Sunday, October 31, 2010

Abducted by a Witch and Wizard


You know I’ve never been much of a Halloween fan. I mean it is a fine holiday I suppose but it has never been one of my favorites. However, over the past few years I have found many multiple reasons to look forward to October 31st.

First of all, if you have the time and money it can be quite enjoyable to dress up in funny little costumes. This year I went as a crime fighter like in Kick Ass. I have a red wig and a mask and a cape. I wore my costume to work on Friday and I realized I never fully appreciated the joys of wearing a cape. I felt like a little 8 year old boy walking around in cowboy boots or their own favorite super hero costume. If you come around my apartment on some lazy Sunday afternoon and find me walking around in my cape, I’m just saying…well…I warned you.

Second of all, my mother and I always have a movie date to watch Rocky Horror Picture Show. A fine tradition if I do say so myself. Usually we also order a midnight pizza. But since I’ll be starting a diet here in the next few weeks, my dad has agreed to make my favorite for dinner, cheese ravioli, roasted tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. So a pizza wont be necessary.

Third of all, this year marks my fourth anniversary of becoming Catholic. Funny story, four years ago I was at Borders purchasing my dvd of Rocky Horror in order to go home and watch it with my mother and while there I also bought Catholicism for Dummies. And so it began.

Last but not least, it marks the kick off for NANOWRIMO!!!!!!!!!!!! Could I be more excited? Uh, I doubt it! (for more info see the previous post)

So to all those Halloween lovers out there, I’m slowing but surely coming over to your side. To all those indifferent about the matters of Halloween, trust me, it’s not so bad.

Moving on.

Last night I finished one of the three books I was trying to finish before NaNoWriMo started. Unfortunately the other two will probably be put on the back burner until December. But anyway, here is my review for…

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson with Gabrielle Charbonnet

First of all let me confess that I didn’t technically “read” Witch and Wizard. I listened to it on audio. Now, W&W is a story told from two perspectives and one of those perspectives happened to be read by none other than my sweet Elijah Wood! So I downloaded it from audio books and then I finished it last night.

Basically the story is told from the perspective of a boy, Whit Allgood, and his sister Wisty Allgood. As it turns out they are in fact a witch and wizard although they had never known it.

I really enjoyed the sibling relationship in the book. I thought it was funny and honest. I understand that in times of danger and high stress siblings can get on better then they would normally, but sometimes in books the authors can take this relationship to the extreme and make them too saintly. But with Whit and Wisty, they bickered and bantered back and forth, and they still had their loving moments but it was more believable.

However, the characters were supposed to be, I believe 17 and 16. So the authors included a lot of slang in their speech, and I am just not a fan of that. For some reason when adults put those words into teenagers in their books it never comes across as genuine to me.

I did not enjoy the parental relationship in the story. Which is kind of surprising seeing on how the parents leave the story in the beginning of the book and don’t show back up until the end. But that entire relationship was, well…in a word, cheesy.

As for the plot of the book. Of course Whit and Wisty find out about their powers right as a new world government takes over and condemns all those with magical powers as evil and criminal. Whit and Wisty are then ripped away from their parents, forced to go on the run and mayhem ensues from there.

The story had a good balance between the humor and action adventure scenes and I found myself really enjoying the book.

That is until the end.

I hated the end so much that I am now going to talk about it. So if you think there may be a chance that you’ll read W&W in the future and don’t want to have the ending ruined for yourself, I understand.

Therefore DO NOT read any further.

*************************SPOILER ALERT********************************

I’m going to be brief because this blog is already pretty long. And really I only hated one thing about the book.

However that one thing I really hated, I really REALLY hated it.

The story begins with the Allgood family about to be hanged for their crimes of having magical powers. And then Wisty backs up and starts to tell you the story of how they got to that point. Only she never finishes. The book ends with them still on the run and separated from their parents. I was listening to this book on audio and I could see there was only like 10 minutes left and I kept thinking that was strange because they were still on the run and yet I knew that they had to be reunited with their parents, captured, and then brought to the location of the hanging. But no according to James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet a book doesn’t have to come full circle in order for it to end. You can just end it.

What kind of f%*ked up s#~t is that!?!

Most of my friends that know my preference for books, know that I’m not a fan of series. I have read a few and can find myself sucked in. But I am very reluctant to allow this. For the most part when I finish a book, I like to close that cover and know that the story is completed. Maybe the characters can go on with their lives and dreams and what not but for the most part any problems that occurred with in that story are resolved in some manner. I don’t really mind stories being left open for sequels but the over problem for this stage in the characters journey needs to be settled.

