Monday, April 30, 2018

April Wrap-Up

Books I Read

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd


This book started off pretty slow and repetitive, but man did the second half make up for it. I could have filled buckets and buckets with tears by the time I finished it. This was my first Patrick Ness read and I loved it so much, I'm planning to check out more by him now.

Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet by Various Authors


As with any anthology, it had its good stories and its not-so-good stories. I probably really enjoyed half of them and felt "meh" about the rest. I knew about a lot of these authors going into it, but some were also brand new to me, so it was a great sneak peek into their writing style and let me know which authors I wanted to read more from. My favorite stories were Click by Katharine McGee, The Way We Love Here by Dhonielle Clayton, Oomph by Emery Lord, The Dictionary of You and Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout, The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love by Jocelyn Davies, and The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon. Those stories all felt quirky, sweet, and complete in an open-ended kind of way, if that makes any sense. The other stories either felt cliché, rushed, or unfinished. The downside to this kind of concept is that a lot of the stories seemed more like the beginning of a novel rather than a completed project.

Dear Farenheit 451 by Annie Spence


The concept of this book intrigued me, but I found it to be more gimmicky than entertaining. The writing style didn't grab my attention and most of the letters seemed to repeat themselves. I picked sections that looked interesting to me, so I didn't read the book cover to cover. I liked any stories she had to offer about working as a librarian and it was fun to get a peek into the inner workings of a fellow bookworm's mind. I just wished I could have connected to her writing more.

Movies I Watched

"Edward Scissorhands"


I had to watch this for a class and enjoyed it more than I thought I would (especially since my professor prefaced it with "fair warning, this is a really campy movie and it's not everybody's cup of tea"). For having so few lines, Johnny Depp really created a vivid character. I liked Tim Burton's take on suburbia and the overall quirkiness of the entire film. What fell flat for me was Winona Ryder's character and the predictability of most of the plot.

"Avengers: Infinity War"


It's so hard to talk about this movie without spoiling anything. It was such a good movie, but when my friends and I walked out of the theater, we were mostly lamenting the wait for the sequel. A lot happens and there are unanswered questions and you'll probably have some strong feelings by the time the credits roll. It's hard to say much more than that. I'll wrap it up with this selfie we took after the movie:

Quotes I Wrote

Lila balled up her fist and punched the concrete wall of the motel with a muffled grunt. The rough stone scraped off the top layers of skin on her knuckles and her entire arm reverberated and throbbed. Hissing through her teeth, Lila held out her hand, examining her bloody knuckles and bruises already beginning to form.

She didn't mind the pain. The stinging quieted the hum, reminded her that she was still capable of feeling something raw and untouched by magic. Something human.

-'Til the Last Star Dies

I wanted to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, but since I knew I'd be crazy busy with "Peter Pan" rehearsals and finals coming up, I decided to set a smaller goal and challenge myself to write a poem every day for National Poetry Month. And I did it! Some days I wasn't able to or forgot, so I had to double up the next day, but I ended the month with 30 completed poems. They definitely need some editing, but I love that I have so much material to work with now. Here's one of my favorites:

Stained Glass
Kate I. Foley

Watching you whirl,
smile at another,
I turn my sighs into birdsong,
my longing into tap dance.
Cassiopeia listens to my drowsy whispers
as I drown myself in the words of others,
substitutes for solitude.
It’s a wonder I don’t split open when I see you.
I’m already cracked,
heart shining through
like stained glass.

Obsessions I Acquired

"First Burn" -  Technically I only heard this song today, so it probably doesn't count as one of my monthly obsessions, but, it's still really freaking good and you should definitely listen to it. I've loved every Hamildrop I've heard so far.

Pictures of the Month

I got highlights for the first time ever! They're red and caramel colored.
Selfie with my brother on National Sibling Day.
I saw "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" on Broadway for my eighteenth birthday, and the entire experience was so surreal. It's hard to describe just how jaw-droppingly amazing the show was without spoiling it for anyone else who's planning to see it. We have to #KeepTheSecrets, after all! But wow, what a play. All of the actors were phenomenal and the entire thing was so immersive.
Max and I got to see a couple of our cast mates from "A Christmas Carol" in their production of "Fiddler On the Roof." They were excellent!
A bunch of us from "Peter Pan" got together at a coffee shop nearby after rehearsal. From left to right: Captain Hook, Smee, Captain Hook/Mr. Darling (the main roles are double cast), John Darling, Tiger Lily, Mr. Darling/Otto the Pirate, and Bill Jukes the Pirate.
Our super cool stage manager, Jen, from "A Christmas Carol" made her onstage debut as Berthe in "Boeing Boeing." She was hysterical and a natural.
My family went to see TJ and a bunch of his friends perform in student-directed one-act plays and musical numbers for a cabaret at his school. It was so much fun!
Another post-"Infinity War" picture. TJ and Keymaris were still so in shock after the movie that they missed the message that we were supposed to be smiling for this picture. :P
Sushi lunch date with my mom!
I got to be a part of a local author's festival, complete with book signings and a 15-minute presentation and Q&A. It was a great experience!
I designed promotional bookmarks for the festival and I couldn't be more pleased with how they turned out!
Time for Scout pictures!
I played a little dress up with her.
Sound asleep in the laundry basket filled with blankets.
I'm trying to teach her to look at the camera when we take selfies. As you can see, she has learned nothing.

How was your April?

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Anything but Books Tag

Engie at "Musings from Neville's Navel" tagged me for this, and since I tend to keep things very bookish around here, I thought it'd be a nice break to do something new. Enjoy!

What is a cartoon you love?

I don't keep up on many animated shows, so I'm going to start off the tag right by cheating a little and saying that the "Scooby-Doo"/"Supernatural" crossover episode is a cartoon that I love. The episode was hilarious and oh-so-clever.

What is your favorite song right now?

I hate picking favorites sometimes because I have favorite songs in all kinds of different genres, so it's impossible to pick just one. However, my favorite song right now is probably "Found Tonight" by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt. It's definitely been my most played song for the past month. I've also been constantly humming/singing "Hook's Waltz" from "Peter Pan," but that's because it's been in my head since we last rehearsed it.

What is something you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

I feel like I'm a pretty predictable person, so I'm not sure I'll be able to answer this one well. I'm not generally an artsy/crafty person when it comes to doing things with my hands, but some relaxing activities I like to do while listening to an audiobook or watching reruns of a favorite TV show include coloring, cross-stitch, and making friendship bracelets. (Which reminds me, I need to continue working on my Ravenclaw cross-stitching project I temporarily abandoned . . .)

What is your unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

Ever since getting into musical theatre, I love doing background research on any actors I'm currently obsessed with so I can track down soundtracks from other shows they've been in. I also have these sudden bursts of obsession with "Les Mis" where for a week I won't listen to anything else, and when I get into that mood, I like to listen to various cast albums and compare the songs in each one.

This is my favorite version of "One Day More" that I've heard (so far).

I stumbled across this video in my hunt for the previous one and WOW, what a performance! The whole thing is incredible, but the last four-ish minutes are especially amazing when four different Valjeans come out to sing "Bring Him Home."

What is something unusual you know how to do?

My go-to party trick is freaking people out by turning one foot completely backwards while keeping the other facing forwards. It never fails to make people squeal or shriek. I also have a knack for memorizing ridiculously long WiFi codes whenever my family stays at a beach house on vacation. I think it came from not wanting to track down the piece of paper every time somebody else needed to log in with their phone or laptop. (For example, I still remember the WiFi code from a beach house we stayed in four or five years ago: 47CC3B0068DDB874. Don't ask me how.)

Name something you’ve made in the last year.

Scrapbooks! I haven't made many recently, but I got really into scrapbooking for a little while and made some for friends and family. I especially liked any scrapbooks I made that involved pictures of my cute dog.

What is your most recent personal project?

I'm not really sure what to make of this question, so I'll just go ahead and say my April poetry challenge. Since April is National Poetry Month and also Camp NaNoWriMo, I decided I'd challenge myself to write one poem each day of the month (technically I decided on April 3rd and then had to catch up so I wouldn't already start so behind, but it all worked out in the end). It's a nice way to keep myself writing during a busy school and theater season.

Here's a little snippet of what I've been working on.

