Thursday, December 02, 2010

Literary Blog Hop: Poetry

Literary Blog Hop 

I didn’t expect this question from this week’s Literary Blog Hop. I don’t read enough poetry anymore. For the past couple years, I tend to read novels. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a favourite poem. I heard it first in first year university, an English Narrative class. We studied a couple of the Romantics. I read some great work from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but my favourite was from his contemporary, William Wordsworth. A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal. Why is it my favourite poem? I’m not exactly sure. It’s the words he uses, the meaning behind them, the rhythm they produce when you read the poem out loud. 
A slumber did my spirit seal;
  I had no human fears:
She seem'd a thing that could not feel
  The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
  She neither hears nor sees;
Roll'd round in earth's diurnal course
  With rocks, and stones, and trees.

I also enjoy Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130:

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
  And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
  As any she belied with false compare.

Do these poems have any similarities? What are your favourite poems?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: My BFFs!

In no particular order:

1. Hermione Granger from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I love her; she’s so smart and grows into such a wonderful person.

2. Cuthbert Allgood from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. He’s Roland’s best friend. He has a dark sense of humour. He’s attractive, but next to Roland, often falls into the “friend” category. Sorry Cuthbert, I’d want you to be my friend too.

3. Susan Cleath-Stuart (Suze) from Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. While I love Becky Bloomwood, she’d drive me crazy. Suze is a loyal and true friend through all of Becky’s craziness.

4. Eowyn from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. She kicks ass! In a male dominated world, she doesn’t listen to her uncle; she goes onto the battlefield and does herself and us proud.

5. Laila & Mariam from Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. I think they deserve a mention. They are maybe not my best friends, but each is the best friend the other could have.

6. Pam from Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampires / Sookie Stackhouse series. She is such an interesting individual. I’m sure she’d had great stories to tell.

7. Lestat from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. He’s so wicked. I need a wicked friend.

8. Danica from R.A. Salvatore’s The Cleric Quintet. Another strong female character, who kicks ass. I like a person who is as powerful at love as they are at fighting.

9. Willow Rosenberg from Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight. I know she’s a television character, but she’s a graphic novel character now too! With the freedom of a graphic novel, her powers are growing and becoming more complex, just as she is as a person. She’s not just Buffy’s sidekick anymore.

10. Princess Elizabeth from Robert Munsch’s The Paperbag Princess. Another strong, ass-kicking lady. I see a trend.

I’m feeling a bit better, so I thought I’d throw this list together. I know it’s late in the day, but I hope there are a few people who enjoy it.

Added Later:  I'm still so out of it, I forgot to say, Thanks to the Broke and The Bookish for another great Top Ten Tuesday!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Harry Potter Cast Test Their American Accents. Boo-yah!

I thought this was hilarious.  I couldn't help but post it.

The video used to be embeded, but they disabled it.  So now it's the link only (updated May 25, 2011)

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

This past weekend, I did what a million other people did. I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. WARNING: Gushing may ensue. I loved this movie. Days later, I’m still thinking about it. It was simply amazing. I completely understand why they’re making this book into two movies (unlike other books that should only be one movie). It wouldn’t do justice to the material that would have to be cut out. Could we really watch this movie without seeing all the intense and emotional scenes or the ones that make you laugh out loud? There is just so much happening in that final novel.

I don’t want to spoil anything for what I imagine are the few people who haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ll just say that I loved all the Harry Potter books and all the previous movies. I’m not the person who dresses up, but I am definitely a big fan. So, go see it if you haven’t. If you already have, are you going to see it again? I might.

*Side Note: I’ve been feeling under the weather / overwhelmed, so I haven’t been keeping up with my usual blogging habits. No Top Ten this week, or Short Story Monday and likely no Blog Hopping, Literary or Crazy, among other things I’ve been wanting to do/post the past couple weeks. I hope to be up to my normal standards soon, but I’m not sure when that will be. Plus, the holidays are fast approaching and real life will just have to take priority. Of course, I had to get my Harry Potter post up. In case you didn’t notice, I love Harry Potter.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Literary Blog Hop – Thoughts on Literary Non-Fiction

Literary Blog Hop

I absolutely believe in Literary Non-Fiction. I do like most of the definition given to us by Connie at the Blue Bookcase. Self-help, how-to and recipe books are not literary. I would hesitate to discount all histories though. I think it would depend on how they are written. Textbooks would not be literary, but perhaps a book that describes the story of a land or a people. Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth I think falls into this category.

