Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Music, Magic and Intrigue: A Book Review on City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

Sarah Weston has decided to work a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging music manuscripts. After her mentor was reported to have committed suicide while working the same job, Sarah decides to work on determining whether the suicide was the truth or if something else happened to the professor. As the mystery starts to unravel, Sarah is left in the middle of the turmoil, working on who to trust and what her professor was working on before his death. Working with time-travel, music and centuries of secrets, Sarah has to figure out the truth behind the work at the museum and live to tell about it.

I've spent a few days working through my thoughts on this book. I was hoping for a lot of time-travel, magic and mystery. That's not necessarily what I encountered in this book. Instead, I got a book that seemed part mystery and part romance, with a little bit of magic thrown-in. The time-travel could have been an incredible aspect to this story but in the end I got the feeling that it was meant more for fun, like when the characters get to see Beethoven's interactions in the past at Prague Castle, which is enjoyed more for the fact that the characters can SEE Beethoven as opposed to the clues they are meant to find by encountering Beethoven. It's also determined to be caused by a drug, created from a formula that has disappeared over the centuries. Eventually the "time travel" is used as a means of finding the formula to make more of the drug that enables the time travel in the first place and if the main characters manage to find the clues that focus on the "mystery", its more of an afterthought than anything else.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Ties that Bind: A Book Review on The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Willa Jackson is determined to put her past behind her, including her connections to her family's former mansion, the Blue Ridge Madam, which they lost after encountering financial troubles in the 1930s. Paxton Osgood has taken on a new project: restoring the Blue Ridge Madam, a landmark southern family plantation home, and turning into a inn. Previously happy to keep their distance from each other, Willa and Paxton find their lives thrown together after the restoration unearths a skeleton buried beneath a peach tree on the property. Determined to discover the truth and understand this long buried secret, Willa and Paxton must work together to understand the circumstances surrounding the skeleton and how their new friendship is a powerful force ready to transform their lives for the better.

I've been keeping up with Sarah Addison Allen's books for the last few years, at least since the publication of The Sugar Queen back in 2008. I've honestly enjoyed each of them and The Peach Keeper is the latest release, making a total of four books available now by the author. Allen creates a special brand of magical realism in her novels with enough of the supernatural to appeal to the reader but is also grounded enough in reality to come across as not only endearing stories but also as believable circumstances for those more skeptical readers.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Walled Secrets: A Book Review on The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

When a young child is left alone in Australia with no memory of who she is, she is taken in by a new family to be raised as their own. When her father decides on her 21st birthday to finally tell her the truth, Nell's life is then left forever altered. Determined to discover her true origins, Nell eventually travels to England armed with a rare book of illustrated fairy tales to guide her search for her family. But things have a habit of swiftly changing and Nell is unable to continue her search for the truth. As a result, Nell's granddaughter Cassandra is left with the clues that Nell had put together and out of love and respect for her grandmother, she takes up the search where Nell left off. What she finds is a decades long mystery that revolves around family ties, fairy stories and the fate of a little girl left left alone on a dock nearly a century ago.

When I first read Kate Morton's book The House at Riverton earlier this summer, I was floored by the incredible world I'd encountered in the novel. I'm not one for choosing fiction works with a more historical slant to them so my affection for the book came as a bit of a surprise. True to my word, I said I'd read The Forgotten Garden next as it's next in line according to publication dates. Again, Morton creates a rich history, encompassing not only a wide array of characters but a stretch of time that spans nearly a century. But the awful truth is that The Forgotten Garden left me feeling grumpy and melancholy in the end.

It's a good story. The mystery is enough to leave the reader willing to stick to finishing the novel, hoping for a good outcome, but in the end there was too much sadness for me to truly feel that this was a brilliant read. Instead, by the time I finished this book I wanted to wring the necks of a lot of the characters and I even found myself snapping at real people when I was disturbed from my reading. My apologies to those I snapped at, by the way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A World of Pure Creation: A Book Review on "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde

In an alternate version of 1985 Great Britain, Thursday Next is working as a literary detective with The Special Operations Network. When she's approached with the opportunity to investigate the theft of the original manuscript of Charles Dickens' "Martin Chuzzlewit", she learns that the thief at large, a man named Acheron Hades, can manipulate people inside their own minds, change his appearance at will and walk around unnoticed by video cameras. Thursday realizes her importance in this case lies with the fact that as a former student of Hades when the man worked at her University, she is one of the few left who could positively identify the culprit. But Hades is up to no amount of good and the web of deceit encompasses more than anyone realizes. It's up to Thursday Next to pursue Hades at all costs, especially when the man manages to steal Jane Eyre from the pages of her own story, and Thursday won't stop until everything has been put to right at Thornfield once again.

