Friday, January 23, 2015

The Demonologist

I think I loved The Demonologist.  The story was riveting.  I was up late many nights because I just had to know what happened next.  I loved the characters, I empathized with them, I shouted at the book, I gasped out loud.  I loved the trip the character took, from New York to Venice, Florida to Northern Ontario.  It was the road trip from hell, but it was amazing.

Why don't I know if I loved The Demonologist?  I am not sure how I feel about the ending.  Quite a few unexpected things occurred. The emotional climax hit, but there was no after-moment, if you know what I mean.  I didn't need an epilogue or anything, I just wish there was a little bit more. There were so many unanswered questions.  I had to double-check to see if this was the first book in a series, because it seems to be calling for a sequel.  I do appreciate the ending though, there's a certain artistry to it.

Last weekend, I met author Andrew Pyper and wrote a bit about my experience.  I wish I had finished the book before the meeting, because there is so much I want to know.  Not that I think I would have broken out of my bumbling shell and asked him any of my burning questions.  The film rights have been sold, will it end the same way?  Why isn't there more?  I thought there'd be more running, more hugging, more tears.  I did love O'Brien though.  She was amazing throughout the novel.

I appreciated that though this was a horror/fantasy type novel, with evil demons straight out of Paradise Lost, that essentially, The Demonologist is about a father looking for his daughter.  He loves her, she is so much like him, they want each other to be happy. Their relationship anchored the emotional context of the book; my heart was always pulled back to David Ullman's loss.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Tale of Two Printers

The first printer was a Canon and it printed beautiful pictures.  That's what I was in the middle of doing.  We had some pictures done recently and I wanted to put them up.  I selected two beautiful pictures, one of each of my children.  My daughter's picture printed, but before my son's could come out, I got an unfixable printer error.  I went online and did everything, every trick I could find.  What I learned was that somehow, between picture one and picture two, the printhead died.  We'd had it a few years, it had done its job.  It was inconvenient, however, because I needed to fill out some forms and email them to someone.  When the printhead went, it killed the scanner part of the printer too. Stress!

Luckily, we had a second printer.  My mother-in-law, a while ago, bought a fancy new printer and gave us her old one, which was still pretty fancy.  I knew one day the Canon would go, so I kept the HP they were giving us.  We used it a few times, but not a lot.  The Canon printed great pictures and was less bulky.  Now that the Canon was dead, it was time to put the HP into full service.  So I thought... The HP was out of ink!  Easy enough fix, though expensive.  In the meantime, the scanner was fully available, so my Hubby printed the forms at work, I filled them out, scanned them and sent there where they need to go.  Yay!  Stress gone!  Until.... I put the ink in the printer.  Print error! Nothing will print! Seriously? How could both printers be dead? Once ink is open, stores aren't supposed to take them back. I tried all the tricks that the internet found for me (again), but nothing worked.  I contacted HP support and they referred me to the same tricks.  When I told them that didn't work, they gave me a number to call.  Then I was hung up on.

So, I called Staples, the company I ordered the ink from.  Why hadn't I called them first? Well, the ink was opened and packaging gone.  After a discussion with a customer service agent, and his discussion with his supervisor, they gave me a credit for the value of the ink.  Now, I will to buy a new printer with my Staples credit.  Probably not an HP, though I have an HP laptop.... Staples was fantastic.  I explained my problem and they helped me out.  Yes, I have to by a printer from them and it's not like the money for the ink is going to detrimentally affect their bottom line, but they could have just said, no. 

It's been a frustrating time.  I thought I had two printers, when it turned out I had zero. I thought I wasted money on printer ink, which we know costs about as much as a new printer.  I was so stressed when I needed to print important things.  I feel like it's all such a waste.  All those electronics and the ink.  I hope the environment doesn't hate me. Buying a new printer is nice though.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Kind of a Diary Entry....

I went to see Andrew Pyper speak at the WCYR monthly meeting.  He was fantastic.  I loved when he talked about dumping out his notes on a dining room table, then connecting them, eventually turning them into a novel.  So much of the process he described for himself is actually what I like to do or see myself doing, the more I write.  I wish I had said something about that to him when I talked to him.  He brought a box of his book, The Demonologist, to sign for attendees.  He was so polite and I felt so awkward.  Most people I know don't think of me as a shy person.  I can get really chatty, but when I'm faced with a room full of people I don't know, I get very quiet.  I get awkward. I don't know what to say.  

I was also in a bit of a rush.  I was squeezing this meeting in because I really wanted to see what a WCYR meeting was like and I wanted to hear Andrew Pyper speak.  Other things were calling to me, waiting for me to be done.  My Hubby helped, taking care of things until I got home, but I felt the pull anyway.

To sum up, I felt dumb and awkward when I met a bestselling author, instead of telling him how awesome his talk was.  Good job me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Garlic Spread

What happens when I make spaghetti one night and realize I have no garlic bread?! After a brief moment of 'the kids are going to lose it' (they love garlic bread), I think, I'm sure I can make my own. Then, I did.  It was super easy, easier than I imagined.  I just made a simple garlic spread, no cheese or anything fancy.  I might try fancy in the future, but that wasn't what I needed in the moment.

What I used: Margarine, Garlic, Parsley

That's all I put in it.  I used margarine, because that's what I had on hand.  I took out enough margarine to spread on both sides of four pieces of bread.  For four slices one garlic clove is enough (the second time I did this, I used two and it was too strong).  Parsley is just for taste, and to add a bit of colour.  

I mixed it all together in the bowl, spread it on the bread, then toasted it.  Done.  Tasty bread and a happy family.  What more could I have asked for?  I haven't tried using butter yet. I wonder what that would taste like.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman is a brilliant play.  Willy, Linda, and their sons connect with the audience.  I could see their lives in the lives of people I've known.  The play is American in sensibility, as well as origination, but appeals to everyone.  Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman has been performed around the world, from England to Italy to China.  The hopes and dreams of the Lomans are the hopes and dreams so many people have.

I have had the 50th anniversary edition of Death of a Salesman sitting around in my house (and all the apartments before) for over a decade.  I read The Crucible twice, once in high school, once in University. I also vaguely remember seeing the movie. I missed out on Death of a Salesman. Sometime after my second reading of The Crucible, I saw the 50th anniversary edition of Death of a Salesman on a clearance table. I had to get it.  Afterwards, because University didn't allow for much recreational reading, it sat on my shelf.  I don't know why I let it get away from me. It was brilliant. Death of a Salesman is one of the best plays/stories I've ever read.

I'd love to see it performed.  As far as I know, it won't be playing in Toronto or Stratford in the near future.  I know there are 1966 and 1985 films, maybe I'll be getting my hands on one.  I could picture it all in my head though.  I know it's called "Death" of a Salesman, but I was still holding out hope.  I know it was silly, but I wanted Willy and his family to break free.  Maybe he did in the end.

I felt so sorry for everyone, the boys, who grew up with parents who built them up so much, they didn't know how to fail.  I couldn't comprehend the lies, I know they were "selling" themselves, but it seemed so false, lying not just to others, but to themselves.  I think of all the characters in the play, Bernard probably saw the truth more than anyone else.  I wonder if that's why he wasn't also a salesman.

I'm not sure how I feel about Linda.  I think she has strength, trying to hold her family together and supporting her disintegrating husband.  But she also seems a victim.  Was this the lives of many housewives of that era?  Do they hold on desperately?  Is it the lives of some wives now?  Linda also tells her sons what is acceptable, she scolds them for their bad behaviour.  She tries to protect her husband's state of mind.  I think, whether I end up liking her or not, she is a great character.

Arthur Miller's play is amazing.  I recommend it (and The Crucible) to everyone.  I think it is thoroughly a modern classic.  I am glad I finally read it. 

Friday, January 09, 2015

Old Blog Posts

Do you ever update old blog posts?  I just did. I recently wrote a couple posts and referred back to books I read many years ago, 1984 and The Queen of the Damned. I cleaned up the posts to match the ones I write now.  I started The Eye of Loni's Storm a long, long time ago.  8 1/2 years ago!  Back then, I was unfamiliar with blogging and didn't have a personal blogging style.  The posts were much shorter.  I would spew out my thoughts after finishing a book or watching a movie, throw up a picture, then hit "publish".  That was it. As I looked back, I saw the posts and found them too messy.  Am I going to go back and rework all the posts from back then? No. I think just the ones I direct readers too. There are too many.  I don't rewrite them either. If I wrote five sentences, then that's what it will continue have. It is only the formatting I change.  I wonder, though, if I should leave these old posts alone. Are they better as they were? More original? I'm not changing the content at all, just a bit of the presentation.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Tale of the Body Thief

The ending!  The ending makes the book for me.  It was unexpected. Just when you think the story aught to be done, bam!  Lestat hits you with something more. I feel kind of bad admitting this, but seeing the press for Anne Rice's new vampire book (it's been over a decade since her last), Prince Lestat, reminded me that I never got past Queen of the Damned, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Before I started The Vampire Chronicles, I had read Lives of the Mayfair Witches, as well as one of Rice's stand-alone novels.  That's a lot of books by one author for me.  I don't know why it took me so long to read The Tale of the Body Thief.  It is not as though I didn't want too.  Maybe because the book is a long one.  Not "Stephen King long", but still a bit of a chunker.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with Lestat.  The Tale of the Body Thief takes place many years after The Queen of the Damned. The vampires have separated, gone on with their lives. Lestat has returned to New Orleans.  Louis lives there too, but they do not live together.  While flying about the world, Lestat is presented with an irresistible offer.  Lestat goes on an adventure he wanted, that other vampires can only dream of, but then doesn't want.  There are ups and downs and madness.  I think in The Tale of the Body Thief we are seeing Lestat learn and grow in a way we haven't before.

I do wish that this novel was 50 pages shorter.  I had a bit of a difficult time getting through the beginning of the book.  Lestat had a lot of exposition; he explains why things aren't as they were left in Queen of the Damned.  He talks about his life, Louis, Claudia, Marius, Miami, everything.  What the beginning does well, is set up the novel as another one of Lestat's chronicles.  He speaks/writes directly to his readers.  He refers back to his previous books and to Louis's memoir.  I've read a lot of action-packed books lately, and there wasn't much action in the beginning, so maybe I'm just not used to that level of description anymore.  Once I got past the first part of the book, the pace really picked up and I just had to know what Lestat will do next.

I also loved David.  David Talbot through the whole story was amazing.  Am I totally happy with the end? No. Not in the sense that I didn't like it, because I very much did.  I am left wondering, however, if we are given David's real, human feelings in those last pages.

The Tale of the Body Thief has left me eager to read more dark, vampire tales.  Mature, evil bad guys, anti-heroes, and ethics that get thrown out.  Is that what Memnoch the Devil will bring?  We will see.

Monday, January 05, 2015

50 Classic Club Questions

More surveys! I like them. I can't help it.  50 Classic Club Questions took me over a month to do though.  Not a lot of one word answers. December was just so busy!  I'm hoping for a quiet January. Here goes, 50 answers to 50 Classic Club questions:

1. Share a link to your club list.

2. When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? (We are SO CHECKING UP ON YOU! Nah. We’re just asking.) :)
I joined the Classics Club in January 2013 and have read 15 titles so far.  I need to do better.

3. What are you currently reading?
Friend of my Youth, by Alice Munro is what I was reading when I started answering the questions, now I’m reading The Tale of the Body Thief, by Anne Rice.  I'm also making slow and careful progress through Emily Dickinson's complete poems.

4. What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it?
I had just finished reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater when I started, I've read a few books since then, most recently Specials by Scott Westerfeld.  Both books are not classics, but they were both fantastic.

5. What are you reading next? Why?
I almost never know what I'm reading next.  I've been considering Cloud Atlas, Little Dorrit and Death of a Salesman.  We'll see.

6. Best book you've read so far with the club, and why?
It's kind of a four-way-tie between Alias Grace, Slaughterhouse-Five, Lives of Girls and Women, and Their Eyes Were Watching God.  All had strong lead characters, all were brilliant stories.

7. Book you most anticipate (or, anticipated) on your club list?
I was really anticipating both Alias Grace and Slaughterhouse-Five.  They both have such an aura of prestige (or something) about them.  I'm excited to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and the Austen novels I haven't read yet.

8. Book on your club list you've been avoiding, if any? Why?
Anna Karenina.  It just looks so scary.

9. First classic you ever read?
For the Club? or ever in my life?  For the Club it was actually The Velveteen Rabbit.  In my life, it might be The Magician's Nephew in elementary school.  I can't think of anything before that, though I did love to read as a kid.

10. Toughest classic you ever read?
Umm.... this is difficult for me.  The only "tough" classic for me that I can think of was tough because I didn't like it.  Classics (excluding modern classics), I think have an inherent degree of difficulty just because of the language.  They become tough for me when I am not connecting to the story at all.

11. Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?
I think 1984 did all those things.

12. Longest classic you've read? Longest classic left on your club list?
I'm pretty sure the longest classic I've read was David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.  That was way back pre-blogging. The longest classic left on my list is also Dickens, Little Dorrit.

13. Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?
The oldest classic I have read is probably The Orestia.  Left to read is Medea, by Euripedes. Anything Greek is probably very old.

14. Favorite biography about a classic author you've read — or, the biography on a classic author you most want to read, if any?
I don't read a lot of biographies in general, but I did read - a very long time ago - Jean-Jacques Rouseau's Confessions.

15. Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, as a modern classic and something by Shakespeare. Why?...  Because everyone should read something by Shakespeare.  There's a reason he has endured for so long.  Also, The Handmaid's Tale is just one of my favourite books and I always recommend it.

16. Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?
I never thought about it before, but I do really like my edition of Slaughterhouse-Five. It's a reprint of the first edition from 1965.

17. Favorite movie adaption of a classic?
Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.  I feel like that movie captures everything I love about Austen's classic.  Thompson and Winslet are perfect as Elinor and Marianne.

18. Classic which hasn't been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.
Umm.... None.  They've either all been made or need to be left alone.

19. Least favorite classic? Why?
Vanity Fair.  I hate on this book a lot.  It's just so shallow.

20. Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.
Off the top of my head:
Anne Brontë
L. Frank Baum
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Grimm Brothers
Jules Verne

21. Which title by one of the five you've listed above most excites you and why?
I'm excited to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  Anne is the only Brontë sister I haven't read.  I don't know why and I don't know why I'm excited to read this book.  I just am.

22. Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving? (This could be with the club or before it.)
None that I can think of.... In general, if I read a book and dislike it, I'm not going to spend my time re-reading it.  There are so many other books out there to read.

23. Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?
Offred from The Handmaids Tale. Its been over a decade since I read this book, but every so often, I find myself thinking about her.

24. Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?
Billy Pilgram.... because he's crazy! (not really). I don't know.  An Austen heroine who likes to read?

25. Which classic character do you most wish you could be like? 
Billy Pilgram, because then I could meet aliens!  Again, I don't know...

26. Which classic character reminds you of your best friend? 
Marianne from Sense and Sensibilty reminds me of a couple of friends, who have too often fallen for the wrong guy.

27. If a sudden announcement was made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” on a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or, would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favor of the original? Why?
I'd love to know what happened to Offred from The Handmaid's Tale.  Did she get a happy ending?  Did she die?  I wouldn't be able to resist reading the discovered pages.

28. Favorite children’s classic?

29. Who recommended your first classic? 
I don't know. A teacher probably. 

30. Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature. (Recommends the right editions, suggests great titles, etc.)
My Hubby, more because he knows what I like.  I also pay attention to the blogs I follow.  Way back, before I became a more active blogger, I followed blogs just so I could discover new books.  I tried to vary the blogs I followed so I'd be exposed to different genres, new and different authors.  It worked a little too well.  My to-read list has exploded in the last 5+ years.

31. Favorite memory with a classic?
Falling in love with Jane Eyre and knowing that I would always want to read classics.

32. Classic author you've read the most works by?
Probably Virginia Woolf.  I took a class in University that focused completely on her.  We didn't read all her books, but I read most of them.

33. Classic author who has the most works on your club list?
Jane Austen.  I tried to only include one or two books per author, but part of my personal classics goal is to finally read all of Austen's novels.

34. Classic author you own the most books by?
I think Dickens, especially if you include ebooks.

35. Classic title(s) that didn't make it to your club list that you wish you’d included? (Or, since many people edit their lists as they go, which titles have you added since initially posting your club list?)
My list has changed a bunch of times.  The most obvious one, I think, is when I decided to read Carrie by Stephen King and added it to the list.  I figured, if Alias Grace is a modern classic, Carrie is a modern horror classic.

36. If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore? Obviously this should be an author you haven’t yet read, since you can’t do this experiment on an author you’re already familiar with. :) Or, which author’s work you are familiar with might it have been fun to approach this way?
Vonnegut might have been interesting to read that way, but I've already read Slaughterhouse-five. H.G. Wells too, but I've read a bunch of his books already.  I've only read short stories by Hemingway, so I could potentially do that with his novels.

37. How many rereads are on your club list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?
There are 10 re-reads on my list, which is probably why I bumped my list to 60 instead of 50.  I'm very much looking forward to re-reading The Handmaid's Tale.  I've only re-read three of that 10 so far, I think I enjoyed them all equally.

38. Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?
I think just a few months before I decided to join The Classics Club, I tried to read Crime and Punishment.  My son was an infant and I was looking for my next middle of the night read (I read the bulk of Pride and Prejudice this way after I had my daughter.)  I couldn't get into it.  I tried a little while later and couldn't do it again.  It might have just been me though.  I remember trying to read a couple other books at about that time and not being able to get past the first few pages.  I should try to read it again.

39. Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?
If I don't think I'll like a book, I don't read it.  Sometimes I think I will like it and then I don't, but that's different.  There are too many books out there for me to spend time reading something I think I won't like.

40. Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature?
1) Re-reading at least three classics from my list.
2) Reading more poetry.
3) More spins (they keep me reading).
4) Maybe finally reading Anne Brontë.
5) Catching up on my list.

41. Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller

42. Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
Anna Karenina

43. Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?
Reading others' reviews and learning about classics I'm unfamiliar with.

