Monday, October 31, 2011

Fragile Things Group Read, Week 8

This is it, the last of the short stories for Neil Gaiman’s, Fragile Things. This has been a lot of fun. I want to say thank you to Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting this group read because 1) I finally read the book that’s been sitting on my shelf for over a year, 2) there have been some great treasures found within the pages of Fragile Things that I’ve enjoyed and 3) I’ve gained insight into different tales and folklores that I probably never would have read about had it not been for these discussions. So remember, there will be spoilers once again with these last four stories:

The Day the Saucers Came


Inventing Aladdin

The Monarch of the Glen

The Day the Saucers Came: So we’ve got flying saucers, zombies, Ragnarok (which I had no idea what that was until I did some research for The Monarch of the Glen!) warring Gods and Giants coming to get us. But we’re too busy to notice. The first thought that came to mind reading this… “Of course I wouldn’t notice! I’m too busy blogging!”

Sunbird: Zebediah T. Crawcrustle, the real director of a group of Epicureans who one day decide they’ve eaten everything there is to eat (vulture, mole, fruitbat, mammoth, etc.). Zebediah suggests they eat Sunbird.

I liked Zebediah, how he was found sleeping in odd places and eating fireflies and charcoal and you’re wondering where is this all leading?

It’s the story of the phoenix, rising from the ashes. And not only does a real phoenix rise from its own ashes after the Epicureans have eaten it, but they in turn burn until nothing but their ashes are left, with Zebediah then rising from their ashes, a young man ready to start a new Epicurean Club to go through the whole thing all over again. I’d love to read more about Zebediah and his eccentricities and learn who and what he really is and how he managed to harness the power of a phoenix for himself.

Inventing Aladdin: Another poem I liked. I loved the TV series Arabian Nights so based on that I'm somewhat familiar with Scheherazade and her stories. This reminds me of Neil’s idea that we need to tell stories, something mentioned in the Introduction and told wonderfully through Locks. In this case, for Scheherazade, it’s to save her life.

The Monarch of the Glen: It’s good to see Shadow again! But not so good to see Mr. Alice and Smith again, they of Keepsakes and Treasures. Those two are nothing but trouble and are up to no good in this story. And of course they have to drag poor Shadow into their scheme. I liked Shadow in American Gods and I like him here too. He doesn’t try to hurt or take advantage of anyone but it always seems there are others who try to do so to him. But so far he’s managed to get out of sticky situations. But being the son of Odin I guess he’s bound to get into more.

Ending Fragile Things with a story of Shadow two years after the events of American Gods was a good way to end this collection of short stories. I’m going to miss reading and discussing these stories. But there are still more Neil Gaiman stories out there I can pick up and you know I will. Stardust has been calling to me for a while now.

Hope everyone is having a Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Another ZA To Brighten Up Your Halloween

In Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, seventeen year old Alex is suffering from a brain tumor. Tired of the treatments and waiting to die, she retreats on a camping trip alone. While out in the woods an electromagnetic pulse fries everything. Birds loose sense of direction, animals run off cliffs and perfectly healthy people drop dead. Alex somehow survives. But she is changed. And it’s a different change compared to some of the others who have survived the EMP, becoming zombie-like cannibals. As she searches to find out what happened she finds other survivors; eight year old Ellie and her dog, and Tom, a soldier on leave from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

I don’t know if I really believe an EMP can affect people BUT it works in this story. There are some tense Edge of Your Seat/Nail Biting moments. Obviously after a post apocalyptic event the world would descend into chaos. The fun twist with this one is that the majority of the survivors are over the age of sixty-five with a handful of young people who may or may not turn into these zombie/cannibals.

And of course nothing ever goes right for Alex, Tom and Ellie as they try to find a safe place amongst the chaos. And of course that’s alright with me! If things went perfectly and they didn’t meet up with geriatric highway robbers, cannibals jumping from behind trees, a town that offers sanctuary but is run with an iron fist… well, then that would be one boring read and this was not.

However, I sense them trying to sneak in a Love Triangle and I won’t have it! I paid my dues with Twilight. And the LT in The Hunger Games is my least favorite part. And because I loathe LTs so much, I bailed on Sookie and Anita before I had to read any of their drama. I don't care if Alex is seventeen and hormones are raging. I'm done with the LTs. Why can’t there be a novel with a real, functioning relationship amongst chaos and drama? Maybe I should just write my own. You know, that’s not a bad idea… stay tuned!

