Close Panel




My Top Picks

By Alaska. Posted in Alaska | 2 Comments »

Here are my favorite books I read last year. These didn’t necessarily come out this past year, that’s just when I read them. I decided that would be a less constrictive way to rate them. I had kind of a rough reading year and I didn’t want to focus on only books with a 2013 publication date. Can’t nobody hold me down, oh no, I’ve got to keep on… Oh, sorry. Anyways, in no particular order, here are my favorites from 2013!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell- I love this book so much I don’t even know what to say about it. My boyfriend John Green wrote a glowing review of it, so I figured I’d check it out. I’m so glad I did. This is easily my favorite book of the year, and her latest Fangirl is great as well. This is an unlikely love story with beautiful characters, it’s an amazing read.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer- This is the first in a series called the Lunar Chronicles and I’ve read the 2nd book Scarlet as well, which is just as good.  These are retellings of fairy tales with a sci-fi twist, which I wouldn’t think I’d be into. This book has the word cyborg in it and I still love it! Crazy, I know. Trust me, you’ll love them!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys- This one is set in New Orleans in the 1950s and it is an exciting read. I loved the setting and the story was great. The main character is Josie and her mom works in a brothel. There is a death in the French Quarter and Josie is working hard to solve it. Ooh, there are also gangsters in this one, how could you go wrong?

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz- If I could be friends with the characters in the books I read, I’d start with these two. Ari and Dante meet at the beginning of the summer and form an amazing friendship.  I loved them both and loved their families.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey- This book gave me nightmares! Aliens have arrived on Earth and are taking everyone out in waves. Each wave brings a new terror.  The first wave gave me panic attacks even thinking about it. I believe this is getting turned into a movie as well! I blogged about it already, read it here.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick- This one is a little intense. It all takes place on one day, Leonard Peacock’s 18th Birthday, which is also the day he takes a gun to school and plans to kill someone. The book follows this journey and Leonard’s goodbye’s to those closest to him. My favorite character is Leonard’s neighbor Walt.

The Diviners by Libba Bray- I listened to this on audio and it was super creepy. It’s a creepy book anyways, but hearing a serial killer singing “Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on” really took me over the edge. It’s set in the 20s which is always fun, and Evie has been sent to New York City to stay with her uncle after she finds herself in some trouble back home in Ohio. Unfortunately for Evie, she’s there the same time as a serial killer that terrorizes the city.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater- This is the second book in the Raven Cycle; the first is The Raven Boys. After Scorpio Races which I’m completely obsessed with, Maggie Stiefvater has become one of my favorite authors. The series centers around 4 boys from a private school and Blue, a local girl. All are interested in ley lines and Cabeswater.  These things sound boring, but they’re not, trust me! Have I ever lied to you?






Shark Attack!

By Alaska. Posted in Alaska | No Comments »

Well boys and girls, this week is one of my favorites of the year. It’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel! I’m not sure why, but I just cannot get enough! In fact, as I type this, I’m having to strain to keep my eyes open because I stayed up way too late watching. They have a pretty cool website, you can play games, puzzles, etc…I have a healthy respect (fear) of sharks. I think they are magnificent creatures who may eat me while I’m swimming. That’s why I’m more of a swim in a pool next to the beach kind of girl. What’s sad is not the real footage that scared me most, it’s the brilliant film making of the classic thriller Spring Break Shark Attack that did it. I’m not sure why IMDB only gave it 3 1/2 of 10 stars, that’s just a shame. I even had a shark visit us at the library, here my nephew is fending it off:

Luckily for all of you, I’m lame and watch a lot of shark related footage, so I can tell you that sharks are a bit controversial. There have been times of the year where there is an increase in shark attacks, and number of sharks spotted near public beaches. They are mostly juvenile sharks, but you still don’t want to mess with them. Anyways, Australia had a problem a few years back where there were quite a few attacks in a small period of time, and an especially nerve wracking one in the Sydney Harbor. Anyways, some areas use shark nets to try and keep sharks out of beaches, but some shark specialists believe there are better ways since a lot of sharks die in these nets. Now, some people think that’s a good thing, while others obviously not so much.

