Monthly Archives: November 2012

Being Thankful

Always first, I am thankful that my mom’s cancer is gone.I am thankful for my health and the health of my family, and how it allows us to live our lives to the fullest and the best they can be.

I am thankful for the love that surrounds me everywhere I look.

I am thankful to live in a country full of freedoms that I hope to never take for granted.

I am thankful for all of those who have ever fought for me to have these blessings, and more so to those who have died in the process.

I am thankful to be the daughter of a God who loves me very much, and who forgives.

I am thankful for the many possibilities that exist for my future, and for the freedom and drive to pursue them.

I am thankful for every book that has ever let me slip out of this world and into another one.

I am thankful for the power I have to defeat my anxiety.

I am thankful that I am strong enough to get through hardship.

I am thankful for everything in my life, the good, bad, and ugly, because I know that if I wasn’t made up equally of hardships and happiness, I wouldn’t be who I am. I am thankful to be here every day.

Stay safe and have a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Blessings, friends.

Olivia

“you’re alive.

that means you have infinite potential.

you can do anything. make anything.

dream anything.

if you change the world, the world will change.”

Neil Gaiman

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Book Review- Palace of Stone

Palace of Stone and Princess Academy are both full of little things that steal my heart, every time I read them. Like the little poems at the beginning of each chapter, or how beautiful the linder on their mountain is, the quarry-speech, the Miri-flowers, Pa, the goats, everything. And I love books like that. I still take these off my shelf when I’m sad and disappear inside them for a while.

This book is the sequel to one of my favorite books ever- The Princess Academy. I was positive that world was over forever, and then this story came out of the cracks and made me very happy. It didn’t feel unnecessary, or annoying, as some unexpected sequels do. It was more of what I loved when I was a kid, all these years later.

I won’t talk much about the specific plot, because it heavily relies on you having read the first (amazing) book. But let me just say, this book really was frosting on an already amazing cake. One of my favorite books and most prized possessions, Princess Academy is a must read for people of all ages! But I especially recommend it for young-ish/old-ish girls unsure of how they fit in the world or feeling hopeless. You’ll want to pass this one on to your grandchildren, I promise.

Here’s two little poems from the beginning of chapters. This one is one of my favorites.

“No small thing, a bee’s sting

When it enters the heart

Not so benign, the growing vine

When it tears a stone apart”

That’s the kind of stuff that I can’t help but recite under my breath sometimes. (I’m really bookish, I realize that, but no shame in liking poetry)

Hope your day is lovely like the open sky! 🙂

Olivia

“Open sky, cat’s eye

Honey drop, treetop

Flag stripe, plum ripe

Pipe smoke, ancient oak

Pine knot, moon shot

Rose bed, raven’s head”

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YALLFest Recap!

YALLFest haiku. (with pictures)

YALLFest was so amazing

full of books, pie, and

even extreme fangirling.

*bows* I know, I know. Beautiful. Here are some pictures I took of authors and cool stuff on the trip! (not of general Charleston, though, that’s a seperate post. I took way too many pictures to include them all at once.)

The picture is pretty blurry on this one, but you get the idea! (P.S.- Blue Bicycle Books, that bookshop, is really cool. I want one in NC!)

I was one of the first ones to meet Holly Black! She was really sweet and her energy was contagious. I haven’t started White Cat yet, but I’m excited to!

This is a really blurry picture of Stephanie Perkins! I was a bit sad after that, because even though I had been in line for quite some time, the YALLFest people were worried she wouldn’t have time for everyone, so they set up a little assembly line as seen above. Stephanie didn’t have time for personalization by the time I got to her, but that’s alright. I’m hoping to go to one of her signings in Asheville next year, and I’ll get it personalized there. 🙂

 

David Levithan! He was super nice, and in my book (a copy of Every Day) he wrote “To Olivia, Live Every Day in Wonder” and then signed his name. I understand he signed the same thing for a lot of people, but it is still really awesome. (BTW, I read Every Day on the way back, and holy shizballs was it amazing! The best book I’ve read in a really, really long time. Review soon!)

