May 31, 2012 {favorite female of fiction}

Happy Book Chat Thursday!


Choosing a female character was a bit trickier than choosing a male.  As I went through my stock pile of read books, there weren't many characters sticking out to me.  I think this is mainly because many novels I read are told through the perspective of the story's heroine. Therefore, she is the medium that bridges the reader to the story.  We don't read about them, we become them in a sense.  Especially in YA lit, I feel that many of the characters just blend together in my memory.  They each might have their own individual quirks, but they don't stand out as memorable characters.  First person narrative is great for bringing the reader in, but you lose a little bit of the narrator's character that way.

As I found characters that I wanted to talk about, I noticed a trend.  There are four main groups of female characters that I appreciate...

Dystopian heroine:
Gaia Stone of Birthmarked series by Caraugh O'Brien
I worship Gaia for her headstrong'ness.

Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
The girl on could I not include her?

Offred of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The voice of reason in a world that's gone completely nuts.

Lena Halloway of the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver
Watching her transform in to a heroine is the best part of this series.

"You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms, but I will find a way to resist." 
           -Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Warrior goddess:
MacKayla Lane of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
Four whole books of kicking ass and taking names.

Katsa & Fire of Kristen Cashore's novels Graceling and Fire
Cashore wins the prize for creating powerful warrior females who are still lovable and sweet.  

Marches to the beat of her own drummer:
Lisbeth Salander of the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson
I refuse to believe she doesn't exist in real life.  You can't make this stuff up.

Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
No one breaks societal molds like her.

Hazel Grace Lancaster of A Fault in our Stars by John Green
If sarcasm were an Olympic sport, the gold would go to Hazel.

“Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.” 
-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

War torn heroines:
Claire Fraser of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
This woman doesn't have a timid bone in her body.

Liesel Memminger of The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Even Death appreciated her awesomeness.  

Ophelia of Hamlet by William Shakespeare
I have been a little bit obsessed with Ophelia since before high school.  I can recite most of her lines and took far too much pleasure in writing painfully long papers about her in college.  

These characters all portray characteristics that I wish I had and/or strive to be more like.  They are strong and powerful despite oppression and stereotypes.  They are not afraid to stand out in a crowd.  They work to change things that need to be changed.  They are cynical and stubborn.  They don't aim to please just for the sake of pleasing and they don't change themselves for anyone.  They are passionate and love entirely.

I realize now that these characters don't stand out in my mind because they are more than just characters to me.  They have contributed something to who I am.  I have become a little more like each of them from reading their stories.
It's good to be a girl.

I hope you guys had as much fun with this prompt as I did.  I can't wait to see what you have!  Link up below.

Important news about next week:
As many of you know, I will be out of town next week so my sweet friend Melissa has offered to guest host The Book Chat for me.  You will just write up your post as usual but the link-up will be on her blog instead of mine.  Don't worry too much...if you come here next Thursday, I will have a link leading you to the right place.  Thanks so much Melissa!

Okay for the prompt: Was there a book that you loved but didn't expect to?  Or maybe one that you did expect to love, but were disappointed.


May 29, 2012

This one crazy weekend in Atlanta...

I admit that when I suggested this week's prompt {share a funny travel story} to Megan for Travel Tuesday, I had this trip in mind the whole time.  Ironically enough...the reason for my tardiness in posting is because I was in Atlanta yesterday.  Nostalgia was attacking me all day.  It has to be one of the most amusing weekends I have ever had.  And here's the story...

A few years back, October of 2009 to be exact, I took a little road trip with my friend, Becky (Ballistic Gypsy) to Atlanta for the weekend to see my favorite singer, A Fine Frenzy.

We headed out on the four hour drive after Becky got off work with barely enough time to make it in time for the show and basically pulled up to the hotel with only 10 minutes to spare.  Quick change, hail a taxi and head down Peachtree Street for the venue.  We literally ran up to the door of the bar in the rain, gasping for air, full of excitement handing our tickets to the doorman when he says...

"Sorry ladies, Alison of A Fine Frenzy is sick with the flu.  She won't be performing tonight".

{{vinyl scratch}}

Are you freaking kidding me!?  Apparently, it did not matter how far we drove or how excited we were...the results were not going to change.  I admit I was a little heartbroken, but we just shrugged it off and headed into the bar, grabbed a couple beers and stuck around to catch whatever they had lined up, which happened to be her opening acts.  They were fantastic actually.  They were two bands we had never heard of, Among the Oak and Ash and Landon Pigg.  Landon Pigg had a small role in that roller derby movie, Whip It, and sang this little ditty which we immediately recognized and to this day ALWAYS brings back memories of that trip.  What a pleasant surprise!

The next day we explored what the city of Atlanta had to offer and stumbled across a little district called Little Five Points.  Vintage thrift shops, Feminist book stores, record stores, a random tiny eco rally march in the middle of the day.  We were pretty sure we had been sucked into some parallel hipster dimension...I mean, look at these pictures.

Just a wall with Starry Night painted on it.

Yep...mattresses.  Classy.

Are you constantly mistaken for the Messiah?

No joke.

In the concrete. How can you not love this place?

The mini-march. "Reduce CO2"
Photo taken from gas guzzling SUV...oops.

No one wants a sucky Mayor.

"It's a statue made out of film, Becky."
"Yes, but what is it?"

It was seriously so fun.  Just two girls and their cameras wandering around the most interesting town in the world.

Oh it gets better.  Here comes the WTF moment.

While we wasted a good hour in that feminist book store, we made small talk with the cashier who told us about a neighborhood party we should come check out if we didn't have plans.  I don't remember how she described it or what made it sound so intriguing but I do remember that she couldn't give us directions to the party, but to a sign for the party.  Okay...

Well if you know me and Becky, you know that we are never ones to pass up an adventure.  We followed our new friend's directions and did finally find the sign for the party which took us to the party itself.  The party as it turns out was held on this piece of land that did not belong to anyone, but shared jointly among this small community.  Okay this time we were definitely sucked into a parallel hippie dimension.  Have you seen that movie Wanderlust?  Imagine that.  We were sitting around a remote Atlanta bonfire with a bunch of hippies listening to some live music.  All we could do was sit back and laugh our asses off.  Seriously, how do we get ourselves into this stuff?

So many funny memories of that trip.  
Like the time we almost walked into a bar called The Three-Legged Cowboy because Becky wanted a western atmosphere until we noticed...hey, where are all the girls?  
Or the time we snuck into a live music bar avoiding cover because someone left the back door open.  

Whenever you get together with a friend who is as adventurous and open-minded as we are, you really never know what it will lead to. 

Another major perk to the weekend:

Becky managed to snag us a room at the downtown Westin from a friend of a friend. You can't miss it really...its the big round hotel downtown.  We were on the 40'something'th floor...which is really a photographer's dream.  We spent a good couple hours just taking shots of the skyline having fun with tripods & shutter speeds feeling like real photographers with shots like these...

Such a great trip.  Makes me miss my Beckster even more...


May 26, 2012

Saturday Sweet Links is back.

I haven't done a sweet links post in forever but I have been collecting posts that I want to share.  So I will share a few with you today...enjoy.

For the parents:
Sadie Dear reminds us that hobbies will always be there, but babies grow.  And you know...she shares an awesome video of an Avett there's that too.

For the writers:
Writing Advice You've Never Heard from Lauren Oliver herself.

For the bloggers:
Are you responsible with the photos you use?  I am following Megan's example here.

For the Bonnaroo'ers:
Tips for building your own shower as well as a giant tent flag.  Much appreciated, my friend.

For the music lovers:
Do your ear holes a favor and listen to this "Creep" cover.

For the Vegan...or the stoner?
Great site for recipes and cute illustrations.

Did you see the music swap guest posting Melissa & I did this week?

And you're going to need a music video of the week of course, so I give you The Dirty Guv'nahs.  My new favorite...
Great song for a Saturday if you ask me.

Funny story.  I actually saw this band live already.  I saw them in a bar in Atlanta a few years ago without knowing their name, but I was very much digging their performance.  As I was checking out the Bonnaroo lineup I watched this video and everything sort of clicked. I think it was the Hyde doppleganger that gave it away.  I can't wait to see them again!

Oh yes, and one more husband will be one of the many soldiers holding the American flag on the field before the Braves game on Monday.  I'm very excited for this!

