Monday, May 28

The Pro's and Con's of Summer [that may or may not apply to you]

Hello guys! I'm back!

This is the part where you cheer or groan (hopefully not the latter) and congratulate me on surviving yet another busy school year, with AP tests and finals and what not.

Or, this is the part where you just stick to reading this post because you're surprised that either a) I'm still alive or b) I'm motivated enough to start blogging again. But let's just forget about that for now...

based on yours truly
Summer is usually either a time of relaxation or a time of stress, all based on the things you do and the people you meet during the time. For most students in high school, however, summer is the former, where many young adults get together to hang out and stay up late, and then make plans for the next day. For others around the same age...not so much.
PRO: NO SCHOOL! YOU DO GET TO STAY UP LATE AND SLEEP IN. No need to worry about waking up early or having a healthy breakfast to start off your brain because, hey, you don't really need it anymore! (I mean of course you do need it, but not necessarily for learning and studying.) 

CON: FOR SOME, THIS MEANS MORE TIME TO DO THE THINGS YOU DON'T WANT TO DO. And what in the world is that supposed to mean? Well for those who might not have the luxury of hanging out all the time due to whatever reason, having more time is like blatantly stating that you can't procrastinate or stall, or put off your work (summer job, volunteering, studying, etc.) any longer. After all, now you have more time to do it. Just like Macy Queen from The Truth About Forever (Sarah Dessen), now you suddenly have ample time to do all of the things you're simply pressured to do.

PRO: IT'S WARM! IT'S SUNNY! Why yes, the weather indeed is very nice, and the sky indeed is very blue. These are definitely influential factors in making someone happy.

CON: IT'S ALSO HOT AND HUMID AND BLEH. 'Course, there are also those days where the heat's simply suffocating your very existence.

PRO: IT'S TIME FOR SWIMMING, BBQ, CAMPING, PARTYING, ETC. Which kind of ties back to the fact that there isn't any school, but of course I'm talking about the ideal, almost fictional feel to a perfect summer night: parties, roasting s'mores, bonfires, and maybe even some alcoholic drinks as well (think contemporary fiction that's set in the summer. Again, I'll have to go back to Sarah Dessen for this one...)

CON: WELL MAYBE FOR OTHERS IT...ISN'T. Maybe for others, there is a different schedule involved. A schedule of prepping, studying, and late nights and early mornings of working.

PRO: THINGS CHANGE IN THE SUMMER. Perhaps for the better?


Whichever of these pro's and con's apply to you, I hope it's beneficial to you and will make your summer the best that it can be at the moment. If not, hey, you'll have plenty more summers to experience differently.

- E

Monday, April 23

Hang on! Let me explain...

Before everyone panics about this blog's inactivity (because of course everyone would be panicking about that, of all things), I have to explain myself.

1) It is completely natural, I think, to be inactive during the months of March - May, mostly because during this time, the hardships of finals and AP testing has finally dawned on the blogger. Well I guess it really depends on how motivated to blogging, how enthusiastic and dedicated such a blogger is, and in my case I just don't fit that mold. Not right now anyway. But my point is, the months of March, April, and May are like catch-up/revelation months for me, months where one realizes just how important school has become and starts cramming and cramming and cramming. It also doesn't help that most of the harder units within my classes are being taught during these months.

2) Ella...stressed! Man, do I really not want to say that. I'm not a blogger of my emotions and Issues-in-Life (at least I don't think I am), so coming out and saying this makes me feel kind of weird. But anyway. I am actually very, very stressed out. I've been taking naps frequently, eating a bunch of random food, and (do not freak out) skipping lunch during school*. Too much information, perhaps? Well either way, I've found myself staying up until midnight often trying to finish work. This doesn't even include trying to figure out what to blog, or what else to contribute to the MRRC (and I haven't contributed much at all! AT ALL! This is pretty bad), or what else to read and review and enjoy. And write. And speaking of trying to figure out what to blog, I haven't. Figured out what to blog, I mean. Well, except for this, which doesn't really count.

3) "Jumbled Muse" is what this blog should be called at the moment. All of my thoughts and ideas--musings, if you will--have all gotten jumbled up and mixed together at this time. I think this is more of my tendency to over think in situations, but still, there you have it. My ideas and Things I Have Learned This Year have been doing crossovers** in my brain, mixing up with classes and/or idea categories that they really shouldn't be mixing up in. And it's just very distracting.

4) I dislike math and physics, have I already mentioned that before? Oh, and AP tests. Especially a certain AP U.S. History test I'm taking in the first few weeks of May. And the PSATs. And GPAs. And how our grades aren't weighed. But enough on that.

