Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I just realized that I still haven't done a Christmas post! So Merry Christmas, you guys, and here's a random post full of all things Christmas-y...
I love this Norman Rockwell picture.
I found this great holiday poem by William Wordsworth called Minstrels on this great site called Poem Hunter. (It's got all kinds of great poems.) I think that this one captured the holiday spirit wonderfully.
The minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green.

Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check, the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.

And who but listened?-till was paid
Respect to every inmate's claim,
The greeting given, the music played
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And 'Merry Christmas' wished to all. 
And speaking of music...
Here's one of my favorite Christmas carols, Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming. I believe that Bach arranged the harmonies, but I could be wrong. (-;

I love this rendition of Oh Holy Night by Kings College Choir. You should look up their other carols, They are incredibly talented!

And on a different note, here's a more modern A Capella group that I'm sure you've heard of. Pentatonix does a really cool version of Go Tell it on the Mountain.

And because I love Celtic Women... (Aren't the fiddle parts are incredible?)

I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music. I'm currently in love with Spotify,because I can make  playlists of favorite carols, and I'm currently working on a playlist for my book. It's been a lot of fun. 
   We decorated our house this month, and our big tree makes our living room feel so cozy! I've nearly finished all of my gifts for everybody, and I'm so glad to be done with the stress of finding the 'right' gift for each person! I'm not mentioning what any of them are, because all of my sisters follow my blog, and I wouldn't want to ruin any of their surprises. (-: I have a few days left to get all of my gifts ready because my family celebrates Christmas on the Julian Calendar like a lot of Eastern European countries. 
   I can't wait! I'm also really excited about the food. I live in a family of foodies, so every holiday is filled with culinary excellence. I'm particularly excited about cardamom bread that we make every year with a delicious Serbian cheese spread... Yummmmmm... I don't know exactly what else is on the menu, but I'm filled with anticipation just the same. (-: What holiday food are you looking forward to this year? Do you have any special holiday traditions?
Have a wonderful (rest of your) holiday, and Merry Christmas, and God bless us, every one! (This makes me think, I should read A Christmas Carol again...)

Joyeux Noel,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Books That Changed My Life 2014

 Yay!!! Finals are finished, and I really should have written a post earlier, but I was busy, ahem... reading. XD Judge me if you will, I had to wait a whole week to read some of the beautiful books I bought Black Friday shopping at Barnes and Nobles and I refused to be restrained any longer. So I read These Broken Stars and Cinder, and now Fahrenheit 451. (I found it in the for sale pile at our library and eagerly snatched it up) Let's just say, my brain has been overwhelmed with the awesomeness of all these books for the past couple of days, and I've hardly done anything besides surf the Internet, eat to much (especially sugar cookies), and read.  And speaking of reading, let's move onto the actual subject of the post shall we?

  I've read over 80 books this year. (I don't think I'm going to make it to my goodreads goal of 100, but that's okay) Perhaps saying that they changed my life is a little strong, but quite a few of those books made a strong impact on me. I doubt I'll have time to talk about all of them right now, but here are some of the best books I've read this year.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
   I got this amazing book for Christmas last year, and I already want to re-read it. For those of you who haven't read it or seen the movie, it is a touching story about a German girl during WWII who will do anything to get a book. The book is narrated by Death, (who is actually much less grim than you'd expect) as he goes about his duties. He sees Liesel often as he makes his rounds, and watches with interest as her love of books changes her life. Not too many books make me cry, but this one did.

Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
   I found Between Shades of Gray at the library after someone mentioned it being a very good book. I wasn't disappointed. It tells the story of a young Lithuanian artist, Lina, and her family when they are forced to leave their home and survive the terrible conditions of Soviet work camps. Despite the danger of being found out, she draws the story of their hardships, and buries it, in hopes that someday, someone will find it. It was also a tear-jerker, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.
   It wasn't until months later that an other blogger recommended Out of the Easy, yet an other great story. It's about Josie, a girl who wants to leave her past as the daughter of a prostitute behind in New Orleans and go to a prestigious women's college. She's practically lived and worked at a bookshop for half of her life and it's her dream to go to a prestigious college in the East, but she is caught between loyalties, and her decisions could change her life forever. It was a great book (though I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 13 for some topic matters). I may or may not have teared up... The characters were incredibly convincing and realistic.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

   This was definitely one of the longer reads this year. I read it over summer, and, wow, Charles Dickens incredible talent always gets me. His plots are always so complex and there are millions of important parts to the plot. But I can't tell you much, or I would ruin it for you. So, basically, it's about this poor orphaned girl (or young woman), Esther, who's fortune changes for the better when she is taken as a companion for two young people. She enters a world of unusual people, a never ending inheritance case, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and the mysterious Lady Dedlock. I'm not explaining it very well, but then how does one describe one of Dickens' intricate plots? Oh, I loved it, even though I got a little lost in places, but in the end, it was all very satisfying, but somewhat sad. 

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
   This summer I picked up The Giver at a bookstore in Portland, OR. I'd heard good things about it, and I had money to spend, so I though, why not? Probably one of my best buys on my entire trip. If you haven't heard about it, it's about this young boy, Jonas, who lives in a sort of Utopian community. Pain, love, war, in general, the real world, is unknown to them. One man, the Giver, has memory of such things, and Jonas is chosen by the community to know these things so they will not be entirely forgotten. Oh my gosh, guys! I had a hard time putting this book down. I can't tell you everything, because, spoilers, but it was amazing. There are so many things we take for granted in everyday life that didn't exist in Jonas' world. The ending is kind of a cliffhanger and left me watery-eyed. It's a beautiful book, and three other books are awesome as well. I was able to read them all this year, and you'll see how all of the characters' stories intertwine in the end. One thing though, don't read spoilers. Just read all of the books, and your questions will be answered, eventually. 

Divergent by Veronica Roth
   I decided to read Divergent this summer because I thought I should be more knowledgeable about YA literature. Yeah, I'm a few years behind track... Anyhow, I was expecting it to be too much like the Hunger Games, but I was pleasantly surprised. (It's not that I don't like the Hunger Games, it's just that I hate it when people copy each other too much.) Tris was a strong character, and I liked her ability to hang on despite being hated by so many people. I think I may have liked her a little better than Katniss.(!) The reason that I'm putting this on the 'Books That Changed My Life' list is because it kind of opened up a whole new world of teen fiction. After that I decided to expand more. I had thought that, The Hunger Games' excepted, I wouldn't really be a fan of futuristic novels. After reading this one, I decided to give a few others a chance, and I'm really enjoying them. They aren't always the best written, but they're interesting, exciting, and just fun to read in general. Anyhow, this book also had a sad ending and was a cliffhanger. If you love Dystopian teen fiction, then this is for you.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

   Let me collect my thoughts. Okay, first off, I didn't expect this book to be so amazing. So, it practically the story of the friendship of two young women during WWII. Verity, let's call her that for now, Verity has been captured by the Nazis after she and her friend (code name, Kittyhawk) crash-land in France on a mission trip. The book starts off with the line. "I am a coward." Yes, Verity is 'fessing up about their mission. However, there are some very incredible plot twists, and the ending crushed my heart like a grape. No, it doesn't end in any way that you expect, I'll just say that. And yes, there were some tears involved. The characters are incredible, and even when Verity was betraying her country, I felt empathy for her. This book is just, wow, just incredible. You must read it!!! 
Honorable Mentions
   I would also like to mention a few more awesome books that were highlights of my year. Okay, practically, I'm too lazy to write about all of their awesomeness, and it would be an incredibly long post if I did, so let me just say. These books were fantastic and beautiful and and interesting and (insert several other positive adjectives.) Just add them to your TBR pile.
Cyborgs in New Bejing? Yes, please.
This wins the best cover of the year!
Yes, I do judge books by their covers.
And I wasn't wrong about the amount of awesome.

Creepy, but cool. Like the cover.
A wonderful children's book. It left me with
watery eyes.

I liked the first one best, but this one
was very memorable.
The book in two words. Mythical, and
Omg, I didn't know Stevenson
could write such creepy stuff!
   Looking over all mini reviews, I realized that I chose books that made me cry. Let me explain, I'm not a drama queen, these books are just so good that the characters felt alive, and I cared about them. when a book makes me feel that way, I know it's good.
   What were your favorite books this year? What books do you want for Christmas? Which Divergent faction do you think would suit you best? (That last question wasn't really fair. I think I'd do best in Erudite or Abnegation, but I hate following guidelines about personality, so I'd probably end up as one of the factionless!) 
I missed you guys!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

For Your Entertainment

Hello my lovely readers! So, finals week came up on me like an assassin, and figuratively, I'm nearly dead with nervousness. It's what comes of my procrastination habits. I have this horrible research paper due on Friday, and I don't even know what my thesis is yet. It's not even funny. Plus I've got both of my music finals and my French final, and heaven knows how those will go either.
Anyways... The reason for this whole rant is that I'm probably not going to be doing a lot of blogging for a week or so. I have decided instead, to give a list of a few of my favorite blogs, vlogs, and other things of an entertaining nature as an apology and as an other way to procrastinate from homework. You're welcome.(-;

A few of my favorite blogs...
  • The Daisy Tree: Whenever Hannah does a new post, I clap my hands or squeal in excitement or both. Literally. If you have nothing to do today (or something to do that you're trying to avoid) go read few of her refreshingly original and fun blog posts, and I don't think I'll need to tell you to follow. (-;
  • Paper Fury: This is the blog that used to be Notebook Sisters if you don't already follow. (If you don't go and follow it right now so you don't miss out on any further posts.) Cait has an awesome sense of humor, and even though I'm not always huge on book reviews, I always find hers entertaining and awesome. If you want to know about probably any YA book out there, she's the girl to talk to. Seriously, she read more books a year than most people read in their life times! Plus she uses awesome gifs. It's worth following if it's just for the gifs.
  • Looking at Everyday Things: This is one of the first blogs I started following. It's full of inspirational and sometimes funny stories about the adventures of An Observant Girl. Follow her on bloglovin', and you won't regret it. There is some awesome stuff going on over there that you don't want to miss!
  • Sink Me!: This is an awesomely hilarious blog. Practically, if you're a period drama fan, you will love this blog. When I found it, I spent an hour scrolling through and laughing my head off at all of the insider jokes, only understood by period drama fans.
A couple of awesome vlogs I follow...
  • I just recently discovered the world of vlogs, and ever since, I've been obsessed. It started with The Lizzy Bennett Diaries. Go, watch it, it is awesome!!! So practically, it's a retelling of Pride and Prejudice vlog style. How cool is that? The actors are great, and I wish it hadn't ended. )-: Good news, however. Pemberly digital has done a couple more vlog series, including Emma Approved (an Emma retelling) and Frankenstein M.D. I still have to say that The Lizzy Bennett Diaries are my favorites.
  • This week I came across University Ever After. It's practically fairy tales turned into college life. Yes, it's sort of cheesy, I admit. But it's CUTE! And I watch cheesy, cute stuff sometimes, okay? Anyhow, I think my favorite is Belle and... well, you'll figure out who 'The Beast' is. They are super adorable. XD Snow is, surprisingly, the anti-social hipster girl who sings indie music. (BTW, I adore her voice, I want it!) So if you don't mind kind of sappy fairy tale stuff, you will enjoy University Ever After. Tell my who your favorite girl or couple is. (-:
  • If you're an Anne of Green Gables fan, you will thoroughly enjoy Green Gables Fables. Anne is really in character, and Diana is literally perfect! I am always so excited when I see a new video that Anne has posted. (Is it weird that I refer to her as Anne? I mean, it's not her real name... Whatever.) Anywho, just watch it, and subscribe for fun-ness every week. 
Other really awesome randomness...
  • Check out this video on how to fake a British accent. My attempts (in private, I haven't embarrassed myself with it yet) have been laughable, but I think I've improved. XD Yeah, I still want an English accent...
  • Yes, it's stupid, but it amuses me, and hopefully it will amuse you as well. (-;

Enjoy, and 'bye for now!

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