Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books Week: Harry Potter (series)

Harry Potter has been in the limelight for a number of reasons; reaching the top of the charts in sales, obsessive fans, great gatherings of people dressed up as wizards, movies based on the books which have made millions, children growing inspired to read after reading the books, the list goes on.

One of the reasons Harry Potter is known is because it has been frequently challenged to be banned for it's occult and satanic undertones... well, that's what they think. It was one of the top 10 most challenged books in 2003, 2002, and 2001. It's also listed at number 48 out of 100 of the top 100 most challenged books in 100 years.

I love Harry Potter. I love every single thing about it. I love the story of J.K. Rowling's life and how it was ultimately turned around due to her having a little bit of creativity. I love the stories themselves. I love that they showed me just how quickly I can read if I really set my mind to it. I love how I grew up along side the characters in the books. And I love that these books caused children to read and read and read.

As a child I was always scolded for reading too much. My mother wanted me to take breaks, rest my eyes, go outside and play or watch some tv, and GO TO BED and stop reading with a flashlight under the sheets. I tried to fool her for years. At first, I'd keep the light on and if I heard her coming I'd shut it off but she always caught the light going out from under my door. Then I tried to sit with a flashlight reading the books (we had one of those huge army lights) and she still saw the light under my door. Then I became clever, I got a tiny flashlight and hid under my blankets, but after years of reading when I should be asleep my mother checked on me anyway- discovering me hiding. So to me, I never understood how kids could 'hate' books. I didn't understand how they would find them 'boring'.

I think Harry Potter changed a lot of their minds. With those seven books children realized that reading can be fun and was worthwhile. Suddenly these kids who never picked up a book in their lives were flying through this series before I even picked up The Sorcerer's Stone. No one in no way was going to beat me out to be known as the book worm in school so I picked up the books too.

By that point I was 13 and the third book had been out for awhile. I devoured the first three then began to wait impatiently for the next and the next. And every time I got a hold of one of the Harry Potter books I would read them in a matter of hours. The final book came out the summer before my senior year of college. It was the end of the series and more or less the end of my childhood. That summer I moved out of my childhood home, the first move I ever made in my life, and it was my last summer vacation. Not only that, but I was saying goodbye to a cast of characters whom I had grown up with and felt as familiar with as I did with my friends.

To think of this classic being banned from schools and children being prevented to read about this magical world makes me sick.

I'm sorry if I got this wrong... but aren't the witch trials over? Aren't we done with inquisitions and pointing our fingers screaming 'witch!'? I might be totally wrong... but doesn't banning books kind of remind anyone of the witch trials? "You are evil and wrong and we don't like you. You cause harm and people think bad things. You make little children believe in evil things! You make them READ! How dare you Harry Potter! Take your sorcery and go away!" Because a books content isn't exactly what we agree with we show a form of printed racism towards it? We punish the book? Because these books have witch craft in them and an evil bad guy they will corrupt our children?

I feel that the books, in many ways, can be comparable to other works of literature and even scripture. If we take this from a religious standpoint is there not mere mortals who are set up against evil things (Satan, devils, whatever). Aren't they set up and tempted to turn away from good and yet... they have to make the ultimate sacrifice or decision? Just about every book, every story, every piece of HISTORY has this type of theme. There is evil and there are people who are just trying to surpass it. They're trying to get by on what means they have and live by their morals.

So the characters in Harry Potter fly on brooms and wave wands. So what? It's a book. It's magic and creativity all at your finger tips. It's a chance to escape into this other world and grow and learn with these characters who aren't much different then yourself.

I adore these books and I feel they have no way to harm anyone. If you want to be picky, I feel that real life news events and newspapers have a lot more reading material who could be potentially harmful. These books get kids to read. They get them to open new doors and experience new things. J.K. Rowling has a great vocabulary so not only are these kids learning that reading is fun but they're learning a whole new way to speak too. I love these books, absolutely and positively. These are another group of books where I feel- if I ever have children- I'll read the books to them. I cherish my seven hard cover copies of the books. They sit in order on my book shelf with all of the other random Harry Potter related books. I've seen every one of the movies and stood anxiously on line during opening night. I cheer on J.K. Rowling for continuing the series despite so many cries of 'evil' and 'satanic happenings'. A lot of the accusations could shake a person, but you stood strong and kicked butt in the process.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Authors tweet about book bannings and burnings

I caught this on twitter awhile ago and found Neil Gaiman and Laurell K Hamilton's dialogue somewhat amusing.

neilhimself: Blog entry up: On banning books and escaping from the attic...: posted by Neil Another not-quite-..

LKHamilton: @neilhimself To my knowledge I've had my books burned 1nce never banned. Am I doing something right, or wrong?

LKHamilton: @neilhimself My books were burned along with J. K. Rowling's & Tolkien 's books. Good company, I thought. :)

neilhimself: @LKHamilton great company. I think you're doing something right. I've been writing BURN THIS BOOK in Good Omens for years, but they never do

LKHamilton: @neilhimself you work at getting your books burned & I'll work on getting banned. We're only as good as our goals.

RT you have to dream @LKHamilton: you work at getting your books burned & I'll work on getting banned. We're only as good as our goals.

Banned Books Week: His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials was listed as number 2 out of the top 10 most frequently challenged books in the year 2008.

When The Golden Compass trailers began to circulate on the web in early 2007 I was immediately interested by the concept. A) It was based on a book, B) the trailer looked good, C) Nicole Kidman was in it and I LOVE her.

So I figured I'd pick up the book and give it a try. It was then that I realized The Golden Compass is only the first book in the trilogy entitled His Dark Materials. After which are followed by The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. I bought the book that had all three tales in it and read it in the month of January 2008.

I was shocked to see that the books were said to be for children. Really and truly shocked. As I read each page I was taken back by the tough language that was given and the even tougher adult issues at hand. Yes, the books point of view follows a girl at the brink of puberty and there is a child-like quality to her viewpoint but the underlying issues that are in the book are so thought provoking and adult that I feel any child that might read the book will totally miss out.

Yes, as a child one could probably read it. A child who has a lot of patience and attention to finish out the lengthy series (although that didn't stop kids from reading Harry Potter!). But the themes of religion and state and the downfall of humans are interesting to read and see but placed just so that, I feel, a child would not immediately understand the issues and ideas Pullman was raising.

The book has talking polar bears who wear armor and beautiful witches who fly. Your soul is not in your body like it is (if you believe in such) in our universe but outside of your body and taking the form of an animal. As a child your not quite the person you're destined to become so the soul (called a daemon in the books) is capable of changing into any animal depending on your mood. But once you hit puberty (which many cultures considers to be the point where you become a man or woman) the daemon settles on an animal most fitting for the person you are and remains that way until you die (and the daemon flickers out). The daemon is a creature that is your lifelong friend, a companion and confidant, and much like the belief of the soul inside a person it's not a good thing to have body and soul parted.

The way Pullman wrote of the daemons I kind of wished I had one. Well, I do, I believe people have souls and I believe I have one also. But I wish they were on the outside of our bodies in the form of an animal which I could confide in and have no one hear what I was telling it. A best friend always beside me.

As much as the series is magical and breathtaking it also is dark and grim with characters who are strong and frightening and subject manners worth pause.

The book has been in trouble for it's political and religious viewpoints and also due to it's violence. I always tsk tsk this type of situation where people dislike something simply because it goes against their religious and political views. Just because you don't believe in it doesn't mean someone else agrees. I felt that the book raised the idea of what are we doing to this earth exactly? What harm are we causing it? Of course, the book is in a parallel universe to our own so it's a hair different but the idea is the same. And also, how much control does the church have with the state? How much do religious beliefs become influenced by science? We live in a nation where we try to keep religion separate from government but not always does that separation really hold true.

It's the type of trilogy to get some people nervous. All of these things to consider and you don't want to believe it, don't want to think it might be true. Or you might be offended that someone might even think of that. Blasphemy to say it. Just spit on the ground to banish the bad luck which developed from his negative words and ideas.

In that sense, the fact that this trilogy has such thought put into it and can make so many people angered or smile in agreement, I think it's fantastic. The main characters name is Lyria and I've even considered that if I ever have a little girl her first or middle name might be just that.

I hope this book is never banished off the face of the earth. If we continue to honor the idea of free speech then I think it never will.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books Week: The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy

The first book (out of three) is listed at 55 out of 100 on the American Library Association's top 100 books that are most challenged.

Written by Anne Rice (author of the greats like Interview with the Vampire and The Witching Hour) under the pseudonym of A. N. Roquelaure this series of three books (The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Punishment, and Beauty's Release) are a set of erotic novels loosely based on the legend of Sleeping Beauty.

Now I can immediately see why people would want this book banned, although I feel that no books should ever be banned, because they dive into an assortment of subjects that most people don't necessarily talk about with... well... anyone. I think this is a matter of picking what you chose to read and ignoring all other subjects. If this is something that might make you uncomfortable, ignore it, but other then that this is freedom of speech and the press so I still stand beside my opinion that no books should be banned.

Moving along!

The series have imagery of bisexuality, bestiality, ephebophilia, and graphic sex scene after graphic sex scene they are not books for the weak at heart.

I've read all three books and although they are not exactly my idea of a 'fun' or 'entertaining' read I will never step aside from saying that Anne Rice is a fantastic writer. She describes scenes and people beautifully and can truly bring a moment in her books into your very life so that you feel you are there being a part of the scene.

With these books I even felt a little uncomfortable feeling so 'included' in the scenes. They aren't books I'll probably ever read again simply because they are not books of my taste. Looking at the books in a sense of word choice, grammar, scene description- it's a great book. Then on the other hand, looking at the books based on subject matter, they aren't books I'm comfortable with.

These are certainly books that you have to begin reading with a very open mind. There are no barriers within the Sleeping Beauty world and everything that could be seen as shock worthy is displayed with no effort.

Seeing that this blog is public and any person of any age can stumble upon it, do understand why I am not diving into the exact details of what goes on in the stories. In this way I am falling into censorship myself. But I feel there is a difference between removing access to a book completely and choosing to talk or not to talk about what a book contains. It's kind of like religion and politics, no one is saying to believe in religion or support politics but actually discussing it can be a dangerous idea due to people's strong opinions and emotions. Let the books be available, let people read them, I wouldn't put this book anywhere other then an adult fiction section (Or a section labeled for erotica and/or sex). But, all I can say is if anyone is interested or curious, look up your information on the series and decide on your own if it's something you would enjoy reading!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Banned Books Week: The Witches

The Witches are listed as 22 out of the 100 books that are most challenged according to the American Library Association website.

The Witches by Roald Dahl was one of my favorite childhood books. I can still recall to you the exact location where the book was in my elementary school library because I would take it out over and over again. I also watched the movie religiously and then times changed and I grew out of it all, became interested in other things. It wasn't until college that I found the DVD of Witches and watched it with all of my friends. It surprised me how utterly creepy all of the witches were. How could I have not been scared off by the concept as a kid? But it was all magic to me. The book sucked me in, as a kid, and the words and the imagery were inviting and fantastic.

Here are some of the 'opinions' of people who wanted the book banned:
  • witchcraft, of course
  • devaluing the life of children
  • making the distinction between some of the witches and 'nice' people were very shady

The witches are evil creatures who are disguised as women and have the intention of ridding the world of children. To them, children give off a horrible scent and with their magic poison of sorts change children into mice.

The narrator of the book, a boy, lives with his grandmother who warns him of the witches and instructs him of ways to see the difference from an ordinary woman to that of a witch. While visiting a hotel in England where a convention happens to be occurring for a group of witches. A series of unfortunate events occurs and the narrator finds himself changed into a mouse and within the clutches of the witches.

Now it's up to the boy, in his mouse form, and his elderly grandmother to try and stop the witches from continuing their pursuit of ridding children from the world and it all has to begin at the very hotel where they are staying. With the very witches that already had their powers at work.

Like I said, I loved the book as a child. I thought that the witches were creepy but for whatever reason I just could not get enough of this book. I felt that way for a lot of Roald Dahl's books. It's something fun and entertaining, something exciting and quick paced. It's a good childrens book, banned or not, and something I'll introduce to my children (if they're interested).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Banned Books Week: To Kill a Mockingbird

I'm reposting this entry I wrote awhile back because To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most challenged books out of 100 on the banned books list. I was incredibly lucky... I went to a school district where we stood tall and proud during the Banned Books Week with all of the Banned Books (that the school had available) on display in the school libraries. We read a lot of nitty gritty books that we really weren't allowed to read and I thank my English teachers each time I reflect over these great books. Without them, I might not have had the chance to read these books. I love this book now and forever. I'm so glad to own a copy of it and urge everyone who is looking to read a classic to pick this book up.

The book is listed at number 40 on the American Library Associations 100 most frequently challenged book list. It has been banned from schools because of the themes of racism, cursing, and rape that are brought fourth and broadcasted in the book.
This novel I read when I was in High School. I recall all the assignments we used to receive in high school and how uninterested I was in each and every one of them. To be forced to read books that are predetermined by other people was like pulling teeth for me. I want to find a book and read it because of my own interest- not because someone else thinks I should. Even if the book was a decent read I would end up despising it and dragging my way through each chapter with very little interest. A number of these books I've begun to reread on my own since I've left school and to my surprise I've enjoyed them.

