Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: Space Exploration for Dummies by Cynthia Phillips and Shana Priwer

Space Exploration For DummiesISBN:  0470445734
Published:  June 2nd, 2009 (first published May 4th, 2009)
Publisher:  For Dummies
Read from April 26th to May 25th, 2011
Summary from Goodreads:
Your comprehensive guide to remarkable achievements in space

Do you long to explore the universe? This plain-English, fully illustrated guide explains the great discoveries and advancements in space exploration throughout history, from early astronomers to the International Space Station. You'll learn about the first satellites, rockets, and people in space; explore space programs around the world; and ponder the controversial question: Why continue to explore space?

Take a quick tour of astronomy — get to know the solar system and our place in the galaxy, take a crash course in rocket science, and live a day in the life of an astronaut

Run the Great Space Race — trace the growth of the Space Age from Sputnik to the Apollo moon landings and meet the robots that explored the cosmos

Watch as space exploration matures — from the birth of the Space Shuttle to the creation of the Mir Space Station to successes and failures in Mars exploration, see how space programs reached new levels

Journey among the planets — check out the discoveries made during historic voyages to the inner and outer reaches of the solar system

Understand current exploration — review the telescopes in space, take a tour of the International Space Station, and see the latest sights on Mars

Look into the future — learn about upcoming space missions and increased access to space travel

Open the book and find:

Descriptions of space milestones and future missions

An easy-to-follow chronological structure

Color and black-and-white photos

The nitty-gritty details of becoming an astronaut

A grand tour of the solar system through space missions

Explanations of tragedies and narrow escapes

Facts on the creation of space stations by NASA and the USSR

Ten places to look for life beyond Earth

This is an excellent book who wants to learn more about the history and future of space exloration.  There's also a section that talks about different aspects of astronomy for those who want to know more about that type of thing.  The talk about space exloration goes in chronological order for the most part.  You can follow space exloration from the beginnings, the space race, after the space race, current space exloration, and what's planned for the future.

If you want to know more about space, especially space exloration, I definitely recommend reading this book.

Teaser Tuesdays - Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.  Here's what you do:

•Grab your current read

•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I'm trying to get a ton of books read right now, but I decided to share a teaser from one of the summer reading books I'm reading for school.  Brave New World really creeps me out, but I'm finding it really interesting, even if the future it's set in is a little (or a lot) scary.  Here it is:

"Outside, in the garden, it was playtime.  Naked in the warm June sunshine, six or seven hundred little boys and girls were running with shrill yells over the lawns, or playing ball games, or squatting silently in twos and threes among the flowering shrubs." - Page 43 of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: What Did I Do Wrong by Liz Pryor

ISBN:  0743286324
Release date:  March 25th, 2009
Publisher:  Free Press
Read from May 16th to 24th, 2011
Synopsis from Goodreads:
It happens without warning, and it hits you with devastating force. Your closest girlfriend, the Ethel to your Lucy, the Thelma to your Louise, cuts you off completely. No more late-night phone calls, no more afternoon e-mails, no more catch-up lunches and dinners. She has decided for whatever reason to move on with her life and has left you to figure it out on your own. The experience can be as painful and confusing as a sudden breakup with a significant other, and you replay scenes from the friendship and wonder what you did wrong.

Until now, women had to endure the heartache of losing a friend all alone, without the social support and understanding that accompanies, say, a romantic split-up -- and to make matters worse, they don't even have their best friend's shoulder to cry on. But What Did I Do Wrong? gives you that sympathetic shoulder and a resource -- and some answers -- that you can rely on. After author Liz Pryor had gone through a number of these breakups herself, she set out to discover why they were happening, how to help herself -- and others -- get through them...and how to prevent them from happening again.

Through personal interviews and her popular website, www.lizpryor.com, Pryor collected hundreds of stories of friendships with which you will identify. Now she draws on those stories to explore the dynamics of friendship breakups in a candid, intimate way, revealing the patterns, the warning signs, and some ways to put a friendship right or help it change to meet your or your friend's changing life. She also explains how to end a friendship -- if you find that you need to do so -- in ways that honor both parties' feelings and your history together.

Like the best kind of girlfriend -- one who really will stay friends forever -- Pryor blends plain, old-fashioned, feminine good sense and good humor with genuine empathy for the thousands of women who live with the confusion that lingers after an ended friendship -- for women of all ages, races, and backgrounds. What Did I Do Wrong? validates your feelings and inspires you to be more forthright and compassionate with new and old friends. It might even lead you to reconnect with a lost one. In the end, you will be moved and uplifted by the many stories of strong friendships, broken friendships, and renewed friendships that make this book a treasure of women's wisdom and experiences.

