Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Life Post: I Got Fingerprinted

These posts still feel difficult to write largely because the bulk of my days aren't able to be written about here. However, today was unique, so I figure I should go ahead and talk about it.

First of all, I forgot my lunch this morning, which was just great on my part. As I was walking out the door, I felt like I was forgetting something, but I'd had the same thought yesterday, which turned out to be nothing. It wasn't until I got to school that I realized that I didn't have my lunch box with me.

What really made today different though was that I had to go to the city-county building to get fingerprinted for an FBI background check. I'm not going to go into the details of what it's for because I don't want to talk about it that much and then have it not happen, but yeah, I got fingerprinted by a fingerprint technician.

The fingerprinting itself didn't have me nervous before, but I was dreading actually getting there. The office closed an hour after school got out, and I had quite a drive to get there. Plus, I knew I'd have to find parking downtown once I got there. I got incredibly lucky as far as parking went because there was one spot right across the street from the building. I hadn't, however, expected to go through a metal detector once I got there. It makes sense now, of course, but I wasn't prepared when I walked in. The building was also quite large, with different wings, and I didn't come in the door closest to the office I needed (because I didn't know where that was). Again luckily, I found it pretty easily.

The actual process of being fingerprinted was interesting although not that exciting. It was kind of cool to watch her roll out the ink on this metal surface before pressing my fingers into it. (I think it keep there from being too much ink on my fingers.) It was all over in about five minutes, and now I'm just a little worried that I accidentally smudged the ink on the way home so that they won't be acceptable anymore. We'll see. I was very careful with it.

It was an interesting experience I'd say. I never thought I'd be fingerprinted by a police officer, but here we are.

Or Yet in Wise Old Ravenclaw: My House Identity Crisis Part 2

Four months ago, I took the new Pottermore sorting quiz and got sorted into Slytherin after years of considering myself a Ravenclaw. Not only did I write a post about the following identity crisis, I've brought it up many times since then, still not able to accept that result.

Here we are months later when I should have already dealt with the outcome. I certainly shouldn't feel like I'm in the midst of an identity crisis because of a Hogwarts House, but here we are. It shows how big of a part of my life Harry Potter is that I still don't know what I should label myself, and it continues to bother me.

I've still been labeling myself a Ravenclaw. On all of the websites where I'd listed Ravenclaw in my bio, I've kept it there despite talking quite openly about how I was more recently sorted into Slytherin, making my Pottermore layout green instead of blue.

If it were easy to dismiss the Slytherin result, I wouldn't be this conflicted. However, I get why I would be sorted into Slytherin. I really do. I could make an argument for myself being in any house other than Gryffindor. That's the one that it would have been truly shocking to get.

So, I do get why I got Slytherin, but I still have difficulty believing that I'm more of a Slytherin than I am a Ravenclaw, which is why I've continued to stick with my old house. Plus, I'm just resistant to change much of the time, and this is one of those times. I can't move on from the house that has held my loyalties since high school. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book Ratings: Are They Necessary?

Over on Bookmyopia, Ishita recently wrote about three star reviews. While her post is about what giving a three star rating to a book means and whether or not it's a "bad" rating, her post got me thinking once again about how much I dislike rating books (and most other things).

I do rate books over on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble when I post book reviews on those sites. I do that largely because the sites are designed for reviews that use their rating system. It's impossible to even post a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble without adding a rating, so I begrudgingly rate books because I know it's expected of me.

Over the years though, I have kept those ratings off of my blog. When I do my wrap-up videos over on Youtube, I do always mention the rating I gave that book on Goodreads. That's, once again, because I feel that it's expected of me, and since I've already rated it, it's not like it's difficult to mention it in the video. Yet I've consistently kept those ratings out of my reviews that I post on the blog and in my video reviews on Youtube.

When I write or film a review, the entire post or video is dedicated to talking about my feelings towards a book. They aren't like wrap-up videos where I have to keep what I say about each book brief in order to keep the video from being an hour long. I'd much rather everything I say about the book give you an idea of what I thought of it. Summing it up in a star rating seems both unnecessary and too simplistic.

