First Sentence, New Story/ And Self’s Discovery of a New Fantasy Book Series

  • Let me tell you about wind.
Self was going to take a picture for this week's WordPress Photo Challenge, instead she got distracted by bars of light . . .

Self was going to take a picture for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, instead she got distracted by bars of light . . .

It is a red-letter day. Self started a new series by Christopher Paolini. The first book of the series, Eragon.

Over the years, she has had much cause to thank various nieces, nephews, sons of friends who tell her, “Read this! You won’t regret it!” She thought it would be fun to compile a list of series she started because niece/nephew/children of friends brought them to her attention. Here goes:

MASSIVE SPOILER-Y ALERT:

  • The Hunger Games: Thank you to Niece G, who saw self reading Twilight and told her: “You should read The Hunger Games.” Self put off finishing Book 1 (the last 50 pages) because she thought Peeta was going to die. Until, one fine day, she spilled her angst to Niece G and Niece G said, “Peeta makes it.” Then self had to rush back home because she needed to finish the last 50 pages she’d put off reading. For three years. Two books later, self was a goner. How deep into this stuff is self? She even entertained the notion of meeting up in Dallas for a convening of Everlark fan fiction writers)
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief:  Thank you to son of Gayo A.
  • The Infernal Devices: Thank you to niece in Calgary, Karina Villanueva.
Karina in Calgary: So Adorbs!

Karina in Calgary: So Adorbs!

  • Eragon: Thank you to Isaac S. At first self thought she would never get over The Infernal Devices — the angst! The Victorian Steampunk! London and York! — but Isaac thought she just might like this new series, so anyhoo, she gave it a shot. Hoooooly Smoke !!!! The Prologue was — mind-blowing.

Also just began reading Kass Morgan’s The 100 (which she heard is very different from the CW TV series). The plot goes something like this: 100 juvenile delinquents get sent to Earth to re-populate it. YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Gale or Peeta: Who Is a Better Dystopian Boyfriend?

This is a matter of grave import, dear blog readers, for the last Hunger Games movie (Mockingjay, Part 2) is coming out in November, and the fandom is just about to burst.

That now-familiar trope, the Dystopian Boyfriend, is going to have such a field day.

Dear blog readers already know where self lies on this gradient.

This discussion has to do with the movie version of The Hunger Games, not the books! For you lame ones who have never seen a Hunger Games movie, Gale Hawthorne is played by Liam Hemsworth, and Peeta Mellark is played by Josh Hutcherson.

Going in to movie # 1, self had no love for J-Hutch, as she’d only seen him in The Kids Are All Right and he struck her as — all right but he definitely was not her first choice for actor to play Peeta (Her all-time favorite HG character) Now, four years later, after reading the entire trilogy, watching 3 movies, and becoming a fan fiction writer of Everlark (??? Can you believe it ???), self is all like, WHO IS LIAM? WHO IS GALE? There can only be ONE Dystopian Boyfriend! Don’t even mention! Self can’t even!

Let the Decider.com analysis begin! (Ummm, the discussants are both men. Nevertheless. Posted March, 2015)

P.S. It is Friday. Please feel free to be super self-indulgent. No trigger warnings. Definitely the PG version.

Excerpts of choice:

  1. Pro-Liam: The chiseled Hemsworth jaw. The woodsy hunter look. The delicate, elderly aunt’s name. (Self didn’t know that Gale was an aunt’s name? Does Collins say this in the books?)
  2. Pro-Josh: I could probably carry him around on trips with a little Glad container of hummus.
  3. Pro-Liam: “Hey, babe, calm down. No one is thinking about this nearly as hard as you are. Let’s go hunting.”
  4. Pro-Josh: I’m very attracted to tiny boxes of feelings that are likely to explode like a pressure cooker.
  5. Pro-Liam: Peeta would come back after the seventh time I fake-break up with him, while Gale would call my bluff . . .
  6. Pro-Josh: I’m gonna snatch it/him right up! And then carry him around on my back, like a human Yoda.

Had enough, dear blog readers?

A long, loooong time ago, when self was still having meaningful discussions with Niece Georgina (who was at Stanford), she declared herself unable to see the attraction in J-Hutch and Georgina said “No. It’s Josh. Definitely. Hotter.”

And the rest is history.

How self could ever have considered Liam Hemsworth anything more than a limp dishrag when contrasted with the all-over hotness of J-Hutch (His miniscule height strangely adds, rather than detracts, from the appeal — people, don’t ask self to explain, it just IS) is simply confounding.

