Sunday, January 8, 2017

Jilly-Bean

Heyo! Jillian here again, and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and have a happy new year! :) It's only been about 3 weeks since the last time I blogged, and unfortunately I've only completed 1 book since then, with me only being on my 18th book. I've noticed I'm reading at slower pace then what I used to (pages-per-hour wise), because I want to really take time to grasp what's going on and pay attention to every detail instead of speeding through them, which is why I haven't been reading as many books lately as I used to. I've only read 281 pages since my last blog, which is about 94 pages a week, 13 pages a day. I feel like my low rate is due to both my busy schedule with not very much time to read outside of class, as well as how I'm becoming a slower reader. Unfortunately that doesn't meet the revised goal of 150 pages a week I set last time, but now I'm only 2 books away from my goal of reading 20 books this semester. With the end of semester only a week away, I feel like I'm going to fall just short of my goal. But who knows, I might be able to read two more books by then and complete it.

The book I'm currently reading right now is Dumplin' by Julie Murphy. A silly (yet quick) connection I made with the main character Willowdean (who goes by Will, yet nicknamed Dumplin' by her mother) is the fact that we both were/are given a nickname after a food. When I was little my friends would call me Jilly-Bean, since my name's Jillian. But that's not the only thing I have in common with her: we can both be insecure about ourselves and struggle with self-confidence. When Will recalls memories of her aunt and role-model Lucy, she remembers Lucy reassuring her when she was little and too afraid to walk into dance class, because she was worried she wouldn't fit in due to her being 'fat.' Her aunt told her, "'I've wasted a lot of time in my life. I've thought too much about what people will say or what they're gonna think... I was scared someone might look at me and decide I wasn't good enough. But you don't have to bother with that nonsense.'" That really resonated with me, because I sometimes view myself as not fitting in either, and let it hold me back from doing something I love. Though my insecurity deals with my personality rather than my size, I'm quite introverted and normally don't like to talk to people that I'm not extremely comfortable around. If I'm in a crowded room with none of my friends, I'll usually pull out a book or stick my head in my phone whilst sitting in a corner, because I'm not confident enough to go and strike up a conversation with someone I haven't already met, which makes me feel like I don't belong. But Lucy's words have taught me that I shouldn't let feeling like I don't fit it hold me back from doing something, because as Lucy puts it, that's "nonsense." If I'm enjoying myself, other people's opinions shouldn't matter to me. But so far, this book is very uplifting and engaging, and I would recommend it to anyone who feels insecure about themselves/loves a good romance novel.



Friday, December 16, 2016

To Jill a Mockingbird (Get it - 'cause my name's Jillian :D)

Heyo everyone! With it being December, I'd like to wish you all Happy Holidays! It's been 5 weeks since the last time I blogged, and at that time I was on my 14th book, and right now I'm on my 17th, only 3 away from reaching my goal of 20! I've read 852 pages since then, approximately 170 pages a week, 24 pages a day. My reading rate has dropped even further since my last blog when it was 245 pages a week, so I'm going to lower my reading goal to 150 pages a week, since I haven't met my goal of 250 pages a week in nearly 2 months. I feel like I've just been so busy with theatre, choir, and my other classes that I've fallen behind on reading, but I hope to be able to surpass my new goal and be able to increase it later. For the first time in a while, I'm reading two books at once. I normally don't do that because I like to focus on one story and give it my full attention, instead of switching between two novels while trying to read them both. But I decided to put my 16th book on hold, so I could begin reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Growing up, To Kill a Mockingbird was a well-known title that I knew of, but ironically knew not much about. When I read the first chapter, to be honest I was very confused. I literally underlined all the words I didn't know, 18 in total. But I'm 9 chapters in now, and I'm understanding it a lot more and actually enjoying it quite a lot. Although so far, the book has nothing to do with killing mockingbirds, which I dumbly thought was going to be the main focus of the book, given its title. I'm guessing it's a metaphor for something, then? Or maybe it'll come up literally in a later chapter, I guess I'll have to keep reading to find out. One of the things I really like about the novel so far is the theme of seeing things from other people's point of views to understand them better. When Scout is pleading with Atticus to not make her go to school the next day due to her not liking her new teacher, Atticus replies, "'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it,'" (Hunter 30). This really struck a cord with me, because sometimes it's hard for me to understand the differing opinions of some of my family members and why they believe certain religious and moral things. But reading this has helped me to try and look at things from their perspective, which gives me a glimpse into why they do the things they do, and see things through their eyes.

