Friday, 31 January 2014

The Nerd List January 2014


Okay so I forgot… But it’s still January 31st, so technically I’m not late. (Well, I’m TYPING this on January 31st but if I upload it on February 1st at least you know that I tried…)

I’m sorry. January has been… unbelievably hectic. In both good and bad ways. The start of the new school year was disastrous to say the least, and half of my textbooks didn’t arrive in time for school (much to the delight of both my teachers and the friends whose books I had to share), plus then the beauty of “First Term Fabulousness” like English speeches and Music assignments and History essays and Physics homework that makes me want to cry… and then the added excitement of organizing the Matric Dance (which is tomorrow) and then still trying to maintain what remains of my social life. If by social life you mean reading life, like I do.

Anyway, I’ll shut up now and get back to the Nerd List.


Books I’ve read this month:

Book of the month

Swimming Through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus was definitely one of my favourite books… probably ever. Her writing is so beautiful, and the story was unique and heart warming. I highly recommend reading it.

(Also note that I ranked it above J. M. Barrie, who is by far one of my favourite authors of all time. If that doesn’t say something I don’t know what will.)

Book boy of the month

Ummm… Duh it’s obviously Lagan. He writes romantic sticky notes and is prepared to wait forever just to be with the girl he loves. I don’t know many boys who would do that. Scratch that – I don’t know ANY boys who do that (but I’m hoping that there’s at least one out there who I can lock away and force to write ME romantic sticky notes.)

Book quote of the month

“The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because birds have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.” – J. M. Barrie, The Little White Bird


Fangirl moment of the month

Well… this is kind of embarrassing but I totally freaked out when Rajdeep Paulus DMed me on Twitter to ask me to review her new novel, Swimming Through Clouds. In fact, I made such a scene that my parents got even more worried than they usually are when I fall into a pit of depression after finishing a favourite series. It was a fangirl session to match The Nickelback Incident of 2013, when I freaked out so much upon hearing I had tickets to their concert that I think – had they been home – the neighbours would have probably had enough proof to finally send me to an asylum with soundproofed walls.

Facepalm moment of the month

In the afore-mentioned fangirl session, I may or may not have tripped up the stairs while running to inform my family of my news. In case you didn’t read that right, I tripped UP the stairs. Unfortunately, as most of my family can confirm, this is a regular occurrence, and yes they will be getting me tested.


Album of the month

All Time Low’s Don’t Panic: It’s Longer Now! has been on repeat since I got it for Christmas. It has the perfect mixture of songs that can be played for almost any mood – a couple of my favourites being For Baltimore, Somewhere in Neverland, If These Sheets Were the States, Backseat Serenade, The Reckless and the Brave… okay so maybe I just love all of the songs. Is that a crime?

Song of the month

5 Seconds of Summer’s Wherever You Are is probably the most played song on my iPod right now. Of course, it would probably be easier to listen to if the band could finally release an album… (Hint, hint – you said it’d be out before 2014.)

Lyric of the month

“Give me therapy. I’m a walking travesty, but I’m smiling at everything.” – All Time Low, Therapy


Movie of the month

Do. Not. Judge. Me.

I watched Frozen and I absolutely loved it with all of my heart. It’s such a typical Disney movie, with the cheesy, clich├ęd songs and that one happy-go-lucky character that’s severely annoying, but beautifully lovable at the same time, and who could forget the adorable trusty sidekick in the form of an animal or imaginary creature (Olaf the snowman is the character that made Frozen the funniest Disney movie I have ever seen.) But, but, BUT there’s a twist. And wow…

(Side note: if you ever tell me that I am too old to be watching Disney movies, I will force you to watch The Lion King with me while I quote every single line and sing every single song in the characters’ voices, and then we’ll watch all the Bonus Features and I’ll enlighten you on all the interesting facts behind the movie. Then we’ll move onto The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Hercules and Sleeping Beauty.)

A new thing I’m obsessed with

The Tomorrow People. Oh. My. Word. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a TV series so much since season one of Glee. In fact, I love it even more. It’s basically about a group of “super-humans” called the Tomorrow People (hence the name of the series), who have the abilities of Telekinesis, Teleportation and Telepathy. It’s awesome.

