Saturday, January 31, 2015

Life Post: Settling Into a Routine

It's hard to believe that today is the last day of January. I know it's cliche to say, but it honestly feels like 2015 just started yesterday. It's been a pretty decent start to the year so far though, so I'm excited to see how the rest of the year goes.

After three weeks of classes I think I've finally settled into a good routine. I have the workload under control and know how I need to plan to get everything done. I think we've passed the crazy times until midterms at least. However, that also means that nothing all that exciting is happening. It's just classes and school work. I have applied for a couple of jobs, but I don't want to talk much about that since I seriously have no idea what will happen.

My allergies have also been acting up more than usual lately because the temperature here has been fluctuating. No allergy medicine really helps. As much as I hate the cold, I'm hoping it sticks around. All the higher temperatures (which are still cold anyway) do is cause my allergies to go crazy and make it more disappointing when it gets colder again.

Since my last life post I interviewed another character from The Society over on my writing blog. I'm actually posting yet another one later today too, but that post still needs to be edited. Over on Youtube, I reviewed last week's (as in not this past Thursday's, that's coming) episode of Reign, reviewed episodes 226-230 of Naruto Shippuden, vlogged about one day, and talked about my favorite movies when I was younger.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that I finished a new draft of a story yesterday, so that's exciting. Since that's done I'm going to start working on what I want to write for Avatar: The Last Airbender's tenth anniversary. I can't even believe that's happening in February! There's no way it's been that long... I'll almost certainly be talking about it more here as it gets closer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Name Tag (Music Edition)

Remember back over the summer when I took the letters of my first name and chose a book for each letter? Well, I decided to do it again except this time I'm spelling out my name with song titles instead of books.

It was actually really difficult because obviously five letters aren't a lot to work with, and a lot of the songs I would have loved to have put didn't go with any of the letters of my name.

So, here are the song titles I chose to spell out "Haley."

H: Human by Cher Lloyd. I mentioned in the music tag I did on Youtube that I love this song. I love the message. I love the way it sounds. I just love it.

A: A Different Beat by Little Mix. This is one of my favorite Little Mix songs although it's not the first one I would have chosen if I were picking favorites. I also love the message of this song, and I love how upbeat it is.

L: Last First Kiss by One Direction. This was actually my favorite song off of Take Me Home. I was obsessed with it, and it feels so strange to know that this song was two albums ago now. Wow.

E: Everything About You by One Direction. Let's talk about how "e," the most commonly used letter in the English language, starts off so few song titles. It's even stranger to think about how this was on One Direction's first album and was so long ago. Don't get me wrong, I love this song. It's just not one of my absolute favorites. There has to be another song that starts with an "e" out there that I could have put, but I'm coming up blank.

Y: You Are In Love by Taylor Swift. I've been completely obsessed with 1989 lately, and I love every song on it to the point that I don't think I could write a list of favorites without putting almost every single one. I definitely love this one.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: GeneSis by Matt Maciejewski and Nick Marcela

ISBN: 0615975627
Published: February 19th, 2014
Publisher: Vima
Read from December 29th, 2014 to January 5th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Lynn's feelings of social isolation and family tension are soothed only by the music of her idol, the eccentric pop icon Bayle. Her alienation at first seems to be a classic byproduct of teenage anxiety, but when Lynn and her best girlfriends are suddenly shaken from their daily high school existence by a deadly attack from members of her own father’s biotech corporation, GeneReal, it becomes clear that Lynn’s social estrangement stems from far more complex sources. Miraculously saved from certain death by her idol Bayle himself, Lynn finds herself sucked into the middle of a political whirlwind revolving around top-secret, large scale transactions between GeneReal and the American and Chinese governments. Drawn suddenly into a plot to expose these ethically dubious transactions, Lynn must reconcile her morals and preconceived world views into a new reality. As she and an eclectic undercover team of ‘hactivists’ infiltrate the GeneReal headquarters in Beijing, dodging deadly counterattacks to gather information about top secret genetic innovations, Lynn suddenly realizes that her involvement in the entire situation is not simply a moral or social issue – it is more personal than she could ever have imagined...
Modern society is a hybrid of cultures, architectures, and tastes. GeneSis probes the inevitable next step of this ubiquitous hybridization, and perhaps the step most true to the semantic meaning of the term: the hybridization of the human genome. While examining the ethical implications of genetic advancements, this vibrant and action-packed novel offers at once a poignant socio-political commentary on future society and an exploration of relationships and cultural boundaries all too similar to our current world. 


