Showing posts from April, 2014

Z is for...Markus Zusak

Well, we've made it to the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge, fellow A-Zers, and that brings us to the letter Z.  Today is all about:  Markus Zusak.

Markus Zusak (1975-)
An Australian writer, Markus Zusak is best known for his young adult fiction.  His two most well-known works are The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger.  I first encountered Zusak's work in 2006 when I moved to Austria.  I picked it up in a small bookstore in Vienna that had an English language section (I needed to read something in English).  I can honestly say that I am so glad I wandered into that bookstore and picked up The Book Thief.  It is a magical book and one that I recommend to everyone who hasn't read it.  In fact, I have lent my copy out to so many people that it is falling apart (this signifies love).  I have yet to see the film version, though I want to despite the reviews.  There are still a few books of Zusak's that I have yet to read, by they are all on my GoodReads list :)


My First Foodie Penpals Box!

This was my first foray into the awesome world of Foodie Penpals and it was everything I hoped it would be!!!  Discovered through the A-Z Blogging Challenge, Foodie Penpals is the brainchild of Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean and it's a wonderful way to sample products from different regions across the US.

I received some lovely, delicious things from the state of Florida courtesy of Brianna at Tea with Bri.  Inside my box were the following:  Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips in Zesty Nacho flavor, a Midnight Oil Molasses from a local company in Florida, Dark Chocolate with Toffee and Freeze Dried Raspberries and Strawberries, and a spice mix from Sara's in Florida that smells divine!  I can't wait to try it out.

If you would like to participate in Foodie Penpals, please go here!  The program runs from month to month, so there is no obligation to participate every month.  This is great if you are a little strapped for cash during a particular month.  In order to join in…

Y is for...Yann Martel

Image this is kind of cheating on my part since I've been basing the challenge on last name, but I'm sticking with this one.  I bring you:  Yann Martel.

Yann Martel
I remember putting off reading Life of Pi for years.  Not because it didn't sound interesting, it did, but because there was so much hype and I was terrified that it would be a letdown.  Thankfully, I finally let one of my dear friends talk me into reading it and I'm so glad I finally caved!  It's a fantastic book.  Martel, a Canadian writer, has won multiple awards for his writing, including the Man Booker Prize for Pi in 2002.  I have yet to read anything else by Martel, though Beatrice and Virgil sounds interesting.  I have also not watched Ang Lee's film version of Pi, though it is in my Netflix queue. 

*Recommendation:  Life of Pi

Who are some of your favorite Y authors?

X is for......

It's Monday...ugh.  And I'll honestly admit that I have nothing for today.  Epic Fail!  Oh well.  Have a lovely day, fellow A-Zers, and I'll be back tomorrow.

Can you think of any X writers???

W is for...Elie Wiesel and Jeanette Winterson

Image I have missed you.  I intend to spend today relaxing and reading.  Yay!  But for you, fellow A-Zers, I'm bringing you two W authors:  Elie Wiesel and Jeanette Winterson.

Elie Wiesel (1928-)
I first fell in love with Elie Wiesel as a Sophomore in high school.  Night was required reading at that time and this book has stuck with me something fierce.  I remember being so shocked by the opening scenes (I won't spoil it) and appalled by the atrocities discussed throughout the book.  Since that time, I have been incredibly drawn to WWII and the Holocaust.  So much so that I focused my graduate degree in Holocaust Literature.  I credit Elie Wiesel for the love I have for this genre/point in history.  Wiesel, a Romanian-born Jewish-American is a professor and political activist, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 due to his powerful message of peace and love despite having suffered the atrocities of the Holocaust.  After his hometown of Sighet in Romania was lost to Hunga…

World Book Night 2014 Was A Success!

I think this year's World Book Night was my favorite and most rewarding.  I have always had a great time participating over the last three years, but for some reason this one was smooth sailing.  I received Diane Ackerman's The Zookeeper's Wife as my book to give away and was thrilled by this.  The day of the event was a busy one.  Not only did I have a program at work (I work at a small liberal arts university in Oregon), but it was a rainy day.  Definitely puts a little bit of a damper on handing out books.  However, I prevailed!  In the afternoon, my coworker and first time book giver this year, Lori over at Palmer's Page Turners, headed down to the university center to hand out books.  Some people look at you like you're crazy and politely declined, but the vast majority were thrilled to be receiving a completely free, no-strings attached book!  That's the most rewarding part.  In addition to handing books out in the university center, I kept a few back to …

V is for...Vonnegut

Happy Friday, fellow A-Zers!  I'm glad this week is sure felt like it went on forever. presents us the letter V and I'm bringing you:  Kurt Vonnegut!