Happy Saturday friends!!


May 24, 2012 {Favorite Male Characters}

Happy Thursday!  
This week, the Book Chat prompt was all about sharing your favorite male character...


Did I say character?  Yeah, I meant characters.  There was basically no way I was going to be narrowing this one down.  In my opinion, the male character can make or break a novel, mainly ones with a female protagonist.  Whether he be a love interest, best friend, antagonist, father figure or knight in shining armor, he needs to be memorable, lovable, and challenging.  

Therefore, I have devised a little list to showcase some of my favorites.

My top 5 Males of Fiction:

5. Adam Wilde of If I Stay and Where She Went
Honestly, I liked the sequel more than the original simply because I got more of Adam, who narrates the sequel (Why didn't we get a picture of him on the cover?).  I adore Adam because he is the devoted boyfriend, but he is not Mr. Perfect.  He shows a full spectrum of emotions including regret, self-acutalization and destruction, resentment, and confusion; whereas most other male characters only know brooding and adoring.

4. Augustus Waters of The Fault in our Stars
In general, the characterization in this book is outstanding, but Augustus is especially remarkable.  The subject matter here is pretty heavy and having characters like Augustus gives the novel the right kind of humor and cynicism to balance the mood.  John Green succeeded in creating a character that was so fun and easy to fall in love with because it wouldn't have had the same impact if he had not.  Well played sir.

"My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations."
-The Fault in our Stars {John Green}

3. Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice
Oh my dear sweet Mr. Darcy.  Even when we hated you, we still loved you.  The first fictional man to appreciate the wit and intelligence of an independent thinking have paved the way for so many.

"Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?"
"For the liveliness of your mind, I did."
-Pride and Prejudice {Jane Austen}

2. Jamie Fraser of Outlander (series)
There is something infuriatingly lovable about Jamie Fraser.  He is that devoted love interest that everyone is looking for, but there is so much more to him.  At times, my blood boils with frustration over the things he does, but he always seems to redeem himself.  The best thing about Jamie is that he has a strong, headstrong woman to match his boldness. 

1. Max Vandenburg of The Book Thief
The role of Max in YA lit these days is a miracle.  He is not a love interest or antagonist.  He is something much more important.  His significance is that he parallels the novel's heroine, Liesel.  Together, they signify hope and triumph.  He compliments her and strengthens her.  His character is so genuine and selfless.  He is both heartbreaking and uplifting.  He is the heart of this novel for me.  

Well, there's my list!  Can't wait to see what you all have to share.  Link up below!

And you guessed week we're going to share some notable female characters.  You can talk about the ones you loved or the ones you hated.  Make a list or comparison.  Anything goes.  Can't wait!


May 23, 2012

Music Swap Guest post with Melissa of Press Play

Good morning friends.  I'm off doing a little guest post swap with Melissa today.  You can see her post here and check out my post over at her place...enjoy!

Hi everyone! I’ve guest posted around here before, but in case you missed it- my name is Melissa and I blog over at Press Play. I write about many things (books, travels, goals) but one of my biggest passions in life is music. I’ve always considered myself pretty open-minded about it and there is really nothing I love more than sharing my favorite songs and artists with friends. And going to concerts- those are the best!

Jess and I met because of music, actually. It’s pretty rare that I remember how I first discovered a blogger; but Jess commented on my post about Mumford and Sons and we clicked right away. I’ve been a reader of her little space on the internet ever since and have come to realize that we have many things in common.
One of the biggest? Music, of course! We talked music for quite some time before I suggested that she get something called Dropbox. I explained to her that we could create a folder and share music with each other whenever we wanted! Once we were all set up, it was the easiest thing in the world. I immediately started sending her some of my favorite albums that I wanted her to hear, and she did the same with me.
I’ve had SO much fun sharing music and receiving new music. I’ve learned to trust her judgment with albums before hearing them myself because we SO often agree on what’s good and what isn’t.
After some Dropbox-music-sharing-time passed, I realized that the stuff she was sending me was not only AWESOME and EYE OPENING (Jess is much more of an Indie fan than I am, but she’s quickly changing that for me!) but I just had SO much new stuff. I started an iTunes folder just for the albums she’d send me. When I was in a particularly Indie-ish music kind of mood I’d put the playlist on & fall more and more in love with the artists she’d sent me.

