Saturday, October 24, 2015

Life Post: Two Nights of Sleep

For the past two nights, I actually managed to get more than eight hours of sleep. I feel so amazing. I don't get only a few hours sleep on a nightly basis, but I do typically have one night of almost no sleep followed by a night of decent sleep and so on like that, back and forth. To have two nights in a row where I get eight hours is impressive, so I'm pretty happy about it.

I'm just happy it's a Saturday and kind of a lazy day. I do have things to do today. I need to work on school work, prepare to be in the classroom on Monday (which is also technically school work), and pick up some groceries (mostly soda since I'm out and need caffeine other than coffee). So far though I've done none of that. I know I'll have time still. I'm going to work on one of my papers as soon as I'm done with this post, which I guess will be right now. I don't have much more to say since things are largely the same as they were in my last post.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Life Post: Lots of Writing and School Things

Woah. It's been almost two weeks since my last one of these. All of the time I have for writing these days is taken up with my huge senior paper or the fanfiction I'm working on (the third of my Leah stories) or other school papers. I have very little time for any other sort of writing. When you add on the fact that I have plenty of other school stuff, I hardly have enough time for writing those things.

I have to write the school papers, of course. Especially my huge one. I'm in the finishing stages of it, but I don't think I'll ever feel like it's finished. I'm going to have to turn it in and hope for the best. At this point, I won't ever be happy with it.

As for the fanfiction, it's coming along significantly better. I feel like I've gotten into my groove with these stories now that I'm on the third one, and there's some important stuff that happens in this one. It's been really fun writing it. I also think it's going to be the longest of them all considering how many words I have when I'm only on the fifth chapter. Hopefully I'll have that posted within a few months. Don't expect it all that soon since it's going to be put on the back burner soon as things get even crazier.

In addition to that, some of the other things happening are: I had my first meeting about my practicum. I'm not going to be able to talk about that much here for the sake of student privacy (just like last year), but it will be taking up a huge chunk of my time over the next month.

I'm also currently putting together my application for student teaching. All things considered, I suppose this isn't such a huge thing. The application process is relatively easy as long as you're careful about having all of the information filled out. It just feels like a large step, so it's been on my mind a lot.

Those are the biggest things I believe, although there are plenty of other, smaller things taking up space in my mind. Once this semester's over, I'm not going to know what to do with myself anymore.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Book Review: The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

ISBN: B0161X44Y2
Expected publication: October 25th, 2015
Publisher: Wanderlust Publishing
Read from October 11th to 18th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Kate Brandeis has it all: a famous reporter at the age of twenty-four, she’s the face of the Republic of the Americas. She has a loving fiancĂ© and all the success she could wish for. But when she learns of the death of a long-forgotten friend, her investigations unravel her perfect memories, forcing her to face the fact that she’s been living a lie.
Jackson MacNamera, trained from a young age in the art of mind control, returns to the Republic for his mother’s funeral. Within a few hours of his arrival, authorities collect Jackson and take him by force to a room ironically called The Liberty Box, where he must choose between surrendering his thoughts to the new Republic, or fleeing for his freedom.
Kate, bereaved and confused, finds her way to a cave community of refugees, where Jackson seems to offer her an escape from her grief. The two forge an uneasy bond, and in the process Jackson learns that Kate has some insight which may help the hunters in their attempt to free other citizens from the tyranny of the Potentate. Against the expressed wishes of the Council, the hunters plot a series of daring raids, attempting to prove that not only is freedom possible, but that the citizens are not too far gone to desire it. But with the odds so stacked against them, can the refugees succeed in their rescue missions right under the Potentate’s nose? 


If you read enough of my reviews, then it's entirely unsurprising that I find myself drawn to dystopian novels. It fascinates me to see various different imaginings of the future, even when they're grim. This is one of those dystopian books that isn't set all that far in the future, and you actually get to learn quite a bit about how the Republic of the Americas was formed from the former United States. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I feel like the majority of dystopian books I read stays vague about how society reached the point they're at, but this one didn't. I enjoyed seeing bits of that unfold and hearing about it from some characters who had lived through it and were still alive.

The focus on mind control was also fascinating to me. I can think of one other dystopian series that had a way of controlling people's thoughts through brain surgery, but it was nothing like the mind control in this book. It was intriguing to read about how easily manipulated everyone was into believing things that could be proven to be untrue just by really analyzing what was in front of them.

