Spooky Reading Time!!

Guys! The time has finally come!! Carl has announced his RIP challenge for this year. The SIXTH year…geez…I can’t even believe that! This will be my fifth tie participating as I just missed the first one which was hosted in 2006. This blog came shortly after in it’s original blogspot place. I’m so freaking excited guys!!! I can’t tell you how badly I’ve needed this challenge. Life has not been the best lately, and this is sure to pick me up.

For me, Autumn embodies happiness. The crisp air, the falling leaves, the decorations, the food, and of course, the wonderful, atmospheric books. Though it certainly does not feel like Autumn here right now, it’ll be nice to pretend. Well you know what? Actually tonight was the first night I could sit on the patio and not feel like I was dying while I read..so maybe it is coming 🙂

I’m making a (comparably) small pool this year. I normally way overdo it and that just ends in disappointment. So here are some of the books that I’m really dying to read right now that fit the bill:

And that should be more than enough :p Though I DO have the right to change this up or read any of the many preorders I have coming in…..Can’t wait to see everyone else’s lists!!!!

Turn of Mind by Alice Laplante

Honestly I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I figured I was either going to love it or hate it…one of those books. Well let me tell you I absolutely loved it!! I listened to this one on audiobook which made it even better in my opinion as the narrator did an absolutely amazing job. I heard about this book on the Diane Rehm show. Apparently, Ms. Laplante has lived with a mother with Alzheimers though she said in the interview that this book is no way based on her life with her mother.

Laplante gives us an amazing, intriguing, engaging and heartbreaking story of an orthopedic doctor by the name of Jennifer White who is now suffering from dementia. She’s had to retire from her practice and needs constant supervision at this point in her life. Her best friend of years is found dead and missing four fingers. Four fingers that have been skillfully surgically removed. Something that Dr. White would certainly be capable of and this makes her a prime suspect in the case. Though with her dementia, she has no recollection of whether or not she actually did it.

The narrative is heart breaking. It’s told from the point of view of Jennifer White through a mixture of journal entries, letters to her from her loved ones, her own “in the moment” thoughts and memories that pop into her head. Her memories are sometimes in fragments…sometimes in detailed, complete thoughts. It just depends on the day and the time. Jennifer is presented as a somewhat cold woman…at least in the audiobook…but at the same time, she’s so very loveable. There were times where you just want to wrap her up in your arms.

I’ve never experienced dementia or alzheimers first hand, though I see it at the hospital that I work at occasionally. It seems like an excruciating disease not just for the person living it, but for their loved ones around them as well. To see your loved ones go downhill with no way of stopping it has to be heartbreaking…to not remember your own son and daughter…all heartbreaking. But I feel like I have experienced it somewhat now after reading this book. I think Miss Laplante captured it perfectly. And it’s one I’d highly recommend to anyone…specifically the audiobook..really enjoyed it!

The Baddest Bad Bloggers Part Two

So the giant box of books has arrived from my trip to see Debi and it’s um…a little ridiculous :p There are THIRTY TWO new books that walked into the house today. With the list being that long, I’m not going to post cover pictures and give explanations for each one. There is no explanation except for me not having restraint :p I’m just going to list the books I bought and who gets the points. And sadly, there aren’t as many points as I hoped to give out…which means that *I* have to take the blame for lots of these :/ Anyways, here they are!

