Saturday, February 28, 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Pros: A book with a woman at a healthy size instead of that 00 crap.
Cons: How many times can the whole guys-betting-on-women stuff be done?
The Bottom Line: Cute. Not phenomenal, but cute.
When I was in a writing program, before each residency we read from one of the chosen genres that time around. At that time, it was Romance’s turn and they chose Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise. Not a bad choice.
Our main girl is Minerva Dobbs (or just Min) who overhears a bet being made between ex-boyfriend/dirtbag David and playboy Calvin. Ten thousand dollars says Cal can’t get Min into bed within a month. Now the hitch – what exactly does Min hear? Does Calvin really take the bet? And why on Earth do they keep bumping into each other for? Is it really fate?
That’s the book in a major nutshell, really. There’s Min’s friends, her sister’s wedding, everyone’s parents, David, and Calvin’s ex-girlfriend to deal with. While it isn’t a layered book, obviously, it does well in keeping from turning boring. I mean, after all, who reading this hasn’t heard of the whole men-betting-on-women plot? It’s one of those books you read for fun, to enjoy yourself while you’re on break at work or just kicking back and drinking a cup of coffee.
Likewise, the characters aren’t horribly 3D either, but I doubt you’ll much care because they’re fleshed out enough to get all the points across. You quickly start to hate David, you think Cal’s ex-girlfriend has major issues, and even if you don’t believe in one of Min’s friends hooking up ridiculously fast with one of Cal’s buddies, it’s no big deal. Hey, nothing wrong with hoping and believing in the fairy tale, right? It’s all about the happily ever after.
There’s plenty of sexual tension in the book, but very little sex (in case you’re curious). Half the time you’re just hanging out with Min and her friends, Min and Cal, or Min elsewhere probably thinking about Cal. Yet it’s still rather entertaining, though I still wish Min would have lost it on her mother the same way she stood up to Cal’s parents. Which, by the way, leads me into the size issue of Min. I’ve read other romance books and remember hearing about flat stomachs, trim waists, blah blah blah. Here, I was delighted to find that Min was a lovely-sized girl, likely a 10 or 12. I wanted her to freak out on her mother because her mom kept telling her she was fat – a ridiculous claim because 10 or 12 is NOT fat by any means. Frankly, I’ve heard that’s the size most women either are, or should be. It was just nice for a change to read about a heroine who wasn’t a size 4 and under (while I, ironically, am a size 4 – metabolism through mom). And anyway, starving oneself is not going to make you lose weight anyway, so that’s a pathetic “diet option.”
Er, right, the book. Sorry about that. I’m just sick of the stereotype crap. Anywho, it’s a fun book. Bright and chipper, with the necessary amount of tension and happy clapping at the end (no, no one actually claps, but you might in a sort of “yay!” fashion). Actually, I think the part I liked the best was the last chapter where you get to hear what happened to everyone once the happily ever after part went through. I always have loved the end tidbits that let you know where everyone went.
So yeah. Go read it. Enjoy. Oh, and about the title - Min has a lot of fun, unique shoes. And yes, there is a reason for them.
Originally published on Epinions.com.
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, February 21, 2015
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Pros: Loved the characters, interesting read, nicely done
Cons: Verb tense switching, can easily be substituted for the more visual movie
The Bottom Line: When you're done, go check out the real Death's Head Moth - it's super cool looking...
A week or so ago I had to leave the house for a few hours so it could be shown to potential buyers. Now, I’ve got a list of books I want to read, so whenever I leave the house for showings, I head to the library and scope out new possibilities. Except half the time I end up ordering books from other libraries anyway. Still, this time I was hoping that Hannibal would be on the shelf for me to read. I'd seen the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it and wanted to see how its paper counterpart would treat me. That’s right – enough of this Fear Street kid stuff and into bigger and better things.
Well, much to my dismay, Hannibal wasn’t there. But Silence of the Lambs was. I actually hadn’t intended to read all of it…but I figured why not? Might as well read this first anyway and see how the novel by Thomas Harris differs from the movie. Haha…
Clarice Starling, FBI agent in training at Quantico. Pretty student with exceptional skills. Jack Crawford, head of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science section has noted Starling’s dedication and has come up with an assignment for her. No one has successfully interviewed the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter, aka Hannibal the Cannibal. Lecter has killed nine (known) people and had a taste of most of them. However, he is also highly intelligent when it comes to psychology, and it may be possible for him to add some insight into the FBI’s latest case.
Buffalo Bill, as the media has dubbed him, has been snatching up women, skinning them in various places, and dumping their bodies in the river. There is no pattern, no understood motive, and no way to find out where he will strike next or where he is located. What began as a simple interview with Dr. Lecter turns into a multi-state hunt by Clarice, seeking out clues to Dr. Lecter’s words that can lead to the capture of Buffalo Bill. There is more to this than just kidnapping and murdering women, and to figure it out, she has to get inside Lecter’s head – after allowing him inside hers – and must overcome her own prejudices, self-criticism, and ignorance of others to save Buffalo Bill’s latest prey.
If you are like me and happen to be curious of how this compares to the movie, let’s just say you can watch the movie and not miss much of anything. At all. The movie actually follows the book as close as I’ve ever seen a movie version do before. There are only minor alterations, and they only add to the movie.
In this way, I am a little disappointed. I was hoping for more details, more interaction between Lecter and Starling, things that weren’t in the movie that would have been great there. No such luck. The description is actually pretty cut and dry. That’s not to say it isn’t good description; some of the ways Starling sees Crawford were good and I enjoyed her little thoughts that popped up from time to time. And I never knew Lecter had six fingers.
Taking the movie out of the equation, it’s a good book. Good story, steady plot, very nice pacing, and dialogue that went right with the characters. One thing I particularly liked is some of the detail Harris put in when it came to guns, the moth, etc. It makes me wonder how much research Harris did before working this novel out. Unless it’s all fake, but somehow I doubt that. Real life detail always adds an extra bit of zing to a book. I’m certain I’d be a lot more excited about this book had I never seen the movie. However, I did like other parts of this book because they explained things to me I don’t believe I ever caught in the movie. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, I don’t know, but I never understood what Starling was doing asking questions near the end in the little town in Ohio when she knew the SWAT teams were moving in on another house near Chicago. Now I do. Hooray.
One thing Harris did that I don’t really get and wasn’t really fond of was switch his tenses. Most of the time a chapter would start out in present tense “The desk faces east and Crawford stands next to it,” and then a few paragraphs later would slip right into past tense, “Starling walked from the room and went down the hall.” I failed to see the purpose of this. Personally, I don’t like tense flopping unless it’s used to emphasize something, but it didn’t seem to do that here and I can’t exactly figure out why Harris did it. To get us back into the moment quicker? To lure us in more somehow? I can only speculate. I got used to it after a while, but it still struck me as odd.
I very much liked Clarice Starling in this book. She was bright, strong, and a much cooler Starling than I ever took Jodie Foster for. I never liked her in that role and was excited when Julianne Moore took it in Hannibal. Starling to me was much younger here, sharp and ready to go. Lecter, admittedly, was creepier in this book because I couldn’t picture him as Anthony Hopkins, haha. Hopkins was simply great and creepy in his own way, but this Lecter and the way he was described, was just…something that could lead to skin crawling. I enjoyed all the character insights Harris gave his readers.
A very good and compelling book. It can be difficult to put down at times – especially when you’re looking forward to the Lecter-Starling chit-chats. Now to read Hannibal and then revert back and check out the newest Thomas Harris installment, Hannibal Rising.
Originally published on Epinions.com.
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, February 14, 2015
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Pros: Fascinating in a strange way
Cons: Problems with main character, ending leaves a lot to be desired
The Bottom Line: If you like mysteries (or that CSI stuff), give it a try. If not, *shrug*
I know this blog is called "A Bookseller Recommends," but let's face it - it's pretty much turned into a review blog at this point. After all, I'm bound to run out of recommendable goodies at some point. So, time to review one I’m not so happy about.
When I read the blurb for Tana French’s In the Woods I was immediately intrigued. A boy found alone in the woods with his two friends missing? Four scratches cutting through the back of his shirt? His shoes filled with blood? Whoa – what happened?? And now, years later when the same boy, Adam Rob Ryan, has become a detective, a girl is killed in those same woods. Is there a connection? Could he finally remember what happened all those years ago in the woods, and will it help catch the young girl’s killer?
Ok, now, don’t get me wrong. Yes, I gave this book four stars because overall, that is what it deserves. French has some impressive description going on, and as a writer who struggles with good description, I give credit where it’s due, certainly.
On the same note, I enjoyed her female character, Cassie, a great deal. She had her secrets, but she was strong, smart, and knew when to pick her battles. Even though she’s dealt with some sticky situations of her own, she’s managed to keep her head on straight.
