Down the rabbithole

Musing Monday highlighter

Sometimes a book can grab you right from the beginning. Usually it takes more than a sentence. Sometimes it can take a paragraph. But sometimes you can be completely enthralled before the first full stop. Sometimes the first sentence is so mind-blowingly amazing that you won’t put that book down for hours. The rest of the book might be just as captivating (and isn’t it magical), or maybe it all goes downhill from there (the ultimate form of deceit).

So this post is a shrine to some wonderful first lines that I’ve read recently, either just picking them up off my shelf or as I sit down for an hour-long read.

The lines drag me into a magical world.

lips touch coverThere is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave.
Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

The first time Reginald Archer saw the thing, it was, in its simplicity, absolute.
– Story by Gahan Wilson, part of Unnatural Creatures edited by Neil Gaiman

They include me in the conversation.

beat the reaperIt’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

So I’m on my way to work and I stop to watch a pigeon fight a rat in the snow, and some fuckhead tries to mug me!
Beat The Reaper by Josh Bazell

They surprise me.

my zombie dog coverIt was a slow day, so I was reading a book at my desk and seeing into the future.
Fated by Benedict Jacka

On my 14th birthday I had to bury a dog.
My Zombie Dog by Charmaine Clancy

Or sometimes confuse me.

The first word spoken by the Indian man Ajatashatru Oghash Rathod upon his arrival in France was, oddly enough, a Swedish word.
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puértolas

They might remind me of one I’ve read before.

the bone season coverThere used to be more of us.
The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

I like to imagine there were more of us in the beginning.
– The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

They might even be drenched in tragedy.

more than this coverHere is the boy, drowning.
More Than This by Patrick Ness

But they’re the first lines that dragged me down the rabbithole before I even had a chance to kick and scream.

What first lines have captured you lately? Do you have a favourite first line? Leave me link to your own musings!

At the moment I’m at uni and I don’t have a lot of time for comments. I’ll be replying to and visiting everyone but it might take a few days 🙂


Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!

But that’s not the voice inside my head…

audiobook

As I walked past, I could hear the narrator clearly from my Mum’s headphones. This isn’t new – she’s a bit deaf and I’ve heard many second-hand audio books in my time. But this was the thought that crossed my mind.

The voice inside my head doesn’t read like that. She’s doing it wrong!

I don’t listen to audio books. I tried once when I was about 11, but nothing about it felt right. It was too slow, the voice emphasised the wrong words, the dialogue didn’t sound right and most importantly the voice didn’t match the characters’ personalities.

A lot of books are written in first person and, as a reader of YA fiction, the voice inside my head always tries to read the books as if the narrator was reading them to me. But when you go find the audio book, it will be read by a middle-age person. You can try as hard as you want, but no one can ever match the speech patterns of a different generation. I can call my friend ‘dude’, but as soon as my father tries it, it sounds ridiculous.

In third person stories, it all falls apart with the dialogue. The accents will be wrong, or the characters sound too similar. It’s the same recurring problem: it’s not the voice inside of my head.

There is, however, one audio book I’m willing to give a listen. I’ve been desperate to read The Night Circus for a while, and I saw someone’s review of the audio book narrated by Jim Dale!

Jim Dale is the narrator of Pushing Daisies, a hilarious TV show that I recommend to anyone and everyone. His voice is perfect for a quirky/strange/creepy story which is what I imagine The Night Circus to be. Although even if I enjoy the audio, you can be sure I’ll reread the written version soon after.

Something inside me is programmed to prefer the written word. Even when I listen to Welcome to Night Vale, a podcast which I absolutely love, if I think about it, I’d prefer to read it. My mind wanders and I miss parts. In a book you can go back and re-read, in an audio it’s too hard.

I guess I’m just a child of the written word. Forever distracted unless my eyes have something to see and my mind has something to imagine.

Listen to Jim Dale’s amazing voice in the prologue of Pushing Daisies.
Check out the first two minutes of The Night Circus audio book.

Do you listen to audio books? What do you look for in a good narrator? Have you listened to The Night Circus?


 

Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!

Coming back from the dead

harry-potter-short-story

If you spend any time on the internet, by now you’ve probably heard the breaking Harry Potter news: JK Rowling has written another Harry Potter story.

If you haven’t heard the news yet, don’t get too excited. It’s a short article, written by Rita Skeeter, the much-hated journalist who got a kick out of tarnishing reputations (particuarly Harry’s) by manufacturing stories.

Hey, my eyes aren’t glistening with the ghosts of my past!

I’m a massive Harry Potter fan. They are my favourite books. I call Daughter of Smoke and Bone books my favourites, but that’s because Harry Potter isn’t just a set of books to me. I’ve read them so many times (10+) that they’re a part of me. I grew up with those books, and for several years they were all that I would read. Harry had a piece of Voldermort inside of him, but I have Harry Potter inside of me.