To Kill a Mockingbird is not one of these books... because I enjoyed it the very first time I read it in High School. After I graduated I found a copy of the book- with the same cover as the one I read in High School- on sale so I picked it up. I read the book and loved each moment of it.

Rereading it brought me back to hazy summer days and the scent of the south that I've experienced in past travels. The prejudices against African Americans is of course incredibly prominent in the book but there are also the more subtle prejudices in the book directed towards different social classes and women.

In the that particular time period this was common and sometimes it's easy to forget what life was like 80 years ago. How are we to remember when we did not live it ourselves?

But in many ways the prejudices still exist. There are still some people who look down their noses at black people, women, or people of a lower class. Many things have changed, such as schools and the way life was generally lived, but at times that old thought process is still evident in the world in large frightening very vibrant ways.

Sometimes, Boo Radley had the right idea in mind. To hide away from the world and all of the scary things it involves.

Your Public Service Announcement

Just to kick off the week. =)

Entries will follow each day for a banned book, so keep reading and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day!

I personally suck at punctuation. Apologies to all. But here is some fun from the National Punctuation Day website!

A celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotes, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Glass Castle

I was absolutely and positively blank after reading this book. The entire time I was reading it I would pause after each chapter and stare off with my jaw hanging open in complete shock.

This startling memoir starts from Jeannette Walls early childhood and follows her to the present day and each and every moment of her life is an adventure (as her mother likes to have it). A good adventure, I'm not so sure. One that helped build incredibly strong individuals (Jeannette Walls and her siblings)? Most definitely.

This haunting story left me so shocked because it's all true. It's a sad story, heartbreaking, and frightening in some ways. The book is as much of Jeannette Walls memoir as it is her parents. Her father who is an insanely intelligent, loving father but immediately turns into a beast when he hits the bottle (which is most of the time). Destroying precious moments and doing off the wall and dangerous things, fighting with his wife, screaming in churches, the list goes on and on. Jeannette's mother was an artistic free spirit of sorts, loving adventure and picking up to go whenever the mood struck, and had little care of truly mothering her children.

Both parents seem unsuitable to have children and yet four children they had. The children mothered one another and took care of each other much better then their own parents did. Foraging for food through dumpsters and local farms since their parents spent the last of their cash on booze and art supplies. Creating elaborate ways to keep themselves looking presentable and clothed (such as using a marker on her skin so that people wouldn't see the skin peeking through the holes in her jeans, Jeannette Walls should have a medal for being so creative, even creating her own 'braces' for her crooked teeth).

Sleeping in the desert, hopping from place to place and doing the 'skedaddle' whenever the bill collectors came calling, moving into their dead grandmothers house which is large and glamorous and then letting it fall to pieces around them all, and then taking a broken down car all the way to the east coast from the west.

The children were beaten up and abused by classmates for their otherworldly- strange appearances and incredible level of poverty.

From the very first pages you know Jeannette Walls has succeeded in life. You can see her on MSNBC and she lives in both Virginia and New York City. But, her parents are destitutes living on the streets of NYC while their children prosper. It's not as if the children ran off to make their lives better and ignored their parents existence. They tried to help their parents but their parents refused all forms of help. They wanted to be homeless. They wanted that life. It gave them their much needed sense of 'adventure'.

This book is captivating and mind boggling. As sad as it is empowering. I feel that if anyone were to ever say "I can't do it" I should wave this book in their face. Here are a group of children who were incredibly poor and they worked to set their lives right. Two of Jeannette's siblings and she herself made names for themselves and now live comfortably.

There is no question as to why this book remained on The New York Times bestsellers list for over a year and has received numerous awards. I had this book on loan, but now I intend to buy it, and I intend on reading it over and over.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Banned Book Week 2009

Banned Book Week is here again! Starting this Saturday, September 26th through October 3rd celebrate the freedom to read by picking up a banned book. Here's a quick note from the Banned Book week website about this exciting time:

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. Click here to see a map of book bans and challenges in the US from 2007 to 2009. People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups--or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore the latest problems to classic and beloved works of American literature.

In honor of Banned Book Week I'll be writing up opinionated entries of some of the Banned Books I have read for each day of the week. Here is a website and another with a list of books which have been banned in the past. Have you read any of the books? Did you know that some of them were banned and others were not? Check it out and remember to read some banned books next week!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Great Debate: Amazon Kindle vs. Real Books?

