51 of The Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature

It looks like it is turning out to be another busy week for me, but I just wanted to show you all (whoever is reading) this great Buzzfeed article I came across this morning – 51 of The Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature as suggested by the general public, I believe.

There’s something inexplicable about a really well written sentence that I love. The really good ones make me put a book down for a second to pause and enjoy them. This list covers everything from Russian Literature to Where The Wild Things Are to general YA books and Harry Potter (Dumbledore, of course) to American classics. It covers the whole field.

So take a break from your busy day to scroll through and see if any of these sentences give you that inexplicable happy feeling. Happy Wednesday!

enhanced-buzz-wide-17018-1418168799-56

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.46.01 PM

1 AM is Always the Best Time to Learn How to Draw

photo copy

Hello everyone! I hope you all had wonderful and filling Thanksgiving. I didn’t end up posting last week because of the holiday, but I had a great vacation in Long Island filled with down time, food, good books, and walks to the beach. I also have a few book reviews lined up for the future and a much longer to read list than I did before, so there’s that to look forward to.

Last night I had trouble falling asleep. This isn’t that rare – I’m naturally a night person. I go to bed on the later side, and I have often found that it is easier for me to do work, especially writing, late at night. Also, yesterday I was thinking about finding a good avatar for my tumblr site and for Steam (which I also got back into over the holiday thanks to a friend of mine.) I wanted one that was special for me rather than something I randomly found off the internet, and I kind of wanted it to be a drawing, but I didn’t have any drawings of me that my friends made or anything. So I decided to make one myself.

This also happens somewhat regularly, although not as regularly as my random insomnia. I have dabbled with drawing for a long time. I had a serious anime phase in ninth grade which included a drawing interest as well, but I found that I got caught up on the eyes or the symmetry of a face. I would draw one eye and then try and recreate it and all hell would break loose. I also think I started with the eyes, which made the proportions a little weird from the start. Eventually I got frustrated and decided that I couldn’t draw and moved on with my life.

Then a few years ago, in another bout of insomnia I randomly copied a sketch I found off the internet. I’m not sure whose picture it was, and I don’t have the copy or the photo I took of it anymore, but I was surprised at how well the picture turned out. It was just of a girl with long hair resting her head on her hand, but I was very proud of myself. Maybe I could draw after all.

I feel like a lot of authors can also draw, and its always been something I’ve wanted to do. It would be so handy to be able to sketch characters and have them come out (at least somewhat) the way you pictured in your head. I feel like that would make the whole character/world creation process much more complete for me. So after my success with the internet sketch, I decided to draw a character of mine. And it didn’t work. I drew a girl with wavy hair but that was it and I didn’t really connect her with the character she was supposed to be. So I wrote off drawing again.

But then last night I decided to give it another go. I’ve also been casually talking with a friend of mine about what if we took drawing classes (again these conversations are late at night and nothing really comes from them other than hype), but I tried the copying method of drawing again. Because I wanted that avatar.

So I went through my facebook profile pictures and found one that I thought was pretty simple. It was from when I went to visit my godmother down in Florida the year before last, and I am sitting by the pool with shades and an iced tea. I chose it because my hair was in a ponytail, which isn’t too hard to recreate on paper, and the fact that I am wearing large sunglasses solves the eye problem I had back in my anime days. And I was pretty pleased with the results, as far as avatars go.

image                    942431_4813720905907_1058426784_n

So in my sleepless excitement I decided that I would have to go out and get a sketchbook, because I always like keeping things like drawing in one place if I do decide to continue down this path. So I went to Sam Flax this afternoon as a break and got a pretty nice sketchbook on sale – the Sam Flax near me is going out of sale and while I don’t go there too often I’m pretty sad about it.

The sketchbook is pretty nice I think. I’m not a sketchbook expert or anything, but I always enjoy a new notebook. It has very smooth pages – I really don’t like the rough page sketchbooks for drawing, and it’s not too thick, which is good in case this drawing thing is short lived, which it very well might be. I liked the cover of a different one more but it was thicker and a little more expensive. What can you do. They were both black, but the other one was smoother. Oh well.