In the category of Literary Non-Fiction would include Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I don’t think I would even consider that work not literary. I’ve also been reading The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys. It’s what I would consider creative non-fiction and I believe that it’s literary. I’ve often thought of different philosophical works as literary as well, such as Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy or Plato’s Meno. I think there can be different genres of non-fiction, just as there are different genres of fiction.

What are your favourite works of Literary Non-Fiction?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Was So Mad

I Was So Mad, by: Mercer Mayer is one of the books we’ve been reading to our daughter for about the past year. It gets read multiple times a week at bedtime. It used to be every bedtime until we thought we should throw something else into the rotation. I Was So Mad is a cute “Little Critter” story about a little boy who gets mad because his parents won’t let him do what he wants to do.

He doesn’t have mean parents or grandparents. They are normal things that any parent would tell their small child not to do. What I like is that this story is told from the perspective of that child. It’s a character that any kid could relate to; it’s a life’s-unfair sort of story. Told this way, I think a child might see the ridiculousness of the requests (frogs in the bathtub). It also makes the ending nice for parents. Even if your child is angry at you and says they want to run away, just wait and something will distract them and they’ll forget that they were “so mad”.

One more thing, the little mouse that follows him around is so cute!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

James Frey’s Fiction Factory

This is what I've been reading instead of bouncing around Top Ten Tuesday (see my previous post).

Commentary from New York Book's. A writer's experience with James Frey.
James Frey’s Fiction Factory

A YA writer's opinion on what Frey has done.

An blogger's opinion.

Basically, though he still has writers working for him, there are writers, agents and others in the publishing industry who think what he's doing is wrong. He's comparing himself to Andy Warhol. He seems to have delusions of grandeur. What do you think?

Top Ten Criminals, Villains and Degenerates

In no particular order:

1. Jarlaxle from R.A. Salvatore’s Legend of Drizzt series and now his own Sellswords trilogy. Jarlaxle is a male who survived in a female dominated society by forming his own mercenary group. He’s innovative and intelligent. He might even turn into a good-guy one day.

2. Draco Malfoy from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I love a villain who’s not all bad. Draco just had a bad father who followed a bad man. In the end, he sees the light. I like redemption.

3. Bertha Antoinetta Mason, aka: Mrs. Rochester from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. I don’t know what’s worse than having a crazy lady standing in the way of your true happiness.

4. Lucy Steele from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Speaking of crazy ladies… well, she not actually crazy. She’s just an opportunistic b*&%^, who gets in the way of Elinor and Edward’s happiness.

5. George Wickham from Jane’s Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I don’t think he’s all bad. He made some bad choices and had to give up his desire for love and replace it with the need for money.

6. Gollum from J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord Of The Rings. What can I say about Gollum? His obsession brought about his destruction.

7. Count Olaf from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. He’s just plain nasty.

8. The man in black/Walter o’Dim/Marten Broadcloak/Randall Flagg from Stephen King’s The Stand, The Dark Tower series, etc. He’s the man of many faces. He wreaks havoc, though for a moment, he loved his enemy’s mother. He’s the ultimate villain for King, I think, as he keeps using him in many different books.

9. Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984. He is the unseen villain, the omnipresent but never met force. His representative in Winston’s story is O’Brien. Someone who watches and uses your own inner most thoughts against you.

10. Hatsumomo from Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha. She is vindictive and spiteful. I felt sorry for her only for a moment, she lost everything. Mostly, though, I hated her.

Honourable mention to Voldemort.  I figured he'd be on a few lists though, so I didn't need to write about what a crazy bad guy he is.

After reading my list, I think that I like villains who have some kind of redeemable quality to them, something that makes them not all bad. I also like villains that are just totally, plain evil, something to be afraid of. Who’s your favourite baddie?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jane Austen's Fight Club

This video has been making the rounds. I've seen it on a few different blogs. It's so funny, I'm joining in. Enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop

Deb at readerbuzz has given us a great prompt for this week’s Literary Blog Hop. What is the most difficult literary work you've ever read? What made it so difficult?

I thought this would be difficult because I could only think of one book that I read recently and I didn’t know if that was fair. Then I started looking at my past reading list and found several books, so many that I didn’t know which one to pick. I think it would actually make a great Top Ten Tuesday topic over at The Broke and The Bookish. Do I pick a book that I liked, but was difficult or one I couldn’t stand pretty much all the way through? A new book or an old one?

