a pinch of optimism

*it’s been so long that you’ve forgotten what it looked like to have a theatrical piece welcoming you to another piece of trash post. surprise, surprise. ghost account appears, watching the sunset and numbly reflecting on life’s events as the days of 2018 pass on…*

hi hi!

it’s me again.

i said i was going to try to post more, and here i am.

 wow, i have loads to mention.

/ a book i’m reading /

ok, so not very long ago i started a book called “See What I Have Done” by Sarah Schmidt. the concept of this book fascinated me once i read the summary at Barnes & Noble, but beware, this is not a soft and fluffy read! it’s based around the infamous unsolved mystery of the Lizzie Borden murders in 1892. i haven’t gotten that much into it, but the author has a way with words in this book that really can make you disturbed, yet allured by the mystery it was written around. it switches to different perspectives, catching all sides of the story, and wow, it’s very descriptive. i’d recommend it to someone who likes darker things and mysteries.

/ the instrument i’ve been playing for about a month now /

on January 4th, i had my first violin lesson, and have since been absolutely hooked on this instrument. i’ve felt like a part of me has been awakened that is driven by this thirst for musical knowledge, so i have a couple more instruments i want to learn, which includes the cello, bass guitar and maybe even the harp. however, back to violin, i’ve been progressing very well. i know all of the first position notes now, and i think it will be only in a month or two that i will move on to second position. i’ve almost finished my first book (which is called essential elements). i have a crap ton of books that my teacher gave to me as well that i’ve yet to open.

/ viva la self care / 

my birthday is incredulously close at the moment,  and i figure i might as well admit that i was born on the 6th of February. the February 6th squad contains a variety of individuals, like Babe Ruth, Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things!), Bob Marley and most importantly Rick Astley. my entire life is a rick roll. i am a joke.


Image result for rick astley gif


anyway, this isn’t my point.

today, i got my hair re-red-ified (don’t you dare try to tell me that it’s a word because it is now), and i realized something.

man, you feel better about whatever is happening to if you pitch a dime to taking care of yourself. after all, sometimes that’s the best thing you can do. life sucks. things will happen that are the least preferable outcome.  however, if you let yourself wallow in self pity, i found that you are so much less likely to get anywhere. yes it sucks, and there’s a point of self-care where you have to stop the continuous denial and reach for acceptance. you don’t have to make it your entire world! do things you love. that’s worth more than spending your days thinking about what you hate.

that may sound so sappy, but it’s true.

start having your tea with a pinch of optimism. it’s so much better for you. 

/ i made a good pun the other day / 

me: *knocks over gnome when walking to car*

me: whoops, i knocked over a gnome.

mom: oh no!

me: no, oh gNOME.

that’s all i have for today!

i hope you enjoyed this post. it’s been a while since i’ve felt so authentic personality-wise in what i’ve written on here. if you read the entire thing, thanks a bunch!

speaking of that, i’ve written over 20 songs within the past 3 months or so. i don’t think i’ll post any of them on here, but i’ve had a lot to say to a lot of people recently to be vague.

things will get better, it just may be a longer road than previously thought, like starting a race and realizing it’s a marathon.

take care of yourselves, and i’ll catch you on the flip side.


*the sunset draws to a close, and ghost account retreats back inside. she turns back for one final look at the moon, before closing the door tight…*



















Everything Awesome · Home

2017 Snippets and Highlights!

Hello there you lit lights! Today i’m going to be giving you a bit of a year-in-review type post, just showing some highlights from 2017 on the blog. I know this isn’t really an announcementMost of them aren’t even really highlights, just fun snippets from the past for us to look back on.


The most popular post in January was Staruday by Maz.

Victoria made her debut on the blog in her first ever post.

We hit 300 followers the day before the new year.

Jamie announced The Nerd and His Brother!

And I finally beat Sans.


The most popular post in February was Hello There You Contest by Riley.

Jordan joined the blog with a first post hacked by Victoria!

Victoria opened up with a song from her past.

We learned about Ribbon Worms with Maz.

Jamie gives you the chance to win a free iPhone 7 as your boy Top5INSANE!

I leak the identity of the 13th Doctor.


