Sunday, November 9, 2014

the eclectic authoress recommends...

49. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Dead Welsh kings, raven boys, school crests, Latin classes, a house full of psychics, a 1973 Camaro, street racing, caves, a magical forest that moves, missing mothers, friendly hit men, and a girl who makes "energy" stronger-- this is Maggie Stiefvater's series. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book, preceded by The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, both of which are stunning. Delve into the world of fast cars and sleeping kings for a few hours--it will most definitely be worth it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

to do

Two weeks ago, I was challenged to write down ten things I was thankful for each week. It's a wonderful exercise to bring you back into a mindset of thanks and joy, and I thought I'd share the idea as well as my list of ten things.

1. Reading Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
2. "Dancing with the Stars" starting it's new season
3. My car battery being replaced
4. Movie night and bonfire with my friends
5. Painting my nails
6. Lots of birds outside my window 
7. Milkshakes with a friend
8. Talking about syntax
9. Reading writer's blogs and gaining inspiration
10. Eating peanut butter cake


Sunday, September 7, 2014

the greats: annika of the pineneedle collective

Inspired by so many amazing women I've been seeing around me- on the internet, in my life, or in print- I've decided to start a new series. Much like stuck in my head or recommendations, "the greats" will share what I love or admire- in this case, people. Without further ado, the first great of many: Annika of the blog The Pineneedle Collective.

Annika is a fashion blogger, but The Pineneedle Collective goes beyond that title. She promotes ethically-sourced fashion, which means refusing to support companies who may use sweatshop labor. To do this, she thrifts (which, if made by an unethical company, doesn't give them any of the profits) and makes her own clothes. She's also studying science in university (and integrates it into her blog posts!), showing that a girl can be smart and pretty and interested in fashion. Largely due to praise being based on appearance instead of academia (or athletics, or art, etc.), girls are underrepresented in scientific fields. People like Annika are important in adolescence, showing that girls can truly be whatever they want.

And so, I applaud Annika as a feminist role model and generally adorable person, and invite you all to look at the lovely pictures and text adorning her blog.

Monday, September 1, 2014

stuck in my head

Annie Clark, more popularly known as St. Vincent, is an American singer-songwriter. She plays several instruments, and began her career in various bands before branching out on her own. A few recommendations:



Happy listening! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

stuck in my head

New Zealand is not a country usually associated with music; in fact, it is much more often associated with sheep. For a country that has more wool-producing creatures than musical ones, however, this almost-Aussie country has been making quite the name for itself in the music industry. It all began with the prodigy pop sensation Lorde, who I spoke about in an earlier blog post. Several New Zealander musicians have been following in her footsteps, including brother-sister duo Broods. I have only recently discovered them, and have already fallen in love.

To introduce yourself, try these lovely tracks:



For this talented duo, I predict great things. 


Friday, August 15, 2014

the eclectic authoress recommends...

48. 1776, by David McCullough

I absolutely love history, so when I found out 1776 was required reading for one of my classes, I wasn't perturbed in the slightest. As I read it, I found my expectations were met with flying colors. A wonderfully written, painstakingly researched project, 1776 is the book all histories aspire to be.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

the eclectic authoress recommends...

47. "Welcome to Night Vale Radio" is a podcast written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, describing a strange desert town. It features the musical weather, mysterious lights above the Arby's, and frequent announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police. It mixes the completely nonsensical with the surprisingly deep, and is a twice-a-month wonder.
We are all poetry, Night Vale. Every breath or branch or sigh before another hopeless night of uneasy slumber is itself a verse in a great poem.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

liebester nominations

So, my friend over at the blog Fountain Pen Girl has been nominated for a Liebester Award, which is an award designed to bring attention to relatively unknown bloggers. Apparently, I have to answer eleven questions about myself, then pass it on to a few other bloggers. Here are the questions I was given:

1. Character you love to hate?

Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. He has so many problems and so many flaws ("no, I'm not already married, no, my wife isn't hidden in the attic"), but goodness gracious he is beautiful.

2. Book/series that needs to be adapted into a movie/TV show right now? 

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart. I've talked about this book before, I believe; it's one of my favorites of late. But seriously, it's absolutely wonderful. Also, I'd like to see a miniseries done of A Series of Unfortunate Events, with each book like an hour and a half long episode. The movie for that was completely inaccurate.

