THE WRITERS DAILY COMPANION by Amy Peters

I found this book, The Writers Daily Companion by Amy Peters, in the bargain bin at a local book store shortly before closing on my house in 2016, I began reading it the first day I moved into my house. Somehow I made it a habit to read a page a day out of it for an entire year – I just finished this book less than a week ago.

dailywritingThis book is filled with many things – writing prompts, quotes from authors, short biographies of writers, suggestions for books to read, writing tips and advice from various writers on writing. Since I read this book over the course of a year, what this book also has within it are the many memories – both good and bad – that I’ve accumulated during my first year at my house.

The Writers Daily Companion has become, for me, a time capsule of sorts – one of a special variety that I can use as both a reference book or as a way to recollect this past year. I have an inability, currently, to separate these two perspectives of this book.

Now that I am done with the book, I feel as if there is a void in my life, the daily, morning task I had is now gone. At any rate, if you happen to come across a copy of The Writers Daily Companion by Amy Peters, I suggest picking it up and do as I did – read a page a day. You will learn something of value from this book – both about writing, and strangely, also something about yourself. Perhaps this is true of any book that is read over the course of a year or more.

The memoir TBR

As I look through my extensive library of books I noticed that I’ve got a vast collection of memoirs and many of which I haven’t read. My goal for August will be to read as many of the memoirs I have in my collection as I can. I tend to read memoirs quite quickly which is making me consider that instead of doing a review for each one – I’ll simply do a weekly round-up instead.

I dislike giving ratings to non-fiction books, especially memoirs so my round-ups will be more in the form of a discussion (along the lines of how Harpers reviews books). Fiction books will continue to receive their own reviews and will be separate from these round-ups.

Also; I’m going to try and incorporate more into this blog than just reviews and a weekly quote. I tried to do Top 5 Wednesday just to discover that I really dislike listing things. I have a few ideas that I’ve considered, however they aren’t exactly book related so they might not be suitable for this blog.

At any rate, I figured a brief explanation for why there is going to be a slight change in the format of my posts over the course of August was important. I mean, I have a memoir written in four volumes that took me almost a year to get that I have yet to read. This up coming month will (hopefully) be when that gets read.

THE UNSEEN WORLD by Liz Moore discussion & review

In 1980’s Boston there lives a man, David Sibelius and his 12 year old daughter Ada Sibelius. THE UNSEEN WORLD opens with a typical scene with this family; David is hosting a dinner for the students who work at his computer lab. Ada is preparing the drinks  – she’s done this plenty of times before.

At this dinner we are introduced to the characters that make up this brilliant story and we are also provided with the first glimpse into the ailment that sets the entire story into motion.

It begins with the telling of a riddle.

unseen.jpgDavid’s declining health brings his entire past into question. Ada must learn who her father really is, and perhaps along the way find out who she is. Davids illness begins with slight slip ups with his memory which causes his past to uncoil in phenomenal ways within the pages of Moore’s novel.

I heard about this book almost a year ago shortly after it was released. I was both intimidated and intrigued by it. People raved about this book but refused to say anything about it outside of providing general summaries of the plot. (I should say *most* people were considerate like this). When I first picked this book up a week ago, I wasn’t entirely engaged – the writing felt slightly distant. Every section of this book however pulls you in with a mystery or revelation that makes you want to continue reading.

Ada’s life, David’s life and the lives of those around them soon become quite familiar. These people, you feel, at some level you know. THE UNSEEN WORLD tackles some of the fundamental questions of existence – what does it mean to be human? Are we nothing more than a series of electrical impulses (which, in David’s case begin to fail). Is there more to this world that remains unseen due to the limits of our senses?

What constitutes being alive?

It is difficult being intentionally vague in regards to this novel, however I do not feel like being held responsible for ruining anyone else’s experience with this brilliant book. Please take this book into consideration when picking out your next read.

★★★★★   THE UNSEEN WORLD by Liz Moore

* If this review seems choppy, it is because I had to edit large chunks out. This book is best read when little about the plot is known. I was mildly spoiled for this book before I began reading it and that is what I’m trying to refrain from doing here. THE UNSEEN WORLD is set up like a thriller/mystery where you piece things together along with the characters – so be careful when looking at reviews of the book – many people are having no problem gushing about where this books goes without consideration of warning about spoilers.

#Thursday #Quotables

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“It would be better to give up the notion of writing until you are better prepared. Now it’s time to be living. I don’t want to frighten you, but I would like to make you understand the import of what you think of attempting. You must not become a mere peddler of words. The thing to learn is to know what people are thinking about, not what they say.”
― Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

GORK, THE TEENAGE DRAGON by Gabe Hudson discussion & review

If you happen to be in the halls of the WarWings Military Academy, be careful because Gork is on his Queen Quest and he may run you over. That big dopey dragon there is Gork The Terrible and stopping isn’t one of his better qualities. Also, you’re a human – it’s probably not safe to be at a military academy for dragons to begin with.

