So..... not that I'm really giving any credence to the possibility of me actually reaching any reading goal this year, I'm changing my reading goal from 100 to 75. I know it's practically cheating, being this far into the year to decide a change like that, but I'm a sucker for trying to keep to goals, and if I have a more reasonable number to try to achieve, there is a more likelihood that I won't just throw my hands up in despair and walk away from the whole thing.
So, 75 is the new 100 around From My Bookshelf these days.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Title: The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories
Author: Dr. Seuss
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Author Website: www.seussville.com/
Twitter: @seussville, @randomhousekids
Rating: 4/5 stars
Product Description From Amazon:
It's the literary equivalent of buried treasure! Seuss scholar/collector Charles D. Cohen has hunted down seven rarely seen stories by Dr. Seuss. Originally published in magazines between 1948 and 1959, they include "The Bear, the Rabbit, and the Zinniga-Zanniga " (about a rabbit who is saved from a bear with a single eyelash!); "Gustav the Goldfish" (an early, rhymed version of the Beginner Book A Fish Out of Water); "Tadd and Todd" (a tale passed down via photocopy to generations of twins); "Steak for Supper" (about fantastic creatures who follow a boy home in anticipation of a steak dinner); "The Bippolo Seed" (in which a scheming feline leads an innocent duck to make a bad decision); "The Strange Shirt Spot" (the inspiration for the bathtub-ring scene in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back); and "The Great Henry McBride" (about a boy whose far-flung career fantasies are only bested by those of the real Dr. Seuss himself).
In an introduction to the collection, Cohen traces the history of these stories, which demonstrate an intentional and significant change that led to the writing style we associate with Dr. Seuss today. Cohen also explores these stories' themes that recur in better-known Seuss stories (like the importance of the imagination, or the perils of greed). With a color palette that has been enhanced beyond the limitations of the original magazines in which they appeared, this is a collection of stories that no Seuss fan (whether scholar or second-grader) will want to miss!
I've loved Dr. Seuss since I was a child. I'm sure at one point or another, I've read every Seuss book available (and own most of them), so when I heard that there was going to be a "new" collection of stories published, both me and my inner child squealed in delight! The stories are taken from magazines that were published between the mid 1940s to late 1950s, and hadn't really been seen since these magazines had originally been published.
These stories are quite clearly from early on in Dr. Seuss' writing career. They carry his inherit flare and whit that is prominent in all his writing, but they don't quite carry the "lesson learned" aspect that he became known for. Not that these elements aren't in these stories (such as "The Bippolo Seed," which deals with the dangers of greed), but they are only there marginally. It seems to me that Dr. Seuss wrote these tales more for pleasure and fun than really trying to bestow any kind of wisdom to his young readers as he would in his later books.
If you're a fan of Dr. Seuss I'd highly recommend this book. The drawings have been reproduced in a color palette that wasn't available to magazine's of the time, but matches perfectly with the colors used in his published books. The foreword by renowned Seuss scholar, Charles Cohen (who tracked down each of the stories in the collection), is a fascinating look into the history around when each of the story's were written and helps show how Dr. Suess helped change how books were written for children. This is a real treat for any Seuss fan!
Monday, November 14, 2011
Title: Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices
Authors: Kathleen Alcala, Matthew Amster-Burton, Kit Bakke, Erica Bauermeister, Sean Beaudoin, David Boling, Deb Caletti, Carol Cassella, Maria Dahvana Headley, William Dietrich, Robert Dugoni, Kevin Emerson, Karen Finneyfrock, Jamie Ford, Clyde W. Ford, Elizabeth George, Mary Gutterson, Teri Hein, Stephanie Kallos, Erik Larson, Stacey Levine, Frances McCue, Jarret Middleton, Peter Mountford, Kevin O'Brien, Julia Quinn, Nancy Rawles, Suzanne Selfors, Jennie Shortridge, Ed Skoog, Garth Stein, Greg Stump and David Laskey, Indu Sundaresan, Craig Welch, Susan Wiggs
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Product Description From Amazon:
Thirty-six of the most interesting writers in the Pacific Northwest came together for a week-long marathon of writing live on stage. The result? Hotel Angeline, a truly inventive novel that surprises at every turn of the page.
Something is amiss at the Hotel Angeline, a rickety former mortuary perched atop Capitol Hill in rain-soaked Seattle. Fourteen-year-old Alexis Austin is fixing the plumbing, the tea, and all the problems of the world, it seems, in her landlady mother’s absence.
