Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Le Morte D'Avalon

Every time I write about a book that's based on Arthurian legend I prelude it by saying how much I love Arthurian legend and Morgan le Fay and there it is again and now you know. Let's continue with me explaining that my love extends to Tudor history and I adore dressing up and going to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival each year (see photo down below). In September I went with a friend and both being literary sorts we stumbled upon the "church" that doubles as a bookstore. While looking about I thought, "oh my goodness, maybe there are some Morgan le Fay books here that I haven't come across yet." So I went hunting for one and sure enough found this. I was, of course, excited. So with book in hand, I scampered off to enjoy the joust and once I got home began reading this tale.

Apparently Le Morte D'Avalon is the third book in a trilogy but once I cracked the book open I didn't find myself lost or confused. This is a book that doesn't need to be read in order to the other books (which feature other Arthurian characters). It certainly reminded me a lot of I Am Morgan le Fay, specifically the beginning of the novel with Morgan's childhood and the running near the cliffs and the discovery of her father's death. The story was interesting and didn't feel too long or short: you had your time with Morgan and experienced her life fully. For me, that's key. I love the character and rarely want to part from her so for me to feel that my desires were fulfilled is rare. That's probably why I am constantly looking for more Morgan le Fay themed books. 

I enjoy the play of words with the title. For those not in the know, Le Morte d'Arthur is probably the best known (and super old, try about 600 years old) collection of Arthurian legend known today. In many ways, Sir Thomas Malory, the author of Le Morte d'Arthur, is the father of Arthurian legend. So to play the the title based on one of the original collections of stories gave me a sense of delight that I suspect other Arthurian lovers would enjoy. (J. Robert King, author of Le Morte D'Avalon uses this play with words for his other two Arthurian books as well).

There is a lot of reference to gods and goddesses plus the Christian faith as most Arthurian legend involving Morgan le Fay seems to do. Morgan le Fay is breaking the mold as a sorceress or, in this case, a goddess in the making. Much of Arthurian legend brings to focus the appearance and eventual spread of the Christian faith in a land where more "barbaric" beliefs once reigned. At times I found it a little overwhelming and tiring to read on and on about Morgan being the "Next Eve" as King describes her. All of the various goddesses went a bit above my head as I admit that my knowledge of mythology is certainly spotty and merely focuses on a few central and random gods and goddesses. So I feel that many of the references and powers of different characters were lost on me due to that. 

One issue that I found with the book which was consistent from cover to cover was that the dialogue was far too modern for my liking. Modern day phrases were often used when most tales from the Arthurian day and age was much more beautiful and poetic and certainly not shortened down to words like "won't," "I'll," and "all right." Midway through the book I was deep enough into the story and the world that King had created to ignore the modern day language but still, it's a bother and probably most consistent issue with the book. 

While I still prefer The Mists of Avalon and I Am Morgan le Fay for my favorite Morgan le Fay reads, Le Morte D'Avalon wasn't half bad and I am certainly holding onto the book (which, in my mind, is the ultimate test. If I get rid of your book that means I have no intention of reading it again in the future). I would suggest it to anyone who enjoys this character but reader be warned: the use of modern language was a bother to me but that is besides the point when it comes down to the fact that there are some scenes which may make a reader uncomfortable, mainly being a gang rape which, despite that I am willing to read just about anything, even left me feeling quite uncomfortable. Still, pretty things do not always happen in books so I let it be but I realize it can be a little too vivid for some readers. Otherwise, I adored Morgan, her strength, her stubbornness, and her attachment to the children she had plus the writer's detail to such womanly events as having children. 

Until next time, I leave you with this photo of me. Not exactly the time of Arthur Pendragon but still a good time nonetheless!
Your cheerful blogger at the PA Ren Faire

Monday, November 19, 2012

Musing Mondays - November 19th



Hosted by Should Be Reading, this week's musing asks...
Do you read the ending before you start a book? Do you ever skip ahead to read the ending?
My Answer:
I would never tell someone to read the end of a book. That is a decision to be made by the reader themselves and people are awfully opinionated about such things. For me, if I feel like it, I will sometimes allow myself to read the very last sentence of a book. This has bit me in the butt all of once when it ruined the ending for me and I don't do it quite as often as I used to but that last sentence, I feel, is essential and holds a lot of importance in a book. At times if I am reading a book I really dislike or can't seem to get myself to stick with it I'll skip to the end and read the final chapter with hopes that everything is wrapped up in it and I can put the book down and feel satisfied that I "knew what happened." But even this only happens on the rarest of occasions  If I dislike a book that much I am more likely to shelf it rather than try and read that ending. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - November 15th


Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks questions are: 
What’s your favorite place to read? Do you have more than one? Can you read anywhere, or do you need things to be “just right?” Bonus points for sharing a photo of your favorite spot. (grin)

My Answer:
If I want to read for a long period of time -- really get into a book and devour it as much as possible -- I have to be at one of my reading spots. Typically it's somewhere quiet and away from others, also known as my bedroom. Back at my parents house I have a "reading chair" which I unfortunately couldn't take on my move. I love that chair something fierce and have spent many hours in it. I can't wait until I reach a point in life that I'll have the room to bring that chair back. It was big enough to curl up in or recline it and rest my legs, I'd burrow down with blankets and pillows and a cup of tea and ah... I really miss my chair. Here in Virginia my reading spot has been my bed but my issue with that is that I typically end up falling asleep. Otherwise, I can read anywhere if I'm just intending on reading a few pages. However, those reading spots, my beloved reading chair, are specific for heavy duty reading. 

My reading chair, in Pennsylvania, with my (late) kitty Oliver. He was the best reading buddy I ever had. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Madame Bovary

Allow me to say that after graduating from college I was filled with a desire to read as many classics as I possibly could. All of the books that I had previously not read I had a goal of reading and bit by bit I acquired those books. Madame Bovary was never high on my list - I knew very little about it other than it was considered a "classic" and remained pretty oblivious until I picked up the book. Mind you, this book is a translation and I settled on one by Lydia Davis after reading this New York Books article way back in 2010 (when I bought the book). I was so excited to read it and yet... it sat unread for the past two years. 

But it kept staring me down with that intriguing cover and vague memories of the article I had read long ago. Finally, with the brink of fall upon me, I picked the book up and began to read it. 

At first I was devouring it. The main character, Emma, so reminded me of myself. She lived in the country with large dreams of the city. She wanted to see the world, learn so much, and fall in love. I can understand that - I'm a daydreamer and I lived in the country. Now I live closer to the city and I still daydream nearly continuously. Emma is married to the slightly dim but sweet and caring Charles whom I loved instantly. This guy is willing to do anything for Emma. He would move the sun and the moon for this woman. How lovely to have someone so passionately adoring of you. But that's not enough for our Emma. 

Really, the character is despicable and I don't honestly understand how this book has such a big following. Lydia Davis certainly gave the book a pretty quality in English. I'm not fluent in French so maybe the book is better in the original language however the plot and character of Emma, no matter how lovely of a translator Lydia Davis is, is dreadful. This whiny little brat of a woman who endlessly is complaining about her life and how it could always be better.

She's terrible to her daughter, pushing her away and always whining, "Leave me alone!" or "Go away!" to the child (who ends up crying - how heartbreaking!) or to her husband (who quickly listens because, like I said, he will do anything for this brat). She wants what she wants and forget those whom she may hurt in the process. 

When she found out she was pregnant she hoped so much that she would have a boy because women just didn't have the opportunities men did. When she discovered the baby was a girl she fainted. How horrible her life is that she never gets what she wants! Her daughter will suffer as she had because she's a woman! Well, you would think that someone with that mindset would push to make her daughter have a better life but Emma's own selfishness is the destructive force of her daughter's chances in life. 

Just... this character, the entire tale of Emma, is so disgusting and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I don't understand how so many people are absolutely in love with this book. I don't understand how it has stuck with them. I made it halfway through the book and it wasn't getting any better but so many people had written reviews praising it, saying that while Emma was despicable she stayed with them and they loved the book, so I thought that maybe - surely - the book was going to get better before its final pages but it only came out to be a slow car crash.

I was so glad when I finally finished the book and tossed it aside with disgust. What a horrible main character. This book was like pulling teeth and I'm glad that while it's a classic and was on my 'to-read' list for so long, I'm done with it. I'm packing the book up and sending it to Pennsylvania. The next time I'm in the area I'll sell it to a local bookstore so that one of the (seemingly) many people who love this book can grab the book and give it the attention it needs because it certainly won't be getting any attention from myself.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Soon Remembered Tales 4 Year Anniversary! (and a give away?)


Four years ago I made my first post on Soon Remembered Tales. I had graduated from college and finally had the opportunity to read as I pleased. However, I missed college a great deal and I found that I wasn't analyzing and learning enough from the books I read. Just reading them and sitting them aside before moving onto the next tome. I wanted to remember these books and, more specifically, because I knew I'd forget details, I wanted to record those memories.

At first I was trying to break out into the blogging world about my relatively boring personal life. SRT became a sub-blog that I wrote in when I wanted to discuss how I felt from a book I had read or what had stood out for me. I didn't expect to gain many followers and had an occasional few until blogger Lauren of Busy Bee Lauren mentioned me on her blog (when, I couldn't tell you because I can't find the post). Suddenly I had a burst of followers and it put a fire under my butt to try a little harder.

