this was an interesting book. It was different, it kept me wondering for the most part, and I did enjoy that Felix seemed like a realistic college student...and he did not believe Stout until things happened that gave him more proof, which I liked. It just would have been forced if Felix was all "okay, yeah, I'm the Second Coming...cool." That didn't happen, so kudos to the author for making it believable.

I am curious to see where the sequel takes Felix as the ending left with a bit of a cliff-hanger...and we still need Felix to grow into his "powers" and figure out just what he needs to do to take down Landry Ashfield! Oh, and Bill Stout...one curious guy. He is definitely hiding things from Felix and I want to know what!

In the end, this was a pretty good book. It probably could have been shorter, but the book did allow readers to get a lot of pertinent information as well with the length.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Losers in Space...and My Irrational Fear of It


Losers in Space...and My Irrational Fear of It

Yeah, confession time. I have an irrational fear of space. I don't really know why it started, as I wasn't always afraid of it. But I think I kind of know where it started...at one of those shows in a children's museum, where you sit back, stare up at the stars, and they bring you around space and talk to you and whatnot. Freaky stuff.

So basically, I read a bit of Losers in Space by John Barnes because the summary sounded really interesting, and to be honest, I'm sure I would like it for the most part. And I'm a sure a lot of you would like it too. But the fact is, that whole irrational fear of space thing hasn't gone away and I'm kind of worried that reading this book might be a bit too much in parts. Plus, it's a bit long, and I have a million things to read...so I figured I'd let you all know about the book in case you wish to check it out and maybe I can read the book for myself sometime in the future. I hadn't even gotten to the "in space" part anyway, so I can't say if it would freak me out or not, but I just feel like there would be too much description of it and I couldn't just "forget" that's where the book took place.

But hey, here is the summary for you to check out:

It is the year 2129 . . . and fame is all that matters

Susan and her friends are celebutantes. Their lives are powered by media awareness, fed by engineered meals, and underscored by cynicism. Everyone has a rating; the more viewers who ID you, the better. So Susan and her almost-boyfriend Derlock cook up a surefire plan: the nine of them will visit a Mars-bound spaceship and stow away. Their survival will be a media sensation, boosting their ratings across the globe. There's only one problem: Derlock is a sociopath.

If this book wasn't set in space, then I think I'd be all over it! Then again, what I have read does include a lot of future slang, etc. It wasn't too bad, but I'm sure that might have confused me/drove me a bit nuts as well. LOL

Again, I haven't read hardly anything to judge. I just thought it was a fun-sounding book that I'd like to let others know about, but since my fear might freak me out a bit too much, I'll stick to some other books I can read faster and review for you in full!

If you know someone that would love this book, grab them a copy, plus....

MAKE IT A GIFT and add:

Fisher Space Pen (photo from Think Geek)



You can get this pen at Think Geek for only $19.99 and you can pick the chrome (above) or a pen in black. Some awesome details about this pen-


  • Bullet-style Fisher space pen



  • Pressurized ink cartridge writes upside-down, under water, in harsh conditions (hot or cold), and even in zero g!




  • Used by the astronauts in both the Russian and US space-programs
  • Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Guest Review: The Book Lover by Maryann McFadden


    The Book Lover by Maryann McFadden

    Guest Review by Chris

    Copy sent to review, all opinions are our own

    Official Summary: Ruth Hardaway has had one passion all her life: books. For thirty years she's devoted her life to her book store, trying to bury her painful past. But now the store is in jeopardy, and the past is catching up with her. Lucinda Barrett lost everything in a life-shattering betrayal. Desperate, she goes after one last dream - to be an author. Alone and broke, she embarks on a journey, eventually landing on Ruth's doorstep. Ruth takes Lucy under her wing, championing her book and even offering her refuge at a nearby lake cabin. In return, she wants Lucy to keep an eye on her son, Colin, who's recovering from a war injury. As the two women grow closer and begin to face the past, neither has any idea that their toughest decisions lie ahead - or that their friendship is about to fall apart because of a little white lie.

    Review: The Book Lover was a wonderful read. From the beginning, we are involved with the two main characters' journey in finding true happiness in themselves.

    It's about betrayal, finding love where you least expect it, and the wonderful world of books that brings them together.

    My favorite character is Ruth. She is a staple in her community, loves her family, truly devoted to her book store and her employees. Ruth has loved and has endured loss. I really enjoyed how she decided to let her feelings for a man, who she knew her family wouldn't approve of, not stop her from finding love again.

    Another thing I did like throughout the book was the character, Colin, came back from the Iraq War with a dramatic injury. I thought how he was portrayed was very thoughtful and telling. We felt his emotions. Having a son in the military, it was very heartfelt.

    Pay it Forward Giveaway Hop + Prize Breakdown


    I figured I would give you all a breakdown of the wonderful prizes you could win by entering the Pay it Forward Giveaway. First off, all you need to do to enter is spread the word about this giveaway and/or the giveaway hop that starts right after. You can get MORE points  by purchasing one of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books though and sending me proof via email. All the details can be found here. If you spread the word OR buy the books, email me though so I can put you in my tally (in my pages above).

    This giveaway ends on June 23 and you have the chance to win one of 4 awesome prize packs!! ALSO starting June 23 and going until June 30 is a Pay it Forward Giveaway HOP! You can sign up your blog now and all that you are promising is to hold a giveaway for at least ONE item (open to whoever you wish, and costing whatever you want) that you feel needs more recognition. We want to pay the love forward, you see? It can be a book, a c.d., a baby product, a movie, a gift card to a place you love, etc. etc. Anything and everything! So sign up today!

    Now, here is the breakdown of the prizes for the Pay it Forward giveaway hosted by me, Adam of Roof Beam Reader, and Catherine Ryan Hyde. Again, enter by June 23!!

    ---my notes are in red!

    The Contest Prizes:

    Prize Pack 1:

    Signed Adult 1sts of: Love in the Present Tense, Chasing Windmills, Electric God and the brand new When You Were Older that’s so far available only in the UK.

    Who wouldn't want a book that's only in the UK? Not only is it harder to get (if you're in the US, like me) but if you win this prize pack...it makes you ultimately a bit cooler. Just sayin'.

    Prize Pack 2:

    Signed YA pack of: Becoming Chloe, The Day I Killed James, Diary of a Witness and Jumpstart the World.

    I know many of you are YA lovers, so you need these books in your life. It's just not a complete collection until you add a bit of CRH.
    Prize Pack 3:

    Personalized “gift basket”. Winner will provide ideas or a theme, and Lauren will create it and mail it to you or someone you wish to gift it to (donated by Lauren).

    Okay, okay, I'm donating this...so of course I think you should enter. I love putting together gifts for people, and all my friends got "themed" gifts this past christmas like cupcakes, fire, embrace your inner nerd, and school essentials. It was fun, and I hope to start a new feature on the blog soon about gift guides for certain people and/or interests. If you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments. If you want me to MAKE you a gift...then enter this giveaway already!!

    Prize Pack 4:

    Winner’s choice of Catherine’s books, up to $30 US, and a copy of the movie Pay It Forward on DVD (donated by Adam).

    Your choice of CRH books? In case you want something that isn't listed in the two prize packs first, or you don't win those? Adam is quite the generous man!! And I'd love to own the Pay it Forward movie on DVD. Yeah...the one with Haley Joel Osment. It was a book. Written by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Did you know that? Now you did!

    Okay, that's it for me. I think you get the point. You can win some really fab prizes, and you have SUCH a good chance of winning right now, because sadly, I don't think we have that many entries. So please, spread the word about the giveaway for the prizes above, spread the word about the Pay it Forward Hop, and buy a Catherine book. I'm sure you can find some that aren't that expensive for you and it's totally worth it! Believe me. She's great.

    If you want buttons to place on your blog to help promote the giveaways and blog hop, check out Adam's blog. The first button is for Catherine...scroll down and you'll find the one that is for the hop, all about celebrating our favorite things. Sounds fun, huh?

    Remember, prize pack giveaways end June 23. Blog hop starts June 23 and ends June 30. Mark your calenders and get ready to par-tay!

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    Fog Free Shaving Mirror Review + Giveaway

    SW carton


    Shave Well Fog Free Shower Mirror

    Review by: Lauren and my family!

    Product sent to review, all opinions are our own

    Review: I was really excited when I was asked to do a review of the Fog Free Shower Mirror because I've been seeing it around the blogosphere and I thought it was a great product.

    And it was!

    First off, my misconceptions of the product-

    *I thought it was bigger

    *I thought the mirror was magical and never fogged up

    However, these aren't cons...they are just things I figure you might have thought as well.

    First off, this is what the actual mirror looks like:

    SW on grey

    Misconception 1: It's not as big as I'd imagined, but it's the perfect size. Who wants a huge mirror when you're trying to take a shower anyway, right? It's about the length of my whole hand from top to bottom and a bit smaller width wise, but overall, not too shabby.

    Misconception 2: It does get foggy! But let me continue...you see how the mirror is hanging on a hook? Yeah, you put that on your shower wall and hang the mirror. Don't worry, the hook goes up enough that it won't suddenly fall off. However, to make it NOT fog, you must get your shower warmed up as much as you want. Once you have the correct temperature, you put the mirror under the water and then hang it back up. As long as you don't change the temperature of your shower, then the mirror will stay fog free!

    Our Thoughts-

    I don't really do much in the shower besides the general wash, shampoo, etc, but where the mirror is hanging, I can see my hair and I do find it's a bit nice to see that when I'm lathering up the shampoo. I can check to see if I'm missing spots or whatnot. My mom seems to enjoy it for similar reasons too.

    My main reviewer was my dad, though, because while this product works for girls...I still maintain that it's best for guys and shaving. Before the mirror, my dad would shave in the shower because it was easier but he couldn't see what he was doing. If he forgot to check a mirror before leaving the house, he might find he missed spots later in the day.

    However, with the mirror, he has a perfect way to shave while in the shower, and he loves it! It gives a nice, smooth shave and he doesn't have to worry about missing anything. He thinks the size is just perfect and it's a great product, and when asked about any negatives, he had none!

    The Shave Well Company has this to say about the benefits of shaving in the shower:

    Shaving in the shower is the most comfortable place for a man to shave. The moisture and steam greatly soften Dad's beard and make it much easier to cut, resulting in a closer more comfortable shave. When you get out of the shower and towel dry, your face quickly loses the benefit of all the moisture from the hot steamy shower. Once your beard begins to dry, you can be literally tugging on each and every hair on your face instead of neatly slicing it at the skin's surface and moving on without irritating your skin.

    I'd say I'm sold! What do you think, though? Would you get this for the man in your life...or even for yourself?

    How about trying to win one right now?!

    Giveaway-

    To Enter: You must like the company on facebook

    If you enter this giveaway, and do not win, I will send you a code from the company for a discount on a Fog Free mirror, in case you wish to purchase one yourself (and I do recommend!), so please leave your email in at least one comment or have it somewhere I can easily find it!

    Open To: U.S. and Canada

    Ends: Sunday, June 17th (Father's Day!)

    Prize: One fog free shaving mirror!

    Extra Entries-

    +1- leave another comment if you follow the company on twitter
    +1- leave another comment if you follow the company's blog

    Sunday, June 10, 2012

    Find the Pretty Little Lies-- The Mystery of "A"


    In the Season 2 finale we finally find out who the mysterious character is that plagued the Little Liars since Season 1, known as the elusive "A." I actually thought that Jenna might have been "A" in the beginning. I suppose it's a bit too obvious, if it WAS her, but the clues kind of pointed that way in the beginning and she would have reason to want revenge, being blinded and everything.

    Howeve, since she is blind, how could she spy on the girls and learn their secrets? Well, she would need an extra hand! That means, that while Jenna is a bit too obvious, she's really not. She could easily want to be "A", but could she really pull it off? Not on her own.

    So yeah, I thought Jenna might have been "A" in the very beginning...simply based on who she was and how she could easily wish for revenge. And two "A's" are better than one.

    Want Season Two on DVD? Buy here.

    Want to win some awesome prizes and enter the Find the Pretty Little Lies giveaway? Play and enter here!
    --- hurry, it ends June 12!

    Pretty Little Liars: Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC Family


    I have been hired by Warner Bros WBWord division to raise awareness for Pretty Little Liars.

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    The Wonderful Art of Commenting


    Every now and then, I like to make a post that encourages thoughts, opinions, and discussions. This is a well-beaten topic, I know, but I want to talk about it anyway!

    The Art of Commenting

    I've been blogging for almost five years now, and one of the best ways I find to keep up with other bloggers and what they are doing...is by commenting back. It's simple, it's proactive, and it's FUN. I know, I know...it can take a bit of time. You have to visit blogs, read posts, and leave a thougthful post that's a bit more than "cool review" or "awesome post" but I like to do it.

    I figure if someone can take the time to visit my blog and leave a thought, then I can go and do the same on their blog. Not every commenter has a blog, I am quite aware, but I do feel like most of us have some sort of blog these days.

    For those that don't, I'm happy to talk to them via email if they have questions!



    So basically...this is my Art of Commenting-

    I tend to answer people back about my specific posts (if they leave a comment) by email or a note on one of their posts...but I don't just mention my blog on their blog. I do read the post and leave a thoughtful comment, and then I might quickly answer something they asked on one of my posts or reply back to that thought.

    Why don't I comment them back here? Sometimes, I do...but I figure there are so many blogs, people might not check back to see the answer, or they just might forget. I know I do! And I'd hate for them to not get a reply.

    Why do I comment back on their blog if they comment here? I just find it polite, it allows me to get to know blogs (I've found really awesome sites this way), and it starts bloggy friendships. And isn't that a huge part of blogging, anyway? Getting to know and talk to people with like interests?

    So what about you? Do you comment back, and how do you do so?

    If you're like me and try and comment back to EVERY person that comments on your blog (and I know sometimes we just can't...but for the most part...) then please leave your blog's URL in your comment here. I'm thinking of making a list on my blog of Blogs that Comment Back for those that want to find blogs that welcome comments and always try to return the favor.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Interview: The Orphan, The Poet


    The Orphan, The Poet
    All Questions Answered by David

    Interview by: Lauren

    Add them on facebook

    Buy their music/merch

    1. Your EP, An Exercise in Form, was released May 15 and includes all acoustic songs. What about acoustic do you feel works for you as a band?

     For our previous 2 releases, we'd been very fortunate to work with some very talented producers that really captured our full band well. For this project, however, we really wanted to show a different side to who we are as a band and reinvent songs that our fans already knew. Thus, we bought some recording gear, holed up in Jared and I's house, and arranged and recorded the EP ourselves, calling in a few favors from friends when we needed.

    2. The band name is the Orphan, the Poet...so what poets are you all fans of (from a literature standpoint and/or a lyrical one)?
     
    As for literary inspiration, I've always been a fan of Thoreau and Emerson. I remember first reading their works growing up and instantly feeling a connection to their ideas. I'd venture to say that some of my introspective tendencies may stem from this.
    Dustin Kensrue, of the band Thrice
    As for lyrical influence, Dustin Kensrue is probably an obvious one. I think he balances the concrete and the abstract masterfully, and that's something I strive to do better. Beyond this, I've been trying to be more connected to pop oriented lyricists. There is a simplicity that a pop song has to possess and honestly, simplicity is probably one of the hardest things to master.

    3. Starting out, early fans can really make a band's experience. Any particular stories you have regarding your own fans? What is the biggest way fans can help you all out if they like your music?
     
    Our fans are amazing. They've done everything from running social media contests for us, to donating to our kickstarter fundraising, to preparing entire 3 course italian dinners for us while we're on the road.

    Honestly, the best thing someone can do to help us out is word of mouth promotion. Tell your friends about us and don't stop telling them about us until they listen :)

    4. You made an awesome video for your song, Invincible. Who came up with the storyboard, and did you want to convey something in particular?
     
    The concept for that video was developed by our Director, Nathan William. I had a few conversations with him about the song--what inspired it and the message--and that's the vision that came to him. He literally had the entire video put together in his mind before he ever touched a camera. I like that type of visionary creativity.

    I think the video is really cohesive with the meaning behind the song. It's about realization and personal growth through hardship. He captured the ideas of love and loss perfectly with his lens.


    5. As someone who personally lives right outside Ohio, what makes your home state so wonderful and/or finish this sentece: Ohio is for...
     
    Ohio is pretty rad. A lot of times people like to complain about where they're from, but honestly, I'm thankful to come from a state with so many talented up and coming bands. Having to keep pace with our friends in Wolves At The Gate, Belle Histoire, & Come Wind really makes us keep our nose to the grind. I love it!

    6. You started touring on May 18. What does a show/tour consist of for you all?

    We just got back from our tour with Ocean Is Theory and Mike Mains & the Branches. We had an amazing time and already miss those guys!

    Every tour is different, but highlights from this last tour include:

    -Drew and I spending 3 hours under the bus installing a new starter mid-tour.
    -Snake hunting on our day off in Georgia
    -And of course all the new amazing people we met!

    ~~~
    I hope you enjoyed the interview! I'd love to know what you thought, so please leave a comment below. If you'd like to check out the band's music, I'd recommend starting with their song Invincible...check out their official video below.