Saturday, December 30, 2017

Blogging and the Books in 2017

The year is now at an end! There are only two more days until January first, so here's an update on what I've done this year in the aspects of blogging and reading.

Including this post, I've written 101 posts this year!

Courtesy of Giphy

Woo-hoo! I have met my unofficial goal of 100 posts, doubling the amount of posts I've written compared to 2015 and tripling the amount of posts I'd written in 2016!

I know, I'm literally so awesome.
Courtesy of Giphy

I also chose a new template for this blog, and started adding blockquotes. I'm thinking of uploading my new book reviews onto Goodreads in 2018, which I've already done to most of my book reviews.

In addition, I managed to read some great books this year. I read about 85 books in total (I kept track of 77 of them, but I haven't written down the last few ones so 85 is my estimate), averaging about 7.1 books per month, or 1.6 books per week. I suppose that's fine, but I want to read a bit more next year.

I did manage to keep my reading journal from February through November, which I think is a pretty good accomplishment. I'll be using it again in 2018, and it's likely going to look pretty similar (aesthetically speaking).

Here's a list of some of the books I read this year that I enjoyed. If you haven't read any of these, don't worry! It isn't too late to read a good novel, as someone famous once said.

"It isn't too late to read a good novel"-Me

The links lead to my reviews, if applicable.

A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
Spy Ski School and the rest of the Spy School Series by Stuart Gibbs
Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Frazzled by Booki Vivat
Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson
Revolution is Not A Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
Only the Good Spy Young and the rest of the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall
Real Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, colored by Jane Poole
Can You Spell Revolution? by Matt Beam
Lemons by Melissa Savage
The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

I also finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (I might have a couple of pages left, but I'm 90% sure I'm done...either way I'll aim to finish it by January first).

I think 2017 was a pretty great year. I started writing books down for my to-read list, got more page views, posted more often than previous years, and had a lot of fun.

A shout out and thank you to all of my followers! I appreciate every single person who reads my blog deeply! Y'all are the best audience a not-a-prima-donna-girl could want!

How was 2017 for you?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Christmas Wishlist for 2017

I actually had misplaced my reading journal, which had all of my to-reads. Luckily, just in time, I found it yesterday, so here are some books on my wishlist (which I know is a bit late since Christmas is in two days, but maybe I can just get them later? Santa's supposed to be really nice... :)).
All covers courtesy of Goodreads.

1. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

2. Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
(I actually thought this title was Piercing Me Together when I first saw it...which sounded very painful! Oops!)

3. The Shamer's Daughter by Lene Kaaberbol

4. Fallout by Todd Strasser

Other than books, I don't really want anything else but some more polymer clay. Perhaps a cute plushie or two would be nice. Also, I need to drink hot chocolate and bake gingerbread cookies! Yummy!
What are your plans for Christmas? What are some items on your wishlist? Any Christmas traditions? Tell me below!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Polymer Clay Wonder Woman

In honor of the movie that recently came out ( maybe it's not that recent), I modeled Wonder Woman out of polymer clay! This time, I'm even providing a tutorial! Yay!
Get your polymer clay ready!

You will need:
  • White (optional) and yellow, red, bue, and skin colors of polymer clay
  • Tools (a plastic knife is fine, and a rolling tool helps as well)
Take some of the skin color clay and flatten it out into a circle as shown below for Wonder Woman's head.

