Sunday, December 28, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." How about a lotus? It has other names: Nymphaea and Water Lily. Here's one from Monet's garden in Giverny.
They're amazing and beautiful and symbolic. I love them, and I identify with them. Part of it is that as a child a family friend called me Lotus Blossom. I always loved that. It made me feel like I was beautiful and special like a lotus blossom. With a given name like Lois, people were constantly giving me nicknames. That was fine by me. I thought my name was old fashioned and lame. It stuck out wherever I went. Spelling it was a problem. Pronouncing it was a problem. I've been called Louis and Louise more times than I can count. Even my mother, who I was named after, didn't go by Lois. It was even old fashioned in her generation.
I have made peace with my name over the years, and now I like it. If someone comes into a room and calls for me. I know it's for me. There are not 10 people named Lois in any given room ever. (Maybe at a Lois convention, but otherwise...) There have been a few times in my life when there have been 2, but you get my drift. It's unique, and that works for me now.
I was chatting with a friend yesterday about the name of my blog, my username, a possible pen name, and my real name. As an author, what do we do with our names? We want people to be able to remember them. We want it to pop up with us first on the list of google searches. We want our blogs accessible and welcoming. What to do?
When I first set up my blog, I wasn't really thinking about all that. I was looking more to being incognito. I like my privacy and was concerned about putting myself out there on the world wide web. Now I'm thinking I should have done things differently. I'm thinking that before I do much more with this blog that maybe I should set up one with a more accessible name. No one, as yet, has been able to get "domus muscida" on the first go round, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th either for that matter. What? You're not all Latin scholars?
And Lotusloq as a username may have to go too. It's short for Lotusloquax which is what I use on Livejournal. It means "speaking lotus."
I think I would like to keep the Lotus part. It has depth, meaning, and beauty like the flower, and I think using Nymphaea is fraught with double entendre that I don't want. Haha!
Do you have any ideas out there? What do you think? Should I change? Should I make everyone bend to my geeky ways? Any name ideas?
Maybe I should go with just the English: Speaking Lotus or Lotus speaking? or Lotus Blossom Moss? haha! Can you see I'm floundering? Help! Please!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Up for today: I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU and CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY by Ally Carter and A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS by Eva Ibbotson
*Keep in mind that my reviews are strictly on my impressions of the books and the ratings are based on my enjoyment of the books and not necessarily a reflection of their literary merit
I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU
Why I bought it? This is one I had seen a few times and almost picked up because the title is so catchy, but I didn't--more shame for me. This was my daughter's choice when we were at the BN together, and it was the snazzy title that sealed the deal for her. She was the one who read it first and then recommended it to me.
Synopsis: Cammie Morgan is training to be a spy and goes to an exclusive, secretive all-girl school for spies. When she falls for one of the local town's "normal" boys she discovers how hard it is to have a relationship with someone who can never know who she really is. She and her friends are geniuses and can speak 14 different languages and kill a guy 7 different ways with their bare hands, but with boys they are clueless--well, except for the despised new girl.
The premise is fun and the book really delivers. I was captivated from the first page. The narrator's voice is charming and snappy. It's a very quick read and seemed to just fly by. I never wanted to put it down. When I was done, I was disappointed that it was already over. I'll definitely read it again when I need something light and fun. It has been optioned by Disney, so I'm sure there will be a film soon. It will translate well to the big screen--lots of action and comedy and romance. What more could a gal want? I'd tell ya, but then I'd have to, you know, kill ya.
My rating: ****1/2
My daughter's rating: ****1/2 (Wow! We agreed! That's saying something!)
CS: 3 This is really only for the "violence" parts which are really pretty tame. It ends up really being more about the intrigue. I kept thinking that there was a little language because there's an edgy vibe to the MC, but I've gone back through and other than a few British swears (by a British friend) and "Oh Jeez!" and "Heck" appearances and the like there's not much I could find. For the movie rating I'd say probably a PG, because you know they'll show someone getting punched in the solar plexus. G seems to be the kiss of death for a teen movie.
CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY
Why did I buy this? I was browsing at the BN and saw it and immediately recognized it as the sequel. I couldn't buy it fast enough.
Synopsis: Cam's in real trouble for her relationship with the town boy from book 1. It breaks all protocol. Will she have to give him up forever? There's a big mystery going on at the school that brings some unexpected guests--some unexpected male guests. I don't want to say too much and make this a spoiler for the 1st book for those who haven't read it already, but I wanted to include this review with the first because if you loved the first one you will definitely want to read the second.
This sequel does not disappoint. I was worried at first, but I actually liked it better than the first. There's no question as to whether I'll read this again. Absolutely! This one would make an even better movie.
My rating: *****
My daughter's rating: ***** (Agreement again! Does that tell you how good it is?)
CS: 3--ditto as for the first book
A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS
Why I bought it? I had seen it quite a few times at BN and had wondered if it would be any good. Then, when I was on Amazon buying something for my book club that I hadn't been able to find in the store, this came up as a recommendation. I finally decided to take the plunge and read one of Ibbotson's books to see if they were as good as they looked like they would be. The synopsis seemed interesting and the general reviews seemed high, so...
Synopsis: Anna is a displaced Russian countess in England after the Russian Revolution. She ends up working below stairs as a maid for an Earl and his household. She works very hard and is determined that no one will know of her past, but her manner conveys that she is more than a servant. It's hard to hide that royal upbringing, you know. She starts falling for the Earl, but his mean old fiancee is in the way. As the earl falls for her the conflicts deepen. He is trapped by honor. He will not go back on his promise no matter what.