I traced the drawing into the book, which also didn’t take too long because the pages are pretty thin, but I did notice that when I went over it in ink, it bled through to the back of the page. Not on to the next page though, so I just won’t use both sides of the page if I trace things over with pen. That still means I have 79 unused pages to go though, so I should be good.

I also have a “Drawing” folder on my computer with some of my friends’ profile pictures I can use to practice – I’m not a creeper I swear. I found a few that were just one person and looked like they could potentially be simple. I could also move on to actors or something like that if I’m feeling really ambitious. Or maybe animals? Still life? Just as long as I stay on the “copying” side of thing for now. Who knows?

Also not only are film scores good to write to, they are also good to draw to as well.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.46.01 PM

What to Read Next for Thanksgiving?

Books

Thanksgiving is just around the corner (!!!) and along with great food, Thanksgiving always means curling up in a comfortable chair preferably with a blanket after a brisk walk down to the beach and delving in to some great book. I’m definitely looking forward to the down time that I have next week, but the problem is I don’t know what book to read. Dun dun dun (dramatic music). I’ve had a bit of book ADD recently and I start and stop books a lot because I don’t know what I’m in the mood for. I have a growing list of potential books to bring with me over Thanksgiving vacation to satisfy whatever kind of mood I’m in. Some of these mean trips to the library, others are new or rereads. I’ve been meaning to read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and it’s been sitting on my bedside table for a while now, and I’ve also been wanting to reread The Night Circus and a couple of other things. But I’ve also had my eye on some YA things. I only read YA over summer break – nothing else, and that continued in to the fall, and while I have read other things since then I don’t think I’ve actually finished any of them. And I tend not to review books I don’t finish. Oh well.

I also have been thinking a bit more about my story lately. I thought of another scene while I was going to bed a few nights ago, so I’m hoping to sit down with those ideas at some point over the break as well. We’ll see what happens…

This weekend I am also going on a retreat with 100+ high school students and I am so pumped! It should be a great trip. We are going to Princeton for the weekend (its aptly called Princeton Weekend) and its always crazy and so great! I started going as a student, and I volunteered a couple of times when I could in college, and I’ve been going back ever since. I am definitely pumped for this weekend even if we do all sleep on a gym floor. And then there’s Thanksgiving! I always love this stretch before Thanksgiving – even if it has been crazy cold here…I’ll just use that as an excuse to drink Starbucks holiday drinks and tea. Happy Friday everyone, and if anyone has any good book recommendations leave them in the comments!

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.46.01 PM

Writerly Quotes

I found this quote from Markus Zusak through my wanderings on tumblr, and I just love it because I always appreciate writers taking about writing, particularly when I know their work. The Book Thief was one of the more powerful books I’ve read recently, and I find it refreshing to know that Zusak struggles with writing, and always wants to improve what he’s done just like the rest of us.

IMG_1440.PNG

Happy Friday and keep warm everyone! I’m hoping to curl up at some point this weekend with a good book, a cup of tea and my computer and get some much needed reading and writing done.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.46.01 PM

Operation: Book Nook

Hello everyone! I am writing from my brand new chair in my room and it is pretty exciting. Well, the chair itself isn’t new, but its location is. About a year ago I wrote about how the alcove off of my bedroom got turned into an office, and then last spring I reorganized my bookshelves. Well the sprucing up continues with a new book nook.

The desk that ended up in my now office was one that has floated around the family and from place to place for years. But all the while I had my desk from high school that was mainly being used as a place to put things that I wanted to keep but wouldn’t necessarily use all the time. So the random stuff kept on piling up and I would just ignore it as it got messier and messier. It was a vicious cycle. Well, over the weekend I finally did something about it.

For a while now, ever since I started in on my bookshelves, I’ve been meaning to give my old desk to my mom for her to use and to put a chair in its place to add some more cozy to my room. And that finally happened. There were many recycling bags involved, and I still need to go through an end table filled with random books, but I have a reading chair now :).

photo

I covered it with a throw I got for college to up the cozy factor, and I might replace the pillow it came with with a different throw pillow (also from college) depending on how comfortable it is in comparison. I also have my rug from college that would fit nicely in front of it – I love that I can reuse all this stuff again!

