In Which I Fail Terribly at All of My Goals

This is going to be me in ten months

At the beginning of this summer, I set a lot of goals for myself, and then I immediately forgot about those goals and just sort of dicked around for the next two months. Needless to say, I did not accomplish many of them. Now that school is back in session, I believe it’s time to look back at the past two months, and reflect on how horribly I’ve wasted them.

Goal #1: Get buff.

Yeah, I didn’t have much hope for this one. I did do some push-ups at one point, though, so I suppose this wasn’t a complete failure.

Goal #2: Get a sexy tan.

I’ve been doing the drive-thru at McDonald’s a lot lately, and what happens is that only one side of my body tends to hit by the sun, (thanks to the roof and the windows and whatnot), which results in coming home with sunburn on the left side of my face. (Sunburn. Never a tan.) Twas a failure, I say.

Goal #3: Finally Take Advantage of my Netflix Account

I didn’t take as much advantage of this as I could have, (still haven’t caught up on Daredevil), though I have watched a lot of movies lately. Has anyone seen Mad Max: Fury Road? Because that movie was mad good. (har!)

Success level: eh.

Goal #4: Confront My Inner Demons:

did confront one of my inner demons, actually. He beat me up and took my money. Not sure if this counts or not.

Goal #5: Get featured on Engie’s Quarterly Rewinds.

Basically, Engie (who’s secretly John Green, but that’s not more important right now) recaps each season, and in said recap she features her five favorite posts from other bloggers. And if I don’t step up my game by the twenty-first of June, I probably won’t make it. Mostly because I’ve barely been posting lately. I blame the government. Oh, and chairs. Fuck you, chairs.

So I didn’t make the spring rewind, but I still have a chance to make the next one. I just gotta fire the ol’ noggin right up and write the greatest post of all time. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Goal #6: Finish that book I’ve been writing. 

Still not finished, but I am close to the end. Then again, I’m not nearly as close as I’d hoped I’d be.

Goal #7: Get Beta Readers

Oh, that reminds me: would anyone like to be my beta reader? I’m not an expert at the whole thing, but I’m pretty sure this is how I’d like it to go:

  1. I would send you my WIP via google drive, (or possibly another format if you prefer).
  2. Because I’ve found that google drive gets a bit laggy once you write more than 30k words, I’m dividing my story into three parts, Suzanne Collins style. I’ll send you one act at a time, and once you’re finished with that I’ll send you the next one.
  3. Presumably you’ll provide comments and feedback and whatnot with each act.
  4. I will say “thank-you,” and hand you twelve thousand dollars for your hard work.
  5. Point #4 may not be true.

8) Get to do the drive-thru more at McDonalds.

Aha! The one goal on this list I can proudly say I’ve accomplished with flying colors. In fact, I now do the drive-thru so often that I’ve gotten bored of the whole thing. Plus I got a whole bunch of stories of all the crazy, sometimes horrible people that come through the drive-thru, that I will tell you all in time. Spoiler alert: there’s sooooooooo many high people, it’s ridiculous.

9) Actually finish a book.

Aha! I finished book two and three of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. They’re graphic novels that are all about . . . well, I don’t really know what they’re all about yet. There’s this guy called Morpheus who’s the Lord of the Dream Realm, and he’s pretty much the chillest guy ever.

10) Take advantage of my Six Flags pass

I didn’t go to Six Flags at all this year. 😦 Mostly because my aunt never bought us the season pass, as I’d expected. She decided not to because, what with all of us (my siblings and I) having jobs this summer, she figured we wouldn’t have time to find a day to make the two-hour drive to the park. Y’know, despite the fact that it would’ve taken only the slightest bit of effort for the three of us to make take off on the same day. Really, I think she’s just mad because we last year we went to Six Flags and didn’t take her son with us.

___

I may have failed horribly with my goals, but perhaps you did a tiny bit better. Feel free to tell how you did in the comments. Or if you don’t want to do that, you could try to guess what color eyes I have. (Winner gets a high five.)

Books I Plan to Read in 2015 (And a Look Back at Those Read Last Year)

So it’s becoming sort of a tradition on this blog to make a list of ten books I plan to read the following year. This time I’ll be doing something slightly different. In addition to listing ten books, I will also be reviewing the books I planned to read in 2014.

