Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In the News- When Social Networking is Too Much And Glowing Animals.

In an article I read a while back and meant to post about, the topic is about living in what the article's author calls the "Conversation Age."

He goes on to say how it is getting increasingly harder to keep up with online conversations. Those conversations which happen to be with family, friends, co-workers, and other people that could be important. Not only that but with the increasing amount of social networks, it is hard to keep with who is on what and what is being said. There is Facebook, Google Plus, blogs, and many other sites where people are trying to talk to us on a daily basis. So with all of the conversations going on, and not just online, how does one keep up with it all?

You can't.

Or you can very much try. It could help by limiting how many sites you're on and who you talk to. For example, how many of those friends on Facebook do you really ever talk to? And how many of those people do you see every day? Is it really that important to talk to someone online when you can talk to them by phone or offline?

Anyways, I don't really use social networking sites all that much. I mainly use facebook these days to keep up with my friends far away or to manage the pages I've created. Most of them have turned into well faring pages the began as book reports and were never meant to become liked by anyone other than me. But now I have a following on those pages and I like to update them and talk to people about the books on it. I also have the facebook page for this blog which I try to keep updated.

But other than that, the only places I talk to people online is here on my blog, other blogs, on Goodreads, or on Inkpop. I sometimes use emails, but not as often. The really only person I email is a cousin's cousin. Personally, I'd be fine without talking to people online, but then, I'm fine with talking to people online too.

Anyways, I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this topic anymore, so I'm going to turn to another subject.

Tegon, the glowing beagle.
 Discovery.com, reported a couple weeks ago that scientists have genetically modified a female beagle to glow. Yes, you read that right. The beagle, named Tegon, glows fluorescent green when under UV lights. And the whole animal glows when under these lights. But Tegon is not the only animal to be modifed by humans to glow. Another puppy named Ruppy, glows fluorescent red and a cat named Mr. Green Genes, glows...well green.

According to the article:

He and his colleagues achieved the feat using a five-step process. The scientists first inserted a DNA fragment that controls the expression of a green fluorescent gene into dog cells. They next extracted DNA from a dog oocyte (an immature female reproductive cell prior to fertilization) and injected the fluorescent-modified dog cells into it.
The third step was to use a process known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer to generate an embryo. The resulting embryo was then transferred into a surrogate dog mother. After 60 days of pregnancy, she gave birth to Tegon. When given a doxycycline antibiotic, the female beagle literally glows under UV light.
The animals are created because researchers hope to use them to improve benefits of humans. Dogs, especially, are good for this type of thing apparently. They have 268 types of genetic diseases that are close to what we get.
 "Also, the dog has physiological and anatomical similarities with humans. These reasons make them a good model for human disease."
Lee said the genes injected to make the dog glow could be substituted with genes that trigger fatal diseases. He and his team would then be able to chart the course of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and more, better understanding how such diseases develop.
Dogs also make good candidates for this kind of research because they have "good communication skills with humans, which enable them to have good response skills to direct orders. They are also easy to handle." He added, "Compared to mice and other smaller animals, dogs provide a much larger sample collection." 
Injections? Glowing? Fatal diseases? I don't know about you but this sounds somewhere along the line of animal abuse. I understand that it is to help humans with diseases, but what about these poor animals? Even if injecting them with glowing genes doesn't harm them, I think adding fatal diseases to the mix does.

How would you like it if people injected you with diseases in order to save other people without your consent? You probably wouldn't like it.

Also, don't be surprised if glowing dogs and cats become a new pet trend in future.
As Ko said, the "technology could be used for producing a variety of unique cats and dogs, possibly creating a new area of commercial interest."
Hm, a glowing pet? While that would be interesting, I think it would get annoying at night when you're trying to sleep. Plus everyone would have to get UV lights and glasses just to see their pets glow. Unless, of course, they came up with another way to make the animals glow.

Conversation Age
Glowing Animals

So, do you have troubles keeping up with social networking? How has social networking impacted your life? Would you like a glowing pet? Do you think it's abuse to use animals for research and medical purposes?


Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review- Clockwork Angel

(From Goodreads) When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

This book was pretty cool. I've been kinda hesitant to read her books because they've gotten so much attention, but the other day I picked this book up at the library and decided to read it. 

I was surprised by how much I liked it. Lately I've been reading more and more paranormal books, but that's okay. As long as they aren't ridiculous, like Twilight, I'll be okay reading them. This book had good characters, although I didn't really like Will. One moment I liked him, and the next I didn't. It was mostly because he came off as an arrogant idiot to me. I love Jem though, he's cool. Although I rather there wasn't a love triangle going on around here.

I thought that the world was very developed and not only did I love learning about the Shadowhunters and their world, but I loved learning about the characters and what made them to be who they are. I thought that Jessamine had a cool name and I basically thought that the whole book was nicely well done. The other characters were cool too, I loved Henry and Charlotte
. Henry was funny, Charlotte was cool, and together I thought that they made a cute couple. Although I didn't like her brother one bit. Especially after what he confessed to do. I kinda forgave him in the end, but I still didn't like him. 

As for the plot, it was interesting as was the ending. I feel bad for Tessa (love that name) and I'm curious as to what she really is and what her parents were. I love the word choices, because there were words that I had to look up. It made me so happy, because sometimes I feel that a lot of books don't try to use challenging words anymore. 

I thought that Classandra Clare has a very beautiful style of writing. I love her descriptions of everything, although sometime they got to be a little much. Her writing drew me in as did the humor in the story. 

