Sunday, December 31, 2017

December Wrap-Up/End of the Year Wrap-Up

Books I Read

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

5/5

I'd seen a little bit of chatter about this one around the blogging world, so when I saw it at the library, I picked it up on a whim, which I don't tend to do with bigger books since I usually have a gigantic stack at home waiting to be read already. But I'm so glad I did with this one! It didn't take long at all to get into and I loved the characters. Plus, it was funny. So full of snark. There was never a boring moment, despite it being 500+ pages. And I loved the romance and diverse representation. All in all, a very fun, exciting, entertaining read. Highly recommend.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

4/5

I opened the book expecting to read just the first chapter before bed, but I couldn't stop myself from reading a hundred pages in one sitting. The premise is super unique, creepy, and distressing, which made for a dark and honestly kind of depressing read. It was generally filled with enough hope, though, that I didn't feel awful while reading it. I really loved the focus on friendship in the book, which was such a strong theme, I wasn't sure I could even put it on the "romance" shelf on Goodreads. Mateo and Rufus were great characters and I loved watching them go through so much change in a 24-hour period. But speaking of a 24-hour period . . . there were some slow parts in the book because of it. It didn't happen a lot, but enough for me to drop the rating by a star. Overall, though, I really liked it (and it made me cry).

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

3.5/5

After enjoying Fun Home, I figured I should pick this one up to complete the picture of what Alison's family was really like. I enjoyed this one less, only because it was much harder to pick up and dive back into. You have to give this book your undivided attention to take it all in. It was deep. Lots of the psychological analysis went right over my head, but the parts I did understand were fascinating. There were a lot of sections where Alison analyzed her dreams and it always astounded me how much she could connect them to her real life, down to the tiniest detail. I love reading about character relationships and family dynamics, so that aspect of the book was very enjoyable.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

3.5/5

I'm not sure what exactly possessed me to pick this one up long after the hype had died down, but I did, and I read it in a day. It was short and addictive and sometimes had page-long chapters, which I love. The premise of someone being allergic to basically everything fascinated me, but I don't feel like it was carried out as well as it could've been. It didn't feel very real since there were a lot of plot holes and unexplained actions (like one complaint I've seen from a lot of people who read the book: why did Maddy have to eat white food and be surrounded by white things? It's not like she was allergic to color.). I liked the friendship/romance between Maddy and Olly and the relationship Maddy had with her nurse, Carla. Buuuut . . . the characters were out of character a lot. That drives me crazy. The major plot twist made up for it, though. I mostly liked this one and I'll probably see the movie when it comes out.

Movies I Watched

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi"

5/5

There have a lot of mixed reviews for this movie, but I completely loved it. There wasn't a single plot line that bored me, I love all of the new characters, there was enough humor in it that the darkness  of the plot wasn't overwhelming, and the special effects were amazing. It was epic in the true sense of the word. Honestly, I consider myself a casual Star Wars fan, but these new movies give me a new appreciation for the Star Wars universe.

"The Florida Project"

2.5/5 

Uh, talk about depressing. And boring. It was so long. It could've been at least a half hour shorter. And I'm all for simple plots, but this didn't even seem to have a real plot to it? The main little girl was a good actress and there were parts of it that I enjoyed, but overall it wasn't very good. I felt very "bleh" after leaving the theater.

"The Greatest Showman"

5/5 

This deserves five stars for the music alone (which I'm completely obsessed with now). Anything Pasek and Paul touch turns to gold, apparently. And I love Hugh Jackman! The whole movie was spellbinding and had a feel-good story, even if it was pretty predictable. The choreography was amazing, too, especially with two specific songs, but I won't give anything away for those planning to see it, which should be all of you reading this. 

"The Holiday"

3.5/5

This was super cute and fun! I loved Kate Winslet's storyline, but something about Cameron Diaz's character really bugged me. She seemed too . . . breathy? I don't know, but I just didn't like her as much, even though I liked her love interest. Despite some of the predictability that comes with the territory of the genre, it's still a really great rom-com with a lot of delightfully British flair. 

Quotes I Wrote

My current project is rewriting the entirety of 'Til the Last Star Dies in order to rework, well, just about everything. Two chapters down so far, but nothing quote-worthy.

Obsessions I Acquired

"The Greatest Showman" soundtrack - See above! It's almost impossible to pick favorite songs, but I'm really enjoying "Tightrope" and "A Million Dreams."



Picture of the Month 

TJ got me a Wonder Woman hat for Christmas and since we were all wearing hats, we couldn't resist a picture.

