Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sigh, didn't quite make it for this one (goal to read 6 books total), but I did fit in a few books. I read:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Highlights: Winnie the Pooh and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Lowlights: I didn't care for I Am Legend as much as I expected.
Short Story Challenge
The goal was to read 10 short stories or 5-10 short story collections or combination in 2008. I think I did pretty well, although I always feel like I should take more time to read short stories. Onward in 2009!
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman (collection)
The Overcoat by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (story)
Araby by James Joyce (story)
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (collection)
Eminent Domain by Dan O'Brien (collection)
Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese (collection)
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon by Philip K. Dick (collection)
Highlights: I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon is a collection that sticks with you. Smoke and Mirrors was also very awesome.
Lowlights: None, really, except I wish I'd read more short stories.
Graphic Novel Challenge
Yeah, nailed this one. The goal was to read 3 graphic novels in 6 months.
Sandman: World's End by Neil Gaiman
The Absolute Sandman Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman
Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman
Watchmen by Alan Moore
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 1 by Alan Moore
Highlights: I pretty much loved all of the graphic novels I read.
Young Adult Reading Challenge
The goal was to read 12 YA novels in 2008, and I think I got this one covered.
Feed by M.T. Anderson
House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
The Messenger by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Breakout by Paul Fleischman
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Volume 1: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson
Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
Highlights: I more than doubled the required number of books.
Lowlights: Meh, I liked all of the ones I read in some form or another.
My Year of Reading Dangerously
The goal was to read 12 books in challenging categories in 2008, 1 per month. I read 7 out of the 12 required books.
January: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
February: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (African American)
March: Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (Atwood for Atwood's sake)
April: Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney (Poetry)
May: The Watermelon King by Daniel Wallace (Southern)
July: Breakout by Paul Fleischman (adolescent)
August: Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman (Graphic Novel, Pulitzer winner)
Highlights: I found that I really enjoyed Beowulf, and I have come to enjoy Atwood more than I ever expected.
Lowlights:I did pick up Lolita, The Chocolate War, and The Human Stain, but sadly, no luck finishing.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Reason for Reading: The Hell of It
The Last Colony is another kickass entry into the Old Man's War series. Okay, so there are plotlines that aren't followed up on, and I still felt like I didn't know some of the characters as well as I wanted to. But like Old Man's War, I didn't care. Because, like I said, it kicked ass.
This book follows up on Jane Sagan and John Perry who have managed to survive life in the army and have now retired to life as the administrators of a backwoods colony. They have an adopted stepdaughter, Zoe, who comes along with a pair of hive-mind aliens who consider her to be like a deity.
Life changes, though, when John and Jane are offered the chance to establish a new colony ominously named Roanoke (history must not have been John's strong point or he probably wouldn't have taken the job). Anyhow. They work at establishing the colony, when the pieces start fitting into place... John begins to suspect that they are pawns in an enormous intergalactic war.
The Last Colony moves along at a brisk pace, and I enjoyed the further adventures of John and Jane. Zoe, despite being their daughter, didn't really recieve star billing, but I happen to know that Scalzi wrote a YA novel retelling the events of this story from Zoe's perspective, so I'll be picking that one up eventually.
Recommended (especially for the upcoming scifi experience)
Monday, December 29, 2008
So here are my reflections on 2008, the year of my blogginess, about what blogging has meant to me:
Constantly expanding my reading choices. Prior to this year, I had never read Neil Gaiman, or a graphic novel, or Orson Scott Card, and I had never received Advanced Reader Copies. I had never sat down and put into writing my thoughts on the books that I was reading, or attempted to track my reading in any way. I tended to buy or check out a book from the library, read it, and return it. Then I wouldn't read anything until the next time I was at the library or bookstore. So far, I've read 83 books this year (still time to squeak in a few more before the end of the year). Although I love reading, I haven't ever read with such determination and purpose.
Making awesome bloggy friends. It never occurred to me before that I could consider someone I had never met a friend, but I am quite sure that some of my bloggy buddies and I have more in common than I do with some of my IRL friends, because of a shared passion for books and writing. Speaking of, it was the wonderful Chris who kept asking me about nanowrimo, and debi who kept writing these encouraging, inspiring little comments about my writing, which led to....
More writing. I thought I would have a writing blog at first (although I had no idea what a writing blog would consist of), but it didn't really end up that way. I always liked writing, but I wasn't actually, y'know, writing. Blogging got me into the habit of writing every day. And then I tried posting a short story here and there. And I then I heard about nanowrimo. And then I actually signed up and spent a month doing nothing but trying to bang out 50,000 words of my first ever novel. Which I would have never attempted if I had not started blogging. So there you are. Of course, with the time I devote to writing, I have that much less time to blog, but one can only balance so many things in life, no? In any case, I have become quite disciplined about what I spent my non-work hours on doing, so that I can feed my hobbies and actually spend time with my husband and puppy.
With that in mind, I ask you, what has blogging brought into your life?
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Reason for Reading: Turkey coma on T-Day
I enjoyed Hosseini's previous book, The Kite Runner so much that I was absolutely afraid to read this book for fear my expectations were too high and I would hate it.
As it turned out, my fears were unfounded. This book bears similarities stylistically and thematically to The Kite Runner, but it is just as good, if not better. It follows the very different lives of Mariam and Laila, who through very different life circumstances end up married to Rasheed, a shoemaker. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and a yearning to be fully accepted by her father leads to a distintigration of the familiar, if poor life she has been living. She winds up being married off to Rasheed, but marriage gives her little happiness. For many years, she endures life, until Laila comes into their household. Rasheed and Mariam have been estranged for many years now, but still Mariam protests the idea of another wife being brought in to the house. But Mariam and Laila strike up an unlikely friendship that will sustain them through some of the darkest hours of life in Afganistan.
