Movie Review or Why You Should Watch Elvis & Anabelle

I had the delight of seeing this movie last week.  I admit, I picked it out out of pure curiosity. I had little to no idea what it was about, all I knew was that it had Blake Lively in it and she comes back to life on a mortician’s table.  I had half a dozen reactions to those spare scraps of information alone.  Blake Lively?  I’d only seen her in Gossip Girl and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and I admit while I love the former, I can’t stand her in the latter.

But I couldn’t help but be intrigued.  The names themselves are enough to catch your attention, but they’re not hard to believe as names, they simply hint towards a quirkiness that can’t help but be expanded by the the plot description.

Basically, Anabelle is a beauty contestant, vying for the illustrious title of Texas Rose, pushed towards it incessantly by her I-want-you-to-have-a-better-life mother (the almost-always brilliant Mary Steenberger) and possibly even more by her twelve-kinds-of-icky stepfather.  The constant pressure pays off as Anabelle is indeed crowned Miss Texas Rose—only to die of heart failure moments after being crowned, as a complication of an eating disorder.  She is then taken to the Moreau Funeral Home, reported as the best funeral home in the county, under the direction of Charlie Moreau.

In truth, Charlie hadn’t been embalming for years—the business was secretly kept up by his seventeen-year-old son, Elvis.  Elvis is not your average seventeen-year-old, as could probably be guessed by the work he does, but his life has been more shaped by the suicide of his mother when he was a child, and his father’s resulting decline in competence.  We learn later on in the film that Charlie (played magnificently by Joe Mantegna), who is a hunchback, has lost much of his mental capacity after being hit in the head by bottles thrown by town hooligans.

But back to the story.  Anabelle ends up in Elvis’ all-too-capable hands, and he can’t help but recognize the beauty queen.  Elvis has a habit of taking pictures of his “work,” the people he’s embalmed, but before he can so much as start on Anabelle, he’s captivated by her beauty.  In a moment of weakness that’s much less creepy than it reads here, he kisses her, and as he does he accidentally hits the flash of his set-up camera, which shocks Anabelle out of a deep, coma-like state of cardiac arrest.  Anabelle is then returned to her delighted parents—who don’t change their priorities for the girl, despite what she’s been through.  The media circuit that is a result of Anabelle’s seeming ressurrection (and that her parents are eagerly feeding into) is too much for her, and after a nightmare implying that Anabelle’s death obviously didn’t affect her parents at all, she finds herself running away in the middle of the night, fleeing to the one place no one would expect her to go—back to the funeral home where she came back to life.

Mainly, Anabelle is looking for answers.  She can’t remember—or understand the reason—behind her coming back to life. After Elvis discovers her on their property, he grudgingly lets her stick around for the night, but when she starts questioning Charlie—who the world of course believes was the one to witness her awakening—Elvis gets defensive and brusque with her.  Despite this, Anabelle simply can’t go home, and so she decides to stay at the funeral home, to disappear for a while, as it’s one place no one would ever think to look for her.

The two obviously end up spending time together then, but Elvis is decided early on that because she’s popular and pretty, she must be like the other popular kids in town, like the ones who got their kicks by tormenting his father, for example.  Anabelle is enchanted by the ever-sweet Charlie, though, and fairly irrepressibly cheerful and nice—until she gets ticked off by Elvis’ brooding negativity, and then she calls him out on it, which he can’t help but be impressed (and sort of amused) by.

Anabelle’s parents, meanwhile, have reported her as missing, and when a cop comes by the funeral home asking questions, Elvis agrees to drive her to a friend’s home a few cities away—but there is no friend, really, and the two end up simply roadtripping and enjoying themselves, throwing off all the burdens their parents have inadvertently (and sometimes not so inadvertently) lain on their shoulders, and growing closer as they do so, until something happens which has Anabelle running unhappily back to her parents, and eventually leads them both to the brink of drastic measures—only to be saved by each other in a lovely, serendipitous way.

