.best of the best.

I set a goal for myself earlier this year to read fifty books in 2014. As of right now, I’m four books shy of that goal. Not to worry; Christmas is fast approaching, which means I plan to devote large amounts of time with a book shoved up under my nose, slouched underneath three or four blankets, with my ragdoll kittens causing adorable ruckus not too far away. If I can’t see them knocking over nail lacquer bottles and devouring toilet paper, it’s not happening.

Amidst a slew of very “meh” books, I’m thrilled to report I’ve had the pleasure of acquainting myself with a few shining stars. Please consider adding the following volumes to your to-be-read pile. And, always, I’m open to hearing book suggestions.

.White Oleander by Janet Fitch.

I’m writing about this one first because I finished it only a couple days ago. Perhaps you’ve seen the movie with Michelle Pfeiffer and Renee Zellweger. Even if you haven’t, this book is a must-read, if only for the writing style. Janet Fitch is a force, let me tell you. As you come to know the characters, you come to know exactly what their reactions will be, and she absolutely delights or saddens you with the sharpness, delicacy, ease, and sheer poetry of her words. It’s very much a character-driven piece (rather than an action-driven one), at which my boyfriend Carson rolls his eyes (he’d rather have action).

In White Oleander, Astrid lives with her mother Ingrid, a cold, controlling, narcissistic woman, until Ingrid is convicted of murder. As Astrid then floats from foster home to foster home, she still keeps in touch with her mother from prison, for better or worse. You feel sorrow for Astrid as she slowly comes to realize the hold her mother has on her, and how much her mother has failed her in motherly duties. It’s also hard not to get pulled under Ingrid’s spell yourself. Definitely pick this one up to experience some incredible writing, as well as a great “villain.”

.Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

After I finished this book, I looked like a deer in headlights for the rest of the day. I read it in just a couple days (which is uncommon for me; I tend to stretch out books and am prone to procrastinate) while on vacation at Myrtle Beach. This is the best book in the trilogy, no contest.

Talk about non-stop action and emotion! I don’t care if you’re Team Gale or Team Wrong–everyone loves Katniss, period. Everyone wants to see her make it. You’re right there with her as she experiences depression, flashbacks, near-constant danger, and walking on eggshells to protect those she loves. Complete thrill-ride from start to finish.

If you’re a newbie, it’s not too late to start this series. Just don’t talk to me about Mockingjay.

.Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

I’m no longer on Tumblr (in my opinion, the whole site brings new meaning to the phrase “dumb masses“), but I imagine that the Tumblrsphere went a little cuckoo when this book came out. I can say this with confidence: if you even slightly like John Green, you’ll love Rainbow Rowell. (This is the part, for my own protection, where I pretend to like John Green’s books).

This book takes place in 1980s suburbia, and follows Asian, X-Men-fanatic Park and redheaded outcast Eleanor. You already know they’re going to fall in love, right? That’s okay; you’ll still read it. The book is written with such nostalgia (80s references aside) and sweetness that you’ll get all schmoopy and want to cuddle something. By no means is the romance overkill. It makes you pine, even just a little, for high school simplicity. Gorgeous book. Even if you don’t like YA, pick it up.

.Room by Emma Donoghue.

Whoa. Nelly. That’s all.

(Not really.)

One part mystery and one part emotional journey with mother and son, Room is told by a five-year-old boy who has spent his entire life in the same room with his Ma. While you read this book, you’re experiencing things on a very narrow, almost untrustworthy, plane. I mean, your narrator is a five-year-old. This gives you a stripped-down, simplistic view of the shocking and often horrific events in the book. If you’re anything like me, you’ll cry tears of both sorrow and triumph.

Get the audiobook if you can, too.

LOL. Who run the world? Oprah.

.Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter.

Nice to end on a children’s book, eh? Haters to the left, please; I believe adults can, and should, read children’s literature. Somehow, words of childhood are sweeter when they are read years after childhood has passed.

Pollyanna was (and still is) a free book on iBooks, an app which I strongly recommend you heavy readers utilize. I found it along the same lines, tone-wise, as Little Women. It’s sweet, sweet, sweet–but if you’re made of tougher stuff, it may be a bit too sentimental.

I, for one, adore Little Women, and I adore Pollyanna. It’s about an orphaned girl who goes to live with her austere Aunt Polly in an equally austere town. As child protagonists often do, Pollyanna changes each person with whom she comes in contact, declaring that she always tries to see the good in everything.

