Beautiful Creatures?

The following is in response to Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. This book was the twenty-fourth book that I read this year as part of my Goodreads.com challenge.

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Before writing this post, I take a deep breath after a yawning sigh. I wanted to like this book more than I did. I heard from friends that the movie was great, so when I saw a copy of the book in my local Walmart I picked it up. Sadly, in this rare case, the movie, which I was yet to have seen when writing this, is better than the book. This book doesn’t have the most imaginative writing even though it’s a fantasy about magic. Ironically, the book is a not-so-beautiful creature, entire of itself. The “casters” (magic users like witches and wizards) don’t really “cast” anything, at least not in a way that the name suggests; even without wands you’d expect there to at least be some magical words that are used to cast the spells but things come out in cheesy riddles that rhyme and make no real sense. Not that expecto patronum makes much sense, but still. To be fair, maybe that’s why the fantasy aspect of the story is lackluster at best—I am a big Harry Potter fan and JK Rowling’s work does set a precedent when it comes to magic-themed series, so perhaps this book wasn’t good for me because it fell under HP’s shadow.

There are two writers of this book and subsequently there seems to be two stories. One is the not so great magical aspect. (Relevant side note: There was a missed opportunity—and I don’t remember what page sorry—when the two main characters go to a special caster library and nothing out of the ordinary happens. The book they were looking for wasn’t even there. They could have done a lot more with it. Just think about the magical books in the HP library. I digress.) Then there’s the love story behind it which is more believable and easier to get behind. The love story really does make the book readable. The payoff for me was the kiss on page four hundred and forty-seven; that’s right this book is more on the long side. “She leaned in to kiss me again, a real kiss. This was the kind of kiss that couldn’t really be called a kiss, the kind that involves arms and legs and necks and hair, the kind where the quilt finally slides down to the floor, the bureau rights itself, the clothes return to their hangers, and the freezing cold room is finally warm.” It says so much about their relationship up to this point and sends off steams of the healing nature of love, which is magical and makes beautiful creatures out of all of us.

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Vonnegut for Breakfast

The following is in response to Kurt Vonnegut’s book Breakfast of Champions, which was the twenty-third book that I read this year.

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Vonnegut is no doubt a master of contemporary American literature—it even says so on the back of the book. But I didn’t take the words on the book’s cover to heart before reading it myself; partly because I didn’t want to go into this book with assumptions based on what was written by some editor, and partly because I am just now reading the back cover for the first time. Ha!

One of the great things about this book (and his other books) is that he manages to complain about America without causing an uproar. For example, he pokes around the fiery memory of World War Two as if with a stick at a campfire: “He won all those medals in the Second World War, which was staged by robots so that Dwayne Hoover could give a free-willed reaction to such a holocaust. The war was such an extravaganza that there was scarcely a robot anywhere who didn’t have a part to play. Harold Newcomb Wilbur got his medals for killing Japanese, who were yellow robots. They were fueled by rice. (207)”

And again shortly after, Vonnegut complains about the American people and its government by blaming it on its literature: “As I approached by fifteenth birthday, I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen. And then I had come suddenly to pity them, for I understood how innocent and natural it was for them to behave so abominably, and with such abominable results: They were doing their best to live like people invented in story books. This was the reason Americans shot each other so often: It was a convenient literary device for ending short stories and books. (215)” This passage really made me think.

Another great thing about this book is what he does near the end: Vonnegut himself becomes a character and watches the breakfast scene go down in its fictional glory (This happens around page two hundred and twenty-five or so if you wanted to have a look for yourself). He has in essence created a story in which he can comment on his characters while they are still on stage. Bravo!

 

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Roadwork Quotes

The following are quotes from the book Roadwork by Stephen King, which was the twenty-second book that I read this year.

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He said: “I can’t explain. I listened to myself. But people talk a different language inside. It sounds like the worst kind of shit if you try to talk about it. But it was the right thing.” (136)

The moments he spent there were becoming very important to him—he suspected that in an obscure way, the moments spent on the observation platform were recharging him, keeping him tied to a world of at least half-sanity. (159)

In those moments he felt his self pulsing in the warm indifference of the early winter evening, a real person, perhaps still whole. (160)

The girl’s green eyes were very wide, and for a moment he fell into them and saw out of them and the perfect empathy that comes to human beings at mercifully infrequent intervals. (170)

Only one thing that bothers me, and that’s a feeling I get from time to time that I’m a character in some bad writer’s book and he’s already decided how things are going to turn out and why. It’s easier to see things that way, even, than to blame it on God—what did he ever do for me, one way or the other? No, It’s this bad writer, it’s his fault. (268)

All of it was inside him, but he had been honestly unaware that his thoughts were changing him so deeply, so irretrievably. (283)

The fucking you got was never worth the screwing you took. (405)

He closed his eyes and his last thought was that the world was not exploding around him but inside him, and while the explosion was cataclysmic, it was not larger than, say, a good-sized walnut. (406)

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Cursed Be The Child

The following is in response to a play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, based on a new story by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, and J. K. Rowling.

urlThis play, which follows the story of Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series, was the twenty-first book that I read this year as part of my Goodreads.com challenge. As a big potterhead, I was extremely excited to get my hands on a copy of this play and I was not disappointed.

