Monday, March 21, 2011

One Crazy Month (Part 2)

I’ve been entertaining visitors.

People have been in and out of Charlotte like whoa.

First, it was me, gone in New York. Then, my parents went up to Boston – to watch my little bro’s squash final. The next weekend, they went to Mardi Gras.

During those times, I was in charge of taking care of our dear bulldog Churchill. You see how cute he is? Adorable. This is him after our walk, not moving – until I opened the door and we went for a second walk.

Then my good friend Angela and her boyfriend came in from DC. The next day, my sister arrived from Charleston. And a few days later, my grandmother arrived in town, and the next day, my aforementioned brother came home for spring break.

It’s nice. I’ve been social. I’ve talked to people in person rather than over the phone or over BBM (umm, I mean, Blackberry Messenger for those of you who love your iPhones or other devices). It’s sad and odd to rediscover how much you miss someone – even if you talk to them every other day. Sometimes, digital communication really isn’t the same.

I’ve been sick.

(Disclaimer: this may be a TMI section. Feel free to skim/skip.)

It’s so weird: I’ve basically been sick for over a month. I’ve got one of those stubborn sinus infections, which really won’t go away, and I’ve been on three different antibiotics since February 9. (But please don’t be alarmed. An ENT doctor told me what was up, and life is back on track.) The low-grade fevers finally went away this week (yaaaay!), but guess what I got instead?

The stomach bug of doom. It was ridiculous. Tuesday morning, I woke up and rushed to the toilet. I rushed back three more times before noon. God, I haven't been so violently ill since I got food poisoning in high school.

(But don’t worry: I don’t have any pictures, and I definitely wouldn’t force them on you even if I did have them. :-P)

But there is one good thing about being sick: TONS of reading time.

….And I’ve been reading awesome things. :-)

Really awesome things. Awesome like whoa, in fact.

I’ll only talk about four – briefly, because I plan to devote whole posts to some of them.

Divergent – OMG, I feel like I’ve been waiting to read this book forever (but it’s really only been about a year)!

(Jo was nice enough to sign me up for an ARC tour, and it came to me right before I went to New York. And then it went straight on its way again, so unfortunately, I can’t send the ARC along to any of you readers.)

And it. Was. AWESOME. No, really – I wouldn’t just say this. I didn’t rush through it the way many other people said that they did. I forced myself to go slow, to savor it, because I knew when it was over, I couldn’t read it anymore. When I read the last page, I immediately wanted to start over at page one (but I couldn’t…I had to send it on…Sadness…).

The MC, Tris (short for Beatrice), lives in a dystopian Chicago, where the whole population is split up into five factions, which all try to become the epitome of one virtue: Abnegation (which is big on Selflessness), Candor (Truth), Erudite (Study), Amity (Kindness or Peacefulness - basically, comfortable living), and Dauntless (Courage).

I’m not totally sure I can write a real review yet, but here’s what I loved the most: Tris and her relationship to her fear. Her initiation into Dauntless forces her to confront all of her fears, and she gets ranked among the other Dauntless initiates in relation to how well and how easily she conquers these fears. Tris is a person small in stature, but with nerves of steel. But she has next-to-no recognition about how brave and awesome she is. She tackles her fears, and conquers them, one by one. Which leads her to do what she needs to do to keep the people she loves safe.

Which translates to awesome awesome AWESOME.

Can't wait to read it again come May.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate – Okay, I’ve been keeping this in the TBR stack for a couple months now, on the recommendation of a trusted bookworm friend. But I couldn’t bring myself to read it. I mean, a girl-scientist in 1899 Texas? (Of course, I also had an ulterior motive for keeping it close: it’s just pretty to look at. I’ve always had a thing for the Victorian silhouettes (ie. the cut-out profile look), and this cover gives me happy flashbacks to the picture searches in the Highlights magazine I read in my youth. But in a nice way.)

But it was so funny!! I never thought I could love biology so much. Calpurnia herself is the kind of character who latches onto you – she’s so flawed, so smart, and so loveable. There’s not really a plot in the strictest sense of the world, though lots of stuff happens, but there’s a great feeling in it: the sense of wanting more from life, and not being sure you’ll be able to get it.

The Rotten Adventures of Zachary Ruthless – This book is for everyone who wanted to be an evil villain when they grew up, or maybe just…everyone with a sense of humor.

Seriously, it was AWESOME! I laughed so freaking hard, and I kinda now just wanna make a shirt like Zachary’s that says, "Born to Be Rotten." And get some zucchini-flavored gum – also like Zachary’s – so I can trick people into thinking that it's spearmint or something.

Once you finish, you too will want to perfect your evil cackle: Bwa-ha-ha!!

Stay tuned, dear friends: I’ll do a giveaway once it pubs next month. :-D

This is Dream...with his chipper older sis, Death.
He's kind of moping. He does a lot of that.
(This scene comes from the end of Volume One, by the way.)

The Sandman series: They call this the comic book series that redefined comic books. And they should.

(Disclaimer, though: this is not for kids.)

If you write for children, you might know about his novel Coraline or The Graveyard Book, the 2009 Newbery Award winner. If you read fantasy, you might have read Neverwhere or American Gods.

But this is one of Gaiman’s earliest works. The main characters is Morpheus (a.k.a. Dream), one of the seven Endless: Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium - siblings, older than gods, who have lived from the dawn of time and rule over their respective dominions.

But it’s really a writer’s comic, because it’s really about Story (which is also about Dream’s realm). We see Shakespeare, we see the Muses, we see the Fates, we see Mark Twain, we see Lucifer with a mention of Milton, and also, an Alice in Wonderland type world with evil Cuckoos. We see Norse gods, and Egyptian gods, and Babylonian gods, and we see comic book heroes.

It shouldn't work, but because it's Gaiman, it does.

It also defies description without spoilers, so I would just go check it out. All ten or eleven volumes. Like literally, from your local library. :-)

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