Theme Song Saturday (43)

Welcome to Theme Song Saturdays, a new weekly meme, hosted by yours truly, in which we share our love of music and books! Since I love books and music, this meme is for fun to try to incorporate those two loves! Whenever I read a book, a certain song -- kind of like a soundtrack or theme song -- plays through my head.

Want to know how to play? Head over to this post to read the rules and get the code.

Here's my pick this week:

Home by Phillip Phillips is more of something I hope for Maisie.  After the talk with her father in the Countess' quarters and with her mother outside of the hotel, she really has nothing left.  She has been abandoned and cast aside by the people who should love her and care for her more than anything.  However, their own selfish endeavors mean more to them than their own child.  All she is left with is Sir Claude and Mrs. Beale.  When I heard this song, I could imagine Sir Claude taking Maisie by the hand and telling her that he was going to make this place her home.  Even through the rejection, she would always be loved and have a home.    

What's yours?  Leave a link in the comments to your post ^_^

Much love, Sinn

Book Review — What Maisie Knew

Title:  What Maisie Knew
Author:  Henry James
Genre:  Classics
Pages:  Oversize paperback, 272
Published:  2002 (What Maisie Knew was originally published September 17, 1897)
Publisher:  Modern Library
Opening Lines: "The litigation had seemed interminable and had in face been complicated; but by the decision on the appeal to the judgement of the divorce-court was confirmed as to the assignment of the child."

"In the aftermath of an acrimonious divorce, young Maisie Farange finds herself shuttled back and forth between her father and mother, both of them amoral and monstrously self-involved. After her parents find new spouses—and after the new spouses find themselves drawn to each other, as much for Maisie's sake as their own—Maisie feels even more misplaced. As she observes the world of adults and their adulteries, and finds herself in the position to decide her own fate, Henry James's rendering of her child's-eye view—his depiction of what precisely Maisie knows—draws the reader into this scathing satire of social mores and insightful meditations on familial dependence."

~ Jacket copy

Thoughts:  During my tenure as a student at the university, I read my fair share of 19th century authors.  While the 19th century was not my favorite time period—I took as many medieval literature classes as I could and devoured Viking/Icelandic sagas—Henry James was one of the authors that kept reoccurring.  Many of my professors liked his work; however, without fail, we would always read Daisy Miller.  So, even while I had a little experience with James, I never had the chance to read one of his novels.  When I discovered that What Maisie Knew was being turning into a film, I decided it was finally time to settle down with something other than a short story.  And, even though it was daunting, it ended up being well worth the effort.

The book opens with a vicious divorce between Beale and Ida Farange.  From brief details given, it seemed like a circus of mud-slinging.  And at the centre of it all is their little daughter, Maisie.  The court decides that she is to split her time between her parents.  Six months are spent with her mother; six months with her father.  And, through all of this, both of her parents decide to use her as their own personal weapon.  Sending her to the other parent with little "gems" and messages, Maisie cannot help being a carrier pigeon for her parents' continued hostility.  As things progress, each of her parents remarry.  And, from all appearances, her step-parents love her, care for her, and give her more love than either of her parents.  However, being the people that they are, her parents decide to partake in adulterous affairs with other people, and, whether it is full intentional or not, they involve Maisie.  All the while, her step-parents are drawn together out of their mutual love for the child.  Instead of being an innocent child, Maisie is thrust into an adult world of intrigue, drama, and failed relationships.

From the first page to the last, this book is heart rending!  It appears as though Maisie was merely an accessory to her parents.  She was constantly used as a way to send hurtful and damning messages to each parent, they wanted her as their own information gatherer, and so on.  Every horrible thing you can imagine, her parents made her do.  And, unless she had some juicy tidbit about the other parent, neither parent was interested in her company, and she was cast off to governesses.  When her parents do speak with her concerning other things, she is subjected to horrible psychological abuse.

Through all of this, Maisie is struggling with her position in the world, her family, and her role.  While she loves Sir Claude and Mrs. Beale—and the idea of them being together—she wants her parents to want her and to be a part of their lives.  At every turn, she is cast aside by the people who are supposed to love her the most.  When each parent individually asks the child to come with them, it hurt to read that Maisie—in the maturity and knowledge gained from watching her parents' self-destructive and self-involved behavior—knew they didn't really want her but where just reassuring themselves that they did try to put on a show that they wanted her. 

