We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Friday, 31 December 2010

An Overview of 2010

I am still stunned by how quickly 2010 has flown by, and just thinking about it; it does not seem that I have done that much in the year that I have taken off from academia. So I thought I would write an overview and see what comes up on what I spent 2010 doing...

I came quite close to my goal of 100 books for the year. I also made some progress in a project that I decided to undertake – reading vampire fiction and seeing how it has developed over the years. I am proud of myself for reading the Twilight Books, all available Southern Vampire Books as well as all available House of Night and Vampire Diaries books. I must admit though that I had no idea that there was so much vampire fiction out there! It is actually hard to stick to one genre when it comes to fantasy, especially if you look at the oeuvre of the authors that specialise in fantasy. I also read Charlaine Harris’ Harper Connelly Series and Madelyn Alt’s Bewitching Mystery Series. There really is an amazing body of fantasy work out there. I think I might have made it to my 100 book goal had I not gotten a temporary job as a substitute teacher for the final stretch of the year. So I definitely did a lot of reading this year – with my book count for the year at a solid 84! My favourite would probably be I am Ozzy – by Ozzy Osbourne, but I have read a wide variety of books this year starting with biographies and memoirs and moving on to fiction, non-fiction and fantasy. Most of the books I read have been exceptional, with a few being disappointing. I finally read the Harry Potter books, which are amazing. J.K. Rowling reminds me of Roald Dahl. Rereading some of Dahl’s work I was just reminded by how brilliant Dahl was.
I also went to two amazing live performances – Kelly Clarkson in Cape Town and Elton John in Port Elizabeth. Seeing Elton John perform live from 5m away was a dream come true and something to tick off of the bucket list. Seeing Kelly Clarkson was just a plus and it was a good reason to finally visit Cape Town like I have wanted to for quite a while now.

I suppose I can say I have had 3 jobs this year – being a house and pet sitter, acting like a nanny for my nephew Jayden and for the last while – a substitute teacher at Saint Theresa’s Primary School; which has been a major experience and a lesson in becoming myself. I have also added several books to my private library, but with so many more on my list of wants the books I acquired are just a drop in the ocean. Lessons in becoming Myself by Ellen Burstyn is also a book I wish to acquire *dreaming about how nice it would be if someone out there actually reads this and surprises me with a copy*.

I started a new hobby – picking up on something I did at primary school – embroidery or rather cross stitching, which has been very cathartic and I believe it is what has helped me to come off the anti-depressants I have been on for the past year and a half. Let’s hope I am well enough to stay off the anti-depressants; though I have learnt that you don’t suddenly get better and stay better when it comes to depression. It is a constant path to recovery that you have to stay on, so that you don’t fall back into that dark hole.
Also, I got a tax number! How grown up is that? And I have already bought myself my birthday present for next year! A ticket to the U2 360 Degree Tour!!! Yet another dream that will be coming true for me; I just hope that my greatest dream – meeting Bono – will come true too.

So looking back, I guess I really did quite a bit in 2010. Here’s hoping that 2011 will be everything that 2010 was not – with only good things to come. And with more amazing books to read, and my TBR list is already very long with quite a few rereads on it. So Happy New Year to all of you out there! May 2011 be the year for many of your dreams and wishes to come true, and may you be blessed with an abundance of amazing books to read!
Kind Regards,

Monday, 27 December 2010

Southarn Vampire Fans... A Treat for you!

I went to the Charlaine Harris website and can say that we can look forward to 3 Books with her writing in it in 2011!!! There is the next book in the Southern Vampire Series - Dead Reckoning to be released May 2011. Then there is the companion novel coming out September 2011 and an anthology that Ms Harris contributes to.

If you can't wait to find out what Dead Reckoning is about go to Charlaine Harris' site or just click on this link to go straight to chapter 1 of Dead Reckoning! Happy Reading!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.

Nor do we merely feel these essences
For one short hour; no, even as the trees
That whisper round a temple become soon
Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon,
The passion poesy, glories infinite,
Haunt us till they become a cheering light
Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast
That, whether there be shine or gloom o'ercast,
They always must be with us, or we die.

Therefore, 'tis with full happiness that I
Will trace the story of Endymion.
The very music of the name has gone
Into my being, and each pleasant scene
Is growing fresh before me as the green
Of our own valleys: so I will begin
Now while I cannot hear the city's din;
Now while the early budders are just new,
And run in mazes of the youngest hue
About old forests; while the willow trails
Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails
Bring home increase of milk. And, as the year
Grows lush in juicy stalks, I'll smoothly steer
My little boat, for many quiet hours,
With streams that deepen freshly into bowers.
Many and many a verse I hope to write,
Before the daisies, vermeil rimmed and white,
Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees
Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas,
I must be near the middle of my story.
O may no wintry season, bare and hoary,
See it half finished: but let Autumn bold,
With universal tinge of sober gold,
Be all about me when I make an end!
And now at once, adventuresome, I send
My herald thought into a wilderness:
There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress
My uncertain path with green, that I may speed
Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.

John Keats

Saturday, 25 December 2010

All the book blogs out there

So this Christmas (after helping with all the cooking) I have taken to trawling the blogosphere reading and catching up on all the posts from the blogs that I follow. It has lead me to think that my blog needs some renovations. So I think to ring in the new year I should revamp my blog - maybe a new template and some changes in the style of things?

I am presently reading Vampire Diaries: The Return- Shadow Souls and have deviated from my plan to make up the last books needed to reach my 100 book total. I have also started making a list of books I would like to read next year and have 20 Classics on my list so far. I think though that I need to be more eclectic in my tastes and will be reading Phillipa Gregory to add a bit more variety to things around here. I have added a new page - with the 1001 Books that you should read before you die. My progress is not that astounding as I have been reading newer books. I want to add a page with the Oprah Book Club List as I have read a fair amount from there.

So look out for some changes!

End of 2010 Survey

Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner came up with this great year in review survey to discuss some of our favorite (or least favorite) books that we have read this year. This is to discuss BOOKS WE HAVE READ in 2010, not necessarily books that were published in 2010.

1. Best Book of 2010?

The Best Book I read in 2010 would have to share this title - The first is I AM OZZY by Ozzy Osbourne - and the second is by his wife Sharon - her debut in fiction - Revenge. So I know that Ozzy is an unreliable narrator - much like Nick in the Great Gatsby, but the story of his life is just amazing!! And there has been some controversy around Revenge regarding ghost writers, but the story is great, is has all you would need and reminds me greatly of Footballer's Wives with so many elements to it. But just read my review to see why I thought Revenge was so great.