I couldn’t help but think of this issue while reading Kristen Chandler’s Wolves, Boys & Other Things That Might Kill Me. This book takes place in a small town outside of Yellowstone Park.  There are several ranchers that live in that area, and they were having problems with the wolves killing their cattle, so the wolves were eventually killed off. The Wildlife Administration reintroduced the wolves to Yellowstone, and this was causing problems. The main character in the book, KJ, has always been fascinated with the wolves. She lives with her dad and helps him with a store they own and also on elk hunting and fishing expeditions to tourists. When a new boy moves in town, Virgil, KJ’s life begins to change. She is assigned to start writing about the wolves for the school newspaper, and a lot of the people in the town have a lot to say about it. Dangerous things start happening to those around her. I was really concerned when I saw the title of this book, that it was going to turn into KJ becoming a wolf or something, no worries, doesn’t happen. Although, if you like that sort of thing, I have a few good titles for you!





It’s a Cruel Summer

By Alaska. Posted in Alaska | No Comments »

I have a feeling summer means very different things for most of us. If you are in school, summer is the best thing ever. If you work in a library, you may have a different opinion. I work with kids, and my library is full of them, so summer is by far my busiest time. I’m generally too exhausted to enjoy all that summer has to offer.

It also means lawn mowing time to me, which is to me, the worst thing ever. I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. I bought a new lawn mower when I moved in to my current pad. I had never mowed the lawn before, but figured it couldn’t possibly be that hard. The first time I used it, I ran into a tree stump, which apparently lawn mowers don’t like. My dad was able to salvage it, but it’s never been the same. It’s got a few problems: 1. It’s the loudest thing I’ve ever heard. I know for a fact that my neighbors hate me because of it, well that and the fact that I only mow my lawn when I’m about to be cited for blight. Even with my music turned up as loud as it can go, I can barely hear it over the deafening sound. 2. It vibrates because of some kind of bent thingamajig. It vibrates so badly that my arms itch and tingle for at least 3 hours after I’m done mowing. My fingers are pretty much useless right after, they just don’t work. 3. Lastly, it doesn’t cut evenly. It looks like a kindergartner ran through my lawn with a machete, not great.

Because my summers are not usually outstanding, I like to read about life changing summers. Below are some of my favorite summery books. They are mostly girly, but all of them are great!

The Truth About Forever

By: Sarah Dessen

My favorite Sarah Dessen book ever! It’s amazing on audio, and I guarantee you that you’ll fall in love with Wes.

Twenty Boy Summer

By: Sarah Ockler

This book shows up on a lot of banned lists, and I can’t really figure out why. It is mostly about grief, but is beautifully written


By: E. Lockhart

Performing arts summer camp? Could I be any happier? I wrote a previous post about my dreams of the stage, read about it here.

A Little Wanting Song

By: Cath Crowley

This is a gorgeous book, told in two voices with the added bonus of music.

How to Build a House

By: Dana Reinhardt

Harper (love the name) decides to get away for the summer due to some family drama, so she joins a volunteer group building a house for a family who lost their house in a tornado. I was inspired by Harper and fell in love with this story.


How many of you girls out there are into quotes? You post them on your walls in your bedroom? Send them to your friends? I was guilty of this in high school for sure, even college. I used to send my teammates inspirational quotes before games. I later learned they made fun of me for this, so if you do that, cease and desist! It’s easy to fall into this trap, and I’m not saying you can’t like quotes. I still love them. Just don’t pass them to your friends all the time; they’ll make fun of you. Here are a couple of photos from me in my high school days.

