Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Boo! Top Ten Books To Get In The Halloween Spirit

What books get you in the Halloween spirit?  The Broke and The Bookish want to know (and so do I!)  I think the three horror classics are a must for lovers of the genre (Dracula, Frankenstein and Jekyl and Hyde), but there are others that have a pretty big and/or fun creep factor (Stephen King, anyone?).  Here are my top ten books to get into the Halloween spirit, in no particular order.

1. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
2. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
3. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
4. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
5. Nightmares and Dreamscapes, by Stephen King
6. The Island of Dr. Moreau, by H.G. Wells
7. Night of the Living Trekkies, by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stahl (This one is a bit of a cheat.  I haven't read it yet, but I plan on it to get in the Halloween Spirit.)
8. The Vampire Lestat, by Anne Rice
9. The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
10.Almost any horror novel with Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves or Witches... or maniacal Clowns.

I limited myself to one Stephen King book, not one of his most famous, but still a creepshow.  Also, I think being a Grahame-Smith regency zombie would be a great costume!  I know that Lestat is Rice's second vampire book, but I like it better.  What gets you in the mood for Halloween?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What Have You Been Saying To My Daughter?!?!

He's climbing, she loves climbing!
I'm a little mad today.  Someone, perhaps another student, told my daughter that she shouldn't wear her Diego underwear because it's for boys.  Ok, when we take our daughter shopping, for a lot of her clothes, we let her pick out stuff she likes.  When we were picking underwear, it was part of the potty-training thing and we wanted to make sure that she had stuff she liked.  They don't make Diego underwear "for girls".  Whatever, right?  We buy the underwear she wants and all is well.

So, this morning, my hubby is helping our daughter get dressed as I change our son.  He tries to hand her the Diego underwear she normally loves and she says, no, that's for boys.  What???  Who told her it was for boys?  She loves these underwear.  I have to wash them ALL THE TIME to keep her happy.  I know it's just underwear, but it made my hubby and I both sad that someone made her feel bad about something so simple, but makes her so happy.  Bah!

Look!  They're practically the same.
We talked to her this morning and tried to convince her that she can wear whatever she wants.  Mommy and Daddy bought all these things for her, Dora and Diego, so it doesn't matter if someone says that they're for boys.  (She has a Batman shirt that she loves, is someone going to tell her that it's for boys too?)  After talking to her some more, I think it was another student (a three-years-old girl) who told her it was for boys.  I can't really be mad at a little girl for saying something her parents probably told her.  Should I be mad at the parents?  I don't know.  Our genderized society?  I don't know.  I'm upset, but I can't focus my anger on anything.  I just don't like my little girl to be sad or made to feel bad about herself.  I thought it would be at least a few more years before I had to deal with her feelings about her self-image.  Am I reading too much into this?

She loves to watch Dora too, but Diego usually wins.
I guess that I'm also upset because it has marred what was supposed to be a pretty good day. - It's my birthday and my hubby bought me a Kinect with Just Dance!  It's actually something I plan on playing with my daughter because she LOVES to dance.  I just want my children to be happy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How To Be A Woman

How To Be A Woman is awesome! It is hilarious. Caitlin Moran's memoir had so much hype that I was a little concerned and I wasn't sure if I should buy it.  Then, luckily I won it (thanks Lucybird!) and I knew I had to read it right away.

I'm a feminist. (My teenage self is so embarrassed.)  Modern Feminism needs to be championed by all women, not just academics.  It’s not just about the big stuff, but the little stuff too.  If you're a woman and you want the freedom to do what the men are doing, then you're a feminist.  If you want freedom, period, you're a feminist.  Feminism is about equality, not women being better than men.  Moran’s definition on page 79 is simple and straight to the point.  

I remember in high school various students saying how they hated a particular teacher, because she was strict and a feminist.  I think that was the first time I was made to feel that feminism was in some way undesirable.  It's not.  Feminists still have fun, they party, have sex, get married, have babies and all the other stuff that women do.  That teacher ended up being one of my favourite teachers ever.  I could go on and on about the great gaps in gender equality (from genderized toys and books to the fact that Canadian women make 73% of what men do* - 76% is the average for the developed world) but I'm going to stop here, because this isn't a rant about feminism.  This is about how much I loved Caitlin Moran's memoir.

Moran goes through most of her life, from 13 to 35, the time in which she becomes a woman.  She doesn't talk about every single thing that has ever happened to her.  What she does tell us about are those moments that helped her to become the woman she is.  She decided at a young age, 13, she would be a feminist, so even during her drinking, party, snogging years, she was still a feminist.  The first time she has to deal with sexism is so odd and funny and unbelievable (since she was also a teenager).  There was so much I could relate too, like having children.  The first chapter on her period is kind of scary.  I laughed out loud when I was reading about Moran and her husband changing diapers.  I also love the story about Lady Gaga.

