A B See Photo Challenge: U Is For Unique To The County Fair

cameraDo you have any idea how HARD it is to think of themes beginning with the letter U?! I mean to finish this letter several weeks ago, but instead I spent a month trying to think of what to photograph.

Eventually, I realized that I should post some of my photographs taken during the county fair. But how would they relate to the letter U? Well.. I brought my camera along because I wanted some photos that remind me uniquely of the fair.

Enjoy!

DSCN4036Subject of photo: Cowboy hats

Location of subject: The midway

Techniques practiced: Close-up

I like the patterns and repetition in this photo. The unusual color combination is nice, too.

DSCN4043Subject of photo: A Ferris wheel

Location of subject: The midway

Techniques practiced: Unusual perspective

Where else could I take a picture of a Ferris wheel?! I feel like it’s just such a classic shot – I see it and instantly think of summer. Plus, this photo has such pretty geometry!

DSCN4025Subject of photo: A dog

Location of subject: The 4-H animal-showing arena

Techniques practiced: Black and white

I’m conflicted about how some girl’s legs are in this picture. On one hand, the photo might have looked nicer if I’d zoomed in closer to the dog with my camera. On the other, having other stuff in the picture makes it look more like a scene, and less staged. Also, in this picture it’s immediately obvious that the dog is looking up at its owner, but I didn’t have to show the entire person to achieve that effect.

DSCN4432Subject of photo: A motocross racer

Location of subject: An arena

Techniques practiced: Action

Some of the older 4-H Photography members were able to job-shadow one of the fair’s official photographers, and I was able to photograph the motocross event as part of that. I don’t care about the sport itself but wow, I certainly took some interesting photos. I’m glad I included the lights and stuff because, as the photographer said, that really helps to lend scale to the picture. Viewers get a good idea of just how high those bikes go!

DSCN4038Subject of photo: A knotted rope

Location of subject: The midway

Techniques practiced: Black and white, close-up

I got a lot of weird looks after taking this picture, probably because it was just some random knot. But I like the shadows and textures in this picture! And the spiral pattern that can be found on both the metal stake and the rope!

Which photo is your favorite and why?

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Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Desert Island

Actual proof that desert islands are dangerous places and not much fun.

Actual proof that desert islands are dangerous places and not much fun.

Today, I’m linking up (once again) with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is “top ten characters you would want with you on a desert island.” How could I resist that?! Here are my choices.

1. Finnick Odair from the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I AM RIDICULOUSLY PROUD OF MYSELF FOR THINKING OF FINNICK. I’ve read many other bloggers’ versions of this week’s prompt, and a lot of them chose Katniss for her survival skills. Well, Finnick could help me even more – he grew up around islands and water and stuff, so he really knows what to do!

2. Luz Lopez from the Kiki Strike books by Kirsten Miller

Luz may be only twelve years old, but does that stop her from being a genius inventor? No way! She could probably build a ship for me out of, like, toothpicks and string.

3. Asha Greyjoy from the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

BECAUSE SHE KICKS BUTT, PEOPLE! And because, once again, she has loads of experience with living on lonely little islands. They call her the Kraken’s daughter for a reason – she could sail Luz’s ship so that we’d all get home safely!

4. Lindsey Lloyd from The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Serious reason: Because she’s a champion swimmer, so she could rescue me if I’m drowning. (Which is totally possible, because I’m clumsy that way.) Frivolous reason: Because she is a sarcastic lesbian and I am a sarcastic lesbian and I’m pretty sure we’d get along like a house on fire. Also, it doesn’t hurt that she’s nice to look at. (Hmm, the same could be said of Asha… I swear I’m not choosing the girls just because they’re cute!)

5. Captain Carswell Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

He’s actually been stranded on a desert before, although it wasn’t a desert island. But close enough. And he’s a great guy – very loyal, and he’d make me laugh. Life on a desert island could get pretty dull, but Thorne would liven it up!

6. Frankie from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Like Luz, she doesn’t have any experience with the sea. But also like Luz, Frankie is basically a genius. She’s clever and bold and loves to explore. Furthermore, she is incredibly good at organizing people and directing them to do tasks. This would come in handy because we all need to work together to get off the island!