The most popular post in March was bedhead by Victoria.


Victoria puts out the first chapter of her book.

I start playing the piano and see Twenty One Pilots in concert.

Rileys Backpack won two awards at the 2016-2017 Camster Origami Blogger Awards.


The most popular post in April was Victoria’s Panic! At The Disco concert review.

Jordan debuts Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

I actually got a few people with my annual ” I’m leaving” April Fools joke.

Jamie and Victoria release their co-written book!


The most popular post in May was THE TRUTH…(and actual information) by Jamie.

Victoria brings the age-old question back up for examination. Is the Earth flat?

I start up Somewhere Else.

Jamie puts out his best post.

Jordan does a cover of Up On Melancholy Hill.

You get to learn about auras with Maz!


Jordan puts out the most popular post of all time.

A Rileys Backpack collage is made by Jordan for hitting 400 followers!


Victoria encounters more than her daily dosage of flags in pride fest.

Jamie shares a picture from his childhood. Twice.


The most popular post of the month was a part of my views experiment.

Jordan builds a dock!

We learn how to make our own LAYs with Jamie!

I wrote a post that didn’t stand out to the scores of other posts.


The most popular post of the month was a part of my views experiment.

Thanks to you guys, our domain is saved!

Jamie gives you his Fav Fiv-Marvel Movies.

Jordan puts her self-portrait on the blog.

You get advice from Victoria on how to cure a terrible disease.


The most popular post of the month was Jamie’s pun-a-palooza!

Jordan is back and thiccer than ever.

Heartstrings comes out on Soundcloud.

Jamie longs for the good old days.


The most popular post of the month was Free Lunch #48.

Jamie talks about dissecting the Last Jedi trailer.

Jordan asks for feedback on her tunes.

The most searched term on search engines was “is bigfoot riley”.


The most popular post of the month was my net neutrality Free Lunch.

Jamie puts out a spoiler-free review of Thor Ragnarok.

You get to listen to all the new hip music with Jordan’s november playlist!

My Twerp Book Review goes out.


The most popular post of the month was Jordan’s artists to listen to.

The author of Twerp left a comment on my review!

The 5 Days of Announcements ran from December 27th to 31st.

Jamie found a used toothbrush under his Christmas tree.

Victoria talked about 2017 as a year.

I debuted a new series, What’s Cooking.

We hit 500 followers!

We added the almighty apostrophe!!!!

Th-th-th-th-th-that’s all folks!

Thanks for reading all the way down to the bottom of this post.

I hope you enjoyed it, I spent a couple hours working on it. Here’s to a Happy New Year!




“5 Days of Announcements” Day 2 – Throwback Week

Hello there you imaginary friends. I’m here today for Day 2 of the 5 Days of Announcements”!

Throwback week is going to take place January 14th to 21st, and will basically be a giant celebration of our time on Rileys Backpack. Expect the start of vlogs, revived old series, and appearances from guest authors!

You should be ready to see some new issues of Food World, a new chapter of my sci-fi novel Explosive Hotdogs (yes that’s right, this is from 2013), and Total Drama: Rileys Backpack Style Season 3!

An example of Free Lunch. Pretty bad. But the new ones will be good!

If you have any suggestions for revived series, make sure to leave them in the comments below! Wow! This post is exciting! Almost every sentence ended with an exclamation mark!

Thanks for reading!



The Author of Twerp Commented on the Review!

Hello there you green gateways. This post is basically just me telling you guys something cool that happened to me. If you read the title, you already know what that cool thing is. The author of my second favorite book commented on my book review of it!

I’m pretty sure it’s actually him because I checked the email address on the comment and it matched up to the one that Jamie found online for him.

I don’t have much else to say but I thought this was really cool, so I decided to post it.





Top Shelf Book Reviews

Tuck Everlasting Book Review – Top Shelf Book Reviews #7

Hello there you PermaBound books! It’s time for another book review! This week, I’ll be reviewing Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.

I first found this book in 4th Grade, when my teacher read it to the class over the course of a couple weeks. I remember being fascinated by the idea of immortality and wondering whether or not it was worth it. One day, after we read the book, during class, my teacher asked everyone if they would rather live forever or die right there and then. Everyone in class except one person said they would rather die right now. If I was going to have to be immortal, I would want to be in my twenties. I still don’t want to be immortal though.

