Archive for April, 2013

Preview the Future Design of the WordPress Dashboard.

Peeps! Look at this! It’s so much better than the current WP dashboard interface. And you can even use the experimental version now.

This is cool. *nerding out*

I’m not a baker. Y’all probably make tiramisu and crepes and stuff every other day, but me? Nope.

Therefore, when I set out to make cream puffs yesterday, I was quite apprehensive. I’m wonderful at baking brownies from the mix, but geez, cream puffs are HARDCORE.

Here are the humble beginnings:

Guess what, guys? I hate dealing with boiling water. Or actually anything involving a stove top. I survived, though. Somehow.

After I got that whipped up, I plopped the dough onto a baking sheet and mixed a little glaze thingy that I got to brush over the dough with a pastry brush! A pastry brush, people. This is real stuff here.

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It was so fun.

After covering the dough pieces completely, I ended up with this:

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They look kind of gross, don’t they? (The dough didn’t taste very good, either, but that was to be expected. So I was told.)

Then…disaster struck.

I was going about my merry way, waiting for the oven to preheat, and then there’s this big POP sound, emanating from the oven. Mom opens the door to investigate, and we are greeted with the sight of a flaming oven heating element. You know, the thing that looks like a big black coil at the bottom of the oven? The thing that heats up and makes the oven an oven? Half of it was all lit up orange, and the other half was black. After further investigation, we Mom determined that half of the heating element had broken. How does that even happen? And more importantly, would the cream puffs that I was so laboriously laboring over go to waste?

No. They wouldn’t. Apparently there was enough heat retained in the functioning half of the heating element that the cream puffs could still bake. Phew. (It was a little anticlimactic, though.)

So I stuck the pan into the oven, and…waited.

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It was agony. Agony! Far more painful than yours. (Name that quote, and I shall give you a virtual bag of Starbursts.)

Obviously, I got over my agony, because I forgot to take pictures when the puffs came out of the oven. Oops.

I decided not to make the cream yesterday. I’m not quite sure why. But I made it today. The recipe involves beating up a bit of heavy whipping cream, and to be truthful, I was terrified. See, this one time, Mom was beating heavy whipping cream and she accidentally beat it for too long. We thought it would still taste all right, but in reality, it was the most awful thing I’ve ever, ever, ever eaten. I almost puked MOVING ON. This time, it turned out. See for yourselves:

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Don’t you wish you could eat it? *evil cackle*

Unfortunately, I had forgotten to put the puff part of the cream puffs onto a wire rack to cool yesterday. So they ended up looking like this:

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So, not completely appetizing. But they looked a million times better once I filled one with cream and ate a delicious lunch snack.

After eating it (and enjoying every minute of it), I decided that maybe baking isn’t so bad after all. I’m still not a culinary genius (I’m not sure if that’s even an actual possibility for me, at any point, anywhere, in my life), but I’m not a crappy baker as I have always feared. Hallelujah.

The Notebook Sisters are having a party! *blows horn* And what’s a party without games? A horrible party, that’s what. So I am participating in their sweet version of pass the parcel–otherwise known as a tag. :) How I love tags!

bookparty_zpsaff53714

And now I must answer questions.

1. Name your top 5 favourite YA authors! Five? This is torture. Well, let’s see…Maria V. Snyder, Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, R.L. LaFevers, and Rae Carson. (Sorry, Neal Shusterman. You got kicked off the list. Don’t cry, please.)

2. What’s the last YA book you read and what did you think of it? I finished Crown of Embers (Rae Carson) about a week ago. OHMYGOODNESS it was amazing. It’s the second in the Fire and Thorns trilogy, and…I can’t even. It was so spectacular I nearly died. Also, Hector.

3. What’s your favorite YA genre? (Dystopian, romance, sci-fi, contemporary, etc.) High fantasy (the likes of Poison Study, Throne of Glass, Grave Mercy, Girl of Fire and Thorns, you get the picture). Especially if it involves assassins, castle intrigue, and/or romance.

