2014 Resolution #6

New Year’s Resolution #6: Read every night before bed

First of all, isn’t it great how I keep making new resolutions even though the year is already almost a quarter over? Yeah, I’m taking this whole “New Year” concept a little far, but bear with me because it’s for a good cause. (And if you’ve noticed that I haven’t written about resolution #4 yet, don’t worry, I’ll get to that in a future post.)

I’ve always loved reading, and since the beginning of the year the Kindle app on my iPad Mini (which replaced my ancient Kindle earlier this year) has been filling up with books that I’m really excited about. Even if I’d been devouring books since then I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the influx of new reading material. And of course I’d like to keep my mind (and let’s face it, my imagination) sharp with consistent reading, but there’s more to this resolution than all of that great stuff. I’ve come to the realization that I spend way too much time on my laptop after I get in bed every night and I think it’s been messing up my sleep patterns. The only reason I get online that late is because I’ve put off writing my daily webpage post and I need to get it done before I go to sleep. It’s a terrible habit that I would really like to break. And since reading tends to make me sleepy (not in an “I’m bored” way) it should keep me from staying up as late as I have been. Ironically I’m writing this post while sitting in bed. Oops. But I actually went to bed most nights this week without breaking out my laptop and I think it helped. So as soon as I publish this post I’m going to pick up my iPad Mini and read some of Insurgent, which is the sequel to Divergent (I want to go see that movie soon, but that’s a subject for another post). Good night everyone!

Writing prompt – Favorite author

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from August 1, 2012:
Who is your favorite author?

To start with I am a big fan of the greats – Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy, etc. I’ve read as many classics as I can get my hands on (mostly thanks to the Paperback Rack used book store in Tallahassee), and I count A Tale of Two Cities as one of my all-time favorite books, but I have to admit that I love YA (Young Adult) fiction. A few days ago I ran across a quote from one of my favorite YA authors, Cassandra Clare. It wasn’t a quote from one of her eight bestselling novels, although I’ve read them all (and I’m looking forward to the next one that’s coming out in March), but from her Live Journal back in the day. When I first discovered Cassie Clare she was writing Harry Potter fan fiction and working on her first book. I devoured every chapter of her Harry Potter fan fiction epic and I was really sad when it was over. (If you’re interested it’s called the Draco Trilogy and it’s archived all over the internet so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.) But besides her fictional creations, reading her blog was just as enjoyable. Especially when she reviewed a newly released Harry Potter book or movie. Her writing was like the text-based version of observational humor. Incredibly hilarious. Unfortunately I can’t find some of her older posts (her LJ account from back then no longer exists), which is a shame because she wrote a fantastic review of the “Goblet of Fire” movie. Luckily I copied a few of my favorites over the years and I still get a kick out of reading them now.

“I suspect the assumption with the filmmakers is that everyone who sees the movie has read the books. Even POA, which I think is the best of the films, left out crucial bits of exposition (‘Harry, your father was a stag Animagus’), leaving Harry to assume, I suppose, that he is magically protected by Merrill Lynch.”
Review of “Goblet of Fire” film

“The other great lesson I took away from this was that it is in fact impossible to get out of going to a wedding you have been invited to, even if you do not want to attend because you have to save the world instead.”
Review of Half-Blood Prince book

“There maybe were one or two too many back-and-forths where Harry suddenly pops into Voldemort’s head. I kept waiting for Harry to check in on Voldemort and discovering him going to the bathroom, or perhaps adding to his vast Beanie Baby collection in a local trinket store.”
Review of Deathly Hallows book

Writing prompt – Reading again

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from August 19, 2011:
Do you like paper books or e-readers?

This is quite a polarizing question for avid readers. Some people appreciate being able to carry their entire library with them in a thin Kindle or iPad, but others people swear that holding a hardback or paperback book in their hands and turning the pages is integral to the reading experience. From the arguments I’ve heard, no amount of convincing will cause anyone in either party to defect, but from what I can tell folks seem to find their way into the electronic age in time. Back when the original Kindle was introduced I was sure I’d never want one. Why would I? Holding a new book in my hands was such a magical experience, and surely downloading digital versions wouldn’t be nearly as exciting. But after I started traveling to the East Coast once month, I had to admit how convenient an e-reader would be. I even wrote about it.

“I’m beginning to think I might like one of those digital book readers. Does that make me an enemy of the printed word? I’ve just been on one too many trips with multiple books in my carry on.”
11/16/09 webpage post

So what did I unwrap on Christmas morning 2009? A Kindle! It was a 2nd generation Kindle – simple, elegant, and fantastic. I fell in love with my portable electronic library as soon as I started reading on it. I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread! (I had a similar experience when I got my first iPod – I didn’t think I’d ever really want one, but once I had one I didn’t know how I’d lived without it.) Over the years that Kindle went everywhere with me – from the car dealer (for use during long service appointments) to cross-country flights (mostly business trips, I admit). It was wonderful to be able to read whatever I was in the mood for at the moment. And despite warnings that electronic books were going to end up being more expensive than hardbacks or paperbacks, they remained the more cost-effective (and clutter-free) option. Unfortunately last month I noticed that the battery on my beloved Kindle was draining very quickly, even after I’d just finished charging it. I was resigned to replace it. After some debate my parents gave my an iPad Mini for Christmas that is not only perfect for reading (Kindle app, of course), but also for web browsing and Netflix watching. It’ll be great when I travel. I know this has been a long-winded explanation, but I hope it adequately expressed my preference for e-readers. I’ve been exclusively buying digital books for over four years (starting 12/26/09 – I checked!) and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. If that makes me an “enemy of the printed word,” so be it!

In my free time

With Dan out of town I had the house to myself for a couple of days. So what did I do with all of this free time? Well, first of all, I watched movies. If there were any movies in the theaters that I didn’t want to subject Dan to I would have gone, but that wasn’t the case this weekend. So I rented from Redbox instead. On Thursday night I watched “W.E.” (the movie about Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward directed by Madonna) and on Saturday I watched “Albert Nobbs” (Glenn Close’s amazing Oscar-nominated performance) and “A Dangerous Method” (a movie about Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud). The grand total for all three of those rentals was less than the price of one ticket for the cheapest matinee at a theater. I definitely appreciate that! I considered going to see “The Avengers” again this weekend, but decided to save the money and stay home watching Redbox movies instead. Also, on Saturday while I was working around the house I watched “Toy Story 2” on Disney Channel. Now that’s a great movie. As far as the Redbox rentals go, “W.E.” was okay, “Albert Nobbs” was wonderful, and “A Dangerous Method” was pretty good – well, what I could watch of it. The disc was scratched and unwatchable in several places. I still need to call and complain about it. But anyway, what else did I do with my weekend, you ask? I cooked. I’ve already written a little bit about the batches of cookies I baked, but I also made some tomato soup. It’s not the most ambitious culinary creation, but it was the best way to use up a bunch of leftover vegetables. I’m not sure what Dan is going to be in the mood for when he gets home from camping, but I’m planning a dinner of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s simple and won’t take long to throw together. The perfect meal! Also this weekend I’ve also been reading books. I finally finished A Game of Thrones which I started quite a long time ago. It’s just so long! But at least now I can start watching season 1 of the HBO series. After I finished A Game of Thrones late last night I should have just gone to sleep, but I had to start City of Lost Souls because I’ve been looking forward to it for almost a year. It wasn’t the next book on my “to read” list, but I allowed it to leapfrog to the front of the line for good reason. And after all of that fun stuff, I had to do some chores this weekend as well. I couldn’t let the house get too unruly while Dan was out of town! So I washed dishes, ran the dishwasher twice, washed four loads of laundry, changed the sheets, and took out the trash. Just the usual list of weekend work, but it’s nice to have it all done before the week starts. So it was a productive, if not overly exciting weekend. I’ll take it!

