Sunday, April 26, 2015

Oh Hey, Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Day Late Update

This was my first year participating in any of Dewey's 24 Hour Readathons which occur twice a year, every October and April. It was also my third readathon ever. Keep in mind that I'm relatively new to these types of events. If any of you have followed my previous readathon attempts, you would know that I'm not very good at participating. But third time's a charm, right? I had everything planned out as usual; I did not follow the plan.

05:00 AM. To 11:00 AM. You're probably thinking that I read during these six hours. Nope. I was sleeping and woke up around 11 o'clock in the morning. I stayed in bed, scrolling through Instagram and Twitter posts about the readathon on my phone. Off to a productive start, as always. 

11:30 AM. My roommate asked me why I wasn't reading yet...awkward...even she knew I was supposed to be doing something. Still wasn't feeling motivated, hence the impromptu trip to the market. Snacks were needed. 

12:07 PM. In a perfect world, I wanted to finish Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch buuuut that did not happen. I will say, I made more leeway with it than I thought I would. At this point, I had heard from most of my cheerleaders. They didn't make me want to read more, but it was a nice gesture! 

02:23 PM. I kept trucking along with Snow Like Ashes because I was suddenly becoming more and more immersed in the world - then everything went to hell for another few hours. I live across the street from my university's football field and there was a practice game yesterday - it was loud and distracting, like most of the people on my floor. I was not a happy reader.

05:05 PM. By this time, I was legit waiting for everyone in the building to leave because they were all being loud. Singing, screaming, and bickering. All freaking day.

06:00 PM. For whatever reason, it was dead silent for two hours, not that I'm complaining. It was wonderful. I didn't get much reading done though which was kind of the point? I did however manage to read more of the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Graphic Novel!

08:20 PM. I took a music break, then picked up Snow Like Ashes for the seventh or eighth time. This was the last time I picked up a book for the readathon.

09:45 PM. Yep, I stopped here. Maus Volumes 1 and 2 were on the agenda but I just never felt the desire to crack 'em open. I continued to read the hourly updates and took a peek at what my friends were reading, so congrats to those of you who actually accomplished what you intended to! I don't have the attention span or patience to read for long periods of time. Not ideal for a day long readathon.

End of Event Meme

1. Which hour was the most daunting for you? The first few hours were daunting because I didn't have the motivation to start reading and the last few hours were also daunting because they were going by super-fast.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I can't list specific titles but I do have some advice. Definitely read shorter books. Other participants got more read because their books were between 200 and 300 pages. Aside from shorter books, I would recommend graphic novels or short stories.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I would try to spread word of the Read-a-thon earlier on because I didn't find out about it until two days before it started.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year's Read-a-thon? I think the instructions for each mini-challenge were clear cut and the prize list was handled well. There was a nice systematic way of getting things done that made everything easier to understand as a Reader.

5. How many books did you read? Okay. Honesty hour. I didn't finish reading any books. I attempted to finish two.

6. What were the names of the books you read? See above paragraphs.

7. Which book did you enjoy the most? Snow Like Ashes. I usually prefer regular novels over graphic novels.

8. Which did you enjoy least? That leaves Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children the Graphic Novel.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year's Cheerleaders? I was not a Cheerleader this year and I don't plan on being a Cheerleader next year. But anything can happen!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I'm definitely going to participate in the next Read-a-thon if I can. I will most likely take on the role of a Reader again.

How was your 24 Hour Readathon experience? What books did you read? 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Collegiate Level English

Bookish Banter is an original feature at Hungover Fiction Lover in which I speak about various topics I find intriguing and worth discussing in depth.

For awhile now, I have been feeling moved to discuss the overview of my English classes here at school. During Fall Quarter, I didn't take any English courses because English is supposed to be my "easy" general education core requirement category. Instead, I took Classics in Literature, but that was a humanities course. As my first quarter at university came to a conclusion, I signed up for Winter Quarter classes. One of my three classes that quarter was English 101. Moving along to Spring Quarter, I am currently enrolled in English 201 and Intro to Fiction. Each of these three classes has presented their fair share of pros and cons, so sit tight while I elaborate.

English 101 shed light on what I come to identify as perspective. At first, I thought the class was boring. My professor would write a new word on the board every week with the definition. Eventually, she stopped doing that. She moved on to more important lessons. The day we began brainstorming for our first paper, she went through an interesting process involving a few questions that went something like this...

"How many of you have written a persuasive essay?" Most of the class raised their hands.
"Is there anyone who has never used MLA format?" About eight people raised their hands.
"How many of you have written an analysis essay?" I was the only one to raise a hand.

The above questions were easy and breezy, but I found that most of the kids in my class didn't like English. They also hadn't learned much about the subject at hand. It originally surprised me to hear that; it surprised me until I saw the results from my professors questions. I was one of maybe three students that found the English 101 curriculum to be "basic" because apparently, English was to my peers what Math is to me. Something in my mind clicked. I realized that I am extremely lucky to have received the education I did before attending college, and that I'm thankfully "lightning on my feet" when it comes to English.