Although I really liked that quote and its message, my favorite thing so far in the novel is the mystery surrounding Boo (Arthur) Radley. *SPOILER ALERT!* I loved all of Scout and Jem's indirect encounters with him - seeing the curtain flicker when Jem touched the Radley house, Scout hearing Boo's faint laughter from inside when she rolled into the yard in the tire, and of course, when Scout was too mesmerized by the house fire to notice Boo draping the blanket over her shoulders to warm her from the freezing temperatures. But above all, I love how Boo is presumably the one leaving the gifts for the children in the knot-hole of the tree, like gum, trinkets, and even hand-carved statues of the children. It shows that he possibly has a soft-spot for the children, and isn't the terrifying monster the town makes him out to be. But overall, I'm really liking this book so far, and look forward to reading the rest of it.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Tale of Two Actresses

Heyo everyone! It's been a few weeks since the last time I've blogged, and a bit has happened (reading-wise) since then. Last time I blogged was about 5 weeks ago, and I was on my 10th book. As of now, I'm only on my 14th. I've read 1,226 pages since then, approximately 245 pages a week, 37 pages a day. I'm surprised to have had such a dramatic decline in pages read, with it being approximately 561 pages a week, 84 pages a day last time I blogged. I'm only about 5 pages under my reading goal of 250 pages a week that I set last blog, so though I seem to have slacked off reading-wise, I'll keep the goal the same in the hopes that I will meet it by next blog. If I'm still under it by then, perhaps I'll lower it. But for lighter news, I'm on my 14th book currently, only 6 books away from meeting my goal of reading 20 books this semester.

The book I'm reading currently is called A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine. As I'm sure you all know, I'm a fan of fantasy novels, especially those that include dragons, magic, or female protagonists, since I find I relate to those the most. I was passing by the shelves in my nearby public library when this book on display caught my eye. I was immediately drawn to the dragon on the cover with wings like a stained-glass window, and the girl with long brown hair similar to my own. So I promptly checked it out, setting it aside for later, since at the time I was in the middle of a series that I wanted to finish before I began reading the book. I just recently started reading it, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I have a lot more in common with the main protagonist Elodie than what I initially thought; we both love to act. Elodie is a 12-year-old girl, a member of a poor farming family out in the country. Determined to make sure she gets a good start, her parents send her overseas to the kingdom of Two Castles, which is a bustling city where they hope she will apprentice herself to a weaver and learn the trade for ten years. But Elodie, not wanting to become a weaver and waste away inside, secretly decides to instead try to apprentice herself to a mansioner, which is what they call an actor or actress. On the boat ride there, she finds herself speaking with a woman about why she decides to do this, saying: "'I love spectacles and stories.' Mansioning had been my ambition since I was seven..." (Levine 9). Upon reading this, I instantly struck a cord with Elodie: I too had been in love with theatre from a young age, and though I don't intend to pursue it professionally like her, I empathized with her longing to continue acting and performing. I've been involved with theatre since 1st grade, so reading about her worries before performing in front of a crowd and rehearsing where no one can hear her were all too familiar for me. Though I haven't finished the book yet, I can already say I completely recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, magical beasts, or theatre, because this novel delivers all three.


Friday, October 7, 2016

You Should Read This Book Sometime; Surprisingly, a True Story

Heyo! To start off, a ton of stuff (reading-wise) has happened since the last time I blogged. On my last entry, I had just finished my fourth book of the semester. Now, nearly three weeks later, I've just started my tenth book! That means I'm halfway there to reaching my goal of reading 20 books this semester. If I keep up this pace, I'm confident that I'll reach it. On my last entry I also set another goal, of reading at least 120 pages a week. And let me just say, I far surpassed that goal! In the approximate three weeks since the last time I blogged, I've read a total of 1,683 pages. That's an estimated 561 pages a week, about 84 pages a day! Having so far exceeded my previous goal, I'm going to extend it to reading at least 250 pages a week. I know it's only about half of what my average has been so far, but I thought I'd make it that way to give me a little wiggle-room in case I fall behind on reading. If I surpass this goal again by the next time I blog, perhaps I'll extend it even further.

I've just started my tenth book of the semester, but the one I'd like to discuss is its predecessor. We Should Hang Out Sometime; Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist is a comedic autobiography narrated by amputee cancer survivor Josh, where he recounts all of his failed romances and sets off to figure out what went wrong with each of them, in order to discover why he's still single. Normally I don't really like nonfiction books or biographies, because I usually see them all as clusters of facts and experiences meant to inform rather than entertain. And I've always been one to read for entertainment, so I always tended to read more fiction and fantasy. But for my English class this semester, we were required to read at least one nonfiction book before the end of the first 9 weeks. So, I started searching around for recommended titles, and came across We Should Hang Out Sometime. It sounded like an interesting book, so I decided to read it for my nonfiction requirement, since autobiographies count as nonfiction. And let me just say, I absolutely adored this book!

^^BOOK
(Sorry to those viewing on tablets, I tried on mine and I think you have to be on a computer to see this gif for some reason :/ )

It was so sweet and comedic, I honestly loved every chapter. I actually found myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions, which doesn't typically happen with me. So in short, I was thoroughly entertained for the entirety of the book. I think the thing I liked most about it is that it didn't even seem like a nonfiction book. All of the stories described in it felt like things I would read in a fiction novel, as if the story was something an author came up with and all of the characters were made-up. It seemed almost surreal to think that they were all real people, and the situations they were in actually happened. It was nonfiction, but it didn't feel at all like the stereotypical nonfiction. It was like nonfiction but without all of the boring facts and more of the entertaining stories. And on top of being entertaining, it was also very thought-provoking with a lot of good messages and morals. 

