4 Fun Posts Not To Be Missed

About to run off to work, but I thought I’d let everyone know of these fun posts floating around blogger world.

1. Nymeth is celebrating her 1 year blogiversary and is hosting quite a nice book giveaway. 5 books! Go have a look at what she’s giving away..all great books. And if you post about it on your blog, you get entered twice! This blogging community just wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s responsible for quadrupling the size of so many of our wishlists :p And her passion and genuine kindness comes through in everything she writes. So happy blogiversary Nymeth!

2. Eva wrote a post that had me in hysterics and had me shaking my head in an “I can relate all too well” way all at the same time. She started out with her book sluttiness, turned book snobbiness and then went on to talk about the different type of reads on the shelf. Very worthwhile read!

3. Susan posed a question about fairy tales that’s perfect for this Once Upon a Time challenge! I’m really enjoying reading the answers and wish that there were more…so head over there and answer! What’s your favorite fairy tale. While you’re there, you’ll discover a great blog. I just discovered her blog and I’m really enjoying it!

4. And finally, Becky did it again…she started another damn challenge. I haven’t joined yet, but I probably will eventually. But I’m still saying no for now! It’s the Initials Challenge. Simply read authors who publish under their initials. Seeing as I’ve been meaning to reread the Narnia series and LOTR for 2 years now, this would be the perfect outlet to do so. And I’ve always wanted to read the original Winnie the Pooh book by A.A. Milne. May just sign up for that one :/

The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint

bluegirl-alt_viking.jpgI’m beginning to put Charles de Lint right up there with Orson Scott Card and Neil Gaiman as one of my favorite authors after reading The Blue Girl. I’ve read two other books by him (Greenmantle and Moonheart) and loved both of those so much that I’ve bought about ten of his books since reading them. After reading The Blue Girl, I’m convinced that I’ll enjoy each and every one of them. Like Card and Gaiman, he has a style of writing that just works perfectly for me. He tells a true story that entertains throughout with never a dull moment, never a page wasted. His subject matter is always interesting to me, often delving into the realms of fairy lore, and he’s basically the inventor of the Urban Fantasy genre which I’ve come to love.

The Blue Girl is the first book that I’ve read of his that takes place in his fictional city of Newford, and I can’t wait to meet more of it’s residents in other books. The two main characters of this book are Imogene and Maxine. Imogene has just moved to Newford from her old town, Tyson, where she’s left behind a bad reputation for running with a bad crowd and everything that goes along with that. But she wants to leave that in Tyson. She still carries her punky look and her tattoos and her take no lip attitude, but she realizes that it’s time for a change. At her new school, she meets Maxine – a girl who has few if any friends and dresses very conservatively…how her mother tells her to dress. But the two take to each other quickly, both able to learn from the other.

Things quickly get strange in Newford. First of all, Imogene’s “imaginary friend” Pelly from her childhood is back and has appeared to her in what she first thought was a dream and he seems to be giving her a warning. Secondly, Imogene seems to be being stalked by a ghost named Adrian at school. But Adrian is basically harmless. In fact, they soon become friends and Imogene learns that Adrian actually died young while playing with fairies at school (not the cute pixie like fairies that we think of). But Imogene doesn’t believe in fairies. So Adrian (as a ghost) goes to the fairies and asks them to make Imogene be able to see them. What he doesn’t bargain for is how out of hand things will get. Unbeknown even to the fairies, there are other spirits that come to Imogene when her eyes are awakened to the faerie world…and they want her soul. Once their eyes are on here they’ll stop at nothing to get it and now her and Maxine must find a way to stop them…and she may even change colors in the process.

One of the things that I love about de Lint’s work is the amount of knowledge that he pours into them. I learned quite a bit about faerie lore while reading this book and it’s obviously something that he has researched quite a bit and that he is very passionate about. In Moonheart, I learned things of the native american culture. The point is, he puts his passions into his books. His books are meant to be an experience. I can read a de Lint book for 4 hours and completely lose track of time. In fact, I was almost late to work today finishing this book.

I could just keep reading more Charles de Lint for the rest of the Once Upon a Time Challenge, but I won’t :p However, I’ll probably add an extra book of his off of my TBR shelf to the stack. I think I have Someplace to be Flying on another challenge list so maybe I’ll read that one. Anyone read that? If you haven’t read The Blue Girl yet, do yourself a favor and read it…I can’t wait to go back to Newford!

Just A Quick Update

The computer is still completely out of commission and it won’t be coming back any time soon. I’m also totally broke, so a new computer is not in the picture either…so I’ve been using mom’s computer hence the sporadic posting. But I figured I should just check in and update.

The weather down here has been beautiful! Spring has certainly arrived. Temperatures are about 75 degrees in New Orleans today, there’s green on all the trees, butterflies flying around, little lizards crawling, and I can sit comfortably on the swing again and read without freezing! Which is exactly what I’ll be doing after this post (still reading The Blue Girl and loving it). I planted a vegetable garden the other day and it’s doing really well already. No veggies yet of course, but the plants are taking off…another sure sign that Spring is working it’s magic. We have 2 creole tomatoes, a creole green bell pepper, sweet green bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, and 2 green eggplants. Hopefully they do as well as last year.

Yesterday we went to the zoo since the weather was as nice as today and it was tons of fun. I haven’t been to the zoo since before Katrina and it was really nice to be back. I missed it quite a bit. The only thing that made me mad was that the kangaroos weren’t out 😦 I’ve become quite attached to them. I took a comparative psychology class back in college that studied the behavior of humans through animals…strange I know. But we had an assignment to study a zoo animal throughout the semester and observe all of it’s behaviors and log them down to specifics. So I’d go and observe the kangaroos for 4 hours a week for a whole semester and write down every little movement, twitch, shake, hop, etc. they would do down to which leg moved first. I can tell you anything you want to know about the behavior of kangaroos! But they weren’t out 😦 I did get to pet a goat though (and I look entirely too excited about that)! That’s my little brother in need of a haircut behind me.

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In book news, I thought that I’d let everyone know that Connor Cochran was kind enough to inform me that Conlan Press has signed and personalized copies of the trade paperback edition of Tamsin on their website. That edition has larger print too! While on their website, you can also pick up Peter Beagle and Lisa Snellings-Clark’s collaboration, Strange Roads or some cool The Last Unicorn stuff!I just reviewed Tamsin the other day and it’s a wonderful book. He also told me that he is working with Peter Beagle on a film treatment of Tamsin to show around Hollywood!!! So cross your fingers. This would be an awesome movie. They’re working with one of the producers of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Brandon Mull’s publisher was also kind enough to email me and let me know that the first chapter of Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague is now available to read online for free! Another awesome thing is that Mr. Mull has now set up his own blog! I love that authors are starting to blog more frequently now. Makes me happy.

OK, that’s all I’ve got.

Tweak by Nic Sheff

tweak1.jpgI know it’s not fantasy, but I had to finish this one before I dove into the Once Upon a Time Challenge. Tweak by Nic Sheff is a memoir…but not your typical memoir. Sheff is a recovering addict, and Tweak looks back at two years in his life as he repeatedly used various drugs (mostly intravenously), lost everything, sought treatment and did it all over again. It’s an extremely powerful book, highly disturbing at times…so much so that I found myself looking away at the book as if I was watching something gory on screen, and you sometimes forget that you’re reading non fiction. But the truth is, this book is one example of something that thousands of struggling addicts are going through every day.

Sheff is a great writer. He manages to portray his emotions clearly and precisely through his words. We feel his highs, we feel his devastations, we feel the loss, the cold sweats, the helplessness, the complete sadness, the euphoria, and the emptiness…and we feel the hope. Throughout all the loss that he describes, beyond all the needles, the heroin, meth, coke, crack, various pills, we see a guy who really wants to make it, and it brought tears to my eyes at times.

He also teaches us empathy for addicts. It’s not always just about having fun or getting high. It is at first, but it becomes a desperation. People become slaves to this stuff. We see this with Nick as he becomes homeless multiple times, sells everything that he owns, becomes estranged from his entire family and loses all of his friends, becomes a male prostitute, loses literally everything he has…and then after getting it all back, after getting a second chance, still goes back to it. I’ve worked with teens with substance abuse issues and I’ve seen some of the same issues that Sheff talked about and their stories were always so touching to me, but so frustrating at the same time. When someone relapses it just makes you so angry, but that’s how powerful of a hold these drugs take and Sheff describes that so well. It’s not always just the addiction, it’s what’s underneath the addiction.

Nic’s father also wrote a book called Beautiful Boy and I bought that one as well. I’m really looking forward to that one. It tells the same story from a father’s point of view…what it’s like to see your child go through a meth addiction. Tweak can be found in the Young Adult section, but let me remind you that it’s recommended for ages 15 and up. It has (obviously) lots of drugs in it including graphic scenes of shooting up, lots of sex, and lots of cursing…but I think it’s definitely something for teens to read. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to start using drugs after reading this and if someone has just started using, this would be a good reason to get off.

