Monday, November 29, 2010

Off the Shelf 2011 Challenge

Off The Shelf!

Bookish Ardour is hosting this 2011 Challenge. Basically it's a challenge to get your TBR shelves DOWN in POPULATION. ^_^ I support this, so I am partaking. I am going to try for the "Flying Off" level, which requires you to read 75 books on your TBR shelves, but I'll be happy if I get rid of 50. :P For rules and stuff, go to the link above.

I will edit this post throughout the year with titles/reviews.

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
The Aeneid by Vergil (trans Allen Mendelbaum)
The Weir of Hermiston by Robert Louis Stevenson
JRR Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
Tell Me How Long The Train's Been Gone by James Baldwin
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
The Europeans by Henry James
How To Break a Dragon's Heart by Cressida Cowell
Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
The 100 Best African-American Poems
Dragon and Herdsman by Timothy Zahn
Dragon and Slave by Timothy Zahn
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
X-Wing: Iron Fist by Aaron Allston
X-Wing: Solo Command by Aaron Allston
The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan
The Idylls of the King by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathon Stroud
Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy by Allie Carter

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nano '10: Wish for a Violet Violence

Day 24 Wordcount: 40010
Day 25 WC: 41663
Day 26 WC: 43334
Day 27 WC: 45231


My story is over. My plot is over. I hate every word of it. I have nothing else to narrate, except for boring bits that no one cares about, and hyper-violent bits that no one WANTS to care about.

ARC REVIEW: The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

I was able to get an ARC of this from Tori at Book Faery. She is pro. :) Thank you!

Harold White is the newest and youngest member of the Baker Street Irregulars, the international, super-prestigious circle of Sherlockian scholars. At the same time that he is joining, the Irregulars are incredibly excited because one of their foremost scholars, Alex Cale, claims to have found the long-lost journal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories. But then there's a murder! Did Cale really find the journal??? WHAT IS HAPPENING? IT'S LIKE A MYSTERY OR SOMETHING!
Meanwhile, back in 1900, London, Arthur Conan Doyle is sick of Holmes and is feeling violent rages towards his own fictional character (being in the middle of Nanowrimo myself, I can sympathize). Then....A BOMB! Someone is trying to kill him! There's a murder! IT'S LIKE A MYSTERY OR SOMETHING. He enlists Bram Stoker to help solve it, as one does when one is the ACD and he needs someone to help him navigate the sketchy parts of town. Oh, babies.

Review of sorts:
This is the only ARC I have ever read, so I don't know if the profusion of typos and occasionally clumsy writing is typical of them. I'm assuming the typos will be fixed. Sometimes the clumsy writing would jar me a bit and annoyed me, but overall Moore is a pretty good writer. I originally felt his two main characters were VERY similar, but as you keep reading the books you realize how different they are. It's just not obvious from the start.
I didn't connect much with either Harold or Arthur. They both grow a lot as characters, but at the end of the day, Harold is socially-awkward and naive, and Arthur is a naive mysognist (and, according to this interpretation, severely repressed). I was interested in them, because they are so different and hard to understand to me, but still...not really any connection.
However, I LOVED their sidekicks. Sarah was just the go-getter type that Harold needs around to, well, slash people's tires when needed, and Bram....OH BRAM ILY. He was just hilarious and intuitive and deliciously sketchy.
Moore also did a great job with the settings, although he definitely seemed to know 1900-London better than modern-day London. But still, it really felt like you were there with the characters, experiencing Teh City.
The mystery itself was pretty well done. I don't read a whole lot of mysteries (mostly Doyle and Christie) so I don't know if it would satisfy a hard core fan. But I was interested, engaged, and finally on the edge of my seat (to use a common phrase) for the last hundred pages. There was at least one scene that was definitely chilling. I also liked how Harold thought through the various intellectual problems: by copying Holmes exactly. In real life, I don't know if this would work out, but it was fun to see Harold think, "At this point, Holmes would think this, and then he would undercut this assumption to reach the conclusion that....what?" and eventually figure it out. Ah, what a cute nerd.
In spite of the occasional cuteness, banter, and "daw" moments, there is a pervasive feeling of nostalgia throughout this book that I found really interesting and, well, sad. I was expecting a bit of a lighter read, maybe not correctly. But Harold is melancholy because his whole world of quiet academia is being shattered, and then his new world of crime-solving is at risk, and meanwhile Arthur's world is being replaced by electricity, people like Oscar Wilde are having bummer times in exile, and no one believes in LOVE anymore. Ah, I kid, but the sadness does get into you after 300+ pages of this book. I liked it. I liked the sadness. It was like Moore was trying to get into these characters' skin, and their skin was a sad place to be, even if their lives weren't 100% sad, so he had to communicate it.

