January 12, 2009

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green
Date Started: January 6, 2009 Date Finished:January 12, 2009

Summary: Quentin Jacobsen is awaken during the middle of the night to go on a prank spree with his neighbor and crush, Margo Roth Spiegelman. A few days later, Margo goes missing and Q decides that he needs to find her through a trail of clues that she left behind.

Likes: John Green really knows how to capture the spirit of teenagers in all their wild and reckless abandon (I can say that now because I am no longer a teenager). He captures the spirit of what it's like to be a friend of a band geek and his minor details like the marching band playing "Pomp and Circumstance" at graduation and the little information about the band were to be appreciated, coming from a former high school band geek. The story itself was interesting and entertaining. My favorite part was the road trip to Algoe, New York (Don't listen to "The Neko Bus" while reading this section). It made me relive my days of high school, especially the highlights of my senior year. I think the whole appeal for the book, at least for me, was the whole feeling of nostalgia. Sure, my senior year sucked ass immensely due to the stupidity of a few people, but there were bright spots created by those people who I still consider friends to this day (TASU ftw!). I digress, this was a good book. The writing and the narrative voice were solid and enjoyable. Green has a way of developing all of his characters to their fullest potential which is a hard thing to accomplish. Every character was well rounded, like they could be real people that I'd be friends with. People I can see myself in band with, coming back from that road trip and me listening to them wishing that I could have gone. This time I was allowed to tag along and I enjoyed the trip. That is hard to accomplish as a writer and John Green does a pretty good job.

Dislikes: I'm not sure. I felt like parts of this book were dragging. Things like the party and a few other places (nothing really comes to mind). They were fun to read, but in the long run were a bit unnecessary. I don't think the book would have suffered if they were cut out, but something would have been missing if they had been cut out. It would have a neutral effect if they were taken out. The part about peeing in the bottles made me think of Dumb and Dumber. I almost expected a cop to come by and drink the stuff. It wasn't a bad thing, but just a little cliched.

Overall: This was John Green's strongest book, because I had a connection to the characters. However, it wasn't my favorite. My favorite will still be "Looking for Alaska" because that provoked the deepest sense of emotion for me. The writing is stronger in this one, I will admit. Green was able to pick up nuances of his characters better this time because it was his third time around with the publishing and the book writing and the editing. Green has a wonderful narrative voice and characterization. If he wrote a book about two people sitting in a room having a conversation, I would read it just because these two aspects of his writing make a seemingly "cliched" (I really hate to use that word) premise into his own creation and making it new again.
Aside: I have a christmas bag with a black Santa on it. I am keeping it. =)

January 5, 2009

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Date Started: January 2, 2009 Date Finished:January 5, 2009

Summary: Colin, a child prodigy, and his best (and only) friend, Hassan, decide to go on a roadtrip to get Colin off of his recent break-up with K-19 (his nineteenth girlfriend named Katherine). Along the way, Colin and Hassan stop in Gutshot, Tennessee and meet Lindsey Lee Wells and her mother, Hollis, who invites the boys into her home and offers them a place to stay with pay if they begin collecting oral histories from Gutshot's residents.

Likes: The story and its premise are interesting. Each character is unique and has their own unique voice. I applaud the author for knowing which point of view to choose as the third person limited point of view was the best choice for the book. The story is about a couple of nerds, the type of people who were too smart for their own good. Colin is the type of person that I imagine a lot of child prodigies to be. They spend their whole childhood thinking that they are something special being told they are special, only to grow up with a normal adulthood like everyone else. Colin is a bit pathetic, but his efforts are endearing. He finally learns through all his calculations that he can't just predict the future. The answer is so obvious, but as a reader, you are taking the journey with him so the answer isn't as obvious as it seems.

Dislikes: I hate math, though I'm curious to see if the theorem actually works. The footnotes were cute, but sometimes they were a little distracting. It took me a little while to get into this, especially after reading Looking for Alaska. I should have taken a break before diving into this one. I really don't like discussion questions and interviews at the end of a book, but for John Green, I'll make an exception.

Overall: It was a satisfying read. It was light-hearted and funny with quirky characters (one of Green's strong points). I hope the author writes more stories like this where the character realizes that the answers that he/she is looking for are right in front of their faces.

January 2, 2009

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska
Date Started: January 2, 2009/Date Finished: January 2, 2009
Summary: Miles decides to go to a boarding school in Alabama where he meets cool new friends the Colonel, Takumi, Lara, and the impulsive but sexy Alaska Young. After pulling pranks on the rich kids at school, Alaska and her friends make one last prank. However, a few weeks after the group of friends get drunk and the next day they wake up to find that their best friend is gone.

Likes: Geez, what wasn't there not to like in this book? Clearly I loved it if I read it in one day (four hours to be precise). The characters were quirky, it was kind of like reading Catcher in the Rye while Holden was still in school before he got expelled. Green really captures the spirit of being a teenager and dealing with situations like this without being melodramatic and overblown. The prose was simple and easy to read, at the same time showed that the characters were intelligent people who make mistakes. The characters were most definitely not card board cut outs and the author trusts readers to come to their own conclusions, just like a lot of the authors in his writing circles (Nerdfighters anyone?) Each character had their own quirks, their stories, and their own lives, and allows the characters to take responsibility for their actions, even if it was no ones fault. I think that was one of the themes of the story. To realize that you can't control everything and you can't dwell on the things you can't control.
Dislikes: It made me cry, I hate crying, but I did. Three days before the incident in the story, I was already crying because I knew what was going to happen. There was nothing wrong with the book, but I just hate crying. That could just be the lack of sleep, since I did stay up until the wee hours of the morning to keep reading. I do tend to get overly emotional from lack of sleep. I'm glad there were no asshats in this one.
Overall: I enjoyed this book. It reminded me of a prayer I said for the New Year. "Dear God, we didn't have to wake up this morning, but we did..." This book cemented that thought in my head. Sometimes that's not always the case. One day you're here one moment and then POOF. You're gone. It makes you think of things you take for granted and to remind you to be grateful for each day you have on Earth. It's an eerie feeling to think about all the people who take things for granted and to remember that they have something you want, but don't have. Then you remember that sometimes you wake up in the morning and realize that the fact you woke up that morning and the morning before is something more than other people have. Then you realize just how fortunate you are.

January 1, 2009

101 Things Win!

5. Get a medical internship during the summer. (March 14, 2009)
I signed up for Clinical Care Extender a week before Spring Break because I didn't think I get the job at Playful beginnings. I tried to do both at the same time, but in the end I couldn't keep up with school, work, and the internship. I'm glad that I stopped because Mad Science called me back saying that they got work for the fall quarter. I'll start CCE next year in January. I enjoyed the internship, but it was all the rules and bureaucracy made it a pain in the ass to work.

17. Get a job during the summer.(May 2009)
Speaking of a job, I got a job working at Playful Beginnings. Playful Beginnings is a program designed to help children that have disorders on the autism spectrum. So far it's a flexible and fun job. The kids I work with are adorable and I can see the improvement with the main child I've been working with. She's come a long way with her signing and developing her language skills. It's a really rewarding job and it pays better than most jobs.

20. Get an apartment/buy a house for the summer/next year.(May 3, 2009)
I'm staying in Sterling University Palm Housing. It's not exactly a "real" apartment, but so far it's a step up from Glen Mor. More on this later.

25. Research 3 graduate schools a week (during the weekends) (June 2009)
I've narrowed it down to Azusa Pacific, Cal Baptist University, and Loma Linda Unversity. I want to go into pediatric mental health to help with children with mental health issues. I would also like to go to underprivliged areas and go there. We always seems to leave out mental health when it comes to healthcare.

34. Win a writing competition (scholarships count)
Affiliates of UCR Scholarship $1500(May 11, 2009)
Desert Valley Foundation Scholarship $4000 (August 23, 2009)

59. Change major to Psychology. (June 4, 2009)
I changed my major to psychology and I can still take neuroscience classes because they are crosslisted. Someone somewhere down the line should have told me this.

14. Volunteer two hours a week.
I'm signing up to volunteer at the UCR extension center because as a volunteer you get to take complimentary classes. Now, I don't know if this means that I get to choose the classes I want or if I have to take certain classes that are open. I want to take Introduction to Getting Published($105), Available Light Photography Workshop ($145), and Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder($395). I know this is kinda of a shady way to get into classes, but most of these classes are on Saturdays or on days where I'm not working. At least I'll be doing something good by helping people sign up for classes and hopefully I'll be able to take some classes in the process.

54. Get ears repierced and another piercing.
A couple days before vacation this year, I got my ears repierced and got another hole (in each ear). I have four piercings now (2 in each ear) and plan on getting another one for my 21st birthday. I have space for one more on my earlobe and we'll see about getting the cartilage. I don't want to go overboard because I do need a full time job at some point.

25. Research 3 Graduate Schools a Week.
This is a bit over done because by the end whenever, I'll have a bunch of schools and nowhere to go. My top three list is always changing as I look at the different programs but so far my top five are Azusa Pacific, University of Rochester, Loma Linda, Cal Baptist, and University of California, San Francisco. My ultimate goal would to go to Azusa Pacific, I'm not sure why, I just feel strong about it.(the same way I did about UC Riverside).

38. Meet a Nationally Known Author. (October 22, 2009)
Maya Angelou came to UC Riverside October 22, 2009 and I took my mom to see her for the second part of her birthday. Here are some notes from her speech.
   Education is an ongoing process.
   It's one thing to go to college, but what will you do with your education? Do you have
   the courage to go above and beyond? A human being has the ability for anything and
   everything. We wouldn't be here without the rainbows in our lives. Modesty is something
   you learn,but being humble is something that comes with growing up.
   Be a rainbow in someone else's life.

74. Get a new Hairstyle (November 1, 2009)
I got a weave. I know with that whole good hair thing going around it's probably a bad thing to be wearing a weave (I actually haven't seen the movie "Good Hair" yet). I got a weave because I'm too scared to cut my actually hair. I got a bob cut with a streak of purple. It looks cute, even if I'm not exactly used to having my hair this way. I actually might get an asymmetrical bob next time I get my hair done. Short in the back a bit long in the front with the purple. I like it though, it makes me look my age. 

Let It Snow by Johnson, Green, and Myracle

Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle
Date Started: December 30, 2008/Date Finished: January 1, 2009

"The Jubilee Express" by Maureen Johnson
Summary: A girl named Jubilee is preparing for Christmas with her boyfriend, Noah, however, her plans are derailed when her parents are arrested and she is being shipped of to Florida to spend the holidays with her grandparents. Her train is snowed in and Julie makes her way to a Waffle House where she meets a boy named Stuart. Stuart pays attention to her and convinces her that her boyfriend is no good. Jubilee learns that she was just a part of her boyfriend's perfect plan and does something crazy just this once.
Likes: The premise is cute and overall the story is a nice read for the holidays. It was the perfect size, just enough to get interested in. Johnson has an infectious writing style that is fun to read. Her characters are unique and quirky and the writing voice fits the tone of her characters perfectly. The romance was lighthearted and cute, more of the "I-wasn't-searching-for-love, but-love-found-me" type of romances. As a reader, you wonder if it is going to last, but Maureen doesn't hint at what could have been, what should have been, and what's going to happen next. The story stays in the moment and as a reader, I like that the author didn't allow for much introspection on the part of the main character, Jubilee. The author gives enough details about the back story to make the characters fully fleshed out and unique, instead of cardboard cut-outs.
Dislikes: There wasn't much that I disliked about the story. There were enough details on the characters, but I felt like I couldn't visualize them very well. I suppose this is more a matter of writing style more so than anything problematic with the story. I guess I'm not used to the author not giving many physical details on the characters.
"A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle" by John Green

Tobin is snowed in with his friends JP and the Duke (Angie). They are contacted by their friend, Keun, who works at the local Waffle House. Apparently, a train of cheerleaders have just come into the Waffle House and want to play Twister. Tobin and his friends have an exciting adventure on their way to the Waffle House, and learn somethings out in the process.

Likes: Once again, the author has presented quirky characters who aren't cardboard cut outs. John Green has a knack for writing unique characters, and I believe that characterization is where is story truly shines. Even the car, Carla, is presented as a character and that makes the whole story believable. So far, I like this story the most because I can relate to the Duke. I have guy friends who treat me like one of the guys and seem to forget that I'm a girl sometimes. Green captures the opposite side of the situation, the story of the guy with a girl for a best friend. He shows that Tobin is oblivious to his feelings and to the Duke's feelings. The story brings back a nostalgia of being back in high school and the crazy things that people do to get something they want, only to realize that what they wanted was right in front of them all along. It's a sweet story about the point when one realizes that a friendship is developing into love and admiration. The story reminds me of a buddy flick about friends just trying to get simple things in life, like in this case, Hashbrowns, Cheesy Waffles, and Cheerleaders. Green doesn't skimp on the details and his writing is solid enough that the minor details he uses don't intrude on the action of the story.

Keun was irritating, only because his characterization was so realistic that he reminded me of people I know. The use of CAPS-LOCK GOT REALLY ANNOYING, REALLY FAST. I know when people are yelling, all it has to do is say they were yelling in the dialogue tags. Also the word "asshats" reminds me of certain people, not a good or a bad thing, but the word is used a lot.
"The Patron Saint of Pigs" by Lauren Myracle
Summary: Addie is suffering through the holidays without her boyfriend, Jeb, whom she cheated on. She invites over her friends and they show her that she is self absorbed and selfish. Addie's friend, Tegan, has bought a teacup pig named Gabriel. Addie learns to become less conceited when the pig is bought by an old woman named Mayzie, who claims that she is a Christmas angel.
Likes: Myracle (that's such a cool last name, even if it might be a pseudonym) has a knack for writing unlikable characters. Part of her stories appeal was that she still made me feel interested in this characters life and whether she changes or not. She also does a good job of getting the feeling for the other authors characters. The stories, this story in particular, remind me of growing up in a small town and I think the author does a good job of capturing that small town feel. Even though I didn't particularly like the main character of this story, Myracle's characterization is believable and the portrayal of Addie's friends is appreciated. The author does a good job of rounding out all the stories and making the story come full circle. She had a tough job tying in everyone's stories, but she does so in a believable way. It's not necessarily skillful, but it feels natural and wasn't forced.
Dislikes: I didn't really like Addie at first, but as the story got further along, she grew on me. It took a little while for me to get into because of Addie's constant worrying and complaining, but it wasn't too bad once the story got rolling along.

Overall: Each story left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. My favorite story was John Green's because I am that girl and he portrayed the side of the oblivious guy. It's nice to know that us tomboys aren't forgotten. Each author had their own style and a real knack for interesting and quirky characters. I look forward to reading each of their own books independently. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would, not really being into the whole young adult/teen mushy romance thing. The stories weren't as mushy as I thought they would be (they were still mushy, but not the vomit inducing mushy) and there was enough humor to balance it out. A good read and a sweet way to finish of the holiday season and start the New Year.

101 Things in 1001 Days

Start Date: January 1, 2009
End Date: September 29, 2011

Fail, replaced
In Progress

2009 Completed: 14
2010 Completed: 4

  1. Finish Book 1 of It's All Relative.
  2. Get a 3.2 g.p.a. or higher (2.8/3.2) by Spring 2010.
  3. Take GRE. Get a 1200.
  4. Read 50 traditional books in a year (30/50) Read 120 traditional books in a year. (20/120)
  5. Study each class for at least 2 hours a day
  6. Go to Office hours at least 3 times a week.
  7. Go White Water Rafting somewhere other than Kern River.
  8. Go to Colorado.
  9. Update Wardrobe.
  10. Go Kayaking.($63; June 27)
  11. Learn to Surf.($64; June 26)
  12. Learn to Snorkel.($39; June 20)
  13. Hike in Yosemite National Park.
  14. Volunteer two hours a week (African American Health Institute: March 2010)
  15. Get an medical internship during the summer. (April 2009)
  16. New Goal: Get a 3.5 for every quarter from now to graduation!
  17. Get a job during the summer.(April 2009)
  18. Go to Sea World($69) and San Diego Zoo.($37)
  19. Go Camping in the Wild Animal Park.($139+$37=$176)
  20. Get an apartment/buy a house for the summer/next year.(June 2009/May 2010)
  21. Write/plot a story once a month. (12/12)
  22. Go to Japan.
  23. Go backpacking in Europe.
  24. Go to abroad for a medical/volunteer/humanitarian project.(Nicaragua Sept 12-19)
  25. Research 3 graduate schools a week (during the weekends) (30/30)
  26. Drink a Naked Juice Homemade Juice OR Water everyday.
  27. Write a letter to a friend, enemy from the past, and people I hope to meet in the future until notebook is full.
  28. Go to at least 3 fandom conventions and/or festivals. (2/3)
    DickensFest(Feb 2009)
    Comic Con(July 2009)
    DickensFest (Feb 2010
    Festival of Books (April 2010)
  29. Take a road trip.
  30. Learn to snowboard.
  31. Submit stories to at least 3 literary journals. (0/3)
  32. Submit stories to at least 3 competitions (0/3)
  33. Get a story accepted to a literary journal.
  34. Win a writing competition (scholarships count)
  35. Apply for 3 scholarships a month (1/3)
  36. Get a new puppy for Zachary.
  37. Meet a nationally known author.
    Maya Angelou(October 2009)
    Heidi Durrow(February 2010)
    John Green and David Levithan (April 2010)
    Dolen Valdez-Perkins(May 2010)
  38. Go to Azkatraz.
  39. Go to AnimeExpo and see at least 4 panels.
  40. Go to Comic Con and see at least 4 panels.
  41. Get an B.A. in Creative Writing.
  42. Graduate from college with above a 3.0 or above in Major and Overall GPA.
  43. Win NaNoWriMo for 2009 2010. The MayNoWriMo thing 2010.
  44. Write a Screenplay.
  45. Write a musical.
  46. Draw a comic.
  47. Take a photography class.
  48. Take an art class.
  49. Take a voice acting class.
  50. Go to at least 2 Nerdfighter gathering.
    Hank at the Glendale Library. (Nov 2009)
    John at the Los Angeles Festival of Books (April 2010)
  51. Find a literary agent.
  52. Write a query letter and have it critiqued on a well-known critique blog. 
  53. Get ears repierced and another piercing.
  54. Possibly get a tattoo.
  55. Join a sorority.
  56. Get Passport renewed.
  57. Change major to Psychology.(May 2009)
  58. Make a purse.
  59. Apply for graduate schools in Winter 2010.
  60. Do a project for Kickstarter.
  61. Make a stop motion animation video.
  62. Make a stop motion video with people.
  63. Do a Habitat For Humanity Project.
  64. Pay off half of student loans before starting graduate school.
  65. Get full character designs of IAR characters.(or draw them myself)
  66. Get a new digital camera.
  67. Train a dog for Pet Therapy program.
  68. Make business cards.
  69. Design an outfit on Zazzle, buy it, then wear it.(Shoes, Shirt/hoodie)
  70. Self publish a book.
  71. Take a modeling class. 
  72. Get new hairstyle.
  73. Wear make-up.
  74. Buy a new car. (I had to compromise with my mom to get my car painted. It's as good as new though.)
  75. Go canyoneering.
  76. Go indoor skydiving.
  77. Go to Las Vegas.(March 2010)
  78. Rent a car.
  79. Donate $200 to Kiva.org. ($25 to each featured entrepreneur) 
  80. Take a theatre class. 
  81. Find a full-time job. 
  82. Cosplay my character. (purple wig, blue contacts, goth lolita costume)
  83. Write 2 sex scenes without fading to black. 
  84. Go to Happy Hour. 
  85. Earn a certificate in Film Writing Certificate.
  86. Earn a certificate in TV Writing Certificate.
  87. Earn a certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Therapy.
  88. Write a new serial web novel. 
  89. Pay off Credit Cards.
  90. Get on the Dean's List. 
  91. Earn $500 dollars a month through Demand Studios (roughly 33 articles)
  92. Work out 3 days a week for half an hour.
  93. Write three books by December 2010. (roughly 2 months per book)


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