Monday, October 31, 2011

Confessions of a NaNoNite 2.0: Day 0

We have six hours left!!

Since NaNoWriMo is about to start and we're basically in countdown mode, I thought I'd also kick-off Confessions of a NaNoNite 2.0!  I'm going to try and update every other day if not every day.  I'm going to shoot for every day.

To those of you writing, start your engines (and then wait for six hours, because that's cheating otherwise) and may the force be with you!

To those of you not writing and/or are anxiously waiting to read the wonderful creations made this month, I hope you find ways to occupy yourself.

As you can imagine, I might be skimping on the reviews for a month.  By skimping, I don't mean do a terrible job on the ones I write, I just mean fewer reviews in general.  Once more, this is only temporary.

Have an excellent NaNoWriMo!!!

Thanks for Reading!


A Review of 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' by Ransom Riggs

"A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children,' an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.  As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar.  They may have been dangerous.  They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-- impossible though it seems-- they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Childre' will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows."

There was a lot of hype for this book and this book absolutely lived up to this hype!  I was drawn in by the pictures, but I stayed for the story.

It seemed like there was a little something for everyone!  There was romance, time-travel, supernatural elements, history, photography, clever names... When I think of this book, I can't help but pair it with 'The Princess Bride' movie.  Not because the plots are the same, but because there's something for everyone who stops to take a look.

The children in the home for peculiar children were incredible.  Their special talents were astonishing, particularly the boy who could animate dead things or even things that weren't alive to start with new hearts (usually a sheep heart if the thing being animated was bigger or mice hearts if he was animating a toy).  I loved Emma's passion and Jacob's innocence.  Cairnholm was a rough but an overall interesting place.  I really do hope that it's a real island island off the coast of Wales, because if it is, I fully intend to visit!

The photography is amazing!  You'll never believe that the pictures were found.  Who knows what happened to them before they ended up in a collection, if anything happened to them at all, but they are extraordinary!

For a first installment, it was very satisfying, but sooner or later, I'll be ravenous for the second installment.  Hopefully the second installment will have tons of time loops (I'm 97% certain that there will be), because that would just be fascinating!

Ransom Riggs spins a handsome story and presents it in such a creative way that can be enjoyed by all.

I give 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children':
Thanks for reading!


P.S. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Review of 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

"Nick's just seen the girl who dumped him walk in... with a new guy.  What else can he do but ask the strange girl next to him to be his new girlfriend for the next five minutes?

Norah would do anything to avoid conversation with the not not-friend girl who dumped Nick... and to get over the Evil Ex whom Norah never really totally dumped.  What else can she do but answer Nick's question by making out with him?

With one electric, unexpected kiss, the five-minute couple of Nick and Norah set off on an uncharted adventure called the "first date" that will turn into an infinite night of falling in and out (and in and out, maybe in, and maybe out) of love.  Theirs is a first date of music, laughter, heartache, confusion, passion, taxi driver wisdom, and a jacket named Salvatore.  And of course, a killer soundtrack.

As Nick and Norah wander through the middle-of-the-night mystic maze of Manhattan, they share the kind of night you want to never end, where every minute counts and every moment flickers between love and disaster."

Best date ever!  Just the way Nick and Norah talk to each other (honestly and with matched sarcasm and wit) you can't help but wonder how there could possibly be a better literary romance than this one.  Yes, I'm opening this up for debate.

I love the collaborations that David Levithan does.  It's not that he's not a strong writer on his own (because he is.  I've given 4 or 5 star reviews of his work) but he has that added talent of playing off of other characters that aren't his own.

I've never read anything by Rachel Cohn, but I'm definitely going to do so now!  That's the best part about reading collaborative books-- you might just run into an intriguing author you've never heard of.

Nick is the boyfriend almost every girl dreams of being with and Norah, once she surpasses her reservations about almost everything, is an excellent girlfriend.

The layer of music and the New York late night music scene was flawless and amazing.  I personally cannot attest to what a legitimate concert is like (not really... Beatles cover bands just don't cut it), but I can't wait until I'm eighteen so I can go to places like First Avenue and listen to some really talented people.

Just to warn younger and/or sensitive readers, this book drops so many f-bombs.  That's my warning to you, take it as you may.

'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' was completely romantic, sensual, surreal, and amazing!  I give it:
Thanks for reading!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

7 of the Most Annoying Qualities in Unruly Teachers

You know we've all had at least one.

