Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

hag-seedThe Hogarth Shakespeare project launched in late 2015, with prominent authors retelling and re-imagining the works of Shakespeare. With authors such as Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, and Gillian Flynn, I couldn’t help but be excited about these novels. Yet somehow, despite Atwood’s contribution being the fourth installment, it’s also the first one I’ve read!

Hag-Seed*, Atwood’s take on The Tempest, is the perfect blend of humor and heart. Felix (as Prospero) is the artistic director of the Makeshiweg Festival, or he was, until he was maneuvered out of his position by his scheming assistant Tony. After a self-imposed exile, complete with a depressing, dilapidated shack, he takes on a new position at The Fletcher County Correctional Institute for non-violent offenders. Here he teaches inmates about Shakespeare, changing their lives – and his – in the process. I won’t say how it wraps up, but I loved it. While I had very little doubt about Atwood being an excellent choice for such a project, I am very happy my suspicions were confirmed. Hag-Seed is a witty, wonderful, tongue in cheek novel. I’d highly recommend it to most anyone, but (of course) especially to Shakespeare fans.

Next up, for me, Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. I’ve been hesitant to read it because I’m not sure anything can top my love for 10 Things I Hate About You, and I don’t want to be left…whelmed.

*I received a complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.


The List // October


So I have a bit of blogging paralysis, one might say. I fret about the fact I have nothing to say (well, nothing suitable for public consumption) and then I say nothing at all. Vicious cycle.

My reviews sit unwritten. My bookish and not so bookish thoughts stay unshared. And I have that vague “what am I missing/am I left?” out of the blogging world that I rarely participate in anymore. It’s weird. More than anything, I think I need to get into the habit of writing again.

It other news… Let’s address my recent goals.

In September I was hoping to:

01. Go camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. Done! As evidenced here and here.

02. Paint. Nope, but I picked a color!

03. Blog once a week/Read one book a week. I thought I had failed miserably, but I had 6 posts (7 if you include my last goal post) and I read a few books I really enjoyed.

04. Get a nursery going. Well…not exactly, but I did buy a car seat and a chair. It’s the little things?

05. Save money. So-so. I bought a car seat, a crib sheet, a rocking chair, and some baby clothes that didn’t have disgusting stains on them. Also, in this regard, I didn’t realize when I packed away clean baby clothes the hidden stains would show up in storage. I should’ve known, but I didn’t.

06. Cook at home more. Fail. We’ve had family in town, so I didn’t pay for a lot of my dining out, though that doesn’t quite excuse it.

Now for October:

01. Keep up blogging once a week and add commenting to the mix. Specifically, I’d like to catch up on the bookish six degrees of separation.

02. Paint. Is it of any interest to post about the progress? I don’t know.

03. Have a baby/reach full term. Every time I say this, I just know he/she will stay in until mid-November. But as long as it stays in long enough for me to get my ballot in the mail, I’m good. Make sure you vote!

04. Actually get rid of all the stuff I decided to donate. It’s currently sitting on the floor mocking me.

05. Get through my work schedule. I have several night/outreach events that I’m scheduled for in October and my exhaustion has been extreme as of late.

06. Deep clean my house. It’s good to have goals?

What’s on your list? Has anyone else figured out how to send motivation to someone else? I totally need that!


Best of the Bad Guys

the-original-movie-villainAnd gals.

There are so many ways this list could go, from the truly terrible Judge Holden of Blood Meridian and the ghastly Cathy of East of Eden to the more humorous, but no less evil Corrine of Flowers in the Attic. The former are of a rather literary nature and the latter is…not.

I think this list will be somewhere in between*. In no particular order, some of my favorite villains include:

Corrine Dollanganger (Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews). Because she really is quite awful, as are the books.

Randall Flagg (The Stand by Stephen King). Because there’s needs to be at least one Stephen King character on a list on villains.

Annie Wilkes (Misery by Stephen King). And in this case, there are two. The axe…

Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling). Sometimes the greatest evil hides in plain sight (in a pink suit).

Lydia Bennett (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen). Not evil, but seriously annoying.

Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray). On one hands, she really gets shit done. On the other… My goodness, have a heart.

Hannibal Lecter (Red Dragon by Thomas Harris). No list would be complete without the addition of a snobby cannibal.

Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte). You cannot use love to excuse all your bad behavior, so Heathcliff makes the list too (being vicious and devious and all).

Who do you love to hate? For more villains, go here.

