Why read? Why listen? Why learn?

Seventh-grade Noelle, binge-watching “Crash Course: Psychology” videos on Youtube as she procrastinated her Macbeth paper, was very aware she was not being the most time-responsible student, but did not see how she was shaping a path that would become much more significant for her life than an English assignment.

Human behavior had always seemed inexplicable and unscientific; after all, my fundamentalist Christian education had taught me that science was a tool for understanding the world humans ruled, that humans were separate, unconstrained by the same laws that governed beasts. I craved even the most basic explanations for human self-concept, motivations, patterns, and dysfunctions.

But that couldn’t quite satiate my hunger for the knowledge I felt robbed of. The results of the brain’s functions were fascinating, but I around tenth grade I wondered more how an organ, just a bundle of cells, could create thoughts, solve problems, and grasp abstract concepts. Swayed by my friend’s year-long rave over Duke TIP’s Summer Studies program, I signed away three weeks of my summer to informally study neuroscience. I fell in love with my new friends, the subject, and even the rat whose brain we dissected.

Duke TIP had such a profound affect on my life that all I wanted was more of it. I signed up for AP Biology to hold me over as I searched for its replacement for the next summer, and I found NC Governor’s School, a five-week program that offered a natural science track featuring neuroscience.

I got in, and to my surprise, neuroscience was my least favorite of the four science mini courses. NCGS piqued my interest in many diverse areas of science I had never truly considered, especially biology, as it was the most emergent and the most plainly applicable to humanity’s well being.

Neuroscience was my first love, but it is one part of a network of complex, beautiful biological systems that make up the human experience. I’ve only just scratched the surface; I cannot wait to dig deeper, have my passions lead me places I don’t expect, and to contribute to this important and evolving field.

This pursuit of knowledge has easily characterized my education and my life for the past five years. It has grounded me in the midst of changing circumstances, guided my choices as different paths have become available, and substantiated my goals as I pursue my future. In a broader sense, a love of knowledge has deepened my relationships with my friends; asking questions and seeking answers has led me to more nuanced and trusting friendships, rooted in something deeper than shallow shared experiences. Learning has given me something to occupy my mind during classes that teach me nothing. When teachers insist I memorize and repeat, I teach myself how to poetically articulate my frustration with the education system in my notebook as I tune them out. Learning draws me to the things I ought to pay attention to and gives me an escape from the things I oughtn’t.

Learning is, I’ve decided, the one thing I’m sure I want to continue until I die, for what is life without growth, without evolution?

This post was inspired by the Activia Scholarship (https://www.activia.co.uk/scholarship-us), which provides financial aid to passionate college students.

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

I’m back to posting… check out this review, friends! 🙂

~ Alice

We're All Mad Here

PaperTowns2009_6APaper Towns by John Green

Pages: 305

Format: Book

Source: Barnes and Nobles

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

Review: Hello! So this will probably take awhile to write. After my absence, I decided to review a book that is quickly rising on my list of favorites. I spent a few minutes scrolling…

View original post 958 more words

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

PaperTowns2009_6APaper Towns by John Green

Pages: 305

Format: Book

Source: Barnes and Nobles

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

Review: Hello! So this will probably take awhile to write. After my absence, I decided to review a book that is quickly rising on my list of favorites. I spent a few minutes scrolling through the Goodreads reviews for this book, which all I either agreed with or made me moderately to quite angry. So I thought I should address something here before I start really discussing the book: the similarities between Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska (another by John Green if you don’t know). The majority of the one star reviews on Goodreads were criticizing Mr. Green because of this. He is scarily good at writing teenage protagonists, and yes, Q and Miles are both male, and in high school, and they each love an interesting girl. I see where you’re coming from. But read each book and consider all the circumstances. They are very different. Q has loved and watched and idealized Margo his whole life. Miles meets Alaska and begins to idolize and fall in love with her right away. I believe all the characters and situations in the two books are notably different, and honestly, they are each incredible books. Does it really matter? Now, Paper Towns.

Paper Towns is a big change from most YA books. John Green is remarkable for telling stories in a way that honestly just capture a period of time realistically, rather than starting in one place with a crazily misunderstood protagonist with powers, or a dead family, or who is the lone survivor of the apocalypse. Nothing is nearly as dramatic, all of these things could have happened. The paper towns (and Agloe, NY) are real. These kinds of conversations, thoughts, and personalities are also very real. John Green is very good at writing that way.

There is just something about John Green’s writing that makes you think, wonder, and want to do the things that you read about… but the incredible thing is that nothing he writes is something that you couldn’t do. There is such a cold, hard, amazing truth to these characters and events.

All of this holds true for Paper Towns.

Q, Quentin Jacobsen, is a normal teenager. He’s preparing to graduate, he’s friends with the band geeks, he likes playing video games. He likes routine. And he also happens to live next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.

