Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mental Health Awareness Month + New Features

 This June, The Blog of Erised and Uncorked Thoughts are honoring Mental Health Awareness Month. I think what they are doing is a great thing, and if you want to help spread the word about mental health, you should sign up. All you have to do is read and review books that deal with various mental health issues during the month of June. I have a lot scheduled ahead of time, but I am going to try and review at least a couple books that fit the bill, so come and join me! Check out the details and link up here.

I also wanted to share some new feature ideas that I hope to start implementing in June as well. I already have Theming Thursday, but I also hope to add-

Shooting Thoughts: these will be discussion posts and things of that nature

Star Match: this will be where I match up blogs that I think are similar and would enjoy each other's content.

Bridge the Gap: I have a blog with this title already and the original idea was to include reviews of entertainment from other countries. Since the blog was a bit much to handle, I wanted to make this a feature where I can still review movies, books, music, etc. from other countries (aka anything other than the United States, where I live).

I have a really bad "banner" for my Theming Thursday posts that I made myself but nothing yet for the three new ideas above. I'd love a little button or banner for each of these (so four in all). If you or someone you know is good at that sort of thing, please get in touch or let me know! I'm willing to pay of course. I'd really like things to have a nicer look. You can email me here: lauren51990 AT aol DOT COM

Friday, May 30, 2014

Birthday Book Review: celebraTORI by Tori Spelling

celebraTORI: Unleashing Your Inner Party Planner to Entertain Friends and Family by Tori Spelling

Review by Lauren

Source: Library, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In this delightfully entertaining, must-have party companion, Tori shares all the tips and tricks she’s learned from her most successful soirees (and a few train wrecks). It’s like having your own personal party planner for a fraction of the cost!

celebraTORI is not just instructional, it’s inspirational. Hosting an event is not about ticking to-dos off a list; it’s about turning an organic idea into a fun day you and your guests won’t forget—so much so that you just can’t wait to do it again . . . with a different theme, of course. Tori covers all the basics, from discovering new reasons to celebrate and choosing a concept, to decorating, creating flower arrangements, making refreshments, and building the corner-stone of any great party: the dessert table! The best part is that all of her suggestions, including her mouthwatering recipes, are 100 percent do-it-yourself.

Filled with lots and lots of great advice, handy blueprints, and hilarious anecdotes, celebraTORI will be the most important guest at your next party. It’s the perfect foundation for taking life’s special occasions up a notch . . . or five.

Review: Happy Birthday to me!!! In honor of that, I knew I had to share my review of this party planning book as I love to host parties. Plus, Tori Spelling is all about themes or "concepts" as she says, and so am I! I really appreciated the various tips and ideas that Tori shares in her book, as well as some of the "train wrecks" she has experienced planning parties all these years.

One of the things that Tori does not like are internet invitations, and I do agree that they aren't as fun or personable. However, with my friends, I tend to just invite them through an event on Facebook. It's the best way to get a hold of everyone, keep track of replies, and I can even add a fun cover that suits the theme. I do agree with Tori in terms of physical invites being best though, and if I could do that, I would. I liked her more extravagant invitation ideas where you offer a little gift that suits the theme of the party. This would be really cute for a kid's party if you weren't inviting too many people.

I really liked the various How-To posts on how to make decorations and food items for your parties. I'm all about finding new ideas, and decorations are certainly something I could do better with for future events.

The above photo shows you a How-To on making Lucite Mum Balls. These are too cute and they don't look extremely difficult to make! Tori is all about flowers for any party, and she has a section in the book that talks all about it. I think flowers can be nice at times, but they are definitely not something I plan into my budget for everything.

But speaking of budget! I love that Tori keeps a nice focus on budget and offers ways to get good items for cheap. It's easy to think of a celebrity party planner only getting high-end, expensive items, but Tori is different. She wants the best party for less, and I can really appreciate that. I've planned a lot of themed parties over the years and it can add up, especially if you have a large guest list.

DIY Spa Brunch
 The end of the book includes full details on how to do your own themed parties. She includes ideas from Game Night to a DIY Spa Brunch. These are definitely two ideas I would love to put together, and there are other party examples as well to check out, so be sure to browse the book when you can!

Overall, I really liked this book and I read through the entire thing in only a couple days. I would love to get a copy for myself sometime soon to have on hand!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Theming Thursday: My Last Four Parties

Tomorrow is my birthday (I turn 24, in case you were curious) and so I thought I would use today's Theming Thursday to share some of the last themed parties I threw. If you aren't aware, I have a blog called All Grown Up Parties where I share parties and crafts that are for adults (though baby showers ARE included). You can follow along if you wish, but I try and post here at some point about any updates I make to the blog, since there isn't as much to post as there is on this blog.

