September 28, 2010

Life Update #1

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I think I'm going to do these Life Updates whenever there is a lag in updates on my blog. It'll give you an idea of how crazy things are on my side of the world.

School:
So some of you may or may not know that I'm a double major. A quarter before graduation, I decided to pursue my dream and add Creative Writing as my second major. At any rate, this quarter I have four classes, three days a week.

Anatomy of Fictional Styles: Basically what we're going to do in this class is analyze different genres and styles of fiction. It seems pretty interesting. The teacher is a bit of a spaz, but what creative writing person isn't? This class is on Monday 2-5.

Intro to Playwriting: We're going to learn to write plays. I want to adapt one of my old stories into a play. I feel this might help me with action and dialogue. I'll be sure to share what I learn with you guys in case you want to learn these things too. This class is on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10-12.

Metafiction: This seems like the heaviest class with a book list of 10. So far what we have been doing is interesting. The teacher is cool and all. What we'll be doing in this class is surveying metafiction which is a type of fiction that is aware of itself. It's like when cartoon characters or tv characters break the fourth wall and address the audience. However this is a book that is aware that it's a book. I hope that makes sense and if it doesn't I hope during the course of a couple days I'll learn what it actually means. This class is Tuesdays and Thursdays 2-3:30.

Survey of Contemporary Fiction: Is a survey of contemporary fiction with all the authors being within this decade. We're also reading the teacher's book, which is going to be strange. I never had to read a teacher's book. I've read books of people who taught at the school, but they were never my teachers. This should be interesting. I do like this teacher, he's cool. He reminds me of Spike from Cowboy Bebop, but that's besides the point. This class is Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3:40-5:00.

I have work on Wednesdays for one hour and I will probably schedule some hours for my internship. I have Fridays off, so the weekend for me starts on Thursday. At any rate, I do want to do some more things with my blog, but I'm not sure if I'll have the time. I have to do schoolwork first, which is mostly reading. The books we've been reading have been pretty cool so far, that's not too bad, but it's a lot of reading. I don't think I'll have the time to read much for leisure and if I do, it'll probably be a long time between books. I hope to read for leisure on the weekends.

My goal is at least one book a week in addition to the books that I read for school. For the academic books, I think I'll include a section in the reviews that analyze what you can learn from this book from a few of my favorite passages. I might do this for the leisure books too, but maybe if I feel there is actually something to learn and imitate.


I will most likely update on Monday/Wednesday/Friday with book reviews on Saturdays or when I finish them, which ever comes first. I don't think I have the energy to do the Blog Hop for a while. Not that it's all that hard, but I like looking at other blogs and things and I feel that I haven't been doing that actively in the last couple hops (sorry. =/) .

So what would you like to see? If you're starting school, what classes are you taking? 







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September 25, 2010

DIY MFA: Building a Reading List

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Over at Iggi and Gabi and the fabulous DIY MFA series, Gabi talks about building a reading list. You may be thinking, Najela, you already have such a big reading list already, why do you need another one? Gabi has broke the reading lists into four categories: Competitive, Informative, Contemporary, and Classics. For me, I want to focus on and that's Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk. I have to compile my reading list so that I can learn the conventions of the genre and then flip it on it's head. I'll worry about my other story project later.

My competitive list (compiled from Goodreads):
  1. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  2. Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger
  3. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  4. The Steamwork Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo
  5. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Informative: The theme of Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk is a strange mix of romantic comedy, road trip story, sex(obviously), and drugs(lol, obviously)
  1. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen (history)
  2. The Pink Palace by Marlon McCaulsky (street lit)
  3. The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx (drugs)
  4. Samurai Champloo (road trip; inspired SDS)
  5. Cowboy Bebop (inspired SDS)
Contemporary: 
Nearly every book I'm reading for class is contemporary (it's a survey in contemporary fiction) so I have no choice but to read these books. I wouldn't naturally choose these books, but I'm glad our teacher is forcing us to read them. This is the list.

Diary of a Bad Year by J.M. Coetzee
The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
The Counterlife by Philip Roth
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer (pubs on Nov 1, so pre-order now to ensure earliest delivery


    Classics: I'm going more with authors more than I am with specific books. Especially books from the Victorian Era which is what steampunk is based in. (though mine is more in 1918 but that's okay)
    Jane Austen (technically before Victorian era, but I've never read any of her books)
    Oscar Wilde
    H.G. Wells
    Bronte Sisters.




    (If you aren't following  Iggi & Gabi and the DIY MFA blog posts, I don't know what's stopping you. Go do it now and learn how to be a better writer. I know this post is beyond late, but it takes a long time to build a good reading list. Now if I can figure out a way to make time to read these.) 





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    September 21, 2010

    Teaser Tuesday #3

    2 comments
          Writing this scene has been so interesting. I wanted it to be obvious that these two people like each other and make it obvious that they'll hook up  within the next couple chapters or so. ;). Honestly though, writing scenes like this and other scenes in the future lets me know that you can't force your characters to do something that they aren't ready for. If you want to write any scene and the characters are deflecting things and not going the way you want, let them take control and let them do what they want and ease them into situations that they aren't familiar with then let them deal with the consequences of their actions. You know they are going to do what you want, but it may no be when you want it. This scene echoes that sentiment.

    "You should go to sleep," Noah said. Was he awake all this time? His cat was asleep next to him, its head resting on his stomach.
        "I need you guys to get out of my sofa," she said. He smirked.
        "I don't bite, Al," Noah said. Alessandra was too tired to argue and collapsed on her bed. The cat startled awake, but settled into the space between her and Noah.
        "My name is Alessandra," she corrected, feeling her eyes get heavy.
        "Al is easier to say," he said. "If I had an arm, I'd put it around your shoulder right now."
        "I guess that means I'll have to take longer to fix it then," she said. "How are you feeling?"
        "Fine," he rolled over on his side to look at her. "You did a good job. The least painful arm yanking I've ever had."
        "This is something you do often?"
        "More often than one would think," Noah said. "If you couldn't tell, it's kinda flimsy. It was made in a hurry."
        "Yeah, I noticed, but it's functional. It's masterfully made in that regard."
        Alessandra yawned and partly wished that Noah did have an arm to put around her. His presence reminded her of Kalan, but Noah's energy was so different compared to her ex-boyfriend's. She hardly knew Noah for one thing, but she was willing to share a bed with him. Then again, sleeping on the floor was hazardous to one's health. The bathtub was uncomfortable and stained pink with blood. Anywhere else would leave a crick in her back which wasn't conducive to fixing anything. It seemed like this was the only option.
        His presence only amplified how empty her house was ever since Kalan left. She hadn't thought about him until this moment, even though it had been a year since they broke up. Her sister was happy with her boyfriend, her father was in the big city, and she was all by herself.
        "Al, are you still awake?"
        "Please stop calling me that," Alessandra replied. "Or I'm going to call you No-no."
        Noah broke out into laughter, causing the bed to shake underneath them. "I'd love it if you called me No-no while we're laying in your bed."




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    The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

    2 comments
    Summary: Violet Ambrose has been able to sense the dead ever since she was little. She's been okay with this morbid talent until she finds a dead girl buried in the ground. Fast forward years later when Violet discovers a girl's dead body floating in the water. A serial killer is loose in town and now Violet must find out who it is as well as navigate her way through high school and address these new feelings for her best friend, Jay.


    Likes: The premise of this book sounded very interesting to me. A girl who can sense the dead? That is really unique, I've never read a book out there that had a girl with this ability. A little romance thrown in for good measure. Okay, not a major fan of romance, but I can stomach it for the sake of the story. A serial killer killing local girls for his own sick and twisted pleasures. I can live with this. I like things like this. I went into this story thinking I'd get a unique mystery with a little romance thrown it. That's fine. Except... that's not what I got when I read this book.

