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29.12.11

My Dog

When I was 11 I begged and begged and pleaded and begged my parents for my very own dog. I sent a letter from an anonymous source saying why I deserved a dog. I researched what kind of dogs there were. Then I begged some more. Finally I was allowed to get a dog, he was a corgi and his name was Buddy.

Last November we went home to Colorado and my dog was 13 years old. He wasn't doing so well so I took some portraits of him.



My sweet puppy had to be put down in February. I don't think it will really hit me until I'm back home again in just three weeks. I'm dreading the moment I walk in the door and he doesn't come to greet me.

He used to greet me off the school bus (yes, just like Lassie). We could leave a bag of carrots within his reach and he would go get one out of the bag, take it to a comfortable spot and munch it, then go back for one more. He barked at the vacuum, and he absolutely loved snow (like me!).

I miss him.

27.12.11

Drabble Dienstag - Hidden Among Us

Ever wondered what really lives among us? Getting coffee in line in front of you is a wizard disguised as a homeless man. The woman behind you on the sidewalk is a fairy masquerading as a stay-at-home mom.

A grown woman, I flit among the leaves, relishing the feel of sunshine dappling my skin. My heels stick in the mud, and I swing my briefcase as I twirl.
A twig snaps.
I stop, crouching to stay hidden. Once I’m sure there is no one there I begin dancing again. I take off my suit coat to move easier and lay it across a bush. I spin, and it’s gone. A child is holding it, eyes wide. I make sure to tuck my hair around my pointed ears and yank the garment away, striding out of the woods, dignified.

22.12.11

Delirium by Lauren Oliver - Book Review

Delirium by Lauren Oliver is a testament to what we are as humans. What makes us tick? According to this book, it's love. And in the future someone figured out how to cure us of love.

Lauren Oliver is extremely perceptive about humanity as whole. A few lines:

"You know you can't be happy unless you're unhappy sometimes, right?" (Page 21 Kindle)

"No wonder the regulators decided on the segregation of boys and girls: Otherwise, it would have been a nightmare, this feeling angry and self-conscious and confused and annoyed all the time." (Page 57 Kindle)

She brings all kinds of things from our world into the mix including blogs (or isn't that what she's describing as banned here?):

"...people can't just write whatever, or post things themselves, or write up false information or 'inflammatory opinions'..." (Page 93 Kindle)

The characters have traits that make them seem extremely human. Like how Lena, the main character, has gum wrappers and paper clips and random junk in her locker and her backpack. Or when Lena says something that she didn't consciously realize until it's coming out of her mouth. I do that all the time.

The change in Lena is gradual. She is gung-ho for being cured. It's all she's ever known and it's safe. But her best friend, and so many other circumstances, make her realize that safe doesn't mean best.

It ended without ending. I hate open endings. I know it's a sequel, but I want to be hooked by the writing not by the fact that the story isn't finished. That was my one and only pet peeve.

Have you read it? What did you think?

20.12.11

Drabble Dienstag - The Future of Medicine

This time present tense came a lot easier. What do you think? Am I horribly morbid?

She puts her coin in the vending machine, and the door swishes open to allow entry. Inside the metal box she finds a robe lying on a metal table, undresses, and lies down. Her eyes follow the blinking lights and buzzing noises around the silver closet. When it dings, she dresses again and goes outside to await her printout. People walk by her on the street, not noticing her nervous eye twitch or the sweat gathering in her palms. Finally, the machine prints out a ticket for her and says cheerily, “Thanks for visiting the Quick Doc. You’ve got cancer!”

16.12.11

Déjà Vu Blogfest - Ahhh, Memories

I'm participating the the Déjà Vu Blogfest hosted by DL Hammons, Creepy Query Girl, Lydia Kang and Nicole Ducleroir.

I went back through my posts so I could repost one, and it made me feel a lot better about my blog. I'm always worried that I don't have enough voice but I found myself shining through everything I read. It also made me reflect on the years past and how much I've grown, which is why I'm reposting about our first year in Germany.


Originally posted October 21, 2010

A year ago today my husband and I left the United States for Stuttgart, Germany. It has been quite the adventure. I really believe it has brought us closer, but I wouldn't say it's a good form of therapy for the light-hearted. Stress is our constant companion. We are just now starting to untangle its fingers from around our necks.

I'm surprised to see that I understood Germany pretty well when we first got here. I'm reading through the old blog posts. Here is a photo I took of the farms behind our first apartment. Lovely Bonlanden, the place that smells like farts when the cabbage rots.
Day 81
The adventure of going through buying a car. And then having that car break in the IKEA parking lot and be broken for another few months. (It's now having the same problem, oh yay.)
porsche4

Finding a beautiful apartment, renting and decorating it, and very soon after moving in locking ourselves out of said apartment.
wohnung_7

We've gone to fests and made a ton of new friends. As well as had my family visit. A lot of friends and family are planning on coming out next year, it will be another crazy year!
family_49

We discovered the Nürburgring car-racing track and have traveled so many places. I think Albert has seriously been bitten by the traveling bug, he's constantly wanting to go somewhere new now! (And it's funny because he's only been to Europe once...even though it has lasted a year! He's never even dealt with the jet lag on the way back to the U.S. so he doesn't have an opinion when people argue over which way jet lag is worse.)
cars_2
It has really been a good year. A stressful one, but a good one nonetheless. I'm looking forward to many more either here in Germany or elsewhere. Tomorrow night we are headed to the restaurant we ate in on our arrival. Only this time we can actually order in German!

