Friday, June 3, 2016
Today I am going to talk a little about being honest. Honestly, I don't feel like writing much today, I haven't been feeling it all week. A lot of changes have happened in my world this week. All three of my wild things wrapped up their school year with parties, field days, awards ceremonies etc. My eldest wild thing has decided to graduate early over the summer, which has brought an avalanche of paperwork and deadlines that have to be met, on top of her birthday and planning for the impending celebration. My husband came down with shingles...Eek! Me, well I have just been trying to keep up. Getting to everyone's events, turning in paperwork, meeting with counselor's, soaking in websites, keeping up with cooking and house work, trying to help hub's all I can, and trying super hard not to lose every last one of my marbles.
So, I have found it hard to focus on my reading and writing goals. I have stolen some moments to read, but have been working through two different books. The House of the Seven Gables by Hawthorne, but also a historical book about Major John Andre. I am really enjoying learning about him and his life, but also miss my fiction stories if not reading them so I have bopped back and forth. The book I am writing has stalled though, mainly because when the kids are out of school I don't feel like I have as much time to concentrate on work. I feel like I only have a limited amount of time with them before school starts back so I better soak it up and enjoy. Along with that the writing for the blog has taken a hit. I almost forgot it was time to post. I hope to get back into a rhythm though when things get a little more routine.
If I'm being honest though, it's been a fun week. I sure hope you have enjoyed yours!!
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
The Lighthouse at the End of the World
Where to begin...I guess I will start with what was good about Stephen Marlowe's book. I liked the parts of the book that were realistic, and at least mostly factual about Edgar Allan Poe. It was interesting to read about him, not just from him (Poe is a favorite author and poet of mine). There were even a few good quotes I drew out of the book.
"Those nights I wrote were often still. Sometimes I would hear a soft footstep on the stair.
"What do you want?"
"I like to watch you."
The scratching of the pen fascinated her.
"I can hear the words." she said."
When I was reading the parts of the book that were interesting and good to me, I felt Marlowe was a great writer. I could picture his Poe, Virginia, Muddy, and other characters. I could empathize with them, and felt like I agreed with his take and observations on what they might have been like. That can be hard to do when one is writing about people that once lived.
In this story we get many chapters that are based on Edgar Allan Poe's life, and what we know about it, as well as the other people that were a part it. He has put them in story form, but followed the details that are known, and written about a theory of what might have happened to Poe at the end of his life, as no one is sure what happened to him. Then, he also adds a hmmmm... this is where he lost me. Alternate world? Strange thoughts that show Poe sinking into madness? Imaginary dimension that some people believe and others don't? I'm not sure if I am being honest.
These unrealistic, real or imaginary parts of the book were interspersed throughout. There were more and more the further you read until they make up about the last fifty pages. They were boring, confusing, and I dare say a bit ridiculous to me. I was tired of it and had to force myself to finish.
If you are looking to read something about Edgar Allan Poe, I would recommend reading a biography. I wish I had.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Something Wild Thing One and I love to do is find television series on Netflix and watch all the episodes, the historical series are our favorites. So, recently I came across AMC's Turn: Washington's Spies, and immediately knew it was one we would like. It chronicles the lives and events surrounding the Culper Ring. A ring of spies during the American Revolutionary War that gathered intelligence about the British Army for The Continental Army led by George Washington. After watching all the episodes from season one and two I wanted to do some research about the characters and events that are portrayed in the series. One of my favorite characters was Major John Andre, a Red Coat.
I like his character, partly because the actor that plays him is super handsome J.J. Feild, but also because he is portrayed as being very charming, kind, artistic, and compassionate. Everyone seems to like him, the British and Americans alike. I wanted to know if that was a true portrayal, or if they had just given him those traits to make a good character for the show.
As soon as I started reading about him I fell in love with the real Major Andre. The characters personality and traits were taken from the true persons characteristics and talents. Some of the events, and relationships are over dramatized with added content, but his nature matches historical record. He was artistic, good-natured, intelligent (spoke four languages), kind, handsome, well liked by both sides of the conflict, brave, and loyal to his country. He was also a spy, for the British. He was caught sneaking information to the Red Coats from Benedict Arnold. He was then hung by order of George Washington. Even the Americans were sad to see Major Andre go, but felt it was a necessary evil of warfare. He was brave to the end, drawing a self portrait the day before he died, and putting the noose around his own neck. So tragical!!!
