Thursday, February 27, 2014

February Series of the Month #2: The Divergent Series

Hey, y'all! So, my plan was to read books 1 & 2 of the Miss Peregrine series in February and to start on the Divergent trilogy in March. However, I finished both Miss Peregrine's and Hollow City by halfway through February, so I decided to get right into Divergent, since I had been wanting to read it for quite a while. I finished Hollow City one evening, and then read 7 chapters of Divergent. The next day, I read the rest of Divergent. I was just so engrossed in the story and the characters that I could hardly put it down. Then, that evening, I started Insurgent, which I spent a little more time with.

Warning: Spoilers ahead! If you don't want to be spoiled, don't read my reviews if you haven't read the book! Trust me, I saw a huge Allegiant spoiler after finishing Divergent and it nearly ruined me.


As many of you already know, Divergent is a dystopian novel set in what is now Chicago. At some point long before this novel, it was decided that in order for life to run more smoothly, people should divide into 5 different factions based on how they perceive the problems of the world. Here's a brief rundown of the factions and their beliefs/ symbols:

The people of Abnegation believe that selfishness is what causes problems in the world. They practice extreme selflessness by wearing only grey, drab clothing to not bring attention to themselves. The Abnegation hold the government positions due to their selfless stance. They don't get along with Erudite.

The people of Amity believe that war and fighting are what cause problems in the world. They are peaceful- verging on hippie. They appreciate the arts and dress in red and yellow. They make decisions democratically, without one true leader. They don't get along with Candor.

The people of Candor believe that deception is what causes problems in the world. The people of Candor are honest to a fault, valuing honesty over anything else. They dress in black and white/ suits. Because they are so anti- dishonesty, they are exceptional at interpreting body language and knowing when someone is lying. They don't get along with Amity.

The people of Dauntless believe that fear and cowardice are what cause problems in the world. The Dauntless value bravery above all else and are in charge of the security of the city. They wear all black and have several tattoos, piercings, and often color their hair odd colors. As the guardians, the Dauntless are neutral with all factions. 

The people of Erudite blame ignorance and lack of knowledge for the problems in the world. They value intelligence and devote their lives to education. Although Abnegation hold the government positions, there is a single Erudite representative- the most intelligent Erudite- who also holds a government position. The Erudite don't get along with Abnegation. 

OK, so there's the rundown of the factions. When a teenager reaches the age of 16, they take a test to determine which faction they are best suited for. In the choosing ceremony the following day, they then get to choose whether to stay with their family in their faction, or to transfer to a different faction. It doesn't necessarily have to be the faction that the test said that they were best suited for, although that's definitely advised. However, once they choose a faction, there's no turning back. They must go through that faction's initiation, and if they fail, they become factionless- living outside of the factions and doing the jobs no one wants for little pay. 

Now that I've explained the world, let's get to the actual plot. Our main character, Beatrice Prior, is a 16 year old who is a member of the Abnegation. She and her brother, Caleb, are only a day away from their faction tests. Beatrice has never felt like she really belongs as a member of Abnegation. She believes she isn't selfless enough to truly be part of Abnegation, unlike her very selfless brother. She takes her test- a simulation of 3 separate incidents which, depending on her responses, should tell her which faction she belongs in. But when she finishes the test, she finds out that it didn't work on her. She is told that she's equal parts Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite. The woman administering the test, Tori (a Dauntless), tells her that she is 'Divergent' and that she must never tell anyone because Divergents are seen as a threat to the faction system. At the choosing ceremony the next day, Beatrice is shocked to see Caleb choose Erudite. When it's her turn, she chooses Dauntless. After the ceremony, her initiation begins. 

This is the point where you should probably stop reading if you don't want spoilers. Just saying. Again. Don't say I didn't warn you!!!

The book follows her journey through Dauntless initiation (where she changes her name to just Tris), where she meets friends, makes enemies and OF COURSE, falls in love. 

The overall plot of this book is not what makes it a good book. Long-run, it's very predictable. You can tell that she and Four are going to end up together. You know that she's not going to be a total failure. Once you see the problems occurring in the factions, you know there's going to be some sort of war between factions. You know that people are going to find out that Tris is divergent and that it's going to come back and bite her in the butt. I don't know about you, but I figured out that Four was Tobias long, LONG before it was ever mentioned. My point is- the plot is formulaic, just like 95% of books are. And that's not a bad thing; it's inevitable. 

The details and smaller plot points are what make this book so great. The simulations, the initiate conflicts, the training, the world building; all of these combined make it a fascinating book. I think that the test is fascinating, as are the other simulations the initiates go through. I really enjoyed the early Tris/Four interactions and seeing them actually getting to know each other. So much better than insta-love. I loved the entire initiation process- Tris losing, rather than just automatically being great at everything. And, of course, I love the whole world that Veronica Roth has created. I find the factions really interesting. Much like Harry Potter fans sort themselves into houses, Divergent fans can sort themselves into factions, and although in the world these factions are completely flawed, it's fun for fans to find their little niche in this really cool world. 


Insurgent, the second book in the series, picks up right where Divergent left off. The book follows Tris as she goes throughout the city, trying to stay alive and defeat Jeanine. We see more of the Amity and Candor factions, which I thought was really interesting. But I'm just going to cut right to the chase... it was disappointing. 

