Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I really do not discriminate against one type or the other. My library holds probably equal amounts of both new and used books. Nowadays, due to my financial situation I have no choice but to buy used ones (I probably shouldn’t be buying any, but that’s just beyond my capacity for self-control). I also enjoy reading used books. They have a whole history of readership behind them. When I pick up a used book, I always pause for a minute contemplating just how many people had read it before me, who they were, if they loved it or hated it, if it changed their lives perhaps. As I scroll through pages I wonder whether there are dried tears on them or will I still hear a faint reminiscence of laughter or cries of shock and disbelief.
It’s a whole another story with new books. When my finances weren’t as tight as they are today, I would buy tons of new books. These were pretty much the only ones I got. I would buy new books as a show of support and appreciation of writers. They are the ones that supply me with hours of unadulterated joy and pleasure. Without writers, there would be no books. Oh, the horror! Just the thought of it makes me think of hell! Most importantly however, I enjoy reading new books for exactly the opposite reason from the one I have for used books. It makes me excited to know that I will be the very first reader of a book, that I have the story all to myself. I can feel the crispiness of the pages and smell that wonderful, new paper and fresh ink smell. You might call me crazy but somehow I don’t think you will. Something tells me that my experiences might be quite similar to yours.
And without further ado: HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
2009 Suspense & Thriller Reading Challenge (trying to categorize all books was a challenge in itself, I swear):
1. 'A Suitable Vengeance' by Elizabeth George (murder mystery) - DONE
2. 'Deadly Decisions' by Kathy Reichs (forensic thriller) - DONE
3. 'Slip & Fall' by Nick Santora (legal thriller) - DONE
4. An Unsuitable Job For a Woman by P.D. James (private detective thriller) - done
5. 'Friend of the Devil' by Peter Robinson (romantic thriller) - DONE
6. 'A Matter of Roses' by David Manuel (cozy mystery) - done
7. 'The Reincarnationist' by M.J. Rose (action thriller) - DONE
8. 'The Case Has Altered' by Martha Grimes (serial killer thriller) - DONE
9. 'Firestorm' by Iris Johansen (romantic thriller) - DONE
10. Nightwalker by Heather Graham (paranormal thriller) - Done
11. 'Vital Signs' by Robin Cook (medical thriller) - done
12. 'The Mosaic Crimes' by Giulio Leoni (literary thriller) - done
Winter Challenge (COMPLETED)
1. 'King's Fool' by Margaret Campbell Barnes - DONE
2. 'Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark' by Diana Lea Simpson - DONE
3. 'What Would Jane Austen Do?' by Laurie Brown - DONE
4. 'With Violets' by Elizabeth Robards - DONE
5. 'The Testament' by David Morrell - DONE
6. 'Blessings' by Anna Quindlen - DONE
7. 'The Book of Air & Shadows' by Michael Gruber - DONE
8. 'The Book Thief' by Michael Zusak - DONE
9. 'The Hellfire Club' by Peter Straub - DONE
10. 'Autobiography of a Face' by Lucy Grealy - DONE
11. 'Dragon Tears' by Dean Koontz - DONE
12. 'Mr. X' by Peter Straub - DONE
13. 'The Kingmaking' by Helen Hollick - DONE
2. The Plague by Albert Camus - DONE
4. The frenchman's Creek by Dapne Du Maurier - Done
5. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - Done
6. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier - Done
7. Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - DONE
8. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - Done
9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - Done
1. 'House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III - Done2. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult - DONE
3. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - DONE
4. Father Melancholy's Daughter by Gail Godwin - DONE
5. Blessings by Anna Quindlen - DONE
6. Andorra by Peter Cameron - DONE
7. Chocolat by Joanne Harris - DONE
8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - DONE
9. Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo - Done
1. Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee - Done
2. Reading Lolita In Tehran by Azar Nafisi - DONE
3. A Child's Journey Out Of Autism by Leeann Whiffen - DONE
4. Medallions by Zofia Nalkowska - DONE
5. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy - DONE
6. Finding Grace by Donna VanLiere - DONE
7. A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal - DONE
8. Lucky by Alice Sebold - Done
9. Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee - done
1.Blood on His Hands by Mark Sadler - Done
2. The case Has Altered by Martha Grimes - Done
3. Threshold by Bonnie Kozek - Done
4. Always Watching by Brandilyn Collins & Amberly Collin - done
5. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Ghrandhi - done
6. No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer - done
7. The Mosaic Crimes by Giulio Leoni - done
8. Nightwalker by Heather graham - done
9. Vital Signs by Robing Cook - done
1. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
2. Requiem for a Mezzo by Carola Dunne - done
3. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran - done
4. Twenty Seven Bones by Jonathan Nasaw - done
5. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King - done
6. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb - done
7. The Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson - done
8. High Profile by Robert B. parker - done
9. Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich - done
