Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Tag

Hellooo everyone, I've been hankering to do a tag and since I've just finished a productive day of schoolwork I feel obliged to relax in some way. Tonight this way happens to be typing frantically on the keyboard and listening to Owl City.  ❤️  His music gives me novel nostalgia because I got into it for the first time during NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, thanks to Meredith's Beauty and the Beast week back in May, I have an excellent opportunity for a tag! I wouldn't say I'm "into" Beauty and the Beast but I have grown to appreciate it more.

1.When did you first experience Beauty and the Beast?

Whenever I first watched the Disney cartoon. I was probably five...?

2. In what forms(book, movie, retelling) have you experienced Beauty and the Beast?

Three. The animated Disney movie, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and a few episodes of Once Upon a Time, a couple of which had Belle in them. 

3. Who is your favorite character in Beauty and the  Beast?

The Beast. He's courageous and caring and everything I want in a guy, and he's also fluffy.  :D

4. What is your favorite song from the cartoon Beauty and the Beast?

"Gaston," hands down. Pure genius.

I was looking for something else, but this is too perfect.
5. If you were turned into a piece of furniture what would you want it to be?

A candlestick, like Lumiere. There are so many uses for flaming hands...

6. What would your dream cast for Beauty and the Beast be? (This can be as elaborate or simple as you desire.)

Honestly it's harder to come up with something that's better than the cast of the live movie. *shrug*

7. If your school were performing BatB which character would you want to play?

Belle, because she has the coolest songs. Even though singing is not my forte.

8. Like Belle, do you enjoy reading books multiple times?

Only certain books. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for example, I've read twice and it still makes me laugh out loud. And anything by Chesterton needs a reread in order to actually understand it.  xP

9. If you were to write a retelling, what would you change?

I'd make it science fiction, and have Marissa Meyer write it. 

#copout   ^_^

10. Are roses your favorite flowers? 

Nope. Probably dahlias.

Or tulips.

Or yellow snapdragons, because they look like buttered popcorn.

Thanks, Meredith! Happy belated Beauty and the Beast week to you all.  :D

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What I've Been Up To (Basically Books and More Books)

I think it says something about myself that I tried to save the background picture for my header and got this:

So anyway, my internet hiatus gave me a lot more time to read, and made me rediscover how much I love reading. One of the best feelings in the world is reading the last sentence of a book and finding it so beautiful that you just sort of stroke the page and then hug the book to your chest and read the last line over and over again.

Plus I lucked out on thought-provoking, strongly written books in the past two months or so. Here are some brief reviews--think of them as book popcorn. Being thrown at you. Through a computer screen. I've always had trouble with analogies.


The Unwind Dystology
Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman is now one of my favorite authors, thanks to Aimee at To the Barricade, whose rave reviews got me hooked.

His character development is impeccable, his plotting is twisty but makes sense, and his prose is slick without trying too hard to be YA-ish. He's especially good at describing things in a way that reminds me of those "relatable posts" on Pinterest--he comes up with the best little details. For example:

Roland glares at Connor and Connor glares back. Then he says what he always says at moments like this.
"Nice socks."
Although Roland doesn't look down right away, it derails him just enough for him to back off. He doesn't check to see if his socks match until he thinks Connor isn't looking. And the moment he does, Connor snickers. Small victories are bet­ter than none.

^^I tried it (as a joke). It works.

Anyway, the plot of the Unwind Dystology is that there was a full-out war between the pro-life and pro-choice groups, and the terrible compromise they made was to only permit "retroactive abortions," which meant basically killing teenagers to solve the problems of teen crime and population growth. The main characters are teenagers living in the aftermath of this legislation and trying to stay alive, and maybe change the world while they're at it.

Yes, it's a disturbing plot. But this series made me think more than any other series I've read, and Mom and I still find ourselves discussing the moral issues and character development a month later. Plus it's pro-life in the long run.

Content: PG-13. (Detailed violence, language, suggestive content, and adult themes, all handled with teens in mind.)

The Schwa Was Here
Neal Shusterman

You knew I wasn't done with Shusterman, didn't you?

This one's in first-person, narrated by an easily distracted teenage boy in New York. It cracked me up and, unexpectedly, made me cry. The symbolism is great, and it kind of reminded me of The Great Gatsby.

It's too weird to explain properly. Just read it.

Content: PG (mild language and a few crude comments)

Neal Shusterman

Yep, still not done with this guy. Let's just say this is by Neal Shusterman so it's good, although it's basically a darker version of The Schwa Was Here.

Content: PG-13 (Intense domestic violence, some language, and the occasional crude comment)

The Name of the Wind
Patrick Rothfuss
Also entitled, "A Huge Disappointment but Not Quite a Waste of Time...?"

I LOVED this book. I'm not sure whether I should have, but I did.

It had all the necessities: complex characters, a very sweet friendzone, a dark and brooding protagonist, dragons, a scientifically described magic system, and humor. And a GORGEOUS writing style. Probably the prettiest writing style I have ever read (besides Tolkien's, of course).

Check this out:

“Go out in the early days of winter, after the first cold snap of the season. Find a pool of water with a sheet of ice across the top, still fresh and new and clear as glass. Near the shore the ice will hold you. Slide out farther. Farther. Eventually you'll find the place where the surface just barely bears your weight. There you will feel what I felt. The ice splinters under your feet. Look down and you can see the white cracks darting through the ice like mad, elaborate spiderwebs. It is perfectly silent, but you can feel the sudden sharp vibrations through the bottoms of your feet.
That is what happened when Denna smiled at me.” 

So, you ask, why did I just call this gorgeous book a huge disappointment?

Because of its STUPID SEQUEL. See, the thing about this series (which I believe is projected to be a trilogy) is that it starts out with the main character as a disillusioned middle-aged innkeeper who is "waiting to die." Then it has a massive fast-backward to the MC as a kid, and goes from there to describe how he massively messed up his life.

It sounds depressing. And it is. And it sounds like the suspense would be ruined because you already know what happens to him, but it's not. It's just that instead of wondering what will happen, you wonder how it will happen. Also the writing style is so gorgeous that it's hard to stop reading anyway.

Anyway, the problem with the second book, which I'm not even putting on this list because I stopped reading it, is that it takes the main character's flaws too far, and in an explicit direction that was demeaning to women. That put me off the story enough to put it down even though it was so, so good.

In conclusion, it hurts to say this, but DON'T READ THIS BOOK. You will just be disappointed because the second one is so immoral and lame. But The Name of the Wind will nevertheless go down as one of my favorite fantasy books of all time.

Content: PG-13...? (Violence, the occasional bit of explicit language, and a lot of suggestive stuff that would probably push the PG-13 rating. Mostly because the main characters are immature teenage boys.)


Ta-da! Lots of intensity. I think I literally cried over every one of those books, so yeah, you should read them too.  ;P

I will leave you with a highly satisfying gif:

Have you read a particularly awesome or affecting book in the last month or two? And if you've read any of the ones I've just reviewed, what's your opinion?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Did You Miss Me? Here, Let Me Throw Music At You

It's good to be back.

That being said, suspending technology use during Lent must have been divinely inspired because it was exactly what I needed. Now my attention span is slightly longer than that of a caffeinated goldfish, my to-be-read list has been growing smaller and larger in spurts, as all healthy TBR lists do, and I have realized that my powers of procrastination are such that I can spend a day only checking email and chats and still get nothing done.

It sounds weird, but everything has a new excitement to it. Playing the ukulele or guitar or cello or piano is more fulfilling than it was when I could easily look up YouTube covers instead. Talking to people is more invigorating because it's a way to hear news and someone's unique perspective, and even schoolwork is more interesting because heck, even if it's boring information it's information.

Anyway, yesterday I was practicing a Mumford and Sons song on the guitar (surprise) and I started thinking about how it related to Easter, and I figured that might be an interesting thing to explore in an Easter post. So if you don't like Mumford and Sons or cheesy theological ramblings, feel free to leave and go eat some jelly beans. ;)

It's called "The Cave."

*cue cheers from Mumford and Sons fans*

Have a listen/watch:

(This is my vision of London, by the way: bookshops, old piano tuners, and Marcus Mumford crooning/screaming into a microphone.)

Ah, the symbolism.

First off, the references to the cave, which I've heard is supposed to represent Plato's allegory of the cave, but it also works for the cave that Jesus was buried in.

Second, the redemptive lyrics that, as I was thinking about them, could relate to Jesus or to us. The first-person narrator has heroic elements to him, but he is also a sinner in need of redemption. Maybe the chorus could be seen as a dialogue between Jesus and the narrator:

Jesus: "I will hold on hope and I won't let you choke on the noose around your neck."

Narrator: "And I'll find strength in pain and I will change my ways; I'll know my name as it's called again.

I love the "noose around your neck" line because of the mercy implied there. We've tied the noose around our necks by rejecting God's love, but God reaches down in his mercy and, just when we've kicked the box from under our feet, lifts us up. He doesn't let us choke on the evil that we've chosen to get lost in. Instead he saves us with his passion and death...and resurrection.

And when we celebrate the resurrection, it's not enough for us to chill and do nothing. We need to respond to God's love by changing our ways, and even when we fall again, finding strength to keep going, especially when it is painful.

Which brings me to what struck me this Holy Week as the coolest part of the Easter mystery: "I'll find strength in pain" is not only our line, but also Jesus' line. Yes, Jesus was perfect in his divinity, but he was also human and he didn't want to go through the excruciating torture that he went through for us. But he found strength even in his pain, and he prayed that his Father's will be done.

So when we mess up hugely, which I will likely do soon, we can find comfort in the fact that Jesus is right there in the pain and he lifts us up.

Happy Easter.