Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Confessions of a NaNoNite: Last Day

How did NaNoWriMo go this year?

  • Well... I wrote almost 5,000 more words that I originally had.  Altogether, I have 15,366 words, amounting to 25% of my word count goal.  So while I didn't reach my goal, I did get something done.  And I'm proud of what I've done.

How do you plan to conquer NaNoWriMo next time?

  • I plan on participating in the summer version of NaNoWriMo!  I realized that a lot of my problems had to do with wrapping up high school, which is really super important for me.  In the summer, I won't have the problem.  I'll be packing and hopefully working, both of which I can maneuver around.  In the summer, I think I stand a better chance of completing this thing.

What would you do differently next time?

  • I wouldn't count the words as I was writing.  I just want to get words down on the page.  I don't want numbers to be what is perpetuating my story.  I would also try not to get discouraged when I become days behind where I'm supposed to be.

Did you get anything out of this year's attempt?

  • Yeah!  I am up another 5,000 words from where I used to be.  My story has changed quite a bit-- I've added a bit of what I think is Stockholm Syndrome, so that's a relatively new element (kinda sorta).  I'm interested in seeing how this story actually turns out when I'm completely done with it.
Thanks for keeping up with my NaNoWriMo progress if you have been.  I'm terribly sorry that I didn't do more of it this November.  I'll for sure be better about this over the summer when the craziness has passed.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Best Wishes!

You guys are so nice :)

We've increased our numbers by tenfold over the weekend, which I certainly didn't expect.  Thanks for being awesome!

Are there any books that anyone would be particularly pleased to see a review of on here?  I can't make any promises, but I will try my best to accommodate your suggestion by moving it to the "next book to read" slot on my mental To Be Read list.

I must go get ready for the rest of the day (I have to print a couple papers and make sure I didn't lose anything over the five day weekend) and then make my baby sister a birthday card, because it's her fifteenth birthday today!

Have an awesome week and thanks for reading!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Jude Discovers the World!

What's that?  A new blog?  I'm out of control...

I was going to put traveling stuff on this blog, but then I thought that there would be too much stuff to deal with.  So I created a new one that I called Jude Discovers the World!  This is mostly in preparation for my two upcoming trips, but I plan on using this for trips that I haven't even begun to formulate.  I've also started including tips for student travelers (if you have any ideas for topics I could write about, I'm all ears.  I have a few in mind, but I'm just waiting for those things to happen so that I have some sort of credibility when I talk about them).

So any way, feel free to check it out!

Thanks for reading!


I Almost Forgot That It's Friday!

It's been a bit of a strange week, so it didn't even register with me that today is Friday.  The beauty of Thanksgiving Break :)  Anywho, I haven't done any of the Friday question things in a while, so let's get started!

Follow Friday and TGIF are brought to you by Parajunkee and Ginger @ GReads.

When you're not reading: What occupies your time when your nose isn't stuck in a book?

When I'm not reading, I'm in school, doing odd jobs (because I've been out of luck with getting a formal job), hanging out with my friends and/or family, or entertaining myself.  

I'm a senior in high school, so this year, a lot of my time is devoted to getting college stuff straightened out (applications are all done!  Woohoo!) and finishing.  Everything.  

I'm doing odd jobs because I'm headed to France in about four or five months and then a week after I get back, I'm heading right back out again to Washington D.C.  I'm so excited!  

My friends are quite important to me, especially since I won't get to see a lot of them on a regular basis in one year's time.  Less than one year's time, actually.

When I'm entertaining myself, I'm writing, rocking out to Phantom of the Opera (yes, of course with a sucky operatic voice), listening/playing other music, or taking pictures (you'll find a lot of my photography on this blog, actually).

It's Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., so we want to know what you are thankful for-- blogging related, of course!  Who has helped you out along the way?  What books are you thankful for reading?

I'm thankful to those people that willing went on adventures with me and let me take pictures of them and let me tell stories about them.  I'm thankful to J.K. Rowling, John Green, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Gabrielle Zevin for writing some of the best books that I've ever read ever.  My list could go on, but this blog post is going to be long enough as it is...  I wrote another Thanksgiving post, so just scroll down one post.

