Friday, January 30, 2009

Wuthering Heights on PBS, Parts 1-2

Ah, what's not to like about darkness and light, death and love, hate and innocence, revenge and naivety. All are contained in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, one of my favorite books. This however, was not my favorite movie version of this book. In fact, I was quite disappointed in their interpretation this time around. This is not a favorable review.

Most are probably familiar with the story so I will not bore with details here. It is a dark tale, written by a young woman in her twenties, who never married, never even left the house much, yet she was able to contrive one of the darkest villains to ever be inked on paper. Healthcliff. Many debates have been issued forth about his true character. Was he evil to his very core? Or was he simply a product of his environment? Does he redeem himself in the end?

For me the book is about love and power, and what some people will do to get it, to retain it, how to use it against others to your advantage. This particular movie version was about sex, and it made me madder with each passing moment. What was once a story filled with tortured love and revenge, was now a Royal Shakespearean roll in the hay!

The story was done out of sequence, eliminating the first narrator entirely, Mr. Lockwood and a key scene where Catherine breaks through his window. One of the scariest scenes of the book! And then the sex. It can never be simply implied by the BBC by revealing a character to be pregnant. The story had to be modernized. They have to show it. There were no sex scenes in the book. I don't think there is even a kiss between living people in it.

And the ending. They completely changed how Heathcliff died. I immediately turned off the tv. Disgusted.

Why can't they just leave the story intact as it is written? Who gave someone the right to reinvent a classic and still call it Wuthering Heights? I didn't want a modernized story. I wanted the real one, with different actors applying Bronte's thoughts onto the screen.

This version didn't do Emily Bronte any justice. In fact she's probably rolled over in her grave. What a disappointment.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

by Sophie Kinsella
The second installment of the series finds Becky Bloomwood falling back into her old financial woes but funnily enough, she has a successful tv career advising others on their financial matters. She is still dating her beau she began dating in the first novel and things are going very well. They end up going to Manhattan with high hopes, but life always seems to get in the way of the best laid plans.
I liked this novel, not as much as the first, but it was still entertaining and funny. My only problem with it is that I had a hard time connecting with the main character. Midway through the book she started to bother me. But, by the end, all had turned out and she learned her lesson and I began liking her again.
I plan on continuing with the series. 3 stars.
Oh, and why am I the only one who seems to have trouble getting paragraphs to show in my posts???? I have to put lines inbetween each one or else it all turns into one big paragraph??? Very annoying... I must be missing something...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 Newbery Award Winner

The American Library Association yesterday awarded the 2009 Newbery Award for excellence in children’s literature to Neil Gaiman for his book The Graveyard Book. It’s the story of Nobody Owens who has lost his family and is raised by a vampire, a werewolf and a witch. I haven’t read it yet, but I will. I’ll probably have to buy it because there’s a long waiting list at the library! The Newbery Honor books for 2009 are The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle, Savvy by Ingrid Law, and After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson.

An extra side note: Neil Gaiman said himself that he does not consider The Graveyard Book to be a children’s book. He says it would be better for teenagers and older.

There is now a link to the ALA site for the Newbery Award on the side bar. The site lists all Newbery Award winners and honor books, and the site will link you to the Caldecott winners and other ALA awards.

Monday, January 26, 2009

To America - Personal Reflections of an Historian

Due to the events of the past week, I've been feeling very patriotic, and wanted to read something distinctly... American. I found historian Stephen Ambrose's last publication "To America - Personal Reflections of an Historian" to be just such a book. Written right before he died in 2002, this short synopsis is a look back over event's and guiding principles he thinks have been key to the success of our country. A history teacher's final lecture on everything from Jefferson, Grant, and Nixon to racism and women's rights.

But, Stephen Ambrose was mainly attracted to military history. According to him, "the key events in American history were military. Winning the Revolutionary War or the Civil War, or World War II were the turning points in our history."

Surprisingly, I found his thoughts on the subject very interesting. For me, a person who has a hard time coming to grips with the war in Iraq, his brief synopsis of how and why America became a military and moral leader became more clear. This country has been forged with the sweat and blood of it's military, its citizens and its leaders.

I can't help but wonder what Stephen Ambrose would have thought of Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq war, electing a black president of the United States. We will never know. A true teacher, an exceptional guide to the past has been lost. What a shame. 3 Stars

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

By Sophie Kinsella
This book is the first of five that follow the adventures of Becky Bloomwood, a young woman living in London who has one little weakness. In the book the bank and credit card companies come calling for payment and Becky has to figure out what to do. Cut back? Earn more money? Nothing seems to work for Becky. She always seems to be getting herself into trouble and into all sorts of pickles. It is a very funny, witty novel with a dab of romance involved as well.
I like that the book is written in 1st person. I feel like I am her roommate and she is telling me what mishaps she has gotten herself into. If you liked Bridget Jones' Diary you will probably like this book as well. They are both similar, two Brits trying to make it and getting into all sorts of trouble in the meantime. It does have language in it.
You definitely don't need to think deeply with this one, but if you are in the mood for an easy read that is light and funny, here you go. I am already into the second novel, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan.
I give this novel 3 1/2 stars.
Side Note: There is a movie about this and the second book coming out next month. If it is anything like the novels it should be pretty funny.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Bees are totally cool! I’ve known for a long time how dependent our food supply is on bees, but this book gave me some new information to help me be fascinated by the little creatures. (Little side note: Last year we had a swarm of bees in our front yard on a bush. I called around and found a nice man who keeps bees as a hobby and he came and got them. He was happy to have them because there is a shortage of honey bees in the world. He said there were about ten or twenty thousand in our swarm. But I digress.) There is a strong analogy between bees and women in the book, but it is mostly about women.

The main character, Lilly, is being raised by her misguided father and a black “nanny” after her mother died years earlier. Certain events take place that send Lilly to South Carolina in search of information about her mother. She meets a family of three sisters who keep bees, sell the honey and are happy and successful. Lilly finds herself (this is a bildungsroman! [a coming of age novel]) with the help of the sisters.

The thing I like the most is that Lilly discovers the strength she has as a woman. The story takes place in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed so that is a big part of the story. It makes me happy that some of those people who were so mistreated in that time of our history were able to see that our country has moved to the point of electing a black man as president. I feel joy for them and gratitude for the time I live in. I’m grateful for changes that happen in history, and I’m glad I’m a woman.

This is a great book, quite sad at times, but overall has a strong message of hope. Lots of swearing, but I’d give it an A-. I’ll rent the movie when it comes on DVD (2/3/09) but I’m planning to be disappointed. I’m a fan of Queen Latifah’s acting (although she’s becoming typecast), but Dakota Fanning is a little creepy to me.

What are your Top 5 favorite books?

Anybody have a favorite book that's changed your life?
What are your favorite books to read? Genre? Non-fiction?

My top five that I read on a regular basis:
Jane Eyre - by Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights - by Emily Bronte
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
The Secret Garden - by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Two books that made me think differently:
The Book Thief - by Markus Zusak
To Kill a Mockingbird - by Harper Lee

I'm curious about other lists as I'm always looking for a good book to read.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak
I rarely give a book my highest rating. A place on my 5 star shelf. But the likes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights may now have a new companion in The Book Thief. This ingenious, groundbreaking young adult fiction almost fits in a class of books unto itself. A book that breaks you apart with each page until you somehow end up whole on the last one. A book that brought tears to my eyes more than once, but never felt sorry for itself. A book that took forever to read.

Our surprisingly ungloomy narrator is somber, tired and in need of a vacation. His story begins in Germany, 1939, during World War II, where Death's been very, very busy. He starts immediately with a description of what to expect, as Death assumes that like himself, no one cares much for surprises.
- A girl
- Some words
- An accordionist
- Some fanatical Germans
- A Jewish fist fighter
- And quite a lot of thievery

Death never minces words. He gets right to the point. He needs distractions to help him cope with his job. One is color in its multitude of shades, like I've never heard described before. They are his vacation "in increments".
"Yes, it was white. It felt as though the whole globe was dressed in snow. Like it has pulled it on, the way you pull on a sweater. Next to the train line, footprints were sunken to their shins. Trees wore blankets of ice. As you might expect, someone had died."

Another distraction is a young 11 year old girl named Liesel. He shares her story with us with very interesting commentary intermingled in between to remind us he's still there, in the background. Sometimes warning us of impending doom, sometimes making simple observations.

"Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day. That was the business of hiding a Jew."

"There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life:
1. He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else.
2. He would make himself a small, strange mustache.
3. He would one day rule the world. ...Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words."

"He was more a black suit than a man. His face was a mustache."

The Book Thief. A rich, complicated novel about the terrible effects of war on ordinary, decent people. People I knew very well by the last page. It was victorious and tragic at the same time. Few authors can pull that off. Zusak does. Very well indeed. It struck a chord with me, and so to that I must add, the Bronte's need to make some room. 5 stars.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Add this to the “Fabulous First Lines of Novels” list. Let me just start by saying that I loved this book. It’s been called a modern masterpiece and I must agree. From that first line I was sucked in to the world that Daphne du Maurier so masterfully created. This was a page turner for me—I got a little tetchy with my family when they needed my attention (can’t you just eat cold cereal for dinner????) and I wanted to read! The suspense, the mystery—this is good stuff.

The writing is superb—it’s chock full of literary elements like irony and foreshadowing, the vocabulary is rich (even used chock-a-block) and the descriptions are amazing. At the beginning I thought “Okay, I get it. Manderley is beautiful.” But those descriptions became a necessary part of the story later on. Quite clever of du Maurier to leave the main character (Mrs. de Winter) essentially nameless. I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Rebecca is dead, and the new Mrs. de Winter comes to Manderley at a slight disadvantage. The new Mrs. de Winter is forced to grow up quickly as she takes her place at Manderley. As the story unfolds we learn more about the life and death of Rebecca and it’s just so good and juicy!

The characters are very well developed. You definitely get into the characters’ psyches and see what makes them tick, even Rebecca. And the evil Mrs. Danvers is something else again.
I have to include my favorite line in the book when the new Mrs. de Winter finally says to Mrs. Danvers: “I’m afraid it does not concern me very much what Mrs. de Winter used to do,” I said. “I am Mrs. de Winter now, you know. And if I choose to send a message by Robert I shall do so.” I let out a loud Wohoo! when I read that one.

This book gets an A+ from me. If you haven’t read it, you would most likely enjoy it. I’m checking the movie out from the library next. It won the Oscar for best movie in 1940, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Part Two

Masterpiece Theatre on PBS concluded this series on Sunday night.

Once again I will say, it was tough to watch. Those that haven't read the book take heart, it's not as bad on the page. Still a hard pill to swallow emotionally, but somehow Hardy's words makes it a little easier to take.

A little more background was offered about when the book the published in the 1800's. The character of Tess apparently caused quite a stir in social circles. People engaged in great debate as to whether Tess made the right decisions in regards to her life. Even so much as making sure who one sat by at dinner parties was of the same degree of allegiance for her as you were yourself.

Personally, I believe Hardy had one general theme and point of the novel. He wanted to show how society at the time treated sin unequally between men and women, and how grossly unfair it was. An example of this would be the wedding night of Tess and Angel. He tells her his secret of having had a affair with a woman of low rank, long before they had met. Tess, relieved to hear this, tells Angel of how she'd been taken advantage of by a distant relation, and as a consequence had born his child. A child that had died as a baby.

Tess is all forgiving. Angel is not. And so it was with society.
A man, even still today, can get away with an affair more easily than a woman can. If a man does it, he can't help it. It's in their nature.
If a woman does it, she's often easy or a slut. She asked for it.

And then there was Tess. She seemed to have no control over what happened in her life until the very end, until she finally takes charge and makes a decision that will alter everyone's life forever.
By killing her injurer, does she somehow win I wonder? That's how I've tried to accept how Hardy ended the book. Was Tess finally the victor?
I think yes, in a way, she finally won.
I can live with that.
And thanks Tanja for your insight on this one.