Enough rambling, on to the review part of the review. Lately, i’ve been reading a lot of books for this series, and by far, this one does the best with creative imagery. While it does get a tad excessive at times, it’s better to have too much description than not enough. For example, read the first paragraph…

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat
of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy
spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot.
It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much
color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These
are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for

Babbitt certainly has a way with words.

I can’t complain about the characters, as they all work well for the story regardless of being archetypes. The characters certainly work well with the story, with all the Tucks having their own distinct take on the immortality, which makes their actions interesting.

I would also like to bring up that this book was set in 1880 and still appeals to readers in 2017. That’s quite an impressive feat. I didn’t even know it was set in the 1800’s until the very end of the book, I thought maybe it was early to mid-1900’s.

That’s about all I have to say on the subject of Tuck Everlasting, but before you click away, let me ask you one question. Would you rather live forever or die right now?

Thanks for reading all the way down to the bottom of this post, I hope you liked it!

Hint for Next Review: A group of kids living in a movie theater.


Home · Reviews · Top Shelf Book Reviews

Twerp Book Review – Top Shelf Book Reviews #6

Hello there you groundhog days. Today I’m going to be reviewing Twerp by Mark Goldblatt. I already wrote a bad review of this two years ago, but it’s worth revisiting for this series. This book, before reading, was my second favorite book of all time.

I’m not 100% of how I found this book in the first place, but I think it was at my school’s library near the end of 5th grade. I remember on one of the last days of the year, my library was giving away the books it was taking out of the system to students and me and my friend Isaac went to get books. I got some book I can’t remember, and he got Twerp, and I asked if we could trade, and we did. It turned out that trade was meant to be.

I don’t remember whether or not it resonated with me at the time I got it, but I know it did in 6th grade. The book’s main character (Julian) is the fastest boy in his school, and that was the year I was incidentally trying out for my school’s track team. This mostly lead to disappointment that I wasn’t a very fast runner, but I also found it very easy to relate to Julian, as we were both boys in 6th grade who liked running.

On to the review portion of the review!

Along with the aforementioned feeling of relating to Julian strongly, a lot of other factors helped shoe this book to my second favorite book of all time. One of those factors is a story that’s okay with not having a predictable, perfect ending, but an alternative path that you wouldn’t have even thought of. Another is how (most) of the characters aren’t just boring stereotypes, but have an extra layer of humanity that makes them interesting to read about. Not to mention how good of a job Mark Goldblatt does in making it feel like we’re really in 1969, while also keeping the settings ambiguous enough for the story to make sense to someone born not even close to that time.

But even though the book is still the same good read it was when I read it in 6th grade, some of the relation I felt to Julian isn’t there. For example, I don’t run very much anymore, and I’m old now, so I lose the age and interests bond. However, the reason I still like the book and can kind of still relate to Julian, even though we have almost nothing in common now, is because he is a well-written character. If he wasn’t a well-written character, all bonds would have been cut, and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the book at all. For me, this ability to still be able to relate to readers even though you have no idea what kind of person is reading is the true test of a writer’s ability.

In conclusion, you should read this book and tell me whether or not you agree with some of my points! I give this book a rating of 8/10.

Thanks for reading all the way down to the bottom of this review, I hoped you enjoyed it 😀

Hint for Next Review: tmucmk evmerlmamsmmtmimngmm without the m’s.


Home · Top Shelf Book Reviews

Goodbye Stranger Review – Top Shelf Book Reviews #5

Hello there you paranoid androids. It’s time for another book review! This time, i’m reviewing Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead. If you recognize that name, she also wrote When You Reach Me, which was awarded the Newbery Medal in 2010.

After just finishing the book today, I can give my past self a pat on the back for joining Battle of the Books and reading this. Go you past Riley!