Amazon's kindle prides itself to be 'revolutionary' and the 'future' of book reading. It can hold over two hundred books and you can buy books for your kindle at prices as low as $9.99. A little bit of it's description goes as follows, straight from Amazon itself:

Three years ago, we set out to design and build an entirely new class of device—a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. The result is Amazon Kindle.

We designed Kindle to provide an exceptional reading experience. Thanks to electronic paper, a revolutionary new display technology, reading Kindle’s screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper—and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen. Kindle is also easy on the fingertips. It never becomes hot and is designed for ambidextrous use so both "lefties" and "righties" can read comfortably at any angle for long periods of time.

I only know of about two people who have a Kindle. That being out of the hundreds of friends I have (and that's not being sarcastic. Welcome to the graces of facebook). The two people who have the Kindle are not big book readers. They read occasionally but would never considering themselves, or be called, book worms. All of my friends who are big book worms don't own this and don't seem like they will any time soon.

And that brings me to the debate. While working at a bookstore I am constantly approached by customers with the question, are you interested in the Kindle and would you ever buy it? What do you think of it? And the question is constantly being asked amongst the booksellers themselves. Bookseller to bookseller, do you want the Kindle? Would you use it?

Here is my opinion of it:
I wouldn't use it. Really, it's all that simple. It does sound like a glorious design and I'd think that for busy business men who travel a lot it will be nice for them to quickly download a book as they're boarding a plane and read it during their flight. But for the rest of us? What is the point? The technology will be outdated in a year or so. I mean, already they have a new and improved version of the Kindle. So if I were to go buy one who is to say that it will still be around and usable in twenty years?

Books don't become outdated. I apologize but they do not. They will always be those paper bound objects that you can pick up, bend around, and read wherever you please. Those beautiful items that you stack on shelves so that when people walk into your home they go, wow, you've read all of those? I can pick up a book, throw a book, drop a book, and it won't get damaged. It won't break. I'm sure if you were to drop the oh so amazing kindle while walking down stairs something would break. But books seem a little tougher then that.

And both books and the Kindle, I am sure, would not fair well if being dropped into a tub of water. I think that's one subject where they are both equal.

So what do I think of the Kindle? I think it's appropriate for some people and would be worth the expense. But I like my hardcovered, mass market, paperback books just fine. I like having towering bookshelves that I can decorate with photo frames and the books I read. I've read over 500 books in my life and I own just about every single one that I've read. The Kindle only holds 200 books... that's not even half of the collection I have.

What's your stance on the Kindle vs Real Books debate? Do any of you own it and if so what are your thoughts between the old and the new? If you don't own it, do you intend to in the future?

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Vampire Diaries: The Return- Nightfall

First off, thanks for all the well wishes and everything for me and my new job. Working at the bookstore is fantastic although I'm already having anxiety at the idea of Christmas! But it's fun, wonderful, and quickly becoming a 'favorite job ever' job. :)

Because of work I was able to grab The Vampire Diaries newest installment The Return: Nightfall. I am assuming that TVD's are going to have a new sub series of "The Return" because as I ended the book, with it's nice little cliff hanger, it said that there will be another book coming out February 2010, Shadow Souls.

I didn't quite like this book as much as the previous ones. I feel as if the book The Fury could have been a good end to the series but since the following book, Dark Reunion, brought all of the characters to the forefront again it might as well just keep going. And this book, certainly, left room for more to read since it ended with all of the characters going in different directions.

Half of the book had no Stefan. This made me sad because I enjoy his character. Damon, instead, was all over the book and half of the time he was possessed and a general jerk. Some scenes were even borderline uncomfortable for me with the way Damon was acting.

I give props to LJ Smith for including such a creative idea of 'fox spirits' and their general power and control. It's definitely a twist that most vampire literature today does not include. Generally it's creepy ghosts and angry vampires with a few grumbly werewolves thrown in but this was a whole new spin on the supernatural.

The start of the book was kind of... tiring? Elena, oh the princess, the high and mighty, the one everyone loves. All right. Let's get this straight. I lived in a small town. There was no one in our town who was as 'loved' as Elena. No one who was as obsessed over. The lengths LJ Smith goes to make Elena seem so beloved and then so special is kind of boring. I enjoy Elena better when she's more focused on herself and her friends and not how everyone loves her and can't resist her. The fact that the start of the book she's more or less an 'angel' makes this annoyance of mine grow even more. Really, no one can be either that lucky or that perfect. Anyway, moving along.

