Friday, April 29, 2011

Water for Elephants

Glorious.  I. Loved. This. Book.  I've been debating on reading Water for Elephants for quite some time now, but every time I picked it up, I thought, "Ehh...I'm not so sure this is going to be for me."  A friend told me it was the most amazing book ever, and all the other books I knew she liked, I liked.  I figured I was safe.  I'm one of those people who buys books if I plan on reading them.  I love the look of books on my shelf, and I swell with excitement when I see my collection growing.

I bought this book, and boy am I glad.  I finished reading it three nights ago, and I was left craving.  The plot is so well thought out and unique.  All the information had some type of truth to it, and I think that is one thing that made it so great.  Sara Gruen definitely did her homework on this book, and it paid off.  

The book starts off fantastic.  It's enthralling right away, and I couldn't stop turning the pages, because I needed to know what would happen next.  The main character, Jacob, started off as an old man.  He is ninety-three or ninety.  Which one, he cannot remember for certain.  I fell in love with his character, not when he was described as a younger, attractive man, but when he was ninety-three or ninety.  He had me laughing on the floor at times, and other moments my heart would be breaking from the pain he went through and his honesty.  I giggled like a little kid, uncontrollably at times (even when people were shooting me funny looks), and I cried like a baby at the same time.  The emotion in the book was so tangible and strong, that I felt so much of the sadness, happiness, fear, hope, and despair at times.  

This book is now a major motion picture, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.  I will definitely go see the movie once it comes to town, but I don't think it can compare to the book, like most movies based on books cannot.  I would recommend this book to ages 16+.  There are several graphic parts with sex in them, and any younger would not be appropriate.  I guess I can't really be the judge of what parents want their children reading, so parents of young children might want to read it first.  Despite that, it's a wonderful, moving book, and you'll find yourself wanting to go to the circus as soon as possible!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Harry Potter Heaven

This. Is. Bliss.  Hands down, one of the best places in the Universe.  And by universe, I mean the whole universe and not just Universal Studios.  This is Hogwarts, in case you are wondering.  

Back in January, my family and I went on our vacation to Clearwater Beach, Florida.  We stayed at a beach house right on the beach, and while it was too cold to swim or even be in suits, we still had a lot of fun.  The highlight of the trip for me was Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Disneyworld was also AMAZING, but that will be a later blog with pictures included.

I knew the Harry Potter park would be beyond amazing, but I had not expected it to be quite so breathtaking.  The castle itself is magical.  There was Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade rolled into one, with a little bit of Borgin and Burkes.  They had Ollivander's, Honeydukes, Zonko's, The Three Broomsticks, The Hog's Head pub, and more.  I felt like a kid again, and I wasn't the only 20 year old to feel this way.  There were adults everywhere dressed up in Harry Potter get-up, and I felt like it was about time I saw how many other people share the same obsession as me.

The rides were incredible.  The Forbidden Journey was my favorite, and that one takes you through the castle, and then you get thrown around (even though most of the time you're not moving) following a screen.  The screen is moving, and you are taken on an adventure with Harry.  We waited in the longest line I have ever seen for anything.  It moved quite fast for how long it was, and we only waited for about 45 minutes.  The wait was definitely worth it.

Durmstrang and Beauxbaton students put on a show outside of the castle.  Their outfits were perfect, and they all looked like they just stepped out of the movie.  

I ended up getting the coolest tee-shirt, hoodie, and hat.  I wanted the matching gloves so badly, but they were expensive, and I thought I wouldn't have enough money for the rest of my trip.  I also got Dumbledore's wand.  It's so pretty! My little brother got a wand, and he got Hedwig.  She is a stuffed animal puppet and has a handle in her so you can turn her head.  She makes noises and sounds JUST like Hedwig from the movies.  Three of my sisters all got wands as well.

Every little detail for this place was thought of, and I didn't feel like anything was really missing. You got a tour of the castle when waiting in line for The Forbidden Journey ride.  Honeydukes was awesome, with so many candy choices.  The Bertie Botts beans were in packages just like in the movie, and they even had the disgusting flavors.  I thought it was pretty cool how they could make each flavor to actually taste like dirt, vomit, bogeys, and earwax.  Absolutely disgusting, but still appealing just because they are Bertie Botts.  They had chocolate frogs, sugar quills, taffy, cotton candy, and pretty much everything you could think of.

Zonko's was just as awesome.  They had extendable ears that actually worked! They had a pair out so you could test them out to see if you wanted to buy them.  I really wanted a pair, but I figured they could wait.  Everything you would imagine Fred and George having was there.

Butterbeer carts were set up in the streets in giant barrels, and the butterbeer being served came out of a tap like regular beer would.  You could get it chilled or frozen.  I thought this was different.  I had always expected butterbeer to be warm, but it still was delicious.  I didn't get around to trying the pumpkin juice, but that's because it was crazy expensive (probably because it was in such a cute bottle), and I don't like pumpkin very much.

The Three Broomsticks was attached to the Hog's Head, and it was so fun.  Kind of spooky...There were shadows on the walls and music playing, and it just gave it such a cool feel.

I could go on and on about this park, but I won't.  That would be an infinite post, and I don't have time, and I don't really want carpal tunnel.  I'll post some pictures for a visual.

 The Hogwart's Express and the entrance of the Harry Potter park :)


 Real wizard's chess!

 Pumpkin juice!

 Bertie Botts and regular jellybeans.

 The Three cool. 

 Barrels full of delicious butterbeer :)

 Thought this was a funny sign!

 My dad and little sister Madison

 Hogwarts :)

 The mirror of Erised

 House Points

 Dumbledore's office

 Sorting actually talks.

 Awesome view of the castle.

 Cute little butterbeer stand workers.


 Durmstrang and Beauxbaton students

 Buckbeak :)

 Madison, my fellow Slytherins and me.

 Hogwarts all lit up

 Chocolate frogs

 Bertie Botts!!

The Hogwarts last time.  I didn't want to leave!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Looking for Frames or Sunglasses?

For anyone who is looking for eyeglasses or sunglasses, I have the perfect deal for you! 50% off of single-vision lenses with the purchase of frames--eyeglasses or sunglasses.  Follow the link to FramesRx, and check out the site.  There are authentic designer frames that are below retail value, including RayBan, Prada, Ralph Lauren, D&G, Ferragamo, and many more.

If you plan on ordering, ask for Craig, and let him know that Alyssa referred you.  This way you will get the lenses at the 50% off price.  Also, come follow me on twitter!/ehlyssalaine and become a follower of FramesRx!/FramesRx

If you do order, post a picture of yourself on here or on twitter in your new frames once you get them! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011


My 13 year old sister, Madison, has been playing a lot of guitar lately, and she wanted me to do a photo shoot with her.  She's been playing for several years and singing as well, and I'm trying to make a business out of my photography.  Here are some of the pictures we ended up with.  I was really pleased with almost all of them, and she was gorgeous as always.  Such a natural.