4-H Fair 2015: Aerospace, Holiday Ornaments, Junior Leaders, Music, Foods & Nutrition, Creative Writing, And Personality

Hey, everyone. I was at the county fair for most of the day again, BUT I CAN SEE THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL NOW. Today I was at the beef competition with the other Achievement Ambassadors and the fair queen/her runners-up. Actually, I hung out with this year’s Miss Congeniality and I can say that without a doubt, she is indeed very congenial? We watched screaming goat songs from YouTube on her phone and it was an A+ use of time.

…but I digress. HERE IS A POST. I THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING IT ALL DAY BUT I COULDN’T BECAUSE THE WIFI AT THE FAIRGROUNDS IS PRETTY TERRIBLE.

I talked about my Photography exhibits on Monday here, if you’re interested… and today, I’m discussing my seven other projects!

Here is the ribbon hierarchy, organized from lowest to highest score:

  • Completion
  • C
  • B
  • A
  • Honor
  • Reserve Champion
  • Champion
  • Reserve Grand Champion
  • Grand Champion

You must earn the previous ribbon in order to win the next one; in other words, you can’t win… say, a C ribbon and an Honor ribbon. Recipients of both A and Honor ribbons are the only ones eligible to win Reserve Champion / Champion ribbons (second and first, respectively, in their specific division of the project), and only Reserve Champions / Champions are eligible to win Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion (second and first, respectively, in the entire project).

…I feel like I made that whole thing sound way more complicated than it actually is. Anywayyyyy. If I mention a State Fair ribbon, this means that my exhibit was selected for further competition at the Indiana State Fair!

Oh, and one more thing: I decided to list how many years I have participated in this project, because… this is my tenth and final year, I guess? And this year I signed up for only the projects I really really loved, only the projects that I’ve been doing for years and years BECAUSE ENTHUSIASM. At this point, I decided to stick with things I already knew.

Aerospace: A

I MADE A GLITTERY MODEL ROCKET THIS YEAR. Part of the rocket is painted dark blue, and part of it is covered in LIGHT BLUE GLITTER. BECAUSE REASONS. I mean, why not? I AM A RIDICULOUS PERSON WHO LOVES GLITTER. I’m still finding glitter all around the house from that particular adventure of mine…

Anyway, I’m satisfied with my score in Aerospace. I’m not in it to win it – I’m in it to have fun! I’M IN IT TO GLITTERIZE ALL THE THINGS.

This is my tenth year in Aerospace!

Holiday Ornament: A, Honor

I made a Christmas ornament this year. I found this really neat string that has a twisty pattern of red, white, and green strands. I wound the string around and around a styrofoam ball, hot-gluing as I went, and it formed this cool swirly pattern that reminds me of peppermints, or maybe candy canes!

This is my ninth year in Holiday Ornaments!

Junior Leaders: No results available

This project isn’t graded! Instead, it’s… sort of a pass/fail thing? There are requirements you have to fulfill, such as attending a certain number of meetings and community service events.

What is Junior Leaders? Good question! This project is available to 4-Hers in grades seven through twelve, and it teaches us leadership skills. I’ve had so much fun over the years that now I sort of wish that I’d joined earlier… but seventh-/eighth-grade me was painfully shy, so. Yeah.

This is my fourth year in Junior Leader!

Music: A, Honor

There are two competition options for this project: Recital or poster. For the past nine years, I’ve always participated in the recital, but… not this year. (You can read more about my decision to try something new here, if you’re interested.) This year, I created an educational poster about one of my favorite composers – Hans Zimmer!

I had dreams of winning first or second place in this project, and that… didn’t happen. But honestly? I’m OK with that, because I had so much fun creating my poster. I’M SUPER HAPPY WITH ITS DESIGN, TOO. To decorate my poster, I made these little film strips with images from many of the movies he’s composed for. It took aaaaaages because I am not very experienced with MS Paint.

This is my tenth year in Music!

Foods & Nutrition: A, Honor, Champion, State Fair

I made strawberry jam and it was DELIGHTFUL, if I do say so myself. My score, though… I mean, it was yummy jam, but… only one other person made jam for the competition, and we were scored against each other. YAY ME FOR WINNING FIRST PLACE OUT OF TWO, I GUESS?

This is my tenth year in Foods & Nutrition!

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

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD. I received the same scores last year! I am SO HAPPY with my results in this project because… well, I’m going to double-major in creative writing and journalism starting this fall. AHHHHH OMG I FEEL SO REASSURED AND VALIDATED ABOUT MY CAREER CHOICES.

Members in my division (tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade) are required to submit at least two and no more than… four? five? writing samples. Last year I chose two blog post, modifying them slightly to make them more formal and less conversational. (Because, like, saying “like” and using ALL CAPS probably wouldn’t impress the judge.)

This year I used the same approach, since it worked so well the year before! This year’s entries consisted of a book review and an essay. I included my review of Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson… and the judge said it was VERY ENTHUSIASTIC! I also chose a post I wrote a few days after Terry Pratchett’s death, and the judge basically said it was “very touching” and that my love of Pratchett’s writing really shone through. YAY YAY YAY.

(Many thanks to everyone who proofread my writing samples and gave me their thoughts!)

I’m suuuuuper happy about winning Reserve Grand Champion because… like I said, I’m planning a career in writing. Also, I’m really glad that the judge liked my creative nonfiction so much, because almost everyone includes fiction – and often only fiction – in their writing notebooks. Most people probably think of stories when they hear the term “creative writing,” but stories just aren’t my THING. I enjoy writing them, but I’m really passionate about essays.

This is my ninth year in Creative Writing!

Personality: A, Honor, Champion, Grand Champion, State Fair

…this is my favorite project, and it’s a bit difficult to explain. Basically, in the Personality project I have learned about myself, my friends, my family, my community, my career, my goals, et cetera. IT’S SO DIFFICULT TO CATEGORIZE THIS PROJECT. (But if it’s offered in your county, I definitely recommend trying it!)

This year I was required to make an “employment portfolio,” so I created one that I might use for applying for a writing-related job. I included my high school and dual-credit college transcripts, my résumé, a few letters of recommendation, and – of course – several writing samples.

I love Personality… and along with Photography, it’s the project on which I work the hardest. The superintendent actually told me that she’s sad that this is my last year in the project because I put so much effort into creating my exhibits! (…I may have won first place, like… multiple times in the past. BECAUSE ENTHUSIASM.)

This is my eighth year in Personality!

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Are you in 4-H? Tell me about your projects’ results! Did you win any SHINY RIBBONS?!

P.S. If you would like to see my projects, I will post photos on Facebook in just a sec!

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Top Ten Bookish Characters

Matilda[1]Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is “ten characters who are fellow book nerds.”

Wow, the bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish have really been on a roll lately, haven’t they?! As soon as I saw this week’s prompt, I knew I had to join in.

BOOK-LOVING FICTIONAL CHARACTERS MEAN SO MUCH TO ME. I looooove reading about other people discovering the myriad ways in which stories can help you, change you, influence you, and allow you to travel to strange new places without ever leaving the comfort of your home. And I’m sure many (hopefully all?) of you would agree with me!

Enjoy!

1. Matilda Wormwood
Matilda by Roald Dahl

“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

Matilda comes first because she is THE ULTIMATE BOOKWORM. I see a lot of similarities between the two of us, and I love her enthusiasm for stories, and her realization that books are incredibly comforting.

2. Vv for vendetta
V For Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

“Everybody is special. Everybody. Everybody is a hero, a lover, a fool, a villain. Everybody. Everybody has their story to tell.”

V owns so many books that he ran out of shelf space and now has piles and stacks on the floor! I AM V AND V IS ME.

3. Tyrion Lannister
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”

There are plenty of things I dislike about Tyrion – especially his treatment of Shae – but I do
appreciate his love of reading!

4. Bastian Balthazar Bux
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

“Every real story is a neverending story.”

If you love Cornelia Funke’s Inkworld series, you HAVE to read this book! Funke quotes it often, and her books are basically based on this one. Bastian is a little boy who loves to read, and one day he reads himself into a story! UGH THIS BOOK IS SO BEAUTIFUL.

the neverending story5. Mo
The Inkworld series by Cornelia Funke

“‘If you take a book with you on a journey,’ Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, ‘an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: The sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it… yes, books are like flypaper – memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.'”

I HAVE TO INCLUDE THIS ONE TOO, OF COURSE. Meggie’s father, Mo, can read characters out of books and people into books… DFJKHGSDFJKHFSDJGDF THAT IS SO COOL. And also mildly terrifying. (Can you imagine being read into A Song of Ice and Fire?!)

6. Ananka Fishbein
The Kiki Strike series by Kirsten Miller

“I had spent the first twelve years of my life in a large, dilapidated apartment near New York University, which my mother and father had filled with books on every imaginable subject. Stacks of books lined every room, some seeming to hold up the walls and others balanced so precariously that they threatened to topple and bury us all in an avalanche of accumulated wisdom.”

These books are about “delinquent Girl Scouts” who kick butt and fight crime in New York
City. This group was assembled by the leader, Kiki Strike, who chose each girl based on their
budding criminal talent – except for Ananka. Kiki chose Ananka for her library, her vast source of information about anything and everything NYC-related. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, PEOPLES.The-Darkness-Dwellers[1]

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

“Mr. Wodehouse is a prose stylist of such startling talent that Frankie nearly skipped around with glee when she first read some of his phrases… Wodehouse’s jubilant wordplay bore itself into her synapses like a worm into a fresh ear of corn.”

Frankie is a brilliant young woman, and so much of her life revolves around books: She finds her favorite bizarre ideas in them, and even goes in search of an extra-special book.

8. Tiffany Aching
The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

“‘Onomatopoeic,’ she’d discovered in the dictionary, meant words that sounded like the noise of the thing they were describing, like cuckoo. But she thought there should be a word meaning a word that sounds like the noise a thing would make if that thing made a noise even though, actually, it doesn’t, but would if it did.
Glint, for example. If light made a noise as it reflected off a distant window, it’d go glint!”

I LOVE TIFFANY. She may have read the entire dictionary, but that doesn’t mean she knows how to pronounce all those words! It’s good to know that I’m not the only bookworm who has issues with practical things like mispronunciation…

9. Ripred
The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

“‘Oh, I know a great many things about the Overland that our friends here do not. I have spent much time there among your books and papers,’ said Ripred.
‘You can read?’ asked Gregor.
‘Most rats read. Our frustration is, we cannot hold a pen to write.'”

gregor[1]THIS QUOTE MAKES ME CRACK UP EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Also, I just really like the idea of Ripred being a liaison between the Underland and Overland cultures? He understands both of them so well, and uses this knowledge to stop arguments and make the two groups cooperate.

10. Bilbo Baggins
The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there!”

UGH I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT BILBO AND HIS BOOKS. I feel like after returning from the Lonely Mountain, he basically lived for stories and memories.

-~-

Who are your favorite bookish characters? How did they develop a love of reading? (Did a friend or family member encourage them?) And most importantly… what is their favorite book of all time?!

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4-H Fair 2015: Photography

HELLO! Ah, aren’t computers lovely?! I haven’t used mine much lately because I’ve been so busy with my new job and all that volunteering… so it’s nice to sit here and write a post ON MY ACTUAL COMPUTER and not on my phone. (Blogging via phone is totally possible, but it’s also a pain in the butt because it’s so SLOW and I make SO MANY TYPOS that I have to go back and correct.)

Anyway. I didn’t work today… but I was still at the fair! Mostly, I did volunteer-y stuff because hey, Achievement Ambassador responsibilities. I watched the Horse & Pony competition (!), petted soft cows (!!), and recorded the voice-over for a new promotional video for my county’s 4-H program (!!!). Also I spent most of the afternoon staring helplessly at the new fair queen because PRETTY GIRLS IN PRETTY DRESSES… but I digress. #havingagayoldtime

ANYWAYYYY. Ever since 2011, I’ve written about my 4-H projects and what grades they received. This year, I plan to publish two posts: One is about photography, and the other will include everything else.

This year, I created two exhibits – a poster of ten color photos, and a color salon print – AKA a solo photo. (In the past I’ve also made a black and white poster and a black and white salon print, but I didn’t do that this year because reasons.) I’ll mention the salon print’s grade in a while, and as for my photography poster? OH MY GOD. I received four ribbons for it: A, Honor, Reserve Champion, and Champion! The last two ribbons mean that I won second place in the advanced division (ninth through twelfth grade) and first place in the twelfth grade division!

AHHHH OMG I’M SO HAPPY. The photography project is ridiculously competitive, with more than two hundred and fifty exhibits. Also, this marks my third year of winning “best color photography of [insert grade here]” – I also won in ninth and tenth grades! It’s honestly kind of funny, because I love black and white photography much much more and yet my exhibits never receive anything higher than an A and an Honor!

One more thing before I show you my photos: When I say that a particular photo received a gold star, this means it is eligible for the calendar contest. It’s basically a way of commending outstanding individual photos that were not exhibited as salon prints!

Enjoy!

Note: If any of these photos seems familiar… that’s because they’ve appeared on this blog before! The A B See Photo Challenge has been SO helpful and motivating! 

DSCN5319The superintendent of the photography project hosts multiple workshops each year… I took this photo at one of them! I LOVE the bright colors and the picnic-y feel in this picture! This is a very satisfying photo to look at when you’re hungry, isn’t it?! I seriously think this is one of the most professional-looking photos I’ve EVER taken.

DSCN4784I took this photo last year while on vacation in Utah! I love how the background is colorful yet blurry, so that it doesn’t overwhelm the subject of this picture – the rock cairn.

The judges said this was my best photo! It also received a gold star.

DSCN4047Last summer we grew GINORMOUS sunflowers in our backyard, and I love this photo because it looks like its own mini sun! This photo was included in my collection of ten photos, and it was also my salon print.

And… the judge gave it a B! The superintendent told me to disregard that, though – apparently the judge told her that I should’ve placed the flower directly at the center of my photo, and included less of the sky? She said to ignore that judge because they “clearly don’t know about the rule of thirds.”

SO I WILL. I love the sheer SUMMERYNESS of this photo, and it makes me feel happy inside. The matte board around this photo is part yellow and part blue, too, and it looks really gorgeous. Someday when I have my own apartment/house, I’ll hang this photo on the wall, and enjoy its bright colors, and giggle at the judge.

This photo received a gold star! If you’re wondering how that’s even possible… the superintendent said she reserves the right to overrule the judge’s decisions if she feels that an exhibit truly deserves it. OMG WOW THANK YOU. 

DSCN5258…I never ever EVER thought I would exhibit this photo as part of a 4-H project! I was just messing around with my camera when I took this, TBH. One of the aforementioned workshops is all about pet photography, and this year someone brought kittens! I oohed and aahed over their CUTENESS, and then spent practically FOREVER trying to take a picture of this tiny ball of fluff walking around in the grass, but I wasn’t pleased with the results. Then a little girl nearby picked up the kitten and cuddled it and… I ended up with an incredibly sweet (and COLORFUL) photo!

This photo received a gold star!

DSCN5301This is another photo I never expected to include! This was taken during the portrait workshop. I had almost given up hope of taking a good picture of this little girl because everyone was clustered around her and SOME ANNOYING PEOPLE DIDN’T MOVE OUT OF THE WAY AFTER TAKING HER PICTURE. BLEHHHH. But I finally got my photo and it. Was. ADORABLE! She’s the younger sister of some members of the photography project, and has appeared in exhibits for the past few years because she’s so cuuuuuuuuute.

DSCN4642This is another picture from last year’s vacation, although this image was taken in Wyoming. I love the spikiness/fuzziness/weird alien-looking bits!

DSCN5358The photography superintendent added a new workshop this year: Architecture photography! So, naturally, I attended the workshop, because I LOVE architecture photography… funnily enough, though, I was not satisfied with any of my pictures of the buildings in town. IT STARTED RAINING AND I WAS BORED SO I TOOK PICTURES OF MY UMBRELLA.

DSCN4816This is my final vacation photo! We were hiking in Utah, and it was easy to see where other people had been – it must have been raining as they walked, and the footprints they left behind dried up. This photograph has a very limited color palette, but it’s also COOL. And WEIRD. Who knew that dirt could look so delicate and artistic?!

DSCN4043I took this photo during LAST year’s county fair! IT’S SO QUINTESSENTIALLY SUMMERY.

DSCN5047I have a lot of photos with (intentionally) blurry backgrounds, but every so often I enjoy experimenting with blurry foregrounds as well! I’m really pleased with the results.

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I am INCREDIBLY HAPPY with my photography exhibits this year! I want to be a photojournalist someday, so receiving such high honors felt VERY VALIDATING. Also, I absolutely SUCK at any form of art other than photography, so I love that I finally found something I’m good at! I love knowing how much my photography skills have improved. I love being able to create art that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I see the final results.

I have participated in the photography project for six years and I will miss it next year; however, I may consider entering the fair’s photography competition that is specifically for adults! Oh, that reminds me – someday soon, I need to take a look at those exhibits so that I know what sort of talent I’ll be up against!

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Which photograph is your favorite… and why?

And are there any that you wish I’d done differently?! I don’t mind criticism, as long as it’s sensible criticism… like, THE RULE OF THIRDS IS A THING AND I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU WOULD IGNORE IT BECAUSE PHOTOS WITHOUT IT ARE SO BORING. But if you think any of my photos needed more color or sharpness or whatever, feel free to let me know! Criticism helps me improve!

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First Reactions To The “Mockingjay: Part Two” Film Trailer

A new trailer for Mockingjay Part Two was released on Thursday, so I thought I’d write a reaction post about it! I am SUPER EXCITED for this movie, but also a bit sad – I can’t believe this is already the last one in the series! 

Anyway, this trailer made me feel ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. I cannot wait to see this movie on November twentieth… Artgirl @ Alien Cows and I have talked about meeting up IRL for the first time to watch Mockingjay Part One together this coming semester, in fact. OMG THAT WOULD BE SO COOL. Anyway…

Enjoy!

P.S. You can find my earlier film trailer reactions here.

Warning: Spoilers ahead, so read/watch at your own risk!

0:02 – Ooh, the Capitol is on fire!

0:14 – OK, that scenery is ridiculously beautiful.

0:19 – [Insert dramatic music here]

0:22 – Ohhhh my gosh, Katniss looks SO SAD AND BROKEN and I just want to hug her.

0:37 – SUPER excited to see more of the Capitol in this movie… especially a wartorn and not beautiful Capitol.

0:43 – I don’t remember who this is… Commander Paylor, maybe? But I thought she lost an arm. Did it grow back?! Is this someone else?! I really need to read at least the final book, if not the entire series, to refresh my memory.

1:07 – OH MY GOD IS SHE GOING TO KILL COIN?

1:12 – I don’t even remember this, either…

1:18 – “Nothing good is safe while [Snow] is alive…” [Scene cuts to Katniss and Prim dancing] WELL THAT WAS OMINOUS.

1:35 – LOOK IT’S MY WIFE AKA NATALIE DORMER HI NATALIE NICE TO SEE YOU.

1:40 – WAIT NOOOOOO IS THIS THAT SCENE WITH PRIM NO NO NO DO NOT WANT.

1:43 – …and now Finnick’s death is foreshadowed, and I am NOT OK.

1:46 – YOU CAN’T KILL FINNICK IT’S NOT ALLOWED.

1:51 – Hugs! Hugs for everyone!

1:52 – I’m also not ready to see Finnick being so happy at his wedding, only to freaking DIE shortly afterwards.

2:03 – OH MY GOD I THOUGHT THEY WERE BLOWING BUBBLES AND I COULDN’T FIGURE OUT WHY. BUT THOSE ARE BOMBS… OH CRAP, I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY WOULD FORESHADOW SO MUCH STUFF.

2:11 – Katniss gives better monologues than Daenerys Targaryen. IT IS KNOWN.

2:12 – JOHANNA MY LOVE.

2:14 – OH MY GOD, TIGRIS.

-~-

So. THAT TRAILER. I cannot truthfully say that it is my favorite from the series- because the trailer for Catching Fire was PHENOMENAL- but it was good. 

I’m really surprised that so many key scenes – so many DEATHS- were foreshadowed here. Wow.

Also, I’m surprised that Johanna was in this trailer for, like, only a single second! She was barely even in the previous film and I missed her. I hope her scenes weren’t cut to make room for, I don’t know, love triangle stuff? I LOVE JOHANNA AND HER FRIENDSHIP WITH KATNISS IS AMAZING. HONESTLY, THEY JUST NEED TO DATE. #teamjohanna

At any rate, I’m INCREDIBLY EXCITED for Mockingjay Part Two, even though I’m sorry to see this series draw to a close. This film series is one of the best  book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen, and definitely the best recent book-to-movie adaptation in the sci fi genre. AHHHHH I CAN’T WAIT. 

-~-

What’s your opinion of this trailer for Mockingjay: Part Two?

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Rick Riordan’s Latest Book | So Much Fangirling About “The Sword Of Summer”

I AM EXCITED. Soooo many awesome books (Demon Road by Derek Landy), movies (Mockingjay Part Two, The Scorch Trials), and TV shows (Doctor Who, series nine) are coming out this fall… and Rick Riordan is publishing a new book then, too!

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer arrives in bookstores October sixth, 2015. I didn’t realize it would be published so soon – for some reason, I thought it was coming out NEXT year!

But it’s not, so I am even more excited for it, and I’m probably going to preorder a copy. I rarely buy books without having read them – because what if I don’t like it, and feel like I’ve wasted my money? – but I trust that Riordan’s new story will satisfy me just as much as his earlier ones did. (Also… let’s be real, I don’t buy that many books ANYWAY. I don’t feel bad about spending fifteen dollars on something I haven’t read since I only buy two or three full-price books per year.)

Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway. The Sword of Summer is about Norse mythology, as you hopefully already guessed. It’s the first in a trilogy (like the Kane Chronicles), and it’s aimed at middle grade readers. BUT I’M GONNA READ IT ANYWAY, EVEN THOUGH I’LL BE IN COLLEGE BY THE TIME IT IS PUBLISHED.

I’m really curious to see how Riordan writes the Norse gods. Hopefully they’ll be adults like in the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series? One of the things I seriously disliked in the Kane Chronicles was Riordan’s decision to make Anubis a teenager, because then Sadie ended up flirting with him… UGH THIS WAS SO BORING AND ALSO WEIRD AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHY HE DID THAT.

Please don’t make Loki a teenager, Mr. Riordan. Speaking of Loki, though… please DO feel free to ignore any and all criticism about how your version of Loki “isn’t canon” or whatever, because I feel like a hell of a lot of people are expecting something more like Marvel!Loki. I mean, middle schoolers? The Avengers is basically aimed at them.

…anyway. I meant to talk about the blurb, the cover(s), and a chapter preview, but I still haven’t done that because I’m RANTING ABOUT TEENAGE GODS. So, I will move on to the blurb and the other thingies.

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he’s never met – a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday.

To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision. Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die…

I’m not sure if Riordan actually confirmed this yet, but there is a line in The Blood of Olympus that implies that Magnus is Annabeth’s cousin. OH MY GOD IS RIORDAN PLANNING ANOTHER CROSSOVER STORY OMG.

…also, I keep accidentally calling him Magnus Bane instead. Because reasons.

I’m curious to read about Magnus’s possible death/life thingy, and I quite like this Goodreads user’s theory about it.

All right, it’s time for some COVER FANGIRLING. Let’s start with my favorite… which is also the one I’ll see most often in bookstores, the library, et cetera. Here is the US edition:

the sword of summerYOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS. I love the color combination here – it’s very mysterious and beautiful! Ooh, and that ice blue color makes me feel chilly. I love love love the art style, too.

But my favorite part? OH MY GOD THEY INCLUDED THE WORLD TREE! The World Tree, or Yggdrasil, connects the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology – Asgard is at the top, Helheim is at the bottom, and Midgard (where humans were thought to live) is in the middle.

ADSLGHSLDGHALG I’m just really excited because this is is obviously a HUGE part of Norse mythology and I love that it’s shown on the cover. I think it connects the title/plot and the art really well.

Now, here’s the UK cover:

the sword of summer uk coverI am… not quite so pleased about THIS cover. For a start, the art looks computer-generated. Also, I think the covers are a little… um, overwhelming? I thought they were pretty for about two second and then I was like OW MY EYES HURT. Also, this cover is so GENERIC. It could belong to any MG/YA fantasy novel! It doesn’t make me immediately think of Norse mythology like the other one does.

I do like that the wolf looks like… a vision? Something magical? It looks sort of ethereal and Rick Riordan’s characters often have lots of prophetic dreams, so this fits in with that really well.

Also, I’m pretty sure the wolf on both covers is Fenrir? NICE. (Also, I was googling stuff in order to refresh my memory and apparently if Ragnarok is not averted, Fenrir will eat Odin? OH MY GOD.)

You can read an excerpt from chapter two here. OH MY GOD I THINK RICK MUST HAVE RETURNED TO HIS GLORIOUSLY SILLY CHAPTER TITLES BECAUSE CHAPTER TWO IS CALLED “THE MAN WITH THE METAL BRA.” I LOVE YOU, MR. RIORDAN.

Also, here is some speculation about who Magnus’s godly parent might be. I would love it if this happened because I want this series to be a little less straightforward/obvious than, “Magnus is the son of Thor and Loki is his evil uncle.” I mean, come on.

Are you looking forward to reading The Sword of Summer?!

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Jobs, 4-H, & Much, Much More | I Have Been Busy!

Hello there!

Sooooo… you may have noticed that I haven’t been super active on THE WONDERFUL WONDERFUL INTERNET lately. I mean, I’ve been blogging, but even then… most of the posts from the last few weeks were scheduled to publish automatically, so I’ve only written like two posts in the last two weeks.

I haven’t been commenting on other people’s blogs as often as usual, and I haven’t even responded to many of the comments on my own blog! And if you’ve sent me any messages on Facebook and still haven’t heard back from me, then… gah, I’m sorry. I’M NOT IGNORING YOU PEOPLES. I’VE JUST BEEN SO BUSY LATELY.

The past couple of weeks have been ridiculously productive. Here are some of the things that I’ve been doing!

1. Getting ready for my open house

WOW THAT PARTY REQUIRED A LOT OF WORK. And I didn’t really even do that much food-related stuff… that’s my dad’s area of expertise. I did help set up the tent, move picnic tables around, scrub the tables, put up decorations, send out invitations, et cetera et cetera.

My open house was so much fun, but by the end of the day I was SO TINY. I am a tiny introvert and interacting with people – even my favoritest people – all day is exhausting. SO MANY CONVERSATIONS, SO LITTLE TIME TO SIT QUIETLY AND TALK TO MY CAT.

(…my cat, you see, is not exhausting to be around because most of the time he’s exhausted too, so I pet him and tell him he’s such a soft kitty, and then he stares blearily at me and resumes his nap. My cat rarely engages in long conversations with me, except when he wants food.)

2. Writing thank-you notes

And sending them to the people who came to my open house! SOOOOO MANY THANK-YOUS. Also, hand cramps from writing so many. OW.

I’ve been sending out a new batch of them every few days, and have saved some of the thank-you notes for last because I NEED TIME TO REMEMBER ALL THE THINGS I WANT TO THANK THEM FOR. Like, some people had a pretty huge influence on my high school years, so it’s not quite as simple as just thanking them for attending my party – I also want to thank them for all the other things they’ve done for me over the years!

3. Finishing my 4-H projects

I told myself that I wouldn’t leave some things undone until the last possible minute and then rush to finish them… well, guess what I did? WHY YES I DID PROCRASTINATE.

On some of my projects, anyway. I usually finish my Photography exhibits very, very close to the deadline just in case I take an awesome new photo just a few days before I have to turn in my projects, but I actually finished those exhibits a few weeks ago!

I was printing, cutting, taping, and assembling bits and pieces for some of my other projects right up until the deadline on Monday night, though. WHOOPS. I’m really pleased with how everything turned out, though – ESPECIALLY my Music exhibit!

Although the fair doesn’t begin until Thursday, I’ve already seen some of my projects’ grades because I, um, walked through the exhibit hall yesterday. OSTENSIBLY TO ASK SOMEONE IN THE OFFICE A QUESTION BUT ACTUALLY BECAUSE I AM AN IMPATIENT PERSON WHO WANTED TO SEE MY SCORES. I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON AND EVIDENTLY DO NOT SET GOOD EXAMPLES FOR SMALL CHILDREN OOPS LOL.

…anyway, I’m RIDICULOUSLY happy about some of my scores and a bit puzzled about others, but oh well. I’ll probably write one post about my photography exhibits and another about all my other projects. I still haven’t seen how I did in Creative Writing, because the judge is allowed to take the notebooks home to read but they haven’t returned them yet. I AM ANXIOUS TO KNOW WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF MY WRITING.

4. Working at my second summer job in the 4-H office at the fair

I finished an eight-hour shift just a few hours ago… there was still SO MUCH stuff to set up for the grand opening tomorrow at noon.

I had this job last year as well, and you can read my thoughts about it here and here. Basically I’m an assistant/office clerk. I answer people’s questions, fill out and file away paperwork, et cetera. It’s a bit tedious (SO MUCH ALPHABETIZING), but it pays eight whole dollars per hour. (In comparison, minimum wage in Indiana is $7.25 per hour.)

Also, the tedium of this job is nothing compared to the grossness of my OTHER job bussing tables at a restaurant. (I smell like fried food by the end of each day there.) I work at my office job every day of the week except Sunday… when I work at the restaurant. BUSY BUSY BUSY.

5. Representing 4-H as an Achievement Ambassador

In between my two jobs, I’m also doing a lot of volunteer work as an Achievement Ambassador. (I think in other counties, they’re called 4-H Kings and 4-H Queens? But I’m technically a Reserve Achievement Ambassador, so does that make me a 4-H Princess?)

Anyway, the Ambassadors are the top four kids from the 4-H members who have just finished either their junior or senior year of high school. It’s a pretty high honor to be chosen as one of the Ambassadors, and the whole experience still feels rather surreal to me because I really admired the Ambassadors when I was a little kid, and now I’m one of them. WEIRD.

Anyway, my responsibilities mainly consist of handing out awards at various animal showmanship events, answering questions about my county’s 4-H program, and basically just representing 4-H throughout the fair.

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So… that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been pretty busy and tired lately – so tired, in fact, that when I get home from work each day, I’m too tired to read. Even though I borrowed a bunch of comic books from the library and I’m excited to read them! Maybe I should bring books to read during my lunch/dinner break like I did last year?

Haven’t had the re to watch Carmilla, either – I’m four episodes behind and eager to binge-watch it sometime soon. (Apparently something big happened? I think? I CAN’T WAIT.)

…anyway, I’ve rambled on for long enough, so I’ll end this post here and go to bed. I need to be rested for the first official day of the fair!

P.S. Oh, I almost forgot: This post is partially an explanation of where I’ve been, but also one of where I’ll be… and what I’ll be doing! I’ll continue to blog throughout the duration of the fair, but probably won’t be active anywhere else, Internet-wise. So if you don’t hear much from me within the next two weeks or so, now you know why!

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Top Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity

Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s prompt is “ten books that celebrate diversity,” so… how could I not link up?! DIVERSE CHARACTERS ARE SO IMPORTANT TO ME.

the miseducation of cameron postI love reading diverse books, and I love writing them! I love reviewing diverse stories and promoing up-and-coming diverse authors and… basically just raising awareness about diverse stories? Some of my favorite websites include Diversity in YA and We Need Diverse Books. Aaaaand… let’s be honest, I criticize a lot of books for their lack of diversity or for sloppily written diversity, too: I’m all about improving literature (as well as movies and TV) by including characters from a variety of minority groups.

So, yeah. I’M SUPER EXCITED TO WRITE THIS POST AHHHH OMG. Enjoy!

1. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

This one comes first because it’s my favorite book EVER! This novel follows Cam through her teenage years, as she slowly discovers and accepts her attraction to girls – and is eventually sent away to conversion therapy in an attempt to “cure” her of being a lesbian.

My awesome friend Matt @ The Little Engine That Couldn’t said that if he “had to make a ashlist of top ten books everyone should read, no matter who they are or where they live, this book would be number one. Because the world would be a much better place if that happened.” YES YES I SO AGREE. I think reading this book would help people to understand one another better, and to be kinder to each other.

2. Ash by Malinda Lo

inheritanceTHIS BOOK IS SO CUTE. Queer readers like myself just… don’t get very many adorable stories? Or queer female characters who have happy endings? And there is a huge shortage of LGBTQ+ books that belong to a genre other than contemporary. So this queer retelling of “Cinderella” – my favorite fairy tale! – means SO much to me.

3. Adaptation and Inheritance

OMG THIS IS THE BEST YA DYSTOPIAN SERIES EVER. It’s about aliens and government conspiracies… and the protagonist, Reese, is bisexual! There is a love triangle between Reese, her Chinese-American childhood friend David, and her new friend Amber. (And oh my gosh, the resolution of that love triangle… THAT WAS BRILLIANT AND CREATIVE.)

Plus, the book explores the concept of
gender! I always think it’s silly when some fictional alien race that is otherwise vastly different from us has the exact same ideas about gender. Like, there are cultures and animal species on our own planet that have more than two genders, so why aren’t sci fi authors more creative when it comes to portraying gender?the house of the scorpion

4. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

This is a YA dystopian novel set in Opium, a country that used to be Mexico. It’s about a LOT of things – cloning, disease, aging, longevity, family, identity, friendship, greed, drugs, slavery, and more. OH MY GOD IT’S SOOOOO GOOD AND I LOVE IT. The descriptions are just so vivid. And Matteo is one of my favorite male protagonists ever!


5. Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby

UGH I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK. It’s not very well known, but it deserves to be read by, like, everyone. Thirteen-year-old Joey is
deaf, but her mother refuses to let her learn sign language because she wants her to blend in. So Joey leads a pretty lonely life – at least until she meets a nearby biologist, Charlie, and Sukari, an orphaned chimpanzee that he rescued. And Charlie is teaching Sukari sign language…

hurt go happyThis is quite possibly the best book I’ve ever read about a disabled character. The chapter headings are even labeled with pictures of Joey’s hands making the signs for each number! Also, the plot twist about how Joey lost her hearing – she wasn’t born deaf, you see – was stunning. I DID NOT EXPECT THAT.

This story is about animal rights, too! OH THE FEELS. By the second half of the story I was SOBBING. I’m fairly certain that Hurt Go Happy is middle grade, but it’s written just as masterfully as the best YA and adult books I have read.

6. A Step From Heaven by An Na

This is a tiny, tiny book, but its few pages contain AMAZINGNESS. A Step From Heaven tells the story of Young Ju and her family as they immigrate from Korea to California. Young Ju struggles to fit in while a step from heavenretaining her Korean identity, and must deal with an alcoholic, increasingly abusive father as well.

I think this book does an excellent job of showing how confusing another culture can be – I can’t imagine moving halfway across the world to a place where few people speak my language! Oh, and speaking of language… the novel follows Young Ju from age four until her senior year of high school. As she grows and changes, so does the language: The sentence structure and vocabulary become more complex. IT’S AMAZING. I am in awe of An Na’s skill!

7. Like No Other by Una LaMarche

A black boy and an Orthodox Jewish girl who live on opposite sides of the same street in Brooklyn have never met… until now. OH WOW I LOVED THIS STORYI haven’t seen many people talking about it IRL or in the book-blogosphere, and that’s a shame, because it’s SO good. I loved learning about like no otherDevorah’s life and all the pressures/restrictions that were placed upon her. (I need to read more stories with Jewish protagonists!) Jaxon was fascinating, too: He’s tired of people assuming he’s a criminal, not a sweet, bookish nerd who loves playing with his little sisters.

Basically this book is just REALLY AWESOME. And it’s one of the few heterosexual love stories that held my interest from beginning to end… I mean, most “forbidden love” stories with straight couples are just so unrealistic, right? But there were ACTUAL THINGIES like race and religion that made people frown upon Jaxon and Devorah’s relationship.

8. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

This series – a collection of fairy tale retellings – is partially set in dystopian Beijing! And in this story, Snow White is black! The fourth and final book hasn’t been published yet, but it will focus on her and I’m really curious to see how it depicts her. I just think that’s a very important message to send, right? That the most beautiful girl in the whole world isn’t white, for a change.scarlet

Also, one of the main characters has a disability! Cinder almost died in an accident when she was a little girl, and as a result she has a BUNCH of prosthetics. I loved how Marissa Meyer didn’t gloss over this topic, either – one of the main plots in the first book centers on Cinder’s efforts to earn enough money to buy a new prosthesis for her foot, because she’s grown out of the old one.

9. The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

SO MANY DIVERSE CHARACTERS HERE. And so many types of diversity, too! All of the demigods have ADHD, and there’s a ton of racial diversity as well. And two queer characters!

the house of hadesAlso, I love that all this diversity is a direct response to critiques of Riordan’s earlier Percy Jackson series. People said that although the series had some diversity, it definitely needed way more, so he wrote the Heroes of Olympus series and the Kane Chronicles, both of which are crammed full of diverse characters. I love that he actually listened to his readers, and didn’t throw a hissy fit about the criticism: I wish more authors (and as-yet-unpublished writers) would emulate Rick Riordan’s approach to adding diversity.

10. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

I read this a few weeks ago and LOVED it! Kamala Khan is a Muslim teenager and the daughter of Pakistani immigrants… and she’s obsessed with superheroes. When a science experiment gone wrong gives her superpowers, she follows in the footsteps of her
heroine, Captain Marvel, and SAVES THE DAY. I loved her attitude, her sense of humor, ms marvel no normalher struggle to balance her religion and her parents’ expectations with her new life as a superhero. That scene where she creates a modest costume? I LOVED IT. (Also, I loved the scene where she calls bacon “infidel meat”… Kamala, YOU CRACK ME UP. NEVER STOP BEING AWESOME.)

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Tell me about your favorite diverse books! Ooh, and leave your recommendations in the comments below, if you’d like: I’m always happy to find more books with diverse characters! In particular, I’m looking for books about queer girls, and especially those who experience intersectional diversity. (In other words, they belong to more than one minority group – for example, Aisling from Ash is Asian and bisexual.)

Honestly, I just want more books about ANY diverse female characters. I haven’t read very many books about girls with disabilities or girls who belong to a religion other than Christianity, or girls who are black or Latina or Asian or Native American or Arab. (Et cetera!) Diverse male characters are nice too, but… I don’t know, I have a soft spot for diverse female characters. ALL THE DIVERSE LADIES OMG.

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