The Sherlockian will be in stores on December 1st, 2010. Or so I am told.

Non-spoilery quotes:

Arthur: "It's no business of mine. But, Bram, I think this gin was the best idea either of us has had in months, and I will require some more of it before I retire. Come! To the nearest public house! We'll drink ourselves to sin and stumble home when we start seeing double."

Harold: 'He'd read thousands of happy endings and thousands of sad ones, and he had found himself satisfied with both. What he had not read, he now realized, were the moments after the endings. If Harold believed in the stories because they presented an understandable world...well, what happens when the world is understood and that understanding means nothing to anyone but you and the empty tumbler of bourbon nestled in your palm?'

Men In Uniform Reading Challenge

I want to point out, first of all, that I totally own that G.I.Joe toy in the photo.

Book Vixen is hosting this challenge. Here's the deal:

Runs January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011(books read prior to 1/1/11 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime – Sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.
The goal is to read as many novels that involve men in inform as you’d like. It can be a policeman, firefighter, paramedic, Army, Navy, Marine Corp., etc. – As long as the leading man wears some sort of uniform, it counts.

Sergeant – Read 1–5 men in uniform novels
Lieutenant – Read 6–10 men in uniform novels
Captain – Read 11–15 men in uniform novels
Chief – Read 16+ men in uniform novels

I'm aiming for the Lieutenant level. I will edit this post throughout the year with titles/reviews.

The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
X-Wing: Iron Fist by Aaron Allston
A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
X-Wing: Solo Command by Aaron Allston
The Goblin Wood by Hilari Bell
Choices of One by Timothy Zahn

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nano '10: Angst and Fluff

Day 21 WC: 35404
Day 22 WC: 37179
Day 23 WC: 38672

The weekend was lovely! I wrote all the fun climaxy and happy scenes. I made up for the constant angst of the earlier parts with complete FLUFF on those days.
Today, I couldn't write for shet. But I wrote anyway. And I learned that the story isn't over yet! Which makes me happy, because I had thought I was done, and I was like, Damn, I have 10k+ to go, what should I do? I had had an idea earlier in the month to do some random Saulos-centric chapters if I ran out of plot, but I realized VERY quickly into that, that Saulos' story is R-rated for violence and torture and abuse, and I am really not in the mood for that, because of previously mentioned constant angst. I'm a happy person, I swear. Maybe I have repressed angst? Because all my fiction lately has been full of it.
Poor Saulos, geez. I can't even believe his story. I refuse to touch it until some future day wherein I can deal with it properly.
Oh, so anyway, I realized today that the story isn't over so I don't have to resort to Saulos-violence or Ektor's cooking show. *BEAM* I don't know if it will last me for 10k but it will at least buy me some time to think up something else.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nano Soundtrack Meme

From the Nanowrimo forums ("Nanowrimo Soundtracks"):

Prologue: "For Your Entertainment" by Adam Lambert
Opening Credits: "Take Back The City" by Snow Patrol
Protagonist 1: "Avalanche" by Manafest, "Forgiven" by Relient K (Dionysus)
Protagonist 2: "White Horse" by Taylor Swift (Ariadne)
Antagonist 1: "I Can't Decide" by Scissor Sisters (Hera)
Antagonist 2: N/A
Montage: "Ways & Means" by Snow Patrol
Fight 1: "Ladies and Gentlemen" by Saliva
Fight 2: "Infrared" by Placebo
Fight 3: "Ultranumb" by Blue Stahli
Love 1: "Time For Miracles" "If I Had You" and "Sleepwalker" by Adam Lambert
Love 2: "You're All I Have" "Run" "Make This Go On Forever" by Snow Patrol
Happy: "Firework" by Katy Perry (there isn't actually any happy parts in this novel, but I listened to this song a lot so I'm going to tuck it in here)
Sadness: "Running Up That Hill" by Placebo
Climax: "Forsaken" by Within Temptation
End Credits: "I See You" by Leona Lewis
Epilogue: "May I" by Trading Yesterday

+How To Train Your Dragon soundtrack

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Debut Challenge 2011 [TBR post]

Since August I've been participating in The Story Siren's YA Debut Challenge 2010 (badge in the sidebar). I've read a bunch of books I would never have otherwise picked up, and had a lot of fun reading them, even when I didn't love them. :) I'm really excited about continuing this awesome challenge by participating in 2011 as well!!!

