Saturday, April 30, 2016

Frabjous Finalities {April 2016}


Um...so apparently my calendar's telling me April has come to an end. *cue screams and gasps of disbelief* Seriously though, how is one third of the year gone already???

Well, without further delay, here's what's been happening during the month of April. (Just a heads-up: it's really long.)

Life


Hmmm...okay, so April was rather interesting. It was insanely busy at times, but also sort of relaxing? I don't know. It was very indecisive. Sometimes it was a cuddly little kitten but other times it turned into a tiger and bared its fangs at me. And wow, that's a weak metaphor.

Early on this month, I met up with my bestie at Panera, our go-to place for chilling. We hung out, devoured bakery items, laughed like hyenas, and just generally made the workers wonder who those crazy people are had a relaxing evening.

The next day was the much-anticipated release of The Force Awakens on DVD. *cheers* We actually bought it the day it came out, and I got decked out in my Star Wars shirt and triple bun hairstyle. Unfortunately, everyone was too busy to watch it that night...or the rest of the month. :P But hey, at least we got it!

Then we enter the middle of the month. Ahem. It was a bit...unpleasant. And why was it so unpleasant?

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/458663543282111504/

I'll tell you anyway. Because my email was hacked.

That's right, y'all. Hacked.

I spent almost the entirety of my Wednesday freaking out about someone deleting all my stuff and installing weird things on my computer. I was also trying to reach out to all my contacts and warn them that they may receive an email from the person who hacked my account. You see, what happened was that I received this email that said it was from my mom and asked me to review this document. So, being the immensely intelligent person I was, I clicked on the document. And lo and behold, my email was hacked.

Add on top of that neck pain and a very strong attack of doubts (which I posted about HERE), and you get a pretty miserable Wednesday. I'm telling you guys, it was rough.

Luckily, the weekend brought with it another get-together with my friend. This time, it was a sleepover. Which meant there was lots of good food and movies. (I just noticed that we always eat lots of food when we get together. I guess I chose the right friend. XD)

As the end of the month approached, I found out that I had won not one but two giveaways! Yup, just like last month. XD Oddly enough, they were within 24 hours of each other--again, like last time. I won the birthday giveaway on Victoria's blog, and the prizes are fantastic! I got a free song of my choice ("Strawberry Avalanche" was my pick, for obvious reasons), free ebook (I chose Moonblood by Ms. Stengl because I'm seriously gonna need it soon), a magazine containing Victoria's short story, and some tea which is apparently not going to be available again until 2020. The second giveaway was held by none other than my dear friend Morgan. And let me tell you, I really wanted to win her giveaway. She hand-made all her prizes, and they are GORGEOUS. I can't wait until I hold them in my hands! ^_^

April concluded with French finals (HALLELUJAH, I AM DONE), journaling (which I hadn't done in a month :P), and writing my WIP. I haven't worked on my poor neglected novel in forever so I was thrilled to get in 4,181 words this month. Not anywhere near my 10K goal, but at least I got back into it.

Books


Definitely not as fruitful of a reading month as March. I've been so exhausted lately that I sometimes can't make myself pick up a book and read late at night. So I only got through three books and two short stories. :/
  • I rung in the new month with The Last Battle. Obviously, I loved it. Though I will say that The Magician's Nephew will forever remain my favorite. (And I'm still not happy about what happened with Susan in this book. JUST NO.)
  • I picked up my beautiful hardback copy of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and delved into it one Saturday evening. The two I ended up reading were "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Adventure of the Dancing Men." I enjoyed them both, although my favorite Sherlock Holmes mystery I've read so far is "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." But I'd be happy with basically any of them.
This picture doesn't do it justice. It's so pwetty. *pets*

  • Then Lady Moon happened. And oh. my. goodness. I LOVED IT. It was definitely my favorite book this month. Just unbelievably good. I won't say a lot about it here because I kinda already fangirled about it a ton this week. If you've read my review, you already know how much I adore this tale.
http://www.amazon.com/Lady-Moon-Improbable-Unpredictable-Things-ebook/dp/B007XJGAB4/ref=sr_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461636903&sr=1-18&keywords=rachel+starr+thomson