Anyways, other than the hint of a LT, two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me for Ashes. Being a fan of The Walking Dead (even if it, too, is suffering from LT they gutted a zombie so all good) I was totally diggin this book (the cover not so much). This is a good weekend book to curl up with and gnaw your fingernails off. It is the first of a trilogy and yeah, I’ll be back... because it ended on a bit of a CLIFFHANGER!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Nerd Out!

Book Riot forced my hand to post on a non-posting day. My mild OCD is having a fit! But I wasn’t about to pass up a $100 gift card!

So they wanted to know when I was at my crazy nerdiest for a book. My first reaction was Captain Blood. And then I remembered the two months of my life that were literally out of my control and in the hands of George R.R. Martin as I read the first three books of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It's not fair to choose just one when I geeked out over four!

First we have Captain Peter Blood, the Captain Jack Sparrow/Dr. Doug Ross of the high seas! Oh Peter, weren’t you just so charismatic, smart and boy, can you swoon over a woman! I really just wanted to slap you and say, well, I only know one person who can do what I wanted to do much better. Cher, you have the honor...

And you did, Peter! You washed and curled your hair, buckled your sword to your hip (hee) and oh my goodness don’t even get me started on the cannon scene! There is a sinister side to Captain Blood that makes him such a great complicated character! And there's swashbuckling, sailing the Caribbean, hidden pirate hang outs, running from the Royal Navy and the Spaniards and there's RUM!

Yeah, Captain Blood goes everywhere with me now thanks to the Kindle App on my phone.

Then there was the drama of A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. Books I read in a ROW! Seriously, I wasn’t joking. I had no life for two months. I was living and breathing Westeros.

With A Storm of Swords I had serious issues. I would got angry, giddy... I was reading a hundred pages a night! Then the way it ends! Tyrion, you little, sinister, snarky, smarty pants you! And Jon Snow: if the theories on the internet turn out to be true, I approve. Arya Stark: Girl, you frighten me. But in a “I swear it wasn’t me who killed half your family don’t kill me” kind of way! Ser Jorah: Getting a little too swooney but still your handy with a sword. Ugh, dragon girl, how could you... why... I don’t care... ugh, I’m still angry at what you did to him! Characters got what they deserved. Others got what they DIDN'T deserve. I was rendered incoherent after one particular scene from A Storm of Swords. Oh George, you terrible terrible man, but oh, how I loved handing over those two months of my life to your world.

Yeah, I still haven't recovered. Book Nerd, over and out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tales of H.P. Lovecraft

For the RIP Challenge, not only did I commit to reading House of Leaves but I also decided to read a short story, my choice being At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft. I had wanted to read At the Mountains of Madness for a while, ever since I read online Guillermo Del Toro was adapting the story for a movie. I’m a fan of his liking both Hell Boy movies and Blade 2. I feel he’s shown a good balance between character development and action and always felt he should have had a shot at directing a Harry Potter film. So I was pretty disappointed to learn At the Mountains of Madness was canned (but no Tom Cruise to suffer through so Bonus!). But that did not stop me so along with reading that, I decided to give two other Lovecraft tales a shot; The Outsider and The Rats in the Walls.

At the Mountains of Madness was my introduction to H.P. Lovecraft since it was the story I was most excited to read. Surprisingly (and unfortunately) it turned out to be my least favorite, which really bummed me out. It starts out very slow, with the narrator describing everything about the journey and settling in at the camps for an Antarctic expedition. And I mean EV. ERY. THING. I read through it but it didn’t stick. The story picked up some when a group from the expedition decided to further explore based on some very interesting fossils that were discovered. The radio messages relayed were fun showcasing a scientist’s excitement of a new discovery that could rewrite the scientific communities established theories. Then things go horribly wrong and you would think that’s when the story would get exciting but that’s when the story went downhill for me. The radio messages stop and now a new expedition is launched to find the first group who have gone silent.

The narrator keeps warning and hinting at these “horrors” but when they were finally revealed I didn’t find them to be all that horrifying. I can only imagine that if Guillermo Del Toro is finally able to revisit a film adaptation, that he will correct this (and hopefully without Tom Cruise).

