The Bat Poet by Randall Jarrell

I loved this little book! Everything about it. And it is very little at only 43 pages, but everything about it is just perfect. I wish I would’ve known this book as a child. It’s the story of a little brown bat that decides to sleep outside on the rafters during the day while the rest of the bats sleep in a barn. He sleeps outside because he loves the sound of the Mockingbird’s songs. One day he opens his eyes and sees the beauty of the world during the day. He tries to convince the rest of the bats that they should see it too, but they refuse saying the sunlight would hurt their eyes and that the day time is just miserable.

Our little bat thinks differently though and wants a way to show the other bats what they’re missing. He’s never seen color before, doesn’t know many of the animals that are out and about during the day and is just in awe of the world around him. He wishes that he could sing the mockingbird’s song to repeat to the bats, but his voice is too high. So instead he begins to make up poetry…his own songs only without a tune. His poetry is just beautiful as he describes his surroundings, the different animals in the forest, and the feelings that go along with them. He creates this poem to show the mockingbird how the bats fear the owls:

A shadow is floating through the moonlight.
Its wings don’t make a sound.
Its claws are long, its beak is bright.
Its eyes try all the corners of the night.

It calls and calls: all the air swells and heaves
And washes up and down like water.
The ear that listens to the owl believes
In death. The bat beneath the eaves,

The mouse beside the stone are still as death –
The owl’s air washes them like water.
The owl goes back and forth inside the night,
And the night holds its breath.

This wasn’t even my favorite poem in the book. My favorite was one that he wrote about the life of a bat and it’s connection to it’s mother. It was just beautiful. The great thing about this book is that it also teaches children about poetry. The mockingbird describes to the bat what a iamb is and what a stanza is. But it’s not a book that’s boring at all. It’s a perfect little story and a perfect little book that I just wanted to hug.

What makes this book even better for me and the true reason that I bought it is Maurice Sendak’s drawings. I had to have it when I saw that he illustrated it. I’ve always loved Sendak’s illustrations starting when I discovered Where the Wild Things Are as a child. His illustrations are always just perfect and have such a warm feeling to them that I cherish. This book is no different. It’s illustrated all in black pen and Sendak captures the beauty of nature perfectly in his typical way. The whole book was just a charm with it’s textured cover, cream pages, and familiar drawings. If you have children or you’re just a lover of books, get The Bat Poet…it’s a treasure.

And in other news….I’m loving The Graveyard Book!!! And guess what, I also found Nation today…yay for me! By the way, the UK cover of Nation is so much better than the US one…I really don’t like our cover 😦

I also wanted to remind everyone of my BAFAB week giveaway…check out the post…I forgot to put a drawing date in there, but I’ll draw a winner on October 8th.

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Weekly Geeks #19 and BAFAB Week Giveaway!

Wow, three posts in a day! I haven’t done this in ages! I really liked this week’s Weekly Geeks and wanted to make sure I participated. Dewey suggest that we list our favorite reads of 2008 so far and eventually all vote on the best of the best. I love this idea. It’ll also give some great reading suggestions for the 24 hour read-a-thon which is being held on October 18th. You can go check out all of the information on the read-a-thon over on the faq page. So here are my top picks so far of 2008 in complete random order:

1. Mateki: The Magic Flute by Yoshitaka Amano
2. Bonk by Mary Roach
3. When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason
4. The Translator by Daoud Hari
5. Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage
6. When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
7. The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
8. The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman
9. Tweak by Nic Sheff
10. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
11. Four Letter Word ed. by Joshua Knelman and Rosalind Porter
12. Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull

And even though I’m already 2 over my top ten, I’m adding:

13. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Because I know that it’ll be a favorite of the year even though it’s not out :p

Interested in reading any of the above books?? You can click on the links to read my review and if you find you’re interested you can enter yourself for my BAFAB Week giveaway! I’ll buy the winning person any one of the books listed in my top 13 except for Odd and the Frost Giants because that one’s not available in the US yet. Just leave me a comment letting me know which one you’d like to win. And as an added bonus, whoever wins the BAFAB Week giveaway will also receive that cute little guy up on top of this post. He’s called a Domo and he’s from Target :p This drawing is open to everyone around the globe by the way! Deadline for entry is October 7th and I’ll draw a name on October 8th. Good luck!!

The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia

With The Secret History of Moscow, Ekaterina Sedia explores the underworld, Moscow’s past and how it relates to a current mystery. Galina’s sister, Masha, has disappeared after giving birth to her child in the bathroom. The only semblance of Masha that Galina can find after discovering the baby is a Jackdaw, a black crow, perched near her apartment, though Galina does have a history of schizophrenia. She turns to the police in search of her sister and meets a young man named Yakov who works for the force. As they begin their search they discover that more and more of the town is disappearing.

