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February 17, 2008

My Favorite Books...

Favorite books...
I'm starting a new section in my blog.
I want to share my favorite books with you, dear reader.
Books that have stayed with me all of my life, comforted me in the depths of gloom and lifted me up to the sharpest beam of sunlight at high noon.

First, here is my heart-book...the book that I've read more than any other and that I read every couple of years, just because...

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

A long, hard look at the legend of King Arthur, from a woman's point of view.

Why do I love this book so much that I've read it every 2 years for the last 14?
Mostly because it's a ranting great read, but also because Marion Zimmer Bradley gives all of the women in her story their own set of balls!
Honestly, that's why I love it.

In most of the other Arthurian legends that I've read, and I've read most of them, the guys are the white and black knights in shining armour and the women sit around waiting for the guys to speak to them, kiss them on the cheek as they ride off to war, AGAIN; or ask the girls to make a decent meal and be right smartly, now, lass...pour the brave lad a glass of great ale.
Seriously.
How boring!

Ms. Bradley stirs the pot a lot and makes Morgaine and Morgause gutsy broads, and the ineffectual but ever-sought-after Gwenhwyfar becomes a strong and loudmouthed woman who tells her darling Arthur what a jerk he is, when he is being a jerk.

These women are real.
These men are real.
Not the fictionalized fairy tale characters of other legends of Arthur.
Real honest blood and balls people.
That's why I love the book so much.
That, and also because she writes the best damned fairy tale for adults that I've ever read.

"She turned her face toward the guesthouse.
Should she go there and breakfast with the nuns, speak perhaps of the old days at Camelot?
Morgaine smiled gently.
No.
She was filled with the same tenderness for them as for the budding apple tree, but that time was passed.
She turned her back on the convent, and walked down to the Lake, along the old path by the shore.
Here was a place where the veil lying between the worlds was thin.
She needed no longer to summon the barge...she need only step through the mists here, and be in Avalon.
Her work was done" ~ Marion Zimmer Bradley

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Julianna Margulies as Morgaine in "The Mists of Avalon"

February 18, 2008

Another Favorite Book...

The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay...a trilogy consisting of the following fantastic books:
The Summer Tree
The Wandering Fire
The Darkest Road

Why do I love this series so much?
Mostly because it tells a intricately-woven story of 5 people from this world being taken to a parallel universe where they are desperately needed to fill the roles that have been crafted for them in
Its a simple story of a group of 5 Canadian university students, Paul, Kim, Jennifer, Kevin and Dave, who attend a seminar one evening in Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto.

They are there to hear a presentation by Lorenzo Marcus, i.e. Loren Silvercloak, at the Second International Celtic Conference. What they don't know is that they are about to be guided into a parallel universe, High Kingdom of Brennin, by Loren Silvercloak, a mage of that world, and his assistant, Matt Soren. While listening to Loren's talk, they are secretly being watched by a svart alfar, a creature of evil, that has crossed over undetected with Loren and Matt.

"Ostensibly invited to come to the other world as guests of the court for a celebration of the anniversary of the monarch's ascension to the throne, all five students quickly find that their roles in Fionavar are far more complex than they originally expected." ~ GGK's website

Sound a little too weird for you?
I also though that when I initially began reading this magical book for the first time. But, after reading a few chapters it became crystal-clear to me that this was no ordinary sci-fi/fantasy paperback. It is a deeply thought-out piece about the age-old theme of good and evil, light and dark, joy and sorrow.

I love the lios alfar and Galadan of the Andain...the mage Loren Silvercloak. I also love Diarmuid, Crown Prince of Brennin and the Mother Goddess, Dana.

I've been reading these 3 books over again every few years for about 20 years. This summer, I picked up GGK's Ysabel. Set in Provence, it's a lovely romp, AND as a delicious surprise, there's a tie-back to the Fionavar Tapestry that caused me to shriek with joy! To find that familiar touchstone secretly placed in another of GGK's books was like colour to the blind.

A fariy story for grownups, a long, languid read for the summer holidays...whatever it is, this series of Kay's is such a lush read that it begs to be picked up every few years...and I do!

" Riding the mad crest of that speed, the two men at the tiller fought to hold their course, their bodies taut with brutal strain.
And then, with no surprise at all, only a dulled, hurting sense of inevitability, Paul saw Lancelot du Lac grapple his way to their side.
And so, at the last, it was the three of them: Coll conning his ship with Lancelot and Arthur at either side, their feet braced wide on the slippery deck, gripping the tiller together, in flawless, necessary harmony, guiding that small, gallant, much-enduring ship into the bay of the Anor Lisen." ~ Guy Gavriel Kay in The Wandering Fire

February 23, 2008

Another Favorite Book...

