Tuesday, March 20, 2012

50 Shades of Grey


Although E.L. James is no literary genius, for some reason I was unable to put down her trilogy. The similarity between the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga is uncanny. For example, both novels are set in Washington. Christian Grey, while not paranormal (although he might as well be, for all the power that he has) is ridiculously rich like Edward Cullen. Both are supposedly Greek gods of youth in terms of attractiveness. Anastasia Steele, like Bella Swan, is romantically inept, never having been in a real relationship before meeting their romantic (and in Ana's case, sexual) partner. Ana, like Bella, is rather ordinary and for them, their beauty goes unnoticed by most (in Ana's case, many boys find her attractive, although she doesn't see it that way). Christian Grey and his siblings Mia and Elliot Grey, are adopted, like the Cullen/Hale siblings. Grace Trevelyan, Christian's adoptive mother, is a doctor, like Carlisle Cullen in Twilight. Anastasia, like Bella, is in constant danger (for example, when Christian's ex-submissive Leila Williams tries to attack Bella, and later on, when Jack Hyde tries to molest Ana and harm her after Christian has him fired from SIP). Christian, like Edward, is determined to keep Ana safe and protect her, making her sacrifice going out and spending time with friends (Ana isn't allowed to have a drink with her best friend Kate, like Bella wasn't allowed to go see Jacob at the reservation.) The list is endless. 

Although this novel, in my opinion, is better than Twilight, it is definitely more for adults rather than for teens. Sex occurs quite often in this trilogy between Christian and Ana. They are quite dirty, if you know what I mean. If you don't fancy reading a BDSM novel, then it might not be the book for you, but it's not just about the bondage and the flogging and spanking. Their relationship goes beyond that. I thought the BDSM would turn me off too, but it didn't. It wasn't as bad as it seemed, except in the end of the first novel, where Christian whips her with a belt. That sounded painful, and most probably was, too, if Ana left Christian after the incident. 

If 50 Shades of Grey is ever made into a movie, I am quite curious as to how the producers will include the constant sex scenes. The book is like Twilight, only with sex. It's like Twilight for moms. 

However, while Christian was sweet and romantic, via emails and texts and vacations, etc., he was quite controlling of her and very possessive. For example, when Ana had to go to New York with her boss Jack for business, Christian, while correct in his theory of Jack's desire to have sex with Ana, refused to let Ana go and, because he had purchased the company (becoming its' boss), he made up a rule on the spot that said that traveling costs had to be permitted by the head, namely, Christian, meaning Ana wasn't even allowed to go anyway by company rules. He gets very jealous easily and doesn't like when Ana hangs out with other guys, like her friend Jose.  

I could continue with my thoughts and opinions about the trilogy, I'll just let you guys read it and judge it for yourselves. Just be prepared for lots and lots of sex! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Pillars of the Earth

I know it's been awhile since my last post, but I'm back! It is spring break here where I live, and that means relaxing & spending time with my amigos! I am saddened by the fact that spring break is practically over, but besides Sunday (which is the designated homework day) there is still more fun to be had! 

And the topic of fun is my point in this post. I introduced my best friend tonight to, in my opinion, a fabulous television show that aired on the Starz channel July of 2010, and it is called The Pillars of the Earth, based on the book by Ken Follett, which I have not read (I own it, though, but if you see the size of that thing, you'll know what I mean.) Usually I'm not deterred by the size of books, but these days, I've just had no time for enjoyable reading. And yes, she's hooked onto the show, too, just like Game of Thrones. I am praying to God that Season 2 will meet my high expectations, or even exceed them. I will be sorely disappointed if Season Two doesn't meet the standard that Season 1 did. April 1st cannot get here fast enough, it seems! 

The show, however is quite entertaining, no matter how slow it may be at times. The subplots and all the little schemes going on never cease to amaze me. The church is corrupt, the kingdom is corrupt, is there anything that's pure and good in 12th century England? 