Feel free to leave a comment with your web address and a message (if you want) in it and I'll try my best to come by and return your visit!

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Later today, my family and I are going to have a non-traditional Thanksgiving.  Instead of family, we're going to have neighbors dropping by whenever they can, whether that's for dinner or afterward for football.  I'm really excited for dinner though.  It's one of the few holidays where we can eat stuffing and a lot of other yummy things and have it be okay.

For me, Thanksgiving has never been about celebrating the pilgrims.  Yeah, I've heard the stories, but I didn't find it worth celebrating.  It's a day to sit back and look what you have right in front of you-- plenty of food on the table, good friends and family, whether they could join you for dinner or not, things like that.

I thought that I'd continue my habit of making lists and make a list of a lot of the things I'm thankful for.  They're not placed in any particular order.

1. Internet Access.  Without this, almost nothing that I do would be possible or it would at least be very difficult to do.

2.  Friends and Family.  Without them, I would be bored and lonely.  Not to mention that it would be hard to come by really cool people.

3. Metro Transit.  They help to get you from Point A to Point B in one piece and usually the drivers are pretty friendly, which is great, because being a bus driver can't be the easiest job in the world.

4. Finished College Applications.  I can now enjoy good food and company without having that stuff hanging over my head.  Bring it on, waiting period!

5. Music.  I would be bored and my life would be drastically different without it, considering that many of my hobbies are music related.

6. My Current and Previous Schools.  Yeah, we might have had a rough relationship at times, but in the end, it's going to make me better and it'll be the starter block for something even greater to come.  If I get nothing else out of my schooling experience, it'll be cool stories and a high school diploma.

7. My Boyfriend.  He quickly became my best friend and he's kept me sane for almost three years.  Thanks for dealing with my mood swings, being there for me always, and helping me function normally in society, love!

8. And last, but not least... You.  My Followers.  Without you, I would just be talking to myself and that's just weird.  So thanks to all 165 of you, I have an invested hobby that has and always will keep me interested and motivated to read everything that comes my way.

Happy Thanksgiving and Thanks for Reading!


I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

Hurray for over-exaggerations!

I haven't posted in a while (technically yesterday, but the 20th was a long time ago, and that was the time before last time that I posted), so I thought that I'd throw out a little update.  I do a real post later today.

I just finished applying to colleges.  I applied to four and I only had to write one essay.  Do you want to know what I wrote my essay about?

I wrote it about all of you.  And this blog too, but you're much more interesting.

So thanks for being a big part of my life so that I could write about you!

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Don't Adele and Drive

I really don't have any reviews for you... I might have to go back to some old reads and review those.  Until those reviews are written and I get my act together and focus on one or two books instead of the seven that are living in my bed right now, I will share this video with you-- it's hilarious!

Thanks for reading and bearing with me!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Review of 'By Night in Chile' by Roberto Bolaño

"A hypnotic deathbed confession revolving around Opus Dei, crazed schemes, poetry, and Pinochet, 'By Night in Chile' pours out the self-justifying dark moments of Father Urrutia, a half-hearted Chilean priest.

'By Night in Chile's single night-long rant provides-- as through a crack in the wall-- a terrifying, clandestine view of the strange bedfellows of Church and State in Chile.  This wild, eerily compact novel-- Roberto Bolaño's first work available in English-- recounts the tale of a poor boy who wanted to be a poet, but ends up a Jesuit priest and a conservative literary critic, a lap dog to Chile's rich and powerful cultural elite, by whose favors he meets Pablo Neruda and Ernst Jünger.  Father Urrutia is offered the tour of Europe by agents of Opus Dei (to study the 'disintegration of the churches,' a journey into the realm of surreal); and ensnared by this plan, he is next assigned-- after the destruction of Allende-- a secret, never-to-be-disclosed nighttime job involving Pinochet.  Soon, Father Urrutia's memories go from bad to worse."

