Mockingjay [book review]

mockingjay review

Katniss is the Mockingjay – the face of the revolution.  With her cooperation, the refugees of District 12 along with the citizens of District 13 will take down the Capitol, save Peeta and kill President Snow.

They just need the other eleven districts to join the revolution first.

Going into this book I only knew half of what was going to happen.  I had seen Mockingjay Part 1 while it was in theaters, so I pretty much flew through the first half of the book.  The pace of the book actually seemed much faster than the movie counterpart.

Then again, they took a relatively small book and made it into two movies.  I mean, the book isn’t exactly the size of the final Harry Potter book.

Once I was past the events that I had seen on screen, it was a new world for me to read a part of the Hunger Games world and now know what would happen.  It was definitely exciting for me.  There were some parts I was definitely expecting, like Katniss getting shot in District 2 and the deaths of certain characters (I won’t say in case anyone doesn’t know who).  It was a little upsetting at how quickly characters were picked off.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book the most out of the three, because I didn’t know how it would end and I was actually happy with the ending.  And I was so excited to have actually read the book before seeing Mockingjay Part 2, that I went out that night and got it from Redbox so I could see the end of the book in action.

Did you read the Hunger Games trilogy?  Thoughts on it?

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Ultimate Book Tag

As I slowly morph this blog into a lifestyle/book blog, I will be doing a few more book-related posts that aren’t necessarily reviews.  This would be one of them.

Since tags are common among bloggers when we’re feeling uninspired or just want to have a little fun, I decided to look up book tags.  I found this one on Things Eric Reads and thought it was a good one to do for my first book tag post.

ultimate book tag

1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?
I never used to, so I doubt I would now.

2. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
Harry Potter.  No contest.  Why?
1. Amazing story overall, and one that isn’t centered on romance.
2. The adventure the series takes you on.
3. “Always.”

3. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is it in (besides books…)?

4. Do you smell your books?
Not really, no.  Or at least, not intentionally.

5. Books with or without little illustrations?
I don’t mind illustrations on the new chapter pages (like in Harry Potter)

6. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing? (Ex. I read Twilight before I read HP and thought the writing was amazing but read HP and now think Twilight is a little bit of a joke.)
Basically the Twilight example, only I did read Harry Potter first and it was a few people talking out the writing style of Twilight that made me go back and realize, yeah… not so amazing.

7. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
When I read A Time For Dancing before sophomore year of high school, I went blueberry picking with my dad and stepmom and on the way there and back I was reading in the car.  If you don’t know, the book is very sad, so I was crying (I mean, like bawling) when my dad dropped me off at the restaurant my mom managed and the first thing she says to him is (half-joking), “What did you do to her?” but before he answered I told her it was the book.

It’s probably not that funny, but it’s a story that I have from reading… so there you go.

8. What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
The 5 Love Languages

9. What is the thickest book on your shelf?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

10. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
I do.  I write both original fiction and fanfiction.  I always thought I’d be an author someday because I’ve literally been working with the same characters since middle school, but I haven’t really pursued it since my first year of college.  Maybe someday.

11. When did you get into reading?
Not really sure.  I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember.  So, definitely since elementary school.

12. What is your favorite classic book?
The Great Gatsby (because it’s the only classic I can think of that I’ve read)

13. In school was your best subject Language Arts/English?
One of them.  It was a neck-and-neck tie with English and Math.

14. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?
I would say thank you and give the book to someone who would like it or donate it to the library.

15. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
Private by Kate Brian.

16. What is your favorite word?

17. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?

18. Vampires or Fairies?

19. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Bookmark.  Always a bookmark.

20. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
Even though I read a lot of things with love triangles, I prefer the forbidden love because I honestly get angry with characters who are in a love triangle (well, most times).

21. One book at a time or several books at once?
Depends.  Lately it’s one book at a time since I finish the book in about 5 days or less.  If I happen to have two going at a time, it’s usually a fiction and a non-fiction… otherwise I’ll forget which story is which.

22. Can you stop reading at any part of the book or does it have to be the end of the chapter?
It has to be the end of the chapter.

23. Do you write in a book?

24. Can you read while listening to music/watching tv?
I can 99% of the time.  My friends used to think I was crazy when I’d have my iPod on and be reading.  Reading in complete silence bothers me.