1. Blessed are the Meek by Zofia Kossak - DONE2. King's Fool by Margaret Campbell Barnes - DONE
3. Lady Anne and the Howl In the Dark by Donna Lea Simpson - DONE
4. The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham - DONE
5. The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall - DONE
6. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant - DONE
7. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - DONE
8. The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis - DONE
9. Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick - DONE
1.From a whisper to a scream by Charles de Lint - Done
2. 'Mr. X' by Peter Straub -DONE
3. Dragon Tears - DONE
4. The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub - DONE
5. Afraid by Jack Kilborn - DONE
6. Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant - DONE
7. The Return by Bentley Little - Done
8. The Trickster by Muriel Gray - done
9. Cell by Stephen King - Done
1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - done2. The Day after Tomorrow
3. Wicked Lovely by Marissa Marr - done
4. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr - done
5. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor - done
6. Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr - done
7. Always Watching by Brandilyn Collins & Amberly Collins
8. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler - done
9. Willow by Julia Hoban - done
1. Soulstice by Simon Holt - done
2. Dark Desire by Christine Feehan - done
3. The darkest Fire, Lords of the Underworld prequel by Gena Showalter - done
4. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong - done
5. Wizard by Trade by Jim Butcher - DONE
6. Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione - Done
7. Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts - Done
8. Dark Prince by Christine Feehan - Done
9. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Done
Spiritually Speaking Challenge (Completed)
1. 'Blessed Are The Meek' by Zofia Kossak (fiction) - DONE2. Elijah's Coin by Steve O'Brien - DONE
3. Shame Lifter by Marilyn Hontz - DONE
4. Finding Grace by Donna VanLiere - DONE
5. Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Sahar - DONE
6. Nine Ways God Always Speaks by Mark Herringshaw & jennifer Schuchmann - Done
1. The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale ('profession' in the title)
2. Nightwalker by Heather Graham (time of day) - done
3. 'Father Melancholy's Daughter' by Gail Godwin (a relative) - DONE
4. 'The Fourth Hand' by John Irving (a body part) - done
5. 'House of Sand and Fog' by Andre Dubus III (a building) - Done
6. 'The Plague' by Albert Camus (a medical condition) - DONE
Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge (COMPLETED)
1. 'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris (food name in the title) - DONE
2. 'Andorra' by Peter Cameron (place name in the title) - DONE
3. 'Reading Lolita in Tehran'by Azar Nafisi (about a specific culture and/or authro whose ethnicity is different from mine) - DONE
1.'The Book of Illusions' by Paul Auster - DONE
2. 'One For the Money' by Janet Evanovich - DONE
3. 'High Profile' by Robert B. Parker - DONE
4. 'Hard Truth' by Nevada Barr - DONE
5. 'Death of a Dreamer' by M. C. Beaton - DONE
6. 'The Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid' by Bill Bryson - Done
7. 'Twenty Seven Bones' by Jonathan Nasaw - DONE
8. 'The Beekeeper's Apprentice' by Laurie R. King - DONE
9. Darkfire. Lords of the Underworld prequel by Gena Showalter - done
10. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb - Done
11. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - DONE
12. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr - DONE
I will mention one side of the book that I was not particularly happy about first, so I can have it out of the way and move on to the good parts. I have to admit that all the French phrases were irritating. First of all, not all readers speak French. It is okay to throw in a simple word or two, like ‘Oui’ or ‘Je taime’ which I can understand, and it would be enough to put me in a correct mood of France and Parisian society. However, whole sentences which I do not understand make it difficult to appreciate what I’m reading. Second of all, because some French phrases are followed immediately by English translations, it automatically changes the mood from romantic to somehow robotic. My humble suggestion would be to either stick to English altogether or put in French words that are simple enough for a reader and don’t need translations.
Now, that the criticism is out of the way, I have to say that language is very rich, the author managed to insert an abundance of adjectives and make it seem that what I was reading was a true, Impressionist painting indeed.
Most importantly however, ‘With Violets’ gives us a very complex character in Berthe. A woman who must go through a lot of struggles to remain true to herself and to her artistic vocation. I really enjoyed her internal dialogues, her divide between two personalities: Propriety and Olympia (who was a model for Manet’s nude painting which in a way began the breaking away of art from the convention and was considered rebellious and unacceptable), and how these two finally blended into one, giving Berthe a clear picture of who she truly was. The quote below perfectly describes this brave, intelligent and conflicted woman.
“Inside me two Berthes war: one is the picture of Propriety. The obedient
daughter. The proper lady, quiet and contemplative; the other is an impulsive
woman I scarcely recognize – an ugly creature prone to being swept away, she is
not so compliant, discreet, or pensive – an Olympia of sorts.”
