How To Survive Summer | Motley Monday

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Today is the last day of summer. For most people reading this, however, it is the last day of winter. So I’ve decided to compile a guide of how to survive summer, since many of you will be entering this season in the nearish future. Because, you know, none of you have ever experienced summer before.

1. Live in a country where “hot” is 27 degrees
That’s about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, by the way. 27 degrees is bearable. My brother and friend are both living in Sydney at the moment, and have been complaining about the heat. 42 degrees. That’s 107 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s ridiculous. If you live somewhere where over 30 is normal, I’d advise moving. Now.

2. Have air conditioning
This is a luxury that we don’t have, unfortunately. There were many times over the last few months that I’ve wished we did. We’ve had to survive with a few fans strewn about the house.

3. Kill all mosquitoes
Don’t, actually. I don’t like dead things. They scare me. Just don’t go wandering in the forest, like I did. Mosquitoes everywhere. I came home from a five minute wander through some trees with at least nine new itchy bits, and I already had a whole lot to begin with. I’m a walking, talking itchy bite now. Oh, and baking soda baths? That are supposed to stop the itching? They don’t work. I tried.

4. Chop off any long hair
As much as I love my hair, I despise its length and weight in summer. I got so hot. I even wore it in a bun a few times, which I never do. I was seriously tempted to hack it all off a few times. Like right now.

5. Don’t do any physical activity
It will just make you hot and sweaty. My friends and I went to this trampoline place about a month ago, and we basically melted by the end of it. It’s just too hot to move in summer, and it’s especially too hot to jump around for an hour.

6. Spend your days in an air conditioned building surrounded by books
That’s what I did. I was volunteering at the library. It was lovely.

7. Eat ice cream
Seriously. Just do it. Ice cream makes everything better. Unless, of course, you’re lactose intolerant (like me). In which case, I’d advise switching to ice blocks or something.

There you have it. My very exciting tips on how to survive summer. Does anyone have any advice for me for surviving the colder seasons?

Oh, and just a side note. I mentioned a whole bunch of busyness in my last post, so there might be some unexplained absences in the next month or so. I’ll try to post regularly, but there’s also a chance that I’ll forget or get too busy. Hopefully I’ll manage to stay on top of everything, and I’ll be less busy after March.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

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The List: Update #2

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I’ve recently been complaining about life’s busyness. Since this is an update post, I thought I could squeeze in a life update as well and let you know what this busyness actually is.

First, there’s medical stuff. We still don’t know when the surgeries are going to be, so that kinda makes everything stressful. Then there’s my tailbone, which has been injured for the past eight months. We finally got it checked yesterday, but there’s not much I can do about it. There’s also headaches or migraines or whatever you want to call them. That’s a thing that’s been in my life recently. I got some medication yesterday, so hopefully that’ll help. And on top of all that, I think I’m getting a cold? Either that or I have allergies to something mysterious.

Then there’s future plans. Next month, we shall be having a Thai student stay with us. And I’m organizing an event thing which is three weeks away, which involves a lot of fundraising and meetings. And I have two camps in March, one straight after the other. My brother and I just booked flights to go up north for a few days in the April holidays. I became Youth Rep for Girls’ Brigade on the weekend, so I’ll be organizing a few events for that, and having a weekend away sometime in Mayish. And then there’s the super exciting thing in July and I’ve got to do fundraising for that.

And then we’ve got life. Queen’s Award, which I’ve been ignoring. School work. Other life commitments.

Life really is busy. Prayers are appreciated.

And now for the update that you actually came here for.

Changes to The List: No changes.

Books I’ve read: I mentioned last time that I was reading Emma. Well, I still haven’t finished that. It’s just so dang long. I am very familiar with the story, and I love it, but it just frustrates me to read so slowly, so I’m a bit less than halfway through. I have, however, read three other books this week.

First up was The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I somehow ended up with the radio script version of it, rather than the novel, although that turned out to be a good thing, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so humorous, and despite the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of that kind of genre, I still found it extremely interesting. It was a great read. I did get rather confused by it at some points, and I think I’ll probably read the novel in the future, to try and clear things up. (Also, if anyone knows where I can find recordings of the original radio show, I’d love to listen to them.) All in all, it was a great read, and I gave it four stars.

The next book I read was a short (but not very sweet) one called Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck. I read the entirety of this yesterday. I’m still processing everything. I’d been warned about it, but I was expecting something different, somehow. I was talking to my English teacher about it afterwards, and we came to the conclusion that it is dark and depressing and tragic, but in a way that is almost beautiful. I just don’t have the words to describe how I feel about it. I guess it kind of reminded me of Flowers For Algernon, in a way? I don’t know. I’m still kind of traumatized by it, but in a good way? This book has wrecked havoc with my emotions. I gave it four stars as well, but I feel like four stars is too high and too low and just not right. This book has destroyed me.

