Thursday, 23 August 2012

Gearing Up To Get An Agent Blogfest Year 2

I am excited. Do you know why? Deana Barnhart is doing the Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blogfest for the second time. This time it is happening in September rather than July, like it did last year. This is a great way to meet new writers, ask people questions, and make new friends in the blogosphere. I met tons of writers, published and unpublished, last year and had a blast.

This year it's going to be bigger and better than ever. Each week there will be an event. You can sign up for the entire month or each week separately. Since this year it is occurring during the start of my school year, I'll probably stick to signing up to each week separately since there is just so much going on in that first month of university.

There will also be random drawings for prizes throughout the month, which is always great, and there will be an agent pitch contest. Deana has got 8 agents this year who will accept Adult, YA, and MG. There will also be a small publishing house pitch contest.

This is still technically a blog hop, so there are tons of blogs signed up already. You can check out their links to say hi, follow them early, or visit old friends if you were a part of this blogfest last year. You can sign up here.

Quote of the day: I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room. - Ray Bradbury

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was a really interesting novel. It only focused on Tom Sawyer is a boy and there was essentially no 'real' plot to it. By no 'real' plot I mean that of course there was plot in that Tom's story is a story but that it doesn't seem as though there is a plot, if you understand what I'm saying. The novel didn't focus on Tom's transition from childhood to adulthood, from being some crazy Southern child to someone more sophisticated. It is simply about a boy being a boy and what comes of it. The characters were all really interesting, with Tom interacting in different ways with each of them. They were all very realistic, not a one being perfect (since no human is). The 'plot' had no holes in it that I could discern. I really liked the conclusion of the story as well. While reading the book I had thought that that would be the way that it would end, but wasn't totally sure. There were so many mini plots that took place that I was never totally sure which was the overall plot and which was simply an event that occurred before the actual conclusion. I also really enjoyed how Tom was best friends with Huckleberry Finn, even though everyone and their mother forbade their children to even look at him. Tom was really kind to Huck and Huck was really not a bad character. Overall I was really impressed with this story and will definitely look into the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I really recommend this. It's a book that isn't just meant for children or adults, it's a very universal tale. There was the correct amount of humour and seriousness, without either one being over done. I really enjoyed this book and am very happy I read it.

Quote of the day: Tom's whole being applauded this idea. It was deep, and dark, and awful; the hour, the circumstances, the surroundings, were in keeping with it. - Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

From Amazon:

In the course of the year recorded in Bridget Jones's Diary, Bridget confides her hopes, her dreams, and her monstrously fluctuating poundage, not to mention her consumption of 5277 cigarettes and "Fat units 3457 (approx.) (hideous in every way)." In 365 days, she gains 74 pounds. On the other hand, she loses 72! There is also the unspoken New Year's resolution--the quest for the right man. Alas, here Bridget goes severely off course when she has an affair with her charming cad of a boss. But who would be without their e-mail flirtation focused on a short black skirt? The boss even contends that it is so short as to be nonexistent.
At the beginning of Helen Fielding's exceptionally funny second novel, the thirtyish publishing puffette is suffering from postholiday stress syndrome but determined to find Inner Peace and poise. Bridget will, for instance, "get up straight away when wake up in mornings." Now if only she can survive the party her mother has tricked her into--a suburban fest full of "Smug Marrieds" professing concern for her and her fellow "Singletons"--she'll have made a good start. As far as she's concerned, "We wouldn't rush up to them and roar, 'How's your marriage going? Still having sex?'"
This is only the first of many disgraces Bridget will suffer in her year of performance anxiety (at work and at play, though less often in bed) and living through other people's "emotional fuckwittage." Her twin-set-wearing suburban mother, for instance, suddenly becomes a chat-show hostess and unrepentant adulteress, while our heroine herself spends half the time overdosing on Chardonnay and feeling like "a tragic freak." Bridget Jones's Diary began as a column in the London Independent and struck a chord with readers of all sexes and sizes. In strokes simultaneously broad and subtle, Helen Fielding reveals the lighter side of despair, self-doubt, and obsession, and also satirizes everything from self-help books (they don't sound half as sensible to Bridget when she's sober) to feng shui, Cosmopolitan-style. She is the Nancy Mitford of the 1990s, and it's impossible not to root for her endearing heroine. On the other hand, one can only hope that Bridget will continue to screw up and tell us all about it for years and books to come. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