‘With Violets’ gives an insight into a heart ravaged by love for someone who is unattainable, an insight into a mind so driven by an intense emotion, a desire to possess what cannot be possessed that all reason ceases to exist, all logic is thrown away and one’s whole life is on the verge of destruction. But it also shows us how this emotional war taking place in Berthe’s heart and mind prepared her to be strong enough for what is to come: painting, breaking away from the artistic regime and following her intuition to create what she wanted, not what was expected of her.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
2. 'Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark' by Diana Lea Simpson
3. 'What Would Jane Austen Do?' by Laurie Brown
4. 'With Violets' by Elizabeth Robards - DONE
5. 'The Testament' by David Morrell
6. 'Blessings' by Anna Quindlen
7. 'The Book of Air & Shadows' by Michael Gruber
8. 'The Book Thief' by Michael Zusak
9. 'The Hellfire Club' by Peter Straub
10. 'Autobiography of a Face' by Lucy Grealy
11. 'Dragon Tears' by Dean Koontz
12. 'Mr. X' by Peter Straub
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
The Worst Book Ever Written--The Shadow God, by Aaron Rayburn, January 19, 2007
"Trapped under a beam with the countdown ticking away, the monster just on the other side of the battered door, and my friends are trying to free me, I look up at them and yell, "Go on without me. I'll be alright. I'll hold him off while you escape!" And my friends, because they know my sacrifice won't be in vain, make their getaway and when the monster breaks through just as the explosives go off, I know I died saving the lives of my dearest friends."
That pretty much sums up my experience reading Aaron Rayburn's novel, THE SHADOW GOD. I took one for the team, so the rest of you would NEVER have to be subjected to this beast. I beg you, don't let my selflessness be for nothing. Heed my warning. This is the worst book ever written.
The back cover copy reads "Craig Johnson had two best friends, two caring parents, a hot girlfriend, and a nice truck--not bad for a twenty-year-old." Already we're in trouble. The author photo shows Rayburn in all his mid-20s virginal glory. Manson contacts, a black cap turned backwards with a red 666 monogrammed on it, he's posing next to what looks like a rubber demon. His bio includes the line "He also says that he owes a great deal of gratitude to the Devil . . . for filling his mind with such horrific images."
If this book is the most horrific thing the devil can come up, I think humanity is safe from the threat of hell.
There are so many things wrong with this book, I decided to keep notes so I could present them in an orderly fashion, with quotes to back me up. I don't want you to take my word for this novel's horridness, I'm going to let Rayburn speak for himself. We'll start with the plot.
Craig Johnson was cursed at birth when his parents left the town church led by the possibly-evil Father Spiers. Spiers then tricked Craig's father Matt into strangling him, only in the end, Matt had killed, not Father Spiers, but one of the doctors. So Matt's been in jail Craig's entire life. Shortly after Craig's 20th birthday he begins to notice a blue light emanating from his bedroom closet. He calls for his mommy (I'm not making that up, it's on page 14), but she doesn't see any light, so he plays it off like he'd seen a rat, and asks her to check in his closet. After she leaves, Craig is compelled to enter the light, which takes him to the Dark World, which is sometimes like a vast black void, paved of course cuz you have to have something to walk on in a void, and sometimes is like Craig's own neighborhood, complete with the houses of his friends. Those friends, Todd and Mark, are also pulled into the Dark World, but they make their escape and then begins the action as the three try to solve the mystery of the blue light and the dark world. To sum up--this book is 454 pages, okay?--Craig is the reincarnation of Abel, the Shadow God is Cain, and Father Spiers is Cain's acolyte, sent to prepare for his return to the real world. In the midst of all this Mark is killed and resurrected by Ridley, a club owner/satanist (he runs The Satanist Group Association. Again, I wish I was making this up!) and servant to Spiers and the Shadow God.
Craig's girlfriend, his mother, his father, as well as Mark's sister Margie and Todd's parents, are all killed and the cops think Craig did it. One cop does, anyway, Detective Jim Underwood, son of the doctor Craig's father Matt strangled to death 20 years earlier. DUN-DUN-DUN!!! There's a showdown where Craig is sucked into another portal to face Cain, who then becomes a dragon, and Todd jumps in to help his friend, they all die--except Craig--and we live happily ever after. Okay, I know it doesn't seem THAT bad from the plot. But I haven't begun quoting yet. Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."
Rayburn wasn't even close.
"Spiers's eyes popped extraneously from their sockets, as his face turned from a deep red to a sickly purple."
"Extraneous" means "irrelevant." I don't think that's what he meant. At least, I hope not.
Here's my favorite:
"The lamp's glow was very weak compared to the blue glow emancipating from the basement."
Emanating, Rayburn, EMANATING.
When will people learn never to trust their SpellCheck without verifying it's the word they meant??? There are, in total, 11 instances of Rayburn using the wrong word, and believe me, each one is funnier than the last.
