Tag Archives: writing

River’s moving to BOSTON — MIT & the USA

mitIn case you can’t read what the inscription on this building says, I will spell it out for you:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

You’ve heard of it right? Oh yes, because it’s super famous and hard to get into. And I am proud to say that my husband GOT IN. This fall he will be starting his PhD in Computer Science at MIT. And the two of us will be leaving Japan and moving to Boston to start the next phase of our life.

csailThe CSail building, where husband will be spending the next 5 years of his life researching about AI and robotics.

Let me take a moment to AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Sometimes I still can’t believe that it’s real. When I met husband five years ago he couldn’t even speak English. But he told me that he wanted to go to the USA to get a PhD. To me it just seemed like something in the future that might happen. But to him, it was the first goal of many. And when he not only became fluent in English, but also began to take the tests that are required for graduate school (TOEFL & GRE) what seemed like an impossible dream to me was starting to become WAY more real. And it scared me. But also awed me. Watching someone strive for, and then reach their goal, it’s amazing.

IMG_4763Boston, MA March 2014

I wont lie, going through all of this with him was difficult. There were a lot of tears, a lot of blood, and buckets of sweat. It really tested our relationship, and I’m so happy that in the end, after two years (yes, it took that long to finish his applications — he applied to SIX schools, not only MIT) when the acceptances started to roll in (he was accepted for more than just MIT too) I wasn’t surprised. He worked hard, and he deserved it. And I’m so proud of him. And sorry not sorry but I can’t help but brag! (I even bought an MIT sweatshirt).

So what does this mean? Well, right now we’re just going through the preliminaries that international students need to study abroad (visa, vaccines, etc). We have housing (an on campus apartment) and now we just need to figure out when we’re going to move (sometime in July or August) and I need to find a job! (Anyone have any job leads in the Boston/Cambridge area? Book related????) I’m planning on getting some lame part time thing until I can find something better, but I’d REALLY love to work in a bookstore again. And then when we’re finally settled in…I’m going to focus on myself and kick my novel back into gear.

BOSTON PEEPS. Let’s be friends! I’m planning on going to ALL the book events EVER now that I’ll be back on US ground. And I’d love to have cohorts!

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Personal Post – Reading Slump, #WednesdayYA & Other Stuff

Reading Slump! BOO!

It’s funny and I totally never thought this could happen, but I hit a bit of a reading slump. It’s really odd when you go from finishing at least two books a week to not even finishing one. Part of the issue for me I think could have been the week (my family was celebrating the one year anniversary of my father passing away) or perhaps I just wasn’t reading the right type of book.

401454I’ve been working on a bookish feature for RPGamer.com and I think part of my slump may be coming from the fact that I’ve been reading a lot of texts for it related to the idea of roleplaying and roleplaying games. That being said, I’m pretty sure it’s part of why I haven’t been able to find books that are just screaming for me to devour them. The last ARC I finished was The Tyrant’s Daughter and that was two weeks ago. That isn’t like me! Usually I’m pushing out reviews, reading my ARCs like a boss and providing content for you guys.

I think the slump could also be attributed to the pile of school work I have as well. I’m in my 16068341second year of my library technician program and I am loving it, but the work load is a bit killer. By the time I get home some nights I find myself curling up into my warm bed and sleeping than reading or gaming. It’s odd, but I am looking forward to our little Spring Break coming up.

17926775It hasn’t all been bad, truthfully the two books I’m reading are fairly long. I am also reading a shorter ARC that River has already completed and it seems to be the one sucking me in the most. The ARCs I am reading The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu, The Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen, while the book I am working through for the RPGamer feature is Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward. The RPGamer feature is coming along well and will probably be ready by the time my study week is over. I still have one more text after Villains that I need to complete, but we will see how it goes. I am actually enjoying both ARCs I am in the middle of, especially The Truth About Alice — that book really can suck you in and it begs the reader to really piece the “truth” together, so it’s very engaging. As for The Stolen Songbird, it’s a good book but a very slow burn. There’s a lot of cheesy humor, but the characters are pretty fun though so I keep forgiving the cheese factor as it appears. I’m about 50% through it so hopefully you’ll all see a review soon!

Truthfully what I am curious about is how you all deal with reading slumps? Do you just let the slump take hold or do you cycle through a bunch of things until one catches your interest?

Anywho… moving on!

#WednesdayYA

13455782So I’ve mentioned #WednesdayYA Book Club before, which is run by @TheBookRat and @lizpatanders. The first month they got this book club running we read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, which I was excited to read and it disappointed me. Funny enough, my beautiful co-blogger, River, had told me (knowing my taste very well) that I would not like the book, and she was right, yet… I COULDN’T STOP READING IT. For me, Shatter Me has really interesting, if awkward prose at times, the story doesn’t entire know what it is, and the characters are horrifically polarizing. As a reader it was a book that didn’t do enough right for me to love it and yet I couldn’t stop turning the pages, I couldn’t contain my desire to keep reading. To me this book is not good at all, but the fact that I want to read the sequels shows you how a polarizing book can sometimes leave a lasting impression. I only have two questions about this book: one, where are my ladies at?! and two: when can we see a spin-off adventure starring Kenji, aka the best character in Shatter Me?

ANYWHO… for the month of February, we are reading (and I have completed as of Monday Printnight), Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. This is another very polarizing YA read, mostly because the characters are a little on the problematic side. A good chunk of this book revolves around Kami hating on a poor, popular girl (poor as is not rich, not sad) Holly, yet her reasons always seemed so unjustified to me especially considering Holly is so darn nice to her. Kami’s behaviour in the book ranges from slut-shamming to obnoxious, to sympathetic oddly enough. Her negative qualities are awful and they stick out like a sore thumb, yet at the same time I think it’s interesting how Kami understands that what she is doing is wrong and ultimately tries to atone for it.

The majority of the setting and characters felt very cliche and one note. It’s weird how many people were gushing how unique this book is and yet I felt like I was reading a different book. I don’t hate Unspoken as the writing can be gorgeous when it wants to be and the characters are serviceable, if a touch one note (minus Kami), but I really struggled to connect with the characters at all and that’s usually a sign for me that a book is just eh and not amazeaballz.

And then there was Ash and Jared who were just… boring. They were so one note and bland that I really didn’t get the appeal of their characters. Male love interests have to work hard to win me over, and it’s usually because they are often written in a very one dimensional way. Much like Shatter Me this book also suffers from insta-love, though I’d argue Shatter Me at least has a lot more character development than Unspoken. I can totally see the appeal of Ash and Jared for some readers, but they just never did anything that struck my fancy and in fact their behaviour often made me dislike them more.

I feel like in terms of writing there is quality for the most part in Unspoken though a lot of the humor was so cheesy and out of place sometimes that I found myself face palming. On the other side of the coin when the humor worked, I did laugh and enjoy where the narrative was taking me. There is a good mystery story here, but I feel like halfway through the book the mystery really became second fiddle to the romance-paranormal… whatever you want to call it. I ended up rating Unspoken 3 STARS on Goodreads, but I’m unsure as to whether or not I’ll be continuing the series. If the library ends up getting the sequel, I may give ti a whirl, but it’s not a priority at this point.

Other Stuff! 

Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc 1Oddly enough, I mentioned I was in a reading slump. What I failed to tell you all is that my reading slump turned into a gaming binge. More particularly, I devoted some time to completing a visual novel called Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc which was recently release by NIS America last Tuesday for the PlayStation Vita. Danganronpa is Battle Royale meets Phoenix Wright in a morbid tale of kill or be killed. “Killing Games” or “Blood Sport” fiction is surprisingly huge in Japan (and was oddly a part of my university dissertation, yeah I’m odd). They love the idea of characters being placed in an unwinnable situation and fighting to destroy a mastermind of who has placed them in that situation.

Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc 3Interestingly this style of novel and visual novel  are slowly becoming huge in the Western Markets thanks to The Hunger Games, though I think Japan really takes this genre further by adding a heavy layer of horror and discomfort, something not a lot of YA has yet to touch. It’s an interesting genre to explore, but the mystery surrounding the events of Danganronpa are really why you should play it. It’s a game that plays to your inner fears, places you in uncomfortable situations and asks you to make decisions that could affect the life of someone else. What’s even more fascinating is that the overall message of fear and terror gets flipped on its head and the end result is something very rewarding, if completely unexpected. The gameplay is really second to the narrative and if your okay with texts like Battle Royale than Dangaronpa will feel like a cakewalk by comparison. If you enjoyed Phoenix Wright or have played the Zero Escape games, than definitely check out Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc!

Though I will admit, Monokuma does give me the willies. *shutter*

Everything *IS* Awesome

Benny_filmstill1Despite the looming sad feeling I’ve been facing, everything has been really darn awesome. I mean, I saw the LEGO Movie, that’s how awesome it is. My husband is a big LEGO nut, and to the point where we don’t even have children but I still buy him LEGO kits for Christmas and his birthday. Needless to say we went with a dear friend of ours and basically came out singing “Everything is Awesome” (which, Tegan and Sara rules, by the way) as well as screaming SPACESHIP! in the car. It’s a movie that isn’t what you expect right away and is better because of it. Totally worth checking out in the theaters in you can make the time for it.

The End? THE END!

This post has gone on long enough and while it probably lacks the entertainment factor of River’s awesomeness, I figured I’d share what’s been up with me the last few weeks and why perhaps you haven’t seen as many reviews or even content as of late. Sometimes life throws you curve balls, and sometimes it gives you creepy Teddy Bears. At the end of the day I leave you with this question: How Do You Deal With Reading Slumps? Please post in the comments as I’d love to hear your answers!

Januaryyyyyyyy – River’s Wrap-up

photo (1)January hair cuttttttt!

Hey guys! I know I’m a few days behind, but I finally have the time (and energy!) to do my January wrap-up. It feels like January was SO long ago… and at the same time I can’t believe how quickly it went by! Maybe this is what getting old feels like. cries.

Sooooo first up…

BOOKS!

16068973Best book read in January! The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno. Publishes July 8th, 2014.

I managed to read SIXTEEN books in January. SIXTEEN GUYS. I feel very proud of this. I first read all of my ARCs for January (due out in February) and then read whatever I felt like. And I re-read The Dream Thieves and it was amazing. For a full list of the books that I read in January check them out here on my goodreads challenge.

TV

Breaking-Bad_Wallpaper-I watched ALLLLLLLLL of Breaking Bad in one month.

So I know everyone and their dog has watched Breaking Bad, and for some reason I just never really wanted to see it. Everyone was all IT’S SO GOOOOOOOD WATCH ITTTTTTT but I literally have a pile of TV shows from LAST SEASON that I haven’t even finished. I’m in the middle of over TEN shows! I even had to just give up on some because I don’t have enough time to watch that much TV. But my husband would NOT stop talking about this show’s brilliance, so during vacation I gave it a try and WAS HOOKED. I had no idea what to expect (husband never gave me any specifics), so all I knew was that this high school teacher gets diagnosed with cancer and starts to cook meth to make money for his family. THAT WAS IT. I had this image in my head of him just cooking in the RV and making some cash and slowly dying. I never imagined all of the insanity that would follow. AND THE DEVASTATION AND HEARTBREAK omfg. This show is GREAT guys. It’s not just about ~cooking meth~ and ~drugs~. It is SO. MUCH. MORE.

But I’m kindaaaaaa glad that I’m finished with it because I really need to catch up with things like The Originals, TVD, Arrow and White Collar…..

Music

NEW TAKING BACK SUNDAY OH. MY. FUCKING. GOD. I have no words. I am so happy I could CRY. You guys THIS BAND. THIS BAND. I just can’t even. I wish I could go to the USA and go see them. I am so old and can’t even mosh anymore without probably breaking a hip (okay I’m not THAT old) but jfc. This is so good and I a so happy and COME TO ME MARCH 18TH. I need this album.

I also made a SOUND CLOUD account! I have no friends (I made it to follow Maggie Stiefvater), so PLEASE ADD ME. I only have one playlist which is for my novel!

Writing

Yes I am writing again! Now that I’m done helping my husband with his grad school applications I have time to do whatever I want and I’m back to work on the novel I started last winter. The novel that might actually get finished (I’m the worst writer ever and never finish anything so that is why I have never even attempted to find an agent but THIS WILL BE THE ONE DAMNIT). I have a title, CHAPTERS WITH NAMES, an ending (this is always the part that is most difficult for me), over 31,000 words written, an outline (again, not something I usually do) and general motivation. Goal is to finish the first draft by the end of Feb and then edit! Good luck self!

Personal

As I said above, I got my hair cut. It used to be REALLY long…

photo (3)

and I am so happy to not keep finding my hair in my food…

I also got the most AMAZING present from husband…

puddingSOY MILK PUDDING!!!! If you don’t already know I’m kinda-sorta deathly allergic to milk & dairy products. Like, I can eat a piece of cheese and not die, or a slice of pizza, but any raw dairy (especially a big glass of milk) will send me to the hospital (it’s happened before!) so I have to avoid ice cream, pudding, cheese, yogurt and so on… it’s a pain in the butt here in Japan because nobody seems to understand that MILK IS IN A LOT OF STUFF. Husband is pretty good about asking if there’s raw milk in stuff (I’m okay with things that have cooked milk in them, whatever I’m allergic to seems to get cooked out), but I’m always super sad that I can’t have things like ice cream or pudding. So husband searched online and found soy milk whipping cream (which I have since purchased and whipped into the most delicious whip cream I’ve eaten since 2004 when my allergy first showed up) and THIS AMAZING SOY MILK PUDDING. It has soy milk whipped cream on the top too. I’ve been eating them very slowly and pray that he will gift more to me in the future (it’s super expensive to ship!).

Soooooo that was January!!! Looking forward to writing a ton more, reading lots, and catching up on my TV shows in February! I also hope to have some good news about this next coming year and my living situation soon too…

 

Prep School Confidential

13411546
Title: Prep School Confidential
Author: Kara Taylor
Rating: ★★★★
Synopsis: Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne could care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate, Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school. When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

Review: This book was so fun! I’ve never been a huge fan of mysteries, but I enjoyed this one a lot!

Enter Anne, upper East side prep school queen B. She sets fire (accidentally) to her prep school and her parents send her to boarding school to hide her/appease the school/save face. Anne can hold her own at her new school, but she instead befriends her nerdy, quirky roommate… who gets killed just a week later.

WHO DUN IT. That’s what I wanted to know through the entire thing. There were lots of red herrings and everyone was basically set up to take the fall, but the one who actually did do it… really surprised me! And I loved that I didn’t call it. Nothing bothers me more than calling a plot twist halfway through the book.

I loved how gutsy Anne was. She didn’t really know her roommate, but she liked her and wanted to find out the truth.

The only thing that I didn’t really care for, and why I gave it a 4 instead of a 5, was the love story in it. I honestly didn’t feel that it was needed, and while it was really light, it could have just not been there. I don’t know, I just wasn’t feeling it… but the rest of the relationships, the friends, and the twists between them all, totally worked for me.

I can’t wait for the next one!!!

I received this from Netgalley and wrote an honest review to say thank you!

Giveaway — THE SIGHT SEER & Anna and the French Kiss

a3

Gabi Harkins likes to think she’s a pretty normal sixteen-year-old. She goes to school, suffers though an awful part-time job, and deals with a bratty younger sister. But when a potential shoplifter morphs into a monster right in front of her, Gabi realizes her life is far from normal—especially when that monster follows her home and ends up battling a boy wielding a sword in her backyard.

The boy, Rafe Fitzgerald, is a member of Silver Moon, an organization devoted to eradicating demons before they kill humans. If this little bit of news isn’t earth-shattering enough, Rafe reveals that he needs Gabi’s help. As strong as Rafe is, he does not possess the Sight—a rare ability that allows a hunter to See through a demon’s glamour, enabling them to strike before the demon does. But guess who does?

While Gabi is reluctant to face another demon, she knows she owes Rafe big time for saving her. Together, they’re thrown headfirst into heart-stopping situations as they battle newer and more frightening demons. When she starts to fall for Rafe, Gabi knows her normal life is gone forever.

HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS! Check out this book. My VERY good friend (we’ve been friends since high school!!! We used to write the most ridiculous stories together about pretty boys in love. And she even came to Japan and stayed with me for a week) Melissa Giorgio‘s VERY FIRST BOOK is being released on JUNE 14TH. It’s a Young Adult paranormal (first in a possible series) and I am SO EXCITED FO HER! I also can’t wait to buy my own copy and read it’s gorgeousness in all it’s published glory.

To celebrate her book birthday I’m going to host my very first GIVEAWAY!!!! This is open INTERNATIONALLY. Not only will I be giving away one e-copy of THE SIGHT SEER I asked Melissa to choose a book to add to the giveaway and she picked…

anna and the french kiss

Anna and the French kiss… one of her current favs (and mine too!) So hot damn you get a YA Paranormal AND a contemporary out of this giveaway. Something for everyone.

For THE SIGHT SEER I can only send you a KINDLE version of the ebook, so if you don’t have a kindle and don’t want to read it thru the kindle app then we can talk about a physical copy. The ebook of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS will be available for any device tho.

And the winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize.

So please fill out this rofflecopter (sorry I can’t embed it, wordpress rules…). You can: follow us on twitter, subscribe to both our blogs by email, and tweet about the giveaway. That’s it 😀

CLICK HERE!

you have until June 14th to enter!

The house had no windows, only artificial lights hanging from the ceilings. Long spider like legs dangled from above, plunging down, suddenly stopping and hanging precariously above everyone’s heads. Each studio was outfitted with glass bulbs mounted on extendable arms, stretching out from walls, reaching and wrapping around to illuminate the canvas with the best possible reflections and refractions.

First words (paragraph) of 2013.

winner

Image

 

I finished NaNoWriMo 2012 yesterday night at 50,557 words. I also finished the novel with a plot twist and a cliff hanger.

For me NaNoWriMo isn’t a chance to ‘write a novel’. I never work on my serious works during this time. Instead it’s a month long writing exercise where I start with a small idea and see how far I can make it go with minimal planning.

Things I learned this year:

+ I really like Scrivener and plan on buying it.

– Don’t write from a POV that doesn’t work for the story.

(I wrote from a male POV but the story would have worked SO much better from the main female or third person) This is the second time I’ve done this, and I need to listen to my gut more than going with ‘what I want to do’.

+ I have lots of free time for writing, so I really need to just focus more.

(I totally watched ALL of The Walking Dead AND still managed to work full time and finish NaNo a day early)

+ Writing just to write without obsessing over the words is fun! (Edit later self. I spend way too much time editing as I go and I get nowhere, often)

– I write sci-fi for a reason. This year I tried to write something more contemporary (with a paranormal twist) and had some logistical issues with things like… it doesn’t take 4 days to drive straight across the USA.

Over all I’m glad that I did NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m also glad that it’s over. I want to focus on other projects now that I’m back in the habit of writing. And I’m going to take some of these lessons to heart as I do so.