Boba4Life: Lori's Meme

Today, I have for you a new episode of Boba4Life with me, Krispy, and Sophia from Sophia the Writer!

We actually filmed this mid-November but I didn't get around to cutting it together until now. Oops. As usual, we had too much fun doing this vlog, so it's another 2-parter. I might even have a blooper reel for you in the future. Hah.

Without further ado, this vlog's topic was a "Getting to Know You" Meme that Lori from You are the unicorn of my dreams put together. She asked us 5 random questions each. We manage to answer 3 this first time around.

Krispy's Qs:
1. What kind of music do you listen to?
2. In an epic battle, who would win: the Dalai Lama or Batman?
3. Which of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would you fear least meeting?

Sophia's Qs:
1. If you had the option of spending the night with a vampire or a werewolf (with no guarantee that it wouldn't be the night of the full moon), which would you choose?
2. What do you consider the most important event in your life so far?
3. Explain why you should run for president.

Thanks for watching! Come back Friday for another episode of Boba4Life, Lori's Meme vlog Part 2! Meanwhile, I'll be trying to up my NaNo wordcount to something less embarrassing. Wish me luck!

What are your answers to these Meme questions?


Randomosity on Black Friday & GIVEAWAY WINNER

Sorry this is late everyone! I was going to set this up last night, but like most people in the U.S., I was in a tryptophan-induced food coma after dinner.

Then I woke up at 5am this morning to go Black Friday shopping and have just returned home. About 2 hours ago, the sister, my cousin, and I were saying "Dude" a lot (like more than usual) like a crazy feedback loop. About 1.5 hours ago, I started turning into a really grumpy bear. And about 1 hour ago, we were applauded in the parking lot when we reached our car by the car full of boys waiting for a spot. We snagged clothes, gifts, and I bought Tahereh Mafi's SHATTER ME at Barnes & Noble!

And yeah, I'm like half-zombie right now. So please excuse the lateness of this post and any weird typos. I'm concentrating as hard as I can.

ANYWAY, without further ado, the WINNER of BECOME by ali cross and the EXCLUSIVE Alz-doodle book cover is...


Congrats Stephanie! We'll be contacting you soon by the email you left us to get your deets.

Thanks everyone else for playing, and thanks again to ali for donating the prize! Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone! I'm off to take a nap.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, we'd like to wish you all an early Happy Thanksgiving!

Colonial / Founding Father Turkey! (You know I had to!)

We're thankful for YOU, the people who read our blog and tolerate our randomosity and general silliness.

We're thankful for the people we have met and the friends we have made through this little blog.

Fall Turkey
We're thankful for the support, camaraderie, and books we've found in this community.

So even if you aren't celebrating Thanksgiving at this time of year or don't celebrate it at all, we just wanted to express our gratitude.

Roller Wizard Turkey!

Let's keep reading, writing, and dreaming together!

*Turkey doodles all from Google's cute and fun customizable Thanksgiving splash page!

P.S. Don't forget that TODAY is the LAST DAY to enter the Become giveaway for a paperback copy of ali cross' debut novel with exclusive Alz-doodle book cover.

Just comment on the post with your email (if it's not linked to your blogger name).

Contest closes 11:59pm PST today. (Lucky for stragglers that we're West Coast dwellers, haha.)

P.P.S. We'll be announcing the winner Friday, Nov 25 and we'll contact them by email too.


Randomosity on Fridays

Happy Friday, everyone! Thanks for the book recs and for the birthday wishes to Alz! I'm actually reading The Fox Inheritance because it's due back to the library soon, but I think I'll either hit up THE NIGHT CIRCUS or DEATHLESS next!

Another thing, we're having a SPECIAL GIVEAWAY of ali cross' debut novel BECOME. It's running for a week, meaning we're closing the giveaway on NOV 23, right before Thanksgiving!

There are plenty of chances to win the novel from ali's blog tour and the Become epic giveaway organized by Christine Fonseca and Elana Johnson, but our stop is the only one where you can get an ALZ DOODLE BOOK COVER to go with it! Just sayin'. :)

So do check that out. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment (and contact info if your email is not linked to your blogger profile) on Alz's review!

Now, FRIDAY 5 of things I am happy about this week.

1. Birthdays! This week marked Alz's birthday, my facebook wifey's birthday, and my college roommate's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, all you amazing, lovely women!

2. I finally finished my stupid section of Alz and my joint noveling venture. I know, it's taken me long enough, but in my defense, I totally forgot I was supposed to write the carnage section! Instead, I was too busy having my Heroine-in-Distress argue with a Demon Dog and banter cutely with a Punch Clock Villain, who really isn't a villain at all. He's just really dedicated to the job. So maybe he's more of an Obstructive Bureaucrat?

(Yeah, I've been reading too many TVtropes.)

3. New posters for The Avengers came out Thursday. That means a new picture of Loki, whom I love and therefore I probably wouldn't mind his whole plan to take over the world and make himself our Norse godly overlord. I mean look at him in all his golden green mischievousness.

4. SPEAKING OF MISCHIEF, I was part of a Scavenger Hunt team this weekend aptly named the Mischief Managers. We did the Watson Adventures Wizard School scavenger hunt at the Getty museum (which incidentally was used as an Asgardian location in THOR). The hunt used Harry Potter references in the clues to lead us to pieces of art that were reminiscent of things in the books, and then we had to answer questions about the art. Our team was competing against 2 teams of small children (and their guardians) and a couple.

Uh, so WE WON the hunt, which means we destroyed small children this weekend. I am both slightly ashamed and proud - the first because some of those small children were pretty disappointed and the second because um, WE WON WITH A PERFECT SCORE. Yeah, that's right. Mischief SO managed.

5. RELATED SEGUE, there's a new episode of Potter Puppet Pals out. It's called Neville's birthday. I like drunk!Snape and the birthday song. Oh, and the special appearance of one Cedric Diggory (aka Rpattz aka Edward Cullen - oh yeah, look at me working in a Breaking Dawn reference too because that's out today, I know.)

WHEW, and that's all the brilliant segueing I have left for today. Alz thinks my boba milk tea must be super special today given all the connections I'm making. Hah!

OH AND ONE MORE CONNECTION, speaking of boba, tune in next week for another episode of my co-vlog with Sophia: Boba 4 Life. We'll finally be answering Lori's 5 Question Meme!

That's it for realz this time. Have a great weekend, everyone! Remember to ENTER THE GIVEAWAY and watch out for Twihards. ;)

What Happy Things have happened to you this week?


Blog Tour & Book Review: BECOME by ALI CROSS

Welcome to the next stop on the Dark C.A.R.M.A. Tour! Here we'll be having at Ali Cross's new YA novel Become.

A little story first: Ali Cross asked Krispy to review Become and sent her a copy. Krispy started to read it but was too busy to get very far, whereas I had a little more time and read the whole thing. Ali asked for honest feedback and so we told her the truth: Krispy hadn't gotten far enough to form a real opinion and I had a number of issues with the book and therefore didn't feel comfortable reviewing it.

Herein shines Ali's awesomeness and literary integrity: She asked me to review the book anyway, and proposed a very special giveaway for this stop on her blogalicious tour. Her candor, humor, and stance on honesty should be lauded and applauded. Ali is fearless. No wonder she runs a ninja dojo.  From my understanding, she looks a little something like this:
Only, you know, she's like 10,000x more awesome.
Anyway, dear folks, here's info on the amazing giveaway we have courtesy of the equally amazing Ali! Comment on this post (and include your email if it's not linked to your blogger profile) and you will be entered to win an exclusive paperback edition of Become with a special Alz "this book sucks" cover. The giveaway will be open for a week, with a winner picked at random and announced on Nov. 23rd.

Buy the book:
Amazon! Paperback style!
Amazon! Kindle lovin'!
Barnes & Noble! Nookie nook!
Smashwords! Ebooktabulous!

Meet Ali Cross:

Now, onward to the review!


Become by Ali Cross

Pros: Interesting take on combining Christianity and Norse mythology; touches upon issues such as teenage alcoholism and suicide; protagonist does struggle with making choices.

Cons: Some very important plot points and worldbuilding details are glossed over, never sufficiently explained, or inexplicably vanish; many characters are archetypes with no real personality, including the heroine; the clop-clop-clopping of drama llama hooves echoes within the vaults of the protagonist's cathedral of angst.

Okay, so this is St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, but I imagine
Desolation looks like this deep inside, llama included.