Of course unruly teachers are annoying in general, but I've decided to compile a list of the most annoying (in my opinion) qualities of annoying teachers, mostly so I don't become one of these Annoyingly Bad Teachers.

1. Speaking Too Quietly.  All The Time.  I hate it when teachers think that they're speaking loud enough and even when we (being the students) let them know that we can't hear them, they don't change their volume.

2. Talking, Talking, Talking, Talking...  I have at least one teacher that does this.  We sit down to have work time and without warning, they'll begin to address the class about "small learning communities" or "respecting everyone" when we're doing just those things, but they can't recognize it.

3. Clear as Mud.  This drives me even further up a wall.  It's really irritating when teachers don't write down (even if it's online!) the assignments we are supposed to do and when they are due.  They just assume that we heard them the first time and if they have bad quality number 1 on this list, it's a huge problem.

4. Presumptuousness.  I've had this problem within the past few days, actually.  I like to make sure that I heard things right, so often times, I will ask again, just to make sure that I understood the first time.  My pet peeve is when teachers think I'm stupid for asking again.  That's not the only example, but I don't want to become even angrier about this just by writing about it more.  To be fair, I'm probably being presumptuous myself.

5. Dumping a Lot of Work On a Student in a Short Period of Time.  I'm not talking about projects, per se, but just a lot of little assignments to do within the span of a week.  Worst yet, the easy but time-consuming assignments that are numerous and due at the end of the week.  Seriously, it's not fair to anyone involved.  The students have more than one class and then the teacher has to grade everything times however many classes they have.  Really, who's winning this situation?

6. No Variety in Teaching.  Maybe it's just me, but I get sick of learning the same way every day.  I can't watch movies all the time (unless it's a film class), I can't take notes all the time, I need to do labs, I need to read different kinds of books, I need to do projects.  If a teacher does any one of these things more than 70% of the time, I don't know how everyone is expected to learn what they're supposed to learn.

7. Overly-Strict Bad Teaching.  When a teacher is in the middle of teaching and suddenly they'll just go quiet for seemingly no reason.  When we look around, we see that they're looking at one person and we're confused as to why.  Then they proceed to explain why this person is being disrespectful and then goes back to talking.  Or during group work time, they expect us to be dead silent.  I don't understand how the whole communication thing is meant to work...

Maybe it's a personality clash and maybe it's just pent up nervousness...

Before I sign out, I'll just say that this post was not meant to offend, merely blow off steam.  I apologize to no end if this has managed to offend you.  I have nothing but respect for the teaching profession and those awesome teachers that know what they're doing.

If this becomes a problem post, I will take it down, no problem.

Thanks for Reading!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Review of 'Cut' by Patricia McCormick

 "Callie cuts herself.  Never too deep, never enough to die.  But enough to feel the pain.  Enough to feel the scream inside.

Now she's at Sea Pines, a 'residential treatment facility' filled with girls struggling with problems of their own.  Callie doesn't want to have anything to do with anyone.  She won't even speak.

But Callie can only stay silent for so long..."

For the longest time, I was afraid to read this book thinking that it would be very graphic and/or gruesome, but I was glad that it wasn't gory (sort of... kind of... it's not what you think... but... yeah...) to make a point, not for shock value.

I possessed face-value information about cutting (which basically meant that I know what you have to do, but not the psychological part of the equation).  After reading this, I've gained a little insight.  There's only so much a thirteen or fourteen year old girl can say about the psychological aspect of cutting, but McCormick has shown the most important side to just about all (if not every) disorder and addiction-- the need to do something.  The need to cut to feel better, the need to eat, to not eat, to make yourself throw up, to drink... the list goes on and on.

Callie's story was an interesting one.  I wasn't totally sure why she decided to be silent, but her thoughts were still interesting.  For a while, it felt like she didn't care, but I think that that was key to the story-- to prove to anyone who would see that she was so detached from the situation.

'Cut' was a sad, powerful, upsetting, insightful, etc. book and I highly recommend that everyone, regardless of age, reads it.

I give 'Cut':
Thanks for reading!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

The NaNo Way!

Perhaps I've mentioned this already and if I have, I'm going to mention it again-- NaNoWriMo is coming up super fast!  We have 8 days, 1 hour, and I don't even know how many minutes and seconds are left...