The final book I read was Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. I just finished it. Meaning I read half the book, wrote the post up until this point, and then finished the book. While I’ve seen movies like Finding Neverland (which we studied for English a couple of years ago), Hook, and Pan, I’ve never actually seen the movie Peter Pan (although I watched a live performance type thing on TV sometime last year), so I’m not overly familiar with the story. It was interesting. It was so dark and violent but in a light and innocent kind of way. The writing style was so very poetic and intriguing. It was quite different from what I expected. Peter was a bit of a cocky jerk, and I could easily describe Tinkerbell with a word that rhymes with witch, but I don’t use that kind of language on here. I enjoyed it, mostly because it was so very different to what I was expecting. Four stars as well.

Favourite/least favourite: Again, I cannot pick. I liked them all for entirely different reasons. Hitchhiker’s Guide was light and funny, while also being kind of deep and meaningful. Of Mice And Men was so beautifully tragic. And Peter Pan was so unexpectedly dark but innocent. They were all great pieces of literature, and I can’t choose a favourite.

Next to read: Before the next update, I’ll hopefully finish Emma. I also plan on reading Catch-22, since I’ve still got it out from the library, and I think I might try and finish Little Women, which I started in August and never finished. I think I’m about halfway through. Otherwise, I don’t have any specific plans. Probably something shorter, since all of those ones are about 500 pages. And maybe something more modern, if there are any. Or I might begin rereading The Chronicles Of Narnia. We’ll see.

Anyone else read any of these? Thoughts? Which one was your favourite? Have you recovered from Of Mice And Men yet? I certainly haven’t.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Book Review: The Beginning Of Everything | Wordy Wednesday

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Life is full of busyness. And I just realized that I said the exact same thing at the start of last week’s review.

Today, I’m reviewing The Beginning Of Everything by Robyn Schneider, which I read three weeks ago.

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Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

This is the second Robyn Schneider book that I’ve read and reviewed. The first was Extraordinary Means, and if you want to read my flailings, you can find them here.

Unfortunately, this one won’t have flailings in it. It may have ranting instead.

I think I’d had this on my TBR for a while, and then I bumped it up after loving Extraordinary Means.

Um. Err. Thoughts. Right.

First off, I did enjoy this. There was stuff that happened that I couldn’t predict and there was storylines that hooked me in and all of that stuff. So yes, while I was reading it, I mostly enjoyed it.

But I must rant.

I’m sick of contemporary books that have teenagers that are all metaphorical and deep. I’ve talked about this before, I think. But I want to discuss it again.

I’ve decided to diagnose these books with John Green Syndrome (aka JGS). I’ve come to the conclusion that authors see how popular his books are, and so they try to imitate his writing while creating their own stories. My problem with this lies in the fact that I don’t like it much.

Let’s face it: teenagers aren’t metaphorical and deep. The only time that I think about the meaning of life and consequences of actions and all that deep stuff that is prevalent in books with JGS is when I’m in classics class and we get into deep, philosophical discussions. Otherwise, conversations that I have never feature metaphors or why-are-we-here discussions. I don’t even think about that stuff when I’m alone.

The reason that I like contemporaries so much is because I can relate to them a lot more than fantasies or whatever. I’m going to relate and enjoy a story a lot more if I can see that situation somewhere in my life. However, if a character is all deep and full of thoughtfulness, I’m probably going to have a hard time relating to them or imagining myself as them. As much as I like to believe that I’m not a shallow girl who is only concerned about appearances and boys, I’m also human, and I don’t spend my time pondering life’s  greatest questions like some Greek philosopher. And I believe that I’m not the only one.

So when blurbs of books begin by saying that “[so-and-so] believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them”, I’m going to be less likely to pick it up, because it sounds like it has a bad case of JGS.

I’m not saying that people who think aren’t relatable. I’m just saying that I’m not convinced by it. It seems like the author is trying far too hard to ride on the coattails of a popular author.

Maybe I’m just being ultra fussy and critical. But, with all that being said, I did give the book four stars, because I did enjoy reading it while I was reading it.

Also, I didn’t like the ending. Just putting it out there.

It is a good book, if you don’t mind some JGS in there. Just not the greatest one I’ve ever read.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

One Month Later, And We’ve Got A New Normal | Motley Monday

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If you missed my post a few weeks ago called The Tall One And The Small One, read it now. Things will make more sense if you do.

So today is one month since The Tall One left. One whole month. I thought I’d talk about that today.

On the day that he left, it felt like he’d died. It was weird. He was gone and we were going through his stuff (there was so much more of it than we thought), and it just felt weird. I felt like I was grieving or something.

But after a few days, it felt normal for him to not be there. We went to Wellington a few days after he left, and it seemed so normal that he wasn’t with us. I just couldn’t imagine him being there with us.

However, there are still things that are weird. The little, everyday things. His toothbrush and towel being gone. The Small One sitting in his seat and moving into his bedroom. Some of his things being in my room. His place mat staying in the box. Things like that. Every time I notice one of these things, I miss him.

He’s enjoying it over there, in case you were wondering. He loves it, and is considering doing a second year instead of just the one. I don’t know how I feel about that.

It seems as though he’s been gone for months. I’m having a hard time remembering what it was like when he was here, because I’m already so used to him being gone. It probably doesn’t help that we’ve already got plans to fill the now empty bedroom. We’re probably going to have an international student stay with us for a while soon. Almost as if we’re replacing him. I mean, The Small One has practically taken The Tall One’s place already. He’s in his room, sitting at his place, taking over his roles at church. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.

So basically, things are different. But they’re also a new kind of normal.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Where The Light Is | Song Of The Week

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I haven’t done this thing in ages.

I’ve had this song at the back of my mind for months, but haven’t had the chance to post it.

Have you ever had a song that perfectly says what you can’t? That’s this song for me, especially the chorus. I just relate to it so strongly.

I don’t have much more to say about it, other than the fact that it is a great song. So here you go. Where The Light Is by Dan Bremnes. Do listen to it, because it is truly a great song.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Book Reviews: Delirium Trilogy | Wordy Wednesday

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Urgh life is full of busyness.

Today I’m reviewing the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver.

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Blurb for Delirium: Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

That’s not very informative. So basically, these are set in a dystaopian society (and we all know how much I love those) where love is a disease and people get “cured” when they are 18. The main character, Lena, is not far away from being cured when she meets a boy. Of course. That’s not really a spoiler because a) it’s obvious, and b) it happens in the first few chapters.

At first, I decided not to read these because I was convinced that I would hate them. Then, when my extremely reliable book recommender best friend said she was going to read Delirium, I decided I may as well give it a go. After she told me that she gave up after a few chapters, I decided to read it anyway, because despite the fact that we agree on our love for a lot of books, we also have slightly different tastes in some cases, so I thought I’d try it for myself. And so I read the entire series.

These were good books. Ish. I’m not sure how to do this review.

The first one was probably my favourite. There was definitely aspects about it that I didn’t like, but all in all, it was pretty good. Not the greatest thing I’ve ever read, but still pretty good.

The second one was a bit meh. It started off in a scenario that I really dislike (I would explain, but spoilers), and continued that way until about halfway through. I had to struggle my way through it a bit. However, I liked the new character that was introduced when the scenario changed. He appealed to me, somehow. I don’t know.

The third one was kind of in between the other two. This one had two perspectives instead of just one, and I really didn’t like one of the perspectives. Interestingly enough, the perspective I didn’t like was the one that was telling the story for the entirety of the first two books, so that’s strange. But whatever. I felt like the new voice was interesting, and I preferred the storyline that she was sharing.

I feel like I should just make a list instead of being completely vague about everything.

Things I Liked
•The concept (well, I wouldn’t say that I liked it, necessarily, but it certainly intrigued me).
•Some of the characters (like Grace, Julian, Blue, Hana in the third book, and a few others).
•The various different settings and scenarios that the characters found themselves in (I didn’t like one of them in particular, but I did appreciate that there was variety in the different settings).
•It was a very thought provoking idea, and some of the ways that it was used and developed and all that was very interesting (like The Book Of Shh).
•There was a vague ish possible reference to ptosis. That’s the second time I’ve read something that vaguely mentions ptosis (or something similar) in the last few months. It excites me.

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Things I Didn’t Like
•Lena and Alex. I mean, I didn’t dislike them. I just didn’t like them all that much.
•The predictability of the big massive reveal thing that happened. I’m not gonna say what, but come on. It was so obvious. Actually, I could say that twice. Two different massive reveals that were actually glaringly obvious.
•Violence and death and general dystopian-ness. (If you want a full list of my complaints, this post should enlighten you.) This point basically covers everything else.

What do you rate a book/series that contains everything that you dislike about dystopians and has main characters that you don’t even like much?

Well, if you’re me, you give it four stars.

I gave each book in the series four stars, because overall, I did enjoy them. Like I’ve said before, I try to ignore dystopian-ness and just focus on everything else. Yes, they are lowish four stars, but four stars nonetheless.

I’m just now realizing that these books influenced a dream that I had a while ago.

AND SERIOUSLY. LOOK AT HOW EXCITED I GET WHEN THERE’S A SLIGHT MENTION OF A PHYSICAL CONDITION THAT IS POSSIBLY SIMILAR TO MINE. IMAGINE HOW EXCITED I’D GET IF THERE WAS A BOOK WITH A MAIN CHARACTER WITH THAT KIND OF CONDITION. SOMEONE NEEDS TO WRITE ONE.

Oh wait.

I was the one writing one. Whoops. Maybe I should actually start writing again.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

The Exception(s) To The Rule | Motley Monday

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I am a firm follower of the book-before-movie rule. It’s the reason why I still haven’t seen Paper Towns or Insurgent. But there have been times when I’ve (sometimes unintentionally) broken the rule. Today, I shall be discussing these.

1. Bridge To Terabithia
This is the reason that I follow the rule. I first watched the movie in 2007, not long after it came out, on one of the flights during our Canadian/American holiday. It wasn’t my favourite movie, but I definitely enjoyed it, and I’ve watched it multiple times since. Two or three years later, when I was 11ish, I discovered that it was based on a book, which I tried to read. I couldn’t make it past the first page, because it was just weird seeing the movie written down, if that makes sense. I do intend to try reading it again at some point, though.

2. Les Miserables
Rachel invited me to go see this with her when it came out in 2013, and I agreed, knowing nothing about it. I looked it up beforehand, to try and learn a bit more about it. I’m glad I did that, because I understood it a lot more than I would’ve otherwise, and it became one of my favourite movies. The book was free on kindle at some point, so I got it, and tried to read it. But it’s just sooo looong, and it doesn’t have any of the songs in it (well duh). I’ve attempted it a few times, but never made it very far. It’s on The List, though, so I must succeed at some point this year.

3. The Book Thief
This was another one that Rachel invited me to see with her, and I went and loved it. I think I might’ve known that it was a book, but I didn’t get the chance to read it before going to see it. Early last year, I was needing something to read, and I saw it in the school library. I was weary at first, but I absolutely loved it, just as much as I loved the movie. This is what taught me that maybe it is possible to read a book after seeing the movie. (If you’re interested, I did a sort-of review thing last year, which you can find here.)

4. Pride And Prejudice
There was a book series that I was obsessed with for a while a year or two ago, and the main character loved P&P (the movie, that is). I then realized that we owned it and I should watch it. So I did. And I fell in love. (I’m talking about the non BBC one, by the way.) Then, last May, after watching the movie for the 50th time, I decided to read the book. It took me a while, but I found that it was a much easier read since I’d seen the movie and the YouTube series (Lizzie Bennet Diaries, anybody?), and since I was familiar with the story and characters. I hadn’t attempted it in the past, but I knew that I would’ve struggled my way through it and not enjoyed it much if I hadn’t. Which was proven by #6.

5. Ella Enchanted
Even though it clearly says at the start of the movie, I only recently realized that this one was based on a book. So I read the book, since I love the movie. And there was a problem. It emphasized why I follow the rule. Read my review comparison thingy here, because I don’t have time to explain it all in this post.

6. Persuasion
I got this book for my TBTB Secret Santa, and started to read it almost straight away. However, I found it extremely difficult to read. So I decided to stop reading it, watch the movie (I have the Jane Austen BBC DVD set, although I haven’t actually watched most of them yet), and try again. After watching the movie (which I loved) I started the book again, and enjoyed it a lot more. Being able to picture the characters and having knowledge of the story line made the book a lot easier to read and a lot more enjoyable.

7. Sherlock Holmes
This one is kind of different, but whatever. I decided to watch the TV series Sherlock two months ago, and absolutely loved it. I then got a copy of The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (in the set of classics that my grandmother gave me), which I read a week or so ago. Only one of the short stories in the book has been made into an episode of Sherlock, but being able to picture the characters and the setting made it a lot easier to enjoy, even though it’s set in a different time period. I talked more about this in last week’s update on The List, which you can find here.

There’s probably more than this, but I think that’ll do. It seems as though watching the movie (or TV series) first helps me when I’m reading older books, but doesn’t when I’m reading modern books. Or something like that.

When have you broken the rule? Did it help you, or did you struggle with the book? I’d be interested to hear your opinion on this!

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann