24 February 2010

The Unblogged Chronicles (Jan. and Feb. 2010)

My apologies for not having this up this weekend. My schedule has been crazy lately, and I just didn't have time. Sorry!

I have another gigantic post for this week, but next week I will get back to normal size articles. I promise! This week, I am inaugurating my brand-new series, "The Unblogged Chronicles", and passing out some awards to some very deserving bloggers. I feel like today is a special occasion as a result. Perhaps I should dress up. It wouldn't kill me to wear something a little more formal than the same old T-shirts, jeans, and Crocs. *peers in closet and sees nothing but T-shirts, jeans, and Crocs* Well, maybe I could christen my new series by breaking a champagne bottle over it, like they do for ships. *smashes champagne bottle over laptop* Um...How about I just shut up and get going, eh? We'll start off with the "Unblogged Chronicles" which is a mini-review of each of the books I have read this year and didn't blog about. (And, yes, I do realize that they're now technically not unblogged. I like the title, though. Sounds science fiction-ish.)

*Hogfather (Discworld fantasy): The Hogfather, Discworld's version of Santa has disappeared on Hogswatch Eve. Oh no! Who will bring the kiddies their gifts? Never fear! Erm, Death is here to take over! Hehe Hogfather was another novel in my Discworld journey. I loved this book, because, well, because it's a Discworld novel. What better reason do I need? Well, that and the premise amuses me. I especially loved the villain - creepy Mr. Teatime. It also has what is now my all-time favorite line from a book (which served as my Facebook status for some time): "Pigs are not notably aerodynamic, are they?" (As a side note, when I was googling this quote to ensure I had it right, one of the search suggestions was "pigs are not rodents." Um, duh!) Alas, I didn't blog about it, (the book, not the pigs), because it was past Christmas when I finished it, and I would have looked goofy.

*Animal Farm (satire): I have a review written for this one, so I don't want to give too much away. Suffice to say it was one of my favorites. You'll learn more when I review it.

*Trap with a Green Fence (memoir): Beautiful Holocaust memoir by one of my heroes, Richard Glazar. A Czech Jew, Glazar was sent to the nightmarish extermination camp Treblinka during WWII and was one of the key leaders in the revolt that took place in that camp in 1943. As you may have guessed, the subject matter is bit morbid, but the book is ultimately inspirational. Glazar employs a wry conversational tone that makes it seem as if he's telling you the story himself. The only reason I didn't blog on it is the narrative is hard to follow if you're not aware of the background. I first read about Glazar (and Treblinka) in the book Into That Darkness, so I was familiar with the Jews and Nazis he referenced. Unfortunately, in his book, Glazar doesn't introduce these people, so without that foreknowledge I would have been a bit lost. I still highly recommend this book. Just read Into That Darkness first.

*Phaedra (tragedy): I read this classic drama for World Lit. II this semester. I adore a good tragedy (I am emoting like Hamlet as I write this), so reading this Racine classic was a real treat for me. The translation I read (by Richard Wilbur) had excellent, unforced poetry, which made it lots of fun to read aloud. Phaedra herself is not a likable character, but this is a masterfully crafted play. I didn't blog about it, because I was too busy writing an essay about the play, but this is a must for fellow tragedy geeks.

*Sea of Monsters (YA fantasy): More Percy Jackson! I love this series, even though as a college sophomore I suppose I should've outgrown middle school reads sometime ago. (Nah. You're never too old to read. :D ) This one has been my favorite so far. I loved this redux of The Odyssey, which is one of my favorite stories, anyway. The humor and action of the first book is intact, but I was relieved that Percy finally stopped walking into obvious traps in this one. Yay, Percy!

*The Third Man (thriller): I so looked forward to reading this one. See...I am a classic film geek, and I have always wanted to see the movie The Third Man, what with the noir film techniques, Post WWII Vienna setting, Orson Welles, and awesome zither score. (Oh. My. God. I just officially confirmed my nerdiness with that statement.) But I heard it was based on a novella, and it is my policy to always read the book first. Alas, I was sorely disappointed. Don't get me wrong! The story is great and I still want to see the movie. It's just that the book was never written for publication. Graham Greene only wrote it because he felt that he needed a prose basis for his screenplay. As a result, the narration is jarring and often a bit unpolished. I was frequently confused by what was going on. The moral of this story: Never, ever read stories that were not meant for publication and were written solely to lay the foundation for a film. I am now revising my policy. From now on, I am experiencing the story through whichever medium it was intended, not just the first form it was in.

*Matchless (fairy tale) : Gregory Maguire's sweet retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Match Girl" is heartwarming and easily read in one setting; however, I was a teensy bit disappointed. This makes me sound cold-hearted. Allow me to explain: I liked the story (it made a little tear well up in my eye at the end), but I love Maguire for his gorgeous wordsmithing and his elaborate world building and the ironic way he turns fairy tales upside down. This story was written to be read-aloud for NPR, so the style is less complex than Maguire's other works and the story line is more streamlined and more traditional than his more experimental offerings. A good book - would be a great one to read as holiday tradition - but not what I was expecting. Read it for the story. If you read it expecting vintage Maguire, you'll be a bit surprised.

*The Titan's Curse (YA fantasy): Deja vu. It's Percy Jackson all over again! This is the third book in the YA series, and as with the previous two, I loved it. Same great blend of mythology, action, and humor. Only complaint: The ending was a little too pat for my taste. Still a fun, fast read. I anxiously await the last two Percy books!

*Witness (YA historical fiction): This is an unusual, fascinating novel, suggested to me by my dear friend Bev. Author Karen Hesse tells the story of the Ku Klux Klan's hate-filled rise and fall in a small Vermont town during the Roaring Twenties. The story is told in first person blank verse poetry, by several town members, who range from Klansmen to the two little girls the Klan targets (one is African American and the other is Jewish). The plot is compelling and the narration is fascinating. I highly recommend this one. I didn't blog about it only because I didn't have time.

Next Week: I am not sure. I am getting ready to read Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. Maybe that. Or that historical fiction I've been promising for weeks...


And now for the awards. I was so thrilled this week when Scott (Ergo) gave me an Over the Top Award and when Lucy (Amusing Seth) gave me two awards: the Sunshine award and the Humane award. Thanks so much, guys! Now, in order to pass on the Over the Top award, I must answer the following questions in one word and then nominate five other bloggers. To pass on the Sunshine and Humane awards, I had to pick some of my favorite blogs to nominate. I decided to give each of my nominees all three awards. But first you have to suffer through my answers to the questions. :D

Your cell phone: Murdered
Your hair: Long
Your mother: Complicated
Your father: Amazing
Your favorite food: Spaghetti
Your dream last night: Non-existent
Your favorite drink: Tea
Your dream goal: Ph.D
What room are you in: Living Room
Your hobby: Reading
Your fear: Frogs
Where do you see yourself in six years: School
Where were you last night: Online
Something you aren't: Practical
Muffins: Yum!
Wish list item: Weasels
Where did you grow up: Everywhere
Last thing you did: Homework
What are you wearing: Jeans
Your TV: Silent
Your pets: Chihuahuas!
Your friends: Nerds
Your life: Bizarre
Your mood: Whimsical
Missing someone: Um
Vehicle: Honda
Something you aren't wearing: Heels
Your favorite store: Books-a-Million
Your favorite color: Blue
When was the last time you laughed: Today
Last time you cried: Yesterday
Your best friend: Renee
One place you go to over and over: Sparklife
Facebook: Abandoned
Favorite place to eat: Home

The Blogs I have nominated (in alphabetical order):

James (Cornelius's Crambe) for his always entertaining observations.

Ryan (The Dark Corner of the Mind) for his helpful writing articles.

Jourdie (I Read This!) for his excellent book reviews.

Math is a Plentiful Harvest (Math is a Plentiful Harvest) for her superb, introspective poetry and her thought-provoking essays.

Penguins Quack (Tales Featuring the Penguins Demise) for her always hilarious posts (and for having the best online name EVER!).

*thunderous applause* Congratulations, guys! Go forth and nominate other worthy bloggers.


  1. I must say, I'm jealous of all the time you have to read to get through all those books. :)

  2. Hehe Thanks! I usually slip in reading time when I am supposed to be doing other stuff...like studying. (My excuse is my brain needs to rest. :P)

  3. Zella, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!! I am certain that this is perhaps the most important award I have received all year. :) Words shall never reveal the full extent of my gratitude!!!!!!

  4. Math, you're more than welcome! I love your blog and thought more people should know about it. :)

  5. Crikey, I'm not sure I qualify as it's been THIS long since I actually looked at my own blog, let alone anyone else's. Ridiculous. Or 'rediculous' as the stupid say.

    But thanks! :)

  6. LOL You're welcome, James! Your posts are always great and I enjoy reading them very much. :)

    Ooh, I hate when people misspell ridiculous like that, too. *plots mass murder in the name of grammar* :D