Exit, pursued by a bear.

pick my brains  

This is a place for me to keep track of the books I've read, and to push myself into reading more frequently again. My virtual bookshelf, if you will, with the goal of filling it up with all the books I do have before purchasing any others.

main blog: therealycats

Mr. Fox, Helen Oyeyemi

Winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for FictionOne of Granta’s Best Young British NovelistsFairytale romances end with a wedding. The fairytales that don’t get more complicated. In this book, celebrated writer Mr. Fox can’t stop himself from killing off the heroines of his novels, and neither can his wife, Daphne. It’s not until Mary, his muse, comes to life and transforms him from author into subject that his story begins to unfold differently. Meanwhile, Daphne becomes convinced that her husband is having an affair, and finds her way into Mary and Mr. Fox’s game. And so Mr. Fox is offered a choice: Will it be a life with the girl of his dreams, or a life with an all-too-real woman who delights him more than he cares to admit?

I really enjoyed this one. Oyeyemi is a new author for me, and after reading a few pages of this I was already anxious to find some of her other books. Funny thing, last week as I was reading this, I got a text message from my aunt, asking me if I had read Boy, Snow, Bird (a Snow White retelling that deals with race). I haven’t, but I am REALLY interested to now. Anyway, I thought the coincidence and timing of the text were pretty awesome, and possibly the universe speaking to me.

Mr. Fox, Helen Oyeyemi

Winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction
One of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists


Fairytale romances end with a wedding. The fairytales that don’t get more complicated. In this book, celebrated writer Mr. Fox can’t stop himself from killing off the heroines of his novels, and neither can his wife, Daphne. It’s not until Mary, his muse, comes to life and transforms him from author into subject that his story begins to unfold differently. Meanwhile, Daphne becomes convinced that her husband is having an affair, and finds her way into Mary and Mr. Fox’s game. And so Mr. Fox is offered a choice: Will it be a life with the girl of his dreams, or a life with an all-too-real woman who delights him more than he cares to admit?

I really enjoyed this one. Oyeyemi is a new author for me, and after reading a few pages of this I was already anxious to find some of her other books. Funny thing, last week as I was reading this, I got a text message from my aunt, asking me if I had read Boy, Snow, Bird (a Snow White retelling that deals with race). I haven’t, but I am REALLY interested to now. Anyway, I thought the coincidence and timing of the text were pretty awesome, and possibly the universe speaking to me.

— 6 months ago with 4 notes
#mr. fox  #helen oyeyemi  #fairy tales  #books  #reading list  #reading list 2014  #2014  #bluebeard 
Love Saves the Day, Gwen Cooper

From the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Homer’s Odyssey comes a tender, joyful, utterly unforgettable novel, primarily told through the eyes of the most observant member of any human family: the cat.Humans best understand the truth of things if they come at it indirectly. Like how sometimes the best way to catch a mouse that’s right in front of you is to back up before you pounce.So notes Prudence, the irresistible brown tabby at the center of Gwen Cooper’s tender, joyful, utterly unforgettable novel, which is mostly told through the eyes of this curious (and occasionally cranky) feline.When five-week-old Prudence meets a woman named Sarah in a deserted construction site on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, she knows she’s found the human she was meant to adopt. For three years their lives are filled with laughter, tuna, catnaps, music, and the unchanging routines Prudence craves. Then one day Sarah doesn’t come home. From Prudence’s perch on the windowsill she sees Laura, the daughter who hardly ever comes to visit Sarah, arrive with her new husband. They’re carrying boxes. Before they even get to the front door, Prudence realizes that her life has changed forever.Suddenly Prudence finds herself living in a strange apartment with humans she barely knows. It could take years to train them in the feline courtesies and customs (for example, a cat should always be fed before the humans, and at the same exact time every day) that Sarah understood so well. Prudence clings to the hope that Sarah will come back for her while Laura, a rising young corporate attorney, tries to push away memories of her mother and the tumultuous childhood spent in her mother’s dusty downtown record store. But the secret joys, past hurts, and life-changing moments that make every mother-daughter relationship special will come to the surface. With Prudence’s help Laura will learn that the past, like a mother’s love, never dies.Poignant, insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny, Love Saves the Day is a story of hope, healing, and how the love of an animal can make all of us better humans. It’s the story of a mother and daughter divided by the turmoil of bohemian New York, and the opinionated, irrepressible feline who will become the bridge between them. It’s a novel for anyone who’s ever lost a loved one, wondered what their cat was really thinking, or fallen asleep with a purring feline nestled in their arms. Prudence, a cat like no other, is sure to steal your heart.