Towards the beginning of the book, Josh was describing how when he was on a church retreat in 8th grade, he would always ask the camp counselor what their next activity was in order to decide whether he would need to wear his prosthetic leg or not. One day when he asks the same question, his counselor replies: "'Listen, Josh, sometimes it's best to just go with the flow... Every moment of your life doesn't need to be planned out in advance. Sometimes the best moments are the spontaneous ones you don't plan for'" (19). For me, this message really hit home because I'm the kind of person who plans ahead for almost everything. I plan out certain conversations in my head before I start them, think over possible replies to texts before I send them, and every day at school I usually plot in my head what time I'll start my homework depending on how much I have. I know it might sound crazy, but it's just how I do things. So reading those lines about how some of the best moments in life are spontaneous has really got me re-thinking all of my planning ahead. Of course it's how I usually go about my day, but it has me considering maybe going with the flow more often and not trying to be prepared for everything. Overall, I give this book 5/5 stars, and recommend it to anyone who doesn't typically like/read nonfiction (or those that do for that matter), because it's sure to sway your opinion with it's comedic touch and heartwarming storytelling. 

Until next time! :)



Saturday, September 17, 2016

If You Like Fantasy, Then You'll Love This Book!

Heyo again! I'm happy to say that I've just finished reading The Cursed Child by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, which I really enjoyed! It's the second book I've finished this semester, so I'm one step closer to my goal of reading 20 books this semester. I think I'd actually like to set another goal, in hopes of completing at least one, since I'm not sure how likely it is that I'll read 20 books in one semester. I'm going to set a goal to read at least 120 pages a week, which I think is a fair enough amount. Let's see how well I can hold it up!

Having just finished The Cursed Child, I began a new book called Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey, which I have since finished. The story focuses around a young princess named Rosalind (Rosie for short), who was born with a hideous dragon claw for a ring finger. Despite the fact that Rosalind is otherwise human in appearance, her mother, Queen Gweneth, forces her to wear gloves 24/7 to hide her claw, so that she will not be accused of being a witch (which is a commonality in Rosalind's society). Though the queen had good intentions in concealing her daughter's claw, Rosie can't help but feel as if her mother is ashamed of her. But (SPOILER ALERT!) when Rosie is kidnapped by a ferocious dragon, she gains a new understanding of herself, since the dragon views her claw as beautiful instead of revolting like her mother did. She also undergoes grueling physical tasks when she agrees to look after the dragon's newly-hatched children (or 'pips' as they're called in the novel), in exchange for the dragon agreeing to not attack any more people, which teaches her how to have hope and keep going for something worthwhile.

This book spoke to me on a personal level, because throughout the beginning, Rosie views her claw as a hideous curse, causing her to feel insecure and unloved. One day when her love interest Kye removes her glove and sees her claw, Rosie thinks, "...I quickly slipped the golden glove back on to hide the hideous thing, though the gold cloth shrouded nothing now. Kye had seen I was a monster" (152-153). Rosie is ashamed that she didn't think to not let Kye take off her glove, so that he wouldn't see her claw, and feels as though it makes her a misfit and a monster. Though I don't have a dragon claw for a finger, there have been many times when I feel as if I don't fit in with the crowds as well, which makes Rosie more relatable. Her struggles also speak to me, as she toils through months on the dragon's island without any human interaction, in an effort to protect her family and friends from the dragon. It makes her seem even more brave and selfless, even if she views herself as a monster. Overall, I give the book 5/5 stars, and recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, mystery, and romance all wrapped up into one. Now get out there and read, book-lovers!

(Sorry to those viewing on tablets, I tried on mine and I think you have to be on a computer to see the gifs for some reason :/ )


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Welcome to My Reading Blog! :)

Heyo! I'm Jillian, a Sophomore at HHS. I'm in Bravo Advanced Theatre and Belle Chanson Treble Choir, and some of my other hobbies (besides singing and acting) include drawing, writing, and of course, reading! That's basically what this blog is about to be honest; my reading life. I must admit though, my reading can be a bit finicky. I like to read, but for some reason it takes me a while to pick up a book, even if I know it's good. And once I do get into the book, it's as if I can't get out of it. I'll stay up until the late hours of the night just to finish it. I especially love fantasy novels, which you might've already assumed from the title of this blog. There's just something about faraway places, mythical creatures, and magic that has grabbed onto me ever since I was little and won't let go. Some of my favorite fantasy series are Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling (I'm currently reading The Cursed Child), Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland, Warriors by Erin Hunter, and Wilde Island Chronicles by Janet Lee Carey.

My goal this semester is to read 20 books. I've already finished 2, so I'm one tenth of the way there! I normally read fantasy and fiction, so I'm going to try to step outside my comfort zone and read a few nonfiction books, science fiction, and maybe even a biography (which I tend to find boring). One of the books I plan on reading this semester is Lord of the Flies by William Golding (fiction). Some other books that I'm interested in reading are We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist (nonfiction), To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (fiction), and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (fiction). Anyway, thanks for reading! :)