Upon meeting a street artist named Fyodor, they realize that something strange is indeed happening. Fyodor brings them to a puddle of water where they witness tons of black birds flying into the puddle, through a door that is reflected in the puddle and disappearing. It’s become apparent that something strange is indeed happening here and it’s beginning to seem that Moscow’s population is turning into birds. The trio find a puddle of their own and on good faith jump into it landing in a world that one can only dream.

They are in the underground of Moscow where people who have passed long ago still live and where the old gods mingle with each other debating the fate of the world above. It is with the help of these old gods that they hope to once again find Masha and discover the cause of the strange occurrences above and there are some incredible tales told along the way as we meet each of the gods.

I had extremely mixed feelings about this book. I absolutely loved the idea of it and I loved Ekaterina Sedia’s writing. She has a great gift with words. However, the execution fell short for me. I never truly felt attached to any of the characters (though I must admit I enjoyed Zemun the cow). The plot of the story seemed to be the central character and the actual characters were never truly fleshed out. This could be because she had so many of them. I find it hard to really enjoy a book when the cast of characters are so large. They begin to get confused in my simple little head.

She also continually told little stories throughout the book in the middle of the action. Sometimes they were about the gods, sometimes about the characters’ past, sometimes about the history of Moscow. This didn’t work so well for me either. Once again, I’d get confused and lost during these. While I enjoyed the stories that she told, I often saw them as an interruption in the main story. So if I had to rate this one it would probably be a 2.5/5…right there in the middle. Great story, short on the execution.

blah…

Sometimes you just have to declare a day as complete shit. I got a call last night from my dad saying that his foot was swollen and his left leg was numb. So it was back to the emergency room again where it was declared that he had mild right side heart failure. More heart problems. They ended up sending him home at 8:00 this morning with Potassium and Lasiks and now he’s just resting and will have to go back to the cardiologist. When does it ever end with this? I know for sure that my dad needs to start taking better care of himself if he wants to get better, but it’s so hard (near impossible) to force someone into caring about their health. I’m not going to get into it much on here, but something needs to change.

So I slept for a few hours and then went to the bookstore in search of making me feel better. I wanted Terry Pratchett’s Nation, The Ghost Quartet which has a new OSC story in it, The second Cherie Priest Eden Moore book, a John Green book (just any one aside from Looking for Alaska which I’ve already read) and hopefully an early copy of The Graveyard Book (knew that one wasn’t going to happen). Borders didn’t have a single one of those books so I went to B&N which also didn’t have a single one of those. I was pissed. I did find out though that Nation isn’t released until tomorrow, so I’ll get that when I get The Graveyard Book.

Then I got a call from work and was reprimanded for something that I didn’t even know was not done correctly because it’s never been explained to me. Normally this wouldn’t bother me at all and I’d let it roll of my back, but today was just not the day to hear that.

So I’m feeling sorry for myself today and being a bit pissy. I think I’m going to do a BAFAB giveaway, because that always makes me happy, so stay tuned for a book on here that will be up for grabs. I haven’t decided what it will be yet.

Mateki: The Magic Flute by Yoshitaka Amano and Stuff

I’ve had a long time love affair with the art of Yoshitaka Amano. I can’t remember when exactly it was that I first discovered him, but I’ve been a fan of his artwork since that first day and he’s been one of my favorite living artists for awhile. Needless to say, I was super excited to hear that he had a new book out, Mateki, The Magic Flute.

Mateki is a book of very few words, but no words are really needed. Just the basics to give an outline of the story while the art tells the story in full. The few words that are shared are beautiful indeed, but the art is simply stunning and I expect nothing less from Mr. Amano. Mateki begins with a creation story, of a dark lord named Yasha who breathes life into the world and then closes his eyes to rest, until he is awakened one day by Kouran’s flute and it’s beautiful sound. Yasha instanly wants the flute for his own when he hears it and is envious of Kouran for possessing it. Meanwhile, Kouran has fallen in love at first sight with a beautiful woman named Shaana and with her, Yasha finds his bartering tool for the flute.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this graphic novel. It’s equally an art book and has in fact been referred to as an art book on many sites. Amano’s watercolors are filled with emotion and his pencils have this amazing quality of looking like a rough sketch yet completely finished at the same time. If you’re a lover of art, a lover of graphic novels, or a lover of a good story, I’d consider this a must have.

Aside from reading Mateki, I’ve been slowly working on The Secret History of Moscow and am almost finished it. I’m sort of in the middle when it comes to my current read. I’m really enjoying the story, but at the same time it’s not a book that I’ve been able to sit down with and get lost in. It also reminds me so much of a mix between Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and American Gods that it’s hard for me not to compare it to the two which isn’t a good thing for the book since those are two of my favorite books and it would be hard indeed to live up to that expectation.