But for two authors to come together, introduce a certain obstacle and then not resolve it in any way shape or form, it is just infuriating! I can understand if not every tiny little obstacle gets resolved but a pretty big one like the entire family being hanged to death, yeah I’m going to need some form of an ending for that.

All I am saying is that if you are not going to complete the circle, don’t start out your entire novel with it!

And in all honesty the book wasn’t good enough to really make me want to run out and buy an entire series. I mean it was a fun and all but it wasn’t enough to keep me hooked through several books. That is all I’m saying.

Have a good Halloween everybody!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Abducted by NaNoWriMo

It is funny how one moment you have no idea where you are going and the next moment it is all so clear and you can’t wait to get started.

That is exactly how I feel right now! Only a few weeks ago I had absolutely no idea what I would be writing about for this years NaNoWriMo project. Then about a week ago, I finally resolved on an idea. Not one I was too proud of or excited about, but it was enough to get me started.

One of the ideas I’ve always tinkered with was to write something in the style of Maeve Binchy. She writes truly amazing novels that link together several different stories and uses them to tell really simple tales of people’s everyday lives and choices they make. Of course I would never assume that I could come close to touching the ability that Binchy has, but it would be fun to try. I shared with my friend Andrea, how one blessing to this style of writing would be that if I ever got stuck or bored with a character I could just switch over.

But then, last night, I started flipping through magazines to put faces to my characters.

And now here I am.

I have my entire novel cast-ed. I know all of my characters names (first and last), I know the way they look, I know their personalities. And after spending my entire day off looking through the forums on the NaNoWriMo site I know what is going to happen to some of them.

I know how the story will start and how it will end. I have so many ideas buzzing in my head I fear that if November does not hurry up and get here my head is going to explode.

It is funny to me because all I wanted this year was to be more prepared then I was last year starting NaNoWriMo, so that I could get off to a solid head start. But as October was quickly passing I was starting to get nervous that November 1st would arrive and I would still be drawing a blank. And now here I am just days away and I can’t wait to get started.

The only problem is that I have no idea what the main arc in the story is going to be. The main climax. The main turning point.

But I have no fear. My characters will lead me there, I am sure of it.

I make no promises that my novel will be anything worth reading by the time I am done. But as long as I give voice to these characters (and as long as none of them break into Andrew Lloyd Weber songs when they are on dates…a method I might have used to pad my story last year) I will consider myself successful.

ONLY 3 MORE DAYS TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Abducted by the Countdown Meme

Well it has almost been a full week since my last blog post. Originally I was planning on including a post for the Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, which was our selection for October book club. However, after book club on Saturday I just feel pretty talked out about it.
I usually try to not post about book club books because, well at least for now, the majority of my readers are my fellow book-clubers.

Unfortunately, since I’m not posting on Lost Symbol I don’t have another book to write about right now. I have three books I am in the middle of and I am going to push really hard to finish them before Monday.

NaNoWriMo is starting up on November 1st so I just know I am not going to have a lot of time to read next month.

But, for now, I still wanted to do a post for the week.

So I looked around at some different meme’s and found a really quick one I thought might be interesting.


FIVE: Give the five books you’d recommend to anyone

For a love story I’d go with Pride and Prejudice. It is a classic for a reason.

For a graphic novel I’d go with Scott Pilgrim. I’m not really into graphic novels, as much as I’d like to be. But Scott Pilgrim is just layered with sarcasm so it really is a fun read.

For a thriller I’d go with Relentless by Dean Koontz
. It was the first book I ever read that gave me nightmares. Some people like the ending and some people don’t, but the journey to get there is so exciting that it is definitely worth reading.

For a super natural I’d go with Odd Thomas also by Dean Koontz
. There are definitely elements of the super natural but even if you remove all of them you’d still have a really good story with an amazing protagonist.

For a classic I’d go with To Kill A Mockingbird. No explanation needed I hope.

FOUR: List your four all time favorites

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair by C S Lewis. Puddleglum was always one of my favorite characters in all of Narnia and I loved the scene when he stood up to the Green Witch. I’ve read this book like six times I think.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I remember when I first read this with my online book club and I was shocked by how thoroughly entertaining it was. Loved it.

Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy. Awe, my first Binchy. I was crying by the third chapter and that book has really stayed with me. I can’t wait to check in on Declan in Binchy’s new novel coming out next year.

Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella. It is an entire book that is an ode to baseball fanatics. How could I not love it?

