Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie

Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie

Review by Lauren

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
bought my own copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples...At a Hallowe'en party, Joyce - a hostile thirteen-year-old - boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the 'evil presence'. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer...

Happy Halloween!!!

Review: This is probably my fourth novel from Agatha Christie, and the third one featuring detective, Hercule Poirot. I came across Hallowe'en Party while planning for my own British-themed Halloween party. Once I read the summary of the novel, I knew I had to read it during the month of October, and boy, am I glad I did!

I ended up finishing this right before I had my party, so I brought it along for a fun decoration. It's about a Halloween party, and it takes place in England. What could be better for a British Halloween party? But enough about my party...on to the book!

Poirot is a fascinating detective. I love that as you read, you know he's collecting evidence and ideas based on what he sees and what people tell him, and yet, I couldn't figure it out! I'm learning all the same things as Poirot, but not being the awesome detective he is, I never did figure out who the culprit or culprits were (I'm not going to ruin that particular question - is there one murderer, or two?).

I think it's fun to try and guess who done it, but I don't mind not figuring it all out. Sometimes it's more fun to be surprised in the end...and when Poirot put all the pieces together, I was a bit shocked by what had happened. However, while the surprise was there, I wasn't blown away by any of the revelations. In that regard, Hallowe'en Party is a fairly average mystery novel, but one that I really enjoyed reading!

One thing I enjoy about Christie's novels is that she includes such varied characters. Everyone mentioned is described in order for the reader to picture them, and most characters end up being a suspect at one point or another. That type of characterization can be rare in murder mysteries, since authors want to focus on the twists and turns and less on the people inhabiting the story. Christie does both in this one, and I think that's just another good reason to pick it up.

While it may be Halloween today, that doesn't mean you can't grab this book sometime soon...or even another Christie novel! I recommend The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as another great Christie book that features Hercule Poirot!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BuildASign Review: Street Sign + Business Cards

I was contacted by BuildASign about doing a review, and when I browsed the site and found the perfect item to get, I could not refuse!

Review by Lauren - product sent free of charge, but all opinions are my own

Review: The item I chose to review was a customized street sign. I clicked on signs, then street signs, and finally reflective signs until I found the perfect one!

Unfortunately, I do not have the exact sign that I made but I can explain it easily enough. In the picture above, on the second row, I got the Custom Ave. sign. A friend of mine has the last name Geiger and every time he sees this street called Geiger Ave., he jokes about wanting to take the sign because it is "his." Therefore, when I saw I could customize my own avenue sign, I knew he would be the perfect recipient.

When you personalize your sign, you can change what it says (of course) but you can also change font size, color, and well as adding clipart or other images. There was a lot I could have done, but I went super simple since I wanted my sign to look as realistic as possible for my friend.

Therefore, I kept the coloring white and simply changed Custom Ave. to Geiger Ave. Voila! A personalized sign that looks like it was taken off the street. I gave the final sign to my friend about a week ago and he was seriously shocked. He thought it was hilarious that I could actually give him "his" sign and I'm sure he'll put it up somewhere in his house. It was definitely a well-received gift.

For those of you that aren't sure what other type of people would want a street sign, I suggest guys (man cave, anyone?), kids (car-themed bedroom or playroom), or someone that just moved (you could get them a sign of their old street). There are lots of other things you can personalize on this site, though, from other signs to license plates to banners and more, so do follow the site!

Along with the sign, I was given 250 business cards. I already had cards for my business, Shooting Stars Promotion, but I've been wanting some for just my blog. I chose the above design from the personal category. I included my name, blogger, and Shooting Stars Mag at the top. At the bottom, I got rid of the phone and fax lines, and just added my email and blog URL. Everything else looks the same as above. I love it, and I'm so excited to finally have blogger cards. If you're looking for business cards for your blog, company, etc. then I'd check out the site to see if they have what you need (there is even a section that's Start from Scratch!)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Movie Review: Carrie

do not own

Carrie Movie Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.

Review: I've seen bits and pieces of the original Carrie film, but I knew I wanted to see this remake as I'm a fan of Chloe Grace Moretz, who plays the title character. While I can't compare how the movie stays true to the original film (or even the book, since I have not read that either), I can say that I really enjoyed Carrie as its own film.