While some may find the book to be a semi-slow read, and though a few times I did get a little Monty Python “Get on with it!” impatient, as a whole, I was intrigued, stuck in the whole case with everyone else. This isn’t fast, dashing murder mystery adventure. Rather, it’s more realistic in that the detectives got stuck several times with no leads, nothing to do, and were trying to find their way through the mire of all their troubles. There was clue searching, forensic dealings with a normal time frame (none of this CSI crap), interrogations, and legal hang-ups. Murder cases don’t solve themselves overnight (most of the time anyway), and this one spans weeks. You’re not following every single cup of coffee – but you do follow them when it’s important.
Half of the book focuses on the case and its difficulties. The other half focuses on the main character, Ryan, and his problems with the case and its relations with his past, as well as his relations to his partner Cassie. This is where some of my problems begin. I can appreciate Ryan’s issues, his angst, and the ways this new case is sort of screwing with his brain. However, the way French began the book kind of threw me off. In some ways Ryan seemed a little bipolar in that the way I initially got a dark vibe from him and thought of him in that light the remainder of the book. As such, it became really weird when he joked like any other fun guy with Cassie. He joked, laughed, and acted like there were no problems in his life at all. I know, people can do that, but because as a reader I was so immersed into his thoughts all the time (which were never, ever nearly that chipper) it just seemed really weird. And the way he described himself, it didn’t seem like he was the guy that could joke. I was just thrown off a lot of the time.
My second main problem is the red herrings that French threw in there – if they were red herrings at all. At one point there was almost a Stephen King-like creature that could have been stalking the woods. There are at least three very strong incidences that point to this, and yet it is never explained nor debunked, and in the end I really wanted to know what the point of it was. Likewise, the whole previous case involving Ryan when he was a child. I ask – what was the point of it? Just to get him screwed up further? To ruin him? Show his problems? I have major, major issues with the ending because of these things. By page 300 I was getting really impatient and when page 418 rolled around I wanted at least one of three things to happen in order for me to be at least partially satisfied. None of them happened. In some ways, it’s almost like there was no resolution at all.
I’ve read that in order to have a good story, your reader needs to feel satisfied at the end. Like something has been accomplished. Nothing, to me, was accomplished save maybe one important thing, while the rest just floundered and either annoyed me greatly or bored me. I know, not all stories have happy endings and this particular book reflected life as it often tends to pan out. However, while I’m often able to accept an ending where the hero doesn’t ride off into the sunset, successful, stories that are dreary like a clouded day that reflect life at some of its low points without any oomf to the end annoy me greatly (as I’ve said). Heck, if I wanted something like this, I could watch the news.
That’s why the last star isn’t there. A not-so-great hero and a scant ending. Still, I can’t deny the meat of the rest of the book. I give this a tentative recommendation. It’s good – you just can’t expect a filling end. Just keep that in mind if you decide to read the book. That way you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
Originally published on Epinions.com.
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, February 07, 2015
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Pros: Crazy take on witches; great story; mice are awesome!
The Bottom Line: Need to know the real story about creatures that are called witches? Then this is the story for you!
I’ve had this book…oh, forever. Actually the one I have now used to be my sister’s. Of course, if you look at the picture above, that’s what is coming out now (and the one I’m sending to a child in need of a good book – not my 20-year old copy). I’ve always loved the story (and honestly, the movie adaptation is pretty good too) and I figured it could be something a kid would enjoy as much as I did.
Witches do not ride around on brooms. They don’t wear black cloaks and wear pointy hats. REAL witches look like ordinary women, out and about just like anyone else. There are a few things you can look for, and if you notice them, be sure to steer clear – especially if you’re a child! One little boy knows all about these things through his grandmother. When the two take a trip and stay in a luxurious hotel, he notices a few things about the group of ladies staying there. They seem to all be witches! But what can one boy do against so many witches, especially once he gets caught! You’ll have to read to find out.
I loved Roald Dahl’s wacky, completely different take on witches. Instead of the typical Wizard of Oz, Halloween style witch we have all come to known, Dahl’s witches are ghastly creatures that seek only to rid the earth of children. Ambitious yes, but they have a lot of scary and strange methods of doing it. The stories the grandmother tells the boy are very imaginative, as is the rest of the story. It’s so much fun and it leaves you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Read this to your kids and just watch their little eyes go wide as they hang on the words. His description is great; everything is so vivid, some of it might make you all cringy and other times you'll smile and giggle. It's written in first person, so you get the whole story from the boy who lived it, which makes for a neat take - especially when you find out what happened to him!