I decided to go with one of the books, perhaps the only book, I can never find anything nice to say about, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. I read it at a time when I was reading many classics (Dickens, the Brontës) and I just couldn’t finish it. Well, I did finish it, sort of. I read the book, but when it would get boring or the characters were too annoying I would skip chapters. I found the writing dense and the characters flat. It didn’t evoke any feelings of sympathy or anything really except annoyance. I read it years before I started blogging and though I still have my copy, I don’t think I’ll ever re-read it.

I hope I didn’t offend anyone. What was your most difficult book?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 8: No Future For You

With a title like, No Future For You, who else would we be talking about but Faith, the rogue vampire slayer. The arc of this second installment was very exciting. It was nice to see Faith and Giles, as Faith was not present in The Long Way Home and Giles was only briefly seen. Now, we get both of them and they are working together. Though Faith sided with the good guys in the final television season of Buffy, it hasn’t been all dewdrops on roses. She still has her issues. When it’s time to get a little messy, instead of talking to Buffy, Giles turns to Faith. As always, Giles wants to protect Buffy, but he and Faith have something key in common.

In No Future For You there’s another rogue slayer out there. In many ways she’s a lot like Faith; she not a part of the pack. In some ways she is quite different. This crazed slayer wants to rule the slayer world. There’s fighting and blood and symbols and secret meetings and the military. What more could you ask for in this crazy comic? No Future For You keeps moving Season 8 forward and keeps this Buffy fan interested.

The single issue story at the end, Anywhere But Here stared Buffy and Willow, with Xander and Dawn supporting. Even though these are main characters, they weren’t seen throughout most of No Future For You. There was a bit of an adventure, but mostly, this short story gave the readers an insight into the emotional development of the main characters since they left Sunnydale at the end of the television series. Anywhere But Here as well as No Future For You really gives us a new grip on the characters and an idea of how they might react to the oncoming danger.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Top Ten Unfortunate Character Names

Spoilers!! I don’t think I can talk about these names without giving away a little of the story, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum

The first four are ones that as soon as I read them, I thought they were terrible choices.

1. Renesmee - Breaking Dawn, by: Stephenie Meyer. Really? Really?! Their baby is named what? You couldn’t come up with a name that was easier to pronounce. I know other characters in the book comment on the difficulty of the name, so that her nickname is “Nessy”, which is still dumb. I think this was the first name I ever looked at had to pause in my reading to contemplate how terrible it was.

2. Bree Tanner – The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, by: Stephenie Meyer. I get she’s young and we’re supposed to feel sympathy for her, but “Bree” is not a sympathetic name. The surname is fine, but I just can’t stand the name Bree for a heroine.

3. Courtney Stone – Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by: Laurie Viera Rigler. This was another name that jumped out at me. I loved the story, thought it was interesting, but when I hear “Courtney” I think snobby teenage girl.

4. Fuschia – The Fuschia Is Now, by: J. Otto Seibold. I disliked this children’s book. One of the things I didn’t like was the main character being named after a silly colour. The colour/name is yelled through the whole book. It has yet to hold my daughter’s interest.

The rest aren’t terrible, but I thought they could have been better.

5. Artemis Entreri – The Legend of Drizzt series, by: R.A. Salvatore. I love Salvatore’s Drizzt books. I think they’re fun and exciting. I also think Salvatore is excellent when it comes to naming characters. Except when he name Artemis Entreri. Have you ever tried to pronounce his last name? It’s hard, but that’s not the part the really bugs me. Artemis is a girl’s name. Artemis is a Greek warrior goddess. A friend pointed out to me that she’s heard Artemis as a boy’s name before and I have too. Any time I hear it as a boy’s name, it irks me.

6. Dale “Barbie” Barbara – Under The Dome, by: Stephen King. Dale is a perfectly fine name. I even don’t mind the nickname, Barbie, when it’s used cleverly. But why does EVERYONE have to call him that? Even the woman he has sex with?

7. Liz Dunn – Eleanor Rigby, by: Douglas Coupland. Eleanor Rigby was a fantastic novel and Liz was a great character. Was Liz Dunn done from the beginning?

8. Samantha Sweeting – The Undomestic Goddess, by: Sophie Kinsella. She’s supposed to be a lawyer. Sweeting is just a very unlawyerly name.