25. Do you read out loud or silently in your head?
Silently.  I hate reading out loud.

BONUS QUESTION: Physical book, e-book or audio book?
Ahhh, this question!  Okay, so audio books are a big, fat no.  I like e-books because it’s easy to bring along for vacation or wherever, but I’m more comfortable reading a physical book.


And that’s all folks!  Those are my answers to the ultimate book tag, and if you’re a bookworm like myself, I’d like to see your answers to this tag (or any other book tag you do).

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My Year of YouTubing (is that a word?)

In spring 2013 I became obsessed with watching YouTubers.  You know, the people like Tyler Oakley, Andrea Russett, jennxpenn and the boys from Our 2nd Life.  They were all funny, engaging and just all around entertaining to watch.  Watching them made me want to sit in front of my own camera and talk to the people who would eventually watch them.

So I did.

I was regularly doing videos for about a year, but unfortunately, life happens and I never really picked it back up.  I wanted to, I just didn’t have the time or real drive to do it.  Honestly, by that time I just wanted to finish college.  Plus, my two friends from California who were also making YouTube videos had stopped and it wasn’t as much fun without them.

I’m aware that making YouTube videos is still a popular thing, but I’m honestly not as into watching them as I used to be.  I feel like YouTubers have kind of lost that appeal (at least to me) because it seems like they’re always doing challenges or tag videos.  I’m not saying it’s bad to do them, but it just seems like more and more of them are just doing that as opposed to just talking to the camera about whatever topic in on their mind.

I might be wrong because, like I said, I haven’t been watching them lately.

What’s my point with all this?  Well, I am thinking of starting up YouTube again soon, but only in relation to my blog.  So instead of using my tabbyisnotacat channel, I’d use my personal account and it would probably be titled, “orangeowldiaries: the vlog edition.”  You know, something along those lines.

I’m just trying to really figure out some things before I go ahead and press record on my camera… mainly topics.  I honestly have no idea what I’d talk about for the videos and I’d like to keep the challenge/tag videos to a bare minimum.

This is more of an update of what’s to come for orangeowldiaries, but for the most part, I’ll be writing the majority of my posts.  The vlogging will just be to add some variety.

In the meantime, here’s a video I published 2  years ago, during the peak of my YouTube venture, which is mainly just bloopers of the videos I had previously done.

And for the record, I do cringe at most of my old videos.

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Building a Reading Habit (via College Info Geek)

Reading is something a lot of people, including myself, like to do to relax.  Unfortunately, most people don’t have enough hours in a day to fit in reading that book that’s been sitting on their nightstand for the past 4 months.

Luckily for you poor, unfortunate souls, Thomas Frank has some tips for you.

I know some of these are common sense tips when it comes to reading, but they’re not always ones we think about when you just feel like reading.  I agree with making a habit of reading a specific time of day is a good way to start, if your schedule allows it.  But it’s essential to make sure you’re in a place where you can focus on your book with minimal distractions.

I also believe it’s good to be comfortable – like sitting on a soft chair rather than a hard one.  I personally like to have my feet up when I’m in the reading zone.

As for Thomas’ tip on setting up something that makes you personally or publicly accountable to someone to make sure you read, I like it to an extent.  I prefer to set an amount of books I want to read and track my progress that way, and I use Goodreads for that.

Did you find these tips helpful?  What are some of your reading habits?

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Catching Fire [book review]

Yes, yes I know.  I’m super late on reading this book because, if you remember, I read the reviewed The Hunger Games over a year ago.  My bad.

catching fire review

In the continuation of The Hunger Games, we find Katniss months after her victory in the dreaded games.  She’s now living in Victor’s Village in District 12, only she doesn’t want to be there.  She misses her old home and way of living… the way it was before the games happened.

She might be a crowned victor, but the games will never leave her.  She hasn’t talked to Peeta since she confessed that she faked being in love with him to keep them alive and now the two of them will soon be leaving for the Victor’s Tour.  And she constantly has nightmares from her experience in the arena.

But an unexpected visit from President Snow throws her for a loop and she finds herself even more immersed in the games that she’s tried so hard to forget.

Now I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen in this book because, unfortunately, I saw the movie first.  Even though it was over a year ago I saw the movie, I was a bit fuzzy about the events that took place so reading this was a good refresher as well as a way to learn more of the details that the movie left out.

I throughly enjoyed being able to once again get inside Katniss’ head during the events of this book, which is the one element we don’t get in the movies.  It provides a better understanding of her character and what makes her tick.

