a reader's life · book quotes · read-a-thons · Uncategorized

Day Four of Read-A-Thon: Favourite Quotes

I’m pretty sure these favourite quotes are supposed to be from books we are reading now, but to be brutally honest, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read yet. The weekend was completely full up and I got lazy Friday. I am planning to just read today (fingers crossed that this headache will let up). So I’m going to provide some of my favourite quotes from my favourite books.

“Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.” (Blue Lily, Lily Blue)

“Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it.” (about Neil Josten, from The Foxhole Court)

“Better not to give in to it. It takes ten times as long to put yourself together as it does to fall apart.” (Finnick from Mockingjay)

“When we were together, I felt breathless. Now you are.” (for Beatrice – a dedication from one of the books in A Series of Unfortunate Events – I forget which one)

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” (The Book Thief)

“You might say I’m a lock pick.”
“You must be a very gifted one.”
“I am indeed.” Kaz leaned back slightly. “You see, every man is a safe, a vault of secrets and longings. Now, there are those who take the brute’s way, but I prefer a gentler approach – the right pressure applied at the right moment, in the right place. It’s a delicate thing.” (Six of Crows)

“Where now are the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the harp on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?” (The Two Towers)

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things only means Beauty.” (the Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray)

a reader's life · Challenges · read-a-thons · Uncategorized

Day One of Read-A-Thon: TBR & Goals

Since the Read-A-Thon is only covering June 25 – July 3 (which is less days for me since I can’t ever seem to get any reading done on the weekends) AND I am also working on my novel, I didn’t choose very many books for the Read-A-Thon.

The books you plan to read…

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As you can probably see, I’m already partly into The Exiled Queen. I think I can count, it, however, as I’m going to have to take some time off reading a nonfiction book I promised to write a review for. I doubt I will complete either the Father Brown or Oscar Wilde books – I’m planning to read at least some stories from the Father Brown, and I want to read The Picture of Dorian Gray and perhaps some poetry from the Oscar Wilde collection.

Why did you choose these books?

I’ve wanted to read the Father Brown stories for a long time now. The same for Oscar Wilde, especially since I very much enjoyed reading a few of his short stories and his play An Ideal HusbandThe Exiled Queen is the second book in a series I am borrowing from a friend. The Tolkien book is just one book in my list of books to read as part of my research for my capstone project.

What do you look forward to reading the most?

The Exiled Queen – since I am already enjoying it – and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

 

And now for the reading goals. I want to set aside at least an hour or two every day to read. (It’d be great if if I could get three, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen.) As stated above, I’m not so sure I’m going to get through either the entire Father Brown or Oscar Wilde collection, but I want to at least make a good start. If my reading goes well, I may add in either the third book of the Seven Realms series or the Rick Riordan  Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard that I have been wanting to read for a long time.

I’ll try and see if I can do daily updates, but weekends are usually insanely busy for me and I don’t really get much, or any, computer sit-down time.

a reader's life · a writer's life · Anna's Life · read-a-thons · Uncategorized · WIP: Curiouser & Curiouser · WIP: Curiouser and Curiouser

just a few thoughts

Well, I’m finally finished with my short story writing course. It went well, so I’m happy about that. I’m even happier with the fact that I can spend the rest of my summer reading and writing.

I decided to join Trees of Reverie Read-A-Thon – I’ve got plenty of books for that, what with my books of Tolkien criticism, a stack of books from my sister, and a BAG from Emma (mostly fantasy there). Of course, I’m also planning to read The Lord of the Rings to decide whether I am really willing to devote my capstone project to my favourite trilogy.

As for writing, I’ve got a thick portfolio from my short stories course. I passed the 20,000 word count last night. I feel like I need some kind of reward for that (I’ve never written that much on one project before), although I’m not sure what. I’m also considering on making a book of short stories, all having something to do with Greek mythology. I already did a retelling of the Icarus myth for my short story course, which I really enjoyed.

As an aside, my friend Gina’s boyfriend Vincent Frankini did a really neat interview which I thought I’d share. Here.

~        ~        ~        ~

For some reason, I find myself very intrigued with a suburbia aesthetic ever since reading The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic – which has definitely been on my mind and becoming a part of the novel I’m working on. Characters sit on flat rooftops and watch the sun going down. The main character, Alice, works in a little corner store in a bit of a risky area. The people are on the poorer side… and yet, they’re the kinder people. They’re the type of people who would invite you in for dinner even if you are almost a stranger and they barely have enough for themselves. It’s the rich families, like that of Alice’s best friend, who wouldn’t give you a cup of water if you were on fire. I feel like I’ve always been interested in this side of humanity – the dichotomy between the rich and the poor. Living in a middle-class family myself, it’s definitely going to take some research… but I’m excited to work on this project.

Here are some songs that are in the back of my mind as I’m working on Curiouser and Curiouser (my WIP name – at the moment, at least): spotify playlist

5 stars · Book Reviews · Books · Dan Vyleta · Hope in Darkness · Literature Analysis · Uncategorized

Smoke {Book Review}

 

 

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Wow. Magnificent. Oh my goodness gracious me. I was blown away by the utter magnificence of this book – I think it could even replace my beloved The Lord of the Rings as my favourite book of all time?? I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to completely process everything, but then a good book is one that captivates you every time you read, for years to come, isn’t it?

Anna’s rating: 5 stars

 

Summary

Thomas Argyle, Charlie Cooper, and Livia Naylor live in a world not unlike Dicken’s Victorian England. In fact, Dan Vyleta begins with a quote from the Master Author’s novel Dombey and Son:

“Those who study the physical sciences, and bring them to bear upon the health of Man, tell us that if the noxious particles that rise from vitiated air were palpable to the sight, we should see them lowering in a dense black cloud above such haunts, and rolling slowly on to corrupt the better portion of a town. But if the moral pestilence that rises with them … could be made discernible too, how terrible the revelation!”

