Summer Reading – Water for Elephants

So the internet tells me that November 1st is the release date of Water for Elephants on DVD.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

The things I learned from Sara Gruen –

1. It is possible to write in a man’s voice even though you’re a woman. At least she convinced me and since I’m a girl that might be easier than if I were a guy… but I don’t know. Jacob Jankowski has a wonderfully developed tone. I enjoyed it immensely. In the reverse it made me think of this scene from As Good As It Gets

2. NaNoWriMo is sort of a legit thing – National Novel Writing Month takes place every November. This blogger writes that at least part of Water for Elephants was written during NaNoWriMo though much research was done beforehand and the novel itself took a bit longer than just the month of November to reach completion. However, when investigating the claims that Gruen wrote it during NaNoWriMo she came across this list of works published after NaNoWriMo. Okay, I promise to stop typing that.It’s getting on my nerves, too.

3. Research is a really important thing. Most of the events of her story were taken from actual circus history. Which, let’s face it, is rife with bizarre, secretive stories. One of my major complaints with a popular teen lit series that shall remain nameless is that the research was limited to google and based upon very silly ideas. Gruen actually came down to the Ringling Museum here in Florida to discover more about her topic AND invested in a ton of books as well.

Now I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I need to actually make effort in the arena of getting published. It’s possible National Novel Writing Month might be a bit of a kickstart for me. We shall see.

Happy Wednesday!



When I was small I made a conscious decision not to fear the dark. We lived in the middle of nowhere. Nighttime in Balm redefines darkness. Nevertheless, as we would walk into the dark house I would lead the way, trusting my knowledge of the house to lead me to my room. I do remember a nervous feeling as I looked inot the darkness around me, not knowing what it might be concealing. But in an act of defiance I would square my shoulders and march. Monsters had nothing on me. I knew where the light switch was.

As I’ve grown older what I knew as monsters have moved from my imagination, out from under my bed, out of my closet. They’ve taken up residence in my heart in the form of doubt. They’ve slowly taken up residence in my relationships, my belief system, and my confidence.

I had a pretty bad car accident a few years ago. It took me a few weeks to drive again. And though years have passed I often experience a seizing up as I’m driving. I see my Jeep flipping in the ditch along the Interstate. Or fear my brakes will fail.

I returned to university last fall. In the two weeks leading up to school I found myself almost paralyzed in anticipation of failure. Words have been a longtime friend of mine, yet I feared when put to the test they would fly away like so many birds.

Continue reading “Monsters”

Summer Reading – Short Stories by Ben Loory

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
     Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day          by Ben Loory

I found a review of this collection on Goodreads ; there were some vague references to Ray Bradbury and that was enough to pique (I always accidentally say this word as “pee-kew” instead of peak) my interest.

I became a fan of short stories about three years ago when I first came across Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles. Discovering Bradbury’s collections are what spurred me on to attempt some writing of my own moreso than anyone else I’ve read. It was after reading “The Veldt”, “There Will Come Soft Rains”, “The Fog Horn”, and the list could go on forever I realized that being a “real writer” didn’t mean only churning out Dead Russian-sized perfect novels. It was liberating to experience a complete story encapsulated in such a small package. Continue reading “Summer Reading – Short Stories by Ben Loory”

Flashback – The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

I would be hard pressed to tell you which of the three collections I’ll talk about this week is my favourite collection. But The Illustrated Man does sell itself hard. The premise for the story itself is fascinating to me. Several of the short stories in the collection appear in other collections as well. So when I read The Illustrated Man it felt odd to recognize them. However, given the new premise for the collection I felt as though I was given an opportunity to read them for the first time all over again.

In this collection the “main character” traveling one night comes across a man tattooed completely from head to foot. There is only one space on his back that is not filled in with ink. It supposedly tells the future.

The unnamed narrator looks at all of the Man’s tattoos and the reader gets to vicariously experience some of Bradbury’s most imaginative stories. “The Veldt” gives me chills to this day. “The Fox and the Forest” has a great Hemingway sort of feel to it. “The Exiles” breathes life into some of Literature’s most beloved characters (and some of Bradbury’s favourite authors). Can you tell that I was completely fascinated by this collection? I absolutely loved it.

Apparently Bradbury received mixed reviews for the framing and the collection of the stories. However, I found them wonderful. Each story chosen demonstrates Bradbury’s ability to span genres, to make the future appear acceptably foreign yet relatable as it actually is, and completely creep the reader out. They are parts horror, fantasy, science fiction, and parable. Wonderful fodder for the imagination. Reading something by Bradbury puts me on a high for several days.

