Book Review: Zero Regrets

Last month I was finally able to get around to reading Apolo Ohno’s book – Zero Regrets – after I purchased it at one of his book signings.

The book tells a bit about his childhood and how he grew up raised only by his father.  It goes on about how he was a rebellious child/teen and his father tried to keep him busy doing all sorts of after school activities so he wouldn’t have time to get in trouble – but of course Apolo had no problem finding trouble!

I particularly enjoyed the story Apolo told about how his father brought them to his cottage and left him there until he decided what he wanted to do with his life and give 100% to it.  Did he want to swim? skate? stay in school? do something else?  You’ll have to find out what Apolo did and learned while he was at the cottage alone – and to find out how long he ended up staying there before coming to his decision and calling his dad to let him know (and have him come pick him up)

I had followed Apolo’s career since the 2002 Olympics, so I knew the outcomes of all the races that he had mentioned.  Apolo writing about them really brought me back to watching each of the games – I can remember in 2002 our TV died so we were forced to watch everything on this tiny 19″ screen in the living room. It was interesting to hear (or, read) his perspective of all the races.

I really hope that he competes again in the next winter olympics – but I will also understand if he decides to retire.  Hopefully, he will remain the most decorated Winter Olympian for a long while either way!

Book Review: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson

Since May, on and off, I’ve been reading the 10 books in the “Confessions of Georgia Nicolson” series by Louise Rennison.  The books chronicle Georgia Nicolson, a teenage girl with typical teenage problems – boys, younger siblings, parents, friends, you know the deal.

The first two books in the series – Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging and It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers were the basis of the movie “Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.”  Generally I like to read books first so that I can see how close the movies come to my imagination, but I did not even know this series existed when I watched the movie.

Georgia lives in England and often uses slang not used here in the States and on top of that, she and her friends also have their own slang that they use with each other as well.  Fortunately, the end of every book has a glossary with definitions of all the words that Georgia thinks you might need definitions for.  (Some are easily figured out from context, others, not so much)  The only down side to reading these on the Nook is that is a bit of a pain in the but to push the forward button several hundred times to skip ahead (unless there is some secret to doing this that I am not yet aware of) versus just flipping to the back of the book if I was actually reading it.

Speaking of actually reading it – for some reason I ended up not getting the e-book for the second book, but instead I got the audio book.  The Nook plays audio books and it came in handy on a long trip to New Hampshire in May.  The book was read by the author and I definitely recommend listening to at least one of the books if you can. Louise Rennison did an amazing job reading it, and everything comes across exactly as she wants it to because she wrote it!

All of the books average about 200 pages (a couple were over 300, at least based on how the Nook counted them) and are written in the style of being Georgia’s Diary, which makes it pretty quick to read and there are lots of places to pause with the reading – as often times her “day” is not more than a few pages and each are broken up even more by times or what class she is in.

I absolutely loved all her interactions with her younger sister Libby – she is one crazy little kid! Sometimes Libby would dress up Angus, most of the time she would leave her toys in Georgia’s bed, and once she even got her bum stuck in a bucket!  Though definitely not one of the main characters, I think Libby is my favorite. I really think I fell in love with this character in book 2 – because of how Louise read her scenes in the audio book. (Another reason why you need to listen to at least one of the books!)

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys reading teen drama books.  I’m not sure why I am so into these books – I had enough drama in my life as a teen and I’m not sure why I want to relive it, but I like fun, quick reads.  But pace yourself, there are 10 books in this series.

1. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging
2. It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers (On The Bright Side, I’m Now The Girlfriend of a Sex God)
3. Knocked Out by my Nunga-Nungas
4. Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants
5. And That’s When It Fell Off In My Hand (Away Laughing On A Fast Camel)
6. Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers
7. Startled by His Furry Shorts
8. Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing (Love Is A Mandy Trousered Thing)
9. Stop in the Name Of Pants
10. Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?