1. A Son Called Gabriel by Damian McNicholl
2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
3. Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen (Point for Debi)
4. If We Ever Break Up, This is My Book by Jason Logan
5. The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentleman Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
6. The Spice of Vegetarian Cooking: Ethnic Recipes From India, China, Mexico, Southeast Asia, The Middle East and Europe by Martha Rose Shulman
7. Queer in America: Sex, The Media and the Closets of Power by Michelangelo Signorile
8. New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver (Point to Lu..I’ll always give points to Lu for Mary Oliver :p)
9. Plainsong by Kent Haruf
10. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea by Yukio Mishima
11. Devilish by Maureen Johnson
12. Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel by Isabel Allende
13. Acts of Worship: Seven Stories by Yukio Mishima
14. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Point to Pat)
15. The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker (Point to Lu)
16. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch (Point to Heather)
17. The Bean Trees: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
18. March: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks (Point to Ana)
19. Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks (Point to Rich)
20. Homeland: And Other Stories by Barbara Kingsolver
21. Son of a Witch: Volume Two in the Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire
22. Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie (Point to Ana even though I don’t know if she’s even read it :p She always gets a point for any Rushdie book!)
23. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
24. Auschwitz: A New History by Laurence Reese
25. Truck: A Love Story by Michael Perry
26. I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
27. Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs by Jonathan Ames (Point to Debi)
28. Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa by Joan Jacobs Brumberg
29. Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien
30. Selected Poems by Anne Sexton
31. The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Point to Rebecca Makkai)
32. Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children In an Age of Environmental Crisis by Sandra Steingraber

Phew…..

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

These words don’t come lightly, but I haven’t had a reaction to a book like this since Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. For some reason I was put off by Wicked for a long time. I don’t know why. I’ve actually had a copy of it twice before, but gave it away. And then I was in the bookstore at the airport looking for a book to read. And I knew that Wicked was Matt’s favorite book, so I owed it another chance. I owed it A chance. So I bought it and opened it up to the first page and I immediately fell under the spell of this book.

I’ve never read L. Frank Baum’s original Oz novels, but I’ve seen the movie enough. And let me tell you, I’ll never look at that movie in the same way again. Instead I’ll watch it and know the story of Elphaba, aka, the Wicked Witch of the West. I’ll know the cruelties and hardships that she suffered to make her the character that we know. I’ll know that Elphie isn’t really all that evil, but a character wrought by political concerns and equal rights for everyone and someone who just wants to be loved. I’ll see the wizard as the bastard that he is and I’m sorry, but I totally hold a grudge against Dorothy now…for we all know how Elphaba’s story ends.

Wicked does something genius. Gregory Maguire takes a character that’s come to represent pure evil in our culture and makes us question that. Shows us that underneath perceived evil, there is a true person there. In Wicked we learn the story of Elphaba (whose name he formed from the initials of L. Frank Baum’s name) and see her rejected from the moment of her birth when she is born green. But she doesn’t give up on humanity. She questions society’s ideals, yes, but perseveres and instead tries to make the world a better place. And yet is soon known as a witch.

And this is more than Elphaba’s story. It’s also Glinda’s story…you know, the GOOD witch. Maguire will make you question that too. And it’s the story of Nessarose, Elphie’s sister who we only know as a pair of legs with a house on top of her in the film version of The Wizard of Oz. It’s the story of politically motivated crimes, equal rights among beings or the lack there of, gender stereotypes, magic. And it’s all told so wonderfully. I never wanted this book to end really.

But central to the story is the concept of good and evil. Is there such a thing? Or is there such a polarized meaning of good and evil? Can anyone be completely good or completely evil. In Maguire’s story, the line is often blurred…and aside from a few scenarios, there really is no true answer. Good is often motivated by evil, evil often caused by a desire to do good.

And the story is told as one big, adventurous, heartening tale. A tale that luckily has three more books left for me to read, though sadly, Elphie is gone now…a character I came to love so much. I’m not spoiling anything here. I think the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and her demise is universally known. But how he gets us to that story is not. And that is the part that I won’t spoil for you. Do yourself a favor and meet Elphaba. Learn to love what society has damned as evil. Read. This. Book.