5) Volunteer work and academic teams are killing me. For the former, I get my hours and I am immensely grateful for that but seriously: three straight hours grading papers, until seven o'clock? It's painful. I will not complain too much because it could be a lot worse, but honestly, it really is painful. And as for the latter, bleh to that as well. Think Spell Bowl for that, except Spell Bowl expands to include subjects such as English, Social Studies, Science, Math, and Fine Arts as well. And the material covered is much harder than spelling words. Well, maybe. I mean all of this is all based on perspectives and opinions. But either way, joining an academic team simply means extra work on your part.

And due to all of these reasons, my brain's automatically prioritized all of that up there^ by pushing them straight to the front of my mental Things To Do List. In turn, my brain has pushed activities such as blogging, and MRRC, and Goodreads, and reading to the bottom of the list. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry! I promise that after all of this is over, I'll come up with much more interesting posts. Well I mean, at least until summer starts and I go on vacation through the most of June...but let's just ignore that for now.

- E

* Seriously, though, don't freak out. The only benefit I get from not eating lunch is the feeling of freedom, which comes from knowing that I'll have a full 45 minutes to get a head start on homework, instead of the usual 25. And like waking up a little later in the morning, the time difference really matters. (Does this make me sound weird? I feel like it does.)

** Are they even called crossovers? See, normally I would know this. But right now, I just don't.

Among other things, I've finally gotten onto Pottermore and got sorted into Gryffindor. Huzzah.

Thursday, April 12

As I Walked Out One Evening by W.H. Auden

I am not one for poetry, I will admit, but this poem is different I think:

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
"Love has no ending.

"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

"I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

"The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world."

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
"O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

"In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

"In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

"Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

"O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

"The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

"Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

"O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

"O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbor
With your cooked heart."

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

--And it has inspired parts of ARoN as well (and speaking of ARoN, I've finally uploaded Chapter 4)

- E

Saturday, April 7

March Update (Good News-Bad News form)

Hey guys! I know it's been extremely quiet around here lately, and I apologize for that; things have been getting pretty hectic outside the blogging/writing world. Mainly, I've been loaded with homework and outside activities. Also, I haven't written in days which although is pretty sad, it's actually helped a great deal with de-stressing and managing my time. Going for a run's also helped (just a side note right there).

Good news: I've managed to finish my WIPs! Yay!
Bad news: I still haven't finished GOoD.
Good news: I'm almost done writing Chapter 4 of A Rush of Needles!
Bad news: I'm not done though. And it's been a while since I finished Chapter 3.
Good news: I've found a novel contest to enter for 2013 for young writers! Hurray!
Bad news: I have no idea what I'm writing for it. And it isn't going to be Depravity.
Good news: I've read both The Angel Experiment, School's Out--Forever, and My Soul to Save!
Bad news: I've only reviewed two of those three ^ And I still have to read My Soul to Keep. 

So, yes, I am about to end this post on a bad note. Does this mean March has been horrible and uneventful? Not really. Just busy and not as efficient as I'd hoped. Hopefully April will be different!

- E

Sunday, April 1

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

* This review is for the Maximum Ride Reading Challenge :]

Title: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
Author: James Patterson
Genre: YA - Science Fiction
How I Obtained Said Book: Bought
Series: Book 1 in the Maximum Ride series
The Blurb: (from Goodreads)
Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it's like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the "flock"--Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel--are just like ordinary kids--only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any when Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the "School" where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of wack jobs. Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare--this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb--now her betrayed and greatest enemy--that her purpose is save the world--but can she?

The Review: 
Max, along with the other five members of her family, are quite special: they are only 98% human. The rest of them--the 2%--is made up of avian genes, which means they have most of the benefits of birds--wings, for example. Together, Max and her "flock" were raised in a hideous place called the School, where they were made into what they are and tested in extreme ways for scientific research. That is, until a man named Jeb (one of the white coats at the School) took pity on them, and rescued all six of them from the cursed place and into a protected and thoroughly hidden area in the mountains far away from Death Valley, California. There, Jeb raised them as a father would for his own children, teaching them how to work their wings, how to protect themselves--how to survive. And a few years later, he disappeared.

The story picks up months after Jeb's disappearance, when the older members of the flock (Max, Fang, and Iggy) are fourteen years old (they aren't really fourteen though--it's just an estimation, considering all of the members picked their own birthdays). They were convinced that their current home was protected and well hidden, but when Erasers--part human and part wolf hybrids--find their home and take their youngest member, Angel, back to the School, Max and the others realize that they must bring her back. The rest of the book is as predicted, really: a rescue mission for the first part, and then a journey full of action as the flock embark on a trip to New York City, trying to discover their purpose and heritage (because I mean, almost all of them thought they were test tube babies).

As confusing as both my summary and the summary from Goodreads might be, this book is actually quite easy to keep up with and understand. Despite that it really is pretty fast-paced and action-packed, it still slows down at some points for readers to catch up and recuperate. I will admit that there are some parts to the book that might seem seriously random and out of place, and then later on explained not as well as you would have wanted it to be explained, but honestly, the book itself is not meant to be pondered for hours and hours on its contemporary meanings and sensibility. Because first, it's not contemporary fiction, it's science fiction. And second, frankly, action/adventure fiction is just much easier to enjoy when you don't spend your time pondering over what had just happened in great detail. It's supposed to be fast-paced, it's supposed to not make sense for a little while. And then eventually, it's all supposed to connect together--which it does. Eventually.

So maybe it sounds like I'm making excuses for the book now, which I kind of am (I'll admit it), but don't worry: the benefits of this book are still there. It's extremely funny; Max is a very witty and clever kind of person, very strong and determined. Definitely not your average Bella Swan. The action scenes are very descriptive, not in the way that it's particularly gory (there really isn't much gore anyway), but in the way that you can almost picture every swing and blow the flock members issue out--or take--as they fight the Erasers. And the whole entire book obviously sets itself up for a sequel: the plot is never fully fleshed out, but the ending of the book leaves you into believing that it will be fleshed out later in the series.

In Conclusion...!

The Angel Experiment was "fun". Not the enlightening, impacting read The Fault in Our Stars had on me, but an entertaining read all the same. Some parts could have been improved, certainly, but overall I'd say the book and author achieved their goals.

Rating: 8 - Hey there. I think I'll read you again another time.

- E

Friday, March 23

Book List: Bitterblue, Scarlet, and Defiance (#6)

My Ultimate Book List is a collection of books that I really, really want to read, whether they have been released or not. Some of these books might not be on the shelves yet; some of these books might have been on the shelves for ages. It doesn't matter. I just really, really want to read them.
Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past. 

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Yes! Bitterblue! Finally! I've been wanting to read this book ever since I finished Graceling. I have to admit, I didn't really care about Bitterblue (the character, not the book) at first in Book 1, but having read the blurb it head me head on--like a face palm, or something. New queen of  Monsea! And she's pretty much just a child! Plus, it seems like there's a new Grace in the midst. You can actually read the prologue and chapter one here.
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. 

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. 

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

I'm expressing some serious cover love here (although I think that the dagger is placed a little awkwardly). And also, it's Robin Hood. Which, by the way, isn't something I'm really all that familiar with. I know the basics of course, but that's pretty much it. I love spin-off books. Have I mentioned that before? There's a reason why I'm writing a spin-off book of Thumbelina. (Not to self-promote or anything...)

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her. 

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared. 

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.
All right, I will admit that I do have some issues with the book already--but I won't judge it too much considering I haven't even read it yet. There is a city named "Baalboden", and you might think, "All right. Baalboden. Sounds very high fantasy, very Star Wars or Eragon-esque". And then without warning you read the next few words and you get "Rachel Adams". And "Logan". And by then, you might be slightly bewildered. Because I know I was when I first read the blurb.
However with that aside, can you guess why I'm so excited for this book? It can't be that the blurb mentions something about...assassins. Out for blood. (Which as you all know is something assassins normally do). I love assassins. I love mercenaries, bounty hunters, guilds of violent, supernatural people. So there you have it.

- E

Friday, March 16

Three Awards! Three Awards!

The amazing Sophie from Sophie's Writing Adventures has given me three blog awards! Three!

In order to accept these awards, I have to list seven facts about myself and then give a few other bloggers these awards as well. And then I must alert them of their amazing gift, which I'm actually pretty bad about doing. But hopefully this time it will all work out.

I have been awarded:

And for the third time! (yes, I must brag about it):

Because Sophie listed a total of seven instead of listening seven for each (like I had last time), I shall do that as well. So, here I go.

1. In reply to one of Sophie's seven things, I've recently discovered that I absolutely hate peeling shrimp. It's so, so disturbing. And messed up. Like tearing off the head, and its tiny...leg things. <-- I'm sure there's a proper term for that, but I frankly don't remember much at all of what I learned last year in Biology.

2. Despite not remembering what I learned in Bio, I'm about to take AP Bio next year. Which is great, right?

3. On the majority of the Harry Potter Sorting quizzes I've taken, I have gotten either Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. On the most recent one I've taken, I have gotten Slytherin. We'll see how this plays out once I take the legit Pottermore quiz in April.

4. I am somewhat multilingual. I can speak English, some Mandarin, and about three years worth of Spanish.

5. I love Cheetos. I can eat a whole entire bag of it in one day (although I definitely haven't and probably wouldn't).

6. Probably the only sport I pay attention to is tennis. With that being said, the only sport I watch on TV is tennis as well, and the only channel I really watch on TV is the Food Network.

7. Ironically enough, despite writing YA Fantasy, I'm starting to like YA Contemporary a lot more. I just can't write it.

And now the other bloggers who will receive these awards!

Mag (Geek Chic)
Smiling_Ina (Smiling_Ina's Bookish Corner)
Brooke (Paper Mountain)
Riv (Riv Reads)
Olivia (The Reading Enchantress)

Hurray! And thank you again Sophie for these amazing awards :]

- E