August 25, 2016

Book of the Month: The True Meaning of Smekday

I'm going to start playing around a bit with my book review format, so bear with me as I try some new ideas. One of new idea is to bookstagram a picture of the book I'm reviewing. (If you want to see my attempts, the link to my Instagram is to the right.)

The True Meaning of Smekday
by Adam Rex

Cover Review: I think this is a great eye-catching cover. The words made out of the buildings is an original idea. The strange ships among the normal looking city give a hint at the sci-fi nature of the book.

The Blurb: It all starts with a school essay.

When twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens – called Boov – abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

In any case, Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.

Fully illustrated with “photos,” drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent. the planet from a really big catastrophe.

My Thoughts
The first time I read this book, I laughed out loud several times. It's a hilarious book. This isn't another alien invasion where a band of rebels comes together and fights the aliens with lots of explosions and spaceships, ending with a risky plan that somehow works and whoopee, we saved the day. Not that I'm against that, but it's nice to see something different once in a while. All this book has is a girl, an alien fugitive, a cat, and a floating car. Yet they manage to get rid of both sets of aliens with almost nothing.

Tip is a great protagonist. She's original, being Italian and half black. She's spunky, she's brave, and she still acts like a kid. J.Lo is just as good, with is humorous grammar and word mix-ups.

As for the plot, it keeps moving along. It mixes high action sequences with plenty of feeling. The ending is completely unexpected, which is always good.

I'd recommend this book to anyone from thirteen on up. Despite being a children's book, it has a bit more cursing than I'd be comfortable letting a kid read. It would be a great book for anyone who loves light sci-fi and humor.

My rating:

Don't forget to check out the second book, Smek for President!, and the movie based off this book, called simply Home (I plan on doing a post about the movie later if you want to know more). While the book and the movie are vastly different, they're both great in their own rights.

Important Notice: There will be no blog posts next week. It's my birthday and I want a little break, so it sounded like a perfect time. I'll be back on September 5 with a post on either Home or The Lego Movie, I haven't decided yet.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? And how do you like this format? Tell me in the comments, I'd love to know.

August 22, 2016

Easy Nail Art

If you look at nail art on Pinterest or the internet, it can seem difficult. I mean, who can actually paint the whole of the Fellowship in silhouette across their nails? I love to paint my nails and do something fancy from time to time. So I'm going to show you a simple nail art that anyone can do.

You'll Need

Nail clippers
Nail file
3 colors of nail polish
Nail polish remover
Bobby pin
Top coat or clear nail polish

Step 1: Prep your nails by making sure they're neatly trimmed and filed. You might want to wash your hands to ensure that there's no oil or anything on your nails that will keep the polish from sticking.

Step 2: If you have base coat, put a thin layer of that on first. If not, start by putting one of your chosen colors on your left hand, skipping one or two nails. These are going to be your accent nails. I often like to do my index finger alone, or the index and ring finger.

Step 3: Apply the second color on your right hand, once again choosing one or two accent nails. Whether you choose the same ones as on your left hand or not is up to you. You may need to add more than one coat if the colors are too light.

Step 4: Now apply the opposite color to the accent nails on the opposite hand. (If that's confusing, look at the picture.)

Step 5: Take your bobby pin and bend it open as far as you can. This is your homemade dotting tool.

Step 6: Dip the bobby pin your final color. Use that to put dots on the accent nails on each hand. Try not to get too much polish on your nail, or it will have a hard time drying. If you have top coat or clear nail polish, which I suggest, add that when your dots are dry. (Don't forget to clean the bobby pin with nail polish remover when you're done.)

Step 7: Clean up around your nails with a q-tip and nail polish remover for a professional finish.

Step 8: Allow your nails to dry for about thirty minutes. This is a great time to watch a movie or catch up with your YouTube videos. Anything that requires no finger movement.

And you're done! See how easy that was? This design can also work for holidays by using different colors, like red, white, and green for Christmas or yellow, pink, and blue for Easter.

