Wednesday, October 17, 2012

School Lunch

So it's been forever. And my "new" blog failed. I posted on it, like, once. Maybe. But, here's a bit of my writing. I'm rewriting Finding Before-Mike and  this is a writing exercise. Heather (the main character) is talking about lunch. This is zero editing, just writing. Like the old writing samples I used to post. Enjoy!

                I had learned early on that buying a school lunch was all sorts of sketch. Half the time, I wasn’t even sure it was real food they were offering.  It was safer to just bring your own. But you couldn’t have anything weird if you wanted to sit with the popular crowd. It was best to bring simple, stylish foods: some vanilla Greek yogurt, carrot sticks, and maybe a single can of soda. Healthy, but not excessively so. The girls who only nibbled on a single piece of celery were definitely whispered about behind their backs. But you didn’t want to eat like the band geeks – pizza and chips – or the Mormons – jello and leftover potatoes.
                Since I wanted to fit in with the popular kids, I tried to have the right lunch. I usually brought some sort of fruit – nothing weird like a pomegranate or grapefruit, just simple fruits like an apple or a bunch of grapes. I liked a good ham sandwich, nothing too excessive or smelly, just some whole-grain bread (trendy because of its health benefits), two to three slices of ham (more makes your sandwich hard to handle), a little bit of mayo (not enough to see from the outside of the sandwich, no one wants to see goop on your crusts), some lettuce and tomatoes (must be fresh), and a thin slice of cheese (preferably cheddar because it tastes good but isn’t too strong). And it all must fit comfortably in a Ziplock bag. If your sandwich makes a mess as you pull it out of the bag, you’re doing it wrong. I’d bring a protein bar but that had to be eaten carefully in broken-off-under-the-table pieces. Taking a chomp out of a protein bar in plain sight is not okay. And my water bottle was always right there, next to my arm. But not a pre-packaged, plastic bottle, I was a swimmer after all. It was a chic, light blue metal one with a screw-on cap and a breast cancer awareness sticker on the side.
 I worked hard on these lunches and learned the hard way a few times, like the time my banana broke and fell on my lap and I had banana goop on my pants for the rest of the day. Or when my can of grape juice spilled all over the table and stained Julie’s notebook. You can’t overdo it with anything, or you’re on your way out of the popular section of the cafeteria and into the awkward sidelines of tuna fish and kiwi.

My water bottle was really the best part about my lunch. It was metal because someone, somewhere decided that plastic reusable water bottles gave you cancer. But really, I think he’s just the one who invented metal water bottles and wanted a mad rush of consumers. But anyways, it was cool.  I picked it out of a big selection at a sports store. I chose blue because pink was too girly and the red was too bold. Pale blue was the way to go. All the blues were good, but the pale blue was more feminine, but not as drastic as the pink. And if you’re going to carry your water bottle everywhere, you don’t want the part your mouth goes on exposed. That is just gross for everyone.  So I got the kind with a screw-on lid, it keeps the rim clean and it’s spill resistant. And then there’s the breast cancer awareness sticker. You know the kind, the pink, looped ribbon one. That sticker showed I was trendy. I was supporting those in need, but not overdoing it like the girls who started a “save the whales” campaign last year. (They got ousted to the tuna-zone.) I had done really well with that water bottle. It said I was cool, sporty, and approachable. And it fit in the side pocket of my backpack. You don’t want to be the kid carrying their water bottle in their hands; hands should always be available for hugging girlfriends you haven’t seen in a while or catching a rogue Frisbee or football. But you don’t want your water bottle clanking around inside your bag because that causes too much sloshing and sounds strange as you walk down the hall. The side pocket is the way to go. Safe, but also shows off your coolness. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Blog

I've started a new blog solely for book purposes. This blog will become more personal, funny, etc. My new blog is called From Austen to Rowling. Clever, huh? I thought so. You can visit it here. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Jennifer Nielsen was invited to the Provo City Library to discuss/promote her new book, The False Prince. My fellow author friend and I went even though we had not read her book yet. We weren't sure if we would purchase the book while there, because, let's face it, even though we want to buy all the books in the world, we cannot afford to buy all the books. Sigh. BUT, we were so incredibly impressed with Nielsen that we decided to buy her book. (And we ended up getting the best price for a hard-back copy that we have seen so far! Woot!) So I bought it, she signed it, and I went home happy, but a little concerned about spending money I shouldn't have.

