Recent Readings

Greetings followers!  For whatever reason, I am in the mood to rant about unoriginal books.  Perhaps this has something to do with the dissatisfaction I’ve found with the books I’ve read lately.  But don’t worry, I’m throwing a good book in the mix, too.  In any event, enjoy! (pics from Google images)

  1. The Beginning of Everything


Summary: Ezra Faulkner starts his senior year as a tragedy.  He lost his status as star tennis player and popular jock in a car accident that injured his leg.  Then he meets Cassidy Thorpe, an enigmatic girl who introduces him to a world with more exitement and heartbreak than he could imagine.

Review: Having just finished this book, I can’t quite place my finger on what about it makes me feel dissatisfied.  I mean, Schneider does make some meaningful points.  Good points.  And overall, it’s a fairly readable book.  But it’s like she tries so hard to write a deep, thought-provoking book that it just falls flat.  She’s trying to be John Green, which is kind of lame because John Green already exists.  (Brilliant point, I know.)  If you like this book, I certainly don’t hold it against you.  Maybe the style just isn’t for me.  But if I could describe it in a word, it’d be “forced”.

2. Independent Study


Summary: This is book two in the Hunger Games– erm no Divergent…. actually, The Testing Trilogy.  Basically, it’s a dystopian world in which you have to win the Hunger Games instead of getting a good SAT score to get into college.  (Which may not be such a big difference.)  While in college, the world starts to look like you’re being sorted into your faction and learning how to live there.

Review: Okay, my summary was much meaner than it needed to be.  Especially considering that it’s a fairly good series.  The characters are well developed and the plot kept me intersted.  Or at least in the first one.  By book two, either I got sick of the unoriginality or the writing got much worse.  The truth is, The Hunger Games has already been written, and it doesn’t need to be written again.

3. All Our Yesterdays



Summary: Em’s world is a disaster.  She’s time-traveled countless times, trying to stop a horrendous and seemingly unstoppable chain of events from occuring.  In a different time, Marina, a naieve high schooler, strives to win the affections of James, her childhood best friend and renowned prodigy.  Then, in one disasterous night, everything in her world starts to crumble.

Review: I promised to mention an original book, and this is it.  In fact, I’d venture to say this is one of the most orignal books I’ve read in the last year.  Action-packed, mind-boggling, and heartwrenching, All Our Yesterdays is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat from the opening sentence to the final page.  Not only does it have a fascinating plot, but the characters are endearing and memorable.

So what’s the moral?  Well, if you’re a writer out there, don’t try to immitate someone’s style or story.  Shakespeare has already existed.  Hemmingway has already existed.  Jane Austin has already existed.  The only thing you have to offer that isn’t already out there is your ideas.  Not that you shouldn’t be inspired by other writers, but… be yourself.


….And on to Ireland

Hey, sorry I haven’t posted any in the last week.  I’ve been trying to readjust to school.  Though hopefully I’ll post more frequently this semester.  I’ll make it a tentative New Year’s resolution.  In any event, I’m pretty well out of Scotland pictures, so I’ll move on to Ireland.  Hope you enjoy!

And yes, there are several more Ireland pictures to come!

Bird’s Eye View of Edinburgh

First post of the New Year!  And what better way to kick of 2016 than with pictures of Scotland?  Well, you might have a better way, but this is the way I’m doing it.

I hope you aren’t getting tired of these, because I’m an obsessive photographer! 😉

What to do with a New Year?


The New Year is coming!  Yes, I’m sure you’ve noticed, but I decided to tell you anyway.  So it’s time to do some serious reflecting and ask the inevitable, all-important question: Was it a good year?

Well, it depends on what you mean by good.

Last year, at about this time, I wrote this cute little letter to 2015.  I asked a few interesting questions, like:

“I suppose I’ll change, too.  A year from now, will I even be able to recognize the person writing this letter?  Or will I be mostly the same person?”

I do recognize myself, more or less.  Truthfully, I almost feel bad for the girl who wrote this letter.  She had no idea what she was getting into, starting a new year.  Though she didn’t really have a choice, did she?

“Next New Year’s Eve, will I look upon you [2015] as one of the best or worst times of my life?  Or somewhere in between?”

Ah, back to the “good year” question.  Now that it’s New Year’s Eve, I think it’s only appropriate that I answer my younger self.