 
 
Yes, I know there are a lot of pictures of Scout this month, but I can't help it if my dog is a model.
This was the month of reading good books with cozy drinks.
After the movie!
How was your December?

End of the Year Wrap-Up

Goodbye 2017, and hello 2018! Before we move on to next year, I always like to look back on the past year.

Top 10 books

Do you realize how hard it is to choose just ten favorites from an entire year of reading??? Anyways, here they are (in no particular order):


New obsessions

1. The "We Rate Dogs" Twitter account.
2. "Dear Evan Hansen"
3. Acting
4. "Orphan Black"
5. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
6. Wonder Woman (the movie, the character, the actress behind her, etc.)
7. "Beauty and the Beast"
8. "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812"
9. Dodie
10. "The Greatest Showman" soundtrack

Most played songs

-All things Broadway (especially "Dear Evan Hansen")
-Dodie's albums ("Intertwined" and "You")
-"Know Your Name," "When You Sleep," and "She Keeps Me Warm" by Mary Lambert
-"Girls Like Girls" by Hayley Kiyoko
-"Abigail's Song (Silence Is All You Know)" by Katherine Jenkins
-"The Greatest Showman" soundtrack



 

Five most popular blog posts

1. "Encyclopedia of Me - T"
2. "May Wrap-Up"
3. "February Wrap-Up"
4. "I'm Niiiiiiine!"
5. "Invisible"

Big things that happened in 2017

-I was in my first play and musical
-I briefly met the stars of "Supernatural" in a photo op with which a fellow fan surprised me
-I made the dean's list at my local community college (and got an A in one of my least favorite, and hardest, subjects to do it)
-I survived my first auditions (and even managed to not feel like passing out after the second one)
-I won 2 silver keys from Scholastic, one for science fiction & fantasy and one for poetry
-I visited several colleges and narrowed down my list of schools to apply to
-I decided to take a gap year to focus on writing, theatre, and traveling
-I saw several shows, including the the touring company of "Rent," Sara Bareilles in "Waitress," "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812," "Fun Home," and "Kinky Boots"
-I went to three summer camps
-I got to see my out of state friends again
-My family went to a Gilmore Girls Fan Festival
-I finished editing Beneath the Moon and Stars and sent out a round of queries to agents
-I took the SATs (twice)

Image from this year

I think this one takes the cake (or maybe the pie?).
Book stats

I've always thought pie charts and graphs for bookish stats look super cool on other people's blogs, but I didn't know how to make them until today! Apparently Canva makes it super easy (thanks for the pro tip, Cait!). I thought I'd start doing this in place of "favorite quotes," because I'm terrible about keeping track of quotes.








2017 in one word

Theatrical.

Goals for 2018

Writing:

1. Finish the first draft for All the World's Afraid. I've got a vague outline for the revamped version of this and I really, really want to write it. If I get the bare bones down, I know I'll have something super fun to work with.

2. Finish rewriting 'Til the Last Star Dies. I am having a blast so far with this! I don't want to jinx anything, but I think I might be able to continue having fun with what could be awful edits. And since I'm sending my critique group a couple chapters every month, I have no choice but to stop procrastinating and edit the chapters before I send them.

3. Finish the first draft for Captain Zahira and her Wayward Crew. This is the story I keep abandoning, and I'm not sure why, because I love every single character and let my imagination run wild every time I go back to it. It should be pretty easy to finish if I work hard at it.

Reading:

1. Join a blog book bingo. I've never done this before, but I want to now! I think it'll feed my competitive side nicely. This year, I'm linking up with Ivy from "Ivyclad Ideas" for her original book bingo challenge. Go join the fun!

2. Read six classics of my choice. There are a lot of classics I really should have read by now (like The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Flies), so I'm going to do my best to fit them in with the rest of my reading. One every couple months should be manageable.

3. Finish a series I'm in the middle of. I have a bad habit of abandoning series after the first book, forgetting everything that happened, and losing interest a year or two later. This year, I'll pick a series (either the Illuminae Files, Throne of Glass, or Daughter of Smoke and Bone series) and do my best to read every sequel that's been published so far before the end of the year.

Other:

1. Go vegetarian for a month. This is an idea I've toyed with for a while now, but since I've gone whole days without eating meat and didn't even realize it, I don't think it'll be hard at all. Plus, I know that once the month is up, I can eat meat again, if I want to. I have a feeling I'll cut back significantly throughout the rest of the year anyways. I'm not sure what month I'll do this yet, but I'm excited.