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
An American writer, Vonnegut is known for his blend of satire, humor, and science fiction.  Very active in the American Civil Liberties Union and considered a critical pacifist intellectual, he was known for his believe in humanist ideals.  A soldier and POW during World War II, Kurt Vonnegut utilized his experiences to help shape his work.  An advocate for anti-authoritarianism, he incorporates much of himself into his work.  There is a deep cynicism and wild leaps of imagination that run rampant throughout.  He also utilizes the idea of determinism, perhaps best seen in Slaughterhouse Five.  In addition to his writing, Vonnegut became quite a popular artist and a political activist.  He's a wonderful writer, though many have a hard time relating to his work. 


U is for...Utterly Awesome Authors

It was very difficult...well, impossible, to come up with an author to represent the letter U.  I guess Umberto Eco could work, but that would go against how I've been categorizing every author in the challenge.  I refuse to do that.  So I'm sneaking in an abnormal way to get around this letter with:  Utterly Awesome Authors.

Marissa Meyer (1984-)
A young adult author, Marissa Meyer is a recent addition to my library.  My friend and fellow blogger, The Sassy Starfish, happens to be a school librarian in a southern state recommended her work.  I'm glad she did!  Meyer published her first book, Cinder, a New York Times bestseller, in 2012, though she had worked in editing and fan fiction prior to this.  Her debut series, The Lunar Chronicles, is based on futuristic re-tellings of various fairy tales.  And she just received a 2-book deal for a new series based on Alice in Wonderland.  If you're looking for quick, entertaining reads, pick up one of Marissa Meyer's book…

T is for...Mildred D. Taylor

It's a rainy day here in Oregon, but we're moving on to the letter T for the A-Z Challenge.  Today is all about:  Mildred D. Taylor.

Mildred D. Taylor (1943-)
I first came across Mildred D. Taylor's work in middle school.  It was during this time that I became obsessed with the Civil War and Antebellum South (see my M post) and Taylor's work was recommended to me.  Born in Mississippi, Taylor focuses much of her work on exploring the struggles faced by African Americans in the Deep South from slavery through the Depression and contemporary issues.  She utilized stories heard during her youth to help formulate her writing, so there is a strong sense of history woven throughout her books.  Because of her collective contribution to children's literature, she was awarded the Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature in 2003.  Though she is technically considered a children's author, her work should be read regardless.

*Recommendation:  Roll of Thunder, Hear My…

S is for...Sebald, Spiegelman, and Smith

Happy Tuesday, fellow A-Zers.  Today brings us to the letter S and it's all about:  W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, and Alexander McCall Smith.

W.G. Sebald (1944-2001)
German writer W.G. Sebald is pure brilliance.  Prior to his untimely death in 2001, Sebald was heralded as one of the greatest living authors and believed to be a future Nobel Prize winner for Literature.  His father was a member of the Reichswehr in1929 and then transitioned as a member of the Wehrmacht under the Nazis, though he remained a fairly detached figure.  During World War II, Sebald's father was a prisoner of war until 1947.  Because of much of his experience during the Nazi Regime, Sebald focuses the majority of his work on the Holocaust and post-war Germany.  Heavy themes of memory and loss of memory (both personal and collective) and decay run rampant through his work.  In addition, he utilizes elaborate and old-fashioned language in the original German interspersed with black and white photos to highl…

R is for...Rowling, Roach, and Rushdie

Happy Monday...and Easter hangover day.  It was a very busy weekend and this week doesn't look too good for a slow down.  Regardless, it's another day in the A-Z Challenge and today is all about the letter R.  I'm bringing you the following R authors:  JK Rowling, Mary Roach, and Salman Rushdie.