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The Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier.
Love it.
Totally.

The books are...
Daughter of the Forest
Son of the Shadows
Child of the Prophesy

I call this series fairy tales for grown-ups...this first book was published in 1999, and the series is based on the story of The Six Swans from Grimm's Fairy Tales. It has been re-told in many forms, including one by Hans Christian Andersen.

This book had me from "Hello!"
Marillier writes richly, leaving nothing to the imagination in her description of the countryside, the characters in this book and the variations on good and evil. Reading each page carefully, I could actually see the forest, feel the moss on the north side of the massive trees and walk the paths through the forest that the family have worn flat with their passing.

From cover to cover, each book stands alone as a book unto itself. Yet, woven together, the three books leave one breathless and spellbound, just the way a great fairy tale should. I felt 5 years old again, sitting on my Auntie Margaret's lap while she read me The Six Swans over and over again, until I fell asleep in her arms.

With grave hesitation, I chose the first book for my book club, because we have some members who have decidedly limited reading tastes. Anything outside of those comfortable boundaries causes their canoes to tip. So, I was more than a little skittish to present this book to them. Yet, they all loved it, and they all went out the very next day and bought the other 2 books in the series. So much for my hesitation being well-founded.

Get it.
Read it, then read the next 2 books in the series.

Marillier has already written Heir to Sevenwaters. It will be published in November 2008 in Australia and New Zealand, the USA and Canada, and the UK.

She is currently writing Heart's Blood.

"In my story I sought the human dilemmas at the heart of the fairytale, for such tales have at their core the most wondrous and the harshest of human experience, the best and worst of human behaviour.
Honour, trust, courage, true love.
Treachery, betrayal, cowardice and hatred.
They amuse, shock and reassure us. They make us laugh and they make us cry.
Their innate truths touch a chord deep within us and they show how subtle are the margins between the tangible world and that which is ever present, but forever Other. Most importantly, they awaken in us a sense of wonder, a recognition of the mysterious patterns of being - the spiral dance of birth, death, rebirth." ~ The Author

I've not learned how to post a link on my blog, yet...so in the meantime, while I'm looking for the instructions, here's a great blog by and for authors~
http://writerunboxed.com/

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February 26, 2008

My Book Club

There are 10 of us.
Vastly different in life experiences, often different in beliefs, thought processes and life skills.
The one commonality is our love of books and our ability to suspend our differences and spend an evening talking about our lives and finally, at long last, about the book we've just read.

One is a stay-at-home mom who is also a fantastic day home owner. I want to be a child in her home sometime down the road, if reincarnation is a reality. No one loves her little charges more than this woman. She's thoughtful, kind, open-hearted and as loving as all get-out. She chooses deeply personal books for her selection when it's her turn to choose. Every single book she has brought to us has been chosen because it has touched her heart or soul in some profound way. This woman finds the best in every situation and unequivocally looks for the roses in the garden, rather than the thorns. She shows us how to be a little bit more optimistic and a little less of a little grey cloud in the sky.

Another member is a funny, outspoken, irreverent and point-blank woman who can rock your socks with a great raunchy story or put you in your place with a well-honed word. She's lovely to look at, smarter than she knows and is the most amazing mother to her children. She often brings her book of the month to our meetings, looking a little less than it stepped directly from the shelf at Costco. The edges are limp, the pages curled...she's dropped it in another steaming hot bath! She always selects a book that has wound its way into her heart, and she wants nothing more than to share it with us in the hope that we will all be touched as deeply as she has been.

Our next book lover is younger than the rest of us and has been in our group only for a few months, but already she has had a profound impact on the energy in the room. Lively, enthusiastic, smart as anything...this woman has all of the energy and none of the negativity that so many people carry within their hearts. She is a delightful person and she's managed to change the interaction of our group with her presence. With small children at home, her hours for reading must be a precious few. Yet, she finds time to devour a good many books in a short amount of time, so I know she is setting aside book time for herself, somehow. When this woman chooses a book, she looks for something a little different, a little outside the norm, something with an edge to it.
Something designed to make us think, to stretch our imagination a little bit more. And, we do!

To be continued tomorrow...

"Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes." ~ John LeCarre

October 15, 2008

Book Questions...

I found this great Q & A on Lisa's blog, Books on the Brain.
http://lisamm.wordpress.com/
Give it a try...post your own answers!

What was the last book you bought?
Two books by Jodi Picoult...
~ Keeping Faith
~ Second Glance

Name a book, or books, you have read MORE than once:
~ Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
~ The Fionavar Tapestry - Guy Gavriel Kay
The Summer Tree
The Wandering Fire
The Darkest Road
~ Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life?
If yes, what was it and why did it change your perspective on your life?
~ HOMECOMING: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child - John Bradshaw
This book taught me about myself, about the childhood issues that were running my life in adulthood.
After doing the work with John in 4 separate 3-day symposiums, I finally discovered the tools I needed to take care of myself to the highest level of self-care possible.

How do you choose a book? By cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews:
~ By review, nearly always
~ By a recommendation from friends, on occasion
~ By title and/or cover design, sometimes!

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Both!
I read about 65% fiction and 35% non-fiction.

What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
~ A gripping plot will hook me every single time.
Beautiful writing without a plot just doesn't cut it for me.

Most loved/memorable character/book:
~ Mathew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables

Which book or books can be found on your night stand at the moment?
~ World Without End - Ken Follett - struggle, struggle
~ Suite Française by Irene Nemirovsky
~ The Bourne Sanction - Eric VanLustbader
I love reading Robert Ludlum's books, and since he's passed, Eric has begun writing the continuing saga of Jason Bourne. I'm interested to see how he compares with the original author's style.
~ Mercy - Jodi Picoult...just finished it. Excellent.

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?
~ Foul Matter - Martha Grimes
I read this book this past week, I started it on Thursday, finished it on Saturday.
A great romp of a book...she does a spectacular send-up of mystery novels! I loved it a lot!

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?
Many times!
Books that come to mind are:
~The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Aiiiiyaiiiii! A painful few nights struggling with this book, before I tossed in the towel and set it back on the bookshelf.
~ Several of Oprah's book picks...I find them very depressing, after slogging through a few in a row.
~ Suite Française by Irene Nemirovsky
Dangerously close to closing the cover on this one. I'm finding it a most uninteresting read. I cannot tell you about any one memorable character in either novella in this book, and it's been on my night table for over 6 months. I keep dusting it and putting it back. I wanted to like this book, but it's just not that interesting for me.
~ She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb
Another slow and difficult book for me. Many people loved it, I found it depressing and dark, boring and s-l-o-w.

"Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it." ~ P.J. O'Rourke

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October 22, 2008

I LOVE My Book Club...

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My book club met tonight at Jodie's home...it was my book selection for discussion!
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Renlin.

Here's the website for you, if you want to have a look at it:
http://www.threecupsoftea.com/

There were eight of us together, talking about our lives, our families, our favorite foods...and, oh yes, the book! Everyone who read it liked it. Even better, most people who read it really got it! Some were so touched by the story of the village elder who begged Greg to teach his family to read, so that his children would be able to actually read his Holy Book, rather than just speaking memorized words, like him.
Others felt the joy for the people in the first village when the bridge they wanted was finally completed, and the women of the village could finally get together with their married children.

Our conversation veered sharply right and then left, with a few tangents and sidebars in between. It's such a pleasure to get together with these lovely women and have a lively and spirited conversation about a book. Actually, our conversation is not always about the book, but the book begins the conversation and provides the guardrails that keep us in the groove on occasion.

With a table full of healthy and decadent snacks, washed down by a pot or two of green tea and decaf coffee sitting comfortably inside of our tummies, we finally wrapped up the evening. As we left for our homes, the host gave us our next book selection.

It's one I've been longing to read, so I'm delighted!
The Book of Negroes: A Novel by Lawrence Hill...I am looking forward to this read so much, as I've read the reviews and several articles about it, and now it is sitting on my night table, waiting.
This is a Canadian bestseller, named one of the top 100 books of 2007 by The Globe and Mail. Amazon.com in the U.S. listed Someone Knows My Name as one of the top 100 books of the year.

In the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, this wonderful book is called Someone Knows My Name. It won the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book, won also the 2007 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was a Finalist for the Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award.

Here's Lawrence Hill's website link for you:
http://www.lawrencehill.com/bio.html

"This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own." ~ Harper Collins


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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to That's my story...and I'm stickin' to it! in the Books, Books, Books! category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Adam Lambert ~ Americal Idol Season 8 is the previous category.

Cesar Millan: Dog Whisperer is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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