Don’t read this unless you want to cry through half of it. I mean, read it, but be prepared to cry for half of it. I enjoyed this book, but I confess I did have to put it down for a few weeks about halfway through because it was emotionally draining.
I don’t really have time to go into any more detail right now; it’s early, I’m sleepy, and I need to get ready for work.

Love Saves the Day, Gwen Cooper

From the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Homer’s Odyssey comes a tender, joyful, utterly unforgettable novel, primarily told through the eyes of the most observant member of any human family: the cat.

Humans best understand the truth of things if they come at it indirectly. Like how sometimes the best way to catch a mouse that’s right in front of you is to back up before you pounce.

So notes Prudence, the irresistible brown tabby at the center of Gwen Cooper’s tender, joyful, utterly unforgettable novel, which is mostly told through the eyes of this curious (and occasionally cranky) feline.

When five-week-old Prudence meets a woman named Sarah in a deserted construction site on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, she knows she’s found the human she was meant to adopt. For three years their lives are filled with laughter, tuna, catnaps, music, and the unchanging routines Prudence craves. Then one day Sarah doesn’t come home. From Prudence’s perch on the windowsill she sees Laura, the daughter who hardly ever comes to visit Sarah, arrive with her new husband. They’re carrying boxes. Before they even get to the front door, Prudence realizes that her life has changed forever.

Suddenly Prudence finds herself living in a strange apartment with humans she barely knows. It could take years to train them in the feline courtesies and customs (for example, a cat should always be fed before the humans, and at the same exact time every day) that Sarah understood so well. Prudence clings to the hope that Sarah will come back for her while Laura, a rising young corporate attorney, tries to push away memories of her mother and the tumultuous childhood spent in her mother’s dusty downtown record store. But the secret joys, past hurts, and life-changing moments that make every mother-daughter relationship special will come to the surface. With Prudence’s help Laura will learn that the past, like a mother’s love, never dies.

Poignant, insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny, Love Saves the Day is a story of hope, healing, and how the love of an animal can make all of us better humans. It’s the story of a mother and daughter divided by the turmoil of bohemian New York, and the opinionated, irrepressible feline who will become the bridge between them. It’s a novel for anyone who’s ever lost a loved one, wondered what their cat was really thinking, or fallen asleep with a purring feline nestled in their arms. Prudence, a cat like no other, is sure to steal your heart.

Don’t read this unless you want to cry through half of it. I mean, read it, but be prepared to cry for half of it. I enjoyed this book, but I confess I did have to put it down for a few weeks about halfway through because it was emotionally draining.

I don’t really have time to go into any more detail right now; it’s early, I’m sleepy, and I need to get ready for work.

— 6 months ago with 1 note
#fiction  #cats  #gwen cooper  #books  #reading list  #2014  #reading list 2014 
Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat, Gwen Cooper


ONCE IN NINE LIVES, SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY HAPPENS. The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever.” But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease, survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night. But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that transformed Gwen’s life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized that Homer had taught her the most valuable lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

What? No. I’m not crying my eyes out. My nose isn’t dripping at all. My cat Viaka isn’t remotely acting like she does when she knows I’m upset. Nope. None of these things is happening right now.

Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat, Gwen Cooper

ONCE IN NINE LIVES, SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY HAPPENS.
 
The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.

Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever.” But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease, survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night. But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that transformed Gwen’s life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized that Homer had taught her the most valuable lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

What? No. I’m not crying my eyes out. My nose isn’t dripping at all. My cat Viaka isn’t remotely acting like she does when she knows I’m upset. Nope. None of these things is happening right now.

— 7 months ago with 2 notes
#homer's odyssey  #gwen cooper  #books  #cats  #memoir  #reading list  #reading list 2014  #2014 
Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins, Emma Donoghue


