What I’m Reading: YA Fall Releases

It’s Thursday night and I’ve managed to talk myself down from the “I should be studying” ledge.  So, since I’ve decided that grad school is no excuse to not read for fun, why not talk about all the books I’ve been cramming in my spare time?  Thanks to my library, I’ve been on the top of the list for many of this fall’s hottest YA releases.

My mini reviews are spoiler-free, so no worries if you haven’t read them.

Here’s my lineup:

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Sunshine Bloggers Award

Once again, I’m a bit behind regarding awards.  Oh well!  Better late than never!sunshine-blogger-award-300x300

A while back, Aimee from Pocket Writes nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award!  It’s always an honor to be considered–especially since this award has to do with being uplifting and encouraging.  Thank you so much, Aimee!

Every award is different and this one involves three things: thank the person who nominated you, answer the given questions, and nominate others.  I’m covering two out of those three things.  (See my Award Policies page for more info on why.)

Now for the questions…

What is your biggest fear?

I can handle most insects, but I’m downright terrified of centipedes.  The way they move with all those legs… ICK.  On a more serious note, I think my biggest fear is mediocrity.  I want so badly to make an impact on the world, to help people and bring light and hope to dark places.  It’s so easy to fall short of dreams for the sake of what is easy and comfortable.  But I’m doing my best to make the most of each day, knowing that big dreams happen in small steps.  I’ll get there someday.

Which one thing are you addicted to?

Nutella.  Oh my gosh.  It’s dangerous how much I love Nutella.  Any jar around me needs to be locked up lest I eat the entire bottle in a terrifyingly short period of time.

Do you have any pet peeves? What are they?

I hate it when people don’t shut doors all the way.  I really dislike anything that glows in the dark when I’m trying to sleep.  Also, it drives me crazy when my parents talk in loud voices early in the morning.  My room is right next to the kitchen and the sound goes right through my door, waking me up.

What is your perfect idea of a ‘relaxation day’?

Lounging on my couch in pajamas drinking tea while reading a book or watching Netflix is absolute heaven.  I also really enjoy shopping, especially this time of year when all the stores are filled with sweaters and scarves.

How do you deal with stress?

I tend to avoid it as much as possible.  For example, in college I rarely procrastinated because the threat of being stressed was too formidable.  Most of my essays were written a week before they were due.  When stress does happen, my worldview tends to shrink to the point where I get tunnel vision.  Everything is suddenly about me, my stress, my problems.  I tend to throw a pity party for myself and forget about other people’s issues and concerns.  I think that I become a pretty icky person to be around–which is why I go to great lengths to avoid being stressed.

Which is one habit of yours you wish to improve/change?

We sell these little pumpkin-shaped chocolates at my family’s apple orchard.  Throughout the day, I constantly snitch them.  I’ve been doing this as long as I can remember.  It’s an awful habit and I sometimes feel guilty… but I also love eating chocolate.

Where’s your favorite ‘hanging out’ spot?

Probably my bedroom.  There’s nothing better than curling up in bed with a book.

How do you prefer to spend your weekends?

I currently work most weekends, but if I had them free, they would be lazy with a few social plans thrown in.  If I’m busy one day, I like to have the other to relax and recharge.  I love sleeping in, reading and drinking tea, spending time painting, or going for a morning bike ride.  Sundays involve church, but the rest of the day is mine.  I like spending afternoons doing non-energetic social things like shopping or hanging one-on-one with a friend.

Are you a movie buff? What are your favorite movies?

I wouldn’t call myself a buff, but I really enjoy watching movies and never miss watching the Oscars.  Favorites include Midnight in Paris, The Princess Bride, Ever After, While You Were Sleeping, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Sound of Music, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and anything from the Disney Renaissance.

Which event do you feel changed your life the most?

There have been several, but my first major life event happened my freshman year of high school.  Believe it or not, up until this point, I was a committed basketball player.  I started playing on teams as early as they were offered.  In middle school, my winters were consumed with multiple practices a night.  But as I got older, the game became more serious and it was evident that I wasn’t able to keep up.  My teammates excelled while I regressed.  I had a coach tell my mom that, “I can’t have your daughter on the court screwing things up while the other girls could be out there winning.  If anyone had been cut this year, it would have been her.  Be thankful she’s out there at all.”