*I find the older I get, the less tolerance I have for truly evil villains (like in American Psycho or The Wasp Factory), horror movies, and the like. Apparently I scare easily these days.



Upcoming Fiction: The Autumn 2016 Edition

autumnIt’s nearly October, my favorite month of the year – the month of changing trees, apple picking, bonfires, stormy weather, the return of knee high boots and buffalo plaid… And this particular October, quite possibly, childbirth* (which sounds both terrifying and like an absolute relief). Needless to say, I am excited for the personal changes and for the books that will be coming out. Will I get to read all of these? That’s a big nope, but it’s good to have goals. These are mine.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman (November 1). “What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.”

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (October 11). “Margaret Atwood’s novel take on Shakespeare’s play of enchantment, retribution, and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.”

The Guineveres by Sarah Domet (October 4). “In prose shot through with beauty, Sarah Domet weaves together the Guineveres’ past, present, and future, as well as the stories of the female saints they were raised on, to capture the wonder and tumult of girlhood and the magical thinking of young women as they cross over to adulthood.”

The Unified Theory of Love and Everything by Travis Neighbor Ward (October 17). “In The Unified Theory of Love and Everything, Travis Neighbor Ward takes readers on a journey into the heart of marriage, friendship, and what it means to love someone.”

The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood (November 1). “In 1851, within the grand glass arches of London’s Crystal Palace, Albie Mirralls meets his cousin Lizzie for the first–and, as it turns out, last–time. His cousin is from a backward rural village, and Albie expects she will be a simple country girl, but instead he is struck by her inner beauty and by her lovely singing voice, which is beautiful beyond all reckoning. When next he hears of her, many years later, it is to hear news of her death at the hands of her husband, the village shoemaker. Unable to countenance the rumors that surround his younger cousin’s murder–apparently, her husband thought she had been replaced by one of the “fair folk” and so burned her alive–Albie becomes obsessed with bringing his young cousin’s murderer to justice. With his father’s blessing, as well as that of his young wife, Albie heads to the village of Halfoak to investigate his cousin’s murder.”

The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter by John Pipkin (October 11). “This is a novel of the obsessions of the age: scientific inquiry, geographic discovery, political reformation, but above all, astronomy, the mapping of the solar system and beyond. It is a novel of the quest for knowledge and for human connection — rich, far-reaching, and unforgettable.”

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich (September 6). When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the “blood manor” is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too–the questions that Silla can’t ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that’s appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?”

The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike (October 11). “This tale of a young married couple who harbor a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building start to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone… or something… lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again.”

What are you reading this autumn? Have any baby names to share? We’re stuck. I happen to think Henry for a boy and Juniper for a girl are brilliant choices, but apparently I am supposed to compromise with my husband. For more top ten lists

*To be realistic, the baby will likely come in early November, but don’t burst my bubble.

(Gorgeous image found here via tumblr)


What I Read (And What I Should’ve Been Reading)

On top of things I am not.

That being said, I know a brilliant twist on a topic when I see one. Kate’s take on back to school books made me smile and think, which is a reaction not to be taken lightly when reading on the interwebs. What was I assigned to read in school? And what did I read instead? Though, in my case, I did – happily, generally speaking! – do the required reading.


1996: I should’ve been reading Brave New World, and I’m almost certain I did. I have vague recollections of Soma and John the Savage, so I must’ve. Clearly dystopian wasn’t my genre even then… What did I read and love (and remember quite well)? IT by Stephen King. I eventually watched the terrifying movie as well, and now they are coming out with another.

1997: I did read and absolutely HATED Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. My severe opinion has slightly lessened over time, but I’m still definitely not a fan. This was also the year I discovered one of my grandmother’s romances and I still remember it vividly – Sweet Liar by Jude Devereaux (naive Sam, identical twin millionaires, art theft, oh my!).

1998: I remember slogging through One Hundred Years of Solitude and offsetting it with what I considered fluff at the time – Forever by Judy Blume.

2000: For what it’s worth, these years are all estimates. I believe 2000 was the year I discovered that I did, in fact, love Thomas Hardy with Return of the Native. But I didn’t find it shocking or particularly enthralling, so I picked up Go Ask AliceThis didn’t work either, as I didn’t find it shocking and the hype was kind of lost on me. Clearly my cynical nature is long running.

So, long time bookworms, did you offset school reading with leisure reading?

%d bloggers like this: