Sunday, November 18, 2012

Put Your Hands Up: The Night Circus

I can't call this book anything but STUNNING. It was a magical experience, and an absolute pleasure to read. 

The story revolves around two dueling magicians, and their warped idea of a game. It ends up consuming, not only the challengers, but all of the characters in the story, and especially the reader. 

The idea of a completely monochromatic circus immediately throws off the conventional visions this spectacle evokes. However, as Morgenstern weaves the story it's one of the reasons the world is so magical!

Reminiscent of Diner en Blanc: where hundreds of people, dressed all in white, descend on a location with a complete dinner party, only to disappear moments later. The Night Circus works in a similar fashion: descending on a town, setting up during the day, and making patrons wait until night fall to open. No one ever truly knowing when it will leave, or what they will see when they enter.  It plays to the deeper curiosity within all of us, and it is a concept that is wonderfully explored throughout the whole novel, by this masterful author. 

I would recommend this novel to anyone, young or old, but it is aimed more toward adults. Go out and read this novel. It is absolutely beautiful!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Authors and Alcohol: Thirsty Thursday

Most adults, over the age of 21, are no strangers to drinking games. They are usually associated with college age, young blooded, students with questionable common sense, and a lot of free time. However, I would like to suggest that these activities can hold the same high esteem and class that the art of reading has held for...I'll say...millions of years!
My friends and I have dabbled in several interesting games over the years, and among my favorites: "Chandeliers"- Everyone gets a portion cup, fills it with a drink of choice, and positions it around a center cup filled with water. Everyone takes a turn bouncing a quarter towards the cup. If it lands in your glass, you are required to drink your cup...if it lands in the middle cup, everyone drinks, and the last one done takes an additional shot. My favorite of all, however; is "30 Rock Mustache"- Draw two mustaches on the TV with a dry erase marker. Whenever the character's top lip lines up with the stache you drink!

So, in my effort to sophisticate the drinking game... I am applying it to my favorite past time, reading! I'll break it down in a few different ways: We'll start with a general reading game, and move on to specified book games!

Fiction Drinking Game:

If you’re reading a Book…
(Suggested beverage: Refer to privious Book Beverages Post)

  1. When someone has an inner thought, take a swig.
  2. When a character is called by their full name, you sip away.
  3. The story has an unexpectedly plot change, or story alltering event,  surprise yourself with a drink.
If you’re reading EL James…
(Suggested beverage: Sex on the Beach)

  1. When you blush or giggle like a girl , shame drink.
  2. When a character questions their worth, question why you're reading this and drink.
  3. When you are disgusted by a scene, wash your mouth out with alcohol.
If you’re reading a Suzanne Collins
(Suggested beverage: Bloody Mary or Virgin Mary-like a Bloody Mary, but sans is a kids book)

  1. When someone sacrifices their own best interest for another, volunteer yourself to take a drink.
  2. When Haymitch takes a take a drink. What a depressing drinking buddy...
  3. Whenever someone says "May the Odds be Ever in your Favor", may your drink be ever at your lips.

If you’re reading a JR Tolkien…
(Suggested beverage: Mead)

  1. When a sword is drawn, take a long pull from your drink.
  2. When a character longs for a different life, stop looking at your drink with longing and partake!
  3. When you see a word you can't pronouce, drink until you get it!
If you’re reading a Stieg Larsson…
(Suggested beverage: Vodka)

  1. Whenever you suspect one of the family members...Do a shot.
  2. When Mikael Blomkvist sleeps with someone new, roll around some vodka on your tounge.
  3. When someone's privacy is violated, pour yourself a vodka.

I hope this helps many of you justify your drinking problems, by adding some culture to the event. If you think of your own, leave a comment! I'm sure everyone will appreciate it....lets keep this enabling behavior going!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Shot in the Dark: Foundling by D.M. Cornish

The Half-Continent is a world at war: humans and monsters have been fighting for centuries. Biotechnology supplies light, engine power and even, in some cases, superhuman powers.

Our hero, Rossamund, leaves the protected, if not fully comfortable, world of the orphanage where he (yes, he) was raised to start a career as a lamplighter outside the city walls. Early in his travels he is diverted from his true path and we discover the Half-Continent and its inhabitants through his adventures. The world is rendered with thoughtful and convincing detail, complemented by the author's own illustrations and an extensive set of appendices (the "Explicarium".)

I have to say that this roulette was a surprise. I'd never even heard of this book, and when my blind groping brought it to my attention I was a little doubtful...However, by the time I closed it I was intrigued. It wasn't the best thing I've ever read, but I did find myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. The story is more like part one of a full story. It can't really stand alone. The good news is the other two parts are already out, so, you won't have to wait to see what happens.

The story reminded me a little of "The Good Theif," but it was aimed more toward a YA audience, and was more enjoyable overall. The poor main character, with his unfortunate name, is flailing around for the majority of the story. It is definitely a fish out of water/coming of age story. It probably should have been called Floundering! BOOM!

The issue here is it has been harder then the dickens to find the other members of this only option is to get them online. So, I'll have to hold off on updating you about the rest of the story.   

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fictional Friends

You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.  ~Paul Sweeney

I always feel like I’m reaching a new step in my life when I close a book for the final time. It's a little like graduation…I’ve taken all I can from this story, and now I have to step out into a new world, armed with the knowledge given to me by the author. It is a bittersweet ending.

We all have those friends that we know so well...we can almost read their minds. Sometimes when I'm out shopping I'll see an object, completely unrelated to anything, and will instantly think of said friend. Almost like some aspect of their personality is enclosed within it, some piece of their personality is attached. I do that with fictional characters too...Random things will remind me of a scene, character, feeling, and I'll be transported back to those pages.