It was so worth it.

Nielsen's novel is amazing. I was so impressed. It was captivating, exciting, dramatic, funny, clever, and really entertaining. For me it was a really quick read. It's completely clean and the way she handles that was impressive. Instead of actually having her characters swear, she has them do things like "mutter a stream of curses" or phrases like that. It's a clever way to show how upset characters are without making the book vulgar. I really appreciated that.

The novel is about a orphan boy named Sage who gets bought by Conner the nobleman for a treasonous plan. Conner wants one of the orphan boys he picked to become a false prince - to come back and claim to be Prince Jaron who has been lost for four years. Sage doesn't like the plan. He doesn't like the idea of living a lie for the rest of his life and he knows the consequences if Conner and the new prince are found out. But he also knows that Conner will kill the boys not chosen, so that they can never become the snitch who reveals the truth. Sage's main goal is to just keep himself alive.

I very highly recommend this book. I'm pretty sure you'll love it. More books are to follow The False Prince and I can hardly wait.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

So I'm not a huge games fan. Every Sunday evening my friends get together to play games. I go because I dislike being left out of things (who doesn't?). For the first half, we play ultimate Uno, and I love that and it's a lot of fun. But then they want to play games like Hearts and Scum, which I am no good at and don't really enjoy. So one Sunday when these dull games were being started, I picked up Howl's Moving Castle from my friend's side table and decided to read that instead of playing games I don't like. It was great!

In the novel, Howl's castle does indeed move. Howl's fire demon, Calcifer is in charge of moving the castle abouyt the countryside. Sophie works in a hat shop, and one day the Witch of the Waste gets angry and makes Sophie old. Sophie trudges off, starting a new life, and ends up in Howl's castle. Howl and his apprentice, Michael, find her very annoying but she is a stubborn old woman and refuses to leave. So she cleans. She becomes friends with Calcifer, and learns some of Howl's secrets. Calcifer needs her help in breaking his contract with Howl, but first Sophie has to figure out what exactly the contract is. And then Howl is sent to find a prince, is being chased by the Witch of the Waste, and is courting Sophie's sister. Things get confusing for Sophie pretty fast, and on top of all that, Sophie would like to be herself again.

This book was not exactly fast-paced, but I did think it was exciting. Jones is a creative writer; I still don't completely understand all the magical secrets of Howl's castle. But this book was fun, and I think I will try some of Jones' other novels (she's published over 30 books!). You should try this one out.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review: The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

I've been hearing about the greatness of Brandon Mull for years. I've met him twice and he is really fun. And now I have FINALLY read one of his books.

The Candy Shop War was fantastic. Mull's books are for a middle school age audience, but they are entertaining for adults as well because he writes so well. The story was exciting, interesting, and unique. Magic is a main topic in many, many novels, but Mull found a way to use magic in a new way.

Mrs. White moves to town and opens a candy shop. Nate, Trevor, Summer, and Pigeon go to check it out and Mrs. White invites to be her helpers, in return for some magic candy. Soon, the kids find themselves jumping over creeks and getting sneaky revenge on the school bullies. But things get fishy when a stranger says that Mrs. White is dangerous and their parents stop paying any attention to their children. Nate, Trevor, Summer, and Pigeon have to figure out what Mrs. White is really up to, even if it means losing magic candy privileges.

