Sunday, May 30, 2010
So at 10:10 p.m. last night (I remember because Last Holiday had just ended on TBS) I threw on my PJ's and grabbed this little baby and plopping my self, yet again, between the laundry basket and the ironing board dug in. Lucky for me I'd taken my quarterly nap that day so I was all rested for my late night read (which I have missed so much lately). It's a good thing too because at precisely 2:26 a.m. (I checked) I flipped page 356 which also happened to be the last page of the book.
This book was just what I needed, with hilarious retorts, gossip bloggers, fabulous quips, dense ex-boyfriends, origami and a wide variety of stuffed animals. Its rare that I laugh so hard over a book (with the exception of Gail Carriger's novels), but this one had tears springing to my eyes with laughter. Now maybe it was because of some kind of middle of the night delirium, but I'd like to think it was because it was actually funny and not because I have begun my slow descent into madness.
Now I keep trying to recall my high school years to see if I was truly as boy obsessed as our main character, Miss Polly Martin, but I've done a pretty good job of blocking out those years so who knows. Nonetheless, Polly cracks me up at every corner with her unusually large vocabulary and her ability to do just about anything, from memorizing car facts to running for student council to dealing with her dead beat father. [Dead beat fathers, now that I think about it, seem to be a reoccurring theme in many of these books, I wonder what that says for fathers as a whole. Hmm, that's food for thought.]
So, Polly and her infatuation with the opposite sex is what drives this novel forward. At first it was difficult for me to get into as that was all she kept talking about. Someone's eyes, someone's skin, someone's flip flop hairy feet... huh? Gross! But then we realize that maybe all that obsession with boys and with herself might possibly spawn from something greater than her age, but as she will never talk about it we don't know exactly what. I don't even think Polly could figure out what that greater thing was, she was too focused on the boys (not with the hairy feet... well maybe kinda). That would be where Miss Swoon relationship advice columnist aka Grandma comes into the picture.
Grandma may be a sexagenarian, but she gives excellent advice (well, maybe sub-par), too bad she doesn't take any of her own. Or is it too bad? She seems to be happy, why isn't Polly? What a predicament this is for Polly, this unhappiness accompanied with hating boys and loving boys and not knowing what to do with any of them, not even knowing what to do with herself. She was a very complicated character. I think it was her inability to be serious that made her thus.
Then there is her love interest and possibly my favorite character, Xander (enter hunk stage right). I do love a good guy, its not easy to find one nowadays as we all know. Still, all of it was fun for me, the whole book accomplished for me in four hours exactly what it was meant to - giving me some temporary joy. The characters were fun and entertaining and story flowed nicely. All over, it was a good choice for the end of a not so good day.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Thursday, May 27, 2010
...The repulsive Channing person looked like he might actually try to touch her.Ms. Gail Carriger does it again with her second novel, Changeless , starring none other than the illustriously wonderful Alexia Tarabotti and her marvelous parasol. After I finished Soulless, the first in the series, I could do nothing other than race to the nearest bookstore and purchase my very own copy (as the library was sorely lacking) of Carriger's Changeless.
Alexia hauled off and hit him, hard, with her parasol, right on top of his head.
Everyone in the courtyard stopped what they were about and turned to look at the statuesque lady currently engaged in whacking their third in command, Woolsey Pack Gamma, commander of the Coldsteam Guards abroad, with a parasol.
The major's eyes shifted black about the rim of each iris, and two of his perfect white teeth turned pointed.
Werewolf, was he? Well, Alexia's... parasol was tipped with silver for a reason. She walloped him again, this time making certain the tip touched his skin. At the same time, she rediscovered her powers of speech.
"How dare you! You impudent" - whack - "arrogant" - whack - "overbearing" - whack - "unobservant dog!" Whack, whack. Normally Alexia wasn't given to such language or unadulterated violence, but circumstances seemed to warrant it....
I immediately began digging into the yummy little paperback of Victorian Steampunk, "vampires, werewolves, and dirigibles". A most excellent collection of characters consume this urban fantasy novel and if given the option, I would like most to jump head first into 1870 Great Britain as long as I were to have Lord Akeldama hosting me with tea and his drone Biffy, a connoisseur of all things lovely, available for fashion advice.
I was much depressed at my inability to finish the book in one sitting, but the weekday hodgepodge forced my submission and I was finally able to finish it up this morning in the closet around 10:00 a.m. Upon finishing, I was rather disheveled and upset and for the life of me I do not know what to do with myself until Blameless, the next in the series, is out in September (although if the gossip can be trusted it is to be most wonderful).
