Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I'm Back!

I have a confession to make: I have been seriously slaking off with the whole blogging deal. I suppose you've already realized that, it's pretty darn obvious. I don't really have an excuse, either - I've just been lazy, and that's all that I can say. I cringed when I realized that my last post was from October, which seems like years and years ago now.
I used to read through my blogger feed every day, but I began to do that less and less, too. Today, when I sat down and finally caught up with all my favorite blogs, I couldn't believe how therapeutic it felt. Blogging was something that I had missed so much, without even realizing it. Not just writing on my own blog, but reading other people's blogs, too: one of the things that surprised me most when I started blogging was the community. I was amazed at how friendly and kind everyone was - getting a nice comment from a fellow blogger is a terrific feeling. Reading through my favorite blogs, I began to worry: what if everyone else thinks I've gone stagnate? Will I be able to slip back into the flow?  I decided to start blogging again, once and for all, no excuses!
I've also decided to cut back on the book reviews and make my blog a bit more personal. Lately, I haven't been reading as many books as I would like, and that's been one of the main reasons why I'm having trouble blogging.
For a quick review, I have been reading some really great fantasy novels lately. I binged on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy over winter break, listening to the audiobooks constantly. The plot and the premise is so deeply engrossing and philosophical, it's hard to pull away. The books are incredibly rich and well - written, and I'd highly recommend them unless you're religious and easily offended - the series deal with some major religious issues.
Book cover porn - the covers for the Hebrew editions of the trilogy are gorgeous. I love the art nouveau style.  Link
I've also been reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, and I must admit - it's terrific. The book is over 1,000 pages long, but I'm slowly plodding through it and loving every word.




I never got the chance to wish my followers Happy Holidays, but I hope everything went well. This year was really special for me, with lots of time spent with family and friends. My Christmas was wonderful, and I got some really great gifts. As for the new year, I'm pretty excited. 2013 had a lot of ups and downs for me, so I'm hoping 2014 will run more smoothly. As corny as it may be, I have a great deal of faith in fresh starts. 





Friday, October 11, 2013

Phonies

Hi everyone! Long time no see...
It's needless to say, but I'm very sorry for my long absence. What with school starting, the impending doom of the PSATs, computer issues, extra homework and so on, time and energy have been hard to come by.
Also, I've been kinda intimidated by the next book I'm going to review. I've never reviewed any of my all time favorites, and frankly, it's pretty scary - particularly with such a controversial book.
I realized that I simply had to review it after I heard A very exciting rumor: the author, who died several years ago, left instructions in his will to publish five more books.
You may have already guessed it: I'm going to review The Catcher in the Rye.
I love the book. I read it last summer - I wanted it to last forever, but I couldn't stop reading. Catcher is the archetypal teenage manifesto. Holden Caufeld speaks my mind, and I can relate to him more than I probably should. Holden is in no way a roll model. He's an icon of teenage rebellion (wikipedia says so), but frankly, it would be pretty screwed up to try and emulate him - is life is miserable. Said to be based very much on J. D. Salinger's own experiences growing up, Catcher is laced with a delicate balance of angst and melancholy. It mirrors my everyday feelings exactly. True, I'm not as bitter or judgmental as Holden, but yes, the mix of angst and melancholy is the same. That's why I love it so much. 
I know, a lot of people don't like Catcher for one reason or another. I must admit, there are a lot of reasons to dislike it. After all, do you really want to read about a rich white dude complaining for 214 pages? I know, I thought not. The first time I heard of Catcher, I was talking to a friend who'd read it for school. "It's about this guy who runs off to New York and complains and swears every other word," he said. "Don't read it." A shining recommendation, right? 
Still, it's not as if Holden has no reason to complain. As the book progresses, his vulnerabilities start to show, and you begin to realize how deeply human he is. An anonymous quote on the original jacket summed him up perfectly: "The boy himself is too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it."
I won't hold a grudge against anyone who feels differently than I do about the book. Catcher in the Rye has had a big impact on my life since I first read it, so give it a chance before dismissing it. As a teen, it's comforting to know that other people have the same feelings as you do, and I only hope others can understand the beauty of the story. 
Catcher in the Rye (by J. D. Salinger) is magic. Please read it. 