Some of the books have different titles in the UK vs the US.  The names in parenthesis are the US titles.

Review: Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

Tattoos on the Heart is written by Father Gregory Boyle, who is the founder of Homeboy Industries.  Homebody Industries helps provides jobs and training (and even tattoo removal) for those in gangs who are looking to turn their life around.
The book talks about various gang members and experiences that “G” (Greg) has had since starting up the organization.  G, an English major, really has a way with words and most of the time I didn’t feel like I was reading a book, but instead I felt like I was having a conversation with G and he was recalling all these stories right in front of me.
Some of the stories made me laugh, especially the section on ‘homie-propisms’, which is when the homies trying to express themselves get a word or two confused with something else – for instance, a note was left for G telling him that a Professor wanted him to come in and talk.  The note stated “You will be constipated” instead of “you will be compensated”!
Some of the stories made me cry – the way that G describes these homies you really feel like you know them, so if anything bad happens to them (and it’s a book about gangs, something bad is bound to happen) it really hits you.
The book is just over 200 pages and has 9 chapters.  Each of the chapters is broken down into smaller sections so you can easily read a story or two before bed. (Almost all the sad stories are followed by something a bit lighter if you’d prefer to not go to bed sad)

All net proceeds from the book are being donated to Homebody Industries.  If you are interested in purchasing a book, you can do so at for $16.50.  (Retail price on the book is $25)  If you’d like to make a donation to Homebody Industries either in addition to purchasing a book or instead of – you can find out more information about the organization at

I was given a free copy of the book to read in order to write a review. I was not told what to write, everything written is my own thoughts.

Book Review: Pretty Little Liars Books 5-8

I just finished the Pretty Little Liars series.  I feel like maybe I should have stopped after the first 4, the story kind of became unbelievable in the last couple of books.  It still kept my attention, but in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think everything was getting out of control and the author was grasping at straws to keep us confused and in the dark as to who was causing all this trouble in Rosewood.

We finally find out who killed Ali and who the new A is. (Yes, after book 4 when the girls think they have rid themselves of A, A returns to Rosewood to try and ruin the girls lives, AGAIN!)  We also find out about the title of the series “Pretty Little Liars” and how the girls get this name.  We also find out what Hanna really thinks about people who have blogs (she thinks they have no life! hmph!)

While the story was a little far fetched at parts – it still kept me up all night wanting to read more and I do believe that the last book tied up all the loose ends and provided closure on what all the girls went on to do once this drama had left their life.  The books were all under 200 pages and I flew through the last two because I so badly wanted to know what was going to happen (even if I wasn’t too thrilled with the path the story was taking)

I also can’t wait to see what the TV Series ends up doing with the story – the series has gotten renewed for another 12 episodes, so I suppose that those will cover these last 4 books.  Not sure where they will go with the storylines if they get renewed for a second season, unless they try to drag things out more now.

Overall I would recommend these books if you like the TV Series or if you like mystery stories that are geared towards teens.  They are quick reads and the characters for the most part are easy to relate to.

I received no compensation for reviewing these books, it is just my opinion on books that I read!

Book Review: Pretty Little Liars books 1-4

Pretty Little Liars is airing this summer on ABC Family.  So far, 2 episodes of the mystery drama have aired on TV. (If you want to catch up, they are streaming on  Since the show is based on books, I decided I should read them ASAP.

I started them on Wednesday night and Saturday night I had finished books 1-4.  Word is that the first season will cover books 1-4, so I figured it would be appropriate to write a review after reading the first four. I do plan on continuing the series, since I have already stopped in the middle of another series and I hate to leave things hanging. Plus the fact that there are still 4 more books leaves me intrigued.

The book revolves around high school students: Alison, Aria, Emily, Spencer and Hanna who were an inseparable group of best friends in seventh grade.  After Alison goes missing, the girls all went their separate ways and the books pick up with the girls in high school.  They all begin getting mysterious messages signed ‘A’ and the girls think that Alison (or ‘Ali’) is alive and playing a trick on them.  Once Ali’s body is found, the girls become closer once again as they try to figure out who they are getting the messages from.

