Flowers in the Attic; Skeletons in the Closet?

Flowers in the Attic 2

Some months ago, a few lady friends and I had a lengthy discussion about V.C. Andrews’ library of effed up YA fiction (the unspoken genre) while at the Korean spa–because that’s what you talk about when wandering naked among strangers–so I got a bit of a jolt when I found out the Lifetime channel was airing a “Flowers in the Attic” remake.

I remember reading the book and watching the movie as a kid…and deciding I would never do that to myself again. So I’m not going to watch the new version, but the show and a conversation with another friend got me wondering about V.C. Andrews’ life and what happened that inspired so much soap opera morbidity.

So, without further ado, let’s put Andrews in the hypothetical psychiatrist’s chair.

Go to my new website to read the rest of the post!

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A Bookworm’s Christmas

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I can always rely on Christmas to replenish my reading list. Though I’m usually hesitant to don the cape of any boxy classification (nerd, intellectual, snot), I don’t mind being a known bookworm because it means books for Christmas. (And I have to admit to feeling relief that I stopped getting the gift of journals when people started using computers for such things because my drawers can’t fit anymore.)

While some of the books I receive are chosen via my wish list, I get a thrill every time I open the wrapping and scan the cover for the title. Sometimes, I have to recall what it was about the book that made me add it to my list because I discovered it long ago; sometimes, I get books my friends loved and had to pass on to me; sometimes–okay, just this time–the book is authored by a friend. Well, another caveat, Hard Luck Hank (a fun, sci-fi adventure story, by the way) wasn’t technically a Christmas present, but it arrived in the mail just before the Christmas break after being jockeyed around at the post office because it was delivered to my old address.

The next time I’m up at 1:30 a.m. suffering from caffeine-induced paranoid delusions, I’ll have a book to crack open. Welcome distraction indeed.

Oh hey! I also got this beauty!

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Time to learn how to fix typewriters. (Rest assured, I will not be lugging this thing to coffee shops to look cool.)

…I also got this. Because I’ll never grow up you can’t make me! D:<

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Did you get any good books this Christmas?

Anthony Hopkins Reads Small Gods (in my head)

"Now consider the tortoise and the eagle," Hopkins muttered through his muzzle.

“Now consider the tortoise and the eagle,” Hopkins muttered through his muzzle.

I just started reading Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods and, by the second or third sentence, noticed that Anthony Hopkins had taken over narrating duties in my head.

This happens often and particularly with books that have a strong narrative voice. Following are just a few celebrity narrators who have made appearances in my cortical reading room:

Emma Thompson

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen (because I watched the movie before reading the book)

Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling (it tickled me to no end that she was later cast in the movies)

Stephen Fry

Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Alan Rickman

Angelmaker, Nick Harkaway

Morgan Freeman

Everything!! Okay…not really.

The Marrow of Tradition, Charles Chesnutt

Helena Bonham Carter

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

I can’t be the only one who summons actors for narrative purposes. Who reads to you?

Book Recommendations: The Homecoming

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When I was a young girl still full of wonder, I dabbed chrysanthemum water on my eyes to see if it would give me that long-awaited ability to see fairies. I laughed even as I did it, but I felt a glimmer of hope. I experienced a moment of, “This might actually work.” Which led to complete and utter disappointment when I saw nothing but the white walls of my dorm room and the smirk on my roommate’s face.

Did I say I was a young girl? I meant 19 year-old college student in possession of too many Wicca books.

Ray Bradbury’s The Homecoming reminded me of that day. Of wanting to be special and part of something magical. The very same strain of feeling that still draws me to speculative fiction.

Who wouldn’t want to shout expelliarmus and blast the laser pointer out of her chemistry professor’s hand because otherwise she’ll die of boredom?

The Homecoming is the haunting story of the only normal boy in an Addams Family of sorts, and his desperate attempt to become like them during a thrilling reunion. It’s a sweet tale. Bittersweet in all the right ways. You will want to hug the little boy.

I get the feeling Bradbury didn’t care how anyone else was writing when he spun a tale. He did his own thing and oh is it effective. Much respect.

This particular edition is made even better by Dave McKean’s perfect illustrations (I didn’t link to his site because it’s not live). The words and images work so incredibly well together that visual art becomes story and story becomes visual art. That art and those words stole reality from me for a time, and I wasn’t bothered.

Homecoming Bradbury McKean

By the way, I hope you’ve seen MirrorMask.

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Roll Call! First Quarter Reading List

Book Meme Abibliophobia

I do not have this fear. Is there a phobia for the fear of having too many books on one’s reading list to fit into a single lifetime?

Here’s my reading list roll call for the year so far (heaven help me it’s bound to expand by the second):

The Halloween Tree Bradbury

The Halloween Tree, Ray Bradbury

I’m saving this one for October reading. I saw the television adaptation ages ago as a kid and was thoroughly creeped out. It was one of those television shows I randomly stumbled upon, so I only recently realized it was based on a book–and by Ray Bradbury no less. Shame on me!