My immediate favorites were some of the first albums she sent me.

1) Self-Titled by The Head & The Heart
From the very first beats of ‘Cats and Dogs’ I was hooked. Lead singer Josiah Johnson has a unique voice that really stands out against the melodies of each one of the bands’ tracks. I think the “unique voice” quality is the most important for me in any band. Especially with Indie singers I think it’s more rare to find those voices that REALLY stand out. This guy’s got it. I highly recommend this album if you like Indie but you’re more of an alternative/rock kind of person like me. It’s the perfect mix!

2) Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club
Much like Head&Heart, Two Door Cinema Club got me right away. I love when I play an album and the first song catches my attention. That usually means I’ll enjoy most of the record. What I loved about Tourist History is that each track really stood out for me immediately, rather than blending in. My favorites: Cigarettes in the Theatre, I Can Talk & Undercover Martyn. They’re much more upbeat songs and I love the slightly more synth-sound that you find in these & several other tracks.

In return, I’ve sent her a variety of random artists that I don’t think she normally listens to. That’s one of the best parts of music-sharing, really. We’re opening each other up to music styles and bands that we may have never thought twice about if it weren’t for our mutual passion and trust in each other’s style.

I could have never imagined a couple years ago when I first started blogging that I would make friends in the blog world, let alone friends that I could share some of my greatest passions in life with. It’s the greatest feeling to meet someone that is SO similar to you and yet lives so far away. It makes me sad that Jess and I may never have the chance to meet, but I still love knowing that she’s just a tweet, blog comment, or music folder away.

I can’t wait to see what goodies she sends me next!

Thanks for reading, don’t forget to stop by and say hi over on Jess’ post on my blog today too. J

What are some of your favorite albums right now? Have you ever used Dropbox?

May 22, 2012

Travel Tuesday: Gearing up for a long trip

This week for Travel Tuesday, Megan asked: What’s the longest continuous vacation you’ve ever been on? What was hard about it? What did you like? How did you pack?

  Sometimes our road trips are up to a month long, stopping here & there along the way, but never staying in one place for more than a few days.  Really, if you think about it, that's a lot like camping.  We travel light while still being self sustaining.  Honestly, this Bonnaroo trip will be one of the longest trips I've gone on.  Camping wise, at least.   Now that we are only 15 days away, I am completely consumed by the preparation for 6 days and 5 nights in the middle of  Tennessee farmland.  Thankfully, those long road trips have helped prepare me.

With any long trip I take, I spend more time preparing for it than I do on the actual trip.  

I like lists, a lot.  For any given trip I take I make a list for:
-things in the car
-clothes I will wear each day
-food we'll eat each day
-accessories and toiletries I will need
-Plans for each day
-Costs and money for each day

I don't necessarily follow each list precisely, but I enjoy making them because it involves me in process.  It lets me be a part of the trip before it even starts and helps me to plan for the unexpected.  

I plan my outfits for each day of my trips.  It's actually my favorite part of the trip planning.  I literally try on each outfit with accessories and shoes to make sure I'm comfortable, but also so that I can overlap some items.  So each item is worn at least twice and there are enough alternating outfits so that I don't have to wear the same look everyday.  I probably won't be able to do that with Bonnaroo.  I realize that each item will only last about half a day in that heat, so I have  made sure to plan 2 outfits for each day, with no overlapping pieces.  I'm quite sure I'm over packing...

I start packing early.   I put a box or suitcase out a couple weeks ahead and start throwing stuff in the box as soon as I can.  Then I mark it off the list so I know I have it.  We pack our own food for the road, so if crackers or cereal is on sale, I'll grab a couple extra boxes and throw it in the "trip box".  This saves us from some of that last-minute stress.

Planning is really my favorite part.  

Thanks to Megan for another great Travel Tuesday prompt!

BWS tips button


May 21, 2012

Vacation Pics Part 2: Busch Gardens

I've been putting this off for a couple weeks but here are more pictures from our family vacay we took a few weeks ago in Tampa, Florida.

