Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Life Post: Some Sleep Would Be Great

This past weekend was crazy, and it's bled into the beginning of this week as well. These days have definitely been "scramble to get everything done but not have enough time to actually get everything done" days. I'm exhausted.

The conference was Saturday, of course, and I presented. I talked about that already, but I'm going to mention it again since the entire weekend feels like one larger event. It went a million times better than my worst fears would have predicted. At the beginning of the presentation, I just felt this huge sense of calm come over me, and after that, I was fine. I've never really had that experience before in my life. It was the craziest thing. But it was awesome. And I learned a lot from the other presentations as well, but it did feel a bit like school on a weekend since my professor was there and everything. Still a great experience, but it meant I didn't have much of a weekend.

What really sealed the whole no weekend thing though was driving home that night and then to Louisville the next day for my cousin's wedding (and back to school immediately after that). Now that was a long day. I may or may not have taken a bit of a nap at the reception, and I'm someone who can never sleep around crowds of people even if they're being relatively quiet (which they weren't at the reception). Despite it being an exhausting day, I'm really happy for my cousin and glad I got to be there.

My Monday and Tuesday have been, like I said, running around and trying to get things done. I had a meeting with a professor today about my huge paper, which is going well, but there's still a ton of work ahead of me. And now I have a new, separate project that I have to complete within the next two weeks or so. I'm excited about it, but it's also another thing piled onto my workload, which is crazy this semester.

Something tells me that winter break is going to feel amazing this year.

If you're interested I reviewed a book called The Legacy of Memory over on Youtube yesterday.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Life Post: Presenting at a Conference and a Busy Weekend

This is going to be a quick post since it's been a long day, and I still have plenty of homework to do. I felt like it was a good idea to write something up considering the day I've had though.

I presented at a conference for the first time today with one of my professors. I also helped with some stuff during registration because one of my other professors was highly involved in planning the conference and asked us to. Then, of course, I went to other presentations throughout the day, so it was a long Saturday.

It was cool though. I've been working on what became this presentation since fall of last year, so it's actually really strange to know the presentation finally happened. It went so much better than I could have hoped for. I started feeling nervous last night, and then, in the half hour or so leading up to it, I started shaking really badly. As soon as it started though, I realized things were going fine, and I immediately felt completely calm. It was the craziest experience and one I'm not used to at all. I'm always so anxious in front of crowds, and I have no idea what came over me in that moment, but I was fine. And things went great. When I told my professor that later, she said she was really happy that I'd had that moment, and I honestly am too. The entire thing was crazy, and I am still sleep deprived between this presentation and the paper I'm still working on, but that was definitely an experience.

The other presentations I saw were all interesting as well, and I enjoyed them. But there's no denying it was a long day, and it wasn't made any shorter by the fact that I had to come home today as well. My cousin's getting married tomorrow, so this entire weekend feels hectic. I have more homework than usual too, so that's some terrible timing. I'm trying to do as much as I can tonight, but I did that last night too, and there's still more than enough to get through. I'm not resting any this weekend, that's for sure.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Supernatural Review: Season 6 Second Half

I talked about the first half of season six over on my Youtube channel if you're interested. It took me a ridiculously long time to watch the next eleven episodes because of school. It feels like an eternity since I did the last review, and this is definitely one of those reviews where it's hard to remember what happened in the earlier episodes I watched.

It's hard to believe that my last review left off right when Sam got his soul back because that feels like it happened so much longer ago. It feels like that should have at least been a whole season ago.

There was a Hogwarts reference in the first episode of this set, and of course, I just had to through that tidbit out there.

The sword in the stone bit was interesting. I was not expecting to see that. The Comic Con joke that went along with it was great as well.

I also really like how purgatory has been incorporated into the story. It's been really interesting, And I'm actually really enjoying the dynamics of Crowley and Cas working together. That was a surprisingly awesome storyline to me.

The parts of the story with Lisa and Ben were sad, and so was the Mother of All stuff. I also wasn't at all expecting H.P. Lovecraft to ever be in the story. That was so unexpected but also interesting.

I know this entire review is completely terrible and all I've done is touch on things super briefly. My mind is just all over the place right now, but I didn't want to put this off for even longer. Hopefully my next review will be better. And not take as long to actually get around to.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Life Post: Crunch Time

If I'm being honest, I kind of dread writing these posts these days. I feel like all I do in the them is complain about how much work I have, but that's honestly the only thing even happening right now. In the next six days, I have three presentations I have to give. Two of them are for classes, and the other is at a conference, which is an entirely new experience to me. On top of that, my big paper (i.e. the one that every senior has to do and is extremely important) has a draft that's largely finished due in less than a week as well. I've been working on every single one of these things nonstop since the beginning of the semester about, but I'm still feeling this overwhelming sense of it being crunch time.

I'm hoping that after the beginning of next week things will feel significantly calmer, but I also start my practicum very soon. That won't be the exact same type of stress, but it will take up a huge chunk of my time. I'm actually extremely grateful that I can get this craziness out of the way before the practicum.

During the practicum, I won't even have much to say here since I can't talk much about students, and that and finishing up that huge paper I already mentioned will be all of my time. We'll see though. I'm just trying to make it through this semester on top of things.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Life Post: Lots of Work and Presentations

Things have been much calmer here recently, so I don't have much to vent about like I have in last posts. I actually have multiple presentations I'm preparing for, so those are all taking up most of my time. While the biggest one of those is nerve-wracking, I'm feeling much more confident about it than I would have expected. I kind of don't want to talk about it because I don't want that to make me more nervous. Or to jinx anything.