Diana Peterfreund! (For Darkness Shows the Stars. Review here.)

Gayle Forman! (If I Stay series. Still have to read this one.)

Really blurry, but Kami Garcia (left) and Margaret Stohl (right) (Beautiful Creatures series, also have to read this one)

Wendy Maas. (Every Soul a Star, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, A Mango-Shaped Space, and others) The only one of those three I haven’t read is Every Soul a Star. I actually got to talk to her, which was nice! I told her that I wrote a paper on synesthesia last year, and that I thought A Mango-Shaped Space did a beautiful job with synesthesia. She was insanely nice!

My mom took this picture of me while we were waiting in the line for David Levithan. I look mostly just tired, but behind that teeny smile I’m fangirling like crazy.

And one last thing….

THE PIE. Oh, the pie. It was so delicious.

Have a great day, y’all! 😉 I’ll have a post of general Charleston trip up for you tomorrow or maybe Tuesday. I would say Monday, but I have a bajillion things on the agenda for then, so I’ll probably just schedule a post. I’m hoping to get back to my usual post schedule, at least once or twice a week, but we’ll see!

Olivia

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Book Review- For Darkness Shows The Stars

What an absolutely gorgeous cover, am I right? It is absolutely perfect for the book, I don’t think it could be improved upon at all! For Darkness Shows the Stars is a post-apocalyptic retelling of Austen’s Persuasion. Having not read Persuasion, I can’t vouch for its accuracy. But as reluctant as I am to read retellings of books where I haven’t read the original, this was very worth it and did not disappoint.

Generations ago, genetic experiments caused most of the population to be Reduced. The only ones who escape call for drastic measures- which means banning most technology, bright fabrics, machinery, anything remotely new- and begin to call themselves Luddites.

Elliot North took charge of her family’s estate at a young age- what else could she do? Her mother died, her father is a useless, money spending lump, and her older sister is too busy flirting with the neighbors. For years she manages the estate and pushes away the heartbreak that started when her mother died and continued afterwards when her best friend and childhood love, Kai, left with no warning. Elliot is eighteen now, and preoccupied with managing the plantation and her secret, illegal genetic modification of wheat, with no time for love. Until Captain Malakai Wentforth shows up on her doorstep.

“Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society… or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.”

(that last bit was from the Goodreads summary. I’m having some trouble lately with writing summaries for these books- they’re so abstract and hard for me to summarize.  I’m considering converting entirely to GR summaries. Let me know what you think in the comments! :))

This book was amazing. The kind of book that you hug to your chest after you finish reading, the kind where the ending replays itself on a loop like an endless happy mix tape in your head. (did I really just reference a mix tape? Whoa.)

Let’s talk about the writing style for a moment. I enjoyed it a lot (and that’s huge, because writing style is big for me. I LOVE flowery prose) and it definitely fit with the fact that it was a retelling. I’m not saying that retellings always have to imitate the style of their originals, but I enjoy it when they do. The prose was very Jane Austen-esque and I absolutely loved it.

Elliot was great. I appreciate heriones like this, not necessarily overthrowing the regime with brute strength, but with their cunning wit and curiosity. Kai is perfect for her, it’s obvious from the beginning, but the finale is well worth waiting the whole novel for them to kiss already. (I sound like SUCH a teenage girl. But still.)

The world building obviously took second place to the romance, but that was something I wasn’t bothered by. It was clear enough that I wasn’t worried about the details. It wasn’t fuzzy, or confusing, it just wasn’t overly detailed, and there is nothing wrong with that.

I even got attached to the minor characters, especially Ro. She was so innocent and cute, yet brilliant in her own way. She was the character that really made me understand the Reduced, and connect with them. Without her, I might have been more annoyed by the whole “Reduced are servants” thing. I know, this book has servants in it. But they aren’t mistreated- they’re people who don’t have full mental capacity and literally can’t survive on their own. I believe the plantation owners take them in out of compassion, not want for laborers.

This is a must-read for fans of romance, especially anyone who loves Jane Austen!

Happy Reading, y’all!

