liaku: (ratatouille squee)
2010-12-25 10:42 pm
Entry tags:

Yuletide recs

Been digging through the Yuletide fics from this year. Since no one's online for me to spam recs at, I figure I'll just make my f-list suffer.

Fandom: Old Spice Guy
Meta Yuletide Fic (The Fic You Wish Your Fic Smelled Like)
Why hello, Yuletide reader. Why don't you sit down for a bit? Get comfortable, because when you click my link you will be reading a work of such magnificence that you won't be able to look away, even if a crew of zombies breaks through your window and bites your neck.

Fandom: A Complete History of the Soviet Union As Told By A Humble Worker Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris
An Incomplete History Of History, As Written For Yuletide, In Five Acts And An Epilogue.
What's the point of it all, when you’re building a wall, and in front of your eyes, it disappears?

Fandom: A Study In Emerald (ie, Sherlock Holmes + Lovecraft, link takes you to a PDF)
Black Shuck
There are things lurking on the moors that man was not meant to know -- but Sherlock Holmes is not most men. (A retelling of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Cthulhu-style.)

Fandom: Discworld
Carrying A Concealed Weapon (and other crimes to commit while being Adora Belle Dearheart)
Adora Belle is arrested, Lady Sybil is there to help, or at least there to make the tea.

Fandom: Princess Bride
When Inigo was four, he loved teddy bears, kittens and swords. When Westley was four, he didn't know what love was.

Fandom: FFX-2
First Impressions
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The Crimson Squad's thoughts as they meet each other for the first time.

Fandom: Slender Man Mythos
Here then at long last is my darkness.
Many different elements of the Slender Man mythos, squished together into some semblance of a logical narrative. (The title is a quote from House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.)

Fandom: Tanz der Vampire
Four different sons and four different transformations.

Fandom: Tanz der Vampire
Let the Fire Be Started
Alfred and Sarah post-musical, embarking on their journey to take over the world and arriving at their first stop.
liaku: (angel vamp puppet)
2010-12-09 11:54 pm
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Day 21: book meme

Day 21 – Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)

Louis and Lestat. Interview With A Vampire, the one Anne Rice book that I loved and made me waste hours of my life reading the rest of her books with the vain hope that she could match this one. Yeah, she doesn't. The Vampire Lestat is fine reading (I didn't like it, but it was good nonetheless), and Queen of the Damned is the last one I can safely recommend, though I feel like it abandons all the personal, emotion-driven storytelling that makes the first two books strong.

Anyway, I thought they were cute, and I like how tragic their relationship was. I don't mean like R&J tragic, though they were all fucked from the start, but more that it shows their romance, if you can even call it that, the furthest thing from romantic. They're vampires. I feel like that's how it's supposed to be. Anyway, I lose a lot of interest in them once Lestat takes up the POV character mantle in later books. I liked him better as an tragic anti-villain than as a well-meaning anti-hero. Louis I still adored now though, character bastardization aside (he's always been dumb as a brick, so it's not all that much of a bastardization, really). He's my favorite whiny little whiner ever. I want to pinch his cheeks.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (Default)
2010-12-04 06:56 pm
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day 20: book meme

Day 20 – Favorite kiss

...I dunno man. I've been stuck on this for days (weeks?), and it's getting ridiculous. I'm just not into romance in my books.

But the Kiss of Judas from The Bible (The Holy Bible?) is always a classic and has plenty of historical, social, religious, etc significance. That's enough for me.

Yeah, I'm not feeling inspired. Honorable mention goes to Sansa's imagined kiss from the Hound in A Feast for Crows though.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (chuck group hug)
2010-11-26 12:31 am
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day 19: book meme

Day 19 – Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

I can't really give you a reason why. Obviously, it's a lovely composition. It wasn't a huge part of my childhood besides for being a constant presence (I don't think I've read the entire collection, though I know I've read most of the poems in there). I really like it though.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (Default)
2010-11-24 06:10 pm
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day 18: book meme

Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book

I'm going with Arthur Conan Doyle's "Study in Scarlet." There's a lovely sense of beginning there, a genuine promise of more to come, whereas I find most stories I read are bogged down by exposition in the early scenes (understandably so!). Alternatively, they just suck.