I greatly enjoyed this story overall. There were a few points here or there where it could come across as a little preachy and the message it was trying to send was very blatant. I know that's something that bothers some people, but it wasn't something that bothered me all that much. I've never been against that sort of thing the way I think some others are.

The way the story ended has me incredibly excited for book two. I have so many questions about how the rest of the story will unfold, and I can't wait to read and find out.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Shadowhunters Trailers and FirstClip Reaction

I haven't really talked much about The Mortal Instruments being adapted into the TV show Shadowhunters for ABC Family since the cast was announced, but I've been following a lot of what's been going on through Twitter. We got our first looks a little more than a week ago now, and immediately, I knew I needed to talk about it. Unfortunately, because of school and whatnot, I'm writing this a lot later than I would have hoped. This can't really be considered my immediate reaction anymore, since I've had plenty of time to digest everything, but here's my thoughts.

I'm going to separate it all by the separate trailers and clips we saw just as a way to make sure I cover everything I want to. I'm also going to try and discuss them in the order they were released, but since it was all within the same day and was now a week ago, I may be a bit off.

This teaser trailer was the first, I believe. I know it was the first one I watched, so I was nervous going into it. I desperately want this show to be good, and I've had such mixed feelings so far that I don't know what to expect from it. Going into the trailer, I really wanted to see something reassuring.

The effects in the beginning of the teaser were cheesy to me and not my absolute favorite, but they weren't so bad that I was giving up all hope. I feel like the main strategy there was to show off the effects that are going to be on the show, but I didn't see much that I'd consider impressive within this trailer. The coolest part for me as the room Alec was doing archery in. I thought it looked cool. However, Alec is also my favorite character, so maybe I'm just biased.

There's a small moment with Simon in the trailer that hints heavily that he'll be a vampire. They've talked multiple times about how the show isn't going to be "here's what happened in book one" followed by "here's what happened in book two." They're combining things and reworking them apparently. I don't think that's a bad thing as long as they do it well, which we'll have to wait and see on. From this teaser though, I suspect one of the things they'll be changing is when Simon becomes a vampire. If they're already teasing it in the first trailer, I'd suspect it happens pretty early on. I think that could work well since I helps strengthen Simon's role in everything without him being just a human who's tagging along with all these half angel shadowhunters.

There's only one other thing in that teaser that I'm really wondering about. Clary's voice over starts mentioning destiny, and there are flashes of Clary/Jace and Magnus/Alec standing together. Obviously that's a reference to the two couples. It's interesting to me that they've done that with Clary and Jace though as there is supposed to be the love triangle with Simon at first. I wonder how much of Clary and Jace's relationship will stay the same as in the book, if it'll be established early on or dragged out even though everyone knows they'll end up together.

The other thing about that short sequence that got me thinking is the lack of Simon/Isabelle. I can't decide why they're not there. Their relationship comes after the others of course, so if they follow the books at all, it would make sense to only develop them later. If they are going to stick with the Simon/Clary/Jace triangle at all, it would also probably benefit them to not advertise Simon/Izzy much as that gives away how that will end, but if everyone already knows it's ultimately Clary/Jace anyway, then I'm not sure if that's the motivation for the decision. I'm thinking this may mean that it will take longer for us to get much Simon/Izzy at all on the show.

Of course, this entire teaser had a voice over by Kat, who's playing Clary, so I kind of have to talk about that. Did her performance in the teaser blow me away? No. I didn't particularly like the voice over, but it also could have been worse. I think a voice over in a teaser isn't a fair judgment of someone's acting ability either, so I'm trying not to focus on it all that much and instead only judge her on her performance within the actual show.

Then we got a second trailer really soon after the first. This one starts off with Jocelyn taking a kid Clary to Magnus to have her memories altered/taken away. I quite like opening the trailer with that as it teases some background information that's important. I also like that they follow it up with Clary running into Magnus at the club.

Then we got clips of the scene where Clary sees Jace, Alec, and Izzy fighting demons. Since we got this entire clip afterwards, I'll wait to talk about specifics then, but I do appreciate it being in the trailer. As far as I can tell, most of this trailer seems to be from the first episode, which is good. It doesn't give too much away.