Ok, those aren’t really me, well the face is. Although I definitely had both of those hair cuts at one time, my real high school hair was much more terrifying. You can make your own creations at Yearbook Yourself. Jena from Carolyn Mackler’s Tangled is one of those girls. I found Jena to be so hilarious and just like my high school self, a genius in fact. That’s right, my high school self was a genius. Jena is obsessed with quotes (she even has a quote book) and Nicholas Sparks, an awesome combination, but she can’t seem to get them quite right. I think she’s so funny in fact; I’m going to quote her. Listen to a couple of her gems:

“I’m obsessed with quotes. You name the person- Albert Einstein (smart), Toni Morrison (very smart), Nicholas Sparks (pure genius)…”

“Mostly I fill my everything book with quotes about love, life, heartbreak, and inspiration. In my sixteen years of life, I’ve had yet to experience love or heartbreak (or even much inspiration), so instead I stockpile other people’s musings about those things.”

The book is told in 4 parts, each part by a different narrator. Obviously Jena is my favorite and I hope she gets a spin off! Jena’s mom has a very wealthy best friend with a gorgeous, actress daughter, Skye, who Jena is intimidated by. Jena, Skye and their mothers take a trip to Paradise, which is a resort in the Caribbean. Skye is a little down on the trip and tells Jena she just broke up with her boyfriend. Jena’s reaction? “Skye and Matt had been together for almost two years, so I’d met him at various gatherings and, let me tell you, I wouldn’t dump him if he got herpes, drained my bank account, and stranded me alone with our unborn child. Not that I’m aspiring to be a disease-ridden, broke single mother…” See what I mean? I love her.

Jena and Skye are at this resort at the same time as Dakota and Owen, who are brothers. Obviously the characters stories are somewhat connected, but not in a contrived kind of way. Each character narrates a different part of the year and I think it’s so interesting to get each one’s back story because Jena gives us an opinion of each in the first part.

I think one of the reasons I liked this book so much is because it reminds me to not jump to conclusions about people. It’s one of my resolutions actually, along with losing weight, getting my finances in order, organizing my life, organizing my house, being nicer, making a difference, feeding the hungry and creating world peace. No, but really, I think it’s so hard to not judge someone based on first impressions. I have to remind myself daily that I don’t go home every night with those I judge, I have no idea what goes on in their lives, and I’d rather not in most cases.

Any favorite quotes from you guys?





This is the real Farmville

By Alaska. Posted in Alaska | 2 Comments »

I think I may have told you guys about my obsession with horses lately. Oh, and how I want a ranch, but one where I don’t do any work. I’d like to add some animals to my farm. First of all, is there a difference between a ranch and farm? Not sure. I don’t want to grow beans or anything; I just want a small collection of animals. Well, that collection keeps growing because I keep seeing the best animals. I’ve always wanted a pig, how could you not? Then, I saw these little guys. It took everything I had to not steal one. How hard could it be? Just pop it under my shirt and run.

The baby pigs were not the only fun thing at the farm I was at. They had a lot of Billy Goats. I never knew how entertaining these guys are. They had a bridge where the goats could roam. This did cause some fights which were very entertaining.

Of course the most entertaining thing were the baby goats. They played a fun game where they would run on the roof of a small shed and knock each other off. I watched them for forever. So, I’m going to need at least 4 or 5 goats to start with. And I’d like some fainting goats too, have you ever seen them? So cute.

And there are also these two kittens with fainting goat syndrome.

I’d like to also throw in a zebra for good measure.

I should probably get to my point. I wanted to tell you guys about the best farm books ever. Well, they’re not really farm books, but that’s part of the story. The books are all by Catherine Murdock, and they are hilarious. There are three: Dairy Queen, The Off Season and Front and Center. The books center around a girl named D.J., and are set in Wisconsin. I listened to a couple of them on audio, and they are amazing. You really can’t beat that Wisconsin accent, or the cheese.

D.J. does live on a farm and has a lot of responsibilities. She takes on training the quarterback of her school’s rival football team before deciding to try out herself. D.J. has an excellent voice in these books, and even when she’s dealing with serious things like her brother becoming seriously injured in a football accident; she still has a sense of humor. I loved all three books and am very sad that the trilogy is over. I think I may read them all again now that I have such large farm plans.





Look Mom, I won the lottery!

By Alaska. Posted in Alaska | No Comments »

I think it’s human nature to think about what you would buy if you won the lottery. Of course, there are standard answers like pay off debt, buy my mom a house, end world hunger, etc… But, what would you really do with all the money? I would like to think I’d be careful with it, but I would probably buy a large plasma TV, a Lexus SC 09, iPhone with contract, the Beatles Rock Band game, Mac Air, the new Apple tablet, Cedar Point and an island, yes an island.  Maybe I’ll buy this one.

Eighteen year old Indigo Skye doesn’t win the lottery exactly, but sort of. She is a waitress and she loves being a waitress. Everyone wants her to go to college and think about a “real job”. What makes a job real? I think being a waitress is definitely real and is one of the hardest jobs I know of. I only survived for 3 months when I did it, it is hard! So, make sure you always tip well people. If your food was late, or gross it is not your waitresses’ fault. Ok, I’m done with that tangent.  Anyways, I think the diner Indigo works at sounds really fun, I’m jealous.  It sort of reminded me of the diner in Gilmore Girls, the one Luke runs.

I love Indigo in this book though. She’s intelligent and funny, just like me, kidding. One of my favorite lines in the book comes at a point where she’s thinking about what she wants to do with her life.  She’s playing the guitar to distract herself. “I put the guitar back into its case. I can’t even look at it anymore. Instead, I want to make brownies. I want an end result there’s a recipe for. I want to combine eggs and water and oil and chocolate and flour and sugar and vanilla and get something fulfilling.” See, a girl after my own heart.
So, Indigo begins seeing a mysterious man in the diner. He keeps to himself mostly, but is polite. One day, he tries to smoke and Indigo goes on a bit of a rampage on him. He then leaves her a very generous tip, 2.5 million dollars. That wouldn’t buy my island, but it’s a lot of money! Soon things start to change for Indigo with her relationships. Money tends to change things. Grab a copy and meet me below:


Read more »





Leafblowers, Bikes, and maybe Killers

By Alaska. Posted in Alaska | 2 Comments »

I love Sarah Dessen books. Every time I read one, I want to pack up all of my stuff and move to a cozy little beach town. My all time favorite of hers is The Truth about Forever. I don’t know what it is about her books, but they make me happy. They are like warm soup on a cold day, comforting. It’s rare to find an author who can crank out this many books with them actually being good, but Sarah Dessen does that. Yes, there is usually a formula to her books, but they are all so well written. I also love her because she shares my love for pop culture and TV. Check out her blog here. Her latest, Along for the Ride is another fabulous read. Sarah also has the best character names in her books. I want to use them for my future children, so I’m going to need to have about 80 kids I think. Some of my favorites and the most unique from her books are Macy, Remy, Dexter, Colie, Weston, Ruby, Cora, I could go on.

I have always had problems sleeping. It takes me forever to fall asleep, I wake up to every sound once I do actually fall asleep, sometimes I don’t fall asleep at all, etc… I don’t consider myself an insomniac, but Auden, the main character in this novel is. The difference between us being I am terrified of the dark and night time in general. If I’m not sleeping, I’m usually huddled in my bed trying to convince myself that the noises I hear are not killers trying to get me. I once called 911 on a leaf blower. I thought it was a killer, but still. When Auden doesn’t sleep, she wanders around. She sits in diners mostly, but I wouldn’t dare leave the house in the middle of the night. Auden is a bit of a loner. What’s different about her though is that she chooses to be a loner. She focuses solely on academics and excels. Her parents are both very intelligent, professors and authors. Auden has a strained relationship with her mother who seems to get along better with Auden’s free spirited brother. Her parents divorced and her father is remarried with a brand new baby.