Harry’s son Albus is put into Slytherin house at Hogwarts and befriends Malfoy’s son Scorpius—Escandalo! It is an unlikely paring, given the heated distance between the boy’s fathers, but the boys develop a tight relationship reminiscent of Harry, Ron, and Herione’s, the three amigos from the original Harry Potter series. The story follows the two boy’s journey through alternate presents and who you expect to be good is not. I don’t want to give too much away—you should definitely read this play if you love Harry potter—but I will say that the theme is sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

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Writing, Rage, and Youtube

The following is in response to Stephen King’s On Writing, King’s Rage, and Joseph Garrett’s Stampy’s Lovely Book.

41cqe00zzsl-_sy344_bo1204203200_The eighteenth book that I read this year was On Writing by Mr. Stephen King. The book is in part autobiographical and in part about the craft of writing. You will find out how King came up with some of his books, like Graveyard Shift and Carrie, and the inspirations behind them—I won’t spoil it for you, you’ll have to read it to find out. Some of the key things as far as writing goes that I picked up are that in the way of grammar the best book to use is The Elements of Style by Shrunk and White. King suggests that to be serious about what you’re doing you will probably have to write at least one thousand words a day for six days a week, though he admits that when he is working on a novel he often works everyday no matter what. Through Christmas, in the background of birthdays, in between festivities on Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t matter—write until you’ve finished a first draft without looking back and then take a few weeks off before the second draft. Another thing that King harps on is avoid using passive verbs and adverbs and unnecessary adjectives.

ragebachmanThe nineteenth book I read this year was Stephen King’s book entitled Rage. I read rage on my Kindle and all quotes will include the location of the words.  This book is just as it is described on the front cover: “His [Charlie Decker, a Maine high school student] twisted mind turned a quiet classroom into a dangerous world of terror.” There was some great imagery in this book: “The words echoed gently in my head, as if at great depths. They were shark words at deep fathoms, jaws words come to gobble me. Words with teeth and eyes. (228-235)” “Pictures whirled in front of my eyes, hundreds of them, fragments from dreams, fragments from reality. It was impossible to separate one from the other. Lunacy is when you can’t see the seams where they stitched the world together anymore. (2493-2499)” Also, the entire chapter ten is a hell of a monologue about sanity, chance and death. The main character Charlie is hard to figure out because he is in an introspective state of real raw rage. This is indicative in the passage: “Read my dreams, Sigmund. Squirt ’em with the sperm of symbols and make ’em grow. Show me how we’re different from, say, rabid dogs or old tigers full of bad blood. Show me the man hiding between my wet dreams.”

51zeadug1kl-_sx258_bo1204203200_The twentieth book that I read this year was a kid’s book by Joseph Garrett called Stampy’s Lovely Book. Garrett is a youtube sensation that typically makes Let’s Play Videos on Minecraft. I know this is a kid’s book—his primary audience is kids—but he is my favorite youtuber and I just had to get a copy when I heard about it. The book includes trivia about his Minecraft world, games and other cool things that kids, a big kids like me, enjoy.

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A Whole Lot of Salem Quotes

The following are quotes from Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. I do apologize that I have not provided page numbers—I read this book on my Kindle, therefore I have included the location numbers. Salem’s Lot was the seventeenth book that I read this year as part of my goodreads.com reading challenge.

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“‘keep ‘ee out o’ Jerusalem’s wood lot, if ‘ee want to keep ‘ee guts in ‘ee belly!’ The warning took hold, and so did the name. It proves little, except that perhaps in America even a pig can aspire to immortality. (Loc 460-465)”

“The sky was beginning to lighten in the east, and on the fields between here and town, heavy dew sparkled like a king’s ransom of diamonds. (Loc 843-849)”

“His fingers were permanently yellowed with chalk dust rather than nicotine, but it was still the residue of an addicting substance. (Loc 1365-1369)”

“Fear that you might step on a pongee stick and see your foot swell up like some noxious green balloon, fear that some kid in black p.j.’s whose name you couldn’t even fit in your mouth might blow your head off with a Russian rifle, fear that you might draw a Crazy Jake on patrol that might want you to blow up everyone in a village where the Cong had been a week before. (Loc 1876-1882)”