Hosseini does an excellent job of writing characters that the reader will identify with and care about. Mariam's life is a very unhappy one, so we really root for her when Laila comes into her life and things begin to look up for her. Rasheed, who abuses both his wives horribly, is a monster, pure and simple, but he isn't a caricature or one-note stereotype. He's charming when he wants to be, his favoritism wavers and his tempers are erratic.
All of this is set across the backdrop of the tumultous real history of Afganistan. As when I read The Kite Runner, I felt as if I understood the history of Afganistan so much better than if I had read an article in Newsweek. By reading about what people went through day in and day out as first one political party took control and then another, I can tell you a lot more about what's going on over there right now.
Each political upheaval had its own horrors, but the description of life under the Taliban was especially hard to read. Women were not allowed to walk the streets without a male escort. Because of the intense poverty, Laila is forced to leave her daughter in an orphanage. She is only allowed to visit on the whim of Rasheed, when he will consent to accompany her. I kept waiting for these women to escape their brutal treatment, but how does a person escape when they can't even cross the street?
Although its been over a month since I actually read this book, it has stuck in my mind. It is quick. Thought-provoking. Well-written. Highly recommended.
Blue Archipelago, Rhinoa, Dewey, Wendy, Out of the Blue, Maw Books, The Inside Cover, Thoughts of Joy, Florinda (Did I miss you? Let me know!)
Friday, December 26, 2008
I had been wanting a few books about writing, so I got Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint, another book from the same series Dialog, and the 2009 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market. I also stumbled across a verse novel, The Apprentice's Masterpiece (is that the right term for a regular novel in verse form?) set in Medieval Spain, so I'm snagging that as research for my current novel. I think it will go down a little easier than the massive books I've been using so far.
And I am so looking forward to the second Octavian Nothing book. I LOVED the first one, and I may have to buy it eventually to match up with this second book. I want. to. read. right. now.
Other awesome books I received are:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (for the 2009 Sci Fi Experience)
Tigerheart by Peter David
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (I'm not a big Nicholas Sparks reader, so we'll see how this one goes).
My husband got a model ship for Christmas, so our living room all of a sudden has a much classier look to it. And between the two of us, we got a number of much needed new CDs (music collection was getting old). So an all-around good haul. And it was a nice day in general. My mother-in-law traveled from Madison to visit us, and we all celebrated with my parents and siblings. And I have practically all next week off of work. It doesn't get much better.
What loot did you get for Christmas?
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Five more entries for blogging about it on your blog and letting me know you did. So eleven potential entries, and I'll make the deadline January 12th, just because.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I think the smile is the creepiest part, actually, because it clashes so horribly with those freaky-button eyes.
If you've read (or heard about) Coraline, you will know what the button eyes are all about. If not, hie thyself to thy library and check it out before the movie is closer and the lines are too long.
Or you can just check out this website. And button your own eyes.
Reason for Reading: IRL Bookclub
In Mirror, Mirror, Gregory Maguire transports the story of Snow White to 1500s Italy. Spanish ex-patriot Vicente de Nevada and his daughter Bianca ( Bianca=white, de Nevada=snowy mountain) live a quiet life in a rural manor in Tuscany. Their life is turned upside down when the (in)famous Borgias visit. Intoxicated on their own glory, Cesare Borgia sends de Nevada off on an almost certainly hopeless search for an ancient biblical relic that may or may not exist.
This leaves Bianca in the care of the treacherous Lucrezia Borgia, without which, this novel would have been dreadfully dull. To recap your history lessons, Cesare and Lucrezia were children of Pope Alexander VI, and rumors still persist today of their skill with poisons, their ruthless political ambitions, adultery, and incest.
Bianca is sent away into the woods to be killed, but as in the story, she is rescued of sorts, by dwarves. In this case, they begin as creatures made of stone, hardly sentient, but something about the human child they have rescued awakens them into a more human-like existance.
Bianca can hardly be called a main character in this book, as she is asleep or dying half of the time, but Lucrezia was a well-developed and entertaining character. Through her flashbacks, we gain insight into what the childhood of an incestuous daughter of the pope might have been like, her motivations, her evolution from the most powerful courtier in Italy to just another player when the political winds shifted. I literally got chills at the ultimate ending that Maguire plotted for Lucrezia.
When I finished this book, I felt that it did not add up to much, but I whizzed right through the short chapters and enjoyed the ride so much I didn't really mind. Maguire shifts the perspective from the dwarves to Lucrezia and back to a narrator without much in the way of transition, but I didn't find it hard to follow. Wicked, arguably Maguire's best-known book left me cold, but I found this one light, enjoyable, and worth reading. Those who enjoy historical fiction and fairy-tale retellings will really enjoy this book.
Mostly Fiction, Review of Books
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
When my boss says I'm looking tired and its from reading Twilight all night, d'ya mind taking the blame for me? I just couldn't resist tearing open the package you sent me in the mail, and then when I saw it was Twilight, I opened the cover, just to glance it over. I had so many things I needed to do, but then I started reading.
And reading. And although I received it just last night, I'm hoping to finish it up tonight.
Although you are staying anonymous, I hope you do stop by here, so that I can say a big THANK YOU. I was going to take a picture of myself, reading the book, but I look too disheveled from staying up reading. So you'll have to imagine me, falling asleep over my already well-loved copy of Twilight.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Then my weekend was definitely nerdier than yours.
Here are some of the members of the Klingon Imperial Players, schmoozing after the play. I'm not sure what one gets paid these days to travel from Qo'noS, (the Klingon homeworld) to present cultural plays here on earth, but they seemed happy to teach everyone here more about Klingon culture and beliefs.
