Unexpected Odes to Literature

June 10, 2014 at 11:19 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

City of Lost Souls 2Title: City of Lost Souls

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Young Adult/ Fantasy

Length: 534 pages

For me, what makes the writings of Cassandra Clare so captivating isn’t the fairy tale romance, the paranormal elements, or the bad ass fight sequences… at the heart of it all, it’s the way Clare manages to make a young adult fantasy saga an sequence of unexpected odes to her favorite pieces of literature.

“No man chooses evil because it is evil.  He only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

“Love is familiar.  Love is a devil.  There is no evil angel but Love.” – William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

“I love you as one loves certain dark things.” – Pablo Neruda, “Sonnet XVII”

“All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.” – William Butler Yeats, “Easter, 1916”

Whether the story was constructed around these quotes, or the quotes City of Lost Souls 1were slipped into the story, the two halves were beautifully married together.  Just as Clare always manages to do.

If you recall my review of The Book of Secrets you should be well aware of how much I cherish this particular aspect of storytelling.  I love peeping into the mind of the author and what they’ve read before – what work we may have both cherished.  I love to see how others acknowledge how literature builds a soul.  Even if that soul is an imagined character in another book.

A reviewer on Goodreads mentioned they thought it was silly that all these Shadowhunter kids were completely oblivious of what went on in the mundane world half the time – Jace completely misses references to Madonna or Dungeons & Dragons games – but are well versed in William Shakespeare and Dante.

As a classical book geek it makes perfect sense to me.  I was raised on Charles Dickens and the Brontes, not the latest boy band or pop culture trends.  Poetry is timeless.  New Kids on the Block obviously not so much.

One doesn’t expect these odes and references in a paranormal teen romance.  I suppose that’s what makes them so stunningly lovely.

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

Greek Mythology… with children

August 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

(Weekly Low Down on Kids Books)

mythologyUnfortunately this awesome image is not from a book. I think it’s from a video game.

The kiddo and I have been reading Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  Is she a little young to catch everything, of course, she’s not yet three.  Is she following the story? Better than you might imagine.  I highly recommend that parents read kids stories that are far outside the child’s reading level.  By doing this they are exposed to mature language styles sooner, learn new vocabulary words, and in the case of Rick Riordan, appreciate Disney movies like Hercules that much more.

We’re not finished reading Percy Jackson, so this review isn’t about that.  This review is about picture books we’ve been reading during the day in preparation for our before bed time romps with Riordan’s Olympians.

godsTitle: Gods and Goddesses from Greek Myths

Publisher: McGraw Hill Childrens/ Peter Bendrick Books/ Octopus Publishing Group

Retold by: Pat Rosner

Illustrated by:  Olwyn Whelan

ISBN: 1-57768-508-3

Typically I provide links and images to the book, where you can find and purchase it, etc.  But it seems that Gods and Goddesses lives an off the grid book life.  It seems to be extremely difficult to find online and I was in the middle of typing here that I could not find it when I got the idea to check hpbmarketplace.com.  I purchased it from a Half Price Books a few years ago, but sure enough the marketplace wins again!  As you browse through the prices, you’ll see some are quite expensive.  I only paid about $5 for this at the store, I wonder if it is currently out of print.  Mine is in mint condition.

The illustrations are delightful, the retold myths thorough but easy to grasp.  It’s not kiddo’s favorite book, but I can tell it has helped her grasp what is happening in the Percy Jackson books.  Sometimes she just flips through the Greek style pictures while listening to me read Riordan’s work.

If I were in McKinney, TX right now I’d purchase the Fantastic Creatures from Greek Mythology as well, because I like these so much and I think Olwyn Whelan is a genius illustrator.  Everything she touches, I think, would be great homeschooling resources.

Other resources we enjoy:

Myths & Legends

In Search

Black Ships

Permalink Leave a Comment

Music You Can Read To

June 9, 2012 at 4:25 am (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Best Gift Ever

When starting my day, I almost always flick on the switch to the radio and set my mood.  There’s cooking breakfast music, dancing music, workout music, sex music… there’s music you write to, music you relax to, music you mow the lawn or party to, there’s I’m working on the car music, there’s its raining outside music… and of course, every book lover has their favorite reading music.

Lately, my favorite reading music has been Andreas Vollenweider‘s Cosmopoly album.  As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I still listen to most my music on cassette and cd, and some all time favorites are still on vinyl.  So, even though I love making playlists on my computer, I’m a big fan of purchasing cd’s and have yet to invest in an ipod or whatever is the new greatest way to listen to stuff.  This particular purchase was a fabulous $3.00 item from a clearance sidewalk sale at my favorite Half Price Books store about a year ago.

While listening to the calm, but not sleepy, tunes of Vollenweider’s many instruments, his work suits both jazz and classical moods, and I’ve found it to be a perfect companion to Ayla’s school time.  School time is quite short, as she’s only a year and a half.  But while she masters holding a writing utensil and hanging out at the kitchen table while snacking on cheerios, I’ve been reading segments of Susan Wise Bauer‘s History of the Ancient World to her each morning.  I know, its silly, but I feel so much more cultured when listening to World Music while reading World History.  (We also throw in a story from the children’s bible if she’s being extra focused that day, its got more interesting pictures for a toddler.)  When she’s had enough of sitting still, we put her work away for later, I hang out on the couch and continue my reading and she has a dance marathon in the living room.  Its kind of our thing, and Vollenweider manages to be both soothing enough for me to read and peppy enough for Ayla to go all Flashdance and Footloose with the dogs.

from Eric Carle’s The Very Quiet Cricket, features great reading noise for baby at the end of the book

After Ayla goes to bed at night, I usually read while my husband watches TedTalks on Netflix.  After he falls asleep, though, the music I read to is a little bit different.  Its the music of a quiet house.  My tea pot steaming on the stove, my beagle jingling around the house as he nestles into a cozy place to sleep for the evening.  Through open windows comes the singing of crickets, frogs, and cicadas.  Sometimes I can hear Solovino, our stray cat, pad by the front patio windo.  You would think cats would be quiet and stealthy, he can be, but mostly he likes to taunt my dogs.  Solovino was born under our deck, the other kittens from the litter found homes via neighbor friends and moved away, but Solovino now stalks our street and kills our mice population.  There are about four houses that ‘share’ him.  My next door neighbor gave him his name, she says it means he is “an univited guest that doesn’t want to leave,” but if we were all true to ourselves we would admit that we would hate to see him go.  He is the loudest meower that has ever lived, you can hear that cat all the way across the neighborhood and some days I spend my reading time blocking out his competitive high pitched sing song MEOW while also intermittently egging him on with a cat call of my own.  Now, while I type, the gentle hum of a fan is buzzing and I can just barely hear the hubby breathing in his sleep.  As soon as this post is done, its back to the books, because the sound right now is in that happy soothing place (teetering on the virge of annoying, but too calming to quite get there).

Do you listen to music while you read? What is your favorite music to read to? If you don’t, what is your reading environment like… indoors, outdoors, do you start the kettle to hear the whistle blow, do you wait until night to hear the cicadas chirp?

Permalink 1 Comment