The first book kind of dragged – even though it was VERY similar to the first episode of the series for the first 100 or so pages.  I think because I had already known what was happening and what was going to happen.  Once I got to the second book it got to the ‘can’t put this down’ type mentality. Although, I did have to put it down and get some sleep!  Friday night however I stayed up ’til 4am finishing book 3 and starting book 4 – as a friend of mine had tipped me off that by book 4 I would finally find out who ‘A’ was.  (I had a couple of ideas and was desperate to know if I was right)

I really love mystery books because I like to try and solve things before the characters in the books do.  Though I will admit some things I thought were clues turned out to just be red herrings throwing me off the track completely. The books are all about 200 pages long and are geared towards teens so they are pretty quick and easy reads and they really grab your attention.

My only “complaint” was that the actresses cast for the show don’t really match the description of the girls in the books.  Really not a major thing, but when I am picturing a brunette from the show and the book mentions their blonde hair, it gets confusing for a split second!

Now I just hope that the TV series can hold my attention when I already know what is going to end up happening – and it will be interesting to see what they chose to include or skip over from the books with the series.

Book Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Now that I have a Nook and have been reading a LOT more, I decided to write some book reviews to fill in gaps in between concerts and other fun things 🙂

Recently, I finished Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.  This was a series of 13 books and with the exception of Book 13, each book had 13 chapters, no doubt a play on the fact that it is an unlucky number.

The first 2 or 3 books were made into a movie starring Jim Carrey, which I had actually seen several years ago. Usually I like to read books before watching movies associated with them to see how close what I pictured in my head matches up with how the characters were cast and the set was designed, but lately I’ve been a bit backwards with that.

The books follow the lives of the Baudelaire’s; Violet, Klaus and Sunny who we learn have just lost their parents.  The books are geared at a bit of a younger crowd than me, but I enjoy reading younger books as they are generally fun and quick reads.  As the series went on, each book got longer and longer and I grew more and more frustrated with the characters, to the point that I had to stop reading the series for a bit and started an entirely *different* series in the middle! (Perhaps a review of that series to come, but I still have a couple more of them to read!)

We follow the 3 orphans and in each book they are placed with a new caretaker because something unfortunate has happened to the one before. And that unfortunate thing is Count Olaf – who is a bad, bad man out to get the orphans fortune.  The kids continue to tell their caretakers that Olaf has showed up (usually in a poorly made disguise) but no one ever listens.  This drove me absolutely crazy, but I had to keep reminding myself they were children books and if Olaf was caught in the first book it wouldn’t make for 12 more stories in the series! (A feature I did like – was that whenever the author used big words or phrases that he thought the reader might not know, he would define and explain them. While I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, some of the words I wasn’t entirely familiar with so I enjoyed this ‘feature’)

Throughout the books the children use their skills to make friends and sneak out of the clutches of Olaf.  Violet, the oldest, is an inventor who when thinking up something to invent pulls her hair back with a ribbon.  Klaus, the middle child, loves reading and researching and was always excited when he found a library – no matter what the topic of the books were.  Sunny is the youngest, and she is a cook but also has super sharp teeth and could bite through anything, which came in very handy in a couple of the predicaments the children found themselves in.

Overall I found the books to be a nice read and could finish about half of it in an hour or so before bed.  It was great, fun reading to wind down with at the end of a busy day!  The best part is – if only one of the 13 stories interests you, they can also be read as completely stand-alone books – each book is indeed a different story, so even though I took the time off to read a couple other books, I could easily jump right back in to the series.  Although, I do recommend you read them in order as characters will make a bit more sense to you that way!

I got a Nook!