Another thing that I thought that cool was that how the Shadowhunters are Nephilim. And the cool thing about that, is that the Nephilim actually existed. They are found in Genesis. Where it mentions that the angels thought that the human women were beautiful and had offspring together. Well then God saw that we, humans, were wicked and so He sent this giant flood to kill the humans, but He saved Noah and his family so that they could repopulate the earth...but I'm sure you already knew that. Did you also know that in pretty much every culture there's a story about a world wide flood or a giant flood and a couple people live through it? 

Another part I really thought that cool was the Marks and how they gave the Shadowhunters special abilities. I love their angel swords and how they give them names. Plus the names that were used for the special swords were really cool. 

Another fun thing was that this book is steampunk. And I really like steampunk as of now. It's cool. Anyways, I'm rambling now! So, I'll come and say that I really enjoyed this book and I can't wait for the next one, Clockwork Prince, to come out. 

On Goodreads: Clockwork Angel
Her Website: Classandra Clare

So, what are some of your favorite steampunk novels? Have you read any of Classandra Clare's books? If you have, what did you think of them? 


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review- Pucker

(From Goodreads) Thomas Quicksilver, known to his classmates as "Pucker," has always been an outsider. His crazy mother, the secret of his family's strange origins, and above all, the terrible scars on his face from a childhood fire these things have kept Thomas isolated and lonely. But now, at seventeen, Thomas is suddenly given the chance to change all that.To be magically healed, even beautiful; to have girls throwing themselves at him.To fit in. The question is, what is he willing to sacrifice? His home? His personality? His mother s life? 

The story itself is quite odd in my opinion. Thomas comes from  a paraell universe where certain people have an extra skin- called a seer skin- that lets them see into the future. In the story, there was a gaint war over this and eventually the seers were forced to read everyone's future every morning. But Thomas parents are both seers and he isn't. When his parents rebel, his father is killed, Thomas's face is badly burned, and his mother is stripped of her seer skin.

And so she and Thomas both flee to earth where Thomas's mother works as a future teller. She also happens to be bed ridden because if she leaves her room, she is assulted by futures of basically every living thing that passes by their apartment. While his mother does this for a job, Thomas must survive in school where he is nicknamed "Pucker" because of his scars. 

His mother tells him early on in the story that he must return to their homeland and get her seerskin. Without it she shall die. At first Thomas doesn't want to go but he does and goes there as a Changed. The Changed are basically human slaves who have been changed back into beautiful people in return for their service for the rest of their lives.

While there he meets some people and turns out to be this good looking guy. Thomas also turns out to be a jerk and lets his looks go to his head. And eventually he saves his mother and falls in love.

Now, while the story was good, I thought that the writing was jerky and it didn't seem to flow at all for me. I thought that Pucker would say random stuff at times when it wasn't needed or things weren't clear enough. For example, he spent two pages talking about some girl's white pants, only for that the end of the chapter to say that she was going to have her period. Well why didn't you say that in the first place? There were some other examples too and it made me almost stop reading into the first hundred pages.

While the other world is interesting, I didn't like Dash at all. Actually for some reason, I felt confused about Dash and how he treated Pucker most of the time. Was he trying to be nice most of the time or wasn't he? He...just confused me. And the love interest girl also confused me. As did how the Changed society worked. Mostly, I stopped reading the book because I got really confused and I didn't like the protagonist at all.

The other characters were very good either. The only thing I liked about the book was the plot itself and how eventually Thomas learns that looks isn't everything.

Would I recommend it? Probably not.

On Goodreads: Pucker


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Interesting Facts- The U.S Presidents were Very Strange People

We should all know by now that George Washington was the first president and a general of the army during the American Revolution. But I bet you didn't know these little facts! 

So over the next few weeks I shall give you some interesting facts about the presidents of the U.S. Each week I shall cover ten presidents.
  • George Washington: The salary of the first preisident of the U.S happened to be 250,000 dollars. Which would be about a million dollars in today's world. He loved spending money, in fact, he bought leopard skin robes for his horses.
  • John Adams: When the second president moved into the White House, his wife, Abigail, used the east room to hand wet laundry in. On his gravestone, he never mentioned that he was president of the U.S.
  • Thomas Jefferson: This one was known to greet forgein officals in his PJs. Apparently, he wasn't one to change into his clothes when he woke up.
  • James Madison: He was the shortest president in history- standing only at five feet, four inches.
  • James Monroe : The third president to die on July 4th. 
  • John Quincy Adams: Both him and his father, John Adams, were the first two presidents to be kicked out of the White House after one term.
  • Andrew Jackson :  He was nearly killed by an insane assassin. The man who tried to shoot him misfired twice, the odds of that happening are 1 in 125,000.
  • Martin Van Buren: His autobiography never mentions his wife, Hannah, once.
  • William Henry Harrison: Not only did he have the shortest term as president,  but he was the last American president to have been born an english citizen.
  • John Tyler: He had more children than any other president in history- a total of fifteen. Eight by first wife and seven by his second. When he married his second wife, his eldest daughter was five years older than his second wife. His second wife, Julia, happened to be twenty three when they mar. Tyler was born during George Washington's term as president and Tyler's youngest daughter, who was born when he was seventy-seven, died during Harry Turman's time as president. 
The Secret Lives of the U.S Presidents by Cormac O'Brien


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm Going on Vacation Again!

Yep, I'll be going on vacation for the rest of the week. I don't know if I'll be back by Friday or Saterday. So anyways, I will not be posting anything until I get back. I could if I had my laptop but I won't. I might or I might not have a guest poster while I'm gone, but we'll see. That or I'll try to see if I can get the scheduling option to work.


In The News- Making Facebook Illegal for Teachers to Speak to Students.

I've heard about this recently while on vacation the last two weeks. It is becoming increasingly more and more common for teachers to not being allowed to  talk to past or current students on internet sites like Facebook. Where I live it is still allowed for students to friend and speak to thier students online. In fact, for some classes we need to be able to speak or friend our teachers. For example, the freshmen are suppose to do a book talk and one of the options is to make a facebook page for the book. So in order to see this page our teachers have us friend them or send them the link.

Anyways, in a recent Yahoo! artcile, a teacher sues Missouri because a new law makes it illegal for her to contact her kid online. According to Yahoo!:
The law, which has been nicknamed the Facebook law, prohibits teachers from having exclusive communications with students over non-work Internet sites. Students are defined as anyone under 18 who attend or used to attend the school where the teacher works.
But while this teacher and parent faces this delimia, not everyone seems to think that this new law is such a bad thing. This new law is suppose to fight teacher sexual harassment and abuse. And in a way, I agree with this law. I just read an article in Seventeen magazine about teachers who sexually harass their students.

One girl in the article said that at first the teacher was nice, and he listened to her when she was having a hard time at home. Eventually the messages and conversations went into the personal area. And while her mind screamed that this was bad, she ignored that voice and went over to the teacher's house.

Eventually the teacher turned out to be over protective and he would get angry a lot at her. One point the girl said, she had gotten a boyfriend and when the teacher found out, he wanted the girl's boyfriend to share her. The girl said no because she didn't want to cheat on her boyfriend. Later on, the girl became depressed and she told her parents about it. Her parents were mad at first, being parents, but then they sued the teacher for sexual harrassment. The teacher was fired, went to jail, and was labeled as a sex offender.

The news article also quotes one professor who says that being able to talk to studdents online isn't nessary to a student's education. And I can see the truth in that, it isn't all that important for teachers to be able to talk to students online. And although that makes sense, there's the issue that some students feel and trust their teachers to talk to them about important stuff.

For example, a student going through depression or abuse may feel more comfortable telling a teacher about it then a parents or some other adult figure. And this student may feel more comfortable telling the teacher online rather than offline because the student may not want to rish other people hearing about it. So if this student who is too shy to apporch a teacher about something important offline, now can't talk to the teacher online.

The other issue I see is that if you're going to make it illegal for a student to talk to a teacher online, then it should be illegal for a student to talk to a teacher over text messages or the phone. But if you do that, then how is a student to contact a teacher if they need homework help? Of course the student could talk to their friends about the assignment, but what if they're unsure too?

Read this article: Teacher sues state over "Facebook Law".

So what do you think about this issue? Should it be illegal for teachers to contact students privately online?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Epic Computer Failure.

Hey everyone sorry about not posting this weekend. My laptop totally and utterly failed on me. Wednesday it was fine, and then on Thursday it completely stopped working. At first it just froze after I logged in. but now windows won't even turn on. Hopefully I'll have it fixed soon (I need it for school) but until then, my posting schedule will go down. I can still use my mom's computer but the keyboard is small and hard to type on. So tomorrow I'll try to have something up.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review- The Other Side of the Island

(From Goodreads) Honor and her parents have been reassigned to live on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Life is peaceful there—the color of the sky is regulated by Earth Mother, a corporation that controls New Weather, and it almost never rains. Everyone fits into their rightful and predictable place. . . .

Except Honor. She doesn’t fit in, but then she meets Helix, a boy with a big heart and a keen sense for the world around them. Slowly, Honor and Helix begin to uncover a terrible truth about life on the Island: Sooner or later, those who are unpredictable disappear . . . and they don’t ever come back.

I really really liked this book. Although I say its more for tweens than it is for older kids. I'm starting to think that my library mixes younger kid books with ones for older kids...

Anyways, I thought that the idea of this book was cool and how she took the Lord's Prayer, and things like the pledge of alligence and rewrote them for her book. I also enjoyed the characters and I thought that they were all very real.
 The concept of having a world destroyed by floods has been done before. Although  the way everything was done reminded me of another story. I can't think of it but the way there were the lesser people who cleaned up everything for the people makes me think of that one story. 

I thought that the writing was good and from the first page I was drawn into the story. The plot was engaging and I couldn't not read it. I wanted to finish it so much, that I finished it in a night and then finished it before I was done with Wings. I enjoyed how Honor slowly what was wrong with her society and how Honor's parents refused to conform to the rest of society. 

The characters were all very good too. Although I didn't really like Honor's parents or Helix's. I did like how the kids were named with the same letter in the year they were born. And Honor's little brother's name was very long for me. I thought that he could have been given a nickname instead of spelling out the whole name. When Honor decided that she had to conform to protect her parents, I felt that in a way it was brave of her. She felt guilty when her parents got taken because she thought that it was her fault. 

Although I think that it was interesting how Goodman changed things, I wonder if the "Earth Mother" is actually alive or if she's dead. Was she even real? And what time does the story take place in? The story only says that it is in the eight year since the world went to the Earth Mother's plan, but there is no certain year that I could find. 

While the book did end with some things left unanswered I thought that it's still a good ending for this book and sometimes its good to wonder about things. It makes us think and imagine. I enjoyed the last line and I hope that the story does actually have a happy ending even though I'm afraid we'll never know. The story I think, makes us think about environmental issues  and about the government of course. Maybe even about that we're being told on the internet and what the media tells us. 

Overall it was a good story and I enjoyed reading it. I would recommend it although I do think it's more of a younger teen's book. But older teens and adults too could enjoy this book. 

