Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who is Erica H?


Born in New York I was raised in the Catskill mountains, a short distance from the 1969 Woodstock Festival site. Since I learned how to read I had a passion for books. Reading multiple books at a time I would often get in trouble as a child for staying up long past my bedtime reading books with a flash light under my covers. High School was no different. Being known for my reading endeavors I won a creative writing award during my High School graduation, aside from graduating with the notice of being a National Honor Society member and volunteer for the school and public libraries.


I went to Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania; majoring in English I fell even more in love with books and the written word. The economy took it's dive just as I graduated and was left struggling to find a job. I was also craving the sense of education so I began to read obsessively. It was only a few months after my graduation when I opened this blog during November of 2008.

Nearly every book I read, I write my thoughts on it. Nothing that I write, I feel, could be of the standards used for a school paper or listed in a publication. But for me it's the key elements that I'll remember. When I look back at entries past and see what I thought of a particular book it's all I need to jog the memory of that book.


Luckily this had led to many great opportunities. Meeting fantastic people over the internet, running giveaways, and doing reviews for books prior to their release. By the summer of 2010 I was actively writing book reviews, working as a book seller at a major bookstore chain, and a publicist for a newly published author. In my mind this proves that whatever you set your mind to can happen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pride and Prejudice


Oh P&P. I have read this book once in each stage of my adult life thus far. Once in High School (my senior year), once in college (my sophomore year), and now this November after I've left undergraduate studies behind. And I must say... every time I have read this book I've come out with different feelings for it. I suppose that can be considered to be one of the wonders of it. No matter how many times I read it I have a
different understanding. Whether that is because I've matured with each read, I've learned more of the language, or it's been long enough for me to truly forget my past opinion- I'm not entirely sure. I can surely say with a great deal of confidence that this third read of the book was pleasurable.


While in college and High School I was forced to read the book and I thought it to not be a display of feminism as many people have claimed. How could it be with all of these girls running off and getting married to men? Where is the independence and power of being a woman in that?

But now I see it all a little clearly and I deem my immediate prejudice of the book from years passed on the fact that I had been forced to read the literature as opposed to picking it up willingly. I cannot clearly state why I had such a sudden interest in reading this book again, but I did and for that I am thankful because I am now left with a renewed interest in Jane Austin as a person and author.

I feel two things are certain. Elizabeth Bennet reflects my character the most while Jane's character of finding out as much information as possible before concluding to a true opinion of something I also hold. Elizabeth is head strong and mouthy, she's willing to stand for her right's and dislikes when women are fools (IE: her own mother and sister Lydia). In all honesty I wanted to strangle both characters through out the read and I have the belief Elizabeth partially would have reflected my feelings. While I used to look up to her in my past reads then begin to dislike her as soon as she 'settled' for Darcy I saw it differently now.

It took much thinking on her part, a lot of reasoning, and she had to have him ultimately prove himself to her. It wasn't just a change of heart as I had seen it when I was younger. Darcy tried many a times to prove himself to Elizabeth after his initial proposal and slowly Elizabeth changed her opinion of him. I feel I would have done the same quite possibly. Despite that she ultimately settles down to be married it is still a feministic scene because it is all left up to her decision. Darcy tries and tries for months but it does in fact take months before Elizabeth see's who Darcy truly is. Even then it takes time before she realizes she could be happily married to her. All in all, it is up to her to make the decision and she was fully capable of opposing Darcy again. She chose not to and with that she held the power.

My favorite portion of the book, or rather my favorite part for years, has been the mentioning that after Elizabeth is wed to Darcy her father makes frequent visits. I don't know why that would always make me so particularly happy; it's quite possibly because I have a soft spot for the father.

It is truly amazing how different a book can look to someone after a couple of years and the difference of conditions from how the person is reading it. This is a timeless book which even in this day people can relate to and understand. There is the pushy obnoxious mother looking to marry off her daughters, the quiet observant father who knows best, and almost every type of female 'character' within the five daughters. A studious one, a follower, a boy crazy one, a caring one, and of course the head strong one. You can find these type of characters in todays society without having to look hard and for that I feel is the reason this book has lasted as such a popular piece for so long.