9. Lord Bostock – The Princess and the Whiskheads, by: Russell Smith. As soon as I read that name, I thought “botox”. Sorry.

I could only come up with nine. A friend of mine suggested my last entry.

10. Every Mary Higgins Clark Character – I admit to never having read one of her books. My friend tells me that the women are supposed to be young and sexy, but they have “old lady” names. I’m taking her word on this.

Thanks to The Broke and The Bookish for another great list and the most difficult one for me since I've been participating.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Dead and Gone

Dead and Gone may be one of the best and saddest books in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampires series. Sookie suffers more pain and loss than anyone should have to endure. When someone blames the vampires, (they were the ones who came out first,) Sookie is now at the point where she is inclined to agree. Sookie has loved and befriend vampires. They are frequently the only ones she can relax her telepathic block around, but if they had had remained hidden, would she be in her current position? Maybe but, maybe not. Some of her trouble has to do with who she is related to, some her inclination to help people and some because of the way she was born.

I really enjoyed Dead and Gone. I enjoyed Sookie’s separate moments with Eric, Bill and Sam. It makes you question who she’s going to end up with. The last book had a few revelations in it. This one had more and these much more shattering. Small Spoiler!: Poor Claudine. Really? Really?! Did that have to happen to her? I was so sad. I’m done.

I don’t feel like I can say too much more without giving away not only the plot of this novel, but also parts of the entire series. I don’t read many ongoing series and perhaps this one is the most addicting. I’m looking forward to Dead In The Family which is waiting patiently on my bookshelf. I really want to know who Sookie’s great-grandfather meant. Dead and Gone was a fantastic addition to a series that keeps dragging me back for more.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop

There is always an argument going on somewhere about what makes a book “literature”. Is it a timeless quality? Is it the exposition of universal truth? Or is it simply a book that is non-genre? One of my favourite books is definitely considered literary, The Handmaid’s Tale, by one of my favourite writers, Margaret Atwood. I’ve spoken about how much I adore this book and how the story has stayed with me even though it’s been too many years since I read it.  A Thousand Splendid Suns, all of which I am happy to discuss at length any time.

Our hosts at The Blue Bookcase talked about Revolutionary Road and the fact that it is still socially relevant. I also think The Handmaid’s Tale is socially relevant. You want to know what could happen if fundamentalists (of certain religious persuasions) take over? Read The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s set in the future, so is arguably a form of science fiction, but it is the not-so-distant future, which can run chills down your spine. George Orwell’s 1984 is similar in that regard, is considered to be literature and is another favourite book. Other books that I love, (that don’t take place in the future) are The Lovely Bones, Jane Eyre and

I like to think of my blog as literary, but also eclectic. Regarding my most recent reviews, some may argue the literary standing of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, but most people wouldn’t think of Dead and Gone or The Dark Tower: Treachery, a graphic novel, as literature. So I’ve joined this event, thinking I’m mostly literary, though my love to read takes me everywhere.

What are your favourite literary works?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

What Justin Bieber pyjamas tell us about Justin Bieber -

My friend emailed me this article today. I'm not in any way promoting Bieber. I just think the journalist is hilarious and the article is a worth a read for humour's sake.

What Justin Bieber pyjamas tell us about Justin Bieber -

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the first book C.S. Lewis wrote in his Chronicles of Narnia series. It’s a brilliant, fun story. It’s obviously written for older children, but with a style and creativity to make grown-ups smile too.

How did I not read this as a kid? I vaguely remember reading The Magician’s Nephew, though I don’t know how that came to be. I remember wanting to read the Narnia books, but it never happened. There’s one aspect of the book that makes me glad to have read it as an adult (which I’ll comment on momentarily). The rest of the book is just perfect for kids who are maybe making the transition into “chapter” books. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe would have been a perfect read for me at around the same time I was reading the Sweet Valley books. (Yes. I admit to reading and loving those books.)

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe follows four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy on their adventures in Narnia. These aren’t the perfect four children. I think children can relate to these characters and so can adults. They all have flaws. Edmund is almost one big flaw. He has a bossy older brother, a cutesy baby sister and an older sister that’s trying to mother him. I can understand how he would want to rebel. Like many adults, Edmund deludes himself into thinking what he is doing isn’t wrong. The children feel real, though their adventure is fantastic.