I am the Messenger

I am the messenger is by Markus Zusak. After reading "The book thief", which I loved, I decided to try out one of his other stories and I have to say I was not disappointed.
What would you be willing to go through in order to help others? This is the basis of the book. An average person, living a sub par life is thrown into heroics when he starts receiving playing cards in his mailbox. Doing good does not always reward in the way you would think, sometimes is even creates a punishment for the do-gooder. This was a quick read and made me stop and think about the things that hold me back from changing my own life and those around me. This is classified as a young adult novel, but it definitely deals with adult issues.
Favorite quote from the book
"She smelled like sex, I only hoped I smelled like love."
I love the idea that love has a smell and it permeates those that we love.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets
a Novel by Eva Rice

The reasons I read this book:
1. Tanja recommended it to me. (Tanja has a pretty good track record when it comes to recommending books for me to read).

2. I liked the cover—yes, I judged the book by its cover.

3. I was intrigued by the time period.

This book takes place in post WWII London. The 1950’s were a fascinating time and this book is full of fascinating characters. The story isn’t overly complicated, although by the end you learn just what secrets people have been keeping and everything ties together nicely. I loved the descriptions of clothes, cars, homes, hotels, lifestyles. The main character, Penelope, meets Charlotte, Charlotte’s Aunt Clare and cousin Harry—all very witty, clever characters—and the story evolves from there.
Penelope and Charlotte are only 18 or 19 years old but they definitely carry on as if they are much older. I was amazed at how much they (and others) drink and smoke. That must have been the norm at that time and place. They are both ga-ga for the pop singer Johnnie Ray who I don’t know. Elvis Presley was just coming on the scene. I think the best description of this book would be a pop-culture look at the 1950’s in London, England.
Like I said, it’s not a deep read, but I was intrigued and entertained. Something light to start the year off for me. If you were going on a cruise, it would be the perfect thing to read as you lounge by the pool and soak up the sun. I’d give it an A- or B+.

The author, Eva Rice, is the daughter of lyricist Tim Rice (Evita, The Lion King, etc. etc.).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Friday Night Knitting Club

I have looked at this book over and over unsure if it would engross me or just bore me. After a suggestion from my beloved sister in law I decided to dive in and I am glad I did.
Kate Jacobs is a very honest writer. Now what the heck does that mean? I suppose to be honest means, for me, that she does not try to play the reader in any way. There are no thinking this character has ulterior motives because she allows you to see what each person is really feeling, thinking, and going through in their own space.
It is really a book about women doing great things. It is a challenge to do something "brave" in our own lives. And at the end, I wiped away tears, a little sad it had to come to an end.
I did not agree with all the points she makes about women, but a great book to digest and discuss with your best pals. It made me want to start a knitting club without all the knitting.
Warning: There are about 15 "F" words in the book so if you are a little sensitive to the book you can borrow mine, I whited them all out.

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Want to see something cool? Turn your head upside down, or turn your laptop upside down, and read the Angels & Demons picture on the left. Pretty cool huh? This is how this book is, full of surprises that are right in front of you.
This novel is the prequel adventure of the Da Vinci Code symbologist, Robert Langdon. It is another fast-paced adventure beginning with a murder that Robert Langdon is called in on to help solve. It ends up leading him on a trail of clues on a race against time.
I really enjoyed this novel. It was a little intimidating at 700 pages but it was an incredibly quick read. It is the type of book you don't want to put down (hence why I had many late nights this past week). I love mysteries and this was a pretty good one.
It does have some pretty gruesome deaths, a few adult situations (you can tell this book is written by a man) and a spattering of language. It wasn't too bad though, I still recommend it.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars out of 5.


By Christopher Paolini
Wow, at almost 800 pages, it took me so loooong to finish this book. Christopher takes his saga VERY seriously. Did I mention seriously? Let me say it again just in case, VERY seriously. A little too serious for my own particular taste, but I'm of the type that found the pronunciation guide on the back pages unhelpful in that, I don't plan on actually speaking the Elvish language outside of the book. And the Acknowledgments...we'll, let's just say the kid has self-esteem to spare. He likes this story, as well he should.

With that being said, Brisingr was...okay. As is typical with any series of books, the first one is generally best with each successive book becoming less original and more of a stretch. For me, I felt this the case here. There are alot of similarities with past works, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc., but he is hardly the first author to borrow ideas and expand them. He's done a pretty good job of creating his own unique world with, at times, yawn-filled, intricate detail.

Brisingr picks up only a few days after Eldest has ended with the rescue of Eragon's cousin Roran's intended Katrina from the clutches of the birds-gone-bad, the Ra'zac. In a nutshell, a blooding fight ensues and continues throughout to the end of the book. There's ALOT of men fighting in this one, a hidden pregnancy (woo), more fighting, some one-on-one time with the beautiful elf Arya (ah, but you'll have to read to see what happens, sigh...), some yoda-like moments, a head or two lobbed off, more fighting, and finally, a cleverly named sword.

In truth, I was mildly entertained just enough to finish it. While the series has become a tad over-masculine for my taste, I will probably read the fourth book when it comes out, if it comes out within a decade that is. I'm hoping he can spare us some ibuprofen and keep it to under 500 pages. If wishes were fishes...
Also, I'm curious if any other women liked it. 3 Stars

Friday, January 9, 2009

What's your first pick for 2009?

Been to the bookstore or library lately?
What did you get to read for the new year?
Personally, I'm a library, bookstore junkie. Especially ones contained in older, well-educated buildings. I love a place that smells ancient and feels capable of housing the pages of something unknown and historical, like the catacombs Gandalf visits to gain knowledge in the Lord of the Rings.
These feelings carry over from when I was a child and often visited our city library. It was built in 1880 and was one of the town's oldest buildings. I can still remember the dank, musty smell of the place.
Although I like Barnes and Noble and Borders, I have yet to feel the closeness and friendly feeling I come across in a smaller neighborhood bookstore. I have a favorite used books place in downtown Boise that is practically wall-papered with books from the floors to the ceiling.
That is my kind of place. I hope you have one too.
I recently visited our city library and brought home The Book Thief and The Confederacy of Dunces for the month of January.
What are you reading this month?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Glass Castle

A year ago for Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me this book. It looked intriguing but sat on the shelf for an entire year while I figured out how to fit reading into my life again after having a child. I finally read it over Christmas this year and found it fascinating. I, a very slow reader, read it in 4 days of nap-times and was sad when it ended.
The Glass Castle is a memoir - an astonishing true story about what I guess you'd call the "life adventures" of a girl raised by unique parents, and boy is that an understatement. The book begins jarringly with the author relating an experience of sitting in a taxi in New York City, on her way to a fancy party, and looking over to see her mother - a homeless person - rooting through the trash. I was intrigued and horrified from page one.
My husband likes to describe his own parents' parenting philosophy as "benign neglect." He tells all sorts of stories about he and his siblings fending for themselves, but they are nothing compared to what this woman and her siblings faced. Her non-conformist, drifter parents moved the four children from western desert mining town to town repeatedly while living in ridiculously tragic conditions. In one instance, right after the fourth child was born, the family moved and rented a u-haul truck. Since there was no room for the children up front, they all had to sit in the back with the furniture. Jeannette was in charge of holding the new baby in the dark in this truck for 14 hours - no food, no stops, no noise. Often they went without food, while their mother bought art supplies and their father bought alcohol.
When things got bad, the family headed east to West Virginia, where the father was from. Life did not improve for them. They lived in a house with no indoor plumbing, no working kitchen, no heat. The children slept in homemade bunkbeds with mattresses made of cardboard boxes. Jeannette's brother slept with a tarp over his head because the roof had caved in over him.
Interwoven through the chapters of this book are Jeannette's father's hopes and dreams and her mother's artistic visions. Her father was a visionary genius who planned to build a house for the family out of glass. When they moved to West Virginia, the children began to dig a hole on their property that would be the foundation for this great house, only to have it filled up with the family's trash, since they could not afford garbage service. Somehow, she creates an air of magic to her childhood. When there was no money for gifts, her father gave the children stars in the sky. They were voracious readers. They went demon-hunting in the desert to dispel childhood nightmares.
When you read this book, you wonder what century it took place in and marvel that it is a contemporary story, that Child Protective Services never took these children away, and frankly, that the children even survived. The book is told in a very unemotional, non-whiny way that is refreshing, and I think healing to the reader who is tramatized from time to time from the experiences she relates. It brings to light the conflict that many of us face when we grow up and realize our parents' imperfections. The amazing thing is, though, that no matter what we all have gone through, it is probably NOTHING compared to Jeannette Walls.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

I posted my very strong opinions about this book on Goodreads, so some of you may have already read this, but I will give my opinions here as well so that I feel like I am contributing a little bit!!!