Preparation for that is taking up a lot of my time though on top of my other school work, and I can't say I've been doing much beyond that.

After going for what felt like quite a while without making a video, I posted a Youtube video earlier today. It's about my five favorite books from childhood. That video, some beta reading, and working on those presentations has been the bulk of my Sunday.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Book Review: Unfair by Adam Benforado

ISBN: 0770437761
Published: June 16th, 2015
Publisher: Crown
Read from September 15th to 19th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
"A law professor sounds an explosive alarm on the hidden unfairness of our legal system." —Kirkus Reviews, starred

A child is gunned down by a police officer; an investigator ignores critical clues in a case; an innocent man confesses to a crime he did not commit; a jury acquits a killer. The evidence is all around us: Our system of justice is fundamentally broken.

But it’s not for the reasons we tend to think, as law professor Adam Benforado argues in this eye-opening, galvanizing book. Even if the system operated exactly as it was designed to, we would still end up with wrongful convictions, trampled rights, and unequal treatment. This is because the roots of injustice lie not inside the dark hearts of racist police officers or dishonest prosecutors, but within the minds of each and every one of us.

This is difficult to accept. Our nation is founded on the idea that the law is impartial, that legal cases are won or lost on the basis of evidence, careful reasoning and nuanced argument. But they may, in fact, turn on the camera angle of a defendant’s taped confession, the number of photos in a mug shot book, or a simple word choice during a cross-examination. In Unfair, Benforado shines a light on this troubling new field of research, showing, for example, that people with certain facial features receive longer sentences and that judges are far more likely to grant parole first thing in the morning.

Over the last two decades, psychologists and neuroscientists have uncovered many cognitive forces that operate beyond our conscious awareness. Until we address these hidden biases head-on, Benforado argues, the social inequality we see now will only widen, as powerful players and institutions find ways to exploit the weaknesses of our legal system.

Weaving together historical examples, scientific studies, and compelling court cases—from the border collie put on trial in Kentucky to the five teenagers who falsely confessed in the Central Park Jogger case—Benforado shows how our judicial processes fail to uphold our values and protect society’s weakest members. With clarity and passion, he lays out the scope of the legal system’s dysfunction and proposes a wealth of practical reforms that could prevent injustice and help us achieve true fairness and equality before the law.


This book is such an excellent book about so many of the things that are wrong with the current American justice system. It touches on just about every aspect of the system, from police officers to juries and the biases that everyone has. If anyone could read this book and not admit that there are so many things that need to be fixed, then I would be amazed.

What I really love about the book is that everything in it is based in psychology and neuroscience and real facts. At the same time, the book is also powerful because of the real stories you get of difference injustices that have come out of our justice system. You get to hear about studies that discovered judges' decisions can be predicted based only on what time of the day they're making the decision, and you get to hear about people who are wrongly accused because jurors (and other people in the justice system) can't recognize their own biases that everyone possesses. The book looks at solitary confinement, something used frequently yet has been shown to do so much psychological damage that it really is torture. There's also the evidence that people do a really poor job of identifying people who aren't of their race, which presents a huge problem when you rely on eye witnesses to identify suspects (and that's only one of a multitude of ways that eye witnesses can get things wrong).

And that's such a small selection of topics that this book explores. There's so much in here, and all of it is incredibly important to understanding how messed up our justice system currently is.

But this book isn't just condemning the system. It provides a number of ways to improve it and create a system that is much fairer by educating people and using what we know about psychology and neuroscience to actually work out these problems.

This is a book that I feel like everyone should read. It's such an important topic and one that really won't get better until more people are aware of the information that's in this book. It's something that we really can't afford as a society to keep ignoring.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

The Next Five Books on My Wish List

I know there are some book bloggers who do things like this on a regular basis. There are those posts about books that people are excited to come out and then those that they want to buy and things like that. I don't plan on making this a regular thing though. I have an absurdly long book wish list, but it's rare that I check anything off of it. Most of the books I've gotten recently come from giveaways or are for review. I buy one or two here or there, but even then it's usually new releases I don't want to wait for or it's like that copy of Harry Potter I recently found being sold used. I can't remember the last time I even bought a book directly off my wish list, especially one towards the top that are theoretically the ones I plan to buy next.

But someday I will, and these are the next five books I plan (or at least hope) to get.

1. Sarfighters of Adumar by Aaron Allston. This is the ninth and penultimate X-Wing series book. I've read the first eight but not the last two. The tenth one actually came out about a decade after all the others, I think. We're going on two years now since I read the eighth one, and who knows when I'll get around to nine and ten. I will at some point though. I swear. I think that out of all the series I'm in the middle of now, this is the one that I want to finish up first.

2. Catching Fire: The Illustrated Movie Companion by Kate Egan. How easy would it even be to get this book at this point? I have no idea. I also don't know if a Mockingjay one even came out. I've talked about these sorts of books in the past though and how I really enjoy them. I do want to read the Catching Fire one. I just haven't yet.

3. The Search by Gene Yang. This is the second of the Avatar comics series. I've read The Promise and enjoyed it. Then I fell behind. Since I'm multiple series behind at this point, I really do need to catch up. Although it might be a good thing that I've waited until I can buy it all in one volume because I bought all the individual volumes of The Promise. Both ways have advantages and disadvantages though. It would have been nice if I'd managed to stay caught up as the volumes were coming out.

4. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Art of the Animated series. That's really a mouthful. This book has also been out for quite a while, and I've heard nothing but good things. I desperately want it. The animation of Avatar was something that I looked over while A:TLA was airing, but it was an element of Korra that I was much more aware of. I love that there's a book all about it, and I feel like it's one of those things that's that every Avatar fan wants to have.

5. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. Do I need to explain this one? A new J.K. Rowling book, whether it's under her name or not, is something I need to read. I was one of the few people who genuinely enjoyed The Casual Vacancy. I know this one is a lot different even from that, and that only makes me more excited to read it.

Now we just have to wait and see when I actually manage to get my hands on all of these books.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Review: Neutrino Hunters by Ray Jayawardhana

ISBN: 0374220638
Published: December 10th, 2013
Publisher: Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Read from September 14th to 17th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Winner of the Canadian Science Writers Association 2014 Science in Society Book Award
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Science Book of the Season
A Book to Watch Out For, The New Yorker's Page-Turner Blog
A Los Angeles Times Gift Guide Selection
One of the Best Physics Books of 2013, Cocktail Party Physics Blog, Scientific American
Detective thriller meets astrophysics in this adventure into neutrinos and the scientists who pursue them
The incredibly small bits of matter we call neutrinos may hold the secret to why antimatter is so rare, how mighty stars explode as supernovae, what the universe was like just seconds after the big bang, and even the inner workings of our own planet.
For more than eighty years, adventurous minds from around the world have been chasing these ghostly particles, trillions of which pass through our bodies every second. Extremely elusive and difficult to pin down, neutrinos are not unlike the brilliant and eccentric scientists who doggedly pursue them.
In Neutrino Hunters, the renowned astrophysicist and award-winning writer Ray Jayawardhana takes us on a thrilling journey into the shadowy world of neutrinos and the colorful lives of those who seek them. Demystifying particle science along the way, Jayawardhana tells a detective story with cosmic implications--interweaving tales of the sharp-witted theorist Wolfgang Pauli; the troubled genius Ettore Majorana; the harbinger of the atomic age Enrico Fermi; the notorious Cold War defector Bruno Pontecorvo; and the dynamic dream team of Marie and Pierre Curie. Then there are the scientists of today who have caught the neutrino bug, and whose experimental investigations stretch from a working nickel mine in Ontario to a long tunnel through a mountain in central Italy, from a nuclear waste site in New Mexico to a bay on the South China Sea, and from Olympic-size pools deep underground to a gigantic cube of Antarctic ice--called, naturally, IceCube.
As Jayawardhana recounts a captivating saga of scientific discovery and celebrates a glorious human quest, he reveals why the next decade of neutrino hunting will redefine how we think about physics, cosmology, and our lives on Earth.


This book is essentially the story of our understanding of neutrinos. Various people who were important in helping make new discoveries and learning new things are all included. I think the best way to describe it is that this book is a history of sorts of how we've come to understand what we do about neutrinos. Then there's some science mixed in to help you understand what exactly it is they're discovering as well. That being said, the science in the book is always written about in easy to understand ways. I imagine most people wouldn't have trouble grasping what's in the book, and I'd label the book a history of these discoveries before I would label it a scientific explanation of neutrinos.

I really enjoyed this book. It was one of those things that left me in amazement of the universe, and I love stuff like that. While I had enough of an understanding of neutrinos before that I don't think I learned a ton on the science front in this book (although I'd say I learned some), I had no knowledge of most of the scientists written about in this book. Of the events written about in the book, the only ones that I knew about at all really were the ones that I've lived through. It's fascinating to me to see how we managed to make it to where we are today in our understanding.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the history neutrino hunting and what we still have to learn today. This book is written in a very engaging way, and I think anyone with an interest in the subject would enjoy it.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Life Post: A Calmer Period

I don't want to jinx it, but things have really slowed down for me so far this week. I'm not sure what it is that tipped and let me finally feel like I can breathe again, but something did. I still have the same level of work that I did before, but apparently I found a way to manage it without realizing that's made everything way easier. Maybe I've just gotten into the groove of the semester, I don't know.

That isn't to say that I don't still have plenty of work to keep me busy because I do. I'm still doing something just about every minute of the day, but it all feels much more management, like I have just enough to fill up a day and not too much to cram into one day. I'll take it.

Today I finally posted something new over on my writing blog. It was the first new post there in going on a week. Not too bad, but it feels like it's been forever. I wrote about my uncertainty of dealing with romance and my main character in the story I'm working on.

Book Review: SEO 2015 by Adam Clarke

ISBN: 1505578868
Published: December 16th, 2014
Publisher: self-published
Read from September 11th to 14th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
No matter what your background is, SEO 2014 will walk you through search engine optimization techniques I've used to grow countless companies online and show you how to rank high in Google. But first, let me tell you a little secret about SEO marketing...
Most of the search engine optimization advice on the Internet is just plain wrong!


I bought this a while ago when it was free because I figured, why not? Overall, it has some decent information. However, it's very brief and doesn't go into much detail. I would say that it's a decent enough introduction, but despite what's said throughout the book, you really could find all of the information in it on blogs. As I write this, it's selling for five dollars on Amazon for the ebook, and considering how brief it is and the fact all of the information is easily available online for free, I'm not so sure I would say this book is worth it.

