Dec 22, 2010

"Does Not a Child Recognize Her Own Mother?"

Another review for you, in light of the holiday season. This is The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

For all of you out there that love a good period piece, this is a great one to get into. Taking place in Victorian England, it follows Lucy as she meets her Aunt Helen, the twin sister no one knew her mother had.

Full of intrigue, mystery, and a bit of love, it had me up until 1:30 last night trying to finish it. What I love about this book is that I thought I had it all figured out--I thought I knew the big twist in the story. And I was okay with that, I just wanted to see how it came about. But Baratz-Logsted threw me for a loop when it came to the end!

It is a bit twisted, and is more for older YA readers (in terms of sex and content), but nothing graphic (there is a brief description of a murder scene).

Mostly, all I can saw about this is . . . Wow. I was completely blown away.

Dec 20, 2010

An Electronic Christmas Card

To read the last two years' Christmas letters, click here and here.

Hello family and friends! Merry Christmas! Here is my year-end update.

I started this year as I do most years, by waking up on January 1. I went back to school and enjoyed having my own room for most of Winter semester. I had two amazing roommates who both got engaged then. During that semester I was able to take a Writing for Children and Adolescents class that I really enjoyed. Not only did it spark my love of writing, but it also led me to being a part of a writer's group and to finding a MFA program that I would like to do someday. I have already written over 200 pages in my novel and will be finishing it in the next 100 or so. :)

In that same line, I just had two articles bought from the New Era! If being a professional means that you get paid for your services, I guess that means I'm now a professional writer! I hope that they actually get published.

After that semester ended I decided to celebrate by taking another class during Spring! I just worked and read and studied, all the while getting excited for my trip to California in June which I took with my roommate two weeks before she got married. What a great bachelorette party, huh? Aren't I a great friend? We were able to visit the sis and bro-in-law in Monterey as well as enjoying being outside of Utah (but mostly just Provo) for 5 days. I enjoyed not having to go to work.

The rest of the summer was me working three days a week, with every Friday being a 14 hour day. That was an adventure. I also walked in Commencement and Convocation at the end of the semester! Even though I knew it wasn't "for real" it was a great feeling to get my diploma (cover) and have my family and friend there to support me. The only problem with that was that I had to go back to school for four more months!

I only took two classes this last semester, the last two I needed for my minor and for real graduation. One I wasn't look forward to was my design class, but despite some minor pitfalls I really enjoyed learning about InDesign and creating some really cool things. I finished the semester strong, I believe.

I had spent about a month training my replacement as Front-end Manager at work, but when my last day or work came I was sad to leave. In fact, I was sad to leave BYU and Provo in general. Mostly I think it is because it is comfortable, and known. In January I start off on an unknown. I got an internship with the New Era at LDS Church Magazines in Salt Lake! It is a wonderful opportunity, one that I am very grateful for, but it is also scary and "nervousing." I hope I do a good job!

That was just a quick review of my year. Merry Christmas to you all! Love you!

Dec 19, 2010

Review: Matched

(My mom loves this cover. It is pretty cool.)

I just finished reading Matched by Ally Condie this morning.

Matched is about 17 year-old Cassia and the dystopian society she lives in. This book has been compared to both The Giver, and to The Hunger Games. There are similarities to both which is what makes me think that if you liked those books, you will like this book. However, there are differences.

The Society that Cassia lives in is horrific, but not in the way that Panem is horrific. What I find so horrific about the Society is that no one realizes how awful it really is. They aren't pitting children against each other, instead they have taken away every choice, everything beautiful. The Society says that it is in the citizens own interests, but really it is a way to keep control over them. Imagine not being able to choose who you marry--it's chosen for you in a scientific manner in which the two most genetically compatible people are put together. You can't marry who you love. You can't choose your profession. Everything in your life is predicted for you. There is no running outside, no one is allowed in your home, they can make you forget if they want.

Imagine a world where you can't create anything. There are only 100 poems, 100 pieces of art, 100 lessons in history. Everything else has been destroyed. You don't draw, you don't write, you don't play music. Everything is made so that it is the most useful. You don't even get to choose what you eat--your meals are made for the exact calorie count you need and you don't get anything that tastes good except on the most special of occasions.

Cassia is content with this life--would you be? What would you do if you met someone who showed you that things could be different?

This is the first book in a series, but I thought that the emphasis on freedom of choice was a wonderful. It is there is other books like this, but I felt that it was stronger here. I am interested to see how Cassia's story finishes out. I highly recommend this book.

Dec 16, 2010

. . .

Wow . . .

I'm done.

As of today I'm a college graduate. I have been walking around with a look like that above on my face all week, when I wasn't crying from all the emotions going through me.

Dec 12, 2010

Sunday Special: Be True

As an English major I have read a lot of the classics. It is always amazing to read something that is enlightening and helps you understand a part of life that was previously cloudy before. The example that I want to talk about is from my favorite Shakespeare play, Hamlet.

There is a character in Hamlet called Polonius. This otherwise ridiculous character gives his son Laertes a good piece of advice as Laertes prepares to go off to University in Paris. His speech starts off as a regular and mundane speech, telling Laertes not to party too much, sleep with too many girls, start fights, or be flashy, that kind of thing. But he ends with a rather profound piece of advice considering how stupid Polonius usually is:

This above all: To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man. (I.iii.78-80)

"To thine own self be true." I wish that I had taken this piece of advice to heart many times throughout my life. There were so many times in my life that I was trying so hard to be what someone else wanted me to be that I lost sight of who I really was. Not only was I being false to everyone else, but I was making myself unhappy.

I think that many fathers want this for their children. Thinking about the scriptures I can think of many times when, essentially, fathers gave their sons this piece of advice. Alma the Elder, Mormon, Lehi; I'm sure Daniel's father told him that, as did David's. They produced strong men in the faith. And then think about the father of all fathers--our Heavenly Father. I like to think that he took each of us aside before he sent us to earth and gave us a speech. Among the things he might have told us, I think one of them was "To thine own self be true." Remember who you are and you, and everyone around you, will see your worth. Unfortunately, we have forgotten about this talk with our father; the veil has obscured it from us. But that is why he has sent prophets, and earthly fathers. To remind us to be true to our selves.

I think I might have rambled a bit, but this is such a profound piece of advice from such a shallow character. In my years in college, I have seen how books can give me a better understanding of the Gospel, which I am grateful for. I am also grateful for parents who have given me pieces of advice, and help through my life. I am also grateful that I have met people who are willing to let me be true to myself. Thank you to everyone who has done this.

Love you all.