JK Rowling (1965-)
This is a given if you know me at all.  I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series (I re-read the entire series almost every summer), have posted multiple times on the series, and continually attempt to convince people who haven't read the books that they are fantastic and they should read them...NOW!  I remember putting off reading the HP series for years, but one weekend of camping effectively cured that notion.  When you're camping and you've finished all the books you brought with you, you have to have something to occupy some of the downtime.  Luckily my mother had the first two books stowed away and thus my love for the boy who lived was born.  …

Q is for...Daniel Quinn

Hello, Saturday.  We meet again!  Today's post is about the letter Q.  I'll admit it was more difficult to find an author for this letter, but I managed to do it.  This post is going to be about:  Daniel Quinn.

Daniel Quinn (1935-)
I've only read one book by Daniel Quinn, but it was a good one.  Quinn, an American novelist, tends to focus much of his writing on the idea of environmentalism or cultural criticism.  Originally intending to become a monk, Quinn instead went into the publishing field; though he eventually left publishing to become a freelance writer.  It was at this time that he wrote Ishmael, the first in a loose trilogy, to great success.  It won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award, a one-time award given to an unpublished work of fiction that offers creative and positive solutions to global problems.  This single novel was inspiration for Pearl Jam's "Do the Evolution" and aspects of the movie Instinct, though Quinn decries any similarity betw…

P is for...Edgar Allan Poe and Chuck Palahniuk

It's Friday (Friday, Friday...damn you Rebecca Black!) and we're moving on to the letter P for the A-Z Challenge.  Today is all about:  Edgar Allan Poe and Chuck Palahniuk.  So it's all a little bit on the darker side...

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
I have loved everything I've ever read that Poe has written.  His darker, Gothic material has always been among my favorites.  A writer during the American Romantic Movement, Poe is best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre; though is was also a writer of satires, humorous tales, and hoaxes.  He is also one of the earliest writers of short fiction in America, in addition to being considered the inventor of detective fiction; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was heavily influence by Poe.  Though his personal life was mired with controversy (alcoholism, drugs, marriage to his 13-year-old cousin), his work was always well-received and he was one of the most respected literary critics of his time.  His success, while fairly prom…

O is for...George Orwell

Oh boy, we're on to the letter O.  Today is all about:  George Orwell.

George Orwell (1903-1950)
The first thing I ever read written by George Orwell, the pen name for Eric Arthur Blair, was Animal Farm in the 9th grade.  I'll admit that it was rough at the time.  But looking back I can now list this book as one of my favorites.  Especially after learning about the historical aspects that are represented in the book; it's so much more rewarding when you understand the background (this wasn't planned out very well considering we didn't cover this portion of history in Global Studies until after reading the book for English).  Regardless, Orwell is a magnificent writer.  An English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic, Orwell focused much of his writing on social injustice, the support of democratic socialism, and the opposition of totalitarianism.  Because of his work, Orwell is considered one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.  He is credited for …

World Book Night 2014!

This is my third year participating in World Book Night, an amazing program designed to promote literacy in the United States (the program began in the UK in 2011).  On the 23rd of April,  tens of thousands of people around the US and the UK hand out hundreds of thousands of free books to spread the love of reading from one person to the next.  This day is significant for several reasons:  1) It's the UNESCO International Day of the Book, 2) It's Shakespeare's birthday, and 3) It's the day that Miguel de Cervantes died (the father of the modern novel:  Don Quixote).  The publishers and authors from a wide variety of genres all waive their royalties and print the books for free; there is a selection of 38 books for this year's giveaway.  In addition, there are over 35,000 people giving books away in the US alone this time around.  That's impressive! 

The first year I participated in the program, I received Nicole Krauss' The History of Loveand handed it ou…

N is for...Vladimir Nabokov

Moving on to the letter N for today and it's all about Vladimir Nabokov.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
The first book I ever read by Nabokov was Pale Fire, a parody of detective fiction full of comic suspense, literary idolatry,and political intrigue that begins with a 999-line epic poem followed by the literary line-by-line breakdown of said poem in novel form.  But it's so much more than that.  It's genius.  Pure genius.  Vladimir Nabokov is a Russian-American novelist whose first nine novels were written in Russian.  He gained international notoriety through his English prose work.  His work, both fiction and non-fiction, has garnered him much success; he was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times...but never won.  In addition to writing novels, Nabokov was also a university professor at such prestigious institutions as Wellesley College and Cornell University.  Oftentimes, Nabokov would act as his own translator for English and Russian copies of …

