Saturday, May 28, 2011

America and our Obsessions.

I meant to post this last night, but Blogger wouldn't let me post anything!

Okay, so this doesn't apply to just America, but it applies to a lot of places. I've noticed this a while back and thought it'd be a good topic for tonight. I meant to post yesterday but sadly, I was sick again. I swear I'm sick every other week!

Enough with my whining! Probably the most obession is music stars and actor/actresses. Shall I list them?

Miley Cyrus
Yep, she's one of our obessions. Or..she was until Justin Bieber came along. The one time disney star went from a celebrated actress and singer to..well it went downhill from there. Many parents questioned whether or not it was a good idea to let their children support the star. After all, she's had her face and name on pretty muh everything. Books, dolls, clothing, blankets, movies, etc. The list goes on and on.



Justin Bieber
He's probably most famous for the mop of hair he once had, and for the millions of screaming fan girls he has. From a start on youtube to having a movie made about him, I'd say he's pretty blessed. Now he's going out with the pop star, Selena Gomez. Over the months and years that he's been known, many people joked about his voice calling it "girly" and that the teen was twelve. Now we know that isn't true, but at the time when he was rising to stardom it was possible to speculate.
Tiger Woods
He's arguably one of the best golfers of our time and is famous for the scandal caused when he cheated on his wife. There was even a video game made out of it! Anyways, he's been in and out of rehab, has had several other affairs, and has managed to pull his life back together. He;s now golfing once again.


Charlie Sheen
The star of "Two and a Half Men" was caught in scandal recently when he was busted for drug use. After having to go in and out of rehab, the producers of the show fired Mr. Sheen. His now famous and amusing line, "I'm not bi-polar, I'm bi-winning!" And yes, he said that during an interview which was then made into a very funny song on youtube.


Twilight
Do I even need to go here? Probably the most famous YA novels of the century right behind Harry Potter, Stehpine Meyers certainly was able to grab in thousands of readers. While the content is questionable (Bella at times is a Mary-Sue and Edward...is just creepy. Besides pretty much the whole point of the novels was Bella getting Edward.) Having gotten the idea from a dream, Stephine Meyer was able to turn the book into four novels, several spin offs, movies, t-shirts, fan clubs, dolls, blankets, etc. She also started the vampire craze of the century.
Harry Potter
Certainly the most famous YA novel series of the century. J. K. Rowling went from writing this on a napkin to earning more than Queen Elizabeth II. Harry Potter has inspired hundreds of fan clubs, dolls, games, movies, and it's even has it's own theme park. Yep, that's right, Harry Potter now has his own theme park. Loved by everyone of all ages (boys and girls alike), Harry Potter is certainly a favorite book for lots of people. While the books can get long at times, it certainly has left it's mark on the generation of this time.

Now having gone through a list of some obsessions or famous peoples and books,  I'll stop my rambling. Certainly there are many more than this and I could probably name ten more people and things off the top of my head (Oprah, LOTR, President Obama, Osama bin Laden, Lady Gaga, American Idol... to name a few), but I'll leave the rest to you.

So, can you think of any "obsessions" the world has? People, books, movies? What do you think is the most famous person of our day? Most well known book or song? Did you like the Harry Potter and Twilight books? What made you like them? Did you ever buy any else besides the movies and books?

Sincerely,
Peony

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How to read and write in roman numerals.



Unless you've made a point in your life to figure out how to read and write in roman numerals beyond 12 (XII), you probably won't be able to know what MMXI means. In case you're wondering, it means 2011. 

I've learned how to read and write most from playing Nancy Drew games. Several of which involve roman numerals to solve puzzles. It may not seem all that hard, but in a world where the use of these unquie letters and means are rapidly disappearing, figuring out the meaning beyond XII is hard. 

Most people only know roman numerals up to XII. So let's refresh our basic knowledge of these letters. 
I- 1
II- 2
III- 3
IV- 4
V- 5
V1- 6
VII- 7
VIII- 8
IX- 9 
X- 10
XI- 11
XII- 12

Now that we've refreshed our memories, I've decided to give you a crash course in the reading and writing of roman numerals. Fun, right?

