Thursday, September 25, 2008 0 comments By: Suzanne

Week 4 Poem

Far From The Madding Crowd

It seems to me I'd like to go
Where bells don't ring, nor whistles blow,
Nor clocks don't strike, nor gongs sound,
And I'd have stillness all around.

Not real stillness, but just the trees,
Low whispering, or the hum of bees,
Or brooks faint babbling over stones,
In strangely, softly tangled tones.

Or maybe a cricket or katydid,
Or the songs of birds in the hedges hid,
Or just come such sweet sound as these,
To fill a tired heart with ease.

If 'tweren't for sight and sound and smell,
I'd like the city pretty well,
But when it comes to getting rest,
I like the country lots the best.

Sometimes it seems to me I must
Just quit the city's din and dust,
And get out where the sky is blue,
And say, now, how does it seem to you?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008 1 comments By: rcIsHere

Lisey's Story by Stephen King

I have been a big Stephen King fan in a long time. In fact, I pretty much swore off his work for years, and I do mean YEARS. (lol) However, whether you are a Stephen King fan, or a former fan who lost interest in his flights of fancy, and long winded (VERY long winded at times) prose, I think you will enjoy Lisey's Story. It is about a woman who's husband has died. The husband was a very famous author and the woman is dealing with the passing of her husband she loved very much. Since this is Stephen King who is doing the writing, there is of course the weird, the macabre, and the other worldlyness he is famous for. However, the story is wel written and he keeps his flights of fancy to a minimum. I would highly reccomend this book.
Thursday, September 18, 2008 0 comments By: Suzanne

Week 3 Poem

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

---John Keats

Friday, September 12, 2008 1 comments By: Suzanne

Book of the Dead, pt 2

I forgot to mention a part of the book that was really exciting for me. While the character of Pendergast is in prison, he employs a technique that is familiar to music therapists. He is put in a cell in isolation next to another prisoner known as "the drummer." He is called this because he drums constantly and rarely sleeps. This constant drumming is nerve wracking to most people and even drives some insane if they listen to it long enough. However, Pendergast instead begins to imitate what the drummer is doing. Once he learns some of the rhythms he begins interacting with the drummer and following the complex rhythms. Then slowly, Pendergast begins to take the lead and moves the drummer in a new direction where he eventually is able to get the drummer to stop drumming completely. In music therapy this is known as the ISO principle, to meet a person where they are and slowly move them in the direction you want them to go. It was thrilling for it to be used in a book.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 0 comments By: Suzanne

Week 2 Poem

This one is from Andrea (one of her favorites). We haven't quite figured out how she can post directly to the blog with her own account yet, so I'm doing this one, but if someone knows maybe you can give us a hand. We're both REALLY new at this blogging stuff. And of course, once she figures it out, we can all bug her to start putting her stories up for us to read!! Ok, so here's your weekly dose of poetry:

A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.

----William Butler Yeats
Tuesday, September 9, 2008 0 comments By: Suzanne

Book of the Dead

I listened to this book by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child on my way to and from work (it's a long drive) as well as any other time I was briefly in the car. Each time I got back in, I felt as if the time between listening had been simply the intermission for the story. I was instantly drawn back in the crazy lives of these characters. I was a little confused at times when story from the characters past was brought up. It was done in such a way that made me feel I was missing a book in a series, which I realize now that I am. I had read Relic several years and vaguely recognized some of the character names from that story but it's been so long that I pretty much only remember that it was a book about a plant that turns people into monsters when they become addicted to it. Oh, yeah, I also remember that the movie changed some very important parts of the story but aside from the fact that the cop in the movie was actually two people in the book I don't remember that either! hehe, so I'm not writing about that one!