But first, before I continue...if you don't have kids, then you might not realize the impossible'ness of getting a toddler to sleep in a hotel room.  It is pull-your-hair out frustrating for sure.  And it does not matter how tired they are...if their crib is not present and the precise bedtime routine is not followed, they are just not going to cooperate.
One tyrant toddler.

On day three of our trip, we headed out to Busch Gardens.  

We've been to B.G. before, but this was the first time we've gone with roller-coaster-able children, or well, child.  And like I said last time...apparently our six and half year old is fearless (lucky me) and loves the heck out of some roller coasters.  So that was mainly the feature of the day.  

He rode coasters that made me want to cry multiple times!
I've never felt like such a wuss.

Thankfully, Jeremy was there and it was quite the bonding experience for them.

 There was also the Sesame Street themed mini-park that was quite the treat for little Jude.

He never passes up the opportunity to be tossed around in a big room with an inflatable floor.

These rides I can handle.

And of course, the animals.  

 This child loves reptiles.

 Feedin some birds.

 Thank you, once again to my handy Ergo carrier.  We actually brought the stroller in this time with every intention of using it, but Jude had other plans.  We parked it by the train station 15 minutes after entering the park and picked it up 15 minutes before leaving.  Once again, full day in the Ergo with no pain or aches.  It's a miracle I tell you.

Another lovely day in sunny Florida with my boys.  

Next up: Dinosaur World
you know my kid went ape-$#!& crazy for that.


May 17, 2012 {childhood favorites}

Welcome back friends!
This week we are talking about our favorite books from childhood and adolescence.  I'm curious to see what books were special to you and what turned you into the bookworm you are today.


I have always loved stories for as long as I can remember.  I try to instill that same love of literature and story-telling in my kids all the time.  I read to them every single day and there is nothing better than having Jude plop down on my lap with a book of his choice or hearing Jonathan beg for one more chapter.  There are three authors that helped shaped my life that I especially want my kiddos exposed to...I shall call them the Children's Lit Trifecta.

1. Dr. Seuss

I know it's sort of a given, right?  I loved One Fish, Two Fish as a kid, and my boys love it too.  However, I never realized until I became a mother, the deep, meaningful messages incorporated into Dr. Seuss' books.  The Sneetches teach us that appearances don't make one person better than another, Yertle the Turtle teaches us that one mighty power cannot stand without the support of many, and of course there is the graduation ceremony mantra of Oh, the Places You'll Go!.  I never knew there was more to Dr. Seuss than Green Eggs and Ham, but as a mom, I appreciate stronger messages sewn into the lovable, lyrical stories of Dr. Seuss.
"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose."
-Dr. Seuss

2. Roald Dahl
Every child needs to read Roald Dahl.  I remember being one of the only kids who knew who R.D. was, and I remember feeling weird for liking him so much. But there's nothing wrong with being a little weird these days and that's what I love about his books.  They're not like anything else. Each of his characters are extraordinary outcasts who take on the world's bullies and through their peculiarities prevail.  The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Some of the best books I've read.  I'm about to start this one (pictured) with Jonathan.  I just know he will love it.  Besides, the movie made of this book was phenomenal and he's not allowed to see the movie without reading the book first, so I'm excited to expose him to the quirky, creative world of Roald Dahl.

3. Shel Silverstein

Along the same lines of Roald Dahl.  Every child needs to read Shel Silverstein.  His poetry collections are funny, clever, the pictures are great,  and it's poetry for goodness sakes!  Poetry that kids want to read.  But mainly, Silverstein is important because there are some excellent lessons in there.  Check out this fellow blogger use a S.S. poem to prove a stellar point.  He taught us that the world was made for dreamers and doers and that our imaginations are endless.

Aside from all of the entertaining, fun things kids will read, I think nothing could be more important than the lessons these three writers have to offer.  Personally, they taught me that books can make us relate, feel, understand, think and laugh.  These writers planted the seeds that made me the lover of literature that I am today, and that I hope my boys someday become.
 I want to live in a world of their creation.

You know the routine.  Link up below.  Can't wait to read what you have for us!

As for next week (5/24):
I want to hear your favorite male character.  Or how about your least favorite male character?  One you love to hate, or hate to love?  A great hero or a perfectly evil villain.  Casanova or comedian.  Your choice...pick a male character, or two, or more and share your thoughts!