Thursday, January 31, 2013

Origami box tutorial

I've decided to take a brief break from book reviewing to do an origami tutorial. I'm showing you how to make a pretty basic origami box, which you might already know how to do. Anyway, if you enjoy the tutorial, I'll probably make another soon - I just learned how to make an origami rose, and I hope to do a tutorial before valentine's day. 
So, down to business. 
You'll need two sheets of origami paper, one for the lid, and one for the base. 

 I'm starting off with the fancy, patterned paper for the lid.

1. Take the paper and fold it in half. Crease it, and unfold.

2. Fold the paper in the opposite direction, and unfold.

3. Now, fold all corners to the center of the paper.

4. ... and fold each side to the center, without unfolding the folds from step 3.

 5. Fold the narrow ends to the middle.

except two of the little triangular flaps...

7. Fold up the sides, and guide them so the corners of the box fold in on themselves...

8. Fold the flap down, and into place.

9. Repeat on the other side. The lid is finished.

10. Cut the second piece of paper so it's just the tiniest bit smaller, and do the whole thing over again.

11. ...And nest the bottom into the lid. You're done.

Feel free to comment if you have questions!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Martyn Pig, by Kevin Brooks

Martyn Pig is an enthralling and deliciously fast-paced thriller by Kevin Brooks. Well-written and dark, Martyn Pig is pretty brilliant.
When fifteen-year-old Martyn Pig accidentally kills his abusive, alcoholic father a few days before Christmas, he doesn't know what to do. If he calls the police, he'll be sent to live with his hated aunt Jean - if the police even believe his story to begin with. With the help of his friend Alex and his collection of mystery novels, Martyn tries to cover up his father's death. But things get complected when Alex's blackmailing boyfriend shows up, demanding Martyn's 30,000 pound inheritance. The plot twists and turns, though it's never hard to follow. I was able to get lost in Martyn Pig, to forget about everything else when I was reading it. Though it's not overly serious (considering its content), it's thought-provoking and enjoyable.

I recommend Kevin Brooks in general, too - another of his books which I've enjoyed was  Lucas, and I only recently finished  Black Rabbit Summer.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Red Necklace, by Sally Gardner

This book was, frankly, a disappointment. I read I, Coriander - another book by Sally Gardner - a few years ago, and I liked it. The Red Necklace has promise, but I found it seriously lacking. Though the plot moved at a quick pace and the idea was brilliant, it left me feeling bland. What even happened? Admittedly, I haven't read the book's sequel, but I expected more out of 384 pages than I got.
What the plot lacked, though, was made up by the beauty of the writing and characters. Set during the french revolution, The Red Necklace is the story of orphaned gypsy Yann and aristocratic Sido. Yann and Sido meet when the villainous Count Kalliovski hires Yann and the rest of his acting troupe to perform at a party. When Count Kalliovski kills Yann's mentor, Sido helps Yann escape unharmed, and they remember each other until they meet again, two years later. As their country crumbles around them, Yann uses his developing magical powers to save Sido and himself and to fight Count Kalliovski. I'm not a fan of historical fiction,* but I really wanted to like this book. I found it worth the read, but not exceptional.

*I'm sure I'll rant about that sometime, lucky you!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Life of Pi: book and movie

I went to see Life of Pi today. I read the book last summer, and enjoyed it - so when I first heard about the movie, I was wary, especially since it's a very "literary" book. It's the story of an Indian boy - Piscine "Pi" Patel, named for a swimming pool, son of a zoo owner - and at sixteen, Pi sets off to Canada with his family on a Japanese tanker ship which sinks in the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean. Pi finds himself trapped on a lifeboat with a 450 pound Bengal tiger, Richard Parker , an orangutan, a zebra, and a hyena - and soon, only Pi himself and the tiger are left. As Pi struggles to survive, he relies on his (exceptionally strong) faith in God to keep himself from total despair. Pi encounters swarms of flying fish, sees the ocean alive with luminescent jellyfish, and discovers a mysterious and horrifying floating island. The book moves slowly, but the story is enough to make you read on.
The movie is gorgeous, and the incredible cinematography nicely complements the book's prose. From the lush scenes of India to the shots of Pi and Richard Parker alone in the lifeboat, the whole thing is jaw-droppingly beautiful. It follows the book well enough: I'd personally rather see a good movie that wanders off course than an awful one that follows a book word for word, though, and Life of Pi is definitely a good movie.
Either way, the story itself is incredible. It's the kind of story that sparks your own imagination, and takes your mind gallivanting off into a dozen different directions. The plot is remarkably believable, though the last few pages of the book will challenge everything.

I plan to write a more general post about fiction into film sometime in the relatively near future, stay tuned!

AND check out this year's Oscar nominations!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer

I read this book last year, on a trip to Italy, and found it to be so good and absorbing that I even read it on a train when I could have been ogling gorgeous Italian countryside. I'd read another book by Nancy Farmer a few years before that, The Eye, the Ear and the Arm, and I'd loved it. I don't know why I put off reading this one for so long, but I'm glad I did, because it made my vacation that much better.
The book is set in Opium, a country of land between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matteo Alacrán is the most powerful of the drug lords who rule Opium, and the book's protagonist, Matt, is his clone. As Matt grows up, he becomes more and more aware of the corruption surrounding him - and as the story builds, it spirals off into a series of intricate and unexpected plot turns. The book boasts a large cast of memorable characters, from Matteo Alacrán himself to Celia, Matt's caregiver, from Tam Lin, Matt's bodyguard, to María and the wide pantheon of Matteo Alacrán's friends and relations. The House of the Scorpion is a rich, dark and engaging novel. It'll keep you awake at night, but I can guarantee you won't want to stop reading. From the first chapter - Matt's birth in a cow - to the brutal and shocking end, it's a terrific read 100% worth your time. It'll leave you thinking too, and it won't be easy to put down even after the last page.

But you won't have to! The sequel is coming out sometime this year.
Yet another reason to be glad the Mayan apocalypse never happened.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Let's start from the very beginning: Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf, by Catherine Storr

For my first official book review, I'm going to write about my absolute favorite book from the ages 5 to 9. That's right, Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf. I loved it. Looking back, I still do. The book is a collection of short stories, (loosely) based on Little Red Riding Hood, featuring seven-year-old Polly and the wolf who wants to eat her. The stories are hilarious in a droll sort of way, and as a little kid, I loved them. On weekends, or whenever I came home from school, I'd sit in my room for hours and listen to the tape I'd found at my library. The book was first published in England, 1955, but the plot of each story was strong enough to transcend the culture/time barrier. I might not have known what a perambulator or meat pasty was, but that didn't matter. When the wolf tried to change himself into a fox, when he got himself locked in a zoo, I rooted for the wolf as well as Polly. The wolf wasn't a threatening villain, he was just too stupid for that. Even Polly admits that, at the end of chapter six:
"I'm glad," thought Polly, "he didn't blow my house down. I hope he wont go now and blow himself up."
The book's sequel, Polly and the Wolf Again, was just as good, introducing the character of Polly's little sister, Lucy, who proves to be just as clever as Polly. This is honestly still one of the best and funniest books I've ever read, and I'd recommend it to anyone, no matter what age.
I'll end with a quote.
Dear Polly, this is a Threatening letter. If you don't come and see me at once, I shall
eat you all up. Yours sincerely,
A. Wolfe.

Hi from the Pseudo Intellectual

So, hi!
I'm really excited about this blog, since I've been thinking about it for a long time and I've finally gotten my act together. I love to ramble, (who doesn't?) so I think it'll be pretty fun. I plan to ramble about books, but don't quote me on that, 'cause that could change, and I'll probably throw in random interesting tidbits, too. I'm 15, and I mostly read teen books. I really like teen books, and this article from the New York Times is interesting and will help you understand why, If you're wondering why someone who calls herself the pseudo-intellectual is still stuck reading YA paperbacks.
     I love critiquing books and things - I'll read almost anything, so I plan to write about the books I read, my favorite books, my least favorite, and anything in between. I'm hoping to post semi-regularly, (a belated new year's resolution!) so if you're interested, come back for more. I really hope you'll enjoy The Pseudo-Intellectual, and thanks for visiting!