2. Worst Book of 2010?

I can't say that there was a worst book read in 2010. There were just books that were disappointing, which you will read about below...

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010?

There are two books in this category for me - Sex and the City and Bridget Jones' Diary. I think the way these books were adapted for tv and movies is better to the original stories. And then of course there was the Stefan Diaries - which I will reread and write a more detailed post about.

4. Most Surprising (In A Good Way!) Book?

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. I am surprised at how clever Yates is in his writing and humour based on when the book was written. I thought that they had improvised on the script writing for the movie, but it is remarkable true to the story.

5. Book you recommended to People the Most?

This is a tough one, I tend to recommend authors and not really books. I think you should be familiar with the oeuvre of an author to truly appreciate them. Also, I recommend books that I have read, so it is an even playing field. But really thinking about it, I think the two books I most recommend are The Catcher in the Rye (or anything by Salinger really) and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

6. Best Series You discovered?

I discovered many series this year - Twilight, Southern Vampire, Vampire Diaries, Harper Connelly, House of Night, Harry Potter (yes I know they have been around forever, I just never read them), Bewitching Mystery, Chronicles of Narnia and Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events.

7. Favorite new authors?

There are so many!!!! Charlaine Harris for one - she is amazing. Her characters are diverse and her story lines are splendid. Madelyn Alt - very original stories and fantastic characters. Dennis Lehane - Shutter Island was marvelous - I so did not see any of it coming. Richard Yates - Revolutionary Road is fantastic - and he has a great sense of humour and irony. Stephenie Meyer - need I say more? J.K. Rowling - she reminds me of Roald Dahl in the way she creates a world in the story that you can vividly see in your minds eye.

8. Most Hilarious Read?

I am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne. The stories that Ozzy tells are funny, and a lot of them are surreal.

9. Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book?

The Southern Vampire Series, I just had to know what is going to happen next. So the entire series, I read so quickly because I had to know what is going to happen that I should actually reread them a bit slower.

10. Book You Most Anticipated?

This is very hard to answer, I started reading many series this year, so where I have read all that is available, I anticipate the next book. Such as Awakened from the House of Night, Midnight from Vampire Diaries, The next book in the Bewitching Mysteries Series. The list goes on. So there are not really books that I can say I most anticipated, because all the series that I read had all their current (2010) books out.

11. Favorite Cover?

I adore the original animated covers from the Southern Vampire series, so this would be my favourite cover from the series:

12. Most Memorable Character?

This is a very difficult question to answer, as most of the characters I have encountered this year have been spectacular. But if I had to choose, I would say Harper Connelly from the Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris. She is one of the most unique literary characters I have met this year, though I have met many. I actually think it is unfair to answer this question.

13. Most Beautifully Written?

Geisha of Gion, by Mineko Iwesaki. This is the person whose life Memoir's of a Geisha is modelled on. Reading it you see the parallels between the two stories, although looking at it like that and juxtaposing the two, you see that Memoirs of a Geisha, as amazing a book as it is, verges on sensationalism of the Geisha world. Geisha of Gion is an amazing memoir, which is beautifully written and so poignant. A definite must read, especially if you have read Memoirs of a Geisha.

14. Book That Had The Greatest Impact on You?

How to get Rich by Donald Trump. This book impacted me, but not in a financial sense - Donald Trump shares his wisdom gained through years of experience, and a lot of what he says is stuff that we should all take to heart. I paraphrase when I say that the Donald says that if you have not learnt something new today, you wasted your day. That is so true, it is actually profound. I also love the Donald's favourite quote by Abraham Lincoln, which says "I will study and prepare and perhaps my chance will come." Those words ring true for being excellent in life.

15. Book You Can't Believe You Waited Until 2010 To Read?

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - So I have known about this book for a while, and was supposed to read it last year for Modern Fiction, but got so confused by the first few chapters that I resorted to reading the summary on Sparknotes, but I think that was only because I had so much reading to do that everything just overwhelmed me. This year I picked it up and read it in about two weeks, digesting every part of the story, savoring the magical realism. So I can't believe that I only read it this year. It is magnificent, and truly something that everyone should read. But also Harry Potter, I really can't believe I waited this long to read them.

Merry Christmas!

A Sunny Christmas

Every year at Christmas time
There's not a sign of snow.
Instead we spend our yuletide days
In the sun's warm cheery glow.
We have the best of Christmas things,
The lights, the gifts, the bells,
(And "snowbirds" who arrive en masse
To fill our beach hotels.)
The glorious weather fits right in
With our happy Christmas mood,
And we can also walk and run
Without having to be snowshoed.
So don't feel bad for your (location) friends
Who have no snow or ice.
We think our sunny Christmas here
Is a holiday paradise!
By Joanna Fuchs

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The Twits

The Twits is a very quick read by Roald Dahl and as the title suggests it is about the Twits. Mr and Mrs Twit are truly appalling people, they constantly play tricks on oneanother, and capture birds using glue on their tree. They also have a family of monkeys that they make stand upside down for hours on end.

One day the monkeys and birds manage to get revenge on the awful Twits. Definitely a book that you should read if you want to believe that nasty people get what's coming to them!

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Stefan Diaries (1) Origins

I don't really know what I expected when I started reading this book, but I found it both interesting and disappointing.

The Stefan Diaries chronicles how Stefan and his brother Damon became vampires. This book has nothing to do with the actual Vampire Diaries book series, but rather The Vampire Diaries TV Series. From the TV series (Season 1) we all got glimpses of Stefan and Damon and their relationship with Katherine, however I found that what we learn in the tv series is not congruent with what happens in the book, but maybe I should just watch Season 1 again and re-read Origins. It is good to know how the relationship between the Salvatore brothers and Katherine developed, and how it is that they became vampires. The incongruency is what disappoints me, I wish that L.J. Smith had written this from the point of view of the books as something of a prequal.

I won't say too much as I don't want to have a post filled with spoilers; so this is all I will say: This book gives a great back story and history of the Salvatore brothers from Stefan's perspective. It is vastly different from the book series, but is entertaining none the less. If you are a hardcore fan of the books, then don't read this; however if you love both, then go ahead and read this book, it will fill in many gaps.

I found it gripping from the first sentence so this book is spectacularly written, just remember that it should not be looked at as part of the original book series.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

"Butterfly," by Chinua Achebe

Speed is violence
Power is violence
Weight is violence

The butterfly seeks safety in lightness
In weightless, undulating flight

But at a crossroads where mottled light
From trees falls on a brash new highway
Our convergent territories meet

I come power-packed enough for two
And the gentle butterfly offers
Itself in bright yellow sacrifice
Upon my hard silicon shield.

Friday, 17 December 2010

The Magician's Nephew

As I have previously written, I am reading the Chronicles of Narnia in the chronological order of events occurring in Narnia. Therefore the first book from the series which I have read is The Magician's Nephew in which we discover how it is that Narnia came about. We also learn where the wardrobe from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe comes from.

Right at the start of the Magician's Nephew we meet the two characters that will become central in us discovering the world of Narnia. We meet Diggory (maybe this is where Rowling got Cedric Diggory from?) and Polly who are used by Diggory's uncle to discover the world that his rings lead to. A yellow ring takes you from our world to another, and a green ring brings you back again. Polly is tricked into wearing a ring, and Diggory has to go after her to save her. But where do they go when they have the rings on? They go to the world between worlds and from there they can go to another world.

The first world that they go to is Charn where a spell has been cast and everyone there is stone or I should say everyone there is a statue. There is a bell with the following words on it:

Make your choice, adventurous stranger
Strike the bell and bide the danger
Or wonder, till it drives you mad

What would have followed if you had

Diggory is curious and driven by these words and strikes the bell even though Polly doesn't want him to. The bell breaks the spell, but only one person wakes up - Jadis an evil witch. Diggory and Polly take her back with them to the World between Worlds where Jadis starts to feel week. Diggory and Polly think they can shirk her, but she holds onto Diggory and follows them back to London where she starts to sow chaos wherever she goes.

Luckily Diggory and Polly find a way to get her back to the World between Worlds, and want to take her back to Charn, but instead they get into a world that is black. But they are not alone, a horse named Strawberry as well as his owner are with them on this journey. It is black because it still has not been created. But Aslan who is the creator of Narnia is doing his walk and singing his song that will result in the birth or Genesis of Narnia. Diggory's uncle Andrew is also with them on this second journey beyond the World Between Worlds. And he does not like the song that Alsan is singing. From Aslan's words things start to come to life.

Soon there are animals, and among those animals Aslan chooses two of each - one male and one female whom he gives the ability to speak. Aslan warns these animals who have been given the gift of speech that an evil has entered their new world and calls upon Diggory to help fight it, since it is he who brought the evil into this world. Diggory has to find a tree and bring from it a fruit which will help to keep away the evil Jadis. Polly goes along to help him, and Aslan asks Strawberry who is now named Flint to take them. Flint gets wings which helps to speed along the journey. What he says when Aslan asks him to take Diggory to find the fruit is my favourite line in the book: "Oh, I don't mind two, not when they're little ones," said Fledge. "But I hope the Elephant doesn't want to come as well."

They get to the garden, and at the gates of the Garden there is this sign:

Come in my gold gates or not at all
Take of my fruit for others or forbear

For those who steal or those who climb my wall

Shall find their heart's desire and find despair

The evil Jadis followed Diggory, Polly and Flint and went into the garden for her own evil will. She tries to tempt Diggory to take the fruit and go back home and give it to his mother to cure her. Luckily Diggory does not fall for her trickery and goes back to Aslan with the fruit. Aslan then gives Diggory what he needs to help his mother get better by giving him a fruit from the tree that has grown from the fruit that Diggory brought him.

Diggory gets very special instructions about what to do with the remnant of this fruit. He buries it in their garden at home and from it grows a tree. When the tree fell over he had a wardrobe made from it. This review leaves much to be desired, since I did not want to give too much of the plot away. I just wanted to give you a taste of what to expect in this first book about the birth of Narnia.

Lewis uses a great amount of intertextuality. Here is the definition of intertextuality as defined by Wikipedia:

"Intertexuality is the shaping of texts' meanings by other texts. It can refer to an author’s borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a reader’s referencing of one text in reading another."

Examples of intertextual referencing in The Magician's Nephew is the allusion to Adam and Eve, Eve's temptation by the snake, Helen of Troy, Pegasus and the book of Genesis. There is also the inclusion of some mythical creatures, such as Nymphs, Fauns, Satyrs and Naiads. And there is also a reference to Dwarfs.

One thing that I really got from Modern Fiction, is that the writer of the story is the ideal writer who writes for the ideal reader. Who is the ideal reader you wonder? The ideal reader is the person who knows just as much as the writer. So if the writer has one of his characters shouting out "I'm melting!" after being wet with water, we know that the writer is referring to The Wizard of Oz where the wicked witch has been thrown with water. This is sort of like an inside joke, as it is the use of intertextuality that has the writer seeking his ideal reader. So to be the ideal reader that C.S. Lewis is writing for, you would have to know mythology and various fairy tales and you would have to be knowledgable about the Bible.

C.S. Lewis also refers to Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Treasure Island by R.L. Stevens and Atlantis. He refers to these directly, which I think is good, as it will encourage the keen reader to seek out these books and read them so that they may become the Ideal Reader.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

J.D. Salinger: ‘I See My Novel as a Novel and Only as a Novel’

University Archives will auction a note that J.D. Salinger wrote rejecting filmmaker Hubert Cornfield‘s request to adapt Catcher in the Rye.

Salinger wrote: “I appreciate and respect your ardor, but for the present I see my novel as a novel and only as a novel. Should I change my mind in the future–which is extremely doubtful–I very probably would take on any casting and directing chores myself. Thank you for your interest and please take this as absolutely final.”

Salinger, who passed away in January 2010, never made his directorial debut. He will be the subject of the two-hour Shane Salerno documentary, Salinger. Famous names involved with the project include journalist Tom Wolfe, biographer A. Scott Berg, and Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. (Via Flavorpill)

Does this not just disrespect the way Salinger lived, and the privacy he preferred?

The Bad Beginning

The Bad Beginning is the first book in the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events. In this book we are introduced to the Baudelaire Children about whom this series revolves. Violet who is 14 is the eldest, then there is Klaus who is 12 and little Sunny who is still an infant.

In the Bad Beginning, the Baudelaire Children are orphaned when their house is destroyed in a fire which also kills their parents. As they are now orphans they have to live with relatives. The relative they are sent to live with in this book is Count Olaf who they have never heard of before. The treatment they receive at the hands of Count Olaf is absolutely appalling.

All three children have to share a single bedroom which only has one bed, and they have to do many chores - which includes cooking for Count Olaf and his theatre troupe. Count Olaf is very mean to the Baudelaire's and addresses them "Orphans". Count Olaf is after their treasure and plans to include Violet in one of his plays so that she can marry him. His plan is very elaborate, he has witnesses and an actual judge performing the ceremony. The Baudelaire's figure out that this play is just a rouse and tell him, he then holds Sunny captive in a cage and says he will only let her go once Violet has married him. Luckily his plan is foiled, and Count Olaf is exposed, but he gets away, and threatens to get the Baudelaire's and their fortune.

What will happen to the Baudelaire's now? Next Thursday I will be reviewing The Reptile Room - Book Two in The Series of Unfortunate Events.

The JD Salinger I knew, by Lillian Ross

American author JD Salinger died, aged 91, on 27 January 2010. Here, his long-standing friend Lillian Ross, a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1945, tells of the generous author who could keep her laughing for hours.


JD Salinger, author of "The Catcher in the Rye" in a 1951. Photograph: AP

The two greatest American writers of my time are Ernest Hemingway and JD Salinger. Both have crossed from the 20th century into the 21st with their originality, substance and staying power intact. As a reporter and a friend – privileged to dabble in their area – it has been thrilling for me to watch, at first hand, the unique genius in both writers revealed more and more sharply over the years.

Both writers had a sense of humour all their own – surprising, inimitable, in conversation, in letters, as well as in their work. Salinger could keep me on the phone for hours, laughing into exhaustion, covering everything and everybody around us. He loved to read and he loved to write. Hemingway would say he loved the writing part, "but not what came afterwards". What came afterwards for him was years of inexplicable censure for his having the courage and genius to give us lasting reading pleasure and enlightenment.

I have never understood the "afterwards" part, regarding both Hemingway and Salinger. We have seen dismaying efforts to bring Salinger down, too. Salinger loved the people he created and was protective of them until the day he died. He gave us Holden Caulfield. He gave us the Glass family. So why would some "literary" critics take such a censorious tone about Salinger's personal life?

He was a delight to know, as a friend and a colleague since 1950, just before the publication of The Catcher in the Rye. He figured out his personal life, winding up with a nearly 30-year-long marriage, children, and grandchildren. He lived quietly in New Hampshire, enjoyed church suppers, never bothered anybody, and wanted to be left alone with his work. He was the smartest writer I had ever met and the most generous.

He shared with me a copy of the "Dear Jerry" letter Hemingway wrote to him when they were both serving in the second world war – a handwritten letter commenting on unpublished stories Salinger, who was then an unknown young beginner, sent him. "First you have a marvellous ear and you write tenderly and lovingly without getting wet," Hemingway wrote. He added that he hoped he "didn't sound like an easy praiser" and "how happy it makes me to read the stories and what a god damned fine writer I think you are".

In 1966, Salinger told me he had come across "the rotten Muggeridge article on Hemingway in the current Esquire" and said "I feel I'd like to do something about the Muggeridge piece in particular and all the Hemingway ghouls in general, and I'm pretty sure you would, too…" Four years before that, Salinger told me that the critic Leslie Fiedler "had a go at Hemingway in the last Partisan Review". He added: "What Fiedler needs more than anything else is to be wormed every six months or so. He's a wretch, and he'll never be happy till he thinks he's proved himself better and more talented than the people he criticises."

To me Salinger was always helpful. He told me early on, referring to my writing: "You're yourself whether you're writing fiction or fact. It's very moving. I mean more than that, but that's my first thought." I've never had a better comment. When Salinger first met my son Erik, who was then a few months old, he sent me a letter, starting out:

Notes on your son.

1) Is an incomparably fine and lovable person.

2) Has beautiful eyes.

3) Sleeps in a very good position.

4) Has courtly manners.

5) Is a very very sweet little boy.

He was always giving you something with love, and it outlasted his lifetime. He shared with me his huge range of interests, all the way from wonderful stories and sayings by the 6BC philosopher Lao Tse, to detailed instructions about selecting, cooking, and refrigerating bean sprouts.

So why would people, especially the self-appointed authorities on literature, always want him to be someone other than himself? It didn't take long, after the historic acclaim for The Catcher in the Rye and his stories, for a lot of negative psychoprattle about his creations to surface – along with unwelcome intrusions into his private life. He was being chided for loving the characters he had created too well, and readers were chided for loving them, too. Today, millions of readers all over the world continue to experience the joy of discovering and being charmed by his characters. They know, as Hemingway said, that JD Salinger wrote "tenderly and lovingly", and was "a god damned fine writer".


A Man Who Knew the People Who Mattered, and Wrote About Them

When the novelist Louis Auchincloss died last January, at 92, his timing could hardly have been worse. J. D. Salinger died the next day, obliterating much of the attention that would have come Auchincloss’s way. To put it in Holden Caulfield’s words, “People never notice anything.”

Nearly a year after his death and almost 50 years since he wrote his best and most celebrated novel, “The Rector of Justin” (1964), Auchincloss remains a difficult writer to get a handle on.

The rap against his work is clear enough. It’s that he wrote too much of it (more than 60 books, while also practicing law) and focused too relentlessly on the insular world he was born into: New York’s elite old families. His great subject was the effect — both warming and warping — of wealth and its neurotic cousin, social class.

Auchincloss fired back, skillfully enough, at the critics who found his work narrow. “That business of objecting to the subject material or the people that an author writes about is purely class prejudice,” he told an interviewer in 1997, “and you will note that it always disappears with an author’s death. Nobody holds it against Henry James or Edith Wharton or Thackeray or Marcel Proust.”

Yet Auchincloss, despite being an acute and feeling observer, isn’t a James or a Wharton. His work lacks electricity and sweep, and his dozens of novels bleed together in the mind. He’s a major minor writer who seems likely to be remembered, when he is, for just a small handful of books.

His posthumous memoir, “A Voice From Old New York: A Memoir of My Youth,” is unlikely to be among those volumes. It’s thin and episodic, and lacks a certain necessary friction. But it does provide a genuine taste of what makes Auchincloss so interesting a writer. It’s plainspoken and pays close attention to a certain disappearing brand of manners and morals. “A Voice From Old New York” is a peek into a rapidly vanishing world and into a determined writer’s coming of age.

Auchincloss writes with good humor about how, as a young American novelist, he rarely fit in. He kept orderly habits, and thus Norman Mailer’s parties, when he was invited to them, started too late for him. He tried to hang out at the White Horse Tavern, the writer’s bar in Greenwich Village, but was marked instantly as an outsider. “A registered Republican who was also listed in the Social Register,” he writes, “was something of a duck-billed platypus.”

Auchincloss’s memoir is discreet, yet bold-face names stride casually across its pages. At a dinner with his relative, the young Jacqueline Bouvier, in the 1950s, she praised his novel “Sybil,” about a dull girl.

“Oh, you’ve written my life,” Bouvier said. “Respectable, middle-class, moderately well off. Accepted everywhere. Decent and dull.” A week later, Auchincloss writes, she broke her engagement to a man named Husted and a few years later married John F. Kennedy.

He writes that “the brilliant United States Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia” argued in his presence that the true author of Shakespeare’s works was the Earl of Oxford. Auchincloss responds about Shakespeare: “To think his plays were written by Bacon or Oxford is, in my opinion, to show a tin ear.”

Throughout “A Voice from Old New York,” Auchincloss is trenchant about the faults of his class, but more often he defends it. “A common objection to inherited wealth is that it stifles the urge to work,” he writes. “I have not generally observed this to be true.”

He notes that many wealthy men of his acquaintance worked too hard, and should have left their fortunes to be managed by others. He quotes his father as saying about such men, “If they had been beachcombers, they’d be rich men today.”

He takes the measure of elite old families at about the end of the aughts: “It is commonly said that they have been relegated to the past. That is not so. They have simply lost their monopoly; they have had to move over and share their once closely guarded powers with the new rich, who are quite willing to spare the older generation so long as they are allowed to copy, and perhaps enhance, their style. See any Ralph Lauren ad.”

Auchincloss is hardest on himself in “A Voice from Old New York,” so much so that this memoir almost reads like a work of self-criticism that squirted out of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. He describes his early narcissism, his neglect of the poor and his casual anti-Semitism. He dabbled in larceny and vandalism, he tells us, and became briefly known at Groton as a snitch. He is quite honest about his fear while serving in the Navy during World War II.

Auchincloss grew up, and grew into himself, however. Some of the best writing in this book is about how he started writing, at Groton and at Yale and during stolen moments while in the military. His mother tried valiantly to stop him.

“She decided not only that I had no outstanding talent,” he writes, “but that my efforts showed a worldly streak that if published would make me look vulgar and hurt me with serious people in any career that I adopted.” Thus Auchincloss published his first novel, “The Indifferent Children,” under a pen name.

Auchincloss’s writing didn’t hurt him during his practice of law. “It was simply regarded as a curiosity,” he writes, “like a fondness for yoga.”

If he never stopped caring about what those in his own world thought of him, he found a deeper kind of true north. “Society matters not so much,” he writes here. “Words are everything.”

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

New 'Vampire Diaries' book set to hit stores in New Year!

Fans of the hit television show The Vampire Diaries will finally learn about Stefan and Damon Salvatore's first days as vampires and the love triangle that would turn loving brothers into deadly enemies, in the electrifying continuation of Stefan's Diaries.

In the electrifying continuation of Stefan’s Diaries, fans of the hit television show The Vampire Diaries will finally learn about Stefan and Damon Salvatore’s first days as vampires and the love triangle that would turn loving brothers into deadly enemies.

Stefan's Diaries Vol.2: Bloodlust chronicles the lives of Stefan and Damon before the start of The Vampire Diaries television series, when Stefan Salvatore's first love Katherine turned him into a vampire, which destoryed his world as he knew it.

When they were turned into vampires, Stefan and his brother Damon must flee their hometown Fells Church where they risk being discovered and killed. The brothers head to New Orleans, looking for a safe haven. However, the city is more dangerous than they ever imagined, full of other vampires as well as vampire hunters.

Based on the popular GO! TV show inspired by the bestselling novels, Stefan's Diaries reveals the truth about what really happened between Stefan, Damon, and Katherine and how The Vampire Diaries love triangle began. Bloodlust is based on the novels of L.J Smith ad is set to hit stores on January 1st.

Quentin Blake on the art of illustration

Quentin Blake Quentin Blake was appointed the first children's laureate in 1999

Ahead of an auction of works by some of the world's best-known illustrators, Quentin Blake talks about his work with Roald Dahl, and how he is taking art into hospitals.

"I'm trained as a teacher, that's the only thing I've got a certificate for," admits Quentin Blake. "I haven't got anything for art!"

Blake, who is best known for his famous illustrations of Roald Dahl characters like Matilda and The BFG, has rallied fellow artists to help raise funds for a centre dedicated to the art of illustration.

"I'm trained as a teacher, that's the only thing I've got a certificate for”

Quote Quentin Blake on his artistic qualifications

The likes of Raymond Briggs, Eric Carle, Ronald Searle and Gerald Scarfe have submitted original works for the auction at Sotheby's.

Blake has been a driving force behind the House of Illustration project. The building will be housed in the King's Cross regeneration area of London, and the charity is looking to raise more than £6.5m.

"There is currently no building that says illustration over the door," says the 77-year-old artist on his reasons for supporting the project. He has promised the future museum his archive of original works, spanning some 300 books.

"Our vision of it is of a very active place, not somewhere where you put away drawings and don't look at them. There are huge quantities of the illustrations of the past in the reserves of the great museums, but they don't have the chance to show it."

Blake's own contribution to the auction is a watercolour of Roald Dahl's character, the BFG. His 15-year working partnership with Dahl is one of the best-known in publishing.

Dahl would always refer to Blake as "Quent" and liked to poke fun at his white shoes.

"That came with the territory." Blake slips into an impression of the late author: "Here's old Quent, he's taking her out to dinner and he's wearing his plimsolls."

Blake slips his legs out from under the table and shows off his dazzling footwear. "I don't walk very well, they make me feel more fleet of foot, but they're not plimsolls!"

Punch debut

The BFG illustration Quentin Blake worked with Roald Dahl for 15 years

Quentin Blake was born in 1932 and went to grammar school before studying English at Cambridge. His first drawings were published in Punch when he was 16.

After National Service he did a postgraduate teaching diploma at the University of London.

His first children's book was John Yeoman's A Drink of Water in 1960. As well as his famous collaborations he also writes and illustrates his own books, creating such characters as Mrs Armitage and Mister Magnolia.

For many years Blake taught at the Royal College of Art (he was head of illustration from 1978-86). He became the inaugural children's laureate in 1999 and was made a CBE in 2005.

After such a long career, is he taking any time out from illustration?

"I draw every day - unless I'm being interviewed," says Blake. "What is nice is to have different kinds of things to do."

He mentions his recent work in hospitals and mental health units. "It's a different kind of brief, a different kind of audience. A lot of the pictures I do in hospitals are to cheer up gaunt surroundings.

