Welcome to Chi-Town!

Despite the threat of a horrid downpour, my mother and I defied the weather and went to Chicago.  The train ride there was relaxing and nap-inducing.  The countryside changed into urban, and fellow passengers filled the nearly empty train as we approached our destination.  Once we got off at Millennium Station, we got a little lost in the station.  Finally, we emerged from the darkened train station and into the sunlight, the loud, bustling city greeted me.  Cars, buses, and taxis stopped and started, horns blaring.  People from all over scampered to and fro and the scent of food, gasoline, and asphalt filled my nose.  I hadn’t properly been in the city in a decade and there was so much to take in.  So much potential.  So many people.  So much life.

Our first stop was the American Writers Museum.  It was only a few minutes away from the station, so it wasn’t long until we went up a snazzy elevator and went about exploring it.  The first exhibit was a kids’ room, it had a few neat exhibits of children’s authors.  After that, it opened up to a huge room filled with dozens of pictures of American authors.  There was a timeline from the time of Christopher Columbus to the 1980s, and, throughout the timeline, there were the authors under it.  With each author there was several paragraphs about their lives and their works.  On the second wall, there were panels with information of influential works in American history and who they were by.  There was a green room and a ‘reader’s room’ which talked about early magazines, comics, and bookstores.  Off of the reader’s room was a section where you could write the start of a story on a typewriter and someone else would continue it.  Further in that room was several activities where you could come up with a story with randomized words, learn about important pieces of literature and why they matter, and an area that introduced several native Chicago writers.  My mom and I raided their free bookmark area in the gift shop and got a couple postcards and magnets.

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On the way to our second stop, we passed a Nutella-themed restaurant, crossed a street in a pack (that’s a big thing for someone raised in a small town), and ended up eating lunch at Giordano’s.  We both got the Individual 6″ Pepperoni Stuffed Deep Dish Pizza (from the Lunch Pronto section) with a salad and a drink.  It.  Was.  Extraordinary.  Even though what we ordered was premade, the dough light, sauce and pepperoni balanced, and the cheese oh so gooey.  I fully recommend going to Giordano’s if you haven’t gone before.  I can’t look at pizza the same again.  It spoiled me.

At the second stop, After-Words New and Used Books, we browsed through the two air conditioned, well-kept floors.  The staff was accommodating and the books were in good shape, but I wasn’t able to decide what to get and I needed to use the bathroom, so we ended up getting a lone postcard.

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All in all, I had an amazing day.  I’m still in shock that I haven’t gone sooner and that we actually went.  If you’re in the area or are on vacation, plan a visit to Chicago, Illinois.  The sights, the foods.  The atmosphere was busy and rejuvenating.  I doubt that it’s for everyone but I adored it.  Not only did I get a ton of story ideas but I saw several lookalikes for my book characters and a couple celebrities doppelgangers.  The Windy City has certainly earned a place in my heart, and I’m hoping to be able to go back and make a weekend of it in the foreseeable future.

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Quarterly Writing Goals: July, August, and September 2017

Three months ago, I came up with a list of goals for the second quarter of the year.  They were to update this blog regularly, finish planning the second book in my 5-book series, finish typing the first book, to finish a short story I’ve been working on for ages, and to keep reading.  I finished planning the book and kept reading, but I didn’t finish typing the first book or the short story.  But I did complete a different short story and have gotten a bit through two others.

My goals for July through September are to:

  • update this blog regularly
  • continue writing the second book in the series and possibly finish it
  • finish typing the first book
  • finish the short story once and for all
  • keep reading (I have 58 out of 100 books read)

I’m hoping to continue to write book reviews and get back into poetry.  I might share a few short stories I’ve written, so keep an eye out.  I hope you all have a safe and relaxing weekend.  See you next week!

Quarterly Writing Goals: April, May, and June 2017

At the end of last year, I drew up a list of goals for this blog and other writing projects for the first three months.  What I wanted to do was update this blog regularly, write a short story, and continue planning my 5-book series.  While I didn’t write a short story, I did finish planning the series and am now making progress on the second book.  Although I still have to finish plotting it.  Oops.  I also got around to personalizing this blog a lot more, so, all in all, it has been a successful three months.

My goals for April through June are to:

  • continue updating this blog regularly
  • finish plotting the second book and keep writing away
  • finish typing the first book (I write the first drafts on paper)
  • finish a short story I’ve been working on for ages
  • keep reading (I have 77 books to go!)