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

I really disliked this book, and I can't figure out if that's just me or the book itself. The story to me seemed more or less like one of those bad action movies that people only watch for the action. The thing is, books are a bit different than movies when it comes to action, so it's harder to just focus on that sort of "cool" stuff. The plot in this just kind of seemed all over the place to me. It took a while to actually work out what was happening, and even then I just found the majority of it unbelievable.

There was such a large cast of characters, and the POV would change pretty often. A lot of the time it wasn't clarified whose POV it was, so I would have no idea who I was reading about. I think a lot of this came from the fact that I found a lot of the characters indistinguishable from the others, so there was nothing unique about them in order to show that it was them without directly stating their name.

I feel like parts of the writing style seemed off to me at times too, but I've taken too long to write this review that it's difficult to remember now. I think maybe it was some of the dialog that just came off as awkward to me, but I'd have to go back and look at the book to be sure, which is something I really have no desire to do.

I just did not like this book at all. I almost abandoned it multiple times, but I pushed through since I'd gotten the book from Story Cartel and also didn't want to abandon one of the first books I was reading in 2015. I was hoping it would get better, but it just didn't. This is the most negative review I've written in a long time, and I kind of hate that it's so early in 2015. I wanted to try and find something positive about this book, but I honestly just couldn't.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Life Post: Start of the Semester Craziness

The start of this semester has been so crazy. I can't believe it's been a week since I wrote my last post. It's just been one of those weeks where I was constantly doing something, and I basically lost all concept of time. That being said, I wasn't doing anything all that note-worthy. I've just been bogged down with school stuff, and when I'm not doing something related to school, I've been working on my original story. That's really it. I think most of this is just a beginning of semester rush though. I don't expect this entire semester to be this crazy. Maybe that's just wishful thinking. We'll see.

I have managed to post a new post over on my writing blog though. I talked about writing/creating characters who are different from me. I also posted two videos. One was a review of Naruto Shippuden episodes 221-225 and I also posted a music tag because I felt like I never really talk about the music I like, which is strange when Little Mix and One Direction are two of the things I will rant absolutely anyone's ear off about.

For next week, I do plan to actually post some stuff. I'm planning it now. I have one book review that is embarrassingly behind, and it's a book I was given for review. That will definitely be up this weekend. I plan to post a few other things too. Now, Reign came back from its season break last night, and I didn't get to watch it. I'm going to go do that now.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Life Post: First Week of the New Semester

The first week of the spring semester is officially over, and I have a pretty great feeling about this semester. The biggest downside at the moment is my uncooperative keyboard. Remember how I spilled soda on my computer? Some of the keys aren't working so great now, and it's making it really difficult to type anything. Because of that, this post is probably going to be really brief. Honestly, I'm just happy the computer still works, even if I have to pound on some keys and fix way more typos than I would otherwise. I keep hoping they'll just start working again, but I know the keys themselves need to be removed in order to be cleaned underneath. I also know that I could technically do that myself, but I don't trust myself with it. I'd probably just ruin the keys for good, so I just keep reminding myself that at least they still work instead.

Anyway, as I was saying, I've been to all of my classes for this semester except one that will start next week. A time's not really set for it yet since we're having a bit of trouble finding a time that works for all of us. (It's an arranged class instead of a set one.) So that is a little worry about that in the back of my mind, but I'm confident we'll figure it out.

As for the classes I have been to, I think I'm really going to enjoy all of them. I do feel a bit out of place in my music class as it's the only music class I've taken outside of humanities, but now that I know I'm not the only one in that boat in the class, I feel better about it. I do think the class itself will be really fun since I love learning about other cultures (it's a course on non-western music) and, of course, I do enjoy music. Apparently we're going to play instruments from other cultures too, which should be interesting. I'm probably selling myself short since I have taken piano lessons and played clarinet in band. I do have a very basic knowledge of reading music and whatnot. I just know that my knowledge pales in comparison the the music majors' in the class. I think getting to play different instruments will be fun though.

I'm going to go ahead and wrap this up. I have several other things I would probably bring up usually, but the longer I type with these keys, the more frustrating they get. Since I'm starting my first long paper of the semester today, I should probably save up some of my patience.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review: Poison Tree by Kacey Vanderkarr

ISBN: 1503106330
Published: December 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Urban Fey Press
Read from December 11th to 25th, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The road to the City of War is dangerous.
With their home in ruins, Callie and Rowan are Eirensae’s last hope of stealing the cauldron back from Fraeburdh. They must travel into the human world where the Fallen hide. The banished fae wait for Callie, desperate to sacrifice her before she comes of age.
If Callie and Rowan survive the journey, something worse looms in Fraeburdh. Rowan is destined for a dark family legacy too horrifying to accept, and his father is anxious to welcome him home. Once the truth is revealed, will Callie ever look at Rowan the same way?
Trapped between feuding cities lost in a centuries-old war, Callie and Rowan will face their biggest rivals yet, and neither of them will make it out unscathed. 