Don't get me wrong, I devoured it much like I did with Divergent- though definitely not as quickly. I just think that so much was very drawn out. Tris and Four both became very unpleasant, and the book focused a bit too much on their relationship. It almost seemed like Veronica Roth was trying to drag it out to make it a trilogy. She calls upon things she's already used- simulations for example- and it gets just a little old.

I was also annoyed throughout the book that even though being divergent was supposed to be this very rare trait, it seemed like we were discovering divergents left and right. After reading past this point, it makes sense, but at the time, it was very frustrating. 

For me, the importance of this book lies in the information that Tris and the others receive at the end of the book- about how divergents will be able to help those outside the city. As you can see when comparing the length of my discussion on this book vs. Divergent, I don't have a ton to say. I just think that so much of this book was unnecessary to the series overall.


Seriously, if you haven't read ALL of Allegiant, STOP READING NOW. I am about to talk about the biggest spoiler of the series.

So, that Allegiant spoiler I talked about accidentally seeing after finishing Divergent? The spoiler was that Tris died. I almost didn't want to keep going, but I decided that I still needed to see what else happened, so I kept going. 

I definitely liked Allegiant more than I liked Insurgent. I was really excited to see what was outside of the fence and to get an explanation for the whole organization of the city. 

Here are my major complaints with the book: 

First, I was really annoyed by Uriah being killed. Of all the characters who could've been killed, why Uriah? I understand why a character had to die in that scenario, but I wish it hadn't been him. 

Second, I got really annoyed that Tris and Four were constantly getting jealous just because the other was talking to someone of the opposite gender. They have no reason to not trust each other, and yet they're both jealous.

Third, Tris's death. I guess Veronica did it so that the ending was dramatic, but it's just not a satisfying ending. Caleb's death would have been much more satisfying because he actually had a debt to pay. Tris spent a significant portion of the books doing selfless acts, so it seems like a fitting way for her to die, but she just didn't deserve it after how hard she fought. 

Most of the rest of the book, I actually enjoyed. I didn't think it was anywhere near as great as Divergent, but I definitely preferred it to Insurgent. The corrupt government was realistic. I liked that Four was able to finally make peace with his mom, and I also appreciated that for once, he was the one making the mistakes rather than Tris. I also appreciated that we were able to see the characters a couple years down the road and see how things have progressed. 

Overall, it was somewhat disappointing, but it was an OK ending to the series. 

Also, this has nothing to do with the actual story, but would you just look at how gorgeous the inside of this book is??

It's a really minor detail, but my favorite color combo is red & black, and I love the kinda scratched looking red and the cloud-like black/grey. It's just really pretty.

Overall Series Impression:

This series started out SO strong. I gave Divergent a solid 5/5 stars on GoodReads. I thoroughly enjoyed it and finished it in a day, despite it being more than 500 pages long. The other two books were... OK. I gave them both 4 stars on GoodReads, although Insurgent was closer to a 3.5 and Allegiant was a solid 4. I'm sure that upon a re-read these might fluctuate a bit, but those are my initial opinions. 

Also, that being said, I do have an account on GoodReads, which I have linked HERE. I'm probably not going to review every single book I read on here, so you can check out my GoodReads account to see any reviews of books which I might have done on there and not on here. Also, I have a shelf listing all the books I plan on reading soon, in the order that I plan to read them, so if you want to see what's coming up next, you can check it out there. Lastly, I'm surprisingly good at updating where I am in the book I'm currently reading, so you can always check that out to see what might be reviewed next. 

So, that's it for this post! I know I said last month that I knew what I'd be reading for March, but since it was the Divergent trilogy, now I don't know what to read! So I'll have to figure out what to read as I go! If you have any suggestions for me, feel free to let me know. I might start on the Across The Universe trilogy, since I have the first 2 (meaning less books to buy) or I might go back to a non-fiction choice (although I can't push myself through those as quickly). See y'all here Saturday for the next chapter of The Secret Lightning Scar!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

15 Day Youtuber Challenge

Hey, y'all! It's time for another One Day Tumblr Challenge! So I had a really hard time trying to figure out what my challenge should be. I started on several and none of them seemed right. In the end, I went with this shorter one because I was enjoying it, and it's shorter. Because I'm finishing this late on Friday night. Because I totally have a social life that's as exciting as every other college student's. I don't spend every Friday night on the computer, or anything...

1) Favorite boy youtuber:

Dan Howell! (Danisnotonfire) He's hilarious, and I relate SO well to him. If you don't know who he is, he's a British vlogger who's socially awkward and likes nerdy things and just look at his little precious face. That's not why I love him though. He's just so much like me, saying things like "end your genetic line NOW," "slow walking people, DIE," and "I don't like interacting with other humans." His life= my life.

2) Favorite girl youtuber

Kat! (Katytastic) She's a book vlogger, and she's just great. I really love her videos and reviews and seriously, look at those shelves! We have a lot of the same taste in books, so I really trust her opinions about books and am always excited to see a new review from her.

3) Favorite video
One, single, video? That's actually impossible. You realize that's impossible, right? My "favorites" list has exactly 200 videos on it. And you're asking me for 1. That's actually not possible. So, here's a video of my biggest celeb crush, Tom Fletcher, being as close to perfection as humans can be.

4) Couple you ship/would ship

Shane Dawson and Lisa Schwartz! They're my favorite Youtube couple!

