Monthly Archives:: July 2012

The Robber Bridgegroom by Eudora Welty

July 31, 2012 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 11

Oh Eudora, you rascally old broad. You were rewriting fairytales before it was cool, weren’t you. You savvy trendsetter!

I don’t know where to start. Do I tell you about the genius that was Eudora Welty? Do I explain to you the unfamiliar fairytale, The Robber Bridegroom? Or do I just drive right into telling you about this book and hope I intrigue you enough that you will go look up Welty and the fairytale on your own?

Decisions, decisions….

Okay, I figure at this point, you are well acquainted with my tendency to ramble, so I’m going to try to briefly (that made me giggle a bit) touch on Welty and the fairytale, then dive into the book. Is that okay? If not, skim folks.

So, Eudora Welty. Queen of Southern Literature, in my oh so humble opinion, was a downright brilliant author. And what I find the most fascinating about her, is how long she lived. She was born in 1909 and she died in 2001. I kid you not. Think of all the things she saw. She won the Pulitzer (for The Optimists Daughter). She lectured at Harvard. She sat on the New York Times Book Review. Received a Guggenheim Fellowship. And I’m pretty sure you cannot get out of school in the South without reading something written by her. For me, it was her short story A Worn Path and excerpts from her novel Delta Wedding. I don’t remember much about Delta Wedding, probably because we didn’t read the whole thing, but her story A Worn Path stays with me to this day. In reading about her, I’ve found she loved fairytales. A woman after my own heart! Why it took so long, somehow, despite always meaning to read more of her work, it took me 12 years out of college to finally read her again, I’ll never know. Let’s just say I was stupid. Let’s just ask the question, what took me so damn. long? I won’t take me that long again.

The Robber Bridegroom (the fairytale) has several incarnations. I’m going to give you a shortened Grimm version. There was this miller, once upon a time, who had a daughter. When she comes of age, of course he wants to get her married. At least he wants to get her a respectable husband. Wants to. He just doesn’t try very hard. The first man who pops up is by all appearances very rich and finding no fault with him (there is no mention as to how hard he tried, I’m betting not very hard) the father promises his daughter to him. Time passes, and the daughter never visits her intended (do you blame her??). You see, she didn’t like the look of him, didn’t trust him, and the very thought of him, “she felt within her heart a sense of horror.”

Take about gut instinct.

Her intended calls her out on it and she replies that she doesn’t know where he lives. He tells her it is in the dark woods and she returns basically with the reply that there is no way on God’s green Earth that she’s going out there. Undeterred, he tells her to come on Sunday, he’s already invited guests and he will leave a trail of ashes for her to find her way. Ashes. Invokes a wee be of unease, yes? She goes, leaving a trail for herself of peas and lentils and finds her way to his house. His empty house. Empty except for a black bird that tells her “Turn back, turn back, you young bride. You are in a murderer’s house.” Have I got your attention now?

Up to this point, Eudora follows the story mostly. She changes the father, his story is much more, well, more and the groom has a name and an occupation. He’s a handsome scoundrel. The daughter is an idiot, in my opinion, because she acts like a complete airhead. And she has a wicked stepmother now! After she finds the house, things change. In the fairytale, she finds an old woman who hides her from the men who would murder and eat her (yes, eat her) and helps her escape. In Eudora’s story, she does something completely different.

No, I’m not going to tell you what. Although, if you look at the cover verrrry closely, you may get an idea.

In the fairytale, the old woman and the young bride escape and expose the bridegroom at the wedding. He and all his cohorts are put to death for their crimes. In the book, well, again, it’s very different. Again, not going to tell you how. You have to read it people.

And read it you should. I love love love Welty’s way with words. The way she takes the South, the Deep South, and mythologizes just sends me to the moon with love for this book. She takes this fairytale and mixes it with the South and creates something new, something slightly crazy, something slightly manic, something completely fascinating. The only thing I didn’t like was the attitude towards blacks and Indians, which, knowing the time period the story is set… well, I know it’s the way it was, but it doesn’t make it easier. At least I know Phoenix from A Worn Path is out there in Welty’s canon. If you haven’t tried Welty’s work, what are you waiting on? I’m definitely going to be reading more, very soon.

I bought this from Barnes & Noble as an ebook. If I was you, I would avoid this ebook at all costs. It looks like a 3rd grader typed it.

This counts for the Classics Club challenge and also my personal challenge of reading more classics in July.