You can expect to see more book reviews, poetry, and, perhaps, a collaboration post in the next several months (If anyone would be interested in doing a collaboration with me, shoot a comment my way, and I’ll send my email to you.).  I might be a bit boring this month, though.  I’m currently typing up the first book in the series I’m working on, Maddening, as my Camp NaNoWriMo project.

I hope you all have a safe and relaxing weekend and that the upcoming week is as productive as the last one and holds at least one pleasant surprise for you.  See you all next week!

2016-2017 Tag

 

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When I woke up this morning and got around to checking my email, I discovered that flawedsilence had nominated me to do the 2016-2017 tag.  (Thank you so much for thinking of me.)  If you haven’t checked out her blog, I highly recommend you do so.  Whether you’re into poetry, blog posts, or photography, you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.

And without further adieu, here are the rules and my response to David’s 2016-2017 tag!

Rules:

Mention the creator of this tag.

Use the image that you find in this tag.

Mention the blogger that chose you.

Answer the questions.

Mention 9 other bloggers/friends and let them know through a comment on their blog.

Questions:

Describe your 2016 in three words.

Stressful.  Shocking.  Short.

Write the names of two people that have characterized your 2016.

My parents for being patient with me and my younger brother for causing much needed insanity (It’s okay, I still love you.  Things would be far too easy without you.).

Write the most beautiful place you’ve visited in 2016 and why you liked it so much.

I enjoyed the drive to Virginia with my relatives last summer.  The winding roads, the cliffs, the feel of absolute freedom and insignificance in the vastness of our breathtaking earth.  I adore it all.

Write the most delicious food you’ve tasted in 2016.

My cousin’s homemade Indian rice pudding.  At least, I think she made it in 2016.  The beginning of last year and 2015 blurs together.

Write the event which has marked you more of this in 2016 (even a global event).

Finishing my first full-length novel.  It took me about 578 days spent hunched over my desk, seven initial drafts before I began the official rough draft, and hundreds of mugs of coffee to do it, but I did it.  I’m really looking forward to the rewrites.

Write the finest purchase you’ve made in 2016, and, if you want, link a photo.

I ordered Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Slasher Girls and Monster Boys curated by April Genevieve Tucholke, and RoseBlood by A.G. Howard from Amazon.  I also bought over fifty books from the local library book sale, but it would be far too inconvenient to take all of the books off my shelves for a photograph.  (Apologizes for the picture being upside down.  I’m a menace with my cell phone camera.)

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Write three good intentions for this 2017.

I want to be healthier, more supportive, and focus on what’s important in life.

Write a place you want to visit in 2017.

There are no specific places, but it would be fun to creep around crumbling cemeteries and explore old houses.  There are also a handful of places in biking distance to visit and a few that would require me to call a friend who has a car.  A famous serial killer lived about half an hour away, so I might check that out…

Write one plate/food you want to eat in 2017.

Tiramisu.  I’ve never had it but it has intrigued me for the past year or so.

For the bloggers, I nominate ladameauxfleursDiversion3000I rent you some sinThe Illustrated PageInked Words EscapeScribbled DreamsjenacidebybibliophileJazzy Blogs, and The Book Raven.

On another note, I’ve been thinking of interviewing bloggers.  I’ll be asking things ranging from favorite foods to what blogging/writing means to you.  Nothing too serious unless you’re comfortable with it.  If you’re interested in being interviewed, let me know and I’ll get back to you.

I hope you all have a soothing weekend and a productive week.  It really is nice to wind down and relax with your loved ones.  I myself am planning to read, continue working on my current work in progress, and, perhaps, take a bubble bath.  (*Sighs.*)  It’ll be lovely.

Zero

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Sometimes my subconscious warns me as I’m entering a funk.  These warnings usually revolve around my reading, writing, and eating habits.  Last October, when I checked out The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati, I was on the verge of a funk.  A bad funk.  I didn’t start reading the book until the last week of December, and I’m glad about that.  Reading The Weight of Zero would’ve more than likely effected me in a similar way The Perks of Being a Wallflower had effected the lead character at the beginning of this book.  But enough of my ramblings.  Onward!