I thought this book was very relatable.  Everyone has lost a friend at sometime or other and knows how it feels.  This book really talks about interesting aspects of ending a friendship, and it has many stories.  I'm sure everyone's had at least something similar to one of the stories happen to them before.  I went through some things with two of my closest friends about three years ago, and I'll admit that I'm still not quite over it.  This book really helped me look at that in a new way.

It's not a very long read, and it's very relatable.  I recommend this book to any female that's ever lost a friend, whether they ended it or the other person did.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Post: David Porteous, Author of Singular

Who Are You Writing For?

I never give advice. Or at least I never give advice I don’t regret later, when an older, wiser me looks at my advice, shakes his head and chuckles. But I’m going to opine in this case and with the full knowledge that I’ll regret it later.

If you want to make a living out of ‘How-To’, Idiots’ Guides, news and textbooks then you must write for your audience. If you’re writing fiction, to hell with your audience; write for yourself.

When I was writing Singular, a friend asked me, casually and as if it were a question I must know the answer to, “Who are you writing for?” I wish I had bellowed, “Get thee hence! I place no chains on my wit!” (In retrospect I always imagine myself as Lord Byron – with the frock coat, but without the syphilis).

What I actually said was: men, aged 25 to 34, probably university graduates. Market and customer research is my day job; it was exactly what years of training had taught me to say. And it wasn’t true. I was writing Singular for the best, though often the least financially rewarding, of reasons: I hadn’t read it.

A story about death, isolation and the self – that is also a comedy? You won’t be the first person to think that’s a pretty small niche I’m clinging to. But isn’t that what we want writers to do; to take us and show us and reveal new ways of seeing familiar things? Doesn’t that demand that the writer care more about the story and the telling than about anything else? And isn’t an arbitrary demand that your work conform to a selection of tropes unfair to the story, the reader and the writer?

Do you have anything new to say about love affairs between vampires and teens? Can you put a different slant on women who want it all and get it? Are you the writer who can captivate the world with a tough spy who risks lives to save more? Then film needs you – desperately. But books can probably do without.
That was rather a long list of rhetorical questions, but what it comes down to is that genre itself is an avoidable cliché. One of my favourite writers, Ursala K Le Guin, wrote, “The story is not in the plot, but in the telling. It is the telling that moves”.

If I can pay Ursala the insult of grouping her thoughts with my own, my point is this: write, in the best way you can, something you haven’t read. If you can do that, the people who can appreciate what you’ve written will appear.


Thanks for having me guest blog as part of the Singular book tour, which runs until the end of June 2011. You can follow the tour’s progress on my website www.dfpiii.com or follow me on Twitter @dfpiii or using the hashtag #SVBT. Also, at the end of the book tour, one lucky person who “likes” Singular on Facebook will receive the signed proof copy of the US print edition of Singular – a one-of-a-kind, never-be-another prize.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review: The Sacred Oath by D.C. Grace

The Sacred OathISBN:  0984452133
Release date:  August 13th, 2010 (first published July 14th, 2010)
Publisher:  Gypsy Shadow Publishing Company
Read from April 7th to 26th, 2011
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Some promises are to die for… Angelina has spent her whole life thinking she was a witch like her mother. But when her family leaves the dusty reservation roads of New Mexico for the forested hills of Wisconsin, all that changes. Dasan Tallchief, Alpha of The Guardians of the Sacred Oath, walks into Angelina's life. Suddenly, her head is full of native drumbeats and mysterious voices that pull her toward him. And the closer they become, the more they discover that her talents with witchcraft are just the tip of the iceberg. Soon everything Angelina has ever known about her life seems to be a lie. All of the answers surround the Book of Raziel, and as the truth is revealed, Dasan becomes the only link that can keep Angelina from being trapped in her own mind, forever.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. However, I also have some serious problems with it. I love werewolves and witches, and I thought incorporating angels into the plot was a neat idea. The problem was that it was very confusing. I think all of it should have been explained better. Most of the time I didn't understand why certain things were happening. Sometimes, it's supposed to be like that of course, but there wasn't really a good explanation of anything at any point in the book. At the end, I just felt confused or as if I had missed something.

I also found tons of grammar mistakes in this book. On the back cover, the main character's name is even misspelled once. That was really distracting.

I did enjoy the book. I just felt like everything could have been explained better. (And whoever edited it didn't do such a great job.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

International Barbeque Festival

I didn't post as much this week as I was expecting.  It was mainly because I kept forgetting.  After being busy for so long it was hard to remind myself to blog.  Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things soon. 

This post is going to be short because I'm over at my grandma's.  Some family is visiting from Florida and my sister, cousin, and I are also over to spend time with them.

We went to the International Barbeque Festival that's hosted near where I live yesterday and had a blast.  I even got this magnetic pendant that you can change.  I got two and each are Harry Potter themed.  Shocking.  We were planning to go back today, but it started raining.  It kind of sucks because my best friend was there today, and I was going to get to see her.  She moved and switched schools this year, so we don't see each other often.

Earlier today we where at my cousin Michael's tenth birthday party.  I always enjoy spending time with family.  My younger cousins (I'm the oldest on this side of the family) are awesome and just about as nerdy as I am.  Just so you know the types of things we talk about, we had an awesome discussion about the Trojan War today, and my young (eight to fourteen, I think) cousins knew what they were talking about.  I also like talking to my grandma, aunts, and uncles.  I think I get along with adults a lot better than most people my age.

After the party we just came back to my grandma's and talked and stuff.  Obviously I'm on the computer typing this post right now.  Some of the others have cards out.  They're playing Phase 10, which I know nothing about.  There's definitely some competitiveness happening.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Musing Mondays - May 9th, 2011

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.  This week's question:
Do you ever find scenes from previous books you’ve read popping into your head at random times? If so, does it bother you? If it doesn’t happen to you, why do you think that is?
All the time! I can't go through a day without something reminding me of something I've read before. It doesn't bother me at all. In fact, most of the time I'm amused by it. I love when it's a funny scene pops into my head. Then, I can't help but get a smile on my face and whoever I'm around will sometimes ask what I find funny. I love having random scenes pop into my head.

Sidenote: Remember my last post? Well, this morning I took the AP biology test, so that is over! You know what that means? More free time! I still have school of course, but I'll probably have a lot less homework now, which means more time to do things such as blog. If I go missing for a while (again) I probably got busy with school (again). (Only about two and a half weeks to go!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I don't really have anything to say in this post, but I feel like I need to update here.  This post is just to kind of explain the infrequent updates lately and for the next month or so.

If you follow me elsewhere on the Internet, you many be aware that school has been crazy lately.  My school has block scheduling which means I have four classes a day.  That may not sound like a lot, but I'm convinced that because of the fewer classes, the teachers feel more inclined to give us more homework.

My algebra II class is no problem since I get all of that work done in class.  My foods class is driving me crazy not because of the workload but because I have to put up with a lot of people that I would just prefer not to be around.  Let's just say, if you were to suddenly move to my school, get put in that class, and had to choose a group to cook with, my group would be the last one you would want to be put with.  There's always raised voices (sometimes bordering on yelling) in our group on cooking days.

So, although foods is annoying, neither of those classes really take up much of my time outside of school.  English 11 Honors and AP biology are the classes most responsible of that.  I've been working on a research paper for English lately.  Research papers have never been something I'm good at writing, so that takes up a ton of time for me.  In addition, we're doing an independent study of Huckleberry Finn, which he wants us to get done reading super quickly because there are other things he wants to get done by the end of the school year.  He also assigns us various other things for homework.

As for AP biology, our AP test in on May 9th, and we're in the reviewing/cramming stage.  That class has always taken up a ton of my time because we have workbooks (that must be completely filled out) that are at least as thick (if not thicker) than our actual textbook.  Now, though, the work's become even crazier.  Every night, we have to complete an old AP test, and I'm trying to make sure I can remember everything.  The good news, after seeing old AP tests, I'm more confident that I could actually do well on this test.  (Compared to the AP world history test last year that was a disaster, and social studies is my best subject.  I barely learned anything in that class.)

Work has also been taking up a ton of my time.  I usually work three or four days a week.  On school days, I usually work from right after school until nine, so I have little time to do anything else on those days.

If you didn't already know, I also make videos on Youtube six days a week.  Monday through Friday I make them on my personal channel.  On Sundays, I post a video for the collab channel I'm a part of, The Seven Awesome Nerds.  (Speaking of which, after beginning this post I realized that most of what I said will be repeated in my video for this week because of Rachel's question.)

I've also been working on the next chapter of my Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfiction.  (My writing can be found here and here.)  I'm happy to say that I've finally finished the last chapter of Avatar: The Next Generation, and it will be up as soon as I'm finished editing it.  (Right now it's looking like that will be tonight or Monday.  It definitely won't be Sunday because I'm working.)

Between all of this and various other things happening (including Easter and getting sick) I've barely had time to do anything, including write posts for this blog.  I have a book review I need to write, but I keep pushing it back for lack of time.  (Funny how I could have written it instead of this post isn't it?)  My Youtube videos have sucked for a while now because I don't really have time for them either.  Once school ends, I'll have more free time, and I promise that I'll be updating a lot more frequently.


P.S.  After this blog gets three more followers, there will be a giveaway.  (Let's hope I can find time for that.)