15.12.11

Book Club - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

We had book club on Tuesday to discuss the book The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell.

The discussion turned to language because in the book the Dutch are trading with the Japanese and language is the main problem between them. In the first part, the Japanese seem kind of shallow and silly, but in the second part the Japanese characters speak in their native language and gain a new level of personality.

Not many people finished the book, whether because it was too long or because they couldn't get into it. I think if might be a book that really hits you right or wrong from the very start. My one hang up was present tense in a historical fiction novel.



We had candy sushi (awesome!) and a great time.

Have you read it? What did you think?

8.12.11

Original Fairy Tales Challenge 2012

I challenge you. (in 2012)

Let's all read some original fairy tales. (original being the keyword there)

And then (if you're a writer) write your own short story based on those fairy tales.

Or just a blog post if you wish.

I'm planning three fairy tales sprinkled throughout the year. One month to read each in February, June, and October. Then the month after on the 1st, post your story or blog post (March, July, and November).

I have chosen three of my favorites, but how can I say that when I haven't actually read the originals you say? (Exactly why I'm proposing this challenge.)

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Cinderella by Charles Perrault
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie 

Blog which fairy tales you'll read and post your link in the widget below. I can't wait to see which ones you guys come up with!

6.12.11

True Colors and Other Short Stories by Michelle Davidson Argyle - Book Review

True Colors by Michelle Davidson Argyle is a stunning collection of literary short stories and poems self-published by the author.

 I found the imagery to be absolutely stark, the language fluid and convoluted in a beautiful way, and the stories natural and inviting in their life-like portrayal. Michelle brings the reader directly into the stories with colors and emotions and dialogue.


The symbolic meanings behind a lot of her metaphors are clear but strong. Water is a constant among her stories, among other things, but it didn't ever feel overused, it was always new. Also, fish slip in and out of the stories; a slimy, slick connection bringing color and life in the form of metaphors and similes. The book is connected as a whole, but each story stands on its own equally as well.

There were a few of the stories that I felt were too confusing. They felt like poems offered in prose form and just didn't hit me right. But then there were stories I wanted to curl up in, disappearing inside them for the next few days.

My favorite was Enclosures with a close second on Clover.

You can find the book here: 
Amazon (paperback)  
Amazon (Kindle ebook) 
Amazon UK (Kindle ebook) 
Barnes & Noble (Nook ebook) 
Smashwords (all formats)

And you can find Michelle here:
http://www.michelledavidsonargyle.com/

P.S. Michelle's ebooks are all on sale for $0.99 in December!

1.12.11

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan - Book Review

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is a science fiction remake of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Can I just say that I hope high schools start moving on to newer syllabi and teach things like this. Hannah Payne, the main character, had an abortion and was accused of murder. The punishment is to infect her with a virus that turns her skin red, so everyone she sees knows what she is.

The first chapter was absolutely superb. Intense, gripping, it sucked me in to the moment and wouldn't let go. Throughout the book I had a lot of emotional response to the characters. A lot of them really pissed me off, but that's a good thing because it meant I was impassioned and wanted to keep reading.


Hannah had such a visible and strong character arc. She went from timid, perfect Godly daughter to strong, independent, knowing-what-she-wants adult. I think she even found the happy medium of still believing in God but not blindly following people who think they knew what she needed.

The ending was a little too romancy and anticlimactic for me. It ended too easily when there were so many possibilities for more conflict.

I would definitely recommend this book, but beware that it does get rather religious. It's not that the book is telling the reader to become religious, but it is a touchy subject and I'm sure some people would not enjoy it.

29.11.11

Drabble Dienstag - What She Wants

I want to use my drabbles as a way to stretch myself when it comes to writing; try things I don't normally do. This time I'm attempting present tense. I found it rather hard because I just wanted to keep repeating the same verb. I was thinking too hard and should do more present tense just to force it to become habit, the way past is for me. Let me know what you think, or give me a prompt in the comments. Thanks!

There’s nothing to be done about it. She wants it now. What she wants, she usually doesn’t get. But this time it will happen. She stands in front of a shop window, gazing at pretty shoes. It’s not the shoes she wants, but something more substantial, something that really means something. It’s all her constant need for attention. This need to be the fulcrum of the see-saw, the pivot point of the wheel. She walks away from the shop. Out in the world are the things she needs, and she is going to get them, no matter what it takes.

24.11.11

New Challenges

Classic books are one of my guilty pleasures. So in 2012 I'm going to join November's Autumn and read 7 classics. I may do more than that, considering I normally read one between every few modern books. But I like the idea of forcing myself to try new ones and blog about it.

My list:
These have all been on the list for a while now:
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

 This one sounds very interesting, which usually classic books don't, lol:
Middlemarch by George Eliot

And one reread because I think I was too young and didn't understand it:
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

22.11.11

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson - Book Review

Ginny in 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson has the adventure that I probably need. She receives a package of letters from her dead aunt encouraging her to follow instructions blindly. She travels across Europe on her own and grows into a different person.