I really grew to like the character Bonnie in this book and I always enjoy Meredith. I grew torn between relationships though. Bonnie seems so cute with Matt (or Mutt as Damon likes to call him, I do have to say I was laughing at the ongoing jokes Damon was having with remembering Matt's name) and I almost want Bonnie and Matt to get together. But then Damon, clever and sly Damon, sees that Bonnie is hurt and rushes to her rescue. He becomes this soft being with actual feelings and it's great to see that change in such a tough character. So then I'm left thinking, well Damon and Bonnie should be together. And yet all along Bonnie feels like no one loves her!

But really. I felt like taking a picture of my cat with his head buried in the book (sleeping, of course) and writing a lolcat caption of NEEDS MOAR STEFAN!1! because I really wanted more of his character. I also would appreciate if Elena was a vampire again.

As mentioned previously, the book leaves you hanging. So of course I'll be reading the new installment when it comes out in five months.



This was the 60th story/book I've read this year.

Alas, my Edgar Allen Poe of the year. I'll probably go read another short story of his before the fall is out, maybe two. I have to keep up with my goal to read everything he's ever written/had published. But what better way to start out this goal with Metzengerstein? This was, after all, Poe's first short story to see print. The first publication let out to the masses. I wonder if he knew at that moment he would live on for years and years after his death as a literary celebrity.

What I enjoy about Poe is that his writing is so modern. Nearly two hundred years ago he had this story printed and yet when I read it I felt as if it could be easily made into a film. That Poe was giving directions and setting up the scene while giving a brief back story to satisfy the masses.

Poe doesn't go into specifics but his story could be translated to display the belief of metempsychosis, which is the belief that the soul of a living person is transferred into another living thing. The story involves a horse that appears after the Berlifizing home catches on fire. The leading character of the story, a young man who is the Baron of the Metzengerstein home, had a long rival with Berlifizing and when the horse is said to not have come from the neighbor the boy adopts the horse and tries to break the fiery animal in.

In many ways it appears the boy becomes obsessed with the horse, disappearing for long times and then showing up unannounced. But it isn't until his own home catches flames that the horse (with the boy riding) appears and runs directly into the flames- killing the boy.

Was the horse the soul of the neighbor Berlifizing? Did he finally beat out the Metzengersteins by possessing this horse and making it's rider obsess with it until he threw the rider into the flames of his own home?

A very short story yet very creepy, Metzengerstein will surely give you a quiver.


Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th, 2001- You are in my heart

I think the day will forever be etched in my memory. I lived in New York when this occurred. I was only in 10th grade. Yet I can recall every frightening moment. I'm sure most people can. We weren't in the city, 100 miles away, but close enough that many people in my school were left crying in the halls because they knew they had family in the Twin Towers.

I too was crying because my cousin was in Manhattan and I didn't know where. As a student body we sat in the auditorium, watching the live TV footage, and we saw the towers collapsing- live- and everyone screamed and gasped. My cousin could be under there. All of those people dying. Seeing people like you and me jumping from the windows of the building. Hearing the sirens and seeing the cloud dust as people ran.

We lost cable and radio that day for nearly a week. We had no access to the outside world aside from a PBS station that was located in Pennsylvania. All of our satellite dishes providing tv and radio were on top of the Twin Towers and when they went down, so did the radio and tv. We were in the no fly zone and had military made themselves known because we had the reservoirs in our area for NYC. There were fears that they, the curious unknowning they, would bomb the reservoirs and therefore drown out the majority of mid-state New York and cause mass havoc in NYC by cutting all drinking water from them.

In the evening... the sun would turn a rusty orange and the moon would be red. All from the dust, dirt, and bits of rubble that were in the air from the fallen buildings. There was a strong southern wind for a few days and we could smell this burnt metal scent in the air.

We were scared, we were frightened, we learned to be closer to our families because god forbid there was always that chance that they might not be there the next day.

It's a horrifying memory that will always be etched out in my mind. I'll always remember how I screamed and ducked after hearing a fighter plane fly over our house, shaking the dishes in our cabinets and rumbling the floor, after a week of having not a single plane fly over. I remember when we got tv back and the news casters I always turned to for information were crying on the air. I remember my friends stories. I remember the cries of fellow classmates as bad news came in. I remember calling my mother and crying into the phone, "Is Liana alive?" It was the only way I could form my desperation. She didn't even know the attacks had happened. During the course of it all she was painting a room.