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Monday Rambles

July 30, 2012 Books 3

– So. I don’t know if you heard…but Andi and I have brought Estella’s Revenge back from the dead and gave her a new name, and a new purpose. The Estella Society will launch in a few weeks and we need your help! Visit our first post for more info, put on your thinking caps, and help us make TES as amazing as it can be.

– Our (Andi and my) readalong of North and South has pretty much started. I know people who are already reading! Our first discussion isn’t until August 6th, so you have time to join in. In fact, here is the schedule again:

Go to the official sign up post to join in, if you haven’t already. There will be prizes! Pretty great ones too, so don’t miss out!

– You guys, I have been a music listening fiend lately! Let me apologize now; I tried, but I couldn’t leave one of these songs out! I discovered quite a few things I want to share with you! I really REALLY got around on Pandora last week. At one point I was even listening to bluegrass and blues. I don’t know what’s come over me! Well, yes I do. I have a co-worker who always has this 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s Top 40 station playing. If I hear Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones or I Wear My Sunglasses At Night by whoever that was, I may just scream. I listen to Pandora to keep my sanity.

Speaking of bluegrass/country-ish-ness, I discovered The Wailin’ Jennys and I’m really taken with their sound. Who’da thunk.

My weekly dose of The Civil Wars for you:

This is old. I know this. However, I JUST discovered it and I can’t get enough of it. I’m thinking I need to listen to more Sara Bareilles. Her voice is so beautiful.

I found this on my new blues channel. Lawd.

And this? This just blows my mind.

Returning to this Classical Crossover I’ve been listening to SO MUCH, here are a few more bands to peruse:

Oh my gosh, this is a lot of fun:

Unsurprisingly, I like Coldplay better when played by a string quartet…

This is for Jill: David Garrett, the beautiful German violinist.

At the suggestion from a commenter, I created my own Classical Crossover YouTube Playlist. Here it is if you want to check it out. I expect I’ll be adding lots of videos to it. I’m also seriously entertaining the idea of just making a music day here, maybe twice a month. With the addition of Estella to my to do list now, it would be nice to have a day to post about music adventures. Would you like to share in this journey with me?

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Pin It and Do It: A Pinteresting Challenge Round 2

July 26, 2012 Books 8

It’s back! Hurray! I loved Pin It and Do It: Round One, so I’m so excited it’s back! Like last time, there are different levels to the challenge:

The Levels:
Timid Pinner: 1-3 Pins
Pinterested: 4-7 Pins
Pin Obsessed: 8+ Pins

Last time I went for Pin Obsessed and didn’t quite make it, so this time I’m going for Pinterested. Here are a few of the pins I’m considering (all links go to the pinned page, not the Pinterest page) (except for the books, I just want to read them):

Care to join in? See Trish’s sign up post to sign up! What have you pinned you want to do?

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Audiobook Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

July 24, 2012 Audio Books, Book Reviews, Books 11

Shadow of Night
By Deborah Harkness

Read by Jennifer Ikeda
ISBN: 9780670023486
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date: 7/10/2012
Pages: 592 (or 20 disks)
Series: All Souls Trilogy, #2
Source: the publisher was kind enough to send me a copy

You know that feeling you have when a book you’ve been looking forward to for months finally comes out and you have it in your hot little hands and… and… it disappoints you?

Yeah? You do?

That’s how I feel about this book.

You see, I read, and adored A Discovery of Witches last year. It had a few problems, least of which was its slight Twilight feeling, but I forgave the problems because of the characters, in particular, Diana and Matthew. I reread A Discovery of Witches by listening to the audio book and delighted in it even more. The reader was fantastic, the characters every bit as fascinating as I remembered; so my excitement for Shadow of Night was doubled. When I got it unsolicited in the mail, I was beside myself.

Then I started listening to Shadow of Night. I read it with Andi and we burned up the internets. Shadow of Night picks up right where A Discovery of Witches left off, so yes, this review does contain spoilers for the first book. Diana and Matthew have traveled back in time to 1591, Elizabethan England, in order for Diana to find a witch who can teach her how to use and control her magic and to hide from the Convention who so desperately wants to harm her and use her to gain control of a magical book called Ashmole 782. Diana and Matthew land in the middle of Matthew’s old life as a spy, member of the mysterious School of Night AND avowed witch hater.

Dum, dum, dummmmm….

So, um, yeah, that does sound exciting, yes? And it was…to a certain extent. It was all the useless details on dress, on food, on this famous person and that famous person and yes! Matthew knew that famous person too! This book is so bloated with useless, inconsequencial, and pointless to the plot information that it eventually became an eye-roll bonanza. If I heard one more time about Matthew’s garters, or all the many layers of clothing Diana had to wear, I was going to scream. I’m all for building the scene, but I can picture a few things in my head myself. I’m surprised my eyes didn’t roll out of my head. At one point, I emailed Andi to say it felt like someone just had to show off how much she knows about the time period. Harkness is a professor and researched the history of magic and science in Europe , especially during the period from 1500 to 1700. Andi agreed.

My biggest complaint is that this trip to the past few pointless. I don’t see where they did anything in the past they couldn’t have done in the present. They go back to find Ashmole 782 and, as a result of their visit, the book is damaged as it was when Diana found it in the present, so basically, they caused the damage. They do find a witch to help Diana, which takes eons (!) (it felt like, really, it was half the book) but I figure they could just as easily have found one in the present. The only thing they couldn’t have done is met the School of Night (again for Matthew) and HOLY RUSTED METAL BATMAN, I could have lived with out Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe is another beef, but a purely irritating one to even discuss. Let’s just say I didn’t like him and still don’t understand Matthew’s tolerance of him. If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand that I hope. There’s a lot of mumbo jumbo about alchemy, which honestly, I didn’t really understand at all. And if I hear one more reference to the Goddess Diana, I cannot be help responsible for my actions.

And then, there is the Big Thing that Happens at the End and then is Never Explained. *grumble* I really can’t say anything more about that. Spoilers!

That’s not to say the book didn’t have any merits. It did. I still LIKE Matthew and Diana. I probably don’t quite love them like I did, but I do still like them. I’m still invested enough to read the last book, which Andi and I have already agreed to read together as well. A new character was introduced, Matthew’s vampire nephew Gallowglass, who *really* captured my imagination (purr…), so much so that I would read a book dedicated to his character in a heartbeat. I enjoyed meeting Matthew’s father Philippe. And the witches from Elizabethan London were interested, especially Goody Alsop, if they did seem slightly pointless. Queen Elizabeth herself makes an appearance (of course she does…. eye roll) and she is just as I always imagined her and is a lot of fun. And Diana finally starts stand up for herself to the control freak Matthew.

In the end, this book really could have used some editing to cure the extreme case of MiddleNovelitis (trademark pending) this book had. Just a wee bit of editing really could have made all the difference. Okay, a little more than wee.

As for the reader, Jennifer Ikeda returns from A Discovery of Witches and she does just as great a job in this one as that. She has a nice, measured voice that is really pleasant to listen to. Plus, she has an excellent command of accents! In this book she uses American, English, French, German, Southern American, and Scottish; and that is just the ones I remember! And I can’t be completely sure if it was the fact that I was listening to the book or the fact that I was reading it with Andi, but I’m pretty sure one of the two (or possibly both!) kept me reading to the end. So thank goodness for Jennifer Ikeda and Andi!

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Stuff I Love Sunday

July 22, 2012 Photos, Stuff I Love Saturday 13

on a Sunday….

My son just watched this about 6 times. It’s made of awesome. And Joss Whedon.

So, awhile back I asked for some music recommendations. And you guys came through for me! Thank you for the comments, the emails (Chris sent an EPIC email, it will take months to get through it all! Yay me!), and CDs (thanks to my Jilly Beene!). So, I’ve been exploring…and have found a few things I want to share!

I discovered what you call David Garrett’s music. Finally. It’s Classical Crossover and there are whole websites dedicated to it! There’s lots of opera and other stuff, which I’m not quite into, yet, but there is the instrumental side, which I adore. I love classical music, but I’m a rocker chick too, so I love these rocking takes on classical music. I’ve heard of this group before, Escala, but never listened much. I’m hooked now you guys.

And then there is Vanessa Mae (Vivaldi Techno):

Plus, um, isn’t she gorgeous? (Toccota & Fugue):

My Andi gave me this:

Commenter Becker gave me Girlyman. Supernova is teh awesome! The music starts around 1:30…

Kathy gave me Mumford & Sons and The Black Keys! Black Keys – Toughen Up:

I’m still exploring all the suggestions, so I will report again in a couple of weeks.

Lastly, I cannot WAIT for Paranorman!!!