If you don’t want to click the link, i’ll summarize it here very quickly. In 6th grade Jamie and I decided to join our school’s Battle of the Books team. If you don’t know what Battle of the Books is, you basically just read twenty books and try to remember as many details as you can. However, you wouldn’t actually have to remember everything from 20 books, as a team you would split the books up to become and expert on. Once the competition comes, everyone on the team should know a lot about the books they studied. There, the main library will ask trivia questions about the books, and your team faces off against another one to move on in the competition. The winning team will get a copy of every book for each member and driven to an ice cream place in a limo.

I took much longer than I should have explaining that. Anyways, Goodbye Stranger was a book from Battle of the Books, and that’s how 6th grade me discovered it.

That’s a solid 250 words so far of non-review…

On to the review!

A common theme of all of my positive reviews is that the writer does a good job making their characters relatable and understandable, and the author does not disappoint. After rereading this book, I decided to move it up past The War That Saved My Life on my favorite books list. The author does a wonderful job describing the day-to-day problems and fun that come with finishing middle school, and the main characters all have the depth and liveliness that you would expect from teenagers in New York. One of my favorite things about the book is the author’s way of working in these little side stories that all intertwine to create an amazing snapshot of people just living life, whether things pan out or not for them.

In this book’s case, the epilogue is in my opinion used the best way an epilogue can be used. I won’t spoil it for you, but i’ll go ahead and tell you already that this book is worth however much it’s sold as. If you are a teenager and enjoy books, this is perfect, buy it. I don’t have experience from non-teenagers and this book, but I would recommend it regardless.

My only problem I had with this book was that the characters seemed to have been written as high school students, and then for whatever reason the author thought to put them in 7th grade. Their actions don’t really accurately represent what a 7th grader would do, and I think that if she would’ve just set the book in high school a lot of things would have made much more sense, such as the club fair, pics, talent show, and how the main characters acted. Maybe things were just different for the author when she was in middle school? Luckily though, this doesn’t detract from the story, and it’s still very enjoyable.

*Minor Spoilers*

I think that having Bridge gradually become more and more aware of Sherm throughout the book as she starts to realize that she found her dance partner, along with the added bonus of describing him as smelling like bread, is really well done.

*Minor Spoilers End*

That’s going to be the end of this review, thanks for reading all the way down to the bottom of this post!


I think this is the longest post there has been on the blog in a really long time, so if you made it down here, comment a + sign for me to see who actually reads these things..

Hints for Next Review: egg splat.


Free Lunch · Home

Free Lunch #53

Hello there you laptop computers. This is ironic because this Free Lunch is going to be written via my phone. I’m sorry this is coming out so ridiculously late at night, I was reading. If you don’t know how Free Lunch works then ask in the comments.

Starting at 11:39.

Today I finished two books. One was Twerp, which I had been reading for about a week now and has a book review coming up sometime soon, and the other was I’ll Give You The Sun which was loaned to me by Maz.

IGYTS was a pretty long read (371 pages) compared to a lot of the other stuff i’ve been reading lately, but I was able to zip through it because I got hooked. If I look back, I had the book for about 7 hours before I finished it, which isn’t that crazy then. It just becomes about 50 pages an hour, which isn’t that much.

Recently I have also been dabbling some more in writing guitar riffs, and I have a pretty cool one that i’ll probably post sooner or later.

I don’t really have that much more to talk about, so i’ll just stall for time by typing this long worthless sentence out. Do any of these sentences really have worth regardless of whether they are a filler or not? If you think about it, all i’m doing is talking into a void and you guys miraculously are reading it and some of you like this repetitive stuff I guess. It’s interesting.

My time is up, thanks for reading all the way down to the bottom of this short post.

Sorry there wasn’t a movie poster for this one 😦


Top Shelf Book Reviews

Virtually Perfect Review – Top Shelf Book Reviews #4

Hello there you caged elephants. It’s Saturday, so it’s time for another Top Shelf Book Review, where this time I feel embarrassed for having liked a book. The book in question is Virtually Perfect by Dan Gutman.

I’m pretty sure I also got this book at McKays..

Looking at my top shelf, there are actually plenty of books that don’t come from McKays, I just haven’t reviewed them yet.

Anyways, I don’t have much background information on this book for you, other than that I read it when I was 8 or 9 years old, and deemed it one of my favorite books. Before we get into this books many flaws, know that I had no idea how dated this book is, despite only being released in 1999, because I didn’t really comprehend the technology stuff in the book then.