The gist of the challenge is to read in 2011 at least 12 YA debut novels that are published in 2011. If you want to participate for 2011, go here.

Currently Reading:
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Did Not Finish:
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Notes: read the opening chapters: too much tell/not enough show, too Twilighty

Nano '10: 35k, I am coming for you

Day 18 WC: 29,020
Day 19 WC: 30697
Day 20 WC: 32872

*points at wordcount*
I totally rocked today. There was only like six people at the write-in, it was kinda shocking. Usually the Papa's Pizza ones are well-attended, if only because we all like pizza. ^_^
It's been hard going, lately. I do not understand people who say Week Two sucks and Week Three rocks. Week Two is like a mild annoyance....Week Three is when I want to slit my wrists. Today was a BIT better; once I got started I wrote a lovely scene with Persephone that made me quite happy. But overall it's even harder to get the words out than before. Week Four now plax?

I am getting REALLY excited about December and getting back into reading. The only thing I've managed to read this month, besides school novels, is Plain Kate by Erin Bow. BEAUTIFUL book, btw, but I will post a full review in December.

Dracula and Easy Sex

If that isn't an attractive title, I don't know what is.

I am currently reading Dracula for the second time, this time in the context of an English novel course. We have had two classes on it so far (out of five total, I think) and the discussions have been 100% involved in the sexual themes of the book. I am not going to argue whether or not the sexual images/themes are there or not, or whether Stoker intentionally put sexual imagery/themes in the book or or if it's a case of extreme Victorian repression.
I am going to argue that not discussing any other aspect of the book, or only discussing other elements in the book as they relate to the sexual themes, is completely unfair.
(did that sentence make sense?)
I mean, Dracula is a fantastic, lengthy, page-turning book. Analyzing it as a piece of literature, there are a TON of things in it to devour and dissect (or, think about in a less violent manner). There's Victorian society, British imperialism, reverse colonialism, the role of women (Mina is so awesome for the first half of the book, and then suddenly everyone puts her in a gilded cage), the unconscious, memories, ETC ETC AD INFINITUM. I do not understand why all of our discussions have been about sex, or about how these things I just listed are completely sexualized in the book.
There is a reason dirty jokes are the easiest form of humor. Talking about sex in literature is the academic equivalent, in my opinion. I'm not saying we shouldn't have a conversation about it, but....there is a certain point where you should move on.

Does anyone else have thoughts on this? Whether or not you're an English student or have read Dracula?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nano '10: Bonding and Time Lords

Day 14 WC: 23352
Day 15 WC: 25534
Day 16 WC: 26675
Day 17 WC: 27224
Day 18 WC: Hoping to get to 29k tonight.

My main fear right now is that I don't have enough plot to get to 50k. I'm pretty sure the only scenes I've written this week have been a bar scene (which I keep going back to and adding "hilarious" bits, which aren't funny at all later), a Time Lord cameo, and travelogue/random complications for the sake of words. ;) None of those scenes were particularly necessary. Except maybe the travelogue.
I think the reason I'm running out of plot (which I never do, except during the novel that is a prequel to this one) is that 1. I have a full outline and 2. I keep skipping all the boring bits. ;) Usually I try to persevere through boring bits, unless they are horrifically boring. I dunno, though. I mean all I have left for this puppy is the Underworld bit, and the ending. And I still have 20k to fill.

I had a paper last night that tried to kill me so I'm a bit behind. There is a LOT of manly bonding going on right now in my novel. It's really hilarious. Like, wait, are you guys bonding AGAIN? We have things to do! Oh wait, I need more words...PLZ TO BOND MOAR. My favorite character right now is probably Ektor. He's still incredibly twitchy. ^_^

Ok, repetitive post is repetitive and rambly. CIAO.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nano '10: Chapter Titles

Day 12 WC: 18533
Day 13 WC: 21670

So I've always tried to do chapters and chapter titles during Nanowrimo, but usually I name the first few, then just fall back on numbering them, and then eventually don't do chapters at all. THIS year I am kinda succeeding! So far I've been chaptering AND titling them. So I'm going to share my chapter titles, and teasers for each one.

