Book Sleuth: Couer de Lion

Found via: The Rumpus
Published by: Fence Books
I don’t normally find myself being pulled in by poetry, but this seems intriguing. Hop on over to the Rumpus to read some excerpts within Liz Axelrod’s review – I think you’ll be tempted as well. 

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What Makes a Good Writer?

Is it humility? The sheer inability to be able to confidently say – “I’m a good writer?” Different than saying I can write. Because I know I can write, which is why I even bother trying in the first place. But in my experience, those writers who say – “I am a good writer, read what I wrote,” tend to be full of baloney. Bologna.

I think the best of us are rather plagued with the potential of writing poorly. Which is why we seek editors and writing classes and feedback. Which is why we’re always willing to change and grow.

This comes up, of course, because of recent experience. I’m working on a short story to submit for consideration to an Anthology. The only criteria I had was – submit something powerful. I knew I wanted to work on something new – it’s been a while since I’ve worked on a short piece and so, rather than edit something I already had, I wanted to create. But – thought powerful stories are inspiring, powerful itself, as a word, hardly does anything to immediately conjure up a plot.

So I thought, and thought, and thought and thought. And the deadline crept closer. And closer.

Friday night, the lightening struck. I was inspired by an article about a 14 year old prostitute who exchanged sex for a hamburger. My story really has not much to do with that actual article, but the article itself was enough of a shock to get the wheels turning. So I opened up a blank sheet and I got to typing, finishing my rough draft pretty quickly, over the course of an hour or two.

That’s when the anti-writer steps in. The confidence shattering devil sitting on my shoulder, effectively driving the creativity angel away. “What did I just do?” I ask. So I send it off to a trusted friend. I know she’ll give me good feedback – positive or negative, she’ll tell me exactly how it is. But it’s Friday night. And, though I know I can’t expect an immediate response, after having sent it off, I would put my life on the line just to get one. Just to know what she thinks RIGHT THEN. As can be expected, I spent the next four hours refreshing my e-mail on both the computer and on my phone.


I’m not sure how I find the strength to battle these demons and continue on to write another day. But I do, and I’m always glad for it. Because, I know I can. And so I do.

How do you fight?

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Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

Rating: 3 stars
Shelf: 2012

Northanger Abbey is certainly not one of Austen’s best novels. I’m not even sure it ranks among the likes of Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility or even Mansfield Park. However as a commentary on writing and reading through the satire of the gothic novel, it’s pretty good.
Catherine Morland is young and naive. Her parents allow to her to travel to bath with the protective Mr. Allen and his ridiculous wife. Led astray by Mrs. Allen’s judgement, Catherine befriends the beautiful and selfish Isabella. Luckily, she also meets Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor, and it is through this friendship that Catherine is eventually able to shed her naive nature.
The Tilney’s whisk Catherine away from Isabella’s influence to their home, Northanger Abbey. Catherine approaches the Abbey with the gothic assumptions her mind has formed from reading books like Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho. After a few embarrassments that Henry sets straight, and after Isabella’s true nature is uncovered, Catherine matures into a decent and good young woman.
All in all, it was amusing. The Thorpes (Isabella and her brother, John) were probably Austen’s most despicable characters. Of course, they were caricatures of the vain and selfish, just as was Mrs. Allen. But there was something so evil and so destructive about their way to suck in both Catherine and her brother James. So, ultimately – an Austen worth reading, but not re-reading.
Posted in 2012, reading, reviews | 1 Comment

World Book Night – Giving away 1,000,000 books in ONE NIGHT!

I just registered to give away a mere 20 books on World Book Night – as part of the attempt to give away 1 MILLION books in one single night. You have to register before February 1stto be chosen as a book giver. World Book Night happens on April 23rd.

I applied to give away either Wintergirls, The Poisonwood Bible, or Hunger Games
Posted in do something good, reading | 2 Comments

Book Sleuth: Tale of Sand

Found via: Omnivoracious
Published by: Archaia Entertainment
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The Joy of Books

Everyone around the book blogosphere has been sharing this video. It’s pretty much amazing. Watch it.

Posted in reading, video | 1 Comment

The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. LeGuin

Rating: 4 stars
Shelf: 2012

This was, I think, my first foray into adult science fiction and I have to say, I found The Left Hand of Darkness to be absolutely wonderful. It’s the kind of book that everyone should read. Its themes of gender, humanity, politics, religion and communication/universal understanding are poignant and thought-provoking.

Genly Ai is an envoy from outer space, on the planet Winter (Gethen) to convince its leaders to join the Ekumen – a unifying faction that hopes to trade goods and knowledge between all known worlds. Because the inhabitants of Gethen are androgynous (sliding into a gender only once a month to mate during a time called kemmer) Genly’s journey is not just one in which he must cross a the unforgiving ice, but also one in which he must shed all preconceived notions of gender and, ultimately, humanity.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“A man wants his virility regarded, a woman wants her femininity appreciated, however indirect and subtle the indications of regard or appreciation. On Winter they will not exist. One is respected and judged only as a human being. It is an appalling experience.”

“To be an atheist is to maintain God. His existence or his nonexistence, it amounts to much the same, on the plane of proof.”

“Neither [a place of reward or punishment], child. There is just the world, it’s how it is. You get born into it and… things are as they are…”

Posted in 2012, reading, reviews | 3 Comments