So here’s he kicker: I haven’t read JK’s new story. I’ve seen it, I’ve read about it and I even know what’s in it, but I haven’t read it. Because Harry Potter finished. It finished with tears, anger and a tonne of denial, but it finished. And with it, Harry Potter rolled itself up in a little cocoon and buried itself deep within me. For me it finished with the end of the novels, but for some it finished with the end of the movies.

Much like we’d lost a family member, we waded our way through the five stages of grief and accepted it for the amazing ride it was. Yes, I still revisit the books every 1-2 years, in much the same way as you reminisce with old photographs, draped in a cloak of nostalgia.

So imagine if you got a letter about that family member. Surprise! They hadn’t died. They were living their life somewhere else. How do you find a place for that information? How exactly do I bring Harry Potter back to the surface?

JK Rowling’s new story has brought with it too many questions. The largest, is Harry Potter really finished? This new story, the rumoured TV show, they’re setting Harry Potter up as a franchise I don’t think it should become. Harry Potter, to me, is the holy grail. It can never be beaten. It should be left alone.

So will I read the new story? Probably. I’m weak. Of course I’m going to give in. But I’ll read it like fan fiction. Anything that isn’t, right now, inside my Harry potter cocoon (my head canon, for those in the know) will never penetrate it. Harry Potter doesn’t exist outside of the books. To me, Harry Potter is dead.

What do you think about the new Harry Potter story? Have you ever loved something that turned into a disappointing franchise? Leave me links to your own musings!


Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!

Where in the World?

map

This week The Book Depository released a map showing their most-purchased book by country.

I, of course, went straight to Australia: Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. I wasn’t even surprised.

New Zealand? Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. Now that’s interesting. Why 15 minutes, New Zealand? Do you really have 15 less minutes then us is your day? Are they busy herding sheep? Chasing feral kiwis? Maybe New Zealanders have adopted the hobbit diet. Six meals is a lot to schedule in one day. Thirty minutes preparation for each meal would mean second breakfast would run into elevensies and all hell would break loose.

Indonesia is particularly keen on the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy boxset. Someone ought to explain there’s better erotic fanfiction to be found free, on the internet. At least France is only ordering Fifty Shades of Grey book #1.

Thailand is ordering 1984. Maybe they’re feeling oppressed by their political unrest. Near neighbour Vietnam is getting into the true spirit of George Orwell and are looking into the future with their Deviant Moon Tarot Decks.

China is stuck with the Moleskin Large Ruled Notebook. Maybe words on the page would encourage thoughts of the world outside of China. No one wants that.  Although the Japanese are also buying blank, but opting for the Moleskin Large Squared Notebook instead. South Korea, clearly worried about North Korea, seems to have decided where they’re moving next and are preparing with Sing and Learn Spanish.

Norway is reading How to Brew. It’s just not fair that Denmark and Germany get the famous reputations. But they’re preoccupied with keeping their beer businesses booming, getting help from Business Generation Model.

Plenty of countries are worried about their test scores. Italy is preparing with The Ultimate EU Test Book 2013 and Jordan with SAT. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia is sharpening their anatomy skills with The Concise Human Body Book and Oman is trying to do some good, studying Statistics for Geography and Environmental Science.  Watch out for those nerds.

The US has even less time than New Zealand (and they don’t even have hobbits!), and they’re struggling to manage it with The One Minute Manager.  Up North, Canada is finally figuring out the difference between their stomach and their brain thanks to Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

Peru has gone Lego-mad and can’t put down LEGO Ninjago Character Encyclopaedia.

It’s so interesting to have a look and see what people around the world are ordering. Even bordering countries have such different top picks. What has your country been ordering? Did it surprise you or did you roll your eyes like me? At least we’re all ahead of Chile. They’re still learning the basics with Let’s Cut Paper!


Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!

Out of the pages: bookish fan art

Musing Monday highlighter

I’ve often said my favourite part of reading is the imagination, my mind completely dropping out of reality and immersing itself in another world. There are certain scenes I can still see vividly in my mind – Jace and Clary in the alleyway (City of Fallen Angels), the car park elbow dislocation (Beat The Reaper), Arachne’s lair (Fated)…

But as soon as I start to really look at the images in my mind, they start to slip away. If I try explaining or drawing what I see, they disappear. Because there’s a dream-like aspect to these images that doesn’t make sense in reality. Sometimes there’s more than 360 degrees or maybe gravity doesn’t move in the right direction.  It’s very Inception. Images at first might make sense, but as the books add different details, my world must bend.

This is why I’ve always loved bookish fan art. The artists can not only visualise the image, but also explore it well enough to draw, paint or illustrate it. Sometimes it’s the characters, a scene or an interpretation of the story, but it’s always magical. It’s a book coming to life in the hands of a person.

This is a collection of my favourite fan art from my favourite books (that have not become movies – I’ve always felt the films ruined the magic of bookish fan art).

