Friday, April 14, 2017

April Updates

First, I chose not to do the April A to Z Challenge this year. I had so much going on in March and the beginning of April. I knew I wouldn't have been able to put a lot of effort into the posts as much as I would have liked to. And since there's no linky list, it would have been harder for me to keep track during the first few days of the challenge.

The reason why I was so busy was I decided to do the show this year. I've been involved with community theatre for ten years now. Last year, I chose to do stage crew instead of acting. This year, we did Beauty and the Beast. It's a childhood and lifelong favorite of mine (and no, I haven't seen the live action movie yet) and I wanted to be a part of it. March was filled with rehearsals as the show was at the end of March and the beginning of April. We just closed this past Sunday, as we do two weekends. I had a lot of fun, but there were definitely some struggles and rough times during the course of these past three months. Our tech week, or as we actors call it hell week, was during the week of March 27. It was a really intense week with a lot of frustration and tears due to last minute changes to certain dances, multiple times. One dance was literally changed right after dress rehearsal (which is the night before opening night) and I was one of those in it. In the end, it was all worth it and the show was spectacular. Out of our six shows, four sold out. On Sunday, there were tears in our eyes when we sang Beauty and the Beast in the finale - sad that it was over with an amazing cast who gave it our all every night.

I will be writing about my theatre life in a post on my other blog right after I finish my long at series. I do have two posts already up, which will be linked down below. My third post will be out soon.

This year, I have read eight books so far and the book reviews for them will be up soon as well.

Meg's Long QT Journey Series:


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Meg's 2016-2017 Book Awards

It's finally here: 

Meg's 2016-2017 Book Awards

Best Overall Book:
1. A Girl's Guide to Moving On - Debbie Macomber
2. The Inn at Rose Harbor - Debbie Macomber
3. Taking the Lead - Derek Hough
4. To Protect and Serve - Staci Stallings
5. Twelve Days of Christmas - Debbie Macomber

Honorable Mentions:
1. Tara Road - Maeve Binchy
2. The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
3. 41: A Portrait of My Father - George W. Bush
4. Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
5. Mystic Summer - Hannah McKinnon

Worst Book Overall:
1. Kellie's Diary #1 - Thomas Jenner and Angeline Perkins
2. Murder in the South of France - Susan Kiernan-Lewis
3. Sinful Cinderella - Anita Valle
4. The Iron Heel - Jack London
5. Confessions of a Transformed Heart - Nancy D. Sheppard
6. The 7 Habits That Will Change Your Life Forever - Adam Gouge
7. Homicide By Hamlet - Lois Lavrisa

Best in Classics:
1. A Separate Peace - John Knowles
2. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Benjamin Franklin
3. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

Best Celebrity Book:
1. Taking the Lead - Derek Hough
2. My Point...And I Do Have One - Ellen DeGeneres
3. Live Original - Sadie Robertson

Best Book by an Author I've Read Before:
1. The Inn at Rose Harbor - Debbie Macomber
2. Rose Harbor in Bloom - Debbie Macomber
3. Love Letters - Debbie Macomber
4. Silver Linings - Debbie Macomber
5. Last One Home - Debbie Macomber
6. A Girl's Guide to Moving On - Debbie Macomber
7. Twelve Days of Christmas - Debbie Macomber

Best Book by a New Author I've Read:
1. To Protect and Serve - Staci Stallings
2. Tara Road - Maeve Binchy
3. Behind Her Smile - Rosemary Hines
4. The Tour - Jean Grainger

Book That Surprised Me:
1. Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
2. The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
3. 41: A Portrait of My Father - George W. Bush

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Book Review

2016 Reading Challenge

54. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
      Topic/Theme: an autobiography

Few men could compare to Benjamin Franklin. Virtually self-taught, he excelled as an athlete, a man of letters, a printer, a scientist, a wit, an inventor, an editor, and a writer, and he was probably the most successful diplomat in American history. David Hume hailed him as the first great philosopher and great man of letters in the New World.
Written initially to guide his son, Franklin's autobiography is a lively, spellbinding account of his unique and eventful life. Stylistically his best work, it has become a classic in world literature, one to inspire and delight readers everywhere.

My Review:
Benjamin Franklin is known for being one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a polymath, he was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He is credited for laying or aiding in the foundation for several things including the first fire department in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania (then known as The Academy and College of Philadelphia), the first public library (Library Company of Philadelphia), and Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital in the United States.

Ben Franklin started writing his autobiography for his son William. He wrote about parts of his life and he referred to it as memoirs instead of an autobiography. He talks about growing up in Boston, before running away to Philadelphia when he was 17 - to start over in a new city. Growing up in Philly, it was interesting to get to know more about Philly back then. Trying to establish himself in Philly, he became involved in several different avenues, including the newspaper and printing business and the postal service. He talks about the different positions he had in politics, including the time spent in the UK and France. Ben also was involved in making some changes to the Declaration of Independence.

There is no question that this book is unfinished. The American Revolution isn't mentioned because he felt that he couldn't talk about it for whatever reason. It's possible that he just ran out of time to write about it or didn't have the time to write about it. Benjamin Franklin wrote much of his autobiography from memory, especially about his childhood and the early days in Philadelphia. 

