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Anya’s Ghost

anyas-ghostHave you read it? I’m not going to lie, I don’t usually read graphic novels. I saw the name Vera Brosgol somewhere, saw she was involved with the film Coraline (as storyboard artist) and was curious, so I looked for her as an author at my library’s website. That’s how I found Anya’s Ghost.

The cover was interesting and so I decided to give it a try. It started out as a story about a girl having a hard time fitting in at high school. Then she skips school and falls down a well. This is the moment you yawn, right? Not really.

Inside the well there’s a skeleton. And the skeleton has a ghost. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the title of the book, of course. But who is this ghost? Is she a friendly ghost? What’s her motivation to do what she’s doing?

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, so I’ll just say I really enjoyed the book. And don’t try to speed-read it. Take your time and enjoy the pictures, the expressions, the looks, they are all there for a reason.

If you’re curious about the author, you should check out her website: verabee.com.

 

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And then this finally happened

And so I went to a book signing. And it was awesome!

It was for Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened paperback book tour. She told us a bit about other signings from her book tour, read a chapter of her book, and answered questions from the audience. Jenny was amazing. She handled it like a pro and made us all laugh. A lot.

And yes, that is Copernicus the homicidal monkey trying to steal my book. Not happening, Copernicus.

 

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The Book Thief

book-thief_custom-5556fa04c9c8b2854fecdce5f096940a892255db-s6-c10The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, is the story of Liesel Meminger, a blonde girl with dark brown eyes, living with a foster family in Germany during World War II. But the most interesting thing is the narrator of the story: Death.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. (Random House)

It’s just a small story really, about, among other things:

* A girl
* Some words
* An accordionist
* Some fanatical Germans
* A Jewish fist fighter
* And quite a lot of thievery

I saw the book thief three times.

A long time ago my grandmother was reading this book and insisted I read it. At the time I was busy with other things and found excuses not to do so. Then last December I saw the title again and decided to give it a try. But I read about a third of it and had to return the book to the library. At the end of January I got the book again and devoured the last two-thirds of it.

When I was done reading the last page I felt this emptiness inside of me. Do you know what I mean? It was as if I had been in a cave and had suddenly emerged from it. My eyes took their time getting used to the light of day once again. That’s how I felt. I held the book in my hands and just said the last line of the book in my head.

I loved it! And that made me really, really sad.

You see, I love libraries. Love them! I love going to the library and just touching the books on the shelves. I love the ability of reading anything I want without having to worry about money. To be honest, if I could, I’d buy all the books I want to read. But unfortunately I don’t make that much money. And that’s why libraries are so amazing, because they are for everyone, regardless of how much money they make.

But every now and then, when I read a book I truly enjoy, I get sad because I know I have to return the book. It’s not my book to keep. Is this silly? Maybe it is. But it’s okay. At least I have one more book to add to my ever-growing list of books to buy even though I’ve already read them.

If you have a chance, read it. It truly is an unforgettable story.

A few quotes:

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”

“If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter.”

“I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skills is their capacity to escalate.”

“I like that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It’s probably what I love most about writing–that words can be used in a way that’s like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around. They’re the best moments in a day of writing — when an image appears that you didn’t know would be there when you started work in the morning.”

“Can a person steal happiness? Or is just another internal, infernal human trick?”

“You cannot look afraid. Read the book. Smile at it. It’s a great book – the greatest book you’ve ever read.”

“I am haunted by humans.”

 

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Signed copies

i-died-once-coverDo you like books? Of course you do! If you didn’t… well… who doesn’t, right? I always believed that people who say the don’t like to read is because they spent their lives reading what [insert here name of school/ adult/ organization] told them to and never ventured out there to find something else. The fact that someone likes a book doesn’t make that book perfect for you. And sometimes we must read the book ourselves to see what we think of it. Have you ever seen how many different opinions you can find if you try to find reviews from books?

So how do you feel about copies signed by the author? Pretty cool, huh? I couldn’t care less about autographs from celebrities (sorry guys) but I love books signed by the authors.

Okay, so James Mahoney has a deal on his website for signed copies of his books. You can click on the book titles to know more about them. On his website, not here, of course.

 

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Life is about the little things that make us happy, right?

Sorry about the last post, people. I was feeling down and just had to vent a little. I try to remind myself that things happen when they are supposed to happen, that there’s a reason for everything, and that there’s also a right time for everything, and that it’s not up to us to decide when and how things are going to happen. I believe that if I’m here and if things are the way they are is because that’s how it’s all supposed to be. Not that I think we should all sit back and wait for everything to just magically solve itself, but that there are things we can’t control simply because we can’t really grasp all the future consequences of our choices.

We constantly ask ourselves if things would be different had we chosen a different path, and to that I think the answer is yes, things would be. Had I married my high school sweetheart I would be in a completely different place right now. Had I married my ex-fiance I would have never moved here. Had I not decided to move from my hometown to a place where I literally knew no one, things would certainly not be the same. But can I say things would be better? No, I can’t. And to be honest, I believe that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. No, things didn’t turn out the way I expected them to, but they are a result of the choices I made in life. And for now that’s good enough for me.