Actually, there is, and they are Jack and his mother, Ellen, Tom Builder, Prior Philip, and Aliena of Shiring. Philip is a prior in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. Ellen is a supposed witch wanted by the church, and Jack is her shy but talented son. His talent comes in the form of sculpture. Tom Builder is a master builder desperately in need of work to support his pregnant wife and two children, Alfred & Martha. Ellen, Jack & Tom's family meet in the woods when Martha is attacked by a thief and is injured. Ellen offers to cure her, and the family stays with them briefly, before Alfred convinces his parents that Ellen is a witch. The family leaves, but Agnes, Tom's wife, gives birth during the winter night. Coincidentally, Princess Maud, the King's daughter, also gives birth to a son that same night. Agnes dies that night, but the family cannot support the newborn, so they abandon him next to Agnes' grave. The thief who had previously attacked Martha takes the baby from the grave to the priory to raise him. Tom, realizing he cannot leave his son to die in the forest, runs back to fetch, but it is too late. The baby is gone. The King is poisoned that night at a feast, leaving his legitimate heir, Maud, the crown. However, her cousin, Stephen, has usurped the throne, and Maud is determined to win the crown back, not for herself, but for her son. 

The series spans 8 episodes, 1 hour long each, but it is totally worth it, so go watch! 

Another novel I want to read is Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. It's a BDSM novel, of a graphic nature, but I'm a sucker for any type of romance. This novel appears to be a bit similar to Twilight, except it's rated X. The protagonist, Anastasia Steele, is an innocent college girl from Washington, and the romantic interest is a wealthy, dark, mysterious man by the name of Christian Grey. It comes out in paperback on April 3, and I very much want to read it. 

I still haven't read The Help, or Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, nor have I finished Pretty Little Secrets, so it looks like I have a lot of reading to do this summer! 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Freaking Out - IB Diploma

My school is an IB Diploma Programme school. It's a 6-12 grade school and I've been there since I was in sixth grade (I'm in 10th grade now.) Next year I will embark on my IB Diploma journey. CAS, Extended Essay, TOK - sounds like fun! Not. Personally, I'm dreading IB and am starting to regret choosing all IB classes + physics and AP Government. I should've taken all AP classes, except my school is more renowned and stronger in IB than in AP, so I'd probably have to transfer schools if I want to take all AP. 

Now, for anybody who does know or take IB, you'll know that IB classes are categorized into Standard Level and Higher Level, and students must choose a specific # of HL classes (I'm not sure if it's 3 or 4 HL classes). Two of my HL classes will be IB European History and English, as SL in those classes are not offered at my school. The other one would probably be HL Biology, and if I HAVE to take 4 HL classes than I'll probably choose HL Spanish. No freaking way am I taking HL Math. I don't want to take HL Music either because you actually have to compose music in that class and I would probably fail at that. 

For those who don't know what CAS or TOK or the Extended Essay is, I'll explain. CAS stands for Creativity, Action and Service. Basically, you need to earn 150 hours during the time of junior and senior year (the years one typically takes IB), whether it be community service, sports, etc. TOK is Theory of Knowledge. It's sort of like a Humanities class, but it dives in deeper into the subject. In this class, an external assessment is a 1,200-1,600 word essay based on a topic you get to choose out of a choice of ten topics to choose from, as well as an internal assessment presentation on the student's chosen topic. The Extended Essay is a 4,000 word essay that can come from any of the six areas of study (English, Foreign Language, Math, Science, the Arts, or History) - I think there is a list of approved subjects for the EE, though. I'm not sure on this one. 

In IB, there are Internal Assessments and External Assessments. 

External Assessments - which typically count for much of one's grade in the class - include:
- Essays
- Structured Problems
- Short-Response Questions
- Data-Response Questions
- Text-Response Questions
- Case-Study Questions
- Multiple Choice Questions (limited use of these) 

Internal Assessments include:
- Oral work in languages
- Fieldwork in geography
- Laboratory work in the sciences
- Investigations in math
- Artistic performances

If you take IB, you must prioritize between three things, known as the three S's - social life, sleep, or study. For me, I think it'd be study first, then sleep, then social life. IB Diploma requires 24 minimum points on the exams, the EE and TOK in order to get the diploma. 45 is the maximum # of points one can earn. Also, at the end of 10th grade, if you plan on taking the IB Diploma journey, you must be willing to say goodbye to multiple choice, because IB work consists of short answers and in math, you have to show the work to get the answer, which you fill in a blank. 

Scary, much? If I take IB, I'll be taking risks. I've heard that for IB Certificates (which is when you take SOME IB classes but not all, and for the Certificates you don't take TOK, do CAS, or write the EE), you have to receive a 6 or a 7 (the highest scores) on an exam in order to get college credit. I've heard the standard is lower for the diploma candidates. I'm still very much freaking out about IB. 

And at the end, it's like "Congratulations! You killed yourself in high school!"