Smackacks and the Dream Circus

I’M FREE FROM SCHOOL except for the fact that I have summer school. Woo! As I mentioned before in my Oh! The places you’ll go… post, I  was going to see my cousins. Well, THAT TIME CAME. I am now safely back home attending boring summer school. Before I went, my cousins and I were texting each other all week about how excited we were for the trip. “I can’t wait till you guys get here!” “I knowwww!” and “I’M EXCITED!!!” was basically the extent of our texts.

Conversations with Steve and Aunt Addie are always quite interesting, and since we drove together, we had a whole seven hours to talk. One conversation we got into as we drove to my cousins’ was about the weird dreams we’ve had. This then brought up the topic of the book I just finished: The Night Circus. The actual name of the circus is Le Cirque des Rêves or The Dream Circus in English. (I was pretty proud of myself for translating the title by myself.) After I told them the general story, Aunt Addie and Steve both agreed that it was weirder than any dream they had had. I don’t know about that. Personally, I think dreams can get so much weirder. I guess I’ll let you be the judge of that. I’ll include one of my weirder dreams and The Night Circus summary here.

Smackacks Dream

In the beginning, I went with a group of my friends to the mall. As we were walking around, I received a vision from a dragon. The dragon told me that they were in desperate need of my help in their dragon world dimension. I split up from the rest of the group and went off with Dina to search for the gateway to the dragon’s land.

To find the gateway, Dina and I left the mall and started walking around in the parking lot, passing all these restaurants and stores. We passed this one restaurant that had set out mac and cheese with noodles the size of my head in piles for people to take. It didn’t occur to me that this was unsanitary in my dream.

Dina and I started walking around the mac and cheese mounds. This little boy came and tried to walk past us. We lifted our arms so he could go under them, but he had trouble doing that because he wasn’t short enough. This reminded Dina and I about how easy that maneuver would have been for Parker. (He used to be really short but now he’s finally having his growth spurt. In the dream I guess he was still super short.) Then we got to this one patch of grass behind the people at the restaurant and started looking up at the sky. We began studying comets and the stars, and what made comets show when they came close to earth.

The next part of the dream I remember is about this group of four boys who are trying to outrun this giant NEFARIOUS corporation. These four boys traveled around the world, always on the run to escape the corporation called Smackacks. I was pretty surprised I remembered the name when I woke up. Smackacks finally catch the boys. They are taken to this concentration camp-like place. Two of the boys are separated from the rest and put in this giant bar cage thing. The rest of the three boys (the number changed from four to five) look over their shoulders as they are hustled into the camp naked. They had been told to take their clothing off.

Within my dream, I saw things through one of the boys that were left outside. The two boys were the only ones left dressed and the officials ordered them to take off their clothes. They were wearing these jumpsuit things with belts. The main boy began thinking about how he had become so optimistic while on the run, even though before that he had been very pessimistic. Before the boys had been caught, the main boy had bought a teddy bear at a zoo they went to because he had been so optimistic. It was great until he realized he had to get rid of it because it was from Smackacks. My dream ended there with the boys naked and trapped. Dina and I had vanished. Maybe we made it to the dragon world.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Since they were very young, Celia and Marcus have been raised to compete against each other in a game. Both are taught magic in distinctly different ways by their separate mentors, neither really having a say in the matter. The game takes place in Le Cirque des Rêves, a magical place constructed to embody Marcus and Celia’s imaginings. Le Cirque is open to the public, and as the years pass both Marcus and Celia continue to add more tents. They also begin to fall in love. The two learn to resent the game, knowing that they will never be free to love one another until it is over. It ends with only one of them standing.

As the reader, you not only follow Celia and Marcus’s story but a multitude of different characters who come into contact with the Dream Circus. Taking place in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the book doesn’t go in chronological order, leaving clues for you to slowly comprehend as the story alternates between different events at different times. The format in which the author presented the story is engaging, adding layers and giving it more depth.

In all, it was a magical, unique read, but let’s be honest; it wasn’t out of this world weird. Everone’s heard of magic, but have you ever heard of the evil company Smackacks?

Mrs. C

Although I’m so ready for summer, at the same time I kind of don’t want to move on, either. I’m going to miss being a sophomore. I think the biggest reason I don’t want to move on is because I’m going to miss my World History/AP Euro teacher, Mrs. C. She’s this crazy nice teacher that I’ve been incredibly lucky to have for both freshman and sophomore year. She likes to read!!! The same books I like to read!!! I love talking to her about what I’ve read, recommending new things to her, and freaking out over book characters (specifically shadowhunters, heehee). I always looked forward to her class, knowing that we were going to have a fun time. I’m going to miss being able to recommend new books to her. I’m going to miss her.

Thank you, Mrs. C! I loved being your student. This post is for you, and all the other teachers who ever encouraged me and made me wish I didn’t have to move on. I’ll always remember you. ❤

I had a dream with Mrs. C in it… 

My best friends Tasha, Dina, Peter, Jack and I all decided to go and take a hike. To go hiking, we had to take this little school bus. It would taxi us around to different places in the woods where we could get out, walk around and explore, and then come back to move to a different spot. Mrs. C was there, almost as if she were a chaperone on a field trip. My friends and I all had a blast exploring together. The only problem occurred when this random annoying kid started to butt in, interrupting our conversations and giving lengthy lectures on boring topics that none of us had any interest in.

Jack and I became separated from the group as we listened to the kid speak. Late to our original bus, we were forced to cross the highway and walk until we could find the next one that came. The kid followed us.

The bus took us away from the woods and to an outdoor sports store where we met up with everyone else. I started looking at these t-shirts with Mrs. C. We were trying to find t-shirts to give to everybody to remember that day of hiking. The random annoying kid who had followed us from the woods interrupted our conversation, but Mrs. C was able to deftly steer him away. Go Mrs. C!

In a totally different part of my dream, I was late to school (I missed the bus). I was freaking out because I was so late. For some reason, my mom took mercy and called me in sick, letting me have the day off. (In real life my mom would never let me miss school unless I was actually sick.) I was freeeeeeee. On my day off, I decided to take a walk. It was a beautiful clear sunny day. As I strolled along, I saw two women launch this hot air balloon contraption from their front yard into the air. But even though it looked like a hot balloon, it wasn’t. It was a giant net that they had built to catch their lost cat. Somehow they were able to control where the net went and they landed it on their cat across the street.  The net broke and the cat got free once more, leaving the women to chase after it. I watched the whole scene unfold behind bushes further down the street. After that, I woke up to go to school. My mom didn’t call me in sick.

And of course!

I couldn’t just leave this post without talking about a book. I’m going to review the last book that I told Mrs. C about. I hope she enjoys it. BE WARNED! The book summary and review contain no spoilers, but both parts will spoil Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

Ophelia by Lisa Klein

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Summary Ophelia, known for her part only as Hamlet’s beloved, is now allowed to tell her side of the story. She begins her journey as a young girl, employed as a lady in waiting in the service of the queen of Denmark. Without being as restricted as other girls in that time (during the Reformation! thank you AP Euro!) because of no mother and a neglectful father, she becomes an independent clever young woman, able to debate philosophy as well as (let’s face it- even better than) a man.

As Ophelia matures, she sometimes runs into Prince Hamlet, as one might expect when you live in the same castle as each other. Hamlet, when exposed to her wit and charm, takes an interest in her. Soon they are both blissfully in love, hiding away from the rest of the court with the help of dear Horatio, Hamlet’s right-hand man.

Yet, the good can not last forever. Tragedy strikes when Hamlet’s father is killed, and Hamlet begins his wild display of madness. Hurt by the one she had loved most, Ophelia needs to decide how to live the rest of her life- or if she even should.

Review-It was intriguing watching the play unfold through Ophelia’s eyes. Klein did not just stick to the events that strictly happened within the play, but gave the characters history, explaining what led them up to where they were when the play occurred. I liked reading about Ophelia’s childhood, made doubly interesting because the author had done her research and included elements of the time period within the events. I’ve always found historical fiction interesting, and the history was pretty cool to see incorporated in the book.

I love Ophelia’s character. She was a strong young woman who was able to think for herself in a time when so many women were virtually powerless. Part of her independence comes from her love of reading, which is also what made me love her (characters who read are my favorite, no surprise). Through literature, she is able to educate herself on all different sorts of matters, leaving her more capable to deal with herself and others. A particular other character that was quite interesting to see was Hamlet. He was quite a different person before he became bent on revenge, and I can see how Ophelia came to love him. And then there’s Horatio. *sigh* He was such a cutie. So humble and honest in the midst of such violence and treachery. He was definitely one of my favorites. I like how all the characters evolved within the play, turning into the people you knew they had to be, Ophelia’s viewpoint showing why they were that way, and maybe even giving a different angle as to who they really were as a person.

Ophelia’s first person narration was fascinating. Klein was able to make her thoughts and the conversations between characters flow easily. It couldn’t have been easy having the characters speak in Shakespearian English. I think if I ever tried to write using Shakespearian language, I would start going crazy. I’d have to look up everything to make sure it made sense. I bet I would forget that I had to write like Shakespeare and end up having to redo whole pages. Klein was able to brilliantly intertwine Shakespeare and today’s language, giving you a Shakespearian feel in an understandable format. Bravo for Klein.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I’m currently considering whether or not I should put it on my book buy list (the copy I have right now is from the library). It’s definitely a must read for those interested in Shakespeare, history, and/or romance.

Ta-ta for now and happy reading!

Fishy Doppelgängers

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WARNING: This post has a book summary, review, and my dream that connects to the book mentioned. It may contain SPOILERS for The Lightning Thief book. Nothing major is mentioned, but readers should take caution when I review the book. The summary before and the dream afterward should be okay. If not, don’t be afraid to tell me so I can change this spoiler warning accordingly.

And okay, while we’re doing warnings, I guess I better also warn you: this is my most favorite book series EVER. Rick Riordan rocks, and he is my hero. Whenever Percy Jackson is mentioned, I get super excited and fangirl the heck out without pausing to breathe. That being said, I nearly died of joy when I had a dream about my favorite characters. I thought this would be an appropriate start to my blog since Percy Jackson is such a big part of my life. (Just ask my sister Alisha who has no qualms complaining about how often I annoy her with my fangirling.)

Book summary

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan is a five book series beginning with The Lightning Thief. Percy Jackson and the Olympians can be followed by its companion series, The Heroes of Olympus. If one still wishes for more Percy Jackson, Rick Riordan has written a crossover mini series with The Kane Chronicles. It can get a bit confusing if you haven’t been following the books as they come out. Hmm… Maybe I should make another post explaining the correct order to read certain series. Hehe. I just love educating people about books. Anyway, sorry. Got a bit off track there. Right now I believe I’ll just review The Lightning Thief, the first book (hence the one you should read first) out of all of these books.

Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.

And with a bang, you’re thrust into Percy Jackson’s weird life. The twelve-year-old begins his story while on a field trip with his 6th grade class. A strange occurrence on the trip leaves Percy seriously shaken, especially when no one but him can remember anything– except for perhaps his best friend Grover. As Grover continues to lie to him, Percy determines that something fishy is going on. At the end of the school year he returns to his home in New York City to be back with his mom and nasty stepfather.

Everything comes to a point when Percy is attacked by the Minotaur. Barely escaping with his life, he finds himself at Camp Half-Blood, which is no ordinary camp. It is meant for demigods, people who are half mortal, half god– Greek gods, to be exact. With his life changed beyond reason, it stands to chance that things can only get better, right? Nah. Percy is accused of stealing none other than Zeus’s lightning bolt. Zeus is the head honcho god and as temperamental as heck, basically the last person on earth you want to anger. In order to clear his name, Percy sets out on a quest. Joined by Grover and fellow demigod Annabeth, Percy and his friends fight and con their way across the country in order to reach the Underworld where they believe the real thief is.

Book review

Percy Jackson is a hilarious narrator, telling his adventures in a distinctive voice. It’s impossible to get bored with Percy narrating! His voice helps to move the plot along, keeping it fast paced and filled with jokes.

Riordan is a genius at incorporating Greek mythology within modern day America, weaving the two together seamlessly. It’s quite entertaining to see how the Greek gods supposedly influenced the events that happen today. When I first picked up The Lightning Thief (I was a tiny 8-year-old, dear sweet goodness) I had already been studying Greek mythology by myself for a while, so I loved seeing how Rick Riordan retold the Greek myths. Unlike other authors who might morph Greek myths into their own creations, Riordan acknowledges the original myths, having Percy learn them as demigod history lessons. I definitely appreciated this, knowing that it was an accurate representation of the myths.

Throughout Percy’s experiences he is introduced to new figures, both good and bad. Riordan’s characters are multilayered (like an onion), with flawed good characters and bad characters who aren’t so very evil. The characters add flavor to the story, creating an interesting and humorous world for readers to navigate through along with Percy.

But Percy’s world, because it’s complex, also comes with its fair share of complications that can’t be solved by hacking at somebody with a sword (but, don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of that too). Riordan doesn’t shy away from sticky situations. He deftly describes problems such as Percy’s abusive step father or the many shenanigans of the Greek gods. Expertly discussing the situations in ways that are not explicit, he is still gives good portrayals of the various dilemmas. This is important for a children’s author to do. Not everything in real life is going to be made of lollipops and rainbows, and kids do face conflicts in their lives. They shouldn’t have to deal with them, but they’re there none the less. Not only is Riordan giving them a good story, but he’s allowing kids to see that they aren’t alone, that other kids have issues too.

With all the positive elements incorporated within The Lightning Thief, it can be read, not just by grade school kids, but people of all ages. With a solid 10 out of 5 stars, this is an adventure that no one should miss out on! (Translation: if you haven’t read Percy Jackson yet, what are you doing?) It shall continue to be my all time favorite, no matter how old I get.

My dream

I was so excited when I first had this dream about Percy Jackson that this is literally how I labelled it in my notes: PRECY JACKSON DREAM ASDFGHJKL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I typed it out so fast I couldn’t even spell Percy correctly.

At the beginning of my dream I was in this large Greek architecturally styled building. Within the building I played this game show with my friend Jack. (Often, people I know in real life pop up in my dreams.) The game was kind of like Jeopardy. In it, the players were given random topics and then had to come up with where they came from. It could have been anything and I had a really hard time playing. I couldn’t think of the answer to the question I was given, so I ran away from the contest (running away from your problems is always the answer) and followed a lady to the top of the building. It was wobbly at the top and I thought to myself “A Greek structure wouldn’t be wobbly! Greeks were great mathematicians.”

After I escaped the horrible game show for good, I decided to travel to Europe on my own. I went there to learn how to be independent and do things by myself. I went to this weird train station where there were a bunch of different shops centered around it. My mom gave me money and I had to exchange it for euros. In the European market there was an old Percy Jackson who was sitting alone and depressed in a room filled with cool knickknacks, resembling an antique store. Within my dream I knew –don’t ask me how I knew this, sometimes in my dreams I just KNOW things– that he had a hard choice and was deliberating whether or not to take action.

This old Percy was actually from the future. In his time Annabeth had died. At risk of ruining the world by messing up past events, old Percy made the decision to go back in time and attempt to save Annabeth from her untimely death. Percy picks up a particular object within the room and it instantly transports him back in time. Fast forward to the fateful event. Old Percy goes onto the boat that past Percy and Annabeth were on when Annabeth died. I’ve been calling it a boat, but it was more of a large floating wooden platform that carried its passengers (and was surprisingly stable). Other people were on the raft, but the two Percys and Annabeth were the main focus of my dream.

Attempting to prevent Annabeth’s death, old Percy tells both past Percy and Annabeth that a storm is brewing on the seas, warning them that if they do nothing Annabeth will die in the ship wreck. Having been warned ahead of time, past Percy and Annabeth are prepared and Annabeth does not meet a salty end. The old Percy goes poof poof because his future is no longer a reality.

BUT THEN, as Percy and Annabeth are swimming away, Annabeth sees another Percy going in the opposite direction from them. There’s a third Percy! *gasp* This doppelgänger was definitely nefarious in nature, and unfortunately slipped away. Annabeth, after seeing another Percy swim away, knew that something wasn’t right and suspected old Percy of double-crossing them. Tsk tsk. Percy’s evil doppelgänger, in fact, was not in league with old Percy, but Annabeth is unaware of this.

At this point in my dream I was beginning to wake up, so Percy’s evil doppelgänger just kind of doesn’t come back. Dun dun dunnnn… Percy, Annabeth and another survivor from the boat arrive at the European market safely. In the end, Percy and Annabeth arrive at a house that’s been recently remodeled. At first Percy doesn’t recognize it but when he does it’s very emotional because the house was of great value to him and Annabeth. He hugs Annabeth and they end up kneeling on the floor in each other’s arms crying out of sheer happiness at their survival and the fact that they are together. Happy ending, hallelujah!

Aaaaaaaand…

That’s pretty much it. It’s actually pretty amazing you’ve given me this much time. Like, wow, you have stamina. *high five!* Thanks for reading!