WWW Wednesday #3

WWW WednesdaysWWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. It’s a chance for us all to talk about books we’ve just read, books we’re reading now, and books we’re planning to read next.

Just Finished

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

I finished this Friday? Saturday? In my antibiotic-induced haze I can’t quite remember. But I did enjoy it. I’m trying to go back through and finish the series. I do love a good spy story, and the Gallagher Girls are one of my favorites.

Reading Now

Branded by Abi Ketner

I started this over the weekend and I liked it but I’m just like mehhh so I haven’t touched it in a few days. It won’t take me long to finish so I’ll probably read the last of it this weekend.

What's Next

Don't Judge A Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

Loved #2, so I’m looking forward to this one. As a celebratory, oh-my-God-finals-didn’t-kill-me-dead huzzah, I might just marathon the rest of the series over the weekend. (Well, I’ll have to buy the last two books first, but whatevs.)

I must confess, the only thing I’m actually reading right now is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and it’s for my lit class. I think it’s supposed to be about the Belgian colonization in the Congo, but so far all he’s talking about is a bunch of dudes with names that start and end with lots of vowels. Oh, and there’s a lot of polygamy going on. And giving of virgin girls.

Education is a marvelous thing.

Anyway, after this week’s finals I have a milestone birthday (okay fine, it’s not much of a milestone, all I can really do is smoke, vote, and join the army) on Saturday to kick off winter break, so hopefully I will not be sneezing, coughing, and/or sleeping on my birthday cake.

How’s your reading going on this fine and festive day?

Review of “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” by Chris Hedges

Genre: Nonfiction, philosophy, war

Synopsis: As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Hedges, who is also a former divinity student, has seen war at its worst and knows too well that to those who pass through it, war can be exhilarating and even addictive: “It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.”

Drawing on his own experience and on the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr, Hedges shows how war seduces not just those on the front lines but entire societies, corrupting politics, destroying culture, and perverting the most basic human desires. Mixing hard-nosed realism with profound moral and philosophical insight, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning is a work of terrible power and redemptive clarity whose truths have never been more necessary. (Taken from Goodreads)

Review: I’ve been on a nonfiction kick this summer, which is lucky for me as my summer reading for AP Lit this year consisted of war books, one of which was War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. I enjoyed this book, despite my original trepidation. It made me think about a lot of assumptions and beliefs instilled in me by American culture and it really opened my eyes to the truth and reality of war as opposed to the “myth of war” that Hedges describes. Knowing his background, I could ignore the slightly overdone language when needed, but the author has a very nice way with words for the most part, and I found myself tearing up at several points in the book.

It also, rather surprisingly, has affected my own novel. There is certainly violent conflict in some portions of the story, but it hadn’t even occurred to me to think about the psychological aspects that accompany war when it comes to my characters. War Is a Force gave me a clearer view of the realities of any violent situation and helped me cement in my mind how I will approach fighting and battle scenes in Star Kings. We’ve all been exposed to cultural icons such as LOTR, “Braveheart”, “300”, and “The Patriot”, to name a few, and it never occurred to me personally that there was any other way of portraying war. Chris Hedges, however, has made me consider more fully how I want this part of my story to go, and I have a feeling this awareness of the nature of war will be invaluable when it comes to writing those scenes.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend it? Absolutely.

At the Moment…

I started school today. God, it was a bloody mess. My schedule is mixed up, I got terrible teachers, my counselor was NOT very pleasant, and everything was rather confusing. Not the best way to start out senior year if you ask me. But there are bright bits. I get to sing in the advanced choir, which I really missed. I have an awesome AP Literature class with cool people and a wonderful teacher. It works out so I see most of my friends at least once a day. And there was frozen yogurt and a summer social for our county’s Democratic Party, which I quite enjoyed. And I have a meeting tomorrow with my counselor from last year, which I’m really looking forward to.

But mostly I’m getting excited about applying to colleges. The actual admissions process itself is sure to be grueling I know, but I can’t wait to actually be there, deciding my future and figuring out where I’m going to be for the next four years of my life. It’s fun to think about, especially since I get to make lots and lots of lists, and I love lists. I’ve already written a mostly-completed packing list for college that’s 7 pages long.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on at the moment. Life is messy and unorganized and I’m loving it.

Slammed

Yes, I have been slammed via homework. Midterms are NEXT WEEK OMFG WHAT DO I DO and I’ve been forced to give up the remnants of my social life in favor of studying. Which, not okay, teachers.

Anyway, I’m basically writing this to let you know that a) I’m alive, b) I actually am writing, just not what I’m supposed to be, and c) I do have plans for a lovely little post about writing-related people-watching which I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, so look forward to that.

I’m still fairly active on Twitter when I get the chance, and I’ve found time to revisit one of my fave British shows, “The Vicar of Dibley” (if you haven’t already, go watch it like NOW). Hopefully I’ll be writing that post sometime this week, but I can’t make a promise, since it’s shaping up to be pretty hellish for the next few days. Wish me luck and happy writing!

 

Review of The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

**Warning: One or two spoilers**

So I read this novel, The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, on Tuesday in one sitting, which I honestly haven’t done in a long time. I’ve seen the movie twice already, and I’ll be pre-ordering it on Amazon in the next few days (if you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know that I fell harder than diamonds for that movie).

What’s interesting about the book/movie relationship is that Stephen Chbosky wrote the book with a film in mind, and he produced, directed, and wrote the script for the movie version, which is a secret, far-away dream of mine. So I was really excited about reading Perks and seeing if it was as good as/better than/worse than the film, only to discover that any comparison is pointless. They are both incredible in different ways, and trying to pick one over the other is like trying to pick a favorite snowflake.

