Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guest Post: Sean F - Fiction Predictions

This guest post is by Sean F (aspiring writer, sporadic blogger, and Ashling's younger brother).

Fiction Predictions

In the interest of maintaining the momentum which my sister has achieved with this blog, she has asked me to provide a guest post.  Therefore, I have endeavoured to dig my writing cap out of mothballs and have a go at putting pen to paper again.  It was at this point that I realised that I had neither pen nor paper (which is irrelevant, really, as I have a laptop) but, more importantly, I hadn’t the faintest idea what to write about. You see, not only was my writing cap getting dusty, but my reading cap was as well.  With few exceptions, I have not picked up a book with the intent to read it in some months now, and as this is a reading/writing blog, this seems to me to be a bit of a detriment.

However, let it not be said that I’m not willing to take suggestions and so, thanks to the help of a friend, I have a list.  You see, the thing I have noticed about this and other reading/writing blogs is that the focus tends to be on the past - that is, books that are already written.  Therefore, what follows is a list of books that should exist and hopefully someday will (if they do not already).  It’s only three books long but then, nobody said it has to be long to be a list.

#1. Captain Hook’s Story

The worlds of parallel and revisionist fiction have seen some successful ventures of late, from the smash hit Wicked to Terry Pratchett’s Dodger, which raises the question of why hasn’t anyone done anything with Captain Hook yet?  The charismatic corsair extraordinaire plays the perfect foil to Peter Pan, a colourful villain for a children’s tale… and yet, he is decidedly one-dimensional, though I suppose most villains in children’s stories are.  There is certainly room to expand upon J.M. Barrie’s character and, dare I say it, even room to cast Peter Pan in a darker light, drawing upon his similarities (and, some argue, his predecessor) the Green Man, a creature akin to Fairies, from back when fairies were believed to steal children.

Certainly would put the Lost Boys in a different light, wouldn’t it?

#2. Dummies for Dummies

As I do not know the geographical makeup of the people who will be reading this, there is a book series available on this side of the pond called “__________ For Dummies”.  I hope that was self-explanatory, and also that my research indicating that these books are not available outside of the United States was factual.  Otherwise, this entire paragraph was pointless and somewhat embarrassing to claim as my own.

Anyway, rather than a guide to some subject with which you are having difficulty, what I propose instead is a story about a fictional family – one that is shallow, vapid, inept, grotesquely overconfident concerning their own value, and sadly rich enough to make it seem that they actually are important.  In a sense, it would be a book that illuminates what is best about our culture by condensing all of what’s worst about it into one, easy to read book.  Essentially, a modern Great Gatsby

…Or an episode of that program with the Kardashian’s, only you can assign it for English class.

Further, there aren’t any commercials.

#3. Your Book

Having gone with the light-hearted and somewhat cynical options already, I decided to finish this off with something sincere.

It would only be a slight exaggeration to say that everyone I know who is an avid reader also aspires to write something.  I myself have several novels that I pick up every now and then, work on feverishly, and then put them away for a few months. Someday, I might get one or two of them published, maybe not.  Maybe yours will get printed instead.

But then, the ultimate goal of writing isn’t – or, I should say, shouldn’t be – to get it published.  Granted, that would be an excellent outcome, but if artists only painted pictures they knew they would sell, Van Gogh would’ve only finished one painting.  The goal of writing is to tell a story so that we can share that story with others… and the only stories that get told are the ones that get written.  So I encourage you to work on writing your story.  It could be anything – it could be about a peach growing up on a farm.  Actually, don’t write about that, I borrowed that example from Elf, and a cease and desist letter from Will Ferrell’s attorneys would be a bit of a bother…

…but if you do finish something, I jolly well want to read it.

Unless it’s some sort of romance novel, then you can send it to my sister.

This is her blog, after all.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Guest Post: Siobhan F on LOTR

This guest post is by Siobhan F (Ashling's youngest sister).

The Ten Symptoms of LOTR-Ob (Lord of the Rings Obsession)

  • You find yourself leaning into a speaker to get the full experience of your favorite LOTR song.
  • The top of your Christmas list is all LOTR-related.
  • You find yourself at a loss on what to read next after that last chapter.
  • You can't think of one possible reason why someone wouldn't absolutely love LOTR.
  • You wonder what people are talking about when they say that it's 'too long.'
  • You can think of no better way to spend the day than reading, watching, or talking about LOTR (or even all three).
  • You contemplate on whether you would like to live in 'Bag End' or 'Crick Hollow.'
  • You find yourself quoting LOTR at least once a day.
  • You have at least 3 copies of each movie and book in your house.
  • You go to sleep thinking about how awesome LOTR is.