Speaking of Neil, 4 more days until The Graveyard Book comes out! I know what the entire blogosphere will be reading on September 30th 😉 I also just found out about a new ghost story compilation that is out with a short story by Orson Scott Card in it! It’s called Ghost Quartet and I think I’ll pick it up when I pick up The Graveyard Book…they’d make great RIP reads.

Oh, and one last thing….I got an iPhone today! I’m just a tad bit obsessed with it, but I’m sure that will die down in time. Needless to say, I’ve already run down the entire battery, so now it’s charging. Off to enjoy this beautiful Fall weather now…hope you are too!

I Got My Wish

Right before I went to work today I posted “really not wanting to be at work today” on Twitter. So I walk in to work anyway when I suddenly find that there are 4 people scheduled on the shift when there’s only supposed to be 2! And the first question someone asked me was “Do you want to go home?” Damn straight I did, so that’s what happened. Now I actually get to blog and read blogs without feeling exhausted for once during the week…and I also get to catch up on reading…and I also get to watch the season premiere of Heroes even though I was DVRing it anyway. I’m happy needless to say.

What made me even more happy was heading on over to Eva’s blog and seeing that I Make Her Monday 🙂 She wrote the most incredibly sweet post about Carl’s, Nymeth’s, and my own blog and it really put a huge smile on my face. Eva makes my Monday too! Like I told her in the comments, her’s is one of a few blogs that I absolutely have to make the time to read everyday even though I don’t always comment :/ But I always enjoy her posts! So thanks again Eva!

I was also approved for my vacation today to have off of work for the weekend of Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon! I can’t tell you how happy that made me. I’ve been wanting to join in for the last 2 times and now I finally get to participate…it kinda feels like Christmas morning is coming up, lol. So I’ll officially be a reader! I’m also contemplating doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Although I really don’t know if I have it in me after last year. To be truthful, I’m still a little exhausted from that whole process :p But I did manage to write a novel last year so how cool would it be to have written two novels? Plus I really like the Tshirt for this year and I would just feel guilty if I wore a Tshirt that said “NaNoWriMo 2008 Author” if I really wasn’t, lol.

Oh, and I’ve been wanting this Tshirt ever since Renay posted a link to it on her blog…it’s the best shirt ever.

So Sleepy…

This has been the most exhausting week, but I decided to stay up and write a blog post before I crash since I never seem to have time to blog anymore. Work was crazy busy all week followed by a couple of nights out and all concluded with a really intense and exhausting LSU vs. Auburn game which I’m proud to say that LSU won! The thing I really hated about being so busy this week was that I missed much of BBAW. But what I followed along with was so much fun and a huge thanks goes out to My Friend Amy for hosting the whole thing. It was so great to see our little community come together even more than it usually does and I found quite a few new cool blogs to read through it.

I also managed to finish a book this week! Albeit a short one, it was still a pretty good read. The book was A Soul in a Bottle by Tim Powers. Perfect little haunting RIP read about the ghost of a poet who has passed enticing a young book lover living in Hollywood. It’s so short that I really can’t give much more of a plot summary without giving away the book, but I enjoyed my first experience with Powers. His words were poetic, the story was engaging and the characters were ones that I quickly enjoyed. Can’t ask for much more than that. The one thing that disappointed me a little was it’s length. I think it would’ve been even better had it been fleshed out a bit more into a novel, but it’s all good. I wanted to know more about certain aspects of the story, but my imagination had to fill in the blanks which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

What else, what else?? Oh yeah, as if I don’t have enough problems keeping up with my blog and blog reading, I now went and joined Twitter too, which I can see as being horribly addicting. My username is chrisa511 if you’re interested in friending me. I just discovered Twitter after hearing people talk about it for ages. It’s basically just like the facebook and myspace feature that allows you to tell other people what you’re doing by updating your “status box” only there’s nothing else to the website! You just post status messages so that people all over the world can know what’s going on in your life. I think it’s fun :p

Another thing…if you’re a video game fan, you have to check out the new Star Wars Unleashed game. It’s awesome! I bought it today and me and my brother were playing it all night. It’s incredibly cool. Especially for the Wii…yes, you get to use the Wii remote as a light saber and you do indeed have the powers of the force as well!! The graphics are the best I’ve seen for Wii so far and it’s highly addictive. One of those games where you stop playing and wonder where the last 3 hours of your life went.

Finally, a belated thank you to the hilarious Chartroose for inducting me into the Kool Kids Klub and to the oh so sweet Becky for saying that she loves my blog 🙂 Right back at you both of you! I would pass the award on to other people, but I just hate having to only pick a certain number of people. I love so many blogs out there and anyone who stops by here is just the epitome of Kool for sticking with my sporadic blogging, for supporting me during stressful times, and for just being great people. So consider yourself awarded!

Go read this incredibly cool interview with Neil Gaiman over at GoodReads…sounds like a new book is in the works! And it’s going to be non-fiction….interesting!

As for tomorrow…Go Saints!