From my perspective while reading, at least half of the book seemed to be links to other resources. I didn't go through and check every single one to see how they work, but I did notice that the majority of them seem to be things you have to pay for. That's not necessarily good or bad, but it did make the book feel a bit like an advertisement to all of these other sites.

The information also felt a bit outdated. Despite being labeled as for 2015, it was talking about Google updates from years ago. One other advantage of looking for this same material on blogs is that the newest information will be out there. This book didn't feel as well updated as it possibly should have been.

I'd say that this book is fine if you get it for free like I did, but I just don't think it's worth paying for really. The book doesn't contain a ton of information, and it definitely doesn't contain anything you couldn't find elsewhere on the Internet. But if you do get the book, it's a decent enough introduction to SEO.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Life Post: A Busy Sunday

This post is going to make me seem all over the place, but after my stressed out post last night, I felt like I should go ahead and make it. I woke up early this morning with the intention of getting a done of work done, and what actually happened was I got back into bed and slept for double the time I would have otherwise. I never do that, but I realized that I couldn't operate on the sleep I'd been getting recently.

After waking up the second time, I got to work though, and I've been busy ever since. But I'm getting so much done and actually feel really good about things right now. Much better than I felt last night while writing that post at least. Things are definitely under control, and I'm pretty confident that I'm going to get everything that I need to get done done today. If not, I should at least get things done tomorrow morning.

I'm feeling so much better than I did last night, so I'm going to say that's a positive.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Life Post: A Day Off Just Means More Stress

Today ended up being quite a good day. My sister came over in the afternoon. We ate lunch together, and she wound up staying for several hours. Then my school had it's first home football game tonight, and my sister stayed for that and we went together. It was fun but also pretty exhausting.

I also put off all of my work to spend the day with her, and I'm already thinking about how much of a bad idea that was. Although I don't actually think it was a bad idea. I've been driving myself into the ground just trying to get all of my school work done this semester. I needed this break, and my sister even said that to me at one point. I know it's true. I was so close to losing my mind (even if I had calmed down in comparison to when I really was losing my mind a week or so ago), and today I actually managed to focus on something else. I got really into the football game and talking to my sister. For the first time since the semester started, I actually wasn't thinking about school.

But now I have so much to do tomorrow, and it's all I can think about. So it's a lot like I'm even more stressed then I would be otherwise, but I don't know if that's true.

I don't know, basically. I'm just very stressed out, and it doesn't feel like there's a good solution to it no matter how I look at it.

The thing is, I'm trying to stay optimistic. I dropped my sister off at her apartment just a bit ago, and as I was driving back to mine, Drag Me Down came on the radio. It's such a short drive that my favorite people coming on the radio (even if it's a single that's currently out) was such a small chance. I know it was nothing more than coincidence, but I took it as a sign to just stay calm, work but not enough to kill myself, and it'll be okay. I'm trying really hard to actually think that.

A part of me is tempted to stay up all night to work, but that will make things worse in the long run. Instead I'm probably going to bed really soon now only to wake up early (probably very early) tomorrow to start getting things done again. It's shocking how many things I have due Monday that sound daunting even though I've been working on them steadily for a week or more.

This semester is proving to be the most challenging of my life.

My Top Five Favorite Songs

I'm someone who's favorite song changes constantly. My list never stays the same even from day to day. I do have a larger group of songs that my current favorites are all a part of, and my current favorites tend to cycle through again and again. So I guess it's not entirely changing, but it's not a set list by any means, much less so than say my favorite books or movies. That being said, here are my top five favorite songs right at this moment.

1. Wings by Little Mix. This is actually the most stable song on the list. Wings has been my number one song since it came out in 2012 and I became a Little Mix fan. I loved it during the summer when I first heard it, but that fall is when it really solidified as my favorite in a way that's managed to keep it there so far. That was the year I started college, and I wound up getting incredibly home sick for the first month. I listened to this song on repeat and almost nothing except this song for that entire time period.

2. Where Do Broken Hearts Go by One Direction. About half or so of One Direction's songs rotate through my favorites on a regular basis, but this one has managed to stay my favorite One Direction song pretty much nonstop for more than a year now. It actually wasn't when that album first came out, but for some reason, I had an epiphany one time while listening to it and decided I hadn't been appreciating the song as much as I should have been. Now I listen to it more than any other One Direction song.

3. I Don't Need a Man by Miss A. This song pops into my head at least three times a day. I've been a Miss A fan for seven months now, and this was the second of their songs that I heard. Listening to it for the first time was when I knew that I was becoming a fan. It's so catchy, and the music video for it is also my favorite Miss A music video.

4. Black Magic by Little Mix. There's a huge danger of a list of my favorite songs becoming entirely Little Mix, but that accurately portrays my music listening habits if we're being honest. This also a big indicator or how much this list changes for me on a regular basis because this song is pretty new. It probably won't stay here forever, not because it's bad but because it can't out rank some other Little Mix favorites of mine, but it's definitely here at the moment. Over the post couple of months, I've definitely been listening to Black Magic more than any other song.

5. Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson. This song has been on my favorites list for quite a while too actually, and I've been listening to it on an almost daily basis for what feels like at least a year. I really, really love it.

So that's my top five at this particular moment, but if I'd done this even an hour later it could have looked differently. My favorite songs really are so dependent on my particular mood whenever I'm asked. Like I said, Wings is the only one in a truly stable position on this list. It doesn't help that I've started shying away from ranking my favorite books and movies lately too. I used to have very clear cut lists of my favorites, but then I started feeling like I just liked too many things to limit myself to lists. That's probably truer for music than anything else.

