The Shining / Stephen King

I want to preface this by saying that I have never seen the movie The Shining, so I’m not in any way comparing the novel and the movie, or addressing the differences between them. I used a movie still for the photo  at the top because I honestly just thought it looked cool.

 

Synopsis: “Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.”


Review: This was the first fiction work I’ve ever read by Stephen King. Before this, I had only read On Writing, which is more of a memoir / how-to type of book, (which I also loved) but through reading this fiction, I completely understand why so many people love his work.

King has mastered the art of setting a scene. His landscapes are so vidid that they come to life, no pun intended, and he knows how to really pack in the detail for the reader without making it too boring to read.

Another thing I loved about this novel is the fact that it had first person narration from all of the members of the Torrance family, which helped round out the family dynamic and show the character development on a deeper level for all of them, not just Jack.

I honestly don’t have too much to say about this book other than I loved it, and I can’t wait to read the book that follows this one, Dr. Sleep. 

 fourstar

Which is More Environmentally Friendly? E-Readers VS. Print Books

I stare at my bookshelf. Four rows are packed end to end with books. They tower over me. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer all stick out as I decide how I can move them all out of this apartment and into the U-Haul. Getting them all in here was tough enough, but I’ve added to my collection since then.

I’m going to need a box for all of my poetry books and literary magazines…and maybe two or three more boxes for all of my fiction novels. My head turns toward my desk, eyeing the two stacks of anthologies and other books I bought for my classes this semester. And a box for those too, I guess.

I wish I still had my Kindle.

E-readers: the “future” of books. I bought one a few years back for school. We read novels instead of textbooks in most of my classes, so I figured it’d just be easier to download them on the Kindle than having to carry around 10 novels every day. I found out fast enough that it wasn’t for me. I felt like a ninety-year-old trying to figure out how to mark pages and highlight anything, plus half of the books I needed for class weren’t available to download.

My Kindle phase was short-lived, and helped me realized how much I loved my old fashioned books. Flipping a page and being able to run your fingers over the clean, smooth paper is something that can’t be replaced with a screen.

But, the Kindle is easier to carry. The smartphones and Kindles can store hundreds of books, which means that if I had one, I wouldn’t be sitting here on my floor, trying to figure out how many trips bringing my books down is going to take me.

Besides the ease of carry, I’ve heard that they are more environmentally friendly than regular books. This seems like the environmentalist book lover’s dream: being able to read as many books as you want without the long paper trail. But it’s not that simple. Just about a million different factors go into whether reading print books or reading from an e-reader is better for the environment, including manufacturing, materials, usage, and disposal. Even if an e-reader saves us about 150 sheets of paper, it’s possible that the fossil fuels used to create the device offset the reward.

Manufacturing just one e-reader takes up around 100 kilowatt hours of fossil fuels and creates over 65 pounds of carbon dioxide. Book manufacturing, on the other hand, only uses up two kilowatt hours of fossil fuels and produces under 17 pounds of carbon dioxide. But this doesn’t mean that print books take the lead for environmental friendliness: they threaten deforestation around the world, and the production of the ink used often puts harmful chemicals into our atmosphere. The same goes for the materials used to create them. E-readers use up almost 50 times more pounds of minerals and 40 times more water than a book made from recycled paper.

I stand up and look at my progress: the pieces of my disassembled bookshelf surrounds the six cardboard boxes. I try to lift one of the boxes and it won’t budge.

What’s the point of filling these boxes if they’re just going to be too heavy to move? It’s like I’d need double the boxes only filled up halfway for me to be able to carry any of them.

 The pieces of my bookshelf seem less daunting, so I pick those up and pile them neatly next to me bedroom door, putting all the small screws and hardware into an old plastic Target bag.

In a Huffington Post blog article, I read that “the energy, water, and raw materials needed to make a single e-reader is equal to that of 40 to 50 books. In terms of the effect on the climate, the emissions created by a single e-reader are equal to roughly 100 books.” This means that reading 100 books on your e-reader and 100 books in print will have the same impact on the environment, as long as you don’t upgrade devices. But if the average American adult only reads around twelve books each year, it would take over eight years reading on the same e-reader to get the environmental use out of it.

It seems to me that e-readers are clearly not the more environmentally friendly option for the average American, but if that’s the case, then why do so many people have them?