5) Youtuber who always makes you laugh

I mean, there's a reason I obsessively wait for Tuesday to come around every week just to get another Superfruit video. They're hilarious and never disappoint. Also, I'm seeing them and the other 3/5 of Pentatonix live exactly one month from today. SO EXCITE!

6) Favorite bromance

Dan and Phil! They live together and even though both are clearly very straight, practically their entire fanbase believes they're together. Why? Because they're so close and so precious. These two are forever bonded by the cat whiskers!

7) The first youtuber you ever watched

Smosh obviously wasn't the first youtube channel I ever watched ever, but these two were certainly the first channel I actually watched on a regular basis. I wasn't subscribed, because I didn't have a youtube account, but I was as good as subscribed. I remember when they only had 50 videos, and when Ian H actually had real Ian Is Bored episodes. Like the one where they turned doing packages into a fun game. Or the time Anthony decided to speak weird the entire time. Go look them up- they're probably some of the first videos on that channel now... if they're still up.

8) Favorite collaboration
Joey Graceffa and anyone else. There are some youtubers who I don't really want to collab with anyone, because I prefer when it's just them and their camera. Other youtubers, however, are at their best when doing collabs (like Tyler Oakley!). But Joey is one of those youtubers who collabs great with anyone. I'd be cool with him collaborating with any of my favorite youtubers ever.

9) Pair you wish would collaborate
Dan (mentioned several times earlier in this video) and Superfruit (see ? 5). They're my two favorites and although they're from very different parts of youtube, I would love to see them in a video together. It would be so great!

10) Youtuber you've met (if any)

Well, I went to high school with Regan from Peruse Project (she was a year behind me), so I guess that counts? But we didn't really know each other though we had several mutual friends. 

11) #1 Youtuber you want to meet
I hate to continually bring him up, but Dan Howell! He's just so awesome, and I would love to meet him. It would be so cool . 

12) The biggest directioner youtuber (in your opinion)
I mean...

13) Youtuber you'd swap bodies with
I don't know...
Grace Helbig?

14) Youtuber you best relate to

Dan Howell, as previously stated, and MattG124. We have the same sense of style, including dying our bangs fun colors, as well as much of the same personality. Also, Jack Douglass from JacksFilms is a lot like me. He minored in music theory in school, and is a Grammar Nazi like me!

15) Favorite picture of the youtubers together

It doesn't have all of my favorite youtubers, but there are a lot of my favorite British youtubers in this. I think it was someone's birthday, which is what prompted the hug, but I just love this picture. So cute.

OK, so there you go, y'all! Sorry that one was a touch short: I'm just busy busy busy... and I've been spending most of my free time reading. Soon though, I'll be done with this series and will be able to resume a normal life. I may even post a challenge on it Tuesday! We'll see. See y'all soon!

Friday, February 21, 2014

February Series of the Month #1: The Miss Peregrine Series by Ransom Riggs

Hey, y'all! So, as I said in one of my previous posts this month, I have more than just one book of the month. I ended up finishing my original book of the month in about 5 days. So, since I finished it so quickly, I decided to read the sequel right after, and I'll be talking about both of them in this post.

Also, after finishing this series, I began another series and am almost finished with it, so I'll be talking about that series next week, which is why this one is being posted so early in the month. 

I will be talking about the books in some detail, so I'll just go ahead and warn that if you haven't read the books, I will probably spoil some things, so you should definitely go read the book and then come back and read this post.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

The main character is a 16 year old guy named Jacob. Growing up, his grandfather told him all these stories from his childhood- unbelievable stories about the island he lived on, with monsters and children with crazy powers. He has all these strange photographs of children he claims he knew- children levitating, picking up boulders, etc. When his grandfather dies under strange circumstances, Jacob uses his grandfather's dying words and a strange letter to lead him to the small Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. When he gets there, he discovers that the children from the photographs are alive and well, although the islanders claim they were killed decades earlier and he begins to unravel the mystery of his grandfather's childhood and the monsters he believed followed him his whole life. 

One of the aspects of this book that makes it unique is its use of authentic, vintage found photographs. Throughout the book, I was curious whether the photographs were real or constructed for the book. Upon reading a section at the back of the book, I discovered that not only are they vintage photographs, but Ransom Riggs actually collected the photographs and then wrote the book, using the photographs as inspiration. I really enjoyed the use of the photographs, because it allowed me to see the characters as the author saw them rather than having to construct an image of them myself. 

I'm going to touch on the things I didn't like, and then move on to what I did like. First off, although the book descriptions that I've seen describe the book well, I feel like they failed to grasp the mood of the novel, and caused me to expect something different than what I got. The book descriptions all make it seem like the orphanage, the children, and Miss Peregrine herself, are all creepy. And that's just not the case. 

Secondly, I feel like it took me quite a while to get into the world and the characters. It was a very slow start, which seems odd to say, since someone is killed in the first chapter. But it honestly is a slow start. We aren't introduced to most of the main characters until chapter 5. Until then, it's extremely slow. Chapters 5-8 are then spent introducing both the reader and Jacob to the world of Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children. While this is certainly very important for both the reader and Jacob, it isn't so great for an exciting plot. Chapters 9-11 (the end) contain the only real action that we see in the book. I didn't really mind that, because I enjoyed getting to learn more about the world, but I feel like some people might get frustrated with how slow it's moving and give up on it. 

