Posts Tagged ‘love!’

21st September
2011
written by Steph

Exhibit A: Why marrying an artist isn't the worst idea in the world...

Tony and I haven't been watching tons of films of late, but one movie we did watch recently that I ADORED was Tangled, Disney's retelling of Rapunzel. I LOVED it so very much, and have many times since remarked that I think it's a movie every little girl should watch (even if they happen to be 28! 😉 ) because this movie is just so kick-ass. I'm sure no one is surprised to hear that growing up one of my favorite movies was Disney's Beauty & the Beast, but I honestly think this might be better. Sure Belle will always have a place in my bookish heart, but Rapunzel was just so cool with her frying-pan-wielding ways and general "can do" attitude. It's a really great story of a girl becoming a woman and learning how to make her own way in the world, and I just thought Rapunzel was really awesome and the kind of female role model that more girls could use.

But Rapunzel wasn't a chameleon, which is obviously what is depicted in the above image. That would be Pascal, her animal sidekick. I loved him very much too, and upon watching the film, I flippantly asked Tony if he would draw me a picture of him. I pretty much forgot about my request, but the other day, Tony said he had a little gift for me, and when I opened up my email, the above picture was waiting in my inbox. I was having a super crappy day, so Pascal's little smiling face paired with Tony's sweet words really made my day. Every time I see it, I feel happy, which is why this is now my desktop background! Instant mood enhancer! I just loved Tony's drawing so much I had to share it with all of you. And if you haven't seen Tangled, you are missing out and need to get on that! 😀

24th July
2011
written by Steph

It's been a few months since Tony and I last made our way to McKay's. Preoccupied with Borders bankruptcy sales, we haven't had much time for used books when so many new ones were looking for homes, but this past week, all that changed. We were in the neighborhood (McKay's is very close to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant), and decided to stop by to see if I could get a cheap copy of the movie Whip It, my latest obsession. We couldn't, but no trip to McKay's would be complete without a quick jaunt down the fiction aisle, where I swiftly found two books I just had to have! The Distance Between Us is a Maggie O'Farrell title that my collection is missing, and now I only lack her very first novel before I'll find myself in possession of all her novels to-date. I also picked up Old Filth by Jane Gardham, for two reasons: 1) I am convinced she and I will get along swimmingly once I actually get around to reading her; 2) I picked up a copy of The Man in the Wooden Hat on one of my other shopping jaunts which is a retelling of Old Filth from another character's perspective, so I know I would be better served by reading Old Filth first! The other three books, I am happy to report, were actually Tony's choices, as he has a bit of an obsession with Everyman Library editions, so could not resist picking up these beautiful copies of Pale Fire and Pnin by Valdimir Nabokov and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. You'll recall that I didn't have the best luck with Lolita when I read it last year (it was definitely one of those books that made me feel like I was simply not smart enough to be reading it!), but you may be surprised by the Marquez acquisition. After all, I have been very vocal in the past of my love One Hundred Years of Solitude, so surely I must already have a copy of it on hand, right? And indeed I do! In fact, I actually already have an Everyman's copy of this book. So, why the double acquisition? Well, my first copy was also picked up second-hand, and I wasn't exactly diligent about checking the pages, and it wasn't until I got home that I realized it had been marked up with highlighters. It in no way diminished my enjoyment of the book (or Tony's for that matter), but the prospect of having a pristine copy was too much to resist.

And so now, I find myself with two near identical copies of a favorite book and have decided the best thing would be to share the love. So I am offering up my original, much-loved and marked up copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude to a new home. Apart from the markings (that sadly cannot be erased, but are quite minimal... maybe only 5 - 10 pages of the total book), the book is in excellent condition, including its original dust cover and a ribbon bookmark. If you're a reader who would like to experience this amazing book and have no compunctions about nominal marginalia, then please let me know in the comments below. I'll ship anywhere in the world, for great literature truly should know no boundaries. If more than one person expresses interest in the book, I'll randomly select a winner next Sunday (that is July 31)... so make your desire known by Saturday night at the latest! I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming... which I realize has been far from regular. Two words: SO. BUSY. I should have some new reviews up this week, however, so you'll have that (and maybe this book?) to look forward to!
15th July
2011
written by Steph
We each of us have a Harry Potter story. Now when the franchise faces another ending, this time with the films, it seems only fitting to take some time to look back on my relationship with the boy who lived.

Getting enthusiastic for Harry during the midnight launch of the final book, Deathly Hallows

I am not one of those fans who can say I grew up with Harry, because I didn't. Not really. When Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was first published, I was 14, but it wasn't until the age of 18 that Harry and I finally met. I was in my final year of high school, and my schedule at the time allowed for plenty of "spare" periods which I tended to spend in the library (big surprise) where I'd study and complete homework. More often than not, I'd find myself browsing in the fiction section of our school library, especially when I was meant to be completing my Algebra & Geometry homework. I was a good student, but AlGeo was my Achilles' heel and so I often spent my time reading instead of toiling away when it came up in my work pile. As I stared off into space wondering about imaginary numbers, vectors, and polar space, a paperback version of Philosopher's Stone caught my eye on one of the fiction spinners. By this time there was enough buzz about the series that I had actually heard of it and knew it was supposed to be really good. So I decided that I would give it a try and see what all the fuss was about. (more…)
13th June
2011
written by Steph

Maggie O’Farrell is one of those authors who I feel is sadly overlooked by readers and bloggers alike. I guess I can’t fully fault those of you who have yet to discover her since I myself am rather late to the party, only having discovered O’Farrell last year when I had the great fortune to review The Hand That First Held Mine for BookPage. I completely admit that I picked the ARC in part because the cover was SO pretty, and when I started to read it, well, it turned out the writing was ALSO pretty. Win, win, win! One thing I feel like a lot of authors seem to do nowadays is play with interleaved narratives and storylines, taking seemingly disparate characters only to ultimately have their stories/lives intersect in some way. Another popular device of late has been the nonlinear storyline, in which readers are thrust back and forth in time, which has the great risk of being befuddling and confusing if not well done. I enjoy both of these devices, but I’ve seen enough of each to know that neither is a guarantee for a novel’s success as both can be employed rather shabbily. Of course, a novel that manages to incorporate both devices effectively has the high probability of lying in my literary sweet spot and being something I will love vociferously. I like books that some might term “head-scratchers”, and so I tend to enjoy books that make the gears of my mind turn as I read and attempt to piece everything together. The Hand That First Held Mine was a great example of the non-linear and dual narrative joining to produce literary bliss, so I immediately flagged O’Farrell as an author whose back catalogue I should read in its entirety. (more…)
30th March
2011
written by Steph
I once had a friend tell me that I probably got as much enjoyment out of making lists of books I wanted to read as I did actually reading said books. What can I say? I'm a list maker and love to plan! Like many other book bloggers, I'm always on the lookout for my next great read, and while other blogs are great resources, sometimes I feel like the same books pop up in my Google Reader again and again. That's one of the reasons I love bookstores: I love browsing around and just randomly picking up books and finding titles I've never heard of before. Of course, I'm not immune to the great prices that online shopping can provide, but personally I find book browsing on Amazon (and the like) to be a little tedious and it seems a lot harder to discover surprises that way.

Depiction of YNR interface

Enter YourNextRead. While this isn't the first site I've stumbled across that purports to help readers find their next book, this is one of the best and most effective interfaces I've found. The premise is pretty simple: you type in the name of a book or author that you like, and a little web of related books pops up. Click on one of those, and new titles appear that are related to that second title. Lather, rinse, repeat. What I particularly like about this process is that it kind of operates on the whole "six degrees of kevin bacon" principle. As you click through interesting book options, it's a bit like choose your own adventure, but the books are ultimately linked in some way to that first book you picked. I do like that you can influence the direction of subsequent title suggestions as it's just so much more interactive than a simple list. Additionally, for each title that pops up that is linked to the central book, you can indicate whether you think people who enjoyed the central book will actually enjoy each linked book. I assume that these votes then influence the likelihood of that book showing up again when someone else chooses the central book in the future. One problem I have with Amazon recommendation systems (and many other book recommendation programs) is that they seem to rely too heavily on suggesting other books by the same author. Of course it stands to reason that if I enjoy Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen that I might very well like her other books, but I could probably have figured that out on my own! I am always looking for new authors, and I've found that YourNextRead does this very well. For instance, on a recent search, I put in Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris as my starting novel. From there, I jumped to A Life Apart by Neel Mukherjee (never heard of him!) which looks good enough to warrant further investigation. From there I jumped to A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (a book I have and intend to read in the future), where I then jumped to The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau (another new-to-me author). That one didn't seem like my cup of tea, so I backtracked to Goon Squad, and instead tried Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant (??? exactly!), which seems delightful. From there it's onto The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald which sounds effing awesome. And again, is completely new to me. I'm starting to feel a bit like Thursday Next with all this book jumping, plus I think you get the picture. Along the way, I had seven different alternatives to check out each time (plus there's the option to refresh if a central book isn't presenting anything you think looks appealing), but just from this little experimental jaunt, I've found three new books that are now on my wishlist. Dangerous for those of us with bookbuying impulse control, but a really fun way to explore the book universe. If you feel like you're stuck with the same old stuff in your reading pile, this may be just the way to liven things up! Try it out; it's wildly addictive! And feel free to share in the comments any of the book chains you create!
23rd September
2010
written by Steph

It hooked me all right...

Oh, Red Hook Road. I just can’t quit you. Ever since I heard about your publication, I have been wanting to read you… so it wouldn’t be entirely fair to say you’re a book that crept up on me, except that’s kind of exactly what you did. Your premise – a newlywed couple are killed in a car wreck on the way from their wedding to the reception and the way the fallout affects their respective families – was one that was so blindingly tragic that I was drawn to you like a moth to a flame. Surely this would be a book that would burn me, make me feel the deepest pangs of grief, and yet I could not pull away. I ran into your embrace wholeheartedly, prepared to have my heart bruised and beaten. (more…)
11th August
2010
written by Steph

Today I wrote a little guest post over at The Book Case in which I tease a portion of Nicole Krauss' upcoming novel, Great House (a.k.a. the literary event everyone is holding their breaths over). I actually had the great honor of chatting with Krauss yesterday about the book for a feature I'll write for the October issue of BookPage, celebrating the release of her third book, which certainly stoked the flames of my enthusiasm. If you're jonesing for something to tide you over, pop over and check out my post, in which I speak rhapsodically about the wild excitement this book has inspired.
20th January
2010
written by Steph
My first perfect read of 2010!

My first perfect read of the year!

Tony and I have been married for just over six months now, and I love my husband dearly.  But last week while reading The Blue Castle, I fell in love again.  With a book that starts like this, you can pretty much surmise that it was essentially love at first sight:
“If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling’s whole life would have been entirely different.  She would have gone, with the rest of her clan, to Aunt Wellington’s engagement picnic and Dr. Trent would have gone to Montreal.  But it did rain and you shall hear what happened to her because of it.”
The Blue Castle is the story of Valancy Stirling, who at 29, is an old maid.  She lives with her overbearing mother and sniveling cousin and has a dull and oppressed existence.  Valancy is kept under thumb, constantly berated, and is perpetually holding her tongue.  She is only able to find solace in two things: the nature books of the reclusive author, John Foster, and the blue castle of her imagination, a place where her wildest dreams come true and romance is no longer an impossibility.  Valancy’s life changes the day she sneaks out to see a doctor (without first getting her family’s approval) and is diagnosed with a severe and untreatable heart condition that will likely kill her before the year is out.  This revelation spurs Valancy to overhaul her life and break out of her shell; she may not have done much with the first 29 years of her life, but Valancy soon learns that it’s never too late to learn how to live, and when she starts to cozy up to town recluse and possible bad-boy, Barney Snaith, she finds it may not even be too late for love! (more…)
8th December
2009
written by Steph
Ffantastic Mr. FForde

Ffantastic Mr. FForde

Forgive me, internet friends, but I have to do something I try very hard not to do: today, I'm gushing.  Why?  Because this morning I got to do a phone interview with Jasper Fforde!  I'm interviewing him for BookPage, and the interview will be posted on their site in January, so I can't spill too many beans here, which I realize is horrifically cruel of me, but them's the breaks. I will say that I was super nervous up to (and including) dialing his phone number (British numbers look so weird!), but you'll all be pleased to hear that I was the consummate professional and did not: a) hang up several times before finally going through with it like a 12-year-old girl; or b) propose matrimony.  And I only mentioned my über-fan status two or three times, and not in a scary way...  I had worried going in that I might not be able to keep up with someone as dazzlingly clever and charming as Mr. Fforde, but he was really very congenial and easy to talk to, and I think that all of my questions went over really well.  He was very candid and thoughtful, and it was so much fun to talk to one of my favorite authors about how he approaches writing as well as getting the inside scoop on some of the books.   We easily chatted for about an hour – one I would happily relive over and over again, because it just went by too quickly! While there are plenty of authors I’d love to interview if given the chance, I think Jasper Fforde was the best possible person to kick things off with… and if I never get to interview another author again, well, this will be enough.  Having seen him speak a few times previously, I knew he was extremely gracious and articulate, and well, we all know how I feel about a man with an accent... but it was so nice to find him that way in a one-on-one scenario as well. Consider my author crush intensified by 10,000!  Sigh.  I hope the ladies at BookPage let me keep the tape recording of us chatting (and that Tony doesn’t “accidentally” run the Mini Cooper over it)… So as not to be totally heartless, here are a few of the things that we discussed that will hopefully make my writeup in January (anything that doesn't but is trivia-worthy, I promise to post here):
  • Why did he feel it was time to branch out from the Thursday Next & NCD books?
  • The importance of comedy in fiction
  • Where the inspiration for Shades of Grey came from
  • The joys of book tours
  • Jasper gives some glimpses into the next Thursday Next book (slated for 2011 release!), and some of the books & well-loved characters he’s trying to cram in there
  • Which Thursday Next book is his favorite thus far
  • Why you should never visit Nashville on a Monday…
So much fun, guys!  I’m seriously on cloud nine right now (and wondering if I can swing a roadtrip to Atlanta on Jan 15 where Jasper will be doing a book signing and Q&A at the Buckhead Barnes & Noble.  P.S.  You should check and see whether he's coming to a city near you!)!  Tell me, if you could interview one author, who would you pick?  Any authorial crushes I should know about?