Last October, a couple friends and I held a British themed Halloween party. Here is a shot of our kitchen table with food. You can find more details here.

For Christmas, a friend and I held a Nightmare Before Christmas themed party. The above photo is my friend's tree which she covered in fake cobwebs. For more details and photos, go here.

Near the end of February, I hosted a Favorite Things party with a "valentine's day/hearts theme." The above photo is some of the food we had and myself before the party. More details can be found here.

And finally, in the beginning of April, I held a Tim Burton themed baby shower for a friend of mine. This photo shows you most of the treats table with rice krispie and cake pops, cookies, candy, and there was even a Jack Skellington cake! More about the party can be found here.

There you have it! The last four parties I have planned and hosted. I have something a bit small going on this Saturday for my birthday, but I will share details soon!

What's the last party you threw, and did you have a theme?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Review by Lauren

copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. One of the local teens - just a couple of years older than Rose and Windy - is caught up in something bad... Something life threatening.

It's a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

Review: This One Summer reminds me of one of those classic best friend films. Now and Then for girls; Stand By Me for boys. Every summer, Rose and her parents go to the beach and stay in a lake house. Nearby is Windy, and the two girls become fast friends. This One Summer takes place when the girls are close to fourteen and starting to grow up.

Windy is still a young girl in many ways. She's confused by some grown up topics, yet still interested. She'd much rather run around, having fun, and swimming in the ocean. Rose, on the other hand, is much more fascinated by the older teens in the town, particularly a boy who works at the convenience store. She isn't attracted to him, per se, but she is curious about his life and his friends. The boy, Duncan, who Windy likes to call the Dud, is in trouble and the two girls do what they can to learn the if watching a favorite soap opera.

Due to Rose's faster maturation and her parents continued fighting, the authors clearly show how she is moving away from Windy. She gets annoyed by her behavior and jokes. At the same time, though, this particular summer shows the power of a good friend and how sometimes that's all you need to feel a little better about your lot in life.

I thought This One Summer was a layered graphic novel, touching on various issues. Everything felt cohesive though, and you could easily see this summer occurring in someone's life. The artwork was well done, with a lot of attention paid to detail. I liked that instead of being done in black and white, the coloring was more blue and white, reminiscent of the ocean.

Overall, I think this is a great novel for a variety of ages. It's definitely aimed at girls, but I like how it empowers the women within, despite the issues they face. They are shown as multi-layered individuals, unique to their own lives and situations. Definitely a positive!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: See You In Hell by Demelza Carlton (+ Tour Giveaway)

See You In Hell by Demelza Carlton

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from CBB Book Promotions; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Hate your job? Try working in HELL!

Melody Angel takes a job as a temp at the HELL Corporation. Surrounded by eternal bureaucracy gone mad, demons who love making life miserable, and dying for a decent coffee, it may take a miracle for Mel’s mission to succeed. She must find out what evil plans the Lord of Lies has up his sleeve and stop him, using any means necessary. Lucifer and his minions are out to take over the world, but there’s more than money at stake when the Devil drives.

Adding trouble and temptation to Mel’s job is Luce Iblis, the damnably hot CEO, who has set his smouldering eyes on the new office angel and is determined to claim her, body and soul.

Can ultimate evil and angelic perfection escape a limbo of desire and find a paradise of their own?

 Review: I'm taking part in the book blog tour for See You in Hell, which is about an angel named Mel who is placed in the HELL Corporation to try and find Lucifer, as he is planning on expanding his business and the angels definitely want to stop that. Mel is a lovable heroine. She might be an angel, but that doesn't mean she can't relish a bit in the human side of things, from caffeine to even sex. Besides that though, she's a great person who genuinely likes to help people, even if those "people" are demons. The book has characters note a few times that Mel is unlike any angel they have met before, as other angels who have temped at the HELL corporation tended to stick up their noses at the demons. Mel refuses to do this, even with the CEO Luce. She's seen his soul and it's not nearly as dark as she expected.

Luce is an amusing guy. He tries to repeatedly get Mel to either sleep with him or at least go out on a date with him. Mel's strong though and can resist that particular temptation. Ultimately though, Mel begins to feel bad for Luce. She sees his attempts at getting her to be more and more eager, though sometimes desperate. Here is a guy who should be able to seduce any girl he wants, but he only has eyes for Mel...and she's not sure she can just walk away from his inner torment.

I thought the whole idea behind See You In Hell was interesting. I liked the set up and how the HELL corporation felt like any other boring office job. The demons that Mel work with were pretty fleshed out, and it was intriguing to see how they differed from her original ideas of demons. Mel begins to become part of them, in a community way, and they don't want to see her leave them.