Another thing that I wasn't extremely thrilled with was that Ransom Riggs left some things unexplained for too long for seemingly no reason... and there are still some things I feel need to be explained. First off, it seemed like he waited way too far into the book to explain loops and how the children are preserved on the island. As I was reading, I felt like I was kept in the dark for quite a while, for what seemed like no real reason. Another thing that bothered me was that we were shown photographs of children we never met... and didn't really get much of an explanation as to why they weren't at Miss Peregrine's home. I'm left to assume that they were among the children who tried to leave the loop, because we aren't given any other explanation. I feel like if Ransom Riggs presents us with one of his found photos, he needs to explain its purpose or we're going to be left scratching our heads. I'm also still confused about Jacob's first encounter with the children. He didn't go through the loop entrance, and yet he ran into the children at the house. I can only assume that the children left the loop for a brief time to keep the loop going, but unless I missed something, this just wasn't explained. And when Jacob went through the loop entrance after that, he was in 1940. So clearly he was outside of the loop until then. 

The final, least important complaint is the editing. Although I tend to be a "Grammar Nazi," I tend to miss minor editing flaws when reading books, so the fact that I noticed at least 3-4 of them is problematic... and I have it in paperback. Did they really miss these mistakes in both hard cover and paperback? As I said, this is minor- a couple words with a missing letter, a couple in the wrong tense- but typically I don't notice little things like that. 

Whew. That seems like a marathon of complaints. You probably think at this point that I didn't like the book, but I actually really enjoyed it. Other than it being a touch slow and leaving one or two things unexplained, I thought it was a great, unique book set in a unique world. I appreciated that the peculiar children in the book are just that- peculiar children. They're among others with peculiarities rather than people who will put them up on a pedestal because they have these abilities, so they live mostly normal lives. Although they'd been alive for 80, 90 years, they were still children, as they should be. 

Although I think the book might be a little slow for a less avid reader, I really enjoyed learning about the peculiar world- the children, the hollows, the wights, etc. I think that the fact that Ransom Riggs found the photographs and then created the story is a big plus for the book. I feel like it helped give the children unique, peculiar talents, like Hugh and his bees, Emma's heat, and Enoch's toys. I feel like if the children had been given all very general talents that every superhero has, it would have made for a more average book. Instead, the children are special- peculiar.

Hollow City

It's very rare to find a sequel that isn't significantly better or worse than the first book, but I felt that Hollow City was just about on track... maybe a touch better. 

Hollow City picks up right where Miss Peregrine's left off. The children are on their way to the mainland to get help for Miss Peregrine. The book follows the children's journey to London, to find Miss Wren, who can make Miss Peregrine better. Throughout their journey, they hit several roadblocks, making this book very fast paced and fun.

This book felt MUCH longer than Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children for several reasons. First off, it took me a few days longer to finish, because I had an extremely large homework load during the time I was reading Hollow City. However, it's also because A LOT more happens in Hollow City. Hollow City is much more fast paced. These books are both very good for very different reasons. Miss Peregrine's is a marriage between our world and the peculiar world, is a bit mysterious (as Jacob is basically putting together the pieces of a mystery in the beginning), and is mostly there for world building. Hollow City is plot, plot, plot. Exciting, adventurous, nerve-wracking, etc. 

Book 1's main point was to introduce both the reader and Jacob to this whole world of peculiars. Because of the world building, not much happened until the last 3 chapters. I was totally OK with this, because I think the peculiar world is extremely interesting and unique. However, that made it a much slower book. The contrast between the important events in each book is absolutely incredible. 

Hollow City is also much darker than Miss Peregrine's. The darker tone present in the last 3 chapters of Miss Peregrine's carries through to this novel. It definitely adds realism to the story and shows the children's desperation. 

I also appreciated the way Ransom Riggs handled the Jacob/Emma relationship. It's definitely more realistic in this book than it was in Miss Peregrine's. Don't get me wrong- I really like their relationship- but in the very early stages of their relationship, it seemed like she fell for him simply because she was in love with his grandfather. And they were just so flirty all the time. In Hollow City, they did have their couple-y moments, but they knew that they had a task at hand and they weren't going to let their feelings get in the way of saving Miss Peregrine. And I really appreciated their argument about their relationship and feelings, because it was a topic that neither of them had really taken much time to consider. This is made more important by the fact that, by the end, Emma realizes that Jacob's true home is with the peculiars.

Last, but certainly not least, for me, the book was on the exact same level as the first book... until they got to Miss Wren. I kinda saw the twist coming. When 'Miss Peregrine' killed the pigeon, I figured something was up. There were several times I wondered if the bird was *really* Miss Peregrine. The twist, the Emma/Jacob relationship, and Jacob realizing that he can better harness his power- all of those aspects made it just a brilliant ending. I'm SO ready for the next book already!

So, there's my first series of the month for February. I'm almost finished with another series, and I will probably have the post out on Feb. 27th or 28th.

Also, in the span of the last month, I've created an account on Goodreads! The link to my page is HERE, if you'd like to check that out, follow me, etc. I'm really enjoying it, and it's helping me organize my books. If you go check it out, you'll also be able to see what books I'm planning on reading next! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Spill Canvas- No Really, I'm Fine

Hey, y'all! It's time for me to talk about another CD on my shelf! As always, I put my iTunes on shuffle, and the CD containing the first song that played is the one I'll be talking about!