Like I said, I really didn’t know what to expect going into this movie. I was considering that it might be something like a yuppie, updated, indie version of Harold and Maude, a lot of dark humor interspersed with a few extremely tender moments—and indeed, there’s a nod or two to that cult-classic in this film, which I can’t believe are unintentional.  Where Harold and Maude is a sort of celebration of the Weird, however, Elvis & Anabelle is a tribute to the simple triumphs of the human spirit, even under the worst of conditions.

Any reservations I may have once had about Blake Lively’s ability as an actress are quite honestly swept away, and her opposite, Max Minghella is officially on my to-be-watched list.  To be quite honest, though, the movie is worth watching if only for Joe Mantegna’s portrayal of Charlie.  I’ve been pretty much raised on Mantegna’s work—starting with the charmingly-smarmy contractor from The Money Pit way back when.  He’s always had a soft spot in my heart, and the sweet, childlike Charlie is played with such deft sincerity that I was literally in awe of his work.

This movie quite honestly broke my heart a good half-a-dozen times, but it’s not the dark, almost gothic tale I was expecting.  It has an overwhelming sweetness to it, despite some particularly dark themes, and the story feels very natural, despite some fantastical elements to it.  I really can’t recommend it highly enough.  If you can get your hands on it—and really, that’s a big if—don’t hesitate.

As a bonus, the music is fantastic.

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The reason why it always takes me forever to finish Jane Eyre.

His name is St. John Rivers.  Every. Darn. Time.

I admit, after having read this book four or five times, this shouldn’t surprise me.  The book is in stages.  The childhood stage.  The long and dreary Lowood School years.  Thornfield, Thornfield, wonderful Thornfield, and then…. St. John Rivers.  Sigh.

I understand that he’s a very important foil for Rochester.  He is everything good, and straight, and narrow, but also everything cold, hard and passionateless.  Actually, worse, he has passion, but denies it thoroughly.  St. John Rivers is exactly as unappealing as Charlotte Brontë ever could have wanted, and that’s a fact.  What’s also a fact is that it makes for slow reading.  Trudging, more like.

Don’t get me wrong, this is my favorite book in the history of books (or at least in the history of books I’ve read, which is a decent number for my four-and-score years) but St. John Rivers is a drag.  He just is.  He’s more cringe-worthy than Mr. Collins of Pride and Prejudice, because at least Eliza isn’t listening carefully to every word Mr. Collins says.

I suppose I could always skip over St. John… but I never do.  I just don’t roll that way.  And if I did I might miss his sisters who I do adore.  I honestly want to pluck him from the book sometimes, though.  He’s just so unenjoyable to read.  Though I suppose if he were gone, there’d be no one to save Jane from starving to death, would there?  And we can’t have that, so St. John will have to stay, no matter how much I whine and resist him.  Poor Rosamond Oliver.  He really must have been pretty for her to fall for him like that.

~Lisa, who has six more books to finish (this one included) before hitting her goal of 52 books in 52 weeks.  It may just happen this year!

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YABM – Yet Another Book Meme. ;)


Stole this from a friend – I can never resist a good book meme!

What books are your comfort reading–the ones you slink back to in times of stress?
Books are a bit Turret’s like for me—if I read something kind of awful, my own life seems better by comparison, I guess?  So when I’m really stressed, I like to read books about hard times, like Joanne Greenberg’s I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, or The Joy Luck Club.  That said… I might always lean towards no-brain fun, too.

What was your favorite book as a child, and why?
Mmm… let’s see.  When I was very small it as Who’s a Pest? a book by Crosby Bonsall about a little boy who everyone insists is a pest—even though he says he’s not.  It’s a strange, funny little book, that involves everything from mean sisters to talking animals, and an all-consuming pit.  It’s hard to explain, you’d have to read it.  When I was a little older, though, I was a big fan of Mercer Mayer books, and the Alexander books by Judith Viorst (especially Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday).

What was your favorite book as an adolescent, and why?
Undoubtedly Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume.   That book almost single-handedly got me through the break-up with my first (and second, really) best friend.  Stephanie Hirsch was the first fictional character who I really saw as a reflection of my life—or what my life could be.  She was what Rory Gilmore would be in a few years down the line.  This is also the book that got me serious—at age eleven—about writing young adult books.