The novel, short at just over 200 pages, is written in a letter format, and I quickly grew to love the way Charlie, the main character, expresses himself on the page. For such an age, he is remarkably thoughtful and observant, and the way he sees the world and life around him is so refreshing. He made  me laugh one minute and cry the next, and I don’t do either easily when reading.

I was also very happy to see Patrick included and given a significant role in the story; I’m a huge support of LGBT rights, and to know that Perks has been a YA bestseller despite having a leading character who is gay (flamboyantly so) warmed my heart. Patrick is, I must say, one of my favorite characters, both in the movie and the book. Not only is he an incredible friend to those he cares about, but he has issues that many people can relate to and sympathize with. I teared up several times during a few of his scenes, especially the one in the cafeteria.

Sam was everything I hoped she’d be, strong and flawed and beautiful, far from perfect but still someone I can’t help but admire. She’s been through so much and she’s still standing, keeping her heart and mind open and never giving up.

This novel is so powerful because it is fearless. There is suicide, drug and tobacco use, sex, teen drinking, homosexuality,  physical and sexual  abuse, and dangerous amounts of good music, good books, and good advice. I can imagine many parents would find faults in its content, would protest their children reading such a scandalous book, but even though I personally don’t agree with many of the things the characters do, this novel merits not only respect, but appreciation. It is a coming-of-age story, an honest, fresh look of that crazy time between adolescence and adulthood, and it does it with a style that’s both whimsical and somber.

If you are willing to take a chance, try this novel. You may or may not love it, but you will certainly be affected by it.

As for me, it is and will remain among my list of favorites. Thank you, Stephen Chbosky, for giving us your words.

Chapter 3!!!

Remember back when I got to Chapter 2 yesterday? Well, NOW I’M ON CHAPTER 3!!!

And chapter 3 is getting to be a real fun chapter. It’s got a lot of drama and dialogue and action, and it’s getting close to the real start-point, where the MC’s padre gets ‘napped by the bad guys and shit hits the fan. Wooooo.

My chapters are turning out to be short, like a few pages each, which I’m not sure how I feel about. I mean, there’s not necessarily anything wrong with short chapters, but I know that if I keep this up, the novel will end up being like 200 pages, which is not good at all. Do short chapters bother anyone else, or am I just the lone, picky wolf? Of course, I’m definitely not writing as well as I can, I’m just pounding out the words and making plenty of mistakes, because I want to make this rough draft as messy and fun to fix as possible, which goes against the grain to be honest. Even now, I’m fighting the urge to print out what I’ve got and take my vindictive, bitchy red pen to the whole mess until I feel like it’s bookstore-ready. I’m doing my best to not look at what I’ve written, and I’m going to try and do that until I’m done with the rough draft so I don’t give my inner critic any more ammo than she already has.

But on another topic, I’m almost done with The Weekend Novelist, and I’m looking for other books on writing to dive into before school starts destroying my brain cells again. I’m really interested in things concerning plot, the writing of the first draft, and especially time management since I’m a student and it can be really difficult to balance writing with schoolwork. If you have any recommendations, please comment and let me know!

The Writer’s Memoirs 5-8-2012

In the past few days, I have touched upon pretty much every emotion on the scale, which could perhaps be blamed on those inevitable female things which I suppose can’t be avoided at times. I successfully crawled through the worst Monday of my life, managed to avoid losing my mind, and discovered that one cannot go 24 hours without sleep and still feel like a rockstar (unless you’re Superman, that is). I have very unsuccessfully been attempting to write.

I could of course make school the scapegoat of my poor productivity level. This is the last full week of classes before exams, which means I figure out my teachers really are trying to bury me alive with work, and I also figure out that I’m an even worse procrastinator than I thought. A revelation, I tell you.

These past few days have been hard. I look at the mess that is my novel and I see what it could be, but I don’t feel as though I could come close to doing the story and the characters justice. I feel like such a wanna-be, a fraud, a sham, a pathetic loser endlessly deluding myself into believing that I could ever be successful at the one thing I’ve always believed in, the one thing I’ve always loved.

It just feels as though I’m going in circles. I can’t take a break; I’ve been on one for the past year. I don’t want to write, because I’m terrified and certain that my words will be wrong, that they won’t say what I need them to say. So I don’t write.

And not writing hurts like hell.

The Writer’s Memoirs 4-18-2012

For the past week, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been avoiding writing like the plague. It seems to me that during the week, school and the whole “learning” thing completely zap my brain of any creative energy, and by the time I get to the weekend, I’m so completely drained that all I want to do is collapse on my sofa and sleep until Monday. Unfortunately, that’s not very productive.

So I’m trying to figure out a system that utilizes my time and gives my muse something to work with, but so far no luck. Thankfully, however, summer is around the corner, which is when I usually get the most done, so hopefully I’ll be able (and more motivated) to write more soon.

The Writer’s Memoirs 4-11-2012

This post was actually supposed to have been up yesterday, but unfortunately things didn’t quite pan out as I’d hoped. Life has been rather chaotic for the past week or so. I started back at school again on Monday, which meant much less time for writing and blogging, and added to that, yesterday I had to attend a birthday party that lasted more than 3 hours.

I haven’t made a single bit of progress with Glenbrooke, but I am proud to say that I’ve gotten a good 50 pages into a very intriguing book (which I just might review next month). I’ve committed to plotting out the next 2 chapters by Sunday, so hopefully I’ll at least get that done, if not more. School just sucks away all my time, but thankfully I’ve only got another month and then (finally!) some free time, at least for a week or two.