With candy that can make you weightless, candy that lets you pass through mirrors, candy that lets animals talk, and many other kinds, Mull's book was creative and fun. This book was a lot more than I expected. I am very impressed with Mull's writing and I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I chopped my hair! It was already short to begin with, but this feels great! I had to share cuz I'm just loving life this week. Yesterday was my roommate's birthday and we had a blast making a goofy movie complete with prom dresses, slicked back hair, and a genie (me). And I saw Madagascar 3 yesterday (so funny - my favorite of the 3). And it's also MY birthday week! (It's on Sunday.) So getting my hair cut the way I've been wanting to for a while was basically sprinkles on my cupcake. Let me know what you think. :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I very, very highly recommend Graceling. It was fantastic! This was Cashore's debut novel, and I am looking forward to reading more of her work. Her writing is clear and impressive, and her ideas are astounding.

Katsa is Graced with killing. She is a superb fighter. She has never lost a fight, and she is so quick and forceful that the king uses her to bully the people who do not obey him. Katsa is sick of hurting people, but doesn't know how to change things since that is her Grace. Enter Po, one of the princes of Lienid. He is also Graced, but with fighting. He and Katsa start to train together, and Po gives Katsa some ideas about the way she can run her life that she had never thought possible. Katsa starts to see herself and her Grace differently.
Po and Katsa set out on a very intense adventure filled with danger, rescue, and excitement. They discover some horrible secrets and some helpful and enlightening ones about Graces. Their adventures take them all over the seven kingdoms, where Katsa sees the ocean for the first time.

This novel was exciting and intriguing. Cashore's ideas are unique and interesting. It was one of those books where you think about it all the time. I'm looking forward to reading the sequels - it's time for a trip to the library.

I'm still not sure how I feel about book trailers, but here's the one for Graceling.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Book Review: Tales of the Dragon's Bard: Eventide by Tracy and Laura Hickman

This book review is very exciting for me to write because (drum roll please) I got to read Eventide and write this review before the book was even out! I'm not positive on the exact release date, but it's sometime this month. I'm pretty excited about this one.

So Eventide started out slow for me. I had a hard time getting into it, and at first I blamed that on the reading level - it felt young. But as the story continued, I noticed that many of the sentences were beautifully crafted. The Hickman's word choice is original, and their sentences become creations. It was really impressive, so that made me want to bump up the reading level, and by that point, I was hooked on the book.

It was told in an interesting and unique fashion. The Dragon's Bard, Edvard, collects stories, so I was reading the individual stories but they all connected, influencing the ultimate story line of Jarod and his quest to win the heart of the beautiful Caprice. It was really well written. All the little stories were unique and fun.

I got to meet the Hickman's at the Provo City Library - they are super nice. Both of them have written other novels. You can learn more about them and their other books here. Tales of the Dragon's Bard is going to be a series, and the next book is in the works.

Try this book out - it was fun, clean, unique, and entertaining.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Reviews: I Am Number Four and The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

This is another one of those cases where I saw the movie first. I had no idea these were books, but they are really, really good.

Basically, there is a planet called Lorien and the (really awful) bad guys attacked it. To save their race, the Loriens send nine kids to earth along with their protectors. The nine are destined to return to Lorien and restart everything. But now the bad guys are on earth and hunting the kids. They must be killed in order, one to nine, which is a sort of protective charm. When we enter the story, One though Three have been killed and we follow the story of number Four as he discovers his really cool magical abilities and learns more about his past.
In the sequel, we continue to follow the intense stories of the Loriens that are still alive. Both books are really well written. They are captivating and exciting. I highly recommend them. For the most part they were clean. There is violence, but it wasn't overly graphic. Lore is a bit conceited (he names the planet and race after himself!) but it doesn't ruin the writing or the story. I you've seen the movie, READ THE BOOK! It's a million times better!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Review: Tankborn by Karen Sandler

This book was FANTASTIC. Ok, back story first.

It came out in September of 2011. Karen Sandler came to my publishing class in February of 2012. My very good friend won an ARC in a drawing of sorts that we did. She graciously let me read it first. I wasn't sure what to expect because it's pretty sci-fi, but it was SO good. I am very impressed with Sandler's work.