As far as I can tell, the purpose of adding a star rating to a book review post is so people who don't want to read the entire post can still get an idea of what you thought of the book. After all, if they read the review, they shouldn't need the star rating. That's how I see it at least. Other people may view ratings differently, but I struggle to see why it would be necessary to have one if someone were reading the review.

And if someone doesn't want to read the review and is instead searching just for the rating, I feel that they would be better off checking the Goodreads or Amazon page for that book instead of looking at individual reviews from blogs. That's another reason why I feel better about giving in and rating a book on Goodreads than I do rating it on my blog.

Who knows what the future will bring, but for now, I'm keeping ratings out of my book reviews unless they're posted on Goodreads or another website. They're just not the type of information that I want on my blog. I hope that the nuance of my review itself provides are more accurate picture of what I thought of a book than a rating ever would.

What do you think? Do you think ratings on book reviews are a good idea? If so, please let me know why. Or are you like me and see them as unnecessary or even too simplistic to accurately assess a book?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Life Post: A Busy August

To be honest, I'm mostly writing this because I just saw that I'd only posted seven times in August, and that was just too strange to me. As we speak, I'm about to go to bed, and I'm half asleep. I can't make any promises that this post will make much sense.

Things are going really well, but they're also hectic. With student teaching, my workload gets gradually larger, so that's always growing. Plus, it's starting to really hit me that I graduate in December, so I feel like I need to spend all my free time planning what happens after that. I really like student teaching, and as scary as the future stuff is, it's also kind of exciting. However, it has not left much time for blogging, and I wish that wasn't the case.

Maybe September will be better, but I can't make any promises. After all, my workload should be a lot heavier by then.

Now, as I said before, I need to be getting to bed. Tomorrow's a school day, and I wouldn't be able to stay awake much longer even if that wasn't the case.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Life Post: Tales of IDs and Barcodes

The week since my last life post has been eventful, and that has meant that I have felt exhausted. I slept for ten hours last night, and I have to admit that it was wonderful.

On Wednesday, I got back to campus after student teaching for the day, and my ID card wouldn't open the door to our dorm building. (Our campus has scanners on all the dorm buildings, so you scan your ID if you live there and it lets you in. You also have to scan it to get onto your particular floor. The building I lived in the last two years required you scanning to get into your room too, but this year I'm in a building with actual keys to the rooms.)

Someone else let me into the building, and I checked our RD's office, but no one was in there. (I called the number too, which went to a machine.) My next thought was to go to the housing office. Well, there's construction going on around the building that office is in, and it's supposed to be moved to a different building. That would have been fine except I walked up and down that building and couldn't find the office.

Finally, I went to the police station, which happens to still be in the building that the housing office used to be in. They called the RD for me and actually got ahold or her. She said that, according to the system, I should have been allowed in, but she reset it to see if that would fix it. It didn't, which let to several more walks across campus (still in the sweater I'd worn at school that day and lugging everything around with me, which is what made it so terrible).

The police station is also where you get student IDs, but the machine had been broken during all of this and they were trying to fix it. Luckily, they got it fixed right after I tried the ID again and it didn't work, so I went back to the police station, got a new ID, and that was solved. After trial and error, they figured that my old ID had just worn out and couldn't scan anymore. I had, after all, had it since I began freshman year.

I have to say I was quite exhausted after that took up most of my afternoon/early evening.

I still had to register the barcode on the ID with dining services after that if I wanted to use my meal plan, but after multiple trips, I never wound up at the office when someone was actually in the office. Then, this morning, I went to Starbucks, prepared to use the barcode on my old ID, which they said I could do. Their scanner was broken, so they were writing barcodes down instead. I explained about having two IDs (and therefore barcodes) at the moment, and the woman taking down numbers wrote them both down and said she'd register the new barcode for me. That was a nice ending to what had turned into a massive struggle.

That story wasn't meant to take that long. I didn't realize how much there was to say about it all until it was written down. Now I feel like I'm complaining, but it was definitely a huge hassle that I'm glad is finished.

In other news, I've created my first lesson plan for student teaching. I've been leading parts of class almost every day for the past week or two, but this is the first time I've planned something. I teach it Monday, so that's exciting.