“‘You asked me what I think. I’ll tell you. I think it’s relatively easy for people to accept something like telepathy or precognition or teleplasm because their willingness to believe doesn’t cost them anything. It doesn’t keep them awake nights. But the idea that the evil that men do lives after them is more unsettling. (Loc 2413-2419)”

“She read them over and over again, and Mark was darned if he could see the sense in reading a book more than once. You knew how it was going to end. (Loc 2926-2933)”

“Crying was like pissing everything out on the ground. (Loc 2961-2965)”

“Dracula with his mouth open, showing his fangs, was menacing a girl lying on the ground while the Mad Doctor was torturing a lady on the rack and Mr. Hyde was creeping up on an old guy walking home. Understand death? sure. That was when the monsters got you. (Loc 2968-2974)”

“The fist crashing into the baby’s face, the tire cut open with a jackknife. the barroom brawl, the insertion of razor blades into Halloween apples, the constant, vapid qualifiers with the human mind, in all its labyrinthine twists and turns, is able to spew forth. (Loc 3186-3190)”

“Not all of them who waded into the waters of Lethe found it necessary to take a bath in it, but there were enough kids who had made dreams their protein. (Loc 3393-3397)”

“Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym…(Loc 4254)”

“If a fear cannot be articulated, it can’t be conquered. (Loc 4260)”

“Cory Bryant sank into a great forgetful river, and that river was time, and its waters were red. (4921-4929)”

“We know that aspirin is very close in chemical composition to LSD, but why should one cure the ache in the head and the other cause the head to fill up with flowers? Part of the reason we don’t understand is because we don’t really know what the brain is. The best-educated doctor in the world is standing on a low island in the middle of a sea of ignorance. (Loc 5242-5247)”

“They found themselves listening to the silence, fascinated by it. There did not even seem to be a faint, high hum that comes in utter stillness, the sound of nerve endings idling in neutral. There was only a great dead soundlessness and the beat of blood in their own ears. And yet they both knew, of course. They were not alone. (Loc 5887-5892)”

“The devil, according to gospel according to Freud, would be a gigantic composite id, the subconscious of all of us. (Loc 6311-6317)”

“The steady breeze that had allowed the flames to jump one firebreak now brought a steady fall of white ash over the town like summer snow. (Loc 7673-7677)”

“There was only the darkness, and she in it, dreaming or beginning to dream. She thought dimly that the dream would be sweet and long, but bitter underneath and without light, like the waters of Lethe. (Loc 7692-7700)”

“Whole country’s goin’ the same way. Me and Nolly went to a drive-in show up in Falmouth a couple of weeks ago, just before they closed her down for the season. I seen more blood and killin’s in that first Western than I seen both years in Korea. Kids was eatin’ popcorn and cheerin ’em on.’ He gestured vaguely at the town, now lying unnaturally gilded in the brokwn rays of the westering sun, like a dream village. ‘They prob’ly like bein’ vampires. (Loc 8291)”

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Hemingway Quotes

The following are quotes from Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro, the sixteenth book that I read this year as part of my Goodreads.com challenge.

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Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. Well, he would not have to fail at trying to write them either. Maybe you could never write them, and that was why you put them off and delayed the starting. Well he would never know, now. (p. 2)

“Love is a dunghill,” said Harry. “And I’m the cock that gets on it to crow.” (p. 4)

“All right then. I’ll go on hurting you. It’s more amusing. The only thing I ever really liked to do with you I can’t do now.” (p. 5)

“You don’t have to destroy me. Do you? I’m only a middle-aged woman who loves you and wants to do what you want to do. I’ve been destroyed two or three times already. You wouldn’t want to destroy me again, would you?” “I’d like to destroy you a few times in bed,” he said. “Yes. That’s the good destruction. That’s the way we’re made to be destroyed. The plane will be here tomorrow.” (p. 7)

And just then it occurred to him that he was going to die. It came with a rush; not as a rush of water nor of wind; but of a sudden, evil smelling emptiness and the odd thing was that the hyena slipped lightly along the edge of it. (p. 8)

All right. Now he would not care for death. One thing he had always dreaded was the pain. He could stand pain as well as any man, until it went on too long, and wore him out, but here he had something that had hurt frightfully and just when he had felt it breaking him, the pain had stopped. (p. 13)

I’m getting as bored with dying as with everything else, he thought. (p. 13)

Outside the tent the hyena made the same strange noise that had awakened her. But she did not hear him for the beating of her heart. (p. 15)

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