What do you like to do with your nails? Do you like one color or something more fancy? Let me know in the comments.

August 20, 2016

The 6-Prompt Character Challenge

I got tagged in this challenge by Melissa@Quill Pen Writer (thanks, Melissa!). It's a challenge to know your characters better by asking them the same six questions. I took me a while to figure out which story to do it with, since I'm working on a few. In the end, I decided to go with Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog, a fantasy I'm currently editing. So, here we go.

Kay Hollander
Not exactly what he looks like, of course, but close

Contradiction: He wants to be a leader, but he has no self-confidence. 

Meyers-Briggs Personality Type: ENFP (I'm not sure if this is exactly right, as I always thought of Kay as an introvert myself.)

Favorite Color(s): Red, because it's bold

How would he slay a dragon? He'd draw it out somewhere he'd have the advantage. Then he'd probably jump on him from behind.

His darkest secret: He almost died when he was born. He doesn't tell people because he doesn't want their sympathy.

Where does he see himself in ten years? Making a career as a dancer, maybe in movies. He'd also have a wife and a kid or two.


Contradiction: She's the daughter of a lord, but she knows how to fight better than some boys.

Meyers-Briggs Personality Type: ESFJ

Favorite Color(s): Purple and green.

How would she slay a dragon? She would charm it with her personality, then slay it when it least expected it.

Her darkest secret: Spoilers.

Excuse my geekdom. Actually, don't

Where does she see herself in ten years? Probably married and roaming the country when she's not teaching her children (mostly how to fight).

I started writing this before the Hobbit films came out, but when they did,
Thranduil turned out almost exactly like I thought my elf would look like, just less old.

Contradiction: He's a warrior, but he also like to carve things.

Meyers-Briggs Personality Type: ESTJ

Favorite Color(s): Blue

How would he slay a dragon? He would track it down and wait for it to come out of its lair. Then he would shoot it.

His darkest secret: He killed an entire village of humans to get revenge. (But he's not that bad, I promise.)

Where does he see himself in ten years? Living peacefully in Silvae or perhaps traveling to Geric to explore the land.

I hope you enjoyed learning about my characters. I'll have to do a post soon on my writing, so you can learn more about what I'm working on. As for tagging, I'm just going to say that whoever wants to join, can.

What do you think of my characters? Would you like to know more about Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog? (Because then I'll have to do a post about my writing.) Let me know in the comments.

August 18, 2016

Characters' Rooms

When working on making characters, we cover a lot of things. Their looks, their personality, and more. But one of things that I think can give a lot of insight to a character is their bedroom.

Think about it. Our rooms are our haven. They reflect what we like the most. The things we like the best are out in the open, while the things we don't like as much are tucked away. I think a bedroom can help you know more about a character than a purse or pocket, other popular ways to gain insight to your character. Get out your paper and pencil (or virtual ones) and let's get started.

What To Do

I normally think about the space first. I'm the daughter of a builder, so that's probably why. I might draw a floor plan to help me figure out where the windows are and which way the doors open. You don't need to go that far, though. All you need is a general idea of the layout.

Then fill in the major furniture like the bed, dresser, closet, desk, shelves, and whatever else your character might have. Are they wood or metal and what type? What do they look like? Remember to think about what your character would have, based off their personality and station.

Next start thinking about colors. What is your character's favorite color? Is it prominent in their room? Is there paint or wallpaper on the walls? Do they have carpet on their floor or wood? Are there any rugs? Do they have a pattern on their wall?

Lastly, add in all those personal touches. Posters or pictures on the walls. Knickknacks on the dresser. Books or collectibles on the shelves. Covers on the bed. Whatever else your character might have in their room. Think hard about what it might look like and what they would have in there. Also consider if it's neat or messy or in between.

Can you see how that's a great exercise? It also might come into your story. You won't have to think about it because you already took the time to figure it out.