I'm impatient to continue reading my other Jane Austin books!
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Capture the Castle


While visiting my Aunt in Maryland two weeks ago, she decided to raid her bookshelves and collect an assortment of books that I should consider reading as we flew to Florida the following day. In the mind of my Aunt, most of her children, and myself- you can never go somewhere without reading material. So amongst the pile of books I found one that seemed to be a relatively easy read but something I had not seen before.

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, was a complete discovery on my part. The childhood memories of the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians never involved the fact that it was originally a written book. Sure enough this Dodie Smith had written it. I figured, if J.K. Rowling is praising the book on the front cover and the author also created the fun story The Hundred and One Dalmatians, then the book must be so much more than a relatively easy read. I quickly found a suitable bookmark and brought it to bed with me that night to read. I continued to read it the following morning in the airport and most of the two hour flight that followed. The book, however, was put down for the following three days. Not because I was bored, oh no, I wanted to keep reading it, I wanted to soak the words into my brain. It was simply that my large family, whom I rarely got to see, took over my life for those few days in Florida.

I resumed my reading on the flight back from Florida and continued to read it for the following few days while I had my house to myself. Once my Aunt came home with my mother to stay for a night I finished the book and happily presented it back to the rightful owner's hands. She smiled and asked me the best question that I could have possibly wanted her to ask, "So, what did you think of it? Did you like it?"

Yes. Yes, my fellow readers, I enjoyed it. The book is written for teenagers and children but it can also entertain the adult mind. The story follows seventeen-year-old Cassandra as she lives in a castle that is falling apart with her older sister, younger brother, father, stepmother, and a servant boy who is more part of the family than servant. Her father is an eccentric writer while her stepmother was a model in her past experiences.

She writes the book on the premise that it is all practice for speed writing and through these practices ends up telling an amusing story of the life in the castle and her adventures through poverty, and later, a rising income. There is also a large portion that is devoted to the pondering of what most seventeen year olds ponder about: love.

The book has a tendency to speak of somewhat serious subjects which leave you thinking, if I were Cassandra and living in that situation, how would I react? But every time Cassandra and her family reacts in a humorous way that leaves the book light and happy.

I found myself completely in love with the pets of the story. Creatures that do not have the capability of maintaining running dialogue, and yet, Smith was able to capture their characteristics. Even inanimate objects take on characteristics such as the mannequin Cassandra and her sister have in their bedroom. Whenever the two girls are pondering over something they'll ask the mannequin for advice and speak what they feel the advice should be in 'her voice'. In many ways that alone reminds me of my own childhood. I kept thinking during many of these scenes, "I can relate to this."

Cassandra, who is the narrator of the story, in my opinion, gets annoying at certain points. I would find myself disagreeing with her train of thought and wishing the story would change

course but alas the book is as stubborn as the narrator who tells it. Aside from all the humor there is one thing that Dodie Smith correctly presents: the maturing of an individual during a short period of time.

Mind you, she does all of this with a grace that can appeal to any age. My aunt would read this story to her children when they were younger and as they grew older they enjoyed reading it on their own. Even now that my Aunt is a grandmother she enjoys reading the book herself.

I feel it rare to find books that can appeal to a large group of ages but Dodie Smith accomplished this with a great amount of grace and skill. It makes me more interested in reading her other novels and seeing if all her books contain the same excitement and enjoyable structure.

I read this between fifty, eighty, and thirty degree weather over the course of five days. The book seemed to fit with any scenario, any location, and brought me to that little castle with the fog creeping up on it while two young girls lay in their bedroom speaking to a mannequin for advice. I suddenly was there listening with quick attention to what the mannequin would say in response.

I do intend to read this book again in the future and I also intend to read it to my own children.

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Ready, Set,

GO!

I've decided to break out into another blog so that I may record my personal reactions to novels. I figure, this will keep my writing strength up and also help my mind work through papers if ever I come across them again one day.

I currently work at a book store and as of late people have approached me searching for a number of books I have never read or never heard of. With this I'm finding a number of books I want to read in the future and it would be best to keep a log of memories for each book for the reason listed above and also to keep the memories fresh in my mind so that I may help customers. 
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