I'm a romantic softy at heart, and so I was hoping to enjoy this. I'm always looking for good YA romance stories without the racy stuff. This one is pretty good, but I didn't have much trouble putting it down. That's never a good sign. There were times that the writing was more long-winded than I like. Sometimes though it was pretty lyrical. I enjoyed the storyline pretty well and the denoument was unexpected yet satisfying--actually it was kind of crazy. I'm glad I read it, but I don't plan on reading it again. I will recommend it to my daughter. I think she would like it. I will definitely read some of Ibbotson's other books though.
My rating: ***1/2
CS: 3--mostly for situation stuff--there's not really any language issues that I recall.
Monday, December 15, 2008
What do you do when inspiration strikes right when you're going to bed--when that proverbial light comes on in the darkness? Roll over, tell your brain to shut up, and go on to sleep? or are you afraid you'll forget? Do you jump right out and grab a piece of paper or fire up the computer and get busy?
Last night a new idea for the beginning of my novel I've been working on for a while hit me right at that point of drifting off, and I knew I would not remember the details if I didn't get them down on paper, so I drug myself out of the nice warm bed and grabbed pen and paper and the ideas poured for 4 pages. It pulls the whole novel together and sets the tone I've been looking for. Woo hoo!! I feel like celebrating!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Ah! La Belle France! Paris! I read a blog yesterday that was talking about stories set in Foreign locals. It got me thinking about how much I love books that are set in far away places. I love learning about the cultures and the people that live there. I would love to see more books like this. I understand that the location needs to be integral to the storyline of the book, but I think there's a market out there for these types of books. What do y'all say? Books set in Paris or Cannes or Nice or wherever? Are they for you?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
As promised no ***1/2 stars this week!
Up for this week: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
NORTH AND SOUTH:
Why I bought it? I had rented the movie through Netflix because I love all the BBC classic movies. I absolutely loved the movie. It became a quick favorite, and I wanted to read the original. I couldn't find it at my BN, and so I ordered it online at Amazon.
Brief Synopsis: This is not the North and South that tells of the US civil war. No Patrick Swayze. Sorry Girls! This story is set in England and tells of an upper-class family from the south that has to relocate to an industrial city in the north because of a significant reduction in income. Margaret Hale, the MC and daughter in this family, has to adjust to the change of climate, status, responsibilities, and prejudices (that she holds) to make her way in her new life. The wealthy mill owner, Mr. Thornton, being a tradesman is not of her class, and yet there is something "more" in him.
If you've seen the movie (you know, I take back my "sorry" above. There's nothing to be sorry for with Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton.), I'd still suggest reading the book. There are some significant changes from the movie. I have to say, as much as I loved the movie, the book was better (Isn't that the way it usually is?). The Mr. Thornton in the book is much gentler than the one in the movie, but I understand that the film makers wanted to be sure that a modern audience would understand why Margaret looked down so much on Mr. Thornton, and with his harshness at the beginning of the movie it is not necessary to understand the importance of class ranking in that time period. (Elizabeth Gaskell was a contemporary and friend of Charles Dickens, so if that helps you with the time period.)
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I absolutely loved it. Mr. Thornton, to me, ranks right up there with Mr. Darcy.
The newest aspect of the book reviews is going to be cleanness score (CS), because I have young family members that will read these reviews, and so I want them and their moms to know what they will get with the books I review, and I think that others of you out there picking books for your kids might like to know. (Is that enough ands?) That said--my scale is going to be from 0 to 10. 0 has absolutely nothing the least bit offensive in it and 10 is for those books that have very offensive material. (I think I can guarantee that there will be no 10s in any of my book reviews, but it will still be on the scale for gauging purposes.)
CS=3 for slight language, mild violence, social unrest (In a theatre it would probably be rated G or PG max.)
Why I bought it? I had read another book by Sarah Dessen and loved the way she expressed herself. It also helped that it has a southern setting, and I like novels set in the south since I grew up there. I saw it when I was browsing in the BN. The cover caught my eye, I had liked the other book of hers, and so I read through the inside flap. It intrigued me, so chaching! Sold!
Synopsis: Annabel Greene, the MC, is a model for the local department store and has a TV commercial running for back-to-school that features her as the girl who has it all. Her reality is far from the fantasy of the commercial. Her family is treading on thin ice, her self-image is damaged, and her best friend has dumped her and taken all their mutual friends with her in a scandalous scene. She feels lost and alone and scared. There's a mystery as to what really happened between her and her best friend. Even her friend doesn't really know. Enter Owen Armstrong! The angriest kid in school who's a stickler for telling the truth and expects it from everyone around him.
Sarah Dessen is a master at this. She unfolds the story bit by bit, building and then backing away. Her characters are totally real and raw at times. The text is sprinkled with nuggets of wisdom, and the honesty is compelling. There are moments of anguish nestled together with moments of subtle humor--heck, some are laugh out loud funny. I love this book. It is another one of my all-time favorites. Owen ranks right up there as one of my favorite leading men.
CS: 6, a bit of language throughout, but not a lot--there are a couple of F words though, some violence, I don't want to give away important plot points, so I'll just state it as some PG-15 situations. I haven't given it to my 14 year old yet to read, so if that gives you a gauge. I'm pretty conservative. I suppose some 13 year olds would think nothing of it. It would depend on what they are exposed to everyday. In a theatre it would probably be rated PG-13 on the edgy side.
So there you have it. A couple of my favorite books. A couple of my favorite leading men that not everyone is aware of. Let me know what you think. Happy reading!