  Roll some red polymer clay into a cone for WW's top. Stick a toothpick through one side of the head, making sure it doesn't come out through the other end. Then, slide the cone up to the head.
Is it a kebab? Not really!
Roll out some blue into a rectangle that is fairly thin for the skirt. There is an example below, but I didn't use this exact one. Make the rectangle fairly large, definitely large enough to wrap around WW's top a few times.
Fold the longer side of the rectangle accordion-style. Do not do anything with the other three sides. The skirt will flare out automatically if it is folded right. This may take a few tries, and you might need to change the dimensions of the rectangle used and go back to the previous step. Take your time on this step so the skirt looks nice :) !
Attach the skirt onto Wonder Woman by pressing its edges onto the top. (The picture below already has arms, but the making of those is demonstrated in then next step.)
Now, you can make the arms and legs. For the arms, take two pieces like shown below, roll them into cones with a large heights and small bases, curve them slightly, then stick them on. Refer to the picture above to see how they look.
For the legs, take another piece like below (but slightly larger). Wrap some red clay around the tips, with a yellow stripe going up the middle of them (or use a white stripe, but I ran out of white clay and made due with yellow).
Your Wonder Woman should look like this now:
Bold and beautiful :)
  Now, there's the hard part: the hair! You can do any style you like. I was trying to make curls, but since I'm not so experienced with hair yet, they didn't turn out that way. To make curly (but primarily wavy) hair like I did, take strips of brown and lightly wear your plastic knife down, being careful not to cut through them. Then, twist the ends of the strips. Before attaching them on one by one, take some clay and add it to the back of her head in a dome shape for depth.
Also, I added a yellow collar between her head and top. Just roll out yellow clay into a noodle-like shape and wrap it around WW's top.

  To make the cape, take a large piece of red clay, roll it out so it is quite thin, then cut it out into a trapezoid shape. Attach it to her shoulders.

To make the "W" on the back of her cape, flatten out an oval of yellow clay a bit and make some cuts for the letter.
Can you find the "W" among all of these lines?
Pop it out and cut three lines through the sides of the letter.
Attach it onto the back of her cape. 
  Make her shield by taking flat circles of red, yellow, and blue (largest to smallest, respectively) and stacking them together. Make another "W" with the steps above to attach them onto the shield.

Now you're done! 
  I have made this project using some techniques (such as the skirt folding) I've learned during this tutorial I before mentioned for making Hermione Granger. I am also providing the link for the image that inspired me to create the shield of this craft (the image was actually two earrings).
For the inspiration of shields
I know I've made the skirt a bit long in comparison to how it really is on Wonder Woman, and other small parts may not be as accurate, either (she went from having black hair to brown because I also have no black clay at the moment). However, I think she turned out quite well! The Harry Potter gang and Belle can welcome another friend now :).
Have you created any Marvel or DC Superheros out of clay? What about with other mediums? Tell me below!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

New Polymer Clay Dragon

I am pleased to welcome my second dragon creation to my collection!

Isn't she beautiful?

It took me a few hours to make her, but this was primarily due to the fact that I was short of clay and was mixing different colors for so long, and that it was late at night when I started. The designs of both dragons are very similar, but I decided to change where I put more detail for the second dragon. I'll need to bake both of them now...

Stay tuned for a tutorial for a different polymer clay craft, coming soon!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Book Review: Ungifted by Gordan Korman

The bad news is, I haven't posted in about 3 weeks.
The good news is, you have a post right now to read! Check out the review of Ungifted, by Gordan Korman, below!
By Gordan Korman
Cover Courtesy of Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: The word gifted has never been applied to a kid like Donovan Curtis. It's usually more like Don't try this at home. So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he's finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix-up by one of the administrators, instead of getting in trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction (ASD), a special program for gifted and talented students.

It wasn't exactly what Donovan had intended, but there couldn't be a more perfect hideout for someone like him. That is, if he can manage to fool people whose IQs are above genius level. And that becomes harder and harder as the students and teachers of ASD grow to realize that Donovan may not be good at math or science (or just about anything). But after an ongoing experiment with a live human (sister), an unforgettably dramatic middle-school dance, and the most astonishing come-from-behind robot victory ever, Donovan shows that his gifts might be exactly what the ASD students never knew they needed.

My Review: I''ve been meaning to read this book since a few years ago, and I'm happy I finally got around to it during the break. I think the most striking things about this book is the diversity of characters and their relationships. Donovan is a pretty strong protagonist, and actually seems to be the best described risk-taking character I've ever read about! His impulsiveness is explained as if it just exists! He wants to be reckless just because, and in my opinion, there's no other way to explain that. I think some authors put in a background story sometimes to explain why the character is like who they are, but I love the fact that Donovan's character is the way it is because that's just who he is! No one explains why some characters are nice, so why should an author dive into depth why someone is reckless?
The author also does a good job with the characters, especially the characters from the ASD, who undergo a large amount of character development. The plot is also engaging, and it moves forward at a comfortable pace.
There were a few complaints I have with this book. I don't understand Noah at all, and why he is trying to fail out of school and try to end up in a place that would be even less stimulating to him. It makes me wonder why his parents didn't enroll him in a school that was even more challenging to his mind. I also thought Katie's POV sounds like she was 14, not 26. The language she uses did not reflect her age well. In addition, I don't feel very convinced Donovan impacts the school very much. Though he made his peers feel more like people with actual lives, I need more proof that he was important to them. I simply don't buy that he changes their lives. I also don't understand why Donovan chooses to be friends with the Daniels, who may be nice occasionally, but get Donovan in trouble quite often.
Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars. It's an enjoyable read!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Wrap-Up of the Month

Since I didn't get to blog much this month, I've decided to post a wrap-up of things that happened in October. I think that I will have to cut down the blogging to once a week, though, because I want to post posts other than book reviews and need some time to come up with them.

So on the buying side, I bought a book!
Which is news because I usually don't buy books. They are rare and beautiful and NO you cannot borrow them. Sorry, but I am very protective. :)

I have also discovered a squishy cat (which I ordered last month, but I never pointed it out here like I wanted, so here you go). See two of the pictures above, where it is center stage. Also, here is the link if you are considering purchasing one (It's very adorable. And also squishy.)

On the Halloween Side, I dressed up... Cameron Anne Morgan! In case you do not know who she is (see my book review), she is a super awesome spy-in-training from the Gallagher Academy For Exceptional Young Women. For this costume, I decided to wear a casual blazer, white shirt, stockings, and a black and white skirt. I really wanted a pin on my shirt to explicitly state that I was from the Gallagher Academy, but the only pin I had was for Disney Princesses, which I decided to avoid for the time being.

On the reading side, I read about five books!
Hopefully, November will be a better month. Though I'm not sure, because NaNoWriMo is here and I don't have an idea yet...

So what have you been up to this month? What did you dress up as for Halloween? Have you read as much as you've liked? Has October been busy or relaxing? Tell me below!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Silver Mask Book Review (Majorly Excited!!!)

Cover Courtesy of Goodreads

The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Goodreads Synopsis: A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn't succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt. Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to-and how he lives on. But Call has no idea. It is only when he's broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine's plan is suddenly in his hands . . . and he must decide what to do with his power. In this spellbinding fourth book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take us beyond the realm of the living and into the dangers of the dead.

My Review: After a year of waiting, I can finally express my views on this book. Which, if I'm being completely honest, weren't that the book was perfect.
The story was very fast-paced. The authors crammed a lot into a short book, and I really would have appreciated a proper timeline, even if the book ended up being longer. Everything was also not very believable. Call managed to do something in one night that he'd been trying to practice for much longer (and failing). It just wasn't logical, and that has nothing to do with magic. The character's views towards one another were also confusing. I can't reveal anything else about this, but I didn't understand how and why a lot of things had changed since the end of the events of The Bronze Key (like Alex). Finally, the writing style seemed different, and there seemed to be a few grammatical errors (though I'd have to check on that again). Nothing majorly wrong, though, but a few errors irked me. I also thought that the some slang ruined the scenes a bit. I suppose that's why authors don't use those types of phrases that often.

However, though I didn't like it that much after finishing it, it left a hangover on me. I think overall it was a pretty good almost-end (although I'm not sure how the authors will finish off the series, because it seemed a bit like this should be the conclusion without the cliffhangers at the end). I did like some of the character development, that Call gets a bit more confident in himself, and how important friendship is in this story. There were some annoying scenes, but it wasn't half bad. I'd say I liked it almost least of the whole series, but I'd still give it 4 stars. Now is just the wait for the rest of the year for the conclusion...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Updates (The Best Kind)

Today's post is short. It will also probably sound like some sort of advertisement, but I'm not being paid for this.

Spy School Secret Service and The Silver Mask both came out on October 10th!

Courtesy of Giphy
On the outside...
Courtesy of Giphy
Except I'm not horrified, I'm delighted :) :) :)
Courtesy of Giphy
My reaction on the inside in one picture.

I want to at least buy The Silver Mask for myself. I need it on my shelf next to the first two books (I didn't buy The Bronze Key).

Do you know any books that came out/are coming out soon on your TBR list? Have you read any of the Spy School books or Magisterium series? Tell me below!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Food to Eat When Reading

We all like to read (of course) and we all like to eat. However, there are some snacks that can totally damage a book's papers and some that spread oil everywhere. So here are some DO and DON'T foods to eat while lounging with your favorite paperback (or hardcover...or audio book...or ebook).

Don't eat these foods when reading!

Popcorn puts so many stains on the pages, but you can eat it if you leave one hand free to turn them.

Dressing spills, okay? Unless you're one of those people who can eat a salad without dressing, then don't even bother.

I know how tempting it is to break out the M&Ms while reading about candy in books, but just skip out on this one. Most candy is sticky or it leaves stains on your hands. You could try a chocolate bar, though.

Soup can also spill if you're not careful (which you most likely won't be when paying attention to the book).

I'm not really sure how you'd read in the first place while trying to balance your cookies and milk while reading, but even if you could, don't. If this spills, you're in trouble! Also, I think this snack requires your full attention so your cookies don't drown in the milk while you're not looking.

You can eat these instead!

Pretzels, Various Nuts aren't super greasy, so they'll most likely leave your book intact.

If Rice and Chicken/Vegetables/etc. (basically any meal you don't need hands to eat) is your dinner, then you're probably safe reading while eating it. There isn't too much liquid in this, and you don't need to look back and forth between your plate and your book.

A Granola Bar is one of the best options, if you can read one-handed while holding the granola bar in your other hand. It most likely won't break and fall off, and even if it does, it won't make a big a mess as say, candy.

Cake (with a fork) would probably be okay to eat while reading because it doesn't take too long to cut a piece of cake and eat it, and you wouldn't lose your concentration on the story. Also, cake is yummy!

Do you eat while reading? What snacks do you like to munch on? Tell me below!

P.S. Do you like the blockquotes? I'm thinking of using them in book reviews, which is what my surprise was going to be (I know they're not the most fun surprise, but I really like them :)).

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Tip for Staying Warmer

I haven't posted in almost two weeks, so here's a quickie before I schedule some posts soon.

DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT OKAY?!! I'LL GET IT TOGETHER SOON. Because I was totally on task this summer and scheduled 5,000+ posts like I had planned.

Anyways, since it's been getting colder lately, here's a tip for staying warm.

1. Go to Costco. If you don't know where that is (because, I know, I'm an international sensation and have many followers who just don't want to click the button on the right, though I'm not sure why...), it's this big store that gives out yummy samples if you're lucky.

2. Step into the Costco section where they keep all of the vegetables, etc. In other words, it's that FREEZING COLD ROOM that will keep you SHIVERING but you should be fine if you're only in there for 30 seconds.

3. Step out. You will feel a blast of warm air, which is really just the rest of Costco. This isn't even an exaggeration!

I hope you don't take this too seriously, just for your own health. Alternatively, you could do this with any other store with a frrrreeeezzzing area, but Costco's usually the coldest, as far as I can tell.

Do you have any "tips" for staying warm? Or any stories about trying to keep warm (but miserably failing)? Share in the comments!

Friday, September 22, 2017

What Makes Me Smile

I have been told I am somewhat of an optimist.

My friend says I'm always happy all the time, which is sort of true. Well, no one's really happy all the time, but I try to always stay positive and see the bright side of things. It's way better to be an optimist than a pessimist, something I'm trying to convince my other friend of, but she isn't having it. We're kind of in the middle of a challenge; I'm trying to turn her into an optimist (not working. HELP.) and she's trying to turn me into a pessimist (If she's reading this, tell her my mind will not be contaminated). So far, I have no idea whatsoever who's winning but it's probably not me.

My friend is very insistent. It's one of the best qualities about her, though :).

Anyways, today I'm making a list of what makes me smile. Simple things, complicated things, but mostly simple things. I've never really thought too much about this before, so this list is on a whim. Get ready to discover slightly strange things that make me happy.

Put on your smiley face. Not that squiggle, the other one.

1. First off, I have to say I like clear things. I'm not sure why, but I love anything translucent, like clear tape (It's so pretty!) and clear glue in the bottle. I especially love double-sided tape, because it's honestly so cool. I know you all totally agree with me, so here's something else I know you'll like:

Raindrop cakes.
Cue the spotlight. Play the dramatic music. These are real! Now go Google them if you value YOUR LOVE OF ALL CLEAR THINGS!!!!
I'm serious by the way. I will wait here while you quickly look them up.

Is your mind blown yet? Aren't they amazing? I was just like you when I heard of them. I need agar agar now. And a five star chef to cook the cake for me because I will probably end up burning it in the refrigerator. Seriously, though, if you ever get the chance to eat these beautiful desserts then tell me all about them.

2. Besides clear things, I like squishy things. Not really stress balls, but slime and eraser putty and polymer clay. Although that last one takes a toll on my fingers because polymer clay may take a while to soften.

3. I also like pretty writing and fonts. My goal over the summer was actually to learn calligraphy, but that didn't really work out. (Another summer goal was to schedule five bazillion blog posts, but we all know how that turned out).

4. Cartoons are another one of my favorites. Cute, simple people lead cute, simple lives and manage to go to bed at 8:00 PM. Then there's real life with no bedtime and work.

5. Boba. Squishy, yummy boba. I crave these tapioca pearls.

Those are some things that make me happy, simply stated. What makes you happy? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Oh, and what do you think of the new look of this blog? I think it suits my style better. Tell me below!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

How I Keep Track of Books

This post covers how I keep track of all of my bookish data.
You know, to-reads, what I read this year, Goodreads challenges, etc. etc. How am I so awesome that I can keep track of all of these books by myself?
Well, what I can say is that I don't really use Goodreads for this. Goodreads is really nice and everything, but I always feel too lazy to keep uploading the books I've read. Plus, I can never remember to do so, and it gets hard to remember books I've read last week, let alone ones from last month. I really mainly use Goodreads to look for to-reads, which I then transfer over to the place where I actually track everything.

The secret is literally inside here.

Yes, I trust Mickey Mouse to keep all my secrets. Don't judge me.

I know you're probably like, "You're too lazy to click a button on Goodreads, but you have time to track every single title of books you read and want to read in your journal????"
To which I say, "Duh."
It makes complete sense to me, because I like to write down stuff. I know Goodreads works for most people, and I really like it, but it's just not convenient for me right now. If you like it, go ahead and keep using it! I'm just posting about what I like to do.
This journal is basically a bullet journal for reading. If you don't know what that is, I suggest you Google it, because they're pretty cool.

So here's what I have in my reading journal:

I also have some stuff for writing in there, but it's mainly for reading. I try to update my journal as often as possible so that I don't have to sit down for an hour to do so.

How do you keep track of books you've read? Books you want to read? Do you use Goodreads? Tell me all about it below!

Oh yes, and disclaimers: I'm going to be really, really busy this week, so I apologize in advance for not posting consistently! I hope to be back in schedule by next week, but there might be a gap of posts after this one! It just depends on how much I have to do.
Also, I am experimenting with my fonts right now to try to find the best one. You've probably noticed this irregularity, and I'm hoping to narrow the best one down soon.
Lastly, I have a surprise for the next book review! It will make them look a bit prettier, I hope :).

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