3. Author you wish you could write like?

Kurt Vonnegut

4.  The most horribly disgusting, terribly written book you would burn all the copies of if you could legally?

I'm rather against book burnings in general, honestly. I mean, if you burn one book, what's to stop people from burning them all? We don't want to be in a Fahrenheit 451 sort of situation here.

5. Biggest fandom?

"Sherlock"

6.  Novel/series you've written fanfic of/want to?

I haven't written any fanfics (and don't really plan to), mostly because working with characters that aren't your own is tricky. I'd probably go with something from Harry Potter, though.

7. Favorite forced school reading book?

The Lord of the Flies

8. Least favorite school reading book?

Silence, by Shusaku Endo

9. First book/series obsession?

The Boxcar Children

10. Three authors you'd invite to lunch/tea/dinner?

Kurt Vonnegut, Charlotte Bronte, and Sylvia Plath

11. Bookstore you'd raid if you had a $1000 gift card?

Barnes & Noble


Now, I'm supposed to pass this nomination on to eleven bloggers; however, I don't actually know that many, or follow a lot of semi-unknown blogs. I would, however, like to mention a few.

Aerin at artist17b

S.J. Bouquet

I'm not going to type out questions for them, since there are only two, but I would certainly recommend a look at their blogs.

Friday, June 6, 2014

have I become a library?

Now that summer has finally arrived, I've been able to do a lot more reading. Books are some of my favorite things, and (of course) I love to talk about them. Here are a few my most recent reads, and my recommendations.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

Saying too much about We Were Liars would be devastating- this is really one of those novels that is best to go into without presuppositions. The plot is something that needs to be realizes as it's read. There is a rich, rich family, a group of four friends, a summer island, and a secret. I was on the edge of my metaphorical seat throughout my reading of it. (Also, there might have been tears.) We Were Liars is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful book- I recommend it to absolutely everyone.

A Voice in the Wind, by Francine Rivers

This novel certainly exceeded my expectations. It is part of a series, but this is (so far) the only novel of three I have finished reading. A Voice in the Wind is set in long-ago Rome, when the empire has practically destroyed Jerusalem and the gladiator games are the peak of societal outings. The novel follows a large cast of characters, including the Jewish slave Hadassah, who is trying to hide her Christian faith in Rome, Marcus, her master's ill behaved son, Julia, his little sister- quickly following in his footsteps, and Atretes, a German warrior turned gladiator. Incredibly interesting and unexpectedly developed, Rivers certainly weaves a wonderful story.

13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson

This Young Adult novel gives wanderlust a new name. Ginny (our protagonist) has an artist aunt who's always doing unexpected things- like a few years ago, when she practically disappeared. Or, rather, Ginny had an aunt; Peg passed away while living in London. All Ginny has left of Peg is a series of letters, held in- as the title illustrates- thirteen blue envelopes. These letters send Ginny all over the world, to Paris, to Rome, to Amsterdam, and always to a new adventure. The absolute best part of this novel is the places- reading about backpacking in Europe creates a definite want to travel.






Wednesday, May 28, 2014

the eclectic authoress recommends...

46. "Cry, the Beloved Country", by Alan Paton is a heartrending story of South Africa, set only a few years before apartheid. It follows Stephen Kumalo, a Zulu pastor who travels to Johannesburg in search of his family. Written with excellent prose and the dialogue style of Steinbeck, Paton' work is certainly deserved of many honors.

Friday, May 9, 2014

the eclectic authoress recommends...

45. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. Most people have heard of this story- some have even seen the movie- but few have read it. It's a very long book- thicker, I think, than Anna Karenina. But it is so good. A tale of revenge taken over more than a decade, The Count of Monte Cristo is absolutely thrilling. Despite its length, it isn't a difficult read. The story is fast paced, and every detail is important. While the size may seem intimidating, please, don't let it deter you; read The Count of Monte Cristo as soon as you can lay your hands on it.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

stuck in my head

One of Regina Spektor's albums, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, has been running through my head all week. A few of my favorite songs from it are "Firewood", "The Party", and "Patron Saint". I know I mention Regina Spektor quite a lot in my "stuck in my head" sorts of posts, but I can't help it. Her voice is yearning and eclectic, going from completely serious to satire in a measure. She's wonderful, and I recommend her to all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

the realms of your imagination

I have recently discovered a new book series, and so devoured it in three days (one per book). This particular series is written by Libba Bray, and follows our heroine through the late nineteenth century. Yes, this is the "Gemma Doyle" trilogy, headed by A Great and Terrible Beauty. It made the New York Times bestseller list, but I did not discover it complexities until a few days ago. Since then, I have become completely enamored. The series follows Gemma Doyle, whose life changes drastically after her mother dies of "cholera". (It isn't cholera.) She moves from India to a strict English boarding school, where she begins to discover that the strange visions she experiences are not her going crazy after all. With the historical element, humor, great drama, and a particular nice looking boy, Libba Bray's trilogy certainly has everything one could wish for. Once you add the spectacular writing style she most definitely has, the series becomes perfect. These are books you will live in for days after you finish them, and they will be swimming around your head and your heart for months to come.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

stuck in my head

"Stay Awake", by London Grammar. I discovered this British trio through Spotify's recommendations, and am incredibly happy to have done so. They have a sound that I can only describe as alternative pop, with a mellow mix of soft piano and heaver, more electronic beats. Among the "also searched for" section are Lorde and  Florence and the Machine; while I don't think these artists are necessarily alike, their audiences are certainly prone to overlapping.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

stuck in my head

 "Silly Eye-Color Generalizations", by Regina Spektor. This song doesn't appear on any of her regular albums (on iTunes, at least), but instead on her "Live in London" appearance. This recorded-live performance has that extra edge of the crowd and pulsing excitement, as well as it simply being a completely lovely song.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

3 2 1 takeoff

This week is spring break, and I will, thank goodness, be traveling to warmer places in the country! A lot of bloggers do packing lists and how-to's, and though I thought about it, I'm really not very skilled at making everything fit. Instead, I'll tell you all about something I do know about: books!
Every journey or vacation needs time-fillers. I'm flying to my destination, but if you're able to read in the car as I am, this works for road trips as well. Books are the absolute first things I think about bringing on my trips, and I read not only in the traveling, but also while I am on vacation. Here are some of my save-for-vacation books!

1. Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein. This is the companion novel to Code Name Verity, which I wrote about here. Code Name Verity is one of my favorite books, and Rose Under Fire picks up close to where it ends. Though the protagonists of Code Name Verity are not the main characters of its companion, it looks as though some of the characters will appear again. I am incredibly, incredibly excited to read this novel, and its companion has certainly given me high expectations.

2. Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor, by Rosina Harrison. I'll admit it: I saw this nonfiction work on the "If You Like Downton Abbey" table at my local bookshop a few months ago. When I returned, Barnes & Noble gift card in hand, it had been moved. I then went on a quest to find it, eventually having to ask (horror of horrors!) for assistance. I have begun it, and the incredible tales of aristocracy are certainly worth any trouble the relocation might have caused.

3. The Tragedy Paper, by Elizabeth Laban. This novel is one of a prestigious boarding school, first love, and a story within a story. I have been told hints and glimpses by various reviews, and have been hearing things- good things- about it for months. I finally own it, and have splurged for hardback, as that was the only way to get the beautiful, earlier cover.

4. Mary Poppins, She Wrote: the Life of P. L. Travers, by Valerie Lawson. Mary Poppins was my favorite film for a number of years. It was, as people say, "my childhood"; I would watch it over and over, would dress up and dance along to the music. I knew all of the songs, and was enamored with each and every scene, be it the semi-animated fox hunt or the somber, more metaphoric "Feed the Birds". As soon as I saw Mary Poppins on the cover, I knew I had to own this gem of a biography. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

gimme gimme

It has been officially spring for a week now, and, much to my annoyance, the temperature hasn't reached sixty degrees (Fahrenheit) since. In a nice spurt of denial, I have planned one of my "wishlist" posts- spring style.

