Friday, December 6, 2013

The Latest Three

It's time for another Latest Three
And I suppose a bit of an update.
NaNoWriMo is over, and once again it has evaded me. Though I won't necessarily go so far as to say I lost, as I wasn't really doing NaNo in the first place. For those of you who don't know, I finished my first complete MS almost this time last year and have been in the process of editing it, which is what I tried to use NaNo for, but school and another project got in the way. I have, however, been having fun with some major world-building with a dual project I'm working on (AKA: Anastasia Romanov re-telling with Better Bookish Half) Hopefully that will be my very well-prepared but ultimately still shiny new Anastasia re-telling for NaNo 2014. It looks promising.

So right now my somewhat daunting goal is to have the current MS I'm working on fully edited by the start of spring semester so I can send it off to my two critique partners. Also, I have some enthusiastic family members who've been bugging me to read it, but I'm not sure if I wanna go there yet, especially when I know changes are likely going to be made in the next rounds of edits. Thoughts?

Christmas Holidays are almost here, and I've got a stack of books to fill it with. I also would like to fit in some fun Christmas crafts if I can. Any suggestions? 

I will be re-reading (FINALLY) the Harry Potter series, something I've been avoiding, yes, avoiding, I kid you not, for several years now. For a good reason, I assure you, but those details will come with your next installment of The Latest Three.
This past Latest Three was definitely something to be reckoned with. I honestly don't think I've read a better set of three books in a row before, though I kinda feel like I say that for every set of three I read. But I REALLY feel strongly about it for this one!!!
Here it is, what I thought of The Latest Three books I've read.

The Bitter Kingdom, Rae Carson
Let me just start this out by saying, "WHEW DOGGIE!"
That is all I can say, really. I mean, this is a finish to a trilogy. Better Bookish Half turned me onto Girl of Fire and Thorns about two years ago, and I was obsessed with Carson's ability to write such a rich in detail, culturally vivid, kick-ass heroine epic fantasy. Her plot development is exactly perfect for the kind of grand adventure the MC, Queen Elisa, experiences. Carson keeps this high standard of story telling throughout the rest of her series, no cutting corners, no kissy scenes simply for the sake of a kissy scene. You just need to read it to understand. And now that the entire series is out you can fly through them all...also there's enovellas you can get for a dollar on Amazon. 

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
I have a mental list of Beautiful Books and this book definitely made that list (examples would be The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Bel Canto by Anne Patchett, among many more). When I use the word 'beautiful,' I don't mean anything along the lines of 'pretty.' I mean beautiful in a way that's haunting, perhaps a bit painful to recall but wonderful as well, that sticks with you like a vivid memory long after you've read it. This book is one of those books. Surprise, surprise, Better Bookish Half also gave this one to me for my birthday (she knows me so well). If you like books that artfully skirt around the main point/secret until it punches you in the face with truth, making you literally go, "What?...Wait, what!" Then I definitely recommend this one. Also, I love the time line. It starts out with the narrator, Kathy H, talking about her time living with friends at Hailsham, a peculiar sort of British boarding school, as children, but as the students grow older and you get bits and pieces of Kathy's life in the present you start to get a better understanding of what's actually going on until BAM, it hits you in the face. No joke. Another aspect I liked about this one is how unpretentious the writing is. It literally sounds like an average 31 year old middle class woman who's writing it, while the story itself brings all the poetic substance to the table.
Definitely pick it up at your local used bookstore...and also check out the movie. I haven't yet, but I take forever with those things. Kiera Knightly, Carrie Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield are in it. Yeah, should be pretty good. I'd say.

The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater
Stiefvater is basically my favorite author of today. It all started with The Scorpio Races. Then The Raven Boys and now The Dream Thieves did not disappoint. For those of you who haven't read the first book a) read it and b) you should know that this book is primarily about the character, Ronan, and his ability to enter dreams and take whatever he wants out of them. This, of course, does tie into the ley line and the search for Glendower, but that aspect mostly takes the backseat. Blue, one of the five main character's, stories has about the same emphasis as in TRB, and you'll want to watch out for the development of her relationship with Noah--so cute! Gansey and Adam still have their angst-y relationship, and perhaps it's even more angst-y in this one. But the brotherhood between them, and the rest of the male gang for that matter, is still really endearing in the cutest, and oftentimes funniest, way possible. Basically, if you like having that atmosphere with prep-school boys who are like brothers and spend day in and day out with each other and drive shiny, obnoxious luxury cars and have eloquent, sexy vocabularies in both English and Latin and a plucky, feminist girl to tag along with them, all while searching for a long dead Welsh King in a magical forest in Virginia, then this series is for you!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Latest Three: Creep-tastic Takeover (Even Though We're Half Way Through Novemberry)

It's here! Another Latest Three!
And I am pleased to inform you that all three books were ones I greatly enjoyed, which isn't necessarily rare, but something I'm always glad to admit when it comes to these posts.
For Halloween this year, I tried to stick with a creepier set of books. And yes, I understand we're half way through Novemberry already, but I knew what books I was going to read before hand for this post and of course I couldn't talk about them until I finished them.
But now I have finished them, and here they are.
The Latest Three!

A Darkness Strange and Lovely, Susan Dennard
To sum it up in a sentence, the book is a bit dark, a bit strange, and very lovely. One of the biggest things I admire about Dennard's writing is that she takes a sub-genre of YA fiction (one I admittedly don't read much of: paranormal with minor or major romance) and gives it this quality of purely classic storytelling. The point here is mostly about adventure, about zombies and exotic history, about opulence and underground secrets, about friendship, romance, and the ever important internal struggle of a young girl in a conservative era, dealing with magnificent power. I also love it when authors are smart enough to spice things up and also pump up the drama by setting the next book in a far off place. Immediately, there's intrigue in that alone, and I wish writers would take that route more often. Overall, I think Dennard did a tre magnifique job at writing the daunting sequel to her first Something Strange and Deadly, which I also loved, and that's something that, as an avid reader of YA, is a bit hard to come by. Well done Dennard! Can't wait for book three, Strange and Ever After, Egypt here we come. Oh, and love the cover!