In the epilogue, he describes his reason for writing this book:

“For myself, I’ve come to discover that holding on to secrets about who I am and where I come from is toxic. My secrets will kill me. If I don’t get honest about my life, I cannot have recovery. I’ve learned that from the twelve steps and I’ve learned that from my own experience. I need to admit to what I’ve done, who I’ve been. That is how I have been able to survive.”

Throughout the book, he continues to describe that while he was using he kept saying that he was going to be a writer and he was going to write a book…that was one of his recover goals. He was going to get sober and write a book…congratulations Mr. Sheff!

Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle

tamsin1.jpgThere’s a quote on the back of my copy of Tamsin by Peter Beagle from The Orlando Sentinel that says “This is a book that any Beagle fan must have, and will convert any newcomers to his magical works.” And I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I think that I enjoyed this one even more than Beagle’s The Last Unicorn which I read last year for the Once Upon a Time challenge.

Tamsin is a little bit fantasy, a little bit horror, a little bit of a coming of age story, and a ghostly love story all combined into one. It’s written as a first person narrative looking back at the past..telling a story, from the point of view of young Jenny Gluckstein, 13 at the time of the events of the book, 19 when she’s writing it. After growing up in New York as an only with her mother who she calls “Sally”, she moves to Dorset in England to live with her mother’s fiancee and his two sons against her wishes. She has to leave her two only friends in the states and move from a city life to a small country, farming life in the country side of England and nothing about it sounds appealing to her. The only saving grace she has is her beloved cat, Mr. Cat, who if I say so myself is one of the best written animal characters I’ve read in awhile.

On the drive up to Dorset, Jenny’s new stepdad, Evan tells her of all of the myths and legends surrounding Dorset. There are said to be boggarts, brownie like creatures that invade homes…ghosts that haunt the area from past times, creatures that roam the forests, and a wild hunt that chases ghosts throughout the night. And then there is the Pooka, a black horse with golden eyes that you can never trust. But of course all of this is legend…fun stuff not to be taken seriously. They arrive at Stourhead Farm, their new home, and it’s an old home with lots of history. Jenny slowly makes friends with her young stepbrother Julian as they begin to notice that there are odd sounds in the house and things go awry on their own.

One night while lying in bed with Mr. Cat, Jenny notices a second cat leap onto her bed…but this cat isn’t quite solid…it’s somewhat transparent. But Mr. Cat takes a liking to her anyway. Jenny soon finds that the cat belongs to no other than a ghost named Tamsin. A woman who has lived at Stourhead Farm for over 300 years. The resulting story is a beautiful one that takes the reader on a fantastic adventure filled with amazing creatures and a mystery to be untangled. Why is Tamsin still here after 300 years and what happened to her beloved Edric?

My experience with Beagle has been that he writes such original stories. He tells such a wonderful fantasy tale with great twists, an original point of view, and he adds such heart to the story. There’s such a strong emotional aspect to this story. Very strong themes of friendship, love, betrayal, bonding, etc. Each character that he writes has so much thought put into them. There are no “wasted characters” in this book. I loved (or loved to hate) each and every one of them. The point is that I really cared about this book and that’s not something that always happens.

If I'm A Stranger…

Just a quick post to let everyone know that the computer has completely gone nuts. Now not only will it not turn on half the time, but it no longer registers my wireless card, so I don’t have internet. And of course it’s an internal card so I have no idea where the hell it is. I’ve unscrewed the panels that I can and I can’t find it. So if I’m a stranger, I apologize. I have my mom’s computer that I can use, but it’s not as easily accessible as my own. So please don’t take offense if I don’t comment on blogs…trust me, I’m missing everyone when I can’t get online! And please excuse the lack of posts…just in time for Once Upon a Time..go figure. I hate my computer. I wish I had more money…I’d just buy a new one.

But while I’m here, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter!!! I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend no matter what you do and spend it doing what you enjoy doing for your holiday. Hopefully I’ll have things figured out soon with the computer.

If I’m A Stranger…

Just a quick post to let everyone know that the computer has completely gone nuts. Now not only will it not turn on half the time, but it no longer registers my wireless card, so I don’t have internet. And of course it’s an internal card so I have no idea where the hell it is. I’ve unscrewed the panels that I can and I can’t find it. So if I’m a stranger, I apologize. I have my mom’s computer that I can use, but it’s not as easily accessible as my own. So please don’t take offense if I don’t comment on blogs…trust me, I’m missing everyone when I can’t get online! And please excuse the lack of posts…just in time for Once Upon a Time..go figure. I hate my computer. I wish I had more money…I’d just buy a new one.

But while I’m here, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter!!! I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend no matter what you do and spend it doing what you enjoy doing for your holiday. Hopefully I’ll have things figured out soon with the computer.