Dec 26, 2008

Cat’s Eye

Even though I have only read some of her short stories and poems, Margaret Atwood quickly made it onto my list of favorite writer’s. Her short stories "Wilderness Tips" and another short story from the same collection whispered into my heart. It was easy to see why they are both so widely anthologized. I enjoyed these stories so much I quickly went to the store and bought every one of her novels I could find.

But then I came across a problem. I was worried that if I read one of her novels I wouldn’t like her writing as much and the purity of the connect I felt with her stories and writing would be severed.

When I decided to take on the well read book challenge I quickly selected Cat’s Eye to read. A lot of people chose it to read for their year of reading dangerously. This alone was peaking my interest. The fear was still in me, the worry that I wouldn’t LOVE it.

It ended up that I read The Handmaid’s Tale first. This is great because I loved it. And it abolished all my worry. But when I started Cat’s Eye the other day I realized how much I would have disliked it and been disappointed if I read it first. It is a good book, and I like it, but I am pretty confident in saying that if you want to read one of her books you probably shouldn’t start with this one. It has a really unique style. An odd, but strong detailed oriented voice. It can be off putting and it can be beautiful.

Cat’s Eye is the story of a painter reflecting on her childhood life. It is centered in Toronto and is included as one of the 5 books in the Toronto canon. The title comes from the main character’s childhood when she used to play marbles with her brother. She keeps the prized marble in her red purse and in her later life it becomes a motif in her paintings.

Judging a book by it’s cover. Which of these covers do you like the best? Have you seen an alternate version you like the best? My copy is a variation on the first cover shown. It seems to be the most readily available but in slightly different variations. If you notice the third image it in similar in composition. I am not far enough along in the book to know if this is a piece of art work that is described in the book. But the similarities between those two covers lead me to believe so. If you have read the book, which cover is the best representation? If you haven’t read the book, which cover makes you most interested in doing so?

Fun Friday

The UK versions of the mac vs pc commercials have been circulating around the web and I just thought I would do my part. All I have to say is: I WANT TO BE ON THE NAUGHTY STEP.

Dec 25, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things I wish I had gotten for Christmas.

1. ACR of Fade by Lisa McMannWake was one of the best novels I read in the whole of 2008. I cannot wait to read the sequel.

Wake is such a unique book I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Just watch the trailer for Wake!


2. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.  The ebook is available online here, (totally free and legal) but this is a book I want to hold in my hands. I may suffer without it and just read the ebook but I don’t want to.  I have heard so many good things about this.

This book has been recommended to me several times in the last few months.

Have you read it?

The New York Times named it a notable children’s pick for 2008. They call it “a novel that is at once an entertaining thriller, a thoughtful polemic and a practical handbook of digital-age self-defense.”

3. Diamond earrings.  No this isn’t a book title.  I just really want some nice diamond studs that I can wear all the time and have a little sparkle in my life.

4. A maid.

5. New tires for my van. This needs to be done before March anyway.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if Santa had gotten them for me?

6. A chance to see my boyfriend. Corny but true.

7. A second toaster.

8. The Professors’ Wives’ Club
by Joanne Rendell.

I have only recently become aware of this book.  But I love the title, the cover and the premise.

Joanne is in fact a professors’ wife so I bet there is quite a unique perfective in this book. The Professors’ Wives’ Club is her first novel, but she has already sold her second and third. 

I am not sure, but I think we may be allowed to hate her for this. What do you think?

9. A spa getaway.

10. My dishwasher and washing machine fixed.

11. Let It Snow

12. My wall to wall bookshelves build behind me. I am sure you have no idea why I may need them.

13. David Cook serving me breakfast in bed.

Actually, he is so delish, who needs food?  So maybe just Dad Cook in bed?!

(The best thing about this picture? His horrible short hair is cropped out of it.  And the size of his massive forehead is greatly diminished. The eyes aren’t bad either.)

Dec 24, 2008

The Cure

The Cure was a very promising science fiction novel to begin with. It is set in a future Utopic world but when Gemm 16884 starts acting contrary to accepted behavior the book took a turn into very intense historical fiction. And while it was very well written and historically accurate, it just wasn’t what I wanted from the book. it went somewhere "new" and maybe that isn't always a good thing

The hybrid did not integrate the way that I would have hoped. The elements of the stories were almost completely separate; a historical novel book ended with pure science fiction. Though I could see how and why this book has been popular to read in school. If I had to read this in school I would have loved it.

I like to know as little as possible about a book before I read it, and sometimes that leads to disappointments. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I knew what to expect out of it. But critically I have to observe that on a creative level this book just didn’t work for me. There is a lot of potential there but the story would have had to been crafted in an entirely different way.