Tell us something you think about often.

You have no idea how hard it is to give an answer that isn't book related . . .

The future? I think that's a pretty natural thing to think/wonder about. I don't think about it in a stressful way, but more in an "I wonder what I'll be doing in five years" or "Imagine if I ended up going into this career" sort of way.

Give us something that’s your favorite, but make it oddly specific.

My favorite kinds of socks are knee-high socks that have a fun design and are stretchy enough to not be suffocatingly tight.

Tag, you're it! Answer the questions for your own blog post or answer some in the comments. :)

Monday, April 2, 2018

March Wrap-Up

For some reason, I feel like March wasn't a very productive reading month, but my Goodreads reading goal suggests otherwise. My perception of time is all off lately. Maybe March was some kind of weird time black hole.

Books I Read

Lord of the Flies by William Golding


This is the first classic I picked to read for my New Year's resolution (read 6 classics of my choice by the end of the year) and I liked it more than I was expecting to. Once I got past the first chapter or so, the story drew me in. It's not a happy book by any means, and I disliked just about every character, but it was exciting, to say the least. It was a fascinating (if disgusting) look at how violent humans can be if left to their own devices.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston


I listened to the audiobook on a whim because I'd just downloaded Hoopla and wanted to test it out. It was a fast, fun, cute book and gave me something to do while I drove to school. Some of the book struck me as cliché and unrealistic, but then again, it's a fairytale retelling, so it was bound to have those fairytale qualities. I always love books that talk about the importance of fandom and the community you can find within a beloved TV show. If you're looking for something to give you the warm-fuzzies, try this book.

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


As far as characters go, I felt more connected to the ones in Illuminae, which made Gemina feel a little longer, but the action in this sure made up for it. I felt on edge with each page turn. And WOW those plot twists! Though some parts of it were super confusing, the ending was satisfying and the perfect conclusion for a whirlwind of a book. I'm exciting to pick up Obsidio.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan


It took me a while to get into this one, but once it got going, it was a nice book to pick up before bed. It was cozy and character-driven, which are some of my favorite aspects of a story. One thing that prevented me from rating this higher was the fact that I couldn't stand one of the characters whose perspective I was forced to read every twenty pages or so, which is the curse of most multiple POV books. I didn't like her, she didn't change at all throughout the book, and I didn't think her plot line really wrapped up by the end. The whole book could have done without most of her chapters.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren


I feel very conflicted about this book. On the one hand, the romance was adorable, the messages it sent were positive and need to be talked about, and it was about a writer, which is always a big plus for me. On the other hand, there was so much about it I just couldn't buy. Certain aspects of the story seemed too perfect and super unrealistic. I couldn't picture it happening in real life. The stakes seemed high, but in reality, the consequences weren't as severe as they should have been. I also thought it was a little long for your typical contemporary romance. Sometimes 400+ page books work for this genre, but in this case, it could have used some trimming. A lot of the plot seemed repetitive. ALSO, I haaaaate it when characters ditch their best friends for a romantic partner. Not. Cool. At. All. And it happened a lot here and the protagonist didn't do much to remedy the situation.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


I had a really hard time reading about the animal cruelty in this book, which is part of the reason why I didn't rate it higher, but that's not to say the story wasn't good, because I did enjoy (most of) the rest of it. I was hooked right from the prologue and spent the rest of the book wondering how things would turn out at the end. I also loved seeing the protagonist far into the future and way back in time, however depressing the nursing home chapters were. I didn't enjoy the gratuitous sex scenes, either. I'm not at all opposed to having them in a book if it serves a purpose, but there were some moments (I'm thinking about Barbara's character, specifically) that went on for several lengthy paragraphs even though it did nothing for the plot. If you like elephants as much as I do, you'll love any of the adorable moments with Rosie, but fair warning, there are a lot of tough scenes that have to do with her, as well.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


I loved this! Stories told in verse can be really hit or miss for me. I like poetry, but when I pick up a book expecting a strong narrative, sometimes I feel too much like I'm reading a poem instead of a story. This was totally different. It was clearly poetry, but it didn't feel like that at all. You could easily read this in an hour, but it still makes such an impact. I love how the difficult topics were tackled and the amount of grief and emotion that were packed into just a few lines of verse was incredible. I know not everyone is a fan of ambiguous endings, but when done right, I totally am, and this ambiguous ending was done right. It definitely makes you think.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde


I had to read this for my Intro to Literature class and mostly liked it. It was long and boring with a pretty simplistic plot, so those aspects of it made it hard to concentrate and actually finish the story, but the enjoyment for me came with individual lines of dialogue. The use of dramatic irony made it humorous and helped to lighten the mood since reading about stuffy high society people can be insufferable.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie


Since I'm in a production of "Peter Pan Jr.," I wanted to read the original story for some background knowledge. Almost every single line of dialogue in the book is in the show, but the show keeps things moving way better than the book. There were lots of rambling, boring sections. I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style, either, or most of the characters. But it's definitely imaginative and I like the story as a whole, just more when it comes to the Disney or theatrical versions.

Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer, Stephen Gilpin, and Douglas Holgate


I didn't love this one as much as the first book, mostly because I feel like the characters did a lot of monologuing and I'm not a big fan of that, in general. But everything else was great, in typical Lunar Chronicles fashion. The characters make the story and getting to spend more time with them in any form is always loads of fun. I love Iko and her spunk.

Movies I Watched

"Miss Representation"


This was an excellent documentary about the way women are viewed in the media. It touched on a lot of different aspects of media (politicians, news anchors, actresses, etc.). It made good points about how young girls need to see a variety of female role models in order to get a well-rounded portrayal of the kinds of women they can be. I highly recommend it.

"I, Tonya"


I'm not sure what I expected to see, but whatever it was, it wasn't this. I was pleasantly surprised at the quirky, fascinating, humorous way Tonya Harding and the people around her were shown. It doesn't deify them in any way, but it does get their side of the story and explains how Tonya became the person she is. I was hooked the entire time. I also laughed way more than I thought I would during the movie. It's very dark and the ending (without giving too much away) doesn't leave you with a lot of hope. Even with tough subject matters, I appreciate when a book or movie can include even a touch of lightness to the end so you don't leave the theater feeling heavy and lethargic, which is really the only reason I didn't give it a 5/5.

"The Mask You Live In"


Made by the same creators of "Miss Representation," this documentary takes a look at men and boys in American society and why our culture fosters toxic masculinity. It shows how harmful it is to both men and women and highlights specific aspects of our society that cause boys to be raised with the "men don't cry or show emotions" kind of thinking. It was hard to watch, but it makes you think, and hearing from some of the men interviewed in the documentary gives me hope for the future.

"Get Out"


This was definitely worth the hype. For those of you who were as confused about the genre as I was before I watched it, here's my opinion: for the first hour and a half of the movie, it's a psychological thriller, but by the last fifteen minutes, it's a full on horror movie. There are jump scares, violence, and gore, just not for a while. I spent the entire time on the edge of my seat, thoroughly creeped out by these off-kilter characters. I tried to guess what some of the twists would be, but for the most part, I was surprised (and disgusted). It covered a lot of racial issues discussed today in a genre you wouldn't necessarily expect to do that. The ending felt a little abrupt for me, but the rest of the movie was very entertaining.

"Finding Neverland"


Again, because of "Peter Pan Jr.," we decided to watch this. I really enjoyed it! Kate Winslet is good in everything she does, and this was no exception. It was a really sweet story full of imagination, just like the story J.M. Barrie wrote. I loved getting the behind-the-scenes on how "Peter Pan" came to be and what the public thought of his idea. Some of it was pretty predictable, but overall I loved it.

"A Wrinkle in Time"


I wasn't a huge fan of the book, so I tried to go into the movie without low or high expectations. It was all right. I didn't get a good sense of who the characters were (except for maybe Charles Wallace, who was adorable and definitely stole the show), a lot of the plot felt like convenient excuses to show off some fancy special effects, and some of the high points included cheesy dialogue and/or monologuing. Pros: it was visually stunning, the actor Charles Wallace was really freaking good for how young he was, Chris Pine (because Chris Pine), and for once a movie targeted for family audiences actually showed a healthy sibling relationship.

