February Wrap Up, And Looking Ahead to March

I, like so many others it seems, it a really bad book slump this month! I blame Rainbow Rowell for this, as Fangirl was just too damn good. I did start a few, and I picked up a bit as the month came closer to an end and A Gathering of Shadows came out.

(If you are afraid of the hype, don’t be. IT IS SOOOOO GOOD, and I’m only 130ish pages in.)

I also started a few other books: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan, a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities and Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. And I have started another book, which I’ll discuss when I get to my March Plans….

February Wrap Up

Books Read

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Monthly Goals

  • Write 9,000 words [Wrote around 5,300, and edited close to 7,900]
  • Get up nerve to post fan fiction first chapter [I have posted 3! And have a 4th one started!]
  • At least 2 hikes [Only did one, but I also got sick sick super sick this past two weekends.]
  • Post more writing or writing ramblings [I posted one. But March will be better!]
  • Work on confidence [I forgot about this one. Okay, okay, March.]

Places to Visit

  • Hartford, CT [I still hate driving. But I did it in style, while listening to Gilmore Guys Podcast.]
  • Epic Reads Presents: A Date with Royalty  [Evie Frye also followed me around a bit this month.]
  • Another Broadway show [Les Misérables, with Alfie Boe in one of his last performances. I sobbed the entire show.]
  • Fort Lee Historic Park  [Well I went to the start of it. It was cold and icy and snowy.]
  • Alice Tea Cup [Not originally on the list, but a cool NYC place to check out. I tried a few other restaurants too. I should start keeping a list…]

While I didn’t read much this month (my subway rides were full of Candy Crush levels — I’m going to have to delete those off my phone. Way too distracting in life, work and….reading and writing.

Ideals of March

The structure of last month was a bit too much for me I think. I make a list of what I want to read, and then it all sounds meh as the month goes on (or I end up with more new ARCs.)

But what I am planning on doing is using the writing books I own to start structuring my writing process. I feel a bit weird saying that, but my brain tends to be sporadic and unfocused. This will hopefully help! Sooooo:

WRITING CONTRACT
Agreement made this 29th day of February in the year 2016 whereby I, Meghan Griffin, do hereby committee myself to writing a minimum of two to three hours a day, every day, for ninety consecutive days, no excuses. The work will begin on the date I set forth in writing below.
I pledge to work diligently and habitually, even when I’m tired, hungry, cold, grouchy, or lonely, or have to get up early or stay up late, and/or even when I’d rather be doing something else. I am entering this agreement with myself because I recognize that the only way to write a novel is to dedicate myself to the project and to put in the necessary (solitary) time. I may or may not enjoy the process, but I also know there’s a little bit of agony in writing. The pain I inflict upon myself shall be my own.
I will begin my novel on March 1, 2016 and expect my first draft to be finished on July 1, 2016*, approximately ninety one hundred and twenty days later. No penalty shall be found for failing to meet this mandated deadline, but the reward for meeting it shall be the satisfaction of having written my own novel. I call blame no one but myself for the delays along the way.
This pledge is made with my full consent and awareness, and under no obligation to anyone but myself.
MGriffin

*From the reviews I’ve read, the writer’s plan does not actually work in ninety days if you have a job or want to get in depth enough. And writing does not pay my bills currently.

So look forward to me actually posting more writing ramblings. Or pictures of me pulling out my hair (and not just the grey/white ones…)

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesday: Writing Soundtrack

ae7e6-toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s pic seems to be a bit vague, a combination of book and music. Since I can read with almost anything on — I can block out noises and make it white noise (no seriously, I read on the subway with podcasts playing.) Music for me is more of a relaxing or next level concentration, such as work that I need to focus on more than normal or when writing. So I decided that this week’s Top Ten I would do my favorite/current writing songs.

I like a good weird combination of music, but most of my writing music goes from depressing to poppy in a split section, so enjoy?


 

Santa Fe from Newsies

My Amazon Prime music is almost all musicals currently, and then Aaron Tveit music. But Santa Fe is one I constantly listen to. Who knows why, other than the idea of moving across the country to a new type of life might mean something to me….

Fight Song by Rachel Platten

Aaaand we get poppy kind of immediately. But this song makes me so happy and push through whatever I can. It’s also one of my punching bag songs.

Manhattan by Sara Bareilles 

There is something about Sara Bareilles’ music, and it only gets better the more I listen to it. This song is so sad and powerful, and it’s gorgeous. What’s funny is, I don’t write angst to sad music. But it feels so much better to listen to it. (Okay maybe a little, but it’s primarily to Damien Rice.)

Bright Lights and Cityscapes by Sara Bareilles

I could really just add this entire EP, but this song is my favorite. Even listening to this song makes me itch to write.