Okay. I read this book a LONG time ago. There, I said it. After a recent excursion to my local bookstore led to my acquiring The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to go back and reread The Eyre Affair, the first book I'd ever read by Fforde. And wow, it is still as absorbing and impressive as it was when I first read it a good number of years ago. So, naturally I suppose, I put The Last Dragonslayer down and immersed myself in the world of Thursday Next. Then for good measure, I pulled out the rest of the books in this series, which currently amounts to six books including this one, and I have plans to read them through again over the holiday with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie at my side. And it will be a very grand time, indeed.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The End Came and Went: My Thoughts on the first half of Doctor Who Series 7


This post contains spoilers for the first 5 episodes of Doctor Who Series 7. Do NOT read if you haven't already watched each of these episodes and you actually mean to WATCH them. You have been warned! Or you can just read this post for the fun of it because you don't care about SPOILERS.

So after the impressive first episode, "Asylum of the Daleks", opened Series 7 of Doctor Who, I was looking forward to the rest of the final episodes to feature the Ponds. I've since viewed each of them at least twice and I still come to the same conclusion.

It was all a bit MEH, really.

Not to say that the stories featured in these episodes didn't have their merits. It just felt like these were stories that could have been told at any point in the last two series. For the final five episodes of the Ponds, it didn't feel like enough in the end.

And why am I judging these episodes based on their handling of these companions?

Well, everyone KNOWS that they're leaving. The stories feature Amy and Rory attempting to reconcile their 'normal' lives with the existence they have with the Doctor. They're dropping hints about the upcoming break to come. They are talking about the fact that the Doctor has gone off to travel on his own without Amy and Rory and the effect this has on him. And then of course there is the fact that the season has been split in half, with this first part ending with a goodbye to the Ponds. So when you know the ending that's to come, don't you look at what comes before it and analyze the episodes according to that connection?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Legends and Myths: A Book Review on The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Sargent leads an interesting life. While Blue has no psychic ability of her own, she lives in a house filled with talented seers, each with their special power. Her life is filled with predictions, cautions and card readings, things that she is always a witness to but can never do. So when it comes time for her to spend the night, as she does every year, waiting at a church to take down the names of the soon-to-be dead as they walk past, Blue finds herself in a different kind of predicament. Because this year she sees a boy and the fact that she sees him can only mean one of two things, either she's his true love or she's the one that killed him.

I have been reading Maggie Stiefvater's books for a while. I don't remember how I found Shiver back in 2010 but I do recall it was a recent release when I bought it. Then I managed to find the releases from her Books of Faerie series and voila!, I've been buying each of her works ever since. And the plus about my own copy of The Raven Boys? It's signed and doodled by the author herself, a lovely perk to pre-ordering the book from Fountain Bookstore. I don't normally pre-order my books since I don't have the patience for it. I'd rather go on the day of the book release and buy it in a store instead of wait for it to arrive in the mail. But this was definitely a good reason for me to try out a pre-order for once. Moving on now, time for the review.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Madness and Murdered Sleep: An Analysis on the Development and Consequences of PTSD in Geoffrey Wright’s Macbeth

***Here's a copy of the analysis I wrote on a modern adaptation of Macbeth, written for my Shakespeare and Film class in Spring 2012. If you haven't seen the film and don't want to know the points of the movie, don't read the following post as it does contain SPOILERS.

I’ve read Macbeth a LOT since I first studied it my senior year in high school.  There are just so many different points of interest to study in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth.  The play has often been considered timeless due to its theme of overextended ambition coupled with murderous intent.  Another prevalent theme in the play is that of the forces of good and evil, recognizable with the manifestation of the three witches who work with evil magic which helps to turn a once good man into a murdering tyrant.  The witches with their prophecies and the plight of the characters in the play to overcome the power of evil all lend themselves to the idea of the supernatural.  However, in modern times where the idea of witches and magic is more likely frowned upon, considered to be a flight of fancy or an old superstition/belief, it would be more responsible in a sense to look for a different cause that would enable a once trustworthy individual to commit such heinous crimes against his perceived family unit.  Geoffrey Wright’s 2006 film adaptation of the play, simply titled Macbeth, serves to highlight a different motivational force, that of mental disease to explain the actions of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.  I’ve always felt that there was underlying cause to the descent of the Macbeths.  Their turn to violence seemed too abrupt to be an inherent fault of character.  For a once honorable man to turn to methods of murder, modern science would suggest that an underlying set of factors helped to turn his mind against what he knew to be right.  I was impressed with the fact that this film worked to highlight these telling signs in what turns out to be the downfall of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Workings of a Good Lie: A Book Review on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jay Gatsby is a man with a mission. The last few years of his life have been spent getting him to the point where he will finally cross paths with the love of his life, his obsession Daisy Buchanan. When they finally meet again, a sequence of events is set in motion, one that shows the desperate quality of dreamers and the effects of the careless people who break them.

I know. Fitzgerald is normally part of the assigned reading in high school. Not the case for me. I can honestly say that I was never given this book for assignment; not in high school, not in college and not even in graduate school. So, did I miss out in reading this book back then?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dead Men's Tales: A Book Review on Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Judas Coyne has collected various macabre items over the years but nothing tops his latest item, a dead man's suit with its supposed owner still attached. Intrigued by the idea of owning his own ghost, Judas pays the money and receives the black suit later on by delivery in a heart-shaped box. Thinking nothing of it, he shoves the box and its suit into the back of his closet, believing that none of it is real until the visions start. Visions of an old man wearing the same black suit. Because the ghost is real, appearing in the dark of night, swinging a chain with a razor attached at the end, and he's watching Jude's every move.

I felt the need to read something spooky to celebrate the autumn season and Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box seemed the right amount of creep to go hand in hand with the new cold weather outside. I'd actually heard first about his second novel from my sister, so when I found the debut at a half-price bookstore I decided to give it a go. The premise sounded interesting and the reviews were varied enough that it seemed a safe enough bet to try out. No, I did not know the true background of Joe Hill and in a way, I'm glad I didn't have all the details about the author, as it allowed for a more generous set of expectations when I started reading this book yesterday. More on that at the end of the review.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Fleeting Trials of Youth: A Book Review on The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Lisbon girls have left their mark on the world despite their short time in it. After the initial attempted suicide by the youngest Lisbon, Cecilia, the girls and their parents come under the scrutiny of their community and they become the obsession of a group of boys who continuously look back to their youth in the seventies and wonder where things went wrong for a group of girls that had their whole lives before them.

I try to make it a habit to read the book before I watch the movie. Unfortunately, in this case, I saw the movie before I read the book. My apologies, Jeffrey Eugenides. Either way, I found my way to The Virgin Suicides and since my reading it, the writing, the story, has haunted me. The ideas behind the writing evoke a strong sense of tragedy and yet, as a reader you're sucked into the lives of these girls seen in the pieces put together by the boys that admired them.

The writing is lyrical. For a debut, this book impresses in more ways than one. The choice of using an anonymous narrator who for the duration of the novel presents the "evidence" he and his friends have gathered from the remnants of the lives of the doomed Lisbon girls is at times unsettling. As a reader, one finds that the pieces these boys gathered from the lives of these girls borders on the voyeuristic and the obsessive. At one point in the beginnings of this novel, one boy talks about how he wished to bring back a used tampon he'd seen in the Lisbon girls' family bathroom for his friends to see, not because he found it disgusting but because he wished for his friends to witness the beauty of something that had been so intimately acquainted with the girls they wished to know. It's the kind of devotion that seems unnatural and yet it demonstrates the lengths these boys would go through to assemble the various parts of the group's careful investigation, and what they've managed to build is an account of a tragedy that encompasses the book we readers hold in our hands.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Magic in a Time of War: A Book Review on War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Eddi McCandry is having a rough night. She’s quit the band she was playing in and gotten out of a bad relationship. Now she has muddle through her opportunities and figure out the next step in her life. But on her walk home, Eddi ends up forced into taking part in a Faerie War, where she’ll be used as an advantage that will make all the difference in deciding the fates of everything she holds dear, from the world of the faerie folk to her own life as a musician.

War for the Oaks is the debut novel from Emma Bull, considered to be one of the leading novels that helped define the modern urban fantasy genre. I stumbled across it during a trip to my local bookstore, having never heard of it, but being intrigued by the title and description, I decided to give it a go.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Unknowingly Noticeable: A Book Review on The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Sidenote: Birthday season is over, meaning my reading and writing time is back on schedule. I call it birthday season because quite literally, every month, starting in July and ending in September, my family is barraged with birthdays. Now it's October and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. So to kick off the new month, the first of many new reviews to come.

Charlie is starting his freshman year of high school. He’s worried about making new friends after suffering a loss in middle school. His brother has started college and his sister is now a senior. He thinks too much and says very little. In an effort to work through the trenches of his high school experience, Charlie begins to write letters, detailing the many new events in his life from drugs, romance, and literature to the moments where every teenager wishes and finds a place to belong.

And so I begin.

Dear friend,

There are good times. There are bad times. And then there is high school.

I hated high school. Hell, I still hate high school. But like Charlie, the wallflower narrator of Chbosky’s powerful debut, I can look back and point out certain specific people and moments where everything just made the right amount of difference. This book immortalizes all those right differences to mark the journey of one kid that speaks to not only a generation of teens but it also speaks to those who remember what it was like to be a teenager.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Martyrs for a Cause: A Review on Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

Hazel Motes has lost his faith. Struggling with his lack of beliefs, he begins to follow the street preacher, Asa Hawks, a blind man whose daughter, Lily Sabbath, works with him, as they proclaim their teachings to those who will listen. In a gesture of his disbelief, Hazel Motes establishes The Church of God Without Christ, only to find himself worse off than he was before. Along with meeting Enoch Emery, Hazel Motes finds himself on a road with an unknown destination and the circumstances of his life spinning out of his control.

Wise Blood is the first novel written by Flannery O'Connor back in 1959 and I have one thing to say about it.

This book gave me the creeps.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Different Kinds of Life: A Review on Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Ruth and Lucille are used to times of change and loss. They've grown up hearing the story about the train that drove off the bridge and into the lake, taking their grandfather with it. They never knew their father and their mother left them in the care of their grandmother before she drove off a cliff and into the same lake their grandfather's train disappeared in. Now, after some struggle, the girls are in the care of their Aunt Sylive, a woman whose habits begin to set the town on edge. As the girls work through their struggles of growing up, the town begins to divide, leaving Ruth and Lucille wondering: should they follow the everyday traditions of the town or should they follow the transient dreaming of their eccentric aunt?

Let it be known far and wide: Marilynne Robinson is one of the leading forces of contemporary American literature. Her first novel, Housekeeping, was released in 1980 and was the winner of the PEN/Hemingway award.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Truth and Consequences: A Review on The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

When a young director seeks out Grace Bradley, looking for answers about her time serving at the Riverton House, a new story begins to emerge. The director is making a movie about the tragedy that happened at Riverton, about a young poet who shot himself, and the two sisters, Hannah and Emmeline, that witnessed the event. But there are two sides to every story and Grace is the last person alive that knows the truth about that terrible night.

I can't begin to put into words the sheer enormity of the awe, or perhaps a better word is admiration, that I feel right now, having just completed Kate Morton's The House at Riverton. I've read the reviews, the ones that say the book moves too slow or that it has too much extraneous information and I have to disagree. The book is long, coming up to a solid 468 pages in the paperback edition, and yet I can't think of any one area that could have been shortened, where the detail that Morton gave to her story wasn't necessary to the effect of the novel in its entirety.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Revolving Door: My Thought Process on the Doctor Who Premiere

***Big WARNING Here!!
If you aren't a fan of Doctor Who, or you're one of those that means to watch the show and just haven't caught up yet, then this post is not for you! It contains information that may be considered SPOILERS so if you don't wish to know then I say come back later this week for my next review. Or if you do want to know and you think SPOILERS are an essential part of life (they're not really, I'm just exaggerating or being over-dramatic, take your pick, they both work) then stick around. Other than that, have fun with the post. To be honest, the reason I wrote it is because it was fun and I wanted to post it here for posterity's sake.

I wasn’t sure if I should make a post about this but I figured I HAVE blogged about films so why not talk about TV shows? In the future I will be posting analyses on various shows as well, just FYI. But first, to start things off, why not begin with my favorite?

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Sanctuary and Languid Pace of Love: An Analysis of Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet

 When I took my course on Shakespeare and Film this past spring I was told that the short papers we did on each film would have to be tied in to the text of the play and some important aspect of the modern adaptation we would have to watch. It took me ages to come up with the paper topics I had for 10 Things I Hate about You, as I quite literally finished writing that analysis on Kat Stratford ten minutes before the class deadline to send the professor the paper through the class website, and O took forever because in O's case, I found myself extremely unsettled by the film and the teens in it. With Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet however, there were things there that I thought gave the film major kudos despite all the craziness the movie seemed to contain.

Friday, August 31, 2012

"They Say, Blood Will Have Blood": A Review on The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton

Mab Prowd is a wild and stubborn blood witch, living on a farm in Kansas. When her old mentor dies, she decides to dig around in the garden, determined to discover the truth about the roses there after her mentor asked her to get rid of them. Her spell takes a wrong turn and lets loose an old powerful curse, one that manages to rope in the life of Will Sanger, a local boy who is forced into the world of Mab's blood magic. Determined to remedy her mistake, Mab works to cleanse her land and her life of the effects of the curse. However, the curse is stronger than Mab ever considered and it is determined to destroy Will, Mab and anything else that gets in its way.

Have you ever had your cards read? Have you heard about the Death card and what it truly means when its pulled out in a reading? For those who don't know, the Death card can mean transformation, change, end and beginning.

Tessa Gratton's The Blood Keeper is about all that and more.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Update to the Ratings System

If you look to the right, you will notice that the ratings system now officially goes up to 10 Stars. You can read the previous post on the Ratings System for the imagery attached to each star rating.

I just started to think that giving every single book I love a 5 Star rating just doesn't work and dropping to 4 Stars or even 4 1/2 just doesn't cut things down to the right sentiments for me anymore.

So, now I'm going back through my reviews and adjusting their ratings accordingly. Check back this weekend at the latest for 2 new reviews on a pair of YA releases I've been waiting to get my hands on that were just released this past week.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Between Life and Death: A Review on Revived by Cat Patrick

Daisy Appleby died for the first time when she was five years old in a bus crash that changed the lives of everyone on board. As part of a government program, Daisy and the other children on board the bus were given a drug called Revive which allowed for these children to come back to life and cheat death. By the time she's 15, Daisy has died 5 times, each time leading to a new life in a different city. Now starting her sophomore year, Daisy enters her new school and for the first time in a long time she manages to make her first true friends outside of the program. Confronted with the aspects of real everyday lives in ways she's never considered before, Daisy starts to question the benefits of the Revive program, the secrecy involved with it and the effects it has had on her life and the lives of everyone she's ever known.

I first learned about Cat Patrick a year ago, when I bought her debut novel Forgotten. I had a marathon reading session with it, going in to read it at one point only to emerge 3 hours later having finished the novel. I was impressed with the plot, the characters, and the pacing so much that when I found Patrick's next release on shelves I picked up a copy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A New Light Part III: A Book Review on Anastasia Forever by Joy Preble

Anastasia Forever follows our same lively trio of Anne, Ethan and Tess, as they attempt to work with the deal that Anne has made with a witch concerning her magic and her ancestry. Our lead Big Bad enemy is back and has a few new tricks up their sleeve. Anne is struggling to hold her family together while attempting to come to terms with what she feels for Ethan and how he fits into her world.

Finally! The potential of the last two books has made an appearance! Sort of. After a bit of feet dragging (once even quite literally) Anne is finally taking matters into her own hands with figuring out the fate that has been laid out for her. She makes the attempt of facing her problems head-on, although it did take her a good while to get there, even in this book.

A New Light Part II: A Book Review on Haunted by Joy Preble

Haunted once again follows Anne, Tess and Ethan, as the characters we met in Dreaming Anastasia deal with the aftermath of the last book. Ethan has returned to Anne after taking some time to explore Europe only to discover that Anne has moved on with a lifeguard named Ben. To make matters worse, Anne has been keeping a secret from her friends. A secret where a woman is following Anne, appearing wherever there is water, and she won't stop haunting Anne until she gets what she wants from her.

As it is a trilogy, it stands to reason that plot and narration devices follow the same formula as the last book. Everything follows its course and the chapters alternate accordingly (although I do kind of wish that the obnoxiously stubborn Tess could have had a say of her own once in a while).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A New Light: A Book Review on Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

It's been a while since I posted a review but I have a good reason, I think. As a change of pace, this review will go over the entire Anastasia Trilogy by Joy Preble, as a result of the final installment's release this month. That's right. Three book reviews, all in one blog post. Enjoy!***

***Edit Note: I spoke too soon. So hubby dear told me the original post was too long and he just skipped to the end of my review to read my ratings. Needless to say, I felt extremely dismayed. As a result, the reviews are now officially being split into parts. Each will have its rating and the overall trilogy rating will be added at the end of the final installment's review. I've also officially changed the title of this post to reflect the fact that it's only reviewing one book and not the entire trilogy anymore. Live and learn, right?

(And as a sidenote to my  edit note, I do kind of mourn the loss of the original LONG post but while it may have looked pretty, I'm sure it was as difficult to read through to the end as it was for me to write it in the first place.)

Dreaming Anastasia follows Anne Michaelson, whose dreams lately have her seeing life through the eyes of Anastasia Romonov, the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia. Anne's dreams show her that the rumors may be true about Anastasia having managed to survive her family's massacre but unfortunately for Anastasia, she may have ended up with a fate much worse than death. While Anne deals with her dreams on top of her family's grief over a recent loss and her average struggles with college applications, she meets Ethan Kozninsky, a young man who claims that Anne is the key to releasing Anastasia once and for all.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Setting the Bar: A Review on East Bay Grease by Eric Miles Williamson

T-Bird Murphy is just trying to survive. His mother chose the Hell's Angels over him and his father has recently gotten out of jail. Every day he spends time devising plans to avoid the local school bullies while proving to everyone that he's not only intelligent but he's also an exceptionally talented trumpet player. As T-Bird moves on in life he learns how to adapt, figures out where his strengths lie and finally begins to understand exactly who he is and where he belongs.

So obviously I have been posting a LOT of reviews on YA books out in stores right now and yeah, I know that the next great Pulitzer prize winners of fiction are not going to be discovered amongst the stacks of books I read which are found mainly in the YA and Science Fiction sections of any average bookstore.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Necessary Change in Direction

So quite a while back I was making posts about my thesis writing process and the work I was doing for the MFA program at my university, whose name shall remain unknown. I meant to write about continuing my career as a student in pursuit of the knowledge that would enable me to become the best capable writer I could ever become in life. Going forward with the MFA program at my university was meant to help me establish my career as a writer. Mind you, I did receive fair warning before applying that I would be wasting my time. If only I'd listened.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Out to Sea: A Book Review on Seven Tears into the Sea by Terri Farley

Seven years ago, 10-year-old Gwen Cook was found on the beach late one night babbling about a guy she saw come out of the water. Various stories circled around trying to explain the situation and eventually Gwennie and her family moved away. Now out of a sense of family obligation, Gwen's back in her hometown to help her Nana recover from a fall and help out at the Inn her family owns. Gwen also has a personal goal in mind for her summer stay: to find out exactly what happened that night on the beach 7 years ago.

The setup for this book was spot on. It begins with a segment simply titled, "Midnight: Mirage Beach," and proceeds into a beautiful prologue.. There's a sense of wonder and mystery established here as an unnamed girl and her Gypsy boy meet for the first time.

Monday, July 16, 2012


It occurred to me that I have no means of truly delineating between what I think is a good book and what I absolutely hate. So without further ado my means of rating my reviews.****

****I've come to the realization that while I may love a lot of the books that I read, that doesn't mean it's fair to give them ALL 5 Stars. As a result, I have reconfigured my ratings system to go across a 10-Star scale.

The Threads of Fate: A Book Review on Warped by Maurissa Guibord

I'm still waiting on a new book from the awesome Maurissa Guibord but while I wait I shall finally post a review on her first published novel, the wonderfully magical Warped. I've reread this book several times already. It has enough magic and mystery, with just a touch of romance to make this the kind of book to earn a spot on my favorites bookshelf, the most coveted space in my library. To begin, a little about Warped.

