Saturday, September 27, 2014

16 Things I Learned at the Age of 16

Hey guys!

In honor of my birthday, I decided to make a post summing up the sixteen things I learned while being sixteen. As young as that is, a lot of the experiences I've had have has really shaped the way I think and I really wanted to share that with you guys!
Disclaimer: Superwoman's video for her 26th birthday inspired this post.

1. People suck.

There's thousands and thousands of fantastic people in this world. Those that will support you, comfort you, and encourage you every step of the way. And then there are those who want to see you fall, who'll smile every time they see you fail. The best thing to do is ignore them, cut them out of your life, because if they aren't having a positive effect in your life, they aren't worth your time.

2. Do what you love and love what you do.

I read because I love it. I volunteer because I love it. There's little I do in my life (with the exception of homework) that I do in my life that I dislike.

3. Don't worry about what other people think. 

I'm frequently made fun of for my love for reading. People find it 'strange' that I read books meant for 'little kids'. And while I try to separate my school/work life from my blogging life, I realized that I don't really care. Why does it matter that my classmates found my YouTube Channel and my blog? If anything, it's just one more subscriber.

4. Always make an effort to be nice.

It doesn't matter if you like the person or hate the person, just don't be outright mean to them. You don't have to deeply engage in conversation with them, but don't be rude. Because as soon as one person thinks you're rude, it spreads like a wildfire and before you know it, everyone thinks you're rude.

5. People think based on what they see, not what actually is.

Somewhat related to the above bullet. If you're mean or rude to someone, most likely they aren't going to stop and think about why. They aren't going to reason with themselves and say 'oh he must be having a difficult home life' or 'her aunt just died'. They're going to notice that you've been mean to them, and thus think negatively of you.

6. How to wink.

For the longest time I couldn't wink. My wink consisted of several facial twitches. But finally I have mastered the art of winking. Hallelujah.

7. How to kiss up to your teachers.

While a lot of your grade is about how well you know the material, etc. Grades are biased. The grading system changes per teacher and the best way to put yourself in favor of the A is to be on the good side of the teacher. Act interested, sit in the front, ask questions. Make sure your teacher knows you exist.

8. Wearing makeup and dressing nice isn't a bad thing.

For so much of my life I've always viewed makeup as something 'bad' used only by 'fake' people to make themselves prettier. But I never realized how a tiny bit of foundation or eyeliner just boosts my own self-confidence.

9. It's ok to be upset every once in a while.

I'm not weak if I cry. I'm not weak if I'm just not as happy and excited as I normally am. No, I'm not mad. Yes, I am fine. Getting upset is not a bad thing every once in a while. Sometimes stress is overwhelming, sometimes you're just not having a good day, and that's perfectly fine. Just spend a little time alone, calm yourself down, and get your mind off of whatever is triggering that emotion.

10. Always check the weather BEFORE getting dressed. 

There have been way too many times where I've ended up wearing pants in 100 degree weather and shorts in 50 degree weather. I've regretted it every time.

11. Senior year is not as relaxing as it's made out to be. 

When people say that senior year of high is the easiest...yeah no. Unless you're taking classes like 'The Art of Baking' senior year will be difficult. You'll have the typical schoolwork on top of the stress of college applications along with any other testing you might have to make up. Right now, I'm taking Calc I, General Physics I, and English Comp. II and there are tests and homework assignments due every couple of days, leaving me little free time for reading and college apps.

12. I love art class. 

This year is also the first time I get to take an art course during high school. And I absolutely love it! Painting, drawing, coloring. Sometimes I wish I could have art all day.

13. Apparently I'm pretty good at ping pong? 

Everywhere I go, people say I'm pretty good at ping pong, although I claim I barely play it. My dad's good at ping pong, maybe I inherited his ping pong genes.

14. When people say they're going to 'keep in touch' and ask for your number, they really don't plan on using it. 

This is probably the single most annoying thing someone can do. In several different places (camp, vacation, etc.) I've met a bunch of people whom I've exchanged numbers with and have really wanted to stay in touch with. After texting them a few times, it'll become obvious that they have busier lives and have little to no interest in talking to me, so the conversation dies out. And then there are those people who take the initiative to ask you for your number and then never use it... why? It's probably one of the most confusing things ever.

15. Chapstick is God. 

I love Chapstick, nuff said.