In 8 days, those literary warriors around you are going to be writing with "literary abandon" just trying to make sure that their word goals are achieved by the end of the month.

I'm not really starting anything new.  I'm going to be doing what I've seen some people on DeviantArt do, which is take something they've been diligently working on for a while and use NaNoWriMo as an incentive to put something on the page no matter how good or bad it is.  I'm going to be working on 'Murder By Rulers.'  I have about 11,000 words already written, so I'm going to adjust my goal to 61,000 words to accomodate what I've written and still be able to keep track of my real goal, which is writing 50,000 words in a single month.

I'll keep a progress thingy in the side bar and I'll also do Confessions of a NaNoNite like I did last year, but Year 2 edition!

I'll see you all again Tuesday at Midnight when the literary madness begins (or in my case, continues)!

Thanks for reading!


7 Countries I Would Like to Visit

So, if you know me even a little bit, then you'll know that my number one plan in life is to travel.  A lot.  And I want to go everywhere!  But since there isn't nearly enough room to put down EVERY country, I'm going to narrow it down to 7 places put in no particular order.
1. Australia.  It has been my dream for the longest time to go to Australia.  I plan to study there during college and I might even follow the example of THESE BLOGGERS and go again after college.  They went for a month, but while reading their writing, it felt like they were rushing and were forced to kind of do the things at the top of there list as opposed to being able to take their time and enjoy more than they already did.  So I'd love to spend a summer there after I graduate from college.

2. The United Kingdom.  As an avid reader, I've fallen in love with Harry Potter, but that's not the (only) reason why I want to go to the UK.  I would love to see the history and have fun "time traveling" going between castles and more modern cities.  It would be very neat!  I would love to study abroad here as well.  Also, I'd love to learn to drive on the right side of the road.  That in itself sounds like an adventure!

3. China.  A few days ago, I was looking at my friend's pictures when she went to China for a month with some people from her Chinese class.  It looks like such a beautiful country and even though I don't know the language, I think it would be quite fun!  And I'd be sure to have a few important words and phrases written down just in case I did run into trouble.  It's only been recently (like, within the past few months) that I've expressed an interest (more to myself that anything) in visiting any part of Asia.  That makes me sound like a bad person... understand that I hold no prejudice against anyone of the Asian persuasion or anyone who currently lives in an Asian country.

4. Greece.  Again, this is also a fairly recent development.  Maybe it comes from watching too much "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" or reading Lena's scenes in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," but the country has become more and more appealing to me.  And I love most Greek food!  I bought a Greek cook book and my friend Avery and I have been trying different recipes in it.  I'd just love to explore the birth place of Greek mythology (can I tell you how mad I was when I found out that my English teacher in ninth grade decided to take a trip to Greece two years after no longer being in her class?  Not happy at all... I was internally seething with jealousy and rage...).

5. Indonesia.  Okay, I blame "Eat, Pray, Love" for this one.  The people there seemed really adorable and I'd just like to get to know the culture more.  This is one of the places where I plan to teach in the future (if they'll let me).

6. Ireland.  Again, another movie, though the movie wasn't what caused this fascination with Ireland.  You know that scene in "Marley and Me" where Marley is left at home but John and Jenny decide to go on a belated honeymoon to Ireland?  The landscape there was so beautiful, and again, I'd love to appreciate the people and the Irish culture (I'm sick of the stereotypes that everyone in Ireland drinks... I won't believe it until I see it for myself).

7. Spain.  Since I discovered that I can still speak Spanish (not a lot, mind you, but enough to communicate), I've wanted to visit a Spanish-speaking country.  Maybe that'll be Mexico (actually that's on my list too) but I've got a friend who goes to Spain quite often and her dads live there now.  If I ask, I bet we could eventually plan a trip together.  But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Senior Pictures!

The Photographer: CLICK HERE
So... a few weekends ago, I got my senior pictures taken and I received them on a CD in the mail on Monday (with the copyright release!  So I'm not infringing upon anything).  I just thought that I'd share them with you.  I prefer the second, fourth, and fifth pictures on this page.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gallery Walk-- October 20, 2011

I did a college visit yesterday.  If I get pictures like this, I wouldn't mind going to school there.  Too bad that don't have a very big photography program...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Review of 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' by J.K. Rowling

"'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' contains five richly diverse fairy tales, each with its own magical character, what will variously bring delight, laughter, and the thrill of mortal peril.