1. I have probably talked about these shoes from Topshop before. But they are absolutely perfect, and I want them in every color.
Photo 3 of MARGATE Double Buckle Geek Shoes
2. Also this pair, also from Topshop, which is similar in style and perfection.
Photo 3 of MARTIE Geek Shoes
3.And this Modcloth dress has tiny little zebras on it, yet still manages to be classy. I can't help but respect that.

4.This cute peter-pan collared shirt from Urban Outfitters is in baby blue, the most spring-y color of all (also, my favorite).

Coincidence & Chance Open-Back Collared Top

Hope you enjoyed my March wishlist- and hopefully, you all are in places warm enough to wear these lovelies!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

the eclectic authoress recommends...

44. The Saturdays, by Elizabeth Enright, is one of my favorite books from childhood. It's about a family of four children in twentieth century New York, and all of their wonderful adventures. I always feel very nostalgic about it, and find that rereading it every now and then is a wonderful pick-me-up. It also has beautiful, sporadic illustration.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

a new beginning

After finishing my first Tolstoy novel, Anna Karenina, I have decided to embark on a new, even longer journey. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas, is 1200+ pages to Anna Karenina's 800, so I'm certain it will take me a while to finish. I am incredibly looking forward to reading this, and to adventuring alongside the protagonist Edmond Dant├Ęs. If anyone has read The Count of Monte Cristo, please do let me know- I'd love to find out what you all think of it.

Friday, March 7, 2014

stuck in my head

"Neither Here Nor There", by Eleisha Eagle, is one of my new favorite songs. I have no idea how to pronounce her name, but finding her music was such a highlight. The lyrics are clever and the melodies are enthralling, and she certainly stands out- even on a Pandora radio station featuring incredible artists like Regina Spektor and Birdy.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

unhappy families

"All happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

There are many unhappy families in Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, a wonderful, wonderful novel with I have been reading for over a month now. Usually, I am a fast reader. There are many books I have sat down with, and have not stood up until I had finished reading it. Anna Karenina, however, is- as I've said before- a process. It is beautiful and a lengthy near eight hundred pages. It catalogs several groups of characters, all who intertwine.

For example, the novel does not begin with the title character. It begins with Stepan "Stiva" Oblonsky and his wife, Dolly. He is having an affair, and this is where the unhappiness begins. He is the brother of Anna, and she comes to fix the problem.

However, when Anna starts to have her own troubles, everyone around her begins to have troubles as well. By the end of the novel, Stiva and Dolly's marriage has completely fallen apart. Kitty, Dolly's sister, is rejected by Vronsky, who becomes Anna's paramour  instead. Anna's husband becomes controlled by a woman who tells his son that Anna is dead.

Tolstoy, I have found, is a genius of the written word. There is so much in Anna Karenina that at first caused me to wonder about it inclusion, but by the end, everything comes together. It is not neat or tied with a bow, and it is not happy.

But Tolstoy certainly shows his readers the differences in unhappy families.

Friday, February 28, 2014

through my headphones

I am an avid theater fan, but do not (much to my disappointment) live near Broadway or the West End. Because of this, I am not able to see all of the shows I would like. And so, I've compiled a list of my favorites of the shows I've seen... and haven't seen.

Shows I've Seen:

The Crucible

This straight play is written by Aurthur Miller, the playwright of Death of a Salesman and once-husband of Marilyn Monroe. Inspired by Communist hunts and transformed to the Salem witch trials, The Crucible is completely heart-wrenching. It was also made into a film with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder.

Chaplin

I was able to see this wonderful musical while it was on Broadway, which was a wonderful experience in itself. The show itself, however, managed to outshine the location. It featured lovely actors and actresses like Rob McLure (Chaplin) and Jenn Colella (Hedda Hopper). It shows a slightly adapted version of Chaplin's life, detailing his insane mother, film career, marital struggles, and his exile from America after Communist accusations. It's quite similar to the Chaplin film, in which the actor is portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

This poetic tale is weaved by the one and only William Shakespeare, and has to be included. It's one of his better known plays, and has been played many different ways. The version I saw included a segment about a boy dreaming, probably in the early nineteen hundreds- making the text of the play legitimately a dream. The dialogue is witty and funny, and the cast I saw acted the script so well every word of it was completely understandable despite the "stigma" of Shakespeare. The 1999 film version has great actors such as Christian Bale (Demetrius), Stanley Tucci (Puck), and Michelle Pfeiffer (Titania).