There's a scene between Clary and Jocelyn. Now, this is a piece of Kat's acting that I feel better judging, and I'm still not all that impressed. I didn't like it much at all really, but I still don't want to be too harsh on her without having the entire episode. And I don't think she's any worse here than some of the other bits with the other actors. This scene just stands out to me as particularly bad because of what it is, I think.

We get Jace killing what I think is a demon? I don't remember any demons described as looking like that exactly in the books, but since demons can be in all sorts of forms, I'd have to assume it's what that thing is. It's creepy enough to look like a demon, and I'm actually impressed with it. Of all the effects they've shown, I think I'm happiest with that one of anything. It's only a brief glimpse, but I'd say that was a pretty good demon. Not something I'd want to come face to face with.

There's a brief flash of a Silent Brother that looked cool too, but it was so quick that I don't want to say much about them in the show yet. Another brief glimpse seemed to be Luke turning into a wolf, and it didn't look like anything I could have expected, but it was intriguing.

Kat's and Dominic's acting in their scene together struck me as better than a lot of the other acting in what we've seen. I don't know why that is, but it does make me a bit more hopeful. I'm not asking for them to blow me away here, but I'd like to not be cringing every five seconds while watching the show.

The last thing we got as a clip from the first episode that covers what happens in the club, including Clary meeting Jace, Alec, and Izzy for the first time and getting caught up in them killing demons. I can't go into all the different parts of it in detail because I can't find it online anymore, and I only watched it once. Instead, I'm going to stick to generalities for the most part.

One thing I wanted to mention that has stuck around in my mind (because I have excellent priorities in what I remember) is that Magnus apparently owns the Pandemonium club. That's interesting. I don't think we'd been told of that change. Unless I missed something. I think it's a good change. I can see Magnus owning a club, truthfully, and I see that change as meaning that more of the story of the TV show will be focused around the club than it was in the books. That should be interesting.

Let's see. What can I remember other than that? The effects looked cool to me. For a TV show, I'd say they were impressive, but I'm drawing that mostly off the trailers and what I have managed to remember from the clips. I don't remember any of the effects making me cringe other than the crazy jumping Alec, Izzy, and Jace that felt kind of odd.

I don't remember any of the actors doing anything that really made me cringe either. The only thing is that I'm not sure how I feel about Isabelle luring in the demons like they did, but I'm going to wait and see how the demon hunting unfolds in the rest of the series before have a strong opinion on that.

Overall, I'd say all of these looks did manage to keep me hopeful that this show will be entertaining, if not the greatest thing ever on television. I have some questions about the show in a good way. The trailers and clip have made me want to know what's going to happen even though I've read the books, which I assume was a huge goal (and part of the motivation for changing what they have from the books). I really do hope I'm not let down and that this show ends up being good in at least some capacity.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Life Post: Midterms But Not Really Midterms

I went back to look at what day I last wrote one of these and was like, "Oh, yeah. That happened." I'd honestly forgotten by the time the week ended. So I guess that's good. The rest of my week was far less eventful in comparison, and I've had the best lazy weekend the past couple of days. I love it, and I'm hoping next week isn't too crazy. It's midterms, but I don't have "real" midterms in any of my classes. The closest thing I have is one project that's due, and I'm not worried about it. After that, it's fall break too, and I'm so excited for that. It may only be two days off school, but I'm happy for it.

Other than that, I just have all the usual stuff going on. I still haven't started my practicum because of some huge stuff that went down at the school I was supposed to go to, but my professor has found a new school for me. I'm hoping I'll be able to start that as soon as fall break is over. (Their fall break is actually this week, so I definitely can't start until after our fall break.)

I reviewed a modern retelling of Jane Austen's Emma over on Youtube if you're interested in checking that out. I also posted a quick vlog that I did on my phone that talks a bit more about stuff that's been going on recently. I did talk more in there about my school work load and what sort of assignments I have going on right now if you'd care to hear more about that.

Now, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday and do nothing important until tomorrow morning.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Book Review: Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up by Grace Helbig

ISBN: 1476788006
Published: October 21st, 2014
Publisher: Touchstone
Read from October 5th to 8th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
"One of the sharpest, funniest voices on YouTube" (Forbes), comedian Grace Helbig offers an irreverent and illustrated guide to life for anyone faced with the challenge of growing up.
Face it—being a young adult in the digital era is one of the hardest things to be. Well, maybe there are harder things in life…but being an adult is difficult! So Grace Helbig has written a guide that’s perfect for anyone who is faced with the daunting task of becoming an adult.
Infused with her trademark saucy, sweet, and funny voice, Grace’s Guide is a tongue-in-cheek handbook for millennials, encompassing everything a young or new (or regular or old) adult needs to know, from surviving a breakup to recovering from a hangover. Beautifully illustrated and full-color, Grace’s Guide features interactive elements and exclusive stories from Grace’s own misadventures—like losing her virginity solely because her date took her to a Macaroni Grill—and many other hilarious lessons she learned the hard way.
Amusing and unexpectedly educational, this refreshing and colorful guide proves that becoming an adult doesn’t necessarily mean you have to grow up.


I've been watching Grace's videos for a while, and I'd probably consider her one of my favorite Youtubers. I knew that if her book reflected her videos at all, then it would be great. Luckily, this book did that. There were so many times where her voice came through so clearly that I could imagine her saying the exact same thing in a video.\

I'm right at the age that a lot of Grace's advice seems to be targeted to as well, so that made it even more applicable to my life. I especially appreciated the section of the book about dealing with anxiety because I relate to Grace so much in that respect, and so much of it is genuinely good advice even though it's delivered in a funny way.

If you enjoy Grace's videos, I would recommend checking this book out as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Life Post: Yeah, I Cried in Class, but It's in the Past Now

It's been five days since my last one of these, and the biggest bit of news that I have to share is that I cried so hard in class today that I had to leave for a bit to put myself back together. Yep. Do I have a good explanation for how exactly that happened? Not really. As I shockingly managed to get out to my professor, I'm not entirely sure why I was crying. There's more to the story than that obviously. The professor was talking to me in front of the class, and my social anxiety doesn't let me deal with that sort of attention very well. So that went into it. Still, the fact that I was full on sobbing isn't normal for me. The last time I cried in class was high school at the height of my anxiety over deciding what to do about college. (My teacher asked which school I was going to, and I burst into tears because I had no idea.) Since then, I've never done something like this, and I can't really tell you why today of all days it happened. But it did, and it was embarrassing.

Luckily, everyone acted pretty great after it happened. People said really nice things and made me feel a million times better about it. I'm significantly less self-conscious about it having happened than I would have thought I would be. So that's good, I guess? Is not being more embarrassed about it proof that my social anxiety has kind of improved, or is having cried at all a sign that it's just as bad as always? I don't know. The best answer I have is that it's complicated. Like always.

I'm wrapping that up now and pushing it away. The experience happened; I've written about it. Now it's over. No use focusing on it. For once in my life, I feel genuine saying that. I really don't think I need to obsess over what happened anymore, and I think I can walk away from this post without thinking about it anymore. It's so rare for me to say that, and of course, maybe it'll come back during another anxious moment. For now though, I really am pushing it aside. Having dealt with it might have actually made me feel better in the end, as strange as that sounds. In the moment, it was horrible, but moving past it is making me more confident. Looking at it like that helps, I think. So I guess I should be thankful.

I still would have chosen not crying in class at all, but the least I can do is gain something from the experience.

Anyway, I wrote a letter to the spell "accio" over on my writing blog, and over on Youtube I've posted my wrap-up and TBR for the month. I'm hoping to get better about posting videos this month, but so far, it isn't really happening. We'll see.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episodes 266-270

Did it really take me more than a month to get through another five episodes? I know my life has been taken over by school at the expense of just about everything else, but I think Naruto's suffering the most. Technically, five episode in a month means about one episode a week, but it feels like I'm watching it less often then that. It's really not that much less than I'm typically able to go through them, but after the summer, it feels slower to me.

I don't think it's helped by the fact that I'm feeling more into the show again.After that last stretch of filler, I'm into these episodes a lot more, and I want to be watching Naruto all the time, even though I'm not.

But onto what actually happens in these episodes...

Hinata was in a couple of these episodes! Yay! I don't have much to say about that really except she's one of my favorite characters, and I just get excited to see her whenever she appears. To be honest, I get excited every time we get to see some of the younger characters fighting. If I stop to think about it, it's terrible that they're fighting in a war when so young, but getting to see how they've grown and how capable each of them are is incredibly exciting.

Every time I see Gaara standing up as leader in front of everyone, I get a tad bit emotional. I'm not gonna lie. But he's one of my favorite characters, and it's just really awesome to see. I'm also excited to see how it plays out with his dad who's been brought back to "life." I forgot that had even happened until I looked back at my notes since the next few episodes afterwards don't address it again. I'm really excited about that.

It got very briefly addressed that to a lot of the people being brought back to life, they're in the future. I thought that was interesting, and it wasn't a way I was thinking of it before it was mentioned. That would be something neat to explore, although I doubt the show will. Even if they did, it might not fit in with the story, but I thought it was a cool thing to think about.

There's also the Naruto edition of the Marauder's Map in episode 267. That's the only way I'm going to be able to think of it.

The idea of Kinkaku and Ginkaku having absorbed some of the Nine-Tail's chakra was also an interesting one and something new. What really got me excited for that storyline though was the Ino-Shika-Cho part. I'm not sure how long it's actually been since the three of them fought together, but it feels like it's been a long time. And that was another instance where seeing the younger characters fight felt awesome.

I'm really excited for the next episodes. I'm really hoping the story goes back to Gaara soon because I'm excited to see what happens there more than anything at the moment I think.

Book Review: First Bite by Bee Wilson

ISBN: 0465064981
Published: December 1st, 2015
Publisher: Basic Books
Read from September 26th to 29th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
We do not come into the world with an innate sense of taste and nutrition; as omnivores, we have to learn how and what to eat, how sweet is too sweet, and what food will give us the most energy for the coming day. But how does this education happen? What are the origins of taste?
In First Bite, the beloved food writer Bee Wilson draws on the latest research from food psychologists, neuroscientists, and nutritionists to reveal that our food habits are shaped by a whole host of factors: family and culture, memory and gender, hunger and love. An exploration of the extraordinary and surprising origins of our tastes and eating habits—from people who can only eat foods of a certain color to an amnesiac who can eat meal after meal without getting full—First Bite also shows us how we can change our palates to lead healthier, happier lives.


First Bite is all about how people develop their sense of taste. As someone who has always been a picky eater (although I'd like to think I've branched out more now that I'm older), I'm fascinated by how people come to like certain things and not others. It's an exploration of something that is related to nutrition but also isn't like other nutrition books I've read. First Bite isn't really concerned with stressing what's healthy and unhealthy. It's just exploring why people come to eat certain foods and not others. I don't think that's something many people think about, yet it's such an interesting question.

I learned so, so much from this book. It raised so many new questions that I've never stopped to think about. Sure, I'd thought before how different cultures have different tastes, and I knew it had to come from what they were fed growing up. But I didn't think about it beyond that. Wilson explores that in First Bite though, including why some cultures come to tolerate spicy foods easier than others. I'd always assumed that people who like spicy food developed some sort of tolerance where they can't taste the spiciness as much anymore. It turns out that I was wrong, and the real theory about how people come to tolerate spice wasn't what I expected.

First Bite seems to explore so much, from how the diet of the mother affects breast milk and a baby's future diet to why junk food has become such a big component of today's diets. All of it was fascinating and some really great information. I think anyone is bound to learn something from this book, and it really makes you stop and think about how your own diet came about. But it's never preachy about what you should or shouldn't be eating, even if it makes you stop to think about why your favorite foods are your favorite foods.

I'd recommend this book to just about everyone. We all eat, and we've all developed our own unique tastes that have been influenced by a number of factors. This book is a great way to learn more about how that happened and get you thinking about how you wound up eating the diet that you have.

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

Friday, October 2, 2015

Life Post: School and One-Shots

This past week was significantly calmer than the week before it. In comparison, my workload felt like almost nothing. Today in particular though has been a bit hectic. Even though it's Friday, I have quite a bit still to get done tonight.

In addition to school stuff, I have two one-shots that are out with beta readers at the moment, and I'm hoping to get them both posted this weekend depending on how quick the betas are with them. We'll see. One of them I know for sure will be up, and I have a good feeling about the other one.

Overall though, I've just been working on school stuff. I had my first test of the semester this past week, and I have a presentation next week that I'll be preparing for over the weekend. That's so much of my time these days. Not much else ever happens.