Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What I've Been Reading in August

At the beginning of August I wrote about the week-long binge read-a-thon called BookTubeAThon, and while I didn't expect that I would ACTUALLY read 7 books in a week, I made a hypothetical list of the 7 books that I would read if I could read 7 books in a week. 

So how'd I do? By the end of August I have successfully completed 4 out of the 7 books that I hoped to read (and I'm currently 25% through another book from the list). 

Here's what I read in the month of August:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy / After finishing Ayn Rand's Anthem, I decided to pick up another post-apocalyptic/ dystopian future novel. Sure, this book was depressing, but it's also a great depiction of endurance, and the bond between a parent/child and father/son. It's both a terrifying and beautiful read.

Locke & Key, Vol. 5: Clockworks by Joe Hill / I'm another book closer to finishing this series. This book developed a little more of the character's back story. Only one more book to go.

Americanah by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie / After reading two scary books, I was looking for a change, and the back of this book promised me a love story. And this book is a love story, but it's so much more than just a love story. This book follows Ifemelu and Obinze, two young people from Nigeria who are each others "first love". When university strikes begin to shut down universities in Nigeria, the couple make plans to migrate West to finish there educations- Ifemelu ends up in the USA and Obinze in England.

I really enjoyed the way that Ifemelu highlights the cultural, social, and racial differences between her life in Nigeria vs. her life in The States through her experiences and in the blog that she writes.

I felt like this was a very timely read given the many migrant headlines in both the USA and Europe and reading about the character's experiences made be feel more empathetic towards those people who are struggling to migrate to other countries to leave difficult (and sometimes dangerous) situations in order to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.

Lost at Sea by Brian Lee O'Malley/ I didn't plan on reading this book right away, but when I found it mis-shelved in the library I had to take it home. I could identify with the main character, Raleigh, being newly out of high school and feeling lost and I enjoyed the weird cat scene and the illustrations. But this book left me disappointed as it lacked the fun of the Scott Pilgrim series and it seemed like Raleigh could only be fulfilled by being in a romantic relationship.

Have you read any of these books? Have you read anything else good lately and have any book recommendations? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Inspired by the Virtual Paintout: Cesky Kromlov, Czech Republic

I had a hard time settling on just one location in Cesky Kromlov, Czech Republic because there are just so many beautiful scenes ripe and ready to draw, but late one night I caught this view on Google Maps and I knew it'd be perfect for my sketchbook. 

Cesky Kromlov, Czech Republic
watercolor, gouche, pen, marker
6 x 6

Location Link: https://goo.gl/maps/wRE7l

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Inspired by the Virtual Paintout: Washington D.C.

Early into 2006, my mother was invited to travel to Washington D.C. to speak to local politicians and she decided to bring my father and I along. While my mother was in her meetings, my father and I walked up and down the National Mall visiting all of the memorials, and I remember wandering into the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden along the way. 

Smithsonian Sculpture Garden
Washington D.C.
watercolor, watercolor pencil, pen
6 x 6

Location link:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: Free the Bacon

Finally there's a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for a cause that I can get behind! Kevin Bacon recently created a PSA (parody) calling for more male nudity in Hollywood. 

I don't know about you, but I've often felt cheated after sitting through an hour of Game of Thrones and seeing half a dozen boobs, and one or two full frontal nude women, and not even one measly male butt cheek! 

Anyways, you can watch Kevin Bacon's PSA below: 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What I'm Listening To: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. 'If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't on the Dancefloor)

I love listening to Dale Earnhardt...Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. that is! Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is an indie-pop band from Detroit, Michigan and I seriously can't get their songs out of my head. Check out the video (with lyrics) for their song "If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't on the Dancefloor)" below. If you like it, check out their album, The Speed of Things, because IMO it's all good. Also, if you live in the United States, the band is going on tour from September through November, so there's a good chance you could check them out live (and then tell me about it).