Shows I Haven't Seen:

Love Never Dies

This is Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, in which Christine, husband Raoul, and son Gustave travel to America. It involves Coney Island, reappearances of certain characters, and quite a lot of drama. And all of this, I've only gleaned from the musical score- which is just as amazing and intricate as Phantom's.

The Addams Family Musical

It's the traditional ghoulish and grim humor one might except of the Addams family, but in a musical. Wednesday has just come of age, and after that, everything begins to happen. She has invited a boy and his family to dinner- a semi-normal family from Ohio. I've been able to watch much of it online, and with an original cast containing Nathan Lane (Gomez) and Bebe Neuwirth (Morticia), it's absolutely hilarious.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

stuck in my head

A friend of mine recently introduced my to the musical duo of Twenty One Pilots. Though their genre of music isn't usually my thing, I couldn't help but be intrigued. They do a lot of rap, but also some "regular" songs. In all of it, the lyrics are gorgeous. I haven't heard a whole lot of their repertoire yet, but of what I have heard, "House of Gold" is my favorite.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"who is the third who always walks beside you?"

Since I have been talking much of novels and television and film of late, I decided I might add some poetry into the mix. One of my favorite poets (of which, of course, I have many), is T.S. Eliot. Besides being one of the main voices of the Jazz Age disillusionment, one of his poetry collections was turned into the musical Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The man is a genius with words, and here I will share excerpts from a few of his lovely works- and links where you can read the rest.

"The Waste Land"

(lines 249-256)

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
“Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.”
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.
(lines 18-27)
Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

(lines 49-54)

For I have known them all already, known them all;
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?


I encourage you to click the links, read the poems, and revel in T.S. Eliot's mastery of the written word.


50




Thursday, February 6, 2014

lady detective

 Set in 1920s Australia, Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries defies most (if not all) stereotypes. She is a woman detective and quite independent. One of her friends- who is also a woman- is a doctor and scientist. The police (her particular friends, when it suits her) are completely competent, and the murders are not always based around the same thing.

To date, I have only seen a few episodes of Miss Fisher. However, these episodes are enough to know that I exuberantly recommend diving into her dangerous world of gold plated guns and keeping daggers in your garter. Essie Davis (Miss Fisher herself) plays the part with such honesty, you'd think she'd lived her entire life chasing criminals in heels. Her friends include the dashing Nathan Page as the Detective Inspector, the young constable Hugh (played lovably by Hugo Johnstone-Burt), and Dot (Ashleigh Cummings), a girl who works at Miss Fisher's home and- defying the social standards of the time- has become her friend.

you can quote me on it

It has been a while before I've posted some of my favorite literary quotes, so I decided to renew that tradition:

“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”
-Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

“Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
-George Orwell's 1984

“When an uninstructed multitude attempts to see with its eyes, it is exceedingly apt to be deceived.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter
 
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
-Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

Monday, February 3, 2014

the eclectic authoress recommends...

43. The third season of "Sherlock", a show I've talked about much before. It's just ended its three episode run in the United States, and has ended with just as big of a cliffhanger as our favorite consulting criminal did in "The Great Game". The cinematography is as beautiful as ever, and the plot twists are even more intense.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

midweek enjoyments

So many wonderful bloggers do "Friday Favorites", and I have tried to jump on that bandwagon a few times. I find it difficult, however, to that sort of scheduled post. I love that sort of collective, though, and have decided upon a new trend: "Whenever-I-Get-Time-To-Blog-During-the-Week Favorites". And here are mine:

1. Kate Gabrielle's (of Scathingly Brilliant) society6 shop has begun to offer wall clocks, and they are absolutely gorgeous. Basically, society6 takes her lovely designs- vintage wallpapers, phases of the moon, and drawings of 1920s flappers- and puts them on everything they can think of, including iPhone cases, t-shirts, and throw pillows. They're all completely lovely, but I am definitely a fan of the clocks.