7. Seth from the Malice duology by Chris Wooding

If he survived the terrifying, deadly world of Malice, he can survive anything. He’s also very loyal. Can you tell that loyalty is kind of important to me? I don’t want people to abandon me on that island!

8. Rubeus Hagrid from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Hagrid is one tough dude. For heaven’s sake, he keeps a wide variety of deadly creatures in his freaking house AND survived his visit to a colony of dangerous giants! Plus, I’m pretty sure anything we’d need to escape the island could be found in his pockets.

9. Twoflower from The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

I just finished this book! Because comic relief is always a plus. And because his magic traveling chest (also known as simply The Luggage) is superb! It faithfully follows its owner everywhere, so as long as I stuck close to Twoflower, it would always be there to produce useful items from its bigger-on-the-inside interior.

10. Adina AKA Miss New Hampshire from Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Honestly, I’d want ALL the girls from this book with me because ALL of them survived for weeks on a desert island! But if I could choose only one, I’d pick Adina, because she’s clever and calm. She would never panic in the face of danger!

Personally, I think I’ve just assembled a FANTASTIC desert-island-survival team! My brain is on fire today and I just kept thinking of better and better characters. But what do you think? What’s your opinion of my ten selections?

P.S. Leave links to your Top Ten Tuesday posts, if you’d like – I’d love to see your lists!

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My 2014 4-H Fair Results Are In!

I wrote about my 4-H projects in 2012 and 2013, so why not write about them this year as well? But this time, I won’t devote three posts to my projects – in the past, I’ve written two about photography (one each for the selected black and white and color photos) and one about all my other projects.

However, I’ve been at the county fair, surrounded by hundreds of 4-H projects, for at least ten days now. I’d love to share my results with you, but I really don’t feel the need to spend lots and lots and lots of time talking about 4-H since that’s what I do all day at my new job.

So. Here are my results!

But first, a quick note about what my scores mean. An A is equivalent to the same letter grade used in American schools – basically, everyone wants at least an A. An A Honor is like an A plus, so it’s a little more special.

All A Honor projects are eligible to become Champions (best in your division of the project – for example, my division includes all members in grades nine through twelve) or Reserve Champions (second best in division). Champions are eligible to be Grand Champions (best out of EVERYONE in the project) and Reserve Grand Champions (second best).

I hope that made sense.

Anyway.

Aerospace: A, Honor

Honestly, I… don’t think my model rocket should have received this grade. An A, though? Sure. I forgot to sand the fins after spray-painting them and as a result, they are as rough as sandpaper and DO NOT look good. Oh, well. I’m not going to question it. The rest of the rocket looks nice and assembling it was so much fun. I love building little things!

Holiday Ornament: A, Honor

This year, I made a Christmas tree ornament out of paper-mache. It’s roughly the size and shape of a tennis ball. I spray-painted it white and sprinkled fine blue glitter all over its surface to give the impression of a snowball. The ornament splits into two halves because it’s meant to be given as a gift – it’s big enough inside to hold a small piece of candy or maybe a pair of earrings. First it’s a package and then it’s an ornament! I’m really pleased with the idea, which I adapted from a craft book.

Personality: A, Honor, Reserve Champion

Unlike some other projects – like Aerospace, in which anything goes – Personality has strict requirements for each and every year. This year, I had to create a sample budget to show how I would manage my money for three months once I live on my own.

I’ve received higher scores in the past (Grand Champion, actually – more than once) but I’m satisfied with this year’s score because I honestly don’t care for either budgets or math.

Music: B

Ahaha. Ooops. I don’t know what happened here. Actually, wait, I do. It’s called “now that Engie doesn’t take piano lessons, she’s really slacked off in practicing.” For my performance I played the piano, choosing “In Dreams” from the movie The Fellowship of the Ring. I LOVED playing it – it’s just such a beautiful song that I never tire of hearing it.