Weak Sauce… er, I mean Gork is your ‘normal’ dragon, by that I mean he’s not a robot, he has scales, wings and breaths fire. Although Gork is ‘normal’ he’s not quite up to par with the standards of what a terrible dragon aught to be. This weakling Gork however, somehow still made it to his graduation without being eaten by much meaner dragons.

What a champ.

gorkHe does have one final task however – get himself a queen so he can conquer a planet and colonize it with his offspring, you know; standard dragon stuff. If Gork fails at getting a queen the consequences are dire… Gork becomes a slave. His chances at succeeding at this task seem slim. His tiny horns and low class ranking doesn’t make him too desirable for prospective queens. But that is not Gork’s only problem, his uncle, Dr. Terrible seems to be up to something uh hem, terrible.

Gork lives in a world that has already met the dragon version of the singularity – many of his peers are robots and the machines he interacts with have artificial intelligence programs with consciousness – they are able to make decisions without outside input. Gork’s environment is completely militarized and violent which makes it tough for a dragon with feelings and a love for poetry. In many ways Gork’s story is allegorical of the western world. Whether intended or unintended, this book had plenty of commentary on militarized culture which is something I personally enjoyed.

GORK, THE TEENAGE DRAGON was a very enjoyable read however at the end of the book I got the strong perception that this book was just the beginning of something MUCH larger. Although Gabe Hudson says that he doesn’t have any immediate plans for a sequel or series he certainly creates the perception that there will be more to Gork and his world in the future.

It was the ending that I can’t determine whether I liked or not – primarily because it was so open. If Hudson continues with the story in a sequel, the ending is appropriate, if not then the ending feels awfully weak. Depending on this, my rating for the book will hover between a 3.5 and 4.5 stars. For this reviews purpose, I’ll compromise and give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

★★★★   GORK, THE TEENAGE DRAGON by Gabe Hudson 

#Thursday #Quotables

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“Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer’s work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader’s recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book’s truth.”
― Marcel Proust, Time Regained

THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF PORTUGAL by Yann Martel discussion & review

Yann Martel’s latest novel, The High Mountains of Portugal is a unique reading experience. Divided in three parts, “Homeless”, “Homeward” and “Home” Martel tells a story that transcends time but held together by, essentially relics of the past. The book is almost set up to mimic a religious text – or, at least mimic the types of stories that make up religious mythology.

Although the three sections of the book all form an over-arching story of it’s own, since the book is broken up in three parts, I will discuss a little about each part.

highmountainsThe introductory story titled Homeless begins with a man named Tomas in the year 1904 who is presented with a the Biblical Job-like predicament. His wife, child and father all die within a few days of each other and in protest to this divine injustice Tomas begins to walk backwards. In Tomas’ possession however he has an old diary that speaks of a religious artifact that, according to the diary will upturn religion as it is known. Tomas sets out on a quest, using the latest marvel of his age, and automobile to find this holy relic that is spoken of in the diary. The relic is a crucifix with a chimpanzee.

The second story, Homeward is set on New Years of 1939. I personally enjoyed this section the most. This section is the story of a mortician who is visited by the ghost of his wife who comes to discuss Jesus Christ and Agatha Christie and the interesting parallels that exist between the Gospels and Christie’s novels. This part of the book essentially reveals what Martel is attempting to do. Shortly after the discussion with the ghost of his dead wife, the Mortician is visited by a woman hauling with her a suitcase. Inside the suitcase is the corpse of her late husband. The woman requests that the mortician perform an autopsy on the course so she can learn about the mans life. When the mortician does the autopsy he starts pulling out things that made up the mans life.  In the chest cavity the mortician pulls out a chimpanzee holding a bear cub. The wife then climbs into the now empty body and requests that the mortician sew her up with the chimpanzee and bear cub, essentially becoming one of the desires that the man lived for.

The final story, Home takes place in 1981 and is about a Canadian senator who after losing his wife through a sequence of events essentially adopts a chimpanzee and gives up his entire life to live with it in Portugal, incidentally in the same small village that the two previous stories take place. Once again we have a Biblical parallel here where the chimp is a stand in for Jesus. It is a subtle reference to when Jesus tells a rich man to give up everything he owns and follow him. The Senator lives side by side with this chimpanzee until witnessing a rare miracle. In his adventures with the ape, he discovers the early relic and learns of the peculiar autopsy involving the chimp in the chest cavity of the man.

I’ll be honest, I will be thinking about this story for awhile. All three stories are tied together with a premise that humans are not fallen angels but rising apes and Martel uses an ape as a place holder for Jesus, first as a relic, then dwelling in the ‘heart’ of a man then finally as prophet who is followed to a Heaven that is represented as The High Mountains Of Portugal. All in all the story was enjoyable, I’ll be revisiting the middle story in time.

★★★★   THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF PORTUGAL by Yann Martel