Monday, April 30, 2012


Woot Woot!

Unable to ignore the haunting photographs that 13-year-old Trevor Kennedy brings in to be developed, Crystal, a store clerk dealing with her own loss, finds her life colliding with this troubled boy whose family is about to be pushed to the breaking point. (from Google Books)

T. Greenwood is a favorite of mine. Her prose is pitch-perfect and heart wrenching. She manages to capture the human experience with a keen eye. I cannot rave enough about her. Her latest novel, Grace, is no exception. We return to Two Rivers to meet the Kennedy's and a teenage mother who just gave up her baby for adoption. The way their worlds collide is significant, dramatic, and so real. 

Kurt is a lovable character. One thing about Greenwood is that she is able to show character flaws in a beautiful light. Each of her characters are very human, realistic. The patriarch of the Kennedy family is flawed but he is heroic. He may not handle things the way he should. He doesn't realize until the end just how poorly he's treated his son, but the reader is left with a glimmer of hope that he has changed. His father is an ass and that seems to occupy a lot of Kurt's thoughts. 

Elsbeth is someone who made my heart ache. She longed for things she would never have. There was always such a sense of loss with her. And the juxtaposition between her and Crystal was a stroke of sheer brilliance on Greenwood's part. The woman who kept the baby when she was a teenager, married the boy, and stayed is yearning for freedom while Crystal, who gave up her baby and the boy who impregnated her won't have anything to do with her, wants that life. 

Trevor is an interesting character. I felt bad for him because he was the scapegoat for everything. And the topic of bullying has been a huge one lately, and I think Greenwood captured the significance of the problem perfectly. 

Crystal was probably my favorite character. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because, out of all the characters, she was the one who stood up for herself. She made her decision and went with it, rather than letting life happen to her. 

All of these characters encircle Grace. She is always in the background but she is such a poignant centerpiece for the whole novel. 

What I love about Greenwood is her characterization, among other things. Each character breathes with life and becomes more than just names squished between the pages in a book. They become people I am familiar with, like an old friend. Her plotting drives forward like an avalanche and I often wonder where she is going with things and then she throws in surprise curves that make you keep reading. 

Grace is compelling and dramatic and beautifully written. It is not escapist literature by any means, but it is enjoyable to read and her words carry you away on a comforting ride. I highly recommend this novel and any by T. Greenwood to anyone looking for intelligent reading.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lundyn Taylor Chacon

On March 16, 2012 my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. They named her Lundyn Taylor Chacon. She was 7 lbs. 14 oz. and 20.5 inches long.

On the day she was born with Grandma Chester. 

First picture with Uncle Jake. I was just getting over being sick for 4 weeks so I had to have a mask on. 

Kate's friend, Lennie, took newborn pictures of Pumpkin. You can visit her blog here.

This is Lucky Lundyn in the outfit I got her. 

She is an incredibly snuggly baby. I love it!

I took this picture on my phone when I was babysitting. It has become one of my favorites of her. 

Look at her so peaceful in her elephant chair. 

Needless to say I am a proud uncle and she's already got me wrapped around her delicate little fingers. We were all a little surprised by her shock of dark hair because the twins had come with barely any hair and what hair they had was really blond. She looks a lot like Gigi did when she was a newborn.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Up to Date

Time for a quick update on me. I guess it's been awhile since I've posted anything about my personal goings on.

I'm less than four months away from my departure date! The reality set in when I realized that I would, originally, have been leaving this coming Tuesday, April 17th. I would definitely be a basket case right now if that were the date now. It is still on for August 9th and I'm stoked. I've been working on my memorization and I've been working hard to train physically so that basic isn't such a shock to my mind and body. I'm pretty sure, however, that no matter what I do to prepare I will not be completely prepared for basic. So I'm just going to continue doing what I'm doing. I ran my best 1.5 mile yesterday with a 13:56. I will need to knock down at least a minute off that by the time I get in. However, if I don't I'm right in the good range to where I will be able to pass the final test easily. Hopefully.

I'm still doing CrossFit. It is a kick in the pants and I love it. There are days I want to curl up in a fetal position and say "No more!" But I go again the next day. This has got to be a sign of some sort of mental illness to actually crave this kind of pain.

Kate, my sister, had a beautiful baby girl on March 16. Her name is Lundyn Taylor Chacon. She's a cutie patootie and I'm glad I will get to spend a few months with her before I go. I am sure I will post a few pictures of her on here. In fact, I might do a whole post dedicated just to her.

My novel is still coming along. It has taken a back burner to all the insane preparation for the Navy, but I still have it in the back of my mind all the time. I have been itching to write lately and I'm about 75% through the 2nd draft. After this, I am going to do some edits and I might have a class at the university rip it to shreds, and then I will try to get more serious about getting it published. The timing is just terrible. I will keep you all posted on how that goes. If you are on Facebook, you can "Like" my book's page here.

I will be dj'ing my third dance this weekend. It is, again, for my friends and all their kids who are taught at home. It is quite the experience and I've also been getting ready for that. I found a new way to express my love for music and that is by dj'ing.

Gigi is turning 5 in June! She got screened for kindergarten this week and scored a 53 out of 56 so she is very ready. I can't believe she's old enough for kindergarten! She's growing like a weed and stands up to my hips.

Morgan and Wyatt are also growing. They've matured just in the past few weeks since Lundyn was born. They are still active and a little unruly but boys will be boys. They turned 3 in January. 

It doesn't seem like it, but I have been really busy. Work and exercising and Navy and all that has sucked up all my time. In my spare time I'm hanging with family and friends, soaking it all in because I'm not sure when I will have any of these moments again in my life. There are days, still, that I wonder what I'm doing as far as the Navy goes, but I know this is what I want to do with my life. Something needed to change and the Lord provided this as a way for me to improve myself and the world around me. I'm excited for these great changes coming up in the next few months.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame. 