Poison Tree is the second book in the Reflection Pond series. I reviewed the first book, Reflection Pond, back in May.

I loved the first book of this series so much that I was incredibly excited to read the second one. I stumbled across the first book at a time when I was searching for more books about fairies after I realized I never read about them but was really fascinated with them whenever they appeared in other fantasy books. I loved Reflection Pond so much that it completely convinced me that I need to keep reading more books about fairies in the future. Needless to say, I had high hopes for this book.

And the good news is that it didnt' disappoint. I really. I loved that we could to see another city other than Eirensae and explore how different the two cities are from each other. I also really loved Rowan's family history in this book. I thought that was a twist that was done remarkably well. Callie's past is also explored more in this book than it was in the past, and I thought that was excellently done. I think they're each great characters, and I love learning more about them.

We're also introduced to some great new characters in this book. My favorite was definitely Gunner. When he first appeared, I had no idea that I'd think he was such a great character by the end of the book, but I really loved how he developed over the course of the story.

Overall I loved just about everything about this book. I thought it was fantastic, and I'd highly recommend this series to anyone who has an interest in fantasy books, especially ones about fae. I can't wait for the third book in order to find out what happens next!

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

Life Post: Spanish, English, and Spilled Drinks

It's been a week since my last life post, so I haven't updated since classes started. Things have been pretty hectic this week as I get back into the swing of things and figure out how much time each class is going to take up and all of that. I still have three classes I haven't been to yet (because one was cancelled on Tuesday, one is only once a week, and one is arranged and in the process of being set up for next week), so I still don't really know what my workload will look like this semester. So far, with the three classes I've been to, it's not bad at all, but that's obviously only half of the classes I'm going to have.

I'm liking my classes so far though. I was nervous about Spanish since doing well in this class relies on retaining the information from last semester. Plus, we have to speak in Spanish almost entirely this semester, which is pretty intimidating even though we had to speak Spanish a ton last semester too of course. The professor makes it less scary though because he's great about it when we forget a word and have to switch to English (but he makes us repeat it in Spanish once we've figured it out), so that helps. It's kind of funny because he also pronounces my name wrong every single time (with a "k" instead of an "h"), and the entire class has tried pronouncing it for him to get it right, but that hasn't helped. It'll be interesting if I'm "Kaley" all semester.

The other two classes I've been to so far are a class on this history of English, which is about both how English came about and developed as well as how to teach grammar to students (as it's primarily for future English teachers) and a class on Shakespeare. I find the history of language pretty fascinating actually, and grammar has never really bored me even though it's not the most fascinating thing in the entire world (even though I could ramble forever about how it's actually pretty awesome that we've put together all these rules in order to help ourselves understand each other but I won't do that).

As for the Shakespeare class, I'm probably most excited for it so far. I think it's going to be really great. It's one of those things where the professor is so obviously passionate about what she's teaching us, which always makes a class better, and the class as a whole also seems really excited about it and not at all like the absolute dread that seemed to be so prevalent when we studied Shakespeare in high school. Plus, we're reading plays that aren't often taught in high school classes, which is also exciting, and we're reading both Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, which are my two favorite plays. I've studied Hamlet before in another college class (with the same teacher actually), but I've never read A Midsummer Night's Dream in a class.

In non-school related news, I dumped Pepsi on my pretty new laptop yesterday. I'm really angry at myself. I was even drinking out of a bottle with a cap and everything. I had the cap off for about five seconds and managed to do it. The only good part of this is that the laptop seems to be working fine other than some of the keys sticking, which is obviously making writing this extremely difficult. Any key that I hit with my right hand has to be pressed really hard in order to work. I tried cleaning up the keyboard as best I could yesterday, but I can't really get under the keys. I'm hoping this will go away eventually, but I honestly have no idea if this will be a problem with they keyboard for a long time or not. It's just amazing to me that I had my old laptop for years and never did this, but I've had this one less than half a year and managed to do this. But again, at least the computer still works. I'm thankful for that.

