Category Archives: Reading

In Which I Complain About Food and Praise a Book


I’m coming to the end of a long first week of something I thought I’d never get myself involved in: the Atkins diet.

My boyfriend’s brother talked the two of us into it. Saying he would do the cooking may or may not have been a huge factor in my agreement, but I’ll admit – I didn’t think it was going to be this difficult. I now have a fridge and pantry full of food I can’t eat, I work in a restaurant that serves Italian food, and I can’t even explain to you how difficult it is to set aside the buns when I order a double bacon cheeseburger during my occasional lunch out. (I recently discovered Hardee’s has a “low-carb” option where they will wrap your sammich in a bunch of lettuce leaves, instead of bread, which is definitely helpful).

I’m keeping a stash of Atkins shakes and bars at work so I don’t feel tempted to eat a butt-ton of garlic bread in a moment of weakness, and I don’t have to give up my beloved Diet Coke or tea (although the latter I can no longer put honey in). I think if I were doing this by myself, or doing the cooking/meal planning myself, it would be a lot more difficult, but thankfully my boyfriend is a good partner for this, and essentially all I have to do is wait around for someone to feed me. I’ve already lost 5lbs, so there’s something. ^_^

My daily routine has finally fleshed itself out; since coming to the revelations that I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recognized the need for a routine, even just to keep myself mentally stable and acceptably sociable. Five days a week, I get up and make breakfast pretty early in the morning. My boyfriend picks me up on his way to work, and I walk three blocks to the coffee shop just south of ISU’s campus. The employees already know what I want and where I sit, and usually what I’m reading at the time. I tend to alternate between writing and reading, and then at noon I meet my boyfriend for lunch. Usually there is more reading, or some errand-running, afterward, and then most days I go to work at 4pm. It’s a full day – or at least, it feels like it to me – but I get a little bit of exercise, and don’t feel like I’m hiding in my apartment, which makes leaving my apartment for other things much easier. Most of my friends are gone from the summer, so the social interaction I get from the employees here is pretty crucial. also, I have a place with few distractions where I can work and be more or less left alone.

1Q84In the past week I’ve blown through Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84. I fell in love with Murakami just after I graduated high school in 2007, and I try to read one of his novels at least once a year. They’re a bit of a challenge, so I always need a lengthy break between them. 1Q84 was absolutely lovely, although at times I did find myself kind of wishing things would move slightly faster. At almost 1,200 pages, it was a bit of work, especially after having read mostly pop lit for the last year or two, but I got through it and was thoroughly satisfied. Five stars, hands down. You can pick it up for Kindle for about $13 bucks on Amazon, or just through down a little bit more for a paperback copy that will also double as a doorstop.

(Also, for the record, it is entirely acceptable to refer to this book as “1984.” “Q”, or “kyoo”, is the pronunciation for the Japanese word for “nine.” Those Japanese sure do love their puns. Haha. Stop it.)

Now that my brain has successfully been challenged, I’ve decided to let it relax with some significantly more “fun”Shades-of-Milk-and-Honey reading. I dropped by the library and picked up Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen novels (I enjoy Pride and Prejudice, but Sense and Sensibility is more my thing), and this looks like, while not particularly deep, it will be a pleasant experience during which I can let my brain relax from the Iron Man-esque marathon I ran it through with Murakami. The book currently feels like a slightly AU (alternate universe) Austen-esque novel. You can follow my progress on Goodreads, and feel free to friend me! I’m always looking to share and receive book recommendations.

I’ve chosen not to push myself on the writing, given the problems I’ve been having over the last couple of years with it. Instead of holding myself to a specific daily wordcount, I’m choosing to sit down and write as much as I feel like I can, twice a day. If it’s a sentence, or five pages, then that’s a great thing. Even this blog post will probably be most of what I can manage today, but at least it’s something. I’m hoping to gradually “work out” my writing muscle a little bit every day, until this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ve been thinking about applying to be an ML, but we’ll see how I feel. I don’t want to push myself too hard. Like I’ve been handling my issues: do what I can, and try a little bit every so often to do a little more. No punishment or shame if the “new” thing doesn’t pan out… just try again later. My comfort zone needs to expand, but it doesn’t have to explode.

