Friday, April 23, 2010

Fine Art for Dummies

I loved it! I loved it! I loved it! I had read Kostova’s earlier novel “The Historian” a while back and quite enjoyed it. When I saw that my local book store had a copy of her new book I immediately had to put it on hold at my local library. In the end, I preferred this book to her previous one. This novel begins with a man trying to attack a painting in a museum. He is arrested and soon found to be mentally unstable and is handed over to the care of a psychiatrist. He refused to speak and so his shrink must interview his family and friends to find the source of his compulsion and destructive imbalance. Alongside his story is the turbulent history of the painting he attempted to destroy and the artists from its era. All the characters in this novel are painters and so it felt like I was having a mini art lesson. From the biography on the back of the book I learned that the author has a Masters in Fine Art. I love art and wish I knew more about its technique, composition, and history and so this book was a delight to read.

Too Much Hype

There has been so much hype around this book and with the blockbuster movie hitting the rental shelves the hype has blossomed exponentially. The library would only loan it out for 14 days with a $1/day late fine! (I was amazed! Wasn’t this book published years ago?!) I saw a preview for the movie and I was in tears just from that! (I love Eric Bana!) After seeing the preview I instantly wanted to see the movie. When at all possible, I try to read the book before seeing the movie or else I feel like I’m reading a script, and I have actors’ images in my head. I was happy to find that my local library had a copy of the book with the original cover and not the film cover for the same reason. Does anyone else dislike movie covers on books or does it not really matter?
The problem with too much hype around a book is that I normally end up feeling let down and I’m sad to say that that was the case with this book. I just didn’t really like it and I can’t put my finger on what specifically that I didn’t enjoy. The characters never seemed to haunt me after I put it down. I read it quickly more because of the 14 day time constraint and less about a compulsion to know what happened next in the story. The whole idea of a man that can’t stay in the same time is just odd to me and I just couldn’t get my brain to believe that it was real.

Myself: Hopelessly Behind the Times

I must be the last person on the planet to have read this book but I’ll write about it anyway because I did read it. The teenage girl that lives next door talked about these books with so much excitement that I decided to give them a try. We all know the premise of this book: human girl and vampire boy fall in love. It’s yet another version of Romeo and Juliet! This novel is written for teens and you can really feel that with the fast pace of the prose. For us adult readers, I found it was an ‘airplane book’: one that you can read quickly and be easily entertained without too much thought. Some people read other vampire novelists (ex. Anne Rice) with relish but I could never really get into them. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t find that aspect of the story more distracting. Surprise! Surprise! I put the second book and the movie on hold at my local library!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Drood, Collins, & Dickens...Friends?

I love a good long book to sink my teeth into and at almost 800 pages this one definitely did the trick. This is the story of a most devious character, Drood. He is first introduced to us during the railway accident that almost killed Charles Dickens. This strange man, Drood, haunts Dickens' mind and he becomes obsessed with finding him. The story is told through the eyes of his good friend and fellow author Wilkie Collins. Together they travel through London 's terrifying Undertown, within the sewers and along since forgotten crypts, to find him and learn his story.

I realise that this is a work of fiction and not the actual source story for Charles Dickens' later novel, but it definitely made me want to read more of his work. Also, it made me more curious about the actual men, Dickens and Collins. Was Dickens truly as cocky as he is portrayed (ex. making even his family call him Venerable?) I know Collins used laudanum to great excess but was his life really such a complete and outrageous drug trip? Was the almost sibling rivalry betwee these two authors accurate? Was London's Undertown really as terrifying as it was portrayed? Regardless of the answers, this novel made me ask questions, and I always love a novel that inspries me to delve deeper into my own research.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Forbidden Fruit Tastes the Sweetest

Elissa Elliot’s debut novel “Eve: A Novel of the First Woman” swept me away completely. I was impressed at how the author kept me intrigued in a story that most people already know the plotline. Eve is on her deathbed and recounting her life to her eldest daughter Naava. The story is told through the eyes of herself and each of her female children. The novel is mostly about the life of Adam and Eve and their children after they have relocated outside of Eden after their banishment. I was amazed at how normal these characters felt to the reader. So often in literature Eve is made into a goddess figure and in this story she’s just a normal woman with normal personal, family, and religious issues. She is trying to come to grips with her banishment from paradise and from God and at the same time raise six children.