SPOILERS One thing that stunned me a bit as I was reading the story is what Father Christmas says to Susan and Lucy when he gives them his gifts.  Though Lucy says she is brave enough, Father Christmas responds, "But battles are ugly when women fight." Women/girls shouldn’t be in battle. This is a view which corresponds to the time the story was written, but one that is not held (I hope) by most people today. Women are just as capable as men, in and out of battle. I remember hearing about the change in script from book to movie.  They were including Susan in the battle, even though she wasn’t in the book. Most of the time, I’m not one for messing with the story as laid out in a book, but this was one change I understood and could appreciate. Even though Susan and Lucy weren’t in the battle, they did have to watch something wretched and were strong and brave. While I didn’t like that the girls were purposefully excluded from the battle, I still think Lewis wrote a pair of strong sisters. SPOILERS End

So if you haven’t read this book yet, what are you waiting for? The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the first in what promises to be an exciting and interesting series of novels. I hope that my daughter (and any future children) will be as excited to read these books as I am.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: The Sad Books

This week The Broke and The Bookish asked for the Top Ten Books That Make You Cry. I don’t know if I’ve ever cried while reading a book, though I’ve read many sad tales. So here are my Top Ten Saddest Books, in no particular order.

1. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by: Audrey Niffenegger – I don’t know if I found this sad because I started it when I was almost nine months pregnant and finished it shortly after giving birth, but the story seemed like a sad destiny.

2. The Cleric Quintet 5: The Chaos Curse, by: R.A. Salvatore – I know most people don’t find fantasy books sad, but I was sad when I got to the end of this one. Cadderly has to give so much up for his faith and to make the world a better place. I really empathized with his wife, Danica.

3. The Dark Tower 7: The Dark Tower, by: Stephen King – Roland appears to be trapped in an endless cycle of loss. There is so much in this novel, each one hits me.

4. The Giving Tree, by: Shel Silverstein – The poor tree!

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by: J.K. Rowling – Poor everybody! This is another series ender that is filled with loss. It all starts with Hedwig and it goes down from there. (I don’t feel that bad mentioning Hedwig. It happens in the first bit of the novel.)

6. A Complicated Kindness, by: Miriam Toews – Nomi’s life is so sad. What she goes through would be difficult for anyone to deal with.

7. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by: Khaled Hosseini – Poor Mariam. Mariam and Layla were an amazing pair. This story is touching in a deep and profound way.

8. The Reptile Room, by: Lemony Snicket – Another children’s story! What is it with sad tales for kids? I found this second installment in An Unfortunate Series of Events the saddest of all the books because I could feel the children’s futility in their struggle. It didn’t seem like Mr. Poe or any other adult learned from the events of the first book. I could feel the doom the whole time.

9. The Lovely Bones, by: Alice Sebold – I don’t know how anyone could read this story and not feel the sadness and loss of the whole family, not just who’s left on Earth, but Susie’s too, as she has to watch her family deal with her death.

10. 1984, by: George Orwell – Though one of my scariest books, it’s also one of the saddest. I wanted Winston to win. I wanted revolution. I wanted the Party to be destroyed!

Runners up for the list were The Handmaid’s Tale and The Good Earth. I decided I can’t keep putting The Handmaid’s Tale on my lists, even though it’s one of my favourite books. I’ve reviewed all of my top ten over the years except for The Lovely Bones. I read that ages ago, long before I started blogging.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Top Ten. What books do you find sad?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Be Fruitful and Multiply, by: Madeleine Ferron

I found Be Fruitful and Multiply in the collection that keeps on giving, From Ink Lake.   Medeleine Ferron was a French-Canadian writer. One site states that she was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. Another says she was born in Louisville, Quebec, about 34 km from Trois-Riviéres. The second site is from BookRags and the biography there is substantial. She lived a long life and had several published works. They were all written in her native French. The short story I read was an English translation of the original French work. I’ve discussed translated works a few times before. If I knew it was a translation and where to get the original work and it was maybe seven years ago, I might have tried to read it in French too. As it was, Be Fruitful and Multiply was an quick little synopsis of the life of the unnamed main character.

I have nothing against unnamed main characters. I’ve ready many stories where the main character is never named. My issue was that this story felt like an overview of someone’s life. The first thing that hits you is that the “woman” being married is 13. Her husband is 18. The ages are shocking, but I thought, at least the husband wasn’t 43. Her life then becomes all about family. She is described as a cog in the machine. Without her husband, she doesn’t know how to identify herself.