"Love, Simon"


Loved, loved, loved "Love, Simon!" The book is better, of course, but overall I'm really happy with how it got adapted. The casting choices were perfect, especially when it came to Martin, Simon, and his family. Speaking of his family, I think they were actually portrayed better in the movie than they were in the book. I loved getting a closer look at his parents, especially. It did a really good job of showing things from both Simon's point of view and the other characters'. The soundtrack was excellent and all of the humor that was in the book came through in the movie. In fact, they even added more humor with character additions like their well-meaning but strange vice principal. Go see this immediately.

"Forgetting Sarah Marshall"


As far as stupid humor goes, this was good stupid. I liked all of the actors (especially Russell Brand--what a wacky dude) and any of the scenes involving Jason Segel's Dracula musical (just trust me on this). If you're looking for something light and brainless, this is a good choice.

"Water For Elephants"


I liked the movie about as much as I liked the book. Maybe a little bit less since basically all of the nursing home scenes were cut, and I did like the juxtaposition of the protagonist's modern day experience with his experiences in the circus. But it was a good adaptation, and the actor who plays August was the perfect choice for a truly despicable character.

"Ready Player One"


I haven't read the book for this, but I've heard it's much, much different from the movie. I'm still planning to read the book, so my feelings on this might change once I do, but as far as first impressions go, it was a decent movie. If it's not a Marvel or Star Wars movie, I'm not typically a huge action/sci-fi blockbuster person. This one interested me more than most blockbusters because the action was interspersed with actual plot. It wasn't just one extended battle sequence (*cough* "Justice League" *cough*). It was pretty funny and creative. I enjoyed the characters Aeche and James Halliday most. The main character and his love interest didn't do much for me, but that was probably more due to the fact that there was a heaping scoop of insta-love, which annoys me to no end.

Quotes I Wrote

“Hey.” The girl slid her hand to Melody’s wrist, squeezing it. “What’s your name?”

“Melody,” she answered automatically, trying to drown out the perpetual thought of dangerdangerdanger that her brain sent as somebody else let out a scream, accompanied by the sound of shattering glass.

The girl grinned, and in that flash of a moment, Melody glimpsed something wild. Reckless. She wasn’t sure whether to be alarmed or comforted. Maybe a bit of both.

“I’m Lila.” The girl released Melody’s arm and adjusted her leather jacket. “It’s going to be all right.”

-'Til the Last Star Dies

But she couldn’t shake the image of Melody’s expression, a mixture of determination and terror. It wasn’t often Lila had come across Freelancers so young and scared. Only in recent years had she started to notice them. That’s what war did to people, beat them down until they were forced to grow up and become a machine.

People weren’t made to break that young.

-'Til the Last Star Dies

Obsessions I Acquired

Words with Friends - I haven't played this in years, but now that there's an option for Android devices, I picked it up again to play with my family. It's a fun app to use when I need a quick break from homework. I especially like the lightning rounds, as stressful as they can be. :P

Pictures of the Month 

I auditioned for "Peter Pan Jr." with my brother and a bunch of my friends, and though I wanted to get the role of Captain Hook, I wasn't at all expecting to get it. But I did! And one of my best friends got Smee, so we're going to have a blast playing these characters together. We've had a few rehearsals so far and everyone in the cast is so fun and talented.
My "fandom of the month" jewelry kit happened to be Peter Pan themed, by some crazy coincidence!
Our audition group for "Peter Pan Jr." From left to right: Mr. Darling/Otto the pirate, Smee, Captain Hook, Mrs. Darling, and Dandelion the brave girl.
I got new glasses!
We saw Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp live in concert and it was SO much fun. They sang some "Rent" classics as well as various originals and covers. I loved it.

We went to see "Shrek: the Musical" at my friend TJ's school. Lots of the kids in that show are in "Peter Pan Jr." as well. TJ, who played the Ugly Duckling, will be Smee. His sister (on the far right) is playing John.
Their Lord Farquaad is our other Captain Hook!
Gingy is playing Peter Pan.
Loved "Love, Simon!"
My Scholastic awards officially arrived! Four silver keys and six honorable mentions this year.
Obligatory Scout pictures.
Wet from a bath.

How was your March?