The Halloween Tree is a spooky tale about a group of boys who have to search the past for their friend who is whisked away by a dark force on Halloween. Traveling on the tail of a kite on the hunt for their friend, the kids learn the true meaning of Halloween.

A Game of Thrones Martin

A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin

This is something I should have read last year. I’m possibly spoiled by the HBO series. But I’ve heard enough times that the book is better than the series (and I am obsessed with the series) so I think I need to stop kidding myself and get to reading these books.

If you live in a hole and know nothing about A Game of Thrones, it’s a sprawling fantasy with political feuding, dragons, magic, dragons, epic battles, romance, dragons and dragons.

Best of Roald Dahl

The Best of Roald Dahl, by Roald Dahl

I need more children’s books in my life and who better to turn to than Roald Dahl, writer of one of my favorite children’s books of all time, Matilda. By getting The Best of Roald Dahl, I feel I’m ordering a delicious burrito full of ingredients I’m sure to love.

If you haven’t read any Roald Dahl, I’d suggest starting with Matilda, of course, and James and the Giant Peach–oh! and The Witches…and don’t forget The BFG!

Days of Magic Barker

Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War, Clive Barker

I read the first Abarat book early last year and it’s time to get to the second. I have a reason for biding my time on this one. I went a little faint when fellow blogger Jacqui Talbot informed me that Barker has not finished writing the series and has, in fact, taken ten years to write the three books that have been released. So I’m taking my time as well, hoping to catch up right when the next book is published.

The Books of Abarat series is Young Adult fantasy that takes place in a strange and wonderful world and features a plucky and interesting protagonist, Candy Quackenbush. Here’s my book review of the first book of the series.

The Tooth Fairy Joyce

The Tooth Fairy, Graham Joyce

This one was recommended to me by a friend who is convinced I will enjoy it, perhaps because of my morbid taste and love of YA books. I’m actually clueless about this author and have never heard of this book. I’m kind of excited about going into a book blind.

Tell the Wolves Brunt

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt

I’m a sucker for coming of age stories and (artfully) plop a shy female protagonist into the book and I’m a goner. I think I first heard about Tell the Wolves I’m Home on one of the many websites I, the co-dependant book addict, visit to receive encouragement for my addiction. And I guess the novel has received much acclaim so that’s not a bad thing.

I bet this book is going to make me cry.

Small Gods Pratchett

Small Gods, Terry Pratchett

After reading Good Omens many moons ago, I decided I had to read a Neil Gaiman authored book and a Terry Pratchett authored book. I read American Gods and now it’s Pratchett’s turn. Reading Terry Pratchett is long overdue.

Almost everything on my list so far feels long overdue.

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What do you absolutely have to read this year?

Book Review: The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye

The Djinn ByattAnother book review so soon? YES! I told you I was going to blog more. This was a quick read–I finished it a few days after The Corrections.

If ever you were a lover of fairytales, of sleeping princesses and dragons woken from deep slumbers, of three sisters and genies in bottles; if you don’t mind a modern take on traditional folksy tales without losing the warm, fireside coziness of said tales, you should pick up A.S. Byatt’s The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye.

If the title alone doesn’t grab you, the stories will. In this collection of five tales, Byatt presents her reader with stories that may elicit faint recollections of books read as a child, but which take some unorthodox departures from the templates of yore, most blatantly illustrated by “The Story of the Eldest Princess” (every older sister should read this one).

I enjoyed the title story but my personal favorite was “Dragons’ Breath.” The dragons here bear no resemblance to the proud, regal creatures depicted in cartoons and in Medieval art. My favorite quote in the book is also taken from this story:

Such wonder, such amazement, are the opposite, the exact opposite, of boredom, and many people only know them after fear and loss. Once known, I believe, they cannot be completely forgotten; they cast flashes and floods of paradisal light in odd places and at odd times.

The title story is set in modern times, mostly in Turkey. It mixes academic essay, history, mythology and modern fiction, taking the three wishes trope and turning it into something unexpected as the relationship between an English narratologist and a centuries-old djinn develops. Byatt’s voice in this story is exceptionally strong. This was one of few times where, as I was reading, I distinctly sensed the author’s personal story and personality beneath the fiction. This wasn’t a bad thing at all. What I liked best about the title story was getting a rare taste of nonwestern mythology. It makes me want to read more nonwestern stories, alerting me to the fact that my reading lists are grossly limited to western tales. This needs to change.

If anyone has recommendations for mythological, fairytale, or fantasy fiction from a nonwestern perspective, please do make your recommendations in the comments section (other than One Thousand and One Nights/Arabian Nights, which I plan to pick up—it was over my head as a kid).