What is the most unread category of books gathering dust on your bookshelf–the books you’ve bought but just never get around to reading?
The ones I buy but haven’t read?  Are probably mainly in the non-fiction genre.  There are certain periods of history that I love—love, love, love, like the American Revolution and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, and so I have a few books that I own that cover those periods, but I haven’t read any of them.  Also under that list would be anthologies.  I have a few either from classes (writing on music, etc) and gifts from friends, but I just don’t jump into them very often.

What kind of books would you like to say you read, but never do?
There are a few of them.  I tend to get very comfortable either in classics or in young adult or children’s fantasy… so almost anything outside of that is (embarrassingly) kind of a gray area for me.  The ones that I’d really love to say I read are mystery novels—I feel like I’m missing out on a great genre, and the ones I’ve read I’ve enjoyed, but I just don’t go looking for them.  I’d also like to say that I appreciated a good Grisham—because really, everybody is supposed to like Grisham, but all I’ve read was The Pelican Brief, and that was enforced (high school book report).  I’d like to say I’d read Michener, too.  My mother loves his novels, and I love the look and the idea of them… but I’ve never so much as opened one.

What’s the oddest book you’ve ever read?
Does The Host count?  Because I have likened parts of that novel to a Miyazaki film on crack.  Outside of the illustrious Miss Meyer, however… I would have to say… actually, no.  I really think The Host might be the oddest book I’ve read.

What book were you never able to get through,despite the recommendations of people you respect?
I can’t think of one off the top of my head.  Possibly Wicked?  Maybe Eragon as well.

What’s the book it took you a couple of tries to get into, but was as good as promised once you finally made it?
I don’t do this very often.  The only one I can even remember is Jane Eyre.  Which I started for the first time when I was twelve—I hated the childhood section of that book, and so I kept putting it down.  It remains to this day the only book I’ve ever literally thrown across the room (more than once, I believe) in frustration—and my ugly little orange paperback bears the marks as proof.  It took me months to get through Lowood.  Once I got to Thornfield, though, I was hooked, hooked, hooked, and it is almost definitely my favorite book of all time.

What’s your favorite short story–or do you even have one?
I’m not very good at reading short stories, I’ll admit.  There was one in a literature book of mine in high school, though, called “Chasing Summer,” that I really loved, all about a couple who, after a thermo-nuclear war, chase the patches of light that make their way through the nuclear winter sky.  I also really love “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury… actually, I love his “A Sound of Thunder,” also.  Reason why I’ve always wanted to read more Bradbury (that should go with Grisham and Michener, above).

The desert island. Three books (and collected works don’t count. If you want the Lord of the Rings it’ll cost you all three slots). Go:
1. Jane Eyre… it’s a debate between this and Persuasion, but as yet Jane Eyre continues to have the smallest of edges.
2. Great Expectations—maybe.  Not because it’s one of my favorites (it’s kind of not) but just because I think analyzing it would last me years.  😛
3. Fingerprints: Payback by Melinda Metz.  At least I think I’d pick this one.  One of the last three, at least.  It’d kill me not to have the full series, though.  Mindless fun—well, mostly mindless.  And one of my biggest fiction OTPs.  Yes, I know you’ve never heard of it.

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1000 Words a Day Initiative!


I’ve decided I’m doing NaNoWriMo.  (That’s National Novel Writing Month, in case you don’t know).  50,000 words in one month.  Really the idea is to write a 50K novel in one month, from beginning to end, but I never quite play by those rules.  Instead, I use it as a means of boosting my daily output and holding myself accountable.  The problem is, NaNoWriMo starts November 1st, and that’s a whole two weeks away.  Meanwhile, for the first time in some time, I have a little bit of the freedom required to really start tying myself to a daily word count, and I wanted to take advantage of that.  By chance, just as I was starting to hear the first rumblings of NaNo chatter online (I would have forgotten it entirely until October 28th or something, if it weren’t for Twitter) I also re-stumbled across the 1000 Words a Day Challenge, presented byInkygirl of, an online comic/blog about writing.

This, as it so happens, was exactly what I was looking for.