This was a great book. I'm not normally into the whole 'chic-lit' thing simply because it doesn't really intrigue me, but this book is one that I love. I've seen the movie so I knew what to expect (and I loved it so that probably helped) but what I wasn't expecting was the incredible amount of differences between the book and movie, as well as a suspiciously similar plot line to one of my favourite books. I realized about three quarters of the way through the book that this novel was almost exactly like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Bridget Jones's Diary deals with a Mr. Wickham (Daniel Cleaver), and Mr. Darcy (Mark Darcy), a Lydia (Bridget's mom), and another Mr. Wickham (Julio). As similar as the plot line for this story is to Pride and Prejudice, it also has its differences. It is modern (dur), and Elizabeth Bennet's mom wasn't as much of a twit as Bridget's (amongst other things, but I don't want to spoil it for you). I found no plot holes, the characters extremely well rounded, and the comedy wonderful. I could really relate to Bridget, which is a thing I think all writers strive to achieve, and her way of thinking. I think all women have troubles with body-image (and if they say they don't, they're lying), 'dieting', men, their jobs, families, and basically every day life. I absolutely loved Bridget's character, as well as Mark's. She was so refreshing from the usual 'damsel in distress' type of character you find in chic-lit novels that include a love interest (nearly all). She was independent, but struggled with the whole 'a woman shouldn't need a man to be happy' idea, as well as stereotypes of singles, which she is throughout the majority of the novel. Mark was an extremely great male character. He is definitely one of those men that women would use to compare to real men in their lives, but someone who could also end up being real and not give women extremely ridiculous expectations for men. If you prefer Daniel Cleaver, I think there may be something wrong with you. I also really love the warning on the front of the book below the picture. It reads 'HEALTH WARNING: Adopting Bridget's lifestyle could seriously damage your health.' Which is very true, which anyone who has read this book before will agree with me on. Again, if you don't, I think there may be something wrong with you. This is not because I don't like people who don't agree with me, it's just that it is extremely unhealthy to binge smoke, drink, and diet all at the same time. Overall, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it. This will definitely be re-read in the future.

Quote of the day: Then we had a long discussion about the comparative merits of Mr Darcy and Mark Darcy, both agreeing that Mr Darcy was more attractive because he was ruder but that being imaginary was a disadvantage that could not be overlooked. - Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Chicago, IL Day 6

Chicago, IL Day 6: Friday

Friday was our last day. We got up at 8:15 and instead of heading down to Tempo, we ate a breakfast of bars, bananas, and water. We packed everything up and made sure nothing was left behind in the hotel room. After that we signed out of the hotel and had the bell hop hold our luggage until we had to go catch our train.
Cell phone charging station in front of the John Hancock building
The Hope sign in front of the John Hancock building with my mom
In order to waste our time we shopped at 900 shops, which was very expensive. We basically only shopped at Bloomingdale's, which had a great variety of clothes. I thought it had a lot more variety and better selection than the Macy's in New York.

We ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, simply because there is a Cheesecake Factory in The Big Bang Theory. I ordered a lemonade, a classic burger, and a key lime cheesecake.

The burger was really good, although the fries were too much. The cheesecake was very light and delicious! Service here was also very good, although our waitress kept saying 'thank you', which I thought was getting very bothersome.

After lunch we went to a deli to get some sandwiches for the ride home, since train food is awful. People make fun of airplane food, but really they should be making fun of train food. We then hung out in the lobby until it was time for us to leave for our train. We took a taxi to Union Station. Our taxi actually took us a block away from Union Station, which forced us to walk a block with all of our suitcases. We made it to the station and waited quite a while, which has left a very bad impression on me of American train transportation.

The train ride went by the same as before, making all the same stops. When we got back to Port Huron, we were expecting two taxis that had been asked for prior to our arrival. There was only one taxi and the other one could not be found. Since he had not shown up we hopped into another taxi and headed back over to the Hampton where our car was parked.

As we headed back to London, we were all exhausted. My mom got some coffee and we made it to the border. I'm pretty sure the customs officer must have thought I was on drugs my eyes were half closed and were probably bloodshot I was so tired. This was one o'clock Saturday morning and I had to work later that day. Once we crossed the border it started POURING rain. It was raining so hard my mom couldn't see. I fell asleep and slept the whole hour back home and then woke up when we arrived at home sweet home.

Quote of the day: Good humour may be said to be one of the very best articles of dress one can wear in society. - William Makepeace Thackeray

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Chicago, IL Day 5

Chicago, IL Day 5: Thursday

We got up around 8:30 and ate at, you guessed it, Tempo Cafe. This time I ordered the 3 eggs any style to get some variation from the French toast. My 'any style' was overeasy, my favourite style of egg. I found this morning that the service wasn't as good and the eggs weren't that great. The first two times we ate at Tempo we had the same waitress, but this time we had a different one. One of my eggs wasn't fully cooked and my hashbrowns were only slightly warm. This was a big disappointment because I loved the French toast so much. I will say this, the toast was really good.

After eating we took the 10 to the Museum of Science and Industry. The 10 was a specific bus for the museum that went straight there, although many other people took the bus simply to get where they were going.

Brother in front of train model from Chicago to Seattle.


While there we saw the Mythbusters exhibit. I was actually very disappointed with the exhibit. It was very small and not as interesting as I thought it would be. Basically what you did was try to bust the myths that they had done on the show, such as running in the rain.

I was actually pretty disappointed with the entire museum as a whole, aside from the Omnimax which was a giant spherical movie theatre that really immersed you. I thought that the Science Museum of Ontario and the National Museum of Science and Technology are better are both better than this museum, as well as being Canadian. You have to pay simply to get in to the museum, and then if you actually want to see anything interesting you have to pay to see each of those entertainments, which adds up fast.

When we were done there we took the 10 back. We got off near the Hard Rock Cafe and ate there for dinner. I ordered a lemonade and a classic 6 oz. burger. It was good food and service, as usual. We then walked back to the Gap, did some shopping, and headed back to the hotel.

Quote of the day: A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities. - Herman Melville 

Chicago, IL Day 4

Chicago, IL Day 4: Wednesday

So day 4 we woke up and ate breakfast at Tempo again. This time I ordered the Morning Glory Special, which was French toast with strawberries, blueberries, and bananas.

My brother's Belgian waffle
We then took the 145 to Madison and State. We went shopping along that strip and then met back at the hotel for 3:30.

After returning we went for a quick swim at the hotel. The pool there is on the very top floor. Along with the pool, there is also a sauna, fitness room, change room, and bathrooms.

We then took the 66 to to Navy Pier. We did the 5:30 architectural boat tour. It was really cool. There were lots of really interesting buildings. After the Chicago fire, nothing was left standing except for the old Watertower, so they had to rebuild everything. A lot of the architecture there is very neoclassical and has a lot of European influence.

We then ate at Harry Caray's Tavern for dinner at Navy Pier.

Navy Pier sign, not lit up.

At Harry Caray's I ordered a Sierra Mist and a Tavern Burger. The food was great and service was awesome. It was actually so hot that day that when I got my drink, though the glass was sweating and it was filled with ice cubes, it didn't feel cold at all. It actually felt lukewarm, it was that hot! Our waitress was really great. She had an AMAZING memory and remembered all of our orders perfectly.

After eating we decided to go on the Ferris Wheel there. It had actually been created to honour the original Ferris Wheel that had been built for the world expo. It was VERY high up but it was really neat to see, especially at night when the city was all lit up.

While we were waiting for the fireworks to start, a flash mob appeared! It was pretty fun, but rather organised so it didn't look all that great. After the fireworks we grabbed the 66 back to the hotel. There were a TON of people waiting to hop on the 66 with us, but all eight of us managed to get on the same bus. 

When we got back to the hotel we went to bed almost right away we were all so exhausted.

Quote of the day: You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. - James Baldwin