Sunday, October 30, 2016

BW44: November Notions

I have an idea and my idea is this, I have an idea. *grin*   Welcome to November Notions - a month full of what?  Ideas, imagination, suggestions, discernment, angles, wrinkles, twists, preconceptions or postulations?  Or better yet...nonsense!   This is your month to make of it what you will.  Whether you are interested in traveling down the path of nonfiction, riddles and rhymes, or climbing up the mountain of hyperbole, exploring fictional caves of mystery and suspense, or diving into the ocean of laughter and romance, the world is yours to travel.

I think my ship got lost somewhere in the middle of the South Atlantic, but I've finally found the Rio de la Plata and the friendly port of Buenes Aires.  We are going to spend the rest of the year exploring South and North America and follow in the footsteps of our author flavors of the month - Julio Cortazar and Laura Esquivel.

A few years back I read Cortazar's Hopscotch

 Horacio Oliveira is an Argentinian writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga, surrounded by a loose-knit circle of bohemian friends who call themselves "the Club." A child's death and La Maga's disappearance put an end to his life of empty pleasures and intellectual acrobatics, and prompt Oliveira to return to Buenos Aires, where he works by turns as a salesman, a keeper of a circus cat which can truly count, and an attendant in an insane asylum. Hopscotch is the dazzling, free-wheeling account of Oliveira's astonishing adventures.

And by free-wheeling, they mean a stream of consciousness book in which you can read in chapter order or follow the random pattern set out by the author.  Same as the title, you will be Hopscotching around. According to the Quarterly Conversation:

The most remarked-on aspect of Hopscotch is its format: the book is split into 56 regular chapters and 99 “expendable” ones. Readers may read straight through the regular chapters (ignoring the expendable ones) or follow numbers left at the end of each chapter telling the reader which one to read next (eventually taking her through all but one of the chapters). A reading of the book in that way would lead the reader thus: Chapter 73 – 1 – 2 – 116 – 3 – 84 – 4 – 71 – 5 – 81 – 74 – 6 – 7- 8, and so on. -

If you haven't read it yet, now is your opportunity.  But be prepared to set aside all expectations, take your time, have a glass of wine or two and enjoy.

Laura Esquivel, a mexican author, is most well known for her story, Like Water for Chocolate:

A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her, so that Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.
Esquivel has a revised edition of The Law of Love coming out May of 2017: 

New York Times bestselling author Laura Esquivel brings readers a tantalizing sensory experience with her wildly inventive novel of a love spanning many lifetimes. It’s the year 2200, and Azucena Martinez is a lonely astroanalyst living in Mexico City. She has finally repaid the karmic debts she accumulated during her previous fourteen thousand lives, and in recognition of her newfound purity of spirit, she will at last be permitted to meet her twin soul, Rodrigo Sanchez. But their perfect union is limited to just one night of bliss, as Rodrigo is framed for murder soon after and banished. As Azucena sets off in search for her lost love, she will trigger a chain of events that puts her in the midst of an intergalactic political uproar.

While you are meandering about the american continents, check out Top 10 Contemporary Mexican Novels,  22 Classic and Contemporary Female Latin Authors to read, as well as  10 Essential Latin American Feminists Writers and  Goodreads list of Latin American Literature

Happy exploring! 

Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

BW43: Happy Birthday Robert Bridges

Robert Seymour Bridges
October 23, 1844 - April 23, 1930 

In Autumn Moonlight

In autumn moonlight, when the white air wan 
Is fragrant in the wake of summer hence, 
'Tis sweet to sit entranced, and muse thereon 
In melancholy and godlike indolence: 
When the proud spirit, lull'd by mortal prime 
To fond pretence of immortality, 
Vieweth all moments from the birth of time, 
All things whate'er have been or yet shall be. 
And like the garden, where the year is spent, 
The ruin of old life is full of yearning, 
Mingling poetic rapture of lament 
With flowers and sunshine of spring's sure returning; 
Only in visions of the white air wan 
By godlike fancy seized and dwelt upon. 


 Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

BW42: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I'm going to assume that everyone who has wanted to read Frankenstein has read it by now.  For those who have never wanted to read it, hopefully you won't be miffed by the telling of the story.  Yes, it is full of spoilers.  Who knows, you may be intrigued enough to finally read it. 

Synopsis: "Obsessed with creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders grave yards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life with electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear. Mary Shelley's chilling Gothic tale was conceived when she was only eighteen, living with her love Percy Shelley near Bryon's villa on Lake Geneva. It would become the world's most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity."

I was surprised by the story because I some preconceived ideas about it from various films I had seen over the years and those were shot all to heck.

The story starts with an Adventurer Robert Wallen, trying to reach the North Pole. He tells the story in letters to his sister, Elizabeth. Out in the middle of the frozen ice lands, they meet up with Dr. Frankenstein who is chasing the monster. Frankenstein takes over the narrative at this point, telling his story and how he came to be there.

He had created a monster. Upon creating this monster and shocking it to life, he became instantly disgusted with it and himself and abandoned it.

"The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and healthy. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room, and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep....

I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed: when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced it way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch - the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eye, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs." pg 58 -59

He leaves the house for a couple days and when he returns is overjoyed that the monster has left. The monster disappears for a period of time only to resurface angry with Frankenstein and kills his brother. Frankenstein knows the monster is responsible, however he is very depressed and travels up into the Alps to escape and sooth his weary spirit. The monster finds him and approaches and asks him to listen and help him. The monster has managed to educate himself quite well.

