Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let It Snow

let the sweetest joy grow
in your heart
let it warm your thoughts
and your words
let it smile for the ones
you love
be healthy, be merry, be wise

Merry Christmas!

Cardinal in Snow from Desktop Nexus

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Books, Books, Books and a TV Series

Let me tell you what books I’ve been reading recently.

2010 has been for me a better reading year than many previous ones. I have a notebook where I keep lists of books read every year and for 2010 the number keeps going up.

It’s true that I cheated a little bit by reading quite a few comic books but, hey, I love them! I can’t get enough of Sardine in Outer Space, the little pirate girl who brings justice to a Universe that Supermuscleman tries to control with evil, of Ariol, the little blue donkey who goes to school and, well, behaves like all school children, or Tom-Tom and Nana, the Dubouchon family kids who wreak delicious havoc at every opportunity.

Back to books, another one of my favourites, of which I’ve read as many as I could get my hands on, is Stilton, Geronimo Stilton, the pedantic gentlemouse with a huge heart and the most daring adventures. I love, love, love him! The original is Italian, but there are English and French translations available. I totally prefer the French which somehow is much funnier. I read them with my daughters and we laugh outright every time.

And then come the so-called YA books. To everyone who, at this point, might be worried about me, I say this: It’s not a return to childhood or to the teenage/young adulthood years; the thing is I’ve never left them (does this worry you even more?) and I knew it all along.

Lately I’ve been visiting quite a lot The Book Smugglers, a site where two talented young women review books in the most thoughtful and thorough manner. Their reviews are a pleasure to read and I’ve come to trust them. That’s where I’ve discovered the next two books that I want to tell you about.

“Nevermore” by Kelly Creagh has received an enthusiastic praise from The Book Smugglers. They are right in every bit.

From the cover: Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

For a Poe lover, like I am, this book is a double treat. First, there is the (love) story, beautifully written, full of suspense, and then there is the fantastic world of Edgar Allan Poe, of which I can never get enough...

On the other hand, “Hush, Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick has been highly criticised by The Book Smugglers and I (have to) agree with most of those points. Yet...

From the cover:

A sacred oath, a fallen angel, a forbidden love…This darkly romantic story features our heroine, Nora Grey, a seemingly normal teenage girl with her own shadowy connection to the Nephilim, and super-alluring bad boy, Patch, now her deskmate in biology class. Together they find themselves at the centre of a centuries-old feud between a fallen angel and a Nephilim…Forced to sit next to Patch in science class, Nora attempts to resist his flirting, though gradually falls for him against her better judgment. Meanwhile creepy things are going on with a mysterious stalker following her car, breaking into her house and attacking her best friend, Vi. Nora suspects Patch, but there are other suspects too – not least a new boy who has transferred from a different college after being wrongly accused of murdering his girlfriend. And he seems to have taken a shine to Nora…Love certainly is dangerous…and someone is going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice for it.

Yet... there is something about it... It’s true that the heroine constantly and obviously puts herself in perilous situations including her relationship with bad boy extraordinaire Patch, the Fallen Angel. It’s true that that relationship seems more than a little abusive, from the stalking to the mental intrusions, and normally anybody would run away from it, but… but… but… I don’t know… I more than liked it. Her style is fluid, vivid, the story captivating – I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, “Crescendo.”

In fact, both of these books I couldn’t put down and had to force myself to put them down because I didn’t want to finish them so quickly. I also think their covers are absolutely gorgeous.

One evening I lingered a few minutes in front of the TV – a rare thing for me – and it happened that I switched channels to HBO where they were showing True Blood. At the end of those few minutes I was totally and irrevocably hooked. The pleasure I took in watching whatever I could from the series (I’m planning on buying it on DVD pretty soon) made me look for the books by Charlaine Harris. I turned to my good friend Amazon.

I devoured the first two books, “Dead Until Dark” and “Living Dead in Dallas”, and I’m halfway through “Club Dead”. I think they are great and I love the voice of Sookie Stackhouse. I love the dark humour, and the irony, and the self-irony. I love the South, and the feel of its deep mysteries and of its decadence. Yes, the supernatural seems quite at the right place there. I know that others see it as parable for this or that, as anything can be anything, but I like it for what it is, plain and simple. I like the “very bad things.” And, of course, I love Eric Northman…

Last but far from least, I read “According to Jane” by Marilyn Brant, who blogs at Brant Flakes.

It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett's teacher is assigning Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". From nowhere comes a quiet 'tsk' of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who's teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author's ghost has taken up residence in Ellie's mind, and seems determined to stay there. Jane's wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go - sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane's counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham. Still, everyone has something to learn about love - perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie's head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending.

I must tell you that this is not my type of literature. I would probably not go into a bookstore or to my favourite store, Amazon, and buy a novel of “women’s literature.” I bought this book because I’ve come to know Marilyn from her blog and I’d like to think that we’ve become blogging friends. The book was a wonderful discovery, starting from Marilyn’s writing that is Ellie’s voice, through the unexpected love-making scenes, to bad boy Sam Blaine who is absolutely adorable. In short, I loved it.

So what’s next on my list?
"Cold in the Light" by Charles Gramlich (this is on my nightstand)
"The Monstrumologist" by Rick Yancey(this is in Santa’s bag)
"Across the Universe" by Beth Revis (this will be released on January 4th of 2011)
and I might linger a bit more among other vampires...

Hopefully, I'll tell you about them in January.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

About a Little Thief

At first, I thought, Why bother? Why waste my time and my energy on such a pathetic thing? And then I thought, well, to warn my friends who write poetry and others who might read this of this character. And, hopefully, to shame him or her even a little bit so that next time he or she’ll think twice before taking what belongs to others.

Well, Nevine wrote about it in a much more elaborate way. In short, Joss of Lovely and Forever has taken one of her poems. It’s too bad because Lovely and Forever is a nice name and has a nice design. I read Nevine's post and went to visit the culprit’s blog. Big surprise! (Or maybe not so big…) His “Beloved Memory” of November 25th, is a slightly modified copy of my “Beloved Delusion.”

So, if two of those poems are taken from others, wouldn’t it be normal to assume that all the others also are? Perhaps... Go and check it out, maybe you’ll find one of your poems there…

Not only has Joss done this but, once caught, he or she doesn’t even have the decency to immediately remove those posts. I asked Joss to do so but, unfortunately, I was ignored. (It seems that Nevine’s has finally been removed by Google. That’s great news!!!)

I wrote something else here initially, but an e-mail from my friend Rick has changed my mind. Thank you, Rick. I don't know what the motives behind many of our actions are and digging into someone's soul could be dangerous and hurtful. So I will say only this: I hope Joss can rebuild Lovely and Forever in his or her own way.

P.S. I keep modifying this post, a word here or there.

Joss, come say "hello" in a comment to show that you've seen this and I'll say that what you borrowed from me is my Christmas gift to you.