Throughout most of the film, it isn't about Carrie's power. Rather, it's about her experiences dealing with bullying and abuse. The kids at her school don't understand her, and instead of trying to lend a hand, they would rather humiliate her for their own laugh. At home, things aren't much better as Carrie is coming to realize her mom has refused to give her the answers about life that she needs in order to "survive" and possibly even enjoy high school.

Honestly, I found Carrie's story horribly sad and if it wasn't for her emerging telekinetic powers, this would be a very moving contemporary story. Just imagine...the way that people treat Carrie ultimately leads to a supernatural breakdown...but what if the only "power" she had was a gun? Carrie could easily be a metaphor for school shootings. What these kids, and Carrie, resort to isn't something you can approve of, but what you can feel sorry for is what that child went through to be pushed to those extremes.

Beyond that though, the story does turn into an interesting horror film at the end with the infamous pig's blood and prom scene. Carrie has almost lost all touch with her humanity, and I think Moretz did a great job showcasing the dual natures in Carrie: wounded child who wants her mom to make it better, terrifying woman who can finally enact revenge for all her wrongs.

Everyone in Carrie did a good job with their roles, especially Julianne Moore as Carrie's mom, Margaret White, who is obviously dealing with many issues. You want to make her a villain, yet you also realize how much she is suffering as well.

Overall, I liked this movie a lot. It's not a scary film, but there is a lot of blood, for those that are squeamish about that. I can understand it coming out around Halloween, but it's not a "jump-in-your-seat and scream" type of flick that most people are looking for this time of year. Regardless, I would suggest seeing it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Review by Lauren

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

bought my own copy; opinions are all my own

Official Summary: Best friends Meg and Minnie are looking forward to two days of boys, booze, and fun-filled luxury. But what starts out as fun turns twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. And things only get worse from there. With a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the outside world . . . so when a mysterious killer begins picking them off one by one, there's no escape. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on one another, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Review: Since it's October and the month of all things spooky, I've been trying to read a variety of books that I felt fit the season. One of those is Ten by Gretchen McNeil, which I bought at a local bookstore a couple months back. I've been a fan of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie since I was in the seventh grade, so I was excited to read a modern adaptation of that famous story.

Ten focuses on Meg, who is always trying to take care of her best friend, Minnie, who suffers from anxiety and extreme jealousy. Meg even gave up her chance to be with a guy she likes because Minnie loves him too and she cannot fathom hurting her friend. It's not the healthiest relationship, and it's often very one-sided, but I could understand Meg's desire to help her friend...even if it wasn't always something you wanted her to worry about.

While on the island, everything seems to be going fairly well, even if the guy both girls like is there and focusing his attention on Meg. It isn't long before the spookiness starts to come in though. First, there is a creepy video that promises revenge...and the very first death.

I love when you read a book like this and nobody seems safe. It's told in third-person, so you aren't even sure if Meg will be displaced as the point of view since it's not really her story. The killer is writing the narration and carrying it out, always one step ahead of everyone. But is this mysterious killer one of them, or someone else hiding on the island? People begin to turn on each other as the bodies pile up, the deaths more gruesome and even more personal.

I haven't read And Then There Were None in awhile, so I can't compare too much about the book...but I will say there are some aspects similar between the two, so if you've read Christie, you might not be as surprised as someone who has not. Regardless, I did not guess the killer, which I'm glad about because it meant it wasn't completely obvious throughout.

Finally, I want to note that I liked the inclusion of bullying and its various consequences. McNeil did a great job weaving that theme throughout the book, touching on every single character's experience with it.

I'm a scaredy-cat for the most part, I'll admit it, but I did find this a creepy book to read at night, especially when people keep dying. It was a great read for Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Swapoween Goodies Reveal!

It's no surprise that I'm a bit addicted to blog swaps. I just love shopping for other people, and it's fun to get to know a new blogger in the process!! This time, I did a swap all about Halloween (cleverly titled Swapoween) which I found on Chaotic Goddess Swaps.

My partner this time was the lovely Krista from A Passion of Romance. Krista has even published some of her stories, which you can read about here.

Now...the goodies that Krista gave me! I mentioned when signing up for the swap that I liked Halloween candy and hosting parties, so a lot of my items are suitable to those two interests!

The above photo includes everything that I got in the swap. I think I made out quite well, don't you? Candy corn, fun table clothes, and a sweet card...just to name a few. I also took a few closer-up shots to try and differentiate some of the items I received.