Additional notes for each story penned by Professor Albus Dumbledore will be enjoyed by Muggles and Wizards alike, as the Professor muses on the morals illuminated by the tales, and reveals snippets of information about life at Hogwarts.

A uniquely magical volume, with illustrations by the author, J.K. Rowling, that will be treasured for years to come."

I've been wanting to read this one for a while-- and now I finally have!

It was interesting to see something written by Jo Rowling that was set in the Wizarding World but not centered around Harry.  As much as I love J.K. Rowling, it was nice.  I really hope that she decides to write something else because that will undoubtedly be an interesting read as well as comparison.

In this little book, there are five stories, only one or two of which Harry Potter fans will be familiar with (for sure one, if you're read 'Deathly Hallows').

I liked that even though these were Wizarding morality tales (meant for non-magical folk as well), the stories held nothing back.  there was death, there was gore, there was a little bit of history, there were Wizards, Muggles... everything was there.

Dumbledore's notes were interesting (and modest...) and they really added to what the stories were saying.  It broadened my scope of the Wizarding World, which is always pretty neat.

J.K. Rowling's artwork was also really cool.  I had forgotten that she was a bit of an artist herself (I can't remember where I heard that... probably a YouTube video).

A must-read for the die-hard Harry Potter fan!  Though it is also geared towards readers who might not be as familiar with the bigger story that is the Harry Potter series.

I give "The Tales of Beedle the Bard":

Thanks for reading!


P.S. I'm slowly working into the reviews again!  Hurray!  I'm glad this hiatus wasn't any longer.  Thanks for bearing with me!

Monday, October 17, 2011

7 Reasons Why Braces Suck

(Don't worry, they're fake.  If they weren't, this would be incredibly gross...)

1. The Ability to Whistle Vanishes Entirely or is Significantly Reduced.  Personal Experience.  When I was younger and my teeth were "screwed up" (my mother admits that my teeth weren't that bad.  They could have been much worse, any way), I was able to whistle quite loudly.  My childhood friends and I would hold impromptu contests to see who could whistle the loudest.  Most of the time, I would win.  Sometimes my friends got lucky.  Five or six years ago, when I got my braces off, I found that I could not whistle.  Or when I could muster up a whistle, it was absolutely pathetic.  It's because my teeth have shifted so that they're the "right way" and now they have no whistling capability.  Or a very reduced whistling capability.

2. Flossing is Impossible.  My orthodontists and dentist kept giving me these strange flossing wands so that I could floss.  They still give them to me now because I have a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth and I still need to floss them.  But it's like a pep-talk.  Once I left the dentist, I was all excited about flossing and that's what I wanted to do as soon as I go home!  I would thread the flossing wand and begin flossing with a lot of gusto!  Then I realized just how many spaces there were between my teeth... there are a lot... flossing took a long time, and then I realized why I hate flossing.  Then I wouldn't floss.  Then my mom would remind me that I had an orthodontist/dentist appointment the next morning and I would rush to the bathroom and floss and brush my teeth really well (I'm a good brusher, just not flosser) and I would do the same thing the next morning so that when I walked into that office and sat in that chair, the dentist/orthodontist believed that I had been doing precisely as they asked me to do.

3. No gummy Foods for as Long as They're on Your Teeth.  I loved fruit snacks when I had braces.  I would eat gummy food any way and no bracket ever broke off, but let me tell you how nearly impossible it is to get the gummy food out from between the wires and away from your brackets.  It's horrible.

4. You Can't Actually Pick Up Radio Stations.  I will admit that I've tried this several times.

5. Everything Gets Stuck In Them!  'Nough said.

6. Orthodontists Are Big Liars.  Before I continue, I would like to take this moment to apologize if you are a dentist/orthodontist and are reading this.  Personal story that isn't mine.  My sister is finally going to begin the process of getting her braces taken off in less that two weeks.  At the beginning of her term, before they were even on, she was told that she would get them off in about two years (which, if you don't know, if fairly basic).  Almost a year after that deadline, she still has them on because the orthodontist just wasn't satisfied with their lineage (or the way the were lined up... I'm not sure if that's the proper way to use this word).

7. Horrible School Pictures That Make You Not Want to Smile a Tooth Smile for a Long Time.  I was unfortunate enough to have two school pictures with my braces on.  I discovered that if you smile and you have darker-colored braces on (I'll say that I did about 70-80% of the time) it looks like, from a distance, that you have holes in your teeth.  That's how mine looked any way.  So I only smiled in pictures with my mouth closed, and then when I got them taken off, I couldn't remember how to smile with my teeth showing without being awkward.

Thanks for Reading!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

11 Things I Wish That I Had Known At The Beginning of High School

1. Freshman Don't Actually Get Dumped In Trashcans.  Believe it or not, this is just a movie thing.  Maybe it differs from school to school, but generally, none of my friends have reported having been thrown in a trashcan as a freshman.  Sure, we'll talk about it, and even at times someone will crawl into or be put in a trashcan for a movie (I think that happened in French 3), but at that time, you'll know it's happening and it won't be scary at all.

2. High School Passes by Fast.  To throw in a cliché, it feels like I only yesterday I walked through the front doors of South High (my school) and marveled at just how many people were concentrated in this big building with few windows.  Now it's just a part of my day that I hardly notice or care about any more.

3. Sophomore Year Means You're Kind of a Nobody On the High School Totem Pole.  It sounds horrible, but when you think about it, you're not a freshman any more, so you can't get away with not knowing anything (except for the first few days of the new school year), but you're not an upperclassman yet.  So where does that leave you?

4. Complete Your Health and Gym Credits Right Away!  Like, as a freshman, if you can swing it.  Personal experience.  I'm in the process of completing my final quarters of health now, as a senior and it kind of sucks because on top of applying to colleges and getting ready to graduate and travel in six-to-eight months, it's the last thing that I want to worry about, yet I still have to.

5. Visit Colleges/Figure Out/Start Figuring Out What Your After-High-School Plan Is.  I mean, you don't have to know precisely what you want to do or how you want to get there, but a general plan such as, "I want to go to college" or "I want to go into the work force" or "I want to travel for a while" is a good start.  Have that goal and get an idea of what you like and gradually work towards that just in case.  Even if you never end up needing the classes that looked interesting to you, at least you were prepared in case you did actually need them.

6. High School is Boring if you Don't Get Involved.  I've discovered that this year when I joined the GSA.  Now, every Wednesday, I have something to look forward to after school.  It's a good way to meet new people that have similar views and interests as you.  I would have loved to be apart of theater, but for the few days that I was auditioning, I was kept busy for a few hours after school and it was nice to be relatively busy.  I can only imagine what it would be like to actually be in a play-- busy for several weeks, several days a week!  No matter what happens, you won't regret that you at least tried and you'll have fun being apart of whatever group you decide to join.

7. Don't Take Classes Just Because Your Friends Are Taking Them.  Last year, I took precalculus because I didn't want people I knew to flaunt their smarts at me because I wasn't taking precalculus.  I took the class because I knew people that were.  Precalculus sucked for me.  I passed the class, but now I realize how much of a waste it was for me (emphasis on "For Me") because as a future English teacher, I can't foresee ever needing to use any kind of calculus.  If I actually need it for something other than college (and even then, I'm going to try and avoid it as long as possible) I'll be sure to let you know...  In the end, I met awesome people that I hope to stay in touch with after high school, but I now realize that I was in that class because my friends were there, not because I was actually interested in the subject.  It was too much for me and I didn't understand everything like I thought that I should.

8. Know Your Limits and Only Test Them to a Certain Extent.  In school, there's a fine line between a challenge and stress.  I believe that it's good to challenge yourself, but I will advise you to step back and evaluate yourself really quick.  Are you normally a straight-A student who is feeling stressed all the time and is failing Class X?  Perhaps that's your limit, and you're set on attending Class X at some point, maybe it would be best to work up to it.  You're like one of those Glad Force-Flex garbage bags (sponsor?  No...).  You can take something sharp and push the pointy end right into the plastic and it won't rip for a while.  But keep pushing that point object until the plastic is tight and it's going to break.

Oh metaphors!

9. Online School is Your Friend.  To clarify, I don't attend a full-time online school.  I attend online school part-time because I go to regular public school and my schedule it too full to do anything else.  This includes an art class and health/gym.  So guess what I'm doing?  Instead of dropping Wind Ensemble (band) and forfeiting my chance to go to Washington D.C. a week or less after coming home from France, I'm taking care of business online so I don't have to worry about not being able to walk across that stage at the end of May.  So if you're having trouble fitting everything in and online is an option, definitely do it.