What I didn’t like was that I found myself trying to skip ahead to get to a certain event I knew was coming up.  So it took me a litter longer than usual to read since I had to keep my eyes from wandering ahead.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and now I can’t wait to get the review of Mockingjay up, since I finished it already (I literally finished it within 29 hours).  Expect that review to go up later this week or early next week.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Trailer!

Harry Potter fans, our day is coming.

Yesterday Warner Bros. released the trailer for the upcoming film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is about Newt Scamander and his adventure in New York concerning a briefcase full of dangerous magical creatures.  The creatures escape the briefcase and threaten the relationships between magical beings and non-magical beings.

I’m going to be honest, when I first heard the announcement of this movie I wasn’t very excited.  I mean, yeah J.K. Rowling’s wizard world lives on, but it wasn’t the characters I’ve come to know and love.  Then this morning, I saw the trailer.

I can tell you now that I’m excited to see the movie.  I think seeing Rowling’s wizarding world come to life on the movie screen again is what changed my opinion.  I needed to see that it would be a good film before I actually got excited for it.

Now I’m happy I decided to watch the trailer instead of shrugging it off.

What do you think of the Fantastic Beasts trailer?  Are you excited for the movie?

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Lola and the Boy Next Door [book review]

lola and the boy next door review

I have another confession… I actually read this book before its predecessor, Anna and the French Kiss.  Why?  I liked the plot and I hadn’t realized it was a part of a series by Stephanie Perkins.  So, yes, I did read the first book knowing Anna and St. Clair’s fate since they both appear in this book.  Oops.

But this book isn’t about Anna or St. Clair… it’s about a life-loving girl named Lola Nolan.

Lola is a young, aspiring fashion designer who finds her world turned upside down when her former neighbors, the Bells, move back into their old, lavender home next door.  The problem?  She used to be friends with the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket… oh, and she used to have a massive crush on Cricket, but their last encounter did not go over in her favor.

But that was two years ago.

Now Lola is seventeen and starting her junior year.  She’s planning out her future, making her dress for the winter dance and let’s not forget, she with Max – her older, rock-star and sensitive boyfriend.  She’s completely over Cricket… right?

The story surrounding Lola and Cricket was adorable.  I found both of them to be lovable – with Lola’s quirky sense of style and personality and Cricket’s caring and inventive nature.  As they rekindle their old friendship Lola finds herself becoming attached to him again, but she holds onto the inevitability that her and Max are meant to be.  Her confusion really adds to her character development and makes her relatable to the readers.

What I love the most though is that Cricket is the perfect type to be the ‘boy next door’ character and he gets a huge spotlight.  Normally the character who is more mysterious or cool, such as Max, would get all the attention and have the readers gushing over him.  Hats off to Perkins for breaking that wall and making the boy next door even more lovable than ever.

I definitely think if you’re a fan of Anna and the French Kiss that you’ll enjoy this book as well.  St. Clair is just as lovable, if not more so in the few times we see him and Anna in the story, but I have no doubts that you’ll fall even harder for Cricket.

And now I’m looking forward to go back to Paris in the next installment of this series – Isla and the Happily Ever After!

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101 in 1001 Kickoff!

I’ve decided to do this… 101 things in 1001 days.  From what I gather, it was started over at the Day Zero List website, which is a website where you can set up timed bucket lists to keep track of your progress and make sure you actually get things done.  I originally found out about this project when I started reading Meagan’s blog, All the Joys, and have seen it on a handful of other blogs.

It surprisingly only took me a day to come up with 101 things I’d like to do over the next 2.75 years.  I might have cheated and took some items off my 2016 Goals and 25 Before 25 lists – since some items on the latter won’t be happening anytime in the next month.  So, here’s a look at the 101 things I hope to accomplish in the next 1001 days!


For Myself

1. Take a drawing class
2. Get my skin cleared up and keep it that way
3. Take a language class (in either French or ASL)
4. Learn French
5. Learn American Sign Language
6. Finish my in-progress fanfiction
7. Purchase an iMac
8. Hide away money for me to find at an unexpected time
9. Create a custom frame for my Instax Mini photos
10. Last the entire week on the annual camping trip with my dad
11. Type up all my old stories that still reside in notebooks
12. Start wearing makeup on a semi-regular basis
13. Have a spa day with my mom
14. Adopt two kittens
15. Continue my original short story series
16. Create a morning routine I can stick to
17. Move to a new state (preferably somewhere south)