I got some super soft black and orange socks which I will totally wear throughout the cold months! My feet are always cold. I also got some fun drink labels (the Pumpkin Potion is just one) which is adorable for a party. I also got some jello kits, some shot glasses, and lots of m and m's and mini milky way bars. Yay, chocolate!

Krista gave me a c.d. with some spooky background noises, which is adorable. I also got a caution sign and some Halloween sprinkles!
The boo sign above is too cute; I just need to find a place to hang it so it can be shown off in the house. I also got a really cool light that I can put in the USB drive on my computer to use as a light. I'm on the computer a lot at night, so I love this idea.


Thank you so much, Krista! I'm afraid that I already had my Halloween party this year (we did it early) but I'll be sure to use some of the decorations for Christmas. Yes, Christmas. My friend and I are hosting a Nightmare Before Christmas party so it will be half Halloween and half Christmas. The table clothes, for example, will be lots of fun!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Review: Swans and Klons by Nora Olsen

Swans and Klons by Nora Olsen

Review by Lauren

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

copy sent from author, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Sixteen-year-old Rubric and her unpredictable girlfriend Salmon Jo enjoy their pampered life in an all-female world being served by non-human klons, until they discover a terrible secret in the laboratory where humans and klons are grown in vats.

Review: I don't read a lot of books that fall under the science-fiction umbrella, but some really do sound good to me, so I decided to check out Swans and Klons by Nora Olsen to see what twists she had to share! The world that Rubric and her girlfriend, Salmon Jo live in is full of females. There are no males...except in another part of the world that is unsuitable for people like them. The two girls eventually realize a truth about their "perfect world" that sheds light on the way they live, and they decide to take action.

I loved that even though they might be scared, they stuck together and tried to change things. Obviously, the entire world isn't going to change by just their actions alone, but they found that it was worth it to try. I won't go into a lot of detail about this world, but I did find it easy to understand and I didn't find myself questioning the set-up. It honestly felt like something that could happen far in the future.

Also, since this world is girls only, then of course the dating scene will be girls with girls, which was a twist I really appreciated. In this setting, there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian...and it's not even called that. There is nothing different about it, because the male species is not a desirable. Intriguing, huh? It definitely adds something unique.

Overall, I liked this book. It was a quick read and something a bit different for me. I think it's still a novel many will find some unique twists in, though. My main complaint is that because it's short, it seemed to end a bit too suddenly for me. I wanted aspects of the book to continue, even if I did understand the thoughts behind their ending actions. This is a book that I'm pretty sure is a stand-alone, yet could allow for a sequel or even a companion novel.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cover Reveal: Embers and Ash by T.M. Goeglein

Cover reveal - EMBERS and ASH by Ted Goeglein, the final installment in the COLD
FURY trilogy from Penguin Books, coming in August 2014! (Book II, FLICKER and
BURN, is out now!)

I love this cover. I think the color is awesome. I'm a big fan of series that have covers that all go together, like this one!

Here are the first two books-

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday with Dream London

Waiting on Wednesday is brought to you by Breaking the Spine

Dream London by Tony Ballantyne

buy it now from The Book Depository - I'm an affiliate

Summary: In Dream London the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day. Captain Jim Wedderburn has looks, style and courage by the bucketful. He’s adored by women, respected by men and feared by his enemies. He’s the man to find out who has twisted London into this strange new world, and he knows it. But the towers are growing taller, the parks have hidden themselves away and the streets form themselves into strange new patterns. There are people sailing in from new lands down the river, new criminals emerging in the East End and a path spiralling down to another world. Everyone is changing, no one is who they seem to be, and Captain Jim Wedderburn is beginning to understand that he’s not the man he thought he was...

Out in the U.S. and Canada: October 29, 2013 (so next week!!)

Out in the U.K.: October 10 (so now!)

I Want This: Honestly, this sounds a bit different from most books that I pick up on my own, but that's half the fun. I like finding books that surprise me! This sounds fantastic, and I'm so curious about what's happening to London! I first heard about this book on The Qwillery, so thanks!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Unusual Character Names

Top Ten Tuesday comes from The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic: Top Ten Character Names I Love or Top Ten Unusual Character Names

I'm not going to specify what side of this week's topic I'm choosing, because my favorite character names tend to be the more unusual/unique ones.

1. Draco Malfoy - I love that his first name means Dragon; it's very suitable for this prickly character.

2. Sherlock Holmes- his name just seems to scream intelligence. It's a smart-sounding name.

3. Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo- the Princess Diaries books are enjoyable, and I just love Mia's full name - very fun to try and say!