Sandler invented a planet called Loka where humans had to go when things got bad on earth (think Wall-e type situation). There was a specific class structure, but when that started to fall apart, people invented GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, to basically be the lowest class. They are treated almost as badly as slaves. Our heroine, Kayla, is a GEN. We follow her story as she gets her Assignment and is sent to work for a Trueborn family. She ends up getting involved in a definitely illegal scheme, but she's at the good end, of course (she IS the heroine). Her world ends up getting flipped all over the place, and all the things she believed in get all mixed up.

I was really impressed with Sandler's story. It was so creative and well thought out. She definitely created all aspects of Loka, not just the parts that applied to this story. I felt like she sped up too much once questions started being answered, but it was still well written. The genetic stuff got too complex for me, I think she should have dumbed it down just a bit more, but I still understood the story. I highly recommend this (clean) novel.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy International Harry Potter Day

Prime Minister David Cameron said,
“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Ms. Rowling’s work has had a huge and undeniable impact on the literary world as we know it. In order to fully commemorate and immortalize her work, we have to decided to officially declare May 2nd as an official international holiday, in honor of the date that protagonist Harry Potter conquered the main antagonist of the series, Lord Voldemort. We hope that children and adults alike will be reminded of Harry Potter’s strong and courageous character on this day, as well as of the true credit that Ms. Rowling has made to society.”

Finally. A day for Harry Potter lovers like me. I am wearing my Maurader's Map t-shirt. On the front it says "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good" and on the back it says "mischief managed." It was tricky deciding between my three HP shirts today. :) 

I have some chalk...maybe I'll write HP things on the sidewalks today...who knows? So many mischievous possibilities. Hopefully I'll watch at least one of the movies today and read some of the best parts of the books. My friend Ariel got to go to platform 9 3/4 - I wish I could be there TODAY. Or at Harry Potter world in Florida. Now that would be ideal.

Happy Harry Potter Day!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book Review: the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

We read The Hobbit in my English novel class this semester. I, sadly, have never read anything by Tolkien before. This book was a lot of fun.

It follows the adventures of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins as he travels with some dwarves in search of their old treasure that has been guarded by a dragon named Smaug for years. They encounter goblins, elves, eagles, wolves, giant spiders, and thanks to Bilbo's secret ring and the wizard Gandalf , most of them survive the journey.

The writing style is very much like storytelling. The narrator takes on this paternal tone and even intercedes with explanations to teach the reader. I thought that was unique and seemed to fit Tolkien really well. I do not think the novel would do so well if it was published today, though. We have too many faster-paced novels available now and taste has changed. I think people would find it juvenile.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was fun, well-written, and unique. Tolkien didn't steal ideas for his made-up worlds or his creatures - he is basically the first fantasy writer ever. Side track! I actually think J.K. Rowling was a big Tolkien fan. I have not looked into that at all, but she also uses crazy-powerful objects (the Deathly Hallows), she has giant spiders, she has a super powerful father-figure wizard, and the objects are what can be used to defeat the ultimate bad guy...and now I'm going into Lord of the Rings as well. I warned you about the side track.

Anyways, I really enjoyed The Hobbit and I highly recommend it. For my English novel class I had to make a blog about The Hobbit and Tolkien (with a classmate, not on my own). You can read more about these ideas and other more in-depth thoughts at that blog: Journeys with Tolkien.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Reviews: The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner

He's been on the New York Times YA best seller list...WHY? Dashner's books were juvenile, ridiculous, confusing, and way too violent. I'm sorry, YA readers, but I was not impressed by Dashner's trilogy, I was highly disappointed. I just now put down the third book, walked into my kitchen and told my roommate that this "may be the worst trilogy I have ever read." Harsh, I know, but that's how I felt.

First off, lots and lots of hype was made about these books. I was interested of course. The trilogy is yet another distopian one. The world is ending and in chaos and only a few can save it. Typical, yes. But, Dashner did get a good spin on it by not answering any questions until basically the epilogue. Actually, that's not a good spin, it's just frustrating to the reader to be 100% in the dark through the bitter end. I don't think Dashner himself knew the answers. Honestly, I'm still a bit confused on who's who and what's what.

