Jun 29, 2013

And we have a winner!

Alright! We have a winner, life-plan- and major-at-school- wise.

I'm definitely going to be changing to a linguistics major with a minor in psychology. Why? Several reasons:

First, and I can't really stress how important this is, I can graduate (with incredibly full loads, but with classes that I think I can handle just fine) in 2014. Yes! This time next year, if all goes according to plan, I will be entering my last semester of school. Wait, it's still June. I'll be working through my last summer semester. Still awesome!

Second, I really do like studying languages. Not just foreign languages, but English as well. You should all see my hardback copy of Ender's Game. It's annotated like nothing else with motifs, characters, word changes (like when Ender refers to himself as Andrew right at the very beginning, or the exact moment he starts calling Bonzo by his first name instead of his last). I once spent an entire Saturday morning trying to figure out the rules of Eastern Street Slang (from Mistborn) and how I could translate it to English and vice versa. Just for the fun of it. Same with my EG annotations-- that's not for class; it's because I can.

Third, I'm good at English. I'm good with foreign languages. And for this major, I have to take 2 foreign language classes above the 2000 level. Which means taking Intermediate French 1 and 2, and then being able to stop before I get into the annoying grammatical parts of foreign languages.

Fourth, look at this list of things I can do! Teach English. Teach a foreign language. Teach ESL-- abroad or not. Publish books. Review books. Write books. Interpret. Work for the government. Consult in law and medicine. Be an actress. Basically, everything I've ever even partially considered doing would be an option, here. Forensics isn't happening to quite the same extent, but I could still work for the FBI or something. And I really believe that I will go back to school and finish my chemistry degree if I decide I want to continue more heavily in that field.

Fifth, I don't have to retake calculus! What? Yes, that's a real consideration. Let's not actually call it a "consideration," though. Let's call it a perk. I would do it if I had to, but the fact that I can skip it is nice.

Sixth, I'm not an English major. And I like that. Linguistics, while being super soft, is still a science. It's studying languages and how they morph over time and change in different contexts (I might dare to say it's a harder science-- just barely-- than psychology). I'm super excited about that. If I wanted to stay in a slightly more "scientific" career, I could become a linguist and make hypotheses about language and test them.

I'm pretty satisfied with this. Another nice bonus is that with this path, I can take the classes I need in whatever order I want. With chemistry, you have to take gen chem before analytical and organic, and those before physical. You have to take gen bio before microbiology and genetics. All these prereq's build on each other so it's a really delicate order of when you can take what classes you want. There's still a little freedom-- would I rather take analytical or organic chem first, or both at the same time-- but with linguistics, I basically have two prereqs that I haven't done yet, and I'll be taking both this fall. It's intro to linguistics and a logic class. And then I can take every other class I need for the major.

I'll miss my hard science classes. I'll miss physics and chemistry and criminalistics. But if I miss it enough, I'll go back for it later. For now, I just want to be done with college and have one of these many awesome careers that are possible for me.

With that, I've added two classes to my "easy semester" this fall. I'm taking intro to linguistics, dynamics of health, ASL 2, semantics, and psychology of adolescence. :D 15 credits! Then 18 credits planned this spring (which I know I've done before and wanted to die, but this will be in a field that comes easier to me, so hopefully it'll be fine. but if it's not, I know how to drop classes and I can take an extra semester later. I can handle change farther down the road if need be), 9 credits the summer after that, and finishing up my last semester with 18 credits. Then graduation! In fall 2014! Whaaat. So excited.

Jun 27, 2013

Now I'm really going to sleep.

I was just on facebook... don't judge. But someone's status update said they were writing a blog about what they had previously status-updated about, and I thought I'd go read it. I don't have this person's URL, so I went Carebear and Frik's blog to look it up (I didn't, as a side note, finish reading the blog. It was not as interesting as I thought it might be. Maybe if I had gotten farther. Or was closer to this facebook friend).

So, I was checking out the blogs that Carebear and Frik have links to, and they have that thing where it shows up in order of most recently published. Which is in part how I found this blog I was looking for. But mine shows up-- not only on theirs, but also on Guildylocks' and Scooter's-- as not having been updated since my mid-school crisis, which was 3 months ago.

It's still fine on Mom's, but she's the only one. Any ideas?



Well, I know I said two more chapters today, but it was a busy day. I got a dress for Audrey's wedding and ate a meal and bought some cookies... and watched Footloose.

I really tried to stay up and read the next chapter, so I could at least get one more up, but I'm literally falling asleep while reading. And when I do that, I start to dream and fill in the gaps. It makes for really confusing stories.

So I'll just have to do some reading of The Blade Itself tomorrow.

Somehow, I think you'll all find it in your hearts to forgive me. :)

Jun 25, 2013

RR Fencing Practice

In Fencing Practice, Jezal is a cocky douche, but totally loses all confidence when he meets West's sister. Think you're ready? Then join Rocky as she reads The Blade Itself.

Time for the second chapter for today! I'm going to try to do two again tomorrow, and then see about doing one per day after that-- with my days that I work off. It's hard to read a book "one chapter every two or three days" because there's no strict schedule, so if I don't actually do it, who cares? I might be able to make myself more disciplined for my 2-3 day plan if more people were following this, but alas.