Okay, one more.
"It infiltrated his lungs, filling them with a kind of innovativeness he had never felt before."
To be honest, I don't know what word he meant, but I keep seeing Craig's lung filing patents for a dozen new inventions, getting promotions for discovering an even newer formula for Tide laundry detergent, or finding the cure for cancer.
Then there are the characters. Craig and his buddies are all 20, they're in college, and they have cars and money. Craig bribes the guard with hundred dollar bills when he's trying to get in to see his father in prison. Yet never in the entire book do these men go to class, nor to a job. Where did Craig get his "nice truck"? His mother works "odd jobs", so I doubt she co-signed the loan.
And the dialogue. Oh dear, the dialogue.
"That's probably the fiercest dragon known to man," Craig tells Todd toward the end. Because, you know, we have so many different kinds of dragons in the world with which to compare. Okay, so he uses the wrong word and his characters are morons. You can overlook a misused word here and LOTS of writers are horrible with characters. Hell, I'm guilty of this myself. But sometimes he just plain gets his facts WRONG:
"The stranger was beastly in size with thick, bushy eyebrows, a prominent protruding forehead, and a thick, black coarse beard. His gait was that of a mammal--a Neanderthal."
I know I never went to college, but um . . . do you think Rayburn knows HUMAN BEINGS are mammals as well?
And later we learn that Cain and Abel were Neanderthals who lived in the stone age, feared dinosaurs, and that Cain was kicked out of the Garden of Eden for slaying his brother. Dude, Cain and Abel weren't born until a LONG time after Adam and Eve--the only two people who ever lived in the Garden of Eden--were kicked out.
And not only is this the worst book ever written, it's also the worst-written book ever.
"Of all the things to think, he never thought he'd think that."
"Already, he knew he wouldn't be able to do it. In fact, he KNEW he wouldn't."
Wasn't that already established in the previous sentence?
"Eubanks looked annoyed. He exhaled annoyingly and said..."
You know what? I could do this all night.
THE SHADOW GOD is the perfect example of everything that's wrong with publishing in today's world. Anyone with the notion--talent or not--can write a "book", then contact a place like AuthorHouse ("publisher" of this fine volume and, I'm sure, Rayburn's second novel which I don't care enough to look up the title to), and unleash this mess on an unsuspecting world. And then we wonder why no one reads anymore. Why should they? If this is the kind of stuff they're being subjected to.
Used to be a writer had to learn to WRITE before they could get published. Now, all you need is a couple thousand dollars and you got yourself a book. Talent? Who needs it? Skill? What for? Learning to write? Are you kidding me? Forget about it, I've got this here manyooscript and an address I can get it printed, I'mma be one of dem novelists. Riches, here I comes!!!
It's enough to make aspiring writers want to give up seeking legitimate publishing venues. Please don't. Just be sure to write better than this guy. God knows it won't be difficult. Or should I say, God knows it won't be deficit.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I liked the book because even though it was a quick read, or maybe due to it, the writing was very engaging and the main theme is remembrance of things past and living with the mistakes from the past. I could not reveal the important event in the book because that would spoil it for those who have not read it yet and would like to but I can tell you that it is something that happens to many of us and something that mobilizes us into doing things differently, living our lives in the present but minding our decisions from the past and trying to not make them again.
Some critics say that Ms. Fowler writes with the intensity of Jodi Picoult. I would say that yes her story-telling is intense but also gentle in a way that we are not slammed in the head with rapidly developing events but slowly introduced into the lives and hearts of the characters, giving us time to understand them, their decisions, past and present and to not rush into judgments. This is not to say that I wasn’t moved deeply by the book. I, in fact, wept as if I were Carson or Meg myself. But I am glad that I did because a good crying was something I needed for a long time and this book proved to be once again a therapy.
Monday, December 15, 2008
1. Started my own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than I can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyworld/land
8. Climbed a mountain (quite a few actually, I almost got sick of all that climbing).
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sung a solo.
11. Bungee jumped (nothing will ever be motivating enough for me to do it).
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched lightening at sea.
14. Taught myself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown my own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitchhiked (teenage years in Poland).
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb (not a lamb but a baby pig).
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a Marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (for personal reasons, it's a rather painful memory now).
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught myself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.
41. Sung karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance (unfortunately, having a baby wasn't the reason).
47. Had my portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (many times, I used live two hours driving away from Auschwitz).
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar (and absolutely hated it).
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had my picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous (Rudy Guiliani)
92. Joined a book club (online).
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee (not technically a bee. A wasp, but I think it counts).
