Category Archives: Books and Literature

A Review of John Green’s “Will Grayson, Will Grayson”

Another gem by John Green, only made better by the words of David Levithan. I love books that make the reader dart his or her eyes back and forth between characters. Not necessarily flashback/flash-forward instances because those can get confusing and sometime annoying, but instead the different thoughts, minds, feelings, words and emotions occurring at the same time among two different characters who happen to share the same name.

Things I knew: I knew that the two Will Graysons would be foils of each other in a sense, but would share one similarity that outshines their other faults, flaws or traits. I knew that their lives would at some point, cross over, connecting them to the one thing they were both looking to find meaning in. I knew that there would be one way to always tell them apart, in this case it was the font, and until you read the exchange between the two authors, you will understand why.

Things I didn’t know: How the story would end. As I was nearing the end of this book, I thought, how could everything possibly be wrapped up in 20 pages? While I hate the ends of books for many reasons (I will not bore you with them now), I did not care for Green’s way of closing the curtain on Will Grayson as a novel. However, that is not to say that I didn’t understand it. I thought that Green and Levithan did a wonderful job bringing each Will Grayson’s time in the book to a close, each achieving a sort of acceptable Nirvana in their own lives, and I understand that happy endings in books are overrated and to put it bluntly, nauseous. Not everyone can be in love, and fulfilled and smiling at the end of a story. Not everyone has to love sunny days, warm weather and children all the time. If that were the case, then every book in the world would be a waste of paper, and every person would be a boring blur of grey. But everyone can be content, a little smarter, a little more human, and a little more at ease. It’s the upset and the weirdness that make for unique writing.

I will not spoil the story for you, but I will say this. Green’s Will Grayson ends right where he should be in the reader’s eyes. Levithan’s Will Grayson finally discovers himself and his place in a society of other people who show him that it’s ok to care and talk and share your life with. He finally sees what he could be, and that in itself is a sort of freedom he didn’t know existed. Did I want the happy ending for certain characters? No. Did I want the book to not end as abruptly as it did? Yes. Will I continue to read more of John Green’s work? Absolutely.

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Quote of the Day

“At painful times, when composition is impossible and reading is not enough, grammars and dictionaries are excellent for distraction.”

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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August 12, 2013 · 4:12 pm

Shakespearean Sonnet

 Found this little gem while taking a break from writing. Oh how I miss poetry homework.

Shame unto thee,

thou hast made me compose a symphony of dreams.

The bearer of thine heart deserved to be me.

Then sed black organ would not be torn at the seams.

 

Shame unto thee,

You exist to bludgeon the world with your dumb, heavy tongue.

A selfish face covered in soot that no one can see.

For you, Siren’s song shall not be sung.

 

Shame unto thee,

as foul father victimizes a disposed daughter.

The measures of truth will not let you be.

O, send her into war like a lamb to the slaughter.

 

Forsake mine love, mine honor and spirit.

If doth wishes to protest, I do not wish to hear it.

Cheers!

 

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Savvy Shakespeare…

I have been doing quite a lot of writing lately, so my apologies if I haven’t posted in a while. I was going through some of my USB sticks and found a review I wrote for my college newspaper. If you are wary to read any of Shakespeare’s work, the least you can do is start with “My Name is Will.” I promise it’s nothing like “Romeo & Juliet” and you won’t be “bored out of your mind,” like so many who don’t understand The Bard claim to be.

“My Name is Will: A Novel of Sex Drugs and Shakespeare” by Jess Winfield

Whoever said that William Shakespeare wasn’t for teenagers was clearly mistaken and should suffer a “murther most foul.” Well, maybe not that intense of a punishment but they should read Jess Winfield’s book, “My Name is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs and Shakespeare.” This 316-page story is most definitely a page-turner for any avid reader. Although there are many modern takes on Shakespeare, “My Name is Will” promises not to disappoint.
If any Shakespearean lover or hater thinks that Winfield’s novel is purely about the bard, think again. The author takes the modern-day character of Willie Shakespeare Greenberg, a 25-year-old grad student at UC Santa Cruz and pairs him against the 18-year-old up and coming playwright of William Shakespeare himself. In William’s storyline, he is entrusted with a sacred relic from Rome, which he must deliver during a time when the only option in religion was choose or die. At the same time, William is forced into a marriage, tormented for his beliefs and the secret he is withholding and is in the process of writing some of the greatest plays in all of literature.
Centuries later, Willie appears, desperately wanting to finish his graduate thesis on Shakespeare. He becomes distracted by the beautiful Dashka Demitra, his stand-in advisor who further adds to the problems in Willie’s personal life. When his father cuts off his cash flow, Willie becomes involved in a plot to be a drug runner as a way to make some money. With six dollars in his pocket and an unfinished thesis at home, Willie goes on a journey to the Renaissance fair, his final destination to seal the deal.
The reader may be confused due to a series of constant flashbacks throughout the novel, which switches the points of view between the classic William Shakespeare and his modern-day counterpart Willie. However, this brilliant device further illustrates the similarities and intersections of both William and Willie’s lives and connects them in a very fluid movement of the text, proving that the two characters are more alike than they would have thought. Every chapter that discusses the playwright begins with an excerpt from one of his plays or sonnets. The same goes for the chapters involving Willie where the author chooses to refer to him only as “Willie” throughout the entire novel, keeping the distinction between the two Shakespeares identifiable.
Most appropriate for both males and females aged 18 and older, Winfield’s novel appeals to the truths of young adult life. From sex, pornographic language and issues with drugs while tripping off of shrooms to the beauty of making connections between Shakespeare’s past life and modern-day influence, the author makes the bard appealing to everyone. This novel gives the reader a behind-the-scenes look at the humorous side of Shakespeare. By highlighting the underlying tones that devoted Shakespeareans force themselves to over look, “My Name is Will” allows hardcore British literature buffs to relax and enjoy the ride. “My Name is Will” was published by Grand Central Publishing and is available for $24 in your local bookstore. Used and discounted copies are also available online.