I've been to most of the places she went, and it was like a trip down memory lane. I was surprised at her bravery but also the lack of being told that she was a brave person. Maureen showed me the bravery instead of knocking me on the head with it like some sort of Latin lecture I'd be too stupid to understand.

 
I was frustrated and confused by it being written in third person. Every time I read a letter and it went back to the narrative, I had to remind myself that Ginny was not the narrator. It was unsettling and threw me out of the story a few times.

This book is old enough that I think I can talk about it without spoiling suprises, but if you haven't read it, please stop here.

I absolutely could not believe that the final letter was lost. There had to be a way for her to find it. Or the thief was going to mail it to her somehow. She was a good tourist and had written her address in the backpack in case it got lost and she would return home to find the letter waiting for her. It couldn't be lost! But, alas, it was.

I'm usually ok when a character dies, but the fact that she didn't get to read the last letter was the most morbid, disgusting death of a character I have ever felt. It might just have to do with the fact that I personally hate losing things, but it could also be that I really felt the death of her aunt at that moment.

I wish someone would compel me to travel on my own and find myself. I need a good dose of being completely alone and helpless.

17.11.11

Torbrek...and the Dragon Variation by Lexi Revellian - Book Review

Torbrek...and the Dragon Variation by Lexi Revellian is such a refreshing story. The characters are very natural, the idea of dragons living among people is normal, and the dialogue is superb.

It's a story about a girl, raised to fight like a man, and accepted into the rebel army as one. She is chosen by a dragon to be his master. Come to find out she's the enemy's granddaughter, and the plot just thickens.

The world was strong enough that I didn't falter when the main character, Tor, happened upon a dragon and had a conversation with him. It was all so natural. The villain, Skardroft, Tor's grandfather and tyrant, is eloquent. He has planted trees in his city to make it more beautiful. I found that a very redeeming quality. His relationship with Tor is strange but makes sense. They are mortal enemies, and relatives, but they seem able to keep it separated and neither hate nor love each other.


When everyone finds out she is a girl, it's not that big of a deal. I suppose it never was that insane considering some people already figured it out, but I wanted more tension.

Other than that the grip of the story was perfect. Things aren't always perfect. The only people who can save the rebels don't agree at first to help them. One of the love stories doesn't turn out as hoped. Overall, the story has such a realistic aspect among all the fantasy that it really was a pleasure to get lost in.

14.11.11

String Bridge by Jessica Bell - Book Review


Jessica Bell's literary novel String Bridge is about everyday life and the things we need to give up to live it. The main character, Melody, is a wife and mother who isn't sure she wants to be doing that, she wants to be a musician.


Being as it’s literary fiction there doesn’t seem to be much going on, but the pace is fast. And by not much going on I mean that it’s normal everyday stuff like decisions on what to say to your husband when he does something annoying and whether or not to accept a job promotion. I certainly don’t mean that the book is boring, because boring it isn’t. I want to know Melody. I hope that she becomes my best friend. I’m intrigued by her story and can’t put it down without thinking about it until I pick it up again.

The first hint of a turning point in Melody's character is when she looks at her guitar again, and it is rich and flavorful, like a cool glass of water with a lime in it. I was just beginning to get sick of her whining (even though I could see her point). The pace is absolutely perfect because I'm frustrated when I should be.

Jessica's writing embeds a kernel of pure joy in me at moments. I feel radiant. And at other moments I feel completely depressed and frustrated. The way she writes pulls the emotion from the page and makes it real.

I'm not so sure about the ending. I'm a melodramatic person and wanted it to end sooner with a little less happiness. It was a nice, solid ending. But I'm just a dark person who likes to see people suffer.

Check out String Bridge and Jessica Bell for yourself:

String Bridge Website
Goodreads
String Bridge Book Trailer
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Amazon

12.11.11

Divergent by Veronica Roth - Book Review

Divergent by Veronica Roth is the story of a choice, of identity. It's dystopian fiction about Tris, a sixteen-year-old who has to make a choice of who she will be the rest of her life. She only has five choices. But by the end of the book she realizes that maybe being more than one thing is possible, and probable.

I could not put this one down. The characters are very real. One of my favorite parts is when Tris says she 'might' love Tobias. It felt like the truth, not some sappy love story where she's instantly in love with the cute boy.

I also loved that the story ends. I understand it's a trilogy, but that doesn't mean it isn't also a stand alone book. I absolutely loath books that leave an open ending because they want you to read the next one. Veronica managed to close this part of the story and intrigue me with a little more so I'm ready for the next book.



I had a little trouble imagining things within the world. Placement of people, the way a building or location looked, watching a fight scene and understanding the movements. I had to stop and reread some of those parts and some I just skimmed over and couldn't really imagine well.

Other than that, this book is fantastic, and I can't wait for the next one. I kind of hate Veronica Roth for how awesome she is!

10.11.11

String Bridge Giveaway Winner

The giveaway winner for the signed String Bridge novel by Jessica Bell is - Cathy Powell!

We chose our next book for book club and I would love to have anyone join in virtually. Read the book and blog your thoughts and I will share them the night we get together!

We're reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. We're meeting December 13th.


7.11.11

Author Jessica Bell Interview for String Bridge - Signed Copy Giveaway!

This is Jessica Bell's blog tour for her new novel String Bridge. Yay! I've interviewed her so you can all get to know her better. This is also a giveaway for a signed copy of String Bridge so make sure you read until the end and fill out the form! The giveaway is open until Thursday when I will announce the winner.


So...

Is there something specific you have to do before you begin writing each day? Like having a cup of tea or straightening the pencils on your desk?

I have to have everything tidy on my desk otherwise I feel like the mess will disorganize my thoughts. I also need to know I have as much time as I want. I can't write in a time slot.

Margaret Atwood is one of your favorite authors, which of her books is your favorite and why?

The Robber Bride comes to mind first because it is primarily character-driven. It's told in the POV of four different women, three who are connected by knowing the fourth. I read it a long time ago, but since the day I read it, nothing has really topped it. But I do still LOVE everything I've read of hers. Some of my other favorites are The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace, Life Before Man and The Edible Woman.

Is most of your writing character-driven or plot-driven?

Definitely character-driven, but I do think I maintain a decent amount of plot to keep the pages turning.

Do you have any general advice you can give writers for getting to this point in their careers?

Take criticism and feedback on your writing with a grain of salt. Ultimately YOU have to decide what works. And listen to your heart. Learn the rules and then break them intelligently. I learnt that the hard way. In the early days, I was told by an editor at a professional and very well-established critique service that I had a perfect voice for women’s fiction even though my heart kept saying to strive for literary fiction. I listened. I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote until my story didn’t sound like it was written by me anymore. Despite hating what it turned out to be, I tried to get it published. Then Janice, from Lucky Press, came along and read between the lines. She understood me because she read other material I had posted online, etc. She understood that my real voice wasn’t shining through in this story. But she gave me a chance to rewrite it and it all worked out brilliantly. I can’t thank Janice enough. String Bridge would have been shelved for good if it wasn’t for her generosity and encouragement.

What is your favorite sound?


Bells.


Now be sure to enter the giveaway and go to the other blogs on the tour. Next Monday I'll have a review of the book so be sure to come back and check that out as well.


3.11.11

Fate

Have you ever wondered if there's such a thing as fate?

Are we destined to follow a certain path?

I'm not necessarily talking about God. I'm talking about a predetermined path that we will travel on through our lives. It could even be that there are choices (so we still have free will) but those choices are mapped out to infinity so that the roads we take lead to an alternate future that is already known.
Fate
Sorry if I'm getting too crazy here. Let's apply it to stories.

Some characters have a fate. They are destined to fulfill a prophecy. (Harry Potter and Voldemort cannot survive while the other lives.)

The reason I'm thinking about all of this is because the other day I fell really hard on our stone stairs (I have the nastiest purple backside now). And just the night before I was noticing that I could probably lose a little of my butt with some exercise. I felt like it was fate that I was noticing how much padding I have and then using that padding the very next day.

I know it's a silly story, but it got me thinking.

Do you think we are fated?

1.11.11

Jane Austen's England - My Birthday Surprise

It's Drabble Dienstag, but I've run a bit dry. So I'll just tell you about my most wonderful trip to England. My husband planned a surprise trip for my 25th birthday. We went to Jane Austen's house in Chawton.
This is her writing desk.

That was probably the best part of the best trip we've been on. It was thoroughly relaxing to stay in little bed and breakfasts. One was a farmyard and had the prettiest group of ducks.
He also booked a horseback riding trip just so I could be on a horse again. Of course they were English saddles so he had some balancing issues, and we are both still sore a few days after, but the scenery was stunning. We went to a Bath spa that night to try to relieve the overworked muscles. The warm pool at this spa was on the rooftop and had a lovely view of the city and abbey.

We spent the last day in a little village called Lacock where parts Harry Potter 1 and 2 were filmed as well as some of Pride and Prejudice. The town is owned by The National Trust and kept old-fashioned with no electrical wires or tv satellites. It was very quaint.
The door at the end leads to the mirror of Erised. It was uncanny how much it felt like we had been there before just from watching the movies.

The weekend was absolutely perfect and all the more special because my husband planned it all for me. Now I have to top it for his birthday...what will I do!?!

27.10.11

The Book Thief Book Club

Our book club ended up small for The Book Thief, but we had a good discussion. The only theme we had was some pea soup since it seemed a little morbid to all dress as the grim reaper. Here's a few things we discussed.

A New Perspective
The book was depressing. There's no other way to put it. But it was also a wonderful and fresh perspective on the holocaust. Since we live in Germany we've had the chance to learn these other sides. We've met neighbors that were children during the war. They weren't particularly involved, but had to live through it. It's eye opening to think about the people who didn't have a choice but had to be involved because this was their home.

The Characters
We talked a bit about how the characters looked. Everyone agreed that the name 'Rudy' doesn't fit the perfect Aryan boy. Hans Hubermann is a skinny man with a skinny head and a beer belly. Rosa is plump and soft. We couldn't quite decide what Liesel looked like. Was she blond or dirty blond? I think we all had an idea of her in our head that somewhat matched ourselves.