Sunday, August 9, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: Jon Stewart Torches Fox News One Last Time

As you probably know, this week Jon Stewart ended his reign as the king of T.V. fake news after 17 years as the host of The Daily Show, which he took over from Craig Kilborn in 1999 and transformed from a show focused on entertainment news to a show that focused more on politics and government. During it's 17 years on the air, this show has helped launch the careers of many comedians including Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver and became the primary news source for many college aged kids. While I'm sad to loose another week night television staple from my daily watching que, I am eager to see what new host, Trevor Noah, and Stephen Colbert's CBS show will bring to television.

One of the highlights of Jon Stewart's last week on The Daily Show was his final burn on his cable TV rival, Fox News. You can check out his final burn above.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

What I'm Listening To: New music by The Smashing Pumpkins

Hey kids! Remember The Smashing Pumpkins- that Alternative rock band from the 1990's? Well, they're back (er...at least Billy Corgan is back and using the band name again as he's the only original member). The Smashing Pumpkins have released a new album called Monuments to an Elegy and the songs aren't bad. Check out the videos for the songs 'Being Beige' and 'Drums + Fife' below:
"Being Beige"

"Drums + Fife"

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The 2015 BookTubeAThon

Do you like read-a-thons? Well, this week I discovered the BookTubeAThon which is a marathon reading challenge lead by Ariel Bissett that started on August 3rd and goes through the 9th and challenges readers to read books that meet 7 different challenges throughout the week (yes you can read one book to meet multiple challenges and there's no limit on how long or short your book has to be). Readers are also encouraged to make daily reading videos throughout the week in order to win fabulous prizes. 

The official BookTubeAThon challenges as read by Ariel Bissett

You all should know that I like to read and I love a good challenge, but since I just discovered this bookathon and have lost a few days of reading, I doubt I can finish 7 books by Saturday. But here's my hypothetical list of what I would read to attempt to meet the reading challenges.

  1. Read a book with blue on the cover: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name: Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley
  3. Read someone else's favorite book: Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
  4. Read the last book you acquired: I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  5. Finish a book without letting go of it: Locke & Key: Clockworks by Joe Hill
  6. Read a book that you really want to read: The Artists Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love by Jackie Battenfield
  7. Read 7 books: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

If you're interested in learning more about the BookTueAThon or participating check out the following locations:

BookTubeAThon YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/BookTubeAThon
BookTubeAThon Twitter: https://twitter.com/booktubeathon

The BookTubeAThon is also sponsored by the BookDepository.com which is offering a sweet 10% off discount to readers:

100 Books Discount (Use the coupon code "BOOKTUBEATHON10"): http://www.bookdepository.com/

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What I've Been Reading in July

This month I saw my reading wish list grow and grow after reading tons of online summer book recommendations and getting several recommendations from friends. My local library has been doing a summer reading program for kids, teens and adults based on number of minutes reading and right now I am CRUSHING IT!

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy/ After reading a lot of modern fiction, I decided to return to the classics. I first read Tess of D'urbervilles by Hardy in college and (probably due to my nasty professor) I didn't care for it. However, a few years later I decided to pick it up and re-read it and I loved it. I found Far From the Maddening Crowd to be equally gripping. This book has everything: a love triangle, romance, tragedy, and a happy ending. Now that I'm finished with the book, I can't wait to check out the newly released film.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami/ I read 1Q84 by the same author a few years ago and was inspired by the dream like quality of his stories, so when I saw this book setting on my library book shelves I just had to pick it up. This book also has the same dream like story telling that has me thinking about it's imagery long after the book has been finished, but a friend warned me that they weren't happy with the ending and I have to agree.

Anthem by Ayn Rand/ Some people may ask why I chose to read an Ayn Rand novel- the literary darling of American conservative right wing political figures and here's my response: 1) I don't like to pre-judge books that I haven't read. 2) It was short. 3) It was available for free on my Kindle. I've read a few dystopian future novels before both modern and classic and, while this book had a few good ideas about the value of the individual and freedom to choose your own destiny, the main characters seemed underdeveloped and the book lacked heart.

I've already got a new stack of books picked out for the month of August. Have you read any of these books? Do you have any book recommendations? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: Loki Argues with Kids

Do you love Marvel Comics movies? Do you love Tom Hiddleston (even though he may or may not be dating Avengers co-star, Elizabeth Olsen)? Well then check out this hilarious video of Tom as Loki arguing with a bunch of kids.


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