My biggest complaint about this book though was the plot...or the lack of it. Not that there aren't things to be done or figured out, but sometimes I felt like there was too much set up or "everyday moments" to really entice the reader to keep going. I guess I wanted there to be bigger stakes, or a more interesting mystery. I will say I'm curious about the very end of the book though, so I'd be keen to see what happens next.

Thanks to CBB Book Promotions for letting me read this book and take part in the tour!

Author Bio:

Demelza Carlton has always loved the ocean, but on her first snorkelling trip she found she was afraid of fish.

She has since swum with sea lions, sharks and sea cucumbers and stood on spray drenched cliffs over a seething sea as a seven-metre cyclonic swell surged in, shattering a shipwreck below.

Demelza now lives in Perth, Western Australia, the shark attack capital of the world.

The Ocean's Gift series was her first foray into fiction, followed by her suspense thriller Nightmares trilogy. She swears the Mel Goes to Hell series ambushed her on a crowded train and wouldn't leave her alone.

Connect with the author:


$20 Gift Card (INT)

Tour Schedule:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: This Star Won't Go Out + Song Pick

This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl

Visit the This Star Won't Go Out foundation

Review by Lauren

copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In full color and illustrated with art and photographs, this is a collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 16. Essays by family and friends help to tell Esther’s story along with an introduction by award-winning author John Green who dedicated his #1 bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars to her.

Review: I'll admit that I didn't know who Esther Grace was when she was alive. I just learned about her recently via Tumblr due to the release of her book. It was put together by her parents and includes writing from them, other family members, and friends. But most of all, this is the words and thoughts and feelings of Esther. She loved to write and she desperately wanted to make a difference, despite having fatal cancer. Through reading this book I can truly say that Esther did change the world for the better and she continues to do so even now.

John Green (yes, that John Green) met Esther and her sister in person and from that moment on, John and Esther became unique friends. For Esther's Make-a-Wish event, where she invited internet friends around the U.S. to come and visit her, John Green joined as well. His introduction truly shows how much he cared for and thought of Esther. It's a wonderful start to Esther's story, in her own words and others.

 The book includes many excerpts from Esther's various journals, where she documents what it's like to be a teen girl with cancer. She notes when she's upset or gets mad easily, but she also tries to remember the good in her life and that God is always there for her. God is a big part of Esther's life, so if that might bother you to read about, I wouldn't suggest this book. However, I think Esther expresses how a lot of people feel...she believes in and loves God, but she also just wants to be an ordinary teenage girl.

One of the aspects of Esther's story that I could personally relate to are her internet friends. She doesn't have much energy to get out much, so Esther uses blogs, Skype, Youtube, and more to share her thoughts with the world and receive feedback from others. Esther becomes part of a loving group called Catitude, who spend much of their internet time becoming best of friends. They laugh and have dumb jokes, but they also share their fears and wishes for the future. Many of the members of Catitude share their thoughts about Esther in the book and it's wonderful to hear from them. I have been part of various "groups" on the internet, but the biggest one was an online book club that truly did change me and gave me new friends. I wouldn't be writing this for you now if it weren't for that club, so I can understand the wonderful nature of Catitude and other groups like it.

In the end, I'm glad that I read Esther's story. She was a brave young woman who changed a lot of people for the better. The book might seem long, but it's not; it's a quick read. Definitely check it out.

Song Choice-

Since Esther is such a fan of music, I thought it was only appropriate to share a song that I feel fits her and her story. This is one of Relient K's songs that directly reference God; they are a Christian band, but they sing about other things too.

Relient K- "Getting Into You"

"I'm getting into you
Because you got to me, in a way words can't describe
I'm getting into you
Because I've got to be
You're essential to survive
I'm going to love you with my life"

Friday, May 23, 2014

Movies I Didn't Realize Were Books

Last week I had a post titled Books I Didn't Realize Were, I'm going to share...

Movies I Didn't Realize Were Books

Mrs. Doubtfire is something I remember watching and enjoying when I was a child. What I didn't know, until last summer, is that it was based on a novel.

Madame Doubtfire was written by Anne Fine and released first in the U.K. It then came out in the U.S. under the name Alias Madame Doubtfire. The book was written in 1987 and the film version came out in 1993.

I took an Alfred Hitchcock film class about a year ago and through that I saw the film Psycho. I had definitely heard of it before, but this was my first time viewing it. I think it's a great film, but I never knew it was based on a book until I came across the audiobook at the library.

