NaNoReMo Opening Lines

grahamewindwillowsI am reading two books again for National Novel Reading Month again.

The reason I’m reading two is because if one goes sour on me, I have a back-up…if not, I will have read two wonderful, classic books in February.

I also like to at least have a book to read on my Kindle app, to read when I’m on the bus or when I’m waiting in doctor’s offices or before I go to sleep at night.

My two books this year are The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury, in paperback and The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame in eBook form. I decided to go with Wind in the Willows because I opened it up and was struck by the opening lines and kept on reading. It begins:

“The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing…”

I like that…divine discontent. I can identify with little Mole, tired of winter and longing for spring. So I’m reading on with that same spirit of hopefulness.

I started reading The Martian Chronicles on the bus yesterday afterbradbury2 class. I had a trip to make to one of the main stations to purchase a bus pass, since I’ve been sick and haven’t felt much like doing anything. So I had a bit of time on my hands on the buses and waiting for buses to read. It’s got an interesting start, too:

“One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.”

A strange Earthly opening vision for a novel about the Red Planet, but it gets there soon enough.

I’m enjoying both books so far. I hope wherever you are, you are reading something enjoyable.

What are you reading right now?

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The Martian Chronicles for NaNoReMo

Life sometimes throws you curve balls.

I wrote a blog post awhile back asking my friends and readers to help me pick a book to read for National Novel Reading Month coming up in February.

I had four books to choose from: Don Quixote, by Cervantes; The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells; The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame and David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.

I’d nearly made up my mind (with the help of the advice given by those who read the original post) to go with Wells. Then I found a book I’d lost awhile back. It seems to me that when I find a book after it’s been lost for some time, it’s like that book is begging to be read.

Who am I to argue with fate? Especially since the author recently passed away and I’ve been wanting to get into some of his works that I haven’t read, including this one.

So that settles it.

For my NaNoReM0 2013 read, I’m going to the Red Planet with Mr. Bradbury.

Look for my tweets and Facebook statuses as I go along.

Happy reading, everyone!

bradbury2

February is National Novel Reading Month

As my friend John Wiswell recently pointed out, National Novel Reading Month, or NaNoReMo, is almost upon us.

National Novel Reading Month is when we look to the sad state of our reading lives, the classics that we have shamefully avoided or haven’t had the time to enjoy. Excuses, excuses. I am so poor in my classical reading that it’s not funny, it’s tragic. There are hundreds of classic books that I’ve yet to read. NaNoReMo is when I get a chance to help rectify that pitiful condition.

Last year, I read these two wonderful books. But before I read them, I downloaded a huge pile of free Kindle classics to my iPhone. I have a lot to choose from this year. I’m going in circles trying to decide what book to read.

I made a list of those that I would consider “classics” and filtered that into a shortlist of four books I thought I might be able to choose from. Now, I need your help. Let me know what you think of any, or all, of these books in the comments. You’re opinion may be the one that leads me to my new favorite classic.

Thank you.

#NaNoReMo 2013 Shortlist:

grahamewindwillowsThe Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. How my childhood missed this classic fantasy, I don’t know. As a fan of fantasy, and animal fables (Chronicles of Narnia; Watership Down; One for Sorrow, Two for Joy, etc…) I have always hungered to delve into this tale of forest creatures.

Don-QuixoteDon Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. I’m taking Spanish 2 and have this book on my Kindle app in both English and Spanish. Wondering if reading it and comparing the two would help me get through the class a little better. I’d like to read this at some point in my life, but not sure now is the time.

The Island of Dr MoreauThe Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells. I loved War of the Worlds, and this sounds like a really cool book. I’ve also never entirely read The Time Machine. I’m not listing it because I read about a third of it and then got sidetracked. I would like to finish that book someday. But the Island of Doctor Moreau has always appealed to me. It sounds like a cool, mad scientist story. I’d like to find out someday if I’ve judged the book by it’s title correctly.

copperfield-01Last book I’m considering is David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens. I’ve read (and dearly love) A Tale of Two Cities. It’s one of my favorite classics. I have not read another Dickens book and I need to remedy that. Soon. Not sure if this is the next Dickens book I need to read or not. I’ve considered others, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. Would love to hear what my reader/writer friends think on the matter.

So, friends, what classic book do you think I should tackle for National Novel Reading Month?

