High School Semester In Review

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It’s been a while, but I’m back! I’ve been busying myself with school. Specifically, my finals and final tasks (summatives).

I’ve officially finished my first semester of grade 11. My courses were physics, data management, French, and accounting. I live in Canada, so my school is semestered. One semester I have four courses everyday and four different courses the next semester. At first, I thought I may be overwhelmed with the heavy focus on math-oriented subjects, but it was manageable.

I’ll go through each of my courses and explain the good and bad parts of each one.

Physics was pretty rough, not going to lie. Some units were fairly easy, and some were challenging. It was mostly lab experiments and tests. We had one project where we had to fashion an instrument to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. That was the only fun part of the class. My performance in the class overall was SO much better than I expected, but still not as good as I wanted it to be before I started the semester: 91%. I definitely will not be taking physics again because I know this is not for me. It’s far too logical.

Data management wasn’t the best either. The topics covered were sometimes confusing, like permutations. I had to do a lot of problem-solving questions involving them, and boy are they weird but fun at the same time. Many of the topics were straight-forward too, like analyzing graphs and finding the relationship between two variables. Unfortunately, my bad tests outweighed the good ones. Before my exam, I had a 91%. The exam was brutal and I just barely scraped up a 79%. My mark dropped one percent as a result, so I finished with a 90%. Again, it exceeded my expectations (as they’d been drastically lowered as I made my way through the course).

I love French. This year, it was different. No more memorizing and regurgitating. “Plug and chug”, that’s what my physics teacher calls it. Now, I had to analyze books and movies but in French. It was new, but I liked it. I was actually using my brain for once. This all came at a cost of course. My mark dropped this year to a 90% from a 94%. But I will definitely take French again for Grade 12, because if I’ve taken it for seven years so far, I think I can do one last hurrah.

Accounting turned out to be barely math-related at all, mostly just understanding. Once you get the primary concepts, you can pretty much teach yourself the rest of the course. I put in minimal effort, as did many of my classmates, and they too were successful. I passed this course with flying colours, a 97% to be exact. I will be taking accounting again next year because I now know it’s something I’m good at.

This semester, I have anthro/psych/socio, law, international business, and English. A very heavy focus on humanities this semester, so we’ll see how this goes. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Thank you for reading 🙂

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

★★★☆☆

This was an absurd book. In an okay way. Let me give you a summary taken directly from Goodreads before I get into my thoughts:

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Home intrusion-related things always terrify me. There’s something so hair-raising about the idea of someone being in your house without you knowing. They’re right under your nose, but you’d never know they’re there. That’s the scary part. It’s kind of like a ghost. You don’t know it’s there, but it is. That spooks me out so much. So that’s why I picked up this book. I was looking for a nail-biter, something where I’m on the edge of my seat, ripping through the pages to find out what comes next.Image result for a stranger in the house

Honestly, I was disappointed in that respect. That part of the book, that I thought would be touched on throughout because of the title, was like trying to see stars in the city at night. It was barely there. I feel like I’m justified in wanting something more from the home-intrusion aspect of the book. It was lacking.

I haven’t read any other books from Shari Lapena as of yet, but I going to assume her writing style is similar through all her books. In that case, all her books could be read by a 10 year-old. I don’t mean the content itself, but the way in which she writes is so simple. When I read, I want a challenge. Something to test my vocabulary. I don’t want to read, what I think, is next to a children’s novel. Maybe her plan is to focus on the plot and not the wording. I think that writing style is important and it’s definitely something I look for.

Onto the story itself. I enjoyed it. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. That’s about it though. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever read, that’s for certain. One thing I loved about this book is the tiny amount of characters. Usually, the amount of trouble I have remembering characters and their names is astounding. It was so easy to remember everyone. More books need to be like that. You really don’t need hundreds of characters to make a good book.

Overall, this book was very average. I’m not obsessed and I don’t completely hate it. It’s alright. This isn’t a recommendation of mine, though.

Thanks for reading!

My All-Time Favourite Movies

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Before I get started, let me make it clear that I’m no movie buff. But I have watched my fair share of movies.

I’m not going to give away the movies, in case you want to watch it. I’m really into action, suspense, and mystery movies. Also, you’ll notice a trend in these movies….because Christopher Nolan is just too good.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

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This movie became a classic the moment it was released. I don’t think anyone can deny that this movie is amazing. I’ve watched it countless times and yet I still find things that I didn’t notice before. You can watch this movie over and over again and not get bored of it. You’ve got to love Heath Ledger’s Joker in this. He’s pretty much what makes this movie good, other than Christopher Nolan’s directing. Ledger’s role is iconic.

 

2. Dunkirk (2017)

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In 2016, I found out Chris Nolan was making a new movie (finally) and I was very excited. He hadn’t made a new movie in a few years then and I felt deprived. I discovered that the movie would on the the Miracle of Dunkirk. I’ve always been really interested war movies and war in general.

The film has minimal dialogue, but it works. The actors tell the story so well through their expressions alone. It’s a chilling recount of how Dunkirk really happened. It’s very different than how I learned it to be. This movie shows how it really was.

3. Captain Phillips (2013)

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This movie was absolutely crazy. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It’s a true story, based on the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of a U.S. cargo ship. Barkhad Abdi’s acting as a Somali pirate, was amazing. The story in general is very interesting, and the film is created in such a suspenseful way.  If you’re looking for a film that constantly has you biting your nails, this is for you!

 

4. Inception (2010)

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I still don’t understand this movie. And that’s why I’ll never get sick of it. I watch it over and over and get a different understanding of it each time. It boggles your mind and makes you think. It’s about stealing secrets through dreams and that’s about all I get from it.

It’s quite long, about two and a half hours in length. But trust me, it’s worth every minute of your time. If you are looking for a movie that really makes you think, watch Inception!

(All of the images in this post are from various sources found through Google Images)

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

★★★★★

(spoiler-free)

Sara Shepard; the queen of teen fiction. I have a theory that she single-handedly encouraged the world’s population of teens to read again. It’s pretty understandable, I think. I mean, ever since the Internet was born, teenagers claim they’ve never opened a book or smelled the musty pages of a novel. It’s completely true actually. Students at my school never read for pleasure. Ever. I hear it all the time. If they do read, the only books they read are Sara Shepard’s. So yeah. She must have some pretty good books to make brain-dead teenagers actually want to trudge on over to the library rather than surf through Instagram mindlessly.

When I saw that Sara Shepard had a new book, I put it on hold in a heartbeat. For some reason, those stories about teenagers and their “struggles” never fail to entertain me. To get some insight into the book if you haven’t already read it, here’s a little summary taken directly from Goodreads:

Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.

Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.

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Mystery in a teen-y book was all I needed. I had been reading some pretty heavy books and needed a little break from that because I’m fragile. Maybe this is just me, but I thought that this would be a lousy mystery book. I mean, a group of teenagers solving a crime together just sounds boring. Well…I can’t even begin to explain how wrong I was. This book was GREAT.

The mystery keeps you intrigued throughout the book. It’s constantly being developed, even in the light-hearted situations. The characters were super dynamic. The personalities of everyone in their clique meshed together so well. The mystery was never quite solved until the very end. You think it’s over but then: IT’S NOT! Who doesn’t love that in a book? It’s no wonder there’s a second book coming out in November, titled “Follow Me”. Ominous. And I’m HYPED.

I’m NOT going to give this book away because I reaaally think you should read it. Even if you’re an old hag. I loved it! It’s not overly long or short. Thanks for reading!

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

★★★★☆

Here’s a little review on my opinion of Janelle Fletcher’s “Watch Me Disappear”.

This book took me about 3-4 days of steady reading a few times a day to complete. That’s actually quite good for my speed! I’m trying to get it back up to where it was when I was younger. I’m getting there!

Before I get started, I think you should have an idea of what the book is about. Here’s a summary taken directly from Goodreads:

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. No body—only a hiking boot—has ever been found. Billie’s husband and teenage daughter cope with her death the best they can: Jonathan drinks, Olive grows remote.

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

Image result for watch me disappear janelle brownI’ll start with the characters. Jonathan, the husband and father, is rather bland. He manages to develop throughout the book but not change at the same time, strangely enough. He’s just a boring old dad who is obsessed with his work and realizes this obsession too late. Olive has more depth. She’s the teenage daughter with an attitude that’s labelled “aggressive”, although I beg to differ. I can relate to Olive and her teenage struggles myself. She’s been through a lot more trauma than I have, however. Still, she is comparable to myself. Billie is more intriguing than Jonathan, and her POV is only shown in the prologue and monologue. Of course, she’s described in the book but, as I’m sure you can tell, I was quite disappointed in Jonathan’s character. He’s such a crucial character in this story and I feel as though an opportunity was wasted, just because his character rubs off as so pedestrian.

That being said, the plot was great. I’m not going to lie, when I read the blurb on the back and I saw that ghosts would be involved, I was ready to put the book right back on the shelf. I wasn’t looking for an unrealistic book. However, I was feeling generous and so I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did! The “ghosts” part was nothing like a fantasy novel. It didn’t feel childish or anything. It integrated into the book very well, actually.

If I say anymore, I think I’ll be giving too much away. I highly (!!) suggest you read this book. It’s got a very special, interesting theme that I don’t often see in books.

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The Versatile Blogger Award

Hi! I’m SK, co-author at Exclusory. I’ve been nominated for an award. Specifically, the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you Pae for the nomination. It truly means a lot. Please check out her blog whenever you have the time!

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When you are nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, you must obviously thank the blogger who nominated you with a link to their blog, nominate fifteen other bloggers to partake in this post and share seven facts about yourself. So, let’s get started. 

Some facts about SK:

  1. I’m in grade 11 right now.
  2. I started to dislike school this year because it’s gotten so hard.
  3. I would LOVE to live in Switzerland at some point in my life.
  4. I enjoy movies more than TV shows because I don’t like stories being stretched out. That’s not to say I don’t like TV shows at all, though.thin
  5. I’m a really boring texter.
  6. I love fries in all forms.
  7. I love gloomy weather so much. I wish it was always cloudy.

Now, I will nominate fifteen of my favourite bloggers. I nominate:

  1. Rafia
  2. Judanna
  3. Mary
  4. Hebah
  5. Carly
  6. Kirsty
  7. Kayla
  8. Dominique
  9. Katie
  10. Faye
  11. Caitlin
  12. Fiona
  13. Erica
  14. Shaiz
  15. Kris Marie

I cannot wait to read all your posts! Be sure to check out their blogs too. Until next time! 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

★★★★☆

Here’s a short review on a great book.

I wish I could remember where I discovered this book. So I could go back and look for more hidden gold like this.

Here’s a brief summary: Jason Dessen is asked if he is happy with his life before being abducted. He finds himself strapped to a gurney and locked in a building. He finds himself in a new world where his other life is unheard of. Jason just wants to return to his original world, to his family. But he must overcome the one thing that comes in his way of achieving this mission: himself. This sci-fi thriller by Blake Crouch is a mind-boggling tale that touches on the relationships and choices we make, and the effort they will make to protect them.

Image result for dark matter blake crouchI’ve never truly meddled in the sci-fi department. Sure, I read the YA books with all the dystopia, but never a book quite as advanced as this one. Well, at least I think it’s advanced. My mind was racing while reading. The scope of it all is astounding. Having such a complex idea as the basis of the plot is risky. What if people don’t understand? Is it too scientific for readers? Nope. It’s executed in such a way that gives the reader a full understanding of the advanced science, yet it still leaves one to think. My gears were turning the entire time I read the book, trying to wrap around all the concepts and twists. It’s remarkable.

The characters aren’t developed as well as they could be. I’ve read books with a much more dynamic set of characters. In this book, I only really feel like Jason Dessen, the main character, has any proper development. Understandably so, however. This book literally centers around him, so it does make sense. Daniela Vargas, Jason’s wife, appears a lot, and her development is only mediocre. I do think, however, that it makes sense that many characters aren’t as developed as, say, a drama book. It’s focused on the sci-fi part, not necessarily all the relationships (although it’s still touched on throughout).

It’s amazing how this scientific idea or theory can be made into such a human tale of choices and what we feel is best for us. It’s about the lengths people will go to make their dreams true. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend this to everyone if you are interested in a mind-bending tale.