Death
Death is not really a skeleton in a cloak. But he was creepy. I thought of him as a man in a suit and that in his world he's real but we're all ghosts. He thinks that we are talking to him, sometimes begging him to take us, but we don't know he is there we just hope. He (as the book says) is haunted by us but perhaps he doesn't know if we are real or not. The same way we aren't sure if he is.

What did you think of this book?

25.10.11

Drabble Dienstag - A Blush

 My husband threw a surprise birthday party for me on Sunday. I knew something was going on but not when it would happen. I was so surprised that I simply blushed. I'm horribly shy and having people get together just for me was almost too much.

He's so sweet and is taking me to the UK this weekend to see Jane Austen's house, Stonehenge, Bath, and go horseback riding! He planned it all and I am soooooo excited.

So here's my drabble this week to attempt to explain the feeling of a blush.

There was nothing that would sway her, nothing he could say. Her nerves were steel, and she wouldn’t let him do it to her again. But as the conversation went on, and the alcohol flowed, she started to relax and enjoy herself. Then he said that one perfect thing. She felt the blood go straight from her heart and into her face, the heat was overwhelming. Her fingers tingled, and her palms sweat. She looked down at the floor when his hand came up to brush her bright red cheek.
 

“You’re blushing,” he said.
 

And she was in love again.

20.10.11

Cloak by James Gough Book Trailer

Now I have to say that this is the coolest book trailer I have EVER seen. Clever and original this visual story captures the book and your attention.


James' website is wickedly awesome as well. He has illustrations to go with the book to tease you. Check it out at cloakthenovel.com.

I edited this book this summer for WiDo Publishing. It's a totally fun young adult fantasy novel with human-like animals, boys who are allergic to everything, and villains who are just plain disgusting.

18.10.11

Drabble Dienstag - Red Tea

 Last installment of my tea drabbles. This is red tea, last week was black tea and the week before was green tea. Tell me what you think of them as singles, or what you think of them as a set. Do the characters come through in only 100 words?

They kept calling my name, and mother kept sending me out with plates of food, I sipped between running through the beaded curtain. When they were finally sated I settled next to the counter, enjoying my red tea with fervor and listening for another call. Hasty, beautiful moments savoring the rich sweet flavor between moments of mayhem providing food for the men. Mother tucked a stray piece of my hair behind my ear and moved my sari higher up my shoulder when she kissed my cheek. They called for another round of food and I rolled my eyes at her.

17.10.11

Book Club - The Book Thief

Book club is tomorrow night! So if you've read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak link in the comments here to a blog post and I will share your thoughts with the group. The party this time is not themed, but I'll still do a blog post to let you know our thoughts.

We're going to discuss a book that we would steal if we had an entire library to choose from and could only pick one.

And also what we think the character of death looks like in this book.

13.10.11

The The Impotence of Proofreading by Taylor Mali

Very awesome and funny video of Taylor Mali at a poetry club doing a reading about proofreading. Proofread your stuff people! Especially you self-publishers out there, get someone else to look at your stuff even if it's just your mom. Another set of eyes on your work is invaluable. Don't write like this...


11.10.11

Drabble Dienstag - Black Tea

Another week of tea drabbles. This time it's black tea and England instead of green tea and Japan. Don't you just love a cup of tea in the autumn, chilly weather? Let me know what you think in the comments, I love a good critique.

The two lumps I took from the sugar bowl plopped into the milk like stones in a pond. Greedily, I took another lump and tossed it in too. I watched the water boil, impatient to get my mug and go to the garden. I poured the not-quite-boiling water into the pot and let it brew. Placing the strainer on the thin porcelain, I filled my cup to the brim. With book and cup in hand I went to the garden to sit on the bench among the roses and listen to the birds chirp while I enjoyed my black tea.

6.10.11

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter - Short Story Review

The Bloody Chamber
Angela Carter
Short story/novelette


I got this book as a recommendation for fairy tale retellings in a darker tone. So far I am absolutely in love.

Three wives dead, one never found in a boating accident and the story is called "The Bloody Chamber"? It got darker the further I read.

Her new husband is thoroughly obsessed with a ruby choker he gave her, especially while he is taking her virginity and he forces her to wear it. It was his grandmother's and was used as a fancy version of the red ribbons for Madame Guillotine fashion during the French Revolution.

As soon as he showed her his ring of keys, and the one he doesn't want her to use, I knew the story was the tale of Bluebeard who has a room full of dead wives. I didn't even think that he was setting her up for failure by enticing her with the key. He wanted her to disobey.

It ends too deus ex machina with her mother riding in to save the day. Angela Carter even writes that it was too easy because she says the mother had 'maternal telepathy.'

The writing got a little flowery for me and I just wanted faster paced prose, but overall it was a beautiful story and I'm really looking forward to the others.

Some of my favorite lines:

"A choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat." - Page 6

"After the dreadful revelation of that bloody chamber, it was his tender look that made me faint." - Page 33

4.10.11

Drabble Dienstag - Green Tea

In honor of autumn (and a writing prompt from my friend) I'm doing a series of drabbles on tea. This week is green tea. I'm trying it out in first person since that point of view is a little more difficult for me. Let me know what you think! And if you have a writing prompt idea, a sentence or even a word, tell me in the comments.