NOTE: Read John Wiswell’s post for more information, if you’d like to participate in National Novel Reading Month yourself.

NaNoReMo: Reviews of Frankenstein & The Book of Dragons

Get your paws on a good book!

I participated in this NaNoReMo (National Novel Reading Month) thing where a bunch of us writers read some classic books for the month of January, a great idea that writer John Wiswell came up with.

I decided to read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit. Both books were free downloads from Amazon’s Kindle store, and I have the Kindle app on my iPhone. It charges on the stand by my bed at night, and I have the habit of reading from it before going to sleep.

Frankenstein: I’ve seen the different movie versions, from Boris Karloff to Gene Wilder’s comic performance, but I’d never read the book. I was very surprised by it. It’s told through the vehicle of letter-writing. A man exploring the Arctic by ship, Robert Walton, begins writing letters to his sister home in England, telling her the tale of the strange man they encounter, emaciated and ill on the ice: Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

Walton relates Frankenstein’s tale of horror to his sister: The doctor became fascinated with a new branch of science involving the animation of flesh. He created a hideous creature. This is the part of the story that’s familiar to us.

But what surprised me was that unlike the films, the monster is intelligent. He begins his life with an aesthetic outlook that the cruelty of mankind (and especially the rejection of his creator) obliterates within him until he becomes increasingly bitter and violent. He tries to reason with Frankenstein, asks him to create another being, an Eve, if you will. Frankenstein’s refusal and the subsequent losses he endures at the hands of the monster, his resolution to pursue his creature in order to end it’s existence makes the story an exciting read.

I’ll end my summation of it with this: Either you will be put off by the format and disparity between the book the films and hate it; or you will enjoy comparing and contrasting it to the films. The latter is the experience I had.

E. Nesbit 1858-1924

The Book of Dragons: Edith Nesbit was an English author and poet who wrote over 60 books for children. I wanted to read this book because I’ve been reading (and writing) a lot about dragons lately and I’d heard about Nesbit’s dragon stories for children.

The Book of Dragons was compiled and published in 1900. There are a total of eight short stories. Here are my favorites, with a brief summary:

The first story, The Book of Beasts, tells of a young king who finds a magical book of creatures. When he opens the book to a picture of any creature, it escapes from the book. Naturally, the boy king Lionel accidentally lets loose a dragon on his kingdom.

Uncle James, or The Purple Stranger is a charming tale of a place called Rotundia where elephants are the size of puppies and rabbits the size of elephants. And there is a purple dragon, but he’s not friendly like you’d think a purple dragon ought to be.

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools. I loved this story. It has a princess locked in a tower, under a curse, and guarded by a dragon. Sound familiar? Well, Nigel is no Shrek, but he may have what it takes to rescue the princess from the dragon. As someone who appreciates (but doesn’t enjoy) mathematical problem solving, I had to applaud Nigel’s brainpower.

There’s other great dragons in this book, including an ice dragon (The Ice Dragon, or Do as You Are Told) and an awesome dragon made of iron (The Dragon Tamers).

I really enjoyed these imaginative dragon tales. I think they’re great stories, for children of all ages. 🙂

A Books and Reading Review: “Must Love Dragons” by Monica Marier

Reading improves language skills. What? You expected me to say something like "I can haz book?"

So, how’s everyone doing with National Novel Reading Month (NaNoReMo) so far?

What’s that? You don’t have a book to read?

I can help you there.

Monica Marier’s debut novel Must Love Dragons is the first book in her fantasy series called the Linus Saga.

The story follows Linus Weedwhacker (great name, huh?) and his cohorts as they travel across the realm together as Rangers: sort of paid adventurers.

What makes Must Love Dragons a fantastic story for me are the characters, so here’s a little insight into the main players of the novel:

Linus Weedwhacker: as an MC, he’s a ornery fellow, half elf/half human…but if you were married to a red dragon, you might be a bit cranky, too. When his wife (the sole financial support of the family) and his children go to his mother-in-law’s to wait out a difficult pregnancy, Linus goes back to work as a Ranger, despite the dangers and physical exertions of the job.

Morfindel: A young elf. Morf is a cleric in a elven religious order that makes the Inquisition look like Tea-time with Barbie and Friends. He and Linus get off to a rocky start, but as the story progresses, through adventures and battles, the two become fast friends.

