Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review: Double Edition (LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS and EVERLESS)


Expected publication: January 16th, 2018
Pages: 288

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape--perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.


Goodreads

First book read in the New Year! But grrrr, I was hoping to like it more. I'll start with what I didn't like so I can at least end this review on a positive note.


-The romance was cliché, predictable, and not at all interesting. It was super obvious from very early on what was going to happen and there were so few obstacles standing in Maya's way.

-The Islamophobia and terrorist attack became background plot. I was expecting it to be a huge focus, but it wasn't, and I was super disappointed. This book could have been the next The Hate U Give, but I found the problems that came from the terrorist attack to be very easily taken care of when they should have been complicated.

-There also wasn't any focus on Muslim culture?????? Maya NEVER talks about what she thinks about her religion or anything, even though she clearly has different thoughts from her parents on everything.

-The writing wasn't great and the dialogue was awkward. I didn't like most of the characters because of this, even though I should have liked the characters otherwise.

-The whole thing just felt super surface level and too easy. If the author had dug a little deeper, it could've been a masterpiece, but it was just fluffy, and not everything in it was supposed to be fluffy.

-MAYA WAS SO UNFAIR TO HER PARENTS. Sometimes she had the right to be a little annoyed, but other times she acted exasperated by them when they were being totally reasonable. At one point, her mom offers to stay home with her because she's not feeling well and she's like, "Mom, I'm being smothered!" So rude.

Things I did like . . .



-There was a huge focus on Indian culture, which I found to be refreshingly diverse and interesting. It made for great family dynamics and perspectives on how to straddle two cultures (American and Indian).

-I liked that Maya wanted to be a documentarian! I've never seen that kind of art portrayed in a YA book and it was cool to see a unique side of movie-making.

-The book touched on a lot of different important issues Indian-American and Muslim-American families faced today, and while I wish those issues had been explored more, they were still brought up, and that's a step in the right direction.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, which I personally didn't like that much, but I know many people did. It read very similarly.


I rate it:





Published: January 2nd, 2018
Pages: 368

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.


Goodreads

This was a very cool premise (you can turn your blood into currency and those coins can then be consumed to add years to your life). I loved the creativity that went into the world building and legends. Ultimately, that's what made the story unique and worth reading, because otherwise it read like any other fantasy.


I wasn't a fan of Jules as a character. I didn't dislike her, and sometimes I felt sorry for her, but she was a little bland.

The romance was honestly laughable. I didn't buy it in the slightest. It was basically instalove, which I can't stand 95% of the time.


The plot twists could have been great, but I feel like they were confusing and sloppy in execution. They might have worked better had they been spread throughout the book more, but the first half of the book was a ton of setup, which made it kind of slow.


I probably won't read the sequels, but it was entertaining while it lasted and a fresh take on fantasy worlds. Fans of RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard might enjoy this one.

I rate it:


Actual rating: 3.5

Have you read Love, Hate & Other Filters or Everless? What did you think? What was the first book you read this year? Leave a comment!

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!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

7 Things that Get Me in the Holiday Spirit


And so are the holidays! I get extra excited for Christmas when there are less than ten days to go, but there are a few things that never fail to get me in the holiday spirit. Whether they be books, TV shows, or special food, they're all festive to me.

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone



Hogwarts at Christmas is magical. You can't help but feel the wonder as Harry does during his first year at Hogwarts, with the Great Hall decked out in holiday attire and presents appearing at the foot of his bed when he wasn't expecting anything at all. There's something really innocent about the first book that feels extra cozy in December.

2. "Sherlock"


I started an accidental tradition with myself a few years ago when I was wrapping presents for friends and family. I wanted some background noise, so I put on an old "Sherlock" episode I'd seen a dozen times already. Now I watch an episode as I wrap every year. (This year I watched "A Scandal in Belgravia," since there's an actual Christmas party in the episode.)

3. "Doctor Who" Christmas specials


I consistently love the "Doctor Who" Christmas specials, and not just because they're longer. They're always a little bit heartbreaking, but also very heartwarming, and extremely well-written. This year I watched "A Christmas Carol" with my brother, since we were in a stage production of "A Christmas Carol." My favorites are probably "The Christmas Invasion" (because Tennant) and "Voyage of the Damned" (because Tennant). "The Snowmen" is also pretty good and really funny.


4. Hot chocolate with peppermint ice cream



Besides being delicious, this drink also prompts really great memories of me writing Beneath the Moon and Stars, which is set around Christmas and often features the main characters drinking hot chocolate with peppermint ice cream. If you haven't tried it before, you should do it now.