You can read a bit more about the collection here. Now, this book was made into a movie which I attempted to watch once. But it was filmed in 1969 and had far too much brown in the scenery. I didn’t make it much past the first five minutes or so. However I’d like to give it another go and since I’m keeping my Netflix/Qwikster account I’m sure that will be possible. Plus this poster is really freaking cool.

The Illustrated Man, the movie

  Tomorrow we’ll talk about the second collection I read: The Martian Chronicles.

Flashback – The Martian Chronicles

The first official day of fall is not until September 23rd so I find myself in a dilemma. Most of my “book reviews” have gone up under a Summer Reading heading. Now I’m curious if I should immediately switch to a General Reading sort of heading as soon as the 23rd hits or still categorize everything I’ve finished before Sept. 23rd as Summer Reading. Ah, the bothersome details of the life of a blogger. These are things you probably don’t even notice about the posts’ categories. Oh well. If you have any sort of feedback, feel free to share. For now I’m going to discuss another book I read a few years ago.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Let’s take a gander at that beautiful artwork, shall we?

If you click here it takes you to a pretty cool post showing the evolution of the cover art from its original publication date of 1950 until 2009. The 1984 version is pretty much my favourite. There’s also a graphic novel version of this collection.

Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles: The Authorized Adaptation
   Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles: The Authorized Adaptation          by Dennis Calero

I only just discovered this version. I may look into it a bit further since I do love this collection so much. Earlier this summer I made a foray into the world of Graphic Novels (which made Pam pretty excited) and I have a bit more patience for them than I did before. I’m a fan of the sedate in my entertainment.

Anyway, now that I’ve given you about five billion pictures to look at let’s talk about the collection. Hmm, where to start? Okay, I’ll be honest I most assuredly did not want to read this book when it was first suggested to me. I even went so far as to read just the first short story and half of the second and claim I didn’t like it. Accordingly I gave it back to the friend who let me borrow it and attempted to distract her from her Bradbury conversion of my imagination. (Turns out my kryptonite was Dandelion Wine). Once I read DW I decided to give The Martian Chronicles another go. I’m so glad I did.

Here are the things I love the most about The Martian Chronicles in no particular order Continue reading “Flashback – The Martian Chronicles”

Flashback – Dandelion Wine

It’s fitting that I’m reviewing this book today. It is, after all, officially Fall now. And though I know several of my friends greatly enjoy this time of year because it means that we can wear scarves and drink spiced hot drinks I find myself despondent over the close of Summer. I wish I had my own collection of Dandelion Wine stockpiled in the basement to keep away the Winter Blues. Little bottles of liquid sunshine; reminiscent of the bygone days of Summer.

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury 

This is actually the first complete collection I read. It introduced me to a wonderfully “down-home” Bradbury. The premise of the collection is set in 1920s Green Town, Illinois and young Douglas Spaulding in particular. The name of the collection is described in Douglas’ words as: “Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.”

It’s a beautiful, fantasy filled romp through the last days of childhood. And though the time period was some 80 years before I read it, I felt connected to the story. It brought me back to the year we lived behind my grandparents in a camper. We planted rows of vegetables that we ate almost straight out of the ground. We had a fire every night and roasted marshmallows quite often. My bed was the couch and we had a little barn storage unit that was our closet. We were right on the edge of the woods and every day I would sneak back there and try to walk around as quietly as possible. I also remember eating a lot of cornbread. I learned to drive the 3wheeler then. I know now that it was a rough spot financially for my family, but I loved every minute of it. It was like an adventure all the time. (And it could be why I’m fascinated by Airstreams and want to live in one).

Continue reading “Flashback – Dandelion Wine”

Banned Books Week

Turns out I don’t like blogging on Mondays. This week you’ll get posts Tuesday through Saturday and they’re going to be a bit eclectic (which is a bit normal, right?)

By the way it’s


I read about this a little bit last week when I read the phrase being thrown around some book blogs I follow. ALA’s website (click on the picture) has a whole section devoted year round to explaining Banned Books Week and the importance of fighting Censorship.

  The parts I found most interesting were the lists of books that have been suggested for ban. You can look back at pretty much any time period to see what books have been censored and why. The Harry Potter series, unsurprisingly, tops the list for most of the early 2000s. The Banned Classic Literature section is interesting, as well, and shines some light on why the public high school system still forces kids to read outdated red-scare literature. Continue reading “Banned Books Week”