The Baddest Bad Bloggers

This has been a REALLY rough week on ye ole bookshelves. Mostly because of visiting Debi this past week and going to multiple bookstores every day!! Part of what I love so much about going to Debi’s house is that I CAN go to multiple bookstores over 5 days and never hit the same one twice 🙂 I got some INCREDIBLE deals though and couldn’t pass them up! We went to a Borders that was closing AND a ton of used book stores. So here’s just the beginning of my loot. I still have a 23 pound box of books on it’s way to me that I had to ship :p

1. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin – I heard about this book on the Diane Rehm show when Melanie Benjamin was on her show talking about her new book, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. It’s a fictional account of Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll’s relationship. When my Mom2 (Pat) saw it on my wishlist, she sent it to me!! So sweet 🙂 Point for Diane Rehm! (Gift from a friend)

2. If You Meet Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! by Sheldon B. Kopp – My counseling supervisor actually told me about this one during supervision one week and it sounds excellent! Can’t wait to read it. Point to Sid. (Bought it)

3. Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyekov – I’ve been skipping review copies lately, but TLC Booktours asked me if I’d be interested in this one with it’s LGBT themes. I love Lisa…she always knows what I’ll like 🙂 Sounds REALLY good! I’ll be starting it soon and reviewing it in September! Hey I guess I can give Lisa a point for this one since she recommended it to me :p Point to Lisa! (For review)

4. The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh – Just because I’ve been wanting to try something of his for years…and the sad thing is, I only know that Evelyn Waugh is a male from Lost in Translation XD (Paperback Swap)

5. Daphne by Justine Picardie – Wow this book sounds amazing!!!! I’m reading it with a group of friends and I can’t wait to dive into it!! (Bought it)

6. Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja – Reading this with the same group of friends and I have to say that I love that cover to PIECES!! (Bought it)

7. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – So…I get obsessed with things XD After Renay got me to watch Sherlock (the BBC production which is AMAZING), I became obsessed with everything Sherlock Holmes. And ordered pretty much all of Doyle’s Sherlock books off of Paperback Swap >> (Paperback Swap)

8. Belly Flop by Morris Gleitzman – This is a companion book to Water Wings which I absolutely LOVED by him!! (Paperback Swap)

9. Death Cloud by Andrew Lane – This is the first book in a series of books about an adolescent Sherlock Holmes and it looks so good!! (Bought it)

10. My Goat Ate It’s Own Legs by Alex Burrett – I have no idea how this book will be. It’s a book of (very) short stories by an author I’ve never heard of…but how can you pass up a title like that?? (Bought it)

11. A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire – I think I bought everything Maguire has written during this trip. I picked up Wicked for my in flight book and fell in love. I do have Son of a Witch on it’s way to me in the aformentioned box…it just hasn’t arrived yet. (Bought it)

12. Wicked by Gregory Maguire – Holy shit why didn’t I read this one SOONER??? I’m almost finished and it’s so freaking amazing and so much better than I ever imagined. I can see it being a favorite. I picked this one up because it’s one of Matt’s favorite books. What I’ve learned so far is that Dorothy is a total asshole and I hate her. Point for Matt! (Bought it)

13. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire – See above reasoning (Bought it)

14. Fables Vol. 6: Homelands by Bill Willingham – Found this one used at a great price and in great condition! Now I just need to read volume 5…yes I’m that far behind! (Bought it)

15. Priceless: The Vanishing Beauty of a Fragile Planet by Bradley Trevor Greive – Debi gave me this book when I visited her and I just now finished it. It’s SUCH a beautiful book with amazing photography and a strong message of saving our brother animals from extinction. I absolutely adored it. Point to Debi! (Gift from a friend)

16. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – I know you’re all saying “but don’t you have FIVE different copies of this book already????” Why yes, I do! But I don’t have this one :p This is the one illustrated by Alan Lee that I’ve been wanting forever!!! And I found it used in Ithaca! It’s GORGEOUS! (Bought it)

17. Lost by Gregory Maguire – See above reasoning once again (bought it)

18. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan – The sad thing is…after buying all of those books, I went book shopping AGAIN tonight! This was in the bargain section so I picked it up…been dying to read some Pollan after watching The Botany of Desire. (Bought it)

19. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Eric Shanower – This is a graphic novel adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book and it looks AMAZING. The art is incredible. And after reading Wicked, I want all things Oz. (Bought it)

20. The Horrors of the Heights and Other Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Found this in the bargain section too and couldn’t pass it up…looks incredible! Perfect for RIP! (Bought it)

Phew….and there’ll be more coming in a few days :/

A Wonderful Trip!