On Goodreads: The Other Side of the Island

So, what do you think about books where the author doesn't finish the story? Do you think authors should finish stories or leave them to our imagination.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Interesting Facts- Can't get to the medicine cabinet? That's okay, go to your garden!

random picture of beach
Sorry everyone that I didn't post yesterday! I happen to be at a hotel by the beach and everyone is using the same internet connection. So my connection happened to be very, very slow.

Anyways, as most fantasy authors realize, if you're writing a novel where it's based in a century before the 20th century, they probably didn't have the kind of medical equipment or medicine as we do now. So what is one to do if your characters don't have our medicine today or they don't have their own special plants? Well one simple answer is herbs. Yep, its been known for centuries that all different kinds of plants have some kind of medical use.

Aloe vera (ignore the random flower in the back ground)
The aloe vera plant is one common plant that can be used to help burns and grown in your own house. If you've never used this plant but you get one, simply break off one of the leaves and put the sap on the burn area. Of course it isn't as nice as running cold water on it, but if you can't get to any kind of burn cream, this plant is nice.

So today I will share some uses for commonly found plants that your characters may use. Note: Do NOT try to use these yourself without consulting a doctor. I have no evidence if these plants and it's uses will actually work so don't use them yourself.

  • Lavender- This pretty purple plant is commonly used in aromatherapy. While in ealierr times it was used for mental health issues, it now can be found to be used for conditions such as restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. NCCAM- Lavender Lavender 
  • Garlic- This commonly used herb is used as a flavoring for many things such as garlic bread. It has been shown that it can help with issues such as blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart problems. NCCAM- GarlicGarlic
  • Ginger- Can commonly be found with cooking and in cold and flu and anti-nausea medicene as an extract. Some studies have shown that it is useful for motion sickness.
  • Flaxseed (oil)- This is commonly used as a laxative and can be used to for hot flashes or breast pain. NCCAM- FlaxseedFlaxseed
  • Saw Palmetto- Probably not a commonly known herb. Anyways, this can be used to help prevent prostate cancer. NCCAM- Saw PalmettoSaw Palmetto
  • Rosemary- This plant which, like Lavender, can be found in some aromatherapy products, and has been used in shampoos to help fight dandruff. Rosemary
  • Dandelion- Although pretty, this plant that takes over every yard in my town during the spring and early summer, is actually a weed. Although used in salads, some people are allergic to this plant. In earlier times it was used to help kidney and liver problems although there is no scientific evidence of this plant having any kind of medical use. NCCAM- DandelionDandelion
  • Red clover- This pretty flowering plant, can be seen growing in my grandma's yard. In earlier times, red clover was used for whooping cough and asthma, although there is not enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not red clover is health beneficial. Currently, some use it to help with cramps that come with women's periods. NCCAM- Red CloverRed Clover
  • Cinnamon- This spice is commonly used in food and other ediable things. While it is certainly tasteful, it could help with digestive problems. It is also said to help get fight the flu, common cold, and headaches. Cinnamon
There are just a few examples. But once again, don't try any herbs as medicene unless you have talked to your doctor first or you actually know they work. 

Resources/More information

So, do you know of any uses for herbs and spices? Do you have a book where your characters need/could use herbs and spices for something other to make a meal tasty? Do you use real herbs or do you make up your own? 


Monday, August 15, 2011

Poetry- Words

So today I will share one random poem I wrote with you. It is called Words and it is not very long. Anyways, feel free to guess what kind of poem it is.

What is a word?
A simple string of letters
Symbols of meaning

They can have all the meaning
Change a mind
A heart
A soul

A simple mistake of a letter
Can give a word a different meaning
Mistakenly you caused a war
You could have prevented

So feel free to share some of your own poems! And if you like poetry, what is your favorite type of poem and what is your favorite poem (published or not published)? 


Book Review- Cold Stone Seduction

Title: Cold Stone Seduction
Release Date: 09/05/2011
Source: Netgallery
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Author: Jess Macallan

(Book pitch from Netgallery) When a regular night of Robin Hood-ery results in the manifestation of some, um, unusual paranormal abilities, perfume-maker Elleodora Fredricks realizes the normal world she lives in isn’t quite… normal. And neither is she, thanks to her father, king of the shadow elves. Not only is he evil incarnate and the reason Elle moonlights as a burglar—someone has to take care of all his victims—he’s stolen her memories.
And only reading her fate can fix that.
Good thing she’s got a trio of hotties willing to help her find said fate, but only if she gives them something in return. Saving her oracle BFF’s fiance, falling in love with the gargoyle, and making up for breaking the phoenix’s heart ought to be a piece of cake for the princess of the shadow elves.
If only the king didn’t want his daughter dead…

So I guess this is one of those things I've seen on other blogs where the post title is usually something like In My Mailbox. But I'm just gonna call it a review as I would do with normal books. I have signed up with a website called Netgallery where you can request to read and review books before they are out. And because I'm suppose to get the review for the books out before they're actually published, I'm going to post my reviews for these requested books first before I get to my regular books. Anyways....

So the title is kinda sketch I know, but it's an adult book. Yes, I, a teenager, read adult books. One of the reasons I picked up this book was that it's fantasy and has elves and the like in it. I'm interested in pretty much anything that has elves in it. 

Writing: I enjoyed the writing style in this book. I thought it was good and I saw a few words here and there I had to look up because I wasn't sure what they meant. The story's PoV is in first person, present tense, which I enjoy reading. I have seen a lot of books in first person but not a lot of them are in present tense. I also thought that Macallan keeps up the tense well throughout the rest of the book. 