I love Q, his banter with Ben and Radar, and his character development.Throughout Paper Towns, you see Q go from quietly loving Margo to understanding her in a much better way. When she takes him on an all night trip of adventure and revenge, he is even more intrigued. But when she disappears and he starts searching, he begins to realize how Margo is not an idea, not some enigma, but a person. As he gets closer to realizing this he understands her better,and eventually finds her when she never meant to be found.

He has two best friends, Ben, with a lot of interesting habits, fixated on going to prom, and Radar, who is dedicated to editing a Wikipedia-like search engine. Oh, and his parents own the world’s largest collection of black Santas. Actually one of my favorite parts of Paper Towns was something Radar said to Q,

“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it’s going with my girlfriend – but I don’t give a shit, man, because you’re you. My parents have a shit ton of black Santas, but that’s okay. They’re them. I’m too obsessed with a reference website to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That’s okay, too. That’s me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You’re funny, and you’re smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.”

I feel like a lot of people have that problem.

Margo Roth Spiegelman is basically a girl who everyone idolizes, always doing interesting, unexpected things. Q knew her as a child, but they kind of got older and got different friends, so that Q only really watched Margo until the night she showed up at his window.

My favorite topic explored in this book is how Q, and we, will often look at people and decide for some reason that they are less or more than human. We put them up on a pedestal or shove them beneath us, when really they are simply… people. With the same kinds of emotions, senses, everything, as us. You shouldn’t try so hard to know how another person thinks without knowing them, it only twists your vision of them in a more confusing way. Q saw Margo as something he had made up in his head for so long, he had to finally break down that image and see her as a girl. That’s when he found her, talked with her, understood after so long.

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

I know I’ve been talking about mostly the same thing this whole review but I could continue and go on forever. I love this book. I highly recommend it, as well as John’s other books. John and his brother Hank also have a great youtube channel (vlogbrothers) that you should check out. They just finished filming the Paper Towns movie and well, I really, really hope it’s good. But I’ve got faith in it, because John was a big part of it. So I’m sorry for such a long absence, I will try to get Chesh and the Red Queen on here soon, and I’ll post more. Thanks for reading such a long, talky review (rather than my usual nonsense filled with gifs). Give me something as great and interesting as this book, and I will never shut up. So… yeah. Read Paper Towns!

~ Alice

Apology and Blood of Olympus

So guess what?

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And by Lord Voldemort, I mean me, as in Alice.

We’re basically the same.

So anyways, I am so sorry for not posting in forever! Our last post was Chesh about 2 months ago. Mine was like January.

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Yeah, I guess school and life caught up with us.

Mostly school.

But now it’s summer again! I hope to post more, and coerce Chesh and The Red Queen into doing so as well.

I’ve read some good books! But right now, I thought we should talk about…..

THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS.

EXCITEMENT AND WORRIES AND SO MANY EMOTIONS.

Before I freak out and analyze too much, here is the information.

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Release Date: October 7, 2014

Synopsis:

“Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them, and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake. The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance

Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps. The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.”

SO YEAH.

There are SO MANY things I must talk about. Here are some of them in a semi-organized bulleted list.

  • THE COVER. If you’ll scroll up and examine it, you’ll see some giants, and above them, what I believe to be Frank and Jason, and….. Hazel? Maybe? I think it’s Hazel on the right. Design wise, it’s not my favorite cover, but I’ll take it. I’d also like to draw your attention to the UK cover, released a few days ago:

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Well, look at those strapping seven young folks! Who- oh, you mean those are THE seven? Wow. Frank gives the impression of Orlando Bloom, if you zoom in.

Yeah, that is NOT how I imagine them. So attractive, so fashionably dressed! Is Hazel three years older? Is Leo tall? Piper has got one SCARY BLADE. I am angry that Percy still looks like Logan Lerman? This is strange.

These are some fabulous and fierce warriors in the UK. Yeah, Gaea, you bettah run.

I’m also worried about the scary Gaea eyes at the bottom. Creeeeeepy.

Let’s make a petition for Viria to do a new cover and character art.

If you’re not familiar with Viria, observe:

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(I especially love her Leo.)

That was a long bullet point. The bottom line is, covers are weird. Especially British covers.

  • I AM STILL SO WORRIED FROM THE TITLE. JUST THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS. THE BLOOD, WE ALREADY KNOW THEY NEED DEMIGOD BLOOD.
  • I AM ALSO WORRIED ABOUT LEO IN GENERAL AND MY WELL BEING IF ANYTHING HAPPENS TO HIM.
  • Will Percy find out about Nico? Poor Nico. I love Nico
  • THE BATTLE AT CAMP HALF BLOOD! UAHBGBAFFGHAFH
  • I WANT TYSON AND GROVER AND ELLA IN THE BOOK AND I WANT THEM TO STAY SAFE
  • I miss Grover a lot aaah
  • Also I hope nothing happens to dear Frank.
  • or Hazel
  • or PERCY OR ANNABETH OR PERCABETH BREAK THEM AND I WILL BREAK YOU
  • or ANYONE.