Fireflies by Ron Pope

Ron Pope is a Georgia transplant in Brooklyn, but I so loved him before that. He kept popping up on a Pandora playlist of mine, to the point I had to buy his CD. No regrets. It’s one of my favorite CDs to walk home to as well. His live album is my first go to for anytime I need to buckle down and focus on something.

Crystalize by Lindsey Stirling

Occasionally I need music that doesn’t have words, especially when I’m struggling with getting them out. I love movie soundtracks, but those can also occasionally be too distracting. If you haven’t listened to Lindsey Stirling, take a minute and try. I saw her in concert last year, and she’s amazing. AMAZING.

Alien by Sebastian Pigott

This reminds me — I need to see if I can find more of his music. This song is one that I use when I am writing relationship conflict. I think it comes from his character Kai on Being Erica, which is only how I know this Canadian singer.

Never Leave LA by Emily Kinney

Did you know that Beth from Walking Dead could really sing and had put out CDs? I have a good collection of her music. She did some live singing on her interview with Chris Hardwick on The Nerdiest, and I loved it. It’s good dialogue writing music, good snarky (or super adorably cute) music.

I Should Go by Levis Kreis

So much angst.

and the final song:

New York by Snow Patrol

I give up trying to understand my taste in writing music.

Of course my play list is much longer than this, and gets even more embarrassing. Does anyone else find themselves having a “type” of music for writing?

Mid-Month Updates, ICYMI

I think I am having the best February ever, and now I shall knock on wood to keep from jinxing myself.

touch-wood

Especially as I am driving tomorrow for the first time since I moved to Brooklyn.

I am not reading much at all right now — Fangirl kind of ruined me for a little while. I am not sure what’s going on, but I’m moving slowly through books. I think most people have this ebb and flow, no? I’m slowly making my way through an ARC, which 25% in there still doesn’t seem to be any story.

But I made it out to Books of Wonder on Sunday, and ended up picking up Sophie Jordan’s Reign of Shadows and Victoria Aveyard’s Glass Sword

12743876_10102077517155993_7183513194142524214_n

I am ashamed to say that I knew nothing of Sophie Jordan’s work prior to the signing, but I did buy her book out of interest. Then she started talking, and I became a fan almost instantly. She’s incredibly chill and fascinating to listen to. I cannot wait to get out of my reading funk and read her book. Victoria Aveyard was pretty cool too. I have been to a few book signings, but never a dual panel. These two seemed to get along well!

I’ve been writing quite a bit this month too, outside of work related writing and blog posts. I actually posted my first chapter of a fan fiction I’ve been working on off and on since last July – a Gilmore Girls x Supernatural x Chuck x Veronica Mars crossover. Ambitious, no? If you’re interested in following along, let me know.

I’ll get to the point where I’m posting actual writing samples, but I haven’t actually finished anything that I’ve drabbled.

So I guess my ponderings for this week are kind of easy:

  • Does anyone else have a direct, inverse correlation between their reading and writing habits?
  • What do people do when they can’t bring themselves to read anything, not even really fan fiction? Just ride it out?
  • Are love triangles over? Can they be?
    • Piggy backing off that — would anyone read a YA story where the relationship doesn’t have jealousy or insane insecurity? Like a couple that gets together and stay relatively chill?
  • Where do people pull writing prompts? I swear, half my battle with writing is deciding writing prompts.

Video Game Review: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

I wouldn’t expect too many video game reviews from me, as I don’t tend to play newish games (the last games I bought were The Order and Batman‘s latest game…and I have barely played Dragon Age.) But I did finish the newest Assassin’s Creed this past weekend instead of watching the Super Bowl. More specifically, I finished the DLC: Jack the Ripper portion (I’ve pretty much finished the rest of the game). I have to say, even with all of its technical flaws, I really enjoyed this game. (And there were quite a few technical flaws — every time I drove a carriage it glitched, and occasionally the side tasks would require me to restart to fix it.) But here’s what I think the game did great:

There are lots of pokes for Anglophiles.

The side tasks involve helping people such as Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, and Karl Marx (okay he’s German, but of the time period.) Alexander Graham Bell makes a few appearances, giving the twins some awesome gear. Florence Nightingale has a brief cameo helping the child labor. And finally, Duleep Singh is also in the game (I think there are to be more side games where you help him out in the DLC?) You can drive past Big Ben, sneak into Buckingham palace, or take a stroll in Whitechapel.

Solving the penny dreadfuls reminded me of Sherlock’s mind palace:

So now I am convinced that really, Sherlock is just part of the Creed and his “mind palace” is just his eagle vision.