I'm lucky and thankful. No one in my family nor anyone I know directly were injured or killed in the attacks. But I know of many people who did lose loved ones. And then there are the scores of people I do not know who suffered, but their pain is still real and something I wish they never had to experience.

Eight years have passed and I still feel that my skyline is missing a vital part to it's picture. The Twin Towers, the people lost, the people lost in DC and Pennsylvania, will never be forgotten. At least not by me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's that time of year again!

Like my Gollum expression? Yeah. I use it when I'm obsessively excited about something. Kinda like Gollum with fish.

During the fall I tend to read two things. A play by Shakespeare and something by Poe. I think it's the whole season and my urge to feel 'educated' because I miss school. I already read a Shakespeare play a week (or two?) ago but now it's onto Poe. I have read a piece of fiction of him here or there through classes in High School but I can't even begin to tell you which stories they were.

So I'm starting right off from the start with the first piece of fiction and moving straight through. We'll see how it goes!

A Note to Vampire Diaries Fans:
The show came out today and I'm sure the episode will be available on the CW's website shortly. So for those of you who have read the books and seen the first episode. What do you think? What are your opinions of it? Keep in mind that they are taking a structured book and trying to extend it to an entire seasons worth of shows. You simply have to come up with some type of sub plots to make that work. I was personally very impressed by it and will probably continue watching it. Is this a cry for brainless entertainment? Maybe. Is it my way of replacing the lack of True Blood in my life? Maybe. But what are your opinions of it?

Book Bloggers:
If you have a book blog and would like me to add a link to your site on one of the side bars (to the left or right of this entry) let me know! I was intending on just throwing them all up there but I feel like that will be very cluttered and busy. Especially since some of the blogs I follow don't have an inkling as to who I am. So those of you who read this, got a book blog? Do I not know about it? Whether I know about it or not let me know if you'd like me to feature a link. I'm all for supporting fellow book blogs. :-)

Okay, I have work for the next four days so I'll be back either on sanity breaks or Tuesday. Have a great weekend everyone!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Barbara Kingsolver lived in Arizona with her husband and two children. Existing in an area that isn't exactly known for plentiful growth and greens and is more easily pictured as a hot desert by outsiders. Kingsolver and her family decided to leave this hot, dry world behind and move to Virginia where they could keep their own gardens and be closer to family.

That's the pretext of the book: keeping a garden, keeping crops. It's the families goal to live off of the earth, the local earth that is, for one year. Therefore depending on the foods they grow and what they can buy from local farmers. If they can't access any of those items then it means they go without. Mind you, this is in Virginia, where they still get winters and the majority of crops are not coming up.

I enjoy books that surround food and upon seeing this book I thought it would appease my craving. However, when I began to read it I hesitated. The language is strong and each page is filled with information about processed foods versus organic culture, farming, and other related things. It reminded me of some type of instructional book that I would have had to read for college.

But I can't say that it was not informative. For years I have toyed with the notion of going organic. Removing the processed food chemicals and unhappy cows/chicken meat out of my life. This book only convinced me further that I should give it a try.

I'm lucky to live in an area where each week I drive over to the farm and pick up a dozen fresh eggs for 99 cents. Some still have feathers attached! I'm even more lucky to drive over to the local farms fruit stands and pick an assortment of fruits that were just picked from the vines and ready to be eaten. To have my choosing of fresh vegetables that seem just better then store bought products.

The book also points out a lot of eye opening issues. Such as, with our eating habits this generation will be the first where parents out live their children. That we produce enough food in the world to make every person over-weight (therefore eliminating world hunger) but it's more so a matter of who can afford food and not so much whether they have it or not. You can get an idea of the basis that buying food locally is better then from store packaged (and shipped) foods from this quote alone:
If you find yourself eating a watermelon in April, you can count back three months and imagine a place warm enough in January for this plant to have launched its destiny. Mexico maybe, or southern California. Chile is also a possibility. If you're inclined to think this way, consider what it took to transport a finicky fruit the size of a human toddler to your door, from that locale.

The book also includes a list of recipes. Some are all made from vegetarian products and others involve meat. I really feel that there is a great selection of products for all types of 'eaters'. I even followed the recipe for spinach lasagne and made that the other day for meals at work. Granted all of my products weren't local but I'll work on that.