Lets keep in mind the four basic rules. 
1. A letter repeats its value that many times (XXX = 30, CC = 200, etc.). A letter can only be repeated three times.
2. If one or more letters are placed after another letter of greater value, add that amount.
VI = 6 (5 + 1 = 6)
LXX = 70 (50 + 10 + 10 = 70)
MCC = 1200 (1000 + 100 + 100 = 1200)

3. If a letter is placed before another letter of greater value, subtract that amount.
    IV = 4 (5 – 1 = 4)
    XC = 90 (100 – 10 = 90)
    CM = 900 (1000 – 100 = 900)
    Several rules apply for subtracting amounts from Roman numerals:
    • a. Only subtract powers of ten (I, X, or C, but not V or L)
      For 95, do NOT write VC (100 – 5).
      DO write XCV (XC + V or 90 + 5)
    • b. Only subtract one number from another.
      For 13, do NOT write IIXV (15 – 1 - 1).
      DO write XIII (X + I + I + I or 10 + 3)
    • c. Do not subtract a number from one that is more than 10 times greater (that is, you can subtract 1 from 10 [IX] but not 1 from 20—there is no such number as IXX.)
      For 99, do NOT write IC (C – I or 100 - 1).
      DO write XCIX (XC + IX or 90 + 9)
      4. A bar placed on top of a letter or string of letters increases the numeral's value by 1,000 times.

      XV = 15, (X-bar)(V-bar)= 15,000
I found these handy tips at FactMonster.com. I hope it was helpful!

What the symbols mean:
I- 1
V-5
X-10
L- 50
C- 100
D- 500
M- 1000

Roman Numerals go in an alternating system of fives and tens.

Anyways, as I was saying earlier, roman numerals are dying out. What was once used every where can now only be found in a few places in every day life. The most common examples are seen on watches and in titles (Ex. Queen Elizabeth II). I think that this is an important form of number system that should be preserved. That, along with cursive writing. (But that's a different post!)

Personally, I love using roman numerals, although I'll admit I have trouble figuring out how to write dates and such in them. It's confusing, but fun. 

Interesting dates in roman numerals:
MCM- 1900, the turn of the 20th century
MCMXIV- 1914, the start of WWI 
MCMXVII- 1917, China declares war on Germany
MCMXXXII- 1932, Franklin Delano Roosvelt is elected president of the United States
MCMXLI- 1941, Japan moves it's forces into french indochina
(There's a reason why I'm using examples from the early L (50) years of the 1900s).

So, do you think we should preserve roman numerals? Do you ever use them? What are some other examples of roman numerals besides the ones I mentioned? But about cursive writing? Do you write in cursive or do you print? 

Sincerely,
Peony

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Home of the Free! (Sings the Lady Liberty)

Today we will learn about the famous, Lady Liberty, otherwise known as the Statue of Liberty. For over one hundred years, the statue of liberty has represented freedom to millions around the world. She sits upon Ellis Island, in the harbor of New York City, NY.

I've always thought it what it would be like to see her if you were an immigrant traveling to the United States. Especially back in the early 1900s. After months of crammed living quarters, (for most people) not the best food, sea sickness, etc, you pull into the harbor and there is the beautiful statue. The statue shines in the setting sun. You sigh a breath of relief, you have finally made it to the United States and hopefully in a matter of hours you will also be free.

The statue of liberty has also fascinated me to some degree. It was originally a gift from France, designed there, built, then dissembled and shipped to America where it was put back together. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a sculptor, designed the statue along with help of Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (to whom we learned about last Sunday). It was a present from France because of the friendship that had developed between America and France during the revolutionary war and was suppose to be completed on 1876 to celebrate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence.

It was a joint project between the two countries, with America to build the pedestal on which the statue stands, and France to build and assemble the statue here in America. But funding to build the famous statue became a problem. So Joseph Pulitzer (renowned for the Pulitzer Prize), decided to help raise funds by calling the rich selfish and the middle class also selfish in his paper The World. His tactic was successful in getting the American people to donate money.

When the statue was dissembled for transit, it was put into 350 pieces and arrived in 214 crates. Four months later, the statue stood proudly on her pedestal. On October 28, 1886, she was dedicated to America ten years later than planned.

Fun facts of the day:

  • The total height from the base of the pedestal to the tip of the torch is 305 feet and six inches.
  • The statue herself is 111 feet and six inches. (Notice a six inch theme going on here)
  • The tablet in her hand is inscribed with the date July IV MDCCLXXVI (And for those, unlike me, who don't read roman numerals, it reads July 4, 1776).
  • The seven points on her crown represent each of the seven continents. 
  • The statue of liberty weighs 225 tons or 450,000 pounds. 
  • Broken shackles representing oppression and tyranny lie at the feet of the statue. 
  • During the restoration in 1986, the new torch was carefully covered with thin sheets of 24k gold. (the old one can be seen in the statue's lobby)
  • The exterior copper covering of the Statue of Liberty is 3/32 of an inch thick (less than the thickness of two pennies) and the light green color (called a patina) is the result of weathering of the copper.
Inside the statue are also exhibits to visit. Each exhibits talk about the statue herself and her torch. Unfortantly, we cannot go into the torch and look out anymore.

Well, that's all I have for today, so tune in next time for more fun and interesting facts!
Have you ever visited the statue of liberty? Do you have any relatives who have or went past it when they came to America? Do you know of any other cool monuments I could blog about? What's the coolest place you've visited and why?

Sincerely,
Peony

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Even the Government Writes Gibberish!

Anyways, I found this interesting tibit on Yahoo! News.

Apparently, according to a new law, the government must now write bills, laws, etc in ways that the general public can understand. Meaning, no more ripping off the citizens because they didn't understand the bill correctly and agreed to something that they later regretted. So out with words like, Narcissism, Haphazard, and Heinous. And in place must be words like,  annoying, dangerous, and awful.

This amused me because, a) I doubt half the senators even understood what was being written, b) if the general public can't understand it something's wrong, and c) it's just funny. Of course, apparently it's written mostly for lawyers and judges (and then do they even understand the big fancy words themselves?) and not for the general public.

According to some guidelines, which I totally agree with, federal writers have no place writing with big fancy styles and they are not creating great literature. No one sits on their comfy couch and reads a government document for fun. Okay well some people may. But no one that I know does!

So now the government must say "please" and "you must" instead of "it is requested" and "it is required". The only problem is that I think it takes away the style of the government. I mean they've always used fancy words and sentences and that's how you can tell something is government written when you can only half understand it.

This got me thinking of how much our language has changed over the years. And how much words we use. Back in Elizabethan times, "Thy", "thou" and "thee" was common and easy to understand; these days we say "like", "totally" and "you" (or u depending on who u talk to). Most people rarely use words bigger than fifteen letters and in some cases we have to "dumb" things down for people to understand it. Did you know that in North Carolina they had to make their state wide tests easier than other states because too many of the students were doing poorly on it? When instead they could have changed their teaching methods and worked on what the students were doing poorly at.

Another thing to think about is our slang. Today, especially around my school, kids call things "beast" to express when something is awesome. Back in the late 1900s, "radical" and "narly", were used to describe things in an almost similar fashion. It's interesting to see just how much language as changed over the years. Ten years ago the word "ipod" wasn't even in our dictionary! I know, shocking!

When I write, I usually try to not use so much slang, yet incorporate it in enough to make it seem more realistic. After all, I sincerely doubt that forty years from now, teenagers will be calling something "beast" when it's cool. In Night Lies, I use "confulzed" to mean when something is confusing.

When trying to decide if  you should use slang or not, you should take into consideration the time period of your story (after all, unless your writing steampunk or something close to it, I don't think teens living in the 1400s would be using the word "cool" to describe something when it's neat). Also use it out loud and in your own everyday conversations to make sure it sounds natural. If you can't use it, then will your characters be able to do so?

Also, will your characters even be using slang at all? Would an old man who doesn't care for the new fangled ideas of his grandson really be using words like, "radical" to describe something that's cool? In other words, think about who will be saying the slang and in what types of conversations, and what do the slang mean? Is it a new word that's never been used before? A word already made up but given a new twist on it's meaning? Or is it a word that is a shortened from of another word?

So, do you think this is a good idea? When you write what is your style of writing? What separates you from other writers? Do you use slang in your writing? Have you ever invented a word and what does it mean? Where did you use it?

Sincerely,
Peony

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Exploding Watermelons in China!

According to Yahoo! News, watermelons in China are bursting not with their juicy flavor, but from growth hormones. And I just had watermelon for lunch! It was very good too, although I have no idea where it was from! So if you hear that someone exploded from eating a watermelon...well...that was me.

So onto today's random topic, I hate cheaters! Why? Because now I have to retake a history test that I studied for really hard, all because some stupid kids in 3rd period had to cheat. I mean, is it really all that hard to take out your textbook read it over, go over the terms, and like, I don't know, do your homework?! It's not that hard people!

Of course, I guess it's better than giving everyone a zero on it (which is our other option). So I guess I should be happy. It's also another chance to get an even better grade on it (I have no idea what I got on it in the first place because I didn't look), or it's a chance to do even worse.

We have lots of cheaters here at my lovely school. I know one of them personally who does it alot but doesn't usually have kids who are willing to share their homework. Which is good for them. I do not cheat because it's pointless and you don't learn anything when you cheat.

Here at my school, if you're caught cheating they give you a zero and a detention. Nice, right? So whatever you do, you certainly don't want to cheat on something big in case you're caught. Which reminds me of school punishments!

I was reading online this really interesting article late at night, last night, about these crazy school punishments! Some of them included having kids eat just sandwiches and water for lunch, wearing prison jumpsuits for wearing clothes that go against the dress code, telling a class to punch a little kid because he punched somebody else, and one teacher went so far as to make a student wear a spiked collar and leash at an event! Another teacher tried to stick a misbehaving student in a cage filled with dangerous chemicals. And to this day, the teacher doesn't believe he/she did any wrong.

While nothing to those extremes have happened at my school, the most a teacher has done is yell at us and send us to the principal's office. Once two students kicked down some doors for whatever reason, and when found out, they had to pay for new doors. Another time, students were made to clean up a lunch table when they had a food fight.

At the most we just get detentions. But earlier this year we had a student kicked out for threatening our gym teacher, principal, and other students with a screwdriver. He also had this high pitched nasally voice...so yay that was about it for students getting kicked out this year. We don't really get a lot of bad students, although what they do outside of school is questionable, so I'd say we're a good bunch of kids.

Other forms of punishment mentioned in the article was making students stand in manure, clean toilets (Okay, well I don't think it's that bad...), made to "hike" up sagging pants with ties and then the pictures were posted on a "wall of shame", duck taped to seats and having their mouths duck taped when they wouldn't be quiet, and hit with a paddle. If you're not a history geek like me or you didn't live a long time ago, it was common punishment for misbehaving children to be hit with a paddle.

So, what's the most extreme punishment that's been done at your school? What was the crime that deserved the punishment? Do you like watermelon? Do you have a lot of cheaters at your school? What happens if their caught? Have you ever cheated and been caught? Gotten away with it?

Sincerely,
Peony

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Eiffel Tower

It's one of the world's most famous buildings, a symbol of romantic scenes, the French, and a world wonder.

If it wasn't obvious of what I'm talking about today well. Here's a hint...it's the Eiffel Tower. Big hint, but you get the picture. --->

I decided to blog about the Eiffel Tower today in honor of a project I'm doing for a history class. It's interesting and one of the most beautiful towers in history.

Here's an interesting fact about the Tower. You know those arches that look like they're supporting the structure? Those arches don't actually do anything! They're just for show! You see, back in the day when the first built it, people were afraid that the building would fall so they added the arches to reassure the people.

And here's some history about the Eiffel Tower!
The Tower was is 121 years old and was built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel in honor of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The structure took two years to build. The design was picked out of thousands of entries even though many other people did not like it. After 20 years, people wanted to take it down but because it served as a radio station and telegraphy.

Many experiments and radio broadcasts have been preformed and conducted there. It was used to measure wind speed, it housed a mercury barometer, and the experiment for Foucault's giant pendulum was preformed there. It served as a military radio outpost in 1903 and it sent the first public radio program in 1925.

Since the 1980s it's been renovated and restored many times, it's served as the stage for many international events, and has had over 280 million visitors since it's first was open to the public. Today, over 7 million people visit it each year, most being foreigners, and it's one of the most visited monuments that you have to pay to see.

So what do you think of when you hear Eiffel Tower? Have you ever been there? Do you wish to see it? It think it's a beautiful building or do you think it's ugly being made of just steel and iron?

Sincerely,
Peony

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Writing Life

As all of us writers know...writing is hard.

Yes that is the truth. We've all heard our friends or family say, "I'm going to write a book!" But then...they don't. That or they start something and give up. Sometimes they do actually have a good story but they don't have the time to write.

Sure anyone can say they will write a book. That's easy. But actually sticking your butt to that chair and writing something is harder than it seems. It requires time, effort, and imagination.

I always find it amusing when I say "I'm a writer" and people give me these weird looks and ask me what I'm writing. Usually (to my own horror) I'll mumble something that probably sounds really bad and then the people never ask again. Or they'll say, "I tried writing something once." I'll then ask them what they wrote and they'll mumble something and usually it ends in, "Yeah, well I stopped writing it because *insert excuse*."  Every once in a while I'll find a person who actually loves trying to write something.

Once a classmate of mine asked me how much of my book I had written. At the time I had written around 60k words and when I told them, they did a double take. It was so funny!

Anyways, back to the subject!
There are also reasons why we want to write a book. Hopefully it's because you love to write and you want to share it with the world. (Or maybe not, that's fine too). Most people want to get published for the fame and money. And here's the truth: If you're writing for either fame or money, you'll be waiting a long time. Unless you happen to write the next Harry Potter or Twilight, fame will come within a long time. For some they may never get really famous and others they're making 6 figure paychecks.

Most of the time I joke about "And when I'm published, I'm going to be rich and famous". I know I'll likely not be as rich or famous as J. K. Rowling, but I can always dream about it. In the meantime, I'm writing because I love writing. It's fun and exciting. And it's satisfying to be able to sit down and write something that will hopefully be just as wonderful to someone else as it is to me. Another reason I want to get published (and it may not be the best reason in the world) is because I want to do something with my life. I don't want to be one of those people who are only known to their family and close friends.

One of my English teachers once told me while talking about Mark Twain that "they wrote because they wanted to be remembered. Because through their books, even after they're dead, they still in a way, live on." And I guess that's one of my reasons. I want to be remembered for something special. But don't get me wrong! I write because I love to!

There are also some things you need to remember when writing. Although that book may seem like the most important thing in the world at the moment, you need to remember that there is other things in life. Some things to remember:
1) Discipline- Don't wait for inspiration. Write as often as you can and write anything.
2) Take care of your health- It's hard to write when you feel ill or sluggish. Besides, excersise, food, and taking a shower are not only going to make you feel better, but you'll be able to write better.
3)Don't get stuck in a routine- If you start needing coffee before you can write or a certain picture, you're going to have trouble writing when you don't have those things.
4) Patience- If you're wanting to write for fame and fortune, you'll have most likely have a long time to wait. But if you write because you love to, you'll enjoy it more because that's what you love doing. So while you're waiting for your book to catch on, keep writing!
5) Don't compare yourself to others- Sure a little competition is good. But if you're constantly asking "why can't I write as good as she can?" You're going to feel like crap and probably stop writing.
6) Don't forget your friends and family- Remember to spend time with them from time to time! Say you don't get published, then who will you turn to if they've moved on without you? And besides, you might get good inspiration from them!

Well that's all I got for today!
If you're not already a writer, have you ever tried writing something? What was it and are you still trying to write it? Have you ever wanted to be a writer or are you more happy reading other's works? Have you ever had this great idea for something but didn't know how to start it? Do you have any friends who write?

Sincerely,
Peony

Friday, May 13, 2011

Interesting Fact- about schools.

I recently discovered a few minutes ago that I have trouble thinking when commericals are on. I guess that's the point of them, to get you to pay attention to what they're advertising, but it's really annoying! Although, I can think pretty well while there is music on and I've learned to block out noise when people are talking. One useful skill that I've gained throughout my schooling. That and patience.

I was talking the other day to one of my cousins about private schools vs public schools. And it got me thinking once again about what my life would be like if I had gone to a public school rather than a private. I don't know about any where else, but around here, public schooling is pretty bad compared to the private schools.

Here, almost everyone you'll meet went to a private school of some kind for elementary/middle school and well, their high school years will have been at a public school. That's because there is so many more private elementary schools here than public and more public high schools than private. But everyone knows here that the private schools are worth the money because the education is more challenging than public.

Plus my private school is much smaller compared to the public schools and everyone knows everyone (except me, I'm still struggling to remember everyone sadly). So we have a small student to teacher ratio which means that the teacher is able to help us one on one. The only problem is that news and gossip spread like wild fire. We had a fight the other day in my lunch period and with in and hour and a half the whole school knew about it.

We also get these giant plate sized cookies on Friday. But that's just because I have an awesome school.

The kids at my school are nice for the most part although some of them are..well let's just say I wouldn't really be saying nice things about them. And most of the teachers are pretty awesome. Some of them have been working at the school for so long that they've taught my parents or my aunts/uncles. Sure, some of the stuff is older and could be replaced, but we are pretty up to date on techonology.

But don't even get me started on the library! I've found some really awesome books in there, but 70%-90% of them are really old books. I even found a book from 1910! If you're wondering most of the books have most likely been donated or given to the school because the owners don't want them.

As for the students in general, most of the student body are very nice. As in any school, you'll find the druggies, the nerds, the "popular" kids, the emos, and the sluts. Although I'd like to think that most of us are good students who actually care about good grades and not ruining the rest of our lives, but sadly that's not happening. Alot of the students just don't care and get into all kinds of trouble. On a side note, we don't really have a popular group of kids which is surprising. Here, if you want to be popular you have to be smart and a good kid. Well...most of the time.

So for tonight's questions, are you going to a public or a private school? Have you ever gone to both sets of schools? Which did you think was better? Did you like the schools you've gone to? What were they like? Big, small, fun, boring, etc?

Sincerely,
Peony

Monday, May 9, 2011

Book Review- Eona

Eon is now Eona, the Mirror Dragoneye - one of just two surviving Dragoneyes, the human links to the twelve energy dragons and their power. On the run after the massacre in the Imperial Palace, she must find a way to restore Kygo, the dead Pearl Emperor's true heir, to the throne.But High Lord Sethon has claimed the throne for himself, and he is determined to create the String of Pearls, a terrible weapon that combines the power of all twelve dragons. Eona's only hope is to find the stolen Black Folio before he does. But first she must learn to resist the power of ten mourning dragons, and only Lord Ido, the man responsible for their grief, can help her. As the race for the Black Folio intensifies, she finds herself forced to choose between Ido and Kygo. Both men want Eona, but do they truly love her, or just the power she can give them? Eona must face assassins, savage battles, jealousy and betrayal to discover the heartbreaking truth about herself, the Mirror Dragon and the String of Pearls.

I picked up the first book Eon: The Last Dragoneye, a couple months ago and upon reading it, I fell in love with the story. I've always been fascinated by Asian culture so this was delightful to read. In the first story we meet, Eon who is actually Eona but disquised as a boy. She is has a lame hip that resulted from a injury and has been rescued from the salt feilds to train under a Dragoneye in hopes that she'll become one herself. But no female is allowed to become a Dragoneye. So when the Mirror Dragon reappears after five hundred years, Eona is chosen by the Dragon to become the Mirror Dragoneye. You'll have to read it to find out what happens next. 

So, back to the second book, Eona is on the run from the evil Sethon and she must not only keep the true Emperor, Kygo, alive but she must learn how to master her powers. Knowing this, she with the help of her awesome friends rescues traitorous Lord Ion. Along with the help of Dela, they are able to decipher some of the Women's Script in the red folio and they discover even more fightening questions rather then answers. And deep down in her heart, Eona knows the answers lie in the black folio. The folio is basically pure evil and drives the holder to insanity and death. Besides trying to learn how to use her powers and stop Sethon from killing Kygo and everyone she loves, she discovers new abilities not linked to her dragon powers that are frightening and devasting at the same time. The end has a surpirsing twist, and although it wasn't the ending I was hoping for, it was however a good end to the novel. 

What I enjoyed: The world building and the descriptions. They are simply awesome! I could see the story in my head as I was reading it and I could feel Eona's emotions myself. I liked how we can see her struggle with her morals when she is faced with something that goes against them. She is a likable and realistic character who must decide duty over personal wants. The other supporting characters were just as good with their own goals and actions. And I enjoyed the surprising twists as I read through the story. I regret that I cannot tell you what they are without giving away a large part of the novel. I also think it is a pretty sweet cover!

What I didn't really enjoy as much: I didn't really like how Ryko basically hate Eona at every turn. While I do understand his reasoning, I thought it was a little bit much. Although I will give him the credit of being a loyal friend to the end. I would have also liked to learn more about Eona's mother and her family. While Lilla did appear later on in the book, I was disappointed when we didn't see more of her. I also was hoping to see Ido give Eona more lessons in how to use her powers. I do not think she had enough lessons in order to control her powers. I wasn't really thrilled by the fact that Eona and Ido's powers worked strongly through lustful feelings and actions. Not only that but the love triangle was somewhat of a turn off since we see so many love triangle in YA novels today. But then, it really isn't much of a love triangle since she is not in love with Ido.

Overall: I really enjoyed the novel and I highly recommend it! And this and the first one are certainly on my favorite books list! I'll give it a five star. Note: If you haven't read the first one, read it before starting Eona.

When you read books, what do you like to see the most of (character-driven plots, romance, action, mystery, etc)? Do you ever judge a book by the cover? What's a book you love but wouldn't tell anyone about it?

Sincerely,
Peony

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ways to Begin a Story.

I recently just started a new story last week called The Cursing. It's a pretty cool idea and all I'll say is that it has something to do with Aztecs. I've been doing alot of research about their civilization and I found lots of information that's really helpful. Then the other day I was asked by a friend how do you start a story? So that got me thinking.

When I start a story, I usually begin with writing the pitches or book blurbs. You know, those story info things that you see either on the back of a book or on the cover flaps. Those usually help me plan out the story and give me a general outline of it. After that I'll start a character sheet where I name all of the characters I want to use in the story and list their relationships to the Main Character and what place they have in the story.

Then I might draw a map of the country if it's a fantasy world. My maps are pretty detailed if I have a good idea of what I want. For some odd reason, the Realms of Faerie in my book, The High Prince, ended up looking like a fish. Which was really weird but I'm okay with it. I love having maps because it helps me plan out the story especially if it involves traveling.

Once I have all those down, I might find a soundtrack or just some songs that might go well with the story. Like for my book, Night Lies, I like to listen to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack because it has that futuristic sounds to it. Then I like to find names that will fit into the story. For another of my many stories, I looked up Chinese and Japanese names because the story takes place in a country like ancient China/Japan.

If it's a story where the culture is centered around a specific country, I'll then head to the library and rent books about that culture or I'll google it. For two of my stories I rented a book from the library about kimonos. And wow are those things more complicated than I thought! There's certain layers unmarried and married women can wear; then there's something about how high the tie on the Obi can be if your married, unmarried, or widowed. So that was interesting. I also learned about the Japanese tea ceremony.

Finally done with all my pre-planning, I sit down, turn on the music open or take out all the information and things I might need while I write and I either daydream about the story for a while or I just start writing. I rarely ever make an outline for the story, but I do usually have a vague outline of the major events in a story. I don't like making outlines because my stories will change so much while I'm writing it that it's just kinda useless.

So to answer my friend's question, there are many different ways to start a story, but that's just how I do it. Some writers I know just sit down and can write amazing stories with barely any planning at all. Others have to spend weeks on planning and research before they can write anything. So it's really whatever works best for you. I suggest trying different methods of planning if you're not sure where to start.

So Birdies, how do you usually start a story? What works best for you? Do you like drawing maps or researching things for your stories? What's the most interesting/strange thing you've ever had to research or have come across while researching something?

Yours Truly,
Peony

Friday, May 6, 2011

I think I'll blog about something tonight!

So I honestly have no idea what to blog about tonight. Maybe I'll just ramble about something. Would you like that?

Sure you would!

So today I did nothing! Because I didn't have school today thanks to the grade schoolers who have their annual "track meet" at the school's track. BUT! I did go to the Grand March at school. And for all those people out there who don't know what I'm talking about, the Grand March is when all of the couples attending Prom walk out onto stage and get their picture taken.

This year's theme is Out in the City. So the stage was set up to look like a big city at night. It was pretty cool. But I just went for the dresses. They were SO pretty! Now red isn't my favorite color (it's purple if you haven't noticed the purple theme here), but I did like all of the red dresses. The dresses I like the least were the black or black and white ones. There's just something about it that color for prom I do not like. Although there were some very pretty purple dresses there too!

Long dresses seem to be in style. And I love the longer dresses. The only set back for me is that they make these beautiful dresses for people who are 5'8 or 6'2! (I mean, have you seen these dresses? They're soo long!) And being super short like me, I'm either going to have to do some major hemming or buy a short dress. And I don't really want a short dress for Prom. Short dresses are more Sadie Hawkin's style. 

Purple and yellow also seem to be in style this year. I went to the mall a couple weekends ago to help my cousin pick out her beautiful white and green dress, and there were tons of yellow dresses! 
Me- Ekkk! It's too bright! (Why? Because all we were having was wet and cloudy days for a week. Bleh!). So I'm thinking the designers are ready for spring! I know I am! 

I've started spring cleaning my room lately, and I got rid of a bunch of clothes..only for one of my friends to give me her really stylish shirts that she out grew! See, now that's why you want to be short! Because when your awesome-friend-who-has-really-good-taste-in-clothes out grows stuff, she can give it to you! Win! 

Anyways, you won't believe the stuff I found going through my closet and under my bed! I found books, papers, jewelry, and a couple of socks I was missing! (Now I know where that other purple sock went to!). Heck, I even found my calculator which I was missing. Which is good because I needed that for class. 

I remember reading this article back when I was little and I used to get American Girl magazine. There was this girl who had tons  of stuff from all over the world under her bed! It was pretty amazing (I assume her parents either travel alot or they know quite a few  people). I also wonder how could you miss all that stuff under there? (Go get your rain jacket and shovel, Honey! It's time to clean out under your bed!)

Oh, but my favorite magazine is Brio. Brio is a Christian magazine for girls. And it had everything! Interesting articles, things you could cut out, stuff that related to your life, quizzes, beauty, etc. Unfortunately , they went out of print last year just as my cousin ordered it! So they sent her a bunch of magazines from several months poir. The onyl thing was that she had already read those at my house! 

So now that I can't get Brio anymore, I get Seventeen magazine. I like seventeen magazine better than other girl magazines because it doesn't just talk about celebrities (And as interesting as they are, I'd like to read something that actually affects my life). Although Girl Life magazine I think sounds pretty good, but I'm not sure. 

Well, I think I've blogged enough. Tonight's questions: Do you remember your Prom? What was it like? Or if you haven't gone to Prom, are you excited for it? What kind of dress and color do you want? Have you spring cleaned yet and do you have any tales you could share from when you have spring cleaned? What is your favorite magazine and why?

Sincerely, 
Peony

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book Review- City of Ships

The new installment in the critically acclaimed Stravaganza series transports readers to a world much like our own—but where magic and piracy come to life in the Italian town of Classe. The new Stravagante is Isabel, a visitor from our world who befriends Flavia, a successful female merchant of spices, silks, and tapestries. But Flavia soon finds herself an outcast and a pirate, while Isabel learns that Classe is under threat of attack by the fierce Gate people. What can she do to help save the city?


I found this to be a very exciting read. I've read the other Stravaganza stories except for City of Secrets and this story is just as good as the rest of them. In fact, this one is probably one of my favorites. 


In this one, we meet Isabel who is a twin- much like myself. Like me, she is younger than her twin brother, Charlie, and feels that Charlie is better than her. That was one of the reasons I found this story so compelling is because i can relate to how she feels. While she does love her brother, she also feels jealously towards him. 


So when she comes to Talia and finds herself in the midst of a upcoming war, she can't feel anything but excitement. She finds Talia not only exciting, but a place where she is finally recognized for something other than her brother's shadow. Here in Classe, she meets Flavia and her son who is an outlaw and a pirate. She soon learns about the city and how to travel between cities. Something which has never been done before by the Stravagante.


During the day she meets up with the other London Stravagante who help Isabel learn more about Talia. Here at home, Charlie comes to suspect that something is going on in his sister's life. So he follows her around and accidentally takes her talisman. When he ends up in her world, Isabel has to go bring him back with the use of part of her talisman. When they get home, Charlie gains new respect for his sister and wants to never go back to the other world. 


How she defeats the Gate people and what happens to the rest of the characters, I'll let you find out for yourself. 
Now, what I did like: Besides the twin-ness, I love the characters. Isabel is a character I liked from the start and stayed on my good graces throughout the story. Flavia's son's story was perticulary heartfelt and I was able to enjoy Nick's sister's story. I felt sorry for her and I was happy when Nick went to talk to her. I enjoyed seeing a map of Talia, a cast of characters, and a family tree. They were certainly helpful when some things got confusing. I like how you can read this book without having read the others because the characters explain what has happened in other books. 


What I didn't like: I don't think there was enough information about how Isabel's friends were effected by Isabel's change and what happens to some of the characters after the book ends. I thought that it was kind of cliche how Sky's girlfriend dumps him and then he likes Isabel afterwards. I was hoping that there might be some romantic feelings between Isabel and Flavia's son. 


Overall: I would give this a four and a half stars. I would also recommend it because it is an exciting tale. 


What do you think about books in a series that you can read without having to have read the others? Or do you like them better when you have to read the books in order? Do you have any stories about times spent on the ocean or a lake that you'd like to share?


Sincerely, 
Peony

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Something Random Tuesday- The Death of Osama bin Laden

Well, I didn't find any lovely pictures for you. I was going to put a picture of him, but then I decided not too since we're being swamped with his pictures enough already. And I can't really find any other good pictures.

Anyways, I decided to talk about him because...well everyone is and I guess it's kind of a shocker. When I first heard about it, I was on my writing website when one of the members broke the news to the rest of the members. I didn't believe her at first, I mean, who did? So I went onto yahoo and confirmed what she was saying.

Yes, the guy is really dead.

After nearly 10 years of attacks and the world looking for him, the world's #1 enemy is dead and gone for good.  I thought it was interesting to hear about the reactions to his death. I mean there were news footage of people celebrating this guy's death. I'll admit I was happy at first but then I wasn't.

After all, just because he's dead doesn't mean terrorism is gone. Plus, as a Christian, I believe that I shouldn't feel happy over someone's death. Even if I feel he deserved it and he had it coming. We talked about it today in chapel and the guy leading it showed us a quote from one of his friends on Facebook. Christians are suppose to love our enemies and pray for them. And guess what?

It's hard.

I know I have a hard time struggling with this one. We wrote a little essay about how we should react to his death yesterday in one of my classes and I wasn't really sure what to say. Personally, I think I think it's okay to be glad that someone won't be able to kill anymore people, but at the same time, I think we should be humble about it.

One of my teachers made an interesting point yesterday. Now before I start repeating him, I want to say that my teacher doesn't admiring him or anything, he was just saying how he could see why people would follow him. So bin Laden was a millionaire from Saudi Arabia, who decided to turn away from worldly things, gave up everything and lived a harsh life. Then he had a strong belief in his cause and was determined to not give up.

Anyways, the teacher also has an interesting theory. He thinks that bin Laden isn't dead and that the U.S is actually interrogating him somewhere. I wouldn't be surprised, after all, the government has lied to us before. But then, I doubt he is alive especially after the countless reports that he's dead and that they gave him a burial at sea.

I also think it's ironic that the U.S has been searching Afghanistan all these years for him and thinking that he lived in a cave. Only for him to turn up in some fancy mansion not far from Pakistan's capital! I've heard that the U.S government actually knew, or had an idea at least, that he or something very important was in the compound. I even heard we built a compound like it so the troops could practice raiding it.

Sources say that Osama was unarmed when they shot him and that a woman positioned herself in front of him as a shield. He was killed with two bullets (something called J-tap, I think) in the same spot. Which apparently is very hard to do.

Also, that this is how he wanted to die. He wanted the US to kill him so that his name could be posted everywhere and that so people would think of him as dying for his cause.

I've heard other rumors going around, but whether or not those are true, I'll let you decide it for yourselves. So what do you think about bin Laden's death? How did you react to the news when you found out? Do you have any theories about it or have you heard anything really interesting about this whole thing?

Sincerely,
Peony

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