Evie’s costumes are so appropriate. 

maxresdefault

There is not a point in which I look at Evie and cringe. Even my mom commented on her clothing while watching me play. And what’s even better is I instantly decided I knew what I wanted to dress up for Halloween / cosplay for the rest of my life. I mean, they’ve even recently added a Steampunk outfit:

ACS_Dr._Daniel’s_Garments_-_Concept_Art

I mean, she’s even in a dress at one point, and still looks badass:

maxresdefault

Even more so, Evie is a completely playable character.

I can’t express how awesome this is. Sure, you have to play Jacob during a good portion of the actual game play, and that’s fine. The twins are both looking for what they think is the best way to save London, so it makes sense to play both during the actual game play. But if I didn’t have to be Jacob, I was Evie. The coolest part was when the fight clubs were opened, and I assumed they’d force the switch to Jacob, but they totally don’t.

tumblr_nv8xphtgyz1u64dyao3_500

She is the stealthier of the twins, and also a bit more compassionate. She helps out Clara, the leader of the Child Labor Freedom Revolution and Henry, the current assassin in London, making sure that he doesn’t get himself killed in the field.

In fact, Evie’s the one to hunt Jack the Ripper.

I really loved the DLC of this game, and don’t regret purchasing it in the slightest. I, like so many others, love the legends surrounding the Jack the Ripper murders, and I think Assassin’s Creed does it well. Evie is brought back to London by Frederick Abberline when Jacob goes missing while hunting the Ripper. And what’s even cooler — you get to play the Ripper.

I don’t recommend playing the DLC until you’re a level 10 in the regular game. While it is a separate section at the Exit Screen, it does carry over your level. (At least I think it does? Sorry if I am wrong. I opted to wait until I was a level 10.) Jack the Ripper showed up 20 years after the original game play, so not only is it amazing that you are playing Evie, but you are playing a badass roughly 40 year old Evie.

23638127384_4fab6444c7_z

What other game do you play a 40 year old badass woman? Evie is now a married woman and has learned some new skills, which means you have room to grow as a player. I rarely used the spikes, but the ability to scare people? Kind of cool. And suddenly, you can’t kill police officers.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.11.07
A 40 year old Jacob too, looking much better than he did in his 20s…

Jack the Ripper shows the aftermath of something we thought was good.

The setting of the DLC is similar to the regular game, only it’s a little darker, grimier, and there is snow swirling. But this is definitely not the city that is saved in the regular game— it’s a gritty aftermath. Frederick Abberline ponders repeatedly if helping Evie and Jacob was a smart idea, especially as it lead to the Ripper. The city is still overran by gangs and now prostitutes. Never once does he change his mind in wondering this, and I find this wonderful. The main game leaves players on such a high of saving the city — but is it really saved? These murders are VIOLENT, and the game does not shy away from the gruesome aftermath.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.11.23

You get to play Jack the Ripper.

Not often, and it’s not like you get to choose when and where to play him. But holy cow, that is the mind of a mad man. Jack is an intelligent man, though focused. “Hide evidence, kill witnesses.” But don’t kill innocent people — Jack did not kill innocent people, the game will warn you. It is uncomfortable and jarring, and incredibly well done.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.11.42.png
Feel the insanity.

Lydia Frye and Winston Churchill

assassins-creed-syndicate-lydia-frye-freischalten-rcm592x375

There is an added (free) bonus of crossing over into World War I territory and playing as Jacob’s granddaughter, Lydia, as she helps out Churchill. Play it when it pops up. I waited, and was a level 10 when I played it, so the level up wasn’t as fun? But she’s another amazing female character with fantastic outfits and quick wit. And she agrees to help Churchill for the small price of women’s rights to vote.

A vote can be far more lethal than a bullet, or a blade. – Winston Churchill


 

I’ve read plenty of reviews that are essentially in agreement that it’s time for Assassin’s Creed to shake up the genre, as it’s getting a bit stale. And maybe they’re right. The side games do get a bit old, and after awhile I had more money than I knew what to do with, and I had no interest in playing the smaller things like boat races or carriage races (I am TERRIBLE with the carriages.)

I have to admit, I enjoyed this game. And I think an overwhelming majority is in agreement that Evie is one of the best assassins ever. My enjoyment did come partially because I love the time period and London, but (as is apparent above) the female presence is wonderfully done in this game. I think the Jack the Ripper content is amazingly well done and worth the game. Also, the modern day stuff is so minimal, which makes me happy.

I recently read that the next game is to be in ancient Egypt, and is not coming out until 2017. I hope this means that they are looking to do a new twist, and perhaps double check the technical errors. Also, kudos on not continuing the journey forward.

Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 4/5 Moose

 

Top Ten Tuesdays: OTP

3743c-toptentuesday

I am (almost cliché-ingly) anti-Valentine’s Day. In middle school I would wear an anti-Valentine’s Day outfit (primarily black…I was a weird kid), but would also get a little something for my friends. I think I’ve only had a date once on Valentine’s Day, and that was my senior year of high school. I also remember my favorite Valentine’s Day, which ended with me getting off work, eating crappy frozen pizza, and watching a crappy movie with a good roommate/friend of mine. I also am very anti-February, even though it’s my birthday month. So far it has been a good February, but I remember laughing on the 1st for every Facebook post I’ve made being essentially “Can I just skip February?”

And so, I almost skipped The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday today, as it is a Valentine’s Day freebie. Even looking at my list of read books, I’m just going “uggggh. Love. I have no OTPs or love related things to say.”

oodjb_f-thumbnail-100-0

I know I am being ridiculous. While I am eternally single (which is 80% by choice, mind you), I have a great base of friends that has always shined on Valentine’s Day. Part of me wants to do my top ten favorite friendships, but that does seem a bit of a cop-out. So this week I am doing my top ten OTPs, focusing on those in books (or this would turn into an entire Jack/Ianto rant.

 

ianto-and-jack-tv-couples-908105_1680_946
My restraint, guys. Be proud.

 

Or an Olicity rant.)

oliver-felicity-arro
Swoon.

Okay. On to my literary OTPs now, ahem.


 

10. Rory / Jess Stephen – Shades of London series

15_mu_awkwardhug
Taken from Maureen Johnson’s website, but created by Cassandra Jean

Okay, I am constantly listening to the Gilmore Guys these days, as I try to catch up to where they’re currently recording. Super love these guys – they definitely hit their stride in season 4 and have some great insight. And so almost every time I see “Rory,” I see “Jess” (yes, always Team Jess.)

Anyways, I love the Shades of London series, and I felt that Rory and Stephen’s relationship is  quite organic, to the point that I thought it was unrequited love for a while. Is there fan fiction? I should so look up this….

9. Lily / Minty Fresh – Grim Reaper series

This relationship is never really featured in the series, but I love that it was hinted at in the first book, and the second book takes place after they’ve broken up (and MF has left a sobbing voicemail on Lily’s answering machine.) They are very balancing and understand each other and genuinely crack me up.

8. Jessica / Marcus – Jessica Darling series

WHOA. DID ANY ONE ELSE KNOW THIS IS GOING TO BE A MOVIE?

I so love Jessica and Marcus, minus Perfect Fifths. I think they are a great example of the bad boy, sheltered girl combo, with the bad boy being a secret genius, and a good representation of young love. And then the 5th book kind of ruins it. I think it’s the dual view points and it just wasn’t an organic way to get these two back together. I’ve always related to Jessica, and I could have been just as happy if they went on. But these two are a great, realistic first love.

7. Sirius Black / Remus Lupin – Harry Potter series 

Wait – this isn’t canon?

tumblr_n2n5fmcxn81t4ut69o1_500
It should be. LOOK at how happy of a family it would be!

Don’t get me wrong, I kind of adore Lupin/Tonks together too. I blame this on a fan fiction I read around the time the 5th book came out called “After the End(I have to refind the link, but if you haven’t read it and you’re curious, I’ll totally send it on.) In the ff, they aren’t a couple, but the innuendos and worry are so wonderful in that story.

6. Makino / Domyouji – Hana Yori Dango

hana-yori-dango1

I never finished the manga (I’m so bad at finishing anything in a graphic novel form) and so this might be cheating. And yes, he is absolutely terrible to her prior to their falling in love. And yes, I know this. But I just love their story.

5. Cather / Levi – Fangirl

tumblr_npg1c9w3ys1r5o40ko1_1280

I am adding this one probably because it’s the last book I’ve read, and I haven’t been able to start a book since. But as you can probably read from my review, I related way too much to Cather and would have LOVED to find my Levi! It was also the first couple I enjoyed reading about in one of Rowell’s books.

4. Mindy Kaling / BJ Novak – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me / Why Not Me

mindy-kaling-bj-novak

I KNOW these are real people. But you listen to these two talk about each other, tweet at each other…I mean, they have the best of friendship, and I’m ready for them to just get married. My OTP in real life, which I came to realize by reading both of Mindy Kaling’s books. Ugh. At the very least, I love how supportive they are of each other and if they don’t ever get together, then I can at least point to them going “hey. Platonic male/female friendships are the best.”

3. Tris / Four – Divergent

movie-still-tris-and-four-37365629-4883-3571

The Divergent series has flaws, but what it did well was have a relationship that any flaws involving it had nothing to do with another boy/girl triangle. Both of their insecurities are internal and real, not stupid jealousy or “which guy do I love?” It allowed for the story to actually revolve around the problem at hand, rather than a teenage love story. I again have another fan fiction that rewrote the 3rd book and actually kept their relationship pretty solid for most of the story.

2. Saul / Lizzy – We’re Alive

 

Oh man. I am kind of cheating here as We’re Alive is a podcast first and foremost, but it is 1. a survival story and 2. it’s on Goodreads. But seriously, if you haven’t listened to it, you are MISSING OUT. It’s a zombie podcast that’s told over 4 seasons, and it’s so well done and produced. The beginning is a little rough, but they quickly fall into a good rhythm very quickly. Oh, you are zombie’d out? WELL GUESS WHAT. These zombies are different. There are different kinds and different levels of intelligence – but how?

Saul and Lizzy meet in the first season. Saul immediately is attracted to her, and it takes Lizzy a little while longer to come around (okay, her boyfriend gets killed in front of her when we first meet her. I get it.)  Nate Geez and Blaire Wayland (nee Byhower – she married one of the podcast creators! Such a cute couple.) are the voice actors, and honestly, the whole cast is the reason I have a hard time with similar podcasts because it’s so good! They both grow through the war/invasion, and both are just amazing heroes. And their story is just so sad. Gah, okay. I am relistening to We’re Alive this month.

and 1. Tobias / Rachel – Animorphs 

day14
90s clothes, 90s tv. Also, Brooke Nevin is never anyone else but Rachel to me.

My first OTP ever, from when I was in 4th grade. I so should have realized early in life that I am so about torn/damaged couples and the like. I mean, how much more of a weird relationship can you get if one of the shippers is a BIRD? But really, over the entire series, Rachel gets more and more blood thirsty and ruthless, but this relationship is a constant for them both. I was so happy with Tobias was able to morph again.


 

 

Okay, I also can’t get away from thinking about some of my favorite friendships, especially as that’s what Valentine’s Day has always been for me. So below are my top 4 favorite friendships, again just from literature.

Win/Myron – Myron Bolitar series

If you haven’t read any of Harlan Coben’s books, and you like a good mystery book, give them a shot. These two are polar opposites in some ways (Win is a sociopath, cold blooded killer, Myron is an overly emotional sarcastic ex-basketball star). But if one needs the other, they are there instantly. In fact, the last Myron book  (Live Wire) there is a meta moment of Win holding a gun to Harlan Coben and telling him to give Myron a break. But there is a new one coming out soon!

Ron/Hermione/Harry – Harry Potter Series

These three love each other and are there for each other, despite all of the fights and flaws. I may not necessarily agree with the love relationships in these books, but I do love these three. (To the point that I am tearing up. What is up with me?)

Beth / Jen – Attachments

You can literally see my rant on this here.

Jake / Marco – Animorphs

Again, Animorphs is one of the first books I ever geeked out about. Maybe my mom remembers a series I geeked out before, but I don’t I ran around the playground pretending to be Animorphs with my friends and ALMOST didn’t read Harry Potter when someone told me it was better. And Jake and Marco are very much one of the best bro-mances ever. They almost remind me of modern day Captain America and Iron Man, even.

Hike 2: George Washington Bridge

With my editing project and the blizzard that hit in January, I didn’t have a chance to get out and go hiking more than once last month. I actually debated not going out today as it is a bit chilly still, and I wasn’t entirely up for leaving the city. Still, I knew that a good bit of my February was planned as I have two friends staying with me over the next few weekends. Plus my sinuses are a bit meh, and I have had a headache for 2 days. But if I didn’t get out of the house this weekend, I would definitely regret it.

My original plan was to hit up Fort Lee Historic Park, but I didn’t want to take the bus, nor give up the opportunity to work on my overwhelming fear of water. And, as I found out on the way to the bridge, the 175 St stop was closed for the A train. So my hike was not as nature-y as I am accustomed to, but I did get close to 4 miles in today. Or rather, I got about 10,000 steps in, as my Fitbit has me clocked in just under 15,800 steps, and it takes me about 4,000 round trip to and from my subway stop.

Location: George Washington Bridge
Distance: 3.8 miles
Hiking music: Gilmore Guys Podcast

wp-1454884325144.jpeg
Guys – it’s a payphone. PAYPHONES STILL EXIST!

I took this picture at Time Square, where I transferred over from the N Train to the A Train.

wp-1454884320303.jpeg
George Washington Bridge

I had to walk over half a mile to get from the subway to where I took this picture. The George Washington Bridge is quite beautiful (and it was such a beautiful day!)

wp-1454884316176.jpeg
Stepping onto the bridge – New York to the left, New Jersey to the right
wp-1454884311773.jpeg
Look at me, I’m standing over water! (OH GOD.) 

I wish these pictures showed more of the contrast between how many buildings are in NYC and the Jersey skyline.

wp-1454883490983.jpeg
Straddling the state lines! There isn’t a cool Welcome to NY sign, surprisingly.

wp-1454883486510.jpeg

Okay so, even after I got to NJ, I still thought about going to Fort Lee History Park. Unfortunately, there was more snow than I expected, and I certainly wasn’t dressed warm enough. This is about the point I turned around to head back.

wp-1454883482796.jpeg

This was a touching tribute to a fallen police officer on 9/11. Even 14 years later it’s still a beautiful well kept plaque and fresh/fake flowers.

wp-1454883478804.jpeg
The beginning walk back over the bridge. I wonder what decides cars on top and cars on bottom?

wp-1454883470647.jpeg

 

I found tennis courts! There were people out playing too. I considered walking down to them after I crossed the bridge, but I was way too cold.

wp-1454883475134.jpeg
And finally, the obligatory selfie picture. What you can’t tell is that I have two layers on under my hoodie.

How Do You Get On The New York Times Best-Seller List?

Enlightening read about the NYT. I’ll definitely think twice next time I look to the NYT only for a new potential book.

101 Books

Short answer: Who the [bleep] knows.

Long answer: It seems obvious, right? The book was a best-seller, meaning it sold more than all the other books that weren’t on said best-seller list, correct?

Well, maybe.

Publishing insider Tim Grahl recently posted an article that outlines the eternal mystery of landing a book on a best-seller list, specifically The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. The New York Times is notoriously secretive about how books land on their list, but we do know they factor in a lot more than just sales. According to Grahl:

View original post 545 more words

Book Review: Fangirl

To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one. – Rainbow Rowell

I am just going to start this review off by saying: if you didn’t like this book, you aren’t going to like my review. I loved this book, and any fault I find in it is so minor. I started this book immediately after finishing Carry On, as I figured it would be a quick read (as all Rainbow Rowell books are) and because our systems were down at work. And because I felt like I was missing the point of Carry On, which I enjoyed, but didn’t love as much as everyone else seemed to be. But man. Let me say this about Rainbow Rowell: she makes some damn relatable characters.

16068905

Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell
Published: 2013

Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Ratingmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md/5 Moose


 

Synopsis

Cather is a college freshman, living a few hours away from home. She has an identical twin sister, Wren, at the same school, but they aren’t roommates. They also have quite polar opposite personalities. Cather is introverted and loves to read and write, while her sister (who, to be fair does love to read and write) prefers to party and have the true college experience.

And Cather is a huge Simon Snow fan. In fact, she’s one of the most famous Simon Snow fan fiction writers. Her sister grew up loving the fandom as well, but seems to have grown out of the fandom.

Cather has to adjust to life without her sister being around constantly, and while living with a surely roommate, Reagan and her constantly around boyfriend Levi. She’s also dealing with being an English major and trying to decide if she has a unique voice, worrying about her eccentric dad, and a potentially cute writer in her writing class.

Characters

Cather – The main protagonist of the book. She’s a quiet, introverted, worrywart who prefers to live in a fictional world rather than the real world. She’s a word loving, glasses wearing, self proclaimed nerd. She avoids awkward situations (i.e. eating protein bars constantly as she doesn’t know where the food hall is and the thought of asking is so anxiety causing.) Her father raised her and Wren by himself mostly, as her mom took off shortly after 9/11.

Wren – Cather’s twin. She’s excited to live the college experience – date guys, go partying, have a separate roommate. She’s majoring in market, just like her dad. She used to co-write fan fiction with Cather, but has left the fandom pretty much behind.

Reagan – Reagan is Cather’s new roommate. She’s an older student – 21? – and has to live in the doors due to her scholarship. She has two jobs and smokes, and legit doesn’t give a care what anyone thinks. While she normally ignores Cather at first, they eventually and begrudgingly become friends.

Levi – Levi is Reagan’s super nice, always smiling, friendly with everyone boyfriend. Even from the moment he meets Cather he seems to ooze kindness and charisma. He spends a good portion of his time in Reagan and Cather’s room.

Nick – Cather meets Nick in her upper level writing class. He’s a cute guy and a decent writer, and Cather and Nick begin a bi-weekly writing/library date after they successfully write an assigned story together.

Simon / Baz – The stars of the Simon Snow series, and the loves of Cather’s life. They star in slasher fan fiction that Cather writes, which is almost as famous as the series itself.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

OKAY. I am going to get my minor complaints out of the way first, before I forget them while I gush over this book. A big part of Cather’s journey is her panicking about whether or not she has a unique voice as a writer, and finding it much easier to live in a world she knows and love. The resolution of this conflict is weak, in comparison to the rest of the book. It’s resolved, sure, and I think the conflict lies back with me and my constant tear between work and relationships.

And to be completely fair to this book, it’s so not a book just about a boy/girl relationship. It’s also about familial relations, the sometimes terrifying thought of having to make friends outside of the first twelve grades, and internal relationships.

Seriously, I, just like I am sure a few of my other girl friends, related way too much to Cather. I am still not a big partier, I hated my roommates at first (and unfortunately, never became good friends with any of my dorm mates). There are parts of me that wish I could do college over again, knowing what I know now. Don’t get me wrong – I made friends, I joined a tennis team my sophomore year, and I got through college (I almost wrote unscathed or just fine, but seriously — my college years were LEGIT rough – not me just being dramatic!)

It’s just… everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter—and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.

Oh yeah — and I am a nerd. Or was a nerd, if what Cath says is true (See the quote at the beginning of this.) My fandom was Harry Potter, and through it I made so many friends that I still have today, I got back into writing, I found that it’s okay to be obsessive about fandoms, and even had some new fandoms added.

What I didn’t have was a Levi. Dear lord, where do I find one of him? An outgoing, kind, genuinely nice guy who loves hanging out one-on-one as much as a big party. And I didn’t have a Reagan. (What’s weird is I did at one point live with 3 roommates, and one of them had a boyfriend that essentially lived with us too.) I think this sums up Reagan pretty much:

“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”

Oh man. Rowell, you write so well. There is a make out scene in this book, Cather’s first time making out with a guy, and it made me miss the innocence of young love and dating and just making out with a guy you really, really like. It’s so cute and sweet. And the interwoven Simon Snow quotes – both from the “book series” and the fan fiction? Love it.

Final Verdict

Dear Rainbow Rowell,

I am a fan. I am sorry I didn’t start reading your books years ago, and you are officially on my watch list. Your books add such a level of realism that make me yearn for redos and potential what ifs. What I’ve come to learn that I love the most about your books is that they could be considered romantic chick lit books, that’s usually the last thing I focus on. Levi and Cather might be the first couple I’ve loved in your books (though I did enjoy Simon and Baz of course.) I still need to read Eleanor & Park, which I will by the end of the year.

Thank you for reminding me that it’s cool to be a nerd, it’s cool to enjoy and love fan fiction, and that having a balance between the real world and fantasy world is perfectly fine (And oh god guys, there is real Simon/Baz FF. I love it.)

Book Review: Carry On

I bought this book from Books of Wonder when I came to NYC to look for an apartment last October. I knew nothing of the book, nothing of Fangirl… I didn’t even read my first Rainbow Rowell book until months later. But everyone was excited about this book, and I wasn’t going to pass up a signed copy.

I held off reading it until I had a better reference on Rainbow Rowell. I had read 2 of her books by the time I started this book, and I decided to read this book before Fangirl, as my friend kept talking about how much she loved it. 522 pages later, I’m a Simon+Baz ‘shipper.

23734628

Carry On

by Rainbow Rowell
Published October 2015

Format: Hardback (Signed copy – whaaaaat)
Genre: Fantasy, YA, “Fanfiction”
Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 4.5/5 Moose


 

Synopsis

Simon Snow: chosen one. A 17-year-old boy destined to heal the magical community. Too bad he sucks at magic in a general sense. He can’t handle a wand, and he’s a bit like a boiling pot when his emotions get too much. And his roommate Baz (who Simon is convinced is evil and a vampire) won’t let him forget it.

Carry On is the final book in Simon Snow’s series, culminating in the final showdown against the Insidious Humdrum. As the boo says itself, it’s a ghost story, love story, mystery and melodrama. With lots and lots of monsters.

Characters

Simon SnowHarry Potter The Chosen One. He’s the first Normal, non-magical lieage person to have magic. He’s starting his last year at Watford, a magical school in the UK. He is a bit of a doof but good heart-ed and brave. He is blonde and thin, as he’s lived in and out of foster care his entire life. He is burdened with the idea that he is the chosen one, as he considers himself average at best.

Basilton “Baz” PitchDraco Malfoy Baz is Simon’s roommate. He is missing at the beginning of the book, which causes Simon to obsess about where he is. He’s from one of the oldest and most prestigious families in the magic community – his mother was the former headmaster of Watford. It is suspected (by Simon) that Baz is a vampire. Simon and Baz have been mortal enemies since their first year.

Penelope “Penny” BunceHermione Granger Penny is another member of a prestigious family in the magical community. She is Simon’s first (and essentially only) friend. She is brilliant (Second best in the class after Baz), and stands by Simon constantly.

Agatha WellbyloveGinny Weasley or Cho Chang Agatha is Simon’s girlfriend, just short of his finace honestly. She is a conflicted character, torn between her support for Simon and her desire for a normal life.

The MageDumbledore The headmaster who took over after Baz’s mother’s death. He is grumpy and dresses like Robin Hood.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

Before I start, I am just going to say that I absolutely love fan fiction. Harry Potter, Arrow, and Divergent FF are currently on my ereader, and I also love crossovers. Hell, my Camp NaNoWriMo story was 20K words of fanfiction.

But I was a bit apprehensive about this book. I started it in December, but the first chapter turned me off a little bit. It has always bothered me that Fifty Shades of Grey is profiting as it is a Twilight fan fiction that just has names changes. So reading a novel that was, in my mind, essentially a Harry Potter fan fiction…I felt slightly hypocritical. Because really, the book read like a fan fiction of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

And the book, that theoretically read like it was number 7 or 8 in a series, had way too much explanation in it. I half appreciated it as I knew nothing about the series (duh), but it didn’t ring as realistic.

Reasons I was wrong:
1. I hadn’t read Fangirl yet. (though I have at the time of writing this.) Carry On is Cather’s fan fiction of the Simon Snow series, so it is another layer separate from Harry Potter.
2. About 100 pages into the book, I stopped thinking of Simon as Harry, Penny as Hermione, etc. I think this is because Baz finally enters the picture, and the story changes.

I really enjoyed the twist that Rowell puts on the magic world and the school. The students are required to learn how to do their clothes. Spells are based in common / popular phrases, rather than Latin. And (I’m probably in the minority on this) I think Agatha might be my favorite character. She’s suffocating from what’s expected of her, silently – she is a mage that doesn’t feel that having magic is a benefit. She doesn’t want to be Simon’s prize, and while she cares for Simon, she doesn’t care enough to lay down her life. She was the character in the book that I feel like most background characters feel like: this idiot!boy is going to get me killed, and all I want to do is graduate and get away.

I love that you get a sense that The Mage isn’t purely a good, fatherly figure. I wasn’t sure how much we were supposed to love and trust him (or see him as Dumbledore), so when he first shows up in the book, I thought the villain was wearing his face. He’s probably a complicated character in the series. I think I would have liked to see more of him, though we do get a good bit of his character in this book.

And the bromance. I almost didn’t write about the romance! Simon and Baz are adorable. I like reading the start of their relationship from both view points. It made me want a mortal enemy that might secretly be in love with me.

Final Verdict

carryon

When I finished this book, I originally gave it 4 moose. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t as girly over it as everyone else I had read seemed to be. I immediately read Fangirl after, and reading that added an extra .5 moose to my review. But seriously – I love Fangirl more. I’ll review it tonight or this weekend of course!

If you love Harry Potter and its fan fiction, read this book. If you like urban fantasy books with a cute love story between the monsters and vampires, read this book.

January Wrap Up / February Planning

Oh January. I had to finish up my editing job in January, so every time I debated doing something fun, I had to (sometimes begrudgingly) do my editing stuff. And now I am staring at the hours, knowing I have to log them….but I am glad it is done!

So here’s a break down of my January:

Books Read (That Were Planned)

  • 5th Wave by Rick Yancey 5/5 Moose
  • The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey 4/5 Moose
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 4.5/5 Moose (It was originally 4, but then I finished Fangirl and bumped it up a little bit. Review to come this week.)
  • Broken by Susanne Valenti (ARC) 3/5 Moose
  • Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker (ARC) 3.75/5 Moose
  • Cranky Ladies of History – Short story compilation (Still Reading)

Books Read (That Were Not Planned)

  • Saga Volumes 1-5 [I didn’t write up a review because I haven’t read enough graphic novels to judge them, but oh boy. So good!]

Podcasts I started and recommend

Projects to Work On

  • 85 lines of my 4th Doctor scarf
  • Presents for Grey
  • Hats for a friend’s daughter

I worked on stuff for Grey, but I haven’t finished anything yet, ugh. February will definitely have more crochet time.

Monthly Goals that I listed to accomplish

Monthly Goals that I didn’t list but accomplished

NYC Places I meant to Visit:

  • National History Museum [See notes above]
  • Flophouse Screening [I had a bout of agoraphobia the day of this, and kind of regret not going.]

NYC Places I Visited:

  • Butter, as in from Gossip Girl

February’s Books To Be Read

  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (to be released February 23)
  • The Last Girl by Joe Hart
  • After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  • Cranky Ladies of History

Projects to Work On

  • 170 lines of my 4th Doctor scarf
  • Presents for Grey

Monthly Goals

  • Write 9,000 words
  • Get up nerve to post fanfiction first chapter
  • At least 2 hikes
  • Post more writing or writing ramblings
  • Work on confidence

Places to Visit

  • Hartford, CT (and maybe swing over to Washington, CT to see the original Stars Hallow?)
  • Epic Reads Presents: A Date With Royalty
  • Another Broadway show (but mostly because Hamilton started their Digital Lottery again!)
  • Fort Lee Historic Park