Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Time to Choose or DIE!!!

It's been well over a year since the writers at Choose or Die wrapped their last epic adventure--Ecopocalypse. This week, they've pooled their collective genius and offered up a list of potential storylines for readers to choose from--ten amazing story options to be narrowed down to one (or two).

Choose or Die is an interactive choose your own adventure project written by a group of selected authors. Once the story has been determined the "crew" decides on a writing order. The writer who pitched the storyline will write the first chapter, offering up three choices at the end. The readers vote for their favorite within a short period of time--usually a day or two to keep the story moving and everyone on their toes. The winning option will be handed over to the next chapter's writer, but the losing options are handed to two additional writers and are immediately turned around as "kills". Everything is done rather quickly, and no one knows where it's going to end up. The writers even make a point to make it difficult for other writers to follow. Others will even tie in ridiculous Easter eggs and private jokes. Crazy right?

If you haven't had the chance to check it out, now is the time. Click the image above and check out Season 5's story ideas--vote for your favorite or close your eyes and pick a number. Just vote! No matter which option wins, this season is going to be amazing :)

You can see previous seasons HERE. I am proud to say I've written on all of the previous four seasons--probably more kills than actual chapters, but they were all so much fun to write.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Review - Pride and Prejudice (Sans Zombies)

Pride and Prejudice
Published in 1813

Written by: Jane Austen

Elizabeth (Lizzy) is one of five daughters born to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet--the latter of which is in a mad rush to marry off her daughters to make sure they are well attended to before her husband's death. Let me add here that Mr. Bennet isn't ill or very old from what I gather, but his estate is entailed. Since he and his wife didn't have a son, this means that by law his estate will go to his cousin--his next male heir, leaving his wife and daughters homeless after his death.

I haven't read many classic novels, so I was nervous when I started this book--mostly due to the 19th century language and whether or not I was going to "get it". I decided it would be helpful to pick up a supplemental guide and followed up my reading with a chapter by chapter break-down. Yes, this is a bit nerdy, but it really explained things that I would never have understood, like period etiquette which is a big part of this novel, as well as laws and specific vocabulary.

I really enjoyed this book. I laughed out-loud many times--it's not like I should be surprised. I mean, humor is not a new thing, but I was surprised by the cleverness and wit of some of Austen's characters--Lizzy especially.

I'm also rather fond of Mr. Bennet. Some may claim him to be lazy and apathetic, but I enjoyed his interactions with Lizzy. It's obvious she's his favorite, and he states this at the beginning of the novel when Mrs. Bennet is forcing him to go meet the new, rich and handsome neighbor, Mr. Bingley, by saying, "I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy." He then takes Lizzy's side when Mrs. Bennet thinks Jane or Lydia would be a better match for Bingley. "They are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters," he says.

Lizzy meets the rich (and handsome) Mr. Darcy through Bingley, and let's just say that she's not impressed. It only gets worse as she lets the thoughts and feelings of others further deepen her disgust with him. Now, there are revelations and surprises along the way, including marriage (whose?), but I'm not going to spoil that for you.

I feel this book is very much about overcoming first impressions and how easily it is to be influenced or mislead by other people. It also shows that once we have that initial impression in our minds, how hard it is for us to swallow our pride and admit we were wrong. When I decided to read this book for The Back to the Classics Challenge, I wasn't really looking forward to it. I thought it was filled with romantic fluff--fluttering eyelashes and passionate kisses. Now that I think about it, I don't think there's a single kiss in the book. I'm embarrassed that I let my pride and prejudice keep me from reading it (like what I did there?)

10 Things I've Learned About the 19th Century by Reading This Book:

  1. It's cool to marry your first cousin (WTF?)
  2. You can't talk to a man, unless you've been introduced by someone you know first (another man.)
  3. Marriage is FOREVER. Whether for love or security--there's no escaping it!
  4. If your mom is a loud-mouth, rude gossip, it will shame your whole family.
  5. If your spend a week shacked-up with some guy, you have to marry him or none of your sisters will be able to get married--It will bring great shame to the family and NO ONE will want to marry into that.
  6. If you work hard and earn your wealth, you're just not that great.
  7. There are so many card games, you will lose count.
  8. Your home has a fancy name, and you don't want to mow that lawn.
  9. Catty women and gold-diggers are not a new thing.
  10. Careers with the church are not only popular, they're desirable.
During the course of reading Pride and Prejudice, I recalled a YouTube series called The Lizzy Bennet Diaries--put together by Hank Green and Bernie Su. It's a modern adaptation of the novel organized as a vlog (video blog). After I started reading the book, I started watching the series. I wanted to avoid spoilers, so I wouldn't watch anything further than I had read. I just finished the entire series on Friday--all 100 videos. For Literature!

Keep in mind, a lot has changed since this book was written--we don't hop into marriage as easily these days, and we just don't stay married. I'm not saying either period is better than the other, but these videos are definitely a fun way to bring a classic story to modern day. Check them out if you've read the book or haven't--either way, I'm sure you'll enjoy them :).

Have you read Pride and Prejudice? What did you think?

This book can be downloaded for free on Amazon Kindle

Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review - Megan: Breadcrumbs for the Nasties Book One

Megan: Breadcrumbs for the Nasties Book One

Written by: Steven Novak

Last night I finished Steven Novak's Megan: Breadcrumbs for the Nasties Book One. I don't want to ruin anything for you, so I'm going to keep this spoiler-free.

Ten year-old Megan is growing up in a world full of monsters--both human and not-so-much. Regardless, these monsters could care less that she's a sweet little girl--there's no Department of Human Services to put the smack down on these nasties. Megan takes a hell of a beating throughout this book, but she's one tough little princess, too, thanks to a mysterious friend, a man she names blueeyes, who's hell-bent on keeping her safe.

I really enjoyed this book--ate it up, in fact. I found myself sneaking in pages as it kept infiltrating my head-space when I really should have been working.

When it comes to writing in the voice of a child, Novak nails it. My daughter, Brynn, is close to Megan's age, so I can completely relate to Megan's inner dialogue and even her actions--I'd expect the same from Brynn if she was thrown into this terrifying world.

I'm intrigued by blueeyes and really wish I knew more about him, even though you get small pieces of his past, there are still plenty of questions that remain unanswered. I look forward to the next book in the series because, truth be told, the ending kinda pissed me off. Sorry Novak. Not that it's not great, but it just leaves me hanging there.

Overall, this book was pretty great. There's plenty of action--blood, guts, and general asskickery, keeping me moving through the book at record speeds. There's also a painful innocence that makes the story more believable, and yeah, maybe I cried a little... just a little.

Have you read it? What did you think?

I read Steven Novak's Megan: Breadcrumbs for the Nasties Book One for this Dystopia Reading Challenge.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

THE SANDMAN Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes

THE SANDMAN Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes

Written by: Neil Gaimen

Artists: Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcom Jones III

Covers: Dave McKean

THE SANDMAN Volume 1 is comprised of issues 1-8 of DC/Vertigo's THE SANDMAN originally published in 1988-1989.

Dream--Lord of Dream and Nightmare also known as Morpheus and Death's little brother, is captured by mistake, stripped of his magical possessions, and imprisoned for over 70 years. Once free of his captors, he not only seeks revenge, but also quests for his stolen items. In this volume, Dream ventures through our world, the underworld, and the dreamworld to reclaim his possessions and seek revenge on his captors.

I can't believe I've waited so long to read this title--it's really a fascinating story. The idea of a world that's made up of the dreams of the sleeping collective is genius. One of the things I love about DC titles, in general, is the willingness to mingle with characters from other titles. This volume not only shares story-lines with John Constantine (Hellblazer) and Justice League, but also dives into the bowels of Arkham Asylum and mingles with the nasties of Gotham City.

I love the layout--not only is there a clear separation of each issue, but the original cover designs are also included. Other comic book "volumes" will bleed one issue into the other, giving the illusion of a single work of art. This makes it hard for the collector in my blood to distinguish between issues, severely handicapping my comic book trivia responses.

The art is pretty awesome, and I already have a crush on Dream--he reminds me of Benedict Cumberbatch. What?

I remember reading of the possibility of THE SANDMAN television series, so I thought I better Google it and see if this is going to be a "thing" or if I, in fact, dreamed it up. In my search, I happened to find a post that lists Neil Gaiman's casting dream for the role, and guess who is listed there! Benedict Cumberbatch! I kid you not. Tom Hiddleston is also listed as a Gaiman fave, and I can see it. Both actors have the bone structure, and I'd be happy with either.

In last story in this volume (issue #8) titled "The Sound of Her Wings", Morpheus is morose--he's finished his quest and pretty much disheartened by "now what?" His older sister, Death, makes an appearance and puts him in the right frame of mind, leaving the future open to unlimited possibilities. While the other issues seem to be a bit busier and more gruesome (and I love that), I feel like this one shows the most promise. I can't wait to read the next volume... and the rest of the series.

Have you read this series? What do you think?

Read as part of the Graphic Novel Challenge and the Eclectic Reader Challenge

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Reading Challenges

It's been a while since I've updated this blog--I suck. Since I'm no longer writing indie and self-pub book reviews for EasilyMused, I thought it would be fun to write some reviews here on my blog. A good way to kick this off, is by taking on a few reading challenges.

So far, this is what I have signed up for (if I am breaking any rules by combining pilot posts, I do apologize):

The Blog of Erised is hosting a challenge is to read 24 Dystopian novels in 2014. This is one of my favorite genres, so I am totally in :).

Click here to read more information and sign up!

Here's another fun challenge, requiring books from the suggested genres below--you don't have to read them in any certain order.

1. Award Winning
2. True Crime (non fiction)
3. Romantic Comedy
4. Alternate History Fiction
5. Graphic Novel
6. Cozy Mystery Fiction
7. Gothic Fiction
8. War/Military Fiction
9. Anthology
10. Medical Thriller Fiction
11. Travel (non fiction)
12. Published in 2014

Click here to read more information and sign up!

I'm embarrassed by the number of classic books I've read, so I wanted to work in a classic challenge this year. Books and Chocolate is hosting another theme based challenge that only require six books--there are a few optional categories, and I may add them as I go. The six required are:

1. 20th Century Classic
2. 19th Century Classic
3. A Classic by a Woman Author
4. A Classic in Translation
5. A Classic About War
6. A Classic by an Author That is New to You

Click here to read more and sign up!

I had to take part in this one--I love comic books/graphic novels. There are three levels--there's the Modern Age (read and review 12 books), Bronze Age (read and review 24 books), and Silver Age (read and review 52 books). I'm signing up for the Bronze Age.

Click here to read more and sign up!

I will possibly add more challenges as I go, but this is a start. Most challenges will allow you to use a particular book in another challenge--I could use my "Classic About War" for the Classics Challenge as my "War/Military Fiction" for the Eclectic Challenge (two birds--one stone) You can view my progress on a special page I've set up on this blog: 2014 Reading Challenges. If you can suggest any self-published or indie books that are either Dystopian or fit the requirements of the second (Eclectic Reader) challenge, let me know. I am used to reviewing these books and would love to help out that community by posting reviews.

Not all challenges require you to write reviews and those that do, do not require you to have your own blog to do so. Some will allow you to write your reviews on Goodreads or even Amazon.

It's going to be a great year!