Fragment Friday: Infinite Days

Happy Friday everyone!
That means it’s time for Fragment Friday, a weekly event hosted by Book Chic Club where we read passages from books that we’re currently reading or that we love!
Check out my pick:
*****
It’s time for the Book Blogger Hop from Crazy for Books!
Today’s question:Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

I do — it’s a five star rating system. You can see it over there —–>

Click on the different ratings and you’ll get a list of books that have each rating.

I chose this system because it’s similar to the system used by Goodreads.

It makes it easier for me to categorize books in my head.

Most of my ratings are four- to five-star ratings. Why? It’s not because I’m easy on the books, but because I specifically select books to review that interest me. If I choose a book to review, I’m probably going to like it. :)

*****

If you’re a new follower, leave me a comment letting me know, and I’ll follow you back!Also!

While you’re here, don’t forget to enter my Waiting on Mockingjay giveaway to win fabulous Hunger Games accessories!

Happy Friday everyone!

May Your Knights Be Golden

IMG_2559 edited
Earlier this week, my dad had the opportunity of a lifetime: to skydive with the Golden Knights.
He’s a high school counselor, and works very closely with military recruiters.
IMG_2505 edited
So, when the U.S. Army Golden Knights offered to tandem jump with some local celebrities and educators, my dad jumped at the chance.
IMG_2511
There he is. Doesn’t he look excited?
IMG_2514 edited
Here he is with local weather forecaster Fiona Gorostiza.
As you know, we live in Texas, land of unpredictable weather.
It has been HOT (like over 100 degrees every day) and DRY for the past several weeks.
Well, of course, it had to rain the *one* day they were scheduled to skydive.
IMG_2544
The sky was GRAY and the clouds were HEAVY.
IMG_2548
So, while we were waiting for the clouds to (hopefully!) clear up, the Golden Knights did a demo jump.
IMG_2530 edited
Because they were jumping alone, they could jump from a much lower altitude and avoid the layer of clouds that we were hoping would go away.
IMG_2555 edited
Some of the jumpers came flying in really fast, and others just kind of coasted in.
IMG_2557 edited
It was so cool to get to be so close to them as they landed.
IMG_2551 edited
On the ground, they had that massive parachute to deal with.
IMG_2565
We got to see a demonstration of how they repacked their own parachutes.
IMG_2576
It was really interesting to watch and learn.
But, after much waiting, the weather finally decided to make up its mind and stay cloudy.
So, the tandem jump was postponed.
In fact, my dad is jumping TODAY. But I don’t think I’ll be able to go and take photos. I’m really bummed.
But it was fun to get to learn a little bit more about the Golden Knights, and take some photos of them!
Thanks for looking!
My dad got the chance to skydive with the Golden Knights. And while Mother Nature had other plans, we got to see the Knights in action!

Review: Mockingjay

The Hunger Games is one of those books that stays with you.
I read it earlier this year, after I had started following a book message board and it was highly recommended by all of the members. I devoured it in one night. The next day, I couldn’t get my hands on Catching Fire, the sequel, fast enough.
That was all before I started this blog, so I didn’t write reviews of the books, or even record my thoughts on them somewhere. One day, I might.
But I *have* recommended them to anyone who will listen to me. My family. My friends. I’m sure they are tired of listening to me talk about the genius of Suzanne Collins.
I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’m just disturbed by stories about governments using and manipulating children. But this series *got* to me.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins in the third, and final, installment in the series.
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. 
Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.”
– Description from Goodreads
Ok, so I’m just going to talk about my feelings regarding this book for a bit. Then, I’ll show you the cover, the rating and the link to purchase it.
 
After that, will be spoilers. So, if you haven’t read it yet — don’t go past the cover below!
 
This story is *powerful.* It’s told from Katniss’ point of view, which is one of the best things it has going for it.
 
Katniss is a flawed character. She’s tough. She’s angry. She doesn’t forgive easily. She’s impulsive. She can be mean. But above all, she’s a *survivor.* And you just have to admire that about her.
 