After her husband is gone, she visits her children, but there are 22 of them scattered across several provinces and a few in the States. She has a hard time keeping track of them and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In the end, it seems as though the author is trying to create sympathy for the main character, but all I could really think was that the entire situation seemed a bit crazy. Not just the age of the woman when she was married or that she just seemed to manufacture children, but that these children are passing her from one to the next and she has a difficult time keeping it all straight. I supposed this is where the sympathy from the reader is supposed to come it, but I just didn’t feel it. I don’t know if it’s Ferron’s style or the style of the translation. It was short, easy to read and boring.

Thanks to John Mutford at The Book Mine Set for hosting Short Story Monday.

Timothy Findley Giveaway

The Pink Sheep Cafe is giving away 5 Timothy Findley books!  Check it out below.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Hop Asks: What Do You Want?

Book Blogger Hop

This week’s question: "What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?"

My answer: I feel the same as Jennifer does. I want a library. I want floor to ceiling bookshelves. I want cushy sofas and chairs, a chaise by a big window. I’d also need a house big enough to house such a library. My little townhouse isn’t going to do that. Maybe someday…

What bookish thing do you want?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top Ten Scariest Books

What do I do about this week’s top ten?  The Broke and The Bookish want to know what the scariest books are.  I decided to look for books that induce a feeling of tension/the creeps or have horrifying events, not necessarily "fear-producing".  Here is my top ten, in no particular order.

1. 1984, by: George Orwell – This one actually scared me. The situation, what’s happening to Winston, the lies, the watching, all of it.

2. Misery, by: Stephen King – I mentioned this one in a previous Top Ten list. It’s so creepy that I haven’t even read it yet.

3. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by: Robert Louis Stevenson – Classically creepy and very interesting.

4. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by: Mary Shelley – Also another classic. Mary Shelley really knew how to create a compelling Monster. I think any horror fan needs to read this.

5. The Raven, by: Edgar Allen Poe – I know it’s a poem, not novel, but it’s still one of the creepiest things I’ve ever read.

6. The Turn of The Screw, by: Henry James – Are ghosts driving her crazy or is she just crazy? I’m inclined to think the first.

7. Under The Dome, by: Stephen King – I wasn’t scared by the dome itself, what disturbed me was what the people trapped inside were doing to each other.

8. The Handmaids Tale, by: Margaret Atwood – I know it’s not a horror book, but I was afraid for Offred pretty much all the time.

9. A Series of Unfortunate Events, by: Lemony Snicket – I tried to decide which one was the scariest. Maybe it was number 2, or 1 or 6. Even though they are children’s stories, they are all full of tension.

10. Nightmares and Dreamscapes, by: Stephen King – a collection of scary short stories. “Popsy” has stayed with me for years.

I could have put more Stephen King books on the list, but I thought three was more than enough. I also considered Anne Rice, with The Witching Hour and Interview With A Vampire, but I don’t know if I was actually scared/tense when I read those books.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wicked: The Musical

Warning: I’m going to gush.

I thought Wicked: The Musical was fantastic. Elphaba’s costumes were perfect. Glinda’s dress sparkled across the theatre. The songs were great. I really enjoyed the references to the original Wizard of Oz. I’m sure this won’t give anything away, but one of my favourite lines is something like, “Who takes a dead girl’s shoes? What were you, raised in a barn?” It was brilliant.

Much of what I like about the musical, I liked about Gregory Maguire's book, (though there are differences, so I’ll just be talking about the musical). Glinda says, “Are some people wicked or was wickedness thrust upon them?” In the show, I think it’s clear that wickedness was thrust upon Elphaba. She couldn’t betray her principles. She wanted to defend the Animals. She wanted to do what was best for her sister. Elphaba is only made out to be a Wicked Witch. Glinda knows this. Even though her social climbing and then her jealously blinds her to this for a while, she does what she can for “Elphie” and shows that she really is her friend.

I also really liked the ending. It’s not what I expected.

If you’re in Toronto, go see it before it’s gone. If you’re somewhere else, see it when it gets there.

The Dark Tower: Treachery

I love The Dark Tower. I read the first novel, The Gunslinger when I was probably around 13. Now I’m… older and my affection for the series hasn’t changed. Treachery is the third graphic novel in the series. It continues to follow the young Roland and his “ka-tet”. This is part of Roland’s evolution into his becoming the Gunslinger of Stephen King’s novels.

