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Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Laptop Just Arrived! Off to a Fresh Start!

Broken laptop screen

To those who may be wondering: I am, in fact, still alive! I haven’t posted for the past several weeks because an unfortunate accident with my laptop resulted in an inoperable screen. Being a student again means my funds are limited so I put off purchasing a new laptop until the next holiday (and accompanying $ale$) rolled around.  I have the US Presidents (particularly George Washington) to thank for giving me the President’s Day coupon codes I needed to get this beautiful new Lenovo Ideapad!

But just when I thought I was out of the woods, it turns out I’m not exactly home free yet. My beautiful laptop came preinstalled with Windows 8; I’ve read many reviews about how terrible the operating system is, but they in no way prepared me for the reality of trying to use an OS designed for use on a cell phone on a laptop. It was a nightmare. I lasted about 30 minutes before I couldn’t take it anymore and turned the computer off (even that I needed to Google to figure out how to do!).

So for the time being I’m back to using the Asus netbook my sister gave me to tide me over until I got a new laptop. It’s become a dependable companion, even if it is quite small and slow.  I don’t have any of my files saved to it, so uploading posts I’ve already written will have to wait until I can wipe the Ideapad and install Windows 7 on it. Once I do, though, I have a series of templates made that I think students will find very useful for writing and formatting essays and works cited pages correctly.

Thanks for sticking around, all 75 of you who are subscribed! If you’re not already subscribed, click on the orange RSS feed button at the top right corner of this site to have posts delivered directly to your RSS reader OR to your e-mail inbox. It beats constantly checking back to see if a new post has been uploaded!


Photo credit: Lacrymosa

Monday, February 11, 2013

Books You Should Read: _The Eighteen Revenges of Dr. Milan_ by Christopher Ruz

Eighteen Revenges by Chris Ruz

It is my firm belief that the quality of your product is only as strong as the quality of the ingredients you used to make it. If you want your physique to be fit and healthy, you need to eat nutritious foods and exercise regularly. If you want your writing to be syntactically correct and eloquent, you need to read literature that is well written. While I'm not knowledgeable enough about kinesiology to recommend any exercise regimens, I can provide a professional opinion on what books to stock your mental bookshelf with that will provide the examples you need to improve your writing skills.

The classics are wonderful literary works that will expose you to quality writing, but their writing style can be out-dated, making them difficult for you to understand their archaic expressions. Not to mention classical novels tend to be long and tedious – not books you want to dive into when you have a limited amount of spare time to devote to reading. That's why Christopher Ruz's writings are at the top of my list when it comes to recommending literature. His book The Eighteen Revenges of Doctor Milan is particularly well suited to an audience that is limited in free time and prefers more action-packed genres.

After reading Chris Ruz's The Eighteen Revenges of Dr. Milan, I had to compose myself before I could write a proper review of it. As an aspiring novelist, Ruz's facility with words makes me so envious, I can barely stand to keep reading his writing. As a reader, I can't get enough of Ruz's creative turns of phrase, his rich settings dripping with imagery. Eighteen Revenges delivers these things more than any of his other works, and (in my opinion) is his finest writing yet.

Eighteen Revenges is a novella, so it is short enough to be read in one sitting, yet meaty enough that you don't feel cheated out of a full-length, detailed story. I'm a bit of a fast reader but it definitely helped that I could NOT stop reading this book once I started. What I love about the book besides the gritty, dark setting that takes you prisoner with its rich detail is how unconventional the plot is. There is no hero sweeping a reluctant damsel off of her feet; in fact, the "hero" is far from innocent himself and the "damsel" is part of a horrifying mystery that will keep you turning pages, searching for answers. This book is a testament to me that the potential for originality in literature still exists. I wish I could elaborate, but I don't want to rob anyone of the enjoyment of uncovering each piece of the story for themselves.

Ruz's writing always gives me a new appreciation of the artistry involved in finding the perfect words. Eighteen Revenges delivers so much spot-on, emotion-evoking writing that I forget I'm reading words, not seeing images. Take these sentences, for example:

"A scattering of tiny lights were the prisoner's chambers, thousands and thousands of rooms twisting with the grain of the rock, bored into the skin of the mountain like honeycomb cells, like alveoli."
"The noise of machinery grew as he descended, the clank and whistle of valves echoing off the rock.
Men swore in chorus. Steel thuds were followed by the sudden hiss of compressed air. Far below, the base of the Pike was a hive of activity, hundreds of prisoners circling with their overalls hanging around their waists, chests smeared with dust and sweat. Their headlamps winked like distant stars."

Seriously, who writes like this?! What has to be happening in Ruz's brain for him to come up with these scenes? If you appreciate fine writing or want to expose yourself to writing you can trust is written well, you HAVE to read this book. Visit to purchase it for a reasonable $2.99 or to read a sample chapter.