Day 01
August 7, 2010

I know, it’s really late. Not sure what I’m talking about? Check out my last post for info on my 30 day project (that will probably take me more than 30 days).

Day 01- A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself

  1. I think I pick up a new hobby every season. This summer, I learned how to sew cute little plushies!
  2. When I was younger, my hair was almost black.
  3. I’m right handed, but I play ice hockey left-handed.
  4. I’m a Chemistry major but I plan to go to grad school for Higher Ed. Student Affairs.
  5. No matter how hard I try, I can’t keep my room clean.
  6. I love Sailor Moon.
  7. I volunteer at a local animal shelter.
  8. I also love to scrapbook 🙂
  9. My favourite colours are green, black, and silver.
  10. I still own an original NES.
  11. I’m a shopaholic.
  12. My first real job was at the GAP.
  13. I am a huge Doctor Who fan.
  14. I once planned out a fantasy novel trilogy that I wanted to write one day.
  15. My favourite school subjects are astronomy, psychology, and organic chemistry.

Top Five Summer Sights in Berkeley and the Bay Area
June 20, 2010

These are my top five picks for great summer sights in Berkeley and the Bay Area.

What are some of yours? Let us know so we can visit!

1. The UC Botanical Garden

While the Botanical Garden is a great place to visit all year-round, summer is my favourite time to go up there. It’s free for students ($7 for adults) and on the weekdays, there’s a handy bus to take us up there as well. The Garden is divided up into specified regions, such as California, Austrolasia, and the Tropical House to cite just a few. While UC’s plant haven isn’t the biggest botanical garden I’ve ever been to, it was big enough that I needed at least two days to see the entire thing. There’s a superb view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the rose garden at the top of the hill, a peaceful sanctuary at the zen pool, and some amazing hidden waterfalls.

2. Golden Gate Park

Running through the center of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park is full of things to do. Visit the California Academy of the Sciences where you can see nearly 40,000 animals and learn all about the wonderful world we live in! If you like flowers, Golden Gate Park hosts the San Francisco Botanical Garden as well as the Conservatory of Flowers. Other highlights include the National AIDS Memorial Grove and the Japanese Tea Garden. Other than the main attractions, Golden Gate Park is a fun place to walk, run, bike, rollerblade, play frisbee, volleyball, or any other outdoor sport you could think of. The park often hosts summer music festivals as well, which draw a huge crowd.

3. Berkeley Rose Garden (and Cordornices Park)

If you like looking at a variety of shapes, colours, and scents in roses, this is a must-visit in June and July. The garden looks like it was once an amphitheater, with steps and rows descending from just below the street level. It’s fun to see all of the different rose varieties, sit on a bench and read a book, or play tennis at the accompanying courts. Just across the street (or under the street through the awesomely long tunnel) is Cordornices Park, which boasts an epic concrete slide that scares even the bravest of adults. Folks always leave flattened cardboard boxes for the exciting ride.

4. Ocean Beach

I may be a bit biased since this is the only local beach I’ve visited, but the place is just fantastic over the summer. It’s at the far edge of Golden Gate Park and while it might not be warm enough for swimming, there is still lots to do! I’ve laid on the beach tanning, taken walks, built sandcastles, and watched people surf of fly kites. Just be warned, the fog can roll in at strange points in the afternoon, so you’ll want to get out there earlier in the day.

This is the fog that you want to avoid.

5. Berkeley Marina

Take the bus down to the Marina and you can fly kites, have a picnic, sail, go kayaking, or eat a tasty meal at Skates on the Bay. I’ve personally only been over here for sailing, but they have the occasional kite festival and I’ve heard the view is pretty epic. They shoot off some fantastic fireworks on the 4th of July as well 🙂

© k3llissima on Flickr

If you’re into young adult fantasy novels…
May 13, 2010

…so am I. I think they’re the only thing I consistently read over the years, which is a little sad as I am, unfortunately, no longer a young adult. However, I’d like to share a list of some of my favourite fantasy novels with you all, as well as some books that aren’t necessarily in that category, but are still awesome. By the way, click the images to open the author’s official site for each series.

The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

I started reading this series a few months ago on recommendation of a friend, and they are good. The story follows a teenage girl whose life turns upside down when she witnesses a murder no one else can see, demons visit her Brooklyn apartment, and her mother disappears among a shroud of mystery. Plot twists and surprises like no other, and some new ideas that I haven’t seen in any other story I’ve read lately.

The Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix

This is one of the first fantasy novels I fell in love with, way back in middle school. Nix creates a fantastic world not seen in any other series, with magic, death, and some really interesting ‘hidden’ history. I’d give you a plot summary if I could, but it’s just too good to give you any hints. I’ve often wished that Nix developed more of the history and the world as Tolkien did, so that I could read something like “The Silmarillion” but containing all the lore of the Old Kingdom.   This series never gets old.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl is like living in the real world, and then finding out there’s a whole other world living right beneath you. It’s fun, quirky, and the first time I’ve honestly been waiting for a cross-species hookup while reading. This is no Harry Potter; you could probably breeze through each of the six books in about a day or two.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

When I first picked up this book, I perused the inside cover and decided the world map looked far too much like a rip-off of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. After some prodding by a friend from my book club, I put aside some free time to start reading. The story of a small-town boy who begins an epic journey to save his entire country, Eragon is a bit of a cliché fantasy novel at worst. Even with it’s predictable plot lines, I found the series to be a fun read. It reminds me of all of the adventures, love stories, and other reasons why I started delving into the world of fantasy in the first place. Just be warned if you start, the fourth and last book in the series has not yet been published. You’ll be leaving yourself with quite a cliffhanger.

The Claidi Journals by Tanith Lee

This is another old love from middle school. It follows the story of a slave girl who finds herself whisked away to the world outside that’s she’s never known. This series is an easy read, but is full of adventure, romance, mystery and a bit of tragedy. Lee is also a superb author – check out her other books such as Black Unicorn.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

If you’re anyone who loves a book full of romance, humor, sex, and the occasional plotline, this book is for you. It’s even more for you if you have a soft spot for all things Scottish. I first started reading this book as part of my book club (about a year late, I’ll admit). I’m currently in the middle of reading the 6th in the series. This isn’t exactly a fantasy novel (I’d classify it as historical fiction/romance), but it will never leave my bookshelf.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I love myself a good future dystopian society. People are no longer born, they’re created in factories, genetically engineered to have the gifts or flaws of a certain class. Love seems to be all about sex (who needs anything else when you don’t even make babies), and classical conditioning is all the rage. I don’t really know what to say other than this is an absolute classic. Read it. Interestingly enough, you can do so online; just click the picture.

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Another superb dystopian society book. This one will probably be the fastest book you’ve ever read. In a future where there is no individualism, one man struggles with the issue of wanting for himself and questioning the ideals on which his society is based. I just love seeing how this plot plays out and pondering whether with the wrong choices, our society could end up like this in a few generations or so.

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

I picked this one up in Barnes and Nobles one day because it looked quite odd. In fact, it’s one of the strangest short novels I’ve read to date. It’s the middle of the 21st century, and the water’s contaminated. People are dying, and Laura is on an expedition to Antarctica to look for an untainted water supply. Just on the other side of the veil, the recently dead are talking. Check this one out if you like some strange adventure, but just a pro tip; don’t read the end too late at night.

Do you all have some books that will never leave your side? Comment with some of your favourites 🙂