Without giving too much away, I ask: Does Roland’s mother, Gabrielle Deschain, deserve her fate? If she hadn’t stolen what she did, would the gun have been drawn at that moment? Did she do it to herself? We first hear of what happened to Roland’s mother during the novels when he tells his new ka-tet of his past. It is decades later and he still feels guilty. Now, with the graphic novel, getting to see what led up to it, I think Gabrielle laid the path herself. She took the only thing that would cause Roland to do what he did.

I also ask: Why is John Farson called “The Good Man”? He isn’t good. He’s cruel and vicious. He’s a terrible man. I understand the want to revolt against Gilead. Women and men aren’t equals. There’s a definitive class system. There really isn’t room to follow your dreams and desires. So I can see the appeal in wanting to change things and even joining with a rebellious force. Farson murders and I’m not just thinking the army versus army killing. He deliberately kills civilians. Who would follow such a leader?

Treachery is the bloodiest of the Dark Tower graphic novels. Just be warned. It was still another great installment in the series that could have ended with the seventh novel. These graphic novels really fill in the blanks for Roland and the world he lives in. They introduce new characters without stepping on old ones and they make characters who were only lightly touched on more real. They are beautifully drawn; the art is dark, intense and bloody. Treachery isn’t a stand-alone graphic novel, but it makes me eager for the next in the series.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lisbeth Salander's IKEA Shopping List | Apartment Therapy New York

I learned that in the second book, Lisbeth goes shopping. This is apparently what she buys.

Lisbeth Salander's IKEA Shopping List Apartment Therapy New York

Word of the Week!

This week’s only word comes from a dark graphic novel.

From Stephen King’s (et al.) The Dark Tower: Treachery

Perfidy: An act of deceit; violating faith, trust, promises, vows etc. It is very fitting when a young Roland Deschain uses this word to describe his mother. Perfidy can be equated to treason or treachery.

It’s interesting that they’ve used a synonym for treachery in the novel, a word very fitting with the atmosphere of the story.  Would I ever use this word?  First I’d have to learn how to pronounce it without it sounded a little silly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo follows the investigation of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist into the mysterious past of the Vanger family. What they discovered was very surprising and not at all what I expected. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is Stieg Larsson’s first book in the Millennium trilogy. I’m not usually a “mystery” reader, but this was an amazing. It’s more than a mystery novel. Lisbeth and Blomkvist shine a light on serious social issues.

I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible. I won’t talk about specific events (unless someone who has read the book asks in the comments). However, certain implications might be made.

Lisbeth is the character everyone is talking about. Multiple actresses vied for the role when it was announced that a Hollywood version of the movie would be made. I think I can understand why. Lisbeth Salander is unique. If an actress is looking for a strong female lead, possibly the defining role of their young career, this could be the one. Lisbeth is anti-social, anti-police, anti-normal, but she can act normal if she wants. Lisbeth has an intelligence no one can quite grasp and some who doubt that it’s even there. Bad things happen to Lisbeth, they make you wonder how she could ever get over them, but she does. She is stronger and smarter than anyone realizes.

Except, Mikael Blomkvist. Blomkvist is an investigative journalist. He is a journalist who has integrity and accepts the punishment for his actions. He is smart, intuitive and trustworthy. He also sleeps with multiple women by the end of the novel. Blomkvist survives and acts as his morals tell him. He’s strong and can also be kind and understanding. He is really a great counter for Lisbeth Salander.

I know that this is a mystery and the mystery of the disappearance of Harriet Vanger was great. For me, it wasn’t the plot that moved the story along; it was how Lisbeth and Blomkvist moved through the plot. It was their reactions to the different events and discoveries that took the reader to the next step on the road to Harriet Vanger. Regarding the mystery, my first instincts were right. The book tried to convince me otherwise, so I doubted myself along the way, but in the end, I was right. I know I said that I was surprised, but that surprise didn’t have to do with Harriet; it had to do with other characters.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a mesmerizing story. I only had to minor problems with it. First, Lisbeth and Blomkvist are the main characters, right? It takes ages before they actually meet. I kept waiting and wondering when it was going to happen. Second, after the Harriet mystery is taken care of, the secondary plot of the Wennerström affair has to be resolved. Fine, I understand that. Why did it take so long? I kept waiting, for ages, after what I thought should be the essential end of the novel for the novel actually to end. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting or exciting, I just felt that once Harriet Vanger’s disappearance was solved (the primary mystery), there shouldn’t be so much more novel left.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an excellent novel. It has complex and interesting characters and an intriguing plot. I’m glad my friends and family peer pressured me into reading it. I was happy to oblige. Now The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest have just been added onto my to-be-read list.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Ten Fictional Crushes

Thanks to The Broke and The Bookish for hosting such a fun meme.

