Review: Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

In Katsa’s world, some people are born with extreme skills, called Graces. But instead of being admired for these gifts, they are feared and exploited. Gracelings are recognized by having two differently colored eyes.

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Since the age of eight, Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands: she is Graced with killing. She is forced to work as her uncle King Randa’s thug, bullying, punishing and occasionally assassinating his enemies. Everyone believes her to be a vicious assassin, as bloodthirsty as she is cruel. Throughout the Seven Kingdoms they call her “Randa’s Dog.” Katsa hates being under Randa’s command, but knows that if she disobeys or tries to escape he will hunt her down and kill her. The only thing that brings her comfort is the secret Council she and a few trusted advisors have formed to bring aid to anyone being wronged by corrupt kings across the Seven Kingdoms.

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Top 5 Fictional Boyfriends (You’d Never Want to Actually Date)

In honor of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I thought I’d write a fun listy-post about fictional leading men. Now, I’m a sucker for romance. There’s nothing I love more than a good love story, where a swoon-worthy gentleman does everything he can to win the hand of his special lady. But sometimes, right in the middle of all the warm fuzzies, a little voice whispers, Wow, that guy would be a terrible boyfriend in real life.

So, this is my paean to all the handsome fictional boyfriends out there who also happen to be obsessed, emotionally manipulative, or just plain damaged. I love you, but I wouldn’t want to date you.

Damon Salvatore, from The Vampire Diaries

9 am? Time for a scotch and a blood bag.

9 am? Time for a scotch and a blood bag.

Oh Damon. From the moment you swaggered onto our screens looking like a slightly sinister young Rob Lowe we couldn’t resist you. Your smoldering baby blues pierce us to our souls and your abs are splendid. Your undying (pun intended) devotion to Elena Gilbert makes us feel all fluttery and warm inside. Your day-drinking is as endearing as your penchant for breaking peoples’ necks.

Oh, wait. Maybe not that last one. On top of being an alcoholic and a blood-oholic, Damon also seems to really enjoy killing people, especially if, God forbid, they annoy him. He tends to show zero remorse, even when the new corpse in question is a friend or relative. Damon also spends a solid three seasons trying to steal his brother’s girlfriend, after spending one hundred and fifty years holding a torch for the evil vampire who lied to him, betrayed him, and turned him into a vampire against his will. So yeah, he’s beautiful, but that hardly makes up for being an obsessive sociopath with a rage problem.

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Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a
Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

Dreams are one of life’s great mysteries. Freud saw them as the key to unlocking the unconscious mind and revealing the true desires of the Id. Psychics and mystics believe dreams can tell the future or reveal important truths about one’s life, and that lucid dreaming can be a gateway to astral projection. Creators of all types see dreams as tools for enriching the art or science they seek to create. Richard Feynman famously experimented with lucid dreaming to enable more creative problem solving; Salvador Dali used dream incubation techniques to inspire new works straight from his unconscious; Christopher Nolan’s personal dreamscape directly influenced his blockbuster film Inception.

Stephen King writes,

I’ve always used dreams the way you’d use mirrors to look at something you couldn’t see head-on, the way that you use a mirror to look at your hair in the back. To me that’s what dreams are supposed to do. I think that dreams are a way that people’s minds illustrate the nature of their problems. Or maybe even illustrate the answers to their problems in symbolic language.

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Review: Wither, by Lauren DeStefano

Wither, by Lauren DeStefano

Wither, by Lauren DeStefano

At the age of sixteen, Rhine only has four more years left to live. Two generations ago, scientists found a way to create genetically perfect humans, impervious to all known diseases or mutations. But something went wrong, and the children of this first generation of perfect humans die inexplicably at a very young age: girls at the age of twenty, boys at the age of twenty-five. Geneticists are racing against time to find an antidote, but as the first generation dies out, the world is full of poverty, starvation, and orphans hoping to find some meaning before they die before their time.

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Stereotypes: or, the Trope That Got Away

Good day, everyone! The weather in London today is bleak with a chance of scattered dreary. Wait…was that a scrap of blue I saw just then? No, it must have been my imagination.

I dithered around for a while today wondering what to post about, but eventually decided I’d discuss something that’s been annoying me about the book I’m currently reading (that shan’t be named). And that is…stereotypes in fiction!

This has nothing to do with the post, it's just funny.

This has nothing to do with the post, it’s just funny.