2. These shoes  from Topshop are so incredibly beautiful. They are also rather pricey, and it is also very much still winter. Even so, I can't stop from looking at them every chance I get, and trying to find a cheaper version somewhere. (Even though the real things would be preferable. Perhaps they'll go on sale?)
MARGATE Double Buckle Geek Shoes

3.  Urban Outfitters has its spring floral dresses collection out already, and it is making me seriously pine for summer. January has already been cold and long, so I think that perhaps we should all just skip February and March and move straight to sundresses.
Kimchi Blue Ruby Keyhole Fit & Flare Dress

4. The third season of "Sherlock", the raved about BBC show, is airing in the United States. The second episode (of a three-episode season) aired on Sunday. It was absolutely wonderful- just like all of the other "Sherlock" episodes. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman already have a dedicated following, but I simply had to throw in my two cents for this one.



5. Frozen, the latest Disney animated release, is just as amazing as everyone is saying it is. At first, I was skeptical. That, however, changed as soon as I heard Idina Menzel (of Broadway and Hollywood fame) was going to be starring in the feature. The music is amazing, the dialogue is funny, and Frozen is a lovely movie whatever your age may be.




Monday, January 27, 2014

really terribly sorry

I have been very, very busy of late, and haven't had the chance to do much blogging. As I said in the title, I'm really terribly sorry, and I hope to return in full force by the end of this week.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

stuck in my head

"Swingin' Party", a cover by Lorde, was originally sung (and written) by The Replacements in 1985. It's a wonderful song either way- just listen to the lyrics.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Let's Take a Moment

http://jodielhill.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/004-Civil-rights.jpg
Named after the Martin Luther of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther King, Junior, had just as much effect on the state of the world. He, along with Rosa Parks, is one of the most remembered civil rights leaders. Even now, there is discrimination based on race, sex, or religion. Just think of the terrible uproar over the Cheerios commercial with the mixed race family. This is the sort of thing that Martin Luther King, Jr. fought to end. Instead of regarding the third Monday of January as simply a day off school, try to remember everything that this wonderful man stood for- and try to carry on his famous dream.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It Had Prepared Me For So Many Things

Heather Vogel Frederick's The Mother Daughter Book Club series contained many lovely novel recommendations. I was thrilled when they read Jane Eyre, one of my favorites. Because of the series, I read Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs, a wonderful story written entirely in letters. And even though the series has ended (and I have grown out of it), the books the girls read have stayed with me.

These books, however, steered me terribly wrong on one matter. It gave scathing reviews to The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a book they had had to read in school. They thought it was much too flowery and wordy, and even their mothers didn't like it. However, I am reading The Scarlet Letter now. And while it is verbose, it is beautiful. The words are exactly the ones Hawthorne wanted, and it shows. Besides that, it is suspenseful. My questions, while not quite halfway through, are abundant. I am intrigued. 

(If you don't know anything about The Scarlet Letter, you might want to skip this paragraph.) Hawthorne makes the reader wonder: Who is Pearl's father? Why won't Hester say anything? Why is her husband so creepy? Why is he trying to learn all of deepest, darkest secrets of the young pastor? Why did Puritans automatically assume witchcraft and devilry was involved in everything they didn't understand?

In short, The Scarlet Letter is worth a recommendation. It's brilliantly crafted, a work of art. Hawthorne is a master writer, seemingly telling a story within the novel. Things like, "if accounts are to be believed" are included, so to almost make it seem like he's writing a history. Though it is a novel, it certainly seems like something that the Puritans could have been capable of doing. And, when put in perspective to Arthur Miller's The Crucible (which was based on fact), The Scarlet Letter seems even more plausible.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Winter Blues

January, February, and the beginning of March all drag on for what seems like a lifetime. It's that uncomfortable period between Christmas and spring, and days like to alternate between snowstorms (per last week) and forty degree weather. Why not, however, make the most of these winter days, and do some online window-shopping? Despite the common misconception, all blue does not have to be bad.

A candy dress from Modcloth













A fit-and-flare, from Modcloth













High waisted shorts, Topshop














A baby blue blazer, from ASOS













Baby-doll, Urban Outfitters

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Eclectic Authoress Recommends...