    Dislikes: See my summary for this book? That's what the book should have been about. Instead it fell short for me and lost its focus. The point of view for one thing distanced me from the narrator, so I felt like I was just reading a book about her and not experiencing things with her as they happened. I didn't feel fully engaged with the characters. Everyone seemed incredibly two dimensional for my tastes. None of the characters seemed to be fully realized or fleshed out. They just felt like cardboard cut outs or stereotypical teenage characters. The girls that were being kidnapped, I wish I would have known them and saw scenes with them. Meaningful scenes, not "I saw someone in passing on my way to some place else" scenes.  I wouldn't have mind the romance if it didn't take up nearly 3/4 of the novel. Most of the story focuses on the relationship between Violet and Jay. They go through the typical high school romance, boy likes girl, girl likes boy, neither of them admit it, then they realize that they should have been together all along. Their make out scenes were really strange. I had to go reread and realize that they didn't actually do anything beyond kissing.

    There was a disconnect between the scenes where they are looking for the serial killer and just the ordinary high school stuff. I admit I probably would have gotten more out of the story if I hadn't skimmed over the extraneous chapters in another point of view. I felt that they were almost tacky and lackluster in a way and didn't really do anything for me. My heart was racing more when I had skipped over them more so than when I was reading them.

    The epilogues was unnecessary as most epilogues are. I think when I see the word "epilogue", I'm just going to enjoy the last chapter of the book the way it is. I don't think I care about characters in the future. If it wasn't important enough to be included in the overall narrative, it has no place being there. (I'm looking at you Mockingjay and Harry Potter). This epilogue was really unnecessary... I mean there's a sequel coming out to continue the story.


    Overall: It's not a bad book, but it's not a good book either. I've definitely read worse and I've definitely read better. T asked me for book recommendations and I told her not to read it because I knew that it wouldn't be her cup of tea. I might recommend it to others though, depending on their tastes. For me, I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I felt like I was just reading a book and I finished it just to finish it, but not because I had to know what happened or who the killer was. The scene of immediacy was lost on me. It might because I demand a little more from my books now that I have a clear definition of what I like and don't like. As a teenager, I might have enjoyed this book more and maybe would have favored the romance aspect more than the serial killer. However, now that I'm older and experienced more, I'm not really impressed with this book. I'm not sure if I will read the sequel or why there needs to be a sequel, but there is. I hope the stakes are higher and the characters become realized. Maybe my brain is in school mode and is asking too much from this book... I don't know, your mileage may vary.

    Recommended by: I've seen it on a few reading blogs here and there, but I can't think of one specifically.

    Acquired: Library

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    September 17, 2010

    Book Blog Hop/ Follow Friday #6

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    Book Blogger Hop
    Hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-books.com
    In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, let's take time this week to honor our favorite book bloggers and why we love them!

    The book blogs I like are:
    Reading In Color. I really like this book because it highlights the books with people of color and multicultural fiction for Young Adults. It's really interesting to read the books that never get highlighted or get passed over because they feature main characters of color.

    Iggi&Gabi. I stumbled along this find through Merrilee's Creativity Workshop posts and she has a Do It Yourself MFA which is awesome. I've been reading along, but I've been failing at posting my results. It's a good series of posts though which is great. I don't think I'd qualify this as a "book blog" but it's one of the blogs I get excited to read and read immediately.

    Steph Su Reads: I like this blog because it has comprehensive reviews. She seems to have the same taste in reading that I do, which is awesome because I can determine whether I like a book or not based on her recommendation which is 9/10 pretty spot on.



    Hosted by Parajunkee.com


    This week's featured follower is Bailey @IB Book Blogging.  So go follow her and read her reviews. They're awesome and she's awesome. This week's question: favorite YA or do you stick to adult reads? I typically read anything if it's interesting and well written. I typically read a lot of YA now because the books seemed to have the immediacy that I'm looking for. And the fact that I can relate more to a 17 year old high school student more than I can to a 40 year adult. I wish they'd have more books about college students and/or people my age(nearly 22).

    Week in Review: 

    Life: 
    Oi. I didn't do much of anything. I really wanted to, but I started watching True Blood with my roommates and it's been incredibly entertaining. I really wish I had HBO so I can keep up with the season. We're on Episode 8 on Season 1 and we have to catch up to Season 3. I have to know what's going to happen. School starts next Thursday, so I have to have some posts written before school gets too hectic. I'm taking 4 creative writing classes and I suspect it'll be fun, but incredibly hectic. (which reminds me I need to get a jump start on the class readings.)

    On my Blog:
    Blog fest kicked my butt so hard. I keep forgetting how much work goes into hosting a giveaway. Congrats to the winners (your prizes are on the way) and thanks to all the new followers, I hope you find this blog enjoyable.

    All I had was Teaser Thursday, which is incredibly sad because I didn't do anything productive this week.

    No book reviews. I've been trying to read through The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, but it's really hard. It's not that it's a bad book, but it seems to have lost its focus. Is it about a crush or a chase for a serial killer?  The point of view feels too distancing for me, I never feel like I'm experiencing the book, just reading it. I will finish it though, just for the sake of finishing, I already have a feeling I know how it's going to end, but I'm hoping to be surprised.

    Post of the week: 
    Iggi & Gabi talk about plot through the DIYMFA series and it really breaks down the plot to the smallest units. (I wasn't planning on doing this feature, but I thought this post was so helpful, I just had to share. I'll have a bigger list next Friday).

    September 16, 2010

    Teaser Thursday #2

    4 comments
    I have to say that Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk is probably one of the funnest stories that I've ever written. It's really fun and over the top. There's not really an overall "plot" more so than there just a series of events taking places in Alessandra's life. I've been pushing myself to go beyond my comfort zone such as writing sex scenes and such and so far it's been really fun. This scene comes from chapter 2. After talking about the job that Noah wants Alessandra to do for him, the only obvious solution is to take him home and get a better look at the problem. Dude's got a wonky metal arm and the only way to fix it is to pull it off and reconnect the wires. As a warning, this has been lightly edited and is a bit gory, so if you don't like blood, you might want to not read. I hope you enjoy. Leave your thoughts in the comments if you'd like:


    "Let's get started then."
        She guided him to the bathroom. According to the book, it could get messy. Alessandra wasn't sure what she would do if there was a lot of blood. She grabbed her brass goggles and her tool kit. He sat in the bathtub while she sat on the toilet lid.
        Alessandra examined his arm. She saw where flesh and metal met, the edges of his skin a deep purple. It appeared as if someone fitted the metal into missing limb, cleared out of the flesh to expose the bone. She assumed the method of attachment was a ball and socket design, similar to a regular arm.
        "I'm going to start," she said. He nodded and braced himself
        Alessandra turned on her clockwork drill and started at the first screw bolted into his shoulder blades. She felt the muscles in his back tense and saw him clenching on to the sides of the bathtub.
        She removed the first screw and put it in a cup for safe keeping. Only eight more to go.
        "How are you holding up?"
        "Okay, keep going." He gritted his teeth. She followed his instructions and removed the top four screws. She could hear him growling in the back of his throat. Blood began to leak from the metal and Alessandra began to feel light headed. Damn, her stupid pride. She wasn't the right person for this job. She shouldn't have gotten so greedy about that money.
        "Hey, why did you stop?"
        "I'm getting lightheaded," Alessandra said. She inhaled and expelled the breath forcefully from her chest. She had to continue. She held his arm out to the side, taking the last remaining screws out of his arm. Alessandra glanced over at Noah, who had his eyes closed as if mediating. She watched his chest rise and fall.
        Now she had to remove the cuff and get to the joint that snapped in half. She just needed to move it enough so she could get access to it. She planned to weld it back together, but she wasn't sure how to accomplish that. Removing the cuff would require separating it from the skin. Maybe there was some other way she could fix the arm without yanking the damned thing from it's place.    
        "I have to take this off," she said.
        "As I suspected," Noah said. He grumbled. "Do your worst."
        She wrapped her hand around the cuff on his arm and ran her fingers a pulled swiftly. It was like yanking the wing off a chicken. His arm separated away from his shoulder with a sickening suction sound. A scream mixed with pain and ecstasy escaped from his lips.  Blood gushed from his arm. Noah panted heavily and a layer of sweat saturated his face. She wasn't even finished.
        "Are you okay?"
        His good hand was clenched so hard, she thought he might snap all his fingers in half. The metallic smell of blood hit Alessandra's nose. She couldn't stop and she couldn't faint. She had to pretend it was ketchup or tomato sauce like her father told her to do whenever the family went to go watch an execution in the courtyard. It's just tomato sauce, she repeated in her mind. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and swiftly pulled the arm from is artificially designed socket.
        The arm was completely separated from his body, leaving behind a trail of bloody wires and tendons. They both were breathing heavily, Alessandra hadn't realized that she was sweating until a small gust of air chilled her body. She noticed the curvature of Noah's lips, full and oddly effeminate on such an otherwise masculine face. The angles of his jaw line were accentuated with stubble and his cheeks were boyishly chubby.
        Noah's blue eyes looked deeply into her own as he leaned in closer.
        "Was it good for you?" he smirked and Alessandra snapped out of her shock. She would have socked him in the arm if he had one. Noah still had one good arm, but it was too far away for her to hit.