Life Post: Up Early

It's a Saturday, and I was up at five in the morning. College leads to some weird things happening. I know I said that I've discovered that I like being up early in the morning, but today is not one of those days. I'm tired and wish I was back in bed, but that's not possible. I really hope I can sleep in tomorrow morning too because I don't know how I'll survive if I don't get that.

Yesterday I wound up going out to dinner with my sister. While it was nice to take a bit of a break and spend time with her, I got less school work done because of it, and my pile of school work right now is absolutely ridiculous. I don't even get how I can get it all done in time, and I'm working on fifty different things at once. I'm taking less credit hours than last semester, and I thought that would mean things would be a bit better. Last semester almost felt like it was going to kill me, but now this semester is turning out to be even heavier no matter what the credit hours. I'm trying to just focus on whatever I can do at any given time though and trying to trek through.

I have a lot to do today though, so I'm off to get to all of that.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Book Review: Beauty and the Beast by Jenni James

ASIN: B008940W3Y
Published: June 4th, 2012
Publisher: StoneHouse Ink
Read from September 5th to 10th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Beauty and the Beast is the first in a new series of fairy tales for young adult readers. Fans of Disney, fairy tales, and fantasy will love the Faerie Tale Collection by Jenni James. A prince by day and a wolf by night—
Prince Alexander has been turned into a werewolf and has one year to find someone to love the beast and break the spell, or he will be a wolf forever. He has nearly given up achieving the impossible, knowing no girl would ever fall in love with such a monster.
Just when he is about to abdicate the throne to his cousin, he meets Cecelia Hammerstein-Smythe, while a wolf, and begins to hope for the first time in months. Can he balance both worlds as a human and beast, gaining the love and trust of a girl who has every reason to despise him?
Cecelia detests the prince. She only knows Alexander as the arrogant monarch—the tyrant who has made her life miserable—though perhaps he's changed right before her eyes. He's not as full of himself as he once was. The prince is gentle now... but then again, so is the beast. 


I always enjoy seeing the different ways that authors adapt Beauty and the Beast. It's very interesting to me to see all the different ways it's done. This one was interesting in that the "Beast" was a wolf during the night but human during the day. I've read other retellings where he specifically turns into a wolf, but I think this was the first one I'd read where he's only transformed at night.

The story was hard to find believable a lot of the time. In some ways, that's pretty common in fairy tale retellings, but there are still ways for things to feel believable within the context of the story. I didn't always feel things were believable like that in this story. The relationships between the characters felt very rushed, and it was hard to believe that Cecelia and Alexander had actually fallen in love with each other.

Overall, I did enjoy the book a bit. It's a quick read, and I enjoy just about every Beauty and the Beast retelling in some way. There are better retellings out there, but if you really love Beauty and the Beast, you might be interested enough to check this one out.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Life Post: No Time to Breathe

Things are definitely staying as crazy as always as far as school's concerned. I know I've said it a million times in less than a month, but this semester is just crazy. It's so hard to believe I'm actually a senior, but if anything were going to convince me, it would be the workload. There's so much going on that I really don't have time to breathe. My entire day is basically devoted to do something to do with school. There's not much time for anything else.

I have managed a few things though. I tried out writing something that's entirely dialogue over on my writing blog. Over on Youtube, I reviewed Peeps by Scott Westerfeld, and I also posted a really short vlog.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Shipping Fanon Ships

I almost always ship canon. When it comes to why, I've never had a clear cut reason. Typically I'm shipping the couples I'm really invested in before they've become canon, but there's no doubt that me having a good idea that they're going to be canon makes me more receptive to them. I don't think I just blindly ship anything canon though. There are canon ships I like, canon ships I don't care about either way, and canon ships I dislike. But it's extremely rare that I ship something that isn't canon. It's just never been something I do.

My first ship that I knew didn't have a good chance of being canon was Tokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Now don't get me wrong, I hoped it would be canon, and I actually did think that it would play a bigger role in the show than it did (Toph did have a crush after all). But I was never one hundred percent certain that that was how the show was ending like I was with, say, Kataang.

Other than that, I don't have many non-canon ships even today. There are some fanon ships that I like well enough, and I enjoy reading fanfiction for them occasionally, but I don't seek it out. The only other major one I ship is Leah/Embry from Twilight, but that feels different from Tokka just because neither one of them ends up with anyone in canon. In my head, it's incredibly easy to imagine that they got together, but it just happened after the books ended.

If anyone reads my fanfiction, you know that I wrote a Gale/Johanna fic, and I'm actually quite happy with that fic. I think I'd get a mixed reaction telling readers of that fic that I don't entirely ship Gale/Johanna. I like them together, but I kind of shipped Gale/Madge throughout the books. Mockingjay was the first book where I considered Gale/Johanna, and I still didn't ship them as much as Gale/Madge. (And I really didn't actively ship Gale/Madge.) The reason I wrote that story (other than the fact it was a canon continuation and therefore couldn't be Gale/Madge) was because Johanna was my favorite character. I primarily wanted to write about her, and I saw her with Gale more than anyone else. I also strongly disliked Gale, so I thought writing him more would be interesting. I actually do like him better than I did before writing it. All of that being said, I still wouldn't consider myself a Gale/Johanna shipper. I just put them together because it made sense to do so to me, but I'm not at all invested in it outside of that one story.

