Hello! Hello! Do you know what tomorrow is? Tomorrow is the first of Blogust! I’ll bet you’re shaking your head and saying, “Oh, Cat. It’s pronounced AUGUST.” Well, you’re right and I’m right. August Blogust.
Earlier in July my wonderfully, creative and inspirational friend Yoj wrote on her blog about how she was feeling a lack of creative-anything. I commented saying I totally understood and blame corporate life for this drain. It’s been years since my Muse packed up and left me. She didn’t like the 9-to-5, stifling ways of office life. I don’t blame her. I’d pack up and leave, too, if I didn’t need to work at that office job to pay my bills. So I suggested we somehow blog every day for a month. Challenge ourselves. Yoj thought that sounded like a plan, and although I was sort of joking at the time, the idea stuck with me. I commented back – “August, I dub thee… BLOGUST!”
And from that cheesy conversation, the August blogging challenge was created. Yoj and I have tossed around ideas/topics/prompts for each of the 31 days in August. They will give us something to write about, something to force our creative spirits to kick into action and hopefully, wake up and smell the coffee (bacon? roses? creative inspiration?).
I’m looking forward to dusting off the keyboard and getting the cobwebs out of my brain for this. I’m going to try my best to have fun with it. I might even tie in my photo-a-day challenge from Instagram for August. Of course the photos have nothing to do with the topics, but there is one photo for each day of the month. I have been successful with this challenge since I started it in February (helps that I am obsessed with Instagram!) and I only messed up in June because of my travel to the US and lack of internet connection there. Oops. Let’s see if that success will translate into this blog writing challenge!
These are the daily topics we came up with – feel free to join in, if you still happen to blog (which so many of you no longer do. Sigh. I miss reading blogs.) If you do join in, leave a comment on this post and link us to you blog! I’d love to follow along and see what you might have to say.
- Why do you write?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
- Top 5 pet peeves
- Where do you find inspiration?
- Your favourite comfort foods and why.
- Your favourite summer memorie(s).
- If you could have any job, anywhere in the world, what would it be?
- Your guilty pleasure(s).
- Put your iPod on shuffle, list the first 10 songs that pop up & share why you have them in your music library.
- If you could have one superpower/magical power, what would it be and why?
- 7 interesting facts about you
- Your favourite book(s) and why.
- TV shows you feel were underrated; that you think the world needs to know about.
- How have you changed in the past 3 years?
- Your biggest regret in life.
- If money were no object, list 5 things you’d do.
- List 3 songs that inspire you or are your go-to songs when you need to change your mood.
- Something you miss.
- Stream of consciousness writing. Whatever you want, however long you want, just write as your brain works.
- Comfort food(s).
- What does friendship mean to you?
- Do you think family is defined by blood, or by action?
- What is the oldest piece of clothing you own and still wear?
- What is one thing you are exceptionally bad at?
- Do you believe in fate?
- What social media outlets do you use and why do you use them?
- Are you scared to follow your dreams?
- Post a photo and have your followers write a short story about said photo. Then publish in Sept!
- Interview someone- parent, spouse, bestie, barista. Don’t just ask regular questions, shake it up!
- Pick something absurd off of Pinterest & write about it.
- Why we decided to do Blogust, what we learned, was it fun & are we going to do this shizz in September?
There you have it folks! On your mark! Get set! WRITE!
Endlessly (Paranormalcy, #3)
by Kiersten White
Evie’s paranormal past keeps coming back to haunt her. A new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency wants to drag her back to headquarters. The Dark Faerie Queen is torturing humans in her poisonous realm. And supernatural creatures keep insisting that Evie is the only one who can save them from a mysterious, perilous fate.
The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its fate rests solely in Evie’s hands.
So much for normal. (goodreads.com)
So… I had to go back and read my posts on Paranormalcy and Supernaturally because I was pretty certain my opinion of characters had changed completely. Sure enough, it did. Whereas I HATED Jack in Supernaturally, I truly enjoyed him in this here final book in the series. I even enjoyed Reth, whom I don’t recall liking either. Strange.
I love, love, love this series, I truly do, though if I had to find one negative thing to say about this final book it’s that I was sort of put off by all the Faerie Realm stuff. I liked dealing with Evie and her bagging & tagging the paranormals and her endless struggle with IPCA. I liked that this was a paranormal series unlike the others out there, but then we ended up with a battle between light and dark faeries and well, I was slightly disappointed.
This doesn’t mean I like the series any less and I do love how the conclusion came together, I just expected… I don’t know what I expected. Maybe something different? I just didn’t see the story going in the direction that it did and it surprised me. On one hand – YAY SURPRISE DIRECTION! I don’t like when I can totally call how a story is going to end, so I was happy about being surprised. On the other hand – ARGH! SURPRISE DIRECTION THAT I DIDN’T WANT TO GO! So, two sides to this coin as you can see.