I liked this chapter. It made me laugh. It starts off with Jezal practice fighting West, which he loses terribly because he gets over confident and has poor balance on his back legs. While his trainer Lord Varuz is sitting there chewing him out for all the things he did wrong in the battle, Jezal briefly wonders about what would happen if he just gave up fencing and never touched a steel again, which he has apparently thought about a lot. But that would make his father sad, and he'd probably lose his allowance, and blah blah blah. Basically this was a GIANT father's-will-forced-onto-his-son moment. Usually, this has the son hating his life more and more until he snaps and chooses his own path, and then the father loves the son anyway. Basically that's how I've seen this set up go in every book/movie/show I've ever seen, except one (The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson. Fantastic twist, there). So I'm interested to see how this becomes more of a problem, and what Jezal does with his apparent disinterest in fencing. Stop he stop being a spoiled brat and and accept that he'd rather do something he loves and make it on his own instead of pleasing his father?

To sum up, I'm super interested in this one little part of the story (seriously, it was not even a full paragraph) because this is remarkably similar to a problem I'm facing now. And I want to see him follow whatever path he does, then see how happy it makes him. That way I can learn something and consider my options better. This is a good character conflict; a lot of people can relate to it. Good move, Abercrombie.

Alrighty. So Jezal is walking back to camp with West who has his sister in town and he was going to show her around. Yes, was. He instead gets orders to go to a meeting, and pawns his sister off on Jezal. The entire time back to camp, Jezal is being an extra-douche. He's just acting really superior and obnoxious. He thinks himself better than the messenger who came to talk to West, he thinks himself above West's family (though not West himself, since he proved himself by being an awesome fencer and joining the King's Army), he just basically thinks he's better than all the "common folk". And there's a guy who dropped a paper and is now chasing it around in the wind that Jezal just watches with amusement. Now, I suppose that's not the worst thing, but the paper blows right past his feet and Jezal just watches as this guy runs past, bent over, trying to get it. Blarg. When West gets the paper and gives it to the guy, Jezal is actually upset that his fun was just ruined. Man. What a douche.

A little later, as he's going to West's house to pick up his sister, he's literally just sitting there thinking to himself, "Don't let her be too ugly. Or dumb." He'd hate to have his day ruined that way, being seen in public with someone unattractive. He stops just outside his house (or actually it's more of an apartment) to eavesdrop on the two of them arguing, and she's got a deepish voice, so he almost just turns around and makes up some excuse for why he couldn't be there, but since someone's coming up the stairs, he can't get around without being seen. So he just embraces the fact that he's going to have to spend the day with someone short, fat, and inappropriate for a female (she's witty and swore while talking to her brother, which is only how boys are supposed to be).

All of his doucheyness makes it particularly delightful that when she opens the door, he thinks she's gorgeous. She definitely has unconventional looks-- she's not thin, her skin is darkened from the sun, her eyes aren't blue-- but he doesn't even care. She's most certainly not fat, and he can't remember why girls are supposed to be pale upon seeing her, and her eyes are dark and bright. He loses all his charm and it's kinda fantastic. West is just kinda sitting here watching him be totally intimidated by his sister, and it's hilarious. Jezal tries frantically to think of clever things to say, which is not really working out for him, and he just generally thinks it's funny to see Jezal and Ardee (the sister) together. Haha, right before he leaves to his meeting, he tells them not to do anything he wouldn't, and Ardee just--

"'That would seem to allow virtually everything,' she said, catching Jezal's eye. He was amazed to feel himself blushing like a little girl, and he coughed and looked down at his shoes.
West rolled his eyes, 'Mercy,' he said, as the door clicked shut."

Haha. It made me laugh out loud. They spend most of the rest of the chapter walking around as Jezal tries to show her the city, but she already knows everything about it. She's not being obnoxious about it, though, and she stands close to him, which isn't something Jezal is objecting too, but he thinks it would be super awkward and bad if West saw them so close together. He tries telling her a couple times that they should act more like friends here and less like a couple, but she just keeps talking about all the different things they're seeing and doesn't really let him get in on the conversation a lot.

Then randomly Glokta comes up. Ardee knows him because apparently Glokta and West were quite close, which totally makes sense. I mean, they were only having a legit conversation about it the night that Glokta kidnapped Teufel. The two of them used to be really close friends, and Glokta came to visit West and his family one summer. Jezal is super awkward the entire time Glokta is there talking to Ardee, and the chapter ends pretty quick after he leaves.

Abercrombie does a cool parallel between fencing West and showing Ardee around. He references how Jezal was off balance for both of those and in the end of the chapter, Jezal straight up thinks about how he feels like he lost a fencing war twice today, and that Ardee was a tougher component than her brother. Fantastic. I feel like I'm falling into a trap, though. I just love how much Jezal was thrown off by Ardee, and I hope she sticks around and we see more of her. But I'm pretty positive that's what Abercrombie wants me to feel. Which means I'm worried I'm walking straight into his trap, and he's going to do something terrible with Ardee and Jezal D: Oh dear.

Good chapter, though. I'm intrigued that we keep seeing Glokta pop up in Jezal's chapters. It allows up to get a different perspective on him, because we've only seen him in his own head or with this prisoners-to-be, and so seeing him out among peers and normal people gives a really interesting view of Glokta. He's so friendly. It's odd, but good I think.