For example, Scrooge, or Scuje's fault lays not in the love of money, but in cowardliness. All his life Scuje avoided the chance to become a warrior and defend his family's name. So on the eve of the Feast of the Long Night, he is visited by the Spirit of Kahless Past, Present and Future to teach him how to be an honorable Klingon. In the course of the evening, he revisits happy memories at Fezivig's, meeting the love of his life, Bel, and the shameful time he rigged the pain sticks to not work during the Rite of Ascension. His trick was found out and he was not honorable enough to admit it. At last, after seeing his whole life laid out before him, he decides to live an honorable life, fighting to defend his family's honor in the Feast of the Long Night. "And it was said of him that he knew how to keep the Feast of the Long Night, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."
In this picture, you can see Tiny Tim, or as he is known in Klingon, Tim-hom. He only wanted to became a great warrior, and pass the Rite of Ascension. But with his weak body, he would need intensive training to get past the pain sticks.
I really think the bat'leth tucked under his arm in place of a crutch was a nice touch. Tim-hom was actually auctioned off at the end of the play. I'm not going to lie, the thought of having a miniature Klingon doll in my house creeps me out. But you know. Someone did pay $100 for him.
As a side note, I use Firefox for my internet browser. It has a basic spell checker. The spell-checker has no issues, surprisingly, with the word Klingon. klingon, on the other hand, it underlines in the nasty red. When I tested Word, it's far more advanced spell-checker did not recognize Klingon or klingon. Hmmm... pondering who writes computer code for Firefox...
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Reason for Reading: Graphic Novels Challenge
After the events of Dracula, a disgraced Mina Harker has set herself up with a new task - recruiting various Victorian "heroes" for a league who's aim is a bit unclear at first. They know that they are working for for a mysterious man named M. Mina is sure that M is Mylecroft Holmes, the brother of Sherlock, but other members of the League are less certain that the purpose of their adventures is so noble.
Despite how horrid the movie based on this graphic novel was, this is a worthwhile read. There are lots of inside references I didn't get (I clearly haven't read enough Victorian literature), but it was interesting to speculate on what would happen with a league composed of the Invisible Man, Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain, Mina Harker, Dr. Jekyll.
In this steampunk vision of Victorian England, there are airships, blimps, evil warlords, and secret conspiracies to rule England. It is a unique and interesting vision, and I enjoyed the read, although it didn't quite have the heft of the previous graphic novels I have read this year. The more you know about the Victorian reads referenced within, the more you'll enjoy it.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This Week's BTT Question is:
1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?
(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)
2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?
- Heck no. There was a short time in my life when I was done with college and didn't have anything else to fill the time, but then I found book blogging, and I can definitely say I never have enough time to read all of the books I want. I don't even have enough time to read the books I have at home in my TBR pile.
- If I had all the time in the world to read, I would read whatever book darn well looked good at the moment. I would totally read more sci fi (I love sci fi, but I haven't been getting enough of it), more YA, more recommendations that I get from other bloggers. I would definitely not being reading anything educational. Ha!
Reason for Reading: In Their Shoes Reading Challenge
Hurry Down Sunshine, according to the dust cover "tells the story of the extraordinary summer when, at the age of fifteen, Michael Greenberg's daughter was struck mad."
It starts when Sally is struck with a vision on the streets of Greenwich that ultimately leads to her being brought home by the police, and soon it becomes obvious the only choice left is a psychiatric ward.
This is the story of the sweltering summer that Sally spends there, and the effect on Greenberg, his wife, Sally's mother, brother and grandmother. How do you convince a family member who has not witnessed your daughter's crack up that she really does belong in the psychiatric ward? What do you say when medications have thrown her so off balance she can't concentrate? When she tells everyone you've locked her up?
Greenberg's memoir is lyrical and honest. He describes the confusion, the frustration of dealing with a mental illness. The desire to believe they are not really sick, the haunting question of whether or not you are somehow to blame, wanting, so desperately for your loved one to be lucid again.
"Tell me what I'm doing here," she says, puzzled and child-like, her eyes as black as malachite, magnified and sharp."
"You're here to feel well again."
"I've never felt better. I'm perfectly fine."
"You haven't been acting fine."
"Everyone's acting, Father. You most of all."
"Sally, you're sick." I hear the flat insistence in my voice.
"Sick. Mmm. Does it make you safer to think of me that way?"
"We just want you to be well again."
"Your father doesn't mean that you're not yourself right now," says Robin. "He means, you're here, in the hospital to... recover."
Sally seizes the word. "Recover," she repeats. "But what have I lost? Or am I someone you want to cover up again. Someone you want to put a lid on." Her voice hardens: the dreaded inquisitorial tone. "You've always wanted to lock me up, Father. Now you've succeeded. You must be very satisfied with yourself."
Greenberg writes without sentimentality, or excessive emotion. He doesn't have to, the simple facts of what happened, the dialogue tell us how difficult the experience was. My only regret is that the novel ended before I was quite ready. In my eagerness to read, I felt that it was abrupt, although he did give a bit of a postscript to explain what Sally had done since the summer he describes in the book. Still, this one is highly recommended.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I was too overwhelmed to sit and take in the new design, I did note that a few couples I know have gotten engaged recently. This leaves me wondering what happened to good old phone calls of "AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! HE PROPOSED!!!!" ??
Of course, this all leads to the important question of the Facebook era: When did facebook take the place of actually telling your friends about the important events in your life? Even a mass email seems more personal than just happening to see online that a particular friend is engaged or preggo or just ate a whole box of milkduds or whatever else big is going on in their lives.