16. Work is the best medicine. 

This might be something unique to me, but working relaxes me. Knowing I'm getting stuff done and will have free time after is calming and motivating. Also, when I'm upset, focusing on something like math or english will calm me down and make me forget about any emotions I had. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Giver | Movie Reaction

Some-what Spoiler-Filled Discussion

This movie was absolutely phenomenal. I went into it with low expectations and was completely blown away. The trailer does not do justice to the movie at all, so if you haven’t seen it, go watch it, completely worth the $11.50 to see it in theaters.

We open to a black and white scene of the community and the movie begins with the graduating ceremony of the eighteen-year olds. Of course, in order to cater the teenage audience, they upped the ages of each of the characters, making them eighteen instead of twelve. We go through the graduating ceremony as each person is given a position in society, whether it is birthmother, drone pilot, or nurturer. And out main character, Jonas is given the title of the receiver, who receives the memories of the past, the ones that have been deleted from the rest of society.

Although I don’t remember much of the book, since I read it back in seventh grade, I thought that the movie did a much better job of fleshing out the world and creating a clearer view of it. The community was well laid out, and I think every aspect of the dystopian society was covered.

One of the biggest differences between this book/movie and every other dystopian was the use of color to build upon the world. In the book, it’s a bit harder to pick up on the color change since it happens in words, while in the movie it was done so incredibly well. We start off completely in black and white, and as Jonas becomes more and more exposed to the memories and the past, we see bits of red start appearing in the apple and Fiona’s hair, exactly how it’s done in the book. But we don’t just jump straight into full color, the saturation gradually increases wherever Jonas is, and the scenes without him go back to black and white, perfectly representing the meaning and purpose of the color.

I was a bit iffy about the acting, not going to lie. At the beginning I really disliked the acting, since it seemed rather forced but I realized that it was the effect of the society causing them to talk in a seemingly forced manner. I wasn’t too fond of Fiona, or the actress who played her, but I thought that everyone else was fantastic, particularly Brenton (Jonas), Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges.

One of my favorite things in this movie was the defined plot. There was a certain barrier that Jonas had to cross in order to release the memories, which I don’t think was in the book. In fact I don’t remember any defined plot in the book.

Generally I thought the movie was well edited and well put together. I do think it was better than the book, although, like I mentioned before I don’t quite remember the book.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Meant to Be | Lauren Morril

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

I'm a sucker for cute contemporary love stories as much as any teenage girl, but I will admit I am a bit more critical of them. A good love story, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things to write. Every component has to be perfect. The characters have to be relatable and likable. The setting has to be realistic and believable. The romance itself has to be cute and natural. There's a very thin line between cute and cliché and it's so easy to cross that line.

As much as this book wasn't perfect, it was one of the better love stories. The characters were believable and real, the environment was beautiful, and most of the romance natural. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

September TBR

Hey Fantabulous Readers!

So I wanted to share with you what I planned on reading in September!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Who R U Really? | Margo Kelly


Thea's overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She's living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can't defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really "gets" her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit's allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea's life spins out of control.

My feelings for this book are very conflicted. On one hand I didn't love the characters but on the other, the actual plot of the book scared the crap out of me, which is good. I don't recommend this as a light read nor do I recommend reading it at nice. It has a great message but I do warn you it's quite scary. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Words With An Author | Sarena and Sasha Nanua

      Hey Fantabulous Readers! 
      Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the wonderful sisters Sasha and Sarena, authors of the Pendant Trilogy. 

      1. How did you get into writing? When did you first start writing?

We began writing when we were nine-years-old. Sasha and I were on a plane to St. Maarten when she decided to start writing a story in a notebook. I really liked what she wrote, so I continued writing from there! Ever since that moment we’ve been a writing duo, and we bounce ideas off one another well. (The Writing Duo also happens to be the name of our blog). Since we’re twins we have similar thoughts when it comes to book ideas!