  • The Dark Unwinding finished off my April reads. I checked it out of my library solely based on Tracey's recommendation. I fell in love with the cover (#shallowbookdragon) and the plot sounded intriguing and the quote Tracey mentioned was hilarious and it was also at my library and wow, my grammar has completely abandoned me today. And you want to know the result? INSTANT ADORATION. It was pretty slow for much of the time, but I honestly didn't mind at all. 'Cause, guys, the characterssss. They were the most precious, eccentric, hilarious group of charries imaginable. (Lane, Katharine, Uncle Tully...gah, I loved them all.) And the author's writing style was wonderful! And there was roller skating! And there was sarcasm! And I basically loved it more than words can express.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11733187-the-dark-unwinding


Movies


I guess I watched a little bit more than usual. To be fair, two of the movies I watched were only about an hour each, and the other two were at a sleepover. And the other one was...interesting.

~ The Woman in Green (1945): I'm apparently on a Sherlock Holmes kick because I've essentially been reading and watching everything related to said detective these past few months. This movie was a little strange, what with all the hypnotizing stuff happening. But overall, it was still a good watch.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/304555993520418282/


~ Terror by Night (1946): That's right--another Sherlock Holmes movie. I liked this one a lot better than the previous one. It occurred on a train (which automatically makes it ten times more awesome) and had a generous dose of humor which I found refreshing. Probably one of my favorite of the old detective flicks.

~ Moms' Night Out (2014): If I could sum this movie up in word, it would be this: hysterical. I'm trying to think of a funnier movie that I've seen, but I honestly can't think of one. This movie is just the most hilarious thing I've laid eyes on. My friend and I watched it at our sleepover for the third time together, and it was just as funny as ever. Seriously, if you haven't seen this yet, you must posthaste.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/AQSf_Nul5QdwpN3S3Z8suhR-3dLSsPMegpR1ANgd0SXglQH9ts9n0KQ/


~ God's Not Dead (2014): Not my favorite movie ever, but it was still good. I definitely wouldn't describe it as a lighthearted film. It had some heavier, slightly depressing themes. Oddly enough, my parents just saw the sequel to it this month, which I have yet to watch.

~ Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008): HAHAHAHA! *chokes on sarcastic laughter* Okay, so this movie was a bit of a...fail? It could have been good, but for some unknown reason, the directors thought, "Hey, let's put some aliens in it! That will make it way more awesome and not weird at all." Well I've got news for you, directors: it was not awesome. I just don't get why this movie was made. And now I discover that they're making another movie? Gosh, I sure hope it's better than this one. (Though to be fair, it wasn't horrible. It was just really strange.)

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/458663543282111672/
Precisely my feelings.


Music


~ I'm still addicted to Owl City, and it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon. This month, I've been listening a lot to his album "The Midsummer Station."



~ Evynne and Peter Hollens's cover of "The Prayer." I get chills just thinking about this gorgeous piece.

~ "Like a Lion" by Bryan Lanning. It makes me happy. ^_^

~ So there's this more obscure Christian band called Rend Collective. They're Irish (!!!), and their music is unbelievable. I saw them in concert back in the fall and recently was digging up some of their songs and binge-listening to them. I love the fun, upbeat, catchy tunes they create. And the best part? THERE ARE CELTIC INSTRUMENTS. Not in all of their songs, but this one does have some.

Blogging


Aaaand here are all the ingenious posts I've published in April. You're welcome.


Randomosities


I've been obsessing over this thing called a Lokai bracelet. It has a bunch of rubbery, gel-like beads on it, and two of them contain something special. One has water from Mount Everest and the other has mud from the Dead Sea. Isn't that the coolest? I actually got it for free at my orthodontist, and I've been wearing it almost non-stop since. (I'm actually wearing it as I type this. XD)
http://mylokai.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/1000x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/l/o/lokai_bracelet_classic_front.jpg
Mine looks like this, only the beads are blue instead of clear.
I did some bookish photo shoots, which you guys will have to wait to see. *smiles mischievously* I worked really hard to get these photos, you guys. In fact, I stood on a swivel chair in order to get the right angle. And I actually cleaned off my desk, which is a miracle. SO YOU BETTER APPRECIATE THEM WHEN I SHOW YOU.