Even though I was disappointed with At the Mountains of Madness, I didn’t want that to be my only experience with H.P. Lovecraft so I went on to read The Outsider. This was a much better read. It felt like something that would have been part of Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories in Fragile Things. We have someone trying to escape a prison of foreboding walls that surround and block out the stars. He climbs and climbs until he’s free and discovers why the stars had been hidden. It’s a surprise ending that reminded me of The Sixth Sense and A Study in Emerald from the Fragile Things collection, but it was a much more frightening reveal that made this an enjoyable read. And then I came to…

The Rats in the Walls. Don’t you just love that title?! And this story was CREEPY! And you know from the beginning that something is going to happen. With At the Mountains of Madness and The Outsider there are vague hints to what might happen. With The Rats in the Walls, you get vague and not so vague hints and the build-up definitely delivers. This is a story I would love to see adapted to film. I could have done without the name of a cat in the story but The Rats in the Walls was creepy and gross and had a truly shocking, sad, disgusting ending! It was SO GOOD! And then the following night I go and watch Let Me In! I was on a roll with the freak outs two nights in a row!

I’m so glad I didn’t let At the Mountain of Madness be the only story of H.P. Lovecraft tales be all that I know. After The Outsider and The Rats in the Walls, I want to read more. Gah! Rats in the Walls still gives me the creeps thinking about it! It’s awesome!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fragile Things Group Read, Week 7

And I'm back with the week 7 group read of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. So close to the end and I'm going to miss the fun (and frustrating) journey! But no worries. I have something else planned for November. This week’s stories were not as frustrating as some earlier stories. Though I only found two I really enjoyed and two that didn't make much of an impression. But I didn't hate them so it's all good.

Remember, there will be spoilers!

This week’s stories are:

In The End


Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

In The End: In the Introduction, Neil said he was trying to imagine the last book of the Bible. It definitely read as a more pleasing way to end the Bible considering the way things began and "will" end. It was well written but I’m kinda over religious stuff at this point of my life. Maybe in a few years I’ll find Jesus again. Anyways, moving on...

Goliath: Neil was given the script for the Matrix and wrote Goliath for the website. It is a very cool, very trippy read. There are a lot of déjà vu moments as a man relives his life several times running through different versions that run in fast forward. This was a very visual read. The confusion of the loops felt very real and are so well written! Now, I hope I don’t get into too much trouble for writing this out, but I just have to share this moment:

The tube stopped in the tunnel.

That was what I thought happened, anyways: I thought the tube had stopped. Everything went very quiet.

And then we went through Euston, and half the passengers got off.

And then we went through Euston, and half the passengers got off. And I was looking at the other passengers and wondering who they really were inside when the train stopped in the tunnel, and everything went very quiet.

And then everything lurched so hard I thought we’d been hit by another train.

And then we went through Euston, and half the passengers got off, and then the train stopped in the tunnel, and then everything went –

(Normal service will be resumed as possible, whispered a voice in the back of my head.)

And this time as the train slowed and began to approach Euston I wondered if I was going crazy: I felt like I was jerking back and forth on a video loop. I knew it was happening, but there was nothing I could do to change anything, nothing I could do to break out of it.

(Fragile Things, pg. 238)

See?! So good! I just loved reading that part!

It definitely had the feel of the beginning of The Matrix. The pale, almost colorless world that seems to be passing you by and you just go through the motions. Then the character finds that all is not as it seems as he is yanked back and forth between one reality and another. I'm not going to get into too many details because this one needs to be read and enjoyed.

Pages From a Journal…: A woman is on a road trip looking for Scarlet. In actuality she’s looking for herself which is what I was able to determine through some of the nonsensical ramblings. But isn’t that what usually happens on a road trip? Self discovery?

How to Talk to Girls at Parties: Two teenage boys stumble upon the wrong party. And when they find out the girl who had invited them to a party in the first place wasn't even there, does that stop them from inviting themselves in? Nooooooo.... Neil wrote in the Introduction that this is an account of a tourist holiday on Earth. The girls (or, aliens) at the party are the tourists. The two boys don’t seem to mind (or notice at first) as long as the girls are pretty. The girls can say whatever they want and these two boys will be “impressed” (translation: they do not really care as long as they can put their arm around one of the pretty girls or steal a kiss). Isn’t this how most men, oops, sorry, boys are anyways? Nothing shocking. It’s funny near the end how one of the boys finds out that things are not as it should be with these girls and they leave in a hurry. Ha! That’s what they get for not paying attention!