Oh, I could bring up Makorra, but I really don't count that since they did date in the show.

I really admire people who ship couples that aren't canon with so much passion. That is incredibly impressive to me. It's just never been one of the responses I've had to fandom.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Blog Tour: Serpentine by Cindy Pon


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Title: Serpentine
Publication date: September 8, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Cindy Pon

SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.
“Vivid worldbuilding, incendiary romance, heart-pounding action, and characters that will win you over–I highly recommend Serpentine.” Cinda Williams Chima, best-selling author of the Seven Realms and Heir Chronicles fantasy novels

“Serpentine is unique and surprising, with a beautifully-drawn fantasy world that sucked me right in! I love Skybright’s transformative power, and how she learns to take charge of it.” ~Kristin Cashore, NYT Bestseller of the Graceling Realm Series

“Serpentine’s world oozes with lush details and rich lore, and the characters crackle with life. This is one story that you’ll want to lose yourself in.” ~ Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Legend and The Young Elites


Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, will be published by Month9Books in September 2015. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at www.cindypon.com.

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Giveaway Information:  Contest ends September 18, 2015

·         One (1) winner will receive a digital copy of Serpentine by Cindy Pon (INT)

Direct Link: 



“Skybright … ” He tugged her gently to him. “I never feel
as if I can speak of my past with the other monks. Because of
my birthmark. Because I’m different. But with you, I … ” He
didn’t finish the thought, but instead leaned in and kissed her.
It was like a jolt, quickening her pulse. His mouth was full,
firm against her own. He smelled of camphor wood and sweat.
Of boy. His tongue flicked across her lips and instinctively she
opened her mouth to him. She gasped when their tongues met.
Warmth pooled in her stomach and spread, till her entire body
was roused.


His hands had wound around her waist, sneaked under
her sleep tunic so she could feel his rough palms against her
midriff. They met at the small of her back and slid upward,
till his fingers caressed her shoulder blades, and they were
crushed against each other.

They kissed until the blood roared in her ears and she felt
drunk with desire. Then something ignited inside of her, that
now familiar heat, writhing through and pulsing down her
legs. Terrified, she shoved his shoulders hard, and he stumbled
back, dazed.

Skybright clutched her head between tight fists, willing the
blazing heat away. Willing herself not to change. No. Not now.
Not in front of Kai Sen. Her body shook with the effort, still
trembling from the kiss they had shared. Terror constricted her

His thumb stroked her cheek, and she jerked away from him.

“What was that?” She tried to catch her breath, and the
words came unevenly.

“I’ve always wondered what it was like, to kiss.” His voice
sounded low and thick.

“So you decided to experiment on the first handmaid you
came across?”

The first handmaid he came across naked in the forest.
Humiliation and anger wound tight within her, and she
welcomed the emotions. Anything to smother the heat that
threatened to rise below.

Kai Sen made a choking noise. “No. Of course not. I
wanted to kiss you.” He lifted his hand to touch her again and
she slapped it aside. “I like you,” he said quietly. “I’ve seen
plenty of servant girls in town, wandering the markets. But
you were the only I ever knew brave enough to climb a giant
cypress to spy on monks.” He smiled. “You’re the only one
I’ve felt I could share my past with–”

“You don’t even know me,” she said. And it felt as if her
heart was shattering like brittle porcelain, because Kai Sen
could never truly know her. Not ever. “Please go.”
He took a step back, and she hated him for obeying her.

“Will you still meet me in the morning by the creek?” he asked.

Life Post: Busy But Enjoyable

This week really did get busy fast after Labor Day. I was up early this morning for class, and I tried to start off my day a bit lighter by reading fanfiction for a bit before I had to leave. I think it worked. Doing things like that always puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day, and so far, my day's been good even if it's been busy.

My early class today, which is three hours long normally, actually got out two hours early, which was awesome. You'd think with all that extra time to get stuff done that I'd be pretty much done with school work by now, but definitely not. I worked though those two extra hours, and I still have so much I need to do today.

I really do like all of my classes this semester so far though, and that helps no matter how busy I am. While there's a lot to do, I enjoy it for the most part, and it doesn't bother me too much as long as I get a bit of a break now and then.

Here's hoping that I'm still saying that at the end of the semester.

Life Post: Labor Day

I'm back at school, and today actually involved a lot of working on school work I hadn't managed to get done earlier in the weekend. With that on top of the drive back and going out to lunch for my sister's birthday, today was exhausting. It was not a relaxing holiday weekend that leaves someone feeling refreshed for the new week. Tomorrow is the day I have my earliest class, and I don't know how I'm going to survive.

And, yes, I'm writing this post after midnight instead of being in bed. I haven't quite finished up everything that I need to tonight, so despite the fact I can hardly keep my eyes open, I'm still up. Tomorrow is going to be a long one.

Monday, September 7, 2015

My Writing Blog

I know I've mentioned multiple times on this blog that I have another blog that I started back at the beginning of the year. It's centered entirely around my writing. That means I post various things I write from flash fiction and other short things like that to posts about longer projects I'm working on. Typically I post less there than I do here, but I do feel pretty good with how much I've managed to keep up with it.

Every time I post there, I mention it in the next life post I post here, but I wanted to make a longer post about it as well. I had an older writing blog at one point where I did things a lot differently, but we're going on two years now since I last posted there.

