12.31.2009

Happy New Year Again!

In celebration, I bring you my constant companions—four mountain walruses by name of George, John, Paul and Ringo. May their ineffable cuteness bring you good fortune in the year to come!


I ate my last hamburger of the year today, I worked more on a necklace, I am still fiddling but near completion on my first crude wax ring carving, and picked up some polyfill from the craft store so that future plushy endeavors will continue to be a few pounds over curvy pleasingly plump.

Go out there and stare at the moon—as Krispy said, it's a blue one!

Happy New Year!

It's New Year's Eve, and there's a blue moon!

I think I'll go make a wish on it (I mean, why not? It's a weird astronomical thingamabob, right?). ;)

I saw my last movie for 2009/the decade today (and in 3D too!). AVATAR was gorgeously real and all kinds of beautiful. See it if you haven't. Oh James Cameron, you fiddled with my heartstrings with Titanic when I was a tween girl, and now you're dazzling my eyes with all the bio-luminescence of Pandora and making me empathize with blue people. So good.

The last book series I finished in 2009? Percy Jackson & the Olympians. So glad I finished it, but I'm sad it's over. Um, more please?

The last thing I wrote in 2009: a random drabble set in Story of Questionable Origin-verse, which I should finish before the clock strikes midnight.

I have New Year's resolutions somewhere around here, but until I find them, I'm just here to say HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! May the new decade be better than the last!

12.25.2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I'm late thanks to the hectic holiday, but here's our gift/greeting to you! Almost a herd of Prongses!



MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS everyone! I hope Santa brought you what you wanted and you find some time to relax and enjoy.

12.23.2009

Book Reading Udpate

It's almost Christmas! Is everyone excited? I am, even though I've pretty much opened all my presents already. I usually save them, but when your friends are badgering you to open them, it's hard to say no. Besides, it turns out one of my friends and I got each other the same thing. It was pretty awesome. LULZ were had.

In any case, I've got one more Christmas surprise in the works and a holiday message for anyone who drops by this blog whether by accident or choice or coercion. So that will be beaming its way to you come Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, depending on when I find the time. (I'm desperately trying to finish writing something for a friend. Shh.)

I've also been READING, which is surprising since like I said, I no longer have a Winter Break to slob around during - a fact that still troubles me greatly.

I have finished not one but TWO books already - The Titan's Curse and The Battle of the Labyrinth, both from the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. These books really do get better, though I have to say I liked Book 3 more than Book 4. I hear Book 5 is the best, but I have yet to get my hands on it. I'm like 98 in the queue for the library copy, so I'm contemplating just BUYING the book. I was so desperate to keep my reading high after I finished Book 4 that I went to Amazon and read the first 6 pages of Book 5 through the preview.

Um, yeah. My sister rolled her eyes at me in disdain.

Anyway, I do have a huge pile of OTHER books I borrowed from the library, as I stated in my revised list of books, so I started to work at that while I wait for the last Percy Jackson book/contemplate buying it.

I've started Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon. Not far enough in it to really say anything about it, but so far so good.

Anyone else itching to read something?

Finally some plugs:
Check out Merc's story Hero's Choice out as a serial online.

My co-conspirator, co-writer, and co-slightly evil person Alz is not only a fantabulous writer, she's rather crafty too. Randomly, she gets it into her head to try new crafty things every once in a while like jewelry making and welding or something. I'm not sure. I just reap the benefits of her immense talent. Please check out her cute and pretty works at her craft blog Sparkling Rampage, which is also located in our sidebar. If you're a BBC's Merlin TV show fan (as I am), you'll like her most recent post.

Until Christmas then darlings!

12.19.2009

Lists of Things: Books III

As I am now officially on Winter Break, (even though I started writing this post when I still had a week of class left to go), I shall be embarking on a marvelous endeavor: to read the 34,209,234,589,234 books that have been lingering on my ever-growing to-read list for the past several years.

Of course, I say this every break (winter and spring and summer) and I haven't progressed very far. It's gotten worse since grad school, though, since sometimes I have to finish two novels a week and be in mental shape to intelligently discuss them or at least try to sound intelligent while discussing them (two different things, people, two different things), so skimming and skipping aren't such great ideas even when the books are excruciatingly obtuse, boring, or stupid.

What more usually happens is that I end up reading moderately crappy YA and/or romance novels as fed to me by Krispy, such as the Twilight series and, more recently, Hush, Hush.

So since Krispy made a list of books she wants to read (and wants me to read, yes yes, dear, I have Havemercy as one of the top three books I'm to read this time around), I shall follow up with a list of some of the books I have read this year.

1. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick: Krispy brought this book to my attention because it looked like it was trying to be the next Twilight, only with fallen angels instead of vampires. (Plus it has fantastic cover art.) We didn't expect it to be very good—but we weren't expecting it to be as bad as it was, either. (Edit: I stand corrected. Krispy actually expected it to be good; I was the only one not expecting much. She has also reminded me that, despite my disappointment, I'm still interested in reading the upcoming sequel, Crescendo, in the miniscule hope it will get better.) It's a sad thing when a book doesn't live up to your already low expectations. The story suffered from the loathsomely annoying and criminally stupid main character's BFF, a "bad boy" love interest who was so bad that he…skipped school once in a while in order to play pool at a pool house (and at the bar, he drinks…7-Up), gratuitous use of…ellipses, a lack of sufficient fallen angel backstory, implausible and incredulity-inducing circumstances that were meant to be funny or dramatic but only ended came off as crudely forced and badly written, an overabundance of badly-done and not-funny clich├ęs, sundry other writing problems, AND, most importantly, an extremely large plot hole. No spoilers here, but suffice to say that it made it so that pretty much the entire plot failed to make sense. Whoever was the editor for this book did a sucktastic job, sorry to say. The main thing I liked was the purported bad boy's name: Patch.

2- 5. The Deepgate Codex Series by Alan Campbell: A darkly atmospheric, amazingly-written series of books set in a beautifully developed and lavishly detailed fantasy world with its own mythology and cultures. The first book was the best, the second one was still good, and the third one was good but got a leeeeetle bit weird. Okay, a lot weird. But even though I still have mixed feelings about the third book (God of Clocks, and featured on Krispy's list), I salute the author for taking a risk and plunging ahead where he wanted. The series includes Scar Night, Iron Angel, and God of Clocks, and is apparently ongoing. There is also a prequel novella called Lye Street that was released as a limited edition hardcover and is now sold out, but for some reason my local library has a copy. An autographed copy. What the hell.

6. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: I confess that I haven't actually finished reading this book yet. I started reading it, er, a long time ago—many months, in fact—on the recommendation of a friend. The reviews for this book are stellar and my friend also loved it, and I just could not finish reading it in one go, as I often do. I found the story to be very slow, with a lot of dramatic buildup that never sees surcease, and I had very little sympathy for the main character; at the point where I left off reading, some bad things had happened to him and I lacked any amount of sympathy or empathy for him because I felt like he'd had it coming. There were also a couple inexplicable plot contrivances that, rather than having a reasonable or even lame explanation, have no explanation at all. The world is beautifully crafted, and the writing style is nice and even occasionally lovely, although overall it is not amazing. The main problem seems to be that this book is mostly setup for the next book, and while there are amazing descriptions of how Kvothe has rescued princesses and killed angels and been kicked out of this super awesome school younger than most people are admitted—well, none of that happens in this book, apparently. I'm still interested enough to keep on reading and am determined to finish reading this book, but—we'll see when I get around to it.

7. The Penguin of Death by Edward Monkton: A picture book containing a poem about the penguin of death. One of the most amazing books ever written about penguins of death. Srsly.

8. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami: Uh, I had to read this one for class. It was interesting. It was first-person narration featuring a nameless protagonist who is threatened by some yakuza-esque organization's number-two man and is forced to go running across Japan in pursuit of a magical sheep from Mongolia or wherever that can possess people and make them immortal and also wants to take over the world. This makes it sound more exciting and thrilling than it actually was, because it wasn't really a pulse-pounding adventure or pulse-pounding at all. Apparently the book was also about fascism, although I was not aware of this until my professor announced it in class; although bemusing, he supported this announcement with explanations and citations from the book, so I bought his interpretation. Did I enjoy reading it? Well, it was okay and interesting enough, but not anything I would've picked up on my own and not something I'd really want to spend time rereading either.

9. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami: The sequel to the book above, although it was published five or six years later and the author wrote a book or two in between. Can be read as a standalone work, though reading it after the first book makes it make more sense. Despite the whole magical sheep thing in the first one, I found the second book to be more puzzling and kind of random, although this could be because I read this one first (also for class). The ending was a little unsatisfying because there were about a hundred dangling loose ends and a lot of weirdass surrealistic WTF-ery going on and no real immediate resolution. I mean, sure there was resolution—the protagonist finds himself and understands Deep and Meaningful things!—but it's that kind of, hmm, "literary" and "intellectual" resolution where you have to interpret things and draw your own connections in order to find any of it at all. Again, it was an interesting book, but once again, not something I'd read on my own or want a copy of. (Except I had to buy my copy since no libraries nearby had one.)