I know, I know, facebook is great for catching up with old friends. But is it really? I was pretty iffy about facebook for quite a while. It was getting to the point if I got another invitation from someone I barely know to join their entourage or become the top friend of my former roommate's ex-best-friend, I was going to quit facebook for good. And finally someone I couldn't even remember meeting sent me the fatal invite to join a zombie war. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. I. Quit. Facebook. Okay, I didn't actually delete my profile yet. But that's coming, when I get around to it.
The people I actually do care to hear from have managed, somehow or another to get in touch with me and vice versa in the past few months without facebook. And the ones I don't care about? Well, I've been doing fine without being spammed by updates about their life.
I have been finding that I have more than enough to keep up on when I attempt to follow an insane number of book blogs because of the amazing bloggers out there with fabulous blogs. (My Google Reader gives a groan).
And there is of course writing, and reading, and occassionally getting my lazy butt to the gym. Really, between all of that, it's incredible that my husband gets any attention from me at all.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I don't remember where I first ran across Dewey's blog, but as soon as I saw her Weekly Geeks challenge, I knew it was going to be a fun one. I have sporadically participated, and met quite a few other bloggers that way. Which was what Dewey was all about... introducing bloggers to each other.
I also participated in the Graphic Novels challenge this year, which was AWESOME. I had never read any graphic novels prior to her challenge, and I've enjoyed all of the ones I've selected so far. I always enjoyed Dewey's reviews, and I would particularly look to see which graphic novels she recommended. She never steered me wrong.
I'm happy to see that a number of people have stepped up to take on the many challenges and projects Dewey worked on. There's been a discussion going on at Book Blogs, and it is clear from how many people have been posting there and around the net that Dewey touched a lot of people's lives.
How did you know Dewey, and how did she affect your reading?
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I never had the privilege of meeting Dewey in real life, but she was such an amazing blogger and community builder. I never could figure out how she managed to not only read all of the books she read, but organize the myriad of activities, memes, and challenges that she managed. Last night as I was trying to process the news, I thought about everything she had initiated, and I was completely blown away. I have always been a little in awe of her blog, it was just the "cool place" to hang out.
A big hug to all you other bloggers who knew and loved Dewey's blog, and my sincerest sympathies to her family.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Reason for Reading: The Hell of It
As I mentioned previously, Old Man's War is a great way to procrastinate while attempting to tap out a nanonovel. I started it one evening and finished it by the next morning. Not many books these days make me stay up late and miss my precious sleep, but I literally couldn't stop turning pages.
I was first introduced to John Scalzi via his random and hilarious blog, Whatever. After following it for an embarassingly long time, I realized I might actually enjoy his books.
Old Man's War is set in a future where humans are finally out colonizing space, but the competition for real estate is fierce (location, location, location, baby). Turns out there are plenty of other alien species willing to fight for prime property. The Colonial Defense Forces, which controls colonization, has kept Earth ignorant of much of what is occurring, but they do recruit soldiers. The only catch? You have to be 75 to join.
So on his seventy-fifth birthday, John Perry does two things. First he visits his wife's grave and then he joins the army, without a clear idea of where the next few years would take him, except that he'll be cut-off from returning to or contacting earth. Permanently. If he can survive his term, he'll be given a homestead on one of the colony worlds. The important words being if he can survive.
One of the blurbs on the back cover described this as "Starship Troopers without the lectures... The Forever War with better sex." I second that opinion. Old Man's War is quick paced, action-packed, and still manages to be thoughtful amidst the explosions. I was hooked in immediately by the question of how, exactly, seventy-five-year-olds were going to be soldiers. John Perry doesn't know exactly (at all really) what he's getting into, so we follow along as he learns quickly what a CDF soldier is all about.
The book isn't without it's flaws. Some of the secondary characters blurred into one another, all spouting clever witticisms that started to sound alike. But since when has science fiction been about characterization? This is old school sci fi, where we care about action and ideas. Neither of which are lacking here. Battle scenes are quick and hard-hitting. The technology is beyond cool and the weird mystery that John stumbles upon will keep you reading, like me, until the middle of the night.
Highly recommended, especially if you are a Heinlein fan.
Stainless Steel Droppings, Renay
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I wrote when I was tired, I wrote when I was sick, I wrote when I didn't think I could type another word because I hated my story and I wanted a new one, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
I stayed home on weekends to get ahead, I wrote an astonishing 2300 words one night after work (I don't have much brain power after work, people). I had days where I wrote for an hour without pause, and nights where I managed to do a few word sprints (barely).
I learned that I am a writer. I can write. Creativity is such a small part of the process.... sitting down to write it out is the real part, the hard part, the actual work part. I learned what sacrifices have to be made to write. For example, this place that I live... looks like a habitat for monkeys. I haven't watched TV all month (okay I caught up on an episode of 30 Rock one night after I was really really far ahead). There wasn't a single night I let myself off the hook to not write that evening.
Now comes the fun part where I get to go back and look over what I've written so far and be (1) thankful for rewrites and (2) marvel at my awesomeness.
And next month, I'll be back to a semi-regular schedule of book reviews and the general randomness that is my life. Cheers.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Secondly, the new Star Trek trailer
And lastly, I heart nanowrimo. Because I'm going to actually finish early. I never thought I would manage it, but that just goes to show you what assuming does to you. I'm currently on track to finish right before Thanksgiving so I can enjoy my time off.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Okay, I'm going to tell you why, when attempting to write 50,000 words in one month, it is a bad idea to pick up Old Man's War by John Scalzi. Although innocent in appearance, seeming to look like little more than an innocuous science fiction paperback, this little tome is actually a Procrasto-zilla in disguise.
I began said book last night after I had finished what I supposed to be all I could possibly write for the day. This morning, instead of merrily beginning my writing on schedule, I found myself instead unable. to. avoid. reading. book.
Those were precious minutes, folks, that I could have been writing you know. If only I could have broken myself away from it's firm grip on my imagination in time. If only.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Today my husband and I had our cart of groceries at the local Cub (the big box warehouse-type store). We ran all of our groceries through the cashier.
And then husband realized he'd left his wallet at home. I don't bring my purse along when we grocery shop together.
So my hated trip ended up lasting an extra half hour as husband raced home and back to pay for the said groceries.
Who else needs an alcoholic beverage tonight? I'm providing the margaritas. (Teehee, I can't wait until tomorrow to see what I wrote for my nanowrimo novel under the influence of strawberry margaritas).
Thursday, November 13, 2008
In other news, I learned yesterday that the grocery delivery service in my area DOES. NOT. DELIVER. TO. APARTMENTS.
I had just gotten all excited about trying a grocery delivery service because of how much I completely and utterly hate grocery shopping, when I learned that they only deliver to apartments of the type that have a concierge-type-person to accept the groceries for you. Which, my building, of course, does not have. For a whole day, I thought I might never have to grocery shop again.
It would be real handy to have grocery delivery this month, because I literally and figuratively have no food in the house.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Reason for Reading: Short Story Challenge
If I had finished in time I would have totally counted this book for the R.I.P. III Challenge. It is a collection of short stories that dive into the darker impulses in human nature. The author worked as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist for twenty-five years; some of the stories seem positively inspired by clients.
"Little Errands" for example, described in pitch perfect detail the mental tortures the Obsessive-Compulsive person puts themselves through. Oblivious to the possibility that things have worked out exactly they way they should, the narrator imagines each possible scenario of what may have gone wrong with the letters they have just placed in the mailbox.
Other stories I especially enjoyed were "Echo", about the vagaries of male friendships, and "Alabaster", in which a young boy recalls his conversation with an old woman living next to him.
All of the stories had a "dark" element to them. I was strongly reminded of my Abnormal Psychology class reading this collection. The dynamics of abuse. The edges of mental illness. The macabre.
Recommended if you enjoy a bit of the "dark side" in your short story reading.
Andilit.com, Estella's Revenge, Out of the Blue, Bookfoolery & Babble, Dolce Bellezza
Friday, November 7, 2008
Dear Pathetic Being,
Could have been any more stereotyped? I end up being the ultimate bad guy in the drivel you call a novel and you decide to give me a gimp leg? Hello? I thought the point was to write something decent, MORON!!
Furthermore, I'm coming across as jealous, insecure and needy, when we both know I am in fact superior in every way. And while we're on the subject, can you get to my section of your novel please? You keep writing on and on about my sister and if you don't get around to the ultimate showdown between us, I'm going to freaking defect to Germany.
The evil baddie
Please decide if you are writing me as if I am eight or fourteen years old. There happens to be a large difference between the mental development at those ages. Yet, you have me "playing fairies" with my "best friend" while using vocabulary that would have stumped an adult of my era.
Wasn't this supposed to be a Young Adult novel? I thought you did some research or something.
The youngest sister
Yes, dear god. As in dear god, what have you done to me? 13,000 words and I am still a nebulous blob in your head with almost no development? I have so far appeared distantly in a few scenes as a stand-offish character with almost no interaction except to be picked on by my sisters.I hear you don't have any romance lined up for me.
WTH? You mean I get stuck marrying the arrogant prick good old pops picked out for me? COME ON!!! Can't there at least be an interlude with a hot bodyguard or something?
The nebulous blob in your head
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Mental Abilities: Surviving
Random Thoughts: So close to the 2000 word mark. Yet those extra 21 words elude me.
Where I Am: The Feast of St. Antuan. The middle of a parade, about to head into the market.
I heard this morning that my embedded comment form is causing headaches, and when I went to put some comments, I noticed myself that things weren't quite kosher. So I've switched back to the ole full-page comment system, and am sincerely hoping that Blogger fixes the embedded comment form because it looks so much cooler, and I can be more like Wordpress blogs.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I have officially finished R.I.P. III. I read:
Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon by Philip K. Dick
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Thirteenth Tale was much awesomer than I was anticipating during my first glance-through.
I only felt ho-hum about I Am Legend.
Mythopoeic Award Challenge
Finished this one, although I didn't realize it until I went back to review the award winners and realized I had inadvertantly read tons more Mythopoeic Award winners than I originally had on my list. I read:
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Loved the Neil Gaiman-liciousness of my reading. The Penelopiad really hit the spot.
Couldn't finish Mortal Hand, too little actually happening, too many characters. Neverwhere didn't quite live up to what I was expecting.
In Their Shoes Reading Challenge
I'm calling it a day after reading these books:
Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Nickeled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Candy girl: a year in the life of an unlikely stripper by Diablo Cody.
Life is So Good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman
Marie-Therese, Child of Terror by Susan Nagel
Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman
Loved Nickeled and Dimed, Life is So Good, and I felt deeply moved by Maus. I can't say a book about the Holocaust is particularly 'enjoyable' in the usual sense of the word, although I could not stop reading.
None, really, I liked all of the books I read for this one. I wish I had time to finish all of the ones on my list.
On a complete technicality (since I'm never going to get to my original choice of The Once and Future King), I'm going to count The Absolute Sandman Volume 1 allowing me to be done with this one. It was a chunkster, man, weighing in at 7.4 pounds and 641 pages. So I read:
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
The Absolute Sandman Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
All except Great Expectations.