"I'm just doing a maternity hospital in France. So I've got the full range of ages. These pictures are going to appear in the delivery rooms - so for some of these poor children it will be the first thing they see!"

I remark that a great deal of Blake's illustrated characters - like Matilda and Mrs Armitage - seem to have an ever-present smile.

"There are a lot of smiles about, it's true. People have come up and said thank you for your work - and joy is the word they've used, but I've also been reproached for it, for being too cheerful.

"But if you add a a smile, it doesn't make it necessarily joyful."

He refers to the doodles he does while on the telephone.

"They are strange-looking monsters indeed - a lot of them are creatures of the desert: birds and animals hitherto unknown. They've all got problems of their own.

"They haven't all got smiles."

The 28 drawings in the House of Illustration auction are on sale as part of Sotheby's winter sale of English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations on 16 December.


Roald Dahl's unfinished, unpublished work

By Melissa Bell


Last month, it was Picasso in a French trunk. This month, it's Roald Dahl in a California garage. It's sort of like Clue only instead of murder, it's never-before-seen art.

Jerry Biederman was cleaning out his parents' garage when he came across an unfinished manuscript by Roald Dahl, the famous British author of the macabre short story and the fanciful children's books.

Dahl wrote the two-page story 28 years ago as part of a Finish-It-Yourself book, where authors would kick-start a story and children could make up the rest themselves. However, publishing stalled and the book never came out. Dahl's contribution, which garnered the author $200, told the story of two children and their creepy neighbor Mr. Croaker.

Beiderman intends to move forward with the book project but has first decided to put Dahl's manuscript up for sale on eBay. The signed story is currently going for $1,900.


Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

In order to make up my 100 book total for 2010, I have decided to add book series to the list of children's books which I will be reading. And since there is no time like the present, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is one of the series that I will be reading, and then be reviewing one book a week until the series is done.

I have already read one of the 13 books in this series, but will not be reviewing it here. Rather I will be giving a bit of information about the series. The title should be familiar as in 2004 the film version was released. I thought the film was done very well as it combines elements from various books into that one movie, as opposed to having 13 different films. Though a mini series for tv could be made from it.

Lemony Snicket is the nom de plume of the American author Daniel Handler. The series follows the unfortunate life of the three Baudelaire children who become orphans after their parents perish in a fire which also burns down their house. They are then sent from relative to relative followed by misfortune because of the greedy Count Olaf who is after their fortune. I cannot say much more here as I would then be telling you too much about the first book.

Here are the books in the series:

1. The Bad Beginning
2. The Reptile Room
3. The Wide Window
4. The Miserable Mill
5. The Austere Academy
6. The Ersatz Elevator
7. The Vile Village
8. The Hostile Hospital
9. The Carnivorous Carnival
10. The Slippery Slope
11. The Grim Grotto
12. The Penultimate Peril
13. The End

So look out for my post on The Bad Beginning, which will be up tomorrow.

Recent Acquisitions

Even though I only bought four new books on Monday, I am very proud of the titles that I have added to my burgeoning collection. I didn't have much time to look through all the books in the 3 for R99 selection on display (as this is usually where I get the bulk of my more obscure books) so I just glanced briefly and then went onto the children's section and then passed the general book section on my way to the till. I was happy with just making one purchase, but when I saw three other Roald Dahl books at a price that would be considered a steal I just had to have them.

I am so glad to be able to expand my collection of Dahl, but will not stop until I have all his books. So without drawing out the suspense any longer, here are the four books which I bought on Monday:

1. The Roald Dahl Treasury

2. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six more

3. Someone like You

4. Switch Bitch

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Different Vampires in Fiction

I have yet to read the two most acclaimed names in Vampire Fiction - Bram Stoker and Anne Rice - so I do not even think that I am an expert on Vampires. I have however read several vampire books - mostly from this century - and therefore have picked up on some of the differences between Vampires of different authors.

Vampires and the sun

In the Southern Vampire Series - Vampires are pretty much old fashioned - they cannot be exposed to the sun or they will die. In the House of Night - the light of the sun bothers Vamps, but does not let them perish. In The Vampire Diaries vamps with Lapis Lazuli on them are daywalkers. And in Twilight, Vampires avoid the sun, because they sparkle. Interesting how it varies, isn't it?

Vampires and their diet

Traditionally Vampires fed off of humans, but the new breed of Vampires a la Twilight and Vampire Diaries can choose to be vegetarian. Makes them more endearing, doesn't it?

Mind Control and Mind Reading

Glamouring, mind control, suggestion - all things are possible by some Vampires. I love how the Cullen's have different skills, and how depending on how strong a Vampire you are how (determined by your diet ofcourse) your influence over humans can change.

So from Stefan and Damon Salvatore to Edward and Jasper Cullen and further on to Eric and Bill - Vampires are as different as people are. Here's to learning more about those lovable Vamps, and perhaps one day earning an M.A. in Vampire Literature.

Not my very best post, but I am tired. Will post on more differences soon. Have you all seen the new white Limited Edition Twilight books? I prefer the original ones. How about you?

Sunday, 12 December 2010

100 Books for the year - My Progress

So for this year I undertook a personal challenge which was to read 100 books. This is not a very great amount in the book blogging community, but it is something I thought I could manage. I am presently at the 80 book mark, and with 20 books to go before the end of the year I have decided to change the book genre to something a bit more simple. Childrens literature.

I chose this genre because Children's Literature is something that one can go through very quickly, but it is not something to be smirked at, as the quote says, all good childrens' books appeal to the adult in the child and the child in the adult. So this will also be my way of getting back into those books that I started out with as an avid reader. I will be reading the Roald Dahl books that I never got round to in September, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia and something I have been meaning to read for quite a while - The Lemony Snicket's Series. I watched the movie and was very pleased to see that it is a series of 13 books!

So you can look forward to some posts on children's books. So far I have read the first two Narnia books, and the first book in the Lemony Snicket's Series.

I will be in Port Elizabeth tomorrow, so I hope that I can get some new books. I love shopping for books!!! I am definitely going to CNA, so I hope I can get round to Bargain Books as well. Will let you know what new book loot I got on Tuesday. So happy Monday to everyone, and I hope you had a wonderful weekend!!
Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Friday fill-ins

So...here we go!