Starting a book isn't easy. That beginning scene? I don't think I've genuinely liked any. Ever. I've been struggling all day to think of something, and I really haven't yet. The number of books I've not read past page 10 or so is staggering. I don't particularly adore A Study in Scarlet's opener--and I'm iffy about counting it here altogether since it's a short-story--but it's a good, solid scene.

There are a few sequels or later books in a series that I thought had a strong start, but then it's a beginning scene that's not actually the beginning, so I disqualified those (though ASOIAF would've finally get its overdue mention here with Storm of Swords). I also counted out plays and comic books because, well, for some categories, they're on equal footing with books. For this one, the visual aspect, or the insinuation of it for plays, is too large a handicap imo (RED would've won far too easily). Considered comic books and manga as well, disqualified for the same reason, though I don't think they're so strong in this category anyway.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (firefly theme)
2010-11-18 01:23 am
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day 17: book meme

Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.

...I'm not sure what else to say. Neil Gaiman requires no introduction. If you haven't checked out this anthology, "Snow, Glass, Apples" is a grim and beautiful spin-off of Snow White. "Nicholas Was..." is the end all be all of 100 word fiction. "We Can Get Them For You Wholesale" is a brilliant story about a man looking to hire an assassin. Honestly, flip to any of the stories. They're all good. I'd have an easier time highlighting the less good ones because they're fewer, but I'm not about to rain on my own parade.

Fragile Things, again by Neil Gaiman, gets an honorable mention for having "A Study in Emerald," which is simply the best crossover fanfic in the world.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (Default)
2010-11-17 12:52 pm
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day 16: book meme

Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry

Don't judge.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (Default)
2010-11-15 09:09 pm
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day 15: book meme

Day 15 – Your “comfort” book

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett is full of zany fun. It brightens my day and restores my faith in literature's ability to spin a story that's meaningful without being serious. Terry Pratchett does that in general, but in Going Postal he excels.

So there's this guy called Alfred Spangler. He's next up for the noose, and he's kinda chilling in prison now. He robbed a bank--probably several banks, rather definitely several banks, but that's not important. What's important is that he's going to die. And he does.

Now there's this guy called Moist von Lipwig, previously known as Alfred Spangler. There was a funny noose trick or somesuch--the point is that the Patrician of the city has given our dear Moist (that's his real name--no one would make up the name Moist von Lipwig for themselves) a second chance at life. The catch? He's now in charge of revitalizing the post office. Well, the post office is effectively covered in graffiti and buried under pigeon shit, so this is not going to be an easy task.

Obviously, he succeeds. That's not really giving the story away. It's a fantastic time getting there though.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (suikoden yuber)
2010-11-15 12:08 am
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day 14: book meme

Day 14 – Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)

So I'm going as far back into my life as I can, and I can only say that Sun Wukong aka The Monkey King of Journey to the West is still my hero. Backstory in a nuthsell: He was born from stone and became, unsurprisingly enough, king of monkeys. He studied under a buddha until he was effectively expelled from his studies for his (albeit rightful) arrogance, but by then he had a host of shiny powers that Sun Wukong abuses like nothing else. Later, heaven insulted him, so he allied with some demons, decimated an awful lot of the celestial army, and then Gautama Buddha put him in his place. Which was under a mountain. Sun Wukong stayed there for a few hundred years until Guanyin Buddha granted him limited freedom if he would protect Xuanzang on his pilgrimage to India. And that's basically where Journey to the West picks up for reals.