Remember how I talked about starting another blog? That's up now. I posted the first post about a week ago, but I haven't posted here since then in order to mention it here. That blog is going to be more of a writing blog while this one stays as basically what it is now. I know I talk about my writing here sometimes in these life posts, but over there I'm going to have posts entirely about things I'm writing or whatever else I want to talk about that pertains to writing. I also think I'll post actual things I write that are shorter at least occasionally. That does include some sorts of things that I probably would have just posted here in the past, but generally speaking, this blog will be the same. I'll still do these life posts here and reviews as well as other posts like always (even though those "other" sorts of posts have been extremely infrequent for months now primarily due to lack of time).

The first post over there is actually a character interview. I "interviewed" Ledia, who is the main character in a series I've been working on for years now. I think I've mentioned it several times in posts over the past several years, although I'm not all that sure about how much detail I've gone into. You can learn more by going over there though.

I've actually managed to post four Youtube videos since my last life post, so that's quite an accomplishment, especially compared to recently. I reviewed two books: No Higher Honor by Condoleezza Rice and Catholicism by Robert Barron. I also did a "life vlog" on the day that I just happened to learn that I have three cavities. And, finally, I reviewed the second half of Supernatural season four.

Anyway, I don't have much longer before I have to be to class, and this is actually one of the classes I haven't been to yet. It'll be the only music class I've taken in college other than the music portion of humanities, so I don't really have a good idea what to expect. Hopefully it'll go well though and I won't feel too out of place. I have no idea how many people in there will be music majors, but I'm hoping there will be at least a few other people there who aren't.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book Review: Unsoiled by Lelia Eye

ISBN: 0993797725
Published: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: One Good Sonnet Publishing
Read from November 21st to December 9th, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
"Look, Poppy! It's Bella of the Cinders. She certainly doesn't look like 'The Beauty' now, does she? Not with that rat's nest of hair or those filthy chicken arms. Maybe we should start calling her 'Cinderbella.'" Nettle started laughing as if she had said the cleverest thing in the world, and I heard Poppy weakly join in.
I didn't look at them; I just continued cleaning the ashes and soot, aware that it was on my face and hands and clothes, aware that the picture I made was a far cry from the beauty my father had always praised. Why should I have cared whether or not my hands were soiled with soot? What need did I have for beauty anymore?
An Escape from Oppression . . .
Elle's life is turned upside down when tragedy strikes. Her stepmother and stepsisters treat her as Cinderbella, forcing her to do manual labor to the point of exhaustion. It would be easy enough to accept Thorny's overtures, yet the inequality that exists between them seems an unsurpassable gulf.
But when Thorny suggests they go to the nearby kingdom of Airland in quest of a mythical sword whose bearer will be made queen, Elle sees her opportunity to start a new life, freed from the oppression of her stepmother. The thought that she might have to face such challenges as hungry dwarves, land pirates, and angry chimeras never crosses her mind.


Unsoiled is the second book in the Smothered Rose trilogy. I reviewed the first book, Thorny, back in October.

I originally picked up the first book in the trilogy because I love Beauty and the Beast and am always interested in retellings, but while reading, I had really liked how the author tied in a lot of different fairy tales into the story. This book has even more of that. There are elements from many different fairy tales, and I thought they were all brought together really well. Plus, it was kind of fun to pick out which fairy tales different parts of the story came from.

After the first book, I was a bit curious about where the story was going to go. The first one concluded very nicely but also had an ending hinting at more. I just wasn't sure what that "more" would be. I really like where the author has taken the story though. It's very different from the first book, but in a really nice way. The characters are all still fantastic, and I like how they're continuing their growth even though the story itself has completely shifted focus. Plus, I think the second book ended in a way that's more open-ended than the first book. It seems like it's going to lead into the third book really well.

I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys fairy tale retellings. It's a really, really great one, and I'm looking forward to reading the third book.

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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Life Post: The Final Days of Break

I'm having one of those times where break has caused me to somewhat lose track of time, which makes the idea that school starts back next week seem so odd. I'm having a hard time believing it. I always forget how short winter break feels every year until it's coming to a close again. I feel like "a month" sounds like it's going to last a lot longer than it ever actually does.

Anyway, I've been pretty focused on writing the past couple of days, and it'll probably be that way for the next few days as well. I'm working on a new fanfiction, and I actually think there's a good chance I'll finish it this week before I have to go back to school. It'll still need to be edited and everything, but it'll be nice knowing it's written.

Since I talked about it so much on here, I should also really let you all know that I posted the first chapter of my new Hunger Games fanfiction called Move On and Recover. I should have mentioned it in my last life post, but I got a bit too distracted about finding out about cavities that I'm surprised I even remembered to mention anything else. (I've been pretty obsessive with the brushing my teeth and flossing more thoroughly than ever for the past couple of days by the way. We'll see how long I keep it up.)