100. Rode an elephant.
Only 29. It looks like I might have some catching up to do.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I started reading ‘Outlander’ a few years ago despite my strong inclinations against reading romance novels. At the time my personal life was not going very well and as an effect I stopped reading this book abruptly due to frustration and anger. Those negative feelings truly had nothing to do with the book itself, only with me wanting to identify badly with wonderful romantic life of the main characters in the novel.
A few days back I had no choice but to start reading ‘Outlander’ yet again. I write ‘no choice’ because someone lent me ‘Lord John and the Private Matter’ which tells the adventures of a character from the ‘Outlander’ series. Being obsessive-compulsive about reading series books, I had to read the first one in Ms. Gabaldon’s before heading on to ‘Lord John’. And I am very glad that I gave ‘Outlander’ another chance. It is a wonderful novel. To say it is a romance would do injustice to it. The book fits many genres really, adventure, historical fiction, fantasy, just to name a few.
The heroine, Claire Beauchamp, is magically transported from 1945 Scotland to 1744 Scotland. There, many adventures await her but most importantly, she meets Jamie Fraser who will become the love of her life. Yes, I said it. I know it sounds cliché but nowhere can that cliché be truer as in this novel. Claire and James are one of the most endearing characters I had the pleasure to meet in a long time. Thanks to the author and her very skillful writing, I found myself adoring the two as separate, complicated, stubborn and feisty characters as well as a couple, joined in bodies and souls through the hardships they had to endure.
That same skillful writing gave me a true insight into 18th century Scotland. I read about the customs, the people, the culture without getting bored a bit but instead wanting to know more. I actually caught myself saying things like ‘Verra weel’ or ‘Dinna kin, lassie’ to my daughter a few times.
And then, to add to all that I got to read a true gem , a statement of a monk which I will carry with me because it astounded me with its simplicity and beauty:
“For that fraction of time it seems as though all things are possible. You can
look across the limitations of your own life, and see that they are really
nothing. In that moment when time stops, it is as though you know you could
undertake any venture, complete it and come back to yourself, to find the world
unchanged, and everything just as you left it a moment before. And it’s as
though, knowing that everything is possible, suddenly nothing is necessary.”
Just for that one fragment the whole book would have been worth reading. But it is worth reading for so much more, for the laughter, for the tears, for the heartbreak, and for the joy.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Anyway, the content of the book certainly measures up to the title and I highly recommend it to all readers because we are nothing if we’re not politically incorrect. That’s why I treasure the art of writing. It is probably the only area of our lives where we truly can write whatever we want to without the fear of censorship (true, the author might not score big bucks but I still believe that money is not the reason why people write and best literature is always written as art for art’s sake).
Friday, December 12, 2008
What does your music say about you?
Put your iPod, Windows Media Player, or whatever music player on shuffle.
For each question, press the ‘next’ button to get your answer.
You must write that song name down no matter how silly it sounds.
Title this post the same as the answer to the final question.
1. IF SOMEONE ASKS, “IS THIS OKAY?” YOU ANSWER:
'Umbrella' - Rihanna
2. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
'Stuck in a Moment' - U2 (scary)
3. WHAT DO LIKE IN A GIRL/GUY?
'Walk on' - U2
4. HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
'One' - U2
5. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
'With or without you' - U2 (ok, so I'm a U2 fan)
6. WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
'Unforgiven' - Metallica
7. WHAT DO YOU OFTEN THINK ABOUT?
'Unforgiven II' - Metallica (I guess we're in sync)
8. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
'Nothing Else Matters' - Metallica
9. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
'Sexy Back' - Timbaland (hmmmm)
10. WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
'Bonnie & Clyde '03' - Jay Z & Beyonce
11. WHAT SONG DID/WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
'All Cried Out' - Allure (that's eerie)
12. WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
'Insatiable' - Darren Hayes
13. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR?
'Femme Like U' - K-Maro
14. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
'The Last Gospel' - Holy Trinity
15. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
'Ave Maria' - Josh Groban
16. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO NAME THIS POST?
'Amazing Grace' - Il Divo
You get to tag 7 other bloggers. I choose Cathy, J. Kaye, Jeska, Diane, Lynda, Bethanny and Amy.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
1. 'Sense and Sensibility' by Jane Austen (January - classic literature)
2. 'Arthur and George' by Julian Barnes (February - fiction)
3. 'Running with Scissors' by Augusten Burroughs (March - memoir)
4. 'From a Whisper to a Scream' by Charles De Lint (April - Sci-Fi)
5. 'Mary Queen of Scots' by Antonia Fraser (May - historical non-fiction)
6. 'The Boleyn Inheritance' by Philippa Gregory (June - hitorical fiction)
7. 'The Face' by Dean Koontz (July - horror)
8. 'Atlantis Found' by Clive Cussler (August - adventure)
9. 'Equal Rites' by Terry Pratchett (September - fantasy)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I struggled with writing this review for the whole time while I was reading ‘A Feast For Crows’. I wanted to write an ok review simply because it is a part of a true epic and any writer who is capable of writing nearly four thousand pages without boring the reader to death deserves to have some praises written about them. Mr. Martin did manage to write a true epic and I know that he has hundreds of thousands of fans. One has to have one heck of an imagination to create all the complicated characters, all plots of revenge, raging wars and keep track of it all.