So, Goliath and How to Talk to Girls at Parties were the winners with me this week. It’s funny, these two stories this week were more in the realm of sci fi and I see Neil as a fantasy writer, or am I wrong to think that? Anyways, at least with this collection of short stories they have been on the fantasy spectrum so it was very interesting to see this side to Neil Gaiman’s writing.

Next (and last) week’s stories will be:

The Day the Saucers Came


Inventing Aladdin

The Monarch of the Glen

Happy Fragile Things Reading!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Did These Come From?!

I think these books just appear out of thin air. Ha, I wish! Venessa and I are winding down on The Emerald Atlas, which is a fun adventure, and so I’ve been prepping for our next read. These are the new ones I’ve gathered as potential options:

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mossflower by Brian Jacques

And that’s not counting the books I got approved for on NetGalley! (Free ebooks to read! What could be better?!) I’m hoping some of these Venessa will pick up and read on her own as well. We had a parent/teacher conference last week and her teacher thinks she’s reading for chapter books and mommy and daddy agree.

And of course I couldn’t leave myself out:

Anathem by Neal Stephenson
Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Night Circus came courtesy of the library. I just hope I can read it in time. It’s due on 11/4 and I know I won’t be able to renew and I still want to read Ashes, which is due on 11/1 and I still need to finish reading At the Mountain of Madness! A reading marathon is in order!

Elizabeth Street was half off so I couldn’t pass it up and since I enjoyed Snow Crash I wanted another Neal Stephenson around. I picked up Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children from a Super Walmart. I was surprised by the collection of books they had. Not too shabby.

Now I don't know where I'm going to put them all though. What I really should be picking up is a new shelf instead of new books! First world problem!

IMPORTANT UPDATE: My sister found The Firelings!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Dark Passenger Returns

"It is a far darker thing I have done -
and loved every minute of it."

So not only has the new season of Dexter just started on Showtime but there's a new Dexter book too. And both in the month of October, which is a very good month to enjoy the antics of a serial killer!

My sister introduced me to Dexter by loaning me the first two books of the series a few years ago. And my husband and I have been keeping up with the show on Showtime. We've always enjoyed the trials and tribulations of Dexter Morgan, serial killer with a code of "morality" he follows. And I really like that the show and the books diverge and tell their own stories. If you're a fan of Dexter like I am, that means twice as many adventures to enjoy!

In Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, Dexter is at play when someone witnesses him enjoying his favorite pastime. As he tries to track down his Witness, a brutal cop killer is on the loose and Dexter's Boat of Domestic Bliss is knocked off course when house hunting goes awry, Rita's home cooked meals are a distant memory (creating a very cranky Dexter) and Rita has been acting awfully strange.

It's amazing how the mundane ins and outs of a serial killer's life can be so fascinating. But Jeff Lindsay's writing makes it interesting. It's full of cranky sarcasm which I truly enjoyed, as Dexter works through his relationships; such as trying to figure out Rita, navigating the preteen emotions of Astor and his sister, Deborah, who is starting to become more independent and realizing that maybe it wasn't so bad to have her depend on him so much.

There were times when I felt like a word quota needed to be reached the way Dexter would over analyze things but just as I was about to declare myself bored, the story would pick up and I could not stop reading until I found out what happened next. And there were also moments where I was catching on to events before Dexter. But a domesticated serial killer who is thrown off his game by the Witness he can't track down... it's no surprise that he was slow to catch on and I found I didn't mind that. As much as I enjoy the cool, calculating Dexter (the way he would call upon his Dark Passenger gave me chills) I liked that he was at the mercy of his Witness. So even though everything worked out in the end, it was all by chance, not at all meticulously planned as Dexter likes and it was fun watching him adapt and roll with the punches.

"Life really was a wicked, awful, unjust thing, and that was just exactly as it should be." I'm glad you see things the way I do, Dexter, because this is why I enjoy reading about your adventures.

Now I see these on some blogs so I guess I might as well write this too: I received a galley copy of Double Dexter from Doubleday. I'm not getting paid for this but who cares, I got a free book!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fragile Things Group Read, Week 6

It is now week 6 of the group read of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. After this only two more weeks! Time flies when you're having fun (or venting frustration with some of these short stories! But still fun!).

This weeks stories were shorter and much more interesting to me. And no emotional breakdowns! Just little chills running up and down my spine. Very appropriate for October. And remember, there will be spoilers!