One of my favorite qualities about Ben Franklin is that he's always thought he could do better than what he was doing and that includes writing these pages. In doing so, he kept making changes to it from when he started writing it in 1771 until his death in 1790.

To keep this from going further, I have done a follow-up post about his thirteen virtues he lived by, which will be posted later today.

I want to point out that the picture I posted above of the book is my own copy that my grandmother had in the house.

Fun Fact: Ben Franklin never intended for this to be published.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues Lived By

Benjamin Franklin lived his life according to thirteen virtues. It was like his own religion and what he believed in. For that reason, I thought it could be a good follow-up post.

Note: His virtues can be found in his autobiography, hence the quotes.

The Thirteen Virtues are the following:

1. "Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."

2. "Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."

3. "Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."

4. "Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."

5. "Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."

6."Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."

7. "Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."

8. "Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."

9. "Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."

10. "Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation."

11. "Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."

12. "Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."

13. "Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

What do you think of Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues?

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Kellie's Diary #1 (Thomas Jenner and Angeline Perkins) Book Review

2016 Reading Challenge

52. Kellie's Diary #1 by Thomas Jenner and Angeline Perkins
      Topic/Theme: graphic novel

A series of diary entries through the eyes of a little girl as she tries to survive the end of the world.
What if the early 1990's didn't happen as we remember it? What kind of world would we live in today?
This story is told from the viewpoint of 9-year-old Kellie, a typical third-grade girl living her life as anyone else would, and she shares her daily activities with her diary. When the world crumbles and the dead walk, Kellie struggles to survive and find her way home, all the while sharing her tale with her diary.
This is an account of our hypothetical past, present and future.

My Review:
This was more of a novella, but this was what came up when I was looking for graphic novels. In a series of diary entries, nine-year-old Kellie gives her perspective of trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Keep in mind, the writing style reflects that of a kid. She may not know that what she's seeing is zombies, but she is descriptive of her activities and what she sees. In this story, you have the option of reading it normally or as it's written in her diary (her own handwriting and diary pages).

This is book one in a series of Kellie's tales of living in a zombie apocalyptic world. I personally don't believe in a zombie apocalypse.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman) Book Review

2016 Reading Challenge

51. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman 
      Topic/Theme: book of poetry

Leaves of Grass collects dozens of poems that Whitman continuously revised over the last years of his life. As a whole, they explores themes of love, nature, spiritualism, and the soul, declaring that the body is one and the same as the soul.

My Review:
First off, I'm not someone who reads poetry that much. Throughout Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman wrote his poetry in free verse and used a lot of metaphors. He pretty much wrote about anything and everything, from his love of nature to his views on faith (well, what he believed in) and so much more. The book is categorized into each of his themes. Poetry, to me, is like life: there are parts you like and parts you don't. Or in the case of this book, there were some poems that I enjoyed and some that I did not.

I was only really familiar with the poem, O, Captain, My Captain, before reading this. If you don't know, it was written about the death of President Abraham Lincoln. In this poem, the captain refers to Lincoln's assassination. The ship represents the war-weathered nation after the Civil War. And the "prize won" was meant to capture America's confusion after the Civil War ended.

Another popular and famous poem is Song of Myself. It's a lengthy poem. Parts of it is featured in John Green's Paper Towns

Here is the Walt Whitman Bridge in Philadelphia, PA:

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Twelve Days of Christmas (Debbie Macomber) Book Review

2016 Reading Challenge

50. Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber
      Topic/Theme: first book you see in a bookstore

Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.
To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff fa├žade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love.  

My Review:
This was one of my favorite Christmas stories I have read. When Julia starts getting aggravated with a neighbor, she tries to come up with a way to handle the situation. With the help of a friend, they come up with the idea of killing him with kindness. At the same time, a company that Julia's applying for couldn't decide on whether to hire her or another person. The company decides that the position will go to whoever can get the most views and comments on his or her blog. Julia decides to call her blog, the Twelve Days of Christmas, as a way of recording how her twelve days of kindness campaign with Cain goes. Of course, it goes without saying that the twelve days are the twelve days leading up to and including Christmas. The kindness campaign doesn't get off to a great start, but she's determined to not give up. The blog, on the other hand, is a hit. Slowly and surely, Julia begins to crack his shell. She soon realizes that there's more to him than meets the eye. As much as they hate to admit it, they start to feel attracted to each other and they start having dates. As the blog continues to grow each day, Julia struggles to come clean about how she's been chronicling not only her kind acts, but their relationship as well. Once the media gets involved, Cain finds out by accident and everything that they have worked for comes crashing down, as Cain thinks she was only putting on an act. In Cain's defense, he has struggled with the hurt and pain of a past relationship in which he was taken advantage of, among other things, and has a hard time trusting others. He also has struggled to come to terms with his mom's death and I can't blame him. I can't imagine how much it hurts to lose a parent or a child. It's a grief that goes on and on. While they start fixing things, Cain's grandfather becomes the hero in salvaging their relationship. 

The Twelve Days of Christmas was another heartwarminging tale from Debbie Macomber. She has this way of keeping a truth of reality to her characters. It can be hard to capture the essence of real life situations and what people really go through. Debbie never fails to deliver. The overall theme was that people aren't always what they seem. We don't know what a person is going through and have no place to judge based on how they act or seem like on the outside. 

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!