On to the review!

What really kills this book for me is that while many Sci-Fi stories have managed to stay relevant and make sense decades after release, this one doesn’t. The reason for that is that most Sci-Fi is set so far in the future that you don’t need to worry about us passing the technology in that book and it becoming dated. Take Star Wars and Star Trek for example.

While some of the concepts explored in the book relating to artificial intelligence are mildly interesting, almost everything in it is predictable. Other than Yip’s Grandpa, every single character in the book was two-dimensional and boring. Yip and his family were all just stereotypes of the traditional roles of the family personified. You have the main character, the son, who has trouble connecting with people at school and just wants a friend, the main character’s sister, constantly falling in love with boy after boy in high school, the mom, who sure can make cookies (which is literally all she does the entire book), and the dad, who is a tech junkie. You need to have almost no other details when talking about these people, because what you just read now and how you’re imagining them is exactly how they are.

While I am going to put a little spoiler warning in front of this next part, I don’t think anyone should read this book, so you should ignore the spoiler warning even if you have read it. I’m leaving it there on the off chance that someone still wants to read it.


The plot was also cheesy and uninspired. The virtual person, or as the book calls him “vactor”, wants to test his limits in reality, so he goes to school, robs a bank, and then tries to kill the president before Yip’s family figures out how to stop him.

*Spoilers End*

However, I do realize that this book is intended for 8 and 9 year olds, and I liked it then, so i’ll go a little easier on it than I would have normally. Either way, this is definitely coming off of my top shelf.

I rate this book 5/10.

Thanks for reading all the way down to the bottom of this review!

Hints for Next Review: farewell foreigner



Reviews · Top Shelf Book Reviews

Things Not Seen Review – Top Shelf Book Reviews #3

Hello there you invisible people. It’s been a while since I made this weekly series, but it should come out on time for now on. Today as you read in the title, i’ll be reviewing Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements, the author of Frindle.

I only found out that this is one book of a trilogy after googling the book title so that I could get a picture of the cover, so I might read the next two books in the future.

I’m not positive about the first time I read this book, but I believe it was around the time that I read Brave Story, because I also remember buying the book at McKays. The first time I read the book, I was thinking of how different my life would be if one day I woke up and I was invisible. Needless to say, I was grateful I was visible.

On to the review part of the section!

After reading the book for the first time in a few years, i’ve been reminded of what it does well and the few slip-ups it has. My absolute favorite thing about the book, which seems to connect all of my favorite books to me, is that I can relate to the main character’s feelings and thoughts. This is a pretty simple thing, but it really makes a difference. Take The Outsiders for example. That book won the Margaret A. Edwards award and it continues to relate to teenagers 50 years after it’s publication. Clements’ writing stays reliably interesting the whole book through, and the characters stay lively, and do a pretty good job escaping the archetypes of book characters in Young Adult books.

*Minor Spoilers*

I also think it was very clever to have one of the only people Bobby could trust with his invisibility’s secret someone who it wouldn’t make a difference to, Alicia. Their bonding over the novel was done really well in my opinion, and I think that the conclusion finished up that chapter of their relationship nicely.

*Minor Spoilers End*

There are only two problems that I had with the novel, one of which being how it wrapped up perfectly. I hadn’t really thought about this as a problem before, but a friend said they had read the book and that was their criticism, so I took it into account. As I finished the book, I realized that they were correct. It ends in a perfect little knot. While I still liked the book’s ending, I can still understand that this is kind of a problem.

The other problem is that they never told the reader at the end of the book that there would be more books in the series! I literally didn’t even know that this was a trilogy until I looked the book up, like I said earlier. I think that it’s definitely a problem if you don’t let your audience know that they don’t have the full story at the end of the book. It ended well enough that I never even considered that there was more to the story.

Overall, not really enough problems to warrant any major point deductions.

9/10, not perfect, but better than average.

Thanks for reading all the way down to the bottom of this review!

I just had the idea that maybe instead of a Dictionary Taboo on these reviews, I could leave hints for what the next book will be, so i’m going to be doing that now!

Hints for Next Review: computer program comes to life