Please note: I have contacted the people responsible for these images and they have kindly given me permission to post their art. Please don’t steal it. Visit the original Deviant Art pages if you’re a fan, and leave a comment or check out their other work. These guys do fan art for heaps of books and you might find some from your own favourites. 

Collage image

  1. Harry Dresden by thegryph (The Dresden Files – Jim Butcher)
  2. Atticus O’Sullivan by Codi Vrosh (The Iron Druid Chronicles – Kevin Hearne)
  3. Mr. Wednesday by zelu (American Gods – Neil Gaiman)
  4. Meeting by Jo-yumegari (Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini Taylor)

Do you like fan art? Which is your favourite? Let me know if you do your own fan art because I’d love to check it out! And remember to leave me links to your own Musing Monday posts!


Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!

It sounds like a tale of true love

Musing Monday highlighter

city of heavenly fire coverHONK HONK! That beautiful sound of the parcel delivery man honking his horn at my gate. I was still in my pyjamas, drinking my morning tea and scrolling through Tumblr. I wasn’t going to go out. I could just get whatever it was from the post office tomorrow. But then I remembered… City of Heavenly Fire pre-orders started shipping last week!

As I ran out of the house, unbrushed hair flying around my face, socks getting soaked on the grass (I did not have time for shoes), hands holding my bouncing chest in place (you know what I mean) I realised something.

I’ve called The Mortal Instruments my guilty pleasure series before but that isn’t entirely accurate.  Do I love this series? Yes. Is this series flawed? Yes. Do I get a magical feeling in my belly every time I read it? Yes. Do I feel guilty about it? Hell no.

I was running to meet the end of an era. The Mortal Instruments series is what I consider to be one of my ‘gateway books’, one of those books that has shaped my entire reading life.

It was my first urban fantasy.  One day Mum brought me home a copy of the first book, City of Bones, and I devoured it.  I read the next in the series and started demanding other urban fantasy books.

As I got older, I’ve found flaws in the stories, I’ve been frustrated by the pointless (aren’t they always) love triangles and I’ve seen the relationships through more cynical eyes.  But I still adore the books. They’re still entertaining. They’re fun, witty, action-packed with some of the most mind-blowing plot twists.  They’re one of the few novels I’ve read to represent an LGBT character and his struggle with coming-out without his sexuality becoming the feature that defines him.

I love The Mortal Instruments, despite its flaws, and I will be sad to see it end.

What were your gateway books? Do you have a series you feel a strong connection to, despite its flaws?


Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!

Life within the words

Musing Monday highlighter

“Reading is so much more than the act of moving from page to page. It’s the exploration of new worlds; the pursuit of adventure; the forging of friendships; the breaking of hearts; and the chance to begin to live through a new story each time the sentence is devoured.”

It’s an age-old argument.  Books or movies?

I found myself in a tutoring session recently, arguing with a student who had never ever finished a book (I nearly passed out from shock) over whether books or movies were better.

I firmly believe books are better. You will never change my mind.  But when it came to explaining why, I was at a loss.  I could sit and read an entire book in a day, but I lack the attention span to watch a whole movie. What is it about books that captures my attention?

Source: Pantera

Source: Pantera

Obviously books smell better, but more importantly each book smells unique. I sat next to my bookshelf last week and whiffed the overwhelming odour of Harry Potter (by far the smelliest books on my shelf).  I didn’t have to pick the books up; the smell was enough to remind me not just of the story but the feeling of reading the book.

And that’s what it is.  Books are better because of that feeling of being inside the story – being totally entranced, lost in another world, unable and unwilling to go back to real life.  It’s difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it.  Reading is the ultimate form of escapism.  You don’t just forget your problems, but when you’re reading a good book, you forget who you are. You don’t exist. You’re another entity, floating through the bookish aether, rooting for your favourite character and watching the story unfold.

It’s imagination. Seeing, hearing, feeling things that aren’t there.  Feeling a character’s pain, hearing their laughter.  Imagination is entertainment at its best.

Source:  LitStack

Source: LitStack

For me, watching a movie doesn’t provide that. Because you’re literally hearing the character laugh or watching them fight the baddies. It’s handed to you on a platter. There’s no imagination.  You’re not in the story. You’re an external viewer, unaffected by it and unable to connect.  Movies are a quick fix. Two hours of mindless entertainment instead of six hours of true escapism.  It’s lazy and it’s lifeless and it’s just not fun.

I’ve played Quidditch for Gryffindor, I’ve fought in The Hunger games and I’ve been re-educated by the Ministry of Love.  But if you only saw those movies and not the books, I doubt you can say you did more than watch those things.

That is the biggest difference between books and movies, and to me, it’s the most important distinction in the world.

My student offered some thoughtful insights into the differences between our brains and imaginations and how he will never be able to picture a written story, because he expects his brain to imagine in movie-quality, vivid imagery.  What do you think? Do you prefer one over the other? Do you see the value of both?


Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we muse about books and reading.  Anyone can join in!