Moran talks about some very personal issues and events in her life, but each issue is relevant to women.  Because she does it with humour and flair, I believe that How To Be A Woman is accessible to every woman.  It is probably the only book I will ever say that every woman should read.  Do I think men should read it?  Yes and no, but mostly yes.  It depends on how squeemish they are.  I think they might learn something about what it is women have to deal with.  The chapters about sexism and boyfriends would be helpful.  If you have daughters, the chapters on periods and other adolescent issues might be give you some insight.  Also, men, if you want your daughters, sisters, wives, to be treated the same as men, thought of as equally capable, paid the same, not subject to sexism, then you're feminists too.

*Seriously?!  73%?!  I'm going to tell you, I work just as hard as any man and I better not be getting 27% less than what I'm worth.  I'm the first one here every day.  If I ever find out that this is the case, I will bring down a giant s#*& storm.

More thoughts on How To Be A Woman:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Word of the Week!

I have words!  I'm so happy to share a few words this week.  Thanks you Ms. Moran!

From How To Be A Woman, by Caitlin Moran:

Ebullience (pg 5):  The quality of lively or enthusiastic expression of thoughts and feelings.
(I thought the tree was ebullient)

Deleterious (pg 13): Harmful often in a subtle or unexpected way (as for example deleterious effects, deleterious to health).

Pilloried (pg 13): Simple past tense and past participle of pillory.  
Pillory (verb):    1. To put in a pillory.

2. To subject to humiliation, scorn, ridicule or abuse.
3. To criticize harshly.
(noun): A framework on a post, with holes for the hands and head, used as a means of punishment and humiliation.

Did you learn anything new this week?

*All definitions come from the Wiktionary.
*Both pictures from Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: 6 Steps To Writing and Publishing Your Best Seller

Philip Athans' The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction:  6 Steps To Writing and Publishing Your Best Seller is hilarious. It's filled with great advice that I think can be applied to writing any story, not just science fiction and fantasy.  A lot of what Athans said, I knew, but it was nice to be reminded.

This is the first "How-To" book on writing I've ever read.  It was a gift and I was happy to receive it.  The steps are six, but they are not simple.  They are broken down and then broken down again.  The steps are summed up at the end of each section, but if that's all you read or remembered, you wouldn't be getting the full benefit of this book.

I think this book awakened in me some sort of fascination with “how-to” books.  (Though, I wonder if it’s just a way to procrastinate with my own writing.  Do I actually need to read them?)  Before I was finished with Athans, I entered to win The Fiction Writer's Handbook on Goodreads and I actually won it.  It’s less of a “how-to” book and more of a reference, but I plan on going through it soon.  I’ve also seen another contest on Goodreads for yet another book, and I downloaded a [temporarily] free ebook (You Are A Writer) on my Kindle app.  I also have a strong urge to read Stephen King’s On Writing.  Except for the King book, which I also want to read because he’s one of my favourite authors, I wonder if I need to read these instruction manuals on writing.  I don’t know…

In the end though, I really enjoyed Athans’ The Guide To Writing Science-Fiction and Fantasy.  It holds a lot of great advice, layered with humour.  He uses real-life examples of some prolific authors.  I also really enjoyed the short story by R.A. Salvatore at the end.  I like how Salvatore and Athans dissect the story so the readers/writers can learn why it was rejected (even though at this point Salvatore was already writing about Drizzt).  I think the lesson is that any writer can still have their story rejected, even if they are already established and/or famous.   One of the most important things I felt from this book was encouragement.  Athans says that if you’re a writer, then write.  If you can be persuaded to not write, then you aren’t/weren’t a writer.  Keep writing.  Don’t do it for the money, because, like him, many published authors still have day jobs.  Do it because you love writing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Don't Forget About Me! Ten "Older" Books I Think It's Important To Remember

I like the Broke and The Bookish's topic for this week's Top Ten.  What "older" books do you love, that you want to make sure no one forgets.  There are tons of books I could put on the list, but these were the first ten I thought of (yup, my mind went from Rice and Harris to Montgomery and Lewis without pause).  In no particular order, my top ten don't forget about me books:
  1. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood - My very first dystopian and very scary.
  2. 1984, by George Orwell - Another classic, very scary dystopian.
  3. Interview With A Vampire, by Anne Rice - Great vampire fiction.
  4. Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris - The book that inspired True Blood.
  5. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery - A classic book, the thought of which always makes me smile.
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis - I'm on the last book and it's a series I don't want to end.
  7. Carrie, by Stephen King - This one is a bit of a cheat   I haven't actually read it yet.  But it's King's first book and the one that started his career.
  8. Kindred, by Octavia Butler - Just brilliant.
  9. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee - An amazing story.
  10. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini - It still makes me emotional.
I was tempted to add Harry Potter to this list, but I figured it would be on tons of other lists this week.

What older books do you love?