I particularly loved the ingredients that go into Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse-Maker (loved the name of the potion as well). I thought it was all very ingenious, really. The end of a telescope to make the child grow smaller? An alarm clock set to a specific time to make sure the change happens right as scheduled? I want to also mention the dialect put on the Grand High Witch’s dialogue. I always thought it was great and I never had a problem reading it. Her whole manner is perfect for the character. She’s mean – even to her own fellow witches, the way a really nasty character should be.
You get illustrations by Quentin Blake as well. He’s got a weird little style to his drawings, but it gives them character. They’re a bit Shel Silverstein-ish if you’ve ever seen his work. If you find a book that doesn’t have these illustrations, I suggest looking for a book that does because they’re a lot of fun. ….And his mice are so cute.
As a child, this was a great book. As an adult, this is a great book. I recommend it to anyone of any age. It could give your kids a bit of a thrill, but if they can handle Harry Potter then heck, this is just kid’s play.
This review was a part of the September 2007 Fight Illiteracy Write-Off hosted by hadassahchana of Epinions. This book was sent to a child in need of a bit of literary magic.
Originally published on Epinions.com.
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, January 31, 2015
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Pros: Makes you think, for sure.
Cons: Slow pace; an obvious outlet for exposition by Orwell; discouraging ending.
The Bottom Line: If society ever bans or rations chocolate, I'm going to riot. Who's with me?
I’d first heard about Nineteen Eighty-Four in college. People commented on how good it was, how close our society was coming to the one in the book, how impressive it was for Orwell to create something that resonates so soundly, even today.
When I had to choose five novels to read for my graduate term, I made a point to put this one on the list. I wanted to see what was so great about it. In fact, I was excited to finally read it. I was expecting something along the lines of Fahrenheit 451 or even The Giver. Not quite.
The year is 1984. Or at least, that’s what the Party says it is. Winston lives in a world where Big Brother is always watching you; telescreens put up in rooms can observe and listen to just about everything that goes on in your home. Winston’s job is to falsify information of the past, so that the Party is always right. Sex should be joyless. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. But Winston doesn’t believe in these things. He’s staring to think down with Big Brother, and when a girl hands him a piece of paper that says “I love you” he finally makes some decisions he knows will ultimately lead to his death.
You’ve been plopped into a futuristic setting almost similar to that of V for Vendetta (if you’ve seen that movie). Nothing is truly illegal, but if you do something the Party doesn’t like, you’re vaporized. You never existed. I went into this book thinking something was going to change, even on a small scale. I was disappointed. No, I’m not saying Winston was killed or something, but while in other dystopian novels I’ve read at least the hero has some semblance of a decent ending to his story, there is none here.
As you read, you may find yourself bored at times. Much of this novel is Winston thinking, considering, and going over memories that in some ways have nothing to do with everything else that is going on (at least not that I could see – if someone wants to enlighten me, please do). The rest of the action is Winston at work, moving from place A to place B, and hanging out with the girl, Julia. At one point you even end up reading a part of a book that Winston is reading, which is nothing more than expository writing that, while it does have some interesting information, can begin to drag. Even when something finally does happen near the end, you get a lot of dialogue that is essentially rhetoric.
Now I know what Orwell was trying to do when he wrote this. I’m sure pretty much everyone does. He was already ticked at his present with the class divisions and control certain levels had over others. This book amplifies that to a frightening degree, and the scary part is that some countries freaked out and banned this book because of its political implications, among other reasons. Well, I got mine at a library not too long ago so I think the U.S. is still okay.
Despite the way the book is constructed, as well as the fact that the ending is a huge letdown and quite depressing (though you can look at what some critics have said about the appendix that deals with a language called Newspeak in the book, and get some lighter feelings about things that way), it is good ad evokes plenty of emotions in you. You automatically rebel against the things presented, such as constant monitoring, the robotic manner in which people live, the suppression of sex and the use of all that pent up frustration to be transformed into hatred (and holy crap does that remind me of Jim Breuer and his reason why terrorists are so angry! Haha!), and so forth.