If you define a good year as one full of fun and lacking sorrow, then 2015 was my worst year yet.  May as well be honest.  Yes, there were fun times, but I only showed you the best.  Though if you define a good year as one full of learning and growth, then 2015 was probably my best year yet.  So it’s all relative.

And as for the New Year?  I’m bracing myself for the worst yet preparing for the best.  Because regardless of what happens, I’m determined to make this the best year so far, in terms of both happiness and development.  In the time being, good riddance 2015, and welcome 2016.

On an off note, I’d say this was a good year in terms of blogging.  (Here are my stats.)  I’d like to thank each of my readers, who bear with me even though I’ve been less than faithful to this blog as of lately.  Here’s my excuse: 5,099 words of college admissions essays.  And counting.

I’d particularly like to thank my top commenters: rachelizabeth, M3L6H, 10vwb, Victoria Night Sky, and Rachel R.  They are all amazing!

Most Memorable Books Read in 2015

I think I’m going to take a wee break from Scotland and talk about another one of my favorite things: books!  As the year comes to a close, I think it’s natural to reflect upon everything that happens.  Is it weird that I sometimes remember things in reference to what book I was reading at the time?

That said, here are some of the books I enjoyed most this year.  Note: At the beginning of the summer, I wrote this post about the some of the best books I read last school year.  None of these books will be included.

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower


Short Summary: Charlie, a withdrawn, disturbed freshman in high school, writes letters to a nameless “friend” in whom he confides the pain and joys of finding his place in the world.

Review: This is the first book I remember finishing this year, and it’s stayed in my head ever since.  Charlie’s voice is truly unique; it has a rare personal and honest quality to it that I loved.  Although it has its flaws and contains a few graphic disturbing scenes, Perks is among the most touching stories I’ve read.

2. Catcher in the Rye


Summary: Holden Caulfield, a neurotic, underachieving teenager is expelled from yet another school.  To deal with the situation and his inner turmoil, he aimlessly wanders New York City, trying to find himself.

Review: I think there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love Catcher and those who just don’t get it.  Although it took a school assignment to get me to pick up this book, I found I fall squarely in the former category.  On the surface, it looks like a long, babbling yarn, but if you look closer, Salinger has many deep insights to share.

3. Throne of Glass


Summary: Seventeen-year-old Celeana Sardothien, the most feared assassin in the land, is freed from an infamous prison camp.  The crown prince promises her she will stay free under one condition: she will fight for him in a competition and win the position as an assassin for the king, the man she hates the most.

Review: The best thing about this book is Celeana.  She is overflowing with sass and confidence, which makes her an endearing character despite her sketchy past.  There’s also an interesting fantasy world and a good adventure plot, which makes the book an enjoyable read.  I also liked the second book, though book the third bogged me down a little.  I haven’t gotten the chance to read the fourth one, but I hope to soon!

4. The Red Queen


Summary: In Mare Barrow’s world, there are two kinds of people: those with red blood, who have no magic, and the magical silver-bloods, who oppressively rule over the red-bloods.  When Mare publically discovers she possesses magic despite her red blood, she is forced to play the role of a long-lost silver-blood noble.

Review: The first time I tried to read this book, I didn’t really get into it, though I couldn’t figure out why.  The second time, I couldn’t set it down.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, wondering what would happen and who I could trust.  It’s a thriller that will make your head spin.

5. A Thousand Splendid Suns


Summary: Mariam is an illegitimate child who is always treated like a burden.  Laila is a beautiful young girl whose father is determined to get her through school.  When war rages in their homeland of Afghanistan, jarring circumstances bring these women together, forcing them to set aside their differences and form the strongest of bonds.

Review: This book wins.  It’s probably the BEST book I read all year, and definitely one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Filled with shattering heartbreak, wartime horrors, and true unconditional love, Splendid Suns is a heartwarming story that will haunt me forever.

And last but not least, I remember reading some really awesome novels my creative writing classmates wrote this year!  I can’t write about them all because it would take an entire second post, but they definitely deserve a shout-out.

Quick note: The books listed here have content that will upset some people.  It’s too much to go into now, but just because I mention I like a book does not mean I morally agree with all of its content.

MORE Scotland

Well, I hope you’re not getting tired of these pictures, because I still have some.  Without further ado, here is part three in the photo series:

Hope you enjoyed!  Next, I’ll show you some castle grounds. 🙂


10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:10-14 (NIV)