I absolutely HATED this book. It was Oprah's pick, so I thought I would give it a try, and I learned that I will never again read a book based on her recommendations. I went about halfway through the book before I even knew what the story was about, and even then was confused because it never seemed to move forward. It was totally drawn out- I honestly think about 300 pages could have easily been removed. Then, the ending was not only depressing, but left no real resolution to the plot that had been supposedly building since the beginning. Obviously, I would absolutely NOT recommend this book to anyone- it was such a complete waste of my time, I wish I had never started it (the only reason I kept reading it was because I thought it would surely get better- I was very, very, wrong).

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - A Gut Wrencher

Anybody else watch part one on Masterpiece last night?
I cried like, three times!

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy is one of my favorite books, and after watching the movie again last night, I was wanting to go back and bath myself in its pages to remind myself why I like it so much.

On screen its tentative blows seem to strike harder and more deliberate than the ones from the page. Somehow seeing it come to life reveals more of its harsh undertones. I will admit, it was tough to watch.

Having read almost all of Hardy's books over the years (yes, I'm a gluten for punishment), I find his character of Tess the only one who suffers the most, despite her lack of sin. Meaning, nothing that happens to her is her fault. Yet she bares it all with beauty and wisdom. The ultimate sufferer for those she loves. Her family, although they use her and treat her unfairly, and Angel, her perceived redemption.

Apparently, the book caused quite a scandal at the time because of its reference to rape, even though he barely alludes to it. He refused to change its contents however, citing that to change that element would change his main character altogether. I'm inclined to agree with him. He finally found a publisher that would let his story remain intact.

An American publisher, of course. We Americans are such stinkers....

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Rapunzel's Revenge

By Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale

"Now with a name like the Devil's Armpit, you'd think it'd be a right jolly place. -We didn't sleep much at night."

My first foray into the land of graphic novels was very entertaining. What's not to like about a red-headed chick with a scorpion tale hair braid and a stinging attitude to match it! Throw in a handsome, mysterious sidekick, an evil stepmother, plants and animals with serious growth issues, and you have a modernized version of the classic fairy tale.

Without giving too much away, many questions I had as a child are answered here. Why was Rapunzel trapped in a tower? Why did her hair grow so freakishly long? Who is that boy that saves her? We all know how the original ended, but in this crisply combed up version, the only one that does the saving is Rapunzel.

Can't you tell that from the cover art? Does she look like the rescuer or the rescuee? She looks hot! The whole book is beautifully drawn by Nathan Hale. The story itself is a bit long, but I'm not all that used to graphic novels. Shannon Hale is very good at witty, smart dialogue and this book is in league with her others. And anyone who can incorporate a JACKALOPE into the story line deserves some sort of special award in my book. - 3 Stars

A Writing Challenge -

A couple times a month we'll post a writing challenge. No one is required to participate, but it might be a fun way to explore your creativity and use your imagination!
Make a list about something.
Choose something ordinary and make a list of things about it or related to it. Do it off the top of your head, taking just 10 minutes or so.
Then read it. You will feel a rhythm to it after a few lines, and it will sound poetic. If you make a list about a kiss or love or flowers, you may have a sweet poem when you're done.
If you feel confident enough, share what you wrote in the comments. Do it more than once if you want to.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Katherine Review

