Taste to Boot

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You have to choose one flavor that your sense of taste will no longer be able to distinguish. Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami, spicy (not a taste per se, but we’re generous): which one do you choose to lose? – Postaday

It’s been a while since I have exercised my daily prompt muscles! And, I have signed up for Camp Nanowriomo, starting tomorrow for the month of July! So basically, the past couple days I have been trying to get organized so that come tomorrow, I will be able to sit down and write with as little pain as possible. Basically, this is all my excuse to not be too creative with this post, and actually talk about it.

Now, I sat here for a good three minutes trying to think of what I would choose to get rid of, and it’s really hard! It’s come down to spicy though – I’m pretty much a wimp when it comes to spicy food anyway and I decided the other ones were just too good to give up, and here’s why:

Sweet – I have a huge sweet tooth! And while giving it up may help me loose some weight, I just don’t know how worth it it would be in the end.

Sour – Loosing this would just throw too many great combinations out the window – Salt and Vinegar chips, any vinegar based BBQ sauce, pickles, I mean really – how can you not want to ever eat a pickle again.

Bitter – This was almost the one that was cut, but then I thought again, that too many great combinations would be ruined by it, and then there’s the while coffee thing. Yes I add a dash of creamer to cut some of the bitterness, but that’s why we all love coffee so much isn’t it?

Salty – What isn’t better than some super salty french fires after a long day of working in the hot sun to replenish all that you sweat out.

Umami – While not really a taste, it is the harmony of many flavors coming together, and isn’t that why I couldn’t boot sour and bitter?

So spicy it is. Yes I would miss the occasional bite it adds, but I’m pretty sure I’d get over it and just go eat a brownie or something. What would you give up?

First Glance

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Reading a post by a fellow blogger and writer she talked about an interesting tag she was included in. You basically publish 7 sentences or lines from what you are currently writing from a page selection from somewhere between 7 and 77. I’m not going to start up a new chain for it or anything like that, but I thought the idea itself was a great one to get some initial reactions to my writing. So anyway, here are the first seven sentences from page seven of my current, and first, work in progress. They are not edited, and I already see several changes I want to make, but this is really just a way for me to get initial reactions from you lot about my writing.

The crowds excited tittering silences as The Director moves towards the podium again.

“Congratulations to all of you today. When you return to your family’s lodgings, a welcome packet from The University will be waiting for you with details about your matriculation and new living and learning situation. I expect to see dedication from all of you and look forward to witnessing your contributions to the individual sectors and the nation at large.”

With that, he exits the domed room; we all file out, scanning our wrists again, and trying to contain the excitement, and nervousness that tomorrow brings.   

As we walk outside, we are immediately blinded by the harsh sun and assaulted with a dry wind that leaves my whole body feeling parched even though I am covered from neck to toe. My eyes quickly focus and look over a flat and monotonous city.

 

Well there you go! As to my new blogging schedule I am really excited about getting that started next week! I already have two history discussion prompts in the works and though my reading has been a bit slow lately I am almost done with my current book, and I’m really enjoying it, so will have some good book talk too!

 

Clare’s Mortal Instrument’s Finale

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Honestly, it took me a little while to get into this book. I binge read the five previous books, and by the time this came out I had already moved onto so many other series and books and genre’s and I just wasn’t excited. That said, I did really like the finale. Everyone got their happy ending, which I seriously think they all deserved, these kids had a pretty crappy run of things for a while so after the challenges and near death experiences they all faced; as well as the impending doom that Clare hinted at (spin off series with the two new young shadow hunters has already been announced) I think they could all use a fairy tale ending.

The beginning of the book was a little too sappy for me, and that’s why I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be reading it. It was about how everyone’s romantic relationships were complicated. I get it, Alec is sad because he and Magnus broke up, Clary and Jace can’t touch much, and Izzy and Simon are in a weird stage of their relationship where they are deciding if they are really “together.” But really, I didn’t care, we all know Alec is depressed, we all know Izzy likes Simon just as much as he likes her, and we all know Clary and Jace are inseparable. I just wanted to get to the point – finding and destroying Sebastien!

I liked our two young shadow hunters, so they should make a good story with the next series and I may read it. However, for some reason I really didn’t like the amount of time the story spent being narrated by Maia, I have never really liked her all that much though so that’s probably why. I thought the premiss that Sebastian was going around and turning Shadowhunters into his followers by basically the opposite process of the mortal cup was interesting, and a good tactic for fighting – as no one would want to kill their friends/family. And the fire in Jace was always a fun twist, but I pretty much knew that Clary was going to find a way to pull it out of him. I suppose that was what I found I didn’t like the most, yes there were things I didn’t expect to happen (Simon) but I expected most of the big things, which didn’t leave me with too much to look forward to.

Once we went into the Demon realm is where things really picked up for me. The characters started being more honest with each other, Alec was drunk a lot which was funny, and after a victory over Sebastien and saving the world the characters had to face emotions that I didn’t really expect. I mentioned that they all get their happy ending, but it doesn’t look like they are going to at first. With Sebastien gone, and Jonathan left in his place to die we see the brother Clarey could have had, and hes a nice guy. Then Magnus has to die to get them all back to their world, so Simon sacrifices himself instead, honestly that was something I didn’t expect, and I really wouldn’t have cared if Magnus died – I liked him, but not that much. Then the twist with Simon forgetting all of them was horrible, Magnus’ dad was certainly cleaver about that.

But Alas! Clare knew that would be an unsatisfying ending, especially since Izzy had finally decided she could love someone. Magnus manages to get some of Simon’s memories back and now he’s going to be a shadowhunter, Magnus and Alec are back together, Jace and Clarey are as happy as ever, Luke and Jocelyn are married, Brother Zachariah has a girl friend now, it’s basically love all around! And though it was a bit cheesy, I think it was well deserved for all of them. Maybe they will have guest appearances in the spin off?

 

And on a side note, the first teaser trailer for Mockingjay Part 1 is out!! Poor hijacked Peeta, he is certainly looking crazy. . .

 

 

Scheduling!

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Coming back from my vacation, and with my new degree, I have had some blog inspiration. I’m going to shake things up starting next week by adding a weekly history discussion! I know a lot of you are probably thinking that this is going to be the most boring thing ever, but I promise, history is awesome! It’s always interesting seeing how other people interpret things, and how people who have not studied history look back and assess the past.

For some reason Thursday seems to be a good history day, so those are the days that we’ll dive into the realms of the past and surely generate some discussion. I will post a discussion question and my answer. In the comments section I want to see all of your thoughts on the question and my response. The only demand I have with this new forum is that we all keep it civil. I know history can raise some heated topics and bring out peoples biased options, but I also know there is a respectful way to get your own opinions across. So just keep it classy!

Next week I will get back to my old patterns and incorporate this new topic day. So Monday’s going to get back into my routine of writing challenges, I’ll keep posting my book evaluations on Wednesday’s, History discussion on Thursday’s, and any of my personal writing updates will show up on Saturday’s. I’m excited about this new topic day, and I hope you all are too!

 

I’m back, and with a new suffix for my signature block

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I’ve just returned from my residency week for the completion of my Masters degree in History, and it was awesome! It was so great to be able to have intellectual discussions throughout the week with people actually interested in history and with the knowledge to carry on the discussions. So basically it was awesome to be surrounded by a bunch of other history nerds, who I will certainly keep in touch with. We also had Condoleezza Rice as our commencement speaker, and she was great. She was really candid and real and bipartisan, which was really refreshing. Though we had some inserting demonstrators, the whole thing was a great ending to the week. And now I can call myself a professional historian, and I am definitely adding MA to the end of my name in my work email.

With that said, I am thinking about either starting a new blog, or setting aside a specific day where I conduct a history discussion. What do you guys think on that point?

As to my reading and writing, I finished the last book in Cassandra Clare’s series, City of Heavenly Fire, and Variant by Robison Wells. Currently I am reading What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang. I will wait to finish the series and talk about Wells’ series all at once, you can expect to hear about Clare’s finale this week though. Writing was basically non-existent, I just didn’t have the time or brain power to get that done this past fortnight. I did get myself a nice new journal though, and got some brainstorming done, so that’s better than nothing right?

I’m glad to be back in my blogging community and am going to catch up on all that you guys have been up to!

Texas is Awesome

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It’s day 4 being back on the mainland and I missed it! especially TX, more than I thought I would. Above is the view from my parents back porch, I mean seriously, who wouldn’t love that; especially sitting out there with a cool beverage enjoying the breeze and listening to the birds.

Anyway, so far it’s been a lot of me eating the things I have missed that you can only get on the mainland or TX. Today for instance, on the way back from Dallas we stopped at the Czech Stop in West, TX for some of the best kolaches ever, and having had real Czech pastries I am confident in this statement.

kolacheI mean really, doesn’t that look amazing. And this place, the Czech Stop, is pretty famous, ask any Texan and they will all tell you the same thing, “Best Kolaches, Ever!” The whole reason we were able to stop by though is because we went to Dallas to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Museum, and it was beautiful!

No matter what your politics are, if you are ever in Dallas you should put this on your museum to-do list. As someone who works in museums, I was most impressed with the level of interactive and non-reading exhibitry. A lot of the challenges museums are facing these days is gaining the interest of younger generations who are much more technologically focused. Not only was the museum beautiful in general, but its balance was so well done. Each exhibit had a segment of traditional reading, then either a video to watch or an interactive touch screen, or both. It was phenomenally done, there was one whole table dedicated to the middle east that was the size of a 12 person dining room table that was all touch screen and interactive. Another section, had a room set up like a control room with different government agencies positions with options to agree or disagree with them, which leads to different discussions. It was basically designed to explain how complex and intricate the government is and how the president has to work with each group. Overall I thought it did a great job of explaining how the presidency works, while chronicling Bush ’43 years in office. The September 11th section was also very well done, the wall surrounding the piece of one of the towers had all the names of those killed in the attack, and there was a section where you could share your own experiences on that day.

bush 43 museumThe only downfall I saw in the museum was the fact that there wasn’t much background to his life, you walked in and basically walked straight into his election. I’m guessing the fact that he is pretty well know, and his childhood is documented pretty well at the Bush ’41 museum, as well as not wanting to highlight his youthful transgressions, they didn’t really feel it was necessary to the story of the museum.

Besides Dallas I’ve just been hanging around the BCS area, and the construction on the campus of Texas A&M is crazy, and I don’t’ know how I feel about it. So many things are changing! Kyle field is the biggest change, and it’s impressive!

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Sadly, my time in TX ends come Monday morning when I head up to VT. So until then I am going to eat as much tex-mex and BBQ as I can, and ride my ponies as much as possible. It’s so good to be back!

 

 

Razorland Series – A More Realistic Dystopian

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Unknown-3This book was much better than I expected it to be, in fact, I really liked it! Aguirre’s take on the dystopian world isn’t like anything I have yet to read and I feel like it’s the most realistic version out there. From what we gather from the first book, there was some kind of plague that wiped out the population, and now the survivors are surviving best they can through various degrees of successful social structures.

The main character, Deuce, is really interesting. She’s been raised to be a warrior and see emotions as weakness, but she can never really get away from her basic moral compass. Her new hunting partner, Fade, encourages her to ask questions about their underground society and if how they live is really right. Long story short they are exiled and sent up to the top, Luckily Fade lived there when he was little so he has a basic knowledge of how it works. Deuce’s introduction to the world “topside” is really fun, we get to see things we take for granted through her eyes and we see her struggle to adapt to life above ground.

What I think it the most fun though is watching her try to navigate personal relationships, she’s not good at it and is very naive when it comes to romance. She and Fade have a connection that she acknowledges but doesn’t understand, and I feel like their relationship is going to be a long and rocky road. Though we can’t really blame her, she grew up believing love was the ultimate weakness for a Huntress whose sole purpose was to fight for her people and protect them from the “Freaks,” mutated people who are cannibals.

Of course to throw a wrench into her stumbling attempts at personal relationships we are introduced to Stalker, a previous gang leader who took she and Fade into captivity, planned to kill Fade, and then use her as a “breeder.” I don’t hate him though, he agrees to leave it behind when he goes off with them in search of a haven, and like Deuce he was raised to be a fighter. They have a lot in common and she feels like he’s really the only person who understands the problems of adjusting. Stalker wants her in a romantic way though, completing the love triangle I have seen a lot of reviewers complain about. Honestly though, I don’t really think there is a triangle. She sees Stalker as a friend only, and is always more interested in Fade when she questions all the “feelings” she is just now starting to investigate. Fade does get really distant after Stalkers joining of the group though, and with Deuce’s emotional ineptitude nothing much happens.

While all of this is going on, they are slowly making their way North from NYC, and after some run-ins with the Freaks, who seem to be getting smarter, make it to a fort and find refuge. It’s all very I am Legend.

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Book 2 starts off with summary of their adjustment period. All are seeming to do relatively well, and they all are being taught skills outside of fighting and survival and being schooled in everyday things like math and history. Deuce hates school and want to be fighting, but I think part of that is her general feeling of not belonging. She does get back into the fighting when Freak activity becomes worse, and it’s clear the mutants are becoming smarter and more civilized.

What I loved best about this book though was how much Deuce grew – or maybe evolved is a better word. She’s not like a lot of female protagonists, which I love, she’s basically already grown up – I forget she, Fade, Stalker, are so young (16/18) they feel more mature than some of the 25 year olds I know! She’s strong, and smart, and confident in herself, no matter what. We really see her beginning to open up to others though, and accept the “feelings” she shied away from in the first book with her foster parents and Fade. Both relationships I think are adorable and realistic, which is another thing we usually lack in YA books. A lot of time passes within these books so things don’t feel as rushed (kind of like THG in that sense).

As to the “love triangle” that some reviews still complained about, I still don’t really think it exists. Ya we all know Stalker has a thing for her, and yes she cares about him and he will probably always understand her in ways no one else can, but she is always clear that she will always choose Fade. She and Stalker are too much alike (which she mentions herself) and Fade brings out the compassion and “normal girl” in her, which if she is ever going to love beyond being a warrior she needs. Poor Fade though, he has so many emotional scars and after the traumatizing event he goes through, which would break pretty much anyone, he again looses all faith in himself and his relationship with Deuce. I’m hoping in the last book we see him really come into his own and accept his dark past and move on with the hope Deuce provides.

I’m really interested to see what’s going to happen with the relationship with the Freaks though, they are becoming too human, which I think is going to raise a lot of ethical questions from Deuce. Maybe there will be a human/Freak treaty?

hourdeI literally just finished this book, and all I have to say is Wow!

Well, obviously that’s not all I have to say, but I loved it, and usually the last book in the series is not my favorite, but this one certainly is! So many awesome things happened. I guess I’ll start with the Freaks/mutants – I was basically right, they make an alliance, but the route taken to get there was super cool. Basically as the mutants grew and remembered more and learned how to be more civilized the younger generations turned against the older ones and sought out Deuce and her army as allies against the ruthless mutants who wanted only to exterminate the humans. The historian in me can’t help but relate this response to those of social movements like that of the sixties and  a lot of the changing global climate now.

Deuce, she’s such an amazing character, and she grew so much in this last book. She finally accepted herself with all her weaknesses and strengths. With this last installment she accepts everything she learned from all the different settlements she lived in, and chooses which lessons she wants as her defining features. She gives up her identity as a huntress and becomes Deuce, a fearless yet reluctant leader who is simply trying to make a better life for those she has come to love.

Speaking of the love thing, she and Fade are great, they have been throughout the series but both of them have grown up so much that they finally become one unit in this book. And ya, I know they are only 17/19 – but seriously after all they have been through they have the maturity level of late 20 somethings if not older. I was really sad when Stalker dies though, they were all finally getting along and then he goes and dies. I wasn’t surprised though, especially since he went out a hero, I fell like that’s the only way he felt he could redeem himself, and he never abandoned the warrior identity like Deuce did – and she repeatedly mentioned that with being a warrior came a short life span. While the personal relationships, especially between she and Fade played significant roles in the story, I never felt like I was reading a love story and that is definitely a positive for me.

 

I think this series is so unique in the post-apocalyptic books that are out there, that I have read at least, and I think the moral and personal identity issues it brings up are poignant and something that everyone goes through on a daily basis. Overall, it was just awesome and you should read it.

 

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