Posts tagged shannon hale

Some bookish thoughts.

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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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Fun Book Meme!

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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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