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North & South: The Readalong

July 20, 2012 Books 10

Andi (from Estella’s Revenge, of course, my partner in all crimes) and I had decided to read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell together, since we’ve been reading lots of them together this year. We have THE. BEST. TIME. you guys. Seriously. SO, we decided we had to try some of Mrs. Gaskell. Andi posted about it on Twitter (the root of all evil) and on her blog and it was unanimous. We had to go with North and South. It also turned out a few people wanted to read it with us! Huzzah! We have a Readalong! And when it is all over I will finally be able to indulge myself and watch the miniseries. Richard Armitage! Can I get a woot?

We’re so excited, we can’t wait. So we’re jumping in pretty soon. Here is the schedule:

Discussion 1: August 6th – Chapters 1-14
Discussion 2: August 13th – Chapters 15-27
Discussion 3: August 20th – Chapters 28-39
Discussion 4: August 27th – Chapters 40-52

We’re using GirleBooks edition of North and South, but really, any will do. We just love us some GirleBooks! And it’s free!

Some come on and join us, even if you’ve already read it. I hear there may be prizes! I know there WILL be prizes!

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A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

July 19, 2012 Books 10

So, I realized this past weekend that the month was half over and I’d read like, one, classic book the whole month. I was meant to be reading ONLY classics this month! But then I still had The Stand going, which I am totally going to count by the way, and I promised Andi I’d read Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, which has been all kinds of wicked fun, but still. I want to read more classics for pete’s sake. So, I took my trusty Nook and randomly picked one out. And I picked A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter.

Why? I don’t know…. The cover is pretty.

A Girl of the Limberlost is about a girl. Ha! I kid you not! This girl lives in… guess what? The LIMBERLOST. I know, right? The title is soooo specific. This girl though. She’s like the most perfect creature ever created. At the start, she’s like maybe 14. This is 1909, so she’s wearing gingham and she’s walking 3 miles in the snow. Well, not really the snow, but you get my meaning I hope. She’s actually walking through the swamp. You see, the Limberlost is a swamp in Indiana . And she lives in the middle of it. So she’s walking to through the swamp to the city. She’s the typical backwoods, tomboyish girl. She’s made fun of for her clothes. She’s without lunch because she was so embarrassed to take the lunch pail her mother sent with her, that she ditched it, and her food, along the way. Well, she hid her food, but some drifter saw her and stole it. She doesn’t know where to go when she gets to the high school. She doesn’t know she has to buy her books. She doesn’t know she has to pay tuition. She doesn’t know ANYTHING. She doesn’t know what to wear, how to talk, but by golly she knows math! And natural science!

Now, one would think her parents would have helped her out a bit here, right? You’d be wrong! LOL on you! No, her dad died in the swamp, with her mama watching. Her mama couldn’t help him because she had JUST WENT INTO LABOR. With the girl! Hey, let’s name this girl, shall we? Her name is ELNORA. Really. Elnora. Anyhoo, since her mama lost her daddy because she went into labor, her mama hates this girl. Can barely stand the sight of her. So yes, mama sent Elnora off to school fully aware of these things, but instead of helping her, she thought it would teach her a lesson. In the My Mama Can’t Stand Me School of Hard Knocks.

Despite spending the last 14 years with a mother who can’t lift a finger to protect her from the evils of the big city girls, Elnora is a smart, kind, wise-beyond-her years, plucky kid. She has spent her life wandering the swamp and knows all about it. She knows the plants, the moths, the butterflies, the insects, everything. She’s a swamp genius. She knows her mother hates her, and why, and just lifts her chin and goes on with life. Her neighbors, the Sinton’s, childless thanks to disease, love and dote on her. They do all they can to help, but Elnora (and her beastly, neglectful mother) are Proud. Elnora needs things to go to school and Elnora will get them! How? You’ll have to read the book SILLY. I’m not going to tell you.

You may think my flippancy means I didn’t like this book. You would be WRONG my friend! Girl of the Limberlost has its schizophrenic tendency’s, yes. There were several WTF! moments. The transitions are moodier than a June bug in a soda bottle. However, Elnora is really the angel I suggest and it doesn’t…feel…forced, I guess. I never felt… preached at. She is very wise beyond her years, which is actually completely understandable. Her mother….Wow, she is a piece of work. Here she is talking about how she knew about school:

“If any doubts are troubling you on that subject, sure I knew it! She was so anxious to try the world, I thought I’d just let her take a few knocks and see how she liked them.”