Tessa Brody has a strange feeling about the unicorn tapestry she just had to have once she'd seen it up for bid at an auction she attended with her dad. Once she has it in her possession the dreams start up, revealing visions of a way of life long since forgotten. But the dreams are the least of Tessa's worries when she ends up pulling a thread from the tapestry only to find a young nobleman tumbling onto her floor.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Turn a Blind Eye: An Analysis of the Detrimental Effects of Irresponsible Friendships in a Modern Film Adaptation of Othello

How many of you have actually watched "O", that film made back in the 90s which a lot of people made note of if only to comment that Julia Stiles was acting in yet another Shakespeare adaptation?  I'm thinking not many have watched this film.  Before taking a class on Shakespeare and Film this last spring I'd been quite content to avoid this film.  It never caught my attention and I just didn't feel the need to watch a movie about a guy who goes crazy with jealousy and then violence ensues until the end of the film where there was one last man standing.  Just not my cup of tea.  I'd never read the play before either and that's sad, considering how much a fan I am of Shakespeare's tragedies (but I confess, I rather loathe the history plays.)  I was assigned this play and I thought well, I had to read at some point, right?  So I finish reading this play and this is what I get out of it.  I call this "Othello in a nutshell."
Villain: "Hey. You're wife is cheating on you."
Othello: "That bitch! I'll kill her!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Family of Magic: A Review on The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff

Alysha Gale has the same problems that most early twenty-somethings have in life. She’s lost her job and had to move back home; she’s in love with her best friend, Michael, who happens to be gay; and she has way too many Aunties determined to tell her what to do. It doesn’t help that the Gales, or specifically the Aunties, have the power to make charms and control their surroundings with a kind of power they like to keep close in the family. So when she gets a letter from her estranged grandmother detailing her inheritance of a junk shop in Calgary, Alysha figures her best bet is to move forward and investigate the shop and the supposed death/disappearance of her not so beloved Gran. Once she arrives of course, things really start to take off and Alysha is left with the decision of either dealing with the new developments on her own or bringing in her Aunties to rain down the power of the family on their new opponents.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Poor Choice of Words: An Analysis of Kat Stratford’s Favorite Band and Their Lyrics from 10 Things I Hate About You

Sidenote: In a slight turn of events, I've decided to write and post several analyses of various film adaptations that I've had to study over the course of my university career. I kind of consider them to be reviews so in all fairness I feel they should be posted here for that sake if anything else. So without further ado, we shall begin with Shakespeare.
Gil Junger’s 1999 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, entitled 10 Things I Hate About You, has received mixed criticisms focusing on the themes that have received new life that were once seen in Shakespeare.  Many students in the audience believe that the film provides an equal opportunity for the play’s protagonists to assert their own beliefs and become their own independent characters, a change met readily by those that believe the play had instances that bordered on spousal abuse between Katherina and Petruchio.  However, the film does little to make the female characters any different from their play counterparts.  These women, Kat and Bianca, are still the playthings of the men in the film, being manipulated by the rules of a bet made on a whim to prove the power that the male leads have over them in a high school setting.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Damnable Words, Neverending Consequences: A Book Review on Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls

Nora Cunningham is your average teenager living in the year 1956. She's looking forward to summer after having just finished her junior year of high school. She has a best friend, listens to the latest music hits, and daydreams about finally becoming the kind of beauty that gets guys to notice her. The night before the last day of school she attends a party with her best friend, Ellie, and together they join their mutual friends Cheryl and Bobbi Jo for some fun as they spend time hanging out with the boys from their school and try beer for the first time.

But things aren't that simple.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's the Journey that Matters: A Book Review on Finnikin of the Rock

The first time I read Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock it went by too fast for me to fully appreciate the writing, the characters and the whole of the story. I blame the fact that I originally bought the book as an early graduation gift. Of course, I was still in the process of completing my thesis which would then lead to my guaranteed graduation so I wasn't actually in the frame of mind to read anything EXCEPT thesis research materials.

But I was going a bit stir crazy by that point so when this lovely hardcover arrived in the mail I spent around 5 hours blazing through the book. When I returned to reading the research for my thesis, my opinion of Finnikin of the Rock was simply that it was a great book and Marchetta was an author I would continue to read. Anything more specific than that was more than I could possibly offer without admitting the whole truth of my sneaky reading experience of the novel.