I didn't hate Great Expectations. But it was really, really long. And it took a long time for me to get into it. Actually I could say the same thing for both of the Atwood books. So maybe the only real lowlight is that these books were looooooooooong.
This leaves me with the following challenges to finish (afterwards, the number of books I've read for each challenge)
Classics Challenge (2/6)
Graphic Novel Challenge (4/3) Might read another one before the end of the year or I'd call this one finito
Short Story Challenge (6/10)
YA Reading Challenge (20/12) Hey, I might read a few more in December to relieve the stress of nanowrimo
My Year of Reading Dangerously (7/12)
So not bad, considering the only challenges I really need to play catch up in are the Classics Challenge and the Short Story Challenge. We'll see what December brings.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Mental Abilities: Did I have any to start with?
Random Thoughts: My fingers hurt. My brain hurts. I'm sick for the second time in two months, YUCK.
Where I am: Finished a story within a story. Started introduction to main characters
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Reason for Reading: R.I.P. III Challenge, Classics Reading Challenge
I had a love-hate relationship with the I Am Legend movie, and it has kinda been the same way with the book. When I saw the movie, I thought it was so scary I vowed never to watch it again, there were scenes I couldn't watch (I'm not a scary-movie person!), and I think they should have stuck with the original ending they filmed.
However. The movie stuck in my head as a generally very brilliant science fiction movie with thought-provoking ideas and good acting. I like a movie that makes me think at the end, and this one certainly did.
Now the book is really pretty different from the movie. There is a man, named Robert Neville, in both scenarios, who is the last man uninfected by a virus that has turned everyone else into evil zombie/vampire creatures, who is trying to find a cure. Other than that, a lot of the specifics are very different. I didn't like the Robert Neville of the book as much as I expected to. He was remarkably apathetic for a large portion of it, and honestly, the vampires of the book didn't scare me like I expected. This may totally be my fault for not reading closely enough, but I completely missed the distinction between types of vampires, which means the particulars of the ending didn't make sense to me until I looked up a plot summary on Wikipedia.
However. Once I reread the ending, I had a completely different perspective on it. I thought it was brilliant. Masterful. Chilling.
Can I recommend a book for the ending only? I found the lead-up to the conclusion to be at times boring, but I know there are plenty of other readers out there who really like this book. For some other perspectives, check out these reviews:
Book-A-Rama, Tripping Towards Lucidity
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Yeah, I pretty much don't think I'm ready, nor do I think I'm capable, but it sounds like that is kinda the point... to write a novel despite all of that.
So in November, I will not be reading or reviewing any books. Rather than let bold. blue. adventure. go completely blank for a month, I was thinking I would periodically update about my nanowrimo progress (or depending on how I'm doing, lack thereof). Or I could just post pictures of myself in progressively more demented-looking poses, hunched over a computer screen...
Who else is wrimoing with me? Who else needs a push to join in and do it? Who is else thinks I'm completely insane???
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Reason for Reading: R.I.P. III
Yeah, you know you're jealous that I have an autographed copy of The Graveyard Book. You're even jealouser I got mine at a book-signing event with Neil Gaiman.
Don't hate me, though.
Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way.
The Graveyard Book, if you've been hiding under a rock the past few weeks, is about a boy named Bod who grows up in a graveyard. Raised under the watchful eye of a childless pair of ghosts who died in the eighteenth century, and a guardian named Silas, Bod grows up knowing about fading, dreamwalking, and the mysterious creature in the hill, but the outside world remains unknown.
Gaiman said he was inspired by two things: The Jungle Book, and the sight of his young son riding his tricycle among the headstones of a nearby graveyard. The result is a story that it is simple, beautiful, and of course, a little creepy.
Living everyday among ghosts gives Bod a somewhat unique perspective on life. He learns his letters from rubbings of headstones. Where other students are learning languages like Spanish or French, Bod is learning how to ask for help in Night-Gaunt. He spends his days exploring the graveyard and making friends with all manner of dead folk.
I had to force myself to read this book slowly so that I could savor and enjoy it, because it was just that good. I loved the creative world that Gaiman imagined taking place each day in a graveyard, I loved Silas, I loved the structure of the stories, I loved the ending. And I am really not doing this story justice, so please check out these other reviews:
Becky's Book Reviews, You Can Never Have Too Many Books, Sophisticated Dorkiness, Melody's Reading Corner, Stuff as Dreams Are Made of, Blue Stocking Society, Stainless Steel Droppings, Nymeth
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I have a book started. I have a good bit of research going. But do I have enough research to really dig into the meat of the book? Am I insane enough to attempt it?
Who else is crazy enough to do nanowrimo this year??
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Reason for Reading: YA Reading Challenge
I've been following Justine Larbalestier's blog for a while because I think she has interesting things to say on it, but I had honestly not read a single one of her books before. So at the library one day, I decided to rectify the situation, and I checked out Magic or Madness.
MOM is about a girl named Reason who is being sent to live with her wicked witch old grandmother, the woman she and her mother have spent her whole lifetime running away from.
Reason knows from the stories her mother's told her that her grandmother, Esmeralda believes in magic and all sorts of nasty things, like killing cats and hurting people with charms. Reason knows it isn't real, but her mother, now crazy as a loon and locked up in a mental hospital, has warned her not to trust her grandmother.
I can't say too much more about this book without giving everything away, but you're probably already guessing (and the book cover reveals) that magic is real, and Reason will have to review what she believes and who she trusts.
Larbalestier creates an interesting take on magic that keeps this book more firmly in the real world than your usual fantasy. I liked that element, as well as learning Australian slang from main character Reason, who's an Aussie.