Release Date: October 2, 2007
Genre: Emo, Acoustic, Pop Rock

Track Listing
  1. Reckless Abandonment
  2. All Over You
  3. Battles
  4. The Truth
  5. Saved
  6. Hush Hush
  7. Low Fidelity
  8. Connect the Dots
  9. Bleed, Everyone's Doing It
  10. Appreciation and the Bomb
  11. One Thing Is for Sure
  12. Lullaby
The Spill Canvas lineup on this CD:
Nick Thomas- Guitar, Vocals
Dan Ludeman- Guitar, backup vocals
Landon Heil- Bass
Joe Beck- drums, percussion

L-R: Landon, Nick, Dan, Joe

About The Spill Canvas: 
The Spill Canvas have been together since 2002, and in that time have released 7 CDs and 5 EPs. Their most successful CDs to date have been 2005's One Fell Swoop and 2007's No Really, I'm Fine. In the earlier stages of the band, their music was mostly categorized as emo, and much of it was acoustic or had a very raw sound to it. Progressing forward, their music became more pop rock/ pop punk.

My Opinion about The Spill Canvas:
While they don't make it into my top 10 bands ever, I'm a big fan of theirs. I was actually able to go to one of their concerts in October 2012, and got to meet the guys! Nick was a total sweetheart, and I actually got to talk to him for a while. It was really cool. I have all of their music, although there are definitely some CDs that I just don't listen to much at all.
Aww, I was just so excited!
Also, as a side note, the songs they performed at the concert that were from this CD were: Reckless Abandonment (their first song of the set!), Connect The Dots (introduced by Nick saying "this one's about sex."), Battles (which I forgot they did until looking through my pictures from the concert), and All Over You (Their finale song, since it's the most popular of their songs). I think they also might have done Hush Hush, but honestly, it was more than a year ago, and if it's not documented, I have no idea.

About the CD:  
This was their most commercially successful CD, getting into the Billboard 200 and reaching #2 on the Top Heatseekers chart. This CD has more of the pop rock sound that becomes more and more prevalent in their music throughout time, but there's definitely a mix of the emo in there.

This is definitely my favorite of their CDs. Many of my all-time favorite songs by The Spill Canvas come from this CD. While I like some songs better than others (as always!), there honestly isn't a single dud on this CD. 

As always, I'm going to give each song a rating out of 10 and then give a brief explanation of why it got that rating. 

Reckless Abandonment- 9/10. It's a really powerful opener- which is why it was also a concert opener. It's fun to jam to, and it was definitely a strobe light song.
All Over You- 10/10. This one's definitely a fan favorite, and there's a reason. This song just screams SINGLE. The chorus has such a great beat to it, and I absolutely love it.
Battles- 8/10. It's not forgettable, per se, but I did have to listen to this one over and over to figure out a rating. Honestly, it's just not as spectacular as the rest of the CD. It's not a bad song, it's just not as good.
The Truth- 8.5/10. Once again, this song shines on the chorus. The way the guitar and drums combine is just great, and the guitar part between the chorus and verse is just great. And like most great songs by them, it's just so sassy.
Saved- 10/10. A slower song for them, but a very successful one. As much as I love their cheeky songs, it's nice to see their softer side.
Hush Hush- 9.5/10. And then we jump right back into the cheekiness. This time, I really like the interaction of the guitar and drums in the verses. Also, telling her to tie the mattress to her back makes me laugh every time.
Low Fidelity- 8/10. I really like the brass on this song. Once again, the chorus is where this song shines, but the verses aren't really anything special.
Connect the Dots- 8.5/10. Nick wasn't kidding- this is a very sensual song. It's also a bit of a different sound for the band, which is really cool. Not my favorite, but I really do like it.
Bleed, Everyone's Doing It- 10/10. One of my favorite songs by them. I just absolutely love the message and it's SO sassy that it hurts.
Appreciation and the Bomb- 10/10. The chorus contains one of my all-time favorite lyrics (If there's one thing I've learned, it's that we never feel the heat until we get burned/ But we try so hard not to die, sometimes we forget to appreciate life.), and it's just so beautiful. 
One Thing Is for Sure- 7.5/10. I like it. It's ok. It's nothing special, but I like it.
Lullaby- 8.5/10. It's very soft for them, and it really works for them. I think this lullaby would help me go to sleep. It's just so pretty and vulnerable.

Favorite Songs: Appreciation and the Bomb, All Over You, Saved, Hush Hush, and Bleed, Everyone's Doing It.

Least Favorite Songs: Honestly, One Thing Is for Sure is the only so-so one. Battles is maybe next.


All Over You music video

Saved music video

Rating: 9/10. I knew this CD was going to get a 9 rating before I even rated the songs, but that choice is made even better by the fact that the songs' average was nearly exactly 9. CDs like this are the reason that I enjoy doing The CDs On My Shelf. This helps me to rediscover CDs that I genuinely love, but don't listen to as often as I would like to.

 Hope you liked my newest "The CDs on my Shelf" post! Have any questions? What did you think of The Spill Canvas? Let me know all of this in the comments. If you like my posts, I'd really appreciate if you'd subscribe/follow, because it lets me know y'all are liking them! Hope you enjoyed! Comment, comment, comment! I love feedback! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Secret Lightning Scar- Chapter 3 [A Harry Potter FanFic]

September 1st came surprisingly quickly, and it wasn’t long until I found myself on the Hogwarts Express, sitting in a compartment with Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and George, staring out the window at the English countryside the train was weaving through. Fred and George were chatting excitedly about all of the pranks they would pull upon arriving at Hogwarts, while Hermione scolded them. Ron and Harry were talking animatedly about the upcoming quidditch season and the positions that would need to be filled on the quidditch team.

Are the twins planning on playing quidditch this year?” I wondered, hoping that the answer was no. While they were still at Hogwarts, I played as a chaser, and only ever got to play beater when they were out. I didn’t mind playing chaser, but my real love was playing beater. Competing with the twins would be difficult. They were both equally good, meaning either both of them would get the spots, or neither would.

“So are you two going to play quidditch for Gryffindor?” I asked them, pulling myself out of the daze I’d been in.

“Don’t worry, sis,” George said with a smirk that looked surprisingly sad. “We’re not allowed to play. The letter from Hogwarts said that. I’m assuming it’s because we’re far older than everyone else. Or something. So your spot is safe.” I immediately felt bad for asking, because I knew how much they enjoyed playing quidditch.

Just then, the door to our compartment slid open to reveal Malfoy, signature smirk across his face, flanked by Goyle and Zabini, both looking incredibly bored.

“Potter. Granger. Weasley.” Malfoy said as a curt greeting. “Carrie,” he continued with a warmer tone and an actual smile directed at me. Shockingly, he was being abnormally friendly toward everyone else. Normally, all everyone else got was a sneer in their general direction. I was the only one who ever received a warm greeting from him, his affection never failing to be completely obvious.

“What do you want, Malfoy? I’m not interested,” I snapped. He frowned, but my rejection didn’t seem to shake him too much. It shouldn’t have at that point. He’d continually asked me out throughout school. At this point, I was all but convinced that I was a mere challenge for him. He just wanted to win, and he was going to keep going until he did.

“I’m here to extend an olive branch, actually. Although I would still completely love to take you out if you’d give me a chance,” he said, another seemingly sincere smile crossing his face. I was speechless. Draco Malfoy, who had tormented us for years, was standing in front of us, asking for forgiveness. Sort of. It was as close to “I’m sorry” as he was probably going to get.

Unlike me, Hermione seemed to have plenty of words to say. “Oh shove off, Malfoy. You’re only saying that because Voldemort was defeated and now you’re crawling back with your tail between your legs,” she retorted.

Malfoy scowled at her. “And how would you know that, you filthy-” but he stopped himself mid-sentence, and paused before beginning to speak again. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, much more calmly.

Fred rolled his eyes. “Whatever, Malfoy,” he said. “Just get out. No one wants you here. Not 
after what happened.”

Malfoy frowned- a legitimate frown this time- and simply said, “I tried.”

He looked straight at me for a brief second, but I couldn’t exactly read the emotion in his eyes. Frustration? Sadness? Whatever it was, he was upset- but not angry. He then turned around and walked down the train’s corridor, Goyle and Zabini following.

“That was pathetic,” Ron said with a chuckle. I frowned, still confused by what had just happened.

“Did no one else think that seemed surprisingly genuine for once?” I asked. It was Hermione’s turn to roll her eyes.

“He’s just trying to get your sympathy. He realizes he was on the losing side and then has to return to school with everyone hating him. He’s the same Malfoy we know and hate,” she said. But I wasn’t so convinced.

“Hermione, he stopped himself from calling you a mudblood. When has he ever done that in the past?” I said.

“Don’t tell me you’re actually falling for this. He’s just trying to save face. Anything that’s pro-Voldemort isn’t at all OK right now,” Fred said.

“I just think he’s acting incredibly odd, that’s all,” I said. Harry, who was directly across from me, gave me a very quizzical look, as if wanting to know what was going on in my mind, and I knew he’d question me about it later when the others weren't around.

I went back to staring out the window, this time wondering what had just happened, and where the real Malfoy had gone. We arrived at Hogwarts soon enough and I soon found myself seated in one of the carriages, being pulled closer and closer to my one true home. Everyone continued chatting except for Harry and I, who simply sat and attempted to catch glances of Hogwarts through the trees. When we finally got through the woods, my heart leapt with joy at the sight of Hogwarts spread out before me. I glanced over at Harry and we shared a joyous grin, knowing we were home.

Once we reached the front gates, we all hopped off the carriage and hurried to grab our luggage and haul it toward the doors of the castle. I was impressed by all the repairs that had been done in the last couple months since Voldemort’s defeat. Last time I’d been here, huge chunks of the building were strewn all over, but now the castle looked as if it had never been touched. As we walked across the courtyard, we ran into Neville, Dean, and Seamus, who were catching up on each other’s summers. We said a brief greeting to them as we continued toward the entrance hall. Once there, we dropped off our luggage and made our way through the huge doors of the Great Hall to the Gryffindor table. We took our seats and waited for the sorting ceremony to begin. The ceiling above us reflected the gorgeous sunset that could just be seen through the windows, making my return home feel all the more perfect.

The first years filed through and were sorted into their houses fairly quickly. I noticed that there was a relatively low number of Slytherins this year, and couldn’t help but wonder if that wasn’t a coincidence.

I was starving, and by the way Ron was squirming, I could tell he was famished as well, but we had one more thing standing in the way of our feast- McGonagall. Once all of the first years had been sorted, she stood and walked up to her podium.

“Welcome to another year at Hogwarts- a very unique and unprecedented year, if I do say so myself,” she said. “I’m sure you’re all at least a little confused about how this year is going to work, so I’ll briefly explain before continuing on with my other announcements. I and the Ministry of Magic have decided that the education received last year at Hogwarts was not up to par due to Lord Voldemort’s control over this school. Because of this, students will be completing the year they should have completed last term. This means that we have a doubly large class of first years. Students may, if they desire, take examinations to prove proficiency in their current year and move forward a year. We understand that this is inconvenient, but we have been left with no other choice after last year’s fiasco.”

McGonagall paused for a moment, to let her words settle, and then continued on to her announcements. “I would like to remind everyone that the Forbidden Forrest is, in fact, forbidden. I would also like to remind everyone to look at the list of banned items that they should have received, and to make sure you are not in possession of any of these items, especially those from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.” McGonagall paused once again to peer over her glasses at the Weasley twins, who both scowled back at her. “I would also like to introduce our new professor, Professor Hughes, who will be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.” McGonagall gestured toward a pretty blonde woman seated beside Professor Sprout who appeared to be in her mid-thirties.

“Now,” McGonagall said with a smile, “let the feast begin!” As soon as the food appeared in front of us, Ron, Harry, and I were grabbing at it.

We sat there for several hours, shoveling food into our mouths, sharing summer stories, and enjoying being back at Hogwarts. After we’d sufficiently stuffed ourselves with enough food for the next month, we retrieved our luggage and hauled it upstairs to Gryffindor tower.

Hermione turned in quite early, preparing for the first day of classes by getting as much sleep as possible. Several of us hung out in the common room until only Ron, Harry, and I were left. It was nearly 1 in the morning before Ron finally left, yawning profusely.

Not two seconds after we heard the boys’ dormitory door shut, Harry turned and looked at me. “Spill the beans,” he said. At first I was completely confused.

“About what?” I asked.

“Malfoy,” he reminded me.

“Oh! Right! I dunno, I just thought he seemed like he genuinely wanted to make peace with us,” I said. “He was relatively friendly, and didn’t insult any of us the entire time he was there.”

“This might surprise you, but I actually agree,” Harry replied.

“You do?” I asked, taken aback.

“Yeah. He was certainly acting odd if nothing else,” he said.

“So you think he actually regrets the side he chose?” I asked. Harry shrugged.

“I don't think he really chose. He had it pushed upon him. His father messed up, and Voldemort forced him to step up in his place,” Harry said. “He only chose the side he did because he would have been killed otherwise.”

“I’m not so sure about that. Malfoy is still definitely of the pure-blood mindset,” I replied, still skeptical. Harry vehemently shook his head.

“You should have seen him the night Dumbledore died. Dumbledore offered him protection from Voldemort and told him he had options. Malfoy was lowering his wand. He didn’t want to do it. He may be a stuck-up git, but I’m not sure I’d ever define him as evil,” Harry said. I let the words sink in. Maybe Harry was right. Maybe Malfoy wasn’t quite as sinister as he seemed.

“I guess only time will tell,” I said. “Maybe he’ll leave us alone now.”

“Maybe. But right now, we should probably get to sleep. We have class early in the morning,” Harry said.

We said goodnight and headed up to our dorms. I curled up into bed, excited to start the new term in the morning, thoughts of classes, food, and Malfoy’s oddities filling my head. This was already turning out to be an interesting term.

I hope y'all enjoyed chapter 3 of The Secret Lightning Scar! Chapter 4 is coming on Saturday, March 1st! Sorry this one was a bit short. The next one will make up for it, I promise!

Hope y'all are excited for the next section, because I'm excited for y'all to read it! See you back here soon!

Previous section:  The Secret Lightning Scar- Chapter 2 [A Harry Potter FanFic]
Next sectionThe Secret Lightning Scar- Chapter 4 [A Harry Potter FanFic]
The Secret Lightning Scar main page: Click Here 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Project 10 Pan: Update #1!

Hey, y'all! I was going to wait a bit longer to do an update on Project 10 Pan, but it's been going so well that I decided to go ahead and post an update! If you want to check out the other Project 10 Pan Posts, you can click one of the links below.

Original Project 10 Pan Post
Update Post #2

So a bit of a clarification here, because I wasn't even sure how I was going to do this when I first started. I'm going to consider my project 10 pan completed when I have hit pan on every single product in my Project 10 Pan. The point is to use it all up, but there's at least one product that is going to take a while to hit pan and at that point I'm going to be SO done with it. But hopefully at that point everything else will be completed or almost completed!

Also, I think that I'm going to be doing another Project 10 Pan after this, for much of the same reasons as why I did this one- to save money. Throughout this Project 10 Pan, I've been making lists of things that beauty gurus suggest that I really want. By the end of this, if I still really want it, I'm going to get it and then begin the next project 10 pan. This will help eliminate impulse buying and help me focus on the products I already own. So far, I'm fairly convinced that I'm going to be buying NYX Stay Matte But Not Flat powder foundation by the end of this, as well as NYX's setting spray and Wet N Wild's Comfort Zone palette. But that's further along the line.