“The Hunger Games” movie

“In January when I was visiting the Berman family in DC, Dave asked me if I’d read The Hunger Games, which seems to be the newest book-turned-movie sensation. I usually try to stay abreast of these sorts of literary trends so I was embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t familiar with this particular one. Not only had I not read the books, but I was only vaguely aware of the series, which was even more shameful. However, after finishing Mockingjay, the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy, last night I am now well acquainted. I really enjoyed those three books. It’s a fantastic story, but even better than that, I fell head over heels in love with the characters. … I’m getting excited for the movie version that’s due to be released next year, but at the same time I’m worried that it won’t live up to readers’ expectations. More often than not that’s what happens to books adapted for the silver screen. … I’m crossing all my fingers and toes that The Hunger Games movie escapes the fate of mediocrity.”
4/18/2011 webpage post

Well, I think all of that finger and toe crossing last year paid off because “The Hunger Games” movie was excellent. At least I thought so, and all of the reviews I’ve read seem to agree. Dan and I went to dinner before the movie last night and I gave him as much background as I thought was necessary to understand the film without having read the book. Of course, as we were sitting in the theater I thought of a few other tidbits that I wish I had related to him. Funny enough, about an hour into the movie the screen suddenly went black. According to the theater employees, a power surge had shut down all of the projectors so they had to be rebooted. It was an unexpected intermission (Dan and I stayed in our seats to avoid the inevitable crowds at the concession stand and restrooms), but it gave me a chance to tell him the few things I hadn’t thought of earlier. Convenient, if a little unconventional. About fifteen minutes later the film was rolling again. While I really enjoyed the movie as a whole because the story wasn’t altered and the casting was spot on, there were a couple of things I wasn’t crazy about. 1) Shaky cam. A majority of the Bourne films used this camera tactic and I find it very distracting. While I appreciate how the filmmakers were going for a handheld camera look for “The Hunger Games,” I kept wishing for steady shots. 2) The cornucopia looked weird. I know this is an extremely minor thing to complain about, but the odd, angular metal structure in arena of the games was not at all what I pictured in my mind when I read the book. I understand how the movie version made it ideal for climbing and fighting and escaping from the wolves, but I still thought it looked ridiculous. Despite these tiny objections, I highly recommend “The Hunger Games” for anyone who is interested. I might even go see it again!

P.S. I couldn’t find that quote I was looking for yesterday so I had to settle for one of my own instead. If anyone knows where I can find Cassie Clare’s review of the “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” movie, please let me know!

Finally

I finally bought a copy of this cookbook for myself after checking it out from the library twice (and waiting weeks for it each time) and wanting to get it a third time. I know what you’re thinking, do I really need another cookbook? Maybe not, but this one is definitely different so I figured it was time for me to own a copy. I’ve posted a couple of recipes from this cookbook in the past (most notably Moroccan Beef Chili with Chickpeas and Raisins), but I’ll be trying lots more from now on. Stay tuned!

Birthday gifts (present and future)

Thanks to a generous Amazon gift card that my parents sent me for my birthday I’ve already downloaded these three new books on my beloved Kindle:

Omnitopia Dawn by Diane Duane (<– One of my favorite authors)
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James (<– Recommended my my mom)
The Faeman Quest (Faeire Wars book 5) by Herbie Brennan (<– Another favorite author)

I’ve also ordered seasons 3 and 4 of “The Big Bang Theory” on DVD because I love the show so much. The balance on my gift card will be used to order as many of the following books as possible when they are released:

The Blood by D.J. MacHale (3/27 release)
Black Heart by Holly Black (4/3 release)
The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan (5/1 release)
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (5/8 release)
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (6/19 release)
Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (7/10 release)

I reserve the right to augment this list at any time. This year is going to be good for reading!

Short rant

I heard about the book The Magicians from a couple of sources recently and I was intrigued so decided that I needed to get my hands on a copy. I thought I’d download it on my Kindle so I wouldn’t have to get it from the library and worry about finishing it within the three-week check out time. Sounds good, right? So today I looked up the book on Amazon and discovered that the electronic version is $12.99. That’s insane! How can it cost 50% more than the paperback? I’ve gotten used to the Kindle versions of books being cheaper than any other format so this was definitely a surprise. Even though I make a decent salary I don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend on frivolous stuff. So I turned to the Orange County Public Library, as I have many times before. Luckily it looks like I’ll be able to get copy of The Magicians from the library pretty shortly because I’m only 2nd on the waiting list. That’s a lot better than my 95th position in line for a copy of The Help. I really need to find a good used bookstore near either my house or work. I am determined to go to bed early tonight so I’m going to keep this post short. Despite my recent bout of laziness I’m going to make myself go to spinning tomorrow morning so I need a good night’s sleep. And before I go to sleep I’m going to read a little bit of my latest library book, Darke by Angie Sage. I wish I had more time to read!