I am of the Earth

After being excited about it for months, I finally watched Anna Karenina. And oh, it was so lovely. So, so lovely.

Disclaimer, I only read about a third of the book. I really enjoyed what I read, it’s just so damn long. I do plan on going back to it, and I did know the ending before seeing the movie. 

Joe Wright, who also directed Atonement, did a really wonderful, interesting job with this movie. It was structured around a theater, and for much of the movie the characters were moving around and through a theater. With a story this big I think it’s important to have some kind of structure to hold it in place, and this one worked really well for me. The characters danced in and out of scenes, and I kept expecting them to break out into song. At some point the theater-ness dropped away, and that was when I started losing a little bit of interest.

My favorite scenes were probably the ones featuring the Kitty/Levin story line. There is a breathtaking scene at a ball where Vronsky and Anna dance, and it’s their first real transgression. They dance and everything else just falls away, the music slows down… and then it speeds back up, and we see Kitty grow more and more distressed as she realizes what is going on. That scene was my favorite part of the book, and I am so pleased that the movie managed to make it just as memorable.

So much of the movie is told without words. So much is done with body language, and looks. There is a wonderful scene between Levin and Kitty involving blocks. I would say 90% of the  movie worked really, really well for me. There was a chunk towards the end that I started feeling my interest fade. Anna isn’t a likable person, especially towards the end, and it’s hard to keep a movie going through that.

After watching this, I’m really excited to dive back into the book, and then watch this again when I’m done.

These were probably my two favorite lines:

“I decided it was impossible. Kitty is of the heavens, an angel, and I am of the earth— but then I thought and thought, and . . . there’s no life for me without her!”

“I didn’t notice anything, myself. But I saw that everyone else noticed. I consider jealousy to be insulting to you and degrading to me”

Advertisements

The Best of All Possible Worlds

http://www.amazon.com/The-Best-All-Possible-Worlds/dp/0345534050

Yesterday I finished reading The Best of All Possible worlds for the io9 book club and I have to say, I really loved it. It was a bit of a rocky start; I would say it took me about an hour of reading until I was completely committed to the book. But after that I was 100% on board, ready for whatever Karen Lord threw my way!

This is a science fiction book, set in what seems to be the far future. Human beings have splintered off into many different physical  groups–some are more intelligent, some are more empathetic, and so on. Most of the groups seem to have some level of telepathic ability. The book opens with the destruction of a planet. It happens to be the planet of the most dominant of these groups, the Sadiri, who focus on government, space travel, and meditative arts. For Star Trek fans they appear pretty similar to Vulcans, mind meld and everything. The survivors set out on unfamiliar worlds to make new lives for themselves, and hopefully keep their culture intact.

Here’s where it takes a left turn. You would expect a book like that to be very serious and very sad. Nope, not even a little. This is more of a romantic comedy than a drama piece!

Most of the story is told from the perspective of Grace Delarua, a government employee who gets attached to the Sadiri early on. She is their interpreter, and soon their friend. Most people on her planet see them as strange, because like Vulcan’s they’re very logical and unemotional on the surface. As Grace gets to know them, we get to know them, and it’s a delightful experience. Karen Lord does a wonderfully job of showing the reader that sometimes things are much more complicated than they seem from an outside perspective!

Most of the book is told by Grace to us, but there are a few tiny segments in third person watching the Sadiri. At first these sections through me off entirely–I had no idea what was going on. I think a lot of this was because I was reading it as an ebook and the formatting didn’t clearly show that these were separate sections from the rest of the book. Once I understood that everything became much more clear.

Karen Lord does a masterful job at keeping the tone in this book just right. She doesn’t trivialize the disaster, these characters have to deal with the horror that is losing an entire planet full of family, friends, and history. But the book isn’t consumed with grief. These characters fall in love, make friends, and experience new offshoots of their culture that they never would have seen before the disaster.

It’s obviously a lot more complicated than I’m making it out to be here. But, The Best of All Possible Worlds is a beautifully told story, and one that you shouldn’t miss!

Did you read it? Are you going to? I would love to talk to you about this book!

Goals

If doing NaNoWriMo taught me anything, it’s that it’s important to have goals. I’ve always considered myself a writer, but for too much of my life I’ve sat back and said “later.” Not anymore!

I’ve been working hard on all of my writing for the past month, and I’ve consistently been writing almost every day. I’ve gotten so much done, and I’m incredibly proud of myself! But I know that if I don’t set a goal I’ll fall behind, I’ll get lazy again, I’ll say later.

So here are the goals!

  • Write every day. This one is kind of a no-brainer. I want to become a better writer. I want to try and get some of my short stories and eventually my novel published. None of that will happen if I stop writing! 
  • Complete first draft/readthrough of 2011 NaNo novel by May. One of my projects has been rereading my 2011 NaNo novel and I was pleasantly shocked to find that it isn’t terrible. Maybe it’s that I’ve had enough space from it, but I really enjoyed reading it. I love my characters, the plot, everything! I’ve been working on finishing it, but I keep finding myself stuck. Can the me of now write as well as the me of a year ago? Can I keep the story going? This is my biggest goal, and the one that I think will be hardest to keep.
  • Polish short stories. I’ve written quite a few short stories in the past month, but most of them still need lots of editing and rewriting.
  • Blog. I want to try and post at least every week, but hopefully more. It’s good for me to put my thoughts into writing in a non-fiction way.

So there are my goals! Now the hard part: keeping them.

 

Webcomics

There was a time in my life where I was really invested in reading webcomics every day. I had a long list of comics I would check daily and I loved it. It’s probably part of the reason I started dating Steve–it was a passion we shared. We’ve been to SPX every year since we’ve known each other and it’s probably my favorite of our yearly traditions.

But somewhere along the way I fell out of the habit. Apart from a few old favorites like Questionable Content I stopped reading regularly. It wasn’t that I stopped liking them, or that they got boring… I just stopped making it a priority.

Thanks to our collection of webcomic books (is that even a thing? What do you even call them?) I’ve been able to catch up on a few and I’m so excited to get back into it. The two big ones that I’m excited to (hopefully) stay caught up on are Gunnerkrigg Court and Monster Pulse.

Gunnerkrigg Court  is probably my favorite webcomic ever. Well, apart from Questionable Content which was my first webcomic and thus will always be at the top of my list. But Gunnerkrigg! It’s a beautifully drawn story about a young girl who starts school in this mysterious place where magic and technology seem to be in some kind of war. It’s a complicated story, but not overly so. It’s full of magic and robots! The artist behind it, Tom Siddell, does a wonderful job of creating interesting, complex characters. I think what I’m trying to say is that you should go read this right now.

Monster Pulse  is another favorite I’ve recently gotten caught up with. It’s not nearly as long or complicated as Gunnerkrigg, so it’s probably a little more accessible to some of you. It’s about a group of children who each have one organ turned into a monster, thanks to a science experiment gone bad. One character has a monster from her hair, another from her heart. The story so far has followed them as they meet each other and try to deal with this bizarre situation. Magnolia Porter has created a really interesting and lovely story with great characters. I’m really excited to see where she goes with this.

 

But the best comic related thing that has ever happened to me would have to be this:

Kate Beaton drew us into Machine of Death

 

At SPX 2011 we tried to get as many writers and artists to sign our copy Machine of Death. Kate Beaton blew us away by drawing us into her illustration!

Happy reading everyone!

Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Alright guys, I think it’s about time I talk about one of my recent obsessions. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Universally acknowledged...

I found this wonderful modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice a few weeks ago and I have not been able to stop watching them, talking about them, and forcing all of my friends to watch them. They are delightful, dramatic, charming, heartbreaking… everything you want and need in a P&P retelling!

The team behind the LBD includes Hank Green, co-king of the nerdfighters himself! And I won’t lie, that was one of the things that made me click on the link for the first time. I was pretty hesitant to watch yet another version of P&P and I thought they couldn’t possibly pull it off on YouTube.

Well they did, they ARE.

One of my favorite parts of this is how they’re really embracing social media and the internet to tell this story. The characters have twitter, tumblr, and youtube accounts. Side characters make their own videos and have their own stories! In one video Lydia, Lizzie’s wild younger sister, is asked if she feels like a side character in someone else’s drama. Her response? Of course she doesn’t! She has her own friends, her own heartbreaks, and her own worries. In this retelling she is so much more than just Lizzie’s little sister.

That’s enough blabbering from me. Go get lost in the magical story that is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!
http://www.lizziebennet.com/

 

Halfway

Weight loss is hard. Talking about weight loss is hard. Last week I stepped on the scale and for the first time in a long time it was magical. I am halfway to my goal! After months of trying to break bad habits, form healthy new habits, and holding my breath when I get on the scale I’m almost there. Twenty-five pounds down, twenty-five to go. Being halfway there makes it a little easier, a little more believable that I might get there someday.

When I seriously started my weight loss journey at the end of June I had a lot of bad habits. I’ve always been a stress eater and at that point I just wasn’t stopping myself at all. If I wanted something, I had it. My commute didn’t exactly help. It was all too easy to stop at Sheetz and grab a cup of fries and a soda to make the drive home go a little faster. That was probably the hardest habit to break!

I think sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit for just how hard I’ve been working for this. I’ve been using Weight Watchers and losing weight slowly–about a pound a week–and I think that makes it easier for me to ignore how awesome it is that I’ve gotten this far. I’ve already lost more than 10% of my body weight, which if Weight Watchers is to be believed is an amazing thing for my health.

The best part of all of this is that I’m no longer ashamed to look at pictures of myself. Instead of being the fat one trying to hide from the camera I feel like a normal sized person!

I still have a long way to go. If I stay on the track I’m on now I should reach my goal at the end of June–a year after I started all of this. When I do get there I’ll be the same size I was when I started college. Not the thinnest, but a normal, healthy size. I probably could lose more weight after that, and there are probably people who think I should. But honestly, I don’t want to be a super thin person. I like having some meat on my bones, I like my curves! If I want to lose more, I will. If I don’t want to, I’ll be perfectly satisfied.

I am proud of myself, and I’m excited to see where this new, healthy path in life takes me!