…however, the judge did say that I need to pay more attention to tempo. Apparently my playing speeds up as I go along. Oops. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Junior Leaders: No results available

So, um, I feel like I should include this project here because I spent so much time on it. But it isn’t graded. It’s a project strictly for the older 4-Hers that involves community service and learning leadership skills. I have no idea why it’s not graded, but I’m not concerned about that because I had a good time in that project (as I always do) and that’s really the only thing that matters to me about it.

Photography: It’s complicated, but overall I received good results.

You see, I can (and did!) enter multiple exhibits in this project. First up is my post of ten color photos. It received an A Honor. The poster of ten black-and-white photos received an A.

My color salon print received an A Honor, as did my black-and-white salon print. What is a salon print, you ask? It’s an 8-inch-by-10-inch photo that has been matted but not framed. Essentially, it showcases one photo and so you’re also concerned about things like whether the matte complements the photo – which colors it brings out or which moods it evokes. Et cetera.

And wow, the A B See Photo Challenge has certainly paid even before I’ve completed all the letters! Every single photo chosen for my Photography exhibits came from an A B See Photo Challenge post. Yay!

Foods & Nutrition: A, Honor, Champion

The theme for eleventh-grade entries is “international,” so I made Chinese sesame seed cookies because A) I love to eat them (almond flavoring, yum!) and B) they’re very nice-looking so I knew I’d get points for excellent presentation.

AND THEY WON! All right, so I didn’t win first place overall. But I’m still super-happy about that result!

Creative Writing: A, Honor, Reserve Champion, Reserve Grand Champion

OH MY GOD I AM SO HAPPY! I mean, I love writing. I want to be a published author someday. But until now, I’d never received such a high award in this project. For example, last year I got an A – and that’s good, but I was hoping for better.

This year, I chose two pieces of writing for my notebook. Both were adapted from blog posts, actually: One is my double review of Malice and Havoc by Chris Wooding and the other is an essay titled, “Fantastic Fantasy.” I am really proud of both of them, especially since they’re both “creative nonfiction.” I didn’t exhibit any fiction writing this year, and at first I wasn’t sure if that was a good choice because usually fiction entries win, but in the end it turned out well. YAY!

-~-

Well, those are all of my projects. I cut back this year to only eight projects – I’ve done as many as fourteen or fifteen in the past, I believe. I’m quite happy with all my results (except for Music, but that grade just drives me to work harder).

I’m also quite happy to say that this is my tenth and final consecutive day of working! What will I do with myself on Saturday? Having free time will be odd. I suppose I’ll sleep in… and then in the evening I have yet another 4-H event. Of course.

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A Day In The Life Of A 4-Her During The County Fair

My previous “a day in the life” posts were quite popular, so I think it’s time for another! Earlier, I wrote about days during the school year, but now I’d like to try something else. My summer days are very different from my school days – and a huge chunk of each summer is devoted to various 4-H events held at the county fair. (Psst, if you don’t know what 4-H is, look here.) So I’m going to write about one of my days at the fair!

And wow, there certainly are/were plenty to choose from. (The fair is still ongoing, hence “are.”) I mentioned my new summer job several weeks ago; well, it has since begun and so I am now at the fairgrounds more than ever before. I don’t know quite how it happened, but at some point I became one of the REALLY INVOLVED 4-Hers who exhibits a ton of projects, volunteers often, is on planning committees, and even has a 4-H-related job.

This post tells what I did on Saturday, July nineteenth. That day was particularly special and fun because the Junior Leaders held a race to raise money for their programs. (Junior Leaders is for 4-H members in the seventh through twelfth grades.) All our months of planning really paid off!

Enjoy! Oh, and times are approximate as always.

5:00 AM - UGH. I accidentally set my alarm to go off an early too early… I fix that and go back to sleep.

6:00 AM - My alarm blares once again.

6:15 AM - I get up, get dressed, et cetera. Yes, I really did just lie in bed for fifteen minutes. I hate mornings, OK?

6:45 AM - Breakfast! Blueberry muffins!

7:00 AM - Mom, Dad, and I get in the car and drive to the fairgrounds for the race. I read The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett, a book I began the night before.