4. Severus Snape- yes, another Harry Potter name, and the last, I promise! I just think this one is suitable for his character.

5. Katniss Everdeen- one of those instances where the name describes the character so well, and I just love how pretty it sounds, despite it's oddness.

6. Holden Caulfield- I like that the first name almost seems to say "hold em'" which means sense if you've read The Catcher in the Rye.

7. Atticus Finch - the name just makes me smile; it sounds like it belongs to a great guy.

8. Newland Archer- this is a character from The Age of Innocence. I just love the way the name sounds!

9. Dorian Gray - love how posh this name sounds!

10. Dean Moriarty- character from On the Road. I love how the name exudes cool and ease, just like the character behind it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

purchase through the book depository, I'm an affiliate

Review by Lauren

copy from library, all opinions are still my own

Official Summary: In these pages, Backderf tries to make sense of Jeffery Dahmer, the future serial killer with whom he shared classrooms, hallways, libraries and car rides. What emerges is a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a young man struggling helplessly against the urges, some ghastly, bubbling up from the deep recesses of his psyche. The Dahmer recounted here, although universally regarded as an inhumane monster, is a lonely oddball who, in reality, is all too human. A shy kid sucked inexorably into madness while the adults in his life fail him. The crimes Dahmer committed are incredibly depraved, infamous and unforgettable, but in My Friend Dahmer Backderf provides profound (and at times, even strangely comic) insight into how, and more important, why Jeffery Dahmer transformed from a high school nerd into the most depraved serial killer since Jack the Ripper, coming as close as anyone yet has to explaining the seemingly unexplainable phenomenon of Jeffery Dahmer.

Review: Honestly, I find serial killers very interesting. It's hard to imagine someone who would repeatedly kill, and often in horrific ways, but I'm curious to hear about some of the possible reasons. As for Jeffrey Dahmer, I didn't know much about him going into this book, but in the end, I do find sympathy for the kid that he used to be.

My Friend Dahmer is a graphic book and while it's non-fiction, it's not entirely a memoir of Backderf's. He uses his own memories and experiences with Dahmer, but he also interviewed friends of his from high school and others to get a broad picture of the type of person Dahmer was in high school...before he ever killed anyone.

The artwork is almost creepy in a way, as the people seem so much older. For instance, Dahmer appears more as an older guy than a high school teenager. With the black and white drawings, My Friend Dahmer's illustrations definitely works well at making readers realize something is a bit off.

Back in high school, Backderf wouldn't say he was friends with Dahmer. Him and the guys he hung out with were probably some of the closets friends Dahmer did have though, based on this book. One of the things this group found amusing about Dahmer was his impression of a mentally challenged man that his mom had hired to re-do the house. What the guys didn't realize at the time, though, is that Dahmer was impersonating some of his mom's own fits as well.

page from book
The above drawing depicts Dahmer doing this strange impression at the local mall. A bunch of guys paid Dahmer to do this in public, which he did, but what Backderf witnessed before the moment is that Dahmer practically inhaled many cans of beer before doing this. This was just one moment someone witnessed that showed that Dahmer was not completely okay. He had issues at home and was trying to use alcohol to numb the secret, depraved thoughts he had begun to have soon after realizing he was gay.
I won't go on and on, because this could turn into a very long discussion about the book and Jeffrey Dahmer's life and eventual crimes. I will say, though, that this is certainly a book worth reading, especially if you are interested in the psychology behind crimes and serial killers.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: Ghost the Musical

Ghost the Musical
Review by Lauren
check tour dates here

Website Summary: Adapted from the hit film by its Academy Award-winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, Ghost The Musical follows Sam and Molly, a young couple whose connection takes a shocking turn after Sam’s untimely death. Trapped between two worlds, Sam refuses to leave Molly when he learns she is in grave danger. Desperate to communicate with her, he turns to a storefront psychic who helps him protect Molly and avenge his death.

Review: To be honest, I've never fully seen the movie Ghost. However, I have a subscription to my local theater for most musicals visiting this season and the first one was Ghost, which I went and saw with my mom. In the end, we both did enjoy this adaptation.

I felt that all the actors did a wonderful job in their respective roles. My favorite was probably Oda Mae Brown, the psychic. She added much of the humor and that's one factor in almost any form of entertainment that I appreciate. The actress also has a great voice and Oda Mae's high-energy songs were a lot of fun to listen to.