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Tablets…

THIS IS NOT READING!Image

BE SMART. CHOOSE PAPER.

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Two Words: Harry Potter

    Before embarking on the internationally popular children’s series known as Harry Potter, I admit that I was extremely nervous. Hogwarts. Harry Potter. Magic. Wands, Wizards, and witches, oh my. Unfortunately, I did not care for the book when it first came out and I regret not giving it a second chance at a younger age. I read the first book along with everyone else but it never stuck. So years later, I found myself suddenly obsessed with the story of the green eyed, messy haired English boy with the lightning scar known as Harry Potter. I read all seven books in a matter of months (I am a surprisingly slow reader and have a bad habit of reading on the surface before I give a book a second read and dive deeper for more meaning behind the story). Trying to digest so much information in such a short period of time, one book after the other, proved to be a bit difficult and frustrating. While everyone else read the books as they came out, I crammed an entire wizarding world into one read. I was confused at certain parts, overlooked others and had so many questions that needed to be answered. I also chose to read the books first and watch the movies after. Not that any movie does the book justice, but so far these are doing a great job.

    As far as I know, Alex Danay is THE Harry Potter guru. She knows anything and everything about the author, the books, the characters and what happens after you close the last book. Naturally, I bombarded her with my rants, emotions, thoughts and questions which she kindly answered for me (with slight annoyance at times, not that I blame her ;)) I was also nervous about writing this blog post. Not that it will serve as a review of the series, as I will not be discussing each book in depth in case any of you who read this post have not yet experienced the wonder of Harry Potter. Instead, this post will be about my thoughts on the series and the woman I compared to Shakespeare, whose artistic writing ability has earned her a spot in the Hall of Fame of English Literature.

    For those of you who know the titles, I will list my favorites by book number: Book 3, 6, 2, 7, 4, 1, 5. As is the case with any introductory book to a series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone did just that; introduce the character of Harry Potter, his story, and the wizarding world in which he would quickly call home. Readers were also introduced to Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger who become Harry’s right and left hand. Harry encounters his first mission to retrieve and destroy the Sorcerer’s Stone which aids Lord Voldemort in the ability to become stronger and harness his power. Harry also meets the Dark Lord himself for the first time.

    The second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, spent some time retelling what happened in the first book, just as a reminder to readers. As he encountered in the first book, Harry learns more about his past and why Lord Voldemort, the most evil and powerfully dangerous wizard of all time is after him. Harry encounters some form of Voldemort in all seven books. Whether the Dark Lord chooses to take the form of another wizard, appears as a memory, or surfaces at the forefront of Harry’s dreams, Lord Voldermort not only instills a sense of fear in all of those at Hogwarts, but a strong sense of bravery and courage in Harry himself, which prove to be his most admirable traits right until the very end.

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a solid favorite among many because of the introduction to Sirius Black, the accused murderer of several Muggles (non-magical people) and as the man who sold out Harry’s parents, Lily and James Potter, to Lord Voldemort. Black turns out to be more than a friend to Harry, for reasons I will not further explain. Well into their third year at Hogwarts. Harry, Hermione and Ron learn about new secrets, spells and curses and enjoy every minute of Gryffindor House defeating Slytherin in Quidditch. (The other two houses are Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff).

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, introduces readers to yet another beloved character, Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, the man with the magic eye and Hogwart’s newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. (The position is said to be cursed and each book, a new professor is introduced as you will read). The Goblet of Fire itself, is the cup from which student’s names are drawn to participate in the TriWizard Tournament, an intense and dangerous competition to select the best student from the schools of Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, other overseas wizarding schools. Harry’s name is selected from the cup and although he is underage, he must participate. It is later revealed who put Harry’s name in the cup, why and what happens to Harry’s other competitors. The theme of this book is death so prepare yourself. In my opinion, this is where Harry Potter starts to get dark.

