Saturday, June 29, 2013

Classical Clairvoyance

Classical Clairvoyance is where we ask our Tators which books they predict will win for the upcoming poll. For September's poll, our winner is Laura who was the only one to pick The Handmaid's Tale!  Go Laura!  Our scores for right guesses so far are as follows: 
Angie -1
Heather - 1
Jared - 1
Jeane - 2
Karena - 2
Laura - 3

Laura is 3 for 3. Will this month be her 4th? 

For the month of October our category is pre-1910 and our choices are Persuasion, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Rob Roy, Bartleby, the Scrivener, and Great Expectations.




Bartleby, the Scrivener


Great Expectations


Great Expectations




The Scarlet Pimpernel

Which book do you think will win for October's poll? Do you think Laura will win yet again? Let us know!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wild @ Heart with YA Lit

As a regular reader of Young Adult Literature, I often hear there is little value in it for adults. However, I strongly disagree. Although some of the popular motifs, like love triangles, can be tiresome, there is a great deal of YA literature with complicated story lines and themes that adults, as well as teens, can learn from. 

One reason I choose to read YA Literature is that they are often quick reads with modern plots. This category is great for staying up to date with modern references to music, television, and technology. Another reason I read novels directed at teens is there are many current novels about dystopian societies, which often draw my interest. Finally, I read YA Literature to remind myself of what it is like to be a teenager. Life is different for teens today than when I was younger. I think it is important to be able to remain sympathetic to the complicated nature of teen life, and not to become too distant from those years. For, when you forget what it is like to be young, you truly begin to be old. Reading YA Literature ensures that I remain wild at heart.

Peregrine Harker & The Black DeathPeregrine Harker & the Black Death by Luke Hollands is about Peregrine, a 15 year old orphan in 1908 London who works at the local newspaper. He loves adventure, mysteries, and getting into trouble. It reads like a traditional mystery novel and is definitely a book written with reluctant boy readers in mind.

Somewhere between Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Tin Tin, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Peregrine Harker is difficult to peg which demographic Hollands is trying to reach. At times, the novel reads like a teen novel. Peregrine encounters a great deal of violence, witnesses murder, gets into several physical altercations that he barely gets out of with his life, and even has a love interest. Like Sherlock, Peregrine has an unnatural gift for sniffing out clues to find the bad guys. And, the villains are serious bad guys. They are murderous, smuggling kidnappers with no qualms for beating up children and forcing girls into marriage. 

However, at other times, the novel feels like it is intended for a much younger audience. Throughout, the dialogue is childish and silly, reminiscent of Tin Tin, and feels much closer to a book written for middle school children than young adults. Even so, much of the content is incongruous with a middle school novel. 

Not only is the story difficult to peg, but Peregrine himself is a paradox. His is a 15 year old orphan, raised by the newspaper manager, but is proficient in fencing and boxing (enough that he can hold his own in a fight against a bare knuckle champion)? Much of this just doesn't makes sense. 

In my opinion, this story showed promise and would have been stronger if Hollands had decided to write an actual young adult novel. He could have raised Peregrine's age to about 18, made the story more complex, developed the love interest further, and explained how he is so versed in self-defense and fighting. Instead, the story feels disjointed and underdeveloped. 


Library Bag: If you know a child who really likes mystery novels, this might be the right novel for him/her. However, if you are an adult that enjoys dabbling in YA every now and then, hoping for a light read with an entertaining plot, I don't recommend it. It is way too "young" for me, very predictable and left me feeling unsatisfied.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Association

So, it's our last week with Solaris as our book of the month.  This week, we'll link the classic science fiction novel with other books that include characters that sacrifice themselves in the name of love. Thanks to our ShelfTator Angie for her help as well! Next month, we'll turn to The Phantom of the Opera.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of starts this novel about the French Revolution. For the love of one woman, two men vie for her hand. A sacrifice of all sacrifices is made. This one is a personal favorite of mine that I read in high school and loved, even though Dickens has a tendency to over describe. The whole plot of this book was incredible.