Thanks for reading this month’s Nerd List! I hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to comment below on some of your favourites, and don’t forget to subscribe to get notified every time I post a new blog or review.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

ARC: 'Swimming Through Clouds' by Rajdeep Paulus

Date Finished: 19 January 2013

Rating: 5*

Maybe if each person in the whole world contributed one tissue to the pile of mush that has become my life, I would be able to soak up the absolute river that erupted from my eyes after finishing Swimming Through Clouds.


But let’s just leave my mental health and tendency to get too attached to beautiful characters in novels behind for a moment, and cut straight to the point, shall we?

Swimming Through Clouds was phenomenal. It’s been a very long time since an author has stunned me speechless with the combination of an incredible storyline, impeccable writing style, and realistic, lovable characters. I highly doubt many books will be able to live up to the standard that Rajdeep Paulus has set.

I think that if there were one thing that I had to praise the author the most on, it would be her writing. Paulus’ writing was breathtaking. Honestly, if I could write like her, I would write all day, every day, and then gloat about it to every single person that I met. Not that it would earn me any friends, but then again the whole world would probably be in awe of my writing, so…

Anyway, I was completely ensnared within the first paragraph:

“I live in the in between. Between what if and what is. It’s how I manage. It’s the only way I know. Everyone has their way. This is mine.”

After reading those first few lines, I was convinced. I knew straight away that this was not simply the work of another wannabe writer with a simple, catchy idea for a storyline in her head. This was the work of a great novelist, who is able to capture the entire theme of a novel, to completely sum up a tormented soul’s heartache, within a single paragraph. This was the way to grab a reader’s attention, and damn was Rajdeep Paulus doing it all the way to Jupiter and back.

She could make me laugh with the flick of a pinkie finger, cry with the bat of an eyelash, and then absolutely bawl my eyes out right through the last chapter and leading into the epilogue. I don’t know how she did it. But she did. And it was incredible.

It was not only the writing style that impressed me, but also Paulus’ ability to make me feel like I could relate to a girl with whom I shared almost no common ground, and to make me entirely lose all sense of time and place when I was reading. I would tear myself out of Talia’s world to find that the sunlight had long since vanished, my nails had been bitten down to stubs, and that a chunk of the novel had just vanished into thin air. And as I said before, my attachment to her characters has proven to be most worrisome. I loved how they were real. Not “real”. REAL. I didn’t come looking for a plastic Barbie doll that cried when her vampire boyfriend dumped her - I was looking for bittersweet reality. And that’s exactly what I was given. Even though I have never been in a situation anywhere close to Talia’s, I have developed a strong bond with her, and feel like I can relate to her. That is another sign of genius writing at work.

One last thing: as a teenage girl, I have taken it upon myself to decide that – for the sake of the world – all boys now have the responsibility to write romantic sticky notes to girls all day, every day. On second thought, if I could just have a Lagan to lock up in my closet and force to write me sticky notes all day, every day, that’s also acceptable. Maybe those sticky notes can help me to hang on to what remains of my dignity and mental health until the sequel to Swimming Through Clouds is published.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Ermagherd Skewl

So, as you are probably aware if you happen to have children or happen to be a child (or “young adult” if you are offended with the term “child”), most schools opened for the new school year today.

And just for the record: no, those screams of anguish you heard last night were not mine – you must have a ghost problem.

Much to the delight of my teachers, I arrived at the much dreaded “First Day” with a surly attitude from lack of sleep, a head of hair that absolutely refused to stay put in its French braid, a skirt that was way above the minimum length of four fingers above the knee (I grew again during the holidays…) and only about half of my textbooks because – once again – the book shops ran out of the exact books that I needed. But luckily, I brought with me the promise of proactivity, confidence, and a good relationship with my peers… that lasted for about thirty seconds because of the shrill wailings of, “Ohmygod [insert name here] I, like, legitimately haven’t seen you in literally for EVERRR!” and the fact that there was a spider about the size of my open hand sitting on the far wall.

Not a good way to start the year.

The day progressed as various different teachers explained to us exactly why this year was so incredibly CRUCIALLY important for our futures, because – believe it or not – universities count your second and third term marks of eleventh grade when deciding whether you are fabulous enough to be accepted into their majestic campuses. If I wasn’t freaked out about my future yet, that was the point where I went flat out panic attack on everybody.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate school. It’s just the difficulty of waking up early to a school uniform and a day of learning with people who think Charles Dickens came up with the theory of evolution that wears me out. Immensely. It’s not so bad that by now everybody is (sort of) taking the subjects they’re passionate about, rather than a decidedly disastrous mixture of Home Economics and Accounting that almost drove me batty during the first two years of high school. But who really wants to sit in a Physics classroom learning about forces when the only force you really want to be thinking about is the exertion of a normal force and a gravitational force on your body as you lie in bed (because you only had two hours of sleep the night before – the Book of Teenager-ness decrees that all teenagers shall spend all of their free time on social networking sites until the early hours of the morning).

I guess what I’m basically trying to say is this: school is hard, the future stresses me out, and please can I get a job as a full-time procrastinator, because it seems that the only thing I’m good at these days is not doing what I’m supposed to be doing (demonstrated fantastically by the fact that I am blogging now instead of reading my AP English set work novel).

Oh yeah – also just a heads up that if I don’t blog or review something for a week or two weeks or however long, it means that I’m panicking about The Future, and am probably spending all of my time studying – or curled up in a fetus position on my floor crying about the fact that I only have a year and a half until I actually have to do something with my life. (But that’s what you get for joking about your future instead of actually planning for it… oh the irony…)

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Little White Bird by J. M. Barrie

Date finished: 7 January 2013

Rating: 5*

I found this book when my dad dragged our family to the Karoo on our way back from George, and we stayed in a beautiful yet somewhat creepy one-hundred-year-old house that I quickly fell in love with because of its library filled with first-edition copies of books I had never even heard of, and its humongous collection of sheet music for piano that had no doubt been in the family for over a hundred years. (They had first-edition, unedited collection of Schubert’s German Art Songs and I just about melted into a pool of goo when I found it… #musicnerdproblems.)

Anyway, this was one of those incredible first edition novels. To be perfectly honest, my obsession with J. M. Barrie and Peter Pan has been ongoing for about 90% of my lifetime, starting with a Peter Pan and Wendy abridged hardcover with hand-drawn illustrations that I was sent from my great aunt in England when I was six. I still have it, and still read it (do not judge me – that book is my whole childhood). It escalated when the Peter Pan film starring Jeremy Sumpter was released in 2003 (and I still watch it regularly with my friends when we feel sad.) It was only in April last year that I read J. M. Barrie’s original version of Peter Pan cover to cover, and I fell in love all over again.

As you can imagine, the moment I saw the name “J. M. Barrie” printed in gold lettering on a steadily fading blue canvas hardcover novel in the middle of the library, I pretty much stopped breathing. When I recovered, I grabbed the book and hurtled out into the English garden to find a spot amongst the fairies to immerse myself inside the magical world of J. M. Barrie’s imagination. Of course, I had momentarily forgotten that I was in the Karoo, and not Kensington Gardens, so when I spotted a bug about the size of my fist rather than a fairy, I retreated into the fancy-schmancy parlor and curled up on the window seat.

I only had two days to read it, but being the ultimate nerd that I am, I took that as a challenge. And I did finish it. And I loved it.

J. M. Barrie has got to be the craziest genius ever to have set foot on this planet. I love him. The Little White Bird was witty and insane, and honestly I’m still not completely sure what it was about, but it was incredible. J. M. Barrie’s writing was so weird and wonderful that I couldn’t possibly force myself to put the book down, and the added chapters in the middle of the novel about the becoming of Peter Pan had me in a total mess of emotions that I will never fully be able to explain. There’s something magical about discovering more about your childhood “hero” or favourite character when you’ve grown up. I also loved how unconventional and beautiful the characters were, and the storyline was bittersweet – although I cannot decide whether the ending made me want to overturn tables because of its incompleteness, or sob into an embroidered handkerchief because it was so touching.