What do you think of writing about your character's room? What's your favorite way to learn about your character? Let me know in the comments.

August 15, 2016

Matching Jewelry and Outfit

The right accessories can make or break an outfit. When done right, they take the outfit to the next level. But when they're done wrong, it can take away from your carefully chosen clothing. How do you know how to do this? That's what we're going to discuss. I'm mostly going to focus on the jewelry aspect, but I may also bring up other things like scarves, belts, and hats. Shall we begin?


This is an important aspect to consider when choosing necklaces or scarves. First, what type of neckline is it? Round, scooped, v-neck? There are many options, and if you need help, you can check out this infographic. A note; some types of necklines, like the cowl, don't need any neck accessories because the neckline itself is interesting.

Once you know which neckline you have, it's time to figure out what would look best with it. With necklaces you have two options. You can have the necklace above the neckline, or it can rest below. For many necklines, the only way to have a necklace stay above the top of your shirt or dress is to wear a choker. That's why I often prefer the necklace to hang below.

Make sure that the necklace you choose falls at least an inch below the neckline. If you don't, it will just keep falling inside your shirt all day, and that's annoying. Also keep in mind any decoration on your top that the necklace might obstruct.

The same principle goes for scarves. Do you want your neckline to show or do you want the scarf to cover it? If it's a high collar, will the scarf look all right with it? Infinity scarves are one of my favorite types due to their looks and how they go with almost anything.

Sleeve Length

This one is pretty easy. There are three types of sleeves: long, short, and three-quarter. The latter can fall between your elbow and mid forearm. Almost any type of bracelet will work with short and three-quarter sleeves. It's the long sleeves you have to think about. Will the bracelet slide inside the sleeve or sit on top? They often slide inside, so I don't wear as many bracelets in the winter. I want my jewelry to be seen.

Shoe Type

Anklets and toe rings are popular foot jewelry, but you need the right type of shoe to go with them. Sandals and flip flops are best in my opinion. That way your anklet isn't hidden in a shoe.


This is certainly one of the most important things to consider when choosing your accessories. Their colors need to work with the colors in your outfit. Do you want a contrasting color for some pop? Or are you trying for a monochrome look? What about a certain color palette?

Accessories do not have to match exactly, especially things like earrings. However, you do want your jewelry to add to the outfit, not detract. Try picking a color and making all your accessories that. Or matching the colors in your outfit to the jewelry.


The accessories you choose should also match the style and tone of your outfit. Spikes don't go well with a work outfit. Your pearl necklace may not be the best choice to go with a rugged tee shirt. If you're going for a bohemian look, wear soft or earthy accessories. If you're dressing for an interview, wear things that say professional. Even if you make your own jewelry, do your best to keep the style consistent with what you're wearing.


Accessories, no matter what type, always draw the eye to themselves (the little attention grabbers). This can be useful whether you want people to look at or away from a certain part of you. If you don't want eyes on your waistline, don't wear a belt. Instead choose a beautiful necklace and long earrings. If you love your elegant fingers, wear rings. It's simple once you know what to do.

Remember, all of these tips are just ideas. You don't need to take my word verbatim. Take what works for you. Don't forget to be daring and try something a little outside your comfort zone once in a while.

How do you figure out what accessories to wear? Do you have one you love? Tell me in the comments, I'd love to know.

August 11, 2016

3 Summer Tank Top Outfits

Tanks tops are a must in any closet. They're both fashionable and versatile. Because you can layer them over or under other shirts, seasons don't matter. In this post I'm going to show you three summer-y ways to wear them.

Athletic Action

A tank top with culottes or workout pants and a pony tail are perfect for whatever workout you're planning to do today. Tennis shoes can be added as needed. Whether you're a Pilates princess, a yoga queen, or a running wonder, you'll look and feel cool in this outfit.

Button-up Beauty

Tank tops look awesome with a button-up shirt or sweater on top of them. You can leave it buttoned or loose depending on you and your mood. Add a denim skirt, sandals, and a necklace to finish it off.