Scarred from a diminishing basketball career, I entered high school and joined the marching band.  There, I made tons of new friends with whom I shared more interests than any of my former teammates.  At the end of the season, all my band friends started talking about how they were joining the Speech team once winter came.  Up until this point, I had planned on staying in sports… but I started to reconsider.  Why stick with a sport I’m not good at with people I don’t like very much when I could be giving speeches and hanging out with my friends?

Long story short, I joined Speech.  Looking back, this decision was absolutely HUGE.  Speech shaped me in ways that sports never would.  It gave me a chance to write and perform my own pieces, to become a comfortable public speaker, and hang out with my friends.  My Speech career was extremely successful–I ended up captaining the team for two years and competing in the State tournament.  In college, I was able to judge meets assist in coaching for the local high school team.  Through Speech, I gained my voice, learned leadership, and picked up critical thinking and analysis skills that I know will play a key role in my future.

What did your ten-years-younger self think you’d be doing right now?

Honestly, I don’t think twelve-year-old Amelia had many lifelong ambitions.  She wanted to go to college and someday get a boyfriend.  She’d be pleased to know that I now have a degree, but probably wouldn’t be too thrilled that her twenty-two year-old self has yet to date anyone.  It’s okay, little Amelia.  There’s still lots of time.

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Thanks, again, Aimee for the nomination!  She answered similar questions to mine, so be sure to visit her Sunshine award post to see her answers.  Check out her blog as well–she’s a really good writer, likes books, and does really cool cross-stitching.

Blogger Recognition Award

After Writing 101 ended, I kind of crashed and spent my free time binge-watching Netflix for a solid week, leaving me a bit behind on the blog.  I’m slowly catching up on awards.

A couple of weeks ago, Shannon from If You Captured Your Life in Snapshots, What Would It Look Like? nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award!  It’s designed to spread love among the blogosphere and recognize sites we love.  Part of the award includes sharing

BloggerRecognitionAwardI don’t know if sharing your blogging story is part of the award, but Shannon did in her post, so I’ll continue the trend.

When I was fifteen, I was deep into the Harry Potter fandom.  This was before Tumblr was a thing and, in order to engage with my fellow nerds, I entered discussions on fan forums.  I ended up becoming a core member of a forum dedicated to a particular podcast and, in the process, made my first online friends.  Anna lived in Chicago and liked to knit.  Cathy, who is a fantastic poet, lived in California.  We were all roughly the same age and would spend hours on the forum talking about life, love, and Harry Potter.

One day, Cathy brought up the subject of blogging.  I was an aspiring fan-fiction novelist at the time, so writing was always on my mind.  Being a fan of my work, Cathy suggested I start a blog.  I thought about it for a while and thought, “… why not?”  Having a corner of the internet to myself sounded like fun.

After doing a bit of research, I ended up getting an account on Blogger.  I stayed there for five years, recording the woes of high school and occasionally posting snippets of my writing.  The only people who read my site were fellow writer friends.  Thank GOODNESS.  Blogging back then was a messy affair.  I used my site as a spewing place for all my thoughts and emotions.  Looking back, I’m thankful to not have a wider readership.

When I studied abroad two years ago, I knew that I wanted to start fresh and make a travel blog.  I also knew that I wanted to switch over to WordPress.  So I did!  In the Bellow and the Uproar was born.  Named for a Virginia Woolf quote, it was home to my travels and adventures in England for three and a half months.

When I came home, I knew I didn’t want to go back to the old Blogger site.  It reminded me too much of my high school self and didn’t reflect where I wanted to go from here.  But I still wanted to write.  So, a year and a half ago, Keep Your Feet was born.  I’ve been here ever since.

That, friends, my blogging story!  Starting young has allowed me to grow into myself as a blogger.  I’ve been told I have a distinctive voice in my writing.  Friends say that, when they read my blog, it’s so me that they hear my voice in their head.  There are a lot of things I wish I could go back and un-say, especially on my first blog, but I’m still thankful for the chance to always learn and grow.

Now for Shannon’s bonus question: If you could go anywhere, would you go to a Where or a Who?