This is my copy. I bought it at a used book store and collaged the cover with photos from magazines and vintage catalogues. I never write in books, highlight them, and so on, (I try my best to keep them "pure") but Catcher is just so important to me that I wanted to do something special with it (and the original cover was boring anyway). I guess it's my way of honoring the book. 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Epic Summer - Or, Why I Haven't Been Posting Much Recently

Remember how I told you that I'd be posting lots over the summer? Well, I lied. I'm sorry. I've been away from wifi quite a bit, and I've been so busy, doing all sorts of exciting things...
I haven't posted as much over the summer as I would have liked, and I'm sorry for that. I have reasons for being absent, I swear! I've been having all sorts of fun, and now, I'm going to write a totally non-book-related and self-absorbed post to show you just how cool and fun my summer has been.
I've already posted about my trip to the midwest, and a promised pictures, too!
(All picture credits go to me, my Mom, or my Dad - we took a lot of them, and I can't remember who took what)



Chicago! This photo was taken from the steps of the art institute. 



Penguins from the Saint Luis zoo. Cute, huh?



I always thought the Saint Luis Arch would just be some sort of tourist trap, but I was amazed when I saw it - it's incredibly beautiful and so BIG! We saw it at sunset, and when we got to the top, the lights of the city where just coming on...




...A baseball game was playing in the diamond below, and you could even see the players on the field if you looked closely. The sun was setting over the city, and you could see the city streaching out for miles and miles. 



 This is just a cute little shed we saw at a gas station.

After I came back, I went to writer's camp - which is choc full of incredibly fun and awesome people. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures on my camera, and my phone crashes whenever I try to upload pictures from it. 
Next, I spent a week at my friend's house in the mountains. Yet again, I don't have pictures - but it was all about board games, ice-cold creeks, expeditions into abandoned buildings, long discussions on Portal, and pranks. 
Next, of course, the fair. 
Every year, my Mom and I spend a week at a county fair my grandfather helped found over 60 years ago. I've gone to the fair every year of my life, and it's very important to me. I volunteer, I pet cute animals, and I ride all the rides at a discount. I stay for a full week, and it's one of the highlights of my year.


The ferris wheel. The sign to the left says "Fried Dough" - a frank and accurate description. Mmm... Fried Dough. Blocked arteries, here I come!



The merry-go-round.

This ride is so scary - and so fun! It takes you up in the air, and then lets you drop in a free fall.
Ok, I'm done. I'd like to write more, but time is limited. If possible, I'll post more pictures later. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Where Things Come Back - John Cory Whaley

So, for the first time in quite a while, I'm actually writing a post about books! 
I apologise for keeping all you lovely folks waiting so long, summer has been busier than I expected! 
The book that I'm reviewing today is Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley. I read it on my trip out West, and admittedly, it probably wasn't the best vacation read. Yes, it was a quick read, but it was pretty intense, and defiantly manipulated my emotions! 
Things are pretty dull in Lilly, Arkansas, seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter's hometown - until the supposedly extinct Lazarus Woodpecker is spotted nearby, and his younger brother mysteriously disappears. As Cullen and his family desperately search for his missing brother, the town is thrown into a woodpecker craze, infuriating Cullen, who feels the attention should be given to finding his brother.
The novel is skillfully written, incorporating multiple storylines into the plot. The characters are vivid, and the story is full of surprises - melancholy and hopeful at the same time. I occasionally found the writing style somewhat awkward, but it didn't ruin the book for me. This book is a tearjerker. It's dream-like and touching and powerful, and the world needs more books like this. 