Sound schmultzy? It is. However, it is for children, and like I said, it’s along the same lines as Little Women. I really enjoyed it, even tearing up a few times at Pollyanna’s enduring sweetness.

What were your favorite books this year? I’d love to know.

Until next time,

Kellyn xoxo

P.S. Awesome people reading.

Candy-colored Jane Austens.

Incredibly helpful list of grammar tips.

.the joy of a library.

Is there anything more quietly thrilling than a library? It’s a tranquil place made up of four walls, a couple desks and computers, and shelves as tall as you like. As soon as you tug on the heavy doors into the place (or, as I often discreetly do, nudge the handicapped door button with your foot), the A/C deliciously wafts your way. After all, we’re in South Carolina, and it’s scorching out there.

Maybe you have a list with you (I almost always do), or maybe you’re here to simply mosey and go where the wind takes you. Either way, it’s nice to take it slow. You’ve gotten there well before the place closes, after all. There are often other people milling around–looking for books themselves, chatting in low tones with each other. It can be fun to go to the library with a close friend, whispering and carefully pulling books off the shelves for consideration. Going alone can be a zen experience too. You can chill out in an armchair and take your time.

Now for the moment of truth. You pick out a worthy pile of books, head to an unoccupied corner, and sift through them. I rarely take more than 3 books at a time, because I don’t like to bog myself down. There’s just something about hefting a stack of books to a private table to decide which ones to take. Of course, make sure to reassure those who didn’t make the final cut that you’ll be back for them soon!

I most recently picked up Quiet, by Susan Cain. It’s a non-fiction book about introversion in the business world, schools, and in everyday life. It’s very insightful so far. In a talkative world, it makes me feel more normal.

I also picked up a little independent dystopian young-adult called The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Ever heard of it?

So, what are you reading? And what’s your local library like?

Tell me all about it,

Kellyn xoxo

 

.hello there.

 

Sun in face!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog entry, let alone thought about writing one. Partly, I blame college. This past semester was the most stressful I’ve dealt with (I’ll be a junior this fall). All I’ll say is I recall a certain breakdown over a fourteen-page write-up about various parts of the brain, which had gotten lost in the vastness of the university computer system. Despite the stress (as well as enduring the most politically uninformed philosophy professor—go figure), I made out like a bandit with a 3.7 GPA. Not bad, huh?

Part two of my excuse for my absence is, frankly, what’s a girl like me to write about? I’ve scarcely dipped my toe into blogging before skidding to a complete halt, so to speak. One thing I know for sure—this is not going to be a beauty blog. Let me clarify: I love to use cosmetics and never pass up the chance to talk about them. However, I need to do it my way: not constantly. I read beauty blogs, but transferring their style to my blog just doesn’t work for me. I hate hyping and pushing certain products on the reader. It feels phony and overly chirpy—the complete opposite of who I am. I don’t want you to feel like you’re watching an infomercial, and I certainly don’t want it to seem like I’m getting paid to talk about certain items. So, the long and short of it is, this isn’t a beauty blog. (Am I even an authority on beauty? I do my makeup in bed in an oversized nightie, for heaven’s sake.)

There’s one thing hasn’t changed: I’m still an unstoppable reader. I’m exactly halfway through my 50-books-in-2014 challenge (you can see all the books I’ve read so far on Goodreads), and I’m happy to report that most of the books I’ve tackled were worth recommending. I won’t go into too much detail, but I’ve already decided on an undisputed favorite book so far (Room by Emma Donoghue) and a least favorite book of the year (The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani). Both of these books deserve blog posts starring each of them—coming soon.

Perhaps this blog will become more book-oriented than anything else. After all, I adore when people share what they’re reading with me.

Here’s to inspiration and wherever it will take me,

Kellyn xoxo

Patrick Wilson: regulation hottie

In light of the release of his new film, “The Conjuring,” I was inspired to remind everyone of just who we’re dealing with here. No, I’m not talking demons or ghosts or whatever paranormal entities we are dealing with in this film. I’m talking about Patrick Wilson: regulation hottie.

I feel like this man is often looked over by the celebrity world, as well as general unpaid boy-watchers (i.e myself). The media focuses on people like Bradley Cooper and James Franco who, of course, are quite talented in their own right and also nice to look at at times. However, I can’t ignore a face like this.

You know what my favorite thing about him is? There’s no celebrity scandal surrounding his name. No infidelity, no crazy drunken rampages, no bong-throwing. Just honest, all-American acting. Isn’t that refreshing? Here’s a guy you could bring home to mom and dad, and everyone involved would be both thrilled and relieved.