Since then I've tried to write regularly, took nearly an entire year off to deal with personal stuff, but now I think I can safely say I've returned. I've had a lot of great opportunities due to this blog: writing for Fictionista Workshop, writing reviews for HarperCollins, hearing from some authors, and getting comments from all of you!

I've dived into Banned Books Week and have truly come to love researching for the posts I write during the course of that time. Doors have been opened and I've greedily run through. 

I love this blog and I know there are many other book blogs out there but this one is mine (it's like the Rifleman's Creed except for book blogs...) and I'm happy to have it. I enjoy hearing from my readers and sharing with you my ramblings about books. I could talk someones ear off about books I have loved or hated so it's nice to have a place to put all of that.

I can't believe it's been four years and I intend on continuing with this blog. It may change -- posts may be introduced or taken away. But I'm glad to be here and very thankful to those who follow. Now that I've inched my way over the 200 follower mark I do believe it's time to up the ante: when I reach 300 followers I'll do a bookstore gift card and/or book giveaway to my readers.

This may take awhile but if you're interested help promote my blog! When I get closer to 300 I'll share what giveaway I have in store for everyone. Or... maybe I'll leave it up to you guys. Who knows! 

But really, on this four year anniversary I want to thank you all for reading my rambling and helping me to continue recording my memories of the books I've read. You've all helped to make reading more special for me. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Read Through the USA

Sorry for the lack of posts today, readers. I was away from the computer. But to hold you over, check out this nifty map for the YA reader you may know:


How cool is this?

Epic Reads brings to you a map of YA books based in different states within the US. I, being a lover of check lists and the likes, was thrilled to see this list. While I've only gotten to 18 states in my life (thus far) I love that there is now a list of books that hit on every state in the US. (By the way, I've read through only 7 states... better get working on this list). To read more about this awesome map and comments pertaining to it, check out this link!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Booking Through Thursday


Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks questions are: 
1. How do storms affect your reading? Do you go for comfort reading? 
2. How do you deal with power outages? Do you read by candlelight? Flashlights? Use a self-lit e-reader or tablet? Skip reading altogether for the duration and instead play games with the family?

My Answer:
With the recent passing of Hurricane Sandy and my location this question is something I don't have to consider very much of in order to answer. When my area was hit with the hurricane we lost power around the time it reached landfall. I am bored very easily when we have no power at night. At least during the day I can find things to do and ways to entertain myself. When we lost power the night of Sandy I was antsy within thirty minutes then gave up on the evening and went to bed. I had books to read and flashlights to do it with! I tried my best to read with the flashlight but it only hurt my eyes. It reminded me that I once had a book reader light that was soft yet bright enough that you could read with comfort but it's been long dead. I need to get another one of those. After a few chapters I gave up and just went to sleep. 
With the storm recently I picked up American Gods, feeling that it was Halloween appropriate and it seemed fitting since they kept talking about a storm coming and we were being hit by such a storm. But I was more or less between books so picking up a book worked in any way it normally would. Otherwise, if there is a storm I typically just continue reading what I read before.
As a child I don't particularly remember reading by candlelight but we had many times living in the Catskills of NY that we lost power -- especially during the winter months -- so my parents and I would go to the basement where the wood stove was, light a hurricane lantern, and play Monopoly. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from power outages. I was always convinced it was a chance to play Little House in the Big Woods
 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Moonsilver (The Unicorn's Secret, Book 1)

My cousin's son introduced me to this book. Carrying the entire series in his arms he placed them on the kitchen table and sorted them in order then read each title aloud to me. "This book looks like it should be for girls but I don't care and I like it. I like unicorns," he proclaimed then, gently, offered me the first book in the series and said, "You can read this if you would like."

I thanked him and kept the book by me while the kids ran about. I had every intention of reading the book not only because I had been given permission by a child to read his book (that's an offer that you don't just let slide. It's similar to a toddler asking you to talk into a plastic phone - you just do it) but because I've realized I haven't done many reviews for children or independent reader books in recent months. Thing is, I've been working through my bookshelf of unread books and they are obviously not very child-friendly. 

Well fear not! I have a review for you about this darling tale and the introduction to the series The Unicorn's Secret. While the kids settled down before going to bed I sat and read the book and finished it while my cousin's little boy was in his bath. Yes, you can read it that quickly. I think for a child just picking up on reading on their own it's a perfect fit: the chapters aren't very long and they're sprinkled with detailed drawings depicting different scenes. For an adult who may be reading the book aloud, you could probably finish this off in a night if your little one is willing to stay awake for an hour or so while you read. 

You are introduced to Heart, an orphan girl taken in by a local man who doesn't very much care for her. She's a sweet child who does what is expected of her and has, as indicated by her name, a great heart. When she comes across a white horse she adopts it and names it Avamir. With the determination that only the young seem to have, Heart takes care of Avamir and raises her back to health only to discover her horse is pregnant! Unfortunately, when the colt is born Heart's adopted father decides to sell both mother and baby. Heart, frightened of losing them, makes a life changing decision that most children will find both fascinating and a little frightening - in only the best of ways. 