I got new strings for my violin, which is always exciting. My recital is coming up next week (*panics aggressively*) so I figured it was about time I got them.

And of course, I ate cookie donuts. COOKIE DONUTS. I kid you not. They were delicious. (And we still have some left for me to decimate. *smiles*)

That concludes my weird and wild April. I actually made an effort to implement your guys' wonderful suggestions for blog posts and wrote both a devotional post AND a book review. Yay me! *pats self on the back* Unfortunately, this is only my fourth post this month (which I started writing at like 8:30 tonight *whistles innocently*)  so I haven't been quite as active as usual. But life happened and that shall be my completely valid excuse.

So, my fellow bookdragons. What did your Aprils entail? (Hopefully there were cookies and books involved.) What was your favorite book or movie you enjoyed?

 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Review: Lady Moon {Rachel Starr Thomson}

http://www.amazon.com/Lady-Moon-Improbable-Unpredictable-Things-ebook/dp/B007XJGAB4/ref=sr_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461636903&sr=1-18&keywords=rachel+starr+thomson

Hey, guys! I'm back again with a verrrry important post...my first book review! *throws cake in the air and devours confetti or something like that*

Yep, so this is going to be my rambling, nonsensical, flailing completely professional book review of one of my latest reads, Lady Moon by Rachel Starr Thomson. In case you have no idea what this book is about, here is a synopsis which I borrowed from Amazon because I'm a generous little bookdragon who likes to spoil you guys.

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When Celine meets Tomas, they are in a cavern on the moon where she has been languishing for thirty days after being banished by her evil uncle for throwing a scrub brush at his head. Tomas is a charming and eccentric Immortal, hanging out on the moon because he’s procrastinating his destiny—meeting, and defeating, Celine’s uncle.

A pair of magic rings send them back to earth, where Celine insists on returning home and is promptly thrown into the dungeon. Her uncle, Ignus Umbria, is up to no good, and his latest caper threatens to devour the whole countryside. He doesn’t want Celine getting in the way. More than that, he wants to force Tomas into a confrontation—and Tomas, who has fallen in love with Celine, cannot procrastinate any longer.

Lady Moon is a madcap, romantic adventure brimming with humor, in a world populated by mad magicians, walking rosebushes, thieving scullery maids, and other improbable things. And of course, the most improbable—and magical—thing of all: true love.

Rachel Starr Thomson is also the author of Taerith, The Seventh World Trilogy (Worlds Unseen, Burning Light, and Coming Day), and other novels and short stories.
(source)


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Isn't that the most delicious synopsis ever??? Ack, it's just da best. <3

In case that isn't enough to convince you that this book = gingerbread, here are some of my (obviously very authoritative) thoughts on the matter.

The Review


I. Loved. This. Book.

I kid you not, I was hooked from the first paragraph. It's just that good. And you wanna know why I liked it so much? The humor.

In case you weren't aware, I love feel-good stories. I've mentioned in the past that there are just some stories that give me all the warm fuzzy feels. This is one of them. The way that the author masterfully entwines humor throughout the pages of this book boggled my mind and had me laughing so hard that I accidentally let my iPad fall on my neck and suffocate me. (True story. XD) In a way, it pokes fun at the traditional fairytale trope. You know, the stories where the damsel is in distress, the villain is making dastardly plans to topple the world, and the prince meets the princess and marries her like 24 hours after they meet. Don't get me wrong, I love me some fairytales. But when a story like this comes along and has fun with that stereotype, I can't help but adore it all the more.

But don't take my word for it; see for yourself how hilarious this book is.

It is always more surprising to see a dead person alive that it is to see a live person not dead.
One did not simply go around flinging oneself off of buildings and into fires when one was needed to save the world.
It was one of the disadvantages of being humanoid that a beak in the back of the head was disorienting. 
Gah, I love this book.

Not only was it delightfully hilarious, but it was also completely whimsical. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland in a way. There were walking rosebushes, flammable cats, and barking birds. I'm telling you, it's awesome. There's really no genre that this novel fits into--it's so fresh and new and unique that I honestly don't know how to classify it.

But good gravy, we haven't even mentioned the characters yet. If for nothing else, read it for the characters. They are delightful things. There's Tomas, the insatiably happy Immortal; Celine, the scrub-bush throwing princess with a wombat for a friend; Sir Brian, the chivalrous suit of armor; and even Ignus Umbria, the power-hungry (if not a bit silly) magician. I loved them all. YES, EVEN THE VILLAIN. He was kinda lovable, I gotta be honest. XD

By far my favorite character was Tomas. He's so dang happy all the time. It's just inherent of him to smile--even if his offer of marriage has just been refused. HE'S REALLY THE BESTEST LITTLE CHARRIE. I adore him so much that I did a sketch of him the other day.

(Feast your eyes on my masterpiece. ;D)

Ms. Thomson has such a good writing style. It's the perfect blend of description, wit, and charm. I found myself right at home whenever I picked up this book and read it. And believe me, when an author can do that, you know she's good. I didn't feel bored or antsy due to excessive description, yet I had a good enough grip on the setting and characters that I wasn't disoriented.

If you're looking for a deep, philosophical book then you're not going to find that in Lady Moon. But if you're looking for a whimsical, hilarious trip to another world, then you've come to the right place. My only complaint is that there was a bit of head-hopping going around. I noticed on occasion that the author would switch from one character's head to another in the midst of a scene. It didn't bother me that much, though, and I could still lose myself in the dreamy world without a problem. The book was delightfully clean--no language, violence, or sexual content. DOUBLE WIN.

So what are you waiting for, lovelies? GO GET THIS BOOK POSTHASTE. Um...please. :P Because you won't regret it.

Final consensus: Five stars

(You can check out my slightly-less jumbled review here on Amazon.)

Oh, and Ms. Thomson is currently holding a giveaway for a Kindle Paperwhite and a slew of Christian fantasy books. You can enter it right HERE. Yes, right there. That's right. Just click the link. Please. For me.

Did you click it? Okay, good.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"You doubt your value; don't run from who you are."

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/458663543282210174/

Doubts.

We all have them. They creep in from the darkest corners of our mind, lending a quiet, persistent voice that seems to drown out all other thoughts.

You're not smart enough. You're not pretty enough. You have no purpose.

When those doubts assail your mind, it's easy to succumb to them. Try as you might, you just can't shake the feeling that you're not enough. That God can't possibly love you, as useless as you tell yourself you are.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/458663543281203419/
I've been experiencing these doubts recently. Just last week, I was probably the most discouraged and downtrodden I've been this year. I kept thinking, "I'm so useless. How could You even use me?"

I would look in the mirror and just see my faults. A dirty, tear-streaked reflection. All my imperfections and blemishes were magnified, almost as if I were viewing myself through a telescope.

But you know what? That's not what God sees.

When God looks at me, He sees beauty. Love. Joy. Purpose.

To Him, I am not worthless. In fact, He calls me His treasure. His dirty, broken, hurting treasure who's been washed clean by the blood of a perfect Savior.

Too often I look at myself through the world's mirror and not through God's. I get distracted by the world's ideas and expectations. Taking my eyes off of Him, I loose sight of not only His plan but also my value.

Our value isn't found in makeup. It's not found in our grades. It's not even found in our loved ones.

Our value is found in Jesus.
 
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/458663543282284085/

Because I'm a child of God, I have been stamped with the seal of God's eternal love. He cares about me. And that means everything.

So who cares what other people think? I may not be a supermodel, a genius, or a star athlete.

But I'm a child of God.

And that's enough.


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My apologies for not posting at all last week. Life has been insane, and I honestly just wasn't feeling up to posting on Thursday. I was feeling really bummed out on Wednesday and Thursday--so bummed out that I felt physically exhausted. I know I'm usually a very emotional person, but this was just crazy. I think I needed to write this post, to let out a little bit of that doubt still lurking in the back of my head. This is a deeply personal post. To be perfectly honest, it was a little difficult to share. But I felt like God placed this on my heart and wanted me to share it with you all.
 
