Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (5)

"Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but aren’t." 

This book was beautiful. I listened to the audiobook, read by Neil Gaiman himself, which made it even better. Driving home from rehearsal every day I would turn it on, and Gaiman would tell me my bedtime story.

This is one of those beautiful stories where Gaiman puts you in the head of a child and opens up the world as seen by a seven year old boy. Everything he said was a quote I wanted to write down and live my life by. Every description of person, place, or thing was poetry, and I was absolutely in love.

The boy's parents have become lost some wealth and have had to take in borders to help make ends meet. The Hempstock farm down the road is home to the grandmother, mother, and daughter Hempstock. Something about them is both strange and comforting, and when the boy befriends young Lettie Hempstock (who has been twelve for a long, long time) he begins a journey which will shake the framework of a world he couldn't imagine.
Enter Ursula Monkton, who is tall, thin, and pretty and everyone likes her, except the little boy, our unnamed narrator. He knows that there is something wrong with Ursula Monkton. Lettie Hempstock could help him, if only he would be allowed to go visit the farmhouse down the road and let her know what has happened. Is it the little boys fault that Ursula Monkton came to his home? Is it his fault that Ursula Monkton has been allowed to enter the world at all?

Gaiman does a masterful job of writing a book much like Alice in Wonderland, but writing it for adults. I don't even know what to tell you, but you should probably go read it right now. It was my first Neil Gaiman, so I'm not sure how it stacks up with his very large body of work, but if you like a bit of lyric fantasy, this book is definitely for you.

If you like to remain fully immersed in the real world, then this book is not for you. Otherwise, read it. It's short and sweet and scary and lovely, and if you're into audiobooks I'd definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The 19th Wife (4)

       So, here’s the thing. I am randomly picky about books and I have no idea why I like the ones I like. And this one, I liked. Not read in one sitting like The Hunger Games like, but I liked it nonetheless. I came back to it, even though I was busy and would kind of forget about it. But I actually had a conversation with someone about it that went like this.

            “What are you reading?”
            “The 19th Wife.”
            “Is it any good?”
            “I don’t know?”
            He laughs, “how far are you?”
            “Almost done.”
            He looks confused.
            “I mean, I’m enjoying it, I just don’t know if it’s any good, you know?”

            Like, I really needed to have someone tell me that this is an acceptable book to be reading. Everyone else likes it too or critics are just raving about it. I mean, I gave a bad review to a Pulitzer-prize winning author, clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about, right? I think I feel especially uncomfortable with historical fiction because I’m not enough of a history buff to know how historically accurate it is. Like when I was in 8th grade and I loved Gone with the Wind, but then found out it was racist and according to the battles Scarlett was pregnant for 18 months or something (ask a history buff, I don’t remember). It took me years and a couple re-reads to realize that I was just desperately in love with Rhett Butler and was skimming the book until he showed up again. So, why am I even writing this blog? Because I have a lot of opinions and I like to share them.
"It's cool Scarlett, I want to be your slave" - every line of Mammy's
            The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff tells two stories, one set in present day Utah, where Jordan Scott returns to his hometown after his mom, (his dad's nineteenth wife) has allegedly shot her husband. The evidence is stacked against her, yet when his mom says she didn’t do it, Jordan begins to delve into the mystery behind who shot his father.

Ann Eliza
            The other tale is of the most famous 19th Wife, Ann Eliza, 19th wife to Brigham Young in the 1800s. I loved her story. Which kind of makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me, because what happens to her is awful. Ann Eliza’s story shows in full detail what life would truly be like for a plural wife. There is no romanticizing it like Big Love and Sister Wives does. She sees it as an institution that enslaves women and abuses children because what father can love 19 wives and 200 children equally? What made Ann Eliza famous, though, is that she wrote a tell-all memoir about polygamy and went on a crusade to make it illegal in the US. And who doesn’t love a story of someone taking something horrible that happened to her and using it as a crusade to save the world? (Ok. Good, I’m not a bad person. I did not enjoy seeing her abused, I just wanted to see her break the shackles of the institution).

            I totally didn’t figure out who the murderer was. I’m not sure I totally cared, because I didn’t really love Jordan or his mom and I definitely wasn’t upset that his dad was dead. And, like I've said before, I rarely figure out who it was.  

Read this book if you like historical fiction, are comfortable with a gay protagonist (Jordan) with a love interest, and if you're ok with reading an entire book filled with characters that are pretty anti-Mormon, although I would argue that the novel is not anti-Mormon, just anti polygamy. 

A note on historical accuracy:
According to Wikipedia (which is totally 100% accurate), Ann Eliza Webb Dee Young was totally a real person. She was a wife of Brigham Young, though her rank varies (which the novel touches upon, including a potential reason why the number may change). She did, in fact, write an autiobiography titled Wife No. 19 and after divorcing Brigham Young, became extremely opposed to Mormonism due to their practice of polygamy. 