Also, there are no love triangles (much) and there’s no insta-love (unless you’re talking to a faerie) so whereas many YA paranormal books are drowning in sameness, this one still stands far, far outside of that crowd on its own. The writing is still witty and snappy and Whedonesque. Evie is just so likable. You just want everything to be pink and sparkly when you read this series. You share her enthusiasm for teen soap operas and wanting to live a normal, teen life. Evie can’t help but make you feel happy about things and smile constantly when you read these books.
Evie is awesome.
And because I went back and read my previous posts for this series, I came across my original perception of the first book that made me giggle (yes, I crack myself up. I am my biggest fan.) For your reading pleasure:
I’ll tell you a secret – I had absolutely no desire to ever pick up this book. I was skipping reviews, I was turned off by the cover which to me screamed “Scarlett Johansson does paranormal stuff while brooding in a pink dress”.
– September 11, 2010
I’m hilarious. And in case you’re wondering, this series is SO MUCH MORE than ScarJo brooding in a pink dress.
Please write more books (about other things), Kiersten White. I shall read you forever.
At first we thought this was cookie dough ice cream and that made us VERY happy. Then we realized it was just the cookie dough. I might have had a little moment in the grocery store when we made this discovery. If you don’t know what Monsieur Felix & Mr Norton cookies are, well, I am very sorry for your incomplete life. Back in the 90s this was all the rage. There were stores everywhere. Gourmet cookies. The BEST cookies on the PLANET. Fo’ realz.
The problem is this: we made the cookies almost immediately upon returning from the store on Sunday evening. As of 10:30 am.. all 21 cookies were gone. I am pretty sure I am responsible for eating about 80% of those.
I kid you not.
I am not proud of myself, but I couldn’t help it. This particular flavour of Felix & Norton cookies is my absolute favourite. I couldn’t stop myself. They just kept disappearing.
I don’t think I can buy this again, but I really, really, REALLY want to buy this again. I need more F&N in my body. OMG SO GOOD.
Best and worst possible thing for me to find in the grocery store. Gah!
Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.
That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team. (goodreads.com)
It might seem rather odd for me to jump from All Things Fantasy into historical fiction about World War II, but I did. Another odd thing is that I even bought this book and wanted to read it. It’s very much not my regular cup of tea, but as I read reviews around the Internet and as my interest in reading war-time historical fiction has increased in the last year (no idea why), I knew this was one book I didn’t want to miss.
And HO-LEE COW was this an amazing story. It was gripping, heart-wrenching, breath-catching, horrifying and just all around lovely. I even read this book ON THE BUS, people, while desperately fighting off motion sickness because I cannot read on a moving vehicle to save my life (trains not included). I just could not stop reading.
I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who have not yet read Code Name Verity and want to, but I will say this: Have you ever had a reading experience where something so shocking happens that you actually exclaim out loud? Well, I had that happen to me while reading this book and I refused to believe what I was reading. I held out until the last page that something would change. I did not cry, though I came close and I think had I been in a different head space I’d have been sobbing for the last third of the book. I fought that like I fought the motion sickness. I didn’t want the tears in my eyes to distract me from the words on the page. I didn’t want to miss a thing!
The author’s note at the end of the novel comes with the disclaimer that the names and places were made up and that there are some historical inaccuracies, but you know what? I don’t think you need to set this story in a real place because it’s the emotion that floats off the pages and wraps around you. Elizabeth Wein might have created Ormaie, but she certainly captured the fear, heartbreak and energy of what Verity was going through. One of the things that really got under my skin was the fear that “kerosene” caused Verity. That something so common and simple could cause such fear (and be used for so many things!). I could almost taste the fear when I was reading Verity’s words. I could. It was a very uncomfortable yet intriguing experience.
Code Name Verity is a book that stays with you for days after you read it. I find myself dreaming of aeroplanes and fear and war – even though I haven’t the slightest inkling of what it would be like to live in war-time. I don’t know anything of war. The wars we deal with now are all far, far away from where I live and only referenced on TV or in the news. You read about it, just like you read a book. I don’t live IN it. I haven’t any clue what it would be even remotely like to live IN it. I do have a very strong feeling that I wouldn’t be nearly as strong as Verity or Maddie.
At one point this story had me flipping back to the earlier parts in reference as things came together. It was fascinating how this book fit together like a puzzle. A curious and horrifying puzzle in my brain.
This is an outstanding story, well-told and emotionally charged. From a comment from author R.J. Anderson (whom I adore both in books and on twitter ;)), I now know I must read more of Elizabeth Wein’s books. I also need to read books by Megan Whalen Turner. I will certainly be doing this because if those other books are written as superbly as Code Name Verity was, I will not be disappointed.
When I was a kid, I had two goals in life. 1) To make a record (as in a real, vinyl record) like The Monkees and The Mickey Mouse Club and 2) to be on the Muppet Show. (obviously singing the songs that would be on my record album!)