Catherine Puaski was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after her first suicide attempt two years previous.  Determined not to become a victim of the devastating depression, ‘Zero,’ or to drag her family down even further, Catherine stockpiles medications.  She plans to take her life the next time Zero strikes, but, as she forms new friendships and does a new course of treatment, pushing her out of her isolation, she begins to see a glimpse of hope.  The problem is that she’s been planning to kill herself for so long that she struggles to see a future beyond it.

Full of loss, hope, and grief, Karen Fortunati weaves a story of a young woman living with mental illness, bullying, and how love of all sorts affects her.

I fell in love with Catherine and her companions from the moment I read about them.  If I had to describe The Weight of Zero in three words, they’d be raw, relatable, realistic.  I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, and I rate it a glittering five out of five stars.

Lydia, Lydia, LYDIA!

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While I knew that it was love the minute I saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it took me a month and much persuasion from the little person inside me to read this.  Yes, it looked cute.  Yes, it seemed funny.  But it seemed very…  chick-flick-y, and I wasn’t in in a chick-flick mood.  Still.  It wasn’t until I was halfway through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that I decided to open up Natasha Farrant’s The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet.  It took me less than the first chapter to realize that I would not regret my decision.

I’m generally a sucker for books written in journal or letter format, and this didn’t change my mind.  It was fresh, funny, and clever.  Ms. Farrant approached Lydia and her story with the original novel in mind but stayed true to herself.  Her voice shone through.  She oh so kindly made not only Lydia but Wickham as well have, dare I say it, enduring qualities.  Their interaction were both heartwarming and agonizing.  Throughout the ups and downs, I found myself simultaneously rooting for them and cursing their names.  They went from being two of the most disliked characters in Pride and Prejudice to being the stars of their very own story.  They were humanized.

The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet has earned a place in my heart.  I consumed it in one enjoyable sitting and would happily do so again.  It was monstrous fun.

I rate it four out of five stars.

Zombies, Ninjas, and Darcy! Oh My!

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From the very first moment I saw it, I knew it was love.  A gory, vomit stained, prejudice filled love.  (Hey, no one ever said love is perfect.)  As per usual, I didn’t pick it up until two and a half years later as the previews for the movie were just starting to pop up.  It sat sadly on my bookshelf and guilt piled up in my stomach.  Unable to take it any longer, I returned it to the library, a tear in my eye.  It wasn’t until I watched the movie that I finally gave it a go.

But, before I could go about reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I dove straight into its prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls!

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Without giving too much away, Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith was a wonderful prequel that made me very anxious to read the next book in the series.  Even though there was a love triangle (and a love triangle of a most modern YA sense), I was satisfied with both the lurking distrust for both love interests from Elizabeth and the outcome of the romance subplot that I was hardly bothered by it.  As for the story itself, I immediately took to the concept of a young ninja Elizabeth.  Without as much of the focus on she or Jane to be married, I felt as if there was room for a different kind of character development.

I would have no problem rating it a solid four out of five stars.

Now, let me introduce the star of this post: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

Because it weighs most heavily on my mind, I shall start with Darcy and Wickham.  Darcy himself is pretty much the same as he was in the original.  Arrogant, distrusting, and an all around git who makes a surprising yet not incompletely unforeseen change three-fourths of the way through the book.  Wickham also does a 180 but in the opposite direction.  There’s also a satisfying plot development in store for his character that wasn’t included in the original book.  I was extremely pleased with Wickham’s fate.  Both boys have earned a place in my heart as one of the most swoon-worthy and one of the most charmingly cruel characters I’ve read of.

Next are the Bingleys, Bennets, and Darcys.  Mr. Bingley was wonderful as usual, and he and Jane were perfectly adorable.  Miss Bingley was…  well, I’d prefer not to say lest this post becomes less child-friendly.  Mary, Kitty, Lydia, and Georgina Darcy were as close as they could be to their original versions.  Mrs. Bennet was even more so.  There was a different side of Mr. Bennet shown that put a bad taste in my mouth, and the same goes for Lady Catherine, only to a greater extent.

As for the overall story, I must say, I was satisfied.  Yes, many of the fight scenes were a tad bit underwhelming.  Actually, a good portion of the time they left me wanting more.  But, in retrospect, it makes sense that it went the way it did.  If the battles had been more intense, characters would’ve died and thrown the book’s atmosphere off.

All in all, I enjoyed it.  Would I read it again?  Probably.  Would I recommend it to even the purist of Jane Austen fans?  Yes.  Like its prequel, I have no difficultly giving it a four out of five stars.