7:20 AM - Having arrived at the fairgrounds, I begin to take pictures of the volunteers and random runners. I’m one of the race’s official photographers!

8:00 AM - I photograph the children’s quarter-mile run.

8:30 AM - I photograph the main race. In order to take as many pictures as possible, I drive around with another photographer on a golf cart. Or rather, she drives and I hold on for dear life, hoping we won’t flip over and wreck my camera.

9:15 AM - The race is now over, so I hang out with my parents, my friend’s sisters, and their mom. People get water and snacks to refuel.

10:00 AM - I walk over to another building to help set up for the 4-H foods auction. Each year, the top Foods & Nutrition exhibits are auctioned off to raise money for the scholarship fund. My exhibit won champion (best out of all the eleventh-grade entries) and I will apply for some of that money during this coming school year, so helping out is a no-brainer. We sort the food, package it, and take it over to another building.

11:30 AM - We’ve finished setting up but the auction won’t start for another half an hour, so I read more of The Color of Magic.

12:00 PM - Auction time! My Chinese sesame seed cookies sell for one hundred dollars, or roughly ten dollars per cookie. As you can see, the auction isn’t really about the food – it’s about helping 4-H. You can buy cheaper food literally everywhere else along the midway, but people like to support the organization.

1:00 PM - My shift at the 4-H office begins. My main task today (and every day) is to put ribbons into members’ envelopes according to scorecards that list what each exhibit won. It’s not at all physically strenuous, but it is mentally challenging because I must be very attentive to what I do – no one likes to discover that they have the wrong ribbons, or not as many as they should have!

1:30 PM - Lunchtime! I’ve eaten a lot of sandwiches lately. Today is no different.

1:45 PM - More ribbon work.

3:45 PM - I really need a break from ribbons, so I volunteer to help pick up stuff from the 4-H draft horse show held earlier that morning. The afternoon’s golf cart ride is thankfully much, much calmer than the morning’s ride.

4:00 PM - MORE RIBBONS.

4:45 PM - I walk over to the 4-H dog show, taking pictures for the official Facebook page. Today marks the end of the three-day event, and tonight is all about fun. An obstacle/agility course has been set up and it’s actually rather entertaining. I’ve never seen any of the show before – I’m definitely a cat person and can’t stand most dogs, so there was just no reason to go until now.

5:15 PM - You guessed it! More ribbons!

5:30 PM - Time for “fair dinner”! This consists of nacho taters (like regular nachos but with tater tots instead of tortilla chips), lemonade, and Oreo pie. It’s certainly not healthy, but I eat it literally only once a year, so what’s the harm? While I eat, I watch more of the dog show and talk to some friends.

6:30 PM - Back to work. I sort ribbons for a little while longer, then clean the office because it really needs it. I sweep, put notebooks in the proper places, and wipe fingerprints off the front window. By the last hour of my shift, many employees, 4-H staff, and members have wandered in and we talk about all sorts of things – but mostly the race.

9:00 PM - Normally I drive home, but tonight my parents pick me up. On the way home, we talk about my day.

9:20 PM - We’re back home, and we keep talking. Especially about the race. Knowing that the event was a success is a GREAT feeling!

9:45 PM - I quickly check email, Facebook, and blog comments/stats.

10:00 PM - I shower and get ready for bed.

10:15 PM - Normally I read a book before falling asleep, but tonight I’m too exhausted to read even a page. Lights out!

Well, that was my day. It was slightly busier than most of my fair days, but I chose to share it with you anyway because it was so much fun. It also differed slightly from the other days in that I worked a late shift – my one and only late shift, as it turns out. Normally I work from ten until six.

That was my shift today, actually. I meant to publish this post in the morning before I left for work but WordPress cruelly decided to swallow my post, thus not saving any of my writing. Ugh. Anyway.

Saturday was also the fourth out of ten consecutive days of work – I just finished my eighth. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, ha ha! But seriously, I like my job. I’ve earned plenty of money for college and have gained a sudden appreciation for just how much behind-the-scenes work is necessary for the 4-H fair to run smoothly.

What do you think of my day? Are you in 4-H? And do you visit your county’s fair?

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Movie Night With Nevillegirl

Today, I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke And The Bookish! Normally the prompts are about, well, BOOKS. Every so often, however, they like to change things around and post a top ten about something else. This week the topic is “top ten favorite movies or TV shows.”

I’ve actually meant to write a post like this for a while, so how could I not jump in? I don’t often watch movies but when I do I always think, “I should do this more often!” Following are ten movies I adore, listed in no particular order. [Bestows virtual popcorn upon you]Enjoy!

1. Jurassic Park

DINOSAURS, people. Dinosaurs! How can anyone not love this movie?! It has the perfect mix of adrenaline-filled action scenes and awe-inspiring moments, PLUS one of the most gorgeous film scores ever. I really think John Williams was at his absolute best when he created that main theme.

P.S. If you adore the movie or just want to read an amazing story, try the original book by Michael Crichton. There is plenty of technical science-y jargon to get through, but don’t give up: It really pays off in the end. The book explores a lot of ideas that the movie only barely touched upon, and the ending is SOOOO different.

2. Miss Congeniality

This movie is completely ridiculous. And guess what? I love it! I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve lost count. It’s about an FBI agent who goes undercover at the Miss United States beauty pageant after an unknown person threatens to blow up the winner.

My dad quotes Monty Python; I quote Miss Congeniality. In fact, although my brother complains about the movie, we’ve seen it numerous times together and he always giggles at the dorky quoting marathon that follows: “Hey! I’m gliding here!”

THG-stills-the-hunger-games-movie-29947816-500-325[1]3. The Hunger Games

I feel like the only person in the world who loved this movie more than its sequel! Catching Fire was good but… honestly… I never like the middle parts of trilogies because they’re usually at that weird lull-in-the-action phase.

Anyway. The Hunger Games, while not a perfect adaptation, comes pretty close. I loved seeing Panem onscreen – oh, that contrast between the poor of District 12 and the freakishly-rich (and freakish-looking) Capitol citizens!

P.S. Here’s a big thanks to James Newton Howard for writing a beautiful film score!

4. The Fellowship of the Ring

Oh wow, this movie. It is my favorite book-to-film adaptation EVER and buying the extended edition boxed set was totally worth it. The Fellowship of the Ring is super-long but I don’t mind because it just keeps getting better and better.

What’s not to love about this movie? It’s remarkably accurate to the book. Its great panoramic shots are a feast for the eyes. And its film score is beautiful!

5. Despicable Me

Villains plus animation plus a children’s movie? Bring it on! This has to be one of the most bizarre children’s movies I’ve ever seen. (That’s a good thing, by the way.) I giggled throughout the entire thing, wished I had minions of my own, and was very happy that some weirdo decided that kids’ movies need more villains.

Carl-and-Ellie-Up6. Up

I expected Up to be yet another lousy, irritating children’s movie. You know, the kind with fart jokes every two seconds, the kind that makes you wonder why you bothered to watch it.

But it wasn’t. Up was actually very well-written, very sweet, and sometimes very sad. It’s a kids’ movie that isn’t about kids and I think that made all the difference.

Also, it made me want to float away in a wildly colorful house. Who’s with me?!

7. Rear Window

It’s time for another big thank-you, but this one is for my mom and dad: Thanks for showing me so many Alfred Hitchcock films when I was little! All the ones I’ve seen were deliciously creepy, but this one was the most so. (Even more so than The Birds, in my opinion!) The plot centers around a man who slowly becomes convinced that his neighbor murdered his wife and buried her in the apartments’ yard. It’s a bit slow to start, but stick with it because the suspense just keeps growing!

8. Captain America

The Avengers was funny and Thor had gorgeous music, but Captain America is by far my favorite Marvel movie. He’s my favorite superhero! And he has a great origin story! (Unlike Iron Man’s, which was just… zzzzz.)

I like how different Captain America is from the other movies in the series. The others all take place in the modern day – and I’d prefer to watch something that’s set in a different time. Even if it is, ahem, not quite historically accurate. But we’re not worried about that, are we?

untitled43t43t49. The Dark Knight

Another superhero movie! To my knowledge, this is the only DC Comics movie I’ve ever seen. The movies on this list aren’t in any certain order, but this definitely makes the top three.

Sometimes I love sweet, dorky movies like Despicable Me and Up. But sometimes I love incredibly dark, violent, and intense movies: The Dark Knight delivers on all three counts. It actually reminds me of Game of Thrones in a weird way. They’re both about a world that is out of control, where no one is ever completely safe.

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

The only worthwhile film of the bunch, in my opinion. I LOATHED the previous movies and had very low expectations for Part I… so I was blown away by the amazing-ness of this movie. People complain about the decision to split the final book into two films, but I think it was a great choice. For once, the filmmakers were actually able to include almost everything from the original story!

-~-

Feel free to join in the link-up! What are your favorite movies? Do you like any of the movies listed here?

P.S. Lately I’ve been thinking about going to see How To Train Your Dragon 2. Any thoughts? Was it as good as the first?

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“Bad Girls” – A Great Book About Women + History + Crime

bad girls“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

– Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

I love my library’s YA nonfiction section. Where else would I find books about female villains from throughout the ages?!

Bad Girls, subtitled Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, and Other Female Villains was a quick, intriguing read – it took me no more than an hour to finish its not-quite-two-hundred pages. My thoughts about it can be found below, so read on!

The book is made up of a bunch of short biographies (complete with illustrations) about the following women:

  • Delilah
  • Jezebel
  • Cleopatra
  • Salome
  • Anne Boleyn
  • Bloody Mary
  • Elisabeth Báthory
  • Moll Cutpurse
  • Tituba
  • Anne Bonney and Mary Read
  • Peggy Shippen Arnold
  • Catherine the Great
  • Rose O’Neal Greenhow
  • Belle Starr
  • Calamity Jane
  • Lizzie Borden
  • Madame Alexe Popova
  • Pearl Hart
  • Typhoid Mary
  • Mata Hari
  • Ma Barker
  • Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner
  • Bonnie Parker
  • Virginia Hill

A pretty diverse list, no? The featured villainesses were from ALL OVER THE WORLD. The first half (or so) of Bad Girls DOES focus more on European/African/Asian women and the second half features a lot of female gangsters/bank robbers/et cetera from America, but overall this adds up to a bunch of women from lots of different countries. And I loved this. I hate when books claim to cover “the world history of _____” and then talk mostly about the USA, with a smattering of other countries discussed here and there.

However, I think that might also be the reason for the book’s only shortcoming (in my opinion)! It seemed like the authors wrote about so many women that they ran out of room! Sure, some of the bad girls’ bios were six or eight pages long, but some got only two! It left me going, “Whoa, what?! Isn’t there more to her story?”

Bad Girls examines whether these women really were bad. I love books that make me think. And this one definitely did! After reading it, I came to the conclusion that:

  • Some of these women were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Some of these women lived so long ago that what we “know” about their deeds may be little more than fairy tales.
  • Some of these women helped as many people as they hurt.
  • Sometimes we ignore that that in a few cases, the “evidence” against these women is inconclusive at best.
  • Some of these women did not choose to go into crime – they were coerced into it by their parents and/or spouse(s).

And finally:

  • Some of these women – very few, really – were truly evil.

And oh, how evil those few were! They really made up for the not-quite-so-bad deeds of the other women! Let’s just say that if you’re ever in need of a good creepy tale for telling around the campfire late at night, google Elisabeth Báthory. I would have adored this book when I was a wee Engie because there’s a little bit of gore, a little bit of women kicking butt, and a whole lot of history. I was a weird child, OK?

Speaking of weirdness, I share my name with not one but two of these women! I’m not even sure why I’m telling you this, except that I am an odd little history nerd. Just a few days ago, the Notebook Sisters posted about how it feels to find a fictional character with the same name as you. Well, that hasn’t actually happened very often to me. So what are the odds that two of the undoubtedly evil women share my name? We need to start setting a better example!

I really enjoyed Bad Girls and honestly, I think most people would. What’s not to like about a wonderfully illustrated book that tells thrilling tales of adventure, mischief, and maldoing? It’s easily one of my favorite nonfiction reads thus far this year. Try it!

Rating: 3/5

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Fifty-Five Questions About Books And Reading

So I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I met another teen writer / Teens Can Write, Too! member on my trip to Washington, D.C. She actually lives not too far away from me, which is a weird thought – how many other teen writers might live nearby? I’d love to meet more.

Anyway. She has a blog, too, and I found a long list of interesting bookish questions in one of her posts. People keep telling me how they like the posts where I answer questions or fill out memes, so… here are my answers! Enjoy!

1. Favorite childhood book?

Um. I am not quite sure. I think I can narrow it down to three: Matilda and The BFG by Roald Dahl and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. I read them over and over again until I had them practically memorized!

2. What are you reading right now?

Gone by Michael Grant, All Quiet on the Western Front by Ehrich Maria Remarque, and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy!

4. Bad book habit?

When I visit the library, I check out more books than I will have time to read! I guess it’s the bookworm’s equivalent to having eyes bigger than their stomach. I always want to get ALL THE BOOKS when I know that I’ll only be able to read SOME OF THE BOOKS.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Too many books to list. Here are just a few of them: Who-ology by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright; The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and The Kill Order by James Dashner; American Gods by Neil Gaiman; Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant; and Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.

6. Do you have an e-reader?

Not really, no. My mom has two and she lets me borrow the older one, but I don’t use even that very often. I like technology, just not for reading – I like holding a real book in my hands!

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

For as long as I can remember, I have always read several books at once. Hey, I’m easily distracted. Besides, there are so many books and so little time!

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

Yes, in two ways. First of all, I tend to read books more thoughtfully now in case I decide to review them and need to write down my observations about the story. Secondly, I find a lot of books through online recommendations – other blogs, Goodreads, et cetera – nowadays. Before I started blogging, I was limited to browsing the library for interesting reads.

9. Least favorite book you read this year so far?

I think there have been three, actually. Unfortunately. And for very different reasons each time!

I disliked Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan because I found its stream-of-consciousness style of narration extremely difficult to comprehend. I thought Alex and Brett Harris talked down to their readers way too much in Do Hard Things. I was also disappointed by Sidekicked by John David Anderson – the cover and plot summary misled me into thinking that it would be AN AMAZING BOOK

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

Oh, gosh. Um. I don’t know. Probably Ash by Malinda Lo – it’s a really adorable romance and a retelling of “Cinderella” and a great LGBTQ+ story!

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

Dystopian, humor, and urban fantasy. I think.

13. Can you read in the car?

Yes, and my mom says that’s why I get lost so often when driving by myself – because when I was a little kid, I was too busy reading to pay attention to the routes we took to get to various place!

14. Favorite place to read?

My room! I love to read while lying in or on my bed, wrapped up in a blanket.

15. What is your policy on book lending?

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I loaned a book to anyone. I suppose the last time was nearly four years ago when I lent my Harry Potter collection to Dad so he could read it.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

NO. I’m not uncouth!

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

See my answer to number sixteen!

18. Not even with textbooks?

Nope. My mom wants to sell my old college textbooks after I’m finished with them, so I don’t write in them.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

Well, I’m only fluent in English, so…

20. What makes you love a book?

Beautiful writing, characters I would like to befriend, and a complicated-but-not-confusing plot.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? 

See my answer to question number twenty.

22. Favorite genre?

Fantasy. I can’t decide between high or urban fantasy, so I’ll just say: THE ENTIRE GENRE.

23. Genre you rarely read but wish you did? 

I used to read a lot of historical fiction when I was but a wee Engie. For some reason, I don’t read as much now. But I would like to.

24. Favorite biography?

I love Roald Dahl’s Boy: Tales of Childhood and have read it more times than was really necessary.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

Probably? I’ve read books that gave advice for writers and for LGBTQ+ teens, so those probably count as self-help. (Note: I haven’t read any books for LGBTQ+ teen writers, if you were confused about that. Each book gave advice about only one of the two topics mentioned above, not both.)

26. Favorite cookbook?

My dad has a huge collection of cookbooks about all kinds of foods – he has one that’s all about flatbreads, of all things. Anyway. I like reading a lot of his books, but I especially like the ones starting with The Frugal Gourmet because the author always includes an interesting anecdote before each recipe.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? 

That is a really hard question. I think it would have to be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know, I know, the ending is a bummer. But the book was stuffed with so many BIG IDEAS!

28. Favorite reading snack?

I don’t often eat while I read, but sometimes I have graham crackers.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

I was led to believe that Divergent by Veronica Roth was one of the best books ever. Hint: It’s not. It’s decent, but… nope. It did not live up to my very high expectations.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book? 

About seventy-five percent of the time, I should think. I usually agree with reviews, but sometimes my opinions are wildly different from the norm. For example, I loathed The Fault in Our Stars by John Green…

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? 

They are necessary at times – I’m not going to lie and say that I adored a book when I actually disliked it! And I do try to mention the positive aspects of a book even when the overall review is negative, because very few books are completely good or completely bad.

P.S. Apparently I am a tough critic? I don’t think I am – three stars is a perfect decent rating to me – but I’m just letting you know because evidently some of my readers think I can be stingy with my four- and five-star ratings.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

 Spanish, because my penpal tells me about all these wonderful books – and then I can’t read them because I’m not yet quite fluent in the language! However, during this upcoming school year I will be completing my third and fourth semesters of college Spanish classes, so hopefully I will be able to read an entire Spanish book someday!

35. Favorite poet?

I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a snob, but: William Shakespeare. I love his sonnets!

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

Probably twenty?

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread? 

Fairly often, because (as mentioned in question number four) I frequently check out a lot of books and then realize that I don’t have time to read all of them.

38. Favorite fictional character?

I’m quite fond of Remus Lupin from the Harry Potter series. I kind of wish he were my dad. I mean, I like my actual dad, but if I had to pick someone to be my father, it would be Lupin.

39. Favorite fictional villain?

I really like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy because his story is so complicated. He’s not completely evil, honestly. I feel sorry for him.

41. The longest you’ve gone without reading?

Last year I had a severe case of the “reading blahs,” as I have now dubbed them. I didn’t read anything for two or three months!

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish. 

I struggled to read even the first forty pages of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, so I gave up. Yes, I’m a quitter. Perhaps I’ll try again someday but for now, I have lots of other stories to read.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

Amazingly, music does not distract me – in fact, I love listening to my iPod as I read. What does distract (and irritate!) me are the people who keep asking questions about what I’m reading. I’ll happily tell you the title and author, but then let me read! And I HATE when people push up the book that I’m reading or try to grab it out of my hands so they can see it.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel? 

I absolutely adore The Fellowship of the Ring. The cinematography is beautiful and the storytelling is excellent!

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – such a good book, such a terrible film.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

I bought hardcover copies of the last two Harry Potter books for approximately forty dollars each.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

Oh god, way too often. This is another bad book habit of mine. I don’t do this with stories that I’m really looking forward to, like The Maze Runner, but I have been known to flip to the end of a book to see what happens. I really need to stop doing that.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through?

Excessive violence or gore. I just can’t handle it.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

Yes! They’re organized, vaguely, by genre – historical fiction and contemporary on one shelf, nonfiction on another, children’s books on a third, et cetera. Nothing fancy, but it makes it easier to find things.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? 

People… actually… give away their books after reading them?

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

I want to read Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, but it’s so long and daunting! I mean, its fans call it “the brick” because it’s so big!

52. Name a book that made you angry. 

Lise Haines’ Girl in the Arena made me mad because I thought it would be a superb, Hunger Games-ish story. And it… wasn’t.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

I had trouble getting into Cinder by Marissa Meyer but once I reached its halfway point, I was hooked.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

I thought I’d like Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero, but I found it very slow going. Its sequels are much better, though.

55. Favorite guilt-free pleasure reading? 

Graphic novels! Some of my favorites are American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and an adaptation of Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Feel free to answer these questions on your own blog!

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