1. I wish I could win an incredibly big book voucher or book prize.

2. When are the SA vs India tickets going on sale?...that's what I'm thinking.

3. Please bring me the next Vampire Diaries book.

4. Watching my nephew grow everyday is so amazing.

5. One of my fondest hopes is to meet Oprah and Bono.

6. Have a great weekend and I just wanted to say thank you.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to doing some cross stitch, tomorrow my plans include watching Fringe and Sunday, I want to just relax!

So Here is the Christmas song game, continued. How many can you guess this week?


And here are the answers to last week's:

1. HYAMLC: have yourself a merry little christmas
2. TFNTADS: the first noel the angels did say
3. GRYMGLNYD: god rest ye merry gentleman let nothing you dismay
4. ICUAMC: it came upon a midnight clear
5. SNHNAICAIB: silent night holy night all is calm all is bright
6. OTFDOCMTLGTM: on the first day of christmas my true love gave to me
7. DTHWBOHFLLLLLLLL: deck the halls with boughs of holly fa la la la la la la la la
8. YBWOYBNC: you better watch out you better not cry
9. JTTWTLHC: joy to the world the lord has come

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Revenge - Sharon Osbourne

I was very excited when I saw this book in CNA and did not hesitate when it came to buying it. I absolutely adore Sharon Osbourne - she is fiery and feisty and just so comfortably herself that she is somewhat a role model for me. I first read Sharon's second biography - Survivor (which I reviewed) this year. I bought it when I was in Cape Town for the Kelly Clarkson concert. It was so enthralling that I barely felt the time go by on my flight back to Port Elizabeth.

Reading Survivor was like having Sharon talking to you - that is how brilliant a writer she is. So when I saw her first work of fiction, I simply had to have it and had to read it. I read it about two months ago, but never wrote a review for it. So here it is, and you truly would expect nothing less from Sharon.

This book is wonderfully thought out and wonderfully written. It is historically relevant for the setting in which the book opens. It has scandal and revenge and it is rather sexy, actually its just plain hot.


"Two sisters. One Dream. Winner takes all"

We have Maggie - who just knows she has what it takes to be famous. She leaves her home town - Sheffield - to make it big as an actress in London. She goes to audition after audition, but keeps getting told she just doesn't have 'it'. Upset after one of these auditions she bumps into a bar owner in Soho and he offers he a job. Whilst working as a barmaid she meets Derek - who she knows is trouble but can't resist no matter how hard she tries.

She falls for Derek so hard that it shatters her when he leaves her - pregnant- for her hippie flat mate. Derek send his brother George to deal with Maggie and the mess he has created. But instead of just paying Maggie off like he does Derek's other girls, George sees something in Maggie who has now decided to grow up and be called Margaret. George and Margaret get married but George has a secret.

Maggie has her and Derek's baby and name her Chelsea, then she and George have a daughter and name her Amber. Margaret pushes Amber to pursue her dream of becoming famous, but when things work out for Chelsea and not Amber a wedge is pushed between the two sisters. But things change as the two sisters grow up with Amber being the star and Chelsea becoming the washed up fat older sister. Jealousy sets the perfect scene for revenge, but not without a few skeletons falling out of the closet.

This is all I will say about Revenge, read it to see the revenge being played out. This book leaves you wanting nothing more - definitely the perfect material for a movie or mini-series. It reminded me greatly of Footballer's Wives (which I loved). This book is truly excellent and should be read by you.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Coziest Places to Read/Favorite Places to Read

When thinking about how to answer this question, I came to realise that I don't have that great a variance in where I go to read. So I don't think I can write about 10 Places, but let's see how this goes.

1. My number 1 spot for reading is my bed. I love fluffing up my pillows and just kicking back in bed and reading. I find this is especially convenient for when I need to take a nap after reading for quite a while.

2. My second favourite spot to read is on one of our double couches in the lounge. I like lying back and just getting into the book. I guess you could say my coziest position for reading is lying down.

3. When its cold and I need some sun inside I like sitting on one of the chairs from our Queen Anne Set - I find it helps me to sit up straight instead of slouching like I tend to do when I am in a more comfy seat.

4. When I can, I love sitting in one of those comfy swivel chairs to read - of course I never actually sit still, but swivel from side to side.

Well that is all I can say for this week's Top Ten - Hopefully next week I can get to 10.

Where do you like to sit when you read? What is your favourite reading spot or position?

To participate in the Weekly Top Ten Tuesday topic, simply go to The Broke and the Bookish.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Revolting Rhymes

I have said this many times before, and I will probably say it many more times - Roald Dahl is my favourite Children's author. I absolutely adore his work. He has the most marvellous way of writing, and using words, and carrying his stories across in a manner which I wish I could speak. Discovering Revolting Rhymes was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I would have discovered it sooner had it not been in the little kids' section (under 10s) in the library in town.

My Grade 6 teacher Mr Mike Miller brought the book to school one day and decided that we would do the Cinderella story from the book as our contribution to a cultural evening. The opening lines to Dahl's masterful parody of the classics has stuck with me ever since (this was 10 years ago).

I guess you think you know this story, you don't the real one's much more gory. The phoney one, the one you know was cooked up years and years ago and made to sound all soft and sappy just to keep the children happy. I write this from memory, so please excuse the lack of grammar which Dahl put in. I decided that I would read it to my English Classes whilst working as a substitute teacher, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. I must say, that once you read Dahl's take on these classics you cannot go back to the older ones.

Roald Dahl is a true genius, one who we are unlikely to see again. So if you have never read revolting rhymes, go out NOW and get yourself a copy you won't regret it. The spin he puts on Cinderella, The Three Little Pigs, Snow White, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood will have you laughing so hard you'll be in stitches. You'll enjoy it so much you'll have to share it with your friends.

So here's to the master Roald Dahl, my life is better for having your stories in it.

The Chronicles of Narnia

So I have decided to take a little break from Vampires as far as my reading goes, and have decided to pick up a series that I should have read when I was a child - had I only known about them. The series that I am talking about here is the Chronicles of Narnia. After reading Allie's review on A Literary Odyssey, I decided that I had to get into these books. I put out The Magicians Nephew last night to read today during the lull at school, and I am well impressed by how far I have read. I have about 40 pages to go. Not that these are long books. I am reading the Scholastics edition which has 202 pages.

This is the first book that I have read by C.S. Lewis, and even though his language is nothing like that which I so admire of Roald Dahl, it is wonderful. I think what I'll do for the Chronicles of Narnia is do a book a week as far as posting goes. So look out for the first book in the series The Magician's Nephew in the days to come.