The family dynamics are pretty interesting; Eve wants to go back to the Garden and so lives in her past; Adam just wants to accept where they are and have a normal life; Cain doesn’t want anything to do with God and just wants to conquer the world; Abel just wants to be left alone with God and his sheep; Naava wants to be revered for her beauty; Aya keeps the family glued together; and little Dara and Jacan, the twins, are a little lost in trying to emulate those around them. The children have been told about Eden and how God created their parents but since they weren’t there and God has already left them the children have difficulty believing. To them it’s all just a fairytale and thus difficult to place their faith in. Some of the children believe and some do not.

The story becomes very interesting when the family realizes that there is a city not too far away. Each family member approaches the city with a different perspective. Not only is there a huge culture shock between rural and urban living but also because this city doesn’t worship the same deity. This city has many deities and different creation stories. This juxtaposition creates a great clash of sensibilities.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I Vunt to Suck Yoor Blud….lol!!!

C. C. Humphreys’ “Vlad: The Last Confession” is a very intense novel. It is definitely not for the faint of heart as parts of the book are extremely gory. I almost put it down within the first hundred pages because I was starting to have nightmares!!!

“Vlad” is the story of Dracula, not Bram Stoker’s gothic vampire but the real life guy. Vlad Dracula was a Wallachian prince and warlord that fought in a very violent manner in order to protect his realm and throne and also while on crusades to cleanse his land of Infidels. I love historical novels and so I enjoyed that aspect of this one. However, the beginning of the book, where Dracula is a child and turning into the warped man that he became, was probably the most interesting for me but also the most disturbing. I could have done without some of the graphic torture scenes. Unfortunately from a technical standpoint it was definitely needed to help explain the man who emerged from the boy.

There is also a really touching love story that slips in and out of the progress of the story. The depth of their love was remarkable and acted as a huge juxtaposition against some of the brutality. Also, there is the tribulation between Dracula and his best friend from childhood, Ion Tremblac, as they become men together and also his beloved teacher and mentor from his school days, Hamza.

I learned a lot about 15th century living from this novel but I don’t think that I could read it a second time as it was a bit too gruesome for my tastes. I’m glad this was a library book because I don’t have to have it lurking on my bookshelves ready to pounce out at me. I was surprised to find that I was more disturbed by the real man than by the fiction that was created around him. A vampire seems like a teddy bear next to this monster!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shakespeare: The Original Mac Daddy?!

We all know that there is not much concrete information on William Shakespeare. Most people know about the question of the actual authorship of his work. However, (I’m ashamed to admit this because I have a degree in English and didn’t know this…) there is a question out there as to the many wives of Shakespeare too. Watch out Henry VIII, here comes Master Shakespeare to give you a run for your spousal money!!!! LOL! Just kidding, Shakespeare didn’t have that many! There is an entry in the Stratford book of marriages for Shakespeare and TWO women. The second woman is Anne Hatheway whom we all know to be his wife. But, on the day before that entry there was a marriage license dispensed for him to wed Anne Whateley. Was this a clerical error? Was he a bigamist? What’s going on here?

Karen Harper’s novel, Mistress Shakespeare, tells the story of his secret life with Anne Whateley. It seems they were childhood sweethearts who were secretly wed before Shakespeare married the other Anne! Oh…the scandal!! LOL! Anne Whateley is his London wife and Anne Hatheway is his Stratford wife.

This is a pretty interesting novel if you’re like me and enjoy all things Shakespeare. It tells of his rise to artistic fame set against the backdrop of the times – political unrest, the plague, etc. It also gives an interesting interpretation of his plays and sonnet series from the perspective of his double spousal relationships and thus his warped interpretation of love.

I look forward to reading more by this author and was pleasantly surprised to find a lot more of her historical fiction at my local library! Yippee!!!! I love summer reading on the beach!!!! I hope my library doesn’t mind when books come back a little sandy…

Friday, April 24, 2009

Feeling Truly Blessed


I can't thank you all enough for all the positive energy that you have sent my way. I feel so blessed to be a part of the blogging community! You all are the absolute BEST!!!!

I'm still packing like a crazy person and feeling a little over whelmed with it all. Our moving day is Monday the 4th of May. Please send more good vibes for nice weather and a speedy moving company! (Wow! Do they ever charge a small fortune to move your stuff!)

Does anyone have any advice on the moving of my pets? The cats have never been in the car longer than the 10 minutes it takes to get to the vet and they scream the entire way! I hoping the cats go to sleep for the three hour journey and I'm also praying that neither of them get car sick!!! LOL! My poor little guys! There's also the birds to think about. I've realised that the cage is too tall to fit in my car on the back seat so they're going to go for a little visit with my mom. My darling mom is going to have to chauffeur them to our new place in her minivan! I wonder how they'll do?! LOL! Can you imagine the racket if I did put them all in the car on the same journey! LOL! My husband and I will need earplugs!