City of the Beasts, Isabelle Allende
I haven't yet read any of Allende's books. (She mostly writes for adult audiences.) But I've heard many good things about her, mostly from my mom, who's read several of them and badgers me to read them as well. Well when I saw Allende had a YA book out, I immediately jumped at the chance. Not only would it make my mom happy, but it sounded like an awesome read. Basic plot: young boy goes on grand adventure with Grandma into the heart of the amazon to hunt down what they are calling the Beast, basically the Big Foot of the Amazon. Only the Beast they're looking for, might not be the Beast they need most fear. In general, I love this kind of plot. Many times, it means edge of your seat adventure in far off places, but also a slew of characters who's arc is unraveled in a way that eventually makes you question every thought you first had about them and, often, about other broader ideas when you first started the book. This was definitely one of those books. It was so believable, not only because of the research that was so obviously done, but because of the world-building, which I found not only in the tribal influence that becomes a very critical part of the book, but the beautiful way in which the two main characters become--and I don't use that word lightly--a part of that world. A gripping read, and, yes!, there's a sequel, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon. I'll be working on that one next and then it's off to The House of the Spirits, her most highly recommended book I've encountered.

Throat, R. A. Nelson
I have this book in hard back because, even though it came out in 2011, I bought it but just never managed to get to it until now...though, admittedly, there are a good handful of books on my shelves that hide the same story. I'll start out by saying there is nothing to this cover that deceives your imagination. Yes, this book is about vampires. I personally do not read many books about vampires. I had my Twilight days and I am not shameful of them in the least. But those books were out for a while, and I knew it, too, before a good friend of mine insisted I read them. So in general, and not in an "on my book taste superiority high horse" sort of way, I don't read a lot of vampire centered fiction, nor do I read a lot of zombie fiction either. But! In the circumstance that a hook can draw me in, like a zombie book with a female heroine in the heart and heat of late 1800's Philadelphia with dashing Spirit Hunters--thanks Susan Dennard, I'm more than willing to tread into unfamiliar water. Here the protagonist is also female, but she starts out with a pretty extreme disability--epilepsy, or, as she calls it, the curse. The drama gets started when a monstrous vampire attacks her and she goes into a grand mal seizure at the same time, which not only saves her life but gives her super-powers, turning her into a kind of fantastical half-vampire. This notion of a very real disease being a young girl's saving grace in the deadly clutches of classic such evil folk lore as a vampire was a major genius idea in mixture of realism and magic, and so of course I had to give it a try. Oh! And did I mention it mainly takes place on the base of NASA? All the lore that Nelson created around his version of good and bad vampires, the detailed world-building that is the NASA base, swoony, lovable Sadan, and my absolute favorite character of the book, Papi, all make for a great YA paranormal read with a romantic element I'd categorize somewhere between minor and major! I've been looking into Nelson's other books and both Breathe My Name and Days of Little Texas sound like excellent reads. Check 'em out!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bye-bye Button: And How I Relate That to Writing

Photo courtesy of the fact that I figured people wouldn't want to see a picture of a mole in their blog feed today...and Google images.

Now for the meat and potatoes of our blog post.
So I have a Button,
though, literally speaking, it is a birthmark.
Or...OK...a mole.
But I've always called it a birthmark...
And I've always referred to it as my Button.
(More on this later.)
Her is a picture of said Button:

As you can see by the picture, my Button is larger than a pencil eraser, which means it is far more susceptible to becoming cancerous than any average mole, and so must at last be removed. You might even be able to see, if you look towards the top left of the button, that it is what they call "bleeding," which means it's color is spreading into other parts of my skin, which is, technically speaking, a medical ruh-roh.
So my Button is going bye-bye. For good.
"Now," says my internal, imaginary therapist, "How does this make you feel?"
Well, to be honest, I don't like it. Not one bit.
And this has very little to do with the surgery itself. Ever since I had a fainting spell from watching a gory scene in a movie in school, which is another story on its own, I've noticed I've been a bit more squeamish with blood-stuff, but I generally take pain pretty well, especially when I know it's coming.
No, I'm not happy about this because, well, I like my Button.
It's a part of me. It's not too ugly. It doesn't complain about being stuck to me all the time...
But then again, a mole of this category is, medically speaking, at risk for melanoma, and as much as I like my Button, I don't like it that much.
So bye-bye Button. You will be missed, but, unfortunately, you're execution is necessary.

Like many things in my life, a little reflection on this allowed me to relate it to writing.
How so?
Well, I've lately been doing some thought on character.
On a slight side note--but I guess not really that much of a side note, I've found that when I have a problem with plot I can look to character development to perhaps help me out a little.
For example, this Button of mine, I will tell you how it came to be called my Button.
When I was a little girl I had a Button. It was small and brown and round, and, somehow perfectly, it was the size of a pointer finger.
Now, when you are a little girl
and you have a birthmark that is perfectly the size of a pointer finger
and you have a mother who loves to make you giggle in the bathtub,
you're mother will likely press her pointer finger to your birthmark and call it your Button
because it is, somehow, just too perfect of a phenomenon to pass up,
and it makes your two year old self giggle
a lot.
But when the Button is pressed...what must happen then?
Surely, it is a Button, so something must happen.
Somehow your two year old self decides that this means you must stick out your tongue. So every time your mother presses your Button with her pointer finger, you stick your tongue out and you giggle like crazy.
Or let me rephrase that.
Your mother sits on the edge of the bathtub, tucked away between sunshine yellow tiles. She's wearing her fluffy green bathrobe, the one you always take when its cold in the winter because you can't find your own because your room is still too messy. She leans over with a scrunchy smile and pokes your Button with her pointer finger. Her standard dark red nail polish on her long, rounded fingernails is slightly chipped cause she rubs her fingernails over each other when she thinks her husband's not looking. "Bad habit," he would always say.
She pokes your Button and you jut out your chin, squint your eyes, and stick out your tongue. She releases your Button and your tongue slides back in.
But now the game has begun.
Poke, poke, poke!
Goes your mother.
Thrice you stick out your tongue in rapid fire, not missing a beat.
One long, drawn out poke from your mother this time.
You hold your tongue out and pull it back in, just in time.
You both erupt in giggles.
You get so excited you start to splash.
You mother shrieks, but still she's laughing...

And then you realize that the sight of the birthmark on your left leg, the one you're so used to living with it's almost as if it's not there sometimes, just made you think of all that, just that little old mole.

We all have our own "Buttons," whether they're a part of our body or not, and so should our characters. And who knows, you might create a "Button" for your own character that opens up a possibility in plot you hadn't thought of.
And if you're not sure where to start, look to you're own "Button" first. If you can't find it, look for it. It's there. Discovering that about ourselves can only make us better writers at the end of the day.

Friday, October 25, 2013

If I Were a Bookstore

If I were a bookstore

It would be round
like the shape of two elbows, resting on the arms of a chair,
linked by the open pages
of a book.

Organization would be key.
On one side would be the sunshine books.
Like the morning,
Like the summer,
Like the heat rising off the asphalt,
Like skin, bronze,
Like the fairground,
Like the beach,
Like a veranda with a cold glass of lemonade,
Like a journey,
for good measure,
through the amazon.

On another side would be the misty books.
Like British accents,
Like broomsticks and potions,
Like thick, woolen overcoats,
Like memories and tears,
Like rosy cheeks,
Like steam rising from a cup,
Like cloaks and pixie dust,
Like umbrellas and fire places,
And for good measure,
Like Scottish accents, too.

On another side would be the shiny books.
Like helicopters,
and cities lit up like the stars.
Like indestructible space ships
Like galaxies,
Like fathomless beings,
Like unforeseen variables,
Like a volcano,
for good measure,
just before the apocalypse.

And in the middle,
for a measure better than most,
would be everything else.

Because a good book
can always be
something else.

*This is an original poem by Kateri Ransom and is made possible by Random Words and Thoughts that Come out of Kateri's Mouth Corp. Haven't heard of it? That's because I made it up. Just now. Just like this poem. Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Latest Three: Stiefvater Takeover Edition

It's time for The Latest Three: Maggie Stiefvater Takeover Edition. For those of you who don't know, Maggie is probably one of my favorite authors living today. I couldn't really pinpoint the title of "Favorite Author" to one name, but if I had an ongoing contest, she'd be a main contender. To be clear, Shiver was her first book I ever read, but the way things worked out, I didn't get to the next two until now. So, I re-read Shiver and finished up the next two, which resulted in...
The Latest Three!!!

Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater

Linger, Maggie Stiefvater

Forever, Maggie Stiefvater

So I will not be giving a review of each individual book for the main purpose that doing so will undoubtedly lead to those icky things called spoilers. Instead, I will merely refer to this series in a general manner.
Like this...
In general, I thought Maggie did a really wonderful job with this series. I'd still say that The Scorpio Races is my favorite of her books thus far, and I probably like The Dream Thieves better than this series as well (despite the fact that the second book only just came out), but that just means that Maggie's been improving with each book she's come out with. Not bad at all, not bad at all.
One of the several things I like about Shiver is that the name of the book literally encompasses the feel of the book, and to me that is not only really cool, but also really important. I love when you glance at a title, and, in a perfect book world, a book cover as well, and get an instant feel for the tone of the novel. But it's even better when the writing of said novel actually matches up to that tone you had originally anticipated, had ached to be true because it looks like it's EXACTLY the kind of book you want to read RIGHT NOW!
I've gone through a lot with this matter, if you can't tell.
Watch out for the main character, Sam Roth's, development throughout the series. He's probably my favorite character in the book, besides Ulrik (but that doesn't really count for reasons I won't actually divulge at this time).
The imagery, the poetry, the luuuuv scenes. There's a lot of heartache and angst and questions on identity and humanity. A really deep read with a nice flavoring of Maggie snarkiness.
Super excited to hear there's a Cole/Isabel sequel coming out in the spring, entitled Sinner. Can't wait. Isabel is probably my next favorite character and Cole comes close behind her.

Up next for The Latest Three: A (partially) spooky Halloween Takeover

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Na-No Talk and Some Good News!

Management asks that you please ignore the lack of posts here within the blog.
We thank you for your understanding.


So the once a week blog post thing isn't quite working out as swimmingly as I had hoped it would. Partially due to the fact that I got some variation of a little bug several different times since school started. As well as taking the time to make some decent headway on editing. (I'm nearly through the first ten chapters!)
Heading into October, I am gearing up to become a bit friendlier with NaNo this fall as I'm putting my current editing project on the back-burner to collaborate with my better book-ish half, Emily, on an Anastasia Romanov re-telling. I'm handling most of the outlining, which is getting done this month, and we're teaming up starting Nov. 1st. With me still trying to chip away at editing and her working on another project of her own, it sure is going to be a busy month! But collectively I think we should hit the mark, and it'll be a big leap for me from last year where I believe I got just upwards of 10,000 words done. Hey, I was finishing up the first draft of the story I'd been working on for six years. You can only do so much at that point. 
Other than that, I'll be a bit busier because I got another job!!!
I have two jobs now, can you believe it? Went from nothing to nearly 30 hours a week in less than two months. However, I'm really super stoked about this one. It's at a clothing boutique downtown called Chapala and Parker. Small, quaint, chic, elegant, and not ridiculously overpriced. Plus with the first job I got, which allows me to catch up on writing blog posts at work, ahem ahem, I'd say I have a pretty sweet deal going on. I mean, seriously, I already got free clothes!!!

Well, that's all for now folks. I've got a Latest Three (Stiefvater takeover edition) coming your way soon and some other fun ideas I have in the works as well. See you soon, and for those of you who this applies to, happy Pre-Na-No-ing...
and for those of you that that doesn't apply to, happy...

Monday, September 9, 2013

About a GOOD Decision

It's time for Kateri to tell a story.
This is another story of Kateri's, but one that is far more pleasant than a story about a near fatal family car accident; I can assure you.
This is the story of how Kateri came to be living, and writing this post, here in Santa Barbara, instead of Modesto, CA.
I will also now discontinue referring to myself in the third person. It sounds presumptuous. 
So this time, almost exactly one year ago, I was starting back at the JC in Modesto and being a full time dancer with Central West Ballet. It was a fulfilling lifestyle. I always had somewhere to be or something to do. If I had any free time I spent it either reading or being a Writer. Everything was. very. serous. *makes serious face*
But there was a problem with that statement: the single word "always."
I have come to the conclusion that life should almost never be always anything. But mine was. Always busy. Always tired. Always hungry. Always sheltered.
Not a bad life by any means. But still, always.
So about this time a year ago, my step-grandma, The Biologist, visited my home for the first time. She told me about the City College here. It was one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. It was one of the top City Colleges in the nation. It was on the beach.
It was perfect.
So, about a year ago, I decided that it was time to retire, so to speak, from life as a bun-head, from life living at home, from life as a Modestan. So here I am.
Boy, has it been a roller-coaster! I moved in with my grand-folks in Camarillo, which is about 45 mins. south from here. I found my little cubby hole here in Santa Barbara and moved in. I made new friends. I was gone for two months because of a family emergency. I started school.
But I'm still me, and as a matter of fact, I'm becoming MORE me. Every day.
I have time to do that now. I don't HAVE to be a ballerina to be me, not if I don't want to, at least. I can be a writer, and at heart I can always be a dancer.
If there's one thing that is always, it's the whole world that's out there. With stories reaching to infinity.
Go find them. Go make them.
But don't stay in one place.
You are not a tree.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Latest Three

The Latest Three

It's time for me to round-up and tell you what I thought of the last three books I've read.
Summer break is over now, but I am the lucky chick living in Santa Barbara, where September is usually the hottest month of the year. When I first visited last year, towards the end of November, it was a good 82 degrees. So, at least I won't have to cry too much for the loss of another summer break. I've got sunshine and beach time still coming my way. 
With the accident and the pressure to find myself a job, I didn't read nearly as many books as I was hoping to read, and, if you recall me mentioning such a thing, my supposed re-reading kick never actually got a proper kick-start. But I will remedy that with at least one title as next I'll be re-reading Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater, and the two final books in the trilogy,Linger and Forever, that, for whatever reason, don't ask me how, I haven't gotten to yet. So excited!
But yes, for now, here are The Latest Three!!!

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
"Where can one find more noble distraction, more entertaining company, more delightful enchantment than in literature?"
I have done it. I have finally done it. I have included a quote from a book I read, here on the blog, and this occurrence has been brought on by the fact that this book was pretty darn filled with good quotes, ones that made you, after reading them, re-read and re-read. This book also has a HUGE vocabulary, sometimes overwhelming, but always impressive.
While this book was based on the relationship of an old, fat, and ugly hotel concierge, Renee, and a small, rich, genius, and suicidal twelve year old girl, Paloma, it felt much more to me that it was about the relationship between Renee and Monsieur Ozu, a wealthy and kind Japanese man. While I as disappointed in the lack of relationship between the two different females (they didn't meet till half way through the story, which I don't often like), I did quite like the relationship between Renee and Ozu, somewhat of a Cinderella story that is the best kind of heart-warming.
In the end, I really enjoyed this novel. A different, engaging, thought-provoking story. At times, I felt it was a bit pretentious, but when you get to know the characters you realize that just sort of comes with the territory. And trust me, there were some moments in this book that really shined. I won't likely forget them. I love it when moments in literature are strong enough that they can carry on with me.
Great characters, great writing style, fun, unique setting (fancy French hotel where people be so rich, they buy out the whole floor, damn!)

In the Shadow of Blackbirds, Cat Winters
This was a debut new release I was really looking forward to, and let me just start off by saying that I loved it! I think one of my favorite aspects of this book is it's fright factor, which, for me, was done expertly. Now, if you are all into blood, guts, and gore scare factor then this book is likely not for you, though there certainly is some blood in this book. The frightening bits are like the kind where you sit in bed, alone, in the dark or under a flickering lamplight, and wonder. That's it. You wonder and your imagination does all the work for you. Well, Winters definitely fills in some of the gaps herself, but the build up to those moments is beautiful. Not overdone at all, so much so that you start to believe that she's not going to take you there...and then she does. Not that I was sitting freaked out in bed at night from this one, per say, but it was enough to stick with me after reading it. Kateri like.
I also really appreciated the romance in this book. Though you know before reading it, assuming that you read the summary inside, that Stephen, our mc, Mary Shelley Black's, young sweetheart, is killed in the First World War, you still get the whole falling in love roller-coaster, only with twice the heart-break because, well, he dies. But he's not gone.
AND he doesn't just come back for a little smoochy opportunity with Mary Shelley, not that there's not any of that either, but it was truly believable that this was a ghost, a spirit, an in-human and therefore unpredictable and unstable entity, which made things believable and so much more interesting.
Great setting, great characters, great creepy, eerie atmosphere!

Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen
I was SO READY to get to this book for two main reasons. A) I LOVED The Truth About Forever and Just Listen. B) What's summer without a fun, summer read, right? This book, I'd have to say, is pretty much one of the best summer reads out there, if you ask me. It's about the summer that changes everything. I've certainly had a summer that changed everything (if you saw my last post), and I certainly learned a lot from it as well. So it was great to read a book in which the main character goes through the same thing. I totally got the small beach town setting. The major emotions Auden, the mc, goes through were very believable and basically, well, kept me along for the ride.
It was hard for a bit, handling Auden's parents, neither of which I liked very much. But of course parents, as all people are, are flawed. Her's just happen to be so in a way that made their relationship more dysfunctional. Even the part where Auden starts to separate herself from her mom for the first time, as I believe all women do to a certain degree at some time in their lives, was relatable for me. The boy, as I know you're sitting there tapping your feet saying,"OK, Kateri, but what about The Boy?", is awesome. Even he's flawed, but then again, I guess that's what the book is sort of about. Flaws, and dealing with accepting them. That, and second chances. That, and learning to take first chances. I mean come on, after all, it's summer. And summer only comes once a year.
You probably knew this was coming...
Carpe Diem.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hey, It Could Happen

First off, Happy Back To School all you Back To School-ers!
And congratulations on starting another school year, which means you survived the last one, or also possibly means your kids survived the last one, or also, also possibly means you survived teaching the last school year...
I'm just trying to get all the angles here, people.
It's that time of year again. Buff up your red apples and sharpen your pencils. If you can believe it, we've got MORE knowledge to stuff into our brains.
Let me start out this new beginning by making a bold and ambitious statement...
because all good new beginnings warrant a bold and ambitious statement, if you ask me.
I am hereby deciding that it is my goal for the new semester to make sure I post at least one blog post a week.
One blog post a weeeeeek!

But now to get to the reason for my blog post title.
I try not to get too personal on the blog. I like to share my interests (yes, mostly including books) and other positive things that happen in my life. Or pictures. Or poetry.Or food. Or things that are really old and really cool.
Well, this one's going to be a bit different, and definitely a bit personal. But stay with me, folks, just stay with me.
So let's get to it.
I had another period of MIA-ness these past few weeks of summer because of a rather dramatic event that happened in my life. On June 29th, my parents and 13 year old sister were in a serious car accident while driving to visit me at my new place in Santa Barbara for the first time.They were on the I-5 when they were hit from behind by a drunk driver and rolled anywhere from 2-10 times (yes, sounds strange, I know, but no one's really confirmed a number yet) off the freeway, thankfully landing upright on all four wheels. My dad was hurt the worst; he was airlifted out with a head injury, aspirated lungs, and multiple broken bones in his left hand and forearm. My mom had broken ribs, a broken and dislocated arm, and fractured bones in her right foot. My sister escaped with only cuts on her right arm, which certainly weren't pretty but healed good and quick, and a sprained ankle. Dad was in ICU and rehab for about six weeks total, Mom was out by July 19th, Banana was only in for 3 days.
Most important thing?
They are all out of the hospital now. Healthy and recovering.

I was considering not writing about this on the blog at all--too personal, too dreary, too tender of a spot to touch. But things are calming down. I am back in Santa Barbara in my little cubby-hole of a room trying to find a job and fit in reading, writing, and research, getting ready for fall semester to start. For me, most of the healing process of going through a traumatic experience like this is on a mental level. The fact that I could have, as fast as you can snap your fingers, become an orphan and lost my baby sister too is finally starting to feel like a real thing. I've learned from this experience that I take a while to fully process difficult realities. I hold my emotions in. I try so hard to be strong and positive for others. But this has negative repercussions as well. You have to cry sometime, and that's when family and friends come in. I came out of this experience a different person, humbled, matured, determined to grow up. And I realize that growing up is something I haven't really been able to understand until now. I'm sure I got a lot more growing up to do; after all, I'm 20, but this experience has definitely given me a push off the diving board.

But like so many other things that happen in my life, regardless of importance, this experience made me see something I love, literature, in a new light. Have you ever read on the back of a book that the poor kid's parents died in a car accident?
My reaction would normally be, "Car accident, how original."
Which I don't necessarily feel bad for thinking, per say, because a lot of authors and movie makers use that story line. But now I can't help but think, Hey, it happens.
It happened to me.
I was just lucky enough to not become an orphan, something I'm grateful for every day. But if I think that when I read about the orphaned kid from the car accident then what do I say to the back of the book with the kid with divorced parents? The evil step-mother? The typical swoony boy? The summer that changes everything?
These things happen. They are real. Fantasy is great, it's one of my favorite genres in fact. I love a good post-apocalyptic dystopian as much as the next Hunger Games fan. And these genres can incorporate these serious, real-life subjects just as beautifully.
I think it's our job as readers to understand this and not dismiss things just because they're ordinary or commonplace, because what is literature?
I'd like to say it's the ability of a writer to use their words to make the ordinary extraordinary, and I mean this in it's purest definition. A word is just a word, but used in the right context it can become art. The littlest thing in life can be art, a walk to the park, a trip to the post office, heck, even traffic if a writer can pull it off. The biggest things can be art too, like a major car accident.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that when it comes down to it, a book might appear to be ordinary, and perhaps it really just is, but it might also be extraordinary.
And remember, it--whatever "it" may be--could happen to anyone. Be grateful you have those you love.
And, as a rule, always...
Carpe diem.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Latest Three

Hello everyone!
I have been quite indisposed for the past few weeks
I dunno, perhaps my absence covers both June and July.
But that's beside the point I suppose.
I'm here now and I've got a review of the last three books I've read.
So here goes!

The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
I finished this one around early June and I so wish I had it with me so I could put in some good quotes from it, which isn't something I often do. However, if I were able, I would. If you've heard a review about this book before then you've likely heard something about Tan's affinity for storytelling and, boy, is that a well deserved statement. You have to understand, I love language. It's the first thing that got me into reading and writing, probably more so than plot. This book definitely fits that category. There's very little plot in place of the opportunity to delve deeply into the lives of these Chinese women from multiple generations. The stories, especially I feel the ones from the past, are enchanting, gripping in a way that doesn't have you sitting on the edge of your seat but rather feeling as if you have fallen into a dream, one of longing, sorrow, history, culture, color, and, of course, joy. Not a fast read for me, but then again I hardly noticed, which is a good thing. My mom's favorite Amy Tan novel is The Kitchen God's Wife, so I'm definitely looking forward to that one.

The Shadow Cats, Rae Carson
I actually had no idea that Rae Carson was doing these series of e-novellas based on the world of her GoFaT trilogy, which is one of my most favorite trilogies to date at the moment...CAN'T WAIT FOR THE BITTER KINGDOM TO COME OUT!!!!! This story, however, is told from the perspective of the main character, Elisa's, sister, who is the crown princess of Orovalle. It was awesome to get perspective not only from a character we've thus far only seen through one lens, but who also is both kick-butt and flawed at the same time. It's a super quick read and so worth-it for Carson's fans. You'll gobble it up in one sitting. For those of you who haven't introduced yourselves to Carson's so far two-part AH-MAZ-ING trilogy...DO IT. FIRST. Then get back to me and we'll talk that story and then you can treat yourself by reading this one. Capisce? 
K, awesome.
Oh! And before I forget. She's also got two others, one from Mara's perspective and one from...uh...HECTOR'S!!!!

Leviathan, Scott Westerfield-Author, Keith Thompson-Illustrator
Now this book is likely going to make it to the top 10 FAVORITES of my 2013 reading list. What I'd like to call a really memorable read and also a really fun one. I loved the world that involved so many unique aspects like fabricated life forms, steam punk, WWI, and really well written and well developed characters. Not that I always like to differentiate between female and male readers, but I feel this book is a good one if you want to appeal to both genders, especially since it's told in alternating third person perspectives from the two main characters, Alek and Deryn. And boy is it awesome the way Westerfield interlaced these characters adventures. A really gripping, enjoyable, and--surprisingly--believable read all the way!!!
Can't wait to read the last two!!! Oh, and the illustrations? So great! They really enhanced the adventure and allowed me to get a great idea of what Westerfield's world was supposed to look like. Not distracting of my reader's creative license in the least, but rather, creative license inducing.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Things Means New Things

I was planning on doing this post exactly a week after I moved into my new place in Santa Barbara,
Did I mention I got a place in Santa Barbara?
So I got a place in Santa Barbara,
and things around here are going pretty swimmingly.
One of the biggest things I've been noticing is how big changes in one's life can mean changes,
even little ones,
just as well.
So here's a little list of the new things that have come of other new things in my life:
1. Drinking tea, specifically chai tea. My folks are coming down to visit me today and apparently bringing a coffee pot with them, but since then I've been without one and forced to drink tea in the morning, since I'm basically addicted to caffeine now. But it's been yummy! Especially with copious amounts of honey.
2. Tins! I've always claimed that I collect vintage tin boxes, but now I can call myself a true collector as I've gotten one for just about everything from pasta to bracelets to pencils...and the list keeps growing. One of these days I'll have to show off my collection on the blog. It's pretty sick.
3. Barely having time for things like internet, reading, and writing. Not that I place those thing equally in value or anything, but they were definitely healthy parts of my normal day to day diet before. Now I've been so busy with moving and making friends that it's been harder to make time for those things, but I also think that mostly has to do with the fact that I have totally lost my home routine and I'm still trying to find one here/have the time of my life living on my own in this great city for a summer. I mean, I understand the importance of staying focused, but writers need to live too, if only a little.
4. Visiting the THREE lovely independent bookstores here: Chaucer's, The Book Den, and Granada Books. I've been to them all and bought books and they're all fabulous! Santa Barbara definitely has a great literary community. Hopefully somewhere down the road I'll be able to get a job with one of them.
5. Speaking of literary community, there's also a great library here, which leads me to the next new thing. I finally got a library card! Shocking that I didn't have one before, right? Well, moving all my books down here has definitely proven difficult (I still haven't gotten them all in here!) and I'll have to go through the same thing down the road when I move after graduating from the city college here. So I'll definitely be using my library more often...and buying only the ones I read that I love or the sequels to books that I'm really excited Maggie Stiefvater's The Dream Thieves coming out in a few months!!!
6. I got an iPhone! I've still been figuring it out, but it's going pretty well. I'm still pretty sure that I won't be on it all the time; I've never been good with staying attached to my phones, but this one is definitely going to be my favorite phone, I can tell. Oh hey, I got an instagram. I think I accidentally got two somehow, but if you'd like to follow look up thekateriransom.
7. Having my own space! This definitely means that I have my own bookshelves as well. I'll have to post pics soon, once I get them all here, that is.
8. Well, you knew this was coming, though I actually haven't visited as much as I'd like to...
but anyway,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Charge the Beach

We'll go charge the beach
We'll go Run, Run, Run,
over every little piece of shell
crunchy, soft,
caught in the curls on our head
between the prickle of our eyelashes

We'll go splash in the spike of the waves
hop-scotch over white froth
mouths hungry, peppered with salt
take one more step

sand falls from beneath you
froth gurgles, churns, turns back to you
swallows up your toes, cold
sun breaks through what's left of you
wind pulls you back together again

We'll go charge the beach

We'll go yell at the horizon
Beat the waves to the swallowing
Swallow it up ourselves
Drink, Drink, Drink
Now we are the same
Now we can lie down
Now we can stay

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Those Who Dance at the Bottom of the Hill

So today I have a story for you all.
I have just moved down to Camarillo, CA and have been getting acclimated pretty well down here. I've been moving into my room, moving my stuff down from Modesto, getting ready to move into a new place in Santa Barbara (more on that later), and being quite successful in making The Biologist's cat, Henry, love me. I've also been doing my best to get in the habit of staying in shape, being that I'm no longer taking dance class and rehearsal six days a week. 
My grandpa, R2's, place is on a steep hill and there's a lovely street that goes down hill, past some large and lovely houses, and straightens out with a gorgeous view of the valley and sometimes, if its not too foggy or smoggy, the not-too-distant coast. It also ends in a little, quiet court, partly shaded by trees, where I've been doing some dancer things to help stay in dancer shape...sort of.
I've done this a fair few times, made some nice conversation with neighbors, stayed in pretty good shape too. The other day, however, something interesting happened at the bottom of that hill, and it got me going on this whole inner-dialogue, which had to do a lot with writing, hence the reason why I'm sharing it with you today.
So I'm turning the corner to the bottom of this hill. The June fog is hanging somewhat sickly in the air. The wind feels slightly sharp against my cold skin, and I know I've got a steep hill to climb back up again.
But as I'm working my way down, I begin to hear something truly stunning. It's piano music, a piece I've danced to before in a hot, sticky, cramped studio once upon a time...not too long ago. 
And immediately, the street around me changes in the only way an inspiring piece of music can do. I wasn't about to work out, I was about to dance. By that time, I figured one of the houses not too far up was playing the music, either by instrument or recording I didn't know, but it didn't matter. I got to the bottom of the hill and became a dancer, even though I was in a sweat shirt and running shoes. No one could see me. I was alone. Just me and the music. And it was wonderful.
So the reason I bring this up. 
It's not specifically because of my side of the story but because of the music player's side. Because perhaps that person, whether they were playing it themselves or not, didn't know that there was a girl, who was new to the area, getting ready to take on the big, open world by herself, taking a moment to dance to the music at the bottom of the hill.
They didn't know it and yet their music was inspiring someone.
I think writers should be the same way. So many of us have something musical inside, whether it be with notes, or colors on paper, or words on a computer screen, but we doubt whether those personal things should be shared with the world. Who is watching? Who is listening? Who cares?
I wonder if that person in that big, beautiful, white house knew that I was even down there, that there was someone else enjoying their morning in a similar, yet different, way. 
So next time you're busting through that impossible word count or fretting about sending your baby out into the world for the first time, remember this story as proof.
You shouldn't hide the music that's within you
because you never know who might be dancing to it way down at the bottom of the hill.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Latest Three

I told you.
I told you I had another latest three coming your way.
And here it is!
These past few books were just a lot of fun to read.
Good precursors to my forthcoming summer reading list.
I'd like to mention that I will also be going on a re-reading kick,
as I promised myself long ago,
so I'm excited to be bringing some books your way
--some that some of you might already be familiar with--
with a newer and more developed opinion of them.
You see, I'm not big on re-reading things.
I've only re-read the first Harry Potter book and parts of the third because they're my favorite.
So this will be a fun adventure for me, I should think.
But until then...
Here's The Latest Three.

Heart of a Samurai, Margi Preus
A fun MG to read, for sure. I think this story is the kind that anyone of any age could enjoy, as the main character has to deal with universal challenges like separateness, race prejudice, new cultures, and growing up. Also becoming a man. Becoming a samurai (though that's not till the very end). You know, things we all have to go through at some point or another. This book won't likely be a favorite I call to mind, but whenever I look upon it I'l remember how nice it was to read it, how well researched it was, and how it made me see the ordinary through the eyes of a young man who just wants to see the world and become a samurai, like we all do.

Poison, Bridget Zinn
Another super fun book to read! I heard of this one because of the late author's story: she passed before she got to see the book release, but knew it was going to be all the same. I'd definitely call this a younger YA read, but as I read a lot of younger books anyway this was just fun, which seems to be the theme for today. I just really enjoyed it and the only big thing I'd have to say about it is that I wish the author could have been able to give us a prequel to it. It seems there's a lot of story to be explored there. I loved the characters so much, I think that idea would be a favorable one.

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
I know there's been a lot of hype around this book and though you've probably been told a thousand times, I want to be that 1,001st person that tells you all that hype is well deserved. This book has me written all over it. Mystique, which I think is a different and far more gooder thing than the word 'mystery.' Luxurious attention to detail. can you go wrong? And magic, lots and lots of magic. Plus that ending, bittersweet is what I'd call it and how sweetly bitter it is...if you get what I mean. Plus I love when writers find a way to make storytelling a central part of the storytelling in their story...if you also get what I mean. Long story short, I loved this book and it's going on the list of favorite reads of 2013, right up there with Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I'm Back!

In the many moons since I last saw you guys
I have accomplished many things that before then had only been the stuff of dreams
Well, now those things have become a reality.
I've since finished school at my little junior college in Modesto and moved my butt on down to Camarillo,
which is about an hour away from Santa Barbara,
which is where I will finish up my jc education
until I can transfer to another fun school in the SoCal area.
The minor detail of exactly where I'll be transferring to is still up for trial,
but as they say,
details, details...
Anyway, I'm looking forward to a long summer of...
pool side time
June gloom (the typical SoCal fog that always appears around June)
getting a job
being away from family and friends :(
being away from my adorable doggies, double :(
planning yummy things to eat for my grandpa, R2, and  his wife, The Biologist, whom I now live with
my own rooooooom!!!
beach time (it's 20 minutes away!)
day trips with the Biologist to Santa Barbara and Ojai...maybe even LA
trips to our cabin
finding a way to figure out this college thing on my own
lots and lots of READING!!!
lots and lots of WRITING!!!
a new project that does not involve writing--more on that later
skyping with parents, a little strange but I'll get used to it
getting all my best friends' butts out here to visit
convincing Henry, The Biologist's cat, to love me
and most excitedly...COMIC CON!!!

But for now here are a few pics
And a latest three is also coming your way!

 Me and my cousin, Missa, on my moving day!

My Artistic Director, Rene Daveluy, and my Ballet Mistress and teacher, Leslie Larson after my last performance with Central West Ballet. Two beautiful people I will never forget.

Here's to a big change!
Here's to a leap of faith!
Here's to everything in the world that has blessed and shaped me into the person I am today!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Latest Three

only don't ask how,
I managed to get a lot more great reading done in these last few weeks before finals
--these last crucial weeks, that is--
and manage to still not be failing any of my classes.
Like I said, don't ask how.
So I mentioned I had some big new YA releases coming up in the next Latest Three
and that is definitely still the case.
So without further ado,
here's the latest three!
(These are all sequels in trilogies so if you haven't read, though I try to stay as spoiler free as possible, well, sort of, you might not want to read this post. You have been warned.)

Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
I highly enjoyed this second installment in Roth's debut trilogy. One thing that stood out to me while reading it was that for most of the time I didn't really know where it was going. I knew Tris and Tobias were on the run and I knew the bad guys had a colossal, evil plan (and I also guessed that the Factionless were going to play a pivotal role in the story too), but other than that I was just along for the ride. And I thought that was really cool!
I also want to say that I liked the romance in this book better than I did in the last one, which is saying something because I really liked the last one. It's just that when there's tension in a romance it can be hard for me to like and, for the most part, this tension felt real and earned to me.
Of course, yet again, we are left with no ending, but boy, what an ending!

Scarlet, Marissa Meyer
Not to pick favorites, but if I had to pick a favorite between all of these it would be this one, but I also just think that's indicative of the kind of reader I am. What I love about this series is that it manages to read like a classic fairy tail (thank you, third person narrative), while still touching on deeper subjects like the plague, not fitting in with society, the power of oppression, the power of fear in general. I also love the way technology is portrayed in this world and the ways it works perfectly with these "fairy tail inspired" characters. It's a fast, enjoyable read that reads just the way it should. Loved it!
Oh and Wolf, can you please have a long lost brother that is not your psychopathic alter-ego and that is just as gruff and vulnerable as you? K, thanks!

Prodigy, by Marie Lu
I was super excited to read this one because I loved Legend! Well, I loved this one even more! Whoa guys, that climax was without question the best one I've read this year. Fighter jets. Oh yes, my style. :D
I do have to say that the romance I liked better in the first one. I'm interested to hear what you have to say, but I felt some aspects weren't quite necessary. Either way, it was only a section of the book that wasn't working for me, the rest was action packed and some scenes were gritty and engrossing and had me way hooked. I think Marie Lu is a fantastic writer. I love spending time in her world. Ooh! And that's one other thing I like about it. The stuff we get to learn about this world is awesome. Totally believable and not far from the truth, in fact. It was an interesting eye-opening experience, how we got to learn so much and see it through Day and June's experience. Stellar.

Here's to almost finals!
Here's to the fact that I will soon be saying "Here's to after finals!'!!!
Here's to the summer smell that's in the air, can you smell it too? Smells like a fresh stack of TBR pile!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

What's Next...

I've been blogging in spurts lately.
This, I think, is good.
Because blogging is good,
and is also a lot better than ignoring my blog.
So, go me.
For those of you who saw a while back about my Big Announcement, I wrote a book. I told myself I finished it, but even a novice writer like me knew that that was not entirely the case. For the past several weeks I've been having a couple close friends of mine, one of them is Emily, read it. I also put on my brave jacket and took part in Maggie Stiefvater's critique partner love connection, which was fun. Through that I met several people who were interested in my story, hello Olivia!, as I was in their's, and so I now have some more objective perspective*-types looking at it. 
But for me, I'm currently at a really awkward hiatus in which the constant anxiety--seriously, six years--of knowing that I needed to finish my book has suddenly left me, and I feel a little as if a carpet has been swept from under my feet. That mean, old carpet! So I must ask myself...what next?
It's not really much of a difficult question.
Here's a list of all the things
--ooh, OK, that felt killer cool to write those three words in a consecutive manner: all. the. things.--
that I am currently, or gearing up to, work on.

I have a new major WIP that is a big jump from my last middle-grade-ish/historical fantasy. This one has much older teen characters, set in modern day America. The element of magic comes in, because there's always and element of magic with my writing, in the form of ancient Greek mythology. I've always loved Greek mythology, though not as much as Emily, but I've never thought I'd base a whole book off of it. Well whaddya know, my next WIP is definitely based, though loosely, off of Greek mythology. And let's just say, this one's going to be a lot grittier. Eek! I'm so excited!!!
Here's what I'll be reading in the next few months as I prepare for this one.

 Mythology, Edith Hamilton

 The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, Roberto Calasso
(Sorry for the blurry picture, but it's a really good book so far!)

When Love is Not Enough, Nancy L. Thomas
(Character stuff, people. Diversity is key!)

Emily and I are planning a NaNoWriMo collaboration! That's pretty much all I can say about it other than we've decided to base the story off of the original historical story of the Romanov's and the once missing Grand Duchess Anastasia. This will also be pretty gritty. And eek!!! I'm equally excited for this one too!!!

Nicholas & Alexandra, Robert K. Massie

As a more minor project, I've also gotten my dad to start writing a memoir  Even though memoir usually needs a platform to get published, I'm still both excited and serious about this one. My dad has some great stories, as does my grandpa--his dad--who's already written a memoir. I'd like to edit both and see what we end up with as a combination. If I haven't mentioned before, my dad's side of the family is big in aviation, but especially my dad and his dad. My grandpa flew near the WWII era and my dad made aviation a career for many years. So I think the evolution of aviation that will come through in both their stories will be fascinating,  albeit if only for me and my family, to read. And I'm also just really proud of my dad for agreeing to take it on. It's nice to see him get so excited about it!

Here's to more things to do, because I love having more things to do...yeah!
Here's to the stories I have to tell!
Here's to the stories WE ALL have to tell. So please, tell them!!!

*I like taking advantage of any chance I get to use those words: objective perspective. Isn't is fun?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

In Honor Of...

You know what this means...
AND  if you don't know what this means
--because that's also plausible--
since you might not have seen my first installment of my
In Honor Of series,
I am doing a little tribute to all the beautiful gems I come across in the bookstore, but sadly put back down on the shelf and tearfully walk away from.
Seriously, guys, I bring bagpipes.
And tissues.
So this post is in honor of those books that looked
it's how much, you say?
my wallet is peeping at me pitifully from my purse saying I can only spend how much money?
Oh, OK, OK.
Next time, pretty little book.
Next time.

And so this blog post is In Honor Of...

In Young Adult:

In Middle Grade:

P.S. The reason I was at the bookstore in the first place was because it was my best friend and better bookish half, Emily's, 20th birthday! What a way to celebrate, eh? Wouldn't have it any other way. Except maybe a trip to Europe. Don't worry, Em, We'll get there.
Go over to her blog, follow, and wish her a happy 20th!!!
P.P.S. I should be having another Latest Three coming your way soon. So long as my looming finals don't get the better of me. I'm currently on book number three. Yay!