I have always wanted The Muppet Show to be real. I loved the humour, the variety showyness, the guest stars (even though at the young age that I was I had no clue who most of the guest starts were. Heck, even today, as we watch the DVDs I have to look someone up!) But I loved the Muppets and The Muppet Show and I cried when they announced on the radio that Jim Henson had died. I cried a lot that morning before school. I cry when they play Rainbow Connection. I wept during the newest Muppet movie when the song came on and I knew I’d tear up if they played it at the show I’d be at.
And yes… one of my dreams came true, people. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be a member of the audience for the Muppet Show. I had higher hopes for recording an album. The album thing never panned out, but people, I got to see the MUPPETS LIVE ON STAGE.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. This is a Big Deal and because of the Big Dealyness of it all, the organizers managed to snag some pretty Big Deal Things. The most important one to I, and to 2998 other people in that hall at 7pm, was – THE MUPPETS!
This is the first time in history that the Muppets have hosted a live show – anywhere in the world. It’s never been done before and what a magical night it was. The show opened with the traditional Muppets opening – stage and song and boy did the crowd go wild. There were 3000 people at this show and we all stood up as the Muppet theme song came on and each of the Muppets were in their own little space like the TV show. (balcony? What the hell is that called?) Statler and Waldorf were EVEN IN ONE OF THE SIDE BALCONIES LIKE IN THE SHOW! OMG! It was AMAZING!
Kermit and gang hosted the Gala and they each had their own time in the spotlight as they introduced the 5 comics on the bill that night: Ryan Hamilton, Jim Breuer, Mike Birbiglia, Danny Bhoy and Steve Patterson. Shawn and I liked pretty much all of the comics but found one a little less funny than the others (oddly, it was the same for each of us, we have the same humour!). The crowd laughed a lot for each of the 5 men on stage, but it was NOTHING compared to the reaction those Muppets got when they graced the stage.
The show was filmed, as all of the Galas are, and they had screens scattered around the hall so you could watch the Muppets from the waste up – because we got to see something very, very extraordinary that night. We got to see the puppeteers work those Muppets for the entire show. And you know what? It takes about a handful of seconds and suddenly you don’t see the PEOPLE anymore. You only see the Muppets that you know and love. It’s like they are alive and real and it was the most amazing thing ever.
Even as the stage was set in the dark, while one Muppet or another were filling time, the audience went CRAZY when they rolled out a counter that looked like it had food bowls on it. Half the time I couldn’t even hear what the Muppets were saying because the crowd was screaming and clapping so much. It was obvious that the Swedish Chef was about to make an appearance and OH BOY! were people THRILLED. He made “pew-teen” and then had a heart attack from all the gravy he put on the fries.
And that’s another amazing thing… the script of the night was entirely geared towards Canada, Montreal and the Festival itself. The humour was HILARIOUS as only Muppet humour could be. I really don’t think the puppeteers could have expected the reaction we gave them. The energy in the room was outstanding. And then there was another show at 10pm! Standing ovations abounded. Statler and Waldorf heckled Fozzie from the balcony just like in the show – people yelled out “I LOVE YOU, FOZZIE!” when the bear came out to do his stand up. It was a BIG DEAL for him. Fozzie finally made the Big Time being at this renown festival!
If I had to find anything negative about the evening it would have been minor things like – I wish there had been more interaction between the Muppets and the comedians as they were introduced. It’s possible there wasn’t because this was filmed and this way the individual comic routines could be easily taken and shown on other Just For Laughs tv specials. But I do think with the magic of editing, any reference to just having been introduced by THE FREAKING MUPPETS could have been edited out. I mean.. being introduced by the Muppets is like.. just… it’s unbelievable!
The only other problem I had was that because of the audience reactions, I found some of what the Muppets were saying to be hard to understand. We were not a quiet audience. We laughed and applauded and screamed so much of that evening and there should have been a few times where the dialogue was paused as they waited for us to all calm the heck down. We couldn’t help ourselves, this was a dream come true for so many people.
I don’t know if the Muppets will ever do a live show like this ever again. I do know that it was just such an amazing experience and I will always cherish the fact that I bought expensive tickets about 30 seconds after I heard someone say the Muppets were coming to Just for Laughs. It was worth the money to get good seats (not the best seats, but decent enough!) I will never forget this night for as long as I live. I can say that I got to see the Muppet Show live. Not many people can say that.
The show ended with a funny (yes!) version of Rainbow Connection and though I started to tear up, it was soon apparent that the laughter was going to win out. The Muppets received yet another standing ovation as the song wound down and if we could have stood any higher, we would have for the puppeteers who came out from behind their set when the song was done to take their bows.
From the song about Canada, to Miss Piggy being carried in by Mounties, to Bunsen turning Beaker into Youpi (former Expos mascot, now the mascot for the Canadiens?) to the Rainbow Connection, this was a magical, hilarious night that I will never, ever forget.
(Sadly, no photos were allowed, or I’d have taken so many of the set and the old men in the balcony. Sadly, out of all the shots, I don’t think any of the media captured Statler and Waldorf in the loge seats. Which makes me sad. The Montreal Gazette did get some neat photos, so you can check them out here.)