A couple weeks ago I decided to buy myself an e-reader.  After researching for several hours, it came down to Amazon’s Kindle vs Barnes & Noble’s Nook.  In the end, I went for the Nook.  It seemed to have more features I was looking for (you can replace the battery), even though the two really are very comparable, down to the price of $259.

I had been reading a lot of PDF’s on the computer and it was really straining my eyes.  On the Nook, everything looks fantastic (except for one PDF which had some trouble, I think it had a font that the Nook was having trouble recognizing) and very similar to reading a book.  It is easy to load up PDFs and Word Docs by plugging the Nook into the computer.

I love to read before bed.  The only problem is, I often get comfortable reading one page and then completely have to re-position myself to read the next page.  With the Nook, everything is on the one screen so once I am comfortable I am all set to read until I fall asleep!  The Nook also goes into a screen saver mode, so I won’t be completely wasting battery life should I fall asleep before turning the Nook off for the night.

Barnes and Noble’s online store has quite a few free e-books.  I probably made a mistake “choosing a book by its cover” (and title) but when I ordered the Nook (and awesome tangerine back panel! I love making my electronics orange lol) I picked out a couple.  They came pre-loaded on to my Nook and the first one I read was only 10 pages.  A nice little something to read before bed.  However, it had a couple grammatical errors and was just a horrible story all together.  I then realized why the book was free! haha. (I think I can write something better than it – maybe some day I will be a published e-book author!) Since that book I have read a couple more, and they weren’t much better.  I purchased a few more, mainly to see how the Wi-Fi works to transfer it from my online account on to my Nook and they all seemed to transfer without issue, though I haven’t gotten around to reading any yet. A lot of them are romance novels, so I guess I shouldn’t be expecting something fantastic out of them in the first place – as those are more for fun, quick reads!  (Though the Nook did come preloaded with 3 ‘classics’ I think they were Little Women, Dracula and Pride and Prejudice.  We’ll see if I ever get around to reading those! haha Although I did read Little Women in 5th grade!)

While the Nook is a great alternative when reading in bed and reading PDFs, I don’t think I will be giving up regular books all together.  I am still in the middle of reading a book about Classic Rock songs (which reminds me, I should take the time before bed tonight to finish that one up!) and I am sure there will be “must reads” that pop up that I won’t be able to buy as an e-book so I’ll have hit the library or bookstore… but until then, the Nook has been serving me well!

sTORI Telling

One of my goals for 2009 was to read at least 10 books. I reached 10 and then upped it to 15, since there’s still a decent amount of 2009 left. (And with summer basically over, concerts will be a bit more spread out so I’ll have more free time!)

Yesterday I finished Tori Spelling’s book, “sTORI Telling”. I’ll be honest, for a while most of what I knew about Tori Spelling was what the media thought I should know about her and what they fabricated about it. But there’s 3 sides to every story (yours, mine and the TRUTH) so it was nice to hear Tori’s side.

A while back my mom and I were channel surfing and landed on Oxygen and “Tori & Dean : Inn Love” We thought LiLi was adorable and got sucked in to watching this show of Tori and Dean trying to run a successful B&B.; There were days where we would sit and watch several episodes in a row during marathons, we were hooked.

If not for stumbling upon that show, I probably would have never even considered picking up this book, but I am glad I did. It was a relatively quick and easy read (I had started off reading a chapter or two before bed but over the past couple of nights I gave myself more time and knocked it out) and incredibly interesting. Everyone thought that Tori had it all because her father was Aaron Spelling, but that kid of hindered her as an actress.

In fact, as soon as I finished reading it I went over to Netflix and added So NoTORIous to my queue, and then bumped it up to the top so that those DVDs will be coming to me in the next couple of days.

If you think you know anything about Tori Spelling and have the time to read 20 chapters about the REAL Tori, I definitely recommend you pick up sTORI Telling and check it out.

The next book I will be started tonight is called “Rock Wives” and is of course another groupie book – my current favorite topic.

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