Wendria and Bart: The Sfebreen siblings. Wendria, a young elf girl on the verge of womanhood studying to be a magician (and doing very poorly at it) and her bratty ten-year-old brother whose prime enjoyment involves making life hell for Linus.

Quince: The four Rangers are on the road traveling to their assignment when they meet up with a human giant named Quince. Linus and Morfindel agree to let him come along with them, although it is against the rules of their union. This is a decision that has dire consequences over and over again, as Quince is not quite what he appears to be.

The misadventures of the five friends take them from a besieged castle full of smelly reptilian creatures, to the high mountains of a frost dragon. The dangerous situations they find themselves in and the way they deal with them will cause you to get stitches in your side from laughing so hard.

Monica is a clever and witty fantasist.  She takes elements from the classic fantasy themes and turns them on their head, which is what any clever fantasist does and should do.

If you are looking for a witty, daring fantasy adventure that will make you giggle right out loud. I can’t recommend Monica’s book highly enough. I can’t wait to read the second one: Runs in Good Condition. 

You can get either book in the series in print or in Kindle format from Amazon, as well as the first book in her steampunk fantasy series: Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid

Monica is currently working on the third book in the Linus Saga.  You can learn more about her Monica and her writing on her website: Attack of the Muses

NaNoReMo: The Classics and the Frugal Reader

It's National Novel Reading Month!

A Twitter writer friend, John Wiswell, had the awesome idea of reading classic books for NaNoRemo: National Novel Reading Month. A bunch of us have jumped on the wagon and are perusing lists of classic books and trying to decide what to read. We’re tweeting our progress with the hashtag #NaNoReMo.

What constitutes a classic? Here’s a list to help: Modern Library 100 Best Novels. Thanks to Danielle La Paglia for the link.

I’ve seen film adaptations of several of the eBooks I downloaded, but have never read the actual books. I’m determined to rectify that, since more often than not the book is better than the film. I’ve already started my NaNoReMo with Frankenstein. I may try to fit The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in as well, since some of the other participants are going to be reading it. Reading classic fiction can be hard, especially fiction that falls under the “literary” umbrella. Participant Tony Noland recommends two websites to help with reading a challenging book: How To Read a Difficult Book and Tough Tomes. Of course, if you’re not enjoying any book, don’t torture yourself. There’s nothing more agonizing than trying to plow through a book you’re not connecting with.

A great way to join us in NaNoReMo is through Amazon’s free eBook Kindle store. You don’t need a Kindle to download Kindle books. You can download the Kindle app to your PC, Mac or phone. I have Kindle on my iPhone 4. I have always had it and don’t really see the need to purchase a Kindle. My phone goes everywhere I go, so I can read anytime I like. Amazon has an iPhone app for its Kindle Store, too, so getting new titles is as easy as tapping the screen. I know free eBooks don’t have the best formatting, but they’re FREE! And when you’re a college student like I am, on a shoestring budget, FREE is GOOD. I can look past crappy formatting for now. But we all have different preferences when it comes to reading eBooks. If you have a hard time dealing with formatting issues, please see the section below on Project Gutenberg.

Amazon Kindle Store: Some of the classics I downloaded for FREE on Amazon’s Kindle Store:

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
  • The Book of Dragons, by Edith Nesbit (started reading it before deciding on NaNoReMo)
  • The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
  • The Empty House and Other Stories, by Algernon Blackwood
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells
  • A Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne
  • The Land That Time Forgot, by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
  • The People of the Mist, by Henry Rider Haggard
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Project Gutenberg: Another great site to get free eBooks for your Kindle app (as recommended by Sonia Lal) is Project Gutenberg, notable archive of public domain fiction. I visited the website last night and joyfully discovered that they have a mobile site…in beta testing, but I downloaded it to my phone desktop, anyway. It works sort of like Amazon’s Kindle Store. Sonia tells me PG’s formatting is better than the Amazon freebies, so that’s worth noting. I downloaded two books from there: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Illustrated), by Edwin A. Abbot and The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells, just to test it and they do look great.

If you know any other websites that have free classic eBooks, please let me know in the comments section. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about the subject of frugal reading again soon.

With all of these choices for reading, there’s no reason you can’t join us for NaNoReMo.

C’mon, join the Classical Movement!