The violence was a bit over the top in my opinion. I understand that it fit the story line really well and was actually realistic for the world-in-chaos idea, but this is YA fiction and I think Dashner went a bit too far. Too much killing, "blood spurting," things like that. It was gross. The only good thing was that he rushed through the intense and significant killings. Which is bad writing, but good to get through the violence. He rushed through the deaths of important characters so much that I didn't even feel anything at all. No sadness, no relief, no nothing. Looking back, I don't think I cared about any of these characters. ... Nope, I don't care about them at all. I have no way to connect to them because they can't even remember their lives before all the chaos. Lack of characters you can relate to = bad.

I'm sorry if you loved these books. I was not impressed. I thought they were badly written and I don't feel satisfied at all. The ending was frustrating, and not just because of who ends up with who. I almost feel like I, as a reader, was tricked. I also felt like Dashner was growing into writing as the books continued, but he's already written the entire 13th Reality series, so he should be better at writing than this trilogy was.

Again, I'm sorry if Dashner is your inspiration, but I cannot recommend these books. They were so disappointing and awful.

Hopefully the next book review I do will have a better response.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Too Busy for Life

I need a shirt that says that. Seriously, this is ridiculous. I'm sorry for the lack of posting and book reviews - school and work has me BUSY. But here are some book reviews you get to look forward to in the next 2ish weeks when things calm down:

The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I'll also write about (FINALLY) meeting Shannon Hale (!!!), bacon on desserts, some exciting book-related adventures I've been having (launch parties, meeting people, ect.), possibly some Native American Literature stuff, and maybe a few brief dramatic stories.

If you're in school, good luck with the rest of the semester! If you're not...I'm currently jealous.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: The Princess and the Snowbird by Mette Ivie Harrison

This is the third book in Mette's series. This one follows the story of the daughter of Richon and Chala as she follows in her father's footsteps to fight the magic-sucking forces in the world. Liva has a ton of magic - she can change into an form she wants, except a Snowbird, which is a little baffling to her. She meets Jens early on in the book and is surprised by his total lack of magic, but also his complete acceptance and love of all things magical. They stick together to fight against the Hunter, who wants to make all humans unmagical like himself.

I liked this book because Mette continued to have a wonderful tone, and the emotion she gets into her novels is pretty impressive. I think she rushed through some scenes that should have been drawn out a bit, but I highly recommend this (clean) novel.

Also, when I met her (!) she told me she has a fourth book for this series but it's only offered electronically. Hopefully I'll get a chance to read it...
Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One Day, I'll Tweet This

There was a writing symposium at UVU this past weekend. I was only able to go to some of the workshops on Thursday, but I loved every minute of it. I took one of my YA books, The Princess and the Hound, to get signed by the author, Mette Harrison. Since it was the actual book signing time, I only took that one instead of all three that I own by her. I went up to her after the Vampires are NOT Your Boyfriend panel, and with sweaty hands and a racing heart, I asked her to sign my book. She was very nice and wrote a cute little message. Day made.

But there's more! The next day, my beautiful roommate went to more When she went to get them signed Mette asked what name to put. My roommate explained that she was actually getting them signed for her roommate who had asked Mette to sign a book the day before. Well then Mette smiled and said something along the lines of, "Oh, I remember her. I Tweeted about her yesterday." So my fantastic roommate came home with my two other books signed, and found Mette's Tweet. She showed me when I got home and I was on cloud nine! I WAS TWEETED ABOUT BY AN AUTHOR! So incredibly cool. And, look! I have the proof! I am the woman mentioned in the first full Tweet on her feed.

Yeah, that's what's up. :D

Friday, February 10, 2012

Movie Sort-of Review: Breaking Dawn Part One

(I'm writing this as if my audience has already seen the movie.)

