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

Apocalypse Watch Book Review — Masque of the Red Death

Title:  Masque of the Red Death
Author:  Bethany Griffin
Genre:  Pseudo YA steampunk post-apocalypse
Pages:  Hardback, 319
Published:  April 24, 2012
Publisher:  Greenwillow Books
ISBN:  978-0-06-210779-4
Opening Lines:  "The charcoal sky spits cold rain as we rumble to a stop at a crossroad.  A black cart blocks the road, and even in an armored carriage we know better than to force our way past."

"Everything is in ruins. A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

"So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

"Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

"But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone dies.

"And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her."

~ Jacket copy

Thoughts:  I have had a love affair with Edgar Allan Poe's works since I was a child.  His words are extremely haunting and captivating.  There was a time in my life that only his words could truly speak to me.  When I heard about this book, I couldn't get my hands on it fast enough.  However, knowing that I would host an apocalypse themed month, it sat on my shelves waiting to be the finale.

Araby is living in her father's shadow.  Being the daughter of the creator of the masks that keeps people from getting the plague, Araby is able to rise above the cellar to a penthouse.  Her life is spent in luxury, beautiful dresses and makeup, clubs, and drugs.  However, even with all of this wealth and status, she is a constant reminder of her brother and seeks oblivion at the end of a needle.  Wanting Will from afar, Araby is startled to wake up one morning in his bed.  And, if that isn't enough, she has caught theeye of her best friend's brother, Elliott.  Both men want her, but for different reasons.  Araby is pulled from her garish world of guilt, drugs, and parties.

This book is a haunting and dizzying ride.  It is a dance of things that are not said; things that need to be said.  While the masks are a form of freedom, they are also a way to hide.  Araby spends her time hiding from herself, her family, and friend.  She lives with unbearable guilt over her twin brother and spends her time with April in the Debauchery Club.  The inside of the Club reminds me of the opium dens in the Victorian era.  The patrons did not find it strange that Araby would lose consciousness, that April had to carry her out of the Club, etc.  Honestly, even though it is not, the inside of the club reminded me of Prospero's party in Poe's short story.

I loved how Araby was defined by her guilt and vow.  However, Griffin did a wonderful job showing how she was able to grow and move beyond that.  The distance between the girl and her parents was extremely heartbreaking.  It was obvious how badly they wanted to reach out and talk to each other.

The little steampunk touches added an interesting element to the story.  I wouldn't go so far as to say the book was fully steampunk.  Granted, there were airships, gaslights, and steam cars.  But it was not a gritty steampunk novel.  It was more of a vehicle for the storyline.  

The landscape in the book was amazing!  Even though Griffin didn't specifically state it, I felt as though they were traveling through a landscape of gray.  The only colour was in the fancy dresses that the upper classes wore, the makeup, and the more fashionable masks.  The clothing was an extreme contrast to the setting.  It was garish and halting.  To me, it was like the landscape of Europe during the Bubonic Plague: bodies littering the streets, people walking around with handkerchiefs in front of their faces, poor begging food, and revelers trying to out dance death.

It struck me that the story kind of takes place before Prospero's party and that the main character was named Araby.  Griffin pulls to two literary greats! 

This book is a page turner.  Once I started, it was hard to put down!  Araby's inner struggle captivated me from the first page and stayed with me until the last.  This book was masterfully written and crafted.  It is hard to read, and it will linger once you have finished.  My hat is off to Bethany Griffin for writing this beautiful piece of literature!

"And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."  Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

Current Pages: 15,723
Current Progress:
52/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Apocalypse Watch Book Review — The Eleventh Plague

Title:  The Eleventh Plague
Author:  Jeff Hirsch
Genre:  YA Post-apocalyptic
Pages:  Hardback, 278
Published:  September 2012
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
ISBN:  978-0-545-29014-2
Opening Lines:  "I was sitting at the edge of the clearing, trying not to stare at the body on the ground in front of me."

