TGF

After a summer-long hiatus from reading anything but blog posts, I’ve finally fallen back in love with books. I just finished Johannes Cabal The Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard and Reboot by Amy Tintera and was delighted to find out they each have sequel! I will be writing a longer review for each of them, but for now:

Johannes Cabal The Necromancer is a macabre delight. Howard’s prose is intelligently sarcastic, always finding something ironic and humorous in the most serious of situations. The protagonist Cabal is an angsty yet determined villain, who despite all his despicable acts, still finds a way to be a sympathetic character. Quite a feat!

Reboot is a unique addition to the well-saturated Young Adult Dystopian Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, borrowing recognizable wisps of zombie lore and placing it within the context of medical experimentation and the pharmaceutical industrial complex. Though the intended audience is obvious at times by the simplicity of the prose, I still found myself fully absorbed into Tintera’s post-apocalyptic world and the plight of her characters. I could barely put this book down and read it in less than two days. Fans of Marie Lu’s Legend series might love Reboot even more, since the characters, world, and plot are more developed and unpredictable.

I’ve also just finished the third season of The Walking Dead (huge kudos to the scriptwriters, editors, and sound production team, especially for the last few episodes — this was an excellent comeback after the dragging, dead plot and characters of season two) and am currently reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Best,
Ashley

P.S. What have you been reading? What do you recommend I read next?

Spring Cleaning

Apparently it’s almost summer, despite the gray sky we’ve had for most of the day. And it’s time for me to go through all the papers, old clothes, and random things (what Jess calls my “junk”) that have accumulated in our room.

But spring cleaning doesn’t just apply to the house. It’s also time to give this blog a face lift! I will be cleaning up categories, sorting posts, moving links and widgets around, and hopefully by the end I will have a more exciting, more easily navigable website. So please forgive any craziness for the next week. Things always get messier before they’re clean, right?

Best,
Ashley

P.S. Oh yeah, I graduated!

Some Book-related Fun – June 8th, 2013

Byrdie Grey:

This came up in my feed and I had to share. There are some great benefits to e-books, including being able to word search for a passage while in class or instantly share favorite quotes with friends. But if you ever visited me and saw my three overflowing, double stacked bookshelves, you’d know I prefer the kind without batteries.

I love the weight, texture, and smell of books, and the physical sensation of turning a page. My progress is visible, and my well-loved books are dog-eared and sometimes chewed around the corners (by my cat). With the ability to store almost everything in “the cloud,” I still like keeping my dusty loves around.

Originally posted on Epic Fantasy For All Audiences:

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Review: Bloglovin’

I’m loving the blog aggregate Bloglovin‘! Rather than having to join multiple blog websites or wrangle RSS feeds to keep up with my favorite blogs, I joined one site that compiles all of my favorite blogs in one visually pleasing feed. I also had the option to get a daily email update on my feed, and Bloglovin’ just released a mobile app so can stay up-to-date wherever I am.

Though I’m fairly new to the site, all the functions seem simple and straightforward. I can mark posts as read and like them (with an adorable heart graphic). I stay signed in over multiple browser sessions, so I don’t have to waste time signing in. Bloglovin’ also provides ways for users to connect to other readers and bloggers. I spent hours searching for the perfect blog aggregate, and I chose this site over Google Reader and the hundreds of other apps and websites I found.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

What do you use to keep up with your favorite posts?

How do you say goodbye and hello in the same breath?

On Monday, I found myself wandering about on campus, over Leona Creek past the piled tree branches from last week’s windstorms, into the sudden warm sun by the Alumnae House, trailing my way between trees and archways of the art building.

It was only when I found myself standing next to the koi pond betwixt the first year dorms, where I spent many meditative hours and late night ramblings, when I realized–

I was saying goodbye.

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Convocation, Roses, Zines: A Quick Update

Convocation, Roses, Zines, A Birthday: A Quick Update

Whew! These past few weeks have been screamingly busy. I feel like I haven’t had a true “weekend” in weeks–if by weekend you mean that glorious mythological space of time where one can sleep in, lazily wake up and sip tea in bed while watching Netflix, go on long walks, and read books for pleasure, and never fully get dressed.

Fridays usually are the start of my weekend, but two weeks ago (Sept 26) I had to wake up incredibly early for Convocation, and despite my early rising, I missed the breakfast–just as I was about to eat my first bite, they told us to line up (I must have spent too long curling my hair). Convocation is a sort of pre-Commencement ceremony at Mills, steeped in lots of traditions. It’s a way to welcome the new semester, announce awards, and give the senior class a glimpse into what it will feel like to walk to our seats for Commencement. I rather like all the old traditions; it makes me feel like I’m going to an Ivy League school, or like I’m one of a long history of people.

Recently I’ve had a penchant for roses, especially vintage rose patterns and photographs. I adore the little rose garden in front of the Campanil bell tower on campus. There are so many colors: glowing peach, vibrant maroon, buttery pink, and that sweet sherbet mixture that looks like a dawn or sunset. I tried to show a little bit of them all in the picture. I also was able to include them in a recent project I just finished this morning.

I made a one-page zine! It’s titled “A Brief History of the Engagement Ring” and has both a general history and my personal history with engagement rings. I’ll be posting pictures, and printable PDF of it, and a how to so you can make your own. They are so simple and fun, and a low-cost DIY expression of creativity. Yay for self-publication! Be on the lookout.

Ta-ta for now,
Byrdie

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Keep Calm and Live Rowing

 

No matter how many years I’ve been away, I will always remember the sense of peace and calm that came with the perfect stroke. The stroke that made all the stress and sore muscles worth it. The irreplaceable camaraderie between crew mates because we were witnesses to our mutual pains and individual sacrifices and successes. There is something magical in that bond that slowly fades away when someone is no longer officially part of the team. That part stings. But I still remember those perfect strokes. Those moments of perfect synchronicity between nine bodies. The squaring twist of the wrist. The catch. The fierce kick of the stroke. The last pull to get maximum inches. And then those floating moments of rest, multitasking breath intake and a deep appreciating for balance. The perfect stroke.

What does “queer” mean (to you)?

A little something I wrote on Tumblr to answer a friend’s question about the word “queer,” and why I use it as an identity term. Hardly covers everything, but it’s a start. What does “queer” mean (to you)? How have you heard it defined, or used?

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Favorite Fictional Foods Come to Life!

Byrdie Grey:

I have discovered a new blog whose pages I’ll be haunting frequently. Do you remember reading Lord of the Rings and wishing you could taste Lembas or take part of the great Hobbit feasts? Or what about the Redwall series: feast after feast after glorious 10-page feast. This blogger/book reviewer is making those wishes come true! Despite a day job, they spend long hours researching historical recipes and toiling in the kitchen, making fictional foods come to life. Then they share their detailed, custom recipes, fully equipped with photos and delicious descriptions.

The Butter Beer recipe (from Harry Potter, of course!) will be my first try. I think October will be the perfect time to have a marathon movie night, surrounded by flickering candles, and mugs of butter beer to warm us up.

Originally posted on Food Through the Pages:

 

Thoughts:

I’ve never really held with the idea that the Butterbeer in Harry Potter is basically some sort of cream soda. No way. To me, that’s a very American interpretation, with artificial flavoring, and so much sugar that it becomes horrible.

My approach, probably unsurprising to many of you, was to dip into the historical cookbooks for my inspiration. And lo, from the late 1500s, there’s a recipe for “Buttered Beere”. Clearly this was what I needed to try.

My first reaction to the finished historical brew was one of surprise: The smell doesn’t quite match the flavor, so the first sip is not what you’ll be expecting. It almost smells like a sweet dough, as you might make for cinnamon rolls, with that combination of yeast, butter, and eggs. However, the flavor itself is one of creamy, spiced beer, with all the residual hops and tinge of bitterness…

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Review: The Elements of Expression by Arthur Plotnik

The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into WordsThe Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words by Arthur Plotnik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved Plotnik’s other book about words, Better Than Great: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives, and The Elements of Expression is written in the same witty, conversational style. Plotnik’s intelligence and logophilia is evident on every page. I am writer, and like many writers I know I have a whole shelf of books about how to write, how to improve my writing and writing style, how to get published, etc, that I’ve only glanced through but never read. I decided to give Elements a chance, and an hour later found myself deep into the book, for the pure enjoyment of reading.

I got a kick out of the chapter about how English was standardized (Chapter Two: “Standard English: Who Needs It?”) and the way he pokes fun at all the extreme language police. He also explains the difference between a lot of words that get thrown around the writing world, like “style,” “grammar,” “rhetoric,” etc, without sounding stuffy or superior.

The format of the book also contributed to the easy reading. Plotnik intersperses examples, quirky asides and quotes among his definitions and sincere writing advice. Already my writing and verbal expression has improved just by being made aware of my common (and often cliché) patterns of communication. I’m looking forward to breaking out of my old patterns more consistently and “putting my thoughts into words” that are more specific and uniquely expressive. Enjoy!

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Graduation Countdown

The Big DayMay 25th, 2013
College is over! I have my degree!
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