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Liebser Award a Zillion Times Over

I'm sorry I haven't been able to post lately; I was away from wi-fi for a while, and for the past week I was super busy interning with a kid's writing program. Now, I'm sick in bed, so I thought I'd take the chance to finally write this post. I really should have posted before now, because I've been nominated for the Liebster award by four different blogs! I'm very happy about this, because the blogs that nominated me are among my favorites, and it's really an honor. I'm also happy that so many blogs have nominated me. All and all, I'm very happy about this. For the Liebster award, you write 11 facts about yourself, answer 11 questions by the blogger who nominated you, and pass the nomination on.

Facts about myself:
  1. I recently got a pixie cut - I was wary at first, but I love it now. 
  2. My favorite thing about blogging is other bloggers. This means YOU!
  3. I watched Godzilla v. Monster Zero last night, and it was awesome in a totally campy way. 
  4. I dislike the number four.
  5. If I could go anywhere in the world, it would be the Swiss Alps. 
  6. I love animated movies.
  7. I made a list of stuff I want to do by the end of the summer. It has things like "ride the freaky upside down ride at the fair", "tie dye stuff," and "stage a flash mob." 
  8. I love love love to dance. I will never forgive my mother for not getting me dance lessons when I was five years old and told her it was my life's ambition to become a ballerina. 
  9. Nowadays, since I can't be a ballerina (thanks, Mom), my life's ambition is to travel the world. 
10. I've recently become kinda addicted to Polyvore. Is anyone interested in book-related fashion sets? 
11. I have a collection of stuffed and ceramic skunks. 

(I've decided to only answer three questions from each blog that nominated me, to keep this post from being waaay too long)

Ella from Gorilla Legs - This blog is always so fun to read. It also wins for best blog name, hands down! 

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
The 1920's! 
What  book are you currently reading?
Congo, by Michael Crichton, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina (who I got to meet through my internship!), Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis, and I'm listening to Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett (as an audiobook). 

If  you were trapped in a vat of food, and had to eat it to get yourself out of there, what food would you want to be trapped in?
Mmm... Maybe potato chips? It's so easy to eat large amounts of those things. Strawberries would be nice, too. I also like the idea of a vat of jello, just because I think it would be fun to smush around in while I ate. 

Cecily and Gwendolyn from Their Harangues and their Fancies - A terrific blog about nothing in particular - always cool, fun and interesting. 

Hidden Talent? 
I can ice skate fairly well. 
Favourite place in your home country?
Silly Brits with your weird word-spellings...it's spelled favorite
New York! I haven't been there in quite a while, but I love it and I'm beginning to get a hankering to go back...
If you were guaranteed success in any career, what would you do?
I'd become a writer, which is what I plan on doing anyway. 


Chloe from Rhinestone Moon writes all about high fashion and is pretty awesome in general. 

Who was your first music obsession?
When I was about four or five, I loved Christmas songs. Don't judge. 

Who is your favorite designer?
Dior! I love his "New Look." 




What historical character living or dead would you hang out with?
Instead of Gandhi or someone like that, I think I'd be somewhat shallow and choose Louise Brooks, flapper icon and my all-time favorite actress. 





Tara A. From Unlocking Pandora's Box - what's with all the awesome blog names? Seriously, though, check this blog out!

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

Ramona Quimby! My roommate at camp recently told me that I reminded her of Ramona, and I consider it one of the biggest compliments I've ever received. Roughly 80% of my childhood was spent wishing I was Ramona, so now I feel my childhood wasn't spent in vain. 
Traditional books or Ebooks? 
Traditional!
Spicy of bland food? 
Spicy!