Lovely Layers

A black skirt and shirt with a brightly colored tank top makes a fun statement. Putting a belt around the natural waistline is another thing I like to do with this outfit. Great for everyday wear.

There you go. Three different ways to wear tank tops. Don't forget, you can take any of these outfits and do your own thing with it, using my idea as a springboard.

Which outfit do you like best? What do you think of tank tops? Let me know in the comments.

August 8, 2016

Writer Inadequacy

I'm not a good writer. Everyone is better than me. I'm sure I'm doing this all wrong. I don't have the experience. Do any of these statements, or similar ones, sound familiar? Have you thought them or written them in your journal?

I'll be the first to admit that I have. Fears, doubts, and worries that I'm not good enough always seem to be lurking around the next corner. And I have a feeling a lot of other writers have the same problems. I think it comes with the job.

This post is all about the inadequacy that plagues us as writers. We'll break it down and then talk about ways we can beat it back. Ready?

Feeling Inadequate? Me too

When we choose to be a writer, we are choosing to show our hard work and deepest feelings to the world. It can be hard to open up and let them see that, especially when you're an introvert like many writers, myself included. You start to compare yourself to other writers. Self confidence plummets. That's bad.

Inadequate is defined as not good enough. If you're feeling inadequate it means you think you aren't good enough, you don't measure up. I know this from experience.

A few years ago, my family went to a homeschool conference. One of the sessions we went to was by a guy who made a writing course. The session was great, but some of the things that he said were beyond my skill level at the time. I wondered if my story needed those things, and since they didn't have them, was it even any good? Because I doubted myself, I didn't write for months. My poor story was left to collect dust.

My mom was the one who convinced me to keep writing. For that I am forever grateful. But if I had let my feelings of inadequacy chain me, I might not be writing even today. I love writing and if I had given it up, it would have taken away one of the best things in my life.

So, What Should We Do?

All those fears and doubts about whether we're good enough, or doing things right, or whatever can cripple us and our writing. We need to take control and fight back. But how?

First, crush that little voice as soon as it starts. If you listen to it, it will become an all-consuming roar before you know it. When you think "she's a better writer than me" or "I'll never have good story structure" instantly tell yourself to shut up. Then think something positive. "She's had more experience than me and someday I'll be that good" or "I'm working hard to learn story structure". 

What if you've been feeling inadequate for a while, whether for a day or a month? Realizing that you need to stop thinking that way is a good start. But you need to go further than that to fully rid yourself of those awful feelings.

A good place to start is to remind yourself of all the reasons you love writing. The reasons you are good enough. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings and listen to them. Other people can see the good in you much better than you can. And remember that everyone feels the same things. You're not alone.

Next, work on lifting your spirits. Eat your favorite food. (Chocolate does wonders for the soul.) Read your favorite books or watch your favorite movies. Go to the places you like the most. Turn on your power songs and sing them loudly in your bedroom. (Try Shake It Off and Try Everything if you need somewhere to start.) Shut up that voice with all the things you love.

P.S. This is my new favorite quote

And don't give up. Once you've let your fears control you for a while, it can be hard to shake. I fight everyday to not compare myself to others and not to let those feelings get the best of me. Keep writing even if it's just your diary. Do things that you enjoy and make you feel good. Pray for help. Always remember you are good enough.

Wow, that went deeper than I thought it would. Sorry if I overwhelmed you a bit. But thanks for making it all the way to the end.

What do you think about inadequacy? Do you have any advice? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear.

August 5, 2016

Classic of the Month: The Little Prince

This month's classic is a famous children's book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It is not only a tale for children, but for adults as well. I only read it in the last year. I thought it was a beautiful book, and since the film version, which we'll talk about later, is coming out I thought this would be a great choice.

