Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Review: Son

In the summer of 2013, I reread The Giver.  I was moving from first grade to sixth, and I had discovered that The Giver was the first in a series of books.  So I ordered them through a Scholastic Book Order and read the first three books: The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger.  There was a fourth book that I hadn't been able to get my hands on yet, called Son.  (This was especially strange because it was just released in 2012.  This one was available in a book order this year, and I snagged it right away!

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice. 

Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messengerwhere a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this conclusion to the series.  As I mentioned in my review of the first three books, the books seem to have nothing to do with each other.  Messenger ties together the first two a little, but there are still so many unanswered questions.  Son finally brings a conclusion to the entire series.  It actually begins from Claire's perspective during the time that The Giver took place.  That was probably my favorite part of the story.  Seeing another perspective of what took place while things were changing in Jonas' life was really interesting.  The middle part of the book was pretty strange, and it is mysterious how and why Claire ends up in this new seemingly unfuturistic community.  Lowry never really answers that, but the end does bring about a satisfying conclusion.  

I gave it 5/5 Stars!

If you have read The Giver and the other books, I highly recommend that you bring yourself closure by reading Son.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Music Monday: Did I Really Listen to That?

I know some of you think it's too early for Christmas music, but not here in my world!  :)  I know that I usually rave about songs and/or albums that I love at Christmas. 

Today, I talk about one that I wish I hadn't wasted my time listening to.  Luckily, I bought it at a yard sale (from my brother, nonetheless) for $1.  

I'm not a huge Kenny Chesney fan.  In fact, I wouldn't even rank him in my Top 10  20 country artists.  I like some of his songs that they play on country radio.  Because of that, my love for country music, and my love for Christmas music, I decided to give this CD a try.

I hated it.  Even the traditional carols weren't very good.  For me, I think this was because they were slowed down unnecessarily.  I mean, I'm sorry, but "Jingle Bells" is supposed to be a pretty upbeat and peppy song, Kenny.  What were you thinking?

And while I do love Bing Crosby's version of "Mele Kalikimaka," I'm not otherwise a huge song of island-y, tropical Christmas songs.  I know that not everyone lives where there's snow, but doesn't everyone still want a white Christmas?!  ("Mele Kalikimaka" doesn't bother me because it's specifically stating that this is the Hawaiian Christmas greeting.  AND it's Bing Crosby!).  So the title track was just irritating to me.  Not to mention that it's really not the most grammatically correct title.

There are actually two redeeming songs on this album.  "Christmas in Dixie" features Randy Owen.  I'm not sure if it's because it's one I've heard before or if it's because there's less on Kenny Chesney singing in the song, but this one is pretty good.  "Just a Kid" is also a beautiful song with a really good message to it.  I just think it would be a million times better is someone else was actually singing it.

Have you heard this album?  What did you think?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Reviews

So today, you get a two for one!

Thanks to a free trial of Audible that came to me in my GoodReads newsletter, I started listening to audio books on my work commute.  (I was sick and tired of all of the music on my iPod, and it was too early to start listening to Christmas music.)  The first book I listened to was Eat, Pray, Love (because that was the book that gave me the free trial.

I also got a bonus credit when I created my account.  I'm pretty sure it was Kristin who wrote a review on Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O'Reilly.

It was one of the first books I came across as I was looking for a second book so I decided to download it.  I am pretty much fascinated by the Kennedys, and this book did not disappoint.  I learned a lot more about the famous First Family, and the history of the time period.  (I'm also pretty much obsessed with the 60s.)  I probably could've done without Bill O'Reilly's voice as the narrator, but that's only a minor issue.  I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

After finishing this book, it was still too early to listen to Christmas music.  I made due with other stuff for awhile, and then on October 24th, I got my next Audible credit.  So I downloaded Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan.

Jim Gaffigan is a comedian whose specials Scott and I have caught on TV from time to time.  I think he's pretty funny.  This is actually his second book.  The first one is called Dad is Fat.  This book had me laughing out loud at times.  I even found myself talking to Jim as he narrated.  He'd say something about a certain food or restaurant, and I'd find myself saying things like, "Oh my goodness, it does!"  Or "Yes, they DO!"  It was truly a book I could relate to, and it was definitely funny!  If you're looking for a funny story about something we all just love, I would recommend this one.  I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Currently Reading:
Son by Lois Lowry (The final book in The Giver series)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Influenster VoxBox: Clearproof Acne System

It's been awhile since I've gotten a VoxBox from Influenster.  I was thrilled to get a chance to receive their Clear Proof VoxBox a few weeks ago!

I am 32 years old, and I still haven't found a skin care regimen that I love.  There's nothing out there that I can rave about, and I'm not a huge fan of needing to spend hundreds of dollars on skin care.  In may, I tried the Unblemish regimen from Rodan & Fields.  According to their skin care questionnaire, I qualified for Unblemish, but it left my skin SO dry and flaky, I was NOT happy.  I was even more unhappy that it cost me almost $200!

To be clear, again, I did not have to pay for the Clear Proof Acne System.  I received it from Influenster to test for 30 days.  I also do not have severe acne.  I have mild acne that results in an isolated blemish every couple of weeks.  I do have some spots from previous blemishes.