As an introduction of sorts for that blog, I'm going to post links to the five most popular posts that I currently have over there along with the first paragraph of the post.

Poetry: Introduction - Here’s the thing: I don’t write poetry. I spent most of my life terrified of it like the majority of people. Poetry terrified me.

The Universe is Amazing - I’ve always had a huge fascination with space. Science isn’t my “thing” in the sense that I’m all that good at it. I took AP biology in high school and did decently. I wouldn’t consider myself a miserable failure at biology. Chemistry was more of a struggle, but still not a complete failure. Still, you get to the more complicated science, and the vast majority of it will go over my head.

I Don’t Want to Just Write about Characters like Me - The simplest idea for me when it comes to creating characters is that you can’t make all of them you in a fictional universe. That was a big thing that young me had to come to terms with when she first started writing. I’d say that at least the first five things I wrote (outside of school) all had main characters that were definitely me except maybe “cooler” in some ways. Sometimes I even gave them my name. I was pretty unapologetic about it.

Letter: Dear Old Friend - Dear Old Friend, We haven’t spoken in years. I have no idea what you’re even up to these days. You may not even be you anymore. Who am I writing to? Nothing more than a figment of the past?

What Max and Ruby Showed Me About Writing - You want to know about my all time least favorite television show? It’s Max and Ruby. Does anyone else know of that show? I never watched it myself, but having younger siblings meant I was aware of kid’s shows even when I didn’t watch them.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Life Post: Labor Day Weekend

I'm home for Labor Day weekend as I write this. Even though it's a long weekend and I'm at home, I've still been working on school stuff for a lot of the weekend. Still, it's nice to have a quick break at home since I won't be back until fall break after this.

I also managed to get the last chapter of my Twilight fanfiction up this weekend, so it's good to not have that on my mind anymore as I get deeper into the semester. I have three one-shots I'm working on now, but those are less of a time commitment. I'm also going to be working on my original novel that I've been working on for years again. I worked on it over the beginning of the summer before putting it aside for the Twiligh fic. Now I'm going to deal with it some more whenever I can, but I'm going to be more focused on school I'm sure.

As far as videos go, I got a phone vlog up when I was still at school. That's about it. I still feel like those are going to be kind of infrequent throughout this semester, but we'll see.

Book Review: The Order by A.C. Donaubauer

Published: August 2nd, 2015
Publisher: self-published
Read from August 29th to September 4th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A clumsy step, the wrong branch to hold on to and a bump on the head to leave her unconscious – no more than that causes Eryn’s life to turn upside down and to suddenly find herself in the capital city as a prisoner to the king.
She is determined to keep her magical abilities a secret in a kingdom where magicians have only ever been male as long as anyone knows. That doesn’t work out that well, though. The Order, the governing body for magicians, and the king seem to have their own plans with her, none of them caring in the least that she just wants to leave that blasted city behind and return to the peace and quite of her profession as a healer.
And then there is Enric, a high ranking magician in the Order thanks to his considerable strength, who seems to find watching her struggles an amusing diversion.


This isn't going to be a full-fledged review. I want to be upfront about the fact that I put this book down at the 53% mark on my Kindle. I couldn't finish it, but I'm going to go ahead and give an explanation as to why I couldn't finish it.

Right away, I wasn't the biggest fan of the writing style in this book. The thing that pulled me out of the story the most was the dialogue. The majority of it felt very unrealistic, and I had a hard time believing that anyone would actually talk like that in real life. It took me out of the story and made reading difficult. It was one of those things where reading the dialogue out loud especially made you realize how off it was, but even just reading, so much of it didn't feel real. That was the first thing that made me start disliking the book, but it's not why I couldn't finish.

Several other annoyances built up as I read, but I was still determined to keep reading. Until Enric just went too far. I hated Enric from the time he first appeared. I think he's supposed to be a type of bad boy character, one of those who's a jerk but girls fall for anyway. I hate those types of characters to be honest, but I can read books with them in it if it's handled in a certain way. I couldn't read about Enric.

First of all, there's being slightly a jerk and there's being a downright despicable human being, and Enric fell in the latter category. He was absolutely terrible, and you can tell right away. I struggled to find even one redeeming quality about him, and even the few qualities stuck in to clearly try to convince readers that he is a good person deep down didn't manage to convince me. I knew he wasn't going to be redeemable from me after one scene where he touches Eryn even though she's resisting. He actually backs her up against a wall and forces her shirt up as she struggles to get away. I think it was supposed to not be all that bad because he doesn't go further than that, but no. No. I was done with him from that point on, and that was the first time where I seriously considered putting the book down.

But even though Enric made me beyond angry, I thought I could make it through the book once I'd calmed down a bit. Until one particular scene. This scene occurs almost halfway through the book. Enric has taken on Eryn's training, but she refuses to do what he's telling her to do. And Enric, as he clearly revels in doing things against Eryn's will, decides to forcibly rip her shirt open a little at a time until she obeys him. He actually starts ripping her shirt off, and it's very obvious that he would have ripped it all the way off if she had kept resisting. That was when I knew I couldn't stomach the book anymore. I did keep reading about a chapter or so past that to see if I could, but I just couldn't. I was scrolling through pages more than anything because it was like I mentally could not bring myself to focus on the words anymore. I was done.

It's worth noting though, that these two instances I specifically mentioned weren't the only things that Enric did over the course of the first half of the book that caused me to have such a strong reaction. They're just the two that stood out most strongly and caused me to have the biggest reaction.