I suggest people to read this book if...
  • you have an interest in food
  • you have an interest in cooking
  • you like the facts on America and food, rather then the politically correct version
  • you want to learn more about organic living
  • you love fruits and vegetables
  • you want to see if this family can do it
You can get access to some of the recipes without even purchasing the book on the website Animal, Vegetable, Miracle but I suggest you read the book either way. It was a really decent read and I truly enjoyed it. I felt as I read it that I was learning and understanding so much more about what I use to nourish myself. And really, food should be thought of a little bit more then it is, because if we were without it we would cease to exist. It's an important item in our lives so why not learn more about it and ultimately appreciate it more?

Due to the blight and very rainy summer my poor vegetable garden didn't fair very well. But the book (and my own stubborn determination) is helping to convince me that next year I'll try again and I'll enjoy the veggies I love to grow so much maybe a little more this time around.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This is of great importance...

In March, a mere six months ago, I asked all of you to please keep my dear friends Jenni and Nick in your thoughts and prayers as they deployed to Iraq. Busy Bee Lauren was nice enough to include this request on her blog too. I was incredibly nervous for them both with my heart in my throat and tears coming out of my eyes as they deployed.

I mailed numerous care packages (one including all of the Twilight Series books and some of the Sookie Stackhouse books!). I had the chance to speak to Jenni on video chat and Nick through email. Days and days passed by and not once did I stop having a tiny worry in the back of my head, hoping they both come home safe.

Today something very special happened...

Jenni and I saw each other for the first time in three years. She made it back to her station from Iraq a few weeks ago and landed in America to go on leave last week. Driving home she stopped at my house to see me and we ran at each other and hugged for so long. That's three years and a war deployment worth of hugs.

She even brought me a tiny rug and jewelry box from Iraq. Now how cool is that?

So thank you so very much to you, my readers, who kept her in your thoughts and prayers during the 6 months that she was deployed. Nick is still in Iraq, so don't forget about him. But I really do think that this is a great display of positive thought. Jenni, one of my best friends, is home and safe. Thank you all so much.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Comedy of Errors + two personal notes

1. Happy September everyone!
I know a lot of the High Schools in my area started school last week and that my old High School in New York doesn't start until next. But despite that, there are an even greater number of people who started classes this week. Well... no matter when you start classes, whether they be for High School or college, good luck! I miss school so much!!!

2. The Comedy of Errors
This pertains to part of my goal of reading all of Shakespeares plays. I own one of those massive books that hurt your arms to carry because they contain all of Shakespeare's work so every fall I try to read one or two plays. I decided to start off from the very beginning of the book and this was the first play.

The Comedy of Errors is the only Comedy by Shakespeare that has 'comedy' in the title. The play itself is, I feel, short and it's a small cast but makes for all the quicker of a read. Well, almost. The play is full of twins! Two sets, actually. And that's where the comedy of errors occurs, one twin owns a slave whose a twin to another slave owned by the other twin. Got that? If not, that's okay! As you have probably already figured out there is a lot of confusion as to who is who and men running after women plus the threat of execution, well, maybe. Unfortunately I have never, in my life, seen a Shakespeare play performed. Read his work, seen the films, but never have I actually seen a performance of any of his plays. I hope one day I can and I would think that this play would be actually very funny to see performed!

If you're testing your feet with Shakespeare and want something short and sweet and to the point then I direct you to this. I enjoyed it!

3. Hiatus...?
I am waiting on word of when my training for my job will begin. It should begin this week or next so if I happen to disappear for a number of days don't stop following me or worry! I'm just trying to prepare for my post-new-job days.

Where I'll be working is 45 minutes away in one of the 'cities' of this area. All in all it equals out to an hour and a half commute- total- each day I go to work. The stress of driving my car (which narrowly avoided killing a mother and baby deer today, scariest moment for me in months) is kind of high because at the moment the car is in the shop having yet another issue fixed. Yes, after the near deer massacre my car decided to overheat, three times, steam and die on my drive home from picking up stuff today. It turns out some hose in the engine decided to disconnect entirely. Good times.

Anyway, enough on my car, I just know that the new schedule and commute will probably throw me for a loop and I'll have very little reading time at first. But let me tell you, when I get back and am in the full swing of reading mode this blog will surely burst!

Did I mention my new job is that of a book seller? Yes, that's right. That means I'll be able to get my hands on just released books more often to comment on for your future reading pleasure!

So have a great start to September boys and girls! Happy reading, good luck with school (or work, or whatever you might do) and I shall see you around!