Intellectual Rating: 2.75 out of 10 stars
Emotional Grade: F+

Book Blurb: (from Goodreads) Sixteen-year old Desolation Black wants nothing more than to stay in Hell where it’s cold and lonely and totally predictable. Instead, she’s sent back to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she always feared.

When Desi is forced to embrace her inner demon, she assumes her choice has been made—that she has no hope of being anything other than what her father, Lucifer, has created her to be. What she doesn’t count on, is finding a reason to change—something she’s never had before—a friend.

Alz's Take: This book definitely feels like it has a bigger picture in mind than the simple angel-demon-forbidden-romance-mysterious-past that plagues the world of YA. Themes of morality, faith, friendship, fidelity, redemption, teenage suicide and alcoholism, and the good ol' struggle to find yourself in a confusing and dangerous world—these are high goals, and I respect that.

And therefore I weep, weep tears of blood that the story never actually scores a goal with regards to any of those themes. They're there, and they're touched upon, but the actual exploration thereof is shallow at best—the book dips a toe into these deep waters and then draws it back with an angsty sigh, instead choosing to wade through the shallows.

Desolation hates her father and doesn't want to embrace her dark side and Become a Sith Lord true demon because…I'm not really sure why, actually. Her teenage rebellion seems to be teenage rebellion for the sake of teenage rebellion, and she hates her father because he's Lucifer. Which sounds fairly reasonable until you start to think about it because he actually seems like one of the more decent YA fathers I've read: he cares about his daughter's welfare and has concern for her future, is encouraging her to pursue an active vocation (albeit one that involves evil), he provides for her emotionally and even materialistically to the point that this girl living in Hell has an iPod, Doc Martens, and tons of teenage human stuff in her room.
I always picture her with emo hair.

Lucifer doesn't appear all that threatening or evil. In fact, after a while my sympathies actually began to lie with the Father of Lies because sheesh, this guy has to deal with such an emo rebel-without-a-cause daughter—and yet he does so with fondly amused tolerance and relative good nature. Yes, Alz has sympathy for the devil, folks. I'm sure that will surprise none of you, especially Krispy.

At any rate, the story seems to be banking on preconceived notions of of-course-Lucifer-is-evil-and-Desolation-should-hate-and-rebel-against-him instead of actually developing a conflicting relationship between them based on personality, morality, and character. Desi doesn't want to become evil, but why? Is it because she doesn't believe in evil? Is it because the thought of torturing souls horrifies her? Does she secretly just want to be free of her father and live her life as she chooses?

I finished the whole book and I don't know. And since this is the central conflict of the story—Desolation's struggle between good and evil—that's not good.

On the flipside, does Desolation even want to be good? What is the difference between light and dark? Is there a gray side to any of this? Can the "right" choice sometimes be a dark one? What is morality? Does how we define ourselves have an effect upon what we choose to perceive as good and evil?

Again, I don't know. It feels like the story was based on these themes and kind of nibbles around the edges of them with no actual thematic exploration. This was particularly frustrating since the setup is so great: a girl struggling with her inner nature and trying to find herself in a world that sees her as a force of evil.

Desolation's character and conflict are interesting conceptually but the execution leaves something to be desired the way an unsalted soup leaves something to be desired: it's missing a surprisingly crucial ingredient that adds savor generally taken for granted.
A steaming bowl of Desolation soup.
I was frequently puzzled by Desolation. She'd swing from feeling Love and Light and Wanting to Do the Right Thing to Anger and Emo and Wanting to Be Alone within the space of a single page, and I never understood why. She's a snarky teen one moment and a despairing demon of woe the next. I actually thought for a while that maybe she was bipolar, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

There's a very important scene that I'm going to see if I can carefully skirt around right now because I'm avoiding spoilers. Let's see how specifically vague I can be. Basically, something really horrible happened and Desolation took matters into her own hands, meting out what I personally thought was a big glass of richly-deserved fresh-squeezed justice.

Once Desolation realized what she had done though, she was just horrified and mentally beat herself up for what she had done. Which I kind of understand—it's a reasonable reaction—but never once does it ever cross her mind that maybe she did a good thing, or that this situation warranted her actions, or feel some sense of satisfaction that comeuppance got served, hell yeah, hot off the lunchline.