Honestly, this book is extremely hard to discuss without giving everything away.  Suffice it to say, this book obviously spans a number of years, and Maisie grows older as the story goes on.  However, while James does not tell the specific passing of time, it is obvious in Maisie's widening of knowledge, her field of vision, and her ability to learn and manipulate the games being played around her that she is aging.  While this book follows Maisie, it also seems to be a huge statement from James about parents refusing to take responsibility and the decay of the system of marriage and what people will do/sacrifice in order to keep themselves happy.  At the centre of the whirlwind of her parents' divorce and multiple love affairs, Mrs. Wix's batty nature, and Sir Claude and Mrs. Beale's relationship, is a young girl who has been cast aside by her parents and desperately wants someplace, someone to belong to.

The finally chapter of this book really brings home the reality that Maisie lives in.  Furthermore, it also uses Mrs. Wix as James' mouthpiece to attack the behavior exhibited by both sets of parents and voice his feelings concerning the parental role.  And, while I understand Maisie's final choice, I still find myself wishing that Sir Claude had been willing to do as the child had asked.  

Current Pages: 16,282
Current Progress:

55/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Theme Song Saturday (42)

Welcome to Theme Song Saturdays, a new weekly meme, hosted by yours truly, in which we share our love of music and books! Since I love books and music, this meme is for fun to try to incorporate those two loves! Whenever I read a book, a certain song -- kind of like a soundtrack or theme song -- plays through my head.

Want to know how to play? Head over to this post to read the rules and get the code.

I'm changing things up a bit today.  When I heard this song and saw the video, I thought of a character rather than a book.  With that in mind, here's my pick this week:

Some Nights by Fun reminds me of Bill Compton from the Southern Vampire Mysteries.  After fighting in the Civil War—and watching many people die, including close friends—he is taken from his family and turned into a vampire. Honestly, the subject matter of the video and the song is self explanatory!  ^_~

What's yours?  Leave a link in the comments to your post ^_^

Much love, Sinn

Book Beginnings

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader. Every Friday, we share the first sentence (or more) of the book we are currently reading. Be sure to share your initial thoughts and impressions!

Here's mine:
"The litigation had seemed interminable and had in face been complicated; but by the decision on the appeal to the judgement of the divorce-court was confirmed as to the assignment of the child.  The father, who, though bespattered from head to foot, had made good his case, was in pursuance of this triumph, appointed to keep her: it was not so much that the mother's character had been more absolutely damaged as that the brilliancy of a lady's complexion (and this lady's, in court, was immensely remarked) might be more regarded as showing the spots."
What Maisie Knew by Henry James

These first two sentences really set the stage for the novel.  It shows the character of Maisie's parents.  Further, it sets up the reader to see Maisie put in the middle of a power struggle between the divorcees.  Aside from disgust I felt and compassion for Maisie, I didn't have any impressions when I originally read the first sentences.   

Much love, Sinn

Follow Friday

Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View and Alison at Alison Can Read. The point is to follow as many book blog as you can and make new friends! As part of the adventure, she gives a weekly question.

Here's this week's question:

Q: What have you learned from book blogging that you didn't know before about the publishing industry?



Hmm, that's a tough one.  I think how much the publishing industry is relying on bloggers for word of mouth about new books and authors, continuing series, returning authors, etc. has been a real revelation to me.  It is a pretty neat process!
Much love, Sinn

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — My Sinnful Take

If you know me, you know I have been waiting for The Hobbit since Jackson made the LoTR trilogy.  That book has had a special place in my heart since I was very small.  When it was finally announced and I saw the first preview, the waiting was nearly excruciating!  Imagine my excitement when I learned it was being released the day after my birthday!  As Gollum might suggest, it was a birthday present for my precious ^_~

Since opening night would be rather insane and his schedule wouldn't allow it, my brother and I managed to get tickets for the 10:30 p.m. showing for Saturday night (ah, yes, it is actually Sunday morning!).  He was willing to stay up late after an eleven hour shift so we could see it together as a late birthday celebration.  The people at the theatre told him that he bought some of the last tickets to the showing and arriving an hour early was the best bet.  We got there right at 9:30 p.m.  With the comments when he purchased the tickets, we were rather surprised that only a third of our theatre was full.  Honestly, since we rushed to the theatre after he got off work at 9 p.m., we were both a little annoyed.  However, the previews kind of made of for that.

