Tuesday, November 26, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Days 20-26

Today I'm grateful for . . . Thanksgiving. A lot of people don't take enough time (myself included!) to think about what they're thankful for, but Thanksgiving helps us to do that.

Today I'm grateful for . . . John Green. That guy is a genius. The Fault In Our Stars is a work of art (and it was the runner up to the best YA novel of all time, according to Entertainment Weekly's poll--Harry Potter won) and his YouTube Channel (the Vlogbrothers) is not only nerdy and informative, but hilarious. He never ceases to amaze me.

Today I'm grateful for . . . Microsoft Word. Besides a notebook, that's basically all I write with. I think I'd go crazy without it.

Today I'm grateful for . . . sarcasm. It's the best kind of humor. Maybe that's why I like Chandler on "Friends" so much.

Today I'm grateful for . . . rainy days. Curling up on the couch with your laptop or a good book on a rainy day is the best. Especially when your dog comes to join you.

Today I'm grateful for . . . good book adaptations. "Catching Fire" was AMAZING, "The Help" was close to on-par with the book, "Harry Potter" was awesome, and "Divergent" looks promising. :) I can't wait to see the Fault In Our Stars trailer.

Today I'm grateful for . . . Katniss. Talk about an inspirational kick-butt heroine. But actually what I love about her isn't the fact that she's a kick-butt heroine, but that she's so much more than just a kick-butt heroine. She's diverse, she's empathetic, she's selfless (hello, she basically volunteered to die for her little sister), and most of all, she's human. A lot of dystopian female characters (with the exception of maybe Tris from the Divergent series) are just kick-butt. They're feisty, they're stubborn, they can wield a gun or bow like nobody's business, but they have no personality. They're a robotic soldier forced to choose between two "perfect" guys. Katniss is so much more than that.

Updates From MV:

I have a guest post up over at "The Bookish Daydreamer". Check it out! :D
I just took Veronica Roth's faction quiz and found out that I am best suited for Amity, Abnegation, AND Candor. I'm Divergent! YES! ;)

While we're on the topic of Katniss, click HERE to read an awesome article about how Peeta helps Katniss to break stereotypes by breaking one on his own. (Confused yet)? ;)

(If you have something you'd like me to share in "Updates From MV" please send me an e-mail at themagicviolinist(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thank you! :D) 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Days 18-19

Today I'm grateful for . . . late nights. Late nights are the best. Staying up until midnight and sleeping in the next morning. On Monday night, our family stayed up until 11:30 or so watching episodes of "The Voice" and writing our NaNo novels. Even Scout was happy to snuggle up next to us.

Today I'm grateful for . . . NaNoWordSprints. I've only done it twice, but both times I participated it helped me rid myself of terrible writer's block. I wrote 1,300 words in half an hour! I don't usually write that fast.

Updates From MV:

I am very proud of this post. This was my all-time favorite book review to write. :)
I woke up in the middle of the night a couple days ago because I'd heard a loud THUMP. It was pitch black and I was obviously terrified. Once I'd gotten out of bed, though, I realized that it was just my towering TBR pile. It'd fallen over and spilled all over the floor. I think I may have a problem.

I got a Twitter account! :D So far it is awesome. I'm having so much fun with it! Click HERE to see my profile.

(If you have something you'd like me to share in "Updates From MV" please send me an e-mail at themagicviolinist(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thank you! :D) 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Allegiant (a Book Review)--"Am I Done Yet?"


Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The Magic Violinist, book review, Allegiant, Veronica Roth, Tris dies,

Released: October 22, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 545

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

Review: When I first got this book (and I was lucky enough to be the first one in my library to get it), my immediate thought was, "YEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! FINALLY!!!" It only took me a few pages to realize that it was all just going downhill from there.

And it did. It was boring, confusing, and too jerky. While I liked seeing things steadily "wrap up," I think Veronica was trying too hard to jam too much information into one book. There were too many plot twists (such as the Allegiant and the Bureau--shocker!--being a hindrance instead of a help, and Tobias not truly being Divergent) that have been done before in her earlier books.

But I think the ending made up for that.

Most every single review of Allegiant that I've read online has said that they were extremely disappointed and devastated at the end of the book and wanted to throw their book at the wall (some did). I disagree.

Veronica's ending was raw, emotional, powerful, and full of hope. It was not only realistic, but in my eyes necessary that Tris stay true to her character by sacrificing herself to show that she truly loved Caleb and to save everyone else. One death for millions of lives. This was foreshadowed earlier in the book.

While I bawled my eyes during every scene after Tris's death (causing me to miss important details, which I reread the next morning--I cried again), especially the bits with Tobias right afterwards where he's standing still and remembering how the Stiff had jumped first, I've come to terms with the ending. Tris's death not only showed how truly amazing Veronica Roth is as a writer/storyteller, made me realize how much I was going to miss Tris, and cause me to instantly Google "Tris dies" to see if others felt the way I did (not many did), but it made me realize that Tris had to stay true to herself. And she did

When Tris first "sacrifices" herself in Insurgent, she screams, "I'm not done here!" because she realized that she wasn't. She still had a job to do. She still had her friends and Tobias to protect. In Allegiant, moments after she's shot and sees her mother, she asks her, "Am I done yet?" Her mother says, "Yes. My dear child, you’ve done so well." Tris's journey came to a close at the right time, the exact moment it should have. She'd finished her job and only went into her mother's arms after she asked about her friends being okay. She was selfless and brave until the end.

Tobias's unusual hurt, weakness, and raw emotion is what hurt me most. His short chapters, his numbness, his slow healing. But in the Epilogue, two and a half years later, he's facing his fears by scattering Tris's ashes while going down the zip-line and he's mending with the help of Zeke, Christina, and all of his friends. As he said, we're all damaged, but, "We mend. We mend each other."

So to me, Tris's death was not only necessary, but tastefully done. It was noble, she was honored, and in that moment she was truly Divergent. She was honest (Candor) by being true to herself, she was intelligent (Erudite) by making the right choice, no matter how hard it was, she was kind (Amity) by being true to herself and by saving those around her, she was selfless (Abnegation) by sacrificing herself for the greater good, and above all, she was brave (Dauntless). In her life and death, Tris was never once too afraid to carry on. She was always brave.

Be brave, Tris. Be mended.

What are your thoughts on Tris's death? Share in the comments! :D

Sunday, November 17, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Day 17

Today I'm grateful for . . . blog memes. It's a great way to get excited about blogging again if you're in a slump. I also love to warm up with a blog post before working on a book, and a blog meme is a great writing prompt. Some of my favorite blog memes are ones where somebody writes up a list of questions and tags a bunch of people. :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Day 16

Today I'm grateful for . . . writing blogs. My writing has been greatly affected by them and there is no way I'd be where I am now if it weren't for my first job at "The Write Practice". Here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):

"The Write Practice"
"Adventures In YA Publishing"
"Positive Writer"
"Go Teen Writers"
"Query Shark"
"The Bookshelf Muse"

"Write To Done" is collecting nominations for their TOP 10 Writing Blogs for 2013. Be sure to nominate your favorite writing blog and show your support! :D (I only wish I could've nominated more than one)!

Friday, November 15, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Days 11-15

Today I'm grateful for . . . variety. A variety in writing, books, movies, food, chocolate, friends, you name it! While I have favorites of all of these things (fantasy stories, Harry Potter, book adaptations, sushi, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, my BFF Kirsten) I don't think I ever fall into a rut. It'd be a very boring world if all we could eat or read or experience were our favorite things.

Today I'm grateful for . . . goofiness. My friends and I are always laughing. Of course we have "serious" times, or times where we have in-depth conversations, but we're always joking around and teasing each other (especially when Avery's around).

Today I'm grateful for . . . movies. Kirsten and I just had a movie marathon. We watched "The Hunger Games" (something we both decided we needed to watch again before the "Catching Fire" premiere next week), "The Host," and "Mean Girls." We also watched tons of "Friends" episodes. Movies that will have to wait until next week are "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "Julie & Julia," and "Ocean's Eleven."

Today I'm grateful for . . . YouTube. I love to look up new trailers for movies that are coming out, or interviews with Jennifer Lawrence, or Taylor Swift music videos. Sometimes I reward myself with YouTube time if I've met my word count goal for the day. ;)

Today I'm grateful for . . . write-ins. I get most of my writing done at write-ins during NaNoWriMo. I wrote 3,700 words yesterday at the most recent write-in and now I'm back on track!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Days 7-10

Today I'm grateful for . . . computers. I'm so glad that we live in a world where everything you'll ever need as a writer is at your fingertips. I don't know what I'd do without my computers.

Today I'm grateful for . . . chocolate. In any shape, size, or form (unless it's white chocolate) it's good. My favorite kinds of chocolate are Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and chocolate milkshakes. Chocolate makes me happy. :)

Today I'm grateful for . . . authors. Just yesterday my mom, dad, brother, and visiting friend (hi, Mary!) went to this day-long festival where we got to go to different presentations and workshops lead by children and YA authors. My favorite author to listen to was A.S. King. She's so normal. She's very down to earth, easy to talk to, and she's hilarious! Every presentation there was very inspiring. But the best part? Our family and A.S. King's family are going to "hang out" sometime. :D

Reality Boy
A.S. King's newest book

Today I'm grateful for . . . music. I don't think I'd be able to write half the stuff I do without my iPod by my side. Music inspires me. I make playlists of songs for every single book I write. I like to imagine my books as movies (complete with actors and actresses that I've cast myself for each character). From there I pick songs that would play during specific parts in the movie. For example, here's the list of songs for the Flightless Birds soundtrack:

"Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons
"Burn" by Ellie Goulding
"Gone" by Ioanna Gika
"My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)" by Fall Out Boy
"Girl On Fire" by Alicia Keys
"Atlas" by Coldplay
"We Remain" by Christina Aguilera
"Come & Get It" by Selena Gomez
"Not With Haste" by Mumford and Sons
"Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ketchup Clouds--A Book Review ("It's not blood . . .")

(I got a paperback ARC from Netgalley via Martina and Jan over at "Adventures In YA Publishing". Thanks again!)

This is a spoiler-free review. All opinions are completely my own.

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

The Magic Violinist, Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher, book review,

Released: November, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 261

Dear Mr. S. Harris,
Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It's jam, not blood, though I don't think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn't your wife's jam the police found on your shoe . . .
Zoe has an unconventional pen pal--Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two brothers, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.
Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story--somebody who knows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.

Let me start off by saying that I loved this book. Though the whole story had a dark, gloomy, sort of depressing feel, it was very suspenseful and very well done. I gobbled the whole thing up in one (very late) night.
I loved the fact that this is set in England. I think we need to read more books that are set in places besides America, and not just historical fiction. We need to broaden our horizons a little bit, and if we can't easily travel to a place like England, reading's a great way to "go" there!

I loved all of the characters in this book! Even Mr. Harris, though he never responds to Zoe's letters or contacts her in any way. You got to know him through bits of the letters that Zoe wrote, mentioning him writing poems while in jail and how he took his wife on their first date to a burger restaurant where they got a milkshake with two straws. I think my favorite character was Dot, though, Zoe's five-year-old sister who was deaf, but communicated through sign language. She was such a happy ray of sunshine in such a dark book.

I instantly loved Zoe. Despite all of her flaws--which were some pretty big flaws--you couldn't help but feel sorry for her and want to put your arm around her and tell her that it was okay. The only thing that bugged me about her was that she never seemed to learn from her mistakes. She kept making the same mistake over and over again. Despite all of that, though, I really loved this book.

Note: This book--as you might have been able to tell--has a lot of heavy topics and adult themes. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under the age of twelve or thirteen.

Updates From MV:

Make sure you read my gratitude post from today (Day 6) below! :D
I hit 13,000 words with my NaNo novel yesterday! :D

I'm having a hard time deciding which books to read next these days (because there are way too many to choose from!). Which one should I start with: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, Reality Boy by A.S. King, or Maus by Art Spiegelman?

The "Go Teen Writers" website is doing this awesome thing where you promote the authors, their books, and their website in exchange for points that you can redeem for critiques on your book/query letter! :D Check it out!

(If you have something you'd like me to share in "Updates From MV" please send me an e-mail at themagicviolinist(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thank you! :D) 

30 Days of Gratitude--Day 6

Today I'm grateful for . . . the violin. It's so much fun to play (especially songs like the "Bach Double") and without it I wouldn't be The Magic Violinist, now would I? ;)

The Magic Violinist, violin,

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Day 5

Today I'm grateful for . . . "The Voice". It is the best singing competition ever! :D Much better than "American Idol" or "X Factor" (which have gotten really old for me). Adam Levine is awesome (and hilarious) and all of the other judges have such great chemistry! I feel like they're really trying to help the contestants become better artists. They're not just trying to "beat" the other judges.

My favorite contestant of all time is Melanie Martinez, who made it pretty far last season but (sadly) didn't win. :( Here's her audition song, "Toxic", which was amazing! :D

Monday, November 4, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Day 4

Today I'm grateful for . . . my blogging friends. :) Some of my best writing buddies have come from blogging, including two of my critique partners. *Waves to nevillegirl and storytellergirlgrace* While I read several blogs (I believe I'm upwards of 50 subscriptions in my Feedly), a few of them really stand out to me and I'd like to give them a little shout-out now (in no particular order). :) (NOTE: Writing blogs will come later--for now this is just a list of my favorite blogs that aren't necessarily writing-focused).

Sushi and Pizza (My mom and dad's blog--they're both hilarious).

I Don't Eat My Drumsticks (My brother's blog--he's also hilarious, and a total goofball).

The Book Chewers (A blog all about books--yes, I contribute to this blog, but I'm not talking about my
own posts. I'm talking all of the other posts. You should seriously check it out!)

As a Teen Writer (The lovely Karoline Kingley's blog--her posts are very in depth and are usually good conversation starters. Her writing is amazing, and I wouldn't be surprised if she gets published very soon!)

Musings From Neville's Navel (nevillegirl's blog--I don't think I've met anyone nerdier on the online world. nevillegirl is extremely funny and her blog has a great variety of posts, from books, to movies, to writing, to school, you can find it all there!)

Notebook Sisters (Cait and Mime's blog--I love these two. They're extremely random, quirky, and funny. Cait and Mime are sisters, and their chemistry online is awesome. They make for an interesting read.)

Rainbows and Penguins (Beth's blog--always up for a good discussion about writing and usually has awesome prompts and/or writing tips!)

(and finally) StorytellerGirl (storytellergirlgrace's blog--I love her blog! Her posts are also very in depth and I find myself constantly starring them on my Feedly. She's also a great critique partner! I'm always excited when I get my work back from her because I know she'll have great advice for me.)

What are your favorite blogs? I'm always up for suggestions! :D

Sunday, November 3, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Day 3

Today I'm grateful for . . . Saturday night dates. Every Saturday night, my mom and I watch anywhere from 4-6 episodes of "Gilmore Girls," my new favorite TV show. (No spoilers, please! I haven't finished it yet!) While I love all of the characters (except for maybe Taylor) my favorite side characters are Luke and Kirk.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Day 2

Today I'm grateful for . . . Imagine Dragons. This is a band I recently discovered (thanks to "The Host," the radio, and my pen pal McKenzie). My favorite song by them is "Radioactive." It's actually in my book soundtrack for my NaNoWriMo novel, Flightless Birds. ;) The video is below.

Friday, November 1, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Day 1

I did this last year (click HERE to read the first one, or just search "30 Days of Gratitude" in the search box) so I'm going to do something a little different this year. I'm going to write about something I'm grateful for every day for 30 days, but I can't repeat anything I said the last year. :) Shouldn't be too hard.

Today I'm grateful for . . . Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. It’s such a simple, sweet, heartbreaking book that’s very character-driven (my favorite kind). You feel so much for these characters that you’re almost surprised to find that they’re fictional. You get so attached to them that they’re almost like your best friends, no, family. I finished it wishing I hadn’t, because I couldn’t ever read that book again for the first time.
The Magic Violinist, Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell,