Book Review – Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

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BOOK COVER BLURB

Set in Oceania, one of the three inter-continental superstates that divided the world among themselves after a global war, Orwell’s masterful critique of the political structures of the time, works itself out through the story of Winston Smith, a man caught in the webs of a dystopian future, and his clandestine love affair with Julia, a young woman he meets during the course of his work for the government. As much as it is an entertaining read, Nineteen Eighty-Four is also a brilliant, and more importantly a timeless satirical attack on the social and political structures of the world.

PLOT

The plot is pretty much outlined on the book cover and so I knew what to expect. As I’ve never read the political genre, I didn’t know what to think about it at first. My knowledge of world politics is as poor as it can get and I was a bit reluctant to read it in the first place. But this year I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and I ended up actually reading it. *pats herself on the shoulder*

The story follows Winston who for some reason doesn’t like the Party. The Party, in simple language, follows a dictatorship kind of structure. There is absolutely no freedom. No freedom of speech and no freedom to think anything against the Party as well. There are strict rules and the people not following them, well, end up getting kidnapped or disappear and we all know what happens then. Their records are completely destroyed and it would look like they didn’t exist at all. There were public executions and people were hanged and burnt in a public place. The children all get excited to watch the executions. Pretty gruesome punishment. Pretty weird children.

This book, being a classic, was sure to deliver the plot greatly. And it somehow did. And I being an unsocial worm didn’t help. There was something satirical (as mentioned in the blurb) that I couldn’t get. I simply read on because 1) I didn’t understand the satire and, 2) why would I stop? I was certainly not going to read a history lesson to complete the book. Thankfully there were not many incidents.

CHARACTERS

The main characters were three people. One being Winston – he was the person who kept his head low and carried on with his work. But then he was not happy. He loathed his life. Until he decided on his personal revolution – writing in his diary about how he opposed the Party.

Julia was a co-worker and she too decided to betray the Party and carry on with her love affair with Winston. She seemed like such a weird person to me. Half the time she replied to Winston with phrases that seemed to have double meaning. And the other half of the time, she slept. Winston mentions at least three times in the book that she was sleeping when he was talking to her or reading something to her. And then I began thinking about how she could have been the spy. But the plot twist was not what I expected.

The third character was O’Brien, whom Winston thought was with him. He even offered them a position in the Brotherhood (the group of people trying to oppose the Party).

WRITING STYLE

At first I almost thought it would be the Victorian-Shakespeare English for reason, but then it was so simple to read. The actual satire went above my head (no worries, I’m sure you’ll know about it) but the rest of the novel was decent. I had to apply my brains while reading it and sometimes that was tough. We’re not always alert and making use of our brains.

The overall story appeared to be new to me (even if it was written in 1942) among all the love triangles and sexy vampire stories going on in the bookish industry.

MY REVIEW

I think I was more dumbstruck by it the day I finished reading it and would have even given it 5 stars but now, after 4 days to completing it and analyzing it in my head countless times, I think I’d give it a 3.5 or 4 maybe. I don’t seem to know of a perfect number to categorize this into. But 3.5 stars seems to be appropriate.

You’ll like it if:

  • You’re into political genre or its kinds.
  • You like books with a good plot twist. You’ll never guess the ending.
  • You’d like experiment outside your comfort zone.
  • You’d like to try reading a classic for once.
  • You’d like an intense novel which will make you think.

You’ll not like it if:

  • You’re not into political genre.
  • You don’t like books with unexpected endings. Gosh, they’re frightening!
  • You’d like to stick to your comfort zone.
  • You’d never try to read a classic.
  • You’d read a light-read instead.

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Have you read Nineteen Eighty-Four? How do you find it? If you’ve not read it, would you try to read it?

 

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Happy New Year 2018: New Year Goals!

Happy New Year! I’ll be setting some goals for myself for 2018.

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Hey!

It feels like ages since I’ve written something here. Instagram took most of my time in 2017 and blogging took the back seat. Clearly Instagram is faster than WordPress and since I started my writing account @rainflowerwrites I’ve been trying to write things that I’d love to read. Though I’m not very happy about the fact that I almost stopped blogging after August I’d try to improve this year.

I started interning since August and I now had a small window for activities other than studying. I’m studying to become a Chartered Accountant (CA) and it requires we intern under an existing CA for a period of three years. Going to work is no excuse for not blogging but I was not able to do much either. I read less books than I did in 2016, I started journaling and then stopped it midway and the book that I wanted to write made no progress.

2017 was the year of accomplishments and disappointments both, I achieved some things but neglected others as well. But it’ll not happen in 2018. (At least I hope so)

Let me state my goals for 2018 here so that there is this obligation to achieve them because I wrote them online:

  • Blog more. I need to start blogging again. I could blog about any type of posts be it poems, short stories, articles, book reviews, discussions and motivational talks. This is the year to get out of our comfort zones.
  • Write more. To blog more I’ll have to write more. I’ll be trying to find inspiration in the smallest of things and I’ll keep the creative juices flowing.
  • Read more. And hopefully review more. Although I tried to read more in 2017 and bought books to increase my TBR (I bought 17 books and got 2 books as a gift. I also downloaded so many books on my Kindle that if it could it would be overflowing now.) I didn’t actually read them all. Or if I read them I didn’t review them right away. Bad habit.
  • Journal more. I’d love to get back to journaling after suffering from an artist’s block. If you want to check out my journal : @vrushalipathak
  • Be positive. I’ll try to positive this year and so I made a “Happiness Jar”. It’s basically a box (because I couldn’t find an actual jar) where I’ll write the things that made me smile or happy and mention the date below it. So when 2018 I can look back upon the things that were the highlights of the year.

Here is the detailed New Year Goals that I posted on my Instagram page:

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Book Review: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK!

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And that could be an understatement.

I’ve read eight Koontz’s books so far and I loved this. Really. I will not spoil you about anything, if you have not yet read this series. The story was not the “most-original-story-there-is” but that’s Koontz’s specialty – he turns that “old-story” into something you never thought of.

This is the story of Odd, who was named because of a clerical mistake on his birth certificate. But then his characteristics match his name and so everyone calls him that. He sees dead people. And fortunately, he saw something out of place one fine day and that led to him and the story. (You see how hard I’m trying not to reveal any bit of the story)

He then sets out to possibly save the world, or simply his town with his girlfriend Stormy.

If you have read the book, I don’t know how you managed to think right after reading that ending. The first half of the book had its significance because of the writing and story-telling but the second half hooked me because of the story itself.

The whole concept of Odd writing his own story after it all happened intrigued me. He was the narrator who had experienced everything and now he had the responsibility to accurately narrate the incidents as they were.

I love the way Koontz’s writes his dialogues!! They are the reason I love to read his books so much. If anyone’s out there, who is a fan of dialogues, and I assume you’ve already read any Koontz’s book, PLEASE continue reading his books because they are all different yet alike . The writing is so powerful that I knew I’d love this book when I reached page 3. We should take some tips from him because he sure knows how to grip his audience.

Also because this review is turning into a “rant-plus-appreciation-thing” I’d like to clarify that Dean Koontz’s doesn’t send me money anonymously or dedicates me all his books. I appreciate him and feel the need to promote him to everyone I know and don’t know. It’s my moral duty to let people know of his greatness.*

*Also I do these promotions for free. But I’d die of happiness if he really did anything mentioned above. Not that I want his money. I’ll be happy just receiving all his books. For free, that is.

If you want to buy this book partly because you could imagine me staring at you is didn’t, you this link: Buy Odd Thomas at Amazon.

Book Review- Velocity by Dean Koontz

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On the windscreen of his SUV, Billy finds the first note.

He thinks it’s a hoax.

The schoolteacher dies.

