Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's in a Word? - This One Goes to #11


Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is "Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book."  If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information here.

When I was an irresponsible teenager child, there was a game we used to play called "Never Have I Ever."  If you've never heard of it, the rules were fairly simple - you would form a circle of chairs, one less in number than the number of participants.  The remaining person would then have to come up with a statement beginning "Never have I ever."  Anyone who had done this thing would then have to move to a new seat, while at the same time, the person in the center was trying to take one of theirs.  Those who likewise have not done this thing get a free pass for the round and remain seated.  Once all the seats are filled, there is hopefully a new person in the middle and play continues.

Now, there is a reason for me bringing up this game, and you may have guessed it already...

"Never have I ever bought a book because of a word or topic printed on the cover or within its pages."

If we were playing the game right now, I wonder how many others wouldn't get out of their chairs? I mean, it seems a fairly logical thing to me not to buy a book merely because a word caught your eye - flip through a book to see if you're interested, certainly, but not buy.  Say, for example, that you are walking through a bookstore and you spot a book called "Bacon".  Now, you may go to pick up the book, only to find that it is actually written by a vegetarian and is full of pictures of sad piglets.

This probably wouldn't be what you had in mind.

Therefore, here is my list of "Top Ten Words/Topics that Pique My Interest when Browsing Books."

1. Bacon - Do I need a reason? It's BACON!

2. History - For most of my life, I have been fascinated by history, so anything with this in the title will at least get a glance, especially those books about early European history or pre-revolution America, though books on the Civil Rights Movement rank fairly highly as well.

3. Mythology - AKA History that People Made Up to Make it More Interesting

4. Ireland/Irish/Gaelic - As my pen name might indicate to those of you familiar with the name, I'm Irish.  And by Irish, I mean I'm American of mostly Irish descent, so I'm trying to make up for the bit of me that isn't (I kid... somewhat)

5. Barbecue - It will become quickly apparent that I was hungry when I came up with this list, so my list may be somewhat biased.

6. Dessert - See?

7. Military/Army/Navy/Marines/Air Force - While I'm not much of a military buff, I do like books about them, especially the ones with photos and diagrams.

8. Fantasy - Most of my time at bookstore is spent wandering the science fiction/fantasy sections (or the used books, which are always a treasure).  My attention used to be primarily on the sci-fi, but has of late switched over to fantasy, as is evidenced by some of my previous lists.

9. Comics - While readings through the comics on a Sunday afternoon has its own charm, I've always preferred the collections.  Stories that would take weeks to play out in the paper can be seen all at once as a whole, and there's always those ones you missed or forgot about to look forward to.

10. Sale - What can I say?  A good bargain might make me consider a book I wouldn't otherwise buy.  After all, if I don't like it, I'm not too far in the hole as a result.

Bonus 11. Out-of-Print - Rare books!

There you have it!  This one's a fairly easy one (unless you procrastinate to look at cats, as I did), so I invite you to post your own lists in the comments below, or the link to your blog post so I (and my handful of readers) can read it there.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quick Update - Housekeeping #2

This is going to be very brief - one of the reasons I started this blog was to provide an avenue for my creativity besides my novel writing - however, since I began this blog, I haven't worked on my novel.  Therefore, I am taking a brief hiatus from Thursday posts in order to have some more time to work on that (you wouldn't believe how long some of these take to write!).  I have two short stories in the works, the first of which will be posted May 16th, at which point I will resume my Thursday blog posts.  In the time between now and then, I will be working on my novels and so hopefully I will have some additional excerpts to share as well.  I hope this finds you in good health, Ciao!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not-So-Great Expectations - Top Ten Tuesday # Ten

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is "Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like MORE/LESS Than I Did".  If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information here.

At some point or another, it is highly probable that you, dear reader, will try something new, only to find that it doesn't meet up to your expectations. Perhaps you find that the regional specialty that came so highly recommended contains anchovies, or the cake you just ordered, maybe the one shown here, inexplicably contains that red dye that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.  Also, you're allergic to red dye, so it really isn't your day.

Alternatively, there may come a time where some dish that you have had some misgivings about turns out to be delicious - so delicious, in fact, that you eat nothing else for the rest of the meal, leading your friends, family, and possibly even the wait staff a little worried about you.

Alright, so that last bit is a tad exaggerated, but it is an entirely plausible scenario, and the same can be said of books. We've all picked up a book at some point that either didn't live up to our expectations or surpassed them entirely... well, maybe not all of us, but the odds are in my favour.  Therefore, here is my list, which I have tried to split between disappointments and pleasant surprises, but that hasn't worked out so well.


1. American Gods - Neil Gaiman: Originally recommended to me by a friend, I bought this book with high expectations.  Taken as a whole, the plot of this novel is amazing.  However, there were numerous elements within the story that I found distasteful or downright repulsive.  Still on my shelf as I don't have a book to fill its slot, but it's going to find a new home once I do.

2. The Great Train Robbery - Michael Crichton:  For similar reasons as American Gods, only this one I picked up because I'd read some of his other works and enjoyed them, so I expected better of this one.

3. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley: I'm not sure why this story rubs me the wrong way, but I simply haven't been able to enjoy it. I generally don't like darker stories, as will become apparent because up next is...

4. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson: I can't think of anything unique to say here, so I instead will point out that the Mazda logo looks like an owl.

5. Crime & Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky:  Upon reconsideration, I think it is more likely that I don't enjoy these because of the main characters' deliberate placement of themselves in a position that is at odds with that which is considered moral.

6. The Awakening - Kate Chopin: I honestly couldn't find anything to like about this book, despite the fact that the professor of the class for which I read it said it was an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.

Pleasant Surprises

7. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins: As I have stated in a past blog post, I knew absolutely nothing about this book when I picked up to read it, so it would make sense that I wouldn't have very high expectations of this book.  Still, it did beat my initial assumptions about it based on the summary on the cover.

8. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen: Ok, here we go - the reason I didn't expect to enjoy this one was because it's "for girls".  Yes, a tad immature, but I was a fairly immature person at the time I first read it.

9. Merlin - Stephen R. Lawhead: Merlin was far, far better than I expected after reading the prior book, Taliesin, which was honestly something of  a mental beating to read.

10. Artemis Fowl - Eoin Colfer: Around the time I read this, I was going through a bit of a sci-fi phase... as in I read almost nothing else.  So when I was handed this book and told to read it, I was somewhat dubious about it since it was about "faeries".  But I enjoyed it, so my worries were unfounded.

And there you have it!   I know there are a few items on this list that some of you may disagree with - if so, leave a comment below, I'd love to see your opinions!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Aunt Elinor had a Point - Top Ten Tuesday #9

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is a rewind, meaning I can choose any past topic I wish.  Therefore, my topic for today is "Top Ten OCD Bookish Habits". If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information here.

Anyone and everyone who reads for pleasure has their own little quirks about how they read and treat their books.  In some cases, these are more extreme (see Aunt Elinor, Inkheart), but they tend to be fairly harmless.  I myself have my own collection of them, though none quite so... eccentric as Aunt Elinor's.  At least, I don't think they are... good heavens, now I'm in doubt...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why I Don't Write Poetry (An Exercise in Nonsense) - Improv #3

I was sitting here deciding what I might write,

when suddenly, out of nowhere, I had a dreadful fright.
There crept into my mind some unwelcome doubt -
Have I already run out of things to talk about?
I've not been at this long, much less than most,
I mean, isn't this just like my 19th post?
It's my 20th, really? Well, fancy that,
have ten weeks really gone by like that?
The time just flew by, I must be getting old,
but as the alternative's being dead, I guess that means I'm sold
on the whole aging business, but then I've got no choice
...why's the web saying that choice rhymes with DuBois?
That's a Western Pennsylvania thing, I'm in New Jersey
which rhymes with... well, nothing, but I suppose that's a mercy.
Just another Thursday, waiting for the time to be six,
and then home to West Milford, which is only kinda the sticks.
But that's not me complaining, just observing the facts,
...what was this post about? Better retrace my tracks.
Oh right, what to write about, that was the point,
but now it seems this whole post's just a bit out of joint.
As you can plainly see, I've only been rambling
and my metre, like the subject, is just sort of ambling.
But writing poetry's not my game, I'd rather be poked with needles,
and metres are for Rita's in songs sung by The Beatles.
Now how did they rhyme those?  They don't sound at all alike.
But then, when you're The Beatles, I guess you do as you like.
Anyway, you know those images, the ones with the vases?
I keep squinting at this post and looking for faces.
There might be a couple, but they're a bit of a stretch,
and I'm just stalling while I look for the sketch
that I did for this post, it was a couple of cats,
and I even drew a couple in adorable hats.
But my computer, it is saying that they just don't exist.
If any techies might be reading could you maybe assist?
Ah well, I guess I'll just have to consider them lost,
and my intended subject for this post out the window, is tossed.
I'm not sure about the grammar of that last... what's it again?
Couplet - Wikipedia, you're truly my friend.
And now I think we're finally reaching the end,
it's been a couple hours since the first lines were penned.
But one thing I should tell you, 'fore I shut my trap.
The metre's a little easier when read as a rap.
And so in closing, with the last line of many,
the pug's just there to be cute (as good a reason as any).

And there you have it!  Another post done, though not the one I intended (there really was a drawing of some cats I meant to share).  Still, I hope you enjoyed this, odd as it may be.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Picking 10 - Top Ten Tuesday #8

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is "Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was a Blogger".  If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information here.

Seeing as I have only been doing this for some two months, I am presented with something of a overabundance of choices.  Therefore, this list is pulled from my Facebook page.  Not because I couldn't pull up a list otherwise, but because I thought it'd be interesting to see what I have on there:

1. The Merchant of Venice - Shakespeare - To truly appreciate this book took me three re-reads and a BBC adaptation for me to come to understand this story... I'm still not sure I do, but I enjoy it anyway.

2. For the Time Being - Annie Dillard - If you've never heard of this one, here's a quick rundown - FTTB is a stream-of-consciousness novel about the author's experiences... with everything.  Well, not everything, but whatever came to mind at the time.  It's not for everyone, but it's a refreshingly different read.

3. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
4. The Three Musketeers - Alexander Dumas
5. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe - Growing up, I was obsessed with adventure novels.  If there were adventures on the high seas, daring heroics, sword fights, and/or enormous battles, I read it.  These three were some of the best... and they're still on my shelf now.

6. Night Watch - Terry Pratchett - I've mentioned Pratchett several times, but I've actually only been aware of him for a few years.  I was introduced to him at college... and promptly read most everything he'd written through the course of a summer.  I've read this one every time I go on a vacation.

7. The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien - As much as I love his other works, The Silmarillion is my favorite.  A rich, colourful tapestry of mythology... and that's the best I can describe it.  You'll have to read it for yourself - that's the best plug I can give it.

8. The Time Machine - H.G. Wells - I would find it difficult to say that any of Wells' works are better than the others but, if I had to, I would have to choose this one.  Wells explored ideas that hadn't really been touched upon by authors before then, and time travel was one of the ones he did best.

9. Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton - The book is as good as the movie! Possibly better!

10. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen - Jane Austen was a brilliant writer and, while I haven't read her other works yet, I have seen most the BBC versions... and I plan on reading those too.

And there you have it!  Not the most in-depth I've gone into a list, but a fun one to put together.  I invite you to take a look at your facebook likes (if you have any), and see if there's any surprises there.  You never know!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Alma Mater - Photo Log #1

Most anyone you ask would agree that the place they chose to go to college had an enormous impact on the rest of their lives.  When determining whether or not that impact was positive... well, that's a point you'll see a bit more variation in opinions on.  Whether for good or ill remains to be seen, but I chose Geneva College.  These pictures are from my tour before I enrolled, hence the pristine and vacant lawns.  As I'm swamped for time thanks to Camp Nanowrimo, I'd like to share a little about the place, the people I remember, and what I learned there.

Geneva is a fairly small Christian college in western Pennsylvania (Beaver Falls).  I primarily chose to go there because my sister was already going there so I had a built in "safety net" in case I decided I didn't like anyone else enough to befriend them (my apologies to my sister, who I know reads this blog).  Fortunately for the both of us, I proved less of a recluse than I expected and made the majority of my friends there.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Decidedly Unromantic - Top Ten Tuesday #7

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is "Top Ten Characters I Would Crush On If I Were Also a Fictional Character". If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information here.

I don't know what twist of fate lead to the choosing of this particular topic, but I would very much like to find the individual who's responsible and dump a bucket of water on their head...