I love Sun Wukong. He's so clever, witty, not afraid of anything, and nothing brings down his spirit. Heaven locks him up in a burning prison for eons, and when they expect to find him dead, he bounces out stronger than ever before. I mean, who needs white knights and disney princesses when you've got this badass?

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (Default)
2010-11-14 12:00 am
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day 13: book meme

Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I was relatively old when I read this one, admittedly. My friend recommended it to be in when I was 8, and I bought the book but never read it until middle school one day. I was bored and had nothing better to do. Perhaps that's why it spoke to me so much.

So there's this boy named Milo. He's bored, and he's already become an incredible little cynic at his young age. When he gets home one day, he finds a package left for him: a miniature tollbooth and a map. He drives through it and arrives in a world split by the divide between Dictionopolis and Digitopolis, ruled by Azaz the Unabridged and the Mathemagician respectively. They're brothers, but they hate each other, and together banished the Princesses Rhyme and Reason after they declared numbers and letters equally important. Milo's quest requires him to return Rhyme and Reason back home.

The brilliance of Tollbooth is that when Milo returns, he's infused with this abundant energy--he's not bored anymore, and neither is the reader. Comparisons to Alice in Wonderland do the book a injustice. Tollbooth's setting is similarly whimsical, but it's purpose is only to remind the reader, as it does Milo, that there's a big damn world out there, and it is fucking amazing. How Juster manages this with a bizarre fantasy world where the sunrise is performed by an orchestra is beyond me.

Norton Juster is a wordsmith, and that makes an otherwise simple story incredibly enjoyable even now when I inevitably pick the book up for a random re-read. The writing's lively, energetic, and so clever that neither the decades nor cynicism has dampened it any. Give it a shot. You won't be disappointed.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (caution this is sparta)
2010-11-12 04:57 pm
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Day 12: book meme

Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times

The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. Accept no substitute. (Except her Circle of Magic quartet, which is basically superior in every way. Not as classic though, but originality is generally considered a virtue, so I suppose that's not even a point in her favor.)

Tamora Pierce writes fantasy, generic medieval magic stuff with knights and etc. The only twist, and it was a twist back when she published her first Tortall books, was that her protagonist was female. This didn't happen much in young adult/children's literature back in the day. The Lioness Quartet is about Alanna, a noble's daughter that masquerades as a boy to become a knight. A classic tale, sure, but it's done right. DISCLAIMER: um, at least my childhood memories claim it's done right, I haven't read it since middle school.

I don't normally care much for girl power, but it was seriously craptastic for me as a kid to read book after book where the story always follows a boy. There are some girls for main characters, but they were either wusses or effectively a boy with a girl's name anyhow. Alanna was a revelation for me. She's strong and smart and obviously female, and that was unheard of for me at the time. I loved Alanna. She was my hero. She's kind and good-hearted without being a doormat, and her drive to achieve her dreams is something I think every girl should admire.

The tragedy is that I don't like Tamora Pierce anymore. Alanna, I adored. The Immortals felt like a Mary-Sue power-trip. Keladry was boring (sorry, but she was). It's rather upsetting, really. If I had any excuse to set Tamora Pierce upon an altar, I would, but as it stands, I can't.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (müller does not approve)
2010-11-11 10:25 pm
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day 11: book meme

Day 11 – A book that disappointed you

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera was the first and only Kundera book I've read so far. Given the weight and reputation of the name Kundera, I expected a lot better.

It's basically a romance novel with a lot of heady and arrogant introspection and philosophizing, the only point of which is, imo, to indulge the author's ego. Also to indulge the ego of the audiences that believe to understand and find significance in such things. I have no patience for such things. I don't blame the author, really, moreso the audience I'd expect the book to have. It reeks of something people read to feel like they're smarter and better and more intellectual than everyone else. Those faux-academics drive me up the wall. You find them in droves at Columbia.

I'm not a fan of romance as the driving plotline in my novels, but it was done very well, but I have never seen a duller or dumber main couple. However, there are two side characters that also have POV chapters, and those are simply excellent, they come genuinely and highly recommended. Sabina is the genuinely strongest and empowering female character I have ever encountered in fiction. Franz breaks my heart, and the irony of his story is so obviously penned by the great author I expected Kundera to be. I wanted more of both of them.

Anyway, if I weren't stuck on the train for 13 hours, unable to fall asleep, and bored out of my mind, I would never have finished it. It has the slowest start ever, and the character he chooses to open the book up with is about as sympathetic as Navi. Or Rose. That's Zelda and MGS for those without any geek flowing in their veins. It's pretty bad. Luckily, his character development is excellent even though it came far too late. Didn't care for his love interest either, but she's easy to pity and hard to dislike.

I mean, it was okay, ups and downs, you know. I could see why a lot of people would like it. I think it appeals a lot to the masses. That's fine. That's good, actually. Whatever.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (Default)
2010-11-09 08:10 pm
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day 9: book meme

Day 09 – Best scene ever

Fred and George Weasley leaving Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JKR. It's not that grand of a moment, really. Even within Harry Potter, it's not a moment where good triumphs over evil or anything spectacular like that. And it's certainly not the sort of scene that hurts your brain or hurts your heart or both at the same time. But it's victorious, and that victory is so beautifully sweet.

Honestly, picking just one scene (only one!) was a bitch. In the end, this one's clearly imo the best scene ever (JKR has flashes of genius--I just wish they would come more in chunks than in flashes). Umbridge is my favorite of the characters that JKR wrote, and I adore how she's such a human monstrosity, oozing a non-epic but just as frightening sort of evil. When Fred and George turned their backs on the Hogwarts that she'd crafted, you heart can't help but grow three sizes.

It's rare for characters in a children's fantasy to achieve the ranks of all time badasses, but Fred and George managed it. On the downside, I don't actually like Fred and George, but at that point, it didn't matter. I loved anyone that scored any sort of victory against the terror that is Umbridge. They were cool at the moment it mattered, and that's the most important thing.

Honorable mentions: John Watson meets Sherlock Holmes in "Study in Scarlet" by Arthur Conan Doyle; Tower of Joy in A Game of Thrones by GRRM; Mau burying the dead in Nation by Terry Pratchett. Others too, but those were the only honest challengers.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (hp avada kedavra)
2010-11-08 10:07 pm
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day 8: book meme

Day 08 – A book everyone should read at least once

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JKR, and I highly recommend following it up with Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. After that... well. I made it to the sixth book, and I do intend on reading the seventh someday. Eventually. Maybe. I'd like to think it might happen, basically for the same reason that I think everyone ought to give Harry Potter a shot.

Harry Potter has defined a generation. By this point, it's not so much a series as it is a phenomenon, and while you can duck under a rock and pretend it doesn't exist--c'mon. Don't be so hipster.

It's a children's book, Philosopher's Stone, and it's delightful. If you're the right age for it, then it can single-handedly convince you that magic is real, and despite what the Papacy thinks, that's a beautiful thing. If you're not the right age, you've still got to have quite the icy heart to not even be reminded of a time when your imagination ran wild and maybe, just maybe, magic is real, and it's all hidden away from you in its own little part of the world, too shy or too scared or simply too damn elitist to come out to play with the rest of us. You know, maybe. Could be. It'd be nice to believe so.

Imo, just maybe is enough.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (im on a horse)
2010-11-06 06:40 pm
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day 6: book meme

Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time

RED is a play by John Logan, premiered last year in London and then closed in New York. I'm not sure if it's kosher to use a play to answer this meme, but it's published as a script in book form, so I think it counts as a book, though it certainly doesn't count as a novel.

RED is a one act play with only two characters: the artist Rothko and his new assistant Ken. Rothko's been commissioned for his Four Seasons paintings, the most expensive commission of all time, and he's going to talk about it. A lot. (Though he still doesn't talk as much as the General in Embers, that'd take some doing.)