To anybody who hasn’t read Peter Pan – the real, absolutely ridiculous version by J. M. Barrie rather than the picture books you read as a child – or The Little White Bird, I highly recommend both.

“Ah, Peter! we who have made the great mistake, how differently we should all act at the second chance. But Solomon was right – there is no second chance, not for most of us. When we reach the window, it is Lock-Out Time. The iron bars are up for life.”

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Happy New Year and New Year's Resolutions

I’m really terrible at this whole “do a blog wishing everyone a happy holidays” on time, aren’t I?

Oh, well. Better late than never, right? (I hate that saying with a passion, and I hate being late, so I have no idea what possessed me to do both my Christmas and New Year’s blogs about six days after the actual holiday. Forgive me.)

So, Happy New Year! I hope that every single one of you reading this post has an incredible 2014!

The start of a new year has always been a tricky transition for me, and I’m not sure if that’s because I have a tendency to write the previous year’s date on all of my schoolwork until about mid-July, or whether I have a pretty much pathological fear of change. Either way, I generally avoid New Year’s resolutions, as not to set my hopes high for “a great year of a happy social life, good grades and time to pursue the millions of hobbies and dreams I’ve been building up over the past sixteen years of my life,” because we all know that all of those things put together is pretty much impossible. I know that unless I do something as drastic as post my New Year’s resolutions on the internet (hint, hint as to what the rest of this post is going to be…) so that I am absolutely forced to carry through with them, I will forget about them by pretty much the next day.

Ahem… I guess this is the part where I adhere to society’s ridiculous ritual of making myself several promises to better improve the lifestyle that I personally am already happy with, but that other people always seem to be finding fault with. Note that I have thought long and hard about which resolutions I can probably carry through with, and are drastic enough to satisfy my parents… Ironically most of them turned into Reading Resolutions (so much for drastically changing my lifestyle).

1. I WILL FINISH A CLASH OF KINGS BY GEORGE R. R. MARTIN (because I may or may not have been reading it since April 2013).

2. I will read all of the books on my AP English reading list because I promised myself that I would do them in Grade 10 but then I didn’t and now I’m behind oops more work oh my word and school hasn’t even started yet. (And I will also work on writing proper sentences with punctuation, seeing as I am an AP English student.)

3. I will not pack my suitcase half full of books when I know that I am going to a place where I will not be able to read all of them (because it makes my suitcase heavy, and I never have enough clothes.)

4. I will not terrify my family by telling them – however sarcastically – that I am planning on doing anything mentioned in my Tips forChristmas Socialization blog. (Seriously, guys, let it go – I was totally joking and I can’t believe you actually believed me. I do not plan on becoming anything of the sort mentioned in the blog – although when I said I was planning on becoming a unicorn… let’s just say if it were possible, it would be my first choice.)

5. I will not scream at my friends or family (more than once) if they bend the spines of the books I lend them. (Although after the amount of times that I’ve screamed blue murder about the pristine condition my books should be left in, they should have gotten the message by now.)

6. I will not shout at my friends or family (at all) about the poor condition of their own books, or the disorganization of their bookshelves.

7. I will not overindulge in chocolate or ice cream if and when I feel depressed that a series is over, or if a character dies, or if my favourite fictional couple breaks up, or if somebody accidentally tells me the ending of a book I haven’t finished yet.

8. I will not abuse my friends and family for singing Christmas carols when it’s already June.

9. I will not spend weeks at a time holed up in my bedroom reading, playing Call of Duty, Goodreads-ing, Tweeting, or YouTube-ing.

10. I will stop verbally correcting people’s grammatical errors (my sister has sworn that the next time I correct her grammar, she will feed me an Oxford dictionary page by page and record it to put it on YouTube… apparently people are fine with saying the wrong thing and being wrong overall… Oh well…)

(Note that in my last resolution I said “verbally”. I will stop correcting people verbally. So I can still correct people in writing… Expect another grammatical errors blog in the near future.)

I hope you all have a great New Year (again)! Feel free to comment some of your own resolutions in the comments below, and subscribe to my posts to get notified whenever I write a new blog or review.