This certainly isn't an easy book to read.  For starters, there are so many cultural allusions, it's not even funny.  It helps to be familiar with some classical poets such as Leopardi, Neruda, etc.  It would also help to be acquainted at the very least with Opus Dei and Marxism.

The fact that this book is made up of two paragraphs is a little disconcerting when you first open up this novel-- a wall of words is always a little daunting.  But if you've read the above description (taken from the inner flap of the book) you'll kind of see why it's written the way it is and maybe you'll come to terms with it.

There is a sort of dark humor that runs in the book.  Speaking personally, I have a dark sense of humor as well, but this book reached down to a different level of dark humor, so for the most part, I took this book seriously and didn't even realize that a funny something had just flown past me.

This is one of those novels where you need to read it at least two times before you understand.  Having read it only once, I would tend to agree with that statement.  Luckily, the book is only 130 pages long, so it won't be too big of a chore.

Even though I have only read it once and the humor was on a different plane than I, I still really enjoyed this book.  I typically don't like political/religious books because I don't understand them, but with a little research, it was easy to draw parallels and I got quite a bit of enjoyment out of it.  The only thing that is sucking the enjoyment out of it is the fact that I still have to write a paper about it today.  I've never been less excited to write something...

'By Night in Chile' is a tricky book filled with all sorts of literary culture that will keep you thinking and interested.  I give it:
Thanks for Reading!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Glee Has Finally Done It...

...They've finally created a mash-up that's actually good and that I absolutely cannot stop listening to.  If they have this group singing songs throughout the show, I will definitely start watching it.  Just as long as they don't bring that one girl in... she takes center stage far too much and I can't stand her voice...

Thanks for Reading!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Afternoon Thoughts

Thought One: I should really write something for my amateur writer blog...

Thought Two: I should create a travel blog and get Chicago pictures up and prepare for France and Washington D.C.

Thought Three: I had a dream last night that my poor little Siberian Dwarf hamster, Sullivan, was eaten by a dog (that wasn't mine) who cornered him... I hate REM sleep sometimes...

Thought Four: I wish these biology notes were done

Thought Five: I wish I could clone myself a few times so that I could clean my room, write Murder by Rulers, do everything mentioned above, and take a nap.

Thought Six: I want tomato bisque... REALLY bad... writing makes me hungry.  Maybe I shouldn't write about food to eat on a date-- er, lunch get-together... sure, I can have inside jokes with myself.

Thought Seven: I'm not a fan of Lady Antebellum.  I'm changing the Pandora station.

Thought Eight: I feel REALLY good about how the concert went last night!  I'm sad that I'm the only bass clarinet in the Wind Ensemble, but I think that it's only made me work harder because I'm not relying on my stand partner.

Thought Nine: It's so beautiful outside!  It's November 12, a time when typically it should be cold and not so pleasant, but instead, it's 60 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny!  It might just be a picture day today :)

Thought Ten: I need more things for my scrapbook for my Host Family... I guess there will be three big projects going simultaneously today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Things I've Noticed Since I Started Preparing for College

1. In Some Ways, I'm Distancing Myself and in Others, I'm Being Distanced.  The second part of this sentence isn't as true as it used to be.  I'm thinking mostly of my church now.  A year or two ago, there really wasn't anything for the older half of senior high except for a trip, which was a lot of fun, but there wasn't anything else to do besides that.  Now, the youth director is making more of an effort to include everyone, which is really nice.

As for the first part of the sentence, I feel like this is still true because a lot of changes are being made and most of the people in my graduating class aren't going to be affected by these changes, so we're not really interested in taking a part in these decisions because they don't effect us.  This sounds terrible and absolutely selfish, but honestly, I've noticed that this happens in people of all ages, not just people getting ready for college.

2. I've Been Hanging Out With Friends More.  This isn't a bad thing!  I've just noticed that I've been making more of an effort to hang out with my friends because I won't get to see them until I come home for holidays or even for just a weekend.  And even then, they might be busy.  In years past, I would put off hanging out thinking that I had "more important things to do," (which was probably homework), but now I've felt like I'm on a race against the clock-- I only have so much time left here, and it's a little distressing.  This is one of the bigger things I've regretted in my high school career-- not hanging out with my younger friends and/or friends that go to different schools than mine.