The quirky tenants — a hilarious mix of misfits and rabble-rousers from days gone by — rely on Alexis all the more when they discover a plot to sell the Hotel. Can Alexis save their home? Find her real father? Deal with her surrogate dad’s dicey past? Find true love? Perhaps only their feisty pet crow, Habib, truly knows.
Provoking interesting questions about the creative process, this novel is by turns funny, scary, witty, suspenseful, beautiful, thrilling, and unexpected.
Alexis Austin is taking care of the tenants of the Hotel Angeline in her mother's absence, an absence that Alexis doesn't want anybody to figure out just quite yet. The tenants of the Hotel are a great big mixed eclectic bag of eccentrics who rely maybe a little too heavily on Alexis (and before her, her mother) but who make up the only family that Alexis has ever known. Alexis is too young to have all this responsibility (she's only a teenager, after all), but to her, the alternative is grim to say the least. There's a reason that Alexis doesn't want people to find out where her mother is. However, when Alexis finds out that her uncle may be trying to purchase the Angeline out from under her and the tenants and that he needs to speak to her mother, Alexis finds her life quickly unraveling at the seams and it takes a series of slightly implausible events and the love of her "adopted" family at the Hotel for her to be able to make her life livable again.
OK, so this book took me forever to read. Through most of the book, I had a hard time finding it kept my attention for more than a chapter at a time, and that was being generous. I think part of that had to do with the same fact that held me to reading it; the book is written by a total of 36 authors from the Seattle area. The book was written during an event called The Novel, Live!, where 36 authors, over the span of 6 days, wrote a novel, each taking a chapter at a time. The whole idea was broadcast over the internet and was a fundraiser to help fight illiteracy. The idea was very cool, and the novel, while feeling rather disjointed throughout, is still an impressive feat. The authors had a basic plot to follow, and each was allowed to read what the previous author had written, and then they knew where their chapter was supposed to take them, but other than that, each author had free reign to more or less write whatever they wanted. I think this is what made the novel so long for me to read. There was the definite plot running through the whole thing, but sometimes the chapters didn't quite seem to line up with each other, as each author's distinct writing flavor took over at each new chapter. I will admit, however, that by the end of the story, I was surprised to find myself attached to Alexis and the tenants of the Hotel Angeline and was concerned and happy for their outcomes.
I'm impressed with the whole thing, and if they ever do another one of these I'll definitely read it, but I'm hoping that the next would maybe have a little more tighter editing, maybe? I don't know, just something to make it all seem a little more cohesive as a whole.
Recommended if you enjoy something along the line of experimental writing.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
NaNoWriMo is going slow for me. It's quite clear, I don't have nearly enough discipline to handle writing on a daily basis. Or maybe it's because I'm trying to get things ready for moving before my surgery and before my vacation, which I still won't know if I can take because I won't know how I'm recovering from surgery until after I have it, since everyone heals differently from this particular surgery (so everyone keeps telling me). Because I don't have enough going on in my life right now, apparently...
Anyway, I thought I'd post a portion of what I have written so far. These are the prophecies that everything in my book is based on. I still don't have a title for the book yet, but since I've really only written the prologue so far, I guess I've still got time to figure that out. Anyway, here's a little of what I've written so far. Let me know what you think!
Prophecy the First
It shall be a boy; a boy born under the light of the returning falling star. He shall be marked by the star; that is how he shall be known. Being born under the light of the returning falling star, he shall be tied to the stars and the heavens. It will be from where his power comes. It will be how he overcomes.
It shall be a boy; a boy born under the light of the returning falling star will be our salvation. He will take up the Wand of Stars and will use its light to banish the darkness. In our darkest hour, he will be our burning light.
It shall be a boy; a boy born under the light of the returning falling star will be the one to light our way, so that we may rise like a phoenix from the ashes, and bring light back into the shadows of our world.
Prophecy the Second
It shall be a monster; a monster born under the light of the returning falling star. He shall rise with the birth of the boy born under the light of the returning falling star; that is how he shall know who he is. He won’t know why or how, but all he will know is that he will need to destroy the boy.
It shall be a monster; a monster born under the light of the returning falling star will be our destruction. He will take up the Wand of Stars and will create a darkness that consumes everything it touches. Through this power, the monster will bring about our darkest hour.
It shall be a monster; a monster born under the light of the returning falling star will be the one to cast us into eternal darkness, so that we may burn like a fire and crumble into ashes, and cast us back into the shadows of our world.