If you agreed with:

1-3 items: Your LOTR-Ob is hardly even on the scale.  You're a minor LOTR fan.  (What on earth is wrong with you?!)

4-6 items: Iffy.  Your LOTR-Ob is there, but it's kind of low.

7-8 items: Better.  Your LOTR-Ob is close to extreme, but not up there...yet.

9-10 items:  You have Extreme LOTR-Ob!  (Not that that's a bad thing...)

P.S:  Most of these symptoms were discovered by my own self-diagnosis.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Down in the Slumps

So in case you haven't noticed, there hasn't been much activity here on the blog, and that's because...

I'm in a slump.

Lately, I just haven't felt motivated to read anything.  And blogging feels like a chore, like I'm obligated to do it.  I'm sure there are reasons, good ones, for why I feel so blah about all this.  Some of the ones I can think of are:

  • Too many books - I never thought I'd ever say this.  It evens feels kind of blasphemous to write it here, but in this case, it's true.  I have so many books from BEA, and books I've gotten since then, literally stacked on my floor because there's no room for them, and it's overwhelming.  I feel like there's no way I can ever get through them, and it makes me not even want to try.
  • Disappointing books - Reading a disappointing book is always a guaranteed way to put me off reading for a while.  Unfortunately, the past couple of books I've started (but not finished) have all been kind of on the blah side.  And not finishing any books means not having anything to review.
  • Lack of content - On the blogging side, I don't currently have anything to review so I haven't been posting anything.  And I don't want to post only memes.  So I end up feeling obligated to come up with something creative to fill posts, which makes this feel like a chore.  And honestly, who likes chores?
  • Laziness - I'm being completely honest here, so I'll admit that part of this is simple laziness.  These past few weeks have been crazy at work, and then it was my sister's birthday, and then it was my birthday, so I didn't feel like doing anything.  I decided to relax and be a couch potato, and getting back into the swing of things (including exercising & eating healthy, not just reading) is hard.  So yeah, part of this whole slump is my own fault.
  • Stress - Starting next week, I'll be back in college.  I'm going back to school for a small business certificate program.  And even though I'm one of those crazy people who LOVES being in class and learning things, I'm also really nervous.  I'm nervous about the classes themselves, but I'm also nervous because the whole reason I'm going for this certificate is because I want to start my own business.  And that's not just nerve-wracking - it's also really scary!
So yeah, these are my excuses... I mean, perfectly good reasons for why I'm in this slump.  Hopefully it doesn't last too long, but until then, I'm going to try to put together a few guest posts for now, to keep my poor blog from suffering.  And while I'm getting those lined up, I'm hoping that some tried-and-true solutions that have worked in the past will help pull me out of my slump.  I'm going to be re-reading some old favorites, putting together a schedule (I crave structure!), and working on creating a unique feature for my blog.  Cross your fingers that one or all of those work.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (40) - My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week, it's all about what you're planning to read this Fall.

I love autumn.  It's my favorite season of the year, and even though it technically doesn't start till the 22nd, I'm pretty much saying it's already here.  The weather's starting to get chilly, the leaves are changing color, and Dunkin Donuts is selling it's pumpkin and apple products.  The only downside of Fall is that it also means it's time for the seasonal TBR list post for Top Ten Tuesday.  I have a love-hate relationship with these TTTs.  I love them because I discover lots of new, interesting books while reading everyone's blogs.  And I hate them because my TBR list is already crazy and overwhelming, and these posts just add on to it.  The simplest solution would be to not read anyone else's blog, but I'm a glutton for punishment apparently, because there's no way I'm not finding new books to read someday.

My Top Ten Books to Read This Fall

And those are the top books I'm looking forward to reading this Fall.  Are you excited for any of these too?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Upcoming Books-to-Screen Adaptations

This past Top Ten Tuesday was all about what books we'd like to see made into movies or TV shows, and it got me thinking about all of the screen adaptations that are already in progress or just released.  The big craze right now seems to be making YA books into movies, and while in some ways I love this, in other ways I'm dreading it.  There's no denying that Hollywood doesn't always get it right when it comes to adapting books.  Things get left or cut out, storylines are completely changed, or terrible actors are hired to play our favorite characters.  But sometimes they do actually get it right, which is why I'm always on pins and needles when I hear about the next book-to-screen adaptation.

This year and next are going to see a lot of adaptations, both in the movies and on TV.  And I thought I'd share some of them, and let you know which ones I'm psyched about and which ones have me biting my nails with nervousness.

The I-Cannot-Wait-to-See-These Movies

  • Ender's Game
    • Based on Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
    • Release Date:  November 1st (USA)
  • The Book Thief
    • Based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    • Release Date:  November 15th (USA)
  • The Maze Runner
    • Based on The Maze Runner by James Dashner
    • Release Date:  2014
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
    • Based on Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
    • Release Date:  November 22nd (USA)

The I'm-Really-Not-Sure-About-These Movies

  • Austenland
    • Based on Austenland by Shannon Hale
    • Release Date:  August 30th, 2013
    • Why I'm nervous:  Because I watched the trailer, and I'm just not sure if the movie's really going to stay true to the book.  I love Keri Russell and JJ Feild, and I know Shannon Hale was one of the screenwriters, but I'm still really nervous that it's going to be over-the-top cheesy.
  • Divergent
    • Based on Divergent by Veronica Roth
    • Release Date:  March 20, 2014 (?)
    • Why I'm nervous:  One reason I'm nervous is because I'm scared of what parts of the story will be cut or changed for time's sake.  And the other reason is that I don't love the casting for the movie.  Everyone's in love with Theo James, but even though I think he's great-looking, I just think he looks too old to play Four.  And I don't think Shailene Woodley's that good of an actress, at all.
  • The Fault in Our Stars
    • Based on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
    • Release Date:  2014
    • Why I'm nervous:  Because I LOVE this book and I will be SO upset if they screw it up.  And once again, I'm not a fan of Shailene Woodley, but I did hear from a friend that John Green felt the same way.  Then he saw her audition and changed his mind, so maybe I'll be surprised.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (39) - Books that I Wish Could Watch

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week, the topic is about books we wish they'd make into movies or TV shows, but only if we lived in an ideal world where they didn't cut stuff out or change the plotlines.  I really do enjoy movie/TV adaptations of books... when they get them right (BBC is one of the best at this).  So these are my picks for books I'd love to watch, just so long as they don't screw it up.

Top Ten Twelve Books I'd Love to See on the Screen

The Movies

The TV Series

And those are my picks - if we lived in a perfect world.  Anything you agree with?  Anything you want to add?  Any adaptations that are coming out that you're excited about?  Let me know!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Update & Reading List- September 9th

So I kind of disappeared from the blogosphere for about a week, but this picture sums up what each day at work was like this past week:

And this is what it was like each night when I got home and tried to read:

I pretty much accomplished zero reading this past week.  I did get the house cleaned and my sister off to college, but when it was all done, I had neither the energy nor the enthusiasm to read or update my blog.  However, I'm hoping that this week I will get back on track with updates and reviews (which means actually reading something so I can do reviews).  My reading list for this week is currently:

  • Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
    • There are three reasons I'm going to read this book.  First, my sister's reading the book for college, so I thought I'd read it too, and we could discuss it.  Second, it's C.S. Lewis, and I love him.  But I've read very little of his books beyond Narnia and the Space trilogy.  Third, it's a mythology retelling, and I am ALWAYS excited for that genre.  Cannot wait!
  • The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby
    • I've been meaning to read this for a while.  It's the book I kept trying to read this past week but kept falling asleep.  Not because of the book though; just because I was burned out from work.
  • Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas
    • I'm actually about halfway done with this book.  I started it last month, got distracted by other books, and never finished it.
  • When In Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison
    • I don't usually love chick-lit, but this one is focused on food and cooking, which I love.  So I'm giving this book a chance, and I'm hoping it turns out great.
  • A Re-read.  
    • Not sure which book I will be re-reading yet, but I always find that when coming out of a reading slump or when just needing to find an energy boost, re-reading an old favorite is the perfect solution.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (38) - Books That Should Be Taught in Schools

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is about books that we think should be taught in schools, or contemporary books we'd pair with classics for required reading.  I personally don't love this topic since I dislike the idea of "required" reading.  I think it ruins the enjoyment of a book when you're being forced to read it in order to do homework on it.  But I also understand that for some kids, especially in today's screen-obsessed society, the books they read for school may be the only books they ever read (if they actually read them and don't use sites like Sparknotes to cheat).  The way I set up my list was by choosing books (contemporary or classic) I think would be good to teach in school, and including books (contemporary or classic) that they would pair with well.

Top Ten Books that Should Be Taught in Schools (with Possible Pairings)
So those are my picks.  Sorry if I got a little serious with this list, but I think the topic is a more serious one anyway.  Do you agree with any of these?  What would you add?  What other books would you pair with together?