I know what you’re thinking.  I do.  “Gee, Lisa… why couldn’t you just decide to write 1000 words a day on your own?”

Well, I already sort of had.  Is the badge really going to hold me accountable to this?  Maybe not as much as I’d like.  But that’s why I’m writing this post, a manifesto if you will.  Now that my life is (somewhat) reasonable, I hereby declare that I will do all that I can to write a bare minimum of 1000 words per day.

Why?  Because forcing yourself to write is one half of the battle sometimes.  Because the more you do write, the easier it is to write, even though as writers, this pertinent fact seems to slip through our fingers like sand the minute our back is turned. I’ve already seen proof of this.  I started this challenge on Thursday (the 15th), and subsequently started a folder titled “The Experiment,” wherein I will keep a document of the words I write every day.  My first day wasn’t so good—I only managed 566 words.  I’m not too upset with myself for this—my grandmother was in the hospital and I was trying to straighten the house up for her coming home.  The second day, almost as busy, though, I ended up with almost double that number of words.  It may have taken until one in the morning, but it got done.

Today it’s half-past six and I already have well over 800 words.  Of course I’m including this post in that number (I reserve that right!) but by the end of the night, I probably won’t have needed to.

It’s a simple, almost silly thing, but it’s gotten me done with one chapter in my novel, and well on my way through another, unsticking me when the only real reason I was stuck was because I was letting myself be.  The truth is, if I’m ever going to make it as a writer, I can’t afford to let myself be.  And it’s about time I got that through my stubborn little head.

Besides.  I’ll be writing over a thousand words in November anyhow, right?  That’s the objective, at least.  This is just gearing up for it.

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Some bookish thoughts.


I can hardly believe it thanks to the way my year started, but I almost think I have a shot at this 52 Books in 52 Weeks goal.  I’ve gotten behind on reviews here, since a lot of books I’ve been reviewing for Tales From the Hollow Tree anyhow, and my life has gotten sadly chaotic lately—not that that’s much of an excuse, life has a tendency to do that every time we turn around, doesn’t it?

I’ve worked myself up to having read 4o books this year, though, just a dozen books shy of my ultimate goal—with that exact number of weeks left, as a matter of fact, so you see, I really do have a chance here, especially since I’m well on my way through a few books at this very moment.  I’ll let you wander over to the Hollow Tree if you want to read about YA Fantasy books, but these are a few of the other things I’ve been finishing off lately:

c-windy1aAnne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery

Still really enjoying browsing slowly through the Anne books.  This was about the point where my attention would wander when I was younger—Gilbert wasn’t in it at all, and in my first, single-track-mind reading of this series, that was all I wanted to pay attention to.  It amazes me how many kinds and types of people L.M. Montgomery was able to write, though.  The latter part of this book, especially, feels like little more than a sampling of every-day humanity, though, and I think that’s why Montgomery’s books are as lasting as they are, because people don’t really change all that much, and Anne’s view of the sweet to the absurd is such a clear, kind way.  It’s like what I heard the actor who played Kirk (the town oddity) on Gilmore Girls say once about the creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, that she loved each one of the characters, even the odd ones, and that’s what made the characters so great.  I think the same is true for Montgomery.  She and Anne both love the range of humanity they’re presented with, and it shows.

