Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

I've been hammering my way through NPR's top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy list for a long while now. I started with books that I recognized like Interview with a Vampire and Mists of Avalon but I've reached the point in the list where I either don't recognize the title or it's part of a series. I'm still unsure weather or not I'll attempt to read whole series or just the first book of each one. I guess it'll depend on the series. 
While I was scanning the list to find something that caught my fancy I came across The Handmaid's Tale. I had heard of Margaret Atwood before, but hadn't really thought to read anything by her. Since there aren't too many women authors on that list I decided I might as well give it a try. If you asked me at the beginning of this book how I liked it I would have told you I didn't. That Offred was a little whiny and that I was lost as far as where the plot was going. 
If you asked me in the middle of this book how I liked it I would have told I was tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop. If you would have asked me how I liked this book by the end I would have told you that I just don't effing even know. 
If you would have asked me 3 days after I finished this book how I liked it I would have told you I loved it. This book was one I had to dwell on before it clicked with me. I've finally decided that Offred was whiny or a coward like I initally thought. She was a very realistic character whose thoughts and actions were completely human. If I had found myself in that situation I probably would have acted and thought similarly to her. This book is very similar to 1984 with one major exception: hope. Both books had love in them, but this story ended with hope for Offred in 1984 the only thing I hoped for was that poor Winston Smith died. That's not actual hope.
Offred might have made it out of the terror that was the Republic of Gilead. She might even have been instrumental to its downfall, but we'll never know.
What I loved most about this story is that it pointed out that the balance of power will never be fair and the people who have that power will always make exceptions for themselves and justify it anyway possible.
I plan on looking into other things Margaret Atwood has written, and because I was told that this was a feminist novel I've also decided to look into Feminism and flesh out my feelings on it. I've always sort of avoided that crowd finding most internet Feminist voices harsh, angry and judgmental, but I think it's time for me to figure out where I stand on the whole business. 
This has definitely been the first novel to provoke thoughts strong enough that I felt the need to pursue them, and that says a lot about the quality of the story.

Monday, November 11, 2013

What I'm currently reading

I was browsing back through old posts and I remembered that I used to do that thing where I read a million things at once. Then I got distracted by all these TV shows that I had to watch to feel accepted like The Walking Dead, Dexter and Breaking Bad then I went down to reading one book at a time how it's 'properly' done. I'm bored of all these really intense television shows (I feel like my brain can have only so many WTF moments) so I'm back to reading several things at once to fill the time.

I picked up From Hell through a Comixology sale the first week of October thinking I would do a "spooky literature" theme for Halloween that's also why I made a point to get The Walking Dead review up even though I wanted to do that one some where in the middle of the month and not at the end. Well, the best laid plans... right? I'm only 200 odd pages into this tome of a graphic novel and I AM going to finish it because this is the first Alan Moore graphic novel I've read and in my mind if I read this one then I can put off Watchmen for another year or so...
I'm not sure if I got the lesser of two evils here though. The art is driving me crazy and the 50 page long architectural history lessen drove me to fantasize about beating my head into a wall. I mean my word this thing is a hard pill to swallow...only 300 plus pages to go. Maybe I can finish it by Christmas.

My dad loaned me The City & The City a couple of weeks ago and for some reason I've been itching to read it, but it's been a slow start. I would start it in bed and then decide I was too tired and have to start the first couple of pages again. I've finally broken through that (mainly because my smart phone is broken and I need something to read on my breaks at work) and am only a couple of chapters in but the writing is really captivating. I've never really paid attention to China Mieville until now, and I have a feeling I will be reading more of him (Have you seen him? He's hella buff. I'm used to skinny pale looking writers)

To be honest I was only mildly interested in Doctor Sleep when I heard about it coming out. I read The Shining last year around this time I think and I enjoyed it, but it was a little bit of a let down as far as a horror novel goes. That's a funny statement coming from me considering I've never read a horror novel, but the book overall wasn't scary. Neither was the movie really. I enjoyed the writing but it did ramble on a bit. I found Doctor Sleep when I was browsing audio books to listen to and decided to give it a go. I'm a little over a fourth of the was in and am ...enjoying it sort of. Dan Torrence is a pathetic asshole, but he's already growing as a character so I have hope for him. Stephen King's ability to describe things in the most miserable light possible is strong in this book so sometimes it feels a bit like a slog just because everything is so bleak.

I've also picked up a Margaret Atwood book, but I haven't even thought about it yet so I can't count it as currently reading since I'm more like currently looking at the cover of it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Poetry for you Sunday vol 8



The Poster Girl's Defence

It was an Artless Poster Girl pinned up against my wall,
She was tremendous ugly, she was exceeding tall;
I was gazing at her idly, and I think I must have slept,
For that poster maiden lifted up her poster voice, and wept.

She said between her poster sobs, ‘I think it’s rather rough
To be jeered and fleered and flouted, and I’ve stood it long enough;
I’m tired of being quoted as a Fright and Fad and Freak,
And I take this opportunity my poster mind to speak.