“As if she’d ever taken anything but knocks all her life!” cried Wesley Sinton. “Kate Comstock, you are a heartless, selfish woman. You’ve never shown Elnora any real love in her life. If ever she finds out that think you’ll lose her, and it will serve you right.”

“She knows it now,” said Mrs. Comstock icily. “and she’ll be home to-night just as usual.”

Do they ever come to understand each other? I’m not going to tell you that either! Read the book! One thing I will say in the mother’s favor, she does teach Elnora some important things. AND my most favorite part is how they live off the land. More uncommon now, but making a comeback, many people lived off their land back in these times. The Comstock’s had their own garden, their own animals, their own butter, etc, etc, and they did it all by themselves. Plus, they knew their land. Elnora is definitely someone you would say “knows the land like the back of her hand.” Anyway, just had to mention that.

So. Then the second half of the book comes and it becomes a romance! This poor girl hooks up with a rich guy name Philip Ammon! There are lots of lovely-dovey comments on her innocent beauty, her shining hair, her shining eyes (she’s not long on adjectives, is Stratton Porter), her delightful intelligence, and Philip’s engagement. Yes! He is already engaged! To a socialite! Which whom he has nothing in common! It’s delicious I tell you. Delicious! Do they get together? Who gets their heart broken? Read it and find out!

More yummy prose:

And remember this: What you are lies with you. If you are lazy, and accept your lot, you may live in it. If you are willing to work, you can write your name anywhere you choose, among the only ones who life beyond the grave in this world, the people who write books that help, make exquisite music, carve statues, paint pictures, and work for others. Never mind the calico dress, and the coarse shoes. Work at your books, and before long you will hear yesterday’s tormentors boasting that they were once classmates of yours. ‘I could a tale unfold’–!”

Wish more people thought that way….

I have learned that I am a common man. I admire beauty and beautiful clothing quite as much as I ever did; but, first, I want an understanding, deep as the lowest recess of my soul, with the woman I marry. I want to work for you, to plan for you, to build you a home with every comfort, to give you all good things I can, to shield you from every evil. I want to interpose my body between yours and fire, flood, or famine. I want to give you everything….

*swoon*

I am so glad I picked A Girl of the Limberlost. I can’t wait to read more Stratton Porter, especially when I’m feeling a little down, jaded, and pessimistic. She’s a great cure for that.

I got this ebook for free from the kick ass GirleBooks!

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Monday Rambles

July 16, 2012 Books 10

Oh my gosh you guys, where did the weekend go? Oh wait, I know. It went into making and canning a LOT of tomato sauce, making and canning my own pectin (!), and freezing corn for the winter. And also making a cake. An Orange Ricotta Cake. Witness:

The kids helped too! As I’m typing this, it’s still cooling, but I did sneak a crumb taste and I think it’s going to be pretty killer.

I also did some reading this weekend. I plodding on through The Stand. I am really enjoying The Stand when it’s with Larry, Franny, Stu, Nadine, Joe, Tom Cullen, Mother Abagail (LOVE HER), and the other good guys. When it turns to the Dark Man, Lloyd, and the Trashcan Man, it’s all I can do to pick it up. Since I’m reading the “director’s cut” of sorts, this makes me wonder…how much did he add to the story? Anyone brave enough to read both versions and know?

I’m also reading The Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter (for my classics read this month), who is a lady I was surprised to find out. Gene is such a guy name! Anyhoo, I’m alternating between loving it and finding it slightly schizo. I should finish soon.

I’ve been listening to Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, while Andi is reading it and we’ve been discussing. And it’s been quite hilarious. The discussions, not the book. We are in agreement about so many things, which is typical as Andi has a strange tendency to read my mind. I haven’t even told her, but the other day I was listening as I drove to the library and the whole way I was thinking of what I was going to email Andi (don’t have to give away any spoilers). When I got back to work, I opened up my email to do just that, and she had emailed me EXACTLY what I was going to say to her. Freaky huh? Considering we’ve never actually “met?” I love it.

Let’s see…I think that’s all I’m reading at the moment. I’ve been crocheting like crazy, as I finally focused on a project. Here are a few samples for those who don’t follow me on Instagram:

I can’t wait to see it finished! Thank goodness I can crochet and read (on my Nook) at the same time!

Have a good week!

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