Monday, November 28, 2011

Mentionable Author Monday: Juliet Marillier

I am choosing Juliet Marillier as my first "Mentionable Author," because she is my absolute favorite. I began reading her historical fantasy novels when I was in the 8th grade, which would have made me around 12 or 13 at the time. Since that time, I believe I have read The Sevenwaters Trilogy (and two additional books in the series  from start to finish at least once a year. The most recent of this series is Seer of Sevenwaters, and let me tell you, it won't disappoint. Every additional book just adds to the mystery and charm of the Sevenwaters tribe.

I have read all books that she has published, only excluding the two young adult books. I am waiting very excitedly for more to come. I believe that there will be a new series soon, or that she will be continuing the Whistling Tor Series. Below this I will include a bibliography of her works, and also a few links for you to find a wealth of information about her life, her work, and her beautiful inspiring characters.

I believe that one of the main things that draws me to Juliet Marillier is that all of her lead characters are very strong women. I don't mean strong as in demanding, I mean strong in spirit, faith, and love. There hasn't been a single novel that she has produced that hasn't made me fall hopelessly in love with the heroine and her struggle. It's about women in a difficult time overcoming the stereotypes, and the oppression of their day and age. The different series are set in a number of places, all of these places ripe with history, folklore, and magic.

I'm not really the girl who like to admit reading sci-fi books or anything of the sort, and yet these novels wouldn't fit into any of those categories. Just to mention, regarding my not reading sci-fi talk, I do read the Wheel of Time Series. I think that pretty well covers the books I read classified in either fantasy or science fiction. I didn't think it was fair to lie to you.

Anyway, back to the point, Juliet Marillier writes fantasy in a style that seems almost real. If you follow or study any ancient beliefs and traditions you would see that the things she writes are in connection to the way people believed in the time she writes. It almost seems right that the magic in these stories feels real. Makes me want to believe in the Gods, and put my faith in earthly ritual. Well, I don't think I'd go that far. I'm a pretty good bible-belt Christian.

Either way, if you're looking for an inspiring read, in which women continually prevail over trials and the gods go hand in hand with life, I would suggest picking up one of her books. And just so you know, my absolute favorite of hers is Son of the Shadows (Book 2; The Sevenwaters Trilogy), followed closely by The Well of Shades (Book 3; The Bridei Chronicles).

It's time to get back to Leo Tolstoy and his Anna Karenina.
Happy reading,


The Sevenwaters Series 

1. Daughter of the Forest
2. Son of the Shadows
3. Child of the Prophecy
(These three books make up the Sevenwaters Trilogy)
4. Heir to Sevenwaters
5. Seer of Sevenwaters

Saga of the Light Isles

The Bridei Chronicles

Books for Young Adults

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

I just finished reading this, and by just I mean that I still feel the tears in my eyes. Yes, this book made me cry. It's not really an uncommon occurrence for me to cry when reading a book. And yet, this wasn't a fulfilling emotion; it was much more akin to tragedy.

I did initially have a difficult time getting in to the book. I began reading it several months ago, and ended up putting it down and reading something else instead. The satisfaction that I have found from actually finishing this book is almost astounding. It's almost a climatic feeling of relief.

The premise of the story is a concierge in a posh upper-class apartment building in Paris who a closer philosopher. Her life has been spent in the shadow of poverty, because of this she has always hidden the intelligence and human understanding that she has. Through this story she discusses several famous philosophers and writers, but never shows much emotion or connection with the outside world. Through the residents of the apartment building she slowly comes to a full realization of what life is, and that there should be no boundaries between being impoverished and being intelligent. Essentially, that poverty doesn't mean that you have to be stupid.

While reading the story from the point of Madame Michel there are also interludes by a young girl named Paloma. Paloma isn't your average 12 year old girl. She sees the world through adult eyes, but has no power to act in an adult way. She is also a closet philosopher, hiding how intelligent she is so that she doesn't have to deal with her family's expectations. She is a wealthy girl who lives in the building as well.

I'm not going to go into any more details of the actual plot-line, because my intention here is not to ruin the book for you. I believe my intention is to cause anyone reading these to want to read the book as well. So, I will simply tell you how I feel about the context, the writing, and the overall opinion I have of the book.

One of the first things I ask myself after reading a book is, will I read this again? I can honestly say that this is a book that I will very happily read again. It was inspiring in a way that a book hasn't been to me in a very long time. I think the main fault that I find with the book is just the fact that it is very heavy reading. Madame Michel spends most of her time relating what is going on around her with a range of different philosophers. She jumps around between phenomenology and dutch paintings, and is overall very well versed on many different subjects. And yet, if you aren't philosophical in nature you may find these ponderings to be difficult to climb through in order to get to the heart of the story.

I myself am what I'd like to consider "philosophical." Philosophy is actually my current course of study in school. I think this helped me appreciate Madame Michel even more. She also has a love of Leo Tolstoy, I'll admit that Russian literature is not my forte. It makes me feel the need to be more versed in Tolstoy. The passion in this book that was shown for literature was very refreshing. Reading this has simply made me want to read even more.

On that note, it is late and I should be heading to bed. I believe that my book for the next week shall be Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. It's another book that I've started and continually put down for some reason or another. Reading about how moving Tolstoy was to this character, makes me feel like I should approach Tolstoy with new energy. We shall see how I do.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a wonderful masterpiece of French literature. I hope that I don't sound like I'm gushing, or that I'm ignoring the fact that there were a few pieces of the structure that I didn't enjoy. I am not here to destroy literature, but to give it a new life. Sometimes you have to look past the small flaws to enjoy the wonderful offering in front of you.

I hope that you will choose to read this book, and that if you have anything you'd like to add please feel free.  Also, I apologize for any random jumping around that I do when I type this. I tend to write the way I speak, and sometimes that isn't very fluently. Again, I hope I may have inspired you to pick up the book and give it a try. I have a copy if anyone I know would be interested in borrowing it.

I'll be blogging you again with my musings of Anna Karenina at the end of the week. Until then I wish you all the best, and happy reading!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Introduction.

Hello readers or non-readers,

My name is Elizabeth and I have decided that I will take the time to read a book each week and post my feelings or reviews here. I'm not sure that what I'll have to say will be exciting or enlightening, but I hope that by doing this I can create a kind of online book club. Something where everyone decided to read the book along with me, and then have a discussion of sorts after the fact.

The overall plan of this endeavor is to begin a new book on Sunday of each week and then by the following Friday or Saturday have a completed review of this book up for viewing or commenting. I am hoping that you will take the time to make appropriate suggestions as to what I should read next, so that I will be able to expand my library and my reading experiences.

The first book that I am going to tackle will be The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I'm choosing this book because it's one that I've already started this week. From what I understand it is currently being made into a film, due out sometime this year. Since I have already begun reading this book I should be able to get my post up by Friday so that I won't disappoint my readers or non-readers so quickly.

I do have to say that there is a possibility that the insanity of Black Friday at work may delay the review some. In any event I am very excited to finish reading this book soon. I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'll be blogging you soon.