10. Save, Save, and Save a Few More Times!  Okay, this isn't something that I've failed to learn throughout high school, but it's just too important to not include.  How many of us have been typing away at our computers writing that super important paper that's due tomorrow or throwing in the final edits to your group's PowerPoint or video project when suddenly, the power goes out!  How many times have you saved this project while you were on a roll cranking out information onto a page or in video format?  Once.  In the beginning, when you were still formulating ideas.  Yeah... just save a lot and also turn in the automatic save.  It won't save everything, but that way if the power does go out or your computer dies unexpectedly, you'll only be set back a little bit instead of having to write the entire paper over again.  Also, if you're not sure if you saved before to close the paper for the night, save it again just in case.

11. Travel With Your Classmates!  This is only something that I've found out as recently as last year.  When I went to Chicago with the music department, I knew very few people (my stand-partner and some people that I shared a class or two with) and I was nervous, but excited.  After coming home from just a weekend in Chicago, I was better friends with a girl named Yi-Ting, who was in the middle of her second year as an exchange student because she loved the school and the people so much that she decided to wait and graduate with the senior class last year.  I formally met a girl named Sarah who is an excellent artist and tenor saxophone player who loves to write like I do.  By traveling with your classmates, you get to know that people that you've been walking next to for your entire high school career and you get to have experiences that you never thought that you would get to have nor knew that you wanted to have.

Thanks for reading!


P.S. I've come up with a list of lists that I could write in order to make up for the lack of book reviews for the time being.  If this is something that you want to see more of, let me know and I'll continue working through my list of lists.  I'm sure they'll end up here eventually, but do you want to see different lists in a row?  I promise it won't be to-do lists or anything, but like, ones of experience or experiences that I want to have.  I think I have 11 in my arsenal right now.  What are your ideas?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quiet Thursday Nights

It's a little strange, I've had a lot of low-key nights this week.  Probably because of the various tests.  I had my Statistics test yesterday (I got 156 out of 200... I'm still debating whether I should retake it because if I take it again and I do worse, the second test is going to be the one going in the grade book...) and I had French yesterday and today (I feel much better about that one).

The music department has been especially fortunate this year.  My school district was nice enough to give us money (after a number of teachers got together to write a statement for this grant), so we've been able to get a lot of new things. Among those new things are 120 musicians chairs (they help support musicians better-- posture and all), a shiny new bass clarinet (for those of you who don't know, that's my instrument, and being the only bass clarinet in my group, I automatically get it!  No fighting with my invisible stand-partner!  Did I mention that I named him Reginald?  His full name is Shiny Reginald.  He's beautiful and he sounds excellent!), a baritone sax, an entire new section of French horns, and a number of other instruments that aren't tubas or flutes.  So we've been incredibly fortunate-- everything is so nice and perfectly functional!  People (only a select few) have been bitter about the chairs because now that can't slump in their spots as comfortably).

This afternoon, I received an email from the digital library (it's through my county, so I'm not sure if anyone outside of my county would have it, but check your library) that I was able to "borrow" Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs!  Last I checked, I was number 200-something out of more than that, so I was anticipating that it would take much longer for me to be able to read this book (can you call it a book if it's on the computer at this time?).  Any way, I've downloaded it and that has been my project tonight.  Yeah, I could have worked on finishing Sweet and Sour Milk by Nuruddin Farah, but I prefer Miss Peregrine much more.  I only planned on starting it (like, maybe ten or twenty pages) but I ended up finishing forty-one.  It's that good!  I can't wait to review it, though actually posting it will take some time.  My plan is to develop a bit of an arsenal of reviews and then schedule them.  I have two thus far and a large pile of shorter stories waiting patiently next to my bed.  I've discovered my cure.  I think I'll be posting reviews again in no time!

I've discovered that there's nothing more relaxing than the sound of rain.  There's this website called where you're able to listen to the sound of rain and other parts of a storm as long as you please!  I've been listening to it for several hours.  It's like white noise at the end of a VHS tape, but so much better and less annoying.

Tomorrow night, I'm going to my school's Sadie's Dance with my boyfriend.  It's going to be my last year going, so I'm a little sad, but more excited.  He's coming to my house after school, so there's a possibility of pictures.  But no promises.  He not too pleased when I take a large number of pictures of him and I absolutely hate it when he takes pictures of me (they always turn out terribly, and it's not just the camera phone-- I just don't take very good pictures.  I can never remember how I smiled before braces, so it's always awkward).

Any way, I just wanted to update a little.  Please enjoy the rest of your evening!  I'm going to get back to reading!

Thanks for... reading :)


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gallery Walk-- October 8, 2011

So, since I might not be posting reviews for quite some time, I thought that I would start posting more pictures.  It's a trade-off!  Any way, last weekend when I was getting my senior pictures taken, I brought my camera (it was in a couple of the pictures as well), so I took a couple pictures of and around Minnehaha Falls.  If you're not from or have never visited Minneapolis, or even if you live here and you've never visited the Falls, definitely look it up.  It's a great hike just going up and down the stairs, but even if you don't want to see a waterfall, there's so much to do in that area.  I haven't even tried everything there.

I will point out, however, that some of these pictures weren't from last weekend, but yesterday morning when the sun was just rising and it was a perfectly beautiful autumn morning.  I love this season!

Until next time... thanks for reading!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Apologies in Advance...

It seems like almost every blogger goes through this at some point or another... it kind of sucks.  Lately, it's been a chore to get anything review-related posted.  I've been kind of skimping on reading too.  I'll confess, I've even been doing this for my English class... I'm really ashamed of this.  So while I try to get back on track, I might be missing in action, or at least posting more movie reviews that ones for books.  I think what I really need to is to just read.  Just connect with the piece and reflect on that much.  Ever since last year, I can't help but make my reading adventures scavenger hunts for symbols and themes.  While I won't let that go for English class, I need to learn to set this aside and just appreciate the words on the page an how they create a story.

I'm not going to stop blogging altogether, because it's just too much fun, but it will be a little different for a while.

So while I'm gone, I will be reading and writing down my thoughts as normal, but I will not be typing out those thoughts in review form until I have a large stack at which point I will type them up and schedule them.

I'm taking out a minor stress.  There are no real major ones, but still...

Thank you in advance for understanding.

Thanks for reading and for your continued support!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Review of 'Breaking Up With God: A Love Story' by Sarah Sentilles

"'I broke up with God.  The break-up was devastating.  It was like a divorce when  all the friends you had as a couple are forced to choose sides and end up not choosing yours.'

Sarah Sentilles's relationship with God was not casual.  When it began to unravel, she was in the ordination process to become an Episcopal priest, a youth minister at a church, and a doctoral student in theology at Harvard.  You might say they were engaged and that the wedding was all planned.  Calling it off would be more than a little awkward.  But in the studying of the religion she'd been raised on and believed wholeheartedly, one day she woke up and realized... it was over.

In this powerful memoir of faith, Sentilles reveals how deep our ties to God can be, and how devastating they can be to break.  Without God to mold herself to and without religion as her script, who was she and what was her purpose?  Her relationship with God had been connected to everything-- her family, her friends, her vocation, the places she frequented, the language she used, and her way of being in the world.

Not unlike after a divorce, she had to reorient her life and face the future that felt darkly unfamiliar.  But this beautiful, brave book is surprisingly filled with hope, a coming-out story that lets others know it's safe to come out too and that there's light on the other side."

I had seen a few reviews of this book around the blogosphere, all with varying ratings, but after reading the description, I felt like this was something that I needed to read.

Story Time:  My pseudonym is Jude Rosenberg and I'm agnostic.  I can't remember exactly when I began struggling with my faith, but I know that I began to seriously think about it in the months before I was confirmed in the Christian faith.  I wrote my faith statement saying that I had made my choice and I was choosing God.  But in the months that followed this day, my mind was still reeling with thoughts.  Questions.  I'm not talking about questions about the Bible, but questions about myself.  Thoughts like, "Do I really believe in God?"  "What does this all mean?"  "Did I make a mistake on my confirmation day?"  I realized that on the day I was confirmed, everything I said was true, but now something had changed in me.  I was angry that I had said that I truly believed in the same God that everyone else did.  But I noticed that there were some different definitions.  People were using God and their religion to discriminate and hurt groups of people.  I didn't want any of that.  I don't think it's in any way right.  The thing that really stood out to me was "love your neighbor" and I just wasn't seeing that.  Not in everyone.  This led to frustration which led to me removing the source and finding bigger things to worry about.  Religion wasn't that thing.