However, ‘A Feast For Crows’ made me immensely upset and frustrated. I really wanted to like it, I love reading fantasy, it is a genre I have read since my teenage years and I had hoped this book to be what I expect a fantasy fiction to be. I wanted hardcore magic (both black and white), supernatural beings and animals with great powers. I found only small instances of feeble magic, there was a mention of sinister supernatural beings that were threatening to overtake and destroy the human population and of big vicious direwolfs. But all that never really came to fruition, I thought that after reading the three previous books I would finally be rewarded for my patience in the fourth one and see these characters play a major role but I was disappointed. All I got was more killings, more fighting and some scheming. A lot of times I felt I was reading some poor replica of Bible’s ‘Exodus’ with descriptions of clans, this man was a son of that one and a cousin of another one and great-great-grandson of this one and married to the girl that came from yet another family of highborns, etc. I skipped many pages because of that, I didn’t see the point in reading something I couldn’t keep track of anyway.
All and all, even though there are supposed to be two more parts to this series I will not be buying them. And going back to the reasons for buying new books I mentioned at the beginning, maybe reading the praises at the back covers simply that convinced me to buy this one in the first place also created great expectations towards the series. One of them praised Mr. Martin as an American Tolkien and believe me Tolkien he is not.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I came upon this poem a few years ago. It made me cry so beautiful it is. And so true as well. I am putting the picture of my sister and me when we were little kids because every time I read 'Desiderata' I think that if those two girls knew it then and tried to live by it, maybe they would be different women today.
written by Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
Therefore be at peace with God,
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
Friday, December 5, 2008
1. Read 6 books from January 31st, 2009 to June 30th, 2009.
2. The main theme of all the titles you choose must be spiritual, metaphysical or self-help.
3. The books can be both fiction & non-fiction.
4. You don't have to have a blog to participate* (read up for a small amendment)
5. A new copy of 'Happiness is a Choice' by Barry Neil Kaufman will be raffled away at the
end of the challenge among the participants. You don't have to do anything special, just have
fun! And let's fate decide who gets the prize.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
My love for books is unconditional, non-discriminatory, I love them one and all. And then I read them and I realize that they love me back. They give back the love I have for them. How is it possible? Well, reading is my therapy. And I do not use this word lightly. In my short to medium length life, I have gone through many therapies, I have suffered many bouts of two crippling mental illnesses (one is depression, the other I will not mention for there is still too much stigma attached to it in my opinion) and I know I will suffer many more. I know today that reading has gotten me through all of that. When nothing else worked I would read. When the outside world was too much, I read. When I thought I would go irreparably insane I escaped into reading. Books gave me, over and over again, what the real world couldn’t give, books were to me what the real people couldn’t be. And then what a blessing! After having suffered destructive episodes, I would go back to the normal world and discover that I could read books for the sheer pleasure of it.
Yes, books and reading were and will still be my saviors. I owe much to them, they owe me nothing and yet they still keep giving.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
1. 'Captain Alatriste' by Arturo Perez-Reverte ('profession' in the title)
2. 'Night Work' by Steve Hamilton (time of day)
3. 'Father Melancholy's Daughter by Gail Godwin (a relative)
4. 'The Fourth Hand' by John Irving (a body part)
5. 'House of Sand and Fog' by Andre Dubus III (a building)
6. The Plague' by Albert Camus (a medical condition)
1. 'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris (food name in the title)
2. 'Andorra' by Peter Cameron (place name in the title)
3. 'Reading Lolita in Tehran' by Azar Nafisi (about a specific culture and/or author whose
ethnicity is different from mine)
Monday, December 1, 2008
The premise of the book is admittedly a difficult one to grasp and to draw considerable readership at the same time. It is a religious novel, it is about God and His Son, and one thing I personally am grateful for, being a Christian, is that it was not blasphemous in any way. However, the writing style of Anne Rice did not appeal to me as much as it did while reading ‘The Witching Hour’. It somehow felt lacking and it isn’t even something specific I could put my finger on. The novel was maybe a little too short, it felt at times that the author just wanted to breeze through the life of Christ without really getting too deep into anything. The story is told in first person, that person happens to be Jesus and it was interesting to look at His life from His perspective. The things I did enjoy were the portrayal of Jesus as a human being, a person who didn’t quite grasp Himself who He really was and the success of Rice to show how Christ was at the same time just like everybody else, had the same temptations and emotions yet He was different without even trying to be from the very beginning.