So that's Desolation Black (no relation to Sirius Black). There are other characters whom come forth like perfectly formed chocolates from the silicone molds of stereotypes: Desolation's BFF/maternal figure is the Hooker with a Heart of Gold, Michael is the Noble Warrior, Akaros is the Cruel Forbidding Mentor, Daniel is the Criminal Millionare Douchebag.

Speaking of Daniel, I have no idea what he looks like. The guy is a tool in more than one sense of the word, though mainly he's a tool that provides ritzy lodgings and everything a teenage girl could materialistically desire for Desi, is occasionally a jerkface, and is generally so unimportant that he vanishes near the end of the book for no explicable reason.

Daniel is never, ever described physically. I have no idea if he's dwarfishly short or gigantically tall, Herculeanly athletic or a big fat ball of lard. He might have seventy-five feet of gloriously golden magical hair and like to cross-dress for all I know.

This is an example of the technical issues the book has—sometimes characters and places aren't described enough or even at all. The magical/theological system is interesting as it mixes Nordic and Christian elements, but important plot points are so vaguely described I didn't understand what Etc. meant or why it was so important, even though it's so very important and powerful that Lucifer even now is fighting for it. What is it, exactly, and how does it work?

Looking at the book in terms of story construction, I was pleasantly surprised when I went back and reread some sections—there were a few clues to Desi's past and true nature tucked in here and there that I had totally missed because they were so innocuous at the time. That was cool, though I do feel like maybe they were a little too obscure to set up for the Big Reveal.

On the other hand, the pacing is more all over the place than an ADHD-afflicted duck on a disco dance floor. It's slow and then it's fast and then it's slow and then it's confusing and then it's more confusing and then it's all rush-rush-rush to the end. Characters suddenly appear but they've got terminal cases of Told-Not-Shown because we're told they're important and told why and told that they care about what's going on because…uh, because. Things happen suddenly! And then other things happen! And now it's time for a dramatic end, see you in book two!

But enough of all that. Let's talk romance! If you're a fan of the Destined Troo Luv type o' romantic entanglement, you'll probably like what's offered up here. Unfortunately, some narrative flaws muck up the story to the point where I was never entirely sure how much Desolation knew about Michael and her own mysterious past. It jarred me quite a bit because one moment she was pondering who Michael was and why she seemed to know him, and then suddenly a few pages later she was talking about him like she'd remembered everything and I'd somehow missed her mnemonic epiphany—and yet later, she seemed to have forgotten, only to remember.

And since the book is first-person narration, all that's a problem. I was confused.

The story involves numerous plotlines and ideas that never quite build up to a perfect whole. As I read I kept on expecting details and plot points to be explained and come together, since it seemed like the book was taking the immersive worldbuilding approach, which is my favorite. But by the end, I was still confused—about Desi's past, her motivations, why she hates her father, the mechanics of the world mythology and magic, where these other characters came from, and what, in general, the hell is going on.

Alz's Conclusion: Keep in mind that I am Alz, AKA Picky McPickerson, Lord of Judgment and Demon of Criticality. Unlike other books that actively pissed me off or disgusted me because they treated delicate issues offensively and went for shock value above good storytelling, Become is based on philosophical questions and thought-provoking themes that are never quite done justice. Technical and narrative flaws bog down the rest of story to the point that it becomes a whirlpool of confusion into which I was trapped, helplessly trapped and spun around, grasping for something to ground me and being frustrated because so many things tantalizingly brushed my fingertips before I was again swept away.

All that aside, I can honestly say that while the book didn't suit my taste, the trappings of angels, teenage angst, and a semi-anti-heroine will probably appeal to any number of people. This Alz just ain't one of them.

All pictures not doodled by Alz are courtesy of Wikipedia.


Randomosity on Fridays: What to Read?

As usual, I am super behind in NaNo, which makes for short blog posts.

So today's Randomosity is a POLL of books. As in, what book should I read next?!

You see, I have just finished reading Scott Westerfeld's GOLIATH and before that Rick Riordan's SON OF NEPTUNE. Both of these were sequels that I have been long anticipating. They've more or less succeeded in knocking me out of my reading funk & I have to catch up on my reading goal for this year. Goodreads says I'm 10 books behind at my current rate!

Here is a list of books that I currently have in my possession that I've been wanting to read. Please tell me in the comments what I should read next.

The Broken Kingdoms
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
The Fox Inheritance
Why We Broke Up
The Night Circus
Dust City
Imaginary Girls
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Thank you in advance for your input! If there are other books you really really liked that aren't on my list, please do suggest those!