The appeal is simple: an easily portable device that you can store hundreds of books on. You can read whatever you want whenever you want, without having to take a trip down to the closest bookstore or waiting for it to come in the mail. It probably makes sense to have for those people who read upwards of 50 books a year. But for the rest of the country who only reads 12, the environmental benefits don’t seem to apply.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle is the motto. Sharing print books and e-readers is one of the best ways to cut down the carbon footprint. And for those towns that still have one, the library can be a magical place.

TBR / Spring 2017

It’s Spring time! (Not really). But, it is March, which means the warm winds of Spring will blow *hopefully* within the next few weeks.
With the warmer weather approaching, I’m starting my Spring TBR list. These books are the books that I want to read in the months of March, April, and May. I’ve decided to not only list the books I’d like to read for pleasure, but also some of the books I have to read for class. Most of the literature I read for class is pretty enjoyable, so I figured I’d add the titles in so that, if they seem interesting, you can take a look at them yourselves.
For my personal list, I have five books. Three of them are books that haven’t been on my blog yet, but the last two on the list are books that were in my last TBR that I had to put on hold due to either school work or regular work.

1.The Storied Life of AJ Fickery by Gabrielle Zevin:

“On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.”

2.The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey:

“Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.”

3.The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald:

“At first The Emigrants appears simply to document the lives of four Jewish émigrés in the twentieth century. But gradually, as Sebald’s precise, almost dreamlike prose begins to draw their stories, the four narrations merge into one overwhelming evocation of exile and loss.
Written with a bone-dry sense of humour and a fascination with the oddness of existence The Emigrants is highly original in its heady mix of fact, memory and fiction and photographs.”

4.All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven*:

“Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.”

5.The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt* (I’m getting there guys, I promise):

“It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.”


Now, on to the school books. I have to read a lot of short poems and pieces that are in other textbooks, so I won’t be adding those to this list. However, I do have four more books for this section.

1.Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and Get it Published by Susan Rabiner:

“Over 50,000 books are published in America each year, the vast majority nonfiction. Even so, many writers are stymied in getting their books published, never mind gaining significant attention for their ideas—and substantial sales. This is the book editors have been recommending to would-be authors. Filled with trade secrets, Thinking Like Your Editor explains:
• why every proposal should ask and answer five key questions;
• how to tailor academic writing to a general reader, without losing ideas or dumbing down your work;
• how to write a proposal that editors cannot ignore;
• why the most important chapter is your introduction;
• why “simple structure, complex ideas” is the mantra for creating serious nonfiction;
• why smart nonfiction editors regularly reject great writing but find new arguments irresistible.
Whatever the topic, from history to business, science to philosophy, law, or gender studies, this book is vital to every serious nonfiction writer.”

2.Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf:

“Mrs. Dalloway is a novel by Virginia Woolf that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional high-society woman in post-World War I England. It is one of Woolf’s best-known novels.
Created from two short stories, “Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street” and the unfinished “The Prime Minister,” the novel addresses Clarissa’s preparations for a party she will host that evening. With an interior perspective, the story travels forwards and back in time and in and out of the characters’ minds to construct an image of Clarissa’s life and of the inter-war social structure. In October 2005, Mrs. Dalloway was included on TIME magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923.”

3.Emma by Jane Austen:

“Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.”

4.Love in Exile by Ayşe Kulin:

“Sabahat, a beautiful young Muslim woman, is known in her family for her intelligence, drive, and stubbornness. She believes there is more in store for her life than a good marriage and convinces her parents to let her pursue her education, rare for young Turkish women in the 1920s. But no one—least of all Sabahat herself—expects that in the course of her studies she will fall for a handsome Armenian student named Aram.
After precious moments alone together, their love begins to blossom. Try as she might to simplify her life and move on, Sabahat has no choice but to follow her heart’s desire. But Aram is Christian, and neither family approves.
With only hope to guide their way, they defy age-old traditions, cross into dangerous territory, and risk everything to find their way back to each other. One of Turkey’s most beloved authors brings us an evocative story of two star-crossed lovers inspired by her own family’s history.”


So that’s what I have for the Spring of 2017! I am also currently reading The Shining, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a book review of that up soon!

 

This Must Be The Place / Anna Winger

Synopsis: “Walter Baum has one of the most famous voices in Germany, if no longer a famous face. A former television star, he’s been dubbing Tom Cruise’s lines into German for fifteen years, since he returned from a failed attempt to make it as an actor in Hollywood. Now he finds himself nearing forty, alone and adrift.

In the apartment just below him, a young American woman named Hope is slipping further and further into herself. Having fled New York a month earlier to join her workaholic husband in Berlin, she finds herself more isolated than ever and unable to cope with the sense of foreboding created by the haunted city around her and the painful memories from the one she just left.