I went to visit with Debi and her amazing family this past week and I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful of a time I had. That smile you see on my face is not one that’s often that big…but this week, there were plenty of big smiles. Debi truly is one of THE most amazing people I’ve ever met and her family is just my favorite family out there. They’re amazing. Even more amazing though is this friendship that was kindled over blogging. We talked about so many of our amazing friends that we’ve made through blogging (all positive :p) and it really hit home for me how lucky I am to have so many amazing people in my life.

Day one was Barnes and Noble and coffee (surprise surprise) and day two brought us Mount Hope Cemetery which was SO gorgeous!! I think I’d go walk there every day if I lived near it. We saw the graves of Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony, but mostly just enjoyed each other’s company and the amazing ambiance.

We spent day three in Ithaca, NY and visited some of the local waterfalls. Ah, it was such an awesome day. Ithaca is just such an amazing, progressive city and I just fell in love with it. When we went to Buttermilk Falls, I was getting a really bad headache…but I went and put my feet in the water and listened to the falls and I swear every ounce of tension just disappeared.

It’s kind of becoming tradition to get a picture of Max hiding from the camera under the table at Bill Gray’s :p Who happens to have THE most amazing cheeseburgers!! Day four was spent at Wickham Farms which was such a cool little place!!! It’s an actual farm that has games like putt putt as well as farm-y type stuff…lots of fun 🙂 I fed goats!!

Ummm…did I mention we did a LOT of book shopping! I think this was after day 1 XD By the end I had 40 books /o\ They’re currently being shipped to me :p

And then it was time to say goodbye 😦 This picture was specifically taken for my amazing friend, Ana…but I really love it 🙂

A better time could not have been had 🙂 Unless it was a little bit longer of course….Thank you so much Debi and Rich and Annie and Gray and Max. And Baker for the cute little howls. I truly can’t thank y’all enough for everything.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark by Guillermo Del Toro

Looking for a good read for the upcoming RIP Challenge? Look no further. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a deliciously creepy novel that’s composed of a mixture of journal entries and illustrated “bad fairies” illustrations. And the book itself is designed wonderfully with nice, thick paper and obvious work put into the production of it.

Emerson Blackwood is a scientist living in the late 19th century who is one day shown a skeleton of a toothbreaker…aka, a tooth fairy. At first he is hesitant to believe that this is what it is, but he soon becomes obsessed with Fae creatures. So much so that he drags his loved ones into his madness. He chronicles his encounters and discoveries in journal form, of which we are privy to a few entries. In addition, he catalogs the fairies by their country of origin.

These are not happy, bright, sparkly fairies. Instead, these are the things of nightmares. And Del Toro is careful to stick to common fairy folklore, focusing on fairies like the tooth fairy (a pretty damn evil fairy if I may say so myself), Pooka, trolls, Baba Yaga, and dozens more. Why yes, I was looking out for toothbreakers sneaking into my room when I went to bed :p

Apparently this is a companion piece to Del Toro’s new film coming out with the same title that I didn’t know existed! And from the trailer, it looks perfectly creepy.

Another note, I’ll be gone for the next week. Off to see my friend Debi in New York 😀 Not that this differs much from my last few months of blogging, but just wanted to let everyone know that I’m away…You can still feel free to email me though and I’ll respond when I get back. And as always, please let me know about any extra cool posts that I’m missing!!! Hope everyone has a great week!!