Now, for last year’s books:

1) Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson. [Haven’t finished yet]

I’m about three hundred fifty pages into this novel, and I’m not entirely sure what to feel about it. It hasn’t quite hooked me in like my first Sanderson book, The Way of Kings, has, and besides Vin and Elend, I don’t really care about any of the characters. But then again, the last three hundred pages of TWoK were easily its best pages, so hopefully the next three hundred pages of Mistborn will be just as great. Hey, you never know.

2) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King [Didn’t read.]

I can’t believe I still haven’t read this book. I don’t have an excuse; this book’s been on my kindle since last Christmas, and I’ve wanted to read it since 2012.

I’ll get around to it eventually.

3) A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin [Read.]

This book was easily the best in the series so far. It was simply stunning. The last five hundred pages were basically just one huge, groundbreaking event after another, yet it never felt tired or excessive, because all these events had been built up to for literally thousands of pages. Not to mention it was the most satisfying of the novels. If George R. R. Martin just decided to stop writing and become a lumberjack right after writing this, I wouldn’t have been that upset.

4) World War Z, by Max Brooks [Didn’t read.]

I haven’t read this either, which can probably be attributed to my declining interest in zombie stories over the last twelve months. What? They’re overdone.

(An exception: The Last of Us, a videogame I got for Christmas, and ended up beating today. Greatest. Video game. Ever. If anyone has this on the ps4, please comment immediately with your psn username so I could shoot you with my crossbow in the multiplayer mode.)

5) Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman [Read]

This was the book where I realized just how funny Neil Gaiman could be. This was hilarious, and deeply moving at the same time. Plus it had some scary parts, which I didn’t expect.

Also, can I also just point out that this might just be the only book I’ve read that centers around an almost entirely black cast and yet isn’t about racism? Why is this so rare?

6) The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. [Didn’t read.]

I can’t seem to find this book anywhere.

7) The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K Rowling. [Didn’t read either]

Heh, I didn’t either of these books. I will one day, though. I swear.

8) The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater [Read]

I must admit, the first book didn’t really grab me. It was good and all, but the characters didn’t seem nearly as well-defined and interesting as they’d become later on. Except for Blue and Noah . (They are perfect.) It wasn’t until reading its sequel, The Dream Thieves, that it became clear just how great this series was.

9) Any Book, by Agatha Christie. [Read]

I read two of her books: And Then There Were None and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The first book was amazing, and completely took me by surprise. The second one wasn’t quite as good. It wasn’t as tense and I managed to guess the killer about fifteen pages before it was revealed. #skillsofdeduction

10) Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo [Didn’t finish yet]

I’m almost six hundred pages into this beast of a novel, and I’m not even halfway through. That being said, I loved the first four hundred pages or so, but after that the story’s started to drag, and I’m growing restless. I still want to see what happens to Cossette and Jean Valjean, though, so I plan on continuing the read.

And, now onto the books I plan to read in 2015:

1) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

That’s right. I put this on the list twice. I also need to (finally) finish up the rest of his Dark Tower series. The first three books were amazing and I finished through them all within a month. And then I got to the flashback portions of Wizard and Glass and I just grew bored and stopped reading. But the thing is, I still want to know if Roland finds the Dark Tower or not, and if so, what exactly is up with that Dark Tower anyway?

Also, I’m told that King wrote himself into the series (as a character!) which is a sign of either genius or complete insanity. Possibly both. Either way, he has piqued my interest.

2) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

You know that video game I was talking about earlier, The Last of Us? Well apparently, that was partially based off this book, so I assume the book will be scary, funny, poignant, dark and cynical all at the same time. And they’ll be a badass teenage girl named Ellie. (I hope.)

3) The Great Gatsby, by Scott F. Fitzgerald

I’ve heard this book is overrated so many times that I’m beginning to think it’s actually underrated. Does that make sense? I think it does.

4) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Why? Because I see this book everywhere, that’s why.

5) Jonathon Strange and Mrs. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

I have no idea what this is about. But judging from the title, I’m going to guess and say: it’s kind of like a Harry Potter-esque story, but with like, sex and stuff. Oh, and it takes place in Victorian London.

6) Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

Because with the exception of Nightmare in Silver, Neil Gaiman hasn’t let me down once. Not to mention, this book features characters with beads for eyes, and that sounds terrifying.

7) Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

How have I not read this book yet? Supposedly it deals with topics such as depression, sexual abuse, drugs, mental illness, homophobia and a bunch of other terrible things in only two hundred or so pages, and I kind of want to see how it pulls that all off without feeling like a soap opera.

(I don’t actually watch soap operas, so for all I know that last sentence was completely inaccurate.)

Also, Emma Watson was in the movie adaptation, so that’s always a plus.

8) Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve only read one book by good ol’ Kurt, and it was Mother Night, a story about a Nazi war criminal who was actually an American spy, and it was amazing, in every sense of the word. I finished it in one day.

But when you ask someone what their favorite Vonnegut novel is, they almost never say Mother Night, which leads me to believe that perhaps there are even better Vonnegut novels out there in the world, such as this one.

9) Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

I know absolutely nothing about this book, except that apparently it was important enough to have a commonly known phrase created because of it.

10) Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Because my blog friends like it, for some reason, and I’ve decided to give it a try. Apparently it’s a retelling of Cinderella, but with cyborgs. . . Sounds interesting.

So, what do you think of my to-read list? What books do you plan on reading this year? And most importantly, do you have The Last of Us on the playstation 4? Because that game’s rad.

Characters Who Deserve Their Own Books

So, I discovered this prompt from Engie, who found it on The Broke and the Bookish, which appears to be a pretty great blog. So I’m going to try out the tag, for what I’m pretty sure is the first time. You can join the tag too, right here.

Now, to get straight to it:

Not his most flattering picture, I admit.

Hot Pie from A Song of Ice and Fire

An orphaned baker boy originally headed towards the wall, I’ve loved Hot Pie from the start. Well, maybe not immediately, when he was pretending to be all tough and hardcore to Arya. But through the course of the series you see this angry bully facade of his quickly disappear, replaced with a scared and innocent child who has to survive the giant clusterfuck that is the war-torn Riverlands of Westeros. Seriously, this kid goes through just as much hell as Arya, and yet his attitude towards life actually seems to improve because of it, so, um, good for him.

I’d also like to have a small book dedicated towards Gendry, The Hound, Yoren, or pretty much anyone that has interacted with Arya from seasons 2-4 of Game of Thrones.

Isaac, from The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Recently I’ve really wanted to reread this book, and not because of all the phrases that aren’t das deep as people seem to think they are (“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”), but because of Isaac, and his whole storyline.

Isaac was diagnosed with a type of cancer that required him to have one of his eyes surgically removed when he was a child. “No biggie,” you may say. “He still has the other eye, right?”

Nope. He later had to get his other eye surgically removed, making him permanently blind. As someone who likes to read, write, and juggle, I would be a complete wreck if this happened to me. And so is Isaac. He is a complete wreck. Very pissed off at the world for a while, and yet he still manages to keep going, and even have a good sense of humor about it. “Come over here so I can examine your face with my hands and see deeper into your soul than a sighted person ever could,” he says to Hazel, shortly after getting his final eye taken out.

Isaac is easily the most interesting character in this whole book, and yet he gets sidelined by Hazel and Gus’s “okays,” even more so in the second half. *tears up*

Speaking of which, does Isaac have a stated last name? Because if so, I am drawing a huge blank on it.

Sam Black Crow, from American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

“I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.

I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen – I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women.

I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.

I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.

I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds.

I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman.

I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.

I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.

I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too.

I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

Yeah, Sam is awesome. I can’t wait to see her in the TV adaptation. (Yep, that’s happening.)

I know this is only three characters, but I’m very, very tired, and besides, I’m setting myself up for a possible sequel to this post. Keep your eyes on the horizon, readers. The blogging horizon, that is.

10 Books I Plan to Read in 2014

On January 2nd, 2013, I made a list of ten books I planned to read in 2013. I only ended up reading 6.428571 of them, but I’m not ashamed, because I ended up reading a bunch of other great books instead.

This year I’ll make another list of books I plan to read, not including A Clash of Swords, by George R. R. Martin and Wizard and Glass, by Stephen King because I already have those books with me. I won’t include War and Peace as well, because I’m probably not going to read it either.

1) Mistborn: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson.

According to Liam, this book is amazing, and the two of us haven’t disagreed on anything yet. Well, except for Harry Potter… and anything written by Suzanne Collins. Still, I respect his opinion just like Lieutenant Gordon respects Batman.

Also, this is a fantasy book, and after A Game of Thrones, my interest in fantasy has increased dramatically.

2) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King.

I will hopefully be getting a kindle this Christmas, so I will no longer have to deal with this whole “hardcover” nonsense. So far, the reviews seem preferable, and I read the free sample on amazon and loved the first few chapters.

Some other King books I want to read are: 1: The rest of The Dark Tower series, 2: Misery, 3: Joyland, 4: Cujo, and 5: Firestarter.

3) A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin.

Unless A Clash of Kings is absolutely horrible (and I don’t see how that’s possible, considering it’s supposed to have fifteen Tyrion chapters and ten Arya chapters), I will be reading A Storm of Swords. And unless ASoS is horrible too (which doesn’t seem possible, considering that Arya gets thirteen chapters all to herself), I’ll be reading the next two books as well.

I just hope George R. R. Martin doesn’t die before he could finish the final two books of the series (sorry if that sounds cruel, but hey, he’s old). I wish he would just pull a Stephen King and finish the final three books within a year of each other.

4) World War Z, by Max Brooks.

There’s not a lot of books about the zombie apocalypse. Okay, there probably is a lot of them, but I haven’t heard of any of them (with the exception of John Green’s Zombicorns). People tend to frown upon zombie movies/stories, but I think they are great when the focus is not on the zombies themselves but on the characters’ changing morality. Plus, I need more zombies to fill in The Walking Dead sized hole in my heart, at least until the second half of the season comes back in February.

5) Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman.

This is a sequel to the amazing American Gods, which is one of my all-time favorite books. With the exception of Nightmare in Silver, Neil Gaiman hasn’t disappointed me once.

6) The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger.

Recommended to me by The Plot Whisperer. this book appears to be about a time traveler. With a wife. I hope I’ll enjoy it.

7) The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K Rowling.

That’s right, I’m considering them as one book, even though they’re nothing alike. The Cuckoo’s Calling is the one I’m most looking forward to, since unlike TCV, it’s actually getting positive reviews. Plus, I’m a huge fan of mystery novels (see #9).

I’m expecting to like The Casual Vancancy because my expectations are already so low, the book’s bound to surpass them.

8) The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater

I’ve heard so many things about this book, but not much that actually explained what it’s about. All I know is that it has something to do with ravens.

I’m actually glad I know almost nothing about the plot of this book, because now nothing’s spoiled. A Song of Ice and Fire would probably be much more of a shocking read if I didn’t already know about almost every major character death in the series.

9) Any novel by Agatha Christie.

The Unicorn and the Wasp, an episode from the fourth series of Doctor Who, is what convinced me to give Agatha Christie a chance. I’ve always liked mysteries (Scooby-Doo used to be my favorite cartoon), and there is nothing more satisfying than figuring out who did it right before it’s revealed.*

Since Agatha Christie is widely considered one of the best mystery writers of all time, I’m setting my expectations high.

10) Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo

Sure, it’s over a thousand pages long, but I never really cared much about length, as long as it was justified by the story. I’d rather have a book take its time than be rushed just for the sake of keeping under a certain amount of pages.

If you’ve read any of the books above, what did you think of them? And if you have any other book recommendations, I’ll be sure to take them with at least four and a half grains of salt.

*I once solved a case on BBC’s Sherlock before Sherlock did. Never before have I felt so proud.

So Many Ideas, So Little Time

Now that I’m back in school and still haven’t posted since the summer, I’m starting to hate myself for writing the post “Why I Actually Need School,” in which I said I tend to write more posts during the school year. Sure, I am actually more motivated to write. I’m just not good at the whole “time management” thing.

I’m going to kidnap Neil Gaiman and make him include me in his next novel.

A funny thing happened last Friday. Well, it wasn’t funny for me, but I’m sure you guys’ll get a kick out of it.  I had just gotten home from a long week of school. I had Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book in my hand and I was finally going to be able to read more than just a couple pages of it at a time—so I figured. After all, I didn’t have any plan for the night since my best friend was in the hospital with a severe case of nonexistence. My three step plan for the night was this:

  1. Read the crap out of The Graveyard Book.
  2. Write a blog post.
  3. Watch the recorded pilot episode of Sleepy Hollow that I’ve been planning to watch for days.

Then my dad walked in my room with news that changed my entire weekend.

“Are you packed yet?” he asked me, just as Bod was being kidnapped by ghouls. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I responded with a sincere expression of my lack of comprehension in a polite and intelligent manner.

“What?”

“I said, are you packed yet? We’re leaving soon.”

“Leaving to go where?”

“To New Jersey!” he said, as if he had told me this a hundred times. It turns out my aunt in NJ was having a birthday party and our family was invited, My family had decided to stay over from Friday night to Sunday morning, and no one bothered to tell me beforehand. Having just gotten back home, this is my first real chance I’ve gotten to write a post, and I’m taking advantage of it.

Now that I think about it, I was right when I said going to school motivates me to write more. My mind’s full of ideas again, but I have yet to master the art of time management. I say I don’t have time for anything, but deep down I know that’s only because I spend the first hour I get home eating food and watching TV.

But if there’s a will, there’s a way. If many of the people I follow can manage to fit time in to blog on a daily basis, then so can I. I’ll just stay up later or something. Or maybe I’ll try one of those five-hour energy things, just to see if they actually work.

And before this post turns into another “Things are gonna start changing ’round here” post, here’s a picture of an adorable mouse.

Awww

My Top 10 Favorite Novels: Part 2

You can read the first part of this post right here.

photo credit: wikimedia.org

5: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

This book would be ranked lower on this list if it weren’t for the fact that I had to constantly analyze the living hell out of the book in English class. This book serves as a lesson to those annoying stupid parents who try to ban books like The Shawshank Redemption and Looking for Alaska from schools, so their innocent teenage children will never ever ever find out about curse words or *insert gasp here* sex.

Also, the writing in this novel is top notch: “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. ” 

Was that line not hauntingly beautiful? Did you not shed a heart-shaped tear? Because I did.

Also, I love how the book’s available as an ebook. I bet Bradbury would love that.

photo credit: dailycal.org

4: Paper Towns, by John Green

I’ve said far too much about this book already, so here’s a link to my post ranking the John Green books.

I think this book would make a great romantic comedy. Anyone else? No? Okay…

photo credit: wikipedia

3: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

Before reading this book, I read a review where the guy compared Gaiman’s writing to candy (I even tweeted about it!), and that’s what I was thinking about as I read the first fifty pages. Then I got so deep into the book that my brain refused to think about anything else until I finished it.

The only (small) problem I had with this book was that the main character was too calm. While most people would be freaking out, he’d just shrug it off, thinking, “Oh, my dead wife came back to life and visits me in the middle of the night. That’s new.” But that’s just a small quibble, and his reaction, or lack thereof, was perfectly in character for Shadow.

this is the version I have

2: The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition, by Stephen King

This was the book that got me into reading again. There’s probably some parallel universe out there in which I didn’t bother to read this book. In it, I probably turned out to be the type of person who prefers the movie over the book, listens to Lil’ Wayne and gets tattoos saying “SWAG ATTACK: 2012.” Luckily, we don’t live in that universe, so we don’t have to deal with that loser.

At over 1,100 pages (and keep in mind, there’s over 500 words on each page in my edition), this might just be the longest book I’ve ever read. Sure, a lot of things could have been cut out, but this is the uncut edition, so I can’t criticize it for that. The ending was a bit disappointing, but that didn’t matter since the first thousand pages were some of the best pieces of fiction I’ve ever read.

Before I read this, the most three dimensional and well-written characters I’ve ever read were the characters in the Harry Potter series. But Harry, Ron and Hermione look like cardboard cut-outs compared to any of the characters in this book, and I don’t say that lightly. For the first time in my reading endeavors I felt as if I’ve known the characters in a book my entire life.

If you were to read any Stephen King book, it should be this one. Or The Shining. That book’s cool too.

photo credit: thebooksmugglers.com

1: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

This book is the saddest book of all time, and I mean that in the best way possible. To those who thought The Fault in Our Stars was heartbreaking, wait till you get a load of this book.

This is one of the great pieces of art (that’s right; this book is art) where each scene and each character is memorable. Stephen King may be great at creating vivid characters, but he will never be able to make me care about them as much as I care about the characters in this.

They’re making a movie based off this book, and from the trailer, I’m not sure what to think. Though the actors/actresses mostly fit how I pictured them, the trailer comes off as way too happy for me, and the American voice-over just made it seem cheesy. Tell me what you think.

Sorry for any typos in this post. For some reason, no matter how hard I proofread, I only notice the giant typos after I publish the post.