Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866)


Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the tsars, is determined to overreach his humanity and assert his untrammeled individual will. When he commits an act of murder and theft, he sets into motion a story that, for its excruciating suspense, its atmospheric vividness, and its depth of characterization and vision is almost unequaled in the literatures of the world. The best known of Dostoevsky’s masterpieces, Crime and Punishment can bear any amount of rereading without losing a drop of its power over our imaginations.

Dostoevsky’s drama of sin, guilt, and redemption transforms the sordid story of an old woman’s murder into the nineteenth century’s profoundest and most compelling philosophical novel.

Award-winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky render this elusive and wildly innovative novel with an energy, suppleness, and range of voice that do full justice to the genius of its creator.

This is one of my favorite classics ever; I watched the 2002 BBC version recently and was suddenly inspired to re-read the book again. Although I've always liked the book since the first time I read it, the story and the characters never cease to strike me as brilliant and I always notice something new each time.

  • This book is amazing. It's a psychological drama that goes fairly deeply into the philosophy of nihilism, expounds upon the nature of man and his morality, and gives us a glimpse of Russian culture and history. Reading the characters and the different viewpoints they present towards the relationship between crime and punishment was a lot of fun for me, and I felt that Dostoyevsky must have been very proud of this masterpiece.
  • The dynamic differences between the characters are extremely relevant to the story - each acts as a foil, in some way, to the main character, Raskolnikov. I absolutely loved how each contributed his or her part in the story, whether it's with Dunya's integrity, Sonya's selflessness, Razumikhin's openness, Luzhin's pretentiousness, or even Svidrigailov's sinister ambiguity.
  • Raskolnikov himself is an intriguing main character, and his descent into a guilt (and eventual redemption) brings to the audience a whirlwind of emotions and understanding in the cluttered city of St. Petersburg. He is portrayed as brilliant but extremely prideful and wrong on many accounts, particularly on his "extraordinary vs. ordinary" theory, which is an important part of the book, and the way the author brings this out with symbolism, juxtaposition, and religious allusions is brilliant.
  • The pacing and structure of the story also struck me as particularly interesting. The crime itself only takes up a few chapters, and the punishment resonates deeply throughout the rest of the book. It's also strange to think that all these turmoils and coincidences occur within the matter of a few days, and my sense of time gets very muddled and skewed when I'm reading the book because some of the developments seem to happen so quickly... The fact that Raskolnikov is ill and delirious throughout parts of the book doesn't make things easier (for example, he sleeps for four days after killing the old lady).
  • The character interactions are great. The "cat and mouse" chase, for instance, between the investigator Porfiry and Raskolnikov, is very suspenseful and clever. Marmeladov and his wife are both heavily flawed and unaware of the ironies in their own observations. Luzhin's pompous language, the contrast between Sonya's meek nature and base occupation, and Svidrigailov's contradictory impressions give the audience more to mull about.
  • My guess is that some people would criticize the epilogue because it doesn't quite match up with the style and pacing of the story. It features a flash-forward in time, and updates on how the major characters are doing. But I thought it was a suitable ending; the book would be good with or without it, I think. The epilogue is essential in reaching the final catharsis and enabling the audience to understand Raskolnikov's real redemption, whereas the chapter before that concludes on a very dramatic note, for the action that we all knew was coming. The epilogue is definitely much more sentimental, but not mawkishly so, and I felt like it was good to keep it in there.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Teavana's Wild Orange Blossom Herbal Tea Review

Florida is calling with a sweetly soft combination of citrus paired with beautiful sunshiny flower blossoms, creating an orchard of flavor. A tribute to the plentiful citrus groves along the Indian River, this bright favorite blends orange slices and pretty rose petals.

Refreshing orange infusion with light floral undertones.

Price: $6.98 per 2 oz/$3.49 per oz
Preparations: 1.5 tsp, 208 degrees F, 5-6 min.