All and all, I would recommend this book to people who believe in God, in Jesus, to people who are looking for a spiritual uplift. However, the agnostics and atheists, the skeptics and non-believers will most likely not fall in love with this novel.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
This one was a little boring and also confusing at the same time: too many plots going on, too many characters, hard to keep track and the ending wasn't very shocking or anything that would justify sticking with reading the book to the end.
I will post reviews or thoughts only on the ones I really. really enjoyed.
1.'A Suitable vengeance' - Elizabeth George
2.'Deadly Decisions' - Kathy Reichs
3.'Slip & Fall' - Nick Santora
4.'Mr. Clarinet' - Nick Stone
5.'Friend of the Devil' - Peter Robinson
6.'Cain His Brother' - Anne Perry
7.'The Reincarnationist' - M.J. Rose
8.'The Case Has Altered' - Martha Grimes
9.'Firestorm' - Iris Johansen
10.'Moonstone' - Wilkie Collins
11.'Vital Signs' - Robin Cook
12.'Not in the Flesh' - Ruth Rendell
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I bought The Religion by Tim Willocks a little over a year ago. Since then it was staying on my bookshelf with hundreds of other books that I just somehow didn’t have time to read. The reasons for it were many but one of them was that I knew the premise of the book which is the time in history when there is a jihad raging against the Western world. I thought I had had enough books about how horrible the Catholic Church was and all the atrocities it committed in the name of God. Boy, was I wrong!
As I already mentioned, the background of the novel is Sultan Suleiman’s jihad against the Knights of Saint John the Baptist who called themselves The Religion. It is obviously a historical novel that takes place in the mid 1500’s. I would list all the main characters besides Mattias Tannhauser but that would be revealing more than I wish. There are a few things however that I will say about this book.
From the very first pages I was amazed at the richness of language the author used. It was a big surprise for me after reading countless other books written in the 21st century. I lost my hope that there will be another writer like Alexandre Dumas completely. Yet, Willocks just might be the one. There is everything in this book a reader would wish for: adventure, love, passion, hatred, intrigue, you think of it and it is there. It is not however a book to be taken lightly and categorized as one genre and not another. The author eloquently weaves love and war together. The ravages of the heart love causes and the damage done to the mind and soul by war make a reader wonder which one is worse and if in fact they might be one and the same. To some war is their hearts’ deepest desire and fighting for the right cause (even if it’s the lost cause) their greatest reward. For others, mercy, passion and love for another human being give the same fulfillment. But for the main characters it is a constant struggle between the two.
One of my favorite parts is music. How beautifully it is described! What piercing impact it has on all listening to it in the midst of terror and horrors beyond our imaginings! Truly, the novel turned out to be much more complex with its paradoxes, idiosyncrasies and similarities between the phenomena of love and war than I was prepared for when I started reading it. The Religion is one of those few novels that a reader finds him/herself reading not for the plot and what will happen next but for the sheer pleasure of reading, the intricacies of language and complexities of character.
I could write much, much more about The Religion and Tim Willocks’s writing talent. Suffice it to say that I was absolutely taken in and while reading the book could not think about anything else. I still think about it now even thought the book is finished. If you pick up The Religion, get ready for quite a ride!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
1. 'Compulsion' - Jonathan Kellerman - DONE
2. 'The Road to Cana' - Anne Rice - DONE
3. 'A Feast for Crows' - George R.R. Martin - DONE (finally)
4. 'Outlander' - Diana Gabaldon
5. 'Lord John & the Private Matter' - Diana Gabaldon
I hope to post reviews of my favorite ones and simple comments on all the others. I do not want to post mean words however I believe that if a book is really not worth the time I should let other readers know. After all not every writer was supposed to be one or a good one for that matter.