"America is a vast, desolate landscape left ravaged after a brutal war, two-thirds of the population are dead from a vicious strain of influenza. People called the sickness the Eleventh Plague.

"Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn was born after the war and only knows the life of a salvager. His family was among the few who survived and took to roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen's grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler's Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. There Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. When they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler's Landing—and their lives—forever."

~ Jacket copy

Thoughts:  Honestly, the description of this book reminded me of so many that have come before it.  However, the endorsement by Suzanne Collins caught my attention.  I loved the Hunger Games!  In addition, something about biological weapons will usually catch my attention.  For me, aside from war, it seems to be a likely occurrence.  That being said, I had a hard time getting into this book.

The book opens with Stephen's father digging a grave.  After surviving for over a decade in a broken, nonexistent America, his grandfather finally succumbed to the plague.  Now Stephen and his father are faced with the reality of survival without the "iron-fisted" guidance of their patriarch.  While Stephen's dad seems to be optimistic, the boy is very doubtful.  Unfortunately, he is right to have his doubts.  When his father makes a rather stupid move, Stephen is left to deal with his father in a coma and in a town where he is not welcome.

I found Stephen to be rather stiff and one dimensional.  At some level, there is a reason for his reservation; however, I felt that the author carried it too far.  He became rather boring and bland.  It got to a point that Stephen was not a very sympathetic character.  Unfortunately, I felt that Stephen's reservation also bled onto the other characters.  Some of them—such as Violent and Marcus, Sam, and the teacher—could have had very interesting back stories; however, I felt as though they were lost.  Further, for someone how has lived through so much, Stephen's father seemed to be rather stupid. 

The author spent more time fleshing out the landscape and not enough with the characters.  Further, I felt that the whole concept of the slavers wasn't developed.  I wanted to know why the soldiers had a tendency to turn into bands of wandering mercs and/or slavers.  Also, if places like Settler's Landing exist, why don't the slavers find them sooner and raid them for supplies/people?

One of the things that upset me was Stephen taking over the weekend classes.  Here is a kid that never went to school, only read whenever his parents would read with him—and when he was able to find a book or two—and basically had no real book or school knowledge.  After the teacher is injured, he suddenly takes over teaching the little children.  I couldn't quite understand the reasoning behind this move.  It was rather unbelievable.

To me, this book was okay.  It took a bit for me to get into it; however, it did pick up.  The character development was seriously lacking, and the author didn't really think too much about the stuff he threw into the book.  He could have done a lot of things with characters, the storyline, etc.; however, I felt he just let it drop.    

Current Pages: 15,404
Current Progress:
51/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Theme Song Saturday (38)

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:

Ho Hey by The Lumineers just felt like it fit.  After everything that happens to Stephen at the beginning of the book, the whole concept of family/home is rather foreign to him.  However, the Greens are quick to open their lives and family to him when he needs their support the most.  I am not very far into the book; however, I feel as though—due to their shared status in the community—he has found a kindred spirit in Jenny.  Hopefully, with all of the heartache he has been through, Stephen can find something special in her.  

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

Apocalypse Watch Book Review — The Way We Fall

Title:  The Way We Fall
Author:  Megan Crewe
Genre:  YA Post-apocalyptic
Pages:  Hardback, 309
Published:  January 2012
Publisher:  Hyperion
ISBN:  978-1-4231-4616-2
Opening Lines:  "Leo, it's about six hours since you left the island."

"When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying good-bye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

"Those still healthy must fight for the island's dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of the people she holds dearest, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save those she loves.

"Because how will she go on if there isn't?"

~ Jacket copy

Thoughts:  I admit, since I first read Speak, books written in the form of journal entries have had a special place in my heart.  Even though it only gives the main character's POV of the other characters, there is something unique about the reading experience.  When I discovered that The Way We Fall was written in a series of journal entries, I was pretty excited.

The book starts with Kaelyn writing in a journal to her best friend, Leo.  After a fight, he left the island for a private boarding school in New York.  Unsure whether she will be able to bring herself to talk to him when he returns for the holidays, she has decided to start writing in the journal as a pseudo catharsis.  However, a strange virus hits the island, people start dying, and the Canadian government puts the island under a strict quarantine.  Kaelyn sets out to chronicle everything that is happening.  She hopes that—if Leo is able to return to the island—her journal will be able to tell him everything that has happened since the virus started.

When I could pull myself away from Resident Evil and knitting, I had a hard time putting this book down.  It was extremely engaging, well written, and also heartbreaking.  I loved how raw Kaelyn was in her journal entries.  She was a very sympathetic character, and she was really easy to feel connected to.  Even though the audience only sees the other characters through her eyes, the author did a wonderful job balancing how Kaelyn perceives them and who they truly are outside of her perceptions.

At some level, it would have been nice if there had been a little more gang activity.  However, it is quite possible that there wasn't more because Kaelyn didn't spend a ton of time outside of the house or away from the hospital.  That being said, the reasoning behind burning down houses and buildings was very interesting.  Usually, it appears as though the gangs of people are just out for meaningless destruction.  Crewe did a wonderful job of focusing their anxiety.

The love interest was wonderful.  Considering that it was exceptionally horrible timing, Crewe was able to write in such a way that everything was still innocent and sweet.  In a lot of ways, the fragile, budding romance was one of Kaelyn's greatest joys.

This is an excellent book following the outbreak of some unknown virus and human nature.  It also shows the depth of character that some people are able to find during such trying times.  The next book comes out February 12, 2013!

Current Pages: 15,126
Current Progress:
50/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Apocalypse Watch Update

So, ah, I've been kind of absent from the book reviews . . . However, I have extremely awesome reasons :)

On Tuesday and Friday of  last week, I sat down with an awesome friend, and we started playing through Leon and Helena's campaign in Resident Evil 6!  It was freaking awesome to spend hours with my first video game crush ;)  Seriously, how could any girl resist the complete awesomeness that is Leon S. Kennedy? 

As a rule, I am really horrible at shooters, so I avoided this game.  However, this is the first game Leon has been in for awhile, and I desperately wanted to play.  My dear friend has beat all of the campaigns and offered to come over  play it with me.  Taking Helena, he has helped me get through the first three levels.  But, even with my complete ineptitude when it comes to shooters, I keep getting a B rating on each level and managed to pull a gold ranking for five consecutive head shots twice!  w00t!  I have found that I am pretty good with the sniper rifle and melee attacks.  *squee* I cannot wait for us to get back to the game!  Oh, and on a side note, once you beat a campaign, you can play as a zombie in another Live player's campaign!  To me, that is icing on the cake :)

Lovelies, this game is so awesome that I asked him to set up a time once or twice a week for us to slowly work through all of the campaigns together @_@

After a failed attempt six years ago, I decided to pick up my knitting needles and try to teach myself to knit again.  I've been crocheting for over a decade.  Even though I absolutely love what I can do with my hooks, there are things that cannot easily be done without knowing how to knit.  So, while watching The Walking Dead, I started out slowly on a scarf done completely in garter stitch.  Finding that I wasn't dropping any stitches and  my tension was fairly consistent, I put it down.  A scarf is rather boring . . . Luckily, a friend of mine just announced to everyone that she is five months pregnant!  Usually I will make one crocheted baby blanket for my friends.  After some thought, hours on Ravelry, and talking with my knitting maven friend, I decided to make her a knitted baby blanket!  Unfortunately, I ended up frogging the damn thing six or more times.  For some reason, no matter what I did, the count ended up off.  In a moment of desperation, I decided to pick it up one final time before it was scraped for a crocheted blanket.  And, you know what, the count was finally correct!

And, if this isn't enough, reading, watching The Doomsday Preppers, and playing Resident Evil 6, I find myself having weird dreams/nightmares of trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.  On Tuesday, my night was spent trying to find food and ammo, keeping my loved ones safe, and so on.  Every time I went back to sleep after waking up to let the dogs outside, I went right back into that same dream!  Even with approximately eight hours of sleep under my belt, I felt more tired when I woke up than when I went to bed!  Friday night had me standing by Leon's side (*insert stupid grin*) fighting off a horde of zombies! 

With that, I promise to have a review of The Way We Fall up later today!  With all of my focus on the apocalypse, I need to head to the gym.  Remember, the first rule of the zombie apocalypse is cardio ;) 

Hey, if you're interested in hooking up on Resident Evil 6 sometime or other games, leave me a comment if you want my Live gamer tag :)  
Much love, Sinn

Theme Song Saturday (37)

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:

Nice to be Dead by Iggy Pop is a fairly upbeat song for the subject matter, and it is also kind of a morbid choice for this book.  That being said, it was the song that caught my attention this week.  Honestly, there is no rhyme or reason for my decision this week ^_~

Well, that's my weird and macabre pick this week!  What's yours?  Leave a link in the comments to your post ^_^
Much love, Sinn

Apocalypse Watch — Theories

One of the prevalent theories surrounding the apocalypse is a worldwide outbreak of an infectious disease. Since Europe was knocked to its knees during the Bubonic Plague and the United States was hit by the Spanish Flu, we have feared another disaster based on an epidemic. With the increase of vaccinations, it is apparent that we are trying to find some way to control something that might be inevitable. It is believed that the next war will be fought with biological weapons. As we learned with infected blankets and Columbus coming to the New World, without the proper immunities, an epidemic could completely decimate the world population. With the increase of travel, it is easier to spread infectious diseases; thus, making it easier to start a pandemic.

Here’s the most frightening thing: flu researchers say it isn’t a matter of if we will have a pandemic, but when.

The third family on an episode of Doomsday Preppers was very concerned with the possibility of biological warfare using smallpox. The smallpox virus has an incubation period of twelve days. The signs and symptoms of the virus are too numerous and disturbing to list here. Let’s just say that it isn’t pretty.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smallpox is not a fast moving virus. They say that it spread slower than chickenpox. Further, large outbreaks were uncommon. However, with the ease of travel and the inclination not to stay home when sick, I have to wonder whether this could be true now. From my years in college, it was normal for a student to come to class when they were very ill. Needless to say, campus was an incubator. While I can see parents keeping their children home when sick, a lot of people will still go to work when they are suffering from smallpox.

WHO also states that only two laboratories have the smallpox virus; however, there are many conspiracy theorists that believe this isn’t the case. Even though they firmly stand by their statement of the two laboratories, WHO has been making efforts to prepare on the off chance that the virus could be released.
There is no cure for smallpox, but vaccination can be used very effectively to prevent infection from developing if given during a period of up to four days after a person has been exposed to the virus. This is the strategy that was used to eradicate the disease during the 20th century. New antiviral drugs, that have been developed for other diseases since smallpox was eradicated, may have a role. No studies of their usefulness, or safety, have been conducted on humans exposed to smallpox. (World Health Organization)

The family on Doomsday Preppers had a plan to “bug out” and get to a isolated location. It makes sense to try and separate yourself from the population in case of an outbreak, but I am reminded of The Masque of the Red Death by Poe. Despite his best efforts, Prospero still managed to lock the Red Death into the party, which resulted in all of the party-goers contracting the illness and dying.

What do you think? Is there a high chance of smallpox coming back to bit us in the ass? Will the world end with a global pandemic? What are your theories?

If you want more information, check out The World Health Organization website.

Much love, Sinn

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the follow:
  • Grab your current read
  • Opening toli a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share Title & Author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!

Here's my teaser this week:

"And whatever it was, to Thomas it meant one thing: the fact that they could no longer see the sun probably meant they'd never been able to in the first place.  A sun couldn't just disappear."
The Maze Runner by James Dashner, 219

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