2. Create healthier habits. I think I'm a relatively healthy person overall, but I could definitely be better. If I don't hold myself accountable, though, I'll never get anything done. I'm going to find an empty notebook and track my daily habits so I have something I could flip through and analyze throughout the year. If I see myself making progress, I think it'll motivate me to do even better. My idea so far is to track how much I exercise, how much sleep I got, what I ate, and what my mood is like when I wake up and when I go to bed.

3. Keep up on my Spanish. I'll do Duolingo every day, but in addition to that, I want to review my textbook from my Spanish class and look up some supplements for my studying online.

Goals for 2017 that I've accomplished

Writing:

1. Finish "Writer's Camp." Did this in January and loved the results!

2. Do more screenwriting. Done, and I loved every second of it. I wrote two spec scripts, one for "Castle" and one for "New Girl," as part of an application to a Warner Bros. internship experience. I knew there was like a 1% chance of me actually getting it, especially since it was geared for adults, but I still wanted to try. I did not get in, but writing the scripts was fun, and great practice!

3. Finish editing Beneath the Moon and Stars. I'm ridiculously proud of myself for this one. I started writing the book toward the end of 2013 and finished it up around May or June of 2017. Now I have to find an agent for it.

4. Finish Terrible Things. Yep! It's a novella-length fan-fiction piece, but it could work as an original work of fiction, too, if I ever decided to go back to it and change the characters.

5. Do the first round of edits for Ms. Holmes. I did veeeerrrry basic stuff for the first round of edits, but it's something, at least. I'll return to it eventually.

Reading:

1. Read more diversely. Yes, as you can see from the stats above! It's obviously not the overwhelming majority, but I did make an effort to pick books with diverse characters, and the YA book community was more than happy to deliver.

2. Stay current on 2017 releases. I did and I loved it! I got to convince my friends to read new releases, I joined in on the hype while people were still raving about the books, and I was able to be a more informed voter when it came to the Goodreads Choice Awards and the EpicReads Book Shimmy Awards.

Other:

1. Continue to journal about once a week. While I dropped off every now and then, I wrote a lot more entries than usual and loved being able to look back on it.


2. Watch less TV. I binged "Orphan Black" in a month because I couldn't resist, but otherwise, I did a lot more reading and spent a lot less time on Netflix, unless it was to watch something with my whole family. If I had free time, I found I went to more productive activities, in general. Although "Supernatural" was often on in the background, but that hardly counts, right?

3. Spend less time on social media. I was hardly on Twitter or Tumblr at all, which was really nice. Lately they've both been filled with a lot of negativity, and I much preferred doing something with a little more depth. I did visit Goodreads a lot, but it's not a time suck like other social media platforms are. And I did join Instagram, but that didn't take up much time except by motivating me to take more pictures.

4. Study for the SATs. Oh boy did I ever. And oh how I loathed it. Every damn second. But I improved my score by several points by doing so and got respectable results. There's no doubt I did as well I as could have, and I can't control anything beyond that.

Goals for 2017 that I didn't accomplish

Because it's good to recognize your failures, too. Although this year, I'm proud to report, I accomplished almost all of my goals!

Reading:

1. Don't buy any new books. Yeah, like any of us thought that was really going to happen. I blame my "stay current on 2017 releases" goal for conflicting with this one.

Other:

1. Maybe give writing classes. I really wanted to do it, but I was planning on doing it in the summer, and since my dad had to have emergency surgery right before summer hit, I didn't have time and had to let this one drop. Maybe next year.

Bye, 2017! Now for the next adventure.

What are your goals for 2018? Anything big happen in 2017? Leave a comment!

17 comments:

Cait @ Paper Fury said...

Oooh there's so much to comment on!! But like firstly SCOUT IS TOTALLY SMILING!!! WHAT A CUTE PUPPER AJFDSKALD. Whenever I try to take a photo of my dog he looks so peeved that I even exist. (He hates me lmao.😂😂) Aaaand that's so so many cool things you achieved and did this year! MEETING THE SPN CAST OMG. And congrats on winning writing contests and starting to query, eep. That's huge. Good luck!

I also think your goals sound great and hope they work out for your. :D Except the not-buying books one. Like how.😂 haha.

I'm still trying to figure out my goals for 2018 which is pretty bad since it's tomorrow. *coughs awkwardly* Probably write a ridiculous amount and try to read more backlist books.😂

Happy new year!

Ivyclad Ideas said...

YAY! Thanks for joining! :)

Good luck with all your goals! You're so organised having them already! All I have so far is finishing my first draft, and hopefully start editing it, but it's going to be a busy year since I'll (hopefully) be graduating from uni.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Cait

I know, this post is always gigantic. xD RIGHT?!?! SHE SMILES. IT'S UNBELIEVABLE. She's adorable and feisty and rarely behaves, but she smiles for pictures! Aww, but Atticus is so cute in his photos! Maybe if you show him all of his adoring fans, he'll be happier about posing.

It was a super busy year, but a fun one! I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE IT, HONESTLY. And thank you! :) So far, no bites on the queries, but I'll keep trying.

Thanks! I never had much hope for that goal. xD I was a lost cause before January 1st even hit.

Happy new year to you, too!

@Ivy

No problem! :) Your post gave me the last shove I needed to join a challenge.

Thanks! I always come up with my goals early, but the trick is actually doing them, hehe. Good luck with graduation (exciting!!) and your writerly goals!

Vivian said...

I like to read, but there is no keeping up with you! I am currently reading The Write Brothers by McCullough. I have no interest in PT Barnum and/or the circus, but based on your recommendation and the cast, I will add The Greatest Showman to my list of movies to see when we get home. Tell me about the Scholastic silver keys. Congratulations on making the Dean's list. What colleges are you considering? How does your gap year affect that? Will you have to retake the SAT or will they hold your scores? What are your travel plans? Is Ukraine on your list?

Love you
Grandma

Gary Foley said...

Loved your blog post. You are an amazing person and I'm very pleased your are my granddaughter. Although we hardly see each other I think of you everyday and hope only for your happiness. You have your whole life ahead of you, yet you have accomplished so much in such a little time/. Wow! I love that you love the musical theatre. I discovered my love for it way to late in my life; I'm glad you found it early in life. I look forward to seeing where it takes you. Do you know how Warner Brothers is associated with the CW. Reason I ask is I have a niece (my brother Craig's daughter) who is married to a film editor/producer at the CW. If you are really interested in pursing screenplays maybe I can put you into contact with him. In any case, keep following your dreams and discovering new things you are interested in. Here's wishing you a very Happy and prosperous new year.

Love, Papa

The Magic Violinist said...

@Vivian

Ha, I definitely read a lot this year! I was pretty happy with how much I was able to read considering how busy the year was. I've heard good things about that book! Biographies can be fascinating if they're written well.

I didn't have any interest in PT Barnum/the circus, either, but you definitely don't have to be to enjoy the movie. I highly recommend it.

I was so happy to get the silver keys! My favorite submissions were the ones that won, too. Our whole family got to go to a winners' reception where they presented the awards to each student. It was really nice and a lot of fun.

Thank you! Right now I'd say my top three schools are University of Iowa, McDaniel College, and Sarah Lawrence College. Every single college I'm considering is more than happy to receive my application after a gap year. My SAT and ACT scores (once I take the ACT) will still be good when I apply, so nothing is going to be a hassle.

A trip to Europe is definitely in our future, though I don't know if we're going anywhere very cold. Beaches and sun are more our thing. ;)

@Papa

Thank you! I'm glad we can keep up with each other through blogging and Facebook, even if we don't get a lot of in person time together.

My interest in musical theatre kind of took me by surprise, but it wasn't a bad thing! I have a ton of options available to me now that I've pursued it. I'm excited to continue doing shows.

Oh my gosh, that's amazing! "Supernatural" (my favorite TV show) is on the CW, along with several other favorite shows. I would love to be in contact with him, if you wouldn't mind. TV screenplays are something I've been messing around with for a while now, so I'd love to get some tips from insiders.

Jimmy said...

A few items I wanted to briefly mention...

I like the hat you got from T.J. He seems like a really nice guy.
You and your dog make great models!
Which schools have you narrowed it down to? (Just saw that you answered that in another response.)
A gap year. I haven't decided what I think of that concept. Initially it sounded like something the privileged few could enjoy. But I think I was being too judge-y. I'm trying to figure out a way to pull off a mid-career retirement and I wonder if it's kind of the same thing.

Sigue practicando el espanol! Dejame saber si te puedo ayudar. Una de las cosas que quiero hacer en mi vida es ensenar el espanol en la secundaria.

Feliz ano nuevo! And sorry I don't know how to keyboard in Spanish.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Jimmy

Thanks! He is a really nice guy.

Haha, Scout always looks great in pictures.

Yep, those are the top three, but I think I have six or seven schools still on my list. Not sure where I'll end up yet, but it'll be someplace good. :)

Gap years can look like a thousand different things, so I think the key is just making sure each person designs it so they get the most out of the year. Adults can and should totally do "gap years," too! You can focus on your passions and sort of redirect your life.