 2. Where did you come up with the idea for the Pendant Trilogy? Who/ what is your inspiration?

I (Sarena) came up with the idea in July 2010. One day I was reading The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong, and if you know the book’s cover, there’s a girl on the front holding a ruby gemstone. I remember looking at that image and getting this strange picture in my mind (don’t ask where it came from—it was very random) of three gemstones that could form the shape of a heart. I never thought anything of it. It was just a hazy thought.
In August Sasha and I sat down to come up with some new book ideas. I brought up the picture that had so randomly produced itself in my mind, and at first she didn’t believe it was my idea! I told her that the idea was definitely mine; and from there, we came up with a story about these gemstones and started writing! 
I’d say one of our biggest writing inspirations is J.K. Rowling. (Isn’t she everyone’s?) We love to write, and Harry Potter is such an important part of our lives. She and loads of other sci-fi and fantasy authors definitely inspire us to keep writing what we love.

 3. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know, if so which ones?

No, we don’t base any of our characters’ personalities off people we know. Instead, we decided to use some relationships that we have in real life and implemented them in our books! For example, there are twins with an older brother in our books because we’re twins who have an older brother. (Twins are awesome, though I might be biased.)

 4. Have you written anything before The Pendant Trilogy?

Sasha and I have written countless unfinished novels before The Pendant Trilogy came to fruition. The first book we wrote together (that began on the airplane) was called Chicky Planet and followed a little chick and her monkey and tiger friends as she ventured through outer space. It was pretty imaginative. That was the only book we completed before writing The Gemstone!

 5. If you had to pick only five books from your bookshelf you could keep, what would they be?

Wow, that’s a tough question! I, Sarena, would choose: Harry Potter (can I keep all of them? Please?); Heroes of Olympus (Mark of Athena or House of Hades); Jane Blonde; Game of Thrones; and Fahrenheit 451.
Sasha’s choices: Pretty Little Liars; George’s Marvelous Medicine (or any Roald Dahl book for that matter); Percy Jackson; Uglies; and Catching Fire.

 6. Who is your favorite character from any book and why?

Sarena: I’d say I really like Hermione Granger … but I love so many characters! Also I really like Luna Lovegood and Annabeth Chase. They’re fierce but cool heroines!
Sasha: Definitely Hermione! She’s smart but she realizes that bravery and friendship are what’s really important in life!

 7. How long did the writing process take for The Pendant Trilogy? From conception of the story to final publication?

It took six months to write the first draft of The Gemstone, so it was completed in February 2011. A lot changed from that draft. The book was published May 23, 2012. We began writing the sequel, The King’s Jewel, right after the publication of The Gemstone. Most of the book was written in two months, but the first draft wasn’t complete until January 2013. The book was published in July 2013. We began writing the final book in the trilogy, The Poisoned Emerald, in July 2013, and completed most of it in the summer of 2013. The book wasn’t finished until May 2014, and it will be published in late September 2014!

 8. Who are some of your favorite authors?

J.K. Rowling, Scott Westerfeld, Rick Riordan, Roald Dahl, George Orwell, Sara Shepard, Jill Marshall, Laini Taylor, and lots more!

 9. What actors/ actresses could you see playing the characters of your book?

We don’t have a list of actors/actresses to play certain characters in our books. However, there is one character that we think would fit Lana Parrilla perfectly! The headmistress at Hill Valley (the boarding school in our books) is exactly who we imagine as Lana! (Plus, we love Once Upon a Time!)

10. How did you come up with the title and cover of The Pendant Trilogy? Did they morph as you wrote the book, or were they constant?

The titles in The Pendant Trilogy were a bit different from their original names. The Gemstone never changed (we had used that title from the start). The King’s Jewel was originally The Underworld and then The Sorcerers Underworld but we didn’t really like the fit. The book was mainly about The King’s Jewel, and we loved the little ring to it! The original title for The Poisoned Emerald was The Poison. It didn’t change much, but the “emerald” is pretty key in the book. We wanted each book to have some kind of “gemstone” or “jewel” in the title! The “Pendant” referred to in the Pendant Trilogy is the “heart-shaped” image I originally thought of four years ago. When the three gems come together, it’s called a pendant! The original title for the trilogy was The Pendants Trilogy (not much of a difference, but it’s pretty significant. There’s only one pendant!).

11. Are you planning to write any other books?

We have lots of other ideas in the works. We’re planning on starting another book later this year that will incorporate some of our love for food … and it’ll have a fun twist on a classic tale!

 12. What would your advice be to someone who's aspiring to be a writer?

Read every day, write every day. It takes practice to get things right, just like in sports! Practicing every day and taking your time while writing will really help you hone your skills and create your own unique writing style.

 13. Finally, just to wrap things up, what's your favorite color and why?

Sarena: Purple! (Fun fact: my favourite colour is purple because that was the favourite colour of Abby Hayes … one of my favourite books as a kid.)

Sasha: Red! (No story behind it!)

Where to Find Them: 

Twitter: (@PendantTrilogy)
Official website:

Monday, September 8, 2014

July/August Wrap-Up

Hey Fantabulous Readers!

Since summer is coming to a close I decided to do my July/August Wrap Up! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Words with an Author | Jesse Frankel

Hey Fantabulous Readers!

Today we will be interviewing the wonderful Jesse Frankel, author of Catnip!

1. How did you get into writing? 

I got into writing rather late in life, started at forty-eight, got published a year later, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I’m fifty-two now…middle-aged!
As for how I got into it, my son—he was ten at the time—was watching a cartoon and said something to me about trees. For some reason that struck a chord and the very same evening I started writing a story which eventually ended up as my first novel, The Tower.

2. Where did you come up with the idea for Catnip? Who/ what is your inspiration?

I had the idea of using a transgenic character for a long time, but never committed to putting anything down on cyber paper. Then I saw an article on the Internet about a young English boy—I think he was seventeen at the time—who designed a machine which figured out why his brother was a redhead. Talk about a genius! The novel flowed from that point onward. 

3. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know, if so which ones?

No, all of the characters flow from my imagination. They’re composites, really, of the best and worst in human behavior.

4. Have you written anything before Catnip?

As mentioned above, The Tower was my first digitally published novel. It wasn’t my best, but it got me started. Next up was Death Bytes, followed by Twisted (a gender switch story) Lindsay Versus the Marauders, and now Catnip. I should have another novel coming out either later on this year or early next year, Master Fantastic. All of them are YA novels and, all of them feature a lot of action, feats of derring-do, and even a little romance. Life is a series of firsts, and that’s what I usually put into my novels.

5. If you had to pick only five books from your bookshelf you could keep, what would they be?

Great question! Let’s see, if only five, I’d go with Tess, by Thomas Hardy, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, and another true classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. There are so many to choose from, it’s hard to pick just five.
For something more modern, I’d choose Inferno, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It’s a great update of a journey through Hell. My last pick would be Gone South, by Robert S. McCammon.

6. Who is your favorite character from any book and why?

Probably Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird. He is a very moral, upright person who does what’s right and not what’s popular. My late father was very much like that, and he was my hero growing up. He still is.

7. How long did the writing process take for Catnip? From conception of the story to final publication?

The actual writing time was very short, only about three months. The publication took around eight months, mainly because there was an unforeseen delay at the publisher’s and it wasn’t their fault. Delays are going to happen, so you just have to roll with it. 

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?

In no particular order, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, Robert S. McCammon, Veronica Roth, Stephen King, and N.K. Jemison. Oh, and the team of Niven and Pournelle who wrote Inferno as well as Lucifer’s Hammer.

9. What actors/ actresses could you see playing the characters of your book?

This is another good question, and one that I can’t answer as it’s really hard for me to imagine so-and-so playing this or that role. The only person I can see right now doing one of my characters is Jenna Talackova, the Canadian transgendered actress/model who participated in the Ms. Universe contest. She’d be perfect as Angella in Twisted, and in fact, she was the inspiration for doing that novel in the first place.

10. How did you come up with the title and cover of Catnip? Did they morph as you wrote the book, or were they constant?

With Catnip, I was thinking of something irresistible, something you had to have and the title just presented itself. I had an idea of the cover right away, wrote down my thoughts, and the cover artist, a very talented person named Carmen Waters who also designed the cover for Death Bytes, came up with the picture and she did a tremendous job. She is really talented and I’d recommend her to anyone.
As for the idea of change, no, I never changed my mind at all on either the title or the cover. They both came out fine.

11. Are you planning to write any other books?

Yes, most definitely! Right now, I’m just editing another YA novel entitled Star Maps which takes place in the Nevada desert and deals with UFO’s, aliens, and the military. I’ve also got a novel on submission to a few agents. It’s called Picture (im) perfect and deals with the subject of transgenderism. The final novel—so far—is geared more for adults, and is entitled On a Wing and a… and it deals with dreams versus reality. That’s all I can say about it for now.

12. What would your advice be to someone who's aspiring to be a writer?

For what it’s worth, I’d say write what’s in your heart, but think of what’s in your head. What that means is write something you know about, but when it comes to style, use proper syntax and grammar, something I’ve struggled with at times. And keep writing

13. Finally, just to wrap things up, what's your favorite color and why?

I like anything dark, black or dark gray or navy blue. My wife says I’m easy to shop for, just buy something black and it works. Her little joke…but it works for me.

Where to Find Jesse and his books: 

ISBN #:978-1-4874-0009-5 (Catnip)

He also has a small blog at 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Since You've Been Gone | Morgan Matson

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just...disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night?
Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn?
Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger?

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she'll find?
Go skinny-dipping?

This was a great contemporary read to wind down the summer. It'a nice short light read. I had a lot of fun reading this book and it's definitely worth reading.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

If I Stay | Movie Reaction

Warning: This movie will shatter your heart. Bring tissues and a bucket for your tears. 

Spoiler-Filled Review

This movie was so well made. It was such a faithful adaptation to the book.

The casting was perfect. Adam, Kim, the parents, Teddy, Mia, everyone worked so well together and it really made the film more believable. At first, I admit, I wasn't sure how I felt. The acting seemed a bit forced but as the movie continued, the characters became more and more real. 

The situation itself is so real. It's so easy to put yourself in her shoes and think about your own family dying. It's one of the reasons this movie is as tearjerking as it is. 

Within the book, there are flashbacks interspersed throughout. Memories of her family, memories with Adam, and a key part to this movie was getting those right. If done poorly, the movie will appear choppy and poorly edited, however they were placed perfectly. It flowed back and forth so smoothly, sometimes I didn't even notice the difference. 

There were two main parts of the movie that really broke me. 
1. When Teddy (the brother) died. Although I am an only child and I can't truly feel what's it would be like to lose a sibling, this part of the movie really brought me to tears, again showcasing the talent of the acting. 
2. The scene when Gramps was sitting by Mia's bed and told her that although he wanted her to stay, if she decided to go he would be ok with it. The tears and the atmosphere just hit me and I cried some more. 

If there was anything about this movie that I didn't like. it was at the end during Adam's speech. In the book, he goes on to say how if she decided to leave him and go to Juillard to start over he would be ok with it as long as she stayed, which leads into the second book. However, he didn't say that in the movie, which brings into question whether there will be a second movie? As much as I liked where this one left off, I kind of want another movie. I didn't really enjoy the second book, but as a movie I think it could be interesting if done right. 

How many buckets of tears did you guys take home from this movie? Do you think there will be a second movie? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Series Tag | Mortal Instruments

Question #1: What do you think of the covers?

I have to say I really like these covers. They aren't the best covers, but they aren't the worst. I get a sense of action and intensity from them which makes me want to pick up the book. 

Question #2: Why did you decide to read this series? 

This series has been EVERYWHERE. Since City of Heavenly Fire recently came out, there has been so much buzz about these books along with the Infernal Devices. There were so many fandoms surrounding Jace and Will and Jem that I just had to pick up the books to find out what they were. 

Question #3: What was your first impression of the series?

I was hooked onto the series by the first page. I instantly fell in love with Jace, Simon, Clary, Izzy, Alec, the whole gang and I just kept plowing through the series never wanting it to end. 

Question #4: What was your final impression of the series?

*hysterically sobbing* IT'S OVER?!? I was incredibly upset that one of my favorite series was over. 

Question #5: Who was your favorite character in the series?

Simon. No, Jace. No, Alec. No, Magnus...I don't know I love them all! I'm not choosing, I can't choose! 

Question #6: Which character showed the most growth in this series?

For this question, I would probably have to say Clary. She's introduced to this whole new world and takes it with such ease and becomes this amazing Shadowhunter. From the beginning to the end, she's just been an incredible protagonist.

Question #7: How long will you be in post-book depression after reading this series?


Question #8: Jace, Simon, or Alec?  

You can't make me choose. I pick all of them and I'm including Magnus. 

Question #9: Rate the books in order from favorite to least favorite. 

1. City of Heavenly Fire
2. City of Glass
3. City of Lost Souls
4. City of Bones
5. City of Fallen Angels
6. City of Ashes

Question #10: What's your favorite ship? 

Clace. Malec. Sizzy. You can't make me pick. That's cruel.