But first, a little bit more about the Chronicles of Narnia. I am sad to say that the first time I heard of the Chronicles of Narnia was when the movie The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe came out in 2005. More can be said about this at a later stage. I watched the movie and was not really taken by it and because of that have not seen Prince Caspian. However, I think I should give the movies another try, but will first read the books, before catching up on the first two movies and hopefully can make it to the cinema to catch The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

About the books and the movies:

There are two orders in which you can read The Chronicles of Narnia. The first is in chronological order, which is what the movie producers have chosen to do. However if you want the novels to flow into oneanother in a more chronological order (in terms of the story) then it is best to read it in the manner in which it is now published. Here is the book order if you want to read it chronoligically (in publication order):

1. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (1950)

2. Prince Caspian (1951)

3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

4. The Silver Chair (1953)

5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)

6. The Magician's Nephew (1955)

7. The Last Battle (1956)

However, if you want to read it in a manner which sets the story out chronologically in order of the start of Narnia, then you should read the books as follows:

1. The Magician's Nephew

2. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

3. The Horse and his Boy

4. Prince Caspian

5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

6. The Silver Chair

7. The Last Battle

Wikipedia has a great entry on The Chronicles of Narnia, which you can read by clicking here. I am not reading in order of publication, but rather in the chronological order of Narnia. For an article that speaks of Narnia and has some links to other Chronicles of Narnia stuff, click here.

Will do a post on C.S. Lewis this weekend. I think it is always nice to read about the genius behind great books, and it will also be interesting to learn about C.S. Lewis who I always in my mind tend to muddle up with Lewis Carroll.

Back to the Classics Challenge

As I have previously posted, I will be participating in the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Sarah at Sarah Reads too much. Here are the categories and what I will be reading for each one:
  1. A Banned Book - I will be reading Paradise Lost by John Milton
  2. A Book with a Wartime Setting (can be any war) - The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies
  3. A Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) Winner or Runner Up - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. A Children's/Young Adult Classic - Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  5. 19th Century Classic - Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  6. 20th Century Classic - The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
  7. A Book you think should be considered a 21st Century Classic - Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and Atonement by Ian McEwan
  8. Re-Read a book from your High School/College Classes - The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Week Ahead and Past

This past week has been a really busy one, and i do not doubt that the one that lies ahead will be busy too. Although there are three things to which I am looking forward when it comes to this week.... 1. Staff end of year function at Buffels Fontein which is a game reserve not far from here. 2. It is my last week as a substitute teacher and the school holidays officially start on Friday :) and last but not least... 3. I get paid again!!! So there are always good things to look forward to amidst the things that keep us all so busy.

There is moderation from the side of the Department of Education this week - which I can honestly say I am not looking forward to. Let the weekend come on so that the holiday can start is what I say!!!

This week that has just passed saw the party that the school I have been working at throws for their Grade 7s every year. Sort of like a farewell. And then their was the meetings to go through mark schedules and get mark sheets and stuff in order - which was vexing to say the least.

This past week has been a very productive one for me reading wise - I finished books 3, 4 and 5 of the Vampire Diaries - and am now a fully fledged L.J. Smith fan. I checked out her website today and if you are American and reading this go there now because you can win a fabulously stunning faberge egg. Just click here to go to her site.

So here's wishing you all a wonderful week filled with wonderful bookish things <3
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

A Game from Friday Fill-Ins

On Friday Fill ins this is given as a choice for fill in on Friday, but I thought I would post it today as it is a fun game. So far I have figured out two. How many can you figure out? The letters stand for the first letter of the words of Christmas songs...


On Vampires...

So I have read several vampire books - Southern Vampire, Twilight, Vampire Diaries and House of Night- but I have not really reviewed any of them other than The Southern Vampire Series. In April I planned on writing about Twilight, but for some reason - which completely eludes me at the moment - I never did. So I think it is time that I started writing more about vampires. However, it is not only vampires that I have been neglecting writing about. So far this year I have read 73 books (27 books away from my target number) and many of them have gone without review so I definitely have to catch up in that sphere too.

But to start writing about vampires, I didn't notice until last night the degree of similarity in two covers for books by different authors, but which have a word or I should rather say a time in the title in common. If you have not yet guessed, the one book is Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer (which if you have not yet read or heard about can download from her site for free) and the other is Nightfall - the first book from the Vampire Diaries: The Return Series - by L.J. Smith. Here are the covers:

Okay so granted there are some of you out there who will criticise and probably roll your eyes, at my marvelling at the similarity of the covers given that there are a number of options for the cover of Midnight Sun; as you can see below.


So this was the first installment of Vampire posting, will post on a non-fantasy book too to even up the playing field and to mention the fantastic books that I have read this year!

Back to Stories Anne Rice Praises Stephenie Meyer And The Twilight Saga

Anne Rice, the queen of vampire lit, recently shared some harsh criticism of Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight series, which Rice likened to Vampires for Dummies. Now, Rice has clarified her earlier statements and even praised Meyer for her work. A couple of weeks ago in an interview with New Jersey Star-Ledger, Rice said, “[Twilight is] based on a really silly premise: that immortals would go to high school...It’s a failure of imagination, but at the same time, that silly premise has provided Stephenie Meyer with huge success. It’s almost like a stroke of genius to put vampires in high school. They just graduate over and over again."Rice went on to say, “The idea that if you are immortal you would go to high school instead of Katmandu or Paris or Venice, it’s the vampire dumbed down for kids."Sounds like she's doesn't think very highly of the books or their author; however, during a recent interview with students at Saint Gertrude High School in Richmond, Va., Rice praised Stephenie Meyer for her creativity.“I think Stephenie Meyer is a wonderful writer, and she’s made millions of people very, very happy,” Rice admitted. “I thought it was kind of enchanting…I certainly have respect for it.”Even though Rice says she admires the Twilight author, she's still not a fan of the series personally. Maybe she realized that making fun of the franchise would affect her negatively. If so, she's learned an important lesson…don’t hate on Twilight!So Twihards, can she be forgiven?

Article from dailyfill.com

Friday, 3 December 2010

Getting back into Friday Fill-Ins

So...here we go!

1. The best thing about a birthday celebration is getting to spend time with your friends.

2. There is nothing we can do about the passage of time.

3. I went shopping recently and the most interesting thing I bought was Christmas Carolling Reindeer.

4. My favourite child's game is probably hide and seek.

5. The reason is quite simple really.

6. Christmas in South Africa has no snow and cold.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to finishing my current Vampire Diaries book, tomorrow my plans include updating my blog and Sunday, I want to get my stuff ready to put into files for moderation!