Anyway, I haven't actually gotten anywhere near as much writing done today as I would like, so I really need to get to that. It's getting a bit harder to write the closer I get to the ending, but it hasn't become to sluggish of a process quite yet. We'll see how it keeps going.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Life Post: Cavities and a New Blog

Today honestly hasn't been the greatest day that it could have been. I didn't sleep much last night because I was struggling to get a video up, so I've spent most of the day in a haze of tiredness, which also means I haven't gotten nearly as much done as I would have liked.

The biggest thing though happened at my dentist appointment. A year ago or so they told me that I had some areas on my teeth that they wanted to watch, so I knew it was only a matter of time before I got cavities. Lo and behold, I have three. I've actually only gotten one cavity before, but it was on a baby tooth, so they never bothered to fill it. I have gotten my wisdom teeth removed, so I know this can't be anything close to that. Still, I tend to get freaked out about things that involve any sort of anesthesia. I still have more spots they're watching too, so I'm also worried they'll turn into cavities. They fill like ticking time bombs. I'm really good about brushing my teeth though, and while I have probably flossed more than a lot of other people in the past, I definitely want to make it something I remember to do every single time I brush my teeth. Plus, I got prescription toothpaste to use, so I really hope that helps.

In brighter news, you know how I've been talking about starting a second blog? I know it's been really slow going, but I'm so close to actually letting people know about it. I've had the actual blog set up for maybe a month, but I've been continuously changing things around. I'm still kind of messing with the layout and whatnot, but I'm mostly happy with it. I also wrote the first post for it today, but I'm not posting it quite yet. It's really close though, so I'm excited about that.

In video news, I posted two videos. (One of which is the reason I got almost no sleep last night.) I posted the first "life vlog" of 2015. I also finally got around to filming and editing my review of the Korra series finale. It's really bittersweet knowing that it's the last review of Korra that I'll ever do, but I went through all of the really sentimental stuff at the end of the review, so I'll refrain from it all now. I may even do something special for Avatar: The Last Airbender's ten year anniversary next month. Like a post about how I became a fan or why I love it or something along those lines. I feel like it deserves it.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Life Post: So... I Got My License. Finally.

First blog post of 2015! I hope you have all had an awesome start to the year. Mine's been pretty good I think.

All of my days since winter break started have more or less blurred together, so I'm struggling to think about what exactly it is that has happened since my last post on Christmas. I think the absolute biggest thing though would be that I got my license! Yep. After more than five years of struggling with that, I finally have a license. I really can't believe it. The actual card itself only came in the mail today even though I passed my test and got a temporary paper one a week ago. It's also weird seeing the "under 21 until..." thing gone as well, and now it's horizontal instead of vertical (not sure about other states but in Indiana you get vertical IDs until you're 21 in order to be carded easier). It's just a really odd feeling to know I don't have to worry about getting my license anymore because I already have it.

Other than that the only other "big" thing I can think of is that I got two new pairs of glasses. I got a new pair from the eye doctor as well as ordering an extra pair online (even though I also have my old glasses as an extra pair since it's the same prescription). The online pair came in the mail yesterday, and I picked up the other pair from the doctor today. I like them both so far. The pair from the doctor, which I'm going to primarily wear, is blue with this kind of textured stripe design on the sides. My extra pair is the first pair of plastic glasses that I've owned. They're black on the outside with a little bit of purple lining the sides, but the inside of them is completely purple, so I'm incredibly excited about that. I may wear them sometimes just for fun if I'm being honest. I need to wear them long enough to see if my eyes adjust just to make sure they work well anyway since they came from online.

I didn't mention this in my Christmas post because it was still uploading, but I reviewed Disney's A Christmas Carol on Christmas over on my Youtube channel. I also reviewed episodes 211-220 of Naruto Shippuden over there, which was the first Naruto review I'd done on Youtube in four months. And then just yesterday I posted my December 2014 wrap-up and January 2015 TBR, which is basically me going through all of the books I read in December and all of the ones I plan to read this month.

I only have a week left of my winter break, so I'm hoping to be really productive with writing this week. I finished working on Move On and Recover, my newest Hunger Games fanfiction, this past week. I'm going to actually post the first chapter tomorrow. Then on Monday I'm going to start working on a completely new fanfiction that I'm pretty excited about. That will probably be a good deal of what I'm doing for the last week of break.