Dec 23, 2008

Frankenstein As Science Fiction

Frankenstein is considered to be one of the first pieces of science fiction. The modern view of this genre is intensely tied to the concept of technology and outer space, but it is not limited by these confines. Science fiction is about the exploration of any future scientific advances. There has been much inquiry into what inspired the story of Frankenstein and his monster, but it is deeply connected with scientific experiments that were contemporary to the creation of the story.

Besides being the predecessor to modern science fiction what place does Frankenstein have in the contemporary genre? And does it still have influence?

The story exhibits a classic example of the mad scientist subgenre of science fiction. When one comes to think about it, it is easy to understand how it can be classified as science fiction, but less apparent is why that is relevant. But a deep aspect of mad scientists is their need to play god. And this is both very relevant in the perspective of Frankenstein and the broader scope of modern science fiction.

“Since the 19th century, fictitious depictions of science have vacillated between notions of science as the salvation of society or its doom. Consequently, depictions of scientists in fiction ranged between the virtuous and the depraved, the sober and the insane. Until the 20th century, optimism about progress was the most common attitude towards science, but latent anxieties about disturbing "the secrets of nature" would surface following the increasing role of science in wartime affairs.” *

And with this commentary about the nature of science in fiction we get to the real root of Frankenstein’s influence on the genre. It is with the growth science and the fear of scientific and technological growth which has created the science fiction genre. The mysteries of science have changed over time, starting with biology and alchemy and going into space exploration and expanding through technology.

If Frankenstein didn’t exist, where would we root the genre?

Teen Tuesday

Starting today, Dec. 23rd, publisher Simon Pulse and Lisa McMann are having an essay contest. 

It is only open to teens aged 14-18.

Fund Your Dream
Essay Contest

The kind of dream that Janie has - to go to college, better her life situation, and maybe, not have to work two jobs to do it!

Lisa McMann and Simon & Schuster want to hear from you:

What is the Greatest Obstacle You’ve Overcome?

Answer this question in 500 words or less and submit your essay below
to enter the contest.

Lisa McMann will choose a winner, who will receive
$1000 toward meeting his or her life goals!

Lisa has more details and some good advice on her blog. Check it out for more info.

Dec 22, 2008

Book Acquisitions

It is snowing here. But before the snow started I may have run some errands. And while running those errands I may have stopped at the library. And while I that library it is possible I bought some books. If I did in fact buy some books, it may have been the following.

The Red Tent

Fourth Grade Celebrity

The Talking Earth

Naked in Death

Innocent in Death

The Winter Worm Business

Read any?

Popular Austen

Would Jane Austen be proud of her modern popular status?

There seems to be a slew of Austenesque books floating around. And I am not talking about her realism running through romance. From The Jane Austen Book Club to Just Jane, it seems that everyone wants to have their take (and piece of the pie) regarding this author in general and Pride and Prejudice in particular. Just last week I picked up Mr. Darcy’s Daughters and Jane Austen in Boca. At a dollar each one can’t help but be swept up into it. But during her lifetime Austen wrote anonymously, now she has not only one of the most noted names in literature but also in popular fiction. There might be a pride in the endearing and enduring nature of her work, but I don’t really know enough about Austen herself to say for sure. Either way, I am curious to know which Austen related books have you read and enjoyed?

Among all these recently popular Austen spins, I thought maybe the market and interest level had been saturated. I thought even my own had been. But when I came across Prada and Prejudice I felt an instant spark of interest at the title alone. This young adult novel really seems to be onto something different.

From the author's website:

"Fifteen-year-old Callie buys a pair of real Prada pumps to impress the cool crowd on a school trip to London . Goodbye, Callie the clumsy geek-girl, hello popularity! But before she knows what’s hit her, Callie wobbles, trips, conks her head… and wakes up in the year 1815!"
COMING JUNE 11, 2009

This time travel concept was tackled in Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, but the fresh twist of having it aimed at young adults seems perfectly appropriate. It seems the right level of light heartedness that would compliment Austen's sentimentality. There is something about this title that is instantly heartwarming and appealing.

Prada and Prejudice author Mandy Hubbard astonished me with a detailed timeline regarding her road to publication. Her detailed account is a must read for anyone interested in writing and the authorial experience. In and of itself it is almost as enthralling as a novel.

Maybe there was a genius in that original spark of Pride and Prejudice that inspires infinite variations of Austen’s work which also acquire success. If you are interested in finding more titles there is an excellent list here. And I am happy to report my titles are among the ones listed. I always knew I had good taste.

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