Tuesday, April 29, 2014

book review: young adult style

I haven't slowed down on my reading. I love reading. It's one of my fave hobbies, and I'm an editor/writer so it's what I do.

I've been reading some young adult books lately: Allegiant, the Matched series, and Ender's Game.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth 

This book was not good. Sorry if you liked it. I think the concept of genes wrongfully defining society, which is littered pretty much everywhere in history, was interesting but not all that unique. I also thought that the plot wasn't grand enough--why didn't Veronica think to go to the source of the conflict instead of one of the random experiments? She also didn't spend enough time on creating the Fringe, which was one of the most interesting parts of the novel. The plot was too slow-moving and Tobias and Tris fought the whole time and then Trish dies. I don't feel like I knew enough about David, Tris's killer. He has such an important role in the book--he murders the main character--so I feel like he should have at least been introduced in the second book. But, maybe I'm saying all of this out of jealousy. I mean, this is her first book series and they are wildly popular and she's only two years older than me; I kind of want to be her. And I know I can't write better.

Matched series by Ally Condie

This book series was okay. The first book got me hooked. I really like the idea of a society pairing you up with someone who you are supposed to marry. I like Ally's ideas of suffocating a society in the name of health and prosperity and order. She created an utopian form of communism. I loved Kai and Cassia together in the first book and I like that she included poetry in their relationship; any book lover swoons over some good classic poetry. Yet, the second book was the definition of a drag. I don't feel like the second book progressed the plot very much at all. And Cassia started to really bother me. And Kai too. I loved Xander. I would have picked him over melodramatic, melancholy, self-interested Kai any day. Anyway, I promise I don't hate all books. I liked the inclusion of flowers and beautiful, differing landscapes and I liked the thought of this nebulous entity as the society rather than a pinpointed group of people. So that's that.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game is Brett's favorite book. I was really excited to read it on my Kindle (thanks Papa Candland). It's a lot more thought-provoking than I anticipated. Orson Scott Card can be quite philosophical when he wants to be. I liked how Ender is terrified of becoming his manipulative, evil older brother Peter, but never will be simply because he has that desire. I also liked the thought of him having enough innate, and even strategic, empathy that he can completely understand a person or, in this case, alien to the point where he loves them. And in the moment he loves them, he can destroy them. The concept of humans being the bad guys, going out and destroying an entire species in the false name of self-defense, was very intriguing to me. I like that Ender has enough empathy for the aliens that he is willing to rebuild their species, maybe only the empathy a child has. There were some parts of the book that were weird--the psychedelic computer games and being naked all the time, for example--but overall, I recommend it. 

Right now I'm reading The Book Thief and it is poetic and heartfelt and unique. After I'm done, I've got my eye on Gone Girl. I saw the preview for the movie and it looks super creepy and good. But, I don't believe in watching movies unless I've read the book first. I like to form my own opinions before they're thrust upon me by Hollywood.

Anyway, happy reading! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

happy birthday briana

My sister turned 21! And since I couldn't be there for the party (my mom put it on in San Diego), I designed posters for it instead.

^^Bri's monogram. 

Below is a sign I made. Cut out the circles and string them together and it spells out "Happy Birthday, Briana."

Designing is super fun. Happy Birthday, Bri. I love you mucho!

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Easter was exactly what we needed this year; a time to remember our Savior and His loving sacrifice for us. And that He rose from the grave.

Brett and I had a really hard week the week before Easter. Basically everything bad happened that could have besides someone dying. We felt like we were getting pounded and pounded with trial after trial. At one point it was actually comical. And emotionally and physically exhausting.

As I was talking to my friends and family and coworkers about what we are going through, I realized that everybody has times when they just want to crawl in a hole and forget the world exists. Everybody has times when they are confused and don't know where their life is going to go. 

All I know is that God has a plan for us and most of the time we have no idea what it is.

Easter Sunday was spent at Aunt and Uncle McCloskey's house. I love them and I don't know what I would have done these past 5 years if they didn't live 6 minutes away.

Aunt Kim made a delicious three-course-meal which was eaten outside in the gorgeous spring weather.

 ^^Notice something different? The beard is gone! After 6 months we said good riddance.

^^Loved the personalized hard-boiled eggs. Aunt Kim goes all out.

^^Brett's sister Tara came to visit from DC. We hadn't seen her in a year. It was exactly what we needed. 

Throughout these hard times, Brett and I have realized that we are surrounded by the most amazing people. Our friends and family are supportive and loving. I am so grateful for them. 

I am also very grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who is completely aware of us, even right now. And His Son Jesus Christ who died and was resurrected for us. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014


A few weekends ago Brett and I made our marriage official—we finally went camping together.

We went with our besties Luke and Lindsay to Moab. I've been wanting to go there for a very long time, and thanks to Linds taking the reigns, we did.

It was prettier than I imagined, and colder too. Turns out setting up camp at 10:30 p.m. after 4 hours of searching for a camp site is kind of cold and kind of miserable.

But, we got over that (people, get to Moab by 11:00 a.m. or make a reservation, lesson learned) and actually had a great experience.

Brett only brought long running clothes, but didn't think that just maybe running clothes keep you warm when you're running. Thus, he was freezing his tushy off the whole first night. He woke me up around 3:30 a.m. and begged to squeeze in with me in my sleeping bag so he could get some body heat. Don't forget that Brett is 6'3" and rather muscular, and a sleeping bag is only made for one person.

I had to go straight as a board on my side with my arm underneath me and my hip digging into the ground. About an hour in my arm was entirely asleep. Brett had  at least two appendages out of the sleeping bag. We were still freezing. But, that's what you pay for when you go camping.

Below is us on the first morning. My Christmas blanket wrapped around my head helped a lot.

Since we found our campsite in the dark, we didn't know what it looked like until the morning. Turns out it was gorgeous.

^We camped right along the Colorado river.

^Making a fire.

After exploring near our camp, we went to Arches National Park.

^Eating lunch by a cliff. Linds did a great job at the food (she volunteered to plan and buy everything since I work all week and have a hefty commute—such an angel). We had turkey and pepper jack sandwiches on rye bread. Yumm.

We made the beautiful hike to the famous arches. When it comes to heights, I'm a big baby. My legs were shaking and my lungs were hyperventilating as we made the climb.But, it was worth it.

^Chopping some wood for the fire on the second night. 

 ^Lindsay. She's pregnant but you'd never guess.

The second night we ate bratwursts grilled on the fire and tried a delicious dessert where you put cinnamon roll dough in a carved-out orange peel, wrap it in foil, and put it in the fire's coals. They were oh-so-sweet-to-the-taste.

We also:
-played Cranium to the light of a lantern
-climbed a hill near our camp and made Bigfoot mating calls
-met some "locals" who gave us very confused directions
-got sunburned
-ate hobo dinners of beef, cabbage, onions, and potatoes
-ate some more
-saw some river otters going at it
-marveled at the amazing beauty of Moab
-slept in the car the second night (Brett and I)
-heard coyotes howling in the middle of the night
-heard splashing in the river in the middle of the night. Creepy.
-looked at the stars and pinpointed the constellations
-crashed in the car on our way home

And that is all. What a great time. Next time, backpacking? Only if Brett and I get to share a sleeping bag again. ;)

*Nearly all the pictures, like the food, courtesy of Lindsay. She's a rock star.