For Others

18. Participate in a charity walk
19. Pay It Forward at least 5 different times
20. Send 10 homemade cards to family or friend for no reason
21. Volunteer for a holiday event in the community
22. Volunteer for the library
23. Contribute to a kickstarter or gofundme campgain
24. Keep my phone away at least 5 times when out to eat with others


25. Find and join a church as a real member
26. Join a weekly Bible study
27. Read all books of the Bible I have not yet read
28. Keep a Bible or prayer journal for a month

Foodie Things

29. Try French macarons
30. Try a mimosa
31. Make homemade iced coffee
32. Make chocolate covered strawberries at home
33. Learn to like green tea
34. Eat at the Cheesecake Factory
35. Eat at Chick-fil-A
36. Bake cookies from scratch
37. Make Nanni’s applesauce cookies with my mom
38. Eat vegan for a day


39. Visit three new states
40. Visit the Liberty University campus
41. Get a passport
42. Visit Canada
43. See Niagara Falls from the Canadian side
44. Go on a cruise with my mom
45. Spend a day in New York City

Career and Related Skills

46. Be the videographer for at least 5 events
47. Do a portrait session for someone other than myself
48. Make a new general videography reel
49. Make a sports videography reel
50. Learn to use and purchase Adobe After Effects
51. Get a good-paying job in the Communication field
52. Build a photography portfolio


53. Improve my credit score
54. Pay off my credit cards
55. Buy a new (to me) car
56. Do a no-spending challenge for a month
57. Go without eating out for a month
58. Make a dent in my student loans
59. Save change for an entire year
60. Switch to a cheaper phone plan
61. Learn to do my own taxes

Physical/Mental Health

62. Take a yoga class
63. Use my yoga DVD for at-home yoga for a week straight
64. Maintain a healthy weight
65. Go without social media for an entire day
66. Go without social media for an entire weekend
67. Do a 30-Day challenge

Fun/Just Because

68. Read 50 books within 1 year
69. Reread the Harry Potter series and subsequently watch the movies
70. Try out a book box subscription
71. Start reading more “normal” adult fiction books (as opposed to young adult)
72. Go apple picking
73. Go blueberry picking
74. Attend another NFL game
75. Build a gingerbread house at Christmastime
76. Go to the zoo
77. Watch Titanic on the anniversary of its sinking
78. Submit 10 photos to a stock photography site
79. Film a music video
80. Use a fake name at Starbucks
81. Pull an all-nighter
82. Leave a note in a library book
83. Attempt YouTube again (either for blog or separately)
84. Send custom Christmas cards
85. Go bowling with my dad
86. Make a scrapbook
87. Buy books from a used book store
88. Print and hang one of my photos
89. Go on a photography adventure
90. Restart and beat my Pokemon Blue game

For the Blog

91. Do a Q&A post or vlog
92. Make a light-box for blog photography
93. Successfully morph it into a hybrid (lifestyle/faith/book) blog
94. Guest post on another blog
95. Meet a blogger friend in real life
96. Create a weekly vlog feature
97. Create a weekly or monthly series
98. Host a link-up
99. Take new portrait photos
100. Participate in another blogger’s swap event
101. Update the graphics on old posts


The list will be available up on my blog’s menu for easy access, as this is merely a post to inform you all that I’m doing this.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to complete the entire list, but I’m sure as heck going to do my best.  The official start date is today, of course, and this project will end on January 2nd, 2019.  It seems like a long time, but I’m it’ll go by faster than I’m expecting.

Do you have any bucket lists like this one? Would you try this?

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In Real Life: Love, Lies and Identity in the Digital Age [book review]

“It used to mean something if someone was your friend.  You didn’t get friend requests.  Someone didn’t ask to be your friend.  They just became your friend because you spent time with them and showed them that you cared.”

in real life book review

First of all, if you’ve never heard of Nev Schulman or Catfish, let me get you up to speed.  Catfish was a documentary released in 2010 that focused around Nev and his relationship with a girl he met online.  Taking a chance, he went out to Michigan to meet her only to find out she wasn’t who she said she was.  Since then, Nev has gone on to produce Catfish: the TV Show where he helps other people meet who they’ve been talking to online, and let’s say the outcomes can be shocking.

catfish: (noun)

1: any of an order (Siluriformes) of chiefly freshwater stout-bodied scaleless bony fishes having long tactile barbels
2: a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes

When I first picked up this book I thought it was a deeper look into Nev Schulman’s Catfish story, but that’s only a part of it.  Throughout the book Nev gives a breakdown of digital life, whether we’re just using it to keep up with friends or, in some cases, using social media to look for love.  It’s good to keep in mind that Nev is not an expert, but after 5 seasons of his show and experiencing it personally, he does know quite a bit about the concept of forming relationships online as opposed to real life.