3. Trying New Things.  I've tried theater, mostly (I'm planning on auditioning for another play in December-- it's a musical called 'Into the Woods'-- and I'm also planning on writing a one-act play).  I'm preparing to leave the country in five/six months time. I'm making new friends and realizing old friends that I didn't think I had.  It's an amazing experience.

4. I'm Much Busier.  This is probably a bit of a given.  I'm filling out college applications, applying for scholarships, keeping up with the classes that I have now, trying to manage my own life and make things happen for me.  Just to name a few things.

5. I'm Testier Than Usual.  Part of it is due to general stress.  There's a lot to do!  The other part comes from Biology class.  This is the first year where on more than one occasion, I've left the building for the day fighting back tears of rage.

6. I'm Closer to my Mom.  It's not that I have a bad relationship with my mom, it's because she is the one that has taken me on road trips to visit the colleges that I've been interested in.  As a result, I've had ample opportunity to talk with her about my future plans, what I want, and then just to talk in general.  It's been really nice and I really appreciate it.  On top of that, she's the one that has been checking my essays for scholarships, filling out things for my France trip that I'm not allowed to do myself, and checking over my college applications to make sure everything is in order and so I know what I'm supposed to ask for when I go to the counselor's office.

Note: These points that I've made don't necessarily apply to every person who is preparing for college.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Review of 'Sweet and Sour Milk' by Nuruddin Farah

"Winner of the 1980 English-speaking Union Literary Award, the first novel of Farah's universally acclaimed Variations of an African Dictatorship trilogy, 'Sweet and Sour Milk' chronicles one man's search for the reasons behind his twin brother's violent death during the 1970s.  The atmosphere of political tyranny and oppression reduces our hero's quest to a passive and fatalistic level; his search for reasons and answers ultimately becomes a search for meaning.  The often detective-story-life narrative of this novel thus moves on a primarily interior place as Farah takes us deep into territory he has charted and mapped and made uniquely his own."

This book was way above my maturity level... This could be because I've never read anything dealing with politics (unless you consider something World War II-themed to be political) and I was only vaguely familiar with Somalia in general (meaning I knew of its existence and where it was, but that's the extent of my knowledge).  Because of those two things, reading this book was a very difficult task.  It was only when I really started to write my paper (I had trouble writing my paper too... I had a lot of false starts...) and doing a bit of research that I began to understand what was going on.  And it was also quite interesting.

I'll keep my review relatively short because I don't have a for-sure stance on this book.  I really want to like it, but at this point in time, the material just went right over my head and I can't like or dislike something that I don't completely understand.

I liked that this book took place in Somalia.  Nuruddin Farah is one of the few writers that writes about Somalia.  That was a nice change that immediately stood out to me (and not just because we talked about this fact in my English class).

"Sweet and Sour Milk" is confusing only if you don't know anything about Somalia (either now or in the 1970s). However, if you do have a decent amount of background knowledge about Somalia, enjoy a little mystery and/or politics, this book might be worth your while!

I give "Sweet and Sour Milk":
Thanks for reading!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Confessions of a NaNoNite 2.0: Day 5 and 6

How Are You Doing So Far?

  • Ugh... today, not so hot... I have no idea how the long weekend just ended in the blink of an eye.  I was expecting to get mostly caught up (I'm not stupid enough to think that I could make up three or four days all in one weekend... I've never done that before), but instead I'm just barely done with the word count for Day 2... so right now, I'm feeling like a failure as a writer (please don't feel sorry for me, this mood will undoubtedly pass... it always does).
  • I'm having that feeling that NaNo wasn't such a good idea this year.  I have colleges to apply to, things to do to prepare for my trips in five/six months, social get-togethers because I either don't get to see them a lot now and/or I'm not going to be able to see them when I'm gone next year.  It's kind of important.
  • I'm just complaining now.
  • The saving grace of today was I was able to write during church and not get scolded for not paying attention.  I'm so happy that I have supportive parents like this!  I was really afraid that I was going to get my notebook thrown across the room (figuratively, of course).
Did You Reach Your Word Count Goal?