This is a book I think you should read on your own time as opposed to being assigned to, mostly in cases like kids in high school. It’s not for everyone and I can easily see high school kids throwing their books and yelling “Down with Big Brother!” I mean, it would be rather ironic for this book to become canon, you know? Either way, it’s bound to get your juices flowing and you’ll want to start up a conversation with a friend about government/class control. And that’s a good thing.
Originally published on Epinions.com.
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, January 24, 2015
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Pros: A fun read on a nice day, interesting plot
Cons: You can easily see the Stephanie Plum in it.
The Bottom Line: I still maintain that Josh Holloway would be the best candidate for the part of Sam Hooker.
At the time, I was still waiting on Plum Lovin’, the midway novel between books #12 and #13 in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I spotted Metro Girl, which is outside of the series, and stood there for a moment before having one of those “Eh, why not?” moments and plucking it off the shelf.
Ok, it’s not Stephanie Plum…but it is. Here’s the rundown.
Alexandra “Barney” Barnaby is a regular gal. Average, works for an insurance company, lives in Baltimore, has a rather unexciting life just like most people. Then her brother Bill calls from Miami around 2am one night, not making much sense, then there’s a scream and he disconnects. Not exactly something a sister ever wants to hear from a sibling. She flies down only to find Bill is missing and he’s “borrowed” popular NASCAR driver Sam Hooker’s boat. Hooker figures his best chance at finding Bill and his boat is to stick with Alex – but that might be a bad choice considering now there are many unsavory characters after them because of what Bill has done. Everyone is getting a bit more than they bargained for when it comes to Bill’s actions, leading to something about Cuban gold and an extremely dangerous item that cannot fall into the wrong hands.
Let’s say for a moment you’ve never read any of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books. In that case, you’re pretty well off. Sure, the characters don’t have too much depth, surprisingly especially Alexandra even though she’s narrating the story in first person. We only get the surface info on everyone, even though Alex throws out tidbits of her life here and there, we just never seem to truly get into anyone. And, by the way, it is way too easy for some things to happen; Alex has never been to Miami before and yet it’s like she has connections everywhere. She meets two women for maybe 10 minutes and already they’re digging up information for her like they work for the CIA. Yeah, you can find anything on a computer these days, but it still bugged me a little. And then Hooker had some ridiculously impressive connections as well. Sorry, it’s just a little too easy. Not sure how you would do it otherwise, but still.
Along those same lines, some people react in ways you’ll probably think, “No one would do that.” Or if they did, it wouldn’t be in the same manner. For example, the two get threatened that if they don’t stop looking for Bill, they’ll be killed, and yet they continue like it’s no big deal. Maybe you would continue, but you’d be a whole hell of a lot more careful and paranoid, at least I’d think so. In the end it’s all about the fun of the plot and multiple characters. They’re fun as well, don’t get me wrong, the whole book is amusing to read and will entertain you until you finish it. I do like the plot though, it’s nice and different. And as usual Evanovich has the sort of dialogue that will make you chuckle out loud.
Now say you’ve read the Stephanie Plum series. You can easily see a lot of the characters translated over to this book. They’re not exactly the same, but you can see elements of them, as well as some of the similarities in the way people act and things they say. Alex sort of bumbles around like Stephanie, she hates guns like her, and uses some of the same vocab. Hooker is his own man, though he has plenty of Morelli-like elements. Rosa is Lula, Maria is Connie, Judey is Sally Sweet, and you have a semi-psychotic bad guy who does the whole reveal-my-entire-plan thing, and two guys that Alex and Hooker keep bumping into and manage to escape each time. It’s different enough that you can enjoy it for what it is, but I’m sure Stephanie Plum elements are going to pop into your brain now and then as you read along.
Despite all that, it was a pretty decent book. It isn’t going to win any awards and it’s not going to become a classic, but if you’re impatient for some Stephanie Plum-like stuff or just want something fun to read, this is your book.
Originally posted on Epinions.com
Posted by Nicole at Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Apologies to those out there who may read this blog. I went on a bit of a hiatus again, didn't I? Sorry. Life is hectic and I am often forgetful and - I won't lie - lazy. Though to be fair (to myself), I've barely been reading these days. Combined with the fact that I thought I'd had more than just November's book posts ready to go. It wasn't until not too long ago that I realized that they'd stopped on the 22nd.