M is for...Mann, Mitchell, and Marquez

Happy Tuesday, fellow A-Zers.  It's a glorious day here in the Pacific Northwest (we've been experiencing abnormally nice weather for this time of year) and we're exactly halfway through with this years challenge...whoa!  Today I'm bringing you the following M writers:  Thomas Mann, Margaret Mitchell, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
The first time I read something by Thomas Mann I was hooked.  It was a novella, so a quick read, and disturbing in so many ways.  But this one story has stuck with me so much so that when I was in Italy, where the novella is set, I purposely went to the island of Lido because of it.  A German novelist, short story writer, social critic, essayist, and Nobel Laureate in 1929, Mann's work is highly symbolic and noted for its views on the intellectual and the psychology of the artist.  He was also adept at incorporating ideas from philosophers, such as Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer.  When World War II broke out in …

L is for...Lawson, Lee, and Levi

Happy Monday, fellow A-Zers.  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and that you're all ready to get back in the swing of the challenge this week.  I know I am!  Today we move to the nearly halfway point of the challenge and the letter L.  And I bring you:  Lawson, Lee, and Levi.

Jenny Lawson
If you are looking for a writer who is laugh-out-loud hilarious, look no further than Jenny Lawson.  Her frank, open musings and honest reflections on life are wonderful.  Lawson does not shy away from aspects of herself that might not be "mainstream," instead preferring to air everything in the open in an effort to show people that, whatever their issues, they are not alone.  I remember seeing adverts for her first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, and thinking that it sounds good; it had been receiving excellent reviews.  I finally picked it up from the library and looked like a complete lunatic while reading it in public.  It's that funny.  But the book also port…

K is for...Kafka, Kostova, and Kaestner

Happy Saturday, fellow A-Zers.  We've made it through week two of the challenge and I'm feeling good!  Today is all about the letter K and I'm bringing you the following authors:  Franz Kafka, Elizabeth Kostova, and Erich Kaestner.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
The first time I read Kafka, I was hooked.  His work is dark, seedy, and brutal.  Often he deals with themes of alienation, physical/psychological trauma, labyrinths, and terrifying quests, so there is a lot to be found in his work.  Born in Prague, Kafka wrote all of his work in his native language of German which contrasted with the mainly Czech-speaking population of the city, thus causing much tension.  Added to this, Kafka's Jewish heritage further alienated him from the masses.  The majority of his work was published posthumously despite his wish that they be destroyed after his death.  The pieces that were published during his lifetime, mainly in literary journals, attracted very little attention.  In fact, Kaf…

Blog Hop! Write On!

I was recently asked to participate in a writing-themed blog hop by my coworker and fellow blogger, Lori, over at Palmer's Page Turners (show her some love, she's fairly new to the blogging world), and felt it was a great opportunity to link up with some other great bloggers. 

What am I working on?
 I'm always working on something, or at least I have grand ideas of what I would like to be working on.  I've participated in NaNoWriMo for the past three years, but have never been able to accomplish the 50,000 words that are the goal.  I make a valiant effort though.  As of now, I'm working on my last NaNo project and hoping to complete it eventually.  Essentially, it's a compilation of personal travel stories gone awry...all true.  For this project, I actually have a general outline/episode for each chapter (totaling thirteen-ish) and have slowly been chiseling holes into its unyielding surface.  I'll finish it one day!

How does my work differ from others of i…

J is for...Pam Jenoff

I must admit that historical fiction is one of my favorite genres; especially when the time period is surrounding World War II.  Because of this, my J author is:  Pam Jenoff.

Pam Jenoff 
An American author, Pam Jenoff has spent much of her career working for the government in various support positions.  From being the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army to working in the Foreign Service with the State Department where she was placed in Poland assisting on an Auschwitz restitution project, Jenoff has gained the background knowledge and experience necessary to make her novels believable for the time period in which they are set.  This ability has garnered her much recognition and best-seller status.  Her writing pulls you in and the novels are quick to read.  Check them out.

*Recommendation:  The Kommandant's Girl and The Diplomat's Wife

Who are some of your favorite J authors?