(Beginning a section of a book with a quote from Dickens or Dostoevsky or Dante or one of those other great authors is my new favourite thing.)

That quote really summarizes the setting of the novel. In this world, any baser emotion, whether that be lust or anger (or even joy), causes a human being to emit Smoke. The Smoke is seen as a sign of one’s fallen state – therefore, the common people live in Smoke, the aristocracy using Smokelessness as a sign of their right to rule. (Of course, they are just able to hide their Smoke because they have the money to do so – nothing to do with morality.) The Smoke is therefore highly entangled with both religion and politics. In the boarding school which Thomas and Charlie attend, the slightest sign of Smoke brings great punishment upon the unfortunate boy whose clothes are found stained with the soot which will not disappear. However, the two boys soon begin to learn that everything they have been taught is a lie and there are deeper, darker secrets to be found in the streets of London.

Continue reading “Smoke {Book Review}”

J. R. R. Tolkien · Literature Analysis · Middle Earth · Uncategorized · Womanhood

The “Misogynist Tolkien” Lie

It drives me nuts when people whine about Tolkien “not putting enough female characters in The Lord of the Rings” and, furthermore, dare to call him a misogynist because of that.

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John and Edith Tolkien

Sorry, but J. R. R. was a male in a male-dominated world. He had one brother. His mother died when he was twelve, leaving John and his brother to be raised by a priest (another male). He attended King Edward’s School in Birmingham – a boy’s school. His priest guardian forbade him to meet or write letters to his sweetheart (and future wife) until he was twenty-one because he thought John’s schoolwork was failing. I don’t claim to be an expert about Tolkien’s life, but it doesn’t seem like he had relationships with very many women.

 

And yet, I think it’s fair to say that John admired women very much. All of his female characters are so strong – I can’t think of a single case otherwise (although I look forward to any corrections since I’ve only listened to The Silmarillion on audio book – I haven’t studied it in any depth). Just looking at The Lord of the Rings, Éowyn is a prime example, deciding to go off to war after she realizes Aragorn does not love her. She is not content to stay at home while all the men go to fight for their country. Éowyn declares, “I am no man,” proclaiming her womanhood before she kills the Lord of the Nazgul, a creature who has driven some of Tolkien’s greatest male heroes to sickness, or even death.

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Éowyn, Defender of Rohan (x)

Galadriel is more of a supporting character, but her reputation far exceeds her, leading men from far-off countries to whisper about that powerful enchantress. Arwen hardly appears in the trilogy at all, but – surprise! – you can learn much more about her in Appendix A. Arwen, like in the Peter Jackson movies, makes her own choice and decides to stay with Aragorn, even though she knows that she will live long after him and everyone else she has ever known. Gilraen, Aragorn’s mother, also plays a big role in the story of Aragorn and Arwen – she decides to leave the safety and comfort of Rivendell to live the rest of her days with her own people, the Dúnedain.

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“Mistress Lobelia” by John Howe

And there’s so many female characters that pop in from time to time! There’s Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, who goes from spoon thief to heroine, attacking one of the men who has helped take over the Shire with her umbrella. There’s Rosie Cotton, who, when Sam Gamgee returns after the Ring quest, scolds him for disappearing without a word. Ioreth, the oldest woman in the Houses of Healing, is the only person who knows where to find athelas when Aragorn requires some of this special plant to heal his friends – therefore, she is the symbol of the wisdom and learning of the people of Gondor, even though she is one of the common people.

There are many more female characters in The Silmarillion, of course. I don’t know enough about this book do an in-depth study, but I thought it might be worthwhile to mention a few notable characters. There are fourteen Valar (I think of them as demi-gods under Illúvatar [Middle Earth’s God] – I compare them to the Greek gods and goddesses in my mind). But I think the important thing to note is that there are an equal number of male and female Valar. Varda, or Elbereth Gilthoniel, is the Queen of Stars and is highly esteemed by the elves. She appears to be quite important, and I believe she is the only one of the Valar who is mentioned in The Lord of the Rings. Yavannah, the Queen of Earth and Fruits, sang the Trees of Light into being and created the ents.

Morwen, the wife of Húrin and mother of Túrin and Niënor, resists the Easterlings who take over her husband’s land and make slaves of the people. None of the Easterlings, however, dare to enter her home because they are afraid of her alleged (and nonexistent) witchcraft. Idril Celebrindal is the only person to realize the dark heart of Maeglin, an elf who works with the evil Morgoth (the Sauron before Sauron, if you wish), before he starts to work for evil. She isn’t just an excellent judge of character, but also very level-headed – she orders the construction of a tunnel out of Gondolin, thereby giving the citizens of Gondolin a way to escape the sack of the city. “She fought, alone as she was, like a tigress for all her beauty and slenderness,” says Tolkien in The Book of Lost Tales.

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Lúthien and Húan in Tol-in-Guarhoth (x)

Galadriel, of course, plays a large role in The Silmarillion, as does the famous Luthien, who was the first elven maiden to choose a human male over immortality (sorry Arwen) and helped her husband Beren steal back the Silmarils from Morgoth.

And so ends my little rant. I absolutely love Tolkien (I have since I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was nine years old), but I have gotten altogether too much negativity about him on my tumblr dash lately, thereby inspiring this post.


Anna is a university student who plans on doing her capstone English project on The Lord of the Rings. Therefore, she is planning to read said trilogy and and start research this summer. THEREFORE, you may certainly expect many more meta-like posts about Middle Earth on this blog in the very near future.