Voy a practicar mi espanol mucho! Es mas facil escribir espanol que hablar lo. Puedo siempre utilar alguien practicar con. Feliz ano nuevo!

(Not sure if that's even legible, but that should give you a good idea of about where I'm at right now with my Spanish practice, at least when I'm writing it!)

Shelumiel said...

I'm so glad you loved TGGTVAV! I have a copy and all the intentions to pick it up soon. Also? TBDATE! And how did I not know your dog's name is Scout? Please tell me it's a TKAM reference! Coz I named my phone Scout and it's 100% a TKAM reference. I also envy you your WW beanie. Just saying. Happy New Year, Kate! And good luck on your goals but especially on querying! That's a huge deal. I hope things work out for you. :)

The Magic Violinist said...

@Shelumiel

If you pick it up soon, you can hop on the hype train with everybody. :)

IT is a TKAM reference! It was my mom's idea when we got her and it totally fits. That's awesome that you named your phone. xD

Happy new year! Thank you! :) I hope so, too.

Jimmy said...

Ah! Hiciste bien! Tienes el don de lenguas.

Boquinha said...

Great book reviews! Didn't Everything Everything already come out (IMDB says May 2017)? Maybe it's time to check it out from the library! I wonder if the film will fix some of the holes from the book.

I love that you and Max are getting to see Star Wars movies in theaters!!

I still don't think I loved The Florida Project; but, as with many many indie films, it's one that I think I've grown to appreciate more over time. I think that even the feeling of it dragging and being so long can have a correlation to what poverty must feel like to those struggling with it. I felt very "bleh" leaving the theater, too, and I wouldn't watch it again or recommend it necessarily, but yeah, I do have a smidge more appreciation for it after the fact.

"Tightrope" and "A Million Dreams" could easily be the soundtrack of my relationship with Daddy. <3

Love the Scout caption. :P

Love the pictures of books with egg nog/cocoa. I love our life!

I've read 3 of your top 10 books. You have my curiosity piqued about "The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue."

I love the obsessions section. :) I love seeing what you're enjoying and what you love.

GREAT Supernatural picture!! The smile on your face (in that picture and ALL THAT DAY!).

Hitting "post" because I'm getting paranoid about losing this big comment.

Boquinha said...

The "Reasons Why I Read Books" pie chart is impressive! Very evenly spread out!

Love your goals, too. How about joining a Spanish Meetup? They regularly hold meetings where people get together to practice speaking the language.

Some of the writers' retreats I've seen have some focus on screenwriting. You might enjoy that!

I'm so proud of you for querying authors and for always having stuff in all the different phases of writing - writing, editing, polishing, querying, etc. That's wonderful!

Boquinha said...

And hey, maybe you can offer writing classes as part of your gap year?

Boquinha said...

Vivian, I'm not a circus fan either. This movie is BEAUTIFUL and captivating.

Gary, that's so cool about your connection! I had no idea! Thank you for mentioning that. Kate seems pretty excited about it in her response! (I'm only now catching up on all the comments.)

Jimmy, teach Spanish for your career shift! Go for it!!

Dr. Mark said...

Phew! What a year for you! I'm tired just reading about it. And I suppose I was there for enough of it to be tired myself! I'm really proud of all you are doing and how well you know yourself. I'm also super glad that you are finding a nice balance in your life. Your obsessions keep you centered and everyone should be so lucky as to know how to enjoy that balance. Keep on keeping on with that.

I'm excited for the upcoming year and I know Mommy has her eyes on a lot of great experiences for you (and us all). Good luck with all of your goals!

The Magic Violinist said...

@Boquinha

How did I miss that? Well the reviews aren't great for the movie, so I'm not sure I should get my hopes up quite yet. But who knows? Maybe it'll surprise me.

I think that's about the only positive thing we could take away from that movie. I seem to like it less the more I think about it!

Gentleman's Guide is excellent! It's pretty long, though, so it wouldn't exactly be a quick read. But if you're looking for something different, you should pick it up.

The Supernatural photo op is one of my all-time favorite pictures now (which I'm sure surprises nobody).

As time consuming as it was, the pie charts were a ton of fun to make. A lot of the results surprised me.

Spanish Meetups would be great once I get to a point where I feel like I could carry on a conversation for longer than a couple sentences!

If I didn't have projects in different stages of completion, I'd go nuts. Sometimes I get tired of writing all I want to do it edit or vice versa. At least I always have something to work on.

@Dr. Mark

Every year I do this I know we've done a ton of stuff, but I forget just how busy we were until I've finished the post. It has been a good year for a balance of interests!

I can't wait to see what 2018-19 bring!