Saturday, January 15, 2011

Daisy and Disney

Regardless of the fact that Finals are coming up, and teachers seem to have a bet going on how many kids in AP classes will suffer from a mental breakdown beforehand (about 2 so far), I managed to get through two books this week: one about the early life of one of the most graceful, decent, talented people that I can think of, and the other involving characters who've been misbehaving themselves since 1925.

The first, being Julie Andrews' autobiography, about her early years, Home, was a lovely, wonderful book. I knew she'd written other books, like Mandy, but I hadn't gotten around to reading them, mainly because they were for children. However, the fact that she is already an established author did reassure me that the book would be her words, and would be truthful, because I really don't like ghostwriters. So I started out with it, not knowing what to expect, but at least knowing that it was Julie Andrews' voice on the page.

I really did enjoy it. She has an interesting story, from how she progressed through show business, from vaudeville and pantomimes, to full blown productions like the Broadway performances of My Fair Lady and Camelot. She included so many funny anecdotes along the way, of silly little comedies that played around behind the scenes, involving names that you would know, like Rex Harrison and Grace Kelly. Seeing as though my family, my father in particular, is entranced by the stage, her perspective on Broadway and performing was really interesting. Of course, the book ends with her leaving to go work for Disney, on a lovely little film called Mary Poppins, so I hope hope hope that she releases a second memoir soon (I'd want nothing in this life if I could only work for Disney, so I'd love to hear what her recollections of that time period, when he was still alive, were really like!).

The second book I read was a lot different: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, for AP English class. For one, I read it for school, so it was predestined to be far less enjoyable than if I had read the book on my own. Secondly, all that hidden meaning just tired me out. Our teacher gave us a color wheel, written on it what each color symbolizes, and some examples of how they are used in the book, so I was thoroughly distracted throughout the novel by the fact that this was blue (sad, unhappy), or that was green (hopeful), and pretty much everything else was yellow or cream or beige or gold (money, corruption). Also, one of the strangest things was that for almost every other character, the author remarked upon their noses (I'm being quite serious. Next time you read it, watch what he says about them!).

I did end up enjoying the book, once I took the time to read it by myself, even though the ending depressed me, and I hated more than half of the cast of characters. It had some interesting things to say about the time period, and was very comical in places.

So, the week is over and done with, and we still have two days left in our weekend. Maybe I can collect myself, and manage to glance at my Spanish or AP US History notes without getting the feeling of overwelming dread and apprehension...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Didn't Forget My Locker Combination!

Getting back in to the swing of things in the New Year was not as easy as I thought it would be.

For instance, while I did not forget my locker combination over the Break (a true feat, managed for the first time in four years, the excitement of which has prompted me to give this post the above title), I did manage to forget a whole lot of Spanish tenses, as well as the majority of what we did in PreCalc in the few weeks leading up to the Break. Not only that, but I had to go from the freedom of being able to read 7 books in 7 days, to waking up at 5:55 every morning and having to trudge through the frost back to school every day.

And yet, I managed the first week. I am currently recovering my Spanish as quickly as possible, PreCalc has almost all come back to me, and I actually managed to read 3 books! Maybe 2011 will bring about good change after all.

Maybe the death of my Resolutions won't come about as quickly. :)

Anyhow, I seem to have rediscovered the joys of YA novels (the non-vampire/werewolf/etc. ones, at least) over the Break, and I celebrated this by reading the sequel to Meg Cabot's Airhead novel, Being Nikki. Meg Cabot used to be one of my most favorite authors in middle school, not for her Princess Diaries like most of my friends did, but for her Mediator series (about a girl who can see and interact with ghosts). I also read All-American Girl three times over the course of 6th grade, and How to be Popular was the highlight of the summer before high school. However, after that, her works sort of fell to the wayside under the onslought of required reading. Then, out of the blue, I picked up and read her Airhead series just a month or two ago, after finding it misshelved in our local library, and I liked it a lot. So now I'm finding her voice again, and I like her as much as I did in middle school.

The Airhead series in particular. I love new and interesting storylines, and this one is no exception: A young nerd's body is destroyed in a plasma-tv/ paintgun related accident at the opening of one in a long line of megastores, while in the same store, a famous model unexplainably collapses, allegedly due to a pre-existing brain problem. When said young nerd wakes up in a hospital bed, she finds out that her still-working brain has been transplanted into the still-working body of the supermodel, and that she must now live out the model's life, or her parents go to jail. However, living the life of a supermodel isn't as easy as it looks, and the company she works for is definitely hiding something... but what? :) The books definitely have you questioning whether something is as it appears to be, because if there's anything that brain-swapping teaches you, it's that good looks may hide a different person underneath. :) I really like it. The next in the series, Runaway, just came out last April, and I'm determined to get my hands on it as quickly as possible.

Since I thought that overdosing on fluffy material too quickly, after I had just started liking it again, would leave me with a bit of an upset stomach, I next went through one of my Agatha Christies. I've collected and read Agatha Christie novels since about the 7th or 8th grade, and I have managed to get almost a bookshelf full of them now (which I think is pretty good, for just a leisurely collection). This one was called Dead Man's Folly, a Hercule Poirot mystery, and it was one of those where you follow the clues alongside the famous Belgian detective, you try to find out whodunit, but when you get to the resolution, the outcome is nowhere where you thought it would be. In other words, the ending is crazy. Like hidden wife - double murder - red herring in the form of a totally suspicous cousin - Atom Scientist - Carnival crazy, only twice as confusing as what you think it is. But sometimes the crazy mysteries are the best ones to read. :)

Lastly was The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. I'm not even going to waste my breath with this one. You probably should have read it by now, or at least you've heard how good it was from pretty much everyone you know who has happened to read it. All I'm going to say is that, during the time I was reading it, I had one of those sort-of time travel moments, where you are reading a good book, at page 45 or something, you continue to read, and then you blink: an hour's gone by, and somehow you have managed to reach page 108. I honestly haven't had that happen since I read Dune early this past summer. So it is good, and well worth all the hype you hear about it. I need to get the next two books pronto.

So, there's my first week in 2011. My Resolutions are still firmly in place, and hopefully by the end of next week, they will still be there. :)