  • Do I need to answer this question?
What's Standing in Your Way Right Now?

  • Too many expectations between home and school.  I've tried to remove certain ones at school, but I was unable to.  The counselors told me to come back in a few weeks.
How is Tomorrow Going to be Different?

  • I will be in a better mood, my homework will be done, and I'll want nothing more to do than to write.  That's my hope and prediction for tomorrow, any way.
Thanks for reading!


A Review of 'The Other Boleyn Girl' by Pilippa Gregory

"Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a King.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII.  Dazzled, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen.  However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interests begin to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne.  Then Mary knows what she must defy her family and her kind and take her fate into her own hands.

A rich and compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, 'The Other Boleyn Girl' introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her heart."

This might sound horrible, but I breathed a sigh of relief as soon as I read the last word on page 661 (the very last page).

This was one of the greatest books that I've ever read.  Hands down.  My sister gave me my copy for Christmas last year and I only started reading it this past summer.  It took months to finish, but honestly, I did not mind devoting that much time to a single book because this story was very well-written, the people in it were absolutely fascinating!  And to know that they existed in real life (well, most of them, I'm guessing) is absolutely amazing!

Might as well get this warning out of the way... there's a lot of sex in this book.  It's basically what it revolves around-- seducing the king, bedding the king, producing his children.  It's a vicious cycle.  If you're sensitive to this kind of reading, this is absolutely not the right book for you.

I'm typically not a hiostorical fiction person, but it was terribly interesting, so I'm going to have to read more in the future.

As interesting as this book was, it was absolutely exhausting reading about Anne trying to capture the king's heart and then moving on to the next step.  It was like walking on egg shells.  But the thing is, that is a representation of good writing because that's exactly what was happening in the book-- they were ALL walking on egg shells.

Philippa Gregory did an excellent job with the pacing of the book.  It's true, the book is two/two and a half inches thick, but since the story lasts over the course of many years, it's justified.

Even though the book is long, you will never be bored because there's always some sort of plotting going on or a baby being born... that type of thing.

"The Other Boleyn Girl" is scandalous, passionate, and never boring.  I give it:
Thanks for reading!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Confessions of a NaNoNite 2.0: Day 4

How Are You Doing So Far?

  • The picture above implies great productivity, and while I wasn't terribly productive on the novel writing front, I did manage to get quite a bit written, so I'm happy with that at least.  I think I mentioned this yesterday, but I'm really proud that I've at least written a little bit every day-- even if I didn't reach my 1,667 words for the day.  I'm still about three days behind, but I'm going to keep writing and sooner or later, I'll get caught up.
Did You Reach Your Word Count Goal?
  • No, but at least I'm writing.  That's mostly what I was looking for when I signed on for NaNoWriMo.
What's Standing in Your Way Right Now?
  • I'm insulating windows, I have homework to do, a book that must be completed by Monday, and several essays and applications to fill out.
How is Tomorrow Going to be Different?
  • I'll actually be home with no friends, which isn't a good or a bad thing, but either way, it'll give me time to finish the things that need to be finished and even allow me to get a lot written.  Tomorrow will be different because there will be more time.
Thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Confessions of a NaNoNite 2.0: Day 3

How Are You Doing So Far?

  • As far as NaNoWriMo, I'm still about two days behind, but I'm still very positive about it!  I have plenty of time to write this weekend, because I have a three day weekend (which I'm also going to use to start and finish 'By Night in Chile') so I can definitely catch up and keep on top of social, educational, and domestic responsibilities that I have.
Did You Reach Your Word Count Goal?

  • No, but I reached the word goal for Day 1 :)  That counts for something, right?  Yeah, it's a bit of a stretch.  Don't worry, I'll get better.
What's Standing in Your Way Right Now?

  • Just a few math problems and my own laziness.  I'll try my best not to make this a real obstacle.
How is Tomorrow Going to be Different?