Katherine by Anya Seton
This is a romance novel that tells the true story of Katherine Swynford who lived in fourteenth-century England. As a young 15-year old Katherine travels to the English court to visit her sister. It is there she meets the King's son, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, for the first time. He is married and she marries another but their paths keep crossing and love blooms between them. The novel covers a large span of time and follows the paths of the Duke and Katherine through times of love, war, sickness, adultery and murder.
I enjoyed this novel. I love history and English history has so many twists and turns it is interesting to read about. The book was not a page turner for me. I got stuck and had to struggle through the middle part of the book, but it was all worth it for the last 150 pages. That is where it all got very interesting for me.
Spoiler Alert! I had a hard time with the whole affair between Katherine and the Duke. I know it is what really happened but I still didn't like it. It made it hard for me to really enjoy this book as a romance when I knew he was cheating on his wife. But, again, the last 150 pages saved it for me. I was happy Katherine left the Duke and they both had time apart from each other. It was finally a romance for me when they ended up in the end together.
I would give this book a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. I think this would make a great movie. :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

To Review or Not Review. That is the Question...

What is the answer??
YES, of course. Reviews are excellent! We loveeeee reviews. Reviews are the THING. Reviews are the sh*&^%t! (?)
That is one of the main purposes of the blog. To share our opinions, no matter the length. **giggle**
To experiment. Maybe try something new.
When you've finished a book, please jot down a few helpful notes about it here, on this site. Be sure to include the title and author. Maybe what drew you to that particular book, how you liked it...or not. If your review contains spoilers, be sure to say so at the beginning.
Some people also like to know about adult content, language, stuff like that. It's up to you if you include that in your review, but remember some of us can be pretty...tetchy.
So ladies, I expect in the next few weeks these pages to be loaded with lots of juicy reviews. (Meaning secretly I hope some of you are reading books with tons of S-E-X-Y details...
**a snarky giggle** Oh that WOULD make a good reading duel wouldn't it..
One more thing, be sure to rate it at the end. 3 stars, 4 stars, etc. Also, please be sure to post a review even if someone else already has on the same book! Everybody has a different perspective.

Recommended book for January

Leslie has assigned me the month of January to pick a book. For those of you who would like to read the book there will be a discussion held at the end of the month. This will also go towards your reading duels if you are participating.
The book I have chosen is "A Cofederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole.

Here is a brief synopsis of the book:
Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole's tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces. This 30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge. ("Speeding along in that bus was like hurtling into the abyss.") But Ignatius's quiet life of tyrannizing his mother and writing his endless comparative history screeches to a halt when he is almost arrested by the overeager Patrolman Mancuso--who mistakes him for a vagrant--and then involved in a car accident with his tipsy mother behind the wheel. One thing leads to another, and before he knows it, Ignatius is out pounding the pavement in search of a job.

I hope some of you will participate and enjoy the book along with me.

A Worthy Goal for the New Year....

Read a book, and learn and escape.
Did you know only 1 in 6 people read more than twelve books a year?
Fewer than 50 percent of today's adults are literary readers.
- 55 percent of women read for leisure compared to 37 percent of men.
-43 percent of all literary readers perform volunteer and charity work compared to 17 percent of nonliterary readers.

Of course women read more! It makes perfect sense to me. Women need to escape. We need breaks from the moaning and groaning of the cogs of our lives. A moment of relief from the constant churning of motion, of movement, of tension.
Reading is the exercise of our minds. The four-wheel drive vehicle that explores the deep recesses of our brains best saved for creativity and imagination.
Take a moment ladies, for yourselves, with a book.
Try one you've never read before. Join a book club. Or, I know join this blog! Email if you're interested and we'll make you an author on the site. Read our mission statement here.

I just posted my reading list for 2009. I had a grand old time doing it, searching the web for ideas.
You can do the same.
I look forward to a year of inspiration and simple treasures hidden in just paper and ink.
Just paper and ink. Separately they are insignificant. But together, power.
Feel it. Do it.
Now, after you finish your first book, head for the tv guide because for those of you interested in watching great literature brought to life, Masterpiece Theatre on PBS is starting its classics run again this Sunday.
This year they are including:
Tess of the d'Ubervilles - Thomas Hardy (This is one of my favorite books.)
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (This IS my favorite book!!)
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens
The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens
For a copy of the schedule, check here.
I'm looking forward to another fantastic year of their productions. Last year was excellent.
Happy Reading!