Unfortunately, the movie finally started . . . If it hadn't been for the ticket prices, I would have walked out of the theatre.  To say I was disgusted is a very large understatement.  Honestly, I don't even know where to start.  I feel as though a large part of my childhood has been violated.  The fact that Jackson had the audacity to put Tolkien's name on this filth insults me to the core.

Jackson stated that he had to break the book into three movies.  Supposedly, there was too much material for two movies. When I first heard this, it made me extremely skeptical.  While I love the book, it is not that long.  I was kind of willing to accept two movies, but three seemed very, very extreme.  And, after this monstrosity, I know why.  If he had cut out all of the extraneous shit that he added—stuff that wasn't even in the book—he wouldn't need to make three movies!  Seriously, the movie might have been an hour or an hour and a half if he followed the book and cut out all of the stuff he added.  I'm still not sure why he added it and refused to follow the storyline.

It frustrated me that the movie opens with Frodo and Bilbo shortly before Gandalf arrives for Bilbo's birthday.  However, with the fact that Jackson made this movie last, he probably is trying to tie them together.  While it was frustrating, it made a certain amount of sense given the movies' order.  Unfortunately, once Bilbo started telling the tale that the dwarves tell, I nearly threw my popcorn!  Thror was killed in Moria, Thorin was young when Smaug took the mountain, Dain killed Azog, Thorin is the oldest of the dwarves with a grey beard, etc.  I was still trying to be hopeful, but the movie got progressively worse.  I was appalled at the dwarves' behavior when they came to Bag-end.  They were always very polite to Bilbo.  Further, Bilbo was always very polite to them.  In the movie, his attitude toward the dwarves was very unlike him.  In addition, when he awoke the next morning, he was relieved.  Since there wasn't any sign of the dwarves', he assumed it had been a nightmare.  While sitting down to a meal, Gandalf barges in, informs him he will be late, and tells him of a note the dwarves left on the mantle.

The whole meeting with the trolls was completely wrong, and the occurrences with the trolls kind of forced the company to Rivendell.  Once there, Thorin's behavior toward Elrond was shocking!  At that point, I had to forcibly hold myself in my seat.  I was disgusted and hurt.  Thorin never behaved in such a way to Elrond.  And, if that bullshit wasn't enough, the council never happened!

The whole orc/warg adventure wasn't done properly, the caves with the goblins was also nonsense, Jackson ruined the whole part with Gollum and the ring, the entrance of the Great Eagles was screw up, the battle for Moria was totally wrong, Thorin's behavior towards Bilbo completely changed the dwarf's character, etc.

I could spend pages picking this thing apart and fully explaining what Jackson did wrong.  However, I am too tired and too disgusted to waste more time talking about this filth.  In short, it never should have been made.  If you loved the book as much as I did, don't waste your time.  It is better to relive the magic of the book over and over again.  Don't let this ode to capitalism taint your memories of Tolkien's masterpiece.  If you must watch something, find the old anime.  At least it was fairly true to the book and had beautiful art.   

Much love, Sinn

Theme Song Saturday (41)

Welcome to Theme Song Saturdays, a new weekly meme, hosted by yours truly, in which we share our love of music and books! Since I love books and music, this meme is for fun to try to incorporate those two loves! Whenever I read a book, a certain song -- kind of like a soundtrack or theme song -- plays through my head.

Want to know how to play? Head over to this post to read the rules and get the code.

Here's my pick this week:

Skinny Love by Bon Iver fits more of the mood of What Maisie Knew.  The fact that she is used by both of her parents as leverage against the other shows that the love they should have for her is changing . . . Well, that it isn't what it should be.  Further, the relationships with Mrs. Beale, Sir Claude, Mrs. Wix, and her parents are constantly influx. "And I told you to be patient / And I told you to be fine / And I told you to be balanced / And I told you to be kind / In the morning I'll be with you / But it will be a different kind / I'll be holding all the tickets / And you'll be owning all the fines" show what Maisie is going through during the whole transition.  The fact that she is still paying for all of her parents' issues is reflected in these lyrics.  To me, just the sadness and the tone of the song is a good representation of this book.

What's yours?  Leave a link in the comments to your post ^_^

Much love, Sinn

Book Review — Dead Until Dark

Title:  Dead Until Dark
Author:  Charlaine Harris
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Published:  May 2001
Publisher:  Ace Books

"Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of 'disability.' She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome—and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life . . .

"But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of—big surprise—murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next . . ."

~ Jacket copy

Thoughts:  Okay, full disclosure—I have had Dead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas since the second was published.  Since that time, I have tried again and again to read the first book.  Every time, I get approximately ten to fifteen pages into the book and stop.  To me, the writing was mediocre at best, the dialogue was forced, and I just found it extremely boring.  However, for some reason, I found myself absolutely devouring True Blood when it originally aired on HBO.  Wondering if I could get into the books after watching the show, I started the first book again and stopped . . . again.  After struggling with them for over ten years, I decided to try a final time.  However, my new weapon was listening to them as audio books.  And, honestly, I think that's the only way I got through this book!

Where does one start with this book?  Sookie is the typical blonde, blue-eyed, busty bar-maid that every guy desires.  She doesn't have a lot of money, so it was easy to see that this book would be a Cinderella type story.  While Sookie is a blonde bombshell, her one flaw is her ability to read peoples' minds and see their thoughts.  She goes through the whole book talking about it as a disability.  It has kept her from having many relationships, especially sexual.  She cannot stand the internal dialogue of a man having sex.  However, when Byronic hero Bill enters the picture, she is completely enamored!  He is a vampire; he is tall, dark, and handsome (Byronic hero); he has roots in Bon Temps; and she cannot hear his thoughts!  Unfortunately, there are a series of murders taking place in the small town, and it looks as though Vampire Bill (or all vampires) are going to take the fall for it.  Of course, since that means oh-so-perfect Bill is a possible suspect, Sookie cannot let it go and decides to solve the cases herself.

This book was just annoying.  First of all, it got on my nerves that Sookie had to continually talk about how pretty she was, her ample bosom, her luscious blonde hair, tiny waist, etc.  In addition, her one flaw turns out to be an amazing gift and asset.  Further, Sookie talks about how awful her "disability" is when it comes to sex.  How would she know?  She is compared, in looks, to these trashy women being killed; however, she is the beautiful, sainted virgin.  Small town or not, I honestly cannot believe how naive and stupid she is.  At some level, it seems to be intentional.

There was little to no character development in the book.  Sookie never moved beyond the one dimensional hot Barbie look-alike.  Bill is rather dull and has nothing special to set him apart.  In some ways, he reminded me of Christian Grey.  All that the audience really knows is that he was turned after the Civil War, he was married, grew up in Bon Temps, and a few assorted facts.  Why, with so little knowledge, is Sookie professing her undying devotion and love to Bill?  Talk about the doe-eyed idiot.

The dialogue left a lot to be desired.  I found myself snorting at the sex scenes, which got me weird looks at the gym.  It was ridiculous!  When Sookie's senses where heightened due to vampire blood and she discovered that she could tell Sam's penis was stiffening, I nearly feel off the treadmill.  Really?  Come on, are we all in junior high?

The narrator of this book drove me up a wall!  Why does Eric have a Transylvanian accent?!  He is a Viking!  Reading up on True Blood, the creators originally wanted Alexander Skarsgard to employ his Swedish accent for Eric.  He refused.  He felt that, given Eric's age, he would most likely know multiple languages and have been living in the U.S. for a long time; therefore, he would no longer have an accent.  Further, considering that he is 1,000 years old, if he had an accent, it would be closer to an ancient Scandinavian accent.  If the narrator decided to give him an accent, I would have accepted a modern Scandinavian one; however, as it stand, it was stupid and unbelievable.  And, yes, the Norse are kind of a soapbox for me *sheepish grin*

As it stands, the only way I could make it through this book was because I listened to it at the gym and doing chores.  It was over the top, dull, and one dimensional.  That being said, I have been assured that they get better, so I am currently listening to the second book.  Hopefully they will improve!

Current Pages: 16,010
Current Progress:
54/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Book Review — The Hobbit

Title:  The Hobbit
Author:  J.R.R. Tolkien
Genre:  Fantasy
Pages:  Paperback, 287
Published:  May 1984 (this is the publication date for my edition)
Publisher:  Ballantine
ISBN:  0-345-31858-7
Opening Lines:  "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hold with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

"Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort.  But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of dwarves.  Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers.  Finally, it was Bilbo—along and unaided—who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside!"

~ Jacket copy

Thoughts:  It has been nearly sixteen years since I first read this book.  I have memories of watching the old anime with my brother, and the songs haunting my dreams.  However, the fondest memories involve late summer days reclining on the couch or sitting on the sun bathed balconies at my childhood home with my nose stuck in the book.  Since my brother and I first watched the anime when I was a small child, the story of Bilbo Baggins has had me enthralled.  All of the books have sat on my parents' shelf since before I can remember and have always been a part of my childhood.  I even look forward to the time when I can read The Hobbit to my own children.  When I heard the release date of the movie, I was more than willing to hunt down my husband's copy of the book and reread it.  And, honestly, it still held the old magic!

The Hobbit follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and his dwarven companions on their quest to reclaim the ancestral home of Thorin Oakenshield from Smaug, the dragon.  Being a hobbit, Bilbo is not prone to adventure.  He would rather recline in his arm chair, eat his cakes, and blow smoke rings on warm summer days.  However, Gandalf the wizard has other plans.  Through his adventure to the Lonely Mountains, Bilbo finds something in himself that he didn't know existed: bravery.

It is really hard to review this book, because it holds so much for me.  I loved the whole concept of Bilbo finding himself on the journey.  He starts out being concerned that he forgot his handkerchief and ends up growing into something more.  Reading the book as an adult, I find it to be a wonderful story about self discovery, and the capacity in everyone to become greater than they are.  Bilbo started the adventure as a well respected and timid little hobbit from The Hill.  However, he is soon trading riddles with Gollum in the Goblin cave, taking on giant spiders to save his foolish companions, figuring out ways to save them from Mirkwood, daring to speak with Smaug, and finding ways to prevent a war.

I loved how Tolkien really played with the chthonic nature of the dwarves.  Even though they were known for being miners and amazing craftsmen, once they were inside the mountain, Thorin made comments about wanting to feel the wind on his face.  At some level, even though Bilbo was not overly fond of the mountain, he almost seemed more at peace with it.  It just really struck me how removed Thorin and company was from their roots.  

Returning to The Hobbit after reading the other books, a few things really stuck out to me.  After Bilbo has the ring, the narrator makes a comment about the ring possibly abandoning him in search of another master.  Since this was occurred when Bilbo thought he was still wearing the ring and thus invisible to the Goblins, it shows early on the nature of the ring.  I had also forgotten how Tolkien really hammered on Bilbo's Tookish nature.

For me, this book still held all the magic I remember from childhood!  It will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am very glad that I finally got around to rereading it.  If you have not read the books, I urge you to try The Hobbit before you watch the movie.  While Jackson has done a fairly good job with the LoTR movies, I feel that there is something lacking by not experiencing the magic of the book.  Besides, you might not meet Beorn, be under the impression that Legolas actually shows up, think Thorin is youngish, and assume Gandalf and Galadriel have some sort of romance brewing between them.  Honestly, that would be a tragic thing!

Current Pages: 16,010
Current Progress:
53/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Theme Song Saturday (40)

Welcome to Theme Song Saturdays, a new weekly meme, hosted by yours truly, in which we share our love of music and books! Since I love books and music, this meme is for fun to try to incorporate those two loves! Whenever I read a book, a certain song -- kind of like a soundtrack or theme song -- plays through my head.

Want to know how to play? Head over to this post to read the rules and get the code.

Alright, guys, this week is going to be a bit different.  At the moment, I am between books and cannot pick a theme song this week.  However, a friend of mine tagged me on a zombie apocalypse playlist meme that has been circling Facebook.  While I would love to sit down and ponder out my own playlist, I decided to be good and play by the rules ^_^

Theme Song Saturday (39)

Welcome to Theme Song Saturdays, a new weekly meme, hosted by yours truly, in which we share our love of music and books! Since I love books and music, this meme is for fun to try to incorporate those two loves! Whenever I read a book, a certain song -- kind of like a soundtrack or theme song -- plays through my head.

Want to know how to play? Head over to this post to read the rules and get the code.

Here's my pick this week:

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins by Leonard Nimoy is kind of self explanatory. My husband forced me to listen to this song years ago. For the life of me, I cannot think of a better song choice this week. I hope you enjoy the cheesiness of Leonard Nimoy singing about Bilbo while wearing what looks like his Vulcan ears ;)

What's yours?  Leave a link in the comments to your post ^_^

Much love, Sinn



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"If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish. Registered & Protected