Finished books are my old friends. The relationship is always the same. Every time I run into a former story things just go back to the way they were when we first met. No amount of time can add awkwardness to our friendship...unless you are returning to a book like, I don't know, Twilight... then things might be a little iffy, but I digress. It is a theraputic moment for me to return to a favorite world, and let those familiar words wash over me. Even when I finish they never truly leave me.

We carry our books with us, like we carry the lessons we've learned through life. After awhile they start to shape us. 

I think that is why I've started reading more non-fiction. This realization that reading isn't just a surface event, my mind is melding these stories with my psyche, has made them a part of me, is making me more aware of what I can do.

So, I've started making friends with the whole library! Something from every section is going into this noggin of mine. It's going to get a lot more crowed up here! Move over rambling thoughts, laugh tracks, and day dreams. Prepare yourself brain... 'cause I'm bout to drop some knowledge on you!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Published Pubs: Thirsty Thursday

Ten minutes walk from Grafton Street, on Baggot Street
, is the old style traditional pub Toners. It's well known as supposedly being the only pub the famous Irish poet, WB Yeats frequented. Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 and was also one of the founding members of the Abbey Theatre. Two of his well-known poems are 'The Wanderings of Oisin' and 'The Second Coming'. Yeats was said to have enjoyed the odd sherry in Toners, perhaps pondering on his unrequited love by Maud Gonne!

Patrick Kavanagh was also a regular visitor to Toners. Kavanagh was a famous Irish poet and novelist; two of his most popular productions were 'The Great Hunger' and 'Raglan Road'.

The décor and residents who frequent this pub, help this pub to keep its authentic feel. Toners has an old rustic feel to it with original stock drawers still behind the counter and a traditional stone floor.

It's still a hoping pub, The two times that I went there, during my time in Ireland, it was filled to brim. Toners has that vibe about it, the kind where everyone feels like a regular, and when people enter their voices take on a kind of hushed reverence. I always said it was the quietest bar in Ireland, but honestly with stacking all that 'hush' on top of eachother still makes it pretty loud!

Here is just another suggested stop for your literary pub-crawl!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shooting from the Grassy Knoll: I'm Baaaaacccckkkkkk!

Just finished the Théâtre Illuminata trilogy by Lisa Mantchev. I judged these books by their covers, and I have to say I'm torn between each one. I'm going to break them down without putting in any spoilers in! Then I'll give you all my final thoughts (alla Jerry Springer)...

I loved the concept of 'Eyes Like Stars'... A magical theater where every play ever written rests? Where all the characters are living and breathing? Sets aren't just flats with acrylic, but fully operational Turkish baths, and french cafes? Yes, Please! The characters are shallow, but many are from the greatest works of all time, and I'm always a bit forgiving during the first novel of a series. I finished the first novel looking forward to the rest, and Mantchev didn't make it easy with that ending....

It was certain 'Perchance to Dream' would have to be a different sort of bird. The players took to a wagon, and I got to enjoy a bit of the gypsy life I have always wanted. Side note... a while back TLC network took a break from 'little people' and 800 children families for a little show called "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding!" It followed travelers living across Europe, they had the craziest weddings I have ever seen, with these huge dresses that could barely fit through doors, and would give them permanent hip scars. I was a little disappointed to find though that none of them actually lived in wagons. Most lived in houses and trailers, I think I saw two traditional wagons during the whole series, and they were only for show... ANYWAY, I liked the concept of the hero's journey, but overall the author supplied us with a leading lady, that wouldn't make up her mind, and spent most of her time trying to be a heroin, but failing horribly.

As for 'So Silver Bright' the poor book couldn't decide on a plot! Just when we were digging our teeth into an interesting story line, things would go completely nuts! It felt like the poor writer was just so full of ideas that she couldn't help but put them all in one book. I though perhaps the story would come full circle with the troupe returning to the theater, finding a new dynamic, and living out their days, but alas it was not meant to be. Oh, they came home alright, but the story, and the characters where worse for wear by the end of it.

Overall, I would suggest these books to someone who is looking for a bit of magic, and enjoys a good theater production, but don't buy them...get them from the library!  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Published Pubs: Thirsty Thursday

McDaids Pub is located on Harry Street, just off Grafton Street. A pub that is well known throughout Dublin for its superb pints of Guinness and its lively atmosphere.

It was the headquarters of the post-war generation of writers that frequented the pubs and cafés around Grafton Street. They were described as a “literary circle”- more like a half dozen writers in the same town who “cordially” hated each other. Drink entered them all like the “Holy Spirit”.

A cast of very colorful characters have graced its dusty corners. Free artistic expression was the rule in this pub. Censorship or political correctness had no control over the conversation. The talk covered a diverse range of subjects- artistic, political and sporting- that would not have been tolerated in the more strait-laced pub run by an ever-pious publican. If you could hold your end up in this rarefied atmosphere, you were welcome. To be admitted to the round of drink-buying was a mark of intellectual respect. Money was scarce after the war and a writer earned no more than £5 for a published story. Such a fee went a long way in a pub and there were plenty in the round to help spend it.

It was a favorite haunt of the famous literary author Brendan Beehan and it's said that some of the characters in 'The Plough Boy' and 'The Hostage' were based on people Beehan had become acquainted with in McDaids. It was also a popular haunt of Patrick Kavanagh, JP Donleavy and Flann O Brien.

The interior of the pub has remained relatively unchanged and therefore you get a good idea of how Brendan Beehan may have felt sitting there enjoying a drink while thinking up more great works of art.