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It's Been Awhile, Hasn't It?
Manga Rin and Butterfly

It sure has been awhile, hasn't it.

As many of you know, I work in retail, and during November and December, I can become very busy. This past Christmas season was no exception. So, why did it take until March to recover? I've been taking a break, quite frankly.

That doesn't mean, however, that I've been lazy! Far from it. I've been catching up on a lot of reading. Since I had this conversation in another lj last night and someone wanted a list of books I've read, well, here it is.

I've read pretty eclectically, if you ask me. History, historical romance, memoir, forensic crime fiction, literary fiction, and essay. It's been nice to get away from the fandom for a bit and expand the ol' horizons. As the old saying goes: A good writer must be a good reader.

So, what have I read exactly? Here's a list with a short thought on each book:

1) Threads by Nell Gavin
    This book is in a relatively new category of "Visionary Fiction." It usually contains a reincarnation element with a moral lesson wrapped in the story being told. This one centers on Anne Boleyn and starts with her execution. We see Anne's life (lives) progress throughout this sweeping novel as Anne reflects on the mistakes that each life had. It's interesting to see how some historical figures are handled in this scope and what "punishments" they incur for their crimes in previous lives. I found it hard to put down and will probably re-read it again.

2) Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken
  I was a big fan of her debut novel The Giant's House. This one is just as good. I love the look at vaudeville, the complexities of a friendship, and how it all falls apart. It's definitely an engrossing read worth the time. By the end, you swear that Rocky and Sharp have to be real, that this is their biography, and not a fictional novel. The craft of this novel is very well thought out and it shows in each word on the page.

3) Bones to Ashes/Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
   Forget the Bones television show for awhile, if you can. The original Tempe comes to life in Kathys' novels and in surprising ways. For Christmas, I received Devil Bones and couldn't put it down once I started reading it. For a forensic anthropologist, Kathy writes amazingly well. The characterization is complex, human, and fulfilling, and the science is right! And the best part about her novels is the fact that you don't know who did it until the very end. Not to be considering in the same class as a cheap dime novel series whatsoever. There are about ten novels in the series, so it should keep you busy.

4) Henry VIII by Alison Weir
    This historical biography digs so deep into Henry, starting with his coronation in 1509 that by the end of the book you feel like you've gotten to finally know the true Henry. We see what made him tick, what he feared, how his court functioned, what people ate, wore, amused themselves with, and so much more. It's thought provoking, and the detail is dazzling. I found myself having to see what happened next in the time line, what the next explosion to rock Henry's court would be, and what the ultimate fall out would be. By the time I was finished, I can't say I'll ever think of Henry the same way again.

5) The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
   Whether you voted for him or not, agree or disagree with him or not, this memoir is a fascinating read. I may be biased due to my political leaning, but I liked the fact that we saw him as man and not just a phenomena. While his ideas might not appeal those on the other side, I think it can't hurt to read his thoughts and gage who he is in his own words rather than the media spin. I found it a highly personal read and felt that it was an intimate book designed to speak to the reader directly.

6) Samurai: The Code of the Warrior by Thomas Louis and Tommy Ito
    This book tells you about the rise and fall of the samurai, what they wore, what they ate, and how they lived and died. The pictures included are amazing and give you more perspective. There were a lot of people I hadn't heard about before----and a few due to my manga reading that I had. Basic history paired with short biographies, this book was good for someone like me----just starting to study Japanese culture and history.

7) A Mercy by Toni Morrison
   I've loved Toni Morrison since I was first introduced to her work in college. Her exploration of the dark underbelly of American history and society concerning race is utterly thought provoking. For a 167 page novella, I found myself missing so  much of the depth in a first cursory read that I will have to re-read it to attain the intricacies she's presenting. It's also jarring the way she expertly writes in a circular manner and not linear, which something the reader much adjust to.  It's a prequel of sorts to her novel Beloved addressing some of the same themes, but in totally different ways with a different time period in American history. I can't recommend her works enough. For anyone trying to understand the African American experience in this country, she's a fiction author to start with.

8) The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillippa Gregory
     A historical romance that tells the tragic tales of Anne of Cleves, Jane Boleyn, and Katherine Howard, these three very different women are brought to life on the page. While not as historically accurate as some might hope, the novel does the job and does it well of showing us these historical figures as they might have been and as the human beings they undoubtedly were. Each has their inheritance from the fallen Anne, and in Henry's dangerous court must learn to navigate the aftermath or die. Those who know anything of the history of Henry's court and the personal outcomes of each woman will know the end result, but the presentation is so dramatic and intimate that you can't turn away.

Currently I am reading Bill Holm's essay book Coming Home Crazy: An Alphabet of China Essays. He was a professor of mine in college and tragically passed away at the age of 65 this past Wednesday. It is because of the passion for reading and writing that he instilled in his students that I am a writer today. He taught me that writing is very much alive. In this world of cold word processors and fancy digital printing, he remained faithful to writing all of his work in longhand, something I do before I turn to the computer. He'll be tragically missed, but thankfully we'll always have his words. His books were published by Milkweed. His work can be found here.

On the next to read list, I have The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory, The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon, and Farming Words: The Harvest of Literature at a Prairie College (edited by Bill Holm), a collection of 40 years of writing from my college.
Not to fear, though, readers of mine. While I've been doing all of this reading, i have also been doing some writing. I have six pages thus far on the next chapter of Journey. I'm at the halfway point. Hopefully, by the end of the month I can post the next installment. I also intend on reading some of my fellow fanfiction writers works to get caught up in the fandom. Sometimes we just need a break and I've certainly enjoyed mine!

I'd like to thank everyone at the IYFG that nominated, seconded, and voted for Journey and Worship. I am stunned speechless that my story was deemed worthy to take first place and third place. I wish everyone in the Best of 2008 polling luck. I'd also like to thank those who nominated, seconded, and voted for Worship at the FA awards. I am so grateful to have placed second for a lemon I wrote. Thanks everyone for your patience in waiting for the next chapter in this long absence. It IS on its way!

Until next time,

Far Away Eyes

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:tackle-glomp-hug: I LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!! Now will see what I can get! By all means... we have similar taste!! Oh, loved it! Now, I'm truly enthusiastic!! Thanks sweetie!!!! :huggggggggggggggg:

I read a lot. And, unlike my days in college, if I don't like something, I don't have to finish it! Yay! Happy trails on your reading list.


haha, you and me both, only im still in college :(
No worries though, i'll be out of it sooner or later. Never much chatted with you but loved the journey book your writing, which lead me here year's ago. March 3rd 2009, man time flies. How many year's has it been since I first started reading Journey? I found it when you were about 3 chapter's in. Great choice of book's by the way.

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
I found it fascinating that a scholar was saying how much it was like Hitler's memoirs he wrote...

And congrats on your wins. I'm very happy that Journey did so well this time. I hope you get the inspiration for a new chapter soon.

Everyone has their own take on any particular book. All I can ever say to anyone is to read it and come to your own conclusions.

Thanks for the congrats. I'm hoping to get a new chapter out soon.


How's work on your masterpiece coming? Any Idea as to when you'll be releasing a new chapter? Also, I'm glad to see you haven't been destroyed by the economy.

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