1. A Suitable Vengeance – Elizabeth George - DONE
2. Ghostwalk – Rebecca Stott
3. Left Behind - Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins - DONE
4. 'Father Melancholy's Daughter - Gail Godwin - DONE
5. 'House of Sand and Fog' - Andre Dubus III - done
6. 'The Plague' - Albert Camus - DONE
7.'Chocolat' - Joanne Harris - DONE
8. 'Andorra' - Peter Cameron - DONE
9. 'Reading Lolita in Tehran' - Azar Nafisi - DONE
10. 'Blessed Are The Meek' by Zofia Kossak (fiction) - DONE
11. 'Deadly Decisions' by Kathy Reichs - DONE
12. 'Slip & Fall' by Nick Santora - DONE
13. 'Friend of the Devil' by Peter Robinson (DONE)
14. 'The Reincarnationist' by M.J. Rose - DONE
15. 'Firestorm' by Iris Johansen - DONE
16. 'The Kingmaking' by Helen Hollick - DONE
17. 'King's Fool' by Margaret Campbell Barnes - DONE
18. 'Lady Anne and the Howl I the Dark' by Donna Lea Simpson - DONE
19. 'The Testament' by David Morrell - DONE
20. 'Blessings' by Anna Quindlen - DONE
21. 'Mr. X' by Peter Straub - DONE
22. 'Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins - DONE
23. The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber - DONE
24. Conan Doyle's Wallet by Patrick McNamara - DONE
25. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - DONE
26. Medallions by Zofia Nalkowska - DONE
27. A Child's Journey Out Of Autism - DONE
28. Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz - DONE
29. Gauntlet by Richard Aaron - DONE
30. The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub - DONE
31. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy - DONE
32. Wizard by Trade by JIm Butcher - DONE
33. The Day After Tomorrow by Sandee Sgarlata - DONE
34. Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo - Done
35. The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham - DONE
36. For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn - DONE
37. The Red Siren by M. L. Tyndall - DONE
38. Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione - DONE
39. Stakes & Stilletos by Michelle Rowen - DONE
40. For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhahn - DONE
41. BoneMan's Daughter by Ted Dekker - DONE
42. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant - DONE
43. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman - DONE
44. Elijah's Coin by Steve O'Brien - DONE
45. Afraid by Jack Kilborn - DONE
46. Shame Lifter by Marilyn Hontz - DONE
47. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - DONE
48. Finding Grace by Donna VanLiere - DONE
49. A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal - DONE
50. The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis - DONE
51. Follow Me by Joanna Scott - DONE
52. Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick - DONE
53. Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar - DONE
54. Angel of Wrath by Bill Myers - DONE
55. Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer -DONE
56. The Frenchamn's Creek - by Dapne du Maurier - DONE
57. The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer - DONE
58. Why Shoot the butler by Georgette Heyer - DONE
59. The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins - DONE
60. Two Brothers by David H. Jones - DONE
61. Nine Ways God Always Speaks - Done
62. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier - Done
63. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer - done
64. One Thousand White Woman by Jim Fergus - DONE
65. Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant - DONE
66. Change of heart by Jodi Picoult - DONE
67. The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood - DONE
68. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory - DONE
69. The Return by Bentley Little - DONE
70. Lucky by Alice Sebold - DONE
71. The art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein - DONE
72. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse - Done
73. Annette Vallon by James Tipton - Done
74. Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts - Done
75. Blood on his hands by Mark P. Sadler - Done
76. The Age of innocence by Edith Wharton - Done
77. Cell by Stephen King - Done
78. From a whisper to a scream by Charles de Lint - Done
79. The Case Has Altered by Martha grimes - Done
80. Threshold by Bonnie Kozek - Done
81. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - done
82. Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris - done
83. God Is an Englishman by R. F. Delderfield - done
84. The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner - done
85. I Do Again by Cheryl & Jeff Scruggs - done
86. To Serve Them All My Days by R. F. Delderfield - done
87. Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee - done
88. The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes - done
One of such books was 'Broken', a story of William Cope Moyers and his addiction to almost everything there is to get addicted to. The book is moving, it is also worth reading if only for the simple fact that this is not some made-up story with fictious characters that never actually had a life beyond the pages of the book. This is as real as it can get, Moyers does not spare himself, does not try 'airbrush' anything about his person. The letters from his dad are especially moving because of the pain of a parent that is not obvious but that you can discover reading between the lines.
There are two things (or maybe it is actually one and the same problem) that I struggled with from the beginning to the end of the story. One: the enormous self-pity that permeates through the whole book, and two: the constant yet not obvious blaming of his parents and his life circumstances for his addiction. Moyers' family really was good (why he uses quotation marks for this word I don't understand), they did do all they could to give him a good life and wondering on his part what could've been or wouldn't have been had his family not been in denial is just simply ridiculous. Even after 12 years of not taking he still is not ready to take the absolute guilt for whatever happened to him. There were no traumatic experiences in his life so he decided to make a scene of the family struck by lightning something that would traumatize him. Seriously, self-pity in its ugliest form was what got him into the addiction and if anything he could blame his 'broken' life on it.
Friday, November 21, 2008
If you read “The Stand” by Stephen King or Ted Dekker’s “The Circle Trilogy”, you’ll get the idea. We already know that there is a horrible possibility of a biological threat looming above our heads but how many times do you really have to read about it? Personally I think that as old as “The Stand” is, it is still the most original novel written on this topic. The interesting issue about “Germ” is the true facts about the Ebola virus, meaning that we still do not know where it came from, where it disappears after the outbreak, who are the carriers of it ( because it does not ‘hibernate’ in either monkeys or humans ).
It certainly leaves you with something to think about and if this is your first book about the viruses developed to annihilate humans, then by all means do read it. Other than that, it is a good entertainment for a night or two but not much else.