I suppose perhaps I'll update you a little bit on what I have happening in my life. I work 40 hours at a bookstore. I work uneven additional hours freelance writing at other times. I've continued to write, and as it happens have published a second Figments Fable for those of you who may have enjoyed the first, or for anyone who likes fractured fairytales. There aren't any werewolves or (typical) supernatural creatures in the new one, but it's a take on one of my favorite Grimm's tales that I think doesn't get a much love as so many others. Likewise, it's also available in paperback this time around, if you fancy yourself an actual book rather than the electronic version.
I've also started another blog. Yes. I know. Kind of stupid of me to begin another when half the time I can't even maintain this one. But ever since Epinions.com shut down I've had nowhere to post my reviews. While that's fine for books since I can do that here, it pains me that I no longer have any reason to review soundtracks, which is something I really enjoyed doing. So now I have this - The Soundtrack Junkie blog, where I'll be reviewing all my soundtracks. To be honest, 90% of those reviews were previously on Epinions.com, but as I buy new ones on a fairly regular basis, and there are several I own but never got the chance to review, there will be some newly written material posted. Maintaining it won't be a problem since I have so many pre-written reviews, I already have the entire year planned out to where each month will be themed in some fashion and will typically feature 6 reviews per month.
Having done that, I'm also no longer going to post little musical suggestions at the bottom of my book reviews. Much of the time those are soundtracks anyway, and often the tracks I point out in my reviews. (Unless, gentle readers, you guys really liked that tidbit in which case I'll keep it, but I doubt anyone cared either way).
So now I'm going to try and get back into the swing of things, so expect a review tomorrow and then I'll get everything back on the regularly scheduled time of every Saturday per month.
Posted by Nicole at Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Notes from the playlist: "Bananaphone" by Raffi
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, November 22, 2014
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Pros: Very well-written and has plenty of good ideas.
The Bottom Line: Good ideas worthy of checking out, but see if your library has it first - especially if you already keep a notebook.
In 2010 I owned over 12 notebooks, practically all of them chock full of stuff. Some are random notebooks, other have specific purposes, and a few that were still empty. I don't know how many I have now. But at the time, to my utter delight, I got two free ones while buying my college books my last semester (still don’t know why, but I wasn't going to argue over glorious sheets of white, college-ruled paper). So I decided one of them should be my notebook for my Writing Seminar class.
Breathing In, Breathing Out by Ralph Fletcher was the book of choice for the class. It’s 94 pages (the last 5 pages just the bibliography and such). There are 16 short chapters discussing various topics of writing in a notebook. Some of these ideas include:
- Making lists
- Writing about the past
- Your notebook is a place for pieces to sit and “compost” (they hang out until you find ways to use them later if you’re so inclined to)
- It’s okay to write like crap in your notebook
- Go ahead and reread stuff
- Write down little facts, quotes from others, little things that act as triggers
Fletcher does a good job putting across exactly what he wants readers to get. He doesn’t push the writer to do anything; he just puts it out there for you to try in your own notebook. Anything to get you writing. If you don’t keep a notebook, or are thinking about getting one, I highly encourage you to do so, it’s really handy and fun, and I do recommend taking a peek at this book because it’s full of nifty tidbits you might never have thought of before.
That was my problem though. It says on the back, “This book is for new writers as well as those who may once have loved to write but have lost the spark along the way.” Um, well, I’m neither one of those. I’ve always had at least one notebook going. That and I do everything he suggests in the book. Ha! So in the end, though it was fun to read and think, “Cool, I already do that,” it wasn’t really of any help to me. But that’s a good thing for people who aren’t like me, haha. It really is a source of goodies for new and lost writers.
Ralph Fletcher also has a kid's version available (as this version is now out of print. Aww.)
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, November 15, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Notes from the playlist: "I Am Here" by System Syn
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, November 01, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014
As usual, Tolkien's past work comes alive.
If you ever wanted to know how Middle Earth came to be (as well as it's inhabitants) then The Silmarillion will tell you. In a way, it is almost like the Bible of Middle Earth and Beleriand.
The book is broken down into several different sections. These sections are Ainulindale (The Music of the Ainur), Valaquenta (Account of the Valar), Quenta Silmarillion (History of the Silmarils) with the appendix of Akallabeth (The Downfall of Numenor) and one final piece, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.
Ainulindale is the very beginning. It begins with Eru, or Iluvatar (to be blunt, he is like God) who makes the Ainur (the Holy Ones), each one being a part of him. They are like lesser gods. Ainulindale deals with the Ainur and Iluvatar and the creation of Ea (the Universe) and Arda (Earth). This is done through the music the Ainur sings, and also visible are the beginnings of conflict between the Ainur and Melkor, one of the Ainur who desires to be like Iluvatar (and resembles Satan further in the future).