His self portrait is housed in the Yale Museum of Art in Connecticut.
After learning all of this about him, and more, I liked him even more. I found a fellow Major fan on Instagram, she had a Major doll and book collection....what?! I wanted a book collection and doll! So, I searched and found a 1909 edition of "An Authentic Narrative of the causes which led to the death of Major Andre, Adjutant - General of his Majesty's Forces in North America" by Joshua Hett Smith. It was Smith's house that Major Andre and Benedict Arnold met at when Arnold gave the Major the intelligence about West Point that he would then be caught with and hung for possessing.
The portrait on the left is another self portrait done by Major Andre when he was a younger man.
So, my book collection is started!! Then, I talked to my oh-so-creative mom, and she made me a doll!!
He is so cute!! I can't wait to have many historical adventures with my Major, and keep growing my book collection.
Friday, May 13, 2016
I think all of us at one time or another have started a book only to find it is not to our liking. It may be poorly written, boring, silly, too this or not enough that. There are any number of reasons that one could find a book hard to continue and want to quit on it. I have on many occasions found myself inside a book I didn't like, but I very rarely quit. It has to be bad, I mean REALLY bad, for me to give up on it once I have started.
By started I mean at least a hundred pages in. If I can't get through the first chapter it's gone, but if I've read a hundred pages before I've started to feel the tingle of 'this isn't going well', I will usually continue. It's not easy, and it usually takes me a lot longer to read them than it should, but I do try to keep pushing through to the end. I just set myself a goal of how much I want to read each day, or vow to read every time I have even ten minutes to spare so that I can get finished with it.
I feel like I committed when I sat down and got to that hundredth page, something made me think I would like it, and I never know what I might find if I just keep hiking through. There may be a beautiful waterfall, or majestic scenery around one of the pages. Maybe an inspiring quote that goes perfectly in my quote book, or an unforgettable character that stays with me when I am done. At the very least it will give me some fresh insight into what DOESN'T work when writing a book. I have a hard time knowing that if I don't finish there will be an orphan story floating around in my mind that I will never know the ending to, even if I did find it boring or poorly written.
Sometimes I leave and come back to it. There has been more than one book that I read half of it at one time, then several months later went back and read the rest. Sometimes that break is all I need to push myself through the rest, it can even help me find a little more enjoyment out of the remaining story. I don't like feeling like a quitter, and I guess that's how not finishing a book, even if I don't really like it, makes me feel. Like a quitter.
How about you? Do you push yourself through hoping to find a treasure in there some where if you just keep putting your eyes one word in front of the other, or do you have no qualms at all about tossing it aside and choosing a different path to walk?
May all your books be magical!
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
The Dark Unwinding
This Young Adult novel by Sharon Cameron caught me completely by surprise. I bought this flippantly from a Young Adult authors festival Wild Thing One and I went to a couple months back. I don't read much in this genre. I think most of the ones that get mega popular are a bit silly, and once one author hits on something that becomes celebrated it gets repeated so many times it becomes over done and dull. Plus, I like meat in my reading, and I find much of the Young Adult genre is vegetarian. I may almost be a vegetarian in my eating habits (pollotarian), but I am all carnivore where reading is concerned. Yet, while we were walking around the festival and perusing books this one, and another by her entitled "Rook", caught my eye. As I am working on my own book that may end up fitting into this category, I decided to try it. I am SO glad I did!
In June of 1852 Katharine Tulman is 17 and the ward of an aunt that hates her. She is forced to travel to the enormous and wealthy estate of her uncle, because her aunt thinks he is insane and squandering the family fortune. When Katharine arrives ready to have him committed to an asylum, she finds a genius that is employing a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London. As she meets different inhabitants of the manor and village, and strange things start happening to her, she becomes more and more unsure about what she should do. Her future is entirely dependent on what happens to her Uncle Tully and Stranwyne Keep. She has big decisions to make that effect hundreds of people, but she can't seem to trust anyone, not even herself.