End Story Time.  I'm basically trying to say that reading this book was good for me and it really articulated my thoughts in a way that I've had trouble doing for so long.  Until now.  I really identified with Sarah Sentilles.

I liked reading a book like this.  Not that I've read very many books pertaining to religion, but I've at least heard of many titles about spiritual journeys and getting closer to God... it was that much more isolating.  While I'm sure those books are interesting on some level, it was nice to see a "falling out" story.  To me, it says, "it's okay to think the way you think.  Don't let anyone else rip you apart.  You're not alone."

I liked that this book had the power to make me really angry and frustrated or very hopeful, depending on what was happening.

The only real complaint that I have is that there were a number of seemingly random asides that didn't appear to go anywhere until you reached the end of the point.  Also, one of the characters wasn't introduced upon our first encounter with them.  I didn't really like shifting my focus from what Sarah Sentilles was saying just so I could figure out who the heck person X was and how they were related to Sarah.

Overall, a very eye-opening memoir and completely worth the read, even if it's only to understand a new perspective of life.

I give "Breaking Up With God":
Please excuse the rather long post.  I promise that not all of my reviews in the future will be as personal as this one.  I would also like to point out that just because these are my views doesn't mean that they have to be yours.  Please respect my beliefs as I will absolutely respect yours.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, October 3, 2011

"...It's Like a Whirlwind Inside of my Head..." Has Made it to Facebook!

This probably isn't a huge deal, but I've finally made the leap and created a Facebook page for this blog.  It surprisingly wasn't very hard.

So, if you would care to "Like" this page, please do so, I've added that nifty little box in the side bar.

Other than that, that's all I wanted to say.  Have a pleasant evening!

Thanks for reading!


Movie Time! 'Black Swan'

"In director Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller, ambitious New York City ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) lands the lead in 'Swan Lake' but soon thinks her dreams of stardom are threatened by a rival ballerina (Mila Kunis).  As opening night nears and the pressure to be perfect builds, Nina's obsession descends into paranoia and delusion.  Portman won an Academy Award for the film which also nabbed an Oscar nod for Best Picture."

It's definitely rated R for a reason.  Several, actually.

If you're familiar with 'Swan Lake' or 'The Swan Princess' (at least up until the very end of the movie), you'll be quite familiar with the general story.  If you're not familiar with either the ballet or the cartoon movie, don't worry, you'll be caught up soon enough.  What's nice is that they (the directors) don't target the ballet-going audience, but anyone interested in a creepy, psychological movie about dancing.

I thought it was really clever that they basically told the story twice.  The catch is, it's told in two different ways, which I thought was totally cool!

I ended up watching this movie three times in one weekend.  It's not a light movie, so I went back to catch anything I missed before.

There's a decent amount of gore in the movie.  I don't mean "rip your guts out, shoot-'em-up" movie, but enough to make you squirm in your seat.  It was quite effective.

The casting of this movie was amazing.  While I was only familiar with Natalie Portman, I thought that the cast had chemistry, no matter how big or small of a part any given actor/dancer had.  Dance companies need to have chemistry (I'm not in a dance company and I've never danced except at school dances, but chemistry seems to be important) in order to make the story they're performing believable.  To be able to do this under the pretense of a movie seems to be quite impressive.  Sure, these people can act, but can they dance?  Or vice versa.

The sets were beautiful too!  Mostly the stage sets, but the apartment where Nina lived was beautiful too.

Actually, now that I mention her mother, I realize that that was my next topic.  Nina's mother is a scary, scary lady.  I don't understand why Nina is in her twenties (at the very least) and still living with her mother who treats her like a child, cooking for her, waking her up in the morning, sometimes undressing her.  They have an interesting relationship.  And it only became more interesting as the movie wore on.  It kind of weirded me out...

What was also really interesting was figuring out what parts of the movie were "actually happening" and which weren't.  Did Nina really go out and do drugs?  Did she really have sex three times in one night or just two (Note: this particular part largely contributes to the rated R rating.  If you're sensitive to sexual themes, this is probably not the movie for you)?  Did something happen at all?  What happened in the dressing room at the end (I know what happened, but how did it happen to her?)?  What about Beth?

This was an excellent movie that will make you cringe and swoon.  It's completely worth rewatching.
Thanks for reading!