A love of a different kind is displayed here as Steinbeck tells the story of two men traveling the Salinas Valley to find employment. One of the men, George, acts as a caregiver to Lennie, a simple minded man, and tries to shelter him from the harshness of migrant life and people.

A father sacrifices his health and, ultimately, his life, to teach his son survival skills amidst a post-apocalyptic world while traveling to their final destination, the West Coast. 

What are some novels you enjoyed that involved love and sacrifice?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tator Tuesdays

Every week we ask our Tators bookish questions. This week's question is: 

What is the best book you’ve ever received as a gift? 



Every gift of books is the best, don’t you think? Most recently my favorite was the gift of At the Abyss: An Insider’s History of the Cold War by Thomas Reed. My mother saw him speak in my hometown, purchased the book, and had it signed just for me because she knows how much I enjoy history and politics. The best book-related gift I’ve ever received was a Kindle from my husband -- it was his wedding present to me. He wanted me to be able to read while traveling overseas on our honeymoon without the burden of physical book size or weight.


How Far Will You Go? It is a book of questions that’s great for parties. I have a lot of fun memories because of it.


The People of Pern autographed by Anne McCaffrey

1001 Books to Read Before You Die from my parents. It's not really because of the content, but because it got me interested in the classics again which led me to cofounding CWAtC.


To Be a Pilgrim by Joyce Cary. I found it for .99 in a deli when I was nine years old and my mom went back and bought it for me.

What is the best book you've received as a gift?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

LitStarter: Bringing You the Best in Bookish Projects

Welcome to another installment of Lit Starter! This is a regular look at some of my favorite projects discovered through two popular crowd funding websites: Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The featured projects will be related to literature and comics, but not limited to publishing or writing projects.

No, you aren't imagining things. That's a picture of James Franco in the Indiegogo widget, holding a copy of his book, Palo Alto: Stories.

Famed actor and director James Franco has turned to crowd-funding in an effort to raise money to create three feature films, all of which have been adapted from his collection of fictional short stories about his hometown of Palo Alto, California.

Franco is asking for $500,000 to cover the production expenses of three feature films: Memoria, Killing Animals, and Yosemite. The money will be split evenly between the films -- giving each one a budget of a little over $160,000. The project is part of a flexible funding campaign, which means that even if they don't reach their target goal, they will be able to keep all money raised but are still required to fulfill perks.

Speaking of perks, most of the ones offered by this campaign are centered around Franco himself. Perks include yearbook pictures of him; signed posters and postcards; personalized videos, art, and voicemail messages. Backers at higher levels have opportunities to be in the film, attend special screenings, and visit the set.

Franco has enlisted the help of Nina Ljeti and Vladimir Bourdeau de Fontenay to direct Memoria, Gabrielle Demeestere to direct Yosemite, and Bruce Thierry Cheung to direct Killing Animals. All of the directors either currently attend, or have attended, New York University. Each of the films have been adapted from more than one of the short stories in Franco's book.

If you weren't already interested in the project because of James Franco or the adaptation of short stories into feature films, you will be interested to hear that profits made from film sales will be donated to The Art of Elysium. This non-profit organization is dedicated to pairing working artists with seriously ill children through art instruction, workshops, and special events.

In instances where famous folks turn to crowd-funding, it can be a disaster. The obvious question with the Palo Alto Stories project is this: why doesn't Franco just front the money himself? According to his Indiegogo pitch, it isn't that simple. He's looking to support young and upcoming artists -- the directors he's chosen -- and needs more money than he can give in order to do so. Franco's looking for the freedom to make movies independent of the politics inside Hollywood. He will also be giving back by supporting The Art of Elysium.

You can support Palo Alto Stories by James Franco by clicking here (or the widget above). You can learn more about The Art of Elysium by clicking here or following them on Twitter @TheArtofElysium.

Twitter handles included in this promotion: James Franco: @JamesFrancoTV, The Art of Elysium: @TheArtofElysium, Indiegogo: @Indiegogo