‘Although my hair is carmine and my nose is edged with blue,
Although my style is splashy and my shade effects are few,
Although I’m out of drawing and my back hair is a show,
Yet I have n’t half the whimseys of the maidens that you know.

‘I never keep you waiting while I prink before the glass,
I never talk such twaddle as that little Dawson lass,
I never paint on china, nor erotic novels write,
And I never have recited “Curfew must not ring tonight”.

‘I don’t rave over Ibsen, I never, never flirt,
I never wear a shirt waist with a disconnected skirt;
I never speak in public on “The Suffrage”, or “The Race”,
I never talk while playing whist, or trump my partner’s ace.’

I said: ‘O artless Poster Girl, you’re in the right of it,
You are a joy forever, though a thing of beauty, nit!’
And from her madder eyebrows to her utmost purple swirl,
Against all captious critics I’ll defend the Poster Girl.
-Carolyn Wells

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Poetry for your Sunday vol 7

If The World Went Crazy

If the world was crazy, you know what I'd eat?
A big slice of soup and a whole quart of meat,
A lemonade sandwich, and then I might try
Some roasted ice cream or a bicycle pie,
A nice notebook salad, an underwear roast,
An omelet of hats and some crisp cardboard toast,
A thick malted milk made from pencils and daisies,
And that's what I'd eat if the world was crazy. 

If the world was crazy, you know what I'd wear?
A chocolate suit and a tie of eclair,
Some marshmallow earmuffs, some licorice shoes,
And I'd read a paper of peppermint news.
I'd call the boys "Suzy" and I'd call the girls "Harry,"
I'd talk through my ears, and I always would carry
A paper umbrella for when it grew hazy
To keep in the rain, if the world was crazy. 

If the world was crazy, you know what I'd do?
I'd walk on the ocean and swim in my shoe,
I'd fly through the ground and I'd skip through the air,
I'd run down the bathtub and bathe on the stair.
When I met somebody I'd say "G'bye, Joe,"
And when I was leaving--then I'd say "Hello."
And the greatest of men would be silly and lazy
So I would be king...if the world was crazy. 

-Shel Silverstein
A silly poem for this week. I've been reading so many heavy goings on on the news I thought it would be nice to have a goofy take on the end of the world. Leave it up to Shel Silverstein.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Instagram Lately

I figured I'd share some fall related shots from life lately. 
This year I decided to go minimalist with the fall decor, opting for pumpkin decorations that would get us through till Thanksgiving (except my flower pumpkin in freaking molding from all this wet warm weather) and not Halloween specified decorations.
I normally love decorating, but I hate accumulating  all this stuff that I'll use for a month out of the year. And it's stupid expensive. It'll be interesting to see if my philosophy holds up for Christmas. I love Christmas decor but I would like to try to go the simple and sweet route this year.
The bottom picture is my current favorite. Numi, Ben's cat, may be the biggest cat jerk I've ever met but he's darn photogenic and as of today he's been missing for four days. We let him out Monday morning as per usual and he just hasn't been back. I'm starting to get worried because it's rained so much the past 3 days and Ben and I both have had to work all day. Today is nice and I have food set out for him so hopefully he'll be asleep on the couch in the breezeway when I get home.
He may be a jerk cat, but I'd rather know he was safe at home being a jerk than lost or hurt somewhere...
Also, I tried my hand at making popcorn cookies which turned out way better than I thought, I'll probably alter it a bit and get some white chocolate involved and maybe even post the recipe here!

Ben and I have gotten into the habit of hanging out together before church in the afternoon on Sundays. I really enjoy getting out of the house together. It's so easy to just fall into routines especially with our work schedules and never actually do anything together. We never do anything too crazy, run some errands then go have coffee downtown but it's special just to spend that time together and away from everything.

Hope your weekend goes well!

Friday, November 1, 2013


I first came across the phrase NaNoWriMo 3 years ago. It was in Neil Gaiman's blog so of course I was curious about it. When I found out it was novel writing I got intimidated and put it out of my mind. I don't know what it is about the idea of writing a novel that seems so daunting, but every time I consider it I always dismiss it as something I'm not ready for.
But, why? I'm 24 years old and writing is something I love to do so why the hell not join National Novel Writing Month and just see what happens. I'm smart. I have ideas.
Also, I suck at writing on a daily basis. Just look at this blog. No structure, broken promises, irratic posting. I'm terrible at it and I have no idea why. Every time I sit down to write I always find a reason not too. "Oh, I need to make sure my whole house is clean first." That's seriously what happens everytime. Why does my house have to be spotless before I do anything creative? Why am I such a weirdo?
So, to ease my self into this process of daily writing for this work week and make myself sit down for 30 minutes a day to just write and then I can clean the whole house or play Plants vs. Zombies or whatever.
The other thing I'll start doing differently is typing my rough draft instead of hand writing it. As much as I love the catharsis of putting pen to paper I have so many ideas are bits of paper somewhere in the house that will never go beyond just being ideas.
How about you? Do you want to write a novel in a month? NaNoWriMo is Nov 1 through the 30th! Why not try it and see what happens?