    Book five of the series titled, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is my least favorite book. A highly political themed book said by some to mock the George Bush presidency, it took me forever to get through this book. I will not tell you what happens in this book as it is very difficult to explain in some parts, but the Minsitry of Magic is in full effect in this book along with possibly the most hated Professor at Hogwarts; Dolores Umbridge. The Order of the Phoenix as you will find, is a group comprised of experienced wizards, some you will already know and love and others you will meet for the first time, who’s sole purpose is to protect the wizarding world from Lord Voldemort. Another dark read, you will continue to experience sadness along with Harry at the loss of a great character.

    Book six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is said to be a cousin to the second book as you will see a bit of a similiar storyline. Professor Severus Snape is the star of this book, along with the dozens of memories that Harry witnesses alongside Dumbledore. One of the greatest losses Hogwarts has ever seen occurs in this book and I urge you to keep reading, even though you may not want to. Harry’s hunt begins for Horcruxes, separated parts of the soul in which Lord Voldemort has hidden in various objects that hold the most meaning to him. If you destroy the Horcruxes, you destroy Voldemort. While simple in theory, Harry and his friends later find that their mission from Dumbledore may seem near impossible to complete.

    While I got a bit teary-eyed in many of the books, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, made me shed those tears the most. The final installment of any series is a bittersweet read. On the one hand, I was so excited to see how the famed story of The Boy Who Lived finally comes to an end. On the other hand, it meant that my first read of this ingenius story would also come to an end. As expected, many characters meet an untimely end in book seven, all in the fight to rid the world of Lord Voldemort. The hunt for the Horcruxes continues and there are pages and pages of camping and hiding under the Invisibility Cloak. I will not tell you how Harry’s story ends, but I will tell you this; Harry would never have been able to live through all seven books were it not for his best friends, Ron and Hermione. While each book has its own theme, I believe that friendship is a prevalent theme in all seven stories. I found the epilogue corny and extremely predictable but then again, the hardest part of writing any book is the introduction and conclusion. Authors have to end a story somehow. But alas, Harry Potter would not exist to any reader if J.K. Rowling kept her magic to herself.

    I equated her to William Shakespeare, which for those of you who know me, is the highest compliment any writer can receive. A writer myself, I will never be able to do what J.K. Rowling did and I challenge others to attempt it. Not only did she successfully introduce a widely popular series of children’s books, she created an entire world for readers, Wizards and Muggles alike to escape to. For that JKR, I take my hat off to you and lean forward in a gracious bow. The descriptive characters, the story, the detail, each thread fully connected from Book 1 to Book 7, all of it is amazing. I sometimes can’t put into words how incredible these books are. I have never really read a series like this before and now that I have finished, I am in a state of depression. I started The Tales of Beedle the Bard, another JKR book that is Harry Potter related as it is a collection of children’s stories for witches and wizards (what we know as fairytales). There is also Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for those who have completed their first read of Harry Potter, but still want more.

    I also believe that literature such as this should be offered as a college class. Harry Potter at University, imagine that. While it is not a classic from the 17th century, Harry Potter is sure to become it’s own classic, if not already. The books offer everything required of a literature class, even as a fiction course. From descriptive battle scenes and unique characters to the intense foreshadowing of things to come. I can’t wait to see which University will pick him up first.

    I plan on rereading the Harry Potter books again over the summer. This time around, I will have a keener eye to detail and will never again question why JKR chooses to tell her stories in certain ways. The story of Harry Potter as The Chosen One and The Boy Who Lived, is a story that can be read over and over again with new discoveries at the turn of every page. So I thank you, J.K. Rowling, for introducing us to such loveable characters in a dreamscape of a world where magic exists around every corner. Thank you for your glorious gift to the literary world.

Cheers!

The Duchess of New York

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Getting in the Christmas Spirit…

If you haven’t already decorated your house, hung ornaments on the tree, or haven’t even come close to finishing your holiday shopping, there is still something you can do to get in the Christmas spirit; relax. Although Christmas is in two weeks (I can’t believe it), everyone should take the time to enjoy the classic holiday movies they grew up with. Here is a list of holiday themed movies that everyone should be watching this time of year. And my blog wouldn’t be a blog without some books!

Movies to Watch:

– National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

– A Christmas Carol

– Rudolph

– Miracle on 34th Street

– A Christmas Story

– The Year Without a Santa Claus

– March of the Wooden Soldiers

– How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon classic)

– Frosty the Snowman

– Merry Christmas Charlie Brown

– Home Alone 1 & 2

– Elf

Holiday Books to Read:

– Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

– ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

– Twelve Days of Christmas

– The Christmas Shoes

– Wuthering Heights

Merry Christmas!

Cheers,

The Duchess of New York

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