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Fire in the Hole!

I don’t usually like to write from prompts, but for some reason I’m having trouble coming up with a theme for today’s post. I could talk about how my husband sleep-talks like a robot (I know) and how I dreamed about taking a writing workshop with Neil Gaiman (and it was awesome) but all together that takes up like…yeah, one paragraph.

So, I toddled over to WordPress’ Daily Prompt section to see if they could offer me any brilliant ideas. Happily, I came across this little nugget:

Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

*sad face*

*sad face*

On first glance this prompt seems quite banal. Saving five items from a burning house, yawn. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it, and here’s why. Asking someone which five items they would rescue from their burning home is really just a roundabout way of asking someone, “What’s important to you, really?” People and pets are a given, and the question isn’t asking about them. It’s asking, “When you pare down your life to the barest of essentials, what really matters?”

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25 Things I Learned before 25

Tomorrow is kind of a landmark: I’m going to be a whole quarter of a century old! So in lieu of my usual Friday book review, I thought I’d do something a little different.

I’ve been reflecting on what it means to grow older, and how I’ve changed and matured in the years that I’ve been a resident of Planet Earth. I thought I would share some of those insights with the internet in the hopes that they might amuse or delight.

So, with no further ado (and in no particular order), here are twenty-five things I learned in the twenty-five years that I’ve survived as a human being!

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The Procrastination Problem

Well said, cat, well said.

Well said, cat, well said.

Procrastination has always been a problem for me. In high school, homework was invariably completed the night before it was due. And as an IB student, I had a lot of homework. Suffice it to say, I pulled a lot of all-nighters as a teenager. I got a bit better in college, but not by much. I might start a term paper assigned at the beginning of the semester a week before it was due. And usually only if I was procrastinating on something else.

Now, as a writer, procrastination is something I struggle with on a daily basis. My chapters and stories and novels don’t have due dates, and there’s no professor or boss leaning over my shoulder and telling me to get a move on my work. There’s only me. Poor, distractible me.

Lots of writers–and other self-employed folks out there–have this problem. Hell, I’m sure even Shakespeare struggled with a bout or two of the procrasti-blues, and he didn’t even have Ye Olde Facebooke or Milord’s Bejeweled Plus to distract him. Laptops make it even harder, what with the constant barrage of readily available media and social networking working against us. So, I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks to outwit procrastination.

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My Life in Books

Books, books and more books!

Books, books and more books!

Kourtney Heintz’s post My Life in Books made me want to play the game! The way it works is I have to answer each of the questions using the titles of books I’ve read in the past year. Hopefully it won’t be too challenging….

Describe yourself:  Prisoner of Heaven (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

How do you feel:  Divergent (Veronica Roth)

Describe where you currently live:  Carnival of Souls (Melissa Marr)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:  City of Fallen Angels (Cassandra Clare)

Your favorite form of transportation:  The Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater)

Your best friend is:  White Cat (Holly Black)

You and your friends are: Beautiful Creatures (Garcia & Stohl)

What’s the weather like:  Winter’s Bone (Daniel Woodrell)

You fear:  Wither (Lauren DeStefano)

What is the best advice you have to give: The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss)

Thought for the day:  Of Human Bondage (W. Somerset Maugham)

How I would like to die:  Wolfsbane (Andrea Cremer)

My mind’s present condition:  Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

Woof. That was actually way harder than I expected it to be! Not only remembering all the books I’ve read this past year, but making sure the titles made sense and fit as answers to the questions!

If you join in the My Life in Books game, let me know! I’d love to read other peoples’ answers!

Review: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss


The Name of the Wind,
by Patrick Rothfuss

*Author’s note: Minor spoilers follow. If you’re a purist, stop reading now.

I’d like to start this review out by saying that I’m not usually a huge fan of high fantasy. Oh, I’ve read many of the classics–J. R. R. Tolkien, the first few books of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, even some Terry Goodkind. But left to my own devices, I’m much more likely to gravitate towards urban fantasy or science fiction.

But when a good friend sang high praises of Rothfuss’ as-yet unfinished Kingkiller Chronicle, I decided to give the first book a whirl. And I am certainly glad I did.

The novel follows Kvothe, a young man who spends the early part of his life as a traveling trouper, following his actor and musician parents as they journeyed from town to town, performing plays and ballads at inns and town halls.

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