So moving on, guess what great news I have just received that made me do a little happy dance? I’ll be seeing Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess in March! She’ll be on a book tour and will finally come to my town! Not only that, but she’ll be here on a day I can actually go see her. It’s the “now in paperback” book tour of her book (well, what else could it be, right?). In case you’re wondering, yes, I do have her book (hardcover) already, and yes, I will be getting a new one (paperback). Why? Because there’s a new chapter in the paperback and I just have to see it. That’s why.

Anyway, I’m really excited! It will be a great way to celebrate my birthday.

 

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Not training, but exercising.

I hate gyms. I do. Sometimes I do force myself to exercise, since it’s supposed to be good and healthy and all that. But I just think it’s a big waste of my time. I just can’t imagine myself being excited about going to the gym or even just wanting to go. I do like the bike, though. I do. I can sit there for hours reading a book. Yeah, that’s the only thing that makes me feel a bit less guilty for going to a gym. If I’m going to stay there for an hour, at least I’m going to exercise my brain. And that is something I really like.

book brain candyNot too long ago I was searching for new books at my local library and ended up getting Brain Candy, by Garth Sundem. I had no idea if the book was good or not, but how bad can it be? It so happens that I didn’t have time till today to actually read the book. I’ve just started but it’s full of intriguing information.

Do you know the books promising to keep your brain young through a training regimen of puzzles and thought exercises? (I do see the irony here, just bear with me) Well, not so easy as they make it be. Our brain creates new connections when exposed to a new challenge, but once you’ve done your nth Sudoku, your brain’s as wired as it’ll ever be. Doing more Sudoku only reinforces these existing pathways but won’t create new ones. The same with other types of brain games: crosswords, memory games, or timed math problems. If you understand how you’ll complete a puzzle, it’s too easy. Only challenging new experiences can force your brain to create new connections between cells.

I kind of like this. It’s weird, but it makes me want to go learn something new. Maybe a new language? Maybe finally getting the courage to take that Calculus class I so wanted? Who knows what the next year will bring. All I say is: bring it on! I can’t wait to learn something new.

How about you? Any exciting new challenges in your life?

 

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Just Around (The Riverbend)

Carol and I promise that we haven’t forgotten about the blog. Life has just been high maintenance recently, complete with moving, visits from friends, and working extra shifts as retail nears fourth quarter. But what I’ve been planning to write about has been lurking in the back of my mind all the while. Between another book review, writing about the correlation between writing and music, or the steadily approaching Nanowrimo, I’ve been pretty indecisive. I want to keep things fresh, so I wanted to veer away from another review for at least another post and my thoughts on music/writing are still forming into something organized. Due to my last post being about not overworking yourself into writing, I wanted to steer clear of Nanowrimo, which is sort of the exact opposite of my last post. But in the end, I feel that Nanowrimo might prove to be a fun challenge to some. So, my apologies for jumping from one end of the spectrum to the other.

If you’ve never heard of it, you’re probably wondering what Nanowrimo is.

It stands for National Novel Writing Month. It has a few events spaced across the year – Script Frenzy in April, Camp Nanowrimo twice in June and August, and Nanowrimo in November. Each event challenges writers everywhere to write a piece of fiction 50,000 words in one month.

No, my finger didn’t get stuck on the zero key. 50,000 words.

Thus the reason why I was hesitant to mention it. That’s a lot of words, especially to produce in thirty or so days. I went in with only two weeks of preparation, and while I was happy that I beat it, I never cashed in on the prize I wanted so badly because the story still wasn’t close to being ready. I want to tell people about it while they still have a little bit of time to prepare something if they’re interested, especially because the November prizes are pretty sweet.

I can’t say much for Script Frenzy because I honestly haven’t looked much into it. But Nanowrimo in November is so far the only event to reward you with a paperback version of your book if you’re able to get 50,000 words down before the month is up.

For the few years that I’ve known about it, Nanowrimo and CreateSpace have been awesome enough to award the winners of Nano a free paperback copy of their finished product. After you complete the challenge and verify with Nano, they give you until June to take your first draft and tweak and polish it to perfection and find a cover. Once you’re ready, put the code Nano gives you in the CreateSpace website and you’re all set to go.

In the past you weren’t supposed to sell that copy (and if it’s the only one why would you want to?), but I’ve been glancing through the articles and it seems like they’ve decided to be even more giving. Last year they gave five free copies and advice on self publishing. So far, I’ve been unable to confirm what this year will be like, but I’m sure posts will appear on their website the closer to the date we get.

For anyone who has a novel or a super long fiction piece they’ve mapped out but haven’t actually started on, this might be the time for that story to shine. If this year won’t work for you or you’re simply not interested, I would suggest swinging by the site around that time of year just because it’s so much fun to talk to a bunch of writers all gathered and active at once. People can exchange information like tools that help them write. It was in the forums there that I found out about Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die site; I’m a person who is all about trying to beat timed goals and so it’s perfect for breaking me out of writer’s block and getting first drafts done.

For more solid, official information: nanowrimo.org will be where you want to go.

For “putting the ‘prod’ in productivity,” check out writeordie.com for a little tough love.

November is about three months away. It’s a nice chunk of time to get the mental ball rolling, if nothing else. Whether you participate or not, keep calm and keep writing!

[Image Credit: Geograph (by NZ5048)]

 

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