Self is also still reading Howard Jacobson’s hilarious and heartbreaking novel, The Act of Love (Set in London, today. His main character spends a lot of time on Great Russell Street)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day, CLOCKWORK PRINCE, p. 389

Self is still reading Mark Twain, but to Twain does not belong the Sentence of the Day (Is that even correct grammar, self? Something wrong with the construction, apparently. Nevertheless)

She has reached p. 453 of Clockwork Prince! And tomorrow she mails the book back to her niece in Calgary, who lent her a hardback collector’s edition. Thank you soooo soooo much, Karina, for introducing self to The Infernal Devices! (And oh by the way she’s still into Peeta Mellark, and she still writes Hunger Games Everlark fan fiction, and she’s also still in the Banff Writing Studio, but none of that matters now, because, because — now she has to reveal her Sentence of the Day!)

SPOILER ALERT MAJOR SPOILER ALERT DO NOT READ IF YOU HATE SPOILERS

The climax of Clockwork Prince is when Magnus Bane kisses Will Herondale.

Ooops — NOT!

Clockwork Prince is a really great novel. Self would have given it five stars if not for all those wasted scenes between taking-so-slow-to-die Jem Carstairs and that Silly Twit Tessa Gray.

There is no sentence like a Cassandra Clare sentence when she describes Will Herondale in action. Allow the slight digression, dear blog readers, but self will never forget that sentence on p. 446 of Clockwork Angel when Will was hurrying to save Tessa from the evil and lascivious clutches of a certain gentleman (This is Victorian London, after all! Did you perhaps think this was a Sarah Waters novel — BWAH. HA. HA!), and he has to ride bareback through the streets of 19th century London, and he has to take out his stele while on a dead run, and he hits a locked door in the Institute, whereupon:

He slashed the stele across the door’s surface, creating the fastest Open rune of his life.

Now, in Clockwork Prince, tiresome Jem has broken a leg or something and is completely useless against a giant automaton and Tess’s dastardly brother Nate has been quite brutally slappiing Tess about, and only Will is left to protect Tess from an explosion set off by one of Henry’s infernal contraptions, and of course after it goes off Tess is all sad because her evil brother has died, and very belatedly she looks at Will and notices that he is lying very still because:

His gear had been shredded all along his spine and shoulder blades, the thick material torn by flying shards of razored metal.

EEEEK!!!

NOOOOOO!!!

So once again, Cassandra Clare has dug in the knife and self can’t even.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CLOCKWORK ANGEL, p. 387

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

It was cold today in Banff. Self feels like she is coming down with a serious head cold. Never mind! She has Cassandra Clare to keep her company. Everlasting gratitude to her niece Karina for recommending The Infernal Devices trilogy. Holy holy moly. Only two words fill her vocabulary at this moment:

WILL. HERONDALE.

Cassandra Clare, you are genius.

On p. 387, it is the night of the full moon and the Clave has gone to strike the vampires led by de Quincey (who formed an uncommon attachment to Will’s neck when he was pretending to be a subjugate at the party at which Tessa Gray was channeling a vampire named Charlotte and if that is too much for you just buy the book for heaven’s sake!)

Will and Jem, a flighty girl named Jessamine, two servant girls and Tessa Gray are left alone in the Institute. Suddenly, they receive a very unexpected visit from a mundane named Mortmain (and every nerve in self’s body is screaming, Don’t you put any credence in what this shifty mundane tells you, Will Herondale!)

The following conversation ensues:

Will’s blue eyes were dark and thoughtful. “Thank you for the information,” he said, “but de Quincey will soon be no more of a threat to us, or his mechanical monsters, either.”

Mortmain’s eyes widened. “Is the Clave to move against the Magister? Tonight?”

“Goodness,” said Will. “You really do know all the terms, don’t you. It’s very disconcerting in a mundane.” He smiled pleasantly.

So blah blah blah ensues and Will and Jem decide  to go check out Mortmain’s story. Tessa Gray wants to accompany them but Will tells her she can’t. At which point the following conversation ensues:

She turned her gaze back to Will. “But what about Boadicea?”

For a moment she thought he’d forgotten what he’d said to her in the library. Then the glimmer of a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, as if he’d tried to fight it and couldn’t. “You will be Boadicea someday, Tessa,” he said, “but not tonight.”

And then, chapter ends on a cliff-y!

And the next chapter begins with a quote from Robert Browning, his poem “The Lost Leader”:

Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more
One task more declin’d, one more footpath untrod,
One more devil’s triumph and sorrow for angels

Dying, dying, dying.

Stay tuned.

CLOCKWORK ANGEL, Book 1 of The Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare

One good thing about getting into Banff Writing Studio is that self got to visit her cousin Mike V, who lives in Calgary.

Self discovered that Mike’s daughter Karina (Communications Major at the University of Calgary) is a fan of Cassandra Clare, so self decided to give Clare’s Clockwork Angel a whirl.

MAMA MIA!

Self loves Will Herondale! He is this very delicate-appearing, almost fey, British guy who has an arsenal of out-of-this-world knives.

The setting is Victorian London. Lots of dead bodies appear randomly in London’s grey streets. Is Jack the Ripper a Nephilim? Who cares! Let’s see more of those moves, Will!

Cassandra Clare writes really really really really well.

Her dialogue is top-notch. In this scene, Will Herondale and Tessa Gray, the heroine, scope out a Den of Iniquity called . . . well, self forgets what it is called. All you need to know is that it is a Den of Iniquity. Where there will assuredly be Vampires present.

With his right hand he was tightening one of the metal knife-bearing cuffs on his left wrist. He was staring off toward the window, as if seeing something that wasn’t visible to her. “You might be thinking of vampires as feral monsters, but these vampires are not like that. They are as cultured as they are cruel. Sharpened knives to humanity’s dull blade.”

Do you see what self means when she says that Clare’s writing is really good?

Tessa and Will are admitted into a private residence where “among the candelabras moved vampires, their faces as white as clouds, their movements graceful and liquid and strange.”

And here self thought she was so over Vampires and Shadowhunters and their ilk!

Ixnay!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Mockingjay, Part 1” — Redwood City Century 20, 4th Sunday in November (2014)

What self will say about the third (or penultimate) installment in the Hunger Games franchise is that it is very fleet. Hardly a wasted word or line of dialogue anywhere. Kudos, Director Francis Lawrence. You are genius.

All the important parts are there. To wit:

  • The Pearl (BTW, not a single reviewer from any of the major dailies mentioned this. If you don’t mention the pearl, you don’t really “get” Read the rest of this entry »

Zigzag 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

For today, self decided to focus on gestures of the human body:  bent elbows, bent knees, and so forth.  Because the human body, too, can be sort of zigzagg-y!

So, here’s what she came up with — in terms of the human body bending etc — from her various peregrinations:

The Red Mosque, Old New Delhi, After Prayers:  January 2012

The Red Mosque, Old New Delhi, After Prayers: January 2012

Niece G and Self, after a reading in the San Francisco Main Library:  September 2009

Niece G and Self, after a reading in the San Francisco Main Library: September 2009 (Funny:  Self JUST noticed the bent elbows of the model on the street posters behind!)

Street Musician, Venice, April 2013

Street Musician, Venice, April 2013

Like the elbows theme, dear blog readers?

Self loves how having the prompt makes her look at photographs she’d never ordinarily have thought to post here!

Stay tuned.

Books for the Reading List: A Look at Niece G’s Stash

When Niece G left San Francisco to work in New York, and then moved again, this time to Manila, she left a Big. Fat. Read the rest of this entry »

On Top 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

As the week wears on, WordPress bloggers invariably start getting creative with the photo challenge.

Here are a few bloggers’ interpretations of this week’s theme:  ON TOP

Niece G lived and taught in San Francisco for five years.  She moved back to New York City last year. This was the last time self visited her at her apartment on Folsom Street.  Self really misses her.

Niece G lived and taught in San Francisco for five years. She moved back to New York City last year. On the day self took this picture, her niece was in the process of packing up her things. Self really misses her.

One of self's fondest memories of Summer 2013 was the picnic before the Cal Shakes production of "Romeo and Juliet." It was her birthday, July 14. Son spent his first summer home in almost 10 years.

One of self’s fondest memories of Summer 2013 was the picnic before the Cal Shakes production of “Romeo and Juliet.” It was her birthday, July 14. Son spent his first summer home in almost 10 years.  This year, she wants to see at least two Cal Shakes plays.

Wall Frieze Over a Door in the Daku Balay, Bacolod City

Wall Frieze Over a Door in the Daku Balay, Burgos Street Bacolod City.  Dear Departed Dad grew up in the Daku Balay (Literal Trans. “Big House”). At the time of the house’s construction (in the 1930s), it was the tallest structure in the whole of Bacolod City.

Tomorrow is a busy, busy day, as self will be traveling.  But she will have her laptop wherever she goes, so she’ll keep blogging.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Reflections 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

L'Fisher Chalet, Dear Departed Dad's Hometown of Bacolod

L’Fisher Chalet, Dear Departed Dad’s Hometown of Bacolod

Museum, Abe's Farm, Magalang, Pampanga

The E. Aguilar Cruz Museum, Abe’s Farm, Magalang, Pampanga

Self's birthday last year: she celebrated with Niece G in San Francisco restaurant SPQR.

Self’s birthday last year: she celebrated with Niece G in San Francisco restaurant SPQR.

 

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