Monday, January 18, 2016

So long, but not farewell (also, thanks for all the fish)

It is time to bid so long to Dolls, Books, and Things That Matter.

But this is not farewell, for I have opened a new blog! From now on, you can find me at Abbey's World of Pure Imagination. I hope to see many of you migrate over there with me!

Why am I closing Dolls, Books, and Things That Matter? Read on...

When I started this blog in 2011 I was hoping to become a part of the American Girl Doll blogging community. That quickly evolved into hoping that I could become a part of the reading and writing blogging community. I supposed I hoped to become "Internet famous," like girloftheyearstudios or Basilmentos, two American Girl bloggers and Youtubers; or like Jack Lewis Baillot at However Improbable. These people had fanbases and adoring readers and made close friends through their Internet experiences. I haven't become "Internet famous" and I don't have a fanbase of adoring readers. (Though this is probably my own fault because I'm horrible at replying to comments and interacting with the readers I do have. Despite this, I have made friends in the blogging community whom I love very much!)
I've come to realize that I really don't want to become "Internet famous." My motivation to become "famous" was so that I could have friends. Somehow, in my mind, having hundreds of followers raining down praises on my brilliant content would lead to gaining the close-knit group of friends that I've always longed for. Then I had the revelation: I have friends and the opportunity for close friendships outside of the Internet. Just because I've witnessed other people finding their best friend through the computer doesn't mean it has to happen like that to me. While spending time searching for my BFFL online, I've been neglecting my real life friendships.
On this blog, I feel pressure to be someone I'm not; to imitate the "bigger bloggers" that I respect and admire so I can gain the following and friendship that they have. But I am not like them: I am not an Internet hermit. I am not a fangirl. I don't spend all my time writing. I don't spend all my time reading. I am not a lifestyle guru. I have a life outside of the World Wide Web and I don't feel the need to share all of it with my followers. More importantly, I don't feel the need the search for a sense of community online any more.
Dolls, Books, and Things That Matter represents a different time in my life. Not only a time of searching for friends, but also a time of experimentation with blogging content and style. It's time to move on from that to a more mature place to express my thoughts and opinions without the pressure to become someone I'm not.

Here is a preview of what I hope to accomplish on my new blog:
-Book reviews.
-A series following the rewriting and editing of my current writing projects (inspired by Katie at Spiral-Bound's "Editing Diary" posts).
-Well-written nonfiction articles on various topics.
-Engaging more with my audience (*cough cough* like actually answering comments... *cough*).
-Update posts on my life, goals, reading, writing, and music.

Moving to this new blog is scary. I'm not sure how it will work out yet, but I'm hoping that you, my wonderful readers, will follow me there and we can explore the future together!

For one last time: Live long and prosper.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Review of Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Summary: Cinder is a cyborg, and in New Beijing, that means that she is an outcast. She also happens to be a fantastic mechanic, and that is how she first meets Prince Kai and becomes embroiled in palace intrigue. Prince Kai, meanwhile, is desperately trying to stop the deadly plague that covers the nation and make tentative peace with the Lunar people.

My rating: 8/10 stars.

Plot: For a Cinderella retelling, I greatly enjoyed this story. I loved that the familiar Cinderella storyline was noticeable, yet subtle enough not to distract from the other elements of the story. Marissa Meyer deftly managed to meld fairytale with original tale, adding her own twists to the familiar story. I especially loved it when Cinder arrived at the ball and caused a stir, but not because she was the most beautiful girl there—because she was wearing a wrinkled dress, grease-stained gloves, and had mussy hair!
One tiny qualm that others might have about the plot was its predictability. I guessed the two major plot twists near the beginning, and turned out to be right when they happened. But, since I like to know the end of the story before I finish reading (because the Unknown causes me a lot of stress), I didn't mind at all.
I did feel, however, that bits and pieces of the political plotline could have been explained just a little more clearly, and that other parts of the plot could have been expanded on a bit (like Cinder fixing up the car).

Characters: The characters in Cinder are delightful. I immediately liked Cinder and Prince Kai. I also liked Dr. Erland, though I was a bit suspicious of him. I think Cinder felt that way about him, too, but that didn't inhibit her from learning all she could from him.
And let's not get started on the Lunars... They have something called "glamour," where they can manipulate biochemical energy and make people think, feel, and do whatever they want. Their queen, Levana, wants to take over earth. Like the characters in the book, I felt repulsed by Queen Levana and her threats.
Each character fulfilled their purpose, and left an impression on me.

Would I recommend this book? If you are a person who likes fairytale retellings, and if you are a person who likes quick, easy reads with good plot and characters, then I would definitely recommend this book! (There are, I believe, two swear words in this book.) The other books in the Lunar Chronicles are also great.

Live long and prosper.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: A Year in Review

This has been an eventful year. I graduated. I performed a senior recital. I got a job. I drove part way to Minnesota. I went on a cruise with my extended family. And, I finished a 60-chapter fantasy novel.

Here were the goals I made for myself at the beginning of 2015 and their degree of completion:

1. Read the entire Bible.
I think I got into Isaiah and then stopped.

2. Graduate with good grades.
I did graduate! And I did have pretty good grades. I'm not a straight A student and probably never will be, but I don't think I've ever gotten worse than a C, so I'm content.