THREE: Identify three places you’d love to live from a book. (given that the characters from the original novels are not going to be there, just the place)

Whitethorn Woods from the Maeve Binchy’s novel of the same name. It is just this really small woods in the middle of this really small Irish town.

The Shire from Lord of the Rings, as long as I could guarantee that it was long before any of that stuff goes down with Frodo and the ring. I don’t want to be there when the shire all get’s destroyed.

Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I’d just build me a little house in that one room just like at the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’d get to leave during the day if I wanted to, to visit the streets of…where is it?…London? But I’d still get to swim in rivers of chocolate and have fields of flowers that look like tea cups you can bite into.

TWO: List two characters you’d want to trade places with.

First and foremost Clare from Outlander. What I wouldn’t do to have Jaime Fraser all to myself! Now, the picture I've included is the cover for the book The Exile, which is the graphic novel based off of Outlander. But I chose that picture because the actual Outlander cover is simply...

Any girl from the Hufflepuff house. I’d join the DA and make a move on Neville Longbottom. Then later when he becomes a professor of herbology, I can join the staff too as the professor of muggle studies.

ONE: A book that has made a difference in your life.

Don’t Die My Love by Lurlene McDaniel.

At book club on Saturday some of the girls were talking about the books they read when they were kids. I’ll be honest some of the ones they mentioned I’d never even heard of. And I was embarrassed to say that when I was a kid I was reading R L Stine or Lurlene McDaniel. Especially Lurlene McDaniel.

All of her books involved kids that were sick or dying and every one of them made me cry. They were the first books I read that ever really brought out those strong emotions from me and it made me love reading.

Sure, I’d like to think now that my taste has improved, (no offense) but still, I have to give credit where credit is do. And if I hadn’t gotten so deep into Lurlene McDaniel books as a kid, who knows if I would still end up loving to read as much as I do today.

Any way, if you agreed with any of my answers or if you want to challenge any of them, please leave comments.

And I’ll be back later in the week to write about all the books I finish before the kick off for NaNoWriMo.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Abducted by An Abundance of Katherines

This weekend I left work on Saturday as a girl on a mission. The mission being that I was going to accomplish 2 things that I have been meaning to do for a long time.

1. To give myself a pedicure.
2. To read a novel by John Green.

The thing about the pedicure is that my feet had literally started to look like they belong to an elephant. So trust me when I say a pedicure was way past due.

And look at these beauties now!!!

Now about the John Green Novel.

My friend Tracy introduced me to the vlogbrothers a couple of months ago. But just in these past few weeks I’ve become obsessed.

John Green is one of the two vlogbrothers (the other being his brother Hank Green) and he is also an author. He has written I believe three main books and co-authored a fourth. For a while now I have been wanting to read one of these books but I couldn’t decide which one to read first and it just wasn’t high on my priority list.

Then last week Green posted a vlog in which he showed off some of his fans that had gathered at one of his appearances. One of the girls had actually tattooed a mathematical equation that was featured in Green’s book, An Abundance of Katherines, across the length of her forearm! Crazy right!

Seeing the devotion that some of his fans had to this book made me want to read it immediately. I finished on Tuesday and I am now ready to give you my review on...

When it comes to relationships there should be a mathematical equation to predict how long the relationship will last and how the relationship will end.

Following the aftermath of his nineteenth breakup with a girl named Katherine (by the way I should specify that this is not one girl named Katherine but he managed to date and get dumped by nineteen different girls all named Katherine). Colin Singleton, a child prodigy/genius, has had a “eureka” moment. He will develop such an equation.

With the help of Hassan, the greatest best friend character I’ve come across in a really long time, Colin heads out on a road trip and ends up in the absolutely charming town of Gutshot Tennessee. Colin is one of those main characters that before you have decided that you even like him, your heart has fallen in love with him. In contrast Hassan is this completely hysterical, strong, supportive, loyal, and unconditionally generous best friend that you love straight from the beginning. In the Q&A section of the book John Green states that he doesn’t feel he would ever write sequels to any of his books. But in this case I seriously think he should consider taking the route of a spin-off and give Hassan his own book. He’s earned it.

There is no question that the town of Gutshot is extremely delightful. While there Colin and Hassan are befriended by a young girl named Lindsey Lee Wells who partners up with Colin to help him finish his equation. The equation works in such a way that you only have to know a few basic facts about each person to be able to predict the future of their relationship.

I thought it would be funny to work the equation to predict my future relationship with Elijah Wood. However, I then remembered something. Math is really hard. Also, it has been like over five years since I was last in an actual math class and I was never very good at it to start with. The hard parts of the equation completely allude me but even the simple stuff like subtracting fractions from a whole number had me scratching my head.