Thirteen tales are unspun from the deeply familiar, and woven anew into a collection of fairy tales that wind back through time. Acclaimed Irish author Emma Donoghue reveals heroines young and old in unexpected alliances—sometimes treacherous, sometimes erotic, but always courageous. Told with luminous voices that shimmer with sensuality and truth, these age-old characters shed their antiquated cloaks to travel a seductive new landscape, radiantly transformed.Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire. Acclaimed writer Emma Donoghue spins new tales out of old in a magical web of thirteen interconnected stories about power and transformation and choosing one’s own path in the world. In these fairy tales, women young and old tell their own stories of love and hate, honor and revenge, passion and deception. Using the intricate patterns and oral rhythms of traditional fairy tales, Emma Donoghue wraps age-old characters in a dazzling new skin.
Another college throwback, another collection of fairy tale retellings. Another quick read, for that matter. Where Block’s book was a collection, Donoghue takes it a step further, interconnecting each of the stories from beginning to end. A quick look at the contents should give you a pretty good idea of most of the source tales, but if you choose to forego that, in some instances, anyway, you can start to guess where some tales might lead into the next. 
I think I preferred these to Block’s retellings; Donoghue doesn’t try to set the stories outside of faery or in the modern setting Block gives hers—not that there’s anything wrong with that approach; it works quite well and I’ve liked other Block works, but with these particular collections, I feel like Donoghue’s has a sort of…beckoning to the reader that I didn’t get from Block this time around. I found them more engaging, more soothing.

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins, Emma Donoghue

Thirteen tales are unspun from the deeply familiar, and woven anew into a collection of fairy tales that wind back through time. Acclaimed Irish author Emma Donoghue reveals heroines young and old in unexpected alliances—sometimes treacherous, sometimes erotic, but always courageous. Told with luminous voices that shimmer with sensuality and truth, these age-old characters shed their antiquated cloaks to travel a seductive new landscape, radiantly transformed.Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire. Acclaimed writer Emma Donoghue spins new tales out of old in a magical web of thirteen interconnected stories about power and transformation and choosing one’s own path in the world. In these fairy tales, women young and old tell their own stories of love and hate, honor and revenge, passion and deception. Using the intricate patterns and oral rhythms of traditional fairy tales, Emma Donoghue wraps age-old characters in a dazzling new skin.

Another college throwback, another collection of fairy tale retellings. Another quick read, for that matter. Where Block’s book was a collection, Donoghue takes it a step further, interconnecting each of the stories from beginning to end. A quick look at the contents should give you a pretty good idea of most of the source tales, but if you choose to forego that, in some instances, anyway, you can start to guess where some tales might lead into the next. 

I think I preferred these to Block’s retellings; Donoghue doesn’t try to set the stories outside of faery or in the modern setting Block gives hers—not that there’s anything wrong with that approach; it works quite well and I’ve liked other Block works, but with these particular collections, I feel like Donoghue’s has a sort of…beckoning to the reader that I didn’t get from Block this time around. I found them more engaging, more soothing.

— 7 months ago with 2 notes
#fairy tales  #emma donoghue  #books  #reading list 2014  #fiction  #2014  #reading list 

therealycats:

Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just ones that have touched you. Tag ten friends. Make sure you let your friends know you’ve tagged them!

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  2. The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
  3. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
  4. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
  5. Forever by Pete Hammill
  6. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
  7. Deerskin by Robin McKinely
  8. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  9. Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
  10. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
— 7 months ago with 3 notes
#text  #books  #memes 
The Fairest of Them All, Carolyn Turgeon

In this kingdom, only one fairy tale can end with happily ever after.In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by nightfall the prince must return to his kingdom, and his betrothed.Now king, he weds his intended and the kingdom rejoices when a daughter named Snow White is born. Beyond the castle walls, Rapunzel waits in her crumbling tower, gathering news of her beloved from those who come to her seeking wisdom. She tries to mend her broken heart but her love lingers, pulsing in the magic tendrils of her hair.The king, too, is haunted by his memories, but after his queen’s mysterious death, he is finally able to follow his heart into the darkness of the forest. But can Rapunzel trade the shadows of the forest for the castle and be the innocent beauty he remembers?

My second read of 2014! See? Year’s off to a good start. I had previously read Carolyn Turgeon’s Mermaid, which is (obviously) a retelling of Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, with more adult (i.e. sexual) themes. This novel takes a similar approach with the story, only this time, combining the stories of Rapunzel and Snow White. As with Mermaid, I’m having a difficult time deciding if this is a book marketed to adults or the YA crowd, but regardless, it’s a good read with some unexpected twists. To be honest there are some  similarities to other contemporary retellings (Rapunzel’s hair has magic powers, as it does in Disney’s Tangled), but beyond the initial recognition, there’s nothing terribly distracting about it from the rest of the story. 
This novel absolutely engulfed me, as I’ve read the majority of it within the span of a few hours. Turgeon’s writing, from these two novels anyway, can easily draw a reader in to get lost in her Euro-fantasy worlds for a while.