4. Let’s talk characters! Pick a character you love and tell us why? I would have said Hermione from Harry Potter, but several people have already talked about her, so I won’t. Let’s see…HECTOR! Yes, Hector from the Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson. He’s the Royal Guard, so obviously he’s quite skilled in the fighting arts and all of that spectacular wondrous-ness. Not only that, but his character is just fascinating. He is first and foremost true to his job, and tries his very hardest never to let personal emotions get in the way. He shows admirable effort, but sometimes his façade cracks and we see the true Hector, who cares very much about his home country and Elisa. (Duh, guys. Did you really think I’d talk about Hector without mentioning the romance?) Speaking of romance, he’s not dumb about it. He realizes that he has to honor his family and his position as Royal Guard first, and isn’t stupid like Edward and Bella. Ahem. Anyways, he’s awesome.

5. Top YA villain? President Snow. Yes, this is a clichèd choice, but he’s just so creepy and awesome. He certainly knows how to get his way and stops at nothing to do it. Creepiness overall.

6. Top YA couple? You’re truly asking me to choose? This is impossible. But…after long deliberation…I’ve got to say Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter. They’re absolutely perfect together. Oh, but we can’t forget Scarlet and Wolf! Or Yelena and Valek! Or Avry and Kerrick! Or Ismae and Gavriel! Or Celaenia and Chaol! OR ELISA AND HECTOR! There are too. Many. Choices. *agony* *breaks into song*

7. With dystopian on the decline, what do you think will be the next hot-trend in YA? I do think it will be high fantasy. (This isn’t just me dreaming.) There have been a good number of high-fantasy releases lately, and I think people will start catching onto the fact that it’s completely boss.

8. What’s the next YA book on your to-read pile? Poison by Bridget Zinn. It looks like a perfect fluffy fantasy, but I fear I shall not be able to finish it before I return it to the library (because SOMEBODY has a hold on it *coughcoughIvyI’mlookingatyoucoughcough*).

9. What’s the fastest time you’ve ever finished reading a book in? (And what was the book?!) Uh…let’s see….oh, yeah, that. This summer I finished Sidekicks (Jack D. Ferraiolo) in the space of 24 hours. Awwww, yeah! Granted, it wasn’t particularly hard reading, but it was fairly long.

10. (And now for the burning question) Do you think books should be sorted according to colour or title? (This matters.) Well, of course it matters! This stuff is important! I have to say by title, because I’m a tad bit OCD and alphabetizing books (…and everything else) is my thing. But now that you mention it, sorting by color would look really cool…hmm. I’ll still stick with title, though, because…just because.

Well, that was fun! Be sure to stop by the Notebook Sister’s epic blog, because, well, it’s epic. I’m not going to stop linking until you click, you know

Also, be sure to check out all of their party info! It’s great fun, so consider participating, too. :) (I hear there are prizes involved, too…) And if you wish to be tagged in this particularly splendid tag, well…TAG! You’re it.

Speaking of parties…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sQyIFd2FD4

This might possibly be my favorite comedic musical theater solo. Genius, I say. GENIUS.

Anyways, have a great day! I’m going to dust off the old weekly-blogging initiative, so you can [possibly] expect more-regular-ish posts soon! [I’m not promising anything, however] And I’m working on a review for a movie that some of you like quite a lot…so there’s that. I’ll keep you hanging.

Bye-bye, lovelies!

(You didn’t think I’d end this post without linking to the Notebook Sisters one more time, did you?)

Dare You Speak Out?

Posted: April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Dare You Speak Out?.

Yup, this is pretty much all of my feels summed up perfectly by Paulina.

No, peeps, I’m not going to talk about geometry. Y’all can heave a collective sigh of relief. (Geometry. Sucks.) The real subject of the post is quite different.

You probably have read a book series in your lifetime in which one (or more) of the books was unnecessary. Well, maybe it was necessary for plot points and such, but it dragged and you just didn’t like it. I know I have. (Magic Study, anyone?)

No author would intentionally write a dull book (at least, none that I can think of…). But there are really no set rules to deciding how many books you want to include in a series. There’s a huge trend going on in YA novels in which trilogies are now a thing. I’m not exactly what started the trend, but it’s…a thing now. I personally prefer stand-alones or duos, just because no book is so spectacular and amazing that you’ll remember every single plot point and I like remembering stuff so that I’m not terribly confused. When I read UnWholly, the sequel to Unwind by Neal Shusterman, I couldn’t remember much of the climax in the first book, and had to patch together memories as they slowly returned. This problem obviously presents itself with duos, as well, but it isn’t quite so hard to keep track of everything.

