Month in a Nutshell: June 2015

June always tends to be a rather lethargic month, but no matter, because lots of exciting things brightened this month for me!

On the blog

  • I shared some very exciting publication news—a poem of mine, "Still Life with Broken Hearts", was part of the second issue of -Ology Journal.
  • More publication news! My poem "Mouth" was in the third issue of Glass Kite Anthology. Both of these publications came out on the same day (which also happened to be my last day of school, so it was a great way to start my summer break off with a bang). 
  • My Fiction Friday feature became Weekend Wordfest, and I talked about Tumblr poets because Tumblr poets are amazing people. 
  • ...and even more publication news. My weird star-filled Rapunzel retelling found a home in the latest issue of Rose Red Review
  • Although I already posted about this bit of publication news back in November, I feel it's worth mentioning again, because my story "They Held Starlight" was released this month by Young Adult Review Network aka YARN! Also LOOK:
I'm not even going to pretend I didn't freak out when I learned this

  • I did Beautiful People again, this time focusing on everyone's favorite privileged dork, Charles Mareil! (Also, his parents.)

That one time I was offline *gasp*

  • This first week of June was the second-to-last week of my freshman year of high school, so naturally things were hectic as teachers realized they had procrastinated on assessing us all semester.
  • Cue WEEK OF DOOM. A brief recap of that week in particular:
    • On Tuesday, I gave my honors presentation for my literature class—comparing author's craft as it relates to theme in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (a text from class) as opposed to Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar (a text I chose). I think both books are very valuable contributions to the literary canon, but F451 is really misogynist, which makes me unable to love it. The Bell Jar, though—oh gosh, I think I've found a new author to add to my favorites list. Sylvia Plath's words are just gorgeous.
    • On Thursday, I presented for my health class (aka absolutely the most pointless class ever to sully my schedule), and I presented my final project for AP Statistics, which was a short animation film/parody of Harry Potter designed to show off a study + statistical inference that my group had conducted. 
    • On Friday, I had to wear a dress to school, which I haven't done in at least two years. This was because our world history class was presenting final research papers.
  • Then the last week of school, or actual finals week, rolled around. 
    • Cue WEEK OF NOTHING. I only had three actual finals to do—all in my easiest classes.
    • That'd be health, physics, and Japanese. 
    • But! In world history, I got to eat Chilean empanadas and drink mote con huesillo and listen to my world history teacher tell stories about living in Chile. It was great. (Also the empanadas and mote were DELICIOUS. Oh my goodness.)
  • So after that, my summer break started! It's been horribly delightfully uneventful so far.
  • This isn't exactly offline, but I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Serena @ Reading Over Sleeping and redesign her blog. I installed a responsive theme and did color/font/header customizations. I think the result wasn't too bad! (BTW, if you've got a Blogger blog and want a free responsive redesign, talk to me on Twitter @_christinaim or in the comments.)
  • The weather is so pretty and obliging outside. It's very suspicious, because this is the Pacific Northwest and the weather does not get so nice without an ulterior motive. 

I've been reading

  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers. One of the best books I've read all year.
  • The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama, for school. I had some issues with the slightly stilted prose, portrayals of female characters, and slowness/loose ends of the plot, but otherwise it was a lovely, quiet, elegant read.
  • Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. OH MY GOODNESS CAN SIMON SPIER BE MY BEST FRIEND? ALSO: SHIP SHIP SHIP SHIP.

PS: Remember, you can check out all my reads of 2015 here.

I've been watching

even the opening sequence is pretty, gosh
I'm still recovering from my severe post-The 100-finale show hangover, but I've found two shows this month that might help me in that process. First up is a wonderfully executed BBC period drama called The Paradise. It centers around the fictional first department store in England, called—you guessed it—the Paradise, and a country girl with big dreams who comes to work there.