We also had our first class that goes along with student teaching, and it went well. I didn't realize how many stories I had about student teaching until I had an opportunity to share them with other people. School has definitely been eventful.

Today is move in day, so campus suddenly feels a whole lot busier than it has been since I moved in early. I feel bad since everyone who moved in today had to do so in the rain. I just walked to Starbucks earlier and was soaked.

Now the semester really feels like it's underway though, and it's hit me that this is my last one. Pretty soon, I won't even know when I'll be on campus next after living here for more than four years. That's strange, and I'm sure it will only get stranger once we reach the end of the semester.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Polaris Blog Tour: Guest Post

Today I'm very excited to have a guest post from Beth Bowland, the author of Polaris, which was released on August 16th. This post is part of a larger blog tour, so be sure to check out the other stops. Below are the questions I posed to her and her answers. Be sure to stick around to the end of the post to discover how to enter an awesome giveaway.

Aaron (the main character of the novel) is afraid of losing his identity, what does "identity" mean to you?

Your identity is who you are. What forms your identity are several things, such as your gender, environment, culture, personality, quirks, beliefs, it all forms your identity.

What gave you the idea for "The Game" within Polaris?

The story is based on games that a group of aliens play. This story just played out on our planet. The aliens are always in competition with one another and they agreed to use the people of Bixie, Montana as their players for this game and the town as the playing board, because the antagonist in the story requested this specific location.

Polaris is set in Montana. What does the landscape and atmosphere of Montana add to the novel? How might it have been different if it were set somewhere else?

The vision I saw in my mind of where the story took place, was a small town, not highly populated, trees, mountains, farmland, and set apart from other places. The story could have been set in a several areas, but I ran across some photos of Montana in the wintertime and instantly knew that was the state. Bixie is a fictitious town.

Are there certain works that inspired aspects of Polaris?

Yes, I love conspiracy theories and I’ve always been fascinated by the Roswell, New Mexico, UFO incident in 1947. Was it true? Did aliens really visit? Did the government know? My main question was always did they survive and if so, where are they now?

If you had to play a game, what would be the ultimate stakes be for you?

Losing something I worked hard for.

What would you be more afraid of losing than anything else?

My family and loved ones. In Polaris Nakal lost his family and has a chance to have Aaron’s family, but Aaron is not willing to give his family up without a fight.Great questions! Thank you very much for hosting.

Bixie, Montana, is in the middle of nowhere, not connected to any place, and not used as a pass through to get anywhere. But one snowy evening, a lone visitor walking down an old country road changes 13-year-old Aaron Martin’s life forever. Aaron thinks he’s being a Good Samaritan by inviting the nearly-frozen visitor into his home, but he’s unwittingly initiated The Game. A group of Elders, known as the Council of the Legend, come together from time to time to enjoy a rousing event they playfully call “The Game.” Now, Aaron’s town is the playing board and he and his fellow townspeople are the players. The rules are simple. Win. Because if Aaron loses, he won’t just lose his family . . . he’ll lose his very identity.

Purchase Polaris:

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

Beth Bowland, a native Ohioan, has always enjoyed reading and creating stories of her own. As a child she devoured every book she could get her hands on and spent numerous hours at the library each week. She loves writing stories for tweens and young teens and her characters are often described as quirky and fun, but always relatable. When she’s not writing, she loves watching HGTV. She has one daughter and resides in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Phillip.

Giveaway Information:  Contest ends September 2, 2016

  • One (1) winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm (US ONLY)
  • Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Polaris by Beth Bowland (INT)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Some Favorite Book Quotes

Since I haven't been blogging much, I've decided to put together a post with five of my favorite quotes from books. Yeah, I know, it's almost like cheating since I'm not writing much of anything. I've done things like this before, and I'm not sure if I ever made a post with just favorite book quotes. I genuinely do enjoy quotes though.

Aside from the first two, which are two of my three favorite quotes, this isn't my definitive list of favorite quotes. There are just too many awesome ones to narrow them down like that.

So, here we go:

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” 
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” 
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” 
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” 
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Life Post: Adjusting to Things

I haven't been blogging for the last week or so largely because I don't feel like I have the brain power to write much after student teaching every day. Most of the time, I would rather read or watch Netflix if I'm being entirely honest.

That isn't to say that I haven't been writing at all. I actually spent the last week writing a new fanfiction, so there was that. I guess that took up what energy I had to write, but I also felt kind of inspired while writing it whereas just thinking about writing blog posts felt draining.

Right now I'm feeling like I'm adjusting to things though and that it won't be as difficult in the future. Since it is Saturday, we'll see if that holds true over the next week. What I can say is that I'm going to be part of a blog tour soon, so there's at least that to look forward to, and since it's a guest post, I don't even have to worry about writing it.

After a week, I feel like I should have more to say. Plenty has happened, but all of it has been related to student teaching. I honestly can't say much is happening beyond that, and I have a feeling that will hold true over the next several months.

This coming week is my first actual class for the semester (the one that corresponds with student teaching), and I'm feeling excited about that. We'll see if that adds to how busy I feel or not. At least the class itself is only once a week.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Why Do I Blog?

That isn't as easy of a question to answer as it might seem. Primarily because the answer has changed a lot over the years.

One thing that has remained a constant is that I enjoy to write. That was true when I started this blog back in 2009, and it's true now. I do think that a big driving factor for me starting the blog when I was sixteen was that it gave me space to write, and on top of that, there was a chance people could read it. Even if no one really did, that was exciting for me.

Back then, I wasn't aware of what book blogging was. I talked about books on my blog, but it was only because books were naturally such a large part of my life. I wasn't trying to write about any particular topic on the blog other than things I was interested in or doing.

Actually, I can't remember when I discovered book blogs. If I were judging based on my own blog, I'd hazard a guess that it was around late 2010 or early 2011 because that's when I can see my own posts changing to imitate what I know I had to be seeing on book blogs. It would take longer before I would go so far as to call this blog a book blog because, really, this blog was a mess of many different things. It still is truthfully, but it was even more so back then.

However, once I found that community my motivations for blogging shifted a bit. There was still the writing aspect, but now I also saw it as a way to write about (and, by extension, discuss) books, which was always something that I wanted to do. I discovered that the book blogging community was a great way to actually learn what was going on in the book world and that I could always find someone else who had read a book that I had. This blog became an outlet in another way.

From then on, I'm not sure that my motivations for blogging have changed all that much. Maybe they have in small ways that I don't notice, but the larger reasons are unchanged. I still enjoy having an outlet to write, and now I particularly enjoy writing about books (and other fandom things). Sure, I could do both of those things without this blog, but I think the blog intersects them both in a way that I might not get otherwise. I think that's the truly great thing about this blog.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Life Post: I'm 23

So... I'm 23 now, and it feels weird to even say that. Somehow, it feels entirely different than 22 even though I don't feel different at all. Does that make sense? Not really. I don't even get how I feel about it.

I don't even have much to say about it. Possibly, because I don't really feel like I'm a year older. I decided to write a post to acknowledge my birthday though because it felt like something I should do. Now, I'm going to go do the same thing I was doing as at 22.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Life Post: Moved into My Dorm

I got lucky this weekend. I got to move into my dorm two days earlier than originally planned, which worked out for the best. For one thing, I'm not at my sister's anymore, but also, I got to move in over the weekend instead of dealing with it on a school day when I'm typically tired by the time school's out.

Something else also happened this weekend: Cursed Child was released. It was the day I moved in actually, and I got it that day. I haven't begun to read it yet. I've been reading a lot less since student teaching began because there's just not enough time for everything. I'm trying my best to get as far ahead with the big project we have to complete for student teaching as I can. I still have time for other things, just a lot less of it.

That's pretty much all that's been going on other than student teaching. When it comes to school, I'm definitely feeling more tired than last week, although I'm getting an adequate amount of sleep. I think my body is still adjusting to the change in schedule. Hopefully it will get better. Before you think I'm staying up super late, writing this post is the last thing I'm doing before bed, which is why I want to wrap this up quickly. I took a forty minute nap after school today, but I'll still fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow. I'm looking forward to it.