The next note reverses the scenario. If Billy takes the note to the police, a mother of two young children will die. If he doesn’t, an unmarried man who won’t be missed much will die…

Billy must think the unthinkable, fast, in an accelerating nightmare. More communications from the killer follow, with ever tighter deadlines. Each is more personal, more confrontational than the last until he is isolated with no one to rely on but himself. Finally he must risk everything to save the intended victims….

PLOT

The plot started so strong when a person- Billy, leading a boring normal life of bar tending and going home, encounters a weird note stuck on his car. It appears to be a sick joke played by his bartender friend. He ignores the note and the worst happens. Someone actually dies.

The next note, he sits in confusion as his police friend decides to intervene and investigate. Again, a murder. All the evidence points towards Billy although he is innocent.

The story progresses on Billy trying to find out who is actually murdering people and making him the murderer. The plot was what kept me hooked to the book. Koontz’s writing is good, especially the dialogues but this time I had a plot to hook on to. The book went really well till the last, maybe, 50 pages. I enjoyed how the plot twists were unpredictable and I couldn’t guess them.

But when the last 50 so pages came, I was not sure I liked how the story went. The real murderer was close to a revealing and the revealing itself disappointed me somehow. I thought about who could have framed Billy for murders he didn’t do. An enemy? Or someone after him? But Billy had a quiet life and he didn’t know a lot of people.

CHARACTERS

There were not too many characters. Billy was the ‘one man show’ for the most part. There were other small characters including Lanny- his police friend and person who made an appearance in the middle with a task as instructed by the murderer himself.

Billy was this normal guy who liked things as they were. Any change upset him and I believe that is why he was chosen to go through this entire ordeal. He was continuously challenged and was tested. His patience level was strong but still there were times when he couldn’t take anymore and had a burst of emotion. I agreed with his decisions pretty much every time and he gave me no reason to complain.

WRITING STYLE

I am a huge Koontz’s fan and I have that inherent bias of considering his every book a masterpiece. And since I have read 7 of his novels I pretty much get his writing even more. This was a ‘no-nonsense’ book, with great editing and could make you seated till the very end. The suspense in the way it is written is captivating but I admit the last 50 pages have a little downfall, not in the writing but in the plot itself. It may change things for you, a little.

MY REVIEW

I would have absolutely loved this book if not for the plot twists in the end and after considering the book as a whole I’d say that I have read better books from him. It would still be in my ‘Top 30 Books of all Time That I Read’. I will give it 3.5 stars.

You’ll like it if:

  • You are a Dean Koontz fan.
  • You like mystery/thriller/suspense genre.
  • You like a fairly decent size book (basically not too small and not too big)
  • Great writing. A huge advantage.
  • You are reading as an enjoyment without really thinking about every small detail there is.

You’ll not like it if:

  • You are not a Dean Koontz fan and this is your first book. I recommend you try his other works first.
  • You don’t like mystery/thriller/suspense genre.
  • You’d rather read a short read. Or an insanely epic book.
  • You are reading because you want to get inside the story. Then I’m sorry the end will disappoint you a bit.

Other books by Dean Koontz that I reviewed:

One Door Away From Heaven by Dean Koontz

The Taking by Dean Koontz

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Get to Know Me Tag

I saw this tag at Rae’s blog and I decided to do it but I never got around posting this. So here it is.

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Vital Stats

  • Name: Vrushali
  • Birthday: 21st July
  • Star Sign: Cancer
  • Occupation: Student

Appearance

  • Hair color: dark brown/ black
  • Hair length: just a little past my shoulders
  • Eye color: brown
  • Best feature: eyes/hair
  • Piercings: Two in each ear
  • Tattoos: I want something but I haven’t decided what

 

Firsts

  • Best Friend: There was this girl who was my best friend in 3rd But then I shifted and we lost contact. I still remember her though.
  • Award: I got 99.75% in 1st It’s true! Somehow in India, it’s possible.
  • Sport: Soccer
  • Real Holiday: summer vacations
  • Concert: I haven’t gone to any concert. I went to programs by some singers but they were not really concerts

Favorites

  • Film: Made of Honor, Titanic, all the Marvel movies
  • TV Show: One Tree Hill, House
  • Color: RED!!
  • Song: currently… Pillowtalk by Zayn
  • Restaurant: US Pizza, Pizza Hut, Domios Pizza.. you see a trend?!
  • Shop: Crossword
  • Book: Shantaram, Pride and Prejudice, Midnight

Currently

  • Feeling: Happy
  • Single/Taken: Single
  • Eating: Just finished a pizza!!
  • Thinking About: What should I do next?
  • Watching: unnecessary TV
  • Wearing: Capree and a t-shirt

Future

  • Want children: I don’t know
  • Want to be married: Maybe
  • Careers in Mind: Chartered Accountant and a blogger and an author
  • Where you want to live: I haven’t thought about it but someplace good

Do You Believe in…

  • God: Yes
  • Miracles: Yeah I believe sometimes they do happen
  • Love at First Sight: I think it is more of attraction at first sight
  • Ghosts: yes, I need to see them before I really, really believe them
  • Aliens: I do but I want to see them too!
  • Soul Mates: maybe not
  • Heaven: Yes
  • Hell: I do believe
  • Kissing on the First Date: Depend on the person
  • Yourself: yes! What does this mean? I do believe in myself!

 

See ya!

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What Is Love?

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Love. What is love? I guess, I can tell. Love is when your mother tastes the coffee before giving it to your father. Love is when you see a stranger smiling and you smile back. Love is the look on your face when you just opened your birthday gift. Love is dancing in the rain like no one’s watching. Love is the tear in your eyes when your friend forgives you. Love is doing what you love even when people are against you. Love is saying ‘thank you’ even when it’s not Thanksgiving. Love is helping your younger brother with his homework. Love is exchanging friendship bands even when it’s not ‘Friendship Day’.Love is helping your mom without her saying so. Love is spending more time buying a gift for someone else than shop for your own clothes. Love is hoping for the best when everything seems wrong.

Love is making every day count. Love is believing that you ‘can’ when everyone is making you believe you ‘can’t’. Love is thinking about others before thinking about yourself.

Love is love. Love is red. Actually love is every color you can think of. Love is sympathy, kindness, happiness and courage. Love is bravery. To love is to be brave. Sometimes loves makes you stronger and vulnerable at the same time; stronger by making you believe, making you ready for all kinds of people out there. Love makes you vulnerable by making you open your heart to someone who can either care for it or break it. But according to me, love is the most special feeling of all. I guess believing in love is the next thing to believing in magic!

Is Free Verse a Type of Poem?

Here’s a quick reminder that I wrote this just because I don’t know why free verse qualifies as a poem. Now don’t go ‘Oxford’ on me and just give me the proof that free verse indeed is a poem. I KNOW. I just FEEL like it shouldn’t be. It could be it’s own writing style you know? 

Like I wrote a ‘free verse’ today. It’s just my opinion. And I searched it’s meaning and here’s what I got:

Poem (as given in Cambridge Dictionary) a piece of writing in which words are arranged in separate lines, often ending in rhyme, and are chosen for their sound and for the images and ideas they suggest.

Free verse is a type of poem

I’m not sure about that

I can too write random sentences 

And rhyme ‘sit’ with ‘flat’

No offense to the ones who write it

But what’s the fun in it?

Scraching your head to find the correct words

And rhyming ‘sit’ with ‘lit’.

Why not call a free verse, a prose?

A poem is what it’s called

I understand the difference 

It’s like distinguishing a hairy person from a bald. 

HOW TO MAKE A ZINE

A zine according to Wikipedia is ” zine (/ˈzn/ ZEEN; short for magazine or fanzine) is most commonly a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier.”

Today I’ll teach you to make a zine. I never attempted to make a zine before but I’ll say it is the best way to tell your friends you appreciate them and they matter.

So let’s get started.

The things you’ll need:

  • An A4 sheet
  • All the crafty things you can find in your house (as simple as that)

 

STEP 1: Take the piece of sheet and spread it across a flat surface.

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Step 2: Fold the paper along the dotted lines.

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STEP 3: Cut a small slit and cut along the following dotted lines like this-

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STEP 4: Fold the paper after cutting like this-

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STEP 5: At this point you’ll get a kind of small notebook.

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STEP 6: Write the page numbers for your ease while making the pages (though you can choose not to write it not so prominently like I did!)

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STEP 7: Let your creativity flow and design it however you feel like!

I have included the zine that I had made for reference. You can paste pictures, draw or even doodle in your own zine. And don’t forget to write something for your loved ones!

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STEP 8: Now print out the whole page and there you have multiple zines ready.

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Original with the print outs

There you are! Do share if you make a zine and find this helpful!

Get to Know the Blogger: 100 Questions No One Ever Asks Tag

And here I am in the brand new year telling you about myself- a) even when you never asked for it in the first place and b) I love some self-promotion. I saw this tag on Chocolatesnwafflesblog and here’s a link to it. 

So let’s get started!

  1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed? I am not someone with OCD but really who sleeps with their closet doors open? I will never do that. And also after watching Conjuring, I bet anyone would do that.
  2. Do you take the shampoo or conditioner bottles from hotels? Yes! Shamelessly yes! Because they are too good to let go and when we pay for the room we pay for them, right? (I’m probably trying to convince you that I am NOT A STEALER and this is not a sin in case you wanted to try it out!)
  3. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in? I sleep without tucking them in because I feel trapped and not at all comfortable. And I need to keep my one foot out of the sheets (weird habit).
  4. Have you ever stolen a street sign before? Not really interested in stealing street signs.
  5. Do you like to use post-it notes? I do like them but I don’t use them. That often.
  6. Do you cut out coupons but never use them? No.
  7. Would you rather be attacked by a bear or bees? Attacked by a bear. I think I may have a little chance to outrun the bear but the bees, oh no no, THEY ARE DEADLY!bear-attack
  8. Do you have freckles? No
  9. Do you always smile for pictures?  Well most of the time. I don’t want to look back at my pictures with me not smiling and just sulking around. I did that a lot when I was little. Sometimes I wouldn’t even remember I had to smile when someone takes a picture and then I look like someone scolded me just a second before running and taking my picture.. And I quote “Sometimes, it depends on who is behind the camera. Smile or not, I always look bad on pictures, so I avoid them as much as possible.” So true.                                                                             fake-smile
  10. What is your biggest pet peeve?  That I dislike people who are rude. There is enough unhappiness in this world and I don’t want anyone to be more unhappy than that. Also I don’t really like people who seem disinterested in a conversation. Like if you aren’t interested just sit in a room and lock yourself instead of listening to someone you aren’t even listening in the first place!? *rant over*angry-for-rude-people
  11. Do you ever count your steps when you walk? No I don’t. But it happens sometimes that unconsciously I count them.
  12. Have you ever peed in the woods?  Actually I have.
  13. What about pooped in the woods?   I don’t think so.
  14. Do you ever dance when there is no music playing?  Yeah sometimes (when no one’s watching) I usually know the song in my head and when I feel too bored to plug in the earphones, I dance without it. And I read a quote somewhere that goes something like this “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn’t hear the music.”                                  giphy
  15. Do you chew your pens and pencils?  Unconsciously yes, sometimes. But I stop when someone scolds me for it.
  16. How many people have you slept with? Just myself.
  17. What size is your bed? Medium, I think. I don’t know the bed sizes but I seem to fit so it’s good.
  18. What is your song of the week? If ain’t love by Jason Durulo.
  19. Is it okay for guys to wear pink? Yeah, it’s okay. I won’t ever judge a guy based on the COLOR he wears. I could judge him by his clothes no the exact color. 
  20. Do you still watch cartoons? YEAH! Cartoons are fun and cool and I will never be ashamed of watching cartoons!
  21. What’s your least favorite movie? I really have to think about it. And after thinking I’d say Girl Next Door. I tried watching it several times but the whole concept is too weird for me and the actors also seem like they don’t know how to act properly. (No offence!)
  22. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had any? I’d spend a little and bury the rest in a SECRET SPOT. You thought I was going to tell you?
  23. What do you drink with dinner? And sometimes cold drink, when my family’s mood is good.
  24. What do you dip a chicken nugget in? Tomato sauce!
  25. What is your favorite food?  PIZZA!!!                      pizza
  26. What movies could you watch over and over again and still love?  There is probably a whole list containing a hundred movies and some of them are – any Marvel movie, Made of Honor, Eat Pray Love, Jurassic World, any Chris Evans’, Chris Pratt’s, or Chris Pines’s movie
  27. Last person you kissed/kissed you? I haven’t kissed anyone from months! I have been staying home or studying to see any cute babies!
  28. Were you ever a boy/girl scout?  Not that I wasn’t interested, but the boy/girl scout thing isn’t very popular here. (here = India)
  29. Would you ever strip or pose naked in a magazine? No way! They want to showcase my talent? Fine! I’d never do anything that doesn’t feel good to me.
  30. When was the last time you wrote a letter on paper? In March 2016, I decided to write a handwritten letter to the people that were very close to me in school and give them that as a token of my love and remembrance. So yeah that’s the thing. And another letter I wrote to myself so that I would open it and read it again after 1 year. A letter to my future self.
  31. Can you change the oil on a car? I really don’t go near a car because I always feel I’ll have an accident when I’ll try to drive it and probably damage the car. It is just stuck in my head. I mean I go near a car when I have to sit in it but I don’t drive and so that is a thing I don’t know.
  32. Ever got a speeding ticket? Not even when I drive a two-wheeler.
  33. Ever ran out of gas? Not out of gas but once I was on my two-wheeler and I was supposed to reach somewhere and I knew I was 5 minutes late and then suddenly I felt the accelerator loosen in my grip and the vehicle stopped working. And it was the first time that something like this happened to me and I was in the middle of the road, probably on the verge of crying but then I walked to the place I wanted to go and then came back later for my two-wheeler.
  34. Favorite kind of sandwich?  CHEESE SANDWICH! Anything with cheese in it. cheese
  35. Best thing to eat for breakfast? Bread and omelette. I was not a big fan of it some time back but then one day I was eating it with some cheese and tomato sauce and I saw this brilliant white light from above and I have loved it ever since. Well, it may or may not have happened that dramatically.
  36. What is your usual bedtime?  I usually got to sleep at 11 pm, and sleep comes to me at 12. And I try to wake up before 8am.
  37. Are you lazy? I AM! And often I procrastinate so much that I don’t get any work done till the last day!
  38. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween?  We don’t really celebrate Halloween here.
  39. What is your Chinese astrological sign? I just checked. Mine is an OX. Not very pleasing. But it means I am – Loyal, reliable, thorough, strong, reasonable, steady, determined.
  40. How many languages can you speak? My first language is Marathi (a language spoken in Inida), Hindi (another language spoken here), English, a little bit of French I learnt in school.
  41. Do you have any magazine subscriptions? Unfortunately no. I can read all the magazines for free on my mobile.
  42. Which are better, LEGOs or Lincoln logs? I don’t know what Lincoln Logs are. So LEGO…
  43. Are you stubborn? Yes I am. In matters where I think I am right and I don’t hurt anyone.
  44. Which is better Leno or Letterman? I don’t know what they are.
  45. Ever watch soap operas? My mother watches and so I have to.
  46. Are you afraid of heights? No
  47. Do you sing in the car? I sing when there is no one to hear me because I’m a terrible singer to the point where you might faint hearing me singing. Don’t say I never warned you!
  48. Do you sing in the shower? Sometimes.
  49. Do you ever dance in the car? I dance and sing together.dance
  50. Ever used a gun? Fake gun? Yeah. Real gun? Are you kidding? Also if you’d like to read the remaining 50 questions, you’ll have to wait.