Aforementioned 'country girl with big dreams' is Denise Lovett, and oh my goodness. I love her. The first thing I noticed about her was how earnest and good and helpful she was. She's willing to work hard to gain acceptance and success and independence, and she loves her job so, so much. I think this is the first period drama I've seen where the heroine works for a living and places her occupation above pretty much everything else. So that's really refreshing and lovely.
denise lovett: actual ray of sunshine
This show also has a really cool group of characters interacting, and I love that there are so many multifaceted, dynamic female characters who are driving a lot of the storyline. My only problem with the characters, I think, is in the male lead, Mr. Moray. He's honestly kind of a sexist blockhead, although I'm told he gets somewhat better.

But the costumes are brilliant. Apparently one of the same people who worked on the Wolf Hall costumes also worked on the costumes for The Paradise, and in my opinion, it shows. Everyone's clothes are just beautiful, especially with the colors in this show being the way they are.
Anyway, if you'd like to discuss, I've finished the first season. And, um, where is the fandom? (Please tell me there's a fandom.) SHOW YOURSELVES.
american history that's actually cool? yeah, i didn't believe it either
I came across AMC's Turn on Netflix—somehow the show is so underrated that I'd never heard of it before!—and immediately my interest was piqued by the premise. A show about George Washington's Revolutionary War spy ring aka one of the few actually interesting parts of American history? Sign me up.

I was captivated right away by the show's details and framing designs. The fonts used (no don't say anything, fonts are very important to me) are gorgeous, and the costumes actually seem somewhat accurate, which is very cool. And oh gosh, the music is flawless. But the most beautiful part of this? Check out the killer opening credits sequence (although warning for a bit of promotional gobbledygook at the end):

Anyway, it took me a little while to warm to the characters/story, but once I did, I couldn't get enough of them. The first character I loved? Predictably, the most important female character in the show, Anna Strong aka amazing brave reckless Patriot lady who takes no crap from men:
yes! you deserve a high five, anna strong!
But soon I discovered I liked the protagonist, too—Abraham Woodhull aka sneaky cabbage farmer who is actually kind of adorable sometimes and also wears lots of hats:
plus, he's super crafty and has the most precious facial expressions sometimes
Anyhow, the show has a great plotline and a very well-rounded cast of characters, in my opinion, so it's super, super cool if you like history and spies and things. Do check it out! I don't think it gets enough love. (And if you'd like to discuss in the comments, please know I'm not even through the first season yet, so no spoilers please!)
I went to the movie theater to go see Pixar's new film Inside Out! This movie was adorable and incredibly inventive—one of the most ingenious animated films I've seen in a while. Plus, the characters are all so precious, and Sadness is pretty much me IRL.

Help, someone teach me how to Instagram

Click each image to go to full-size!
i actually cooked a thing. (my mom helped, naturally.) to my surprise, it tasted fabulous.
i participated in a book photography challenge. you might remember this book from the first-ever #litlove.
poetry is hard, pretty much.

Links of interest

So we're halfway through the year already! How have you all been doing? Are you glad it's finally summer (winter for my friends on the other half of the globe)?

PS: Watch this space. I've got something extra-special planned for tomorrow to kick off July. Writer friends, you'll love it. 
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  1. OH LOOK I SEE THAT LITTLE HINT SLIPPED INTO THE END. I am waiting, Christina. I will treat it as a reward for my first day of Camp NaNo. (Preemptive rewards are always necessary.)

    Hopefully all the hectic school stuff is over -- June's also one of the busiest months for me for that reason. OH, you don't wear dresses to school? So is your uniform unisex? Because in Hong Kong, typically all girls' uniform at least has a skirt. But your world history class sounds totally rad.

    My congratulations once again on a beautiful design at Reading Over Sleeping! And I would love to read a book where the Pacific Northwest weather is the antagonist. Or villain protagonist, I'm not picky XD OH AND SIMON VS. I didn't LOVE it, because this cynic is still hardened against contemporary romance, but it was SUCH a lovely contemporary!

  2. OF COURSE. Preemptive rewards can never go wrong. And my hope is that it'll be a really exciting, fun thing for a lot of writers, so we'll see how that goes!

    School is indeed over! I'm not going back until September, haha. *twirls* Of course, I'll be a high school sophomore then, which is frightening even to think about. Actually, we don't have school uniforms—I think most public high schools in America don't. I've always wondered what it'd be like to have them, though. And yes! My world history class was totally rad. We studied the French Revolution and discussed racial tensions and did a ton of current events things. It was great.

    Oh, thank you! I had so much fun designing Serena's blog, and Serena was so great to work with. And HA yes. PNW weather as antagonist/villain protagonist would be GOLD.

    EEEK Simon Vs. was amazing (especially considering that even cynic Alyssa enjoyed it!).

  3. I have lots of Hobbit problems. :)
    Wow! You have publication announcement after publication announcement after publication announcement and I am very impressed!
    Yay for school finally being over! June was pretty much the worst for me because for more than half the month all I was doing was stressing over finals, but I'm so relieved that they are now over. Now I am convincing myself that I must take advantage of this freetime and focus on doing lots of coding and writing and reading and running and violin-ing. Also, Health is totally not the most pointless class (it is only the second most pointless class :P). PE is. I get very frustrated at PE because I don't understand why I should waste class time getting "exercise" when I could be taking an extra science or math class. I want to get out of PE since I already get exercise in cross country, but unfortunately school doesn't work that way. *le sigh*
    I love the design you did for Reading Over Sleeping, and it's awesome that it's responsive. I haven't done much HTML/CSS in terms of coding as I've mostly dabbled in languages like Python and Arduino, but I really want to learn it. The whole graphic design aspect and accurately positioning designs on a page scares me a bit, though. Can you recommend any resources you used to learn it? Because clearly you are awesome at it.
    I need that pasta. *picks it out of the screen and eats it* Awesome post, Christina!

  4. I'm sort of in love with your Instagram photos, tbh. Especially the last one - I have a weird thing about notebook photos, and yours is asdfghjkl; gorgeous. I quite like your design for Reading Over Sleeping, as well - the colour scheme is lovely & bright. So many good artsy vibes this month!

    Thank you so much for linking to the Thistle interview - that's so kind of you, truly. And of course, another huge congratulations on the many publications! All of the pieces published are beyond wonderful. (As if you need me telling you that again. ;))

  5. *high-fives you for Hobbit problems*

    Ahh, thank you! I definitely wasn't expecting this month to have so many developments in that department.

    Yay indeed! The best part of school is having no school, honestly. Thankfully this year I didn't have to stress for finals as much as you did, but that'll change soon, I'm sure. And yay as well for free time—although in my case, I'm doing my best to be productive, like you are (with... er, varying degrees of success).

    Actually that's pretty true; I loathe PE with every fiber of my being (although I loathe Health, too—it's probably a bad thing that I dislike so many classes). I also don't understand why it affects grade point average, because I feel like it isn't remotely academic. *joins you in le sigh*

    Ooh, thank you! I actually didn't code the entire design from scratch; I only did theme setup, widget setup, font customizations, color customizations, and the header image. But I learned the HTML/CSS I do know from Codecademy, and a quick Google search for 'free responsive Blogger themes' should turn up plenty of results for themes. I love HTML and CSS customizations so much, haha. (But Python and Arduino! I've tried to get into Python but for some reason I don't like coding when it actually feels like coding xD)

    Haha, thank you. *showers you with virtual pasta* Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Ahhh, thank you so much! Photography is something I just kind of dip my toes into, so it's nice to know my photos are headed in the right direction. And thank you so much! I had so much fun with the colors there.

    (Good artsy vibes indeed! Artsy vibes are the greatest vibes.)

    You're more than welcome :) I really loved reading that interview. Thanks for the kind words on my publications as well :D

  7. Ah! So many exciting developments! And a huge congratulations on your numerous publications - you definitely deserved it. (Also, I plan to devour The 100 and all these other shows immediately. They sound rather scrumptious.)


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