Note: Though I refer to Iluvatar here as God and Melkor to Satan, I am in not trying to suggest Tolkien meant this or anything else. I am simply giving you a something familiar to compare these characters to.
Valaquenta is a short section with small subheadings of "Account of the Valar and Maiar according to the lore of the Eldar, Of the Valar, Of the Maiar" and "Of the Enemies." The first piece is a brief summary of what has just been read, Ainulindale. "Of the Valar" describes the Ainur who entered the Earth, thus their name becoming the Valar. It discusses each of the Valar by name, what they do on Earth, and other tidbits of information. Though Melkor descended onto Earth with them, he is no longer counted among the Valar, and no one speaks of him. "Of the Maiar" deals with gods even lesser than the Valar. The Maiar are the Valar’s servants and helpers. Here brief pieces are written on them. "Of the Enemies" discusses Melkor, who is forever after known as Morgoth through the words of the Elves. He was given great power and knowledge by Iluvatar, but because of his desires to rule and gain power, they were taken for granted. Here is written about his frightening greatness and how Maiar were drawn to him from it, and this is what Sauron is – a Maiar. Blarogs, demons of terror and fire served him also.
Quenta Silmarillion (History of the Silmarils) is broken up into 24 chapters, each dealing with a specific topic. The events go in chronological order, but sometimes there are so many names of places and people (sometimes multiple names of one person or place) to remember, it can feel as though you’re going in circles. This is the meat of The Silmarillion. Here you will learn about The Beginning of Days, The Coming of the Elves (Elves are also known as the Firstborn because they came before Men), how Dwarves were made, the doings of Morgoth (Melkor), and a long story on the Elf Feanor and how his creations, the Silmarils, jewels that held the beauty and light of the two trees of the Valar, became a curse. These Silmarils are the reason for Elven kinslaying, wars between Elves, Men, and Morgoth, and the reason Dwarves and Elves hate each other. Also included are many other wars dealing with Morgoth and his servants against Elves, Men, and Dwarves, and occasionally the Valar who step in to put down Morgoth. Afterward, you will read how things came to an end…and yet not so.
Akallabeth (The Downfall of Numenor) is a long, detailed explanation on just what the title says – the downfall of the kingdom of Numenor. From its beginning to its end, you will find out why Numenor was created and why it was destroyed.
Finally there is Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age. This is simply a shortened version (a very shortened version!) of The Lord of the Rings with a little bit of prehistory to explain the reasons for the aforesaid book to have occurred.
After this are various tables and pieces of information. These include Genealogies (four of them), a table of the different forms of Elves (that’s right, they’re not all exactly the same!), Pronunciation lists, an Index of Names, and an appendix of Quenya and Sindarin names (Elvish names). In this book are also two maps for you to look at and perhaps use as you read.
This book contains stories of death, life, rebirth, betrayal, and true love. Most notably (as the title denotes) is the love between Beren and Luthien, found in the Quenta Silmarillion. Their love is many times referred to when it comes to Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings. A Human and an Elf coming together against seemingly impossible odds to eventually live happily ever after - whether that be in death or life.
The Silmarillion is so rich in detail and information it is hard to even begin describing how amazing it is to see such worlds and people come to life through Tolkien's hand. It is without much dialogue, and the dialogue that does exist is within the paragraphs and not as a usual story. Though it make take some time to read, and maybe even a few times through, it's worth it. And besides, if you want to know even more information when reading The Lord of the Rings, then this is the only way to get it.
If you want to know a lot more about the third age, to take a gander at my review of The Lord of the Rings, where it all began.
Notes from the playlist: "Feast of Starlight" by Howard Shore
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, October 25, 2014
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, October 18, 2014
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Pros: Kind of cute.
Cons: Some words are hard to find. I'll explain.
Notes from the playlist: "Summertime Sadness" by Within Temptation
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, October 11, 2014
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, October 04, 2014
Saturday, September 27, 2014
The Bottom Line: What happens when your box of crayons decides to quit? At least they let you know first...
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, September 27, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Pro: The perfect summer read and exactly what I needed (and hoped it would be!)
Notes from the playlist: "A Strange New World" by Brian D'oliveira
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, September 20, 2014
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Notes from the playlist: "All Souls Night" by Loreena McKennitt
Posted by Nicole at Saturday, May 10, 2014