Plot: While romance is certainly a strong theme in this book, as is the much overused love triangle, I enjoyed that Macallan didn't make it the center of the book. I enjoyed following Elle in her quest to retrieve her fate. I thought that there was enough tension and a sense of urgency to keep me reading and guessing. There were bits of mystery in this story that made it exciting. And the plot twists were great too, I never saw most of them coming. 

Characters: I thought that all of the characters were very good. Elle was a character that I think people can relate to and she was interesting. Although she was good as the Main Character, I thought that she could be too stubborn and she didn't really ever trust anyone (although she has good reason not too). Jax was an interesting character, but I thought that he was way overprotective. Sometimes it was annoying and kinda creepy. 

MacLean I thought was sweet. I felt bad for him when he realized that Elle doesn't remember him at all. Although as we go through the story, we see her slowly remembering who he is. As for Elle's father and Luke, I hated them. They were evil characters just as Elle said so. Macallan certainly did a good job portraying them as evil. I thought that her best friend, Teryl, was a good friend too. He was kinda funny and interesting. 

What I liked: I enjoyed the creativity in this book. I was happy to not only find out that there was no vampire and werewolves in this novel, but I also enjoyed Macallan's take on gargoyles and phoenixes. This is one of those moments were I think "why didn't I think of that!". While I'm sure I've seen gargoyles in humanoid forms before, I've certainly never come across phoenixes in human shape before. So I thought it was cool that Elle could "shift" both. And how gargoyles were bound to serve shadow elves and phoenixes were bound to serve light elves. I thought that the world building in this story was very good as was the mythology and lore put into it. I also loved the powers that Elle developed.

What I didn't like: As I said before, this is an adult novel so it has some..adult parts in it. And lets just say I skipped over them because I really didn't want to read those parts. That being said, I thought that Elle's relationship with Jax (cool name by the way) was too soon. I've seen this in other novels where the character has met a love interest and suddenly they're in love. I mean, how realistic is that? 

I think Elle's relationship with Jax was based more on lust and desire than it was on love. I think that her relationship with MacLean is based more on love even though she doesn't really remember him. And the whole part about Jax being made for her I think is complete rubbish even though his fate says so. It just bugged me. Elle has only known him for two months and all of the sudden they're in love and crap. 

Overall: I really liked this book and I thought it was good! I'd recommend it for it's certainly very nicely done. The only real problem I had with it was the relationship between Elle and Jax. 

On Goodreads: Stone Cold Seduction

So, have you ever done anything like Netgallery? If you're a teenager, how do you feel about reading adult books?


Sunday, August 14, 2011

And here they come!

Ok here is something you don't know about me. I live in Kentucky! Yes home of the Kentucky Derby and my home is about 10 minutes from the Derby! So I thought it would be appropriate to do some history of this most exciting 2 minutes in sports.
The race is for 3 year old thoroughbreds and is right at 1.25 miles all around. Out of the average 150,000 visitors some of those people are celebrities (like last year there was Guy Fieri from the Food Network) and royal families.
The first KY Derby was in 1875. At this time only 10,000 people stood there and watched 15 horses run around the 1.5 mile track (no I didn't forget the 2, the track grew over time). It was then next year the track grew to the now 1.25 mile.
And even though I live here I have no idea why we wear crazy hats to the Derby. But it is a tradition I am proud to participate in :D
Have you ever been to our derby or any other horse race?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Writing Tips- How to Not Write a Good Pitch

Book pitches (or blurbs, but I like to call them pitches) are very important. One could argue that they're the most important factor in whether or not someone will buy your book. I'm sure everyone here could say that they've bought or picked up a book because those 250 or some words on the inside flap or back cover sounded interesting. But I think that most authors end up having pitches that ends up sounding like a bunch of other pitches. So what does and what doesn't make a good pitch?

This has been annoying me a lot lately. Mostly because it seems like I see it on almost every book pitch I read. And I'm sure you've seen lots of these too. And guess what, they're not unique or exciting anymore. Here's what I mean:

  1. (Insert character name here) was a normal (girl/boy) who just wanted a normal life. Or something like that. Guess what, people don't read books because they want to read about someone who's life is probably just as boring as their's. And characters who may have had a normal life in the beginning, their lives usually end up never being normal ever again. So why have it? 
  2. And nothing is as it seems... Blah, blah, blah. Yeah I get it, in every book nothing is as it seems. And do I really care? Probably not unless it's something really good. My advice: don't even put that in the pitch. It's boring and used way too much. In the book I'm writing, Night Lies, literally nothing is what it seems, but I say that no where in the pitch. Because I want it to be a surprise, something that my readers weren't suspecting. 
  3. Nothing will ever be the same... We got that already. Especially when you began the pitch with (Insert character name here) was a normal (girl/boy) who just wanted a normal life. In what story please tell me, is anything ever the same afterwards?
  4. (Character name) will learn some startling truths but not only everything else, but him/herself...Really? I had no idea that was going to happen! *sarcasm* 
  5. (Main Character) will have to choose between two men/women. Something like that. I've already had this talk about love triangles. They aren't cool anymore. 
  6. In a race against time...Doesn't everything end up being a race against time?
Now I'm not saying that you can't put these in your pitch, but when you're writing one, try to be original and not use the same thing we've seen over and over. People want something exciting and fresh, and while these are certainly exciting, they're just used all the time. 

But let's face it. Trying to fit your whole book into 250 (more or less) words is hard. And I'm sure every writer will tell you that. Sure some have it easier than others and some books have easier pitches than others. I've written several pitches for my unpublished books where I came up with a great one in a day while others took me a long time to get it right. 