I pass the nomination on to:

For My Own Satisfaction - http://formyownsatisfaction.blogspot.com/
Contemplating the Complexites - http://wastelandsofwisdom.blogspot.com/

My questions: 
What's the best prank you've ever pulled? 
What do you like most about blogging? 
A book that made you think for days:
Do you like to keep things messy, or clean? 
If you had an infinite amount of money, what would be the first thing you'd buy? 
What's your favorite movie and why? 
What's your favorite book and why? 
A guilty pleasure: 
If you could be one person, living or dead, for a day, who would it be? 
Something insanely cool that the rest of the world needs to know about? 
Something that makes you really, really mad? 



Monday, June 24, 2013

Writer's Camp

Right now, I'm at writing camp - I'm having a lot of fun, and I hope I can manage to write more blog posts. I was planning to post pictures of my midwest trip, but I don't have my camera with me. Maybe I'll write a "this summer" post at the beginning of the school year, and post pictures of everything I've done.
I promised you a post with reviews of historical fiction and classics, but I haven't been able to read much lately, and no books immediately come to mind. Frankly, as I believe I've said before, historical fiction is not my favorite genre - so I don't read much of it. I like classics, though, and I think I'll be able to make a decent list later... maybe when I come home. I'm super stoked for a C. S. Lewis book I checked out of the library - not one of the Narnia books, I think it's more mature and philosophical. I'm also reading a sci-fi novel called Congo, which I also reccomend if sci-fi is your thing. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Poll Results - Fantasy Book List


I haven't had the opportunity to write much, since I'm on a road trip with my family and it's been absolutely jam-packed with things to do. 
So far, I've been to Memphis, TN, and Saint Louis. Memphis was pretty cool, and Saint Louis was awesome. We saw penguins in the Saint Louis Zoo, and toured the arch. 

I've been paying attention to the poll results, and Fantasy is currently tied with Classics/Historical Fiction - so I've decided to make a fantasy book list.

A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
I honestly don't know why I waited so long to read this book.  I'd heard good things about it, I'd seen it in the library, but I waited a while before actually reading it. It's creepy and wonderful, delving you deep into a magical world, and the secrets of a Victorian girl's school. 


Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
When 18-year-old Sophie is cursed by the Witch of the Waist and turns into an old crone, she stoically decides to head out into the wilds in the hope of getting rid of the curse. Soon enough, she's made an agreement with Wizard Howl's fire demon, and gotten herself into a whole heap of trouble. It's the kind of book that you read slowly, because you don't want it to end. This book deserves to be a classic, 100%. I fully plan to read it to my children as a bedtime story. 


I finished the audio book just before leaving for my trip - I've read and re-read this book about about a zillion times, and I still love it. Diana Wynne Jones is pretty brilliant, and her old-fashioned fantasy style is reminiscent of  C. S. Lewis or Tolkien.* Actually, that's no coincidence - she attended lectures by both while she was at collage.

A scene from the movie - Howl's bedroom. Even though the movie is nothing like the book**, it's still terrific. I think this is maybe my favorite ever book-movie combo. I think animation is the perfect medium for fantasy movies, but I love animation in general. 

Terry Pratchett in General
Terry Pratchett is a satirical fantasy writer - one of the UK's best selling and most critically acclaimed fantasy writers before J. K. Rowling came along. I've only read three (Equal Rites, Small Gods, The Truth), but I've enjoyed all of them. 
I think The Truth is my favorite so far. The characters are the best thing about the book - Mr. Tulip and Otto the vampire have joined the ranks of my all-time favorite literary characters. I also like the concept behind the novels - they take place in a parallel universe, and the same characters pop up in different novels. The series is a lot of fun to read, and with 39(!) books in all, it'll take a good, long time to work though the whole thing. 

More fantasy books to come!

**As I believer I've said before, I don't mind if a movie doesn't follow a book, as long as the movie itself is good. So many people gripe about movies that don't follow the book, and when I ask them if it was actually a good movie, they look at me blankly and say, "Well, duh, no, it didn't follow the book!" 
So, you mean, a movie has horrible acting, bad directing, and 
*Speaking of Tolkien, have you seen the new Hobbit trailer?