    September 13, 2010

    Contest Winners

    Holy Cow! This contest was a whirlwind. I went from 92 followers to 281. Good gosh. This giveaway is a huge success, so now I have to announce who wins.

    The winners of the giveaway contest are :

    Shiki/Selene
    and
    Stephanie/Bookworm1858

    I will be contacting you both shortly to confirm your prize. 

    Thank you so much for participating in my first Blog Fest. I really enjoyed this. I hope you'll stick around for my blog posts. I really hope you enjoy them. Thank you once again and congratulations to our winners.  Your participation truly made my day (and flooded my inbox =3 )

    September 10, 2010

    Book Blog Hop/ Follow Friday #5

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    Book Blogger HopJennifer at Crazy for Books hosts the Book Blog Hop.
    This week's question(it's not a question but it's a cool concept): 
    Post a link to a favorite post or book review that you have written in the past three months.
    I think my most favorite recent post is this week's (late) Teaser Tuesday. It's been a while since I've shared my writing online and I forgot how fun it is to be a part of web fiction writing. I have no idea when this story will be finished, but I'm hoping it'll be soon. It's fun little romp and it's pushing me outside my comfort zone. I hope you enjoy the little teaser, it'll be cool to get your feedback on it (don't worry if it's positive or negative, I have a tough skin).




    Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee.


    This week's featured Friday Follow is http://readingangel002.blogspot.com so check it out. 

     This week's question: eBook or Print?
     I like both to be honest. Having an ebook allows me to read and switch to do things on the computer. I prefer print though because it totally engrosses me and I can sit for hours with my head in a book. I don't see print books going away any time soon.



    I'm having another blog giveaway in honor of Blogfest 2010? What's up for grabs? Two $20 dollar Amazon Gift Cards! So if you want a chance to win... click here and enter! 

    Blog Fest 2010

    This contest is closed!




    What is Blogfest? BlogFest is a massive carnival of giveaways with a great collection of participating blogs.  Each blog has a giveaway and the idea is to hop from blog to blog, entering all the giveaways your little heart desires.  Hopefully you might even come across a few blogs you might want to bookmark and continue visiting.


    Want to track the sites that you visit? Use the tracking site at:  http://www.ajourneyofbooks.com/blogfest/
    There's a big giveaway at the end of blog fest!




    What am I giving away for blogfest?
    Two $20 Amazon Gift Cards!!!

    To participate in this giveaway, you must be a follower to win.
    Please comment on this page with:
    your name, 
    your email address,
    and the number of entries you qualify for.

    Want extra entries?
    If you are a twitter follower(@nlcobb): +1
    If you are a Networked Blogs follower: +1
    If you are a new follower: +1
    If you are an old follower: +2 


    Now go visit the next blog in the series: "http://www.iheartmonster.com" and get your give away on!

    September 9, 2010

    In My Mailbox #2/New Crayons #2

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    New Crayons is hosted by Color Online. This meme discusses what books of colors we've gotten for the week.





    In my Mailbox is hosted by the Story Siren and is about the new books everyone is getting for the week.



    Teaser Tueday #1: Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk

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    I know it's not Tuesday, but I still wanted to do this. I missed this week's Teaser Tuesday and Psychology of Character thing and Web Fiction Wednesday. I didn't do in my mailbox because I haven't finished the books I had from the week before and the library is under construction and everything is all rearranged and scary so I can't find any books.  I have an HIV/AIDS Summit to help plan for my internship this week and some workshops to do at the local high schools, so needless to say, things have been really hectic. I promise to get caught up and even ahead because school starts in two weeks and it's going to be insane.