Auden decides to get away from her mother for a bit and decides to spend the summer with her father, step mother, and new baby sister, Thisbe. Her dad has a thing for naming his children after literary characters. Auden soon meets Eli, a fellow insomniac. Eli discovers that Auden is not your normal girl. She missed out on tons of normal things kids do because she was so obsessed with school, like learning to ride a bike. If you ask me, that’s a blessing. Bikes are dangerous and exhausting. I sometimes sign up for races I don’t train for, like mini-triathlons, Muddy Buddy, etc… Anyways, these always have bike portions which I think will be easy, but never are. Eli decides to help Auden experience all of the things she missed in the middle of the night. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. Grab a copy and meet me below:


Read more »






By Alaska. Posted in Alaska | 2 Comments »

I don’t consider myself a serious person. I’m extremely sarcastic and everything’s a joke to me (which gets me in trouble all the time). I have a hard time discerning when it’s ok to be funny, and if I’m supposed to be serious on occasion. I’m one of those people who laugh at really bad times, like funerals. But, that’s not to say I don’t care about things of a serious nature like religion, politics, world news, etc… I just prefer a more lighthearted approach to living. You can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, it’s important to have fun, that’s my life motto anyways. Because of all of this, I have a hard time reviewing serious books because it’s difficult talking about them while still being funny. But, I think I’m learning you don’t have to be funny all the time. I bring all of this up because I just finished the most amazing book. Many of you have probably already read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. She’s also written several other fabulous books, all of which I recommend including Chains, Twisted and Prom to name a few.

I’ve told you all a little bit about my trip to San Antonio where I got to meet John Green for the second time, you can scroll down and read all about that. Well, I also got to meet Laurie Halse Anderson. Laurie was there to accept an award and was the keynote speaker. I have this nasty habit of getting bored about 2 minutes into any presentation and zone out, but she was so captivating, I couldn’t stop listening. At the end of her fabulous talk, she read a poem she had written in which she compiled people’s words about Speak. The poem is called Listen and it is one of the most moving poems I have ever read. Here’s an excerpt:


Melinda is a lot like this girl I


no she’s a lot like


i am MelindaSarah

i am MelindaRogelio i am MelindaMegan,

MelindaAmber MelindaStephenTori


it keeps hurting, but




this book cracked my shell

it keeps hurting I hurt, but

but your book cracked my shell.

You can read the poem in its entirety here and please do. I like this excerpt so much because it sums up why we all love books. We see ourselves in these characters, in the good, the ugly, all of it. These books help us grow.

I had the chance to talk with Laurie at the social hour and she is wonderful. She’s very down to earth and has very fun shoes. I follow her blog and she has become a runner recently and she was so encouraging when I talked about my running and struggles. When she signed a book for me, she wrote in the cover “Yes, you have permission to walk!” It was awesome. Here’s a photo from the event, you can tell we were all beyond excited to meet her. She’s on the far right.

At the conference, I received an advance reader copy (ARC) of her newest novel, Wintergirls. First of all, I think this is the most beautiful cover I have ever seen. Anyways, the book had been getting a lot of buzz, so I was pumped to read it. I have never read anything like this. For those of you that love Speak, you are in for a real treat. The book is told in Lia’s voice. Lia’s goal is not to be the prettiest or most liked girl in school, but the thinnest. Lia’s partner in crime was her best friend Cassie. The book opens with Lia learning of Cassie’s death. Cassie was found dead in a hotel room. Cassie called Lia the night of her death 33 times and Lia didn’t answer her phone. I can’t imagine the guilt I would feel if that happened to me. There have been times I’ve ignored a call from a friend, and immediately panic thinking something may be wrong. I don’t think things would have been different if Lia had answered the phone, but it doesn’t matter what I think. Let’s move on to what you think. If you haven’t read this already, grab a copy, and discuss with me below:


Read more »


I think you all know by now that I am a huge geek. Although, I think everyone is a geek in some way or another. I just am a bigger geek than most. I could classify myself as a gadget geek, book geek, music geek…. I am also a musical geek. I love, love, love musicals. I have several favorites, so I won’t waste your time listing them. Anytime anyone says the word trouble I bust out in song “Oh we got trouble, Right here in River City. Trouble with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for pool!” That lovely gem is from The Music Man. You see, I love musicals, the only problem being I’ve only made one which is, you guessed it, The Music Man. I am a terrible dancer, and for some reason these directors think you have to dance to be in musicals. Please people, just stick me behind a tree and let me sing! I was born for musicals; at least I seem to think so.