  • I'm being extremely social tomorrow, but I'm hoping those events will only spark some sort of inspiration so that I can come right home and write like it's no one's business.  So it'll be a bit busier, but it's a good and enjoyable busy that will absolutely include meeting the word count goal.  I'll get up early-ish to do it!
Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Confessions of a NaNoNite 2.0: Day 2

How Are You Doing So Far?

  • Once, again, I'm behind.  After tomorrow, I'll need to calculate how much damage control needs to be done, but since I'm only two days in and tomorrow is my last day of school for the week, I'll have loads of time to catch up (notice I didn't say "get ahead."  Let's keep those goals realistic, now!)
Did You Reach Your Word Count Goal?
  • I'd be really surprised if I did.  I was working on making up for yesterday, so I probably didn't.  A good thing I am doing, however, is I'm writing every day.  I think that's more I can say about last year's NaNoWriMo.  I was such a skipper...  By the way, I do need to update the counter in the sidebar and on my NaNoWriMo page.  I'll do that tomorrow once I'm all caught up and everything.
What's Standing in Your Way Right Now?
  • This is going to be a bit redundant, but the end of the quarter.  Never in my life has there ever been a stressful end of the quarter.  It's ridiculous.  I still have to correct my essay, and I turn that in tomorrow, so I won't have to worry about that... the good news is, I've almost reached the 80% mark for my second to last quarter of online health, which is quite exciting!  One more assignment and that should do it!  That'll be one less thing to deal with tomorrow.
How is Tomorrow Going to be Different?

  • I'll be done with online health and then I can get caught up because I don't have school on Friday!  I can't wait for tomorrow!
Thanks for reading!


Reasons Why I Wish I Could Participate in No Shave November Like a Dude

1. I would have a legitimate mustache and beard to stroke when I'm deep in thought.  I stroke my chin naturally (mostly when I'm in over-exaggerated thought) and I think having something to actually stroke would make the experience completely worth it.

2. Natural face-warmer for the winter.  I'm not a dude, but just having a beard seems like your face would be warmer.  If you are an adolescent boy and older reading this, please leave a comment and tell me if this speculation of mine is true or utter crap.  I'm genuinely curious.

3. It's for a good cause.  Yeah!  It's kind of like what's done to raise awareness for breast cancer-- Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure and Avon's breast cancer walk... organizations and events like that.  The only difference is No Shave November is to raise awareness for prostate cancer (another version of world-suck).

But there's something the ladies can do in support of No Shave November...
I can't tell you how much I want a hat like this... I think I'm going to have to get better at knitting.  Or, if you know where I could possibly go to find one, leave a comment and I will be your best friend forever!

Or, I suppose you could just not shave your legs, but that tends to get a little gross after a while... it's different if you're growing a beard, which is strange, because you're doing the same thing that leg hair is doing, only it goes on your face...

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Confessions of a NaNoNite 2.0: Day 1

How Are You Doing So Far?

  • I would love to say, "Everything is just fine and dandy!" but then I would be lying to you.  I'm already off to a rocky start.  I would have loved to have been writing all night long, but here's the big problem: It's the end of the quarter for my school.  That means everyone is busy rushing around collecting every assignment we've failed to hand in and (alas) assigning last minute assignments.  So I've been working on that instead.  I'm writing a paper on the significance of splitting things in two and how this is juxtaposed to the downfall of Somalia (based on the novel "Sweet and Sour Milk" by Nuruddin Farah-- there will be a review as soon as I finish it).  Sounds pretty hefty, right?  It definitely is.  I've never had this much trouble writing an essay before.

Did You Reach Your Word Count Goal?

  • As of right now, no, but instead of reading before bed, I will be writing, so I could very well reach my daily goal of 1,667 words.  I have 418 right now... not good...

What's Standing in Your Way Right Now?

  • Homework and the end of the quarter... they're unavoidable.

How is Tomorrow Going to be Different?

  • Tomorrow, I plan to be completely done with my hefty paper and with my residual math and psychology stuff.  So that'll definitely open up some more time for me to write (I hope!).
Thanks for reading and also for your continued support!