I sipped my green tea, slender hands lifting the cup, holding it on flattened fingers. The wood floor felt comforting and solid beneath my folded legs. The silk kimono wrapped itself about me and rubbed on my sensitive skin with every small movement. The aromatic tea filled the room, reminding me of my grandmother who drank this very tea in this very way. My face felt hot from the steam when I tipped the cup. The hot liquid dripped down my throat; I did not slurp or make a sound as I drank my tea with no sugar or cream.

29.9.11

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - Book Review

Between Shades of Gray if a book about Lithuanian refugees deported to Siberian work camps by the Soviets during World War II. The book is a side of a story that everyone thinks they have heard, but it's not. These work camps were different. They continued on long after the war and even after the refugees came home they were kept silent with promises of more torture.


Truthfully I had trouble connecting with the characters. At least until the last moments. (I don't want to give away exactly why, but let's say the main character does something very selfless after all she's been through.) Although the book is written in first person there is a detachment as though we are still watching the story from above instead of through Lina's heart and eyes. There are times when we really feel her pain - being overwhelmed by the tight space in the train, a soldier inappropriately touching her, her sketching a woman she saw beaten by the Soviets. I don't know if it's a mechanism for the author to protect herself, and the reader, or if it's a way for the ending to have that much more impact.

27.9.11

Drabble Dienstag - Don't Leave Me Alone

I need some prompts for my drabbles. Leave me an idea in the comments. Either a whole sentence or just a word. And I always love a critique, tell me what you think! I can only get better with feedback.

He woke with a major headache, his head pillowed on a rock. The devastation of the bomb had left the landscape worse than a desert. The ground was crackled like someone had balled up tinfoil and then laid it back flat. He sat up. The devastation made him suck in a sharp breath. The love of his life had been thrown yards away but he could see her head was bent behind her body, flesh dripping off her bones in a grotesque, melted way. He lay back down to let the bleeding and headache take him to be with her.

22.9.11

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - Book Review

I put off reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath first because everyone in college had read it and it just seemed cliche. Then I put it off because I was worried it would scare me with all the craziness inside. It's not scary, but perhaps in the mundane and normal way she is insane it is more scary than if she was a true nut. Because that means I could be just like her.

The writing is beautiful, simply beautiful. Such normality made into such vivid imagery. The change in Esther is so gradual and yet so prominent. It begins with moments of silence and then strange sounds. It becomes utter calm almost to the point of lethargy. Then she just gives in to the fact that the world is monotonous and she doesn't want to deal with that.



Some of my favorite lines from the book:

"Every so often a beam of light appeared out of thin air, traversed the wall like a ghostly, exploratory finger, and slid off into nothing again."

"It dazzled and danced with light like a heavenly ice cube."

"Wrapping my black coat round me like my own sweet shadow, I unscrewed the bottle of pills and started taking them swiftly, between gulps of water, one by one by one."

21.9.11

Book Club - The Book Thief


This month we are reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

If you would like to virtually join in: read the book, post a blog post, and I will share your post on the night we meet. (Right now that is tentatively October 18th.)

I'm not sure what our themed party will be this time. Maybe since it's October and the book is narrated by death we can have a Halloween/Grim Reaper themed party!

20.9.11

Drabble Dienstag - The Jump

I've been watching a TV show called Heartland. It's based off of a series of books I read as a teenager that are about a girl and her gift to heal battered horses. The show is pretty good, but it's really making me want to ride my horse and he's 5,000 miles away.


The clock was counting down, but I didn’t focus on it. There was too much else to hold my gaze. Pegasus was sailing over the jumps with ease. But then we came to the jump. There were flower pots, and Pegasus started to snort like he was going to bail on me. I softened my hold on the reins, tightened my grip with my knees, and pushed him through. We flew over the poles and landed with a certain grace that our other jumps didn’t have. The clock stopped, and I wrapped my arms around his neck with a smile.

15.9.11

Senior and Professional Portrait Photography

I had the express pleasure of photographing two sisters last weekend. One was for her senior portraits and the other was for a professional set for a website. We had a lot of fun changing outfits and climbing through flowers. They are really beautiful young women.








13.9.11

Drabble Dienstag

I had a horrible situation this last week. Well, I suppose it started a few weeks ago. My husband has been gone during the week every week for a few months now. On night a while back I found a ginormous spider in our bedroom just before I feel asleep. I tried to smash him but he ran fast. Then I called a friend to come catch him, but he disappeared. I didn't sleep.

This past week I found him again. I went to go to the bathroom before bed and he was in there. I tried to put a bowl over him but he crawled away and freaked me out. So I just shut the door. Again, I didn't sleep.

The next night Albert came home. I told him to immediately go in the bathroom and find it. This spider was so big he couldn't even fit under the door, he was still there. So now I can sleep.

The spider didn’t mean any harm, at least initially. He skittered across the floor and hid in the corner of the room. The shadow covered him, and he thought no one would see him. But the little girl came into the room and flicked on the light, illuminating every crevice. She put her teddy down and saw the spider. She screamed. He ran. Her parents calmed her and put her to bed. She sat shivering, thinking that big spider would eat her. When she finally dropped off, the spider crawled up and chomped a good chunk out of her cheek.

10.9.11

Book Club Themed Flapper Party

We had sooooo much fun at the book club party. We all dressed up and had macaroons and martinis. It was truly swell. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Martinis!

Macaroons and truffles!

The whole group.


(It's a wig, but I like it!)

We had a lot to talk about concerning the book. There were a few people who hate Ernest Hemingway. A few people thought his mistress planned it all while other thought she was innocent. We all agreed that it was overall a good book. We discussed some of the other history around Hemingway and his psyche. There was a lot to talk about besides just having fun dancing around and dressing up.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

4.9.11

Book Club

Our book club meeting is on Tuesday. So if you have had a chance to read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and have something to say, write a blog post and I'll share it at the party.


We're having a 20s themed party. Martinis, fringe, and flapper style. I'll take pictures and blog about the party and what we all think of the book. Have a good labor day to all you American people, and have a good Monday to everyone else!

1.9.11

101 in 1001 Goals

I have a to-do list of challenges for myself that I've been working on since January 2009. That to-do list is 101 Things in 1001 Days. It ends in October of this year, just in time for my 25th birthday.

You can check out the 101 in 1001 Project here. Red is my finished color, orange is in progress, and yellow is a failure. I'm trying to finish these up so I can say I did it! But I think at this point I'm happy with how much I accomplished.



1. Finish this list 1/20/2009

Home
2. Buy a house (it's an apartment but a house in the German sense)
3. Decorate the house
4. Plant a garden
5. Start herbs 4/7/2009
6. Build a snowboard hanging swing
7. Keep the house picked up for 2 months
8. Have the dishes washed after dinner every day for 2 weeks
9. Organize the back room 1/19/2009
10. Organize the “stuff” closet 1/19/2009

Money
11. Have $5,000 in bank by December (had it, and spent it)
12. Put $10 in savings for every completed task
13. Have a “non-spending” month each year 2/2009 5/2010 4/2011
14. Pay off credit card debt and then only use a credit card when necessary

Artsy
15. Take 100 photos in 100 days, one a day (6/25/2009)
16. Finish the first scrapbook 7/21/2010
17. Buy a new video camera 1/21/2009
18. Buy a new camera 6/16/2009
19. Buy a new fancy lens
20. Learn to play 5 songs on the guitar well (this is changing to violin since that's what I'm learning now)
21. Draw with my charcoal

Health
22. Test 4 times a day for a month 7/14/2009
23. Take a dance class
24. Work out twice a week for a month
25. Play tennis every weekend for two months
26. Snowboard 10 times in one season
27. Drink 5 glasses of water each day for a week
28. Take 50 leisurely walks
29. Go snowboarding in Alaska (Or perhaps Germany?)
30. Go surfing in California

Friends/Others
31. Freerice.com – 15000
32. Have a girls’ weekend 5/3/2010
33. Visit Angie in Guyana
34. Write to Angie
35. Take photos at Bri’s baby’s birth 6/9/2009
36. Take photos of Samantha at 6 months 3/29/2009
37. Take photos of Samantha at 9 months 6/22/2009
38. Take photos of Samantha at 1 year 9/19/2009
39. Make freezer food with Mom and Kelli
40. Learn a language with Christie (although we are on different continents)
41. Write my dad a note listing the top 50 reasons why he means the world to me 2/18/2010
42. Write my mom a note listing the top 50 reasons why she means the world to me 2/18/2010
43. Write my sister a note listing the top 50 reasons why she means the world to me 2/18/2010
44. Buy gifts for others on etsy

Learning
45. Learn a language
46. Read 100 books (172/100)
47. Read 20 non-fiction books (32/20)
48. Read Beowulf 9/1/2011
49. Read 10 classic novels
50. Learn about Buddhism
51. Learn about Henry the VIII 2/20/2009
52. Finish all of Jane Austen’s novels (7/7)
53. Watch all of the BBC Jane Austen movies
54. Learn to become a better photographer
55. Learn the publishing world
56. Understand Photoshop better 2/6/2009

Family
57. Travel to 3 countries I haven’t been to (Germany, Switzerland, Austria)
58. Trade something on Freecycle.com (just gave things away instead)
59. Go backpacking
60. Climb 5 14ers
61. Adopt a pet
62. Take a completely impulsive, spur of the moment road trip 7/25/2009
63. Watch 5 sunrises together
64. Test drive fancy cars
65. Go to a Yankees game
66. Camp in the front yard
67. Go to Alaska
68. Work on the Mustang with Albert 5 times 6/16/2009
69. Have a meaningful date once a month for 6 months
70. Climb Devil’s Head
71. Climb the Rock 3/23/2009
72. Go stargazing with hot chocolate
73. Read 3 books with Albert (8/3) 3/25/2009
74. Write Albert a note listing the top 50 reasons why he means the world to me
75. Read Just Do It by Douglas Brown
76. And…Just Do It!
77. Go ice skating
78. Play hockey
79. Visit Paris
80. Write 5 letters to Albert (1/5)
81. Go to Niagara Falls
82. Play Scrabble 20 times (and some in German!)