The Fairest of Them All, Carolyn Turgeon

In this kingdom, only one fairy tale can end with happily ever after.

In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by nightfall the prince must return to his kingdom, and his betrothed.

Now king, he weds his intended and the kingdom rejoices when a daughter named Snow White is born. Beyond the castle walls, Rapunzel waits in her crumbling tower, gathering news of her beloved from those who come to her seeking wisdom. She tries to mend her broken heart but her love lingers, pulsing in the magic tendrils of her hair.

The king, too, is haunted by his memories, but after his queen’s mysterious death, he is finally able to follow his heart into the darkness of the forest. But can Rapunzel trade the shadows of the forest for the castle and be the innocent beauty he remembers?

My second read of 2014! See? Year’s off to a good start. I had previously read Carolyn Turgeon’s Mermaid, which is (obviously) a retelling of Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, with more adult (i.e. sexual) themes. This novel takes a similar approach with the story, only this time, combining the stories of Rapunzel and Snow White. As with Mermaid, I’m having a difficult time deciding if this is a book marketed to adults or the YA crowd, but regardless, it’s a good read with some unexpected twists. To be honest there are some  similarities to other contemporary retellings (Rapunzel’s hair has magic powers, as it does in Disney’s Tangled), but beyond the initial recognition, there’s nothing terribly distracting about it from the rest of the story. 

This novel absolutely engulfed me, as I’ve read the majority of it within the span of a few hours. Turgeon’s writing, from these two novels anyway, can easily draw a reader in to get lost in her Euro-fantasy worlds for a while.

— 8 months ago with 1 note
#fairy tales  #carolyn turgeon  #fiction  #books  #2014  #reading list 2014  #reading list 
The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, Francesca Lia Block

With language that is both lyrical and distinctly her own, Francesca Lia Block turns nine fairy tales inside out.
Escaping the poisoned apple, Snow frees herself from possession to find the truth of love in an unexpected place.
A club girl from L.A., awakening from a long sleep to the memories of her past, finally finds release from its curse.
And Beauty learns that Beasts can understand more than men.
Within these singular, timeless landscapes, the brutal and the magical collide, and the heroine triumphs because of the strength she finds in a pen, a paintbrush, a lover, a friend, a mother, and finally, in herself.

My first read of 2014. I don’t remember precisely when or what, but I know I was introduced to FLB (among others) back in college, in one of my folklore classes. This is a book that has been on my list for many years, and finally I received it as a gift this Christmas. 
This is a quick read, easily doable within a few hours if you have them to spare. As with another of FLB’s books I own, Roses and Bones (only partially read on my end, oops), Block’s writing here is pretty lyrical; her prose seems more like poetry. Overall I wouldn’t say this is the greatest book of retellings I’ve ever read, but it gets the job done. Some of the modernized interpretations can seem a bit predictable (Sleeping Beauty as heroin addict, for example, although that’s actually one of my favorites in this collection), but it’s a quick read that evokes just enough emotion to take you there without sending you over the edge.

The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, Francesca Lia Block

With language that is both lyrical and distinctly her own, Francesca Lia Block turns nine fairy tales inside out.

Escaping the poisoned apple, Snow frees herself from possession to find the truth of love in an unexpected place.

A club girl from L.A., awakening from a long sleep to the memories of her past, finally finds release from its curse.

And Beauty learns that Beasts can understand more than men.

Within these singular, timeless landscapes, the brutal and the magical collide, and the heroine triumphs because of the strength she finds in a pen, a paintbrush, a lover, a friend, a mother, and finally, in herself.

My first read of 2014. I don’t remember precisely when or what, but I know I was introduced to FLB (among others) back in college, in one of my folklore classes. This is a book that has been on my list for many years, and finally I received it as a gift this Christmas. 

This is a quick read, easily doable within a few hours if you have them to spare. As with another of FLB’s books I own, Roses and Bones (only partially read on my end, oops), Block’s writing here is pretty lyrical; her prose seems more like poetry. Overall I wouldn’t say this is the greatest book of retellings I’ve ever read, but it gets the job done. Some of the modernized interpretations can seem a bit predictable (Sleeping Beauty as heroin addict, for example, although that’s actually one of my favorites in this collection), but it’s a quick read that evokes just enough emotion to take you there without sending you over the edge.

— 8 months ago with 2 notes
#fairy tales  #francesca lia block  #books  #2014  #reading list 2014  #reading list