So this weeks stories are:

My Life

Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot

Feeders and Eaters

Diseasemaker's Croup

My Life: Here we have someone who has had one too many drinks and keeps telling very outrageous tales. This reminded me of a time, in my high school drama class, how we had to take song lyrics and create a story around it, then perform in front of the class. I chose Been Caught Stealing by Jane's Addiction and I performed it as a young girl, at a slumber party, bragging about how much she likes to steal. The narrator of My Life and the character I created both will say anything to be the center of attention. And I thought it was interesting in the Introduction, Neil said he is often asked by others to use My Life as an audition piece. I believe it's a good choice.

Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot: There are 22 very short vampire tales. My favorites were The Fool, The Priestess and The Lovers. The Fool wants to become a vampire. He says he "wants to live forever." Just as it seems he's about to get his wish, the vampire stops and tells him, "This is not life," and leaves. It was written in such a way that it sent a chill up my spine and I also felt some sadness for the vampire who probably didn't want to become what he is and now he's faced with The Fool asking for something he knows nothing about. In The Priestess, an Oprah-like talk show host is interviewing a woman who claims to be a vampire. I love how the talk show host, aka The Priestess, reveals herself to the impostor. I didn't get the reveal at first but when I did I giggled. The Lovers is so sad, dark and creepy. Another short tale that sent a chill up my spine.

Feeders and Eaters: Poor poor Eddie Barrow. As he tells his tale you are giving him your full attention, unlike the narrator who is more concerned with whether Eddie is going to ask him for money. But Eddie is telling a very frightening tale of what has happened to him and maybe even pleading for help... or release from his predicament. Such a subtle way to tell a horror story that was chill inducing.

Diseasemaker's Croup: A very dry and boring read for me. I found my mind wandering. Neil said in the Introduction that he was asked to contribute an entry for a book of imaginary diseases. Using a program called Babble and an old book of advice for a home physician this was the result. It read as one so Mission: Accomplished? Fortunately it's short so you can breeze through it.

Overall, My Life, the Vampire Tarots and Feeders and Eaters were my favorites. For next week, the stories will be:

In The End


Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Whoa, gotta love some of these short story titles. Happy Fragile Things Reading!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Hunt

I’m on the hunt for two books:


Obviously I could get them from Amazon or Ebay but that’s no fun. The challenge is to find them myself, locally. And of course I accept this challenge because it gives me a good excuse to go to bookstores, yard sales, etc and find other gems.

Captain Blood is special. I found it on Project Gutenberg by searching for “pirates” and in the list of results, the title caught my eye. This book has potential to be a woobie book it's that wonderful! And not only does it deserve space on the ereader but it also deserves space on the shelf. But I don’t want a brand new copy. I want a used, vintage copy. It’s such a good book with a charming character that I want the physical copy to reflect that.

Now The Firelings was once in my possession. I had a copy before we moved to Florida and had started reading it. Then after that, there’s a blank. I have no idea what I did with it and it didn’t make it through the move. And as far as I can figure out, the book is no longer in print, so my only hope is a used copy or my sister miraculously finds my copy and sends it my way.

So, any volunteers to help me track these two books down? We don't need to bother with the Goodwill on Monroe for a while. I was just there and didn't find them... but I found other books!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Little solace comes to those who grieve...

as thoughts keep drifting
as walls keep shifting
and this great blue world of ours
seems a house of leaves
Moments before the wind."

- Untitled Poem (Pg. 563)

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is not a book to be taken lightly. Even in the beginning it warns “This is not for you.” It is not for the faint of heart or a quick weekend read. Be prepared to commit yourself. This book is a story within a story; a psychological drama/thriller, horror, paranormal tale. It’s about The Navidson Record, an incomplete, highly “researched” manuscript of an event that never happened, written by the old, blind man, Zampano, then found and organized by Johnny Truant, a LA tattoo artist apprentice.

The Navidson Record is a series of short films documenting a strange house on Ash Tree Lane; a house that appears normal on the outside but inside consists of extra closets appearing overnight, a five and a half minute hallway, a spiraling staircase going nowhere and an ever changing maze that nearly consumes everything and anyone that enters. It’s also about Johnny Truant’s sanity spiralling out of control from his obsession with the manuscript.