This book kept me reading because I wanted to learn more about magic and what it would end up meaning for Reason and her friends. My only complaint is that by the time everything was explained, the book was almost over and I was ready for more. I know there are two other books in this series, which I will need to pick up from the library at some point.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I am part-way through about four other books.
Tonight I researched for a story instead of finishing any of my books or reviewing the ones I have managed to finish. My head is full of trivial bits of information about the fourteenth century. Anyone want to know how houses were furnished back then? Or learn about the extreme lack of hygiene/sanitation? Yeah.
On a side-note, I'm insanely jealous of everyone who got to do the Readathon this time around! So far I've managed to have stuff going on each time. This time, for example, I spent the weekend hanging out with relatives at a family wedding, enjoying free booze, food, and people-watching.
Next time, I'm just going to put the Readathon down on my calendar instead of whatever else threatens to come up so that I don't have to miss it again.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Although of all Austen's heroines, I do like Elinor, and I especially like Emma Thompson's portrayal of her in the movie version. I may or may not have skewed the answers a little since the questions make it obvious (if you've read her books) which characters they are pointing towards.
So which heroine are you??
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Reason for Reading: R.I.P. III Reading Challenge
When the back of the book cover says "Welcome to the nightmare reality of Philip K. Dick", you know the book will fit in with the R.I.P. Challenge. This book is a collection of several short stories written by Dick that examine the interplay of technology and humanity, and what constitutes reality.
Although I rated the book overall 3.5/5, it's because I either loved or hated the stories. A few seemed too obvious and outdated, others were exceptionally good. The title story in particular is one that will stick with me. A man is traveling to a new colony in suspended animation, only something goes wrong and he isn't fully asleep. The ship is put in a dilemma. There is no air or gravity for the man to be fully woken up, but he can't be fully put back into suspended animation. If he is left conscious for the full ten years, he will go mad. The ship decides that he will resurrect the man's memories for him, so that he can spend the time traveling to the new planet in an extended dreamlike state. However, a childhood trauma that left its mark on the man keeps emerging from the dreams, turning each pleasant scenario thought up by the ship into a nightmare. Does it matter if you are awake or dreaming when you can't tell the difference anymore?
Two other stories worth mentioning are What'll We Do With Ragaland Park?, a story in which a simple folk singer can change the world... his lyrics somehow alter reality. What does one do with ultimate power? Sing about world peace or destroying your enemies? Explorers We is about a doomed group of astronauts that returns to earth. They can't understand the hostility of the townspeople, when by all accounts they should be heroes. As it turns out, they've already returned to earth, and they will again. And again.
Like I mentioned, there were some stories I didn't care for much, like one that included uber-powerful robots that somehow managed to develop a weird religion. Or another in which a cat gets killed. But despite that, I recommend this book to all lovers of sci fi. This is not the book to introduce you to science fiction, but if you already know and love the genre, this is a great, if less well-known collection from Philip K. Dick.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The new Coraline movie looks absolutely awesome, by the way. It is a stop-motion film, and in one of the clips we watched, they show the literal set and miniature actors. Watching the clips, I quickly came to the conclusion that Coraline is the type of book that might possibly be just as good or even better on screen. While reading the book, you know the whole time about the Other Mother having button eyes, but its so much creepier to see it.
If you have not heard what The Graveyard Book is about, Neil explained last night that when his son was young, the house was too small for his son to ride his tricycle inside, so Neil would take him across the street to a graveyard. The sight of his son peddling among the gravestones mixed in his imagination with the story of The Jungle Book, where an orphaned child is raised by animals. In The Graveyard Book, a young boy is raised by ghosts and named Nobody Owens, or Bod for short. As in The Jungle Book, each chapter is a sort of short story that can stand alone, but still relates to all of the other chapters.
I haven't read the book, as I just got my (autographed!) copy last night, but my husband, whom I graciously allowed to start reading the book, says what he has read so far is really good. Which of course it would be, being Neil Gaiman and all.
You can actually listen to all of the chapters of the book now online, which is also awesome.
For my husband and I, though, the highlight of the evening was the Q & A. Neil is not only a clever writer but a witty speaker. Most of the questions he must have answered time after time after time, but he had the audience cracking up to his answers to such questions as "Which of your characters would you invite to dinner to meet your family?" (His answer: "I would be terrified... they'd come over and we'd be eating and then they'd ask me, 'Hey, what was that broken arm on page 73 all about?' I'd say, 'Well, it made for a good story', and they'd be like, 'Well, it hurt!' ").
One of the audience members wrote on his question card: "Why Minnesota?" As you may or may not know, Neil moved from Great Britain to Minnesota. Neil explained that really there were two different questions based on where you put the emphasis. "If the question is why did I move to Minnesota, the answer is that I had no idea what the cold was going to be like when I got here. But I like the idea that it is actually an existential question... Why Minnesota?"
As a final note, I have to add that the event took place in an old church. At first, we thought it was a bit odd, but the lights were turned off a few times for dramatic effect and the half-light through the stained-glass windows really set the scene for a reading from a book set in a graveyard.
And check this out for Neil's take on the event last night.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Thanks to Google, you can visit a time machine into the past. Or the next best thing. The Google archive from January 2001.
I completely forgot that I at one time wrote a two sentence movie review about X-Men on a movie review website.
|Kimberly Koski||Great entertainment, better than expected|
I saw my name there, in black and white and thought to myself... did I really write this? And I have concluded that since I have never found another person with my name online, I must have.
Al Qaeda pulled up 1,670 hits in January 2001. That's a far cry from the 16,700,000 hits currently on Google.
Wikipedia was apparently a tiny concept known only too a few. A mere 681 hits, compared to 272,000,000 today. The weirdest part of the Google 2001 is not seeing the pretty much ubiquitous Wikipedia page pulled up with every search. How weird is that??
I think this picture speaks for itself. But since you asked, here's the article accompanying the picture:
These days, cell phones provide an incredible array of functions, and new ones are being added at a breakneck pace. Depending on the cell-phone model, you can:
- Store contact information
- Make task or to-do lists
- Keep track of appointments and set reminders
- Use the built-in calculator for simple math
- Send or receive e-mail
- Get information (news, entertainment, stock quotes) from the Internet
- Play simple games
- Integrate other devices such as PDAs, MP3 players and GPS receivers
Bwah ha ha. I like that there are links to explain what e-mail and the Internet are.
Clicking on the link to email, you are informed of this:
Every day, the citizens of the Internet send each other billions of e-mail messages. If you are online a lot, you yourself may send a dozen or more e-mails each day without even thinking about it. Obviously, e-mail has become an extremely popular communication tool.
Why yes, I do probably send a dozen or more emails each day. I keep getting one from this really nice Nigerian widow who says she's got a great deal for me if I email her over my Social Security and bank number.
My favorite bit is that Barrack Obama pulled up only 9 hits. John McCain was a decent 225,000.
So what cool things are you finding?
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Last week's Weekly Geeks assignment was to catch up on something. My most important goal was to catch up on my sleep, I give myself a B+ on that front. I'm recovering (finally) from a nasty cold that had me held down all last week.
I also got my challenge list and books read in 2008 up to date. I discovered, after revisiting the list of Mythopoeic Award winners and contenders that I've actually finished the Mythopoeic Award Challenge. Yay for unintentionally finishing a challenge.
I finally got caught up (so to speak) on Google Reader. I actually saw 0 unread posts for the first time in oh.... let's not even go there.
And I even updated my list of challenges in my sidebar!
That was a lot of work, probably the reason why I hadn't done it.
Weekly Geeks assignment this week is to list the top books I've read that were published in 2008. Surprisingly (I'm behind on everything always) I do have a few favorites to share. Here are my top recs.
Fifteen Minutes of Shame by Lisa Daly
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Marie-Therese, Child of Terror by Susan Nagel
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Although I was completely lame and didn't participate in Book Blogger Appreciation Week, Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness mentioned my blog as one of the blogs she loves to read. She mentioned her review of Watchmen, which I linked here (it was a really great review). Thanks Kim, and right back atcha! Kim recently moved from the Twin Cities, my hometown to Madison, Husband's hometown. But the million dollar question Kim... are you a Gopher or a Badgers fan??
Kim and Trish also tagged me with the Why I Blog Meme.
1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negativelySo my answers:
2. Link back to the person who tagged you
3. Link back to this parent post
4. Tag a few friends or five, or none at all (and inform them about it)
5. Post these rules— or just have fun breaking them.
- Okay so my little blog was birthed on December 29, 2007. I've always loved reading, but it's become sort of this thing that I do. All. The. Time. Would ya'll quit giving me such great book recs? I have a tbr pile to last me for five lifetimes.
- So I have this beast called Google Reader that I continually try to tame. It's because I've found so many dang good bloggers and I just want to follow them all.
- Outside of work hours, you'll pretty much find me reading, writing, or blogging. Well you won't see me, on account of the fact my place is a MESS and I just cannot have any visitors over.
- So I used to like to write, then I went to this magical place called college, filled with weeks of this form of torture called "researching". It involved hours slumped over a computer screen trying desperately not to bang my head against the desk. After four years of said torture, sadly my love of writing kind of dissapated. Blogging has helped me to rekindle said love and although I happen to be researching at the moment, I've only banged my head once or twice.
- When I decided to start my blog, I was in a bit of a slump. For a number of reasons, I was coming home from work and just sitting around because I didn't feel like doing anything else. I finally decided that my cure was to find a hobby. After trying on a few for size, I finally settled on blogging. It wasn't long after I got the blog up and going that my husband started commenting how much happier I seemed. It seems I may have traded a TV addiction for an internet one, but I'd like to point out there is a definitive study somewhere (I know I read it online) that my brain cells are firing at a much higher rate when I blog than when I watch TV. Or something like that.
Okay, now onto awards! You'll like this part, I promise, because this time I'm actually going to remember to pass them on to other people, not just brag that I received them.
Thanks to Trish from Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? for awarding me the Supercommenter Award. I just have to say, it's hard not to comment when you post such hilarious and random thoughts, interspersed with fantastic book reviews.
Okay, here are just a few of the great supercommenters on my blog:
Trish's Book Nook
Tripping Towards Lucidity
Nothing of Importance
Melody also passed along the I Heart Your Blog Award and the Proximidade Award to me.
EDIT: And I completely missed that Trish of Trish's Reading Nook also gave me this award. Aw shucks!!
Thanks so much Melody! You've been a reader of my blog pretty much since I started and I love reading your comments.
Let me pass this one on to:
The Deus ex machina complex and other theories
Bloggin' 'Bout Books
A Striped Armchair
Becky's Book Reviews
Alright, you might be wondering about what the Proximidade Award is. Here's the scoop:
To translate the gift from Portuguese to English, it means: "This blog invests and believes, the proximity" [meaning, that blogging makes us 'close' -being close through proxy]. They all are charmed with the blogs, where in the majority of its aims are to show the marvels and to do friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate? Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to 8 bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.
Isn't that sweet? Let me pass that one on to:
Stephanie's Confessions of a Bookaholic
Stuff as Dreams Are Made of
The Ax for the Frozen Sea
The Inside Cover