10. Modeling in Wax for Jewelry and Sculpture by Lawrence Kallenberg: I feel like such a jewelry nerd. I actually sat down to have a leisurely skimming read-through of this—skimming the parts that I already knew or wasn't as interested in, and more closely reading those sections pertinent to my interests. Between this and what I've gleaned from research online and from other books, I feel fairly well-informed about the basics of carving wax and would like to try it some time over break. I don't have the facilities to do casting myself (not yet—but someday…) but there are casting houses and services available to do all that stuff. Even if you're not interested in the actual nitty-gritty, this book is still great to peruse because of the 5 or so color inserts of finished jewelry, including the fancy silver-and-gold unicorn featured on the cover.

11. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: The same friend who leant me Name of the Wind leant me this one too. This YA fantasy was highly acclaimed and she really loved it, but I was less than impressed. I found the pacing to be incredibly slow—they set out on a journey at the beginning of the book, but due to plot contrivances and the limitations of first-person narrative, you don't even find out where they're going or why they're going there until 3/4 of the way into the book. The preceding 3/4 is basically them walking or riding along the way and getting tidbits of the world and mythology—which was very well-crafted, beautifully Greek-influenced, and enjoyable—up to a point. I guess I'm impatient. Also, I didn't really like the narrator that much. Also, there's a point where first-person trickery comes into play wherein the narrator is perfectly aware of something very important but the reader doesn't find out about this obvious thing until the end of the book, which I found to be unsurprising and unimpressive.

Why does it sound like I'm bagging on all the books my dear friend gives to me? I LOVE most of the books she tosses my way. In fact, to do her justice, I'll just list a few here, regardless of whether or not I've read them this year:

12. Beauty by Robin McKinley: Another YA fantasy and another angle on the whole Beauty and the Beast tale, this book is brimming with lush description, luxuriant detail, and a practical, down-to-earth narrator who finds herself frequently at odds with her surroundings. Beauty's attitude coupled with McKinley's attention to detail and the flow of the story made it quite an enjoyable read. I like a lot of Robin McKinley's books and Beauty is one of my favorites.

13. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card: One of the most classic science fiction novels evarrr, and simply astonishing. Pacing, character, plot, worldview, politics, psychology—this book exceeds in everything. What is it? It's the story of a boy named Ender and how he deals with being trained to—never mind. I can't do the story justice in a simple summary. Suffice to know that it is a story that will tug upon your emotions and grip you until you stay up all night reading and your eyeballs are bleeding from not blinking. Or at least that's what happened to me.

14. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card: Another marvelous book by Orson Scott Card that takes on Russian fairytales (including, of course, Baba Yaga) and connects the past and the present in the way that only a master storyteller can. Time travel in a fairytale? Why, yes. Yes, please, thank you. Explanations for how certain details came about in fairytales, such as Baba Yaga's chicken-legged house? Why, yes. Yes, thank you, please. Humor and emotion and an engrossing tale? GIVE IT HERE.

Okay, I'd better stop there because my friend has loaned me so many great books and if I don't stop now I'll go on forever. So here are a few books that I recommend, a few that are meh, and a few that I didn't personally like so much even though they had potential. I must note that with The Thief, at least, I did finish it, and even went on to read the sequel and have the (borrowed) third book sitting on my shelf awaiting my attention. The sequel picked up a bit, but I still had Issues of Implausibility with it. But still! Interesting enough that I wanted to find out what happened. And hope that it will get better.

12.16.2009

Lists of Things: Books Revisited

I've caught a cold again, sort of. My sister's done with finals and back, but she brought a cold with her and I think I caught a bit of it. In any case, I was not feeling all that well today.

However, a trip to the library late in the day when I was feeling better brightened everything up. You see, I went a little crazy and put a bunch of YA books on hold, and uh, most of them came in at the same time.

So I'm revisiting and revising my list of books, just like how the colds of the season keep revisiting me. Dear Cold/Illness, please go away. When did my immune system become so weak? I think it's time to move EXERCISE to the top of my New Year's Resolutions.

REVISED Book List aka Crazy YA-ish Book Binge:

1. Percy Jackson & The Olympians Series: I'm about halfway through Book 3 right now. I just brought back Book 4 from the library since my friend doesn't have the books past #3. I'll need to put Book 5 on hold at some point, so I'll have it ready to go when I finish #4.

2. The Demon's Lexicon: My friend recommended it to me, and I've been meaning to read it. Plus, it's about 2 brothers running away from magic, and my friend says it reminded her vaguely of the TV show Supernatural and I LOVE Supernatural.