Rothko's infamous for his egotism and humorless vanity, and in RED, he often speaks of seriousness in art, all grand sweeping monologues about Art and Immortality and Significance and Tragedy, but that's peppered still with fatherly love for his paintings, his creations, the necessity of treating them well and protecting them. There's discussion of light and color, movement, intensity, sanctity, painting, preparing, and everything you'd expect in a play about art--yet I don't think you need to be an art critic to find these dialogues spell-binding, even if it's only because Rothko's own passion is contagious.

My friend saw the play at my recommendation and thought it was passably decent at best, reminding her of two drunken art students debating a stream of consciousness that really amounts to nothing more than extravagant philosophizing over their favorite pastime. Needless to say, I disagree, and so do the Tony awards. However, I do think it may come across this way in text alone. Like any play, it has a hard time standing on its script alone since that's not how it was meant to be experienced. That being said, I still think it's a worthwhile read anyway, even if the reading isn't bolstered by memories of the live performance.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (caution this is sparta)
2010-11-06 12:05 am
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day 5: book meme

Day 05 – A book or series you hate

I'm going for a series, because that seems more to the spirit of things. Twilight's too easy. Same goes for Eragon. I have a special fondness for Harry Potter and choose to remember it for its better moments. Most of the shallow pulp fiction series aren't that poorly written and are a fun read anyway. And honestly, writing a series isn't all that popular amongst non-children's/YA and non-genre fiction.

So here we are with Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. As an ASOIAF fan, this is probably an even less inspired choice than Twilight would've been. GRRM fans don't tend to be Goodkind fans and vice versa.

I'll say this first: they're not actually poorly written. Are they well-written? No. But poorly? That's too much. It's quite repetitive and longwinded and mind-numbing though, but his editors kept that checked within reason at the start. The first book is actually quite enjoyable if you're just looking for a romp in a fantasy world, and the second is a typical mediocre sequel. The rest embarrass the genre. (I only made it as far as Faith of the Fallen, but I hear it only goes downhill from there.)

The rest are only the disastrous creations of an author that ejaculates as he preaches against the terror of socialism and writes the rape and/or humiliation of every female character in sight. Our leading man spends his time waxing and waning between emo and "heroic" while his (female) entourage become freakishly slavish and co-dependent upon him. I use the word heroic in quotes because our leading man is touted as having the most superior of moral fibres, yet he condones rape, murder, terror, casual violence, not to mention plain old stupidity.

My deepest condolences if anyone on my FL's a Sword of Truth fan.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (marshmallow omg)
2010-11-05 02:21 am
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day 4: book meme

Day 04 – Your favorite book or series ever

The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett. It's not so much a series as it is a setting and itself a genre. Satirical fantasy, someone else should've come up with that idea sooner! All the books are good, but some are significantly better than others, and there's a noticeable jump in satire. The earlier books are mostly just a fantasy-comedy hybrid, which is also a fantastic idea, but starting with Small Gods, the genre is firmly satire. All the novels are capable of being standalone, but there are some sequential storylines, most prominent being the Witches, the Unseen University, and City Watch. The City Watch sequence is undeniably the most reliable in terms of high quality.

Recommended starting books: Guards! Guards! is the first of the City Watch storyline, my personal favorite, and it's older than the previous two so less satirical, and it's about the Watch (basically the city misfits and deadweight) saving city Ankh-Morpork from a dragon. Small Gods is about the god Om, powerless and stuck in the body of a turtle, and the boy Brutha, who is the only person that can hear his voice. It's completely standalone in the series. Going Postal! is about Moist von Lipwig, a con artist of epic proportions, who is saved from the noose only to be tasked with reviving the disused and rundown postal service. It's better than it sounds and absolutely hilarious.

Guards! Guards! was actually one of the last books I read in the City Watch stories, so it's not like you have to read them in order. I assume it helps though, and some people are sticklers for getting things chronological. My first was Lords and Ladies, which has since defined the elves of my imagination. After that, I read a smattering of random books (Mort, Hogfather, Reaper Man, Witches Abroad), all of which were entertaining, but I sold my soul for good to Night Watch. That being said, it seems like fans of the series have VERY mixed opinions on the books. For example, I love Monstrous Regiment, but many consider it the worst of the series by a long shot. (Sure, Jingo is a better satirical piece criticizing war, but while Monstrous Regiment passes the same message along, they're really not at all comparable.)

Basically, you should check out the series. It'll be worth your time. If English is your second language, they're not terribly difficult reads, plus I've heard that most of the translated versions are excellent as well.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (pikachu love)
2010-11-02 07:11 pm
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(no subject)

Day 02 – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

Nation by Terry Pratchett. There are actually tons of books that I wish more people had read, but Nation's such a gem that I feel a lot of people have passed over because it's not a Discworld book (that'd be Terry Pratchett's fantasy-satire series) and it's also a children's book to boot. It's about an island nation that's swept away by a storm, and all that's left is a boy, who's soon joined by survivors from neighboring islands and a lone shipwrecked girl from Britain. Boil it down enough, and it's boy meets girl, but it's not a love story at all, even though I expected it to be.

I read Nation in such a way that it should've been impossible for me to like it: whenever I went for Chinese carry-out, I had the book in my purse and read a few pages while I waited for my food. By the time I was nearly done, I sat my ass down to finish it proper, without the smell of stir-fry over my head. I shouldn't have, because it was right before midterms, and it broke my heart and then had the mercy to piece it back together again. It'd been so long since I'd last sat down to read a truly excellent book that I'd forgotten that books could even do that.

It is a beautiful, poignant story that I don't think anyone should miss out on. You should read it, all of you.

the rest of the meme )
liaku: (hetalia prussia)
2010-03-16 01:30 am
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i should probably do real work

So I imported a copy of Thicker Than Water by Mike Carey, the fourth installment of his Felix Castor series.  It's definitely my favorite series published in recent years (Discworld stood as a challenger until Unseen Academicals kinda sucked), and Mike Carey is just such a stellar writer.  I hated how the entire series is out in Britain and they're releasing the books one a year in the States.

I want to start it, and I probably will tonight, but there's just so much other stuff I should be doing.

On an entirely different note, I've started watching a tv show: Dexter.  I think it airs on Showtime (as far as I'm concerned, it airs on surfthechannel), and it's about an emotionless serial killer that hunts other serial killers.  It's a lot of fun; I like it.

Reading list for History, Bio, and Politics )
liaku: (Default)
2009-07-18 07:28 pm

(no subject)

Quick book rec: Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey, which is third in a series, so I have to rec up The Devil You Know and The Vicious Circle. They're good fun too anyhow. It's essentially a detective series (the main character's an exorcist, but the mystery-solving's still there) set in AU London where the dead have decided to come back and hang out. Lots of fun to read. While I don't think Neil Gaiman's talent translated so well from comics to novels, Mike Carey's novels are brilliantly reminiscent of his comics--and his Lucifer was nearly as good as Sandman.

The new GI Bill is awesome, even if it's hell made of paperwork to file for.  I had assumed it'd just give me about $10k/year for my tuition, or whatever the equivalent of attending UMCP would've been.  Turns out it's a lot more than that.  I only have an estimate here, but my government will (potentially) be paying $970/credit and $3,457 to the school for my tuition (which covers my whole tuition if I take 18 credits instead of 15), and then handing me an additional annual $1,000 to pay for books... and another $2,777/month housing stipend.

In other news, my room now has cable.  Now I can use my TV for something other than videogames.  Woot.

Also, my animal personality is apparently either a Rooster or a Weasel.  (Or maybe a Zebra, according to them, but I read that one, and I'm not.)  The latter is particularly unflattering. :)