At the end of it all, I earned a 4.0 in English 101. I learned that not everyone excels at the same subjects nor at the same pace. Also, I came to understand that English was only going to get more difficult. Unfortunately for me, I was right. English 201 sucks. I think my problems stem from the fact that: 1) my professor seems disconnected from her students, 
2) there are discussions in class but nothing to discuss, and 3) our research paper is the only thing we work on in terms of writing.

Hopefully you can see the issue I have with this class. It feels unproductive and when we're told to work on important assignments such as our research paper, we receive unhelpful and inconsistent feedback. It feels like a waste of time.

Now, making a complete 180, there is this wonderful class called Intro to Fiction. It's a pre-major requirement, but let me tell you, for a pre-major requirement, I am having the best time. It is by far my favorite class this quarter as well as my favorite English course I have taken. I enjoy the company of my classmates, the environment for a 2 hour 20 minute class is impeccable, and my professor is a riot. Today, with a grin slapped across her face, she yelled, "I don't care what you say unless you have something to support it!" It shocked me. It was raw, useful even. And I appreciate that.

The material we go over is every bit as awesome. Most of the stories we read and discuss are from The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. I don't necessarily recommend picking it up because it is rather chunky, but I do have some author and short story suggestions for anyone interested in literary fiction/classics/contemporary:
  • "Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe
  • "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner
  • "Babylon Revisited" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin
  • "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway
  • "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson 
At the end of the day, I hope sharing my personal experiences helps calm those going off to college next year, or encourages someone to continuously try to do what they love, whether it involves writing/reading/whatever it may be that you like. I may not love all of my English classes, but I'm glad I have the opportunity to learn something from each and every one of them.

Have you ever favored one English class over another? Do you have a teacher that encourages learning through their teaching style and attitude? Do you have any helpful tips or tricks you use in English classes? Please, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Review | Angelfall & World After by Susan Ee

If you have been around booktube lately, or walked through a bookstore, you have most likely seen a little book called Angelfall by Susan Ee. Don't get me wrong, this book has been out for quite some time, but it took me a very long while to find and purchase. Once I had a physical copy in my hands, I devoured every word until the last page.

Writing about angels is a delicate task. Some authors can write a solid story about angels. Other authors cannot. Susan Ee has proven to me that she falls under the first category. Going into Angelfall, I was skeptical. This book has been hyped up by everyone and those are the books that I usually try to remain wary of. Before I even reached the halfway point, I had become completely engrossed with the plot, characters, and writing style.

To give those who haven't read this yet a mini overview, the story essentially follows our main protagonist, Penryn Young. Her little sister Paige is in a wheelchair and her mother is mentally ill, leaving Penryn to take care of them both. Plot twist: they are also currently living in an apocalyptic world where angels have taken over and the rest of humanity has basically gone to hell. One night, Penryn's sister is taken by some of these bad angels. She doesn't even have to think about what to do; she knows she must set out and find Paige.

The story basically progresses from there based off of that goal. I was thoroughly impressed with the writing and character development. Considering all of my reservations before I started reading, the first page was a clear indicator that I made the right decision in picking this up. Then the next page and the page after that. I was hooked.

Every individual I know has said that they were drawn to Penryn. I now understand why. Immensely. She is one kick ass heroine determined to do everything in her power to keep what's left of her family together. Then there is Raffe. Let us all pause to smack that stupid grin from our faces and continue on. I think everyone who read the first book, or second, basically fell in love with him. Although I don't love him the way I've loved other fictional characters, I do have a soft spot for Raffe. That's about all I can say without spoiling his part in the storyline. Aside from the main characters, I loved the secondary ones just as much, if not more. Penryn's mother. Obi. The twins. All of them.

The weird thing about Angelfall was that I enjoyed the beginning and middle much more than the end. I couldn't stay as interested in the last sixty or seventy pages but nevertheless, it was a good denouement with a minor (okay, slightly major) cliffhanger. However you want to interpret it. 

Then there was World After. I read this almost a month ago. It did not meet my expectations, but it wasn't bad by any means. Part of my problem was that my friends and fellow book lovers gushed about the second book, saying that it was better than the first. I disagree.

I thought the first half of the second book was super slow, with a few exciting scenes introduced sporadically. The last half upped the ante. I could not get enough of Beliel. His role became one million times more interesting, you know, ten seconds before the craziness occurred. Finally, the entire plot turned into a whirlwind of twists and turns I didn't see coming. World After ended on a strong note but there was too much build up for the finale. Or at least I hope that's what Susan intended. 

When it comes down to it, I enjoyed both books more than I ever thought I would. Susan Ee crafted a spectacular angel centered world. She also left me unbearably anxious with all this waiting around for the third and final book! 

Angelfall: 5 out of 5 stars

World After: 4 out of 5 stars