44. List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. What makes you love their blogs?
I enjoy all their blogs for basically the same reason.  I like the selection of books they read and I like their reviews.

45. Favorite post you've read by a fellow clubber?
Umm.... Nothing comes to mind.  Sorry.

46. If you've ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience? If you've participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? the best title you've completed? a fond memory? a good friend made?
I've never done a readalong on anything.  I can't make that kind of commitment.

47. If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?
I'd probably enjoy a readalong for The Handmaid's Tale, because I love the book so much.  I'd also probably enjoy an Austen readalong, but like I said, I don't have that kind of time to commit.

48. How long have you been reading classic literature?
My whole reading life? Elementary school?  Since I've know what classic literature was.

49. Share up to five posts you've written that tell a bit about your reading story. Reviews, journal entries, posts on novels you loved or didn't love, lists, etc.

50. Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!)
Yikes!  This was a pretty thorough survey that seems to have taken me over a month to answer.  After thinking about it, I think my question is: What keeps drawing you to classic literature?
I think it is the idea that a story can be timeless.  That it can endure 50, 100, 1000 years, and even more.  I like reading the stories and discovering why they have endured.  I like loving them the way someone 100 years ago loved them and that maybe someone 100 years from now will love them too.

WOW!  That was a lot of questions, but an interesting and fun journey.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Mockingjay - Part 1

I finally got to see Mockingjay - Part 1.  Better late than never though.  I didn't want to miss the latest Hunger Games movie in the theatre again. Mockingjay - Part 1 was pretty much what I expected.  Katniss was desperate to get Peeta back (like keeping him alive in Catching Fire), Prim was her sweet, level-headed sister. Her mom was background.  Gale came into his own more in the movie though.  When they go back to District 12, the expression on the film crew's faces as he speaks about what happened, it was a fantastic scene.

One thing I didn't notice until my Hubby mentioned it after the movie was that Katniss cried a lot. Much, more than the previous films. It is understandable, since there were a lot of upsetting things. But, he said, every time he saw her on the screen, he wondered what was going to make her cry now.  Thinking back on it, it's true.

I think Mockingjay did a good job bringing to the screen some of the horrors of war. Yes, they are fighting for freedom from the Capitol, but there is a cost.  It not as graphic as other films, many kids will be watching, but it's there, the death, sadness and despair.  There was also a lot of talking in this film.  I thought it might happen this way once they announced that Mockingjay would be two films.  There was explaining why District 13 survived, what happened in District 12 and the other Districts.  I did like the fact that it was interspersed with scenes showing the rebellion in the Districts. Though, I could have used more Finnick. Mockingjay - Part 1 was great, but I still felt like it was a warm up to the final film.  Maybe that's just because I already know what will happen.  It has also made me want to re-read the final book.

Have you seen all these amazing posters?  The District ones break my heart a bit. I think this is some great marketing on the part of the studio.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Lady Lazarus

Lady Lazarus is a violent poem, if poems can be described as violent. It is one of the most famous poems by Sylvia Plath. For my Classics Club list, I do not only read novels, but other classics as well, like poetry.  I have read The Bell Jar and thought it was fantastic.  I could have re-read The Bell Jar, but my interest in poetry is growing and my affection for Sylvia Plath's only novel has never waned.  I knew that Plath's poetry was going to be rich and deep.

Lady Lazarus is a dark poem, full of visceral emotion. Plath uses Nazism as a metaphor for oppression. The speaker feels watched, studied; she isn't free.  As the poem's title evokes, there is death and rebirth. "The sour breath/Will vanish in a day." There's exposure, nakedness in the rebirth. She feels at home in the earth and wants to stay there. 

The oppression throughout the poem connected to me.  I appreciate poetry that has a story to it. Though subtle, there is a story here.  The speaker talks about each of her deaths and the value that others place on her.  By the end of the poem the speaker finds her strength. She warns the doctors who keep bringing her back, she "will eat men like air."

Reading Lady Lazarus has definitely made me interested in reading more of Plath's poetry. Lady Lazarus is part of Ariel, Plath's collection of poetry, published posthumously by her husband.  It is said to be her definitive work and if the other poems in Ariel are anything like Lady Lazarus, I can see why.  In one poem, I was saddened, moved, and given hope.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

What I Read In 2014

These are the books I read in 2014.  I compiled the image using Goodreads.  It was a little crazy seeing it up there on the screen.  I think it's the most I've ever read in one year.  I don't expect it to happen again, but it was nice.  What will 2015 bring?!

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year!!!  Wishing everyone the best, a year filled with love, laughter, good food and books (of course)!