The book is Psycho by Robert Bloch. The book was released in 1959 and the movie came out in 1960. Bloch also wrote two sequels titled Psycho II (1982) and Psycho House (1990).

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Theming Thursday: Bridal Showers

Welcome back to Theming Thursday. June is fast approaching and that usually starts a big aspect of "Wedding Season" so today, I thought I'd share some fun gift options and ideas to use for a Bridal Shower (girls only or co-ed).

Catch My Party offers some adorable free Bridal Shower printables. I think these are great colors for the springtime!

Perpetually Daydreaming offers some adorable cupcake topper printables for free. They say things like "From Miss to Mrs." and "Bride to Be."

Personalized Brides offers a few different Bridal Shower games; all these printables are free! They come in red, pink, and purple, and there is even a How Well Do You Know the Groom game if you want to have a co-ed party. One for the bride and one for the groom!

Craftaholics Anonymous offers some free printables for a really cute Bridal Shower game. There are staches for the groom and tiaras for the bride. The host of the party asks the Bride and Groom the same questions before the shower. Then, at the shower, they read off the question and give ONE answer. The guests have to put up the stache if they think the groom said it or the tiara if they think the bride said it. She has square printables for those that can't print and cut out the shapes.

I like that this game can be done with a co-ed shower too!

Wedding Bee includes some information about this cute idea called Meet the Maids. I saw this on pinterest and it was tagged as "In a little frame, post a picture of each girl and tell how you met and why you chose them to be in your wedding." You can set these out at the actual wedding too, but I think having them at the shower could be fun! You can obviously do this with the groomsmen too if you wish!

The above photo is from Yahoo, but the idea is seen all around the blog world. People tend to use this for a Gender Reveal party. You use a pink sharpie to highlight She and a blue sharpie to highlight He on various Hershey bars. I saw this recently and thought it would be fun to use at a co-ed shower too. These could even be cheap and easy party favors, as well as decorations!

And finally, The Krazy Coupon Lady shares some fun and clever gift baskets for the Bride and Groom to be! Here is the sign you could use (if you visit the link, there are a couple other signs to do too!)

On (enter date of wedding), (Groom’s Name) and (Bride’s name) will PLEDGE themselves to each other and(Bride’s name) will GAIN a new last name. It’s no SECRET that their life will be full of JOY. We know you think your HONEY is FANTASTIC but your CHARMIN fella might not always be MR. CLEAN. You might have to put in some EXTRA effort and give your counters a SOFT SCRUB. Remember to always SNUGGLE up close at night. At DAWN take on the new day and live your lives in total BLISS.

I really like this idea because it's great for both bride and groom, it's creative but easy to put together, and all the items are things the couple could definitely use! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Confessions

Confessions by Kanae Minato

Out: August 19, 2014

Summary: Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge.

After an engagement that ended in tragedy, all Yuko Moriguchi had to live for was her four-year-old child, Manami. Now, after a heartbreaking accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.

 But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that will upend everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.
Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you'll never see coming, Confessions probes the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in harm's way. You'll never look at a classroom the same way again.

Want: I know I've been waiting on some slightly "darker" sounding books, but I think psychology and gritty, realistic moments in books are fascinating. This one definitely fits the bill and I'm very curious about the set up - since it's narrated in alternating voices!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Batman: The Long Halloween + Make it a Gift

Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

Review by Lauren

copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Taking place during Batman's early days of crime fighting, this new edition of the classic mystery tells the story of a mysterious killer who murders his prey only on holidays. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month. A mystery that has the reader continually guessing the identity of the killer, this story also ties into the events that transform Harvey Dent into Batman's deadly enemy, Two-Face.

Review: I've been wanting to read this collection of Batman comics for awhile now. I finally found a copy checked in at my library, so I immediately grabbed it and read it over a couple days. It's a quick read that certainly keeps you guessing about the culprit. Batman is desperate to believe in two men, Harvey Dent and James Gordon, but throughout these Holiday killings, things begin to change and he's not sure who he can trust. There's also the ever-present Catwoman who seems to be on both, and yet neither, side all at the same time.

Gordon, Batman, and Dent (left to right)
I don't want to go on and on about this graphic novel as I know not everyone reads Batman stories. Let met just say that it's a wonderful mystery with many noir elements. Batman is out to save Gotham City, but this Holiday killer is intent on eluding him and the police force. There are also plenty of other Batman villains to watch out for too like The Joker and Scarecrow. I will admit that some aspects were a bit confusing to read, but overall, I could follow along well enough. I think this would make a great Batman film though, as it features many classic characters and a mystery that is sure to keep everyone guessing until the very end.