"Be calm! I entreat you to hear me, before you give vent to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more powerful that thyself; my height is superior to thine, my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king, if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection is most due. Remember, that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a friend. Make me happy and I shall again be virtuous." pg 102-103
The monster educated himself while living in a storage shed by a French family's house and spying on them. He managed to get a hold of three books and learned to read. The three books: Milton's Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Parallel lives and Johann von Goeth's Sorrows of Werter. The monster wants Frankenstein to make him a woman, a mate who will keep him company and he promises to disappear forever. After some thought, Frankenstein decides to so. He disappears to a tiny island and in the middle of making the monster's mate, is so overcome with disgust, destroys the mate halfway through. The Monster, who had been keeping tabs on him, kills his best friend, Cherval,  and Frankenstein is put in jail for the murder. When he is acquitted, he returns home to his father and his lady love who is still waiting for him.

Even though the Monster told him he would be there on his wedding night and kill him and despite the fact the good Doctor tells his lady love he has a terrible secret, but can't reveal it to her until they are married, he and Elizabeth get married. Frankenstein sends his new wife off to bed, while he paces the floor in the library, overcome with worry about Frankenstein.

"She left me, and I continued some time walking up and down the passages of the house, and inspecting every corner that might afford a retreat to my adversary. But I discovered no trace of him, and was beginning to conjecture that some fortunate chance had intervened to prevent the execution of his menaces; when suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful scream. It had come from the room into which Elizabeth had retired. As I heard it, the whole truth rushed into my mind, my arms dropped, the motion of every muscle and fibre was suspended; I could feel the blood trickling in my veins, and tingling in the extremities of my limbs. This state lasted but for an instant; the scream was repeated and I rushed into the room." pg 199

Yes, the monster killed Elizabeth and the chase is on. Dr. Frankenstein chases the monster until we get to the point where the doctor meets up with Robert Walden. He is in ill health and ends up dying. Robert discovers the Monster in the room with Dr. Frankenstein, saying goodbye to his creator. After a long and dramatic discourse over his body, jumps out the window and disappears into the night.

"But soon,' he cried, with sad and solemn enthusiasm, 'I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly, and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The list of that conflagration will fade away, my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep in peace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell.' pg 225

 Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url

Sunday, October 9, 2016

BW41: My first Stephen King Novel

My first Stephen King Novel 

I generally steer away from horror novels, same as I do horror movies. Blood and guts slasher movies have never really been my cup of tea. Which is the reason I have steered away from Stephen King for many years. Too much for my very vivid imagination. Until I read Stephen King's On Writing and found myself quite impressed as well as intrigued. I decided to give one of his fiction books a try. I picked one up at the used book store and five minutes into the story changed my mind - too icky. Can't remember the name unfortunately because I took it back for credit. However, when Duma Key came out, I decided to give him another try. I read the back cover, picked a few random pages out in the book, liked what I read and decided to get it. Duma Key wasn't so much a horror story as it was a supernatural, psychological thriller. Totally captured my attention and kept me reading long into the night.

Due to head injuries sustained when a crane backed over Edgar's truck, his temper is out of control. His wife wants a divorce and none of his friends want to be around him - he's too unpredictable and mean. His psychologist suggests he find a quiet place and take up a hobby, find something that he has always wanted to do and do it. Edgar loved to draw when he was young but had given it up. He moves to Duma Key, Florida and takes up painting. Soon his paintings take an eerie turn and he discovers what he paints becomes reality. He is also being visited by ghosts of Elizabeth's past and he must try to figure out what her cryptic statements mean, ones she can't explain as she slips farther and farther from reality.

 I don't want to give away any spoilers, so will leave you with an excerpt from the first page.

"How to Draw a Picture (1) 

Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember.

How do we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time in Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I've come to believe.

Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make that first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon line, sure. But also a slot for blackness to pour through.

Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil...hesitating...and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it. I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice.

Pictures are magic, as you know."

Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url

Sunday, October 2, 2016

BW40: October Spooktacular Reading Month

 Spooky Forest by Mellon007

Bwahahahaha!  Welcome to the spooky and spectacular, fretful and frightful, eventful and exciting, thrilling and chilling October Spooktacular Reading Month!  

Our spooky reading month is not all about horror.  Oh no! Especially since I'm not into blood and guts, graphic violence but those reads that are spine tingling, finger nail chewing, blood pumping, and goose bump exciting.    There are a number of ways to go with psychological fiction, gothic, science fiction, supernatural, apocalyptic and dystopian.  Reads full of bad guys, vampires, werewolves and monsters of the deep. 

Who comes to mind when you thing about scary reads?  Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, or Frank Peretti?  Maybe Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill or Peter Straub?  What about Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft or Bram Stoker.  From the classics to the contemporary, you have a wide variety of choices.

I've been surprised and entertained, maybe not pleasantly but scarily thrilled by Joe Hill's (Stephen King's son) N0S4A2 and Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series. Glued to the edge of my chair of Robert McCammon's Swan Song and enthralled by Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

If you haven't read the staples of the genre - Frankenstein or Dracula, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Grey or Something Wicked This Way Comes - now is your chance.  Put away your expectations, because you just may be surprised when they don't turn out how you suspect they will.

I have a few thrillers in my stacks for the month including Mary Shelley's The Last Man, Dean Koontz's The City along with Marisha Pessil's Night Film as well as an annotated version of Dracula.

Plus I'm contemplating a reread of Frankenstein or Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. Both were equally good. 

What spooky books will you be reading this month? 


Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.