Having run out of things to say, I will leave you with this .gif I found on tumblr. I guess I should also say I loved Star Trek Into Darkness? I’ll talk about that more next time, I supposed. I’ve got a lot of things to say, but I’m still digesting, so to speak.

Here you go.

Summer 2012: The Summer of Writing (And Reading)


It’s been a hectic academic year, guys. Mostly because of bedbugs screwing up my mental state and my living space and forcing me to move, but also driving me nuts enough that some of my school stuff suffered (hence why I’m glad Southern American Lit was an elective and I can retake Biology 112 and its associated lab online during the summer). I also was able to get very little writing done, partially because of that subconscious block and also because I work best at home, and home was infested with tiny little bloodsucking critters.*

Anyhow, that hell is over with (hopefully) and I can move on with my life. I’ve got one more semester of my undergrad left and then its time to apply for grad school! Also I’ve apparently got a contact through my mother at the Publishing Institute at the University of Denver, and so I might be going there for a few weeks next summer.***

Also I am done being mad at WordPress for overdrafting my account by charging me a domain renewal fee a month early. An exchange of a half-dozen emails could not seem to convey to the customer service rep what my problem actually was with what happened. I wish I could have just talked to a real person. But all that was something like six months ago and I’m going to move on.

I don’t have a ton to talk about today but I figured I’d give you guys an update. The polls I have out on Facebook about “what kind of content would you like to see?” aren’t really garnering any responses, so I’m just going to wing it until someone complains. Until then, write me something for the Qu33n of Spades’ Fiction Magazine and go ahead and read my latest book review below.

*****

A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1)A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Princess of Mars is pulp fiction in all of its glory, with the ultra!heroic hero, the unbelievably beautiful and devotion-inspiring heroine, the without-a-doubt evil antagonists. People coming to this book after seeing the movie will find several differences, but none of them particularly disappointing — each medium has things that work for it, and things that don’t.

As a previous reviewer mentioned, it is a bit difficult to listen to John Carter talk, in first person, to the read about how awesome he is. John Carter being the undisputed King of Awesome is not really a problem, given the genre — a cast of static and slightly flat characters is kind of “allowed” in pulp fiction — but as an audience, what we can accept has changed a bit since 1912.

This is a lovely read, something you could devour in a couple of days or just read one chapter a day. Names and places are easy to keep track of (something that is always difficult for me with contemporary sci-fi lit), and the science, while not necessarily accurate or realistic in some cases, is believable and a pretty good “guess” for Edgar Rice Burroughs writing in 1912.

It’s a fun read, if nothing else; you can imagine ERB sitting at his typewriter working away and then going, “Oh, damn! That would be so COOL!” and adding whatever cool thing he just thought of to the story. Will definitely be reading the next book in the series once I get around to it.

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* People will tell you that bedbugs are nocturnal. This is absolutely not true. We won’t get into all the horror I have endured since we first noticed this problem in September, but I will say that even after moving to a new apartment and being as careful as humanly possible, I am still freaking the flip out, and the paranoia is not fun.**

** In my nightmares, bedbugs look like this:

WoWScrnShot_072111_104127

I’m not kidding.

*** And I just remembered, I was supposed to call and chat with that contact several weeks ago… whoops, thanks for nothing pest problems and academia.

Qu33n of Spades’ Fiction Magazine: Call for Submissions


And such-like, and so on. Email questions to the above email address, or leave ’em in the comments. GO!

If you have no idea what this is, refer to the previous post.

EDIT: It’s been pointed out to me that I don’t entirely understanding publishing legalese. So the bottom bit of the legal stuff has been rewritten, because I am not a jerk.