3. Silver Phoenix: It's new! It's an Chinese fantasy story! My NaNo was an attempt at a pseudo-Asian fantasy! Mostly, I've been curious.

4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth: I keep hearing about this book and have been very, very curious.

5. Fell: This is the sequel to The Sight, which I rather enjoyed, but I remember feeling a little unsatisfied with the ending. Been meaning to read the sequel, but I think I might need to re-read the first one...and these are large books...

6. A Great and Terrible Beauty: I've been curious about this one too for a while. So I'm finally getting around to it. Yes.

BOOKS I'M STILL WAITING ON:

7. The Hunger Games: Keep hearing about how good this one is, and it has the Merc seal of approval. I put it on hold and am slowly moving up the queue.

8. Fallen: Um, fallen angels and also the main character's name is LUCE. After telling this to my friend Luce, we decided we MUST read this book. Must.

9. City of Bones: Also something I've been curious about. Friend used to read the author's fanfic works and was curious also about her original fic.

Whether I get through these books or not is another matter. Holiday and health permitting, I shall do my best. For now though, I'm going to go listen to Lady Gaga's song "Telephone" while playing Bejeweled. IT'S SO CATCHY.

12.08.2009

Lists of Things: Books

I am 99.5% done with Christmas shopping (0.5% is because we just got our Secret Santa picks today at work). No, seriously. I know it's only December 8. I can scarcely believe it myself, especially since I'm a self-proclaimed Procrastinator and a notoriously indecisive shopper. I think stock-piling presents 2 months in advance helped. I'm not crazy, but I do have a lot of friends with birthdays in November, which makes the end of the year a double whammy of gift-contemplating and piggy-bank breaking. (It's ok, November children. I forgive you because obviously, I adore you.)

So while I am relieved that bit of holiday madness is out of the way, I also came to the rather troubling realization yesterday that I no longer have this thing called "break" - as in Winter Break, Spring Break, glorious glorious Summer Break. It is troubling because having been working full-time for a month now, I can tell you there are days when I miss my part-time status 3-day weekends, and with the cold weather (it's pretty dang cold for LA) and my sister freaking out about finals week to me, I'm really starting to itch for Winter Break. EXCEPT I NO LONGER HAVE ONE.

Normally during Winter Break, I like to curl up and catch up on the things Academia tended to keep me from - like TV shows (this is a half-truth since I had DVR and thus watched everything), my non-college/"home" friends (who I now see all the time: hi peeps!), and READING. Leisure reading. Fun reading. Non-dry reading. Reading I'm not doing for a grade or sticking post-its in for quotes or thinking up theses for. Reading that has nothing to do with test subjects, how experiments are set up, and what the results were (though psych experiments are quite interesting to read about).

So now I'll have to scrounge for time to do that since cold weather is ideal weather for reading. I do the bulk of my reading during Winter Breaks and Summer Breaks, and now I'll just have to adjust for lack of breaks. Plus, lately it seems people about the Interwebs have all been in reading mode (or otherwise doing tons of book giveaways). So taking a page from the lovely ladies of Nayu's Reading Corner, Inkfever, Merc Rants, Myth-takes, and From Elysium, I'm going to post about reading/books.

At least, I'm going to post a list of them that I'd like to read or finish reading on my days off. I think maybe Alz and I should do random Lists of Things more often. It is a sadly underused tag/label. In no particular order:

1. Percy Jackson & the Olympians series: I'm in the middle of Book 2, have Book 3 somewhere, and I'll get the rest when I need to. I started the series when I was tutoring. This one and the Keys to the Kingdom series were recced to me as series an 11 year old boy might enjoy. I finished Keys to the most current book (the last book isn't out yet), and it's about time I caught up with this, especially since I LOVE Greek myth so much. Plus, the movie's coming out soon, which has prompted my sister to read it. My sister's the opposite of me. I usually read books for books. She reads books for movies. I'm competitive. I must finish first.

2. God of Clocks by Alan Campbell: It's the third book in the trilogy, and I'd like to know how it ends, even though book 2 got reeeeeally weird. Also, this book belongs to Alz and I think I've had it for a few months...

3. Pride & Prejudice and Zombies: because nothing says holidays like Jane Austen and the undead.

4. The Graveyard Book: I forgot I bought it. It was recently unearthed, buried beneath a mountain of jackets and stuffed animals.

5. The Bone Doll's Twin: I took this to Taiwan last summer and took it all the way back without ever cracking the cover. It was a Christmas present from last year.

6. Assassination Vacation: This is the 2nd Sarah Vowell book I've taken hostage from my friend. I should read it and give it back, and I like US history too! Speaking of which...