I finally went to see the new Twilight movie last night at the dollar theater. It was kind of what I expected: more mediocre acting, some good special effects wolf-wise, and a lot teenage angst. I feel like they could have easily made the last book into just one movie; splitting it into two just drug out the movie to the point where it felt tedious. I thought the flash-backs, dreams, and weird internal-transitioning parts were over-the-top and didn't fit too well. Bella's first dream, about the wedding, seemed a little too gory to me, especially for the target teenage girl audience.

The wolf story line was very well done. They way they do the wolves is spectacular, but this time around, I thought their canine teeth were too saber-tooth tiger - way too long for the size of their mouths. I love the fight scenes with the wolves. Even in human form, I thought they were fantastic. Leah did a great job, and Seth was darling. Jacob, of course, is always great. The log/coast bit was good but I think they tried to make Jacob's defying Sam part too dramatic and it ended up being confusing.

Bella spent too much time in too little clothing. Her wedding dress was not flattering. I was impressed with the way they made her look so sickly; she looked skeletal, and it was amazing. Her body popping back to health at the end was a little strange though. Poor Jasper only got one measly line, and Emmett Not sure how, but he looked different. I always love Charlie and I especially liked the bit in the Cullen's house when he noticed the graduation caps. That was a clever touch. Alice's hair (especially at the wedding) was my favorite. It was so classy.

Overall, it was okay. The movies are slowly improving, and I do like the special effects. I think that for this movie, it'd be better to read the book or the wolf story line, imprinting, and the maid's freak-out may be confusing. There was (finally) a fight scene in this movie, and that was exciting, even if it was brief. Hopefully the next movie will be the best.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Successful Stories

Lately I've been thinking a lot about creating success for yourself. One of my favorite Sarah Dessen quotes says, "Sometimes you have to manufacture your own history. Give fate a push, so to speak. You know?" I have that quote on my wall above my bed. In my Publishing Children's Literature class we've had a bunch of fantastic speakers come. This week we had five authors, all of which I love. The biggest thing I got from them was to persevere and stick with it. Even if books get rejected, keep trying. Be proud of finishing a novel even if it doesn't get published. Basically, they've been really motivating. And then this article showed up in our school paper and I was like, "Yay you guys!" They had a dream and they made it happen. So I'm going to start giving my fate a push and making things happen. There's a publishing fair on campus this week, wish me luck!

"Don't be scared to have a dream and go after it. The world has enough cowards."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Provo beats every other city in the country when it comes to service by 4.5%. That right there is a fact. I helped support this awesome statistic yesterday when I went to Provo's annual community service day in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. It was a huge event with hundreds of people. You could volunteer for whatever you wanted, and the choices were endless. You could participate in a blood drive, help clean and shelve library books, organize costumes at a local theater, dance with the elderly, write letters to soldiers, clean an animal shelter, build with Habitat for Humanity...the list goes on and on. Me and my group of friends decided to build and paint toys for underprivileged children.

There were lots of different choices. I built a steam roller, and so did most of my friends. K built a castle and it had a little working drawbridge!

It was a lot of fun! Plus it was service :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review: The Princess and The Bear by Mette Ivie Harrison

This is the sequel to The Princess and The Hound. It was fantastic. The story of the animal magic continues with the hound and the bear from the first book. They are sent - now in human form - back in time to fight the unmagic. The unmagic is basically death and destruction. It sucks out not only the magic, but the life of any living thing that it touches. The hound takes on the name Chala and the bear becomes King Richon again - a life he has not enjoyed for 200 years. Together they travel through his kingdom, seeing all the sorrow his lack of appropriate ruling has brought. And King Richon resolves to be a better person - a king his people can look up to.

Once again, Harrison succeeded in writing a beautiful novel. The magic is still a bit tricky to understand and sometimes I felt like she rushed through parts of the story and it made the scene hard to take in. It was 100% clean. I really enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Make Life Better

I so wish I could take credit for all of these wonderful things, but I can't. But I can share them with you. Please read this inspiring article. Every single one of these ideas applied to me in some way. I am going to try to work on all of them. I'll even post updates on how I do. See? Now I'm motivated. :)

READ: 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself or 30 Things to Make Your Life Better.

Good Luck!