Apparently Book of the Dead and it's two previous "chapters" involve many of the same characters I first became acquainted with in Relic. I am surprised that I genuinely like these novels. For the most part they mysteries in the Sherlock Holmes style, something that generally bores more. Even though I now realize that I missed two books in this series and I will probably go back and read them, I don't feel like I was left out of the loop. The writing in this book is very well done. The authors have filled in people like me on the storyline while not boring those who probably read the others books. I've read authors who go on for pages describing back story to the point that you want to rip those pages out and just GET ON WITH IT. This is not done that way. So while I was little confused at first, by the end of the story I knew all that was important without the story getting bogged down.

The storyline itself is fascinating. It's like a modern day Set and Osiris, except this isn't dismembered and brought back by his wife. Or I guess you could argue that Pendergast's time in prison is a death and he is reborn when he is free. He's certainly not the same person he when he emerges. All around the struggle between brothers is the subplot (so we think at first) of the re-opening of an old exhibit at the Museum of Natural History: The tomb of Senef. This tomb is supposedly cursed and people begin dying in very strange ways...What will happen?

If you're interested in listening to an audiobook, like I did, I highly recommend this one. The narrator, Rene Auberjonois, reminded me of being read to as a child. He did different voices for the characters (without getting hokey). The constant tension in the story was heightened by his reading style. There were times when I had extra time between classes and stayed in my car instead of going into the school early just so I could hear the next two minutes of story. It was simply that good.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008 2 comments By: Suzanne

Weekly Poem

I'm going do a weekly poem to make things interesting around here and to keep everyone coming back. The first will actually be two by one of my favorites, Robert Frost.

A Time to Talk

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meandering walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, "What is it?"
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade end up and five feet tall
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Canis Major

The great Overdog,
That heavenly beast
With a star in one eye,
Gives a leap in the east.

He dances upright
All the way to the west
And never once drops
On his feet to rest

I'm a poor underdog,
But tonight I will bark
With the great Overdog
That romps through the dark.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 0 comments By: Suzanne

Firefly Lane

Reading Kristin Hannah was my attempt to get out of my Fantasy and Sci-Fi rut. Something about her storylines appealed to me as I was browsing through the bookstore. I've read a couple of her stories now and while they don't necessarily fill me with wonder and all encompassing joy, they are a delightful diversion. Often her characters are well developed, even if they are a little on the stereotypical side.

Firefly Lane is a beautiful story about the love between two friends and the life they weave together from the time they are 14. Hannah does a great job at creating conflict and not quite ever resolving the issues as happens in real long term friendships. The only issue I have with this book is the ending. I felt cheated. After taking so much time to carefully play out these conflicts, I felt she got to a point where she simply didn't know what to do with the characters and so...well I won't completely ruin the ending. You may still want to read it. Let's just say it wraps way to neatly for all her efforts at depicting a real life friendship.

And that's the main issue I have with all of Hannah's work. She sets up her characters wonderfully in these complex situations and then ends it all way to neatly. It's a big let down after the emotional roller coaster she takes you on. Her stories are definately for people who want the fairy tale ending everytime.

You've been warned

I guess to make this interesting I should write about something that I did not find absolutely wonderful. You've been warned is James Patterson's attempt to do something a little different. From what I can tell he should have stuck with what works. To be fair, I'm not big on the common mystery novel. I find most of them flat, cliche, and predictable. I generally know what's going to happen halfway through the book and that bores me. I like to be surprised and there's little to be surprised at in mystery novels (go figure. Maybe they should change the name of the genre).

So, this is the first James Patterson novel I've read. When I didn't care for it, I looked online to see what others thought just in case my bias was getting the way. I found a wide range of people either loving it or hating it for the exact same reasons I did.

The protagonist is unlikable and has no depth. She is a woman trying to make it as a photographer, though we know little of that aside from her constantly taking pictures and her one remark that she's being considered at a gallery. She never once interacts with that gallery or tells us about the pieces being considered. Guess that's not important to the storyline but those little details make things more interesting. Until her own life gets started she works as a nanny for a wealthy couple. Right at the very beginning you find out she's having an affair with the children's father. Lovely. Throughout the story she struggles to understand the meaning of a recurring dream. I was profoundly disappointed in the ending. I found it lacked imagination, like he gave up trying to write and just put the first cliche and easy idea that came to him.
Monday, September 1, 2008 0 comments By: Suzanne


Chances are there will be a lot of Charles de Lint on my blog. I recently discovered and have fallen in love with his books and short stories. Like all those still feeling the afterglow of love, I will probably talk about these a lot. His stories appeal to me for the same reason Neil Gaimon's do. I wonder what Joseph Campbell would think of these two...

