Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review: The Fold

As many of you probably know, I participate in a program called Blogging for Books. Basically, they send me free books in exchange for posting a review. I enjoy it a lot, its super easy to get started and there are no deadlines (you just can't request a new book until you've posted a review of the last one). So if you like books and/or blogging, you should check it out! :)

I recently finished reading the book The Fold, by Peter Clines, which is a science fiction thriller. I'll preface my review by saying that this is a genre I don't read a lot of, largely because I don't like creepy or disturbing things. (I don't watch horror movies for the same reason.) In parts, this book was a little intense for me, and its the kind of book that I didn't want to read right before I went to sleep. If you're used to the genre it would probably be pretty mild, I just wanted to give a disclaimer if you're sensitive to that sort of stuff like I am!

I really liked this book. The basic story line is about a man who has a perfect photographic memory and an extremely high IQ, but who has chosen to be a high school English teacher rather than take better advantage of his unique skills. He has a friend, however, who is involved in funding government projects, and specifically a team of scientists building a teleportation device. The English teacher is recruited to check out the project and report back about it, because the people funding it have an uneasy feeling about continuing to put money into the project.

The story was engaging and always left me eager to find out what would happen next. The further I got into the book the more difficult it became to put it down. It does start out a little slow, but even then there was enough interest to keep me engaged until the story really picked up. There were so many surprises and curve balls, I couldn't wait to find out how the story ended!

The ending of the book was also very well executed. It wasn't at all predictable. I thought that the ending did a good job of wrapping up an intense story, tying up many of the loose ends but still leaving me with many thought-provoking questions.

One of my favorite parts of the story were the descriptions of the main character's mind, about what it was like for him to have a perfect photographic memory and an amazing analytical capacity. It added a level of complexity into the storyline and the interactions between the characters. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Break and Course Registration

A few days ago, I remembered that I have a blog that I haven't updated in over a month... I guess that tells you something about the frame of mind I've been in for the past few weeks. I haven't even had the brain capacity to remember I have a blog, much less post anything!

I guess I'll just give you a general update on my life. The last few weeks have been a bit rough with exams and everything. I'm officially in relaxation mode now though (perhaps a little prematurely!) since Thanksgiving break starts on Wednesday, and I don't have anything due before then. There is definitely an atmosphere of stress on campus, many of my friends still have big assignments to finish before they can enjoy their break. I guess I just got lucky this year!

I'll be staying on campus for Thanksgiving this year. I'm very sad that I won't get to celebrate in Minnesota with my family, but this just made the most sense. There are pros and cons to going home, and the cons (namely the cost of a plane ticket and the hassle of travelling during Thanksgiving!) won out this year. I will miss my family greatly, but I am excited about the chance to just relax, and not have to worry about travelling or making plans. Last year when I stayed on campus I had a chance to breathe and actually take a break. I spent lots of time knitting Christmas presents and watching movies and cooking for myself, all things I don't generally have time for at Wellesley. I have fond memories of break last year, so I'm looking forward to this one as well. One of my friends graciously invited me over for Thanksgiving dinner so I have plans for that day, but the rest of my break I'm planning on, well, not having any plans at all. And I can't wait!

Another eventful thing that happened recently was class registration! I use "eventful" in a relative sense, it wasn't nearly as eventful as registration other years since I was able to get into all the classes I wanted (yay for being a senior!). It was eventful in the sense that now I have some idea what my spring semester will be like. There are so many classes that I would still love to take at Wellesley, so narrowing it down was tough. I wish I had more time! It was one of those moments that really reminded me I'm a senior, my last ever class registration.

So, here's what I ended up with:
Computer Science 249: Data, Analytics, and Visualization
     This course is to fulfill a requirement at Wellesley called the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. Basically it has to be some sort of real life statistics, and somehow none of my many math, computer science, or intro science courses have counted thus far... Whenever I tell professors this is my one distribution requirement left they think it's very odd. But, that's another story! Thankfully this class is available in the computer science department next semester, so I can fulfill the requirement with a class that's not completely random and unrelated to my interests.

Computer Science 349: Natural Language Processing
     I need one more 300 level course to finish my Computer Science major and my Wellesley degree. (300 level courses are the highest level at Wellesley.) There are several different courses being offered in the department, but this one sounded the most interesting to me. Being a classical civilizations major as well as a computer science I'm pretty interested in the intersection between technology and the humanities, so I'm excited to explore how computers can interact with human language.

Math 223: Number Theory
     This course doesn't count for any requirements at all... (Except to finish my math minor that I can't declare! Wellesley doesn't allow you to declare more than two things, and since I'm a double major I can't declare this minor, even though I will technically have finished all the requirements.) I like the professor and the topic sounds pretty interesting, and one of my friends is in the class. Plus I do miss taking math classes! I'm excited to take one more class in the department before I graduate. I came into Wellesley pretty confident that I wanted to be a math major, so the math department will always have a special place in my heart.

Arts 222: Introductory Print Methods - Typography/Book Arts
     I'm super excited about this one! This class is also just for fun. We have a book arts lab at Wellesley, which is basically a workspace that has equipment for printing and paper making and all sorts of book-related things. I've always wanted to take one of  Wellesley's book arts courses, and now I finally get to! I'm definitely happy that I was able to fit this in before graduation.

I can't really think of much else to share at the moment... Life has been good, if hectic. This year I made a decision not to do any homework on Sundays, which has been very good for my mental well-being. There's big difference between trying to be productive and not getting anything done (which happens quite a lot on weekends...) and intentionally taking a break from work. When I make the decision that I'm not going to do any work, I'm not guilty about relaxing. I think that has definitely contributed to my sanity, because my classes this semester have been fairly tough.

Anyway. I think I've rambled about my life for long enough! I hope you are all surviving as the weather gets colder and the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons approach (and finals, for those of us in college.) Don't forget to take a deep breath every now and then!