 
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand."
{Psalm 139:14, 17-18}
 
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/458663543282284077/
 
Never forget that you are beautiful. You are valued. You are loved.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Infinity Dreams Award 2016

 
 
Hullo, humans! (You are human, right? If not, I applaud you for your ability to use an electronic device.) I have returned once again to illuminate you with my world-shattering revelations. (I'm really only telling you random things about myself, but whatever.) Because I procrastinated was extremely busy, I didn't get the chance to finish one of the glorious posts I have in the works. Don't worry, y'all. I listened to your suggestions, and some beautiful new doses of Mary-goodness are on their way.
 
Luckily, Laura saved me by tagging me for the Infinity Dreams Award. Merci, ma copine! (What? I'm just getting in some practice for my French exam.)
 
Before I go off on a rabbit trail (or fall into a rabbit hole), here are the rules.

 

Rules (which I will break)


1. Thank the blogger who tagged you. (THANK YOU, DEAR.)
2. Tell us 11 facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
4. Tag 11 bloggers and give them 11 new questions to answer.


Random Facts (which you probably don't care to know)


1. I'm the tallest female in my family at 5'7" (and 1/2). I may or may not be ridiculously proud of this. (This unfortunately means I cannot be a hobbit. But I'd rather be an Elf anyhow so...)
 
2. I don't like bananas or melons. This surprises most people because those are fairly common fruits. I just don't like the texture or flavor of them. (Except honeydew. That is literally the only melon I will eat.)


 
3. I have lived in four different states and eight different dwellings.
 
4. I currently have special braces called Invisalign. They're clear, plastic braces that I take out whenever I eat. A lot of people don't even realize I have them. (Tricksy little braces.)
 
5. A huge pet peeve of mine is when people talk during movies. I don't care that I've seen The Lord of the Rings ten times, I still want to hear Sam's speech!
 
6. Spiders terrify me. Yes, most people don't like spiders, but I seriously am terrified of them. It's a problem.
 
 
 
7. Hearing a sound that vaguely resembles my alarm makes me incredibly anxious.
 
8. I will never be truly satisfied until I visit New Zealand.
 
9. My brother once met the First Lady Laura Bush. (I'm cheating a bit on that one, but hey, I'm related to him so it counts.)
 
10. I love making lists.
 
11. Although I don't watch Doctor Who, I had a dream the other night that I received a TARDIS sweatshirt.
 
 
Hehe. Wow, those are...interesting facts. XD

 

Questions


 
1) If you could have personally witnessed anything, what would it have been?

This question immediately brought to mind this post about time travel. (Warning: post may make your brain explode.) I talked with Tracey about it in the comments, and I mentioned perhaps visiting the Chicago World's Fair. But upon further consideration, I realized the most beautiful thing to witness would be Creation. I would definitely pick that if I could only choose one. But since the question didn't say I had to pick only one, I'll also say when da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, when Disneyland opened, and when Tolkien read his stories about Middle-earth to his family.


2) Do you like musicals? And if so, which ones?

I love musicals! I haven't seen a ton, per se, but some of my favorites are The Sound of Music (1965), Singin' in the Rain (1952), State Fair (1945), and Enchanted (2007).
 


 
3) What genre of books do you like to read the most?

FANTASY. Fantasy is my home <333 But I also adore romance, classics, adventure, and sometimes sci-fi (though I think I need to read more of that genre before I form a definitive conclusion). Oh, and the latest genre I discovered is steampunk. You all know how much I loved Illusionarium. It was my first steampunk novel, and now I feel the need to read allll the steampunk books.



4) What is the weirdest book you have ever read?

Oh gosh...well, I don't think I've read a lot of weird books, actually. Bryan Davis's books always border on the edge of weird--but in a good way, if that makes sense. One book that I thought was weird and didn't care for much at all was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I was expecting to like it, due to the fact that pretty much everyone who's read adores it, but I guess it's just one of those books I don't click with. *shrugs* But to answer the question, probably THE weirdest book I've read is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It's nonsensical, hilarious, and just plain fun. ^_^


5) Are you a daredevil or do you play it safe?