1. A Day In The Life of a Bodyguard: In which we meet Ektor, a-surprise!-bodyguard.
2. Dionysus is Onna a Boat: In which Dionysus is on a boat. Inspired, of course, by the song.
3. Lights on Sea and Land: In which people miss each other, and so there are lights.
4. Not All Treasure is Silver and Gold: In which Dionysus can get other treasures too. ;) PotC ref, of course.
5. Clip My Wings I'm Not An Angel: In which Dionysus is a dumb. Manafest ref.
6. The Corona: In which Dionysus gives Ariadne a gift. ;)
7. To the Leader, the Pariah, the Victim, the Messiah: In which there are a lot of battle-related scenes. 30 Seconds to Mars ref.
8. I'll Show You What It Means To Control You: In which Ektor and Ariadne realize they don't have much choice after all. Porcelain and the Tramps ref.
9. Today is the End of Tomorrow: In which bad things happen. Within Temptation ref. ;)
10. Peace and Pieces OR Eyes Wide Shut, I haven't decided which: In which much bad aftermath happens. EWS is an Adam Lambert ref.

Chapters yet to be written:
Dionysus Throws it on the Ground: In which, verily, Dionysus throws it on the ground [can't find the video, but you know what I'm talking about, right???].
Dionysus Doesn't Look At Explosions: In which I'm not sure how I'm going to produce an explosion, but I want one. Because cool guys don't look at them.
Scream at the Sky But No Sound: In which Dionysus gets a little upset. Adam Lambert ref.
As Gods We Shaped the World: In which the novel ends (probably).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nano '10: Flying Daggers and Handwrites

Day 9 WC: 15018
Day 10 WC: 15018
Day 11 WC: 17959

I have no explanation for Day 10, except that I was gone all day, then had a paper and 100 pages to read before the next day, and THEN my house was invaded by friends (invited by my bro) who are awesome so I had to hang out with them and watch Toy Story 3, as one does. I still didn't get to bed before midnight, and had to get up at 6 the next day. I have been soooo sleep-deprived this week, it's hilarious.
Today I've written 3k so far. Because I rock. I was writing in my classes all morning, and then during my break because I FINALLY didn't have any urgent hw, and then had to type it all up when I got home...ugh. But I watched House of Flying Daggers while doing so, which was sufficiently mind-blowing and mind-numbing.

ANYWAY, some of the scenes I've written this week have been very interesting! Ektor got a flashback, well, a history lesson more like; Dionysus and Ariadne's kid finally got the POV I promised him (it was hard and 1200 words long....ugghhh.); Dionysus' commander Saulos is made of epic win and prettiness; and I just started teh epic fight between Dionysus and Perseus, which hopefully will eat up a lot of words.

"Time for Miracles" by Glambert has been the song today. I have no defense for this.

Monday, November 08, 2010

December Goals

I'm posting this before I chicken out. ;)

  1. Post once a day on this blog (I have a huge back-log of planned's pathetic)
  2. Read these books:
How To Ride a Dragon's Storm by Cressida Cowell (awesome series)
Silver on The Tree by Susan Cooper (awesome series)
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (author I want more of)
The West Wood by Charles deLint (author I haven't read before)
Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech (lovely author)
Torch Red by Melody Carlson (pretty much the only Christian-fic author I read)
Gamer Girl (bargain book)
Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy by Ally Carter (bargain book; pretty good series)
Johnny Tremain (gift, Newbery winner I think)
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (sci-fi classic that I just need to read)
Foundation by Isaac Asimov (same as above)
Tuesdays With Morrie (used book bargain; have heard good things)
The Call of The Wild by Jack London (classic?)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (classic, sounds good)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald(classic!)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (tried reading this a while back, going to try again since I like OW now)
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (classic)
Washington Square by HENRY FREAKING JAMES
Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Stories by Joseph Conrad (liked HoD, haven't read the SSS yet)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (was going to read this for Halloween...FAILED)
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (classic)
The Bhagavad-Gita (what's not to love?)
Orthoodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (I have a crush)
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (I heart him)
Princess Lessons by Meg Cabot (I won this book)
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (I won this book)