  • The hue is a very pretty dark pink/light red... The color and the citrus smell made me associate it more with grapefruit.
  • The lovely thing about herbal teas is that you can steep it for as long as you want, and the tea leaves don't release an astringent taste. In fact, this tea only has a stronger citrus flavor if you accidentally leave the tea leaves in for longer than 5 minutes, which I really like, so I've been deliberately leaving the tea leaves in the pot.
  • The tea leaves smell really nice too, if you like fruity and sweet smells.
  • The tea, however, isn't as sweet as it smells. I don't add any sugar since I don't particularly like sweet tea, but if you do, you may have to add one or two spoonfuls.
  • If you pour the tea out a little before its full recommended steeping time (at about 3 minutes), you can definitely taste the light floral undertones. Otherwise, it'll be almost completely concealed by the orange flavor. I happen to enjoy the citrus flavor more than the floral flavor, so I steep the tea longer, but this is for if you prefer a lighter, more subtle flavor.
  • It's great as a sweetened iced tea!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Apparently we're going skiing with our dear childhood friends! This will be an awesome winter break. Hopefully I can return to Austin earlier too and pick up a job as a pharmacy technician, in case I get that interview for pharmacy school.

In the meantime... I'm going to just relax and watch a crapload of movies and read a crapload of books! Merry Christmas, everybody, and have a happy new year!

Oh, how I've missed Singapore Rice Noodles!! Thank god for Dallas and being home again...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Manicure Monday and Finals Week

 Waffle Wednesday from last week! Yum!!

I made myself a huge plate of pasta :( It ended up being way too much so I ate it for both lunch and dinner haha. So good though! I love bell peppers and mushrooms, I think next time I'll try putting some salmon in it too!

Went to The Domain with my two besties, A and M! We ended up spending the rest of A's extra $12 gift card, awesome day.

At California Pizza Kitchen! (Which has great service at the Domain, I'd highly recommend it! Last time, our pizza was slightly burnt at the bottom, and not only did they not charge us for it, they baked us a whole other batch! Great people there, that's why I always try to come back and support them.)

 This nail polish was only $1. I got it from Dallas's local Korea-town during Black Friday. I'm in love with it right now. The brush and formula is awesome, and the color is so elegant. I only applied one thick coat (if you apply thinly, it may come across as a little streaky), and as you can see, the tips are a little opaque, but other than that, it covers quite well!

S.he Makeup's Pearl Natural! I think this would look amazing on darker skin tones too!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Break

Cooked a small portion of syrup-glazed sweet potatoes for a Thanksgiving dinner!

Made old-fashioned Chinese noodle soup on a cold day, yum~

Regular stir-fry, with mushrooms, bok choy, tomatoes, rice, ginger, garlic, and scallions.

I've been spending a ton of money on food lately, and so I'm trying to cut back by buying more groceries and cooking... It's cheaper, albeit time-consuming. Especially for college students with unsteady schedules. But it always makes me feel better (therapy cooking, anybody?) and I hate wasting food, so... Plus now there's more flexibility! I can make food that I really like. I'm not a picky eater, but I do have some weird preferences (like veggies over meat and sour vinegar over salty soy sauce), so that's nice too!

Froyo with A and S!

Finally made it back to Dallas... I thought this picture of Daisy was especially poetic.

A long walk with my mom and my dog! (Who refuses to look at the camera... bahaha)

Yay, got to meet up with my childhood friend, H, and my brother, K! We ended up hiding away from all the other screaming Chinese toddlers and watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Went Black Friday shopping with H! We spent a large portion of that time looking through cat books haha.

I used Wet n Wild's Sugar Coat on my nails! Didn't really like it that much :( The formula and brush was terrible - the color is so pretty and elegant with just one coat, but it comes off as really streaky, and it took me a long time to cover it up, with like four coats. And then it takes forever to dry (at least with four coats), and so a few individual nails were messed up since I got impatient and wanted to do stuff and I had to redo them a couple of times.

I don't think I'll be using this one again! Even if the color is so pretty...