41. I Wear Milk Crowns, a blog by aspiring author Kim Karalius. At kkaralius.blogspot.com (called I Wear Milk Crowns, and linked to above), she talks about her daily misadventures and her writing, which sometimes fall under the same category.

My Weekend Playlist

Including songs from all sorts of artists and genres, here's the music that will be the movie soundtrack for my somewhat mellow, mostly-stay-at-home weekend.

"Laughing With", by Regina Spektor

"Ribs", by Lorde

"5 Years Time", by Noah and the Whale

"California Gold Rush", by Sara Jackson-Holman

"Exceed my Expectations", by Emma Wallace

"Danger", by Katherine Farnham

"2.99 Cent Blues", by Regina Spektor

"Patchwork Girlfriend", by Punch Brothers

"The District Sleeps Alone Tonight", by Birdy

"Paper Aeroplane", by Angus and Julia Stone 




Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Doublethink

1984, by George Orwell, is one of the most famous depictions of dystopian society. A huge trend lately, dystopian novels show a society that advertises itself as utopian, but is very far from it. (An interesting side note: "utopia", by using Greek roots, is translated directly as "no place".) These novels today, however, have created a new connotation for dystopia: a female protagonist, with at least one love interest, who helps to bring down the regime and/or spearheads a rebellion. Unbeknownst to me until this year, this is not the traditional dystopian form.

Don't misunderstand me: I enjoy the modern dystopias. You've seen me rave about The Hunger Games and Divergent and Enclave. They are generally suspenseful and entertaining, with no lack of sweet romantic moments; they are generally rather well written and planned. These books, however, have changed quite a lot between the 20th and 21st centuries.

In 1984, the protagonist a man in his thirties. There is absolutely nothing "special" about him- no incredible abilities, no superpowers. And, most importantly, there is nowhere he can go to escape the government; there is no opportunity to be like Katniss and sneak under a fence. There are "telescreens" and microphones everywhere, and one has to assume that the government is looking in at any given moment. Brief respites are possible among the proles (the mass population of the poor, regarded as animals), but these are still not safe. As the posters on every wall say, "Big Brother is watching you."

And, while the ideas of love and lust are exercised, they are used to prove a point about the Party (the government, where one works is s/he is not a prole). The "romance" is not for the sake of sighing teenagers. It is important not because it is a relationship, but because of the things it sets into motion.
Also, 1984 does not leave the reader guessing about the rest of the world, as most modern book do. (We know Panem is in trouble, but what about the other five inhabited continents?) The world contains three empires: Oceania (the setting, with the protagonist, Big Brother, and the Party), Eastasia, and Eurasia. Oceania is constantly as war with one, and at peace with the other; this chances at intervals.

Orwell's novel is only one novel that contains the previous view of dystopia. It is expressed in films like Metropolis, and books like Fahrenheit 451 and Thomas More's Utopia (one of the very first). Modern dystopian novels are in no way bad, but they are not likely to become classics, either. Reading both old and new installments of a genre is helpful to see its progression, what has been improved, and what is now lacking.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Presidential Flashcards















That Thing You Do, directed by Tom Hanks (who also is part of the cast), is a fun boy-band, placed in the 1960s movie that brings one straight to the era of records and appliance stores only being open on Sunday. The laugh out loud film is jam packed with witty one liners, many relating to the band's name: The Oneders. Now, this is One-Ders (sounds like Wonders), and the fact that the name is changed (The Wonders) just before they make it big doesn't stop the jokes. It's commonly pronounced the Oh-Need-Ers. And, when manager Tom Hanks prompts the change, the joke "I wonder what happened to the Oneders?" is born.

Throughout the film, Tom Everette Scott and Steve Zahn are constantly cracking jokes, helped along by Liv Tyler (and, in a bit of a breakthrough part, Charlize Theron). One of the main characters is known only as "The Bass Player", and quotes like: "Are you crazy? A man in a really nice camper wants to put our song on the radio! Gimme a pen, I'm signin'! You're signin'! We're all signin'!" are common. 

While giving subtle nods to The Beatles and The Monkees, That Thing You Do is rocking representation of the sixties music scene, basic boy bands, and unpredictable (well, only a little bit predictable) romance. While not exactly a classic, this 1996 hit is funny and fun, and absolutely a must-see flick.