Except for number one and two, they are in no particular order.

1. Roland Deschain from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I’ve loved him since The Gunslinger and will hopefully continue to love him, even though they’re doing some crazy movie/television thing with the books.

2. Drizzt Do’Urden from R.A. Salvatore’s Legend of Drizzt.

3. Lestat from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. It started with Interview with a Vampire and grew with The Vampire Lestat.

4. Mikael Blomkvist from Stieg Larrson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. He’s my new crush.

5. Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudices.

6. Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen (but really Seth Graeme-Smith’s) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Everything I liked about Lizzy in the original, plus she can kill zombies and kick ninja @$$.

7. Eric Northman from Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Series. I think I always liked him, but Dead to the World really made me fall for Eric.

8. Wolverine/Logan from the X-Men.

9. Danica from R.A. Salvatore’s series The Cleric Quintet.

10. Aragorn from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

I thought this was going to be difficult and it was a bit. I’m not a swooner (except for Roland, I’ll always swoon for you), so I had to think about some of these guys (and girls) for a while. Each person on the list has qualities that make me happy.

When I told my husband what this week’s top ten was, he wanted to share a few crushes with me too. He didn’t reach ten, but here are my husbands top six.

1. Storm/Ororo Munro from the X-Men.

2. Hermione from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

3. Catti-Brie from R.A. Salvatore’s series, The Legend of Drizzt.

4. Danica from R.A. Salvatore’s series, The Cleric Quintet.

5. Arwen from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

6. Buttercup from William Goldman’s The Princess Bridge.

My husband reads a lot of fantasy. These are six great females and I like them a lot too. One even appears on my list!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Poker Game, by: Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane was an American writer from the late 19th century. He is well known for his story, The Red Badge of Courage. Being the kind of girl I am, I didn’t just buy the novel, I bought, The Red Badge of Courage and Other Stories. A Poker Game (click the link to read the text online) is the last in the collection of stories.

Maybe it’s because I’m unfamiliar with his style or maybe it’s because I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. I don’t know, but I had to re-read the story just to make sure I understood the ending. Once I read it the second time and thought about what the actor, Archie Bracketts said to the main character, Bobbie Cinch, did I fully understand the end of the story. Basically, being nice can pay off in the end.

The ending seemed simplistic. Bobbie and Archie did learn something from Bobbie’s behaviour playing the last hand, but it seemed like there was a lot of build-up without enough pay off. Crane was known to write in a realist style. Maybe that’s all this is. Instead of inventing an unrealistic scenario, Crane is relaying what actually would happen.

I read The Red Badge of Courage a long time ago in school. I can’t exactly remember it, I know a soldier gets what is called a red badge of courage, but he didn’t really earn it. I remember really enjoying the story and I was glad I purchased a collection that had more of Crane’s work. A Poker Game was easy to read and I liked it, but I don’t think it lived up to my expectations.

Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Word of The Week!

Last week I found myself without a lot of free time. The week before, I actually had no new words. I seem to be making up for it this week.

From Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo:

[Greek] Amphora, (pbk, pg 58) – An amphora is a type of vase with two handles and a long, narrow neck.

Avuncular, (pbk, pg 67) – Pertaining to an uncle. A kind uncle.

From Carol Shield’s short story, Stop! (in the collection Dressing Up For The Carnival:

Anathema, (hc, pg 62) – Originally it meant something lifted up as a gift to the gods. It has come to mean something/someone that has been formally set apart or exiled. It makes sense in the case of the Queen.

Triannulus, (hc, pg 62) – I can’t find it…. In the story, they speak of the third Triannulus of her reign. I think it means the third era or stage of her reign.

From Ahab’s The Republic of Gilead:

Undergird (posted 10-10-10) – To strengthen from beneath. It can be used in engineering terms and in moral terms.

There are a lot of interesting words this week. I liked the stories and posts the words came from. Will I use any of them in the future? I don’t know.