Beside each product that I've completely finished, I'll put "complete" and for the ones I've hit pan on, I'll put "panned." Also, for the products that are completely gone, I'll say whether or not I'll repurchase. Let's get into the updating!

Project 10 Pan

#1) e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator- COMPLETE

As you can see, I used up the whole thing! This was actually the first thing I used up, because I found myself applying it several times throughout the day.
Amount of product left: NONE!
Opinion about the product: It's ok. I like it better than I did when I started.
Will I repurchase? Nope, not planning on it...

#2) L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup

A new picture won't do any good for this, because you can't tell how much is left. I've been neglecting this just a little bit, because I was using powder so much, but I plan on getting on this and finishing it up
Amount of product left: Less than I had before, but not totally sure
Opinion about the product: The more I use it, the more I realize that it actually is a pretty good color match for me. Overall, I like it!

#3) L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Powder- PANNED

I've been mostly using this as my foundation, and it's paid off! I expected to see the rings before the center, so I was totally surprised to see a patch of pan!
Amount of product left: A fair amount. Not a ton, but it's certainly still usable.
Opinion about the product: I really like it when I first put it on, but if I don't set it with the right powder, it doesn't look so great after a few hours.

#4) e.l.f. Translucent Mattifying Powder- COMPLETE

Wow. It may look like there's still some usable powder in the corners, but I just can't get it out. Especially not with my big kabuki. I was really surprised at how quickly this went. It was nowhere near as deep a pan as I thought. I used it as my setting powder every day, but it's been gone for about 2 weeks at this point!
Amount of product left: None.
Opinion about the product: I like it, but it's definitely not completely translucent. It's slightly darker than my skin tone, and I can definitely tell that it warms up my complexion a bit.
Will I repurchase? Maybe. If I do, I'll use it as a carry-around powder for my purse.

#5) e.l.f. Wet Gloss Lash & Brow Clear Mascara


I've used quite a bit of this, since I use it practically every day. I'm surprised it's not gone yet!
Amount of product left: A 1/4 of the eyelash side, which is the one I'm using.
Opinion about the product: I still like it. I'm just ready to be able to throw one of these away.

#6) e.l.f. Eye Shadow Refills- Peach Fizz, Driftwood


I know that originally, I had all four on there, but I realized that's just not OK. And you can't get mad at me, because I had FOUR things taking up a single spot. I've narrowed it down to just the two mid-tone shades, which I tend to wear more anyway. 
Amount of product left: Maybe 3/4 of each one.
Opinion about the product: They're OK. I'll kinda be glad to be rid of them.

#7) e.l.f. Cover Everything Concealer- PANNED


I was actually a little surprised to hit pan, but I tend to work at the same area for a while, so it was bound to happen. I'm going to keep using it though, since the point is to use it all up.
Amount of product left: Still quite a bit.
Opinion about the product: The texture isn't my favorite, and it's a bit dark for me, but it works.

#8) e.l.f. Eyelid Primer

Once again, another picture wouldn't do anything since you can't see inside. How on earth is this not gone yet? Because I forget to use it! I've used it ~4 times a week since starting this. I just constantly forget that it's a step I need to incorporate into my routine. It'll be gone by my next update... maybe?
Amount of product left: Maybe a 1/4 of it.
Opinion about the product: I like it, but sometimes it's a bit too light. Which is a shocker since nothing is ever too light on me.

#9) e.l.f. Contouring Blush & Bronzer



This is the one that's going to take forever. I can only use so much daily, and there's quite a bit to use. But, I've been using it pretty much every day! I can kinda see the lines of the pan, so maybe it's getting close to hitting pan?
Amount of product left: Quite a bit
Opinion about the product: The more I use it, the more I think it's more of a coral pink, which I'm not such a fan of for blush. I'll be glad to be done with this.

#10) L'Oreal Magic Anti-Redness Correcting Primer

Once again, a new picture would be a little useless, since it looks the exact same. I've been using it every day, so it's just a matter of time before it's all gone
Amount of product left: Maybe 1/4? I can't really tell.
Opinion about the product: I don't mind it, but I want to finish it up before moving on.

Bonus Products


So, these bonus products were a thing... and now they're not. The last couple weeks have been extremely chaotic with school and I've paid less and less attention to the stuff I'm putting all over my face. So, at this point, I'm just going to focus my attention on the products in my actual Project 10 Pan.

So, here's my plan for my Project 10 Pan. I'm hoping to be done with this by the end of the semester. Here's why. When I wasn't on Project 10 Pan, if I saw one of my favorite makeup gurus saying how awesome a product was... I'd probably go buy it the next day. This, however, has given me clarity, and I've been able to see what products I've been wanting throughout this whole thing. So, once I'm done with Project 10 Pan, I'm going to purchase any products I've been wanting throughout the whole thing (2 or 3 come to mind so far) and then start on another Project 10 Pan, which will probably last the summer. So, that's the plan so far!

I'll probably post another update in a few weeks, depending upon how quickly this moves along. Also, don't forget to check back for my new chapter of The Secret Lightning Scar [A Harry Potter Fanfic], which goes up tomorrow at 11 AM central time! Thanks for reading, y'all!