All I can say is Carriger, you naughty little female, you have done me in with your most suspenseful plot and endearing characters, but why oh why must you torture me with your turn of events cliffhanger? It has suffused me with outright indignation and utter vexation at Alexia's latest predicament for although Lord Maccon has had a place in my heart, I feel as though I must fling him henceforth into an abyss...the brute!
I will say no more, as it would be a shameful disaster to give away any of the deliciousness found within the 374 pages. My last words on the matter are, readers of Changeless may want to clear their schedules before they begin Carriger's novel because if it leaves you anything like it left me, you will find yourself wide eyed and breathless throughout!
P.S. As this beautifully covered book is mine, my kisses now cover the book from spine to front cover to back cover and maybe even a few of the pages between.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
This particular piece happens to have been given to me by one of my older sisters who I will call Flower (as she is always wearing cute little flowers in her hair).
It is a piece by Kelly Rae Roberts, who I had heard of before and seen her art, but didn't really pay a lot of attention to until Flower gave me this little magnet. I do love the words running across the girls top saying "Tell Your Story". I think it's a lovely way of saying that every person has a story, no matter what they may think and that they should share it. They should express themselves and be themselves and they are important too! Everyone should tell tell their story, whether its through talking, writing, music, dance, painting etc... (such a fabulous 3 letters "etc")
I love the colors of this piece, the limey greens and browns (lime is a most fabulous color). I most especially love her wings. I think it makes her seem almost angelic.
On the lower portion of her skirt (left phrase) it says, "Wear More Skirts", and it also happens to be the title of this post. Funny enough, those three words make me feel like I'm not alone on the skirt wearing venue and therefore not as outrageously different as I may think. Overall, this tiny little magnet I love and keep it just below my computer screen to remind me of such things.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Miss Tarabotti was most distressed by this. She was particularly fond of treacle tart and had been looking forward to consuming that precise plateful. She picked up her parasol. It was terribly tasteless for her to be carrying a parasol at an evening ball, but Miss Tarabotti rarely went anywhere without it.
Soulless by Gail Carriger is a wonderful piece of fiction that all should sink their teeth into. She has taken a wonderful piece of 19th century British history and molded it into a steampunk, urban fantasy with "vampires, werewolves, and parasols". I was enraptured by the book so utterly and so completely that I was at a loss when I was forced to put the book down. I started it yesterday at around 11:00 a.m. and finished the 357 page novel (with a sadness of heart) in the closet at 12:45 a.m. this morning. As I neared the end I tried not to think of the short supply of remaining pages as I wished the book could go on forever.
Might I just say that this book was absolutely and deliciously scrumptious! Miss Alexia Tarabotti is a most amazing and lovable character in my eyes as is her parasol. I adored all the characters including Lord Akeldama and the delectable Lord Maccon. I definitely wish I had found this book so much sooner than just recently. I probably wouldn't have discovered it at all if it weren't for one of my favorite book sites goodreads.com.
I decided it was worthy of five stars because Carriger has done me in with her story of intrigue that she forced me to read the darn thing all in one day. The characters were so excitingly lovable I wish I could live in their world whilst I fraternized with the haughty vampires and illustriously large werewolves. AND it was so refreshingly hilarious and original I thought Gail Carriger possibly wrote it knowing I was going to one day read it (although that is probably not the case).
I have 2 things left to say:
1. If this had not been a library book (and therefore my own copy) I would have kissed it all over for its scathingly lovable goodness. (AND)
2. I must find myself a silver tipped parasol!
5 out of 5 Stars
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I thought it would be fun to post a little piece of short fiction I wrote. It's just something kind of fun, so read it with that in mind. I hope you enjoy.
I wished I could have worn my hoodie, but with the decimating heat of August, there was no way I could submit myself to that kind of torture, even if it meant seclusion and anonymity. Even in my jeans and short sleeved shirt I could feel the dry heat waves washing through my skin forcing the little droplets of sweat from my pores. As fast as I could I made my way inside the Mexican restaurant, leaving the heat behind me and behind the doors.
Without looking around, I headed towards the front and put my order in and then I was off to the farthest corner, finding a small table away from the bathrooms and ordering area, anywhere to avoid being seen. Normally I wouldn’t have left my house, but I had been stuck inside all day and I needed some kind of reprieve from being shut indoors and…I needed food. Being here solved both problems, but it also created another. I may have needed a break from my house, but I had been avoiding people in general trying to keep myself secluded - safe.
Eating at this particular place was almost like asking for trouble. Everyone came here to eat and hang out and I don’t know if I’d ever been here a time I hadn’t seen someone I knew. But, I had a hankering for some of their chimichangas – they were the best around – and my stomach had been begging for them for over a month. My stomach made a noise at the thought of the food and as if the front ordering service was connected directly to it, the food was brought to me and deposited on my table.
I started in on the delicious fried tortilla filled with chicken, trying not to look up and let anyone notice my face. My eyes moved around the best they could without the movement of my head to give them a better view. There weren’t too many people around, I’d come at this time knowing they were less busy which meant less people I could possibly bump into. Other than a family sitting in the main section and the people who worked here, there was really only one other person, a girl.
I couldn’t see much of her from where I was sitting behind her, but from the set of her shoulders and the length of her body, I would guess she was around twenty. Her charcoal black hair was pulled up showing the soft unblemished skin on her shoulders and neck just above her shirt. Having two sisters always asking me what I thought of their clothes brought the exact name of the shirt to mind – halter top. Shaking my head at the thought that I even would remember such an irrelevant term I continued to watch the girl through the corner of my eye while I ate my meal.
She had a pencil through her hair, and it looked like that was what held it on top of her head. I wondered how she could get it to stay up with such a device, but girls and the things they could do were beyond me.
I don’t know why, but there was something about her, something that made me want to keep watching even if it meant only getting to see the beautiful contours of her long slender neck. I was even hoping that at some point she would turn around so I could get a look at her face, to see if the front matched the back.
I might have been trying to avoid people in general, but nobody could blame me for being male and just wanting to look, even if it was just to appease my own curiosity. Maybe it wasn’t just curiosity, maybe it was something else. Whatever it was though, I couldn’t help myself. As if she could read my thoughts she suddenly pulled the pencil out of her hair and shook her head back and forth. She took both of her hands to the long black hair; it looked like she was trying to put it back up. When she had it almost there, she turned her head giving me a view of her profile with pink full lips and giant green eyes, like emeralds. She wedged the pencil back into its position and flipped her face forward again and back down to the table.
I wanted a better look at her. Well, maybe I wanted a better look at what she was doing too. I felt a little out of sorts though; this isn’t normally how I am. I don’t usually feel the need to watch other people while I eat let alone coyly try to interact with strangers. Normally, I just pay attention to my food and leave, but my curiosity was killing me, or maybe it was just the milky skin on her shoulders beckoning me.
I stood up to take my tray to the garbage can on the other side of the tables, on the way back I would be able to look at her. On my way to the garbage area I pretended like I didn’t see her. I threw the paper stuff on my tray into the garbage and placed my tray on the stack already there. I turned around surveying the room and then I set my gaze on her. She had a small plate of rolled tacos with a dollop of sour cream poised on the edge of her table; it looked like she’d taken one bite and then put them aside. In front of her, where her face was pointed and her eyes were concentrating, there was a book – a thick book. She had another pencil in her hand and little sticky tabs sitting to the right of the book. Her long eyelashes seemed to enunciate her eyes in their downward cast.
I didn’t even know I had completely stopped walking back to my table until she cleared her throat and looked up at me. Her direct gaze was even more glorious. “Excuse me, can I help you?” The look on her face showed amusement and annoyance.
“Umm, no, sorry. “ I’m an idiot. What was I supposed to say to not look like a fool? “Actually, sorry, I was just wondering what book you were reading?” That sounded better, made me look intellectual. Right?
“How to Eat in Peace: A Manual.” She looked back down at her book; guess not, I needed something different.
“Oh, well that’s some manual. My name is Noah, what’s yours?”
“Xena.” She didn’t even move her head this time.
“Xena? Really? Whats your last name?”
“Princess. And just in case you ask, my middle name is Warrior.” That made me laugh and a small sound escaped my mouth.
“Wow, Xena Warrior Princess? Your parents must have had really good sense of humors.” Even with her eyes still in her book, I could see some of the annoyance wash away. I took this as my chance. “Well, Xena. I’m sorry for bothering you; I’ll leave you alone now. I hope you enjoy reading Little Women: A Manuel, I think it’s pretty good.” I’d seen the cover when she’d picked the book up a second ago. I turned my head and walked back to my table pulling out the small notebook I had in my back pocket.
I was writing in it when I noticed she was standing in front of me. I looked up giving her my biggest and best smile which even if I’d wanted to I couldn’t keep off my face.
“Uh, look. I’m sorry for that, it’s just that I get…bothered a lot and sometimes I just want to be left alone, so I’m sorry. My name’s Serenity by the way.”
“Serenity.” I said, liking the way it sounded. “It’s nice to meet you.”
---written by Jen the Bibliophile
Saturday, May 22, 2010
The writing didn't get any better, there were still atrocities to the English language present, but the story line did get better. I think one of the things that was difficult for me throughout the book was that the particular subject matter it is telling it's readers about is supposed to be very emotional. Well, at least I imagine as much because how can one talk about the terrible things that happened during that time and not feel something for those who had to go through it. That was where the difficult part came in because I didn't feel any of that emotion. Yeah, I felt sad for the characters and the hardships they had to endure as I'm sure most do, but I didn't really feel anything for the characters themselves. The story was told from a very distant 3rd person point of view. There wasn't even a quotation mark in the whole book (which was dreadfully confusing and annoying) so sometimes I wasn't sure if someone was thinking or speaking. The lack of emotion made the characters seem way too 2-dimensional and almost unreal.
On a brighter note, the story line was interesting once I reached halfway through the book and once I'd made it to page 300 I did end up wanting to finish instead of dreading it. I did appreciate the author sticking with the character of Anna and not changing her to appease her audience.
If anyone does decide to read this book though, I would warn you, I would rate it "R" if it were a movie because it has quite a bit of sensuality (to say it nicely) and some violence (but more sensuality).
I'd give this book:
3 out of 5 stars
Thursday, May 20, 2010
So, I thought about this for awhile to see if I could see what possibly makes me a better writer. It wasn't too hard a think, the biggest and most influential source would be my reading. Not reading books about "How to Write", but reading books period. I've been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. I read just about any genre from non-fiction to YA fiction to Historical fiction to textbooks concerning the accounting rules associated with corporations (for me it turned out to be interesting *smiles*).
Now, I'm not guaranteeing anyone who reads is going to be a fabulous writer, but I can say that it helps. It helps to show sentence structure, description, vocabulary. There are so many things a person can learn from sitting down and reading. Any book should do.
If you are one of those people who think, yeah, but I don't like to read, maybe you just have not found the book for you, the book that you start reading and don't pay attention to the fact that you have already finished 100 pages. The book that you look at and don't feel dread when you think of the 300 pages that still remain. Bear isn't such a fan of reading, but recently he discovered some war books that piqued his interest proving that although you may think you aren't a reader, you just may be wrong.
The written word is a wonderful thing. I can get a better image of something from a good author than from a picture. Maybe it's because I'm not much of an artist, but maybe it's because the author describes things that we cannot necessarily see, describes more than just what is seen, but what is felt. There are so many words I have learned from reading books, I've actually grown feelings of love for many of them. I know that may sound silly, but the way they feel when you say them and the way they sound really produce something within me. Some include; coiffed, usurp, tutelage, catastrophic, wistful, whimsical, bouillabaisse and recently xenophobia.
If anyone is looking for a simple way to become a better writer, whether that is a writer of books, a writer of articles, a writer of letters, a writer of distinguished memos, an author of emails or text messages, I recommend reading. There are so many books out there, so many books that could seem like they were written just for you, you never know what you will find between the covers. If Bear can find that reading is enjoyable and not something forced upon him in high school and University, than I know there is hope out there for others.
In parting, I'd like to leave this quote by Mark Twain
"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
- Mark Twain
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
It happens to be a historical fiction novel of World War II told, nonetheless, from a German woman's perspective rather than the alternative. Usually, books of this particular genre do nothing other than grab me by the neck and pull into their depths, trying to keep there until I pass out from fatigue. However, this book has not done so.
I am 151 pages into it and I do plan on finishing it (although I only have til the 21st), but I'm not as stoked as I once was at the thought of quietly sitting in my closet and devouring the inky words. I do not like to not finish books, even if I don't like them. In fact, there was a rather lengthy tome of 1,000 pages I had with me while I was out of the country in 2008 and even half way through I didn't like it. I couldn't give up the fight though, there had to be more to a 1,000 page book then what I had already read otherwise, why would it be published? I was dreadfully wrong. Shortly after finishing the book, I was so deeply disgusted I asked Husband to throw it in the dumpster as I couldn't do it myself and no other soul should have to read it.
This book is not anywhere as bad, but no feelings of excitement are elicited from me at the thought of continuing. I think I would mostly relate it to a wordy writing style with too many extra details and phrases that for the life of me I cannot understand. EXAMPLE: "Then she hurries from the bedroom, this time for good, her breath coming and going in ghosts." Coming and going in ghosts? What does that even mean?