Oh and the best way to make an especially bad pitch is to write a really good one, but then have the book be something totally different. 

Yeah I saw that once. 

No lie.

Well it wasn't in anything published, but I saw it once on Inkpop. There was this awesome pitch but when I went to read the story, it ended up being something totally different. I wasn't sure if the author meant to do that on purpose or if it was an accident. Because for all I know, the author could have just uploaded the wrong story and have not noticed. Although whatever the case was, it story wasn't all that good anyways. 

The point of that was, if you're going to write an awesome pitch, make sure it has something to do with the story. Because your readers will know that you lied and they will tell all their friends and you'll have lost what could have been a great book. 

Another tip, don't copy another book's pitch just because it's similar to yours and it sounds awesome. You'll most likely be found out and sued for all your worth because you stole some one else's work. That or people will assume that your book is a rip off of another great book and won't read yours. 

So what other things about pitches annoys you? Have you seen any other common pitch sentences? And have you ever read a book where the pitch was different from the story? 


Friday, August 12, 2011

Something Random- Favorite Blogs?

So I was thinking today about blogs. I was going to list all of my favorite blogs, but all those are listed on the blog roll over on the right.

I was also thinking about what I liked to see in a blog. My favorite kind of blogs talk about books, writing, give useful tips, interesting information, and I love seeing pictures. Like some of my favorite blogs post covers they make. Alot of them review books, and some of them give useful information that I can use in books or are writing related. I also enjoy it if a blog recommends music or books too.

I don't mind long posts or short ones. I love seeing posts that use pictures or gifs to get a point across or to tell something. I've never done it, but then I can never find any good pictures or gifs to use. I enjoy vlogs (instead of a writing post, people post videos of themselves or others talking), which is also increasingly coming more and more common. I've been thinking of doing a vlog, but I'm not sure how and mine wouldn't probably be all that good.

Another kind of my favorite blogs, are author blogs. I love following my favorite authors. Not only is it a good way to know what's coming up, but I love hearing their thoughts. Blogs I think are of the best ways an author can connect to their readers, because your readers can follow you and stuff. Sure you can do that with facebook and twitter, but I enjoy blogs more. Blogs are also useful to writers because it's a great way for publishers and agents to see that you can attract readers. It's like a way of showing what you can do before you're even published.

So, what are your favorite blogs? Please share your favorites and remember to post a link so I can check them out. What do you enjoy seeing in a blog or what about the blog makes you follow them? Do you enjoy vlogs and do you think I should try one?


Movie Review- Miss Potter

Basically, this movie is about the author, Beatrix Potter, who wrote the Peter Rabbit books. This is going to be a really short review by the way. Basically I didn't even finish the movie because I didn't like it at all. Half-way through I just couldn't stand it anymore.

Anyways, what I liked: I liked how it was about an author. I enjoyed the creativity in it. And the romance was cool. But really, that's all I really liked about it.

What I didn't like: Trust me, this part will be much longer. Firstly, even though they started how with her getting a publishing deal, I thought that the romantic part went on too soon. We didn't really even see them fall in love, really it was just them watching the books getting published and stuff like that. And then they had these random little animations, where the pictures would randomly move and Beatrix (I've always liked that name) would talk to them. Not that it was really weird (I mean, some writers do it, but seeing it in a movie like that was just weird). And then the love interests sister was just plain weird. And the acting was bad. I mean some of it was good, but other than that, the rest of the acting was just bad. Everything seemed forced and unnatural. Eventually I just had to stop the movie half way because I couldn't stand the romantic parts. I mean it was kinda ridiculous.

Would I recommend this movie? Not at all. I hated it. One or two stars I'd give it.

So have you ever read a movie that you couldn't stand? What movie was it and why didn't you like it?


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Review- Wings

Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.
Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.
In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

I've seen this book for a while and I've heard lots about it. I saw an interview of Aprilynne Pike on Inkpop and I saw that she said her Faeries were different from other ones. She said that she thought that she was the only one to make Faeries into pure plants. Well I remember thinking that she was wrong because I made Faeries like that in one of my own books...only they are not fully plants like hers. 

What I liked: I loved her idea of Faeries and how they are pure plant like creatures. While the idea is kinda orginal, I've seen it in other books but it just wasn't as explained as this book. You could tell that she did her research and I thought that was really cool. 

All the characters were very good, although at times David seemed the Mr. Perfect we've seen one too many times. And sometimes Laurel seemed like she wasn't a girl who could take care of herself. I found myself partly crying when we found out that Laurel's dad may not make it and when her mom was about to sell their old house. But then I was really glad when that Jamison guy came and gave her stuff to help her out. The only part I didn't like that him was that I have no idea who he actually is! He seems like he must be some kind of gate keeper to me.

I thought that while I like Tamani (his name is cool too) was cute and stuff, I thought it was kinda creepy the way he likes her. It seems to me that he's more of a stalker-ish guy who doesn't really like her for who she is but just wants her body or whatever. David was cute, I really hope Laurel ends up with David. 

The plot was good, I enjoyed how Laurel knew that there wasn't something right about the guy who wanted to buy their old house and how in the end she kinda helped fight then trolls off. I hope that in the next couple of books we'll see more of Avalon or whatever it was called and I hope that we learn even more about faeries. 

One of the things about this book that I didn't like was that I thought that the book took a while to get to the action and that it started out really slowly.  Overall I really liked this book and I hope to read the next two books. Hopefully, they will be even more exciting. 

So have you ever read a book where the author took a different look at something that's been done lots of times before? Did you like it or not?


Interesting Facts- Incas are More Alike Us than We Realize (part 2)

So Sunday I posted a long post about Aztecs (Read it here), and today I'm forcing you all to learn about Incas now. Unfortantly, I won't have a post about the Mayans because I haven't done enough research on them. But one day I will!

Anyways, the Incas were interesting people. They believed that the original Incas started out as children of gods who came out of this cave. And according to this legend, they then went on to conquer other native peoples. The people who became part of the Inca's empire weren't actually called Incas (just like how the Aztecs called themselves Mexicas). The only person who was called Inca, was the Emperor and the actual noble people. The emperor was actually called the Sapa Inca  or just the Inca. While the other nobles were called that, only they could be called Incas if they were descended from the first Incas.

Like the Mayans and the Aztecs, the Incas had the concept of zero too. In fact, their system of goverment was based off of numbers. You see, every 10 households was governed by a head figure. These leaders of ten, reported then to the heads of fifty households, and then they all reported to heads who governed prefects of 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and then finally, 10,000 households! Those those who governed over households larger than fifty, their postion happened to be hereditary.

Unlike us, the Incas did not have money. Instead everything was bought through time. This was called the Mit'a which means that it was a tax placed on the people. To pay for this tax you had to spend a certain amount of time doing something. For example, you could spend a year in the army, or repairing roads. In exchange, the government provided everything the people needed, kinda like a welfare system.

Every town or city had storage houses where things like rations went to the widowed, orphans, or disabled people every day, and food and stuff went to everyone else during times of strife or during a catastrophe, like if there was a earthquake. And for the army, there was a storage house where things like armor and weapons were held in towns so that where ever the army was, they were well equiped. They also even had runners to bring messages, much like our pony express.

Not only did the government provide this, but for every marriaged couple, the government gave them enough land to support themselves and any extended family memebers they may have. But before they could work on their own land, the general people had to work on the land of the Emperor and the nobles before they could work on their own. The Emperor even began the planting season by breaking the ground with a golden plow, although after that, he never really did anything to grow food.

Common people also owed a certain amount of cloth to the government because cloth was very valuable. Interestingly enough, even though the government provided for them, people who were disabled or had issues could only marry people who had the same problem as them. For example. only blind people could marry other blind people.

One of the most interesting things about the Incas is that they had a special group of women called Chosen Women. An Acllacuna was the school where girls (ten years old) were selected from all over the Inca empire to be trained as Chosen Women. They were selected based on beauty and social rank. Being trained by older Chosen Women, the girls learned things such as dyeing, weaving, singing and dancing, they preformed religious rites, and they had to make clothes for the emperor. After a certain amount of time (usually three years) they were sent to Cuzco to the Festival of the Sun where the Emperor would decide what happened to them.

 If they weren't selected as a concubine they could be married off to a nobleman or "married" to a diety. If a man spent time with a Chosen Woman both partners could be killed and the village from where the Chosen Woman came from destoryed. But if the Emperor spent a night with one, a temple guard would be sent to the Emperor and ask him if he had indeed spent time with a Chosen Woman. If he said yes then all would be forgiven.

An Acllahuasi was the house where Chosen Women stayed. And a Mamaconas was a Chosen Woman who had been selected by the Emperor as either a concubine or a priestess. Chosen women were expected to be publically moral and lead a good example for other women. They were treated as queens and ladies, leading great and fantastic lives which were filled with pleasure and amusement. the people and lords loved them and they were very esteemed and highly regarded. So much were they respected that commoners would never look them in the eyes.

The Incas are famous for their writing system, known as the quipu. The quipu is a system of strings and knots that represent something. These strings could only be read by the person who created them. Because of this, scribes were very powerful people since they could lie about their quipus. And with this great power, the Sapa Inca had investigators who came around to make sure that the quipu makers didn't lie about what they "wrote" about. And because only the person who made a quipu could understand what it said, people today have no idea what the which still exist mean. There is some ideas going around but no one is really sure.

The Incas were great builders. One of their most famous cities is Machu Picchu. Anyways, the Incas buildings were so well put together that they could withstand earthquakes and a knife couldn't even be put between the stones. The stones were uncut and fitted together naturally so that if there was an earthquake, the stones would rumble together and not fall apart. When looking at one building built by the Incas, the researchers discovered that each stone had a small indent or mark so that they would fit together like a puzzle.

Aztecs: Reign of Blood and Splendor by Time-Life Books and Dale M. Brown
Incas Lords of Gold and Glory by Time-Life Books and Dale. M. Brown

So, did you learn anything? Do you think the Incas are interesting?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Liebster Blog Award

So I just saw today that I've been nominated for a blogging award! Isn't that cool? I've never been nominated for a blogging award before plus, I never even thought I'd ever be nominated for an award! *squeals with excitement* So, now that we're done with our little freak out episodes (yes I did one), I'll tell you what exactly the Liebster blog award is. Apparently this award is to honor blogs that have under 200 followers. Cool right? As a nominee, I get to nominate my top five favorite blogs. So, here they are (and they're also found on the blog list for your enjoyment).
And the awesome person who nominated me is Annie! (Her blog is right up there on that list). Thank you SO MUCH! So, if you're a nominee, you get to:

  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
  2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
  5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In The News- Orange Goo and First Things.

Dear Readers, this is going to be a really short post tonight. I'm sorry about that. For one thing, even though I have two news articles to talk to you about, I'm waaayy too tired to be awake...much less writing a blog post. So if something doesn't read right or something is just plain messed up as you read this...I'm probably really really tired.

Second thing, according to Yahoo! News, a mysterious orange goo washed up on the shore of one Alaska town and freaked everyone out. At first people thought it was some kind of pollution, but upon further inspection, they discovered it to be either small crustacean eggs or embryos. The orange coloring can be explained because of a lipid droplet in the middle. So if you're wondering, yes this is natural! The orange goo is reportedly sticky but powdery when it's dried.

And the best part?

They know the goo are eggs, but they don't know what creature the eggs are. Great right? So for all we know it's either, something weird concerning fish...or eggs from an alien species intent on invading our planet....

Maybe not, but you never know.

On the other piece of news, Keiko Fukuda is now the first woman to ever achieve a tenth degree black belt. Which just so happens to be the highest rank in the martial art, Judo. Fukuda can now proudly say that she is one of the only four living pople to have earned the tenth-degree black belt. Apparently, only sixteen people have ever gotten this far.

And I bet none of them are as old as this bright 98-year-old lady. Anyways, she's been doing Judo since 1935 and is the only student alive to have learned under Judo's founder, Kano Jihuro. Not only is this woman destroying boundries placed on women, but she also gave up normal traditions (things like marrying) to persue her life's dream . And I'd say that this is a pretty good lesson. It may have taken her over sixty years to have earned this honor, but she never gave up. Even when things weren't looking the best.

According to this Yahoo! article:
Fukodo said she approached Judo and her life with the intent to "be gentle, kind and beautiful, yet firm and strong, both mentally and physically." Fukuda says this kind of beauty is decidedly not external. "A compassionate soul is inner beauty," she explained to the paper. "I believe this is true beauty...All my life this has been my dream."

Dream realized, the 98-year-old Sensei Keiko Fukuda continues to teach Judo three times a week at a woman's dojo.
The other neat thing, she's still teaching, at 98 years old. So what do I think? I think good for her for pursuing her's life's dream even if it wasn't what others wanted her to do. And for never giving up. Also, and she's still living her dream even when she's old. 

98 year old woman becomes the first to earn the highest honor in Judo.

So, do you know of anyone else who has ever achieved something no one else did? And have you ever heard of anything like this mysterious goo? What do you think the eggs are?


Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review- The Summoning

After years of frequent moves following her mother’s death, Chloe Saunders’s life is finally settling down. She is attending art school, pursuing her dreams of becoming a director, making friends, meeting boys. Her biggest concern is that she’s not developing as fast as her friends are. But when puberty does hit, it brings more than hormone surges. Chloe starts seeing ghosts–everywhere, demanding her attention. After she suffers a breakdown, her devoted aunt Lauren gets her into a highly recommended group home.

At first, Lyle House seems a pretty okay place, except for Chloe’s small problem of fearing she might be facing a lifetime of mental illness. But as she gradually gets to know the other kids at the home–charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek, obnoxious Tori, and Rae, who has a “thing” for fire–Chloe begins to realize that there is something that binds them all together, and it isn’t your usual “problem kid” behaviour. And together they discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home either…

I've seen this book around the library and I've heard lots about it. So one day I finally decided to read it, give it a try. I figured, it sounded cool but even though the library had the rest of the books, I decided to just get the first one in case I didn't like the first one. 

So this book pitch is pretty detailed and tell you basically what happened in the beginning. So the first ghost Chole sees is this janiter that died at her school in a fire and this ghost wants to tell her something. Well she freaks out, punches a teacher because he thinks she's trying to kill herself, and then ends up at the house for crazy kids. 

At first every one seems like normal kids, except that a few of them are different. The kids soon find out about Chole's ability to see ghosts and she begins to see them even at the house. The first ghost she sees is this ghost inside this locked closet in the basement. But she can't figure out how to get to him.

As the kids get "better" they are able to return to normal house. There's only two kids who leave during the story, Liz and Peter. Peter is "better", but Liz is sent to this hospital. Later on, Chole begins to see Liz's spirit but as she finds out from Simon and Derek, there are people who are able to astral project their spritis out of their bodies. Only, Chole isn't really sure if Liz is doing it without knowing...or if she's dead. 

So they go through the story, Chole slowly learning to trust all the kids except for Tory who's a bit actually crazy, and begins to find out the horrible truth about the house. Some crazy guy way back built the house to kill people like Chole- people who can raise the dead and speak to them. And she also slowly finds out the the rest of the kids in the house also have powers and that the people who run the house also know about their powers. 

So they realize that the only way for them to live...is to run. But do the escape? I'll find out in the next book.

Now the characters were all very good, except I didn't really like them. Chole was good but she was too stubborn and untrusting. I did not think that most of the characters were very good. Tori was too self centered and too unhappy to be liked at all, she bugged the crap out of me. Derek came off as a bully and I wasn't sure what to make of him most of the time. It was confusing. And I think Simon was an okay character although I wasn't too sure if they were suppose to like each other or not. To me, Chloe seemed to like Derek more. 

The plot was very good and interesting. I kept on wanting to know more and find out what was going to happen. But some things were really gross and creepy and sometimes I thought that the descriptions got a little too...descriptive for me. But otherwise than that I really like the mystery behind the story. 

But that being said, I really liked the book it was just the characters that turned me off the story. Otherwise I would have given it five stars, but I'm giving it four stars. Would I recommend it, yes I would, but only to people who like paranormal stuff and don't mind some gross stuff. 

On Goodreads: The Summoning
Her website: Kelly Armstrong

So, have you read many books that deal with ghosts? Did you like it? 



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