Ghost is essentially a romance; one that lasts beyond death and is sure to make young couples swoon. However, I like the aspects of the story that deal with other facets of life and death. Therefore, one of my favorite songs and something I keep thinking about is "Focus" which is performed by the Subway Ghost. It's almost like a rap and spoken-word poetry all in one. If you can find it online somewhere, be sure to listen. I think I'll have to do that soon myself. I have to say though that this part was not my mom's favorite as she found it a bit odd and confusing.

The main thing that I loved about this musical was the special effects. They used some version of a screen or video (I don't know how it worked exactly) to make things appear that were not actually occurring on stage. For example, the character of Sam eventually finds himself able to go through walls, and with these effects, it looks like Sam is pushing himself through a door. I thought these effects made it much more of a movie-experience and it simply added to the story.

Overall, this is a musical that I did find rather enjoyable and I'm glad I had the chance to see it. Would I pay to see it again? Probably not for awhile, as it didn't automatically make my favorite's list.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blog Tour/Giveaway: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield

I'm excited to be part of the Stained book tour. You even have a chance to win an e-book copy of  three books by Cheryl Rainfield. Open to everyone, so please read below!

Stained by Cheryl Rainfield
Review by Lauren
copy for review, but all opinions are my own

purchase via the book depository- I'm an affiliate

Official Summary: Sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.

Review: I've been hearing about Cheryl Rainfield for awhile now, but Stained is the first chance I've had to read one of her novels. I definitely want to check out her other titles now!

Stained is the story of a girl named Sarah who is used to being the outcast, being bullied. That doesn't mean she accepts it though. She's happy to stand up for others, but when it comes to herself, she wants treatments to change the way she looks so she can know what it's like to live life without the stares of pity, disgust, humor.

Everything starts to change when Sarah is kidnapped on her way home from school. Her ordeal is horrifying and sometimes difficult to read. There are aspects of a girl getting kidnapped that the author did touch on, which I appreciated. This includes a girl's period and show how she deals with it. I doubt I'm the only one who has thought of this when you hear about teen girls getting kidnapped for over a month. I think it just made the book seem even more realistic.

Sarah's time away from home is brutal, and she's physically, sexually, and mentally abused, but she always tries to keep hope. Her attacker wants her to think the worst of herself and believe that nobody truly loves her, but Sarah is desperate to keep her thoughts true, even though it is anything but easy.

One of the things I really liked about Stained is that the book is told in dual point of view, between Sarah and a boy she goes to school with, Nick. Nick loves Sarah and wants to do anything he can to make sure she comes home his point of view allows viewers to witness the pain her parents are going through, as well as the lengths to which they go to make sure nobody gives up on Sarah, especially as the months go by and people begin to suspect she may be dead.

I will admit that parts of Sarah's point of view can be repetitive. Obviously, there isn't much different that can happen as she's locked up, so it makes sense, but it's just something I thought I'd note. As the book gets closer to the conclusion, I found myself glued to the pages, wanting to know what will happen next. It's definitely an intense conclusion!

Stained is about the parts of you hidden, the layer beneath your skin that truly defines who you are and what you can do. It's intense, but not overly graphic. I would definitely say it's suitable for older teens on up though.


Readers will get an extra entry into the grand prize of an ebook reader for every comment they leave on a blog in the tour (one extra entry per blog). Follow the tour here.

Enter Today- Open Internationally, but you must be 13 or older (or have parent permission). I have no control of these prizes once I submit the winner's name. ONE WINNER for all three books!" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Falling into Fall Swap - Sharing My Goodies

I found and signed up for the Falling into Fall Swap via Chaotic Goddess Swaps. Autumn is my favorite season, so I was excited to find a swap devoted to it!

Today, I'm excited to finally share the fun goodies I got from my partner, Veronica of Adventures of D and V.

I received a pot holder and some towels in lovely fall prints - isn't that owl adorable? I really do like owls! Then I got three fall-themed cookie cutters. I haven't used cookie cutters in a couple years now, so I think it's about time! Homemade cookies are always the best, I find.

Then I got a lovely mug, which is great, since I collect them! The eye-shadow quartet comes from Ulta. I've never used any of their products, so I'm excited. I really love the colors and I've been trying to wear more eye-shadow. The final two products I got were a hand sanitizer and lotion from Bath and Body Works. Both are great scents, and perfect for the fall!
Thanks so much!! I just adore swaps.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Graphic Memoir: Marbles by Ellen Forney

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

purchase from the book depository, I'm an affiliate

Review by Lauren

copy from library, but all opinions are still my own

Official Summary: Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.

Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to “cure” an otherwise brilliant mind.

Review: I've been trying to read more graphic novels and what made this one even more interesting for me is that it's a graphic memoir. I think this is a wonderful medium for more people to read about real people.

Ellen Forney is certainly an eclectic person who loves her art and doesn't want her newly diagnosed bipolar disorder to affect what she can do. It's a legitimate worry, as many people hear about classic writers using drugs and alcohol while working on their greatest pieces of writing. I believe Forney felt that her disorder worked in a similar fashion. Allowing her mania to run free was like being high on drugs. However, with the mania comes the depression and it's important that Forney learn to adapt to her disorder and not let it run her entire life.

page from the book

Forney begins to research famous artists in various mediums who were known for or thought to have a mental disorder. Did this allow them to create the pieces people remember today? Even so, is that reason enough not to get the help you need, which might include medicine?

Overall, this is a quick read...though I find that to be true of most graphic books. Forney's illustrative style is a bit on the cartoonish, quirky side, but it definitely works! I thought her story was interesting and I found myself learning things as the book went along. I appreciated that Forney was honest about her problems surrounding her disorder and even the ways she didn't adhere to doctor's orders.

I'm definitely glad to have read this one.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Movie Review: Prisoners

Movie: Prisoners

Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: When Keller Dover's daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?

Review: I've been wanting to see this movie for awhile now, and I was finally able to do so this past weekend. If you love psychological thrillers, then you must watch this. In theaters, when it comes out on DVD; it doesn't matter! Just get your hands on a copy.

As the brief summary states, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is desperate to find his and his friend's daughters, who went missing on Thanksgiving. The initial suspect is Alex Jones (played wonderfully by Paul Dano) but the police let him go after questioning doesn't lead to any answers. The detective, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is doing his best to find these girls...but it's obvious he has his own issues and Dover isn't helping matters. Dover is so obsessed with the idea that Alex Jones knows something that it leads him to doing horrific things.

Prisoners is intense, but it's not overly gory. The violence is not gratuitous and does not occur over and over. Most of what happens is shown as an after affect or simply left to the imagination- which is often worse than seeing something. What I found fascinating about this movie is that the violence comes from the supposed "good guys" as well as the "bad." There is a thin line between good and evil, desperate and deranged.

Everyone is a prisoner in this movie. The girls that were kidnapped, the parents and families that just want their kids back, and the title goes even further...but I don't want to give too much away. I knew a bit more than I'm saying going in to the movie based on the previews, but I think it's nice to know as little as possible if you can make it happen.

Obviously, this is a bit of an emotional film, and I would wager more so for actual parents. I think the actions of these parents will make you think "what if" and as for anything else concerning the children, I'd be happy to answer questions via email in case you're curious! I don't want to post too much that people would see as a spoiler.

In the end, I think this was a very well-done movie with amazing actors!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mini Review: I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman - affiliate link if you want this book

Mini Review by Lauren

my copy, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: There was your photo, in a magazine. Of course, you are older now. Still, I'd know you anywhere.

Suburban wife and mother Eliza Benedict's peaceful world falls off its axis when a letter arrives from Walter Bowman. In the summer of 1985, when Eliza was fifteen, she was kidnapped by this man and held hostage for almost six weeks. Now he's on death row in Virginia for the rape and murder of his final victim, and Eliza wants nothing to do with him. Walter, however, is unpredictable when ignored—as Eliza knows only too well—and to shelter her children from the nightmare of her past, she'll see him one last time.

But Walter is after something more than forgiveness: He wants Eliza to save his life . . . and he wants her to remember the truth about that long-ago summer and release the terrible secret she's keeping buried inside.

Review: I actually own a few novels by Laura Lippman, but I decided to make this the first one I read. Simply put, this won't be my last. There is a sense of a mystery within this novel, but it's mostly about Eliza coming to terms (in a sense) with what she went through as a fifteen year old.

Walter has been in jail for years, on death row for the murder of another girl. Eliza is Walter's only victim left alive. For me, this aspect was the greatest mystery. Why did Walter keep Eliza alive, over everyone else?