Make it a Gift

If you want to buy a copy of this book for a friend, then you may want to think about adding another item to really make a gift!

How about this Batman: The Long Halloween Coaster Set?

All of the illustrations on these four coasters comes from The Long Halloween graphic novel. You get the Joker, Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Batman (the cover), and another shot of Batman/Harvey Dent. Mile High Makings offers this set for $15.

This was read for the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: 1,227 Quite Interesting Facts To Blow Your Socks Off

1,227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin

Review by Lauren

copy from library; all opinions are my own

Review: This book really doesn't need explaining. As the title suggests, this is a book full of 1,227 "quite interesting" facts. All in all, I really appreciated most of what was included in this volume and I would love to read similar books. I think learning random facts is a lot of fun. Sometimes it even makes you want to look into the fact more and learn the details surrounding it.

Since this book is essentially self-explanatory, there really isn't a lot to say other than I recommend it. The authors are British so there are some facts included that I didn't completely understand, but most of what it's included would be suitable for any reader. This book would make an awesome gift for that hard to buy person or even to use as a stocking stuffer during the holiday season.

And now, I want to share some of the book's interesting facts to show you what you can expect:

"Oranges and lemons smell different due to chemically identical molecules that are mirror images of each other. An orange is really just a left-handed lemon."

"The boa constrictor is the only living animal whose common name is exactly the same as its scientific name."
-p. 69

"The inventor of 'Best before' dates - originally for milk- was Al Capone's brother Ralph."

"In 2011, cheese was the most stolen food in the world."

And there you have it, some of the facts included in this book! I really enjoyed reading this and would love to own a copy. While reading the book I shared many of the facts either in person with my family or on Facebook. A lot of people seemed to enjoy them, so this is definitely suitable for many.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bout of Books Finale!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. It was a week long venture to read as much as you could, and it's the first read-a-thon I've ever done. It was a lot of fun, though next time I need to sign up earlier so I can actually take part in challenges and the like.

Anyway, I'm finished with my reading for the week and I read a total of FIVE books. That's amazing for me, as I'm not the fastest reader. You can read all my updates here

I read-

1. See You In Hell by Demelza Carlton
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
3. I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? by Suzy Becker
4. The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
5. The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson

These were a review book, two books I owned (one for a book club), and two I had from the library. Again, I'm so excited to have gotten through so many books this past week. It was my first full week of "summer vacation" (from school at least) so that gave me more time to read for fun.

Coffin Hill: Forest of the Night

Coffin Hill Vol. 1- Forest of the Night by Caitline Kittredge and Inaki Miranda

Release Date: May 20

Review by Lauren

copy from netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Following a night of sex, drugs and witchcraft in the woods, Eve Coffin wakes up naked, covered in blood and unable to remember how she got there. One friend is missing, one is in a mental ward-and one knows that Eve is responsible.

Years later, Eve returns to Coffin Hill, only to discover the darkness that she unleashed ten years ago in the woods was never contained. It continues to seep through the town, cursing the soul of this sleepy Massachusetts hollow, spilling secrets and enacting its revenge.

Review: Most of the graphic novels that I read are appropriate for a teenage crowd, but Coffin Hill is different. I would recommend it more for older teens and adults because it does touch on some more adult themes.

As for the novel, I think it was interesting, though a bit confusing. I think my main problem is that I read this on the computer and that's probably not the best way to experience a graphic novel. Therefore, I would say that what I had trouble comprehending mostly came from trying to follow along on a screen. I would love to check out this book in print format, especially for the wonderful illustrations. They were dark and eerie, but perfectly suited for this novel. I also really liked how the artist overlapped scenes, placing a large picture of a character over two sections. It's hard to explain, but definitely unique.

Growing up as a teenager, Eve Coffin rebelled against her rich family, running into the woods and practicing magic with her friends. It takes a tragedy for her to realize she's messing with things she doesn't really understand. Eve eventually leaves her hometown, but circumstances bring about her return and she realizes the secrets of the woods are not over yet. More kids are going missing, and two of Eve's old friends are involved.

Coffin Hill is punk rock in book form. It's black clothes and dark magic. It's blood, sex, and violence. It's also Eve Coffin, growing up and wishing she could change her past; feeling guilty for those she hurt and wanting to make amends. It's Eve Coffin returning to an unwelcome home, but hoping to possibly find love anyway.

I would definitely read more of these Coffin Hill graphic novels. I found this world to be fascinating and perfect for someone like me who is intrigued by the Salem witches (which are related to Eve and her family). I'd definitely suggest grabbing a physical version of this book if you can; it seems like the best way to get the most out of the story!

This was read for the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge