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All posts for the month September, 2011

The Month of October is Brought to You By Monsters

Published September 30, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

Is it just me, or does the vampire look like batman?

There are some exciting things going on in my life. First, I found a job in Boston! Yay! I’m all moved out of my 4th floor apartment, and strangely, I feel as though I’ve just climbed Everest. Weird.

On to October. I planned to do a whole series of posts on monsters in October, so I was really excited when Sommer announced Monster Fest, which you should check out because there are some really awesome entrants.

I’ve broken down each week by the top four monster costume choices (at least in my opinion): zombies, vampires, ghosts, and witches respectively (I know, I’m weird), and the 5th week, which is when Halloween is, will be about horror in general plus some randomness thrown in for excitement. I have a bunch of YA Recommends planned, plus you’ll be subjected to lists of my favorites, and the highly biased defensive measures to ward off each creature. They’ll be more, but I don’t want to give away any more spoilers.

Also, in regards to Banned Book Week, I popped open The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and serendipitously found a lovely little note from a previous reader.  It’s kinda perfect for Banned Book Week actually, so I’m going to share it with you.

Dear Reader, I hope you love this book and enjoy it as much as I have. Cherish. Be grateful about who you are and what you have…

I hope a book changes your life this week. Scratch that, I hope a book changes your life every week.

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I Am Legend Blogfest

Published September 29, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

Margo over at Urban Psychopomp is hosting this blogfest in honor of her one year blogoversary. Happy Blogoversary!

The premise of the blogfest is to share what is EPIC LEGEND WIN about your WIP or favorite book.

It took me some time to figure out what exactly I would write. Originally, I wanted to talk about The Lunatic Fire because it was about a 30 year war between the gods. Or maybe, the villain Ken, who is crazy in an Alexander The Great kind of way.

However, due to recent paranormal events with a peeing camera, I decided to delve into my sci-fi, and talk about one of the characters, Metta Ravenheart. This is actually kind of perfect, considering Margo originally gave me the idea for her.

Metta is not the main character. She’s not even alive during the time line of the book. Metta, as the mother of two of the MCs, and the aunt of the third, is a legend. She is a woman recognized in life and remembered in death for her larger than life personality and immense wisdom, which are obscured by her seemingly strange ideas and crazy stories.

She was a woman, due to her abilities (she was a powerful Creator) and wisdom, was respected by the rulers of both empires. She was revered, feared, respected. She was charming, persuasive, cunning. Her presence is a constant throughout the plot; she haunts the MCs memories, shaping, altering their perceptions of reality based on what they learned from her.

She was a woman whose facts were so enmeshed in her fiction, that it is nearly impossible to disentangle the two. Consequently, she was the only one who knew the fate of the two empires, and knowing that she would not live to see it, left just enough breadcrumbs for her offspring to figure out. That is, if they can wade through all of the nonsense.

Don’t You Repress Me

Published September 28, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

I’ll admit, that when perusing the ALA website on banned books, I had to laugh at a few of them. Captain Underpants? A Wrinkle in time? Harry Frickin Potter? Really? Seriously?

Now, I’m all about freedom of choice. If you were to take away my freedom to choose, expect a rebellion to follow soon after, cause I’ll be coming in with guns blazing. I’m also of the opinion that no two people are exactly the same. Everyone has different tastes, opinions, ideas. Ask two people their idea of Utopia, and you’re going to get two different answers. The same goes for children. They grow at different rates, some mature faster than others, whether physically or mentally. Some are forced to grow up fast, while others are what I like to call “old souls”. Some children are exposed to all life’s horrors from a very early age, others are sheltered, some are privileged, some are poor.

Teenagers are not children. They may not be quite adults, but they most certainly are not children, and don’t treat them as such. I think parents forget what being 15 is actually like. Being that 15 wasn’t that long ago for me, I remember quite vividly that I thought I was an adult. Nobody could tell me otherwise.

The biggest excuse I see for banning books is protecting the kids/ teenagers from whatever debauchery said book contains. As if reading a book about kids pretending to be Egyptians for a day is going to turn them into heathens, or reading about a wizarding school is going to make them Satan worshippers. Reading about rape is not going to turn your child into a rapist, reading about drug use will not make them raging addicts. Reading about sex will not turn your son into Charlie Sheen, or you daughter into a streetwalker any more than Pretty Woman will.

You should be more concerned about your children watching Jersey Shore than picking up a copy of Catcher in the Rye. Ok, yes, there was that whole Mark David Chapman debacle, but he was already a Crazy McCrazerton to begin with. So he doesn’t count. At least not in my book.

I know I’m going to get a lot of flak for this, but your main goal as a parent should not be protecting your children, but preparing them for life. Yes, you should protect them—to an extent, but if your teens are not prepared for the world when it’s time to fly the coop, they are likely to fail at it.

Your teens are not these special little flowers that need to be kept in a greenhouse, monitored for sun exposure and watered a certain amount, lest they wither and die; no, they’re glorious sunflowers that bloom in the mighty sun and grow to immense and wondrous heights. They’re hardy Daffodils, Crocuses, and Jumping Jacks that brave the harsh March climes to grace a dreary landscape with color and beauty and light. They’re the wildflowers that race across fields and empty lots, flourishing where others have failed.

Your teens are beautiful, they are smart, they are special in their own ways, and they need the freedom to choose what is right for them.

This week I’m going to try and read a few of the books on the list, but we’ll see how many I get to. I’m going to re-read Huck Finn, and I have Speak, Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, and the Perks of Being a Wallflower in the wings.

What books are you reading this week?

YA Recommends–Banned Books!

Published September 27, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

With all the hoopla surrounding a recent WSJ article which Shall Not Be Named, I noticed there are a lot of adult readers who, for various reasons have avoided/shied away from YA. This is part of a series of posts where I recommend “gateway” novels– novels that will help  ease reluctant adult readers into the Behemoth known as the YA world.

 

I’m back! Kinda.

In honor of national banned book week, here are some of the top banned/questioned YA books that you need to read. Please excuse the lack of pictures, the internet was being a rabid porcupine.

1. Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

With his first foray into teen literature, acclaimed author Sherman Alexie packs a punch in this absorbing novel about a Native American boy searching for a brighter future. At once humorous and stirring, Alexie’s novel follows Junior, a resident of the Spokane reservation who transfers out of the reservation’s school — and into a nearby rich, all-white farm school — in order to nurture his desire to become a cartoonist. Junior encounters resistance there, a backlash at home, and numerous family problems — all the while relaying his thoughts and feelings via amusing descriptions and drawings.

2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

When Melinda Sordino’s friends discover she called the police to quiet a party, they ostracize her, turning her into an outcast — even among kids she barely knows. But even worse than the harsh conformity of high-school cliques is a secret that you have to hide.

3. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

A high school student is first a hero and then a victim in this novel of intimidation and the misuse of power.

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt.

5. Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks

A sensation when it was first published and a perennial bestseller ever since, this real-life diary charts an anonymous teenage girl’s struggle with the seductive–and often fatal–world of drugs.

Not sure if this is YA or not, but I’m including it anyways…

6. Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farmis the most famous by far of all twentieth-century political allegories. Its account of a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their vicious human master, only to submit to a tyranny erected by their own kind, can fairly be said to have become a universal drama. Orwell is one of the very few modern satirists comparable to Jonathan Swift in power, artistry, and moral authority; in animal farm his spare prose and the logic of his dark comedy brilliantly highlight his stark message.

Taking as his starting point the betrayed promise of the Russian Revolution, Orwell lays out a vision that, in its bitter wisdom, gives us the clearest understanding we possess of the possible consequences of our social and political acts.

On An Autumn’s Night Clear…

Published September 16, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

With all the pumpkin talk recently, it got me remincing about years past, and since I got nothing inspiring or insightful to say today (I had brilliant thoughts last night, but the sleep gremlins seemed to have muched them in the middle of the night), I am going to tell a story, a memory plucked from the past. I even have pictures. A good story isn’t complete without pictures.

The tale begins on a clear October day, a few years ago. The sun was shining and fluffy clouds scudded across an azure sky. The leaves were exploding in a riot of color, and in a fit of brilliant insanity (the two generally go hand in hand, do they not?), my friend Mary and I decided to paint pumpkins. One thing led to another, and admist fit of giggles, we had decided we were going to give these beautiful works of art to our friends and family. A la ding-dong doorbell ditch.

Yes, we painted the entire thing green

Gleeful of our plans, we headed off to the local farm, picked our pumpkins, and brought them back to my apartment. A few hours later, we had our masterpieces and doodles whimiscal flights of fancy completed. We were ready to brave the night.

I was the driver, Mary the runner.  The night was clear, the air laced with the scent of dead leaves and only a hint of oncoming frost, as drove to our destinations. During our escapades, we outraced dogs, tripped over lawn gnomes, and braved dark, winding paths to bring these autumnal delights to our friends and family.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Does anyone have any fall memories they want to share?

 

On the Lands of Lorien…

Published September 10, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

A few weeks ago, I won Sarah’s (aspiring sub-creator) giveaway for the Wonderland Blogfest, and one of the prizes included this beautiful handmade Celtic paper. When I first saw the paper, I was like a five year old with a box of brand new crayons and an empty wall. My eyes lit up and my hands itched with the urge to scribble all over them, and scribble I did. My immediate thought was elves and wizards, and while I haven’t drawn them (yet), I was up late the past two nights furiously sketching away. I have one completed, and a second one that is giving me hell. Let’s just say My Preciouses, that hands are the bane of my artistic existence.

Are you excited about them? I am. I have special plans for the Lorien sketch, and I have a few ideas of what I can do with the others. All to your benefit, of course.

I’m probably going to be scarce again next week. I need to step up my job hunting as the imminent move to Boston looms closer. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. Every fall I get these romantic notions about moving back to the Boston area, and this year, I decided to jump ahead and just do it.

Learning to Share

Published September 8, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

I’m back, even though I don’t really want to be. Vermont was beautiful, as always. Except for the rain. It rained on my stargazing party. *shakes fist at sky*

I don’t really have much to say, except I was reading through my 3rd grade book (it is an actual bound book) of class assignments, and came across my New Years Resolution, and it was so funny, I decided to share it with you. So, without further ado, my 1995 New Years Resolution:

Learn to like my brother. Also, learn to share with him.

Also, it seems I was quite conceited. Apparently I fancied myself quite the storyteller, even though at that age I didn’t quite get the concept of periods.

Oh, 9 year old me.