Oh! And I totally forgot! While Ardee and Jezal were looking at statues, they totally saw one of the Magus that Logen is trying to find! Whaaat. Now that I read in this chapter, actually, I think Jezal mentioned it back in his chapter. He runs past them, and if I'm remembering correctly, he though the Magus was dead. Hm... Interesting...

For the hundredth time he entertained the notion of giving it up and never holding a steel again. But what would people say?

RR The Wide and Barren North

In The Wide and Barren North, Logen must, yet again, fight for his life while semi-trying to protect his new friend. Think you're ready? Then join and Rocky reads The Blade Itself.

Wait. Before I continue with anything, my first thought upon reading this chapter's heading was going immediately to Game of Thrones. Am I the only one? Hm. Maybe it's because I was just reading Game of Thrones earlier this morning, then decided to do some Rocky reading.

So, I have never been more confused about where a character was before in my life. It's been a few chapters since we've seen Logen, so I assumed he wasn't where he was when we last left him-- which is true-- but I spent quite a while being confused. He's waiting around in the wide and barren North, waiting for this Magus to show up, right? Ok, so he's up north. But then, a single paragraph later, he's talking about how he had to move from where he was in the forest to get to this bog/marsh and wait here, even though it didn't seem like a good place. He knew it was where he was supposed to be because, "to the South the spirits had said." What?

It took me nearly half a chapter to decide that he's farther south than he was in this forest, but still in the north. Which means... where has he been all this time? Geographically speaking. He started out by some river, then moved what I assumed was north (where it gets colder) to the mountains, then decided that he had to go south to get somewhere with food. And that's where he talked to the spirits. Who tell him to go south. More south, I assume. But he's still north. Ok. Right? Right. He just started out incredibly far north. But I just. Why is it so warm where he is for being so far north? Maybe it's summer. Maybe I need to just accept things and move on.

Ok, so he's sitting here is this marsh area, foodless (except the meat he brought with him from the forest, which he is currently using the last of to make a lovely stew) and waiting for the Magus to show up. He's got a sad little fire going when a young, sickly, sad sad boy comes upon him. It's not the actual Magus-- that's why it's taken so long for him to find Logen-- it's the Magus' apprentice, named Malacus Quai (which, I don't know if this is significant, but quai means dock in French). They sit and talk for a while about how terrible of a seer and outdoorsman Malacus is, and Malacus is talking about how he hasn't eaten in days, and just sits there staring at the stew Logen made.

So Logen give it to him. Malacus can't believe his generosity, and he checks to make sure Logen has already eaten. Logen hasn't, but he can see how much Malacus needs this food to live, so he tells him he has and then lets him sleep. In the morning, Logen eats the fire's spirit (I'm serious. I don't even know what this means. But he eats the fire's spirit so he can later make a fire again, and really all I can imagine is this thing from Howl's Moving Castle, which is fantastic but probably not correct) and they set off to the Great Northern Library, which is about four days south of where they are. Malacus brought a spare horse with some food and shelter with him as he came to get Logen, but he lost all that in the storm, so there was only the one horse. As he should have, Malacus said he would walk since it was his fault that the extra horse was lost, but Logen takes one look at how sick he is-- burning with a fever, in need of food right now or else he'll die-- and offers to walk himself.

It's really magnanimous of him, really. Especially because his boots are torn to shreds (much like one of my pairs of converse. You should all see them. It's sad. I should just throw them away and get new ones) and he can't even use Malacus' shoes because they're too small. But he doesn't make Malacus feel guilty or anything. He just walks next to him as Malacus talks his ear off, and I really get this sense that Logen like Malacus. He's taking care of him. And I really have to wonder how much of that is because he wants to find the Magus and how much of it is because he misses his family and his boys and just wants to have someone to protect again. It's a nice dynamic.

Oh but wait. The chapter's not over. They're walking, and suddenly they have at least 3 bandits attacking them-- there might be more in the trees and Logen instantly goes into survival mode. He knows the odds are not in his favor, but he fights anyway, with all that he's got. It's brutal. He spits the fire spirit at one of the bandits' faces, burning him to death, and he stabs another through the chest, and just basically demolishes everyone. And then there's a fourth guy who was firing arrows from the trees, and he takes him out as well. He's not really particularly focused on protecting Malacus (which makes it super lucky for him that he's still alive at the end of the chapter), but he fights with everything so he can live to the next day. In the end, all the bandits are dead, the horse is gone, and Logen has a nice cut down his arm, as well as some cuts in his head. And his sword is broken. But he and Malacus are alive, and they resolve to get the boot of one of the bandits for Logen to wear and then see if any of the bandits had food. The end.

This was a really good chapter to get a better sense of who Logen is, what kind of person he is. And I come to the conclusion that, though he's killed a lot of people and was once called the most feared man of the North, he's not a bad guy. He's not a killer or a criminal. He's a survivor. He wins-- thoroughly (as originally used to describe Ender). It's not that he wants to kill all these bandits, it's almost the opposite. The one in the trees who was shooting arrows was just a boy, maybe 14 years old. But in order to continue living, he had to kill all of them. He adjusted to a kill or be killed attitude, and did some terrifying things that shook Malacus up. But even as scared as Malacus was, he also knew that Logen had to act as he did or else he would be dead now.

The prose in this book is really fantastic as well. I'm rather enjoying it. There's a cool image that Abercrombie writes where Logen is looking at himself-- counting the new wounds he's acquired-- then he looks our at the bandits that attacked them, all of their lifeless bodies. And in the next sentence, Logen is both reflecting on all the people he's killed and noting the blood physically dripping from his hands. It's a subtle line, but it's beautiful for that. Time to see how Logen and Malacus get on with life.

His hands were covered in blood. He grabbed one with the other to stop them from trembling.

Jun 23, 2013

The best commander...

since Napoleon decided to attack Russia in the dead of winter.

So I like Warlight. But oh my. I am not good at it.

Which is particularly evident now, trying to play a real time game, 1v1 for the world. My best defense is running away and making this person I'm playing against chase me down if they want to win.

Though, in my defense, this guy is particularly good. It's intimidating, really.

He's won all the single player games in as few moves as you can, except the Crazy one, which he still won in 26 turns. And he's won 60% of his 1v1 games. I wonder if he knew, going into the game, how inexperienced I am. Did he check my profile before joining? Meh, not terribly important. I probably wouldn't have if he had joined the game first. But maybe that's part of why I'm not awesome at this game.

Doesn't matter, I like it anyway. But I think it's about time I go surrender. I'm not winning this.

Here's the game if anyone wants to see how terrible I did.

Jun 20, 2013

RR Teeth and Fingers

In Teeth and Fingers, terrible things happen in a very short time. Think you're ready? Then join Rocky as she reads The Blade Itself.

Hello, world. I fell behind a little on Rocky Reads, but I think I'll do two posts today to make up for lost time.

My first thought upon reading this chapter's title was, "Oh no. Is removing teeth and fingers how Glokta's going to get Teufel to confess? D:" That's literally what I wrong in my Rocky Reads journal. Emoticon included. And you know, I was only half right, which is really cool. I like that I only had 2 or 3 pages I tried to predict, and I picked a relatively good (if not a bit obvious) prediction, and I was still partially wrong. Props to Abercrombie for taking what I expected to happen and just saying, "No."

Basically in this chapter, Glokta starts his confession session with Teufel. Teufel recognizes him and we find out officially that Glokta was tortured-- though it was pretty obviously implied before-- but what's really cool here is how much we learn from this little bit about Glokta. We get a nice description of things that are wrong with Glokta-- his missing teeth, mirrored from top jaw to bottom jaw so that where he has one on the top, he doesn't have one on the bottom and vice versa, making it impossible to chew anything; his inability to stand while peeing; only being 35 and needing help to get out of bed in the morning. Pieces of Glokta's past are starting to come together. He was in the army, he was tortured (though by which side, I'm not really sure) and yet none of this is something we learn from Glokta himself. It's all had to be said by a third party, someone who recognizes Glokta. And some pretty important people are recognizing Glokta, he seems to be sorta famous.

(Also, I think it's painted really well exactly how crippled Glokta is, because it wasn't until this chapter we learn his age. From all the descriptions of how he walks, even knowing he has a bad leg and was tortured, I assumed he was in his 50's. Finding out he's only 35 was a really fantastic way to emphasize his handicaps.)

What I like most about Teufel being the one who's talking about Glokta and helping to reveal his past a little bit is that it speaks volumes about Glokta's character. He's very much in the present. He focuses on the pain of his injuries, yet he doesn't let that stop him from living his life. More specifically, he doesn't dwell on the past. He doesn't think about how he got his injuries or dream about what could've been. He thinks about what he's doing now and how it will affect him in the future. There's no sense in worrying about why he's crippled as he is or what could've been if he wasn't in the King's army or whatever, so he doesn't. He focuses specifically on things he can change. That's the "Teeth" part of the chapter that I just didn't anticipate, but I really liked it.

Aaand then he goes and starts chopping off Teufel's fingers of his left hand, bit at a time, until Teufel agrees to confess. It's a terrible thing to do, but I can't say I'm actually angry at him. And honestly, part of the reason I can excuse his acts here is because the first half of the chapter was about all the terrible things that were done to him. So I feel like it's justified almost. And he's also got orders to get a confession out of Teufel. And Arch Lector is probably already on the way to get Teufel's confession, which if Glokta doesn't have, then he'll be sent to Angland as well.

I mean, no doubt this is not an awesome thing to be doing, but the way Abercrombie presents everything that's going on is done really flawlessly. He never asks me to excuse Glokta for doing this, he never even hints that what Glokta's doing is justified. Yet here we are.

The writing style for Glokta is amazing, too. There's a lot of really beautiful or funny and witty quotes.

Every day is its own little hell for me. Every day. So tell me, can you seriously believe that anything you might say could scare me?

Jun 13, 2013

Rocky Reads Playing with Knives

In Playing with Knives, we meet another POV character named Jezal who is kind of a punk, but I think I like him anyway. Think you're ready? Then join along as Rocky reads The Blade Itself.

More point of view characters! I love these kinds of books, with many POV characters who seem to not have a lot to do with each other, but then they end up all being really important in the book. It's seriously one of my favorite things to happen in books.

So when this chapter opens, we meet Jezal who is playing poker of some sort with four other characters. He's totally awesome at cards and wins everyone else's money-- even the one kid (Brint) who can't actually afford to be losing this money, but he wants to fit in so he plays anyway. All these guys are in some sort of army together. Jezal is cool. He's obviously that guy who doesn't really care about anything, and he's good at everything. He knows Brint can't afford to lose his money, but Jezal plays his hardest and takes all his money anyway. Then vows to blow it on alcohol and girls.

We've got a real stand up guy, here. Brint runs off to try to save what of his dignity that he can (which is none), and the rest of the guys basically tell Jezal he's being a douche. They tell him that he knows Brint can't afford to lose, and he just says that Brint shouldn't be playing if he can't afford it. In his own douche bag way, he's kinda trying to teach Brint a lesson. And getting a ton of extra money in the process. Anyway, the rest of the guys try to call on Jezal's sympathy and tell him that Brint just wants to fit in, and don't you remember what it's like to be the new guy?

Jezal gets all hard and defensive, because he remembers very well what that's like, but he's cut short as he realizes he's late for his training with Lord Marshal Varuz, and he runs off to that. Varuz is quite the stickler for stance. He's pretty physical, too. So for the next little section, we get to see him beating up Jezal in training. Anytime Jezal doesn't hold a position perfectly (which is all the time. I mean, really, this is training. if he could do it perfectly, he wouldn't be here), Varuz forcefully corrects him. He stabs him, hits him over the head, jabs him in the stomach, with sticks... It's pitiful, really.

I mean, here I am looking at Jezal thinking about how cocky he is, and now we see him somewhere where he's not the best at what he's doing, and his trainer is drilling it into him that Jezal is not the best. It's a good lesson to learn, but Veruz is being so overly superior that now I feel sorry for Jezal. He could certainly learn to be a touch more humble, but this is a little bit overkill, imo.

Actually, come to think of it, Jezal reminds me of Dave a little, one of my Chinese kids.

After training, Jezal goes and gets really incredibly wasted. And while in this state, he stumbles upon a kidnapping! Not just any kidnapping, though. It's Glokta and Frost and Severard kidnapping Tuefel! Whaaat. Being incredibly drunk, Jezal can't do a whole lot about the kidnapping, but the rest of his poker friends try to help out Tuefel (though they don't know that's who it is). And Glokta's just like, "Hey! Hey! It's you, West! How are you these days?"

Yes. Apparently they used to be in the army together, pre-cripple days. So the poker guys all end up letting Glokta carry on with what he's doing, and the chapter ends.

Now can I just say for half a second that I love that Jezal is super drunk, right, and he comes across some really important and grounding scene (the kidnapping) and he's still drunk. He still is having a hard time balancing and not being sick at the end of the chapter. That's fantastic. It usually doesn't happen in books, movies, TV shows, whatever. Usually, if any of the characters are drunk, they'll be stumbling and acting really dumb one minute, then something happens-- another character gets really bad news, whatever-- and suddenly the drunk character is instantly sobered up and can handle the situation just fine.

I mean, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Maybe that does really happen in real life. I don't really have any kind of personal experience with it. But I did take a psychopharmacology class, and no where in it did we talk about how a sudden increased level of drama helps the liver process drugs quicker. Not once. So I appreciate that while he's trying to fight, he hasn't suddenly become a master swordsman. He has to deal with two problems here: fighting some kidnappers and having a terrible lack of coordination.

All that aside, this is a good chapter. I actually really like Jezal's character. I like Abercrombie's writing style quite a lot here. It's a unique style, and it's not really my favorite that I've ever read (at least not when in Logen's perspective), but I think it works really fantastically for Jezal's perspective.

And I'm really digging all the completely different personalities that are coming to play here in the book so far. It's cool. It leads me to wonder, though, if all of these personalities are going to come together to be fighting for one cause as the book goes on, or will they all stick to their own paths, or are we perhaps going to be introduced to the villain of the story and not know until later? Will anyone that we've met so far (or will meet, POV-wise) be on opposing sides? I'm intrigued.

Oh. Also super curious about what happened between West and Glokta. Yes. I hope we find that out someday.

Yes, the money was certainly useful, and there's nothing half so amusing as humiliating one's closest friends.

Jun 11, 2013

Rocky Reads No Choice at All

In No Choice at All, Logen heads south and finds a purpose! Think you're ready? Then join Rocky as she reads The Blade Itself.

We're back to Logen! And I'm kinda excited, he's doing things! Or at least, he's starting to do things!

Let me back up and summarize the chapter really quick.

Logen battles the mountainous environment up somewhere called the High Places. We get a little background information on him-- his family has died due to a Shanka attack. All of them. Wife, kids, parents, many of his friends. Only him and the boys he was hunting with were left alive-- and now he has to decide what to do. Go north and die or go south and live to fight another day... He goes south. There really isn't any choice in dying.

So down south, in a much more forest-y  environment, Logen feasts on deer, has a fire, and calls on the spirits, who he says don't give good advice, but at least they're company. Now, I wasn't expecting what came next. Haha. It was fantastic. The spirits are like, actual bodies! They come up-- only 3 of them-- out of the shadows and sit there around the fire talking to Logen for a little while, telling him about what all is going on in the rest of the world. They tell him the Magus of the Old Time is looking for him. And they also tell him that their numbers are dying and after a year or two there will probably be no spirits to come to him if he calls on them.

And the chapter ends with Logen being sad about not having his friends with him and deciding to go find the Magus to see what's up and why he's looking for him. Yay!

Oh-- quick side note-- I thought it was hilarious that Logen in the beginning is really thirsty, so he decides to eat some snow. Which works. The reason I find this hilarious is because I've considered doing the exact same thing :) Only problem for me is that I was down in Denver and none of that snow really looks acceptable to put in my mouth. It's all super dirty. That, and I'm not actually dying of thirst.

So, I'm really excited that Logen is going somewhere where he'll be meeting up with more people. It's not that his story has been boring or anything. It's not that it's been lacking conflict. It's not even really that Logen's not been taking action. In fact, because of all this, Abercromie's kept my attention with Logen's story line up to this point.

There's a little list of types of conflicts your character can experience. I don't know them all. Man vs Man, Man vs Nature, Man vs Society, Man vs God, Man vs Self, etc. One of my favorites is Man vs Man. In my opinion, it's the most exciting. Logen dealing with the High Places is definitely a Man vs Nature, and he started with a Man vs Man. So he's had conflict (which is what drives a plot), and I've been with him up to this point. But I'm glad that the story is going to go forward faster here and I'm excited to see where Logen goes.

You carry on. That's what he'd always done. That's the task that comes with surviving, whether you deserved to live or not.

My friends are jerks.

So I'm reading Game of Thrones right now as a leisure book. I started reading it once about a year ago, but I don't remember a lot of what I read so I'm starting it over.

My friends all watch Game of Thrones on HBO. They just finished the 3rd season, which goes up to half way through the 3rd book.

One of my friends (the same one who kept telling me about things in Harry Potter that I hadn't gotten to yet) just told me that a very important character dies at the end of the first book! She told me who it was and why they killed him. Which also revealed a big secret about one of the kids in the book.

Why? Why would you do such a thing? I literally stopped reading Harry Potter for 6 months after being spoiled about everyone who dies. I just don't understand why she'd say such a thing and ruin the author's build-up.

Obviously I will eventually find out the secrets. But way to take all the tension and fun out of reading it myself!

I should have known. She's one of those people who reads the first book in a series, then instead of reading the rest of the series, goes to wikipedia and learns the rest of the plot that way. Wtf.

As a future writer or book editor, I really hate that kind of person.

Jun 6, 2013

RRTBI: Questions

In Questions, we meet Inquisitor Glokta, who beats confessions out of people and is not particularly liked by his superiors. Think you're ready? Then join Rocky as she reads The Blade Itself.

Well, we just met a whole slew of people. None of them having anything to do with Logen. Yet, at least. The POV character for this chapter is someone named Glokta, who is kinda bitter and injured. He's limping around on a cane and his left foot always causes him pain, so that probably explains why he's not such a stand up guy.

Oh, and his job is to beat people senseless until the confess to crimes and rattle off names of whoever else was a part of it. I mean, that can't really be good on your morale, so it probably adds to the bitterness.

Anyway, Glokta's sitting here interrogating Salem Rews, who was evading the King's taxes, and he keeps getting interrupted to talk to his superiors-- once by Superior Kalyne who is upset about Glokta being so independent/subordinate and Glokta has to pay him off, and once by Arch Lector Sult who also doesn't really like Glokta but likes his results and wants him to beat a confession out of Sepp dan Teufel. A confession for what? We don't get to know, Lector refuses to say. That means it's super awesome and devastating, whatever it is.

Glokta eventually gets back to Rews, and he-- after some persuading-- admits to the crime, as well as lists off people who were with him. On this list, Glokta tells him to add Sepp dan Teufel. Dun dun dun. Rews gets sent off to Angland, where Glokta doesn't think he'll last more than 6 weeks, and Glokta tells his people, Practical Frost and Practical Severard, to get ready to go arrest Teufel tonight.

The chapter has a lot of internal dialogue. It's kinda cool, I think. When we're with Logen as POV character, he doesn't really talk to himself in his head. He sometimes mutters under his breath, but more he exclaims out loud when something awesome or terrible happens. Like, when he was falling toward the cliff to his doom, but then caught on to the root, he shouted out in joy. Just, "Ha!" Little things like that. But Glokta on the other hand, is really snarky and witty, but he doesn't really say a lot of things outloud. He responds to people with sarcastic comments in his head, then actually says something appropriate to them. It's cool. And from his internal dialogue, we can sense that Glokta doesn't like what he's doing.

He and Rews were actually friends, once. And after he beats him up and gets him to sign the confession, he just sits there thinking about what he's doing. Beating Rews didn't make his leg hurt less. Getting him to sign the confession didn't make his front teeth grow back. He did all these horrible things to no gain of his own. And he can't figure out why he's doing it. It creates a little self-loathing on his part. Not enough for him to stop what he's doing, at least not yet, but enough that you don't just straight up hate Glokta.

Though I'm super curious. How in the world are Glokta and Logen going to connect? They seem like two completely different stories right now. I'm intrigued.

Is this where I beg for mercy? Is this where I crawl on the ground and kiss your feet? Well, I don't care enough to beg, and I'm far too stiff to crawl.

RR The Blade Itself: Survivors

In The Survivors, Logen is alive! And he needs supplies to continue surviving. Think you're ready? Join me as Rocky reads The Blade Itself.

My, this was a short chapter. Are all of them this short? If so, I might have to step it up and start reading and reviewing two chapters at a time. We'll see.

The Survivors starts off with Logen having survived the fall into the water. He's alive (though a bit beat up), and trying to keep himself that way. To accomplish such, he wants to go up to the mountains where he'll hide out from the Shanka. But, mountains are cold. Especially at this time of year. And Logen will surely die, what with his lack of boots and coat.

He heads back to camp, hoping the Shanka aren't still hanging out there (they aren't) and gathers his boots, coat, and a backpack full of supplies that will be handy. And his pot! The kind for cooking, not the kind for smoking. Deciding that his boys are probably all dead or will be soon, he abandons everything else, naming himself and his pot as the only survivors, and heads for the mountains.

I want to say that his boys are not dead. I mean, they've all got names! Threetrees, Dow, Forley, Grim, and the Dogman. There might be more boys, too, but those are the ones that were named specifically. They can't all be dead, right? Right? I find it likely that as Logen is hiding out in the mountains, he'll run into one of them. I mean, they're probably all trained to survive, and great minds think alike? It's likely enough that Logen will stumble upon at least one of them, isn't it?

I suppose I'll find out tomorrow. There wasn't a whole lot to this chapter. I guess mostly I think that at least one of the boys is still alive because that would drive the plot forward. And I'm a little obsessed with plots moving forward, thanks to that happening oh so terribly slowly in another book that I'm reading.

You have to be realistic. Have to be, however much it hurts.

Jun 4, 2013

RR The Blade Itself: The End

In The End, we're introduced to Logen Ninefingers as he battles for his life. Already. Think you're ready? Then join me as Rocky reads The Blade Itself.

I read that when book editors and publishers are forming their opinion of a book, they give the author, at a maximum, 300 words to have established a character, a setting, and a conflict. And that 300 words is being generous. Some only allow 150 words. If that doesn't happen, the book gets tossed aside and they move on to the next one.

Abercrombie most certainly had nothing to worry about. The End is the prologue of this book (which I think is fantastic, The End. But, it's the beginning. It's before the beginning. Love it), and it starts off fast paced.

When we meet Logen, he's just been separated from his boys (or it's actually also possible that he's one of the boys and got separated from his leader. I'm not positive which, but I think Logen is the leader, and he's missing all his boys now), one of which-- The Dogman-- was with him until two seconds ago. This all happened in the first two sentences. But Logen doesn't have time to try to find anyone, because now he's being hunted by two Shankas-- who sound much like neanderthals.

Holy. This book literally started a paragraph and a half ago, and Logen is already being hunted! He kills the one Shanka who's smaller, then fights with the second much larger Shanka, and they find themselves hanging off a cliff, Logen holding onto nothing but a root, and the Shanka holding onto nothing but Logen's leg. As his hands start slipping, and the Shanka is sitting there still fighting him, Logen decides his best option is to let go, kick out, and try to land in the water below him. The Shanka then lets go of Logen, and falls into the rocks, almost certainly dying, and Logen plummets down to the water, where we're left, not actually sure if he's still alive.

I have questions. Oh man. This was a good intro. First, why is it called The End? The end of what? The end of Logen's life? Is this like, the end of the story, but it was put at the beginning to draw you in and entice you to read? Is it the end of the Shanka? The end of the world? Who is the Dogman? Are the Shanka fighting Logen for any particular reason-- did he provoke them-- or are they just fighting him because he's there? Did Logen live?

I think he lived. Or at least, I'd like to think he lived. Most stories don't start with someone you're supposed to get to know and possibly like, then kill them off. (That said, that's exactly how The Mortal Instruments starts off. You're given two point of view characters, and one of them dies before the chapter ends. Though I guess you were never actually intended to like that particular POV character.) And Logen is someone that I want to like. As he's sitting there, hanging from the root over his doom, he thinks about his life and how worthless it's been. He hasn't improved anyone else's life, he hasn't made a difference. That's his big flaw so far, and now that it's something he's realized, he has the potential to want to change. It's possible that will be the drive for the character from here on-- he wants to make a difference in the world.

This is a good flaw and drive for his character to have, because it's something that people relate to. I can't count the number of times I've said, right here, that I want to change the world and make a difference. And I can't count the number of times someone's agreed with me after I said that. I immediately feel connected to Logen because he has realized that his life hasn't been anything worth bragging about. And though he hasn't actually consciously decided he wants to amend that, I trust that's mostly because he's kinda really likely to die right now. Good start to the book. I look forward to seeing how the rest of it goes, and if Logen, as part of the prologue, will actually be carried through to the rest of the book.

And in case it needs to be said, please don't answer any of my questions. Don't correct my perception on anything I've read yet. Don't even tell me if Logen's the leader or one of the boys.

Once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than to live with the fear of it.

Rocky Reads The Blade Itself: Predictions.

Before I start the beginnings of this book, can I just say that getting the kindle app on my phone was the worst and best thing I've ever done? I've bought soo many books. Which is awesome! And terrible! It's awesome because, obviously, more books. But it's terrible because it's so easy and cheaper than buying the hard copy, that here I am, I've purchased 7 books in, oh, the past two weeks (6 of those in the past 8 days). It's terrible, really. And awesome. I should probably start using one of the three libraries I have access to.

Anyway. Here's what I know so far about The Blade Itself:
It's the first of the First Law trilogy.
Berserk loves it and recommended it to me years ago.
It's written by Joe Abercrombie.
It's very "down to earth."
Hm... It has lots of words in it.

There you go. I basically know nothing about it. So, that being said, it's time for me to make some predictions.

I predict...
We'll be introduced to the main character in the first chapter.
Someone will be trying to kill the main character by the end of the second chapter.
Five people will die by the end of the book.
The blade that's mentioned in the title will be mentioned in the book by the end of the third chapter.
The main character will need to find the blade before the antagonist does.
There will be a love interest that tries to stop the protagonist from achieving their goal.
For most of the book, the protagonist will be working alone against multiple villians.
The protagonist will trust a lot of people that end up working for the antagonist.
The book will not end on a happy note.

And now, I'm off to go read the first chapter. Or the prologue, if the book has one.
The way this works, after I read it, I'll come back and write my review, which will probably have summaries and will definitely have spoilers. If you've never read this book, you should in theory still be able to follow along with my reviews, but just know that if you then read the book later, you'll already know everything... Just so you're all warned. I'll be back in an hour or two with the first review I have. Yay!

Also, feel free to keep recommending books to me for Rocky Reads. I'll choose the order of them based on how glowing your recommendations are, and even if I start to get a hundred books that I won't have time to do a Rocky Reads for, I will definitely at least still read all the books anyone recommends.

Oh, and I know my blog name is Samara, but my COPE name is Rocky. And Rocky Reads sounds much better in my head than Samara Reads. In case you were wondering where Rocky came from.

Jun 1, 2013

Well. College it is, then.

I didn't get the teaching job I applied for. Lame lane. They actually didn't even review my application. I have a feeling that the jobs were posted for technicalities, not because they actually needed more teachers. I think they were probably waiting for some of the current teachers to get back to them for if they wanted to stay another year.

These things happen. It's kinda obnoxious, but at least I have a job now that I like. I'll apply again next year if it's open, and if I don't get it then, I'll just... stop? My praxis score is only good for two years, and I'm not about to dish out another $200 for a job I haven't gotten 2 years running.

As it stands, I'm taking 3 classes this fall. I actually had signed up for 6 classes (sign language, intro to criminalistics, intro to linguistics, a couple psych classes) but then I realized I wanted something a little more relaxed, and I looked at everything I was signed up for. The criminalistics class and its lab were both at really inconvenient times, so I had some weird schedule where I would have really early classes on MW, afternoon classes TR, and big giant gaps between classes everywhere. It was just begging for disaster.

Now all my classes are on MW. I'm taking dynamics of health from 2-3:15, ASL 2 from 3:30-4:45, and intro linguistics after a 45 min dinner break from 5:30-6:45. It should be lovely. That'll go Aug 19th to Dec 14th. And, theoretically, that will still give me enough time to write.

Speaking of, I've been reading a lot so far this summer, which is an exciting thing to say, considering I've only really been done with classes for a week. I finished reading the first three books in The Mortal Instruments. It's pretty good, perhaps a step above Hunger Games. I'm in the middle of Nightingale (72% through or something, actually) and it's interesting, but I have yet to realize what the main conflict of the story is. Unless it's just about Bron discovering his powers and having some girl problems. In which case, this is an incredibly lame book. I trust that it will get better as the series continues.

And then I'm reading a couple non fiction books-- What Every Body is Saying, which is fantastic and I love it, and Million Dollar Outlines, which is also fantastic and I love it. It's definitely helped me become a better outliner, but more than that, it's made me a much more critical reader. I actually have well informed opinions about books and writing in general.

Which leads me to two things. First, one of my friends suggested the possibility of me becoming a book editor, which would mandate that I switch to a linguistics major. I think that might be a kinda cool path. We'll see how this intro linguistics class goes this fall, and then I'll decide from there if I want to keep my major in chemistry or switch it, and from there I'll decide what I'm doing with my life. And second, I want to start a "Mark Reads" type thing.

I know I've explained what Mark does on Mark Reads before, but I'll reiterate here, just in case anyone's forgotten. Mark takes a book and reads it one chapter each day, then writes a review for each  chapter. He does the same thing for TV shows. He picks books he doesn't know anything about, and for that reason, no one can tell him anything about it. No spoilers of any kind. He makes predictions about the books, and it's fun to watch him experience these books fresh.

So I need suggestions! If I do this, I don't think it'll be quite a 1 day=1 chapter thing. Probably a 2 days=1 chapter thing. Maybe a 3 days=1 chapter thing. I'd like to start asap. The only thing is that I need a book to start with. I prefer it's a book that someone who reads my blog regularly has read before. And it needs to be one I haven't read before, and not in a series that I've read before. So comment with your suggestions! Don't tell me anything about the book, though. Just a title and author. If someone else has already suggested the book you want me to read, please please say that. The more of you that have read this book when I start it, the better. Or you're also welcome to read along with me and make predictions as I go.

Should it so happen that all y'all are slackers and don't give me any suggestions, I will probably not do this. I would just pick my own book, but that wouldn't be fun because I wouldn't know if any of you had read it before. And it's actually really fun to be able to read about someone else reading the book. It's kinda like reading it for the first time yourself again. Yes. So what book should I start for Samara Reads?

... Maybe this college path will be fun.

[[UPDATE: I changed the link that Mark Reads goes to, so now it's a post he's written about what he does. It just sums things up nicely and links you to some of his favorite posts he's written.]]