5. Christmas Crack


AKA addictive toffee that you have to crack apart into little pieces when you make it (see? The pun works both ways.). It's oh-so-good and the perfect blend of sweet and salty. We tops ours with all kinds of goodies: coconut, M&M's, Reese's minis, crushed candy canes, mini Twix, etc.

6. Rissóis de Camarão (Portuguese shrimp turnovers)


My family made these one year and we've had to restrain ourselves from making it several times throughout the year because they're amazing. Hands down my favorite holiday treat. We haven't made them yet this Christmas and my mouth is watering just thinking about them.

7. Snow and fuzzy socks


Nothing beats snow falling outside while you're warm and cozy inside, curled up with a book or bingewatching a new show.

What festive traditions do you have? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fan-fiction, Freaky Dreams, and Fugitives (What Are You Reading Wednesday?)

I'm linking up with Marrisa from "Marissa Writes" for her "What Are You Reading Wednesday?" link-up! It looks super fun and it's really simple. You share what you're reading and talk about it using the five questions Marissa gives. I've almost done it several times, but never posted anything for it. That all changes today. So what am I reading?


Juuuust kidding (sort of). I'm actually only reading three things right now, which is a surprisingly low number for me. Three is kind of my minimum number. If I only read one or two books at a time, I tend to procrastinate reading them at all if I don't really like them. Luckily, I like all three of these books!


1. Why did you decide to pick up this book - cover or content?
 

Content (although who can resist that playful cover?). This one is actually a reread. Lately I've been including well-beloved YA books in the stack on my nightstand, just so I have something fun and familiar to return to if I'm not really in the mood for anything else. Recently I finished rereading Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda that way. I haven't read Fangirl since it first came out in 2013, so I'm looking forward to loving it all over again from an older perspective, especially as a recent fan-fiction lover and soon-to-be college student.

2. Who is your favorite character so far, and why?
 

I'm one chapter in so far, but I already have the feeling it'll be Cath because of how much I'll relate to her as a writer and introvert.

3. Will you finish this one?
 

Yep!

4. Finish the sentence:  This book reminds me of... (other books, movies, TV shows...)
 

The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet if it were set in college, maybe? I'm not sure.

5. What type of read is this one? (slow but interesting, cannot put it down,...)

It's hard to tell one chapter in and I don't really remember, but I'm going to guess that it will be super fluffy and addictive.


1. Why did you decide to pick up this book - cover or content?
 

Content (can't say I'm really a fan of this cover). 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'm enjoying this one less, only because it's much harder to pick up and dive back into. You have to give this book your undivided attention to take it all in.


2. Who is your favorite character so far, and why?
 

This isn't exactly a "favorite character" sort of book, but I'll go with Alison. I like her and I also feel sorry for her.

3. Will you finish this one?
 

Eventually!

4. Finish the sentence:  This book reminds me of... (other books, movies, TV shows...)
 

There's really nothing like this. It's a one-of-a-kind memoir.

5. What type of read is this one? (slow but interesting, cannot put it down,...)

"Slow, but interesting" is definitely the right descriptor. It's deep. Lots of the psychological analysis is going right over my head, but the parts I do understand are fascinating. There are a lot of sections where Alison analyzes her dreams and it always astounds me how much she can connect them to her real life, down to the tiniest detail.



1. Why did you decide to pick up this book - cover or content?
 

Content (I never like covers that include brooding men staring at me). After reading Cait's glowing review on Goodreads, I picked it up at the library on a whim.

2. Who is your favorite character so far, and why?
 

Monty, even though he drives me crazy. He's such an idiot sometimes, but he can be really charming and hysterical.

3. Will you finish this one?

Absolutely.

4. Finish the sentence:  This book reminds me of... (other books, movies, TV shows...)
 

Ummm . . . Six of Crows if the characters had more morals? Gentleman's Guide is also about a group of fugitives and Monty sort of reminds me of Jesper, who was also one of my favorite characters from the Six of Crows series.

5. What type of read is this one? (slow but interesting, cannot put it down,...)

For a book this big and daunting, it moves pretty fast. I was surprised how quickly I got into it.

What are you reading this Wednesday?

Monday, December 11, 2017

November Wrap-Up

Well November and December have been crazy busy, which is why I'm posting this embarrassingly late (sorry). First off, tech week for the play my brother and I were in ("A Christmas Carol") happened, which is what caused me to not finish NaNoWriMo this year. I still consider 32,000+ words a pretty good accomplishment, though, especially since my classes started getting far busier that month, too. I also tried to juggle four points of view, which didn't work at all, so I think I'll take the two characters I was most drawn to and redo the novel so it focuses on them. Anyways, here are some quotes from what I did write. Then December hit and my whole family came down with a horrible head cold that lasted throughout performances for the play, which meant I barely had the energy to lie on the couch and guzzle tea and honey, let alone finish this wrap-up post.