There were many parts of the story that I connected with and was moved by. Colin’s declarations of just wanting to matter, and his feeling that he is missing a piece inside of himself, or when he says that his distractions keep “…the loneliness of crushlessness from being entirely crushing.”

However there was one part of the book that I found to be entirely unsettling.

Colin manages to ask the one question I have always felt to be unaskable. Not because the question itself can’t be asked but because the prospective answer is too frightening.

“Do you ever wonder whether people would like you more
or less if they could see inside you?…If people could see me
the way I see myself--if they could live in my memories--
would anyone, anyone, love me?”

The entire time I was reading the story I couldn’t help but feel that Colin was such a pessimist. His theory on relationships boiling down to it always ending. And yet the unsettlingness of the above statement helped remind me that I am often also a pessimist, because my honest answer…would be…no.

(before I continue with this line of thought, please know that I am not writing this to get a response. To put it bluntly, you can save all your “Oh, Courtney, when you find the right guy…blah blah blah”. I know you mean well but I am honestly including this part in my blog just to put it out there into the void. Also I tend to find those types of answers to be somewhat patronizing. No offense.)

In the book, Colin and Lindsey both have a secret habit of nibbling on the tip of their thumbs. This is a private habit that they never do in front of anyone. I have similar habits. Things I do in the privacy of my own home that I would never do in front of another person. Things I have never told anyone about, not even my oldest and dearest friends. NO ONE. And a part of me always assumed that if I was ever in a relationship I would just either a- stop doing them or b- become the type of person who didn’t need to do them anymore. It was never an option for me to find someone I could do them in front of because if anyone ever really saw inside me, saw me the way I see myself, they couldn’t love me.

And if I am totally honest with myself. I think I prefer it that way. Not the, no one loving me part. But let us just say that my secret habit is nibbling the tip of my thumb. I don’t want to do that in front of someone else. I want to drop all those private habits. I wouldn’t want him to see me as the type of person who does that.

Again, we are talking about little habits like nibbling your thumb, for anyone out there who’s thinking of anything dirty, get your mind out of the gutter.

In conclusion I would simply say that while I didn’t love the book, I did really really like it. The ending was probably less climatic then I would usually prefer but the characters were endearing and the story was simple and genuine. And I am excited to read more from John Green in the future.

40 posts; 25 weeks; 21 books- to go.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Abducted by Columbus

Today is Christopher Columbus day!!! And it is quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays of the year. Right behind St. Patrick’s day. You might be asking yourself why Christopher Columbus day would mean so much to me, I mean today Christopher Columbus is kind of a joke. More and more people consider him a laughing stock all because he got lost and thought he was near India when he ended up discovering North America. Then again, he didn’t technically discover America because the Indians were already here by the time he arrived.
So again, why is Christopher Columbus day such a big deal to me?

Because instead of celebrating this guy

I choose to celebrate this guy!

I can’t take credit for making this connection. I actually got the idea from watching The Big Bang Theory last year. But I do take full credit for taking a little idea mentioned on a tv show and expanding it into full reality.

And how, you may ask, did I do that?

By giving Columbus day the four things any true holiday has;

A theme song. (Christmas has all those carols, Thanksgiving Day has a son, Hanukah has that song about a dreidel, and I believe even Groundhog’s Day has a theme song)

A color. (Christmas and Valentines day use red, Halloween has orange and black)

A feast. (Thanksgiving has turkey, Easter has ham)

And a theme. A reason to celebrate. An activity for the family to all get behind.

Christopher Columbus’s first movie to direct was Adventures in Babysitting. (A true classic) therefore the official theme song for Christopher Columbus’s day will be “Babysitting Blues” a song prominently featured in the movie. It is also because of this song that the official holiday color will be blue.

Now, for the feast, we shall have chicken drumsticks and water. Sounds lame but when Billy gave those exact food items to Gizmo in Gremlins all hell broke loose. So those will be the official food items and of course the feast will have to take place just right after midnight.

Let us now get down to the main theme of the day. Every holiday has a theme. Sure we can spend the day watching Chris Columbus movies but we do the same at Christmas with Christmas movies, and yet the movies alone do not make the holiday.

This is my proposal…

I think that Chris Columbus would appreciate if we celebrated the day by finding out just how resilient and resourceful our children are. Call me crazy but I don’t see anything wrong with having a holiday set aside to find out how deep our children’s survival instincts run. And baised on the movies Columbus has released I would say today is the day to do just that.

So parents, hire an unprofessional babysitter to take your kids into the city for the night and see how much trouble they can get into.

Or don’t hire anyone and simply leave town for the weekend, or give your kid your credit card and ship him off to NYC.

Allow your kids to get lost in the mine shafts under and abandoned restaurant in search for lost treasure. Be sure to threaten them that if they don’t find the treasure their homes will be taken away from them.

Let us not forget Harry Potter, sure he has adult supervision but he has survival instincts any parent could be proud of.

According to my sister, Stephanie, a holiday is not truly a holiday unless the banks and post offices are closed. But alas, we can thank the original Chris Columbus for taking care of those things for us.

So now that Christopher Columbus Day has officially been made a holiday we can all get behind. Go out and enjoy what is left of the day!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


So this week my friend Tracy has celebrated a truly wonderful accomplishment. Monday was her one year anniversary on live journal. And her blog is awesome!

But reading about her success left me wondering about my own. So I hopped over to my own blog and was horrified!!!

This blog was created for me by my friend Kate on April 13, 2010. Which means that as of next week, I will have had my own blog for exactly 6 months. SIX MONTHS!!! And do you know how many posts I’ve made in that time? DO YOU???


If you don’t count this posting, and you don’t count the first one (don’t ask my why, but for the sake of argument just agree we are not counting the first post) you are left with only SIX posts!

And that is not all, do you want to know what is even more horrifying then only having written SIX posts in SIX months?

The fact that this blog is supposed to be a book blog and out of those SIX posts only ONE of them was actually about a book!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is just pathetic!

(however that one post, Abducted by Rapp posted Sept. 13 is one I am really proud of)

In order to remedy this monstrosity I have decided to issue myself a challenge.

I here by challenge myself to reach 50 posts by the time I reach my own year mark. But more then that, out of those 50 posts, 25 of them must be about books.

43 posts; 27 weeks; 25 books- that is the challenge.

So, to start things off let me write briefly about a book I just finished this past week.

Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

I was actually really excited about finishing this one. I used to be in an online book club with my friends Kate and Amanda. Amanda selected this book for our September read back in 2009. Even though it is only 275 pages long, it took me a year to finish. But, hey, bottom line is I finished.

It may seem surprising when I say that I actually liked this book. I know what you might be asking yourself; if you liked it so much why did it take you a year to finish?

Well, although I really enjoyed Robbins’ style of writing and in the end I did enjoy the ultimate story. He didn’t really make me care for the characters. I did not feel invested in them. It is hard to really become engulfed in a book when you can take or leave the people the story is about.
At times I found Robbins’ choices to be in poor taste. It felt to me like he had challenged himself to see how many different ways he could describe a woman’s…well… you know. So he continuously put his characters in positions were he would be given the chance to write about it using as many colorful descriptions as he could to describe every detail.

And yet, in the very next paragraph he would write these declarations about love and society and loyalty that were so poetic and poignant that I would be moved to underline and memorize them.

“CHOICE. A person’s looking for a simple truth to live by, there it is. CHOICE. To refuse to passively accept what we’ve been handed by nature and society, but to choose for ourselves. CHOICE. That’s the difference between emptiness and substance, between a life actually lived and a wimpy shadow cast on an office wall.”

The story in Woodpecker is basically boiled down to two people in search for a simple answer to a complicated question.

How do you make love stay?

These two people contemplated life on other planets, symbolism in every day objects and a mysterious power that all red-heads seem to have, and came up with theories, that frankly went over my head.

But the thing I liked best about this book, is that in the end, Robbins himself answers the question. Through the novel’s main story, Robbins, our narrator, interrupts his story to go on rants of his own. Mostly about the typewriter he is using to write the novel. And at the end of the novel, in his own hand writing, Robbins delivers the over all thesis for his work.

“When the mystery of the connection goes, love goes. It’s that simple. This suggests that it isn’t love that is so important to us but the mystery itself. The love connection may be merely a device to put us in contact with the mystery, and we long for love to last so that the ecstasy of being near the mystery will last.”

So, then, how do you make the mystery last?

Well, the answer to that, I guess, would be in a different book.
Or maybe we have to answer it for ourselves.

Frankly I would be annoyed if every author finished their novels by delivering a closing argument. But, in Robbins’s case, it just seemed to work. And it was just different enough to make me appreciate it.

So there you have it! Now for the sake of not confusing ourselves I am going to go ahead and count my first post as a post for my challenge. Which means we are now at

42 posts; 27 weeks; 22 books- to go.
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