The Little Prince

The story is told by a pilot who crashes in the desert. There he meets the little prince. The pilot tries to fix his plane while the prince tells him his story. He comes from a small planet with three volcanoes, two extinct and one alive, and a rose. She's always telling him stories about other worlds. He decided to go see them for himself. The little prince traveled from planet to planet, talking to the people that live on them. Eventually he made his way to Earth. Now he wants to return to his planet. The pilot and the prince set out to look for water. By the well they find, the prince meets a snake. It offers to return him to his planet. The prince accepts, but he must leave his body behind.

What I Like About It

This is a story about children versus adults. The way grown-ups are portrayed shows them to be silly and strange. The little prince brings fresh light to the world. He sees things differently and I love it.

It is a sweet story. The prince is so innocent and adorable. The pilot, even though we never learn his name, is a man who lost his dream of being an artist  because of grown-ups. It's short, but it makes a point. It shows the world as seen through the eyes of a child.


The book we got had the audio book included, read by Viggo Mortensen. You may remember him as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. I suggest it, if you like audio books. He does a great job of it.

And like I mentioned earlier, the movie version. It had an unusual journey to viewers. It was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and then released in France. It was set to release in the United States in March but was dropped without a reason. However, it is being released on Netflix on August 5 (today!).

It's supposed to be a great movie and I can't wait to see it. The cast includes Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Ricky Gervais, and Paul Rudd. The story is about a little girl who meets the pilot when he's much older. He tells her about the little prince and his story, opening her eyes.

Have you read The Little Prince? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments.

August 1, 2016

Why You Should Watch the How To Train Your Dragon TV Series

I'm a big fan of How to Train Your Dragon (or HTTYD), both the books and movies. While differences between the two are big, they're both fun.

But this post is about the HTTYD TV series. There are three. The first two, Riders of Berk and Defenders of Berk, take place not long after the first movie, while the third one, Race to Edge, is actually a Netflix series that happens closer to the second movie. A lot of people haven't watched them, but I'm going to give you five reasons why you should.

1. They fill in the gaps

There is a five year lapse between the movies. That's a big gap. If you've watched them, you know there's a lot of change in between. The TV shows give you a look at how Berk and the dragon riders changed from one to the other.

They also give us information like how Berk got used to dragons, where Hiccup got that awesome flight suit and sword, and how Astrid and Hiccup became sweethearts. I mean, who hasn't wondered how he came up with his sword? Race to the Edge especially shows Hiccup growing into the leader he must become later.

2. They're well done

Unlike some spin-off series, these ones were done with care. Many of the actors from the movies are also in the series. All three have won awards for their great job.

The story lines are good too. I don't ever remember thinking that one was predictable or boring. Each one is riveting. While being funny, they also can be serious. The TV series also include cool villains, the best so far being Viggo Grimborn. (Watch Race to the Edge to see what I mean.)

3. More of the other characters

The movies spend most of their time focused on Hiccup, as he is the protagonist. The series also focus a lot on him, but share the time with the other dragon riders. It's fun to get to know them better. They have lots of nuances that never come into the movies. If you've ever wanted to see more of them, this is definitely the place to go.

4. Loads of fun

Each episode in the series includes its own jokes and hilarious lines. My siblings can almost quote whole scenes. The episodes where the twins pretend to be things like playwrights, fashion experts, and detectives are especially funny. These are always great if you want a laugh.

5. Includes information that's not in the movies

The series are full of interesting things that never show up in the movies. Like things about the characters I mentioned before, or cool dragons. My siblings and I are always trying to decide which type of dragon we'd like best. Too bad the Night Fury is taken.

The TV series is also where you first learn the dragon's names and that Meatlug is, in fact, a girl. It shows you more of the archipelago and surrounding areas than you see in the movies. There are also characters that never show up in the movies. Like my personal favorite, Spitlout, the father of Snotlout, voiced by David Tennant. I could listen to him talk all day.

Have you ever watched the HTTYD TV series? What do you think of them? Tell me in the comments, I'd love to know.