But enough about that. Let's get on with the fun stuff!

Books I Read

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

3.5/5

This was so fun. Fun and cute and chock full of geeky references. It was right up my alley, totally diverse, and oh so positive. You can't help but feel good after you read it. That being said, something I didn't vibe with as well was how unrealistic the whole thing was. There was some conflict, sure, but everything was roses and the stakes weren't that high. The characters never really had to deal with disappointment for very long, which I find annoying (characters must suffer *cue evil laughter*). The dialogue was also a little weird. Characters would break into uplifting monologues without warning and continue talking like some all-knowing, wise, powerful wizard mentor (if that makes any sense at all) for an entire page. It didn't fit with these nerdy teens I'd come to know and love at all. Not natural. Everything was a little too perfect. But if you're looking for a feel-good book with love and friendship, look no further.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

3.5/5

I went into this book expecting to love every bit of it, and I did, but only for the first hundred-ish pages. It started off so strong. Crowley and Aziraphale were super unique characters with entertaining banter, and then they just . . . disappeared. And all of a sudden I was bouncing back and forth between various characters who seemed to have very little to do with the plot. There were lots of interesting moments, but as a whole, I found it very inconsistent. If it had been a hundred pages shorter and tightened up, I think I might have rated it higher. I'm hoping the adaptation includes lots more of Crowley and Aziraphale, because they were hands down my favorite parts of the book.

Movies I Watched

"Thor: Ragnarok"

4/5

The "Thor" movies have never been my favorite among Marvel's works, but this one was very good (and hilarious). I loved all the quirky side characters (especially Jeff Goldblum's character) and Hulk's appearance, even if Mark Ruffalo himself was hardly in it. The bits I didn't enjoy as much all involved Thor's family drama, which I've always found to be overwrought.

"Loving Vincent"

4/5

What a cool animation style! I thought it would be weird to watch a movie with stop motion oil painting, but it was actually gorgeous and didn't phase me at all after the first ten minutes or so. I watched it right after writing my paper on van Gogh and "Starry Night" for my humanities class, too, so perfect timing there. I only wish the movie could have included more about van Gogh's life rather than just his death, because he was especially fascinating when you learn about his past.

"Sweeney Todd"

3.5/5

This was a good, dark musical, and I definitely want to listen to the OBC album, but Johnny Depp's singing was pretty mediocre for this role. The story was also a little difficult to follow when it came to the characters relationships to each other if you miss even one lyric of the songs (and I missed a lot because of how thick the Cockney accents were. But it was a really unique and "fun" story (if you can call murder and cannibalism fun).

"Justice League"

3.5/5

I was so hyped for this (because Wonder Woman), but alas, I was disappointed. When Wonder Woman was featured, it was great, but otherwise . . . meh. If you're into non-stop action, you'll probably love it, but I found that the special effects were made the first priority while plot and characters fell by the wayside. You only get a glimpse of backstory from all the new characters who could have been amazing if more time was spent fleshing their personalities out. It was pretty good, but had a lot more potential.

"Wonder"

5/5

Loved this! I totally cried like a dozen times, but it captured the heart of the book so well. This is the perfect example of an adaptation done right.


Quotes I Wrote

A good 75% of what I wrote for NaNo was garbage, but I did very much enjoy writing anything involving Sonya, as you will see before.


My stomach lurched with a different kind of nervous nausea. Seven missed texts from Sonya. Sonya never texted me that much, which either meant something was very good or very wrong.
Where are you?
Text me back as soon as you get this.
Eleanor, my friend, my rival in love (talking about Marius, of course, the sexy bastard. I mean, if I were straight--anyways.), where are youuu.
E., consider this an emergency of the greatest kind.
Greatest in the bad sense.
WHERE ARE YOU.
Call me.
-All World's Afraid


Sonya grabbed my shoulders and started spinning me around, like you would with a little kid after you blindfold them for the piñata. “Um, what are you doing?”
            “Cleansing you! There are all kinds of cleansing rituals for people who say the name of The Play. We’ll just try all of them, and that should do it. Poof! No more superpowers. Okay, we spun you three times, now you have to . . . what else? Oh! Spit over your left shoulder.”
            “What?” I stepped away from her, holding up my hands in case she tried to do something else. “Gross. I’m not doing that.”
            Sonya rolled her eyes. “Fine. We’ll do the other ones, then, and hope for the best. Swear.”
            “Sure, I promise, I’ll do the other ones.”
            “No, swear. Curse, cuss, swear like a sailor. Don’t hold back. No teachers around here.”
             That’s a cleansing ritual?” Wesley asked.
            Ryan squinted at Sonya. “That doesn’t sound very . . . ‘cleansy’ to me.”
            “Got any other ideas?”
            Ryan waved a hand. “Carry on.”
            The others looked at me. I felt my face flush, but didn’t let it stop me as I mumbled, “Shit?”
            Sonya applauded with gusto, as if I’d just delivered an emotional monologue. “Brava, brava!  An excellent choice of words. Encore!” 
-All the World's Afraid


"Oh my gosh, I actually have a tutor now." I dropped my face into my hands. "Ugh, I'm never going to pass chemistry."
            "Well not with that attitude you won't," Eleanor said, and snatched up the bag of Reese's Pieces. "Or with that amount of sugar and chemicals coursing through your body. You need to get a drink of water, take a deep breath, and come back to this with fresh eyes."
            "Or," Sonya said, stealing the bag from Eleanor, a glint in her eyes. "We call it quits now and save homework for tomorrow."
            "Again," Eleanor said as she shook her head at Sonya. "So unhelpful."
            "Gotta say, I agree with drama queen here." I took the bag back from Sonya, shoveling more candy into my mouth. "Let's do the rest of this tomorrow after we've stayed up entirely too late watching 'Supernatural.'"
            Sonya squealed and clapped her hands together. "Can we watch episodes with Charlie, AKA my fictional girlfriend, AKA the love of my life?"
            "Yes!" I responded enthusiastically, at the same time Eleanor furrowed her eyebrows together and said, "Who?"
            Sonya and I gasped simultaneously.
            "You don't know who Charlie is?" Sonya said with incredulity.
            "Charlie Bradbury?" I added. "Hacker extraordinaire?"
            "Love of all things Dungeons and Dragons and Harry Potter?"
            "Queen of the nerds and adorable redhead?"
            Sonya shoved a picture of Felicia Day from her phone into Eleanor's face. "This gorgeous woman?"
            Eleanor adjusted her glasses. "Nope. I didn't realize she was even a character on the show. I only know the main characters. You know, Sam, Dean, um--that angel guy."
            For a second, I thought Sonya's jaw was going to drop to the floor.
            "You've never seen 'Supernatural,' have you?"
            Eleanor pushed her glasses up her nose again. "I mean--bits and pieces."
            "Bits and pieces?" Sonya shrieked.

            "Okay, let's not get too ahead of ourselves here," I said. "This just means we have to start all the way from the good ol' pilot to get our friend Eleanor here caught up on one thrilling, addictive, heartbreakingly beautiful ride of a show."
            "Family drama, brotherly love, all things paranormal," Sonya sighed dreamily.
            "Let's not forget the ruggedly handsome heroes," I added.
            "Or my fictional girlfriend."
-All the World's Afraid


"You could post flyers," Mom said, not seriously. "Start some sort of mutant club."
            I rolled my eyes. "I'm not a mutant, Mom. I'm an emotional telepath. Though it shouldn't take one to guess how I'm feeling right now."
            "Mildly annoyed but mostly amused and not wanting to admit it?" Dad said.
            I fake glared at them both. "Sure. Let's go with that."
-All the World's Afraid


After Kyle's near-forty breakdowns--Neville had started keeping a tally on the back cover of his script--we were finally free to leave rehearsal "to go in search of some focus, which we were all clearly lacking."
            "And it's not even tech week," was the cast's mantra lately.
-All the World's Afraid

Obsessions I Acquired

"Big Little Lies" - After devouring the book, I knew I had to watch the miniseries, even if I had to wait forever for it to be my turn to get the DVD from the library. The show took a lot of liberties (for example, it's set in California instead of Australia, so Nicole Kidman made a valiant effort to hide her accent, even though it still wasn't hidden), but ultimately, it got the story down really well and I had a hard time not watching episodes back to back.

Singing in harmony - I'd done very little of this until being in "A Christmas Carol," where I was put in a group of singers that learned various harmony parts to different songs. It was tons of fun and sounded great! Then during dress rehearsals and performances, a group of girls in our dressing room learned and practiced the harmonies to "Milkshake" (the Riverdale version), which was a super fun tradition. Our stressed out stage manager even enjoyed our impromptu performances during intermission.

Picture of the Month 

Halloween party costumes! From left to right: The ninth Doctor, Captain Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler, and Newt Scamander.
Here are lots of pictures from opening night of "A Christmas Carol." There will be more pictures in December's wrap-up since the performances started at the end of November and went into December!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Scout was fascinated by the dog show on Thanksgiving.

We tied a bow on Scout while decorating.

Take a close look at how our family pictures quickly dissolve into madness.

 
 
 
 
So crazy story. Yes, yes that is in fact Misha Collins, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Mark Sheppard. And yep, that's me, hugging Jensen. For the full convention story, see the next pictures, which is a screenshot from my Facebook page.


How was your November?