In doing this very minimal research, I found out that there is a Lifetime movie based on this book. So, take that as you will. 

OH MY GOD IS THAT LOGAN? Yes it is. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I wonder if I could make every book review come back to Gilmore Girls? Did I mention Lauren Graham wrote a book? You should totally read that one because it's the best

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Expected Absence

Well friends, as with so many things in my life, I got cast in a show and completely quit this blog. It's been three weeks since I've posted and probably two months since I've annoyed my facebook friends with posts about posting. Which I'd apologize for, but acting is what gets me to wake up in the morning, and it's all I want to do, ever. So I can't apologize. But, I can give a bit of a recap of what has been happening in my life and what you can expect to see in the next couple of blog posts!

Wargrave suspects me, I mean Vera...
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie was the play, though I linked to the novel, which I hear is quite good. Our end was a little happier then the original, which I liked because my character had a much more satisfying ending. Now, for this show I was extra busy because I had NO down time during rehearsals. I was off stage for about five pages in Act One (to change) and then was just on stage running around and generally freaking out, which was great fun.
Ten people are brought to an island, where they are accused of murder, and start to get killed off one by one.

(***SPOILERS AHEAD,*** skip to the next picture if you don't want things spoiled :) )
Now, a few extra exciting things happen in this one, as we get killed off, tensions of course get higher, and by the last five each character suspects another in a perfect circle. And finally, it's just me and Philip Lombard, who was previously Vera's love interest, and neither of us can convince the other that we didn't kill off the last guy, so we finally get in a tussle over his gun and I shoot him. Which is awesome, except for preview, where in front of our first ever audience the gun doesn't go off. I just stared at Scot (playing Philip) and he just refused to drop. So then I stared out into the audience, right where I knew our director was sitting, and realized that I was mugging the audience and we had to do something. The show must go on.

And that is when Scot grabbed the gun out of my hands. Which makes sense, since I shot him because he was going after me in the first place. But this is very bad because he has to get shot and drop so the murderer can come in and give his big speech. But now he has the gun. So I lunge for the gun, and he just hands it to me so I shoot him. We almost made it look ok. Almost. So then we had to have a pep talk before the last scene every night, where we held hands and went through our just-in-case fight choreography and reminded each other that no, we could not just give up and go home, because the audience was still there and the show was almost over. Use it, as my Junior year acting professor would say.

OH THANK GOD THIS PLAY IS OVER, is what we were thinking.
Vera was, of course, thinking OH THANK GOD I GET TO LIVE,
which is basically the same thing.

The next thing that has taken up a lot of my time is National Novel Writing Month, which I won in 2011 and have promptly failed at ever since. I am currently sitting just under Day 10's word count. Whooops. You see, the thing about 2011 is that I had this idea that if I finished a novel I could become an author and make a living writing stories and then I wouldn't have to work as a waitress anymore. Which would be great, if that's how life worked. I even took a writing class afterwards so I could edit my brilliant first novel. And then I woke up to the realization that my novel wasn't brilliant and I still had to work. And then I got cast in six shows back-to-back and didn't have time to do anything.

The thing about NaNoWriMo that I'm trying to focus on this year, is that creating is important, and opening up my imagination is important. By the end of NaNo the year I won, I was churning out short scripts at an ostentatious rate. I had silenced my inner critic and was ready to take on the world. And as a theatre educator, I write a lot. And as an actor, I get rejected a lot, so that giddy freedom of NaNo, where you took something that seemed so impossible and finished it, seems nice.

Although, it would be a bit nicer if anyone but me cared what happens to my heroine. Because I'm starting to really like her, and I'm really worried about what's happening to her right now, and I can't talk about it with anyone because no one else has read my book.

Upcoming books?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jana's List of Books You Should Have Already Read (and some othersuggestions)

A current list of myfavorite recent-reads in the order you should read them (in case you’re overwhelmed…wait now I’m overwhelmed justtrying to put them in some sort of order.)
...can you ever just be "whelmed"?

If you like _________read __________:
1. The Hunger GamesàCinder (if you haven’t read The Hunger Games, read that because it’sbetter)
2. A Casual VacancyàGone Girl (Gone Girl’s the quicker, more palatable of the two)
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince à Night Circus(magic is pretty much the only thing that connects these two stories.
4. The Thirteenth TaleàThe Blind Assassin (though if youhaven’t read anything by Margaret Atwood, start with The Handmaid’s Tale which is possibly more disturbing than Gone Girl)
5. Farenheit 451 àHandmaid’s Tale
6. A Stolen Life àLolita (I’m sorry. I know, I know, I’m going to hell…you can’t really like Lolita, can you?)
7. Gone Girl àWe Need to Talk About Kevin
8. Cinder   à Ella Enchanted (though if you're not a 14-year-old girl, I make no promises on either of these)

And if you haven't read ______ do it. Now.
Previously mentioned #s 1, 2, and 5
Ender's Game
Harry Potter