Besides being Young Adult, this novel was predominately historical gothic with elements of steam punk and psychological thriller. Once I got about halfway in I couldn't put it down, I had to know what was going to happen next. It was imaginative, believable, and unique. I liked the characters, especially Mr. Tully, and fell in love with Stranwyne. The writing was well thought out, and not corny, self indulgent, or over romanticized as I have found others of this type. It was on the lean side being a Young Adult, but that didn't stand out to me so much. I think the enjoyment I got out of the story gave it a meatier texture, so I was able to forget I was reading a vegetarian novel.
Although "The Dark Unwinding" could stand on it's own, there is a second book that continues the story of the characters at Stranwyne Keep entitled "A Spark Unseen". I have already ordered it! So, the moral of this review is: try things outside your favorite genres sometimes regardless of your prejudices, and don't be afraid to choose a book at random...it's lovely when you are rewarded with a page turner!!!
Thursday, April 28, 2016
One of my favorite shows that I have been to at Bass Hall in Sundance Square, Fort Worth, is "Hitchcock!". Wild Thing One, my little sister, and I went in November of 2014.
They showed excerpts of several different Hitchcock movies and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra played the mood music that went along with each movie as we watched.
It was an evening of dressing up, feeling fancy at the performance hall downtown, watching some of our favorite suspenseful movies, and listening to the creepy music that goes with them live. The orchestra did fantastic, as all ways, and the movies were wonderful, of course!
They even told us some details about the movies
It was a fun, fancy, multi-medium-artsy filled evening that will always be a favorite memory!
Thursday, April 21, 2016
The Leavenworth Case
Anna Katherine Green
This detective novel by Anna Katherine Green was full of twists and turns. I heard about this author through a literature class I took a couple of months ago. The author is known as "The Mother of the Detective Novel", as she was one of the first to write a novel in the detective style. Her writing inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series, and also the popular books of Agatha Christie. Green has many stories and novels that she wrote in her lifetime that are a pleasure for most detective novel enthusiasts.
It grabs you from the very beginning when Mr. Raymond learns that a very rich and influential New York merchant, Mr. Horatio Leavenworth, has been murdered. Mr. Leavenworth has two young and beautiful nieces that he is the guardian of, they were in the house during the time of his murder, and are in need of the services of a lawyer. As Mr. Raymond is a lawyer he offers his help, but he soon finds himself swept up in the beauty of the two cousins, and in the middle of a murder mystery.
This story was interesting from the start, Green wastes no time plunging directly into the mystery that the novel surrounds. Having said this though, I have to also say that this book was not all that enjoyable to me. There were things I liked about it, it was well written and plotted, I was unsure who the murderer was all the way to the end, and I loved the wit that Green added into her characters personalities and dialogue. As I like old English writing and ways of speaking I enjoyed the text very much.
Yet, the story fell a little flat for me. I am not a detective novel fan, therefore it took me much longer to read this book than it should have as I had to make myself keep reading. I do not like the way that the main character in most detective writing talks to the reader. - What do we have here? So what am I to think of this evidence? You can see my confusion when I got this bit of information. etc. etc. - Sometimes I fancy I can actually here the "Dun, Dun, Dun!" you would hear from the mood music, and see the close up of the detectives face you would see from the screen in a detective movie. It takes me out of the story a bit, I feel like I am not a part of it but more a bystander being fed information. A bit like sitting in on a trial. Green's father was a trial lawyer and she learned a lot about cases and law because of him, that may account for this perspective. I would say this novel is a classic "Who done it".
As I said though, many detective novel fans love her books and I can see why. If that were the type of story telling that I enjoyed, I think I would have found this to be a favorite. I did like her characters, and was happy with the ending that she provided. All the loose ends were tied up, and the ending seemed plausible. If the detective novel is a favorite genre for you I say read this! I think you would really like it. If you don't find that genre particularly enjoyable, my advice would be to skip it.