I like to do some daring stuff, such as riding rollercoasters, but for the most part, I prefer to play it safe. I s'ppose I like to try new things (as long as it isn't a weird food) but potentially dangerous things like bungee jumping and sky diving, or things out of my comfort zone are a definite no-no.
 

 

6) What can always cheer you up?

There are sooo many things! Listening to perky music (*whispers* Owl City), receiving a new comment on my blog, and spending time with my bestie always make me happy. (Because I'm obviously always sad and need cheering up. ;) ) Also, watching a funny movie or reading a favorite book never fails to do the job.


7) What's your favorite movie?

Surprisingly, this isn't a hard question for me. My favorite movie would have to be The Two Towers. It's odd because most people prefer either FOTR or ROTK. I'm one of those screwballs who actually likes the second one the best. I get a better sense of the characters in this film, as well as more screen time for the Legendary Trio (aka Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli). I just have my reasons. *smiles suspiciously* (But really all the Lord of the Rings films are beautiful and glorious and life-giving.)
 


 
8) What's your favorite word?

Now this is a hard question. I love words so much--thus why I have such an obsession with books. Having been in the National Spelling Bee during middle school, I became very familiar with words. Some of my favorites include frabjous, catawampus, and scribblings. (As seen in my answers to the Happy Tag.) There are also the completely insane, awesome words such as bewusstseinslage, cywydd, and marmennill.


9) What has been your favorite birthday celebration?

*promptly forgets every birthday I've had ever* I...honestly don't know. They've all been wonderful. Perhaps my 13th birthday? I remember that was a blast. I got the entire Dragons in Our Midst series and a book on cupcakes and had strawberry cake. Yep, that was a good one. (Or is this question referring to a birthday tradition? If so, my favorite tradition is probably eating strawberry cake every year. YUM.)


10) Did you go through any "phases"?

Oh my goodness, YES! I'm the queen of "phases." As far as obsessions are concerned, I was obsessed with the Left Behind: the Kids books for a couple years. Looking back at the series now, I wonder how I could ever have loved them so much. The writing is just really stilted. Don't get me wrong, Jerry B. Jenkins had some great ideas...but his writing just isn't captivating. At all. I also bought into the Silly Bandz fad. Anybody else remember that? I still have all of mine...somewhere. Honestly, that's another phase of mine that I just don't get. >.>
 

 

11) What's the strangest thing someone has said to you?

At first, I couldn't come up with anything. But upon further consideration, I remembered something really strange that someone told me. I have really fair skin (read: pale), and one time this older kid (he was about 17, if I recall correctly) said, "What are you, from Twilight or something?" Basically...he thought I looked like a vampire. Eheh. Thanks a lot. XD



Now for my wondrous plethora of brand-new questions:

1. What is your favorite season?
2. If you could only eat one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?
3. What superpower would you most like to possess?
4. Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla? (I'm apparently hungry right now.)
5. What are some books that make you perfectly and incandescently happy?
6. What is a movie that you enjoyed which you originally weren't expecting to like?
7. Given the choice between leaving your family behind in order to move to a fictional world or staying where you lived for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
8. Which mythical creature would you adopt?
9. What is one of your biggest pet peeves?
10. What fictional character would you most like to have as a friend?
11. Would you rather write with a pencil or pen?

 
I hereby tag the following friendly folks. (Alliteration for the win!)
 
 
 
 
 



That's not 11 bloggers, but I don't really care. (I told you I was breaking the rules.) If you so desire, you can steal this tag and answer all my lovely questions on your blog. Just leave me a link in the comments so I can check out all the awesomeness!
 
On a final, completely unrelated note, I've been geeking out over several different trailers this week. Behold them in all their glory!
 
 
I have chills.
 
 
 


Well, now I must know. What's the weirdest thing someone's said to you? Any odd phases you went through? (C'mon, I know it's not just me.)