3. Extensively plan and plot the fantasy story I wrote in 2014.
While I didn't "extensively plan and plot" my fantasy story, I did re-plot the story and re-write it this year. I finished the second draft in November and have been taking a much-needed break from the story. I let my dad read it and he enjoyed it. Now, I'm waiting for my mom to read it so that she can give me some feedback. Hurry up, Mom! I'm getting antsy to start working on this book again!

4. Write the final two Daniel and Varina novels.
After finishing my fantasy novel during NaNoWriMo last month, I still had about 15,000 words to get to the prescribed 50,000. I decided to finish writing the fourth Daniel and Varina book which I had started (and abandoned) in April.
In November, though I had only 5,000 words left to get to 50,000, and I only needed to write one more scene for Daniel and Varina's story to be complete, I couldn't goad myself to finishing NaNoWriMo this year. Yesterday, however, I sat down with the intention of writing the final scene in Daniel and Varina's novel, and I did!
So, the goal to finish their series was half completed. I've realized that I need to step back from Daniel and Varina's story for a bit and re-think the premise and the villain before I can continue to write about them.

5. Read 100 books.
Haha, no. I read 66 books this year. 50 were new to me, while 13 were rereads. 1984 by George Orwell had the least amount of stars with 4/10. Most of my 10/10 star ratings were for favorites that I revisited. I did give ten stars to one new book: Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before. A Visual History. This book commemorated Star Trek's 30th anniversary in the 1990s. I hope they come out with a similar book to celebrate Star Trek's 50th anniversary next year!

6. Implement my Book Challenge.
I think I had too many reading challenges this year. One was to read the entire Bible. Another was to re-read and review every self-published book on my shelf. I failed miserably at this. Someday I will review them all, but, as Aragorn says, "Today is not that day!"
The biggest challenge I gave myself this past year was my 2015 reading challenge, where I tried to read a classic and a modern book in six different genres and then review each book. I did very well with the reading part, excepting last three books. I didn't get The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak, Dracula by Bram Stoker, or Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury read. Let's not even discuss how awful my reviewing schedule was. I have a few reviews/notes in my drafts folder, so I will most likely publish those at some point in the future.
Even though I failed at my challenge, I read several books that I normally would not have read and discovered several new authors whose books I enjoy!

7. Get a job, join a non-highschool choir, research colleges, and generally keep busy and not become a hermit once I graduate.
I have not become a hermit, you may be pleased to know. I did get a job, but I did not join a choir or research colleges.

8. Continue with my music. Take a music theory class. Have a FANTASTIC senior recital in May.
Although I didn't take a music theory class, I have continued with my piano and voice lessons. My senior recital in May was FANTASTIC, and you can watch it on Youtube HERE.

9. Exercise more.
Sporadically throughout the year, I did exercise more than usual.

10. Read one nonfiction a month.
I read seven nonfiction books this year.

11. Write every day of the year.
Haha, this definitely did NOT happen.

Here are my goals for 2016:

1. Perform in a musical.

2. Get a piano student.

3. Write one nonfiction piece of writing a week in January.

4. Spend 40 minutes a day reading instructional nonfiction.

5. Rewrite my fantasy story for the second time.

6. Host a Dutch-themed dinner party for my friends (and cook the entire meal myself).

7. Figure out college and LIFE.

8. Practice voice at least five out of seven days a week.

9. Memorize and perform Sinding's Rustle of Spring on the piano.

10. Read the books on my 2016 book-themed calendar and take part it THIS reading challenge sent to me by my aunt.

11. Grow closer to God through daily devotions. Put more emphasis on persistent prayer.

12. Eat less sugar because it makes me feel sick.

13. Exercise more.

14. Implement and stick to my new schedule in order to spend less time on irrelevant activities.

What are you goals for 2016?

Live long and prosper!

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Christmasy Poem by Abbey

I don't know about you, but I've already attended two white elephant gift exchanges this December. To the first one I brought a monkey hat that sang the theme tune to the Monkees TV show ("Hey hey we're the Monkees! And people say we monkey around. But we're too busy singing to put anybody down..."), but to the second one I decided to be more creative. My mom and I went to the thrift store and bought three gray elephant stuffed animals of varying sizes (and a bag of mini chocolate bars) and I wrote the following poem to accompany the plushies:

A time of lights and snow
Of parties and go go go.
One specific gathering cannot be escaped
Though it is rather half-baked:
A white elephant gift exchange
Harder to avoid than mange.
It started with the king of Siam.
No, he didn't give his courtiers lambs.
He burdened them with white elephants—
But that is quite irrelevant.
My point is about discrimination.
Hopefully we are not in stagnation.
White elephants are well and good,
But gray are left out of the brotherhood.
It say: take your Twix and Milky Way
But don't forget your ashen friends from Family Elephantidae.
African, Asian, gray, or albino,
All elephants have floppy ears, trunks, and tusks not unlike a rhino.
So stop being exclusive;
It's rather abusive.
Include all elephants
In your gift exchange presents.

I wanted that last line to say "You ungrateful peasants!" but I thought that wasn't really compatible with the holiday spirit. :P

Merry Christmas everybody!