A Book of Luminous Things edited by Czeslaw Milosz luminous

I’ve been trying my best to get back into reading poetry this year. In fact, the only New Year’s Resolution that I can actually remember, was to read a poem a day.  I failed pretty miserably in this, considering  Milosz’ book is the same one I cracked open on January 1st and it took me until mid-September to finish reading through it.  I’m glad I finally did, though.  This book was given to me in high school as a Christmas present from a good friend of mine, and every once in a while I’d open it up and read a poem or two, but I’d never have the forethought to actually read the thing through, which is a shame, because it is organized beautifully.  This was, quite honestly, the first collection of poems I’ve read straight through that wasn’t from a single author, but Milosz has it divided into segments, or “chapters” with introductions, that make it a truly enjoyable read.  I admit, too, that part of my love for it has to do with the fact that so many of the poets included are California poets, and there’s a certain flavor to Californian poetry that simply doesn’t  come from anywhere else, just like there’s a flavor to Russian novels or Italian opera.  It just is.  And that little taste of California is something that I always have, and always will love.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I had to give in to this one, once I saw the commercials for the movie start to show. The idea was to read it in time to see the film, and while I did that, I haven’t seen the movie yet.  That’s okay with me, though, I’m sure I will in time.  This book… hm.  I can understand completely why so many people recommended it so highly to me, because it’s a beautiful read.  I enjoyed just about every moment of it, because it swallows you up and keeps you in Clare and Henry’s world pretty fully, and Niffenegger’s handle of language and even more so of the timelines involved in the story—an impressive feat in and of itself.  I have to confess myself a little disappointed by the ending, though—I can’t tell you exactly what disappointed me, as it’s a big-time spoiler, but let’s just say I would have hoped more for Clare.  Really a gorgeous book, though, all in all, and definitely worth the read.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

This was one of those books that I was dying to read when I first heard about it… but then I kept passing it up at the bookstore for other things.  Or maybe I’m the only one who ever does that.  I admit, being broke and book-loving does not always mix supremely well together, so sometimes I run into conundrums like this.  The minute I saw this at the library, though, I snapped it up as quickly as I could.  I was due for some Austen-spin-offy fiction, having just read through the gamut of the master herself, and this fit the job nicely.  It was a bit odd that the focus was so much on Colin Firth as Darcy, rather on Darcy as Darcy, (like the outtake from Bridget Jones’ Diary where Bridget interviews Colin Firth as Colin Firth—if you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend) but maybe I only feel that way because I think Mr. Firth is much more like Darcy in the book in… well, almost every P&P-ish adaptation movie I’ve seen him in, than he is in the actual BBC production.  But that’s just my own personal thing. I can’t get too excited about Dracy jumping into a lake—I thought that scene was actually pretty silly.

Really, though, this was a fun book, all about a girl who treats every relationship (even the passing, childhood ones) as if they’re going to end up at the alter, and the Darcy-esque fellow she snags by the end is a perfect combination of stuffy and sweet.

Now I’m going to duck and hide as all the BBC Pride and Prejudice fans throw old vegetation at me.  Ah well, I stand by my words.  Colin Firth continues to get better and better, that’s all I’m saying. 😛

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Generally I’m a pretty loyal website user.  If I’m using something I like, I’m not one to abandon it all of a sudden because something shinier comes along… well, most of the time.  So for a long time I didn’t bother joining Goodreads.  I had Shelfari, and surely one book-organizing site was all I needed.  Plus Shelfari had… shelves.  Virtual shelves that had books on them and whatnot.

A friend sent me an invitation to Goodreads, though, and I joined almost out of a courtesy in June.  And I have to admit, I love it.  I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s something so user-friendly about the site.  It has a much cleaner look than Shelfari, and the sleek design reflects the simplicity of function, too.  I really love the ability to “compare” books with friends or other users, and I love that authors can have member pages combined with their author pages, so you can see what your favorite authors are reading!

Maybe what I like so much about it is that you can really be as involved with the site or not as you like, no pressure involved.  I think wish Shelfari I was often feeling compelled to do things, like answer other people’s questions about whether they should read a book or not (which I do think is a nice feature, really, I just don’t want to feel pressured to do it).  And really, Shelfari just gets a little frustrating for me.  The little pop-up menus that you can change disappear too easily, usually before I’ve been able to mark if I’ve finished a book or whether I want to list it as a favorite or something, so I have to end up doing this multiple times before I can get it to work.

To give them credit, Shelfari has improved immensely since I first joined it, and I still really do like the site a lot.  I think it’s a better site for debate on whether or not books are worth reading—though maybe that’s just because I haven’t investigated Goodreads thoroughly enough.  And I know there are people who emphatically lean to the Shelfari side.  That’s the very nice thing about the internet, we have both, and people can choose as they will.  I think Goodreads has secured my vote, though.

What about you?

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It’s taken 24 and a half years…

But I am now a convert.  Really this should have happened long ago, but there were always obstacles in the way, things that held me back… and what exactly am I talking about in the first place?