These two broken people form an unlikely friendship, at first out of loneliness, but then deepening out of genuine affinity. They are finally forced to reveal their secrets and examine their pasts, and, as a pair, they explore how to reconcile their hopes for the future with the ache of history that lingers, permanently, beneath the surface.

Funny, insightful, and moving, This Must Be the Place is an expertly crafted debut novel about the events that bind us together and the friendships that make and remake us whole.


 

Review: Last semester, I took an English class called “Post Contemporary Literature” and I had absolutely no idea what it was going to be about. Basically, it took the contemporary genre of literature and pushed it further: to works specifically written about and after 9/11. This book was the last one on the syllabus, and it blew me away.

Winger captures the idea of trauma and pain in these characters beautifully and uses their differences to show that loss is felt by everyone. She uses Berlin, Germany as the setting and then sprinkles small bits of New York into the narrative to connect the two disasters.

The melding of storylines felt effortless, the writing was beautiful, and it was easy to not only empathize with the characters but also see that they were making mistakes too. I think it’s easy in a novel to want to create a “perfect character” who the readers will feel bad for because they have never done anything bad. In this novel however we can see how Hope and Walter sometimes mess things up for themselves, but that just adds to their relatable-ness as human characters.

This novel touches on ideas of friendship, love, loss, history, and how we can never cover up or change the past. I personal think it was fantastic, and I would definitely recommend reading it if you haven’t. Also, there’s a lot of Tom Cruise / American 80’s pop culture references that are hilarious.

 

fivestar

Recipe #1 / Quinoa Bean bowl

So, along with book reviews and creative writing, I have a “Personal” section of my blog where I post the kind of stuff that doesn’t fit into my other categories. If you read my Hello 2017 post, then you know that one of my goals for the new year is to eat cleaner. I’m really not a good cook, so finding new and yummy recipes that I can easily make at home proved more challenging than I had anticipated. However, I found a few good ones that I love, so I’m going to share them here in case anyone else is like me and has a really hard time finding easy recipes. This is my first one, and it’s a quinoa bean bowl.


What you’re going to need:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (you can use any kind, I used a tri-color mix)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 can of black beans
  • 1/4 can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 ring of onion (you can use red or white, I used white because it’s what I had in my fridge)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste, and any other types of seasoning / spices you want

 

Directions:

  1. Put the water and the quinoa in a pot and bring it to a boil. Then once it’s boiling, turn it on low and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed / evaporated. (While my quinoa was simmering I put in some salt, pepper, and a little bit of Cajun seasoning because I like the little bit of spice).
  2. Cut up just a ring or two of your onion along with the clove of garlic. Put them in a pan with the olive oil and sauté them for about 5 minutes, or until the garlic turns a light brownish color.
  3. After you drain your black beans and chickpeas, take them and throw them into another sauce pan on low, just to warm them up a little bit. (This part is optional, I just like my beans warmed up, you can totally put them in cold if you want).
  4. Slice up your avocado any way you’d like, I cut mine into little bite sized pieces.
  5. Once the water has evaporated / absorbed into the quinoa, you can take the sautéed onions and garlic and the warmed up beans and put them both into the pan with the quinoa and stir it around and serve it, or you can keep them separate like I did and add them into your bowl one at a time.
  6. Once your hot ingredients are in your bowl, put the avocado in there, and top it off with some salt and pepper!

I love this dish because it’s super easy, it’s got a lot of good protein from the beans and the quinoa, and I still have another bowl left over I can make today for lunch. Eating healthy may seem really difficult with all the intricate recipes people put online, but starting out as a beginning I think this dish is a win!

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour / Morgan Matson

Synopsis: “Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.”


Review: I came across this book my senior year of high school. There was a guest speaker / author who came in who talked about the importance of reading and writing, and also promoted her new book, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. At the end of her talk, there was a raffle for everyone who came to watch her, and with that raffle she gave away ten free copies of the book. I was one of those lucky ten–she even signed mine for me.

I must admit, I didn’t read it right away. It sat in my room untouched for about a year before I even remembered I had it. But, once I did read it, I fell in love with it.

This book is quirky, fun, and even romantic. It starts centering on the characters’ journey rather than their relationship, but then slowly transitions to these two teens really forming a connection, which is why I think it’s such a great YA novel. (It also includes road trip playlists in the chapters with, in my opinion, some pretty cool music).

Rating: fourstar