Today I also went out to Barnes and Nobles and bought a lap desk, which was something I’d been debating doing for a while. Now that I have a couple of options when it comes to places to work I think it will come in handy. It is black with polka dots on the bottom and pink elastic straps to hold papers secure, and I am using it right now. So far so good.

I seem to have fallen into an every other week posting schedule, but hopefully I can bring the posts back up to once a week. I do have some book reviews and other fun things planned so stay tuned!

But on a completely unrelated note, we seem to have fully entered into the holiday season. I always know that this happens right after Halloween (lets be honest, its before halloween a lot of the time), and every time it seems to throw me off. There were advent calendars today being sold at Barnes and Nobles, and when I went into CVS on Halloween to see if I could find a last minute witch hat (all the halloween stores were packed) I was greeted instead with Santa hats. On Halloween. Maybe I could have gone as Mrs. Claus.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.46.01 PM

My 100th Post!! (and The Liebster Award)

Hello everyone, and welcome to my 100th post and summer makeover! It sounds corny but it’s hard to believe I’ve gotten this far, and I am so excited to see where this blog will go in the future! I have never really been too good at keeping something like this blog up, so the fact that I am here still is pretty exciting. It’s gotten to the point where I feel guilty if I get to the end of a week without posting. So whether you’ve read one post or you read every post (I don’t know if anyone actually does) – whatever you do thanks for sticking with me.

I would also like to use my special 100th post to accept The Liebster Award, which Shannon from Beauty and the Mess (http://beautyandthemessblog.wordpress.com) nominated me for a few months ago.

fleur-de-liebster

I had seen the little Liebster Award stamp on different blog’s sidebars before, but I didn’t really know the details behind it, so this gave me a good excuse to go look up the rules. From what I could tell there were a few different variations to the rules, but the gist of the Liebster Award is to

(1) answer 11 questions about yourself

(2) ask 11 more questions to your nominations and

(3) nominate 11 blogs to pass on the award by linking to their blog and then letting them know about the nomination.

There was one version of the rules that I liked which said to also give 11 facts about yourself, so I am doing that as well, although it might be optional. I don’t know. The nominees are also blogs with under 200 followers (or 2,000 one version said (some of my nominees are over 200 but under 2,000 so I’m going to say I’m in the clear) to give a nod to the smaller blogs on the internet, and I am honored to be part of that group. 🙂

So here we go.

The Questions 

Here are the questions that Shannon asked me:

What’s your favorite animal?
 Definitely dogs. I love seeing all the different dogs in New York, and there is a dog park near my house that I stop by sometimes. There’s are benches and a regular park there too so I’m not always that person in the dog park without a dog, even though that has definitely happened.
 
What’s something on your bucket list?
Probably travel more. I have been getting some wanderlust recently, and I would love to do something about it. I don’t know where in particular. I would love to go to France and Istanbul again and Greece, which I’ve never been to before.
 
Read any good books this past year?
Yep. Just look at a few of my other posts to see some of them.
 
If you had a million dollars, what are a few things you would do with it?
I have answered this question so many times in French class whenever we studied the subjunctive, which deals with uncertainty so that’s the ultimate short essay question, but I never really thought about it much beyond that. I would love to use some of it for travel, and I would like to think that I would donate some and save some as well.
 
What’s your favorite TV show?
I’m bad at superlatives, but I was a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and LOST in high school. Right now I like Parks and Rec, Elementary, Castle, Doctor Who (Ten is the best – I love David Tenant!), Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Foyle’s War etc. but I’m always looking for new shows to watch. If anyone has any suggestions let me know!
 
What’s something you’re afraid of?
Heights. Also I have had many different dreams about elevators going too fast either up or down, but I’m not afraid of elevators really. And I’ve grown up taking elevators all the time so it’s nothing strange for me. Take that as you will.
 
If you could see anyone in concert, who would it be?
Since The Beatles were my first favorite band when I was little, and they have soo many songs, I would probably say them. When I was in college, I heard that Paul McCartney had gone on tour in 2008, and I didn’t know about it at the time so I didn’t go. But friends of mine did, and I was so jealous of them. I’m sure he went to NY and played at Madison Square Garden, and I could have gone to see him there!
 
What’s your favorite book?
Again I’m bad with the superlatives, especially when it comes to books, but Harry Potter will always hold a special place in my heart. But if you ask me this question at different times the answer changes beyond that.
 