My first impression is to say Where.  There are so many dots on my “To-Visit” map.  But I’ve done a great deal of traveling in the past and, although solo adventures are exhilarating in their own way, they’re also a bit lonely.  Seeing the world isn’t as fun if you don’t have someone to share it with.  So I think my answer is Who.  I don’t have many super close friends–only a few people in the world truly know and appreciate all the corners of me, messy bits and all.  The older I get, these few souls seem to move farther and farther away.  One of my dearest friends lives in Japan, others live in Austria, and I’ve got people all over the United States that I miss so much my heart aches.  Seeing them again would make my month.  We’d drink tea and talk for hours.

Feel like this post is missing something?  Check out my personal rules regarding awards on my Award Policies page.

I Write Because I Refuse to Stop (Writing 101, Day 20)

Four weeks ago, I was asked an important question: Why do you write?  Unsure of how to respond, I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that I write because I always have and cannot seem to stop.

I’ve learned a few things about myself in the past few weeks.  I now realize that, at some point during college, I lost sight of my identity as a writer. It always seemed like my classmates were so much better than I was.  Compared to their eloquent prose and poetry, my words felt feeble, hollow, and lifeless.  But maybe that is because, all along, I wasn’t doing the right kind of writing.  I took creative writing classes, but I’m not a creative writer.  I’ve won essay contests, but I’m not an academic.  That’s not me.

This place, this blog, these posts… this is me.

So much time has been spent comparing myself with other writers that I’ve forgotten who I am.  Participating in Writing 101 has brought everything back.  My identity, ultimately, does not stream from my classmates, friends, and fellow bloggers.  It comes from myself.  It comes from the fact that there are words bubbling from deep within me, waiting to be released.  The words pester me.  They nag, pulling at the back of my mind.  I cannot keep silent.

At the beginning of Writing 101, I stated that I write because I cannot stop.  At the end, I find my answer has changed.

I write because I cannot stop; I write because I refuse to stop;  I write because this is who I am.

What’s Your Favorite Movie? (Writing 101, Day 8)

A while back, my friend Holly from In Spec made a post about the movie Lost in Translation. When you’re done reading this post, please check her site out because she is a smashing good writer. At the end of the post, she posed a question: What is your favorite movie?

(I love it when bloggers ask questions at the end of their posts because I’m the type of person who usually doesn’t comment on things. If I don’t have anything to say, I usually keep silent. That’s why I love the “like” button so much. It allows me to appreciate without articulation. But I digress.)

Holly is an old friend (we went to high school AND college together), so of course I answered her question. I told her that my favorite movie is Midnight in Paris.

If you’ve never seen it, let me give you a synopsis. Normally, I’d post the trailer, but it is one of the few that reveals little to nothing about the movie. Midnight in Paris is about a man who goes to Paris with his fiancé and future in-laws. This man is an idealistic dreamer. Although he made his millions writing Hollywood screenplays, he has always dreamed of writing novels. When we meet him, he has just finished a major draft. During the day, our characters, joined by some friends they unexpectedly meet, soak in Parisian culture by visiting museums, palaces, and wine tastings. Frustrated his companion’s shallow pseudo intellectualism, our hero takes a midnight stroll to clear his mind and finds himself… well… I don’t want to spoil things.

I adore this film. The first time I saw it, I was practically rolling around on the ground salivating. (Yes, I was geeking out that much. My mother can verify this.) Midnight in Paris feels literary—with themes, motifs, cultural statements… all the things that gets a former English major excited.

Midnight in Paris is all about nostalgia. It’s about the longing that dreamers have for times-gone-by. The film deconstructs the idea of the “Golden Age”. It explores the way we idealize the past and beautifully points out that the people in our Golden Ages were doing the exact same thing. Ultimately, the film celebrates times gone by, but encourages viewers to appreciate and delight in the present.

I’m a naturally nostalgic person, so this film tugs at all my heartstrings. It’s got a star-studded cast, filled with all kinds of fun surprises. The film is poignant, frustrating, and very, very beautiful.

Since Holly has given me such a great model, I’m going to end this post in the same way she ended hers:

What is your favorite movie? What do you like about it?