Lauren Oliver has done it again. She continues to astound me with her electric prose and her exciting plotting. She is a master at creating a mood and getting the reader completely sucked in. There were seriously moments, during the reading of Pandemonium, that I was so engrossed and I would look up and realize where I was. It is a mark of a sheer genius who can make you believe the characters are real because you identify with them so much and you empathize with them. 
It is an unfair comparison, but I kept thinking about Crossed by Ally Condie. While I enjoy the story and the idea in Condie's trio, I think the writing is lacking. Where these two are both the second in a trilogy it seemed appropriate to see where one was winning and one was lacking. Condie's second volume is good, don't get me wrong. I have a review of it on this blog, but I remember shutting it at the last page and thinking "Nothing even happened!" And now, as I recall, all I remember is a lot of running, some climbing, some hiking, twists and turns, and nothing real progressive with the plot. I think another reason I compared the two, in my mind, is because they both dealt with tunnels or being out in the forbidden "Wilds." Condie's wilds are alien and unapproachable. I had no idea where to even plant myself in them. Oliver's Wilds are realistic and, exactly that: wild. The pain is real in Oliver's book. I felt each pang of hunger, each twist and turn as the characters turned on each other because they acted human and real. 
Oliver also did an unfair thing. She introduced a love triangle. I wanted to cry out, but the progression of the love Lena gains for Julian is natural and quite beautiful. This is truly a triangle I'm going to struggle to pick a side for. Both of them are good guys and I'm pretty sure Oliver has a good answer for it. The third book will be very telling. Julian was an interesting addition to the mix and I grew to empathize with him. And it was also an interesting twist that suddenly Lena takes Alex's place and "infects" Julian just like Alex did to her. 
Lauren Oliver moves her story forward like an unstoppable avalanche. It rumbles and bursts with power, sometimes managing to take my breath away. Back to Condie's book: I don't remember being rendered breathless with her story. Yes, her words are pretty, but when you match plot to that, she's seriously lacking. Lauren Oliver has managed to partner the two to make a genius and remarkable story in the young adult fiction world. I highly recommend this trio and anything else that she writes.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Part of Me (Outrage)

I saw on the news the other day that there is controversy over Katy Perry's latest video for her single "Part of Me." This is a fantastic song. Perry has proven herself to be a star that can hold her own with her album Teenage Dream. Her songs, her face, her touch is everywhere these days. I'm not complaining. I love Katy Perry, and I have ever since she kissed a girl and she liked it. Maybe that's making me biased for this whole war of words between Katy Perry and feminist author Naomi Wolf. Or maybe it's the fact that I am going into the military and I have a soft spot for people who are serving. The fact that a celebrity with Perry's panache has decided to put a positive light on women in the military is fantastic.

This is what Naomi Wolf's Facebook page said:

“Have you all seen the Katy Perry Marines video? It is a total piece of propaganda for the Marines…I really want to find out if she was paid by them for making it…it is truly shameful. I would suggest a boycott of this singer whom I really liked — if you are as offended at this glorification of violence as I am .”

Glorification of violence? Really? Naomi Wolf, screw you. I'm sick of groups getting on these crusades. Boycott Katy Perry. How about we boycott you? No one ever knew about you until you started making your snide remarks about Katy's video. Should we boycott you and your need for your voice to be heard and for your 15 seconds of fame? Do you really want to be known as the woman who fought against women being in the military?

This video does not in any way glorify violence. I am fighting the urge to use some very vivid language to describe how I feel about Naomi Wolf right now and any other stupid activist who thinks that this video is anything but a video about a women empowering herself. Sure, it's not realistic. Katy Perry is an entertainer and a damn good one at that. Sure, she's wearing makeup and looks hot at basic. That is beyond not realistic. Get over it. Her point was not to glorify violence. The point was to send a message to women and girls that they can. They can be stronger.

Perry's video gives a whole new meaning to the song. I thought it was just another song about a bad breakup. Knowing about Perry's history and her recent divorce, it is not a big surprise that her new single would be about a breakup.

If you're going to harass Katy Perry for a video that makes women look bad look at "California Girls" where she shoots whip cream out of her bra. Yeah. Ya don't see feminists getting mad about that one, do you? That is more degrading to the image of women than seeing Perry in her fatigues, carrying a gun, and looking badass for our country.

So, maybe I'm wrong. Shame on you, Katy Perry, for actually being a good role model to our young girls and the women out there who feel they can't make anything better of themselves. Shame on you for not being a total slut to get famous. Shame on you for actually being patriotic.

The morale in our country has been terrible the last few years. Perry is being crucified for this because she's actually showing some patriotism and so that's called propaganda. Oh please. Like the military needs people right now with the economy being so bad that people are flocking to join because it's recession proof. Thanks for that, Obama. Not going to lie, that was one of the bonuses for me joining. It's a job that won't go away any time soon. However, I really don't think Perry was telling anybody to join the Marines. I think she was telling young women that they can rise above. Whatever they come across in life, they can become better because they have the power within themselves to do it. If anything, feminists should be applauding her move instead of making her a martyr.

So, to you, Naomi Wolf, I say Shame on you. Shame on you for using Katy Perry's video as a platform for your own bitterness. You made something beautiful and powerful into a joke. You could have taken this chance to align yourself with Perry as a role model for young women, but instead you made the efforts of women in the military over the past several years to become equal and noticed something to laugh about. Boycott her all you want, Naomi Wolf, Katy Perry is not going anywhere. Shame on you.

To watch the video, go here.