Ahhh, there he is in Phantom of the Opera. Here’s where the subject gets difficult. I’m going to say this only once, and I welcome all judgment hereafter. IN CHRISTINE’S SITUATION, I WOULD CHOOSE RAOUL OVER THE PHANTOM. For some of you, this may be painful to hear. I understand. It’s not you, it’s me. I have a strange proclivity toward normal, honest, clean-cut guys with long hair rather than mangled maniacs who construct mannequins of their love target and sleep in a swan bed. The yucky long hair can be fixed, but can you fix crazy? No, Christine. You can’t.

I often make that face when I see Patrick Wilson. I know too well where that monster is coming from.

“The Babysitters Club,” revisited

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Aside from collecting stuffed cats and brushing my American Girl doll’s hair, my childhood was largely spent poring over Ann M. Martin’s The Babysitters Club series. If you were a young girl with the ability to read after the year 1986, you also read these. You loved them. You wanted to be them. You envied every predicament, good or bad, that the girls got themselves in.

Okay, so maybe not everyone was as obsessed with these books as I was (am?). Still, though, they were awesome. I wish I could say I’ve read them all, but sadly, by the time I got into the books they weren’t sold in stores anymore. For shame!

I guess I should take this opportunity to thank my elementary school’s library for introducing me to this series. Weird, huh, that a library should introduce me to a book? Anyway, I don’t remember the circumstances but somehow I won a prize in some kind of contest, and I was allowed to pick a book to take home, for free, no strings attached. I stuck my impressionable, eager hand into a box filled with books of all shapes and sizes, and drew out a real humdinger. I still remember which book it was, and I still have it (though its cover has gone missing between then and now). It was Claudia and the Genius on Elm Street, written by Ann M. Martin herself. Y’know, the one where Claudia has to babysit this really bitchy kid, and it turns out her parents are lunatics and make her do all these extracurricular activities? Real page-turner, that one. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll probably hate that kid like I did for being such an ass to poor Claudia. I mean, who cares if foxes hibernate? Why are you asking your babysitter such questions, child? Go hang out with Mallory Pike or something.

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Since Claudia was the first sitter I read about in the series, she has a special place in my heart. If she existed today, I’m positive she’d be a fashion blogger, and a popular one at that. I mean, the girl would pair the most random items together, and by the time you were done reading the description of her outfit, you kinda sat back and thought, “Wow, that looks awesome in my head.” She’d definitely be a blog I’d follow. I can also relate to her because she sucked at math. I also suck at math.

No matter who you are, though, you know that Claudia Kishi is the head bitch in charge. Kristy was never the leader. The club was held in Claudia’s room, because she had her OWN PRIVATE PHONE LINE. I mean, hello.

She’s who Cher Horowitz wishes she was. Scooch over, Plastics.

Work it, girl.

Work it, girl.

My all-time favorite sitter would have to be Mary Anne, though, just because I can relate to her the most. She started out kinda mousy and shy, and it took quite a few books to get her to find herself and her own style. At the beginning, her dad picks out all her outfits (things like penny loafers, frumpy sweaters, and braids–yawn!) and kinda keeps her under his thumb 24/7. He doesn’t even allow her to say the word “swear”!! Eventually, though, he loosens up and lets her pick out her own clothes. She even lobs off her long chestnut hair in favor of a daring pixie cut. I remember this event well. I may even be so bold to say that she is part of the inspiration behind my pixie cut. We’re soul sisters, y’all. It’s serious.

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Granted, mine isn’t as mushroom-y…

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I almost forgot to mention the most exciting detail about Mary Anne! She’s the only character who had a steady B-O-Y-F-R-I-E-N-D. Yep, Logan Bruno, resident male babysitter/Cam Geary lookalike. He has a dreamy Southern accent and wavy golden hair, making him my fictional crush from the get-go. I identify mostly as Mary Anne because of the haircut, but we both have dreamy boyfriends, too. While I can’t say my own squeeze looks much like a teen idol (he’s more of the lumberjack type), he certainly does have the Southern twang down! I like to pretend I scored my very own Logan Bruno.

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I’m just pretending Logan grew up to look like this.

So, who’s your favorite sitter? I know I didn’t get to talk about all the girls, but they all have their good qualities! Kristy had good ideas, Dawn was the original hipster (pretty sure the whole vegan thing started with her), Jessi was a beautiful ballerina. Even Mallory had her good points…uh, what were they again?

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There’s a reason you were only a junior member of the club, honey.