My worst audition was for The King & I. I was probably over confident since I had just finished my starring role (aka townsperson) in my last production and was thrilled to be trying for another. I was sure the director would see my talent and cast me in a lead. I did my song, I don’t even remember what it was, but it went well. I marched up on stage with everyone else for the dancing segment. I’m sure I nailed it, well in my mind I did, but there was this one part that was apparently too tricky for me. I went to turn to the left and fell. This was not a graceful fall, it was bad. So bad, in fact, that the people in the auditorium all stood up and clapped for me. It was so humiliating. It probably looked something like this:

I didn’t make the musical and never tried for another one after that. I think I need therapy, since this has probably sparked my fear of dancing in public. I should get over this, I need dance lessons. Who’s with me? If one of you signs up with me, I’ll do it and then we can try out for a Community Players musical. Pinkalicious is a musical, it’s true. I could do this on a stage:

I could talk all day about me, but I suppose I should mention the book at some point. E. Lockhart does not disappoint with Dramarama. The book focuses on two teens, Demi and Sarah, from a small Ohio town. Sarah can’t seem to fit in anywhere until she meets Demi at an audition. They are an unlikely pair; she’s white, he’s black, she’s straight, he’s gay. Demi gives Sarah the confidence she has always lacked and she transforms to Sayde. Sayde and Demi get accepted into a prestigious theatre school and everything changes. Demi shines at the school, getting leads in all the major productions while Sayde has a terrible audition. It’s ok Sayde, I feel your pain, as did my butt when I fell on the stage. Anyways, pick this one up, and come on back and chat with me.


Read more »





Sister, Sister

By Alaska. Posted in Alaska | No Comments »

I have a lot of sisters, five to be exact. I also have a neighbor we consider to be a sister taking my total to six. I’m very close with all my sisters but we’ve definitely had our fights. Some of these fights left lasting wounds, ask to look at my pinky sometime, thanks a lot Mandy. My three oldest sisters were always called “the girls” while I was growing up. There was a boy born between us, so it was always “I’m taking ‘the girls’ and Amber shopping” which led me to say “and what am I?” Looking back now, that was probably a good thing, I had my own identity. I didn’t think so at the time though, but as my dad says I’ll have to tell it to Oprah someday. I think all sisters struggle with the same kinds of issues.

Lauren Myracle’s new book, Peace, Love & Baby Ducks is a book about sisters. Carly and Anna are very different people. Carly is a bit of a granola girl if you will. She spent her whole summer volunteering at an outdoor nature place doing manual labor. While she was away, Anna has grown up. She has a new figure and people are noticing, especially boys. I thought this was so funny because one of my sisters moved to Puerto Rico last year, and she was home for a different sister’s graduation party (confused yet?), and looking good. She’s gotten very tan, lost some weight, etc… Well, throughout the party family friends came up to all of us telling us all how good she looked. It was getting a tad bit annoying. By the end of the party, I was like, “I know! She’s pretty and tan, and nice to boot!” Yes, I’m jealous. Anyways, Carly doesn’t say she’s jealous, but we all know she is. Carly prides herself on being a little different and Anna is starting to get noticed by a different circle than Carly’s.

In addition to the sisterly love in this book, it’s also filled with friendship, unrequited love, gym coach terror, crazy neighbor boys and of course, peace, love and baby ducks. The book is divided into three sections, and by now you can probably guess what they’re titled. Onto the discussion questions:

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Read more »