Personal
83. Have a one sentence journal everyday for the duration of the challenge
84. Get published
85. Start a business 4/4/2009
86. Help Kelli with the non-profit
87. Step out of my comfort zone
88. Read the Bible
89. Find my niche
90. Write 5 short stories in 2 months 6/22/2010
91. Dye my hair again 2/24/2009
92. Take 10 bubble baths
93. Work on Papa’s book
94. Have a spa day
95. Write some letters of advice to my future kids
96. Stop swearing
97. Create my etsy shop 4/4/2009
98. Buy something on etsy for myself at least twice a year
99. Finish setting up my goodreads.com profile
100. Update the blog every week for 2 months 3/20/2009
101. Be content with life

This is the best way for me to accomplish goals. I'm always writing to-do lists. How do you accomplish goals?

30.8.11

Absense of Light - Drabble Dienstag

Here is my drabble (100 word story) for this week. I'm kind of thinking this one is a cheat. It's not really a story, just a character sketch. No ending, just a description. What do you think?

My greatest fear seems to be the only essential thing in my existence. If I am to exist at all the light must play a part. Though I shy from it, and hide behind everything I can find, it is a necessity. Otherwise the contrast would not be there. My ability to attach to people and cling to inanimate objects has nothing to do with the one thing that allows me to thrive. In absence of light I disappear into darkness like the shadow that I am. I don’t want to touch the light, but I cannot survive without it.

28.8.11

Kindle Review and Books I Read in 2010

I've really enjoyed my Kindle, especially because I live in Germany where the supply of English books is limited. I used to go to the library once or even twice a week back in Colorado. So not having access to that many books was hard for me.

The Kindle e-ink screen is superb. I can't stand staring at a computer screen forever. It hurts my eyes. But the e-ink is just like paper.

It's really easy to get books on the Kindle. They've even made it possible to search the web (it's slow because of the e-ink) and buy books right from the Kindle.

One problem I have is that it's not very intuitive to move around and do things. I haven't used the notes feature or highlighting because it's actually a bit intimidating to me.

My sister bought me a first generation in 2008 but I returned it. I didn't think I would use it. Back then I probably wouldn't have, but I really like having it now. (And now even Borders will be gone so it's even more important.)

Books I read in 2010. The last set. I rate on a scale of 1-5.

Persuasion by Jane Austen - 4
Of all her books this is my favorite. There's some depth to the characters that the other books just don't have.

Why Men Don't Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes by Pease

Serpent by Clive Cussler - 3
He's always a great escape into an adventure novel.

Uglies by Scott Westerfield -2
I wrote a review here. Great ideas. Good writing. Horrible ending because it's so open waiting for the next in the series. END your books please, don't leave me hanging. There can be an open-ended hook, but end the story. I don't want to feel like I'm reading a chapter and now have to wait years to read the next chapter.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer - 4
I wrote a review about this one here. I felt everything. I thought we didn't have any food in our pantry because the character's food supply was running out. The emotional impact of this book is incredible.

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines - 3
Ran a little dry for me. Was a quick read but didn't get as deep as I was hoping for.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher - 4
If you want to understand what it's like to be bullied as a teenager, read this book. If you did the bullying, read this book. But it's not for the faint of heart. It will make you hurt.

The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson - 3
Lovely novel.

You Wish by Mandy Hubbard - 3
Really great wit. Such dry humor. The characters were very real.

Clair de Lune by Christine Johnson - 3
Cool concepts.

Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard - 2
I was hoping for another like You Wish, but this one fell flat for me. It was a little too girly and silly.

Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning - 4
My secret indulgence...these books are so fun.

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater - 4
She writes love so well. It's so natural. And the revelations in this book, wow! I absolutely can not wait for the last one.

That's the end of my 2010 reading list. I'm a little worried about next year as I've been reading a ton more. I'll figure something out!

23.8.11

Drabble Dienstag - The Skeleton Key

Here's the drabble (100 word story) for today. I love to hear feedback so I can improve.

That old skeleton key. It sat in a drawer, gathering dust and little strings of cobwebs. The metal had rusted a tiny bit so that it was more brown with red spots than black anymore. Its destiny had never been fulfilled, and now no one even knew what it opened. In fact, no one knew it existed. It sat in a drawer that was part of a desk that had been in the back of an antique store for years. Until a curious little girl came and dug around, she took the key in her fist and took it home.

16.8.11

Drabble Dienstag

I found this new thing to brighten up my writing. It's called drabbles. Stories written in exactly 100 words. So I thought I would do them every Tuesday and have 'Drabble Dienstag.' (Dienstag is Tuesday in German.)

If you want to join in leave a comment with a link.

Here's my first attempt. Feedback would be wonderful so I can get better!


There was nothing more important than acceptance. She had dealt with it in highschool. College had been a nightmare. But now she lived in a city she didn’t know, speaking a language at which she was only passable. It was fine in the post office when she could smile and nod.


Twirling her bracelet on her wrist, she couldn’t look up. It wasn’t the strobe lights; it was the cute guy asking her questions. She couldn’t smile and nod at him. What if that meant something she didn’t mean and it turned out horrible? She walked away.