The Clear Proof Acne System is a skin care product from MaryKay.  The whole system includes Clear Proof Clarifying Cleansing Gel, Clear Proof Blemish Control Toner, Clear Proof Acne Treatment Gel, and Clear Proof Oil-Free Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin.  I began using the skin care regimen on October 18th.  I only use it once a day in the morning.  At night, I use face wipes to remove make up and cleanse my face.  While this regimen is designed to clean make-up, I have found that nothing ever truly gets rid of eye make up without eye make-up remover (except my cleansing wipes).  I don't like having to use a separate product to remove my eye make up, and I REALLY hate to waste a face wipe by washing my face with a product AND using one to remove eye makeup.

~Does not dry out my skin.
~Products (toner, treatment gel, moisturizer) do not take forever to dry between applications
~Lightened my dark spots from prior breakouts
~Effectively treated a blemish I had when beginning the regimen
~Have not had a blemish since beginning the regimen

~The regimen doesn't have a day & night moisturizer.
(I prefer to have two separate moisturizers- one for day with SPF and one for night.)
~There are no specific anti-aging properties to the regimen.

Overall, I would say that I feel this regimen is effective for me.  Unfortunately, I feel like I need so many pieces to effectively do all of the things I want.  I want a regimen that will effectively control my moderate acne, but at age 32, I do need anti-aging properties.

I would definitely recommend this product if you have mild acne and are looking for a skin care regimen.  My friend, Rebecca, recently became a MaryKay consultant.  If you would like to try the Clear Proof Acne System, you can purchase it directly from her page

In speaking with her, all of MaryKay's skin care products are designed to work together.  I'm also a fan of their TimeWise products.  This has a day serum (with SPF) and night serum.  They do not contain moisturizers.  So I could add these products to my regimen to supplement the anti-aging benefits I'm looking for!

Have you ever tried Clear Proof?  What did you think?

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Music Monday: It's that Time of Year!

Somehow, I managed to be so busy that it has been close to a month since I've written a blog post!  Sheesh.  Today, is an in-service day that we don't actually have to attend.  I know.  It makes no sense.  Long story short, we stay after school for a total of 7.25 hours over two days to do parent-teacher conferences so that we actually don't have to go to work today.

Anyway without further adieu...

Every year it gets harder and harder for me to wait to start listening to Christmas music.  I know, I know.  There are some of you out there who just cringed.  But the fact is that I love Christmas music.  It's not that I don't appreciate other holidays.  Scott and I had a great time getting dressed up and going out on Halloween.  And I LOVE Thanksgiving.  In fact, I've come to appreciate Thanksgiving more than Christmas.  There's less stress, less pressure, less disappointment on Thanksgiving.  That being said, as soon as November 1st arrives, I'm ready for my Christmas tunes.  I mean, it's not like they even HAVE Thanksgiving music.

I saw this on Facebook:

This is the truth.  The music stations on DirecTV add a Christmas channel.  Hallmark starts showing Christmas movies, and the season of love, joy, and peace begins!  

Scott is not a huge fan of Christmas music, so unfortunately, I did not get to listen to Christmas music on our way home from our Halloween night out.  

In my family growing up, my dad would start to play Christmas music on November 1st, and that was when we would start watching Christmas movies together.  Last year, I walked into my parents' home, and my brother immediately asked me to name the first Christmas album that each of us would pick to play when the season begins.  

It was pretty easy to do.  Here are my family's go-to first-album-of-the-season Christmas albums.
(Let me also be clear that these are all albums we originally listened to on RECORDS.  :)  A few years ago, my dad transferred all of the albums to CDs so now I can take them anywhere. )

Me: The Beach Boys Christmas Album

I do actually have this on a CD my dad didn't make.  It includes bonus tracks with songs that were not from this album originally and remakes of some of the original songs.  I will not lie: I usually stop listening after the original album's concluding song: "Auld Lang Syne."

My brother, David: Merry Snoopy's Christmas

I always tease him and say that this isn't really a Christmas album because there are "unChristmasy" songs on it.  But that doesn't mean I love it any less.  

Mom: Kenny Rogers: Christmas

This is another one of my favorites.  Hearing the beginning notes of the first song on the album always make my heart leap because it really feels like Christmas!

Dad: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sings Christmas Carols

I certainly can't say that I don't enjoy any of these albums.  I love them all!  They always remind me of Christmases growing up.  We would play them while we decorated for Christmas and on Christmas morning...so many good memories.

This does not mean that I don't look for new music to listen to!  Over the past few years, I've downloaded two Glee Christmas albums and Kelly Clarkson's new album last year.  This year, I added two more albums to my collection.

Idina Menzel- Holiday Wishes


Because, um, yeah.  Have you heard her sing?!

Michael W. Smith- The Spirit of Christmas

This is a really cool album because Michael collaborates with a bunch of other artists!  Michael W. Smith is a Christian music performer who has been making albums for YEARS.  He has a unique voice that I've always loved, and I've always had a crush on him!  If you haven't heard any of his music before, I suggest starting with his Christmas albums.  :)

So...what's your go-to Christmas album?  Have you added anything new to your collection this year?
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