7. Take the Cannoli: The 1st Sarah Vowell book I took hostage. How many YEARS have I had this now??? I'm sorry!

8. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow: This is a biography of Alexander Hamilton I've been reading since, well, practically since the 6th Harry Potter book came out. It's not that it's not interesting. It is; it's a great read. But as my friends can tell you, I love the dude on the $10. He is my favorite Founding Father. I have the nerdiest, geekiest AP U.S. History crush on him, and I blasted through this monster of a book fairly quickly (I'm a slow reader by nature). It was the last less than 100 pages that slowed me down because, well, I think you know how the story ends. Uh, Spoiler Alert, Mr. Hamilton dies in a DUEL with Aaron Burr. I know, I know. It happened like 200 years ago and I know it is inevitable, but it kind of sucks having to read up to it, knowing how it's going to end, seeing it can't be stopped, and seeing how MAYBE it could have been avoided. I'll get over it. Eventually.

9. The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix: I read this and loved it back in high school. Luce recently started reading it (she's on the last book) and reminded me how good it is. My usual elephant's memory is failing me on the details, so I think it's a good time to re-read.

10. Various manga I've neglected to keep up with.

11. Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett: Actually, this last random entry is for Alz. YOU SHOULD READ IT DURING YOUR BREAK.


I think that's a good list. Now, to figure out where I'm going to fit in massive TV/anime series marathoning into my lack of Breakage. (Yes, I'm a series marathon-er.)

What are you all reading or planning on reading? How are your holiday plans coming along?

P.S. Anyone want a holiday card/email from A Nudge?

P.P.S. Tere at The Lesser Key has some posts with linkage to nifty book contests if you're interested!

12.03.2009

'Tis the Season for Greetings!

There is a reason I'm blogging instead of sleeping off this cold. It's December! The holidays are upon us, and frankly, I'm in a giving mood.

I would like to send holiday Greeting Cards out to people this December. I did this once with some Critique Circle peeps, and it was quite pleasant. These cards will also be personalized - as in Alz or I (or both!) will doodle a little something in your card or scribble a funny anecdote or rec a book or fancily write your name on the envelope. I'm not sure yet what we'll do. It kind of depends on time.

Everyone will get a fancily-written-name though because I love doing that. No seriously. I do. It doesn't even have to be YOUR name that is fancily written. You can request a name for the fancy treatment.

WHAT TO DO FOR CARDS:
So if you would like Alz and I to send you a greeting card this holiday season, please comment below with your email OR you can email us at nudging[dot]along[at]gmail[dot]com. We shall be in contact for a mailing address OR if you're afraid we're creepy stalkers, I will be happy to scan you a card.

You may also make a request like "Can I have an awkward turtle doodle?" or ask us a question like "how many times have you been to Disneyland?". BUT I make no guarantees those wishes will be granted. We're not Santa Claus. We do not have his magic powers or his flying reindeer. I don't even have a celestial quadruped, though there are a few cosmic serpents slithering about...

If you would like a book rec from us, please give us some idea of what you like to read. We might not be able to answer, depending on the genre.

Finally, you are in no way obligated to send us a greeting card back (though we would love it if you did, even if it's email/e-greeting).

DEADLINE:
Um, I want you to get your cards within the month, give or take a few weeks. So please let us know by Dec. 12, 2009.

And this is getting long, so I'm going to leave you with this contest my sister showed me where you can win AN AWKWARD TURTLE. I kid you not. It's cute too! Contest and turtle are from the talented and fun WongFu Productions, and you can check it out at Awkward Turtle Contest. What are your awkward moments?

P.S. How prolific is this whole awkward turtle thing anyway? Is it more mainstream now? During my internship in summer 2008, only fellow Californians seemed to have any idea what I was talking about when I busted out the awkward turtle hand gesture. Talk about awkward.

(P.P.S. There's also lots of other awkward things - snowmen, moose, turkeys, jellyfish... Yes, time for bed I think.)

12.02.2009

The Holiday Spirit!

I should have paid attention when my horoscope said the start of this month for me would be a doozy. It seems after the excitement/stress of NaNoWriMo and Real Life, the universe decided to reward me with a kick in the immune system. Yes folks, I caught a cold in the afternoon today. I was really hoping I was just allergic to something in my cubicle. No such luck.

In any case, I did not win NaNo, but I did get more words down than usual. I'll probably do a Post-NaNo post later in the week when I'm not feeling so groggy.

The real reason for this post is to give you a HEADS-UP for a post coming later in the week. Why? It's December. The mini-tree in the office is decorated with office supplies and lit! I love the holidays and I'm in a giving mood! More on what this means in the next post. Later!