If my cousin's son is any indication this isn't just a book for girls. Boys can enjoy it as well so long as they are open minded enough or enjoy tales of castles and horses turned into unicorns. I didn't read the rest of the series as I was busy visiting with my cousin however, according to his son, the rest of the books are "great!" and "very good!"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Musing Mondays - November 5th



Hosted by Should Be Reading, this week's musing asks...
What is the most recent book you purchased, or brought home from the local library? What made you pick it? Have you started reading it, right away, or will you wait for a bit?
My Answer:
The special Barnes and Nobles copy of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boys. First off, I really love these fancy copies of classics and other popular books that B&N has. I would love to one day have a copy of each book and fill a bookshelf with them. My "special" copies and such (even if I already own other copies of these books). Second, I already own, like, two copies of American Gods but I picked up this copy with the hope of getting Gaiman to sign it a month ago. That didn't happen but I'm going to hang onto it for the next time he is at the National Book Festival so that he can sign a nice copy of his book rather than the paperbacks I have (and are a little bit bent from reading)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Currently

Often times book bloggers either over share (and stray from reviewing books) or share too little about their lives. I used to do a lot more personal posts on this blog but then spent a weekend going through my blog and deleting almost all of them. Still, I want to share a little bit about myself so that you, the reader, will know who I, the writer, am. I have no intention of turning this into a personal blog but after seeing these Currently posts from Sometimes Sweet I felt that it would be a nice break every once in awhile without it being overkill and I could also tuck this into the weekend when my blog lacks posts. Anyway, the point is to discuss what is currently going on so here we go!

Watching: The Wonder Years believe it or not. I used to watch this show when I was a kid and I remember all of two things: I hated the brother and I loved the sister. Those opinions remain as I discovered the show on Netflix and have been marathoning it over the past two weeks. It's left me laughing and feeling nostalgic for my childhood.

Doing NaNoWriMo with the company of hot cocoa and pumpkin seeds
Listening to: I may or may not be listening to Christmas music. Here's the thing, I love Christmas music with a passion and typically listen to a Christmas song at least once a month (usually Carol of the Bells because that is my jam [favorites one, two and three; also another song I really love]). But when I am cooking or trying to work on writing I most typically listen to holiday music because it, to me, is relaxing. It's comforting noise that I can sort of tune out and it helps me concentrate on my task at hand. But once Halloween is over I begin to listen to it more consistently and yes, I still love it despite my years working retail.

Thinking about:
NaNoWriMo. I've done NaNoWriMo for six years now and have won four times. I am a person who likes to finish lists and in my mind that 50,000 word count chart is akin to a list. It bothers me to no end if I do not finish it so it kills me when I can't or don't win. Last year I was too busy and only made it halfway through before giving up and this year I completely forgot about NaNoWriMo until the 30th. I quickly put together some idea of what I'd write about and we'll see how far I get. You can friend me here.

Loving:
My family and friends. With Hurricane Sandy come and gone and so much devastation left in its wake I realize how lucky I am. None of my family or friends lost their homes nor did they suffer much damage. The worst was that my mother was without power or the phone for days (plural, mind you) but even that isn't too bad compared to the people who lost their homes due to flood, the tide, winds or fire. My heart goes out to those people and is very heavy. It's odd to feel so lucky yet feel so sad. I love being a New Yorker (even if I no longer live there) and I love being from the North East. We certainly group together when we need to.

Reading: 
Too many books. I've been studying the Chicago Manual of Style but also reading The Life of Pi and American Gods. Not going to lie, I'm focusing on American Gods more as it is capturing my attention a lot more than The Life of Pi.

The strong northern wind was making the temps drop into the low 30's yesterday!
Making me happy:
My warm bed. Honestly, when winter draws close I love my bed more and more. I find it harder to get out of bed in the morning because the blankets are so warm and comfy. I finished crocheting a blanket recently and it has just added to the comfort. So if you can't find me, expect that I am hidden under covers.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Blog Hop - November 2nd

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop


This Weeks Question:
Is there a book that has been languishing on your TBR pile even though you spent months anticipating its release?

My Answer:
The Historian in paperback. While I was working at Borders this book was out in hardcover and I wanted it so much but I held off, not wanting to spend the cash on the hardcover, and waited until the paperback came out. The moment it did I bought the book and... well now it's been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. I intend on reading it... someday... I just don't think that day is any time soon because I have so many other books I would much rather read. But, as I've mentioned before, I've sworn off buying books for the time being so that hopefully I'll make an even bigger dent into my TBR pile (so far, so good!)
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