I'd Know You Anywhere switches point of views, but not too often, so it's easy to follow. In the beginning, it goes back and forth between present day Eliza and the past, when she was kidnapped by Walter. Then it's only adult Eliza, mixed in with a bit of Walter and the murdered girls' mother, who is desperate for some kind of justice.

I liked that Lippman shared various aspects of the story, so you feel like you're getting the larger story. Not everyone is handling things well. Some want the past buried, while others cling to it as if there is nothing left.

The premise behind this book is a bit chilling, but overall, it's a psychological study of trauma and it's various affects on those who come into contact with it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tune in Tuesday + Gift Guide Based on Song

Tune in Tuesday comes from Katelyn at Tales of Books and Bands and this week, I wanted to share a song and then gift items that go along with it!

This is Ylvis singing "The Fox (What does the fox say)?" They are two brothers from Norway who made this video as a joke for a talk show they are on. I believe that's right; I saw them on Ellen, who was a big fan. I'm sure a lot of you have heard of this song before, but if not, check it out. It's quite amusing!

And now...

Gift Guide for the Fox Lover

Fox Pillow- Woodland Plush from the etsy shop Clairey Lou Creations

Shipping isn't too expensive, which is awesome. It's actually cheapest in the U.K. though since the shop is based there!

Rose Gold Fox Ring from the etsy shop petit formal

Shipping is the same everywhere, and this shop is full of wonderful jewelry items! You're bound to find something you like. The above ring is even adjustable!

Animal Journal/Fox Diary from the etsy shop boygirlparty

The Site Says: Illustrated throughout by me, formally printed and published by Chronicle Books!

How exciting! You know you're getting good quality here!

Fox t-shirt from Gnome Enterprises

I love how many options there are for this shirt - crew neck, scoop neck, and V-neck (all are unisex, except the scoop neck, which is only for women).

F is for Fox Square Canvas Pillow from café press

Isn't this adorable? You can even choose from a few different colors for the outline of the pillow! And if you like the design, but not the pillow, you can get a keepsake box or framed tile with the same picture.

Hidden Animal Fox Teacup from pure home

I would love one of these! Fill up the teacup, and as you drink, the fox begins to appear! You can get cups like these with other animals too.

What Does the Fox Say long-sleeved shirt from the etsy shop evmodernbaby

Finally, I leave you with this adorable long-sleeved shirt for kids (quoting the above song!). It comes in a lot of sizes too, so hopefully you'll find something for your child! I think it's hilarious that this is based on the song, but it's also just super cute for kids.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: First Person Plural by Andrew W.M. Beierle

First Person Plural by Andrew W.M. Beierle

Review by Lauren

Buy through The Book Depository

bought a copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Owen and Porter Jamison are conjoined twins inhabiting one body with two heads, one torso, and two very different hearts. As children, they're seen as a single entity-Owenandporter, or more often, Porterandowen. As they grow to adulthood, their differences become more pronounced: Porter is outgoing and charismatic while Owen is cerebral and artistic. When Porter becomes a high school jock hero, complete with cheerleader girlfriend, a greater distinction emerges, as Owen gradually comes to realize that he's gay.

Owen, a reluctant romantic, is content at first to settle for unrequited crushes. Porter's unease with his brother's sexuality leaves Owen feeling increasingly alienated from his twin, especially when Porter falls in love with Faith, and Owen becomes the unwilling third side of a complicated love triangle. When Owen finally begins to explore his own desires, the rift grows deeper. As Porter and Owen's carefully balanced arrangement of give-and-take, sacrifice and selfishness, is irrevocably shattered, each twin is left fighting for his relationship-and his future-in a battle of wills where winning seems impossible, and losing unthinkable . .

Review: I've been trying to read some of my own books more these days, especially titles I've had on the shelf for years, like this one. I'm glad that I finally opened this one up because it's such a fascinating premise. Conjoined twins are interesting to me, because it's difficult to think of what life would be like if you were never able to leave someone. What makes First Person Plural even more interesting, of course, is that one of these twins is gay.

Porter is the "alpha" brother if you will. He's the high school jock with the cheerleader girlfriend. On the other hand, you have Owen who is more internal and would rather hide in the background than be a part of the party crowd. First Person Plural is entirely told through Owen's point of view, so it's easy to relate to him more and push most of your sympathy his way. However, one must remember that despite Porter's tendency to take control and make Owen do things his way, he's still in a similar situation as his brother - neither of them can leave each other.