Like I said, this book cannot be taken lightly. Whoever finishes this book deserves a certificate of completion. It is intense, engaging and frustrating. I hate to admit that I almost gave up a couple of times. But I refused to let this book beat me. At times it would bore me, with the “expert” commentary and theories of The Navidson Record. But Johnny Truant’s journey and the frightening experience of the residents in the house on Ash Tree Lane totally make up for those dry areas. There are footnotes for footnotes in this book. Appendixes, incomplete exhibit instructions, you have to twist and turn the book to read some passages. I actually took out a mirror just to read a list of movie titles and decoded a letter written by Johnny Truant’s mother who was committed to an asylum. It is that engaging.

I think this book is broken

You’re doing it wrong!

Now you’re just showing off

I’m proud of myself for not giving up. And if you’re brave enough to read (and finish) it, a high five to you. Let me know if you ended up nailing tape measures to the floor and if you had odd dreams of dark mazes like I did.

* This book was read for the R.I.P. Challenge and will also be included (eventually!) in our office newsletter.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fragile Things Group Read, Week 5

Here we go, continuing with the group read of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. For week 5 there were two poems and two stories, making them a very easy yet emotional read for me. I enjoyed the two poems but the two stories were not my favorite. As I go through each one I’ll explain further. Remember there will be spoilers!

The fifth week stories are:


The Problem of Susan


How Do You Think it Feels?

Locks: I don’t know if I read this story at the right time, or the wrong time. I’d like to leave behind happy memories for my daughter and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been reading aloud to her daily. So this story, of passing on stories (or rather, as I’d like to call them, memories) to your children hit me really hard when I read it. Tears welled up in my eyes and it took me a few minutes to recover before moving on the next story. Then I had to pick up my daughter from school, so sitting in a parked car, listening to Janis Joplin on the radio, debating whether to publish my movie memories of my mom or if I wanted to keep those memories to myself, it having been the week my mom passed away four years ago... I was just overwhelmed emotionally and had a good cry. Neil wrote in the Introduction, “I believe we owe it to each other to tell stories.” I agree. We need these stories; these memories, and I cherish mine and hope to pass on some to my daughter.

The Problem of Susan: Having only read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and having only watched the first two Narnia movies, I had no idea what had happened to Susan until reading this story. I didn’t really connect with this one. I just haven’t felt that magic for Narnia and if I was ever to feel it, I think it has been spoiled by some of the imagery here of the lion and the witch, which was really gross.

Instructions: Instructions is basically a list of instructions to survive a fairy tale but I don’t recognize any of them except for the references made to Neil’s own stories, two of which have been covered already in the group read. But it’s still fun to read.

How Do You Think It Feels?: I’m going to get harsh here but I hated this one. I don’t hate Neil’s writing, I just hated the subject matter. The man in this story was just looking for an opportunity to cheat, and as it progressed he felt himself in love and became this miserably pathetic, weak loser. When his mistress broke up with him, after he announced he was getting a divorce, I thought, "Well, good, but she should have done that a long time ago when she found out he was married!" I think the question for this cheating husband and his lover was not how they felt, but how his wife and two daughters felt. Then when they met up again, years later and the ex-lover pursued the divorced husband, before finding out he was divorced... ugh, these are just two awful people that I don’t wish to read about again. Their reunion and acting like what happened between them didn’t destroy a marriage or possibly this man’s relationship with his daughters, made me very upset.

I read these stories all in one day. I was already emotional so I may not be entirely fair with this story. But honestly, I don’t think I’ll be reading it again to give it another chance or another opinion. Stainless Steel Droppings had some great insight to the story that helped me understand it better, the thing about the golem. But I still don’t like it and I’ll be happy to move on the next four stories, which will be:

My Life

Fifteen Painted Cards From a Vampire Tarot

Feeders and Eaters

Diseasemaker’s Croup

Happy Fragile Things Reading!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mom Movie Memories

My mom passed away 4 years ago. She was not much of a recreational reader. I do remember her reading to my sister and I the book, The Monster at the End of this Book. But as we got older, we read a lot but my mom not so much (she usually read religious materials or magazines). We made plenty of visits to the library but while my sister and I checked out books, my mom checked out movies.

Earlier this year my husband found Superman streaming on Netflix and we sat back one afternoon to watch. It reminded me so much of sitting with my mom watching movies. This was a movie we would always watch together whenever it was on TV. I have a lot of movie memories with my mom and I wanted to share some of them:

The Man From Snowy River
We always got a thrill from the scene with the wild horses running down the steep hill. It’s so beautiful.

This was one of our favorites. I think my mom would of have been upset about the remake. Seriously, why mess with perfection?