I don't know what happens in the second half of the book, but I'm never going to find out. I honestly cannot stomach anymore of that book or Enric's character after what I read. And as I know Eryn and Enric are going to end up together (That much is obvious, but again, it's worth noting that I didn't actually finish reading to have that confirmed for me.), I cannot bring myself to read about that. Enric passed the point of no return for being redeemable to me in any way far too early in the book for me to be able to get behind their relationship in any way.

I received this book from Story Cartel in exchange for a review.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Life Post: Packing in the Dark

This feels like it might be the earliest I've ever written a post. (Unless early as in just after midnight counts.) I've taken to waking up hours earlier than I actually need to during the week. As it turns out, I really like it, even if I need some coffee in order to actually wake up. Almost every single day I wind up sitting in the dark. That's partially not to disturb my roommate, but there's also something about it that I like. As strange as that is.

I spent years and years of my life being terrified of the dark. I couldn't sleep if my head was peeking out of the covers because I had an irrational (and knew it was irrational) fear of the dark. Keep in mind, this was years after I would have ever believed in actual monsters. Something about the unknown in the dark really just unnerved me and made it difficult to sleep. College, actually, was what forced me to overcome it. When my roommate was gone I had to sleep in the very small, dark dorm all by myself, and that was what finally desensitized me. Now here I am sitting around in the dark without a care in the world and actually enjoying it.

This morning I didn't just sit around though. I actually had to pack. I'm going home this weekend, but I was so consumed with school things this week that packing totally slipped my mind until late last night. It was one of the first things I did this morning, but since I did it in the dark, I feel like I'm probably forgetting something or packed the wrong thing. It's just a weekend, so even if I did, it won't be a big deal. A reason I absolutely have to make this trip is to pick up some things that I forgot when I came to school last month, so I can substitute leaving some things at school on accident instead.

It's getting around that time where I need to get dressed for the day though. Today's one of my three hour class days, which sounds like it would be miserable, but I actually really like both classes. They're early in the morning and long, but what we do is enjoyable that it really doesn't bother me. Anyway, I'm going to go get ready for that and possibly gather up a few more things I forgot while packing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Life Post: Settling Into the Semester

My last several life posts have been me going on about how overwhelmed and stressed I already feel with this semester. I think I can finally say that I'm feeling like I have things under control. I'd really hoped that it was all just a beginning of the semester (no longer used to this) sort of thing, and it's looking like it was. Don't get me wrong, I still feel this buzz of anxiety if I stop and think too long about everything I have to accomplish this semester, but it's at a much more manageable level. It's not driving my completely crazy like it was just a couple of days ago.

Things are still really busy though, so I feel like I'm running around everywhere to get things done. I'm expecting that to be true of most of the semester. Despite taking fewer credit hours this semester than last, I think my workload is going to be the same, if not a bit more. I woke up really early this morning and have been working on stuff ever since. I've managed to be really productive, which is great. I actually enjoy waking up early for a variety of reasons. The side effect of it though is that it feels way later than it actually is to me now. I have yet to go to class, and I feel like I've missed it. I'm having such a hard time actually believing that it's just after noon no matter how many times I look at the clock.

My biggest annoyances right now are things I can't do anything about, so I've pretty much pushed them to the back of my mind. One of those things is that fanfiction.net hasn't let me log in for at least twenty-four hours now. I have no idea what's going on, but I can read fanfiction and nothing else. If I go to my own account, I just get error messages. I really wanted to post another chapter of my fic yesterday, but obviously that didn't happen. When it does start working properly again, I'm going to post two chapters at once to make up for it.

Despite that though, I'm feeling extremely good right now in comparison to last week and earlier this week, and I'm hoping to keep that up. Hopefully the long weekend will really help. I do think this semester is going to be a good one overall, and I'm trying to focus on that and not how busy it's all sure to be.

Oh, I actually forgot that Windows Movie Maker was screwing up on me the other day too. I had a video to post that is probably never going up because WMM refuses to save the file no matter what I do despite working fine with other files. But in better news, I did manage to get my monthly wrap-up and TBR up. However, I did actually make that while still pretty stressed, and you can tell.

Reign: A Guilty Pleasure?

In the past, I've been a pretty strong advocate for the idea that things shouldn't really be guilty pleasures. If you like something, you shouldn't feel guilty about it. I still feel that way, but I also get why people use the term. Recently, I've started using it a lot more even though it really contradicts things I have said in the past.

Since I review Reign here on my blog, I can't call it a guilty pleasure in the sense that I act like I'm not a fan. I'm open about watching it and enjoying it. Still, something about that show just screams "guilty pleasure" to me. I'm not sure if it's because I've heard plenty of other people refer to Reign specifically that way or because it just ticks off a lot of check marks on the guilty pleasure list for me.

Either way, I think of Reign when I think of guilty pleasures now, and that means I kind of have one. That's new for me since I wouldn't have said I did before. (Even if other people might have considered some of the things I like as guilty pleasures.) Reign is something that's easy for people to scoff at, I suppose, even though I haven't really dealt with any of that.

So why am I writing about this now? Well, Reign comes back in October, and I'm really missing it at the moment. It's only been a little more than three months, but it feels like so much longer. Because of that, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I keep re-checking to see when the season premiere is so that I can calculate how many days away that is. It's been a while since I've gotten to do something like that, so it actually makes me excited. That premiere really can't come quick enough.