It sounds like I’m dissing trilogies, and I’m not. Well, sort of. I’m sick of reading them, but that doesn’t mean that every trilogy is awful. I love the Hunger GamesUnwind, and Hex Hall trilogies. And yes, 95% of the time the author just feels that the story needs 3 books and isn’t trying to follow the trend or anything. But I’m just sorta tired of trilogies.

But it all comes down to the author and the story (duh). If the story won’t need any follow-up and will end somewhat definitely, then one book is all you need. If there’s too much information to contain in one novel, then two or three books would be a better choice. The novel I’m currently working on (that is, pretending to) is about a Royal Warrior who gets caught up in the planning of a revolution in book 1. The revolution itself will take place in book 2. But the story isn’t complex enough for me to extend it throughout three or more books. Therefore, I’m making a duo. Simple.

Lately, authors have been sticking to shorter series, typically trilogies or stand-alones. But there are series that extend for longer periods, and, strangely enough, most of the authors who write long series write them well. Take, for example, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I love Harry Potter. It’s one of my favorite series (if not my absolute favorite). There are seven books in all, and each book is increasingly longer. Yet I never got bored of the plot (except a little in Chamber of Secrets–my least favorite book of the series). Rowling gives each book a plot of its own (the first deals with the quest for the Sorcerer’s Stone, the second, the search for Ginny and the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets, et cetera), but everything ties into the main plot: Voldemort’s rise of DARKNESS AND DOOM. *evil music* The seven books were all connected, yet they didn’t each dwell on the one subject of Voldemort and his evilness, and so on. It was rather ingenious. So, longer series can work out very well–you just need to be a really good author. Other examples of longer series that were epic are the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander and the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Check them out. You might like them.

Moving on.

Unless you live in a hole, you’ll know that there’s been a lengthy trend in YA fiction of writing dystopia. Or utopia. FUTURISTIC NOVELS, okay? Most of these novels are parts of trilogies. And I’ve found there’s a simple formula for these novels:

Book 1: Protagonist lives in this awful society. He wants to change it (or maybe doesn’t), but it seems impossible. He meets people who want to rebel. Something happens that sparks this rebellion (small or large).

Book 2: There’s a rebellion building as all the people who have been lying around doing nothing for all these years realize that the government is corrupt and evil and stuff. People start rising up in protestation and so forth. The rebellion breaks loose.

Book 3: WAR. (Widows, orphans, a motherless child…Ahem. Sorry.) The government is falling. The protagonist probably has some scars by now, and is likely involved in a love triangle. The rebels win the war, and a new, happy government starts. The love triangle is resolved, possibly tragically. The end.

Not every YA futuristic novel follows this formula, obviously. But there are a good number that do. This type of story-arc is perfect for a trilogy. Except…sometimes not. Sometimes books drag. (Like Mockingjay.) Sometimes there isn’t enough information and action and stuff happening to make the story interesting. But the author’s in a pickle because the story can’t possibly fit into two books, yet three is too many. Such problems.

But it’s up to the author. And the characters. And the plot. The characters need to grow over the space of the book(s). The plot needs to build nicely and then resolve over the space of the book(s). And only the author will know how many books it will take. I’m not telling you to write a stand-alone, or a duo, or a trilogy, or a whatever. This is just me flinging my opinion into space because I like to do that. Any number of books satisfies me if they’re all written well and enjoyable. It’s SO SIMPLE!

Wow. This is a lot of disjointed craziness. Um…I’m just gonna click Publish and stop thinking, savvy?

See you when I see you. If I see you. Ever.

It’s Russell Crowe’s birthday! This calls for celebration! (Not as much celebration as Hugh Jackman’s birthday will call for, but celebration still.) I mean…it’s Russell Crowe, guys.

Russell Crowe Gladiator

 

Russell Crowe Javert

 

This is real. Russell Crowe is in Man of Steel.

This is real. Russell Crowe is in Man of Steel. Definitely seeing it now. He looks like a  Jedi dude, kind of.

In celebration, I baked brownies. OM NOM NOM.

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So…happy birthday, Russell Crowe! Keep being kick-butt and all that.

In conclusion: THERE IS NOTHING ON EARTH THAT WE SHARE. IT IS EITHER VALJEAN OR JAVERT.