If you could go bowling with any fictional character, who would it be?
Good question. Ginny Weasley always seemed like an awesome person to me. Maybe just the whole Weasley family. That would be great. Seeing their dynamic bowling would be amazing with all the kids and Molly and Arthur. And it would make Arthur’s day to do such a muggle thing as bowling. (Also this would be pre-book 7 for obvious reasons).
 
Why did you start a blog?
I started my blog a month or two before graduating 2 years ago so that I would have something to do post-graduation that would keep me on somewhat of a schedule since I didn’t know what I was doing after school ended at that point. Also I realized that after graduation I would be able to read for fun, which was something I hadn’t gotten to do as much of as I wanted to over the past 17 years because school. I kept it going for the NYU Summer Publishing Program as a professional online presence for the summer after graduation and just continued on after that.
 
What’s your favorite season?
Definitely summer 🙂 I live for the warm weather, the beach and sitting in parks.
 
The Facts
 
Here are some things you may or may not know about me:
 
  1. Most people change what they want to be when they grow up a lot as a child, but I always wanted to be a writer. Always. It morphed a bit in high school and college to working with books/editing but it never changed much beyond that, and I still love to write.
  2. I am a born and bred New Yorker, and I love the city even though I knew I didn’t want to stay in the city for college (which I didn’t). That being said, I love the weekends that I spend in the country too.
  3. I am left-handed, and have always been strangely proud of that fact.
  4. When I was 8 I wrote a story called Little Horses that was loosely based on Little Women – I say loosely because I hadn’t read Little Women yet. Little Horses was well over 100 pages long in my notebook (I want to say 180 something). It had a plot in that things happened but that was about it. 
  5. I randomly didn’t watch TV for a few years when I was a kid. There was no particular reason for this, I just didn’t.
  6. I love the beach. Any beach. Absolutely love it.
  7. I am currently working as a freelance editor and babysitter, and while I am still trying to figure out my life (as much as I don’t like the phrase 20-something that’s where I am right now) I am really enjoying the structure, freedom, and experience that these two jobs have given me.
  8. I am an avid Disney fan, but I never really liked Disney movies as a kid. I always thought they were too scary, too loud, or too sad.
  9. I tend to judge books very quickly, especially if I am not sure what to read next. If the first few sentences don’t grab me it’s hard for me to get any farther.
  10. I really liked The Sound of Music when I was little. As in I was completely obsessed with it. I probably watched it at least once a month, if not more, and I was also fascinated with World War II. Looking back on it, that seems kind of strange, considering I was about 9, but I blame Julie Andrews, American Girl, and the fact that I am a partial history geek.
  11. I was born on February 11th, and 11 is one of my favorite numbers along with 2 for obvious reasons.

The Questions II

  1. If you could travel anywhere on your next vacation where would you go?
  2. Why do you blog?
  3. What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?
  4. What is your favorite type of book to read?
  5. What is your favorite movie?
  6. What TV shows do you binge watch?
  7. Who is your favorite fictional character and why?
  8. Do you cry easily with books/movies? What book or movie made you cry?
  9. Are you an extrovert or an introvert?
  10. Who was your favorite high school teacher, college professor, or mentor that you have had?
  11. If you could meet anyone in the world (dead or alive) who would it be?

The Nominees 

I really enjoyed going through the blogs that I follow and finding new blogs to follow to nominate people. The nominees are:

  1. http://readandsurvive.wordpress.com
  2. http://bookscleverness.wordpress.com
  3. http://rookienotes.wordpress.com
  4. http://dollymadisondesigns.wordpress.com/
  5. http://theegotripper.com
  6. http://withinmylens.wordpress.com
  7. http://knowedits.wordpress.com 
  8. http://astoldbylaura.wordpress.com
  9. http://boscafelife.wordpress.com
  10. http://readingwithtea.com
  11. http://amandaliew.com

Here are some bonus cute puppy pictures for my 100th post. Happy Wednesday!