The public library.  That wonderful place that will let you take books away for free, so long as you promise to bring them back when you’re done.  Now, I know some of you are gasping in shock.  Here I am, a professed book-lover, and I wasn’t entirely familiar with these wonderful things called libraries?  Well hold back those pitchforks for a moment here… I was an avid school-library user growing up, but once I got to high schoolish age, I started buying books.  And… well it’s an addiction.

But like all true addictions, buying books costs money.  A lot more than I have at the moment.  And my library has a surprisingly nice selection of new YA (my constant guilty pleasure) and of course the classics that I live and breathe.

And it doesn’t hurt that there’s a decently adorable librarian boy who smiles at me when I come in.  It never does hurt, does it?  I had a library card back home, but I almost never used it… in fact, the two times I can remember using it in all the years I had it, was for big, boring non-fiction books that my mother needed for some reason or another.  Never for books for myself.  And so the freedom of drifting into the library, and picking up a book, or not, or just pulling one from the shelf and sitting down to read it… it’s just a delight.  Of the five times I’ve been to the library the past week (I’m having wireless issues) I’ve checked a book out three of those times… the latest today being Laurie Faria Stolarz’s Blue is for Nightmares, the first in a series I’ve looked at a hundred times and never bought… now I’m reading it fairly entranced, even though the magic stuff kind of squicks me out a teensy bit.  The mystery is keeping me stuck to the story.  A lot of Stolarz’s books (and she has more than I thought by far) look really good… and I’m sure I’ll be checking them out in due time.

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No, I’m not dead!

Simply maimed.  Or my laptop is, at least.  My shiny, 17″ HP g60-230US has… died on me.  After seven months of ownership.  My hard drive is completely fried, and I am… sad.

Thankfully almost all of my writing is safe.  The laptop was backed up until the beginning of July, and I have a habit (thankfully!) of emailing myself or close friends bits of my manuscript, or the whole thing, as I go along.

And HP is being nice and sending me a new hard drive, since this one is still considerably under warranty, but still I am, understandably frustrated.  My brand new Samsung camera started malfunctioning a few weeks ago, and now my laptop is dead!

In short, technology hates me and/or is doing its best to try my patience.  Hello, library computer.  I’m glad you’re here, at least!

So yes, until I get my new hard drive and get everything fixed up nicely, updates here will be rare.  I’ll be updating The Hollow Tree, though, so look there—coming this week, Cyn Balog’s Fairy Tale and a Myths & Legends 101 on Banshees!

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Fun Book Meme!


1) What author do you own the most books by?

Easily (if not slightly embarrassingly) Melinda Metz, someone I’m sure very few of you have even heard of. I have all ten Roswell High books (that would be the series the WB show was based off of), plus doubles of at least four of them, and all seven of the Fingerprints novels, her second and vastly better YA book series.  If it were coming out now it’d probably be a hit, but it was sadly before it’s time.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

I really only have doubles of anything… Little Women, Little Men, and Jane Eyre, definitely. At one point I had something like four copies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but I’m pretty sure I gave at least two of those away.

3) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Secretly? That strikes out quite a few, doesn’t it? Um… Anthony Fascinelli, from the aforementioned Fingerprints series. Expressively so. And then Dicken, from The Secret Garden, and probably Finn from The Books of Bayern, by Shannon Hale.  Not so secretly – Mr. Rochester, Darcy, Gilbert Blythe, Captain Wentworth, Rhett Butler, and Ron Weasley.  What?

4) What book have you read more than any other?

Jane Eyre. That book is like breathing clean air for me. I reread books a lot, but Jane Eyre takes the cake there.  As you can see on my sidebar, I’m rereading it now. 🙂

5) What was your favorite book when you were 10-years-old?

The Secret Garden and The Little Princess. Frances Hodgson Burnett pretty much owned me at that age!

6) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Probably I’d have to say The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum. But most of the books I’ve been reading this past year have been rereads of favorites or ones I’d been waiting some time for, so it didn’t have much of a chance.

7) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

Like I said, almost half of the books I’ve read this past year have been rereads. But of new books? Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull. I really cannot speak highly enough of this series. It’s the best high fantasy series of the “talking dragons and fairies” that I’ve ever read. Really. Not that I read a lot of them, because I have trouble taking them seriously. This has never been a problem with Fablehaven.

8 ) If you could tell everyone you know to read one book, what would it be?

I’m going to be predictable here and say I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg. It is just so much about triumph, and basically a true story. Fictionalized autobiography. One of the few books that I’ve ever read that literally makes me feel like a better person for having read it.

9) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

Most difficult… possible Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  I simply don’t care for books that are more about ideas than people.  There have been a few others of similar cases in my college career, but the others are all fairly obscure, so I don’t actually remember their titles.

10) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

The Russians. I love reading Russian literature. Dostoevsky, Lermontov, Pushkin? Yes, please. I should read more French, though.  I’m not half as familiar with them.

11) Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?

That is not an effective question. It’s like asking whether you prefer water or oxygen—not in the life-or-death view of it, but in the fact that they’re three things that are essentially huge in the English language, and you can’t just pick between them, because they’re really not that similar. Milton is like… reading genius. You just know that he was one of the smartest men to have ever lived. Chaucer is similar, but I get bored with the bawdiness of it. I do not get bored of reading Middle English, though. The best thing to do with any of these authors is to just read them aloud, until you understand them. But on a day-to-day basis? Shakespeare, of course. There’s so much variety in his works, and just so many amazing characters.

12) Austen or Eliot?

Oh Austen, easily. But then I did read every single word of Middlemarch (which is almost the length of all six Austen novels combined) and was surprised at how much I loved it. Consequently, I’m surprised this question isn’t Austen or Brontë! That’s what you see most often, and it’s pretty unfair, considering how different the works are. Eliot is much closer to Austen’s feel, definitely.

13) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Oh almost anything contemporary that isn’t YA. I’m pretty awful in that I’m either stuck in the past or stuck in high school. Nonfiction, too. I almost never read nonfiction, though I think maybe I’m almost to the point where I’ll start seeking it out.

14) What is your favorite novel?

Jane Eyre, or Persuasion. Or possibly Little Women. But I haven’t read that last in ages, (it’s next in line to read after Jane Eyre!) so I’m interested in seeing how my view of it might have changed?

15) Play?

Oh… I’m going to cheat here and say The Oresteia. Which is actually three plays. But almost any Greek tragedy. I love Antigone, and Prometheus Bound, and just all of it. The Oresteia is just overwhelming, though.  Clytemnestra is just terrifying and awesome and somehow still sympathetic, and Orestes is just trying so hard to be good! I have a flair for the dramatic, what?

16) Poem?

Oh impossible to pick just one. Emily Dickinson—oh just pick one, they’re all brilliant, and I really don’t want to point you to an overly-familiar one just because it’s the one I can remember off the top of my head. That woman was just so smart. And if you think she’s depressing you’ve probably only read the four poems they assign in high school lit, and you should really read more. She is just impeccably smart. I love Sharon Olds, too, though, and one that comes to mind is from Billy Collins—”Marginalia” is sweet, and just a perfect poem.

I didn’t really mean for both of those links to refer back to Emily Dickinson, but it’s just as well that they do. Don’t get distracted by the seemingly random capitalization and punctuation… focus on the words. She knew her words better than anyone else I have ever seen. There are so many gorgeous poets, though. Whitman, Elizabeth Barret Browning. Longfellow, my old favorite. Poetry is kind of a secret passion with me, one I forget about and then it flares up in sudden, unstoppable waves.

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Very quickly here, a meme

You Are Realistic Fiction

You are an outgoing person and very interested in others. You have many relationships that are important to you.

You are always willing to lend an ear to a friend with a problem. And you’re even pretty good at giving advice!

Some may accuse you of loving drama, but you just seem to find yourself in the middle of it.

You are a true people person. You find the lives of others to be fascinating. You’re up for hearing anyone’s life story.

What Kind of Book Are You?
I think most of my friends got Science Fiction on this, but I’ll admit this probably hits my mark pretty well.  Especially that last bit.  I love listening to someone tell a good story. 😉

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