Back to the Future Parts 1-3
I remember we had these on VHS and we were really excited when 2 and 3 finally came out in theaters. For years we would watch the first one and say they’d never make the sequel.

Grease and Grease 2
I don’t think my mom knew there were some “questionable” lyrics to Greased Lightning considering we usually watched Grease on TV. But we were big fans of both and watched them constantly. Why are these movies not streaming on Netflix?!

The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer
Myrna Loy (so pretty!), Cary Grant, a teenage Shirley Temple with a crush on Cary Grant’s character! It’s too too cute and my mom always got a kick out of the riddle:

Hey, you remind me of a man.
What man?
Man with the power.
What power?
Power of hoodoo.
You do.
Do what?
Remind me of a man...

Westward The Women
This one was great, especially watching the horrible colorized version.

There are plenty of other movies we’ve sat together to watch a lot. But these I will always associate with my mom. Love and miss you, Mommy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Magical Edition of What's New On The Shelf!

Sometimes when I look at my books and the new books I bring in I wonder if I have multiple personalities. There is not one genre I read and I move back and forth between YA and adult novels and I’m willing to sacrifice some credibility with some of my choices. Wait. I never had any credibility so who cares what I read!

Today I bring you a fun mix of books I've recently acquired. I noticed a theme with some of these new books that have made their way into my life recently...

They are magical!

I read a review for Hatter that fascinated me and its bright purple cover with the hat had been on my mind for over a month now. And I couldn’t leave Jabberwocky out so they’ll be making themselves at home on my shelf. Also, they both look self published and that’s awesome. Think of them as the expanded universe of Wonderland.

The Tinkerbell book caught my daughter’s eye with its lovely illustrations. Rose of No Man’s Land is not about magic but I’ve been eyeing it on my wish list and it had a magical price that I couldn’t resist!

Harry Potter fan, a book with “magicians” in the title, I’m there! And I really want to read The Magician King.

Modelland, a book by the lady that wore jumpsuits several weeks in a row during a season of America’s Next Top Model, well, could you really blame me for NOT passing this up?! Magical, I say, just pure, ridiculous magic!

Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (Free from Doubleday! To be released on October 18, 2011)

This one I’m really excited about because it’s my first free book from a publisher! I think this qualifies as an extra read for the RIP reading challenge, thus making it magical since it was free and I'll get extra credit for the reading challenge.

Well, I think I'm good for the rest of the year... yeah, I don't think so! You can never have too many books, right?!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fragile Things Group Read, Week 4

Now that I’m all caught up with the group read, you’ll be seeing these once a week until I’ve finished reading Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. Also, I’ll be able to read at a reasonable pace now, which is a good thing for Fragile Things; I can devote my full attention to the stories.

So, carrying on, the fourth week stories are:

Good Boys Deserve Favors

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch

Strange Little Girls

Harlequin Valentine

I like these four stories quite a bit. It definitely was a fun group of stories. Beware (once again) there will be spoilers!

Good Boys Deserve Favors: This one about a boy who is not a very good bass player but has his moment to shine, until he breaks his bass and once fixed, never sounds the same. I really connected with this one having been a violinist as a teenager for five years. I’ve known the feeling of triumph when I’ve mastered a musical piece or frustration when it takes longer than I'd like (I didn't always practice as I should have). I’ve also had that one special school violin that did play a certain way for me and when I would try other school instruments they did not have that sound that I liked and they just didn’t feel right in my hands. I made sure each year to get that same one. I think my musical background really strengthened my connection to this story.

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch: A mysterious underground circus and Miss Finch, the prudish party pooper, is “asked” to participate and is never seen again after her performance during the Cabinet of Wishes Fullfill’d. I came away that this underground circus took on a life of it’s own, that it will never have another show and Miss Finch may be the one and only person to have a wish fulfilled.

Strange Little Girls: Quick peaks into the lives, thoughts and feelings of different women. Some are sad, triumphant, each story vague enough that you just barely understand what is happening in these moments but allow you to fill in the blanks yourself.

Harlequin Valentine: The stalkerish aspect in the beginning, with the nailing of a heart to a door, I found a bit disturbing. But the story turned around in the end and I found it charming and sweet (for Neil Gaiman). A secret crushed revealed and satisfied by a simple “Happy Valentines Day”, was a nice way to end this story.

I could reread these four short stories again. Especially Harlequin Valentine, it put a smile on my face and Good Boys Deserve Favors for bringing back fond memories of my high school orchestra class.