Nano '10: Ups and Downs

Day 6 WC: 10590
Day 7 WC: 11668
Day 8 WC: 13497

Whew the weekend was ROUGH. Saturday I only got my quota cuz I went to a write-in and wrote crap. Well, crap + one of the "Big Scenes" of the novel, if you know what I mean: the scenes that you envision when you first get the idea. So that scene was jolly, although it turned out much worse than it should have. Everything else that day was crap. Sunday was just crapilicious. I have no idea how I made my wordcount that day. I was referencing song lyrics, doing dares, using Old English vocabulary, and occasionally slipping into 2nd person present. Gross. It was all telling, no showing that day. :P TODAY, Monday, was pretty legit. It started out bad but I ended up having a lot of fun with a battle scene. LOL it turned out so gory! I'm pretty sure it was the most violent scene I've ever written. Don't get in battles against the Maenads, MMMMKAY?

More Soundtrack Songs:
"Avalanche" by Manafest (LOVE this song and heard it on the radio again and was like....OMG DIONYSUS THEME SONG. The music is totally him, and: "Cuz I'm the prodigal man of this avalanche, I'm going down I'm going down down/And if you turn me in I'll confess my sins I'm going down I'm going down down")
"Forgiven" by Relient K (another Dionysus song: "And you can't see past the blood on my hands/To see that you've been aptly damned/To fail and fail again/Cuz we're all guilty of the same things")

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Nano '10: Guy Fawkes and Placebo

I think my motto for this year's motto is: "It is a far, far worse novel that I write, than I have ever written. It is a far, far more skilled place I go to, than I have ever known."*
That is to say, this novel was a horrible idea, and I'm sorta making it work, but mostly I just keep telling myself that it's very good writing practice. :D And I need writing practice, seeing as I've barely been writing fiction this year at all.

Day 4 WC: 6711 (up from 5011)
Day 5 WC: 8342

Dares completed: 3 (Owl City song ref, Guy Fawkes: set something on fire, and "England Shall Prevail" line)
I think I'm going to be relying heavily on dares today because my plot is still finding its legs. Newborn colt and all that.

Some more soundtrack songs:
"Running Up That Hill" by Placebo
"Infrared" by Placebo
"May I" by Trading Yesterday

*My apologies to Charles Dickens. You rock, Charlie.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Nano '10: Prows and Channeling

Day 1 wordcount: 3310
Day 2 wc: 4021
Day 3 wc: 5011
Clearly, I didn't do as well the last two days. But they WERE Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which are my busiest days of the week. Today I've handwritten some stuff, and will, I think, have time to do my full 1667.

Another reason to like write-ins:
You can ask random, annoying questions, like "What is the thing on the front of a ship called, that's often carved like a naked woman?" and get ANSWERS. :) And nobody minds, because if they ask a question, they know you'll help answer too.

My novel is channeling self delusions and despair from Giovanni's Room and supernatural/mystical elements from She. It's definitely lending a unique flavor to this year's Nano, one that I don't think I'm approving of. I'm also trying to make Ariadne and Dionysus at least somewhat likeable, because right now they both have some pretty big issues that are making them act a little cracked. They will recapture their awesomeness later! They must!
I'nm probably going to two write-ins this weekend, which will increase my wordcount sufficiently, I think.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Nanowrimo '10 Day 1


Wordcount: 3,310. Bitches.

Places I wrote: my room, my Old English class, my Latin class, and in a grocery store cafe (this last was the first regional write-in)

Characters I introduced:
Well, Ariadne and Dionysus were there of course, and Hermes made an appearance. New characters included:
  • Ektor, a bodyguard
  • Phoebe, a cook
  • Kali and Vishnu, tigers
  • Halla, a babysitter
  • Unnamed Dionysus-follower, who was unexpectedly interesting and I may have to name him
Phoebe and Halla might get renamed; I didn't have internet at the time so I just grasped at Greek-sounding names but I don't know if they're actually Greek. Teh lolz.

Lessons I re-learned:
  • Day 1 is fun.
  • Writing in class is easy.
  • Regional write-ins are fun.
I forgot how many Wrimo friends I made last year, it was SO much fun to see all of them again! Particularly Darfinkle and Reddening. I sat at a table with this one guy, Eric (screenname: ?), who participated last year but we didn't really talk. We had HILARIOUS times at our table, lol, and he gave me my quote of the night:
"I'm not that motivated. My subject matter is freaking me out."
Tomorrow is my LONG day so I'm glad I built a small buffer today. I'll probably need it already! :P