For my fellow U.S. folks, Happy Veterans Day! (I hope you got the day off because I didn't.) Happy Armistice Day! And Happy Binary Day! 11/11/11!

P.S. I want to wish the lovely ali cross a HAPPY BOOK RELEASE DAY! To learn more about her book, BECOME, check out her website! Her blog tour will be stopping by here on Wednesday, 11/16!

P.P.S. Also ALZ has a birthday this month! So I'd like to say an early HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! :D


Wordless Wednesday: Our Past Week

Here's what Krispy and I have been up to lately:

Krispy: This is a ridiculously addictive game.
Hey, wait, are you blogging this? NOOOO!
Percy is a total bamf.
We're both hard at work. Krispy needs to write more though or I will crush her like a cranberry.

We've given it two eps so far.  Krispy is ambivalent whereas I don't like it.

We both like Grimm though!
In other words, Krispy and I imbibe great quantities of hot sweet beverages, watch a lot of TV, play stupid games, and then write furiously for the latter half of the evening.  What do you think of Grimm and/or Once Upon a Time?  How goes your nanoing?


7x7 Link Madness

No, you are NOT seeing things. This is yet another 7x7 Award Meme post!

Apparently, the rules got a bit mixed up for this one. So last time, we gave you 7 facts about ourselves. This time, we're giving you links to posts we find befitting of the categories given as part of the award! We received this version of the award from our fellow boba-consuming friend, Sophia.

GOAL: highlight previous posts in the superlative categories below.

Most BeautifulWordless Wednesday...not really.
Most HelpfulWhat's In a Name? and What's In a Name Redux (2 posts because they kind of go together)
Most Popular: Poetry Schmoetry Blogfest
Most Controversial: 100th Post & Final Push/Boycotting The Last Airbender movie 
[For the record, we ended up seeing the movie much later for free & because of one really hilarious .gif of a slow rock (and sometimes we're masochistically curious), and we can honestly tell you, it sucked like nothing has ever sucked before - and this is on its own merit (or lack thereof) without taking into account the racebending. You think that's hyperbole but it's really not. I want my free rental voucher back.]
Most Surprisingly SuccessfulBlogfest - Writing Compelling Characters: Who was that again?
Most UnderratedWIP Wednesday: Math Analogies, no seriously. OR The Importance of Interstitial Histories
[Alz likes the first because it surprisingly involves math. I like the second because I actually sound intelligent and not like the sugar-fueled !!! monster you've all come to know.]
Most Pride WorthyMagnum Opus
There you have it! Now, we're going back to NaNoing. How are your word counts, fellow NaNo-ers? Non-NaNoers, how are you? What are you up to?


End (Halloween) & Begin (NaNo 2011)

Double trouble post! We're covering HALLOWEEN and NANOWRIMO! Halloween is all pictures, so I'm going to skip to NaNo first.

I actually did my NaNo attempt in August under Camp NaNo, but thanks to that Third Campaigner Challenge prompt, my brain started ticking. But I have no plot! No outline! No apparent direction!

But I'm doing it anyway. Alz and other people (you know who you are *cough* Lori *cough* ChristineF *cough*) talked me into it. I decided yesterday night while I was hiding from Trick-or-Treaters in the dark. Har.

TL;DR: We're doing NaNo this year! I'm kangaru and Alz is shizalent. Friend us if you will & shame us into writing!

Now, Halloween! Mostly pictures. Hope you enjoy!

Surprise Party for friend's bday
Sister's 1st pumpkin carving: R2-D2!

Halloween Weekend
Sis was Doctor Who & Alz was the TARDIS

Sis actually owns these clothes.
Alz made that TARDIS hoodie.

I was a snake or rather The Serpent. Fancy an apple?

Scales could've been better with more time & prep.
Halloween Day

We had a Halloween potluck at work. Guess who I dressed up as? :D
Here are a few clues. Hint: Alz wrote at length about this.

Yep, I was a FAIRY or more specifically, LAUREL! (You can't tell in the photo so much, but the entire bottom half of my dress is covered in blue flowers.)
I only eat fruit & drink Sprite!

Q4U: What were you this Halloween? OR What are you writing about for NaNo / doing instead of NaNo? (Nanowrimos, let us know your usernames & we'll buddy up!)