Peeta. Oh, Peeta. I’ve been rooting for Peeta from the beginning. He is selfless. He is loving. He can be manipulative. But above all, he is good.
 
At times, it seems like he is the complete opposite of Katniss. 
 
Then, there’s Gale. He’s capable. He’s strong. He’s filled with a slow-burning fury at their situation. And he will do *whatever* it takes to change things.
 
I love how honest this book is. You see each character’s flaws. Not a single one of them is perfect. It may be set in a fictional land in the far-distant future, but Collins describes human nature exactly.
 
This story will leave you raw and emotional. Have a box of tissues handy. 

PS – If you love The Hunger Games, be sure to enter my Waiting on Mockingjay giveaway!

 
 
— SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! —

Ok, so I’ve got to get a few things off my chest.

Team Peeta vs. Team Gale

Ugh.

This really bothered me. This is not a story about love. This is a story about change and growth and brutality.

It is not about love.

I’m okay with the whole Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debate for Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, because, after all, that was a love story. It was a story about a girl’s struggle to choose who she wanted to be with.

Mockingjay was not about that at all.

It was about survival — how does a young girl survive when all the odds (and a country!) are stacked against her.

The Peeta vs. Gale love angle added depth to the story through Peeta’s unconditional love for Katniss.

Sometimes, it felt like we were taking a deep, dark, brutal story and diminishing it to a teenage love triangle.

I loved Peeta, and I wanted her to choose him, but I would have been happy, whomever she chose, if she chose them to further the deeper story.

And she did.

She chose Peeta because, as Gale put it so well, “Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can’t survive without.”

Katniss realizes that, no matter what psychological damage the Capitol has inflicted upon Peeta, he will always be there for her. He will always be the good — the change — whatever she needs. And that may be selfish, but it is true to Katniss’ nature and character.

“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.”

The Story’s Pace and Ending

I’ve heard people complaining that the story seemed rushed. That there weren’t enough details at the end. What happened to Panem? How did things play out? And Gale was just gone?

I must say that I disagree. Again, this story is told through Katniss’ point of view. We see what she sees. We learn about stuff she cares about.

The fracture with Gale was a long time coming. I think it first started when he lied to her (by omission) about Peeta’s condition. And then when he suggests collapsing The Nut. She can’t seem to come to terms with his destructive nature. His willingness to do whatever it takes for his side.

I was not surprised that he just moved away and she never heard from him. He was never really there for her emotionally.

And the love between Katniss and Peeta was also a long time coming. Yes, he hated her. Yes, he wanted to kill her. But she made a conscious choice on their (fake) mission to assassinate Snow to try to help him recover. You could see the real Peeta returning. And I’m not surprised at all that he returned to District 12 and to her.

I cried when I pictured Katniss singing Rue’s song to her children. I think that including Katniss’ children in the Epilogue was Collins’ way of showing us that things are ok in Panem. Katniss did not want to have children in The Hunger Games because of the possibility that they would facing the Reaping.

By agreeing to have children at all, Katniss is showing us that she sees hope in the future for her country.

Conclusions

I’ve droned on long enough. I could talk about this story for hours.

Let me just say that I think that Suzanne Collins is a genius. She is like Katniss is a way. She did whatever it took to stay true to the story — sacrificing Finnick and Prim, breaking Peeta, and showing us the the love between Katniss and Peeta is flawed.

But there is hope.

And that’s all we can ask for.

Cinnamon Sugar Banana Bread

IMG_0910
The Nerd *loves* banana nut bread, and this version adds cinnamon and sugar for a yummy twist on a classic.

Read More…

Waiting on Wednesday: Halo

“Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming book releases that we’re eagerly anticipating!
This week, I’m waiting on Halo by Alexandra Adornetto.
“Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings. But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There’s a new kid in town and he’s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he’s after Beth.”
– Description from Goodreads 
I am so excited to read this story. It sounds really interesting, and kind of reminds me of the premise of City of Angels. That movie made me cry so much.
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto will be released Aug. 31, 2010.
What are you waiting on this week?



Jedi In Training

IMG_2094
For The Nerd’s birthday, I gave him two light sabers.
IMG_1990
He was pretty stoked.
IMG_2003
Hyrum thought they were pretty cool, too.
IMG_2022
But it was River who had the most fun with the light sabers.
IMG_2045
The Nerd decided it was time to train the little Padwan in the ways of the Jedi.
IMG_2029
She was a very quick learner.
IMG_2074
She decided to go off in search of other foes.
IMG_2077
And she set her sights on the Beagle.
IMG_2079
Kaylee really didn’t stand a chance.
IMG_2091
Soon, River was finished with her.
IMG_2104
And then, it was time to face the ultimate enemy: Darth Andy.
IMG_2108
She got in a few good shots.
IMG_2112
But he cut her down when she wasn’t looking.
I guess the Force wasn’t strong with this one.
More training will be required on another day.
Thanks for looking!

Review: Rampant

One of my friends, Nicole, told me a while ago about this *amazing* book she’d just finished reading about killer unicorns.Killer unicorns!?!

You mean, the fun, pretty mythological creatures that sparked fun videos about stolen kidneys?

Yup, killer unicorns.

Well, I finally had the chance to pick up this book and I can’t tell you enough how much I loved it.

“Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns…Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they’ve been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother’s stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student … an attraction that could jeopardize everything.”

–Description from Goodreads
Astrid is a kick-butt heroine. She’s grown up listening to her mother’s crazy rantings about killer unicorns and blah blah blah.But turns out her mother was right. And now she’s got to train to kill the darn things before they attack anyone else.

Astrid is just kind of average. But when it comes to unicorn hunting, she’s a pro. It embraces her.

This story is all about destiny — and how you choose to accept it. I loved how Astrid refused to accept her destiny according to anyone else’s terms. She was bound and determined to do what she thought was right, regardless of centuries of tradition dictated.

And Bonegrinder! I loved Bonegrinder. I wonder, like Astrid, who gave the unicorn its name.The other girls at the cloisters were fun, and I appreciated the spectrum of personalities they represented. Peterfreund did a great job of incorporating different viewpoints and reactions to these girls’ training.

The issue of virginity (namely, how unicorns are attracted to virgins) was handled very tastefully. Although, I wouldn’t recommend the story to a younger (say 14 and under) crowd.

All in all, this is an action-packed story that you won’t be able to put down.

Babies!

IMG_1281
A few weeks ago, my sister came for a visit with her handsome son, Hyrum.
IMG_1241
Of course, we had to take the babies to the park so I could get some photos of them.
IMG_1284
Hyrum *loved* swinging.
He laughed and giggled and had a good old time.
IMG_1227
River loved swinging, too.
IMG_1380
Isn’t she pretty in her summer dress?
IMG_1419
We got her to share her lollipop with Hyrum.
IMG_1136
It was a great evening!
Thanks for looking!

Greek Pasta Salad

IMG_2424
It is *so* hot here in Texas.
Every summer, I seem to forget just how hot it gets every year. It takes every ounce of energy I have sometimes to turn on the oven.
Pasta salad is one of my favorite things to make. Stick it in the fridge, and it only gets better.
I make HUGE batches of it and eat it for lunch. This recipe is great because it’s different from traditional pasta salad. The feta cheese is tangy and yummy.
Greek Pasta Salad
Adapted From: Three Many Cooks
Ingredients:
IMG_2387
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
12 ounces bite-size pasta, your choice (I used Farfalle)
2 cups medium diced seedless cucumber, lightly sprinkled with salt
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes, lightly sprinkled with salt
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Ground black pepper to taste
Directions:
IMG_2395
Cook the pasta according to the package directions until it’s al dente. Strain and rise with cold water. Set aside.
IMG_2388
Peel and dice the cucumbers.
IMG_2391
Slice the onion.
IMG_2393
Cut the tomatoes in half.
IMG_2394
Slice the olives in half.
IMG_2398
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
IMG_2435
Enjoy!
Try this yummy pasta salad with a Grecian twist when it’s too hot to turn on your oven.


DMCA.com Protection Status