Olivia

P.S.- I met Diana at YALLFest (post on that very soon) and she was super sweet! She also told me there is a companion to this book coming out sometime next year or the year after (don’t remember) and I’m EXCITED.

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An Unashamed Tortoise: Why ‘Slow’ Doesn’t Equal Failure

I am pretty sure I haven’t mentioned this in recent posts, but I am attempting NaNoWriMo this month. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Each November a huge group of writers and hopeful-writers gather and rather crazily attempt to write 50,000 word novels in that month, or roughly 1,667 words a day. Despite being swamped as always, I wanted to tackle this this month. I planned to use this to finish my already in-progress novel.

Rewind to yesterday afternoon and picture me, staring at a blank Scrivener doc, feeling utterly useless. Why won’t the words come out? Why can’t I write a thousand words easily like ‘everyone else’? How will I ever be an author if I can’t write as fast I should? I stink.

At about 6 o’clock last night, after spending precious hours agonizing over the few hundred words I managed to write, I tweeted something along the lines of:
“This is ridiculous. I’m sorry, but I just can’t write this many words in a day. I don’t think I can do NaNo.”

In response, I got about 5 people telling me to keep trying, to let go of my Inner Editor, all that sort of stuff. The people who told me this stuff meant it in a great and encouraging way, and they’re lovely for helping me that way. But it seemed to drive a wedge between me and seemingly the rest of the writing world. On one side is me, clinging to my triple digit word counts, and on the other is all of the others, the ones who succeed, the ones who can sometimes write 12,000 freaking words in a day. It’s pretty hard not to feel like a failure thinking of someone writing thousands of words a day while you’re still struggling.

But after quite a bit of introspection, I discovered what I knew all along. I’m not like that. I can’t write 1,667 words a day. I can’t write 1,000 words in a day, either, unless I’m feeling particularly inspired. And why should I be expected to? Why does this feel wrong, my inability to write thousands of words on whim? It’s just me.

Part of the reason I love to write so much is because I believe communication is beautiful. That it’s one of the greatest gifts we have as humanity, and writing allows me to speak to people without ever meeting them or actually saying a word. I am like this in person, too. Words are so, so powerful, so I take extra care to make sure the ones I write and the ones I say are empowering. This means, sometimes, that I am slow to speak. It also means that I can’t sit down and write randomly. I can’t write the first words that pop into my head, I have to think them through. Call that my Inner Editor if you’d like, but I call it me. It’s just who I am, someone who contemplates things.

People who can write thousands of words in a day are amazing, and in no way do I mean that they aren’t as good as me. Oh gosh, no. I hope you don’t get that idea.  I admire those people from the bottom of my heart. Their devotion to their stories is unbelievable, and their energy is contagious.

But I thought it would be nice to write a post about the other people, the ones who agonize over every word and come out immensely proud of that paragraph or even page. Remember that race between the super slow tortoise and the sprinting hare? The tortoise won. Why? Because the hare (NaNo-er)  got tired and had to take a nap (really long revisions) while the tortoise continued slowly walking by (with his measly word counts but very limited revisions) and won. But ‘winning’ isn’t really the point here. Both finish eventually, because each are totally legitamate ‘competitors’. To me, finishing in a month isn’t as important as finishing with a good product.

I’m still registered with NaNo, but I’m shrugging off the pressure. My daily goal is now 833 words a day, half of the NaNo goal, which is good for me. And I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise. We *technically* aren’t supposed to worry about word counts, anyway.

So there you have it, all. Remember that slow writing is never unequal to fast writing. Just write, okay? We shouldn’t really care that some people write slower than others. That’s all.

Love and writing luck to everyone!

Olivia

“After that, Hare always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”

~Aesop’s Fables, The Tortoise and the Hare

**EDIT: Thanks SO much to WordPress for making this a Featured Post, and to everyone finding my blog through that. I am appreciative of every single one of you- thank you for the encouragement, the stories, the NaNo discussion, everything! You make this even more joyful than it usually is. It’s a beautiful thing, when I write something I’m passionate about and people feel better about themselves after reading! I’m trying to respond to every comment, so keep ’em coming! 😉 Much love to all of you, Olivia.**

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