Anyway, I know that sometimes a reader can feel differently at the end of a book than they do in the middle, so I will finish it and see if I come into different feelings on the matter.
(p.s. my eye was indeed saved and is now working well)
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
An author [usually] feels for their characters, whether they feel love or hate for them, they still feel. They are the creators of said character and therefore, to them they are a whole person with feelings and traits that a lot of readers will never see because it isn't pertinent to the story line. That being said, when will some authors learn that this is also [sometimes] their biggest set back?
Set back? Yes!! Set back!
You see, as it's creator, they know the character, but as the reader we do not. The author must write pulling us, pushing us, convincing us to feel and love/hate the character(s) as they do. If I am supposed to think the male lead is a sweet, loving, hothead with a tail, please tell me. Of course, don't come strait out and say it, but come on make me FEEL IT! If you can't do it through a first person point of view, change your tactic. I don't even think authors know that they aren't convincing the reader of who the character really is (insert set back here) because they feel for them so much as the author.
If you haven't noticed, this has become rather frustrating to me as of late. I read and I read and expect one thing and get something else (and not in a good, I need a cold shower, kind of way).
I recently read a book where the main character's love interest was mostly presented in the book through her thoughts. Now, how reliable are thoughts and memories? I'd say not very, but even though in a book where you can make them anything you want, it's still better to have character interaction especially when they are supposedly the main characters. After a 300 page book I was rather P.O.ed to realize it was over and I didn't know much about boy and way too much about girl. The more I continue to ponder this particular topic, the more heated I get.
Why you may ask? Well, it's because it takes time to read a 300 page book (time is important to most people as there are many things to do in life) and I don't like to feel like I wasted that time. However, I cannot control no knowing what is really (really) in the story I'm about to read (which is the point of a new book), so I won't give up. I won't give up reading all books, because even though some characters are poorly underdeveloped, there are those that are so wonderful that I cannot get them out of my head.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Now, you have to understand something about me. My favorite genre is YA (yes, I know I'm a 26 year old mother of two *shrugs shoulders*), specifically fantasy/scifi. The problem with this is that a lot of the books in that particular genre tend to be along the same lines, just with different characters. So, that being said, I'm always on the lookout for different books with stories I haven't heard before. Something different, something new. (Okay, thats not to say I won't read anything that has a similar plot line, but it does indeed depend...)
I remember skimming the synopsis for Shiver and seeing the word "wolf" and moving on to the next book.
I'm very glad I went back and re-read the synopsis when my book group came out. This book turned out to be something different and something new (it also turned out to be something borrowed (library book) and something blue *winks right eye*).
That evening after checking it out, I'd squished myself in between the ironing board (which, yes, I keep in my bedroom closet) and the door to the closet with a pillow between me and the wall. It was about 10:00 p.m. when I was finally able to start. I made it halfway through the 392 page book before I had to give into the evil sleep monster.
I finished it two days later, which was when I decided on 3 things:
1. This definitely makes my Top 10 best books I've ever read
2. Maggie Stiefvater is now one of my Top 5 favorite authors (I'd top 3 even)
3. I must now go out and buy a copy for my closet library
Stiefveter tells the story from a double first person narrative, alternating between the 2 main characters points of view. This, I think, above all else helps the beautiful development of Grace & Sams' characters (that and possibly her sweet writing skills :P).
Grace: Strong, Independent, Smart...thoughtful
Sam: Sweet, Intellectual, Loving, Sensitive...wolfy :P
It was a nice change to meet a girl character who wasn't always questioning herself and someone who wasn't always whining about - everything. Sam though, he was a breath of fresh air. He was so... aware... caring, sweet, and even though it sounds contradictory, unaware of his wonderfulness.
I loved the unique story line of boy turned wolf in wintry cold and wolf turned boy in warm summery goodness. I loved the authors tone, her words. How she could make me feel like I was sitting there with Sam and Grace, feeling everything they were feeling. It was so beautiful, so eloquent, so real.
Shiver was creative and alluring, pulling me into the plot making me never want to let go.
I will in fact be putting this book on my to re-read list. If you haven't read it...
5 out of 5 stars
My plan for future posts is to keep you updated with my closet happenings. More specifically, my books in the closet. I actually just finished a book last night around midnight, but I didn't want to start off with that book. (Although, I did enjoy it!)
Hopefully once I get all my settings and columns set up I will be able to proceed forth (wow, I can't believe I just used that phrase..."proceed forth"... who says that anymore?)