Drawing from his Catfish experience and what he’s seen, Nev gives us an inside look as to what can motivate catfish to lie to others online, why people fall for them and how you can avoid being deceived.  While reading you realize the signs of a catfish are pretty obvious, but without knowing for sure, people tend to shrug it off.  It’s not that Nev is lecturing us as if we don’t know this stuff; it’s more like he’s giving us a friendly reminder to keep an extra eye out for those signs.

Fake relationships aside, this book is also about how we should take some of our focus off social media and form friendships the old-school way… in person.  Social media has literally taken over our lives.  If we didn’t post it on Facebook or Twitter, it didn’t happen – that is our mindset these days.  Instead of saying, “Hey, I’ll call you later,” we say, “I’ll Facebook you tonight.”  We’re only worried about getting home to our computers to see what the latest trends are, how many and to talk to a group of people on a fan forum about last night’s episode of The Walking Dead.  People don’t connect anymore, and Nev really brings that to the front of your brain in the duration of this book.

It actually makes you feel ashamed if you’re a social media user.

“Twitter provides us with a wonderful platform to discuss/confront societal problems.  We trend Justin Bieber instead.” – Lauren Leto

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is connected on social media and is disconnected from the real world.  Again, Nev isn’t trying to lecture us, but he does make some good points in this book that make us take a hard look at how we’re living our lives.  I’ve personally been wanting to spend less time on social media and this book is exactly what I needed to really motivate me to do so.

So get out and play some basketball in the park with your friends, visit your grandma, call your mom.  Just get offline and connect with people in real life; because those are the connections that really matter.

“You don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.”

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Say Hello to Changes

Seeing as it’s April 1st I was going to do the whole ‘I’m giving up blogging’ joke, but I figured that there are probably other bloggers doing it and I didn’t want to be another one in the mix.  Besides, I’m not a fan of April Fools Day – I don’t even consider it a real holiday.  It’s not that I can’t take a joke; it’s just that there’s an entire day of the year I can’t take anyone seriously because they could just wind up saying, “April Fools!”

No. just, no.

So, onto a more serious topic that does, in fact, regard my blog.

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Lately I’ve been thinking of possibly starting a new blog that would be separate from this one, and its focus would be books – a book blog.  I’d write reviews and other book-related posts that would be exclusively for that blog.  I’d finally have a niche blog.  The only problem would be trying to keep up with it and honestly, I think after a while I’d end up getting stressed over it and give up.  I don’t want to do that again.  I’ve been down that road before with doing a photography blog and a review blog along with this one.

It’s too much for one person.

So, after thinking about it and getting some feedback on Twitter, I’ve decided to slowly morph orangeowldiaries into a hybrid blog – half faith/lifestyle and half book blog.  I definitely do not want to give up my personal posts that share my life experiences, tips and faith because that’s the heart of this blog.  I mainly just want to throw in weekly book-related posts so I can share my inner bookworm.

Of course, I’ll still review movies, shows, products and apps, but only when I feel it’s necessary.

As for how many book-related posts there will be weekly, I’m not sure yet.  I’ll probably start off slow with at least one a week.  In relation to book posts, I’m also thinking of doing a word-of-the-week post to highlight some words that aren’t commonly heard in our vocabulary today.  It’s a way for not only me, but any of my lovely readers, to learn some new words and start using them in our everyday speak.

I’d also like to introduce other feature posts, like possibly bringing back my Friday Five posts and/or a ‘Monthly Wrap-Up’ post where I’ll highlight the ups and downs of the month and share some of my favorites.  And finally, I’m hoping to start up a vlog series for orangeowldiaries in the near future, but I’m still working on the kinks for that.  It will happen though and I’ll be sure to give you all a heads up so that you can be on the lookout for vlogs and subscribe to the channel.

So yes, there are some changes happening, but to be honest the content won’t be too much different.  It’s just going to be more systematic and organized than it has been the last few months.  The changes won’t be happening right away, but I’ll slowly integrate them during the month of April and maybe into May.

What do you think of the changes happening?  Good?  Bad?  Suggestions?  I’m happy to hear your thoughts!

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