    At any rate this weeks teaser comes from Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk, a story about a girl in a small town with an extraordinary talent and a boy with a deadly secret. (a better summary coming soon). I hope you enjoy it. It's loosely edited, so if there are mistakes, I'm sorry. This is a first draft so naturally things will be revised when I finish. And now without further adieu:

    Alessandra wasn't sure what she was going to find when she walked into The Last Resort. She had been there plenty of times to meet clients and people who wanted her specific set of skills. It wasn't that she was unfamiliar with the place, she knew the owner, Donte, and his beautiful wife, Luna, and their two year old son. If something was about to happen, they'd look out for her.

    Alessandra looked at the paper, reading the scrawled description. The note had been attached to the collar of a black cat with purple eyes. Alessandra glanced around. She wasn't exactly sure who she was looking for. Curly brown hair, incredibly handsome, tall, lean,etc... all the pompous description of a client she knew she was going to dislike.

    Alessandra looked up and saw a a young man sitting in the corner. He had shaggy brown hair that was in definite need of a good scrubbing and a cut. His thick bangs hung in front of his eyes, so she wasn't sure what color they were. They looked light, perhaps light gray or blue.

    He wore a newsboy cap, a black shirt, and gray trousers, all in various states of disrepair. Around his neck was a black fur like a silk scarf. It looked odd on a young man, but when Alessandra noticed the moving tail and the flicking ears, she realized it was a cat. The same black cat who had delivered the letter.

    "You must be Alessandra," the man said with a grin. Underneath his curly bangs, she could see his eyes. They were crystal blue, his gaze was unwavering.

    "And you are?"

    "Noah."

    "No last name?"

    He shrugged.

    Weirdo.

    His accent sounded foreign, but she couldn't place the country. Moraa, perhaps? Why he was here in Acapella, on the other side of the Atheria, was anyone's guess.

    The waitress, Daisy, came over. "Hi, Aless. It's nice to see you."

    "It's nice to see you too," Alessandra said, though it wasn't really the case. She liked Daisy well enough, but she was a little airheaded. Daisy turned to Noah.

    "Well, would you two like to order?" Daisy asked.

    He rattled off a list of food in that weird accent. The young man ordered at least four dishes and large pitchers of alcohol as well.

    "I hate when guys order for me," Alessandra grumbled.

    "Oh... you wanted something too?"

    "I'll have the dumplings and the noodles with a milk tea," Alessandra said. It was her usual, she wasn't even sure why Daisy had asked. Alessandra watched Daisy leave and then turned to Noah.

    "So, what do you want?"

    "I want you to fix something for me," he said. "That's what you do right? You fix things."

    "Yeah, that's what I do," she said with a smug grin. She was good at what she did, but mostly she was because she had cheap prices and a lot of time on her hand. The town was small, so most people knew who she was and the kind of work she did. They let her do small jobs around the house and worked her way up from there. Just today she had to fix six steam generators. "So what did you want fixed? Why did you have to be so skeevy about it?"

    "Skeevy?"

    "You had a black cat deliver this letter to me, then you meet me at Last Resort, why couldn't you just approach me like a normal person?"

    "Drinks!" Daisy called out, setting down the pitcher of alcohol and her milk tea. Noah grabbed the pitcher and chugged. Alessandra took a sip of her milk tea. He didn't approach her like a normal person because he wasn't a normal person. He set the pitcher down and licked his lips.

    "What do you know about magic?"

    "Not much."

    "Good, that's good," he said, drinking more of his drink. "Gosh, this tinkerberry beer is good."

    "Will you stop drinking and tell me what you want?"

    "It's my arm," he said in a whisper. Alessandra leaned in just to hear him. She glanced at his arm, which hung limply at his side. She hadn't notice that he didn't use his left hand.

    "What's wrong with your arm?" Alessandra asked, wondering why he was whispering.

    "It's all wonky," he said.

    "I'm not a doctor," Alessandra said.

    "I know," he smirked. "You're a mechanic."



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    September 7, 2010

    Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans

    2 comments
    Date Started:  September 5, 2010
    Date Finished: September 7, 2010

    Summary: Karrine Steffans has lived a hard life. She was abused by her mother, raped by strangers, abused by her ex-husband. In an effort to get past her life of hardship, she leaves for LA. For a while things are going good, until she gets caught up in the LA hip-hop lifestyle. Suddenly her life is filled with drugs, liquor, men, and sex. At her lowest point, she finds herself with no one to turn to except God.

    Likes: If you took Memoirs of a Geisha and combined it Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the raw, crazy hip-hop lifestyle, you would have this book. Confessions of Video Vixen wasn't really about a video girl more than it is one woman's messed up childhood and life that led her down a dangerous and outlandish lifestyle and how she picked up the pieces and went on to become famous. It's a story about a girl who was beaten by her mother, abandoned by her father, mistreated and objectified by men in the hip-hop game, became a self abuser, nearly died from a drug overdose, then started getting her act together. It was interesting to see who she came in contact with and the relationships she had with other people.

    Dislikes: It wasn't particularly well-written in my opinion, which I feel is true of most memoirs, which is pretty much why I don't read them. It felt like everything was glossed over. That's because it was a memoir, which doesn't seem to lend itself to the conventions of writing because there is a fine line between being truthful and being entertaining. It's just not this book, but memoirs in general that seem to follow this convention (except for David Sedaris). I'm not really a fan of this genre.

    Overall: It was okay. It was a nice break from YA and YA fantasy, which is something I need after over saturating myself with it. It reminded me of why I was interested in hip-hop urban fictions for a hot second. I think I might have liked it more if I hadn't known it was a memoir. A fictional story with well rounded characters and a plot is basically what I need from a story so raw. Since this story was about real people and their names weren't sparred, except for Papa (which I have no idea who that might be, but apparently it's someone important... as if no one else was important), there is not a chance for the conventions of writing to shine through. It's not that it was a bad story, but I don't typically like autobiographies or memoirs. I liked it. I can see the appeal and while it didn't speak to me personally, I could see how it could help someone in a similar situation. The author stated that she wanted it to be a cautionary tale and I think I can see her intention quite clearly.

    Recommended by: Truth be told, I was watching VH1's 40 Most Sexy Scandals or something like that and the book title came up. Naturally I had to look into it and when I found it, I figured, well why not? I needed a break from all the fantasy for a bit.

    Acquired: eBook


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    September 6, 2010

    Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers

    2 comments
    Summary: Mark Purvis is a sax player looking for a way to make an easy buck. Instead of working at his Uncle's funeral parlor, he gets a job at The Crisis, a newsletter working with associates of W.E.B. Dubois. He gets involved with Fats Waller, a gifted Jazz and Classical piano player, and Dutch Schultz, a notorious mobster. When the mobster's stash of alcohol goes missing, it's up to Mark to recover it, even if it means his life?

    Likes: I loved the music aspect. I connected to that most of all. The main character plays the saxophone and I do as well. He plays Jazz in the heyday of the Jazz Era and I loved being in Jazz Ensemble. I could connect to the character in that regard and I loved Mark's character. The story, while short, had a lot of twists and turns that I wasn't expecting. There were red herrings that let me think that the story was going in a different  It was a simple coming of age

    Dislikes: It was a little too short in my opinion. It still packs a punch, but there seemed to be so much that the author could have explored. It felt it was cut off at a part where things were just starting to get even more interesting. There was a literal deus ex machina at the end, but things didn't work out the way I thought they would have so it may have negated that literary device.

    Overall: I really enjoyed the history and the real life characters that were mentioned in the novel. It didn't feel too inauthentic or like the author that was dropping names or anything. It felt like that at first, but it was a little less clunky later on in the book. Once you learn who these famous people are, it makes the story more authentic.) The story ended a little strange, but overall it was a fun and quick read.

    Recommended by: Ari from Reading in Color. 

    Acquired: Library

    September 4, 2010

    My Life in Books

    3 comments
     I found this meme through Ari's reading in color blog and I've never done it before. I'm procrastinating working and I'm taking a break. Join in on the fun!


    In school I was: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

    People might be surprised I’m: Going Bovine

    I will never be: The Demon's Lexicon

    My fantasy job is: The Help

    At the end of a long day I need: The Fattening Hut

    I hate it when: One of Those Hideous Books Where The Mother Dies


    Wish I had: Orange Mint and Honey

    My family reunions are: The House You Pass On the Way

    At a party you’d find me with: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

    I’ve never been to: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    A happy day includes: Jumping Off Swings

    Motto I live by: The Hate List

    On my bucket list: The Hunger Games

    In my next life, I want to be: The First Part Last



    So friends: What did you come up with? Leave your thoughts in the comments or a link to your blog and I'll be sure to read it.

    September 3, 2010

    Book Blog Hop/ Follow Friday #4

    7 comments
    Book Blogger HopJennifer at Crazy for Books hosts the Book Blog Hop.
    This week's question:  
    Do you judge a book by its cover?
    Yes I do. It's usually when I'm browsing without any specific book in mind. I used to do it a lot when I was younger, but now I go in with specific titles and/or authors in mind. Sometimes I'll browse and pick up a book based on the cover. It usually has to do something with the colors, what's featured on the cover, the blurb, and the first paragraph. I tend to be drawn to books that look unique. 



    Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee! This weeks featured follower is http://candacesreadingblog.blogspot.com.

    This week's question:

    What is your favorite brick and mortar bookstore?

    It really depends where I am. I definitely like my local library because it has three floors and books that I never thought I'd see there. It always has the latest releases too. I haven't been there in a while and I have a million books that I need to read and fines that I need to pay. If I want to buy a book and I'm near my college, I go to the local Border's, either the one in my town or the one in the next city over. If I'm back at home, there's only one bookstore there, and that's Barnes and Noble. I'm not really a fan because you have to buy a membership to get rewards where at Border's you don't have to.



    August in Review: 
    The only books I read this month were Mockingjay and the Scott Pilgrim series. I was extremely busy with summer school and with moving out and didn't really have the time to read more. I'm currently half way through Iron King by Julie Kagawa and Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers. I hope to be finished with those by the end of the weekend (it's the first time that I've read two books simultaneously). 

    I held my first blog giveaway and I saw that it was a rousing success. I'm currently not working and have depleted my funds paying bills that I can't really host another giveaway until Blog Fest. I really don't know what to giveaway, but you can believe me, it'll be awesome. 

    I accomplished two goals on the 101 in 1001 list and that was Have a Blog Giveaway and Take a Make up Artistry class. There are a few more on the list that I want to accomplish, I'll be posting a blog when I accomplish them. 

    The Psychology of Character posts have started with Openness and Conscientiousness.  Coming up next are Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. That concludes the Big Five portion. 
     
    What's Happenin' in September:
    Continuing to work on Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk. I'm debating whether this has market appeal or is just something I want to post online. I'm thinking that I'll post it online first and see where it goes from there. I'll be posting the loosely edited excerpts online for Teaser Tuesdays, starting next week. I hope you enjoy reading them.


    The Do It Yourself MFA program has already started and so far it seems awesome. I recommend that you join or at least follow along. I posted my goals for the DIY MFA. 


    What's going on for you this month?

    September 2, 2010

    DIY MFA: Goals

    1 comments
    Gabi at Iggi & Gabi is having a Do It Yourself Master of Fine Arts workshop on her blog. It's going to be filled with wonderful tips to jump start your creativity in constructive academic-like way. I recommend that you sign up or follow along (if you find out about everything too late).

    A few days ago she discussed choosing measurable goals compared to an abstract goal and choosing a Holy Grail goal. 

    My goals for this month is
    •  Continue Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk--- Currently have 4ish/ Get as far as I can with 4 chapters a week. 
    • Planning IAR graphic novel----- 5 episodes
    • Work on packet for senior thesis/grad school application----- Revise creative writing story and write personal statement. Due by September 20.
    • Submit to literary journals---- By the end of the month
    My Holy Grail of goals is to have a movie or TV series based of one of my stories.

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