CutePuppies

cute-puppies-pictures_1400050051

Two Cute Twins Dog Wallpaper

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.46.01 PM

In Which I Obsess Over a New Series (Nothing New…)

Helloo everyone! I hope you have all had a wonderful July 4th weekend filled with relaxation. I am currently in the middle of a two-week mini vacation, which means I have spent a lot of time reading in the sun, watching movies, a bit of the World Cup and Wimbledon, and watching a fair amount of Parks and Rec. (I know I’m late to the party but I am completely obsessed with it at the moment!)

Speaking of obsessions…I am excited to talk about Shadow and Bone today. Usually I like to wait a while (maybe about a year) before re-reading a book, but I am pretty sure I am going to be revisiting the Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo (which Shadow and Bone is the first of) well before then. Like I might read it again after the book I’m reading now, and I only first read it a few months ago (still playing catch up here). shaodw_200

I first heard about the Grisha series while having lunch with a college friend, who insisted that I had to read it, and I took out Shadow and Bone from the library not too long after that. And after reading it I can say that my friend was right. I am also debating buying it so I can revisit again in the future.

Shadow and Bone tells the story of Alina, a girl who grew up as an orphan with her friend Mal in Ravka, a Russian-based fantasy land where Grishas, or people with specific talents (either for the elements, healing, etc.) serve The Darkling. Ravka is also divided by the Shadow Fold, a dark abyss that splits the country in two, and takes away its sea ports and trade routes. Alina leans that she might have the power needed to help restore Ravka and destroy the Fold, but things in the capital aren’t all what they seem, and Alina finds herself swept up in the middle of it.

There are many things that I really enjoyed about Shadow and Bone. The first thing I noticed as I read the first page was Bardugo’s writing style. It is sparse and to the point, but it also seemed very poetic to me, which I really enjoyed. The world itself also was very unique in terms of fantasy stories. The court life story is well known in fantasy books, but while many of the other court stories are based on European or British culture, Ravka is a Russian based world, which set it apart from the start. Many of the names of lands or people had Slavic roots, the world itself felt vast, and the winters sounded brutal.

At first I thought that Shadow and Bone would be similar to the Graceling series, which I read a few years ago and have recently revisited, in that certain people have special powers and are set apart from society etc. But I wasn’t too far into Shadow and Bone before it was clear that Leigh Bardugo was doing her own thing and was doing it really well.

Another thing I really loved about this book was Alina and her storytelling since the story is in first person. My creative writing teacher in college always said that you had to have a really strong unique narrator to pull off the first person narration well, and Alina Starkov fits that mold without a question. She is a quiet character who doesn’t always have a lot to say, but she is also hugely sarcastic and can hold her own against the other characters, which I really enjoyed. There was something about a quiet snarky girl that I really appreciated. That kind of personality could also be challenging to pull off in writing too, but Bardugo holds the balance well to make Alina a believable and likable character.

Another thing that was interesting about Shadow and Bone, was that as a narrator Alina (and Bardugo) never really stepped back to give the reader any backstory. Instead, things are pieced together as the story moves along, which makes the action more fast paced and immediate. I found that it took me a couple of chapters to figure out the world Alina lived in at first with the different Grisha powers and all, but the fact that I didn’t know everything, or certain things, pulled me in more. I also thought it was an interesting technique as a writer which I appreciated.  There were flashbacks to when Alina and Mal were younger, but the camera never really zoomed out to say here’s what you need to know about such and such. This also emphasized the plot and speed of events in the story, which was plotted and laid out very meticulously. I feel like that would be an interesting exercise – write a piece without zooming the camera out.

I also appreciated the reality of Alina’s relationships, particularly with her instructors, The Darkling, and Mal. The relationships were made very complex as Alina found out more about herself, her power, and the world that she lives in. This also flushed out the other characters in the story as well, and made The Darkling and Mal more than just the men (and sometimes love interests) in her life, which I appreciated. It made all the characters in the series more three dimensional.

Those were the main things that stuck out to me with Shadow and Boen, which I devoured over a few days, along with the other two books in the Grisha series, which I will be talking about next. I could go on but I don’t want to give things away. But you all should read Shadow and Bone, and if you have I would love to hear what you think about it. Also the movie rights for the book have been sold to the same people who did Harry Potter, so hopefully a movie for Shadow and Bone will be coming soon! With such a fast moving, action driven plot, I imagine it would make a great movie if they do it right. What are your thoughts on that? I want to know!

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.46.01 PM