The novel covers a lot of years, going through various stories and moments in the twins' lives. It isn't until about halfway through that the book focuses on a more condensed period of time. This is when Porter has fallen for a young girl named Faith, and now Owen has to deal with a serious relationship in Porter's life that equally affects him. There is the issue of sex, of course, which is a topic discussed throughout the book. While there is descriptions of and discussions about various aspects of sex, I wouldn't say it was overly graphic. It seemed to be just enough to get the point across without overdoing things, which was nice. Obviously, sex isn't something you can ignore when one of the twins has fallen for someone (first Porter, but later Owen does too) because the brothers have to figure out how to deal with each other's different sexualities. Porter is ultimately more and more accepting of Owen, but he wants there to be a clear line that shows everyone he is not gay. Owen is more understanding about the issue. He wants Porter to be able to find and keep love, and when it comes to Faith, he doesn't want her to be uncomfortable with having him there.

Things never stay good for long though. It always seems to come down to Porter and Owen. They have to find what works for them both, despite what others in their life believe or can deal with. It isn't always easy, but as a reader, you hope they can make it work and find happiness.

First Personal Plural was a fascinating book, though sometimes I wished we had more about Owen's life. It seemed to focus a lot on Porter... and Owen having to deal with Porter's wants and needs. Also, there were things that Owen seemed to repeat throughout the novel concerning his relationship with Porter, like how he's always second-best and the child that their parents didn't really want. It's certainly a sensitive topic for him, but it's a bit repetitive after awhile. Overall, I am glad to have read this one!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gift Guide- Let's Hear it for the Boys!

Gift Guide for Men
This is a general list, focusing on teens and adult males. If you want more specific ideas, let me know!

Man Cans Candles- visit the site

Each candle is $9.50 and there is a variety to choose from (you can see 3 in the photo above). I think I'd really like the Fresh Cut Grass the best! I think this would make a nice gift for that bachelor you know. They need to keep the apartment/house refreshed, right? Even if the scent is Bacon...

Man Crates - visit the site

These are a bit more pricey, but the crates do vary in exact price, so you can hopefully find something of interest and that fits your budget. I love that each crate comes with a crow bar to open! Honestly, some of these crates would be fun for girls too though...I mean, I know my sister would love this NFL Grilling Kit since she loves football and grilling. But my brother would also like it!

Man Tin- get from Amazon UK

Girls have plenty of boxes and treasure chests full of their belongings, but what about the guys? Well, now those of you in the U.K. can get the guys in your life the Man Tin. It's less than ten pounds, which is always great! Amazon UK even suggests filling the tin with some of the guy's favorite things, which I LOVE! It makes it even more personable and wouldn't cost too much if you focus on small items like a favorite candy bar, etc.

Comic Photo Frame

Buy in the UK
Buy in the US

PrezzyBox says: Simply add your photos to the frame and you’ll be able to look back on those memories forever. But there’s so much more to this frame. Add your own humorous twist with the re-usable speech bubbles and pen.

I love this idea! I think it would be perfect for teens/guys in their twenties. It's reusable, creative, and allows the recipient's inner comic book dreams to come true!

Repurposed Coin Guitar Picks - get from Uncommon Goods

Two quarters are $20 and two dollars are $25. I love this idea. It's not too expensive, and it's certainly unique. Do you have a guitar player in your life that could use something a bit different for a change? Check these out!

Steampunk Men's Leather Wrist Watch - get from the etsy shop Watch Graceful

I think this watch is amazing! It would be perfect for any steampunk fans, but really, most handy-man guys would probably enjoy this one! You can get it now for $28.99 and guess what?! Shipping to a lot of countries is only $5.99 (that means those of you in the U.S., U.K, Germany, and more!)

Alright, that's 6 gifts to get you started on your upcoming shopping trips for the guys in your life! If you want a more specific list for men, please let me know in the comments. Otherwise, you can email me and I'll help you with a set person you know!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Swapoween- Take Part in a Blogger Swap

I love Halloween, and I love blog hops! It's a fun way to shop for other people (which I love to do), but to also get some exciting goodies in exchange.

If you're interested in shopping for some Halloween items for a fellow blogger, then please sign up here. Sign-ups end on October 5, so hurry!

I found this swap at Chaotic Goddess Swaps! I'm currently doing a Fall- themed swap with them now. I have all my goodies ready to mail and I can't wait to see what I get in return. :)