Yarrow is about Cat, who lives in her dreams and floats through her real life without ever really living it. The place she goes to in her dreams is real and the people (such as they are) she meets are real. What appealed to me about this what that as a child I often wished that some of the places I fantasized about could be real and that I could interact with the characters in my favorite movies or books. I think I watched the Never Ending Story about 500 times (almost as much as the Breakfast Club or Annie but not quite)! Cat begins having problems when someone comes along and steals her dreams and she has to figure out how to interact with people more than superficially in her daytime world for the first time. Even after reading this I still wish sometimes I could go visit Willy Wonka or talk to the Last Unicorn.

Neil Gaimon

I was turned on to Neil Gaiman by a friend several years ago who is interested spiritually in similar topics. I was discussing my love of all things mythology and she suggested American Gods. The premise of this book is basically that the gods of the past (Ra, Horus, Thor, Zeus, etc) are at war with the gods American's worship today. And no, I do not mean the Jedeo-Christian God of the Bible. NG states that the Gods of modern American society are the Internet, Cell Phone, Interstate, Commerce, Mall, etc. These entities are given physical form not unlike a human body and interact with the world. Fascinating!! The story is told through the eyes of Shadow, a man who simply wants to get back to living his own, god-free life (a common theme in Gaimon's books).

The great thing about NG is that he doesn't create another world in which to set his stories. He uses the world as we know it with an ordinary person, who's living an ordinary life and shoves him or her into some kind of parallel otherworld that really exists in our world. This person simply didn't see it until some minor thing forced it's way in to show the world in a whole new perspective.

Another wonderful novel by NG is Neverwhere. Richard follows the pattern of someone who is thrust into this world going on all around him that he never knew before. In this case the world is the London Underground and the characters are the homeless living lives we would never have conceived for the homeless we see on the streets of our cities. The big question you have to ask youself at the end of this novel is, is all that happens to Richard real or did he simply have a mental breakdown? Tell me what you think and maybe I'll say what I think!

NG has a wonderfully dry sense of humor and that is very evident in Good Omens, a book he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. I read this a long time ago though so won't embarrass myself by writing about it.

Of course he has many other wonderful (have I praised enough?) books but he is better known for his graphic novels. This was a shock to me when I heard an interview with him on (i believe it was) Fresh Air. I've never read graphic novels; could never get into them. So being the fan of NG's that I am I decided to try one. Nope, sorry, they're still not for me.


In my explanation I said I wasn't going to talk politics. I think that must be pretty much impossible for me because I realized as I was posting these that they are almost more about politics than books. Sorry guys! We'll see if I can stick to the topic in the future.

An updated "1984"?

So I recently read two books that kind of scared me. They were very good, but it made me want to move into the mountains somewhere and never come back. They are Traveler and Dark River. Dark River is the sequel and what the author doesn't get into about the big brother type things that are happening RIGHT NOW in Traveler he goes into in this book in so much more detail. After the first book I was a little freaked and wanted to move to a hippie commune and change my name to Snowflake but after the second book I think that might not be enough.

So what scared me? How about the fact that this technology that he talks about in the book to track people like they're hunting animals already exists. And if this technology is known, what do they have that is still in the testing stages? Did any of you see that short piece (that no tv news media reported on by the way) about these little strange flying devices in DC that look like dragonflies but are possibly cameras? Seriously???!!!! Where could they go with that if no one knows they're cameras? And if surveillance cameras don't scare you, you have no idea what they can do. Go check this out:

and more generally:

The cameras are the just the smallest entity of what is going on though. So until the day that I become Snowflake WaterSuite, I will be much more careful about how I present my information to the world.

Back to the books though. I was very impressed with the not only the storyline but also John Twelve Hawks writing style. I've read so many fantasy/sci-fi stories that when I come across someone who writes different it's like drinking fresh water for the first time. Unless you've read a thousand fantasy or science fiction novels, you may not be aware that about 9 out of 10 of them are the same story with different character names. It makes trying to find something to read a little frustrating if you go into the book store thinking, "I wonder what new in THAT section..."

(I later added this and feel that it is very relevant to current issues)

I forgot to mention that these books also made me feel that my political and social awareness are useless. Everything has been manipulated to such a degree that the single person almost CAN'T make a difference anymore on the large scale. Voting in national elections is practically pointless because we have a system that doesn't allow for independents to make a dent. By the time the two major parties pick their candidates, we have two people who are very similar in their views because the parties want someone who is going to appeal to the masses not the individual.

What's worse is that all media (even the independent outfits) are about fear. Either fear of what will happen to you or fear that you're not good enough in someway. It's not a good story unless you can scare the piss out of someone. And it won't sell your product unless people fear they're not good enough. Stop living in fear people. Turn off the television and the radio for awhile. Just a couple hours a day can make a HUGE difference.

Now, I'm not saying don't be politically and social aware, what I'm saying is do it at the local level. Vote on local elections because these are the major players of tomorrow. All your congress people and presidents started at the local level.

Instead of protesting national issues, protest local issues. Like city dress codes. If you think I'm kidding about cities passing dress codes, pay more attention to the local news. Dallas is trying it and I'm sure they weren't the first to come up with the idea.

Get involved in local environmental issues. Buy one of those sections of highway and go out and clean it up. Stop running your air conditioner 24/7. Houses cause more polution than cars! And for goddess' sake, RECYCLE PEOPLE! It's so very easy now in most places. They don't even ask you to sort it out anymore and they pick it up for you. All you have to do it clean it and put it in ONE separate trash can. And if your city doesn't do this, start a campaign for them to do it. Until then, RECYCLE ANYWAY. Even if we're not killing planet, isn't it good to be nice to it anyway? We live here. Why do you want to live in a dirty, nasty, poluted planet? Because it's easier? If everyone did things simply because it was easier, we'd never have gotten electricity. Grow up. And there are so many others environmental issues you can campaign for locally. It'll make a bigger difference than nationally or globally. Go against local business that aren't green. Start a boycott. That'll get someone's attention.

Dead Zone

Can't say that I'm much of a fan of the show but this was a very good book. I've been making my way through a lot of Stephen King lately since my last roommate was a big fan and I had only read a few of his books before moving in with her. Now for someone who didn't read this book when it came out almost 30 years ago, it was a little scary but not in the normal Stephen King way. The book itself didn't scare me so much as how similar the bad politician is to my favorite politician of today. The things that Johnny sees for this guy are so earily acurrate for someone else that he could have been shaking hands with that someone else. Now of course I can't mention that someone else's name because then I'll have the Secret Service after me saying I'm advocating assassination. NEVER. I don't believe in killing for any reason (which is why I hate this someone else so much). This book simply makes me wonder who SK had in mind when he wrote that book. Is it purely coincidence that the time line for the future of the bad politician in the book is only about 5 years off? Was there someone in 1979 that SK saw as so scary and on his way to leading the country even though no one else would have believed it? Can something like that be coincidence and if there was no one in his mind at the time, could it be that the idea came to him from a source outside himself? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

An explanation of this blog

For the first few blogs I'm simply going to re-post some writings I did for for my blog on myspace. As you will soon be able to tell, I love talking about books and other stories. Of course, if I didn't this blog would be about something like the incompetency of politicians (my other favorite subject!). Now if you also enjoy that subject, feel free to write me and we can have a high ole time discussing the failures of our current president! However, this blog is not about that and I know some of my family who love him will be reading this so I'll stick to the books. (Love you Grandpa!!!)