I should probably stop before I have a conniption..

This  post was probably like 3 years long, but I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll probably be posting a review soon. I’ll try to get my cohorts to post, and I bid you a good day!

~ Alice

Clarity by Kim Harrington

ImageClarity by Kim Harrington

Series: Clarity #1

Published by Scholastic Point on March 1, 2011

Pages: 177

Format: Ebook

Source: Barnes and Noble

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (courtesy Goodreads):

When you can see things others can’t, where do you look for the truth?
This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case–but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother–who has supernatural gifts of his own–becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

Review:

I’m going to start with the things I disliked because I’m just that much fun.

First off, the cover is awful. It poorly represents the book and it looks like a Sims animation.

So yeah.

Also, there were a couple of plot points *tries not to spoil anything* that seemed a bit ridiculous.

NOW THAT THAT’S OUT OF THE WAY this book was 300% fwamtastic.

Clare is realistic, likeable, and relatable, but she’s not so perfect that she’s cliche. She has a few very serious flaws that are strongly represented throughout.

That said, the antagonists aren’t irrefutably bad, either. They had some redeeming factors.

It was a well done mystery. Maybe it’s just me, but the ending was surprising and it had several plot twists that threw me off the scent of the murderer.

The infamous love triangle makes its appearance too, but this is one of the better ones I’ve read. Nobody is head-over-heels in love with anyone. They each have their own doubts and mixed emotions.

Clarity is entertaining, cute, and overall enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone with some spare time.

~Cheshire Cat

 

Blog Tour Stop: The Polaris Uprising by Jennifer Ibarra

We are thrilled to be a part of The Polaris Uprising blog tour. This is an excerpt post and there is a rafflecopter link below.

The Polaris Uprising

About The Polaris Uprising:

In less than seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will succeed her father as the president of Neress, a nation where all citizens are cared for from the moment they’re born. Fed, sheltered, even educated—every need of theirs is met.

The only price they pay is their free will.

Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.

Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna

 

Excerpt:

“So what happens now?”

“I can’t let him take the fall for this,” Ryla said, looking up at her. “I have to get him out, and I need your help.”

Gates’s eyes widened, blinked back at her.

“That detention center has the highest level of security—even under ordinary circumstances. And now it’s guarding the country’s most notorious prisoner… Ryla, what you’re planning is sheer insanity.”

“So you won’t help me?”

Gates was quiet for a long time. She issued no denial but offered no confirmation, either. Finally, she turned back to Ryla.

“You want my help? Here’s how I’ll help: I’m going to give you some advice, and if I were you, I’d listen very carefully. Go back. Go back to your comfortable life, where you’re safe and you’re oblivious and you can pretend you never got involved with us. Too many things have already been set into motion, and this is bigger than any rescue mission you could possibly stage.”

“You mean there’s a war coming. A genuine uprising.”

Gates didn’t look at her this time. But Ryla knew the answer was yes. It had all led to this moment, even if no one had said it out loud until now.

“You’re asking me to sacrifice him, then. He’ll be a casualty while Polaris gears up for the real battle—is that it?”

“There will always be casualties, Ryla. Remember that.”

“Maybe so. But if I have it in my power to save someone from becoming collateral damage, I’m not going to pass up the chance.”

“So you’re going through with this? Whether I help you or not?”

Up ahead, the camera ticked by.

Ten…eleven…twelve…

“Yes.”

Author Info:

The Polaris Uprising authorJennifer Ibarra grew up on a steady diet of books, Star Wars, and other fantastic feats of the imagination. Her debut novel, The Polaris Uprising, is the first book in a trilogy and mixes dystopia with family drama, romance, and political intrigue.She lives in Silicon Valley, where she does marketing for a tech company and spends her time running, cooking, baking, and keeping up with celebrity gossip.

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The Polaris Uprising Banner

Cover Release: Anomaly by Tonya Kuper

Hi again everyone! We are extremely excited to be part of the cover release for Tonya Kuper’s ANOMALY. Check out the cover and make sure to enter the giveaway (link is at the bottom).

Release Date: November 4, 2014

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Synopsis:

What if the world isn’t what we think? What if reality is really only an illusion? What if you were one of the few who could control it?

Yeah, Josie Harper didn’t believe it, either, until strange things started happening. When this hot guy tried to kidnap her, shouting about ultimate observers and pushing and consortiums hell-bent on controlling the world… Well, that’s when things got real. Now Josie’s got it bad for a boy who weakens her every time he’s near and a world of enemies on her tail who want to control her gift, so yeah, she’s going to need more than just her wits if she hopes to survive much longer.

Einstein never saw this coming…

Tonya KuperAbout the Author:

YA scifi author of ANOMALY, out 11/14, Entangled Teen. Represented by Nicole Resciniti. Contributor at yastands.blogspot.com & allthewritenotes.com. Music freak. Chocolate addict.

Website   Twitter   Facebook   Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

1 eARC of ANOMALY International

a Rafflecopter giveaway