Monthly Archives: August 2011

Inspirational Read: A Thousand Sisters


Title:  A Thousand Sisters:  The Worst Place on Earth to be a Woman
Author:  Lisa Shannon
Length: 344 Pages
Copyright:  2010
Rating:  Loved it!  Instant favorite.

I will admit it (not with any pride), I’m one of those people who exposes myself to articles and literature on a lot of the atrocities that happen in our world on a daily basis, become so emotionally moved by it that I feel like I absolutely have to do something, think about it, plan for it, and… then nothing really happens.   A Thousand Sisters details what one woman, Lisa Shannon, did after discovering the plight of the women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Unlike me, and so many other people, Shannon felt a response, reacted, stuck with it, and took it to the next level.

It begins with an episode of Oprah.  Next, it progresses with running, organizing, and raising money.  Eventually, Shannon actually travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo and meets countless women whose lives are forever altered because of the injustices they have suffered.  Rape.  Abuse.  Forced to watch family members killed and/or tortured before their eyes.  It’s impossible to not be immediately moved not only by their stories, but by their incredible strength and courage.

Shannon is working to make a real difference and encourages others to do the same.  She provides information in her book, and online, for how to organize and fundraise on your own.  She empowers every individual who reads her book.  I, for one, can no longer leverage the excuse of not knowing what to do to make a difference.  Now I know.  Now it’s just a matter of doing it.

I read this book a year ago and the stories, the inspiration, and the pain have stuck with me.  So, this is yet another book that I highly, highly recommend.  Just be prepared that it isn’t going to be a light-hearted beach read for the summer.

Buy it on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Shannon/e/B0030HCMCO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 

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The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen

Title:  The Apprentice (Book #2 in Rizzoli and Isles Series)
Author:  Tess Gerritsen
Length:  400 pages
Copyright:  2003
Overall Rating:  Loved it!

Tess Gerritsen is 2 for 2.  I loved the second installment of the Rizzoli and Isles series just as much as the first book, The Surgeon.  In the 2nd book, we actually get to meet Isles (described much differently than she appears on the TV show).  In addition to the introduction of this new, vital character, we get to revisit an old foe and watch the showdown with the new villain, equally as evil.

Once again, Gerritsen keeps the mystery alive without getting cheesy and keeps the twists and turns very real and very steady.  There were multiple moments throughout the book where I was convinced something specific would happen, but then it didn’t at all.  I find that this is rarely the case in most commercially successful mystery/suspense tales, whether they be book, television, or movie.

I am definitely, definitely, definitely going to continue reading the series and look forward to learning more about the established main characters, hating the bad guys, and reveling in my confusion and surprise with each novel.  Once again, I highly recommend both the series and the author.

Purchase the book (and/or reach other reviews) on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Apprentice-Tess-Gerritsen/dp/0345447867 

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Quotable Monday

I first read Wuthering Heights in high school and immediately fell in love with Heathcliff.  Perhaps this makes me more than a little insane, but I’d like to contend that I was just a very weird child.  Yes, the intensity of Heathcliff was alluring to a young girl who had yet to experience her first real love, but now I fully understand that suffering a romantic relationship with Heathcliff would be more trouble than it’s worth.  Regardless, the manner in which Cathy explains her love for Heathcliff captures something about the dreamiest experience of love.  It blew me away at sixteen and still floors me eleven years later…

I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of creation if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees — my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath — a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff — he’s always, always in my mind — not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself — but as my own being — so, don’t talk of our separation again — it is impracticable.

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A little Sylvia Plath for a stormy day

 

A few weeks into my blog and I haven’t posted a poem by Sylvia Plath yet?  This is tragic and must be remedied immediately.  So, for this day of extreme weather (thank you, Irene), please enjoy a few poems written by a woman who I love enough to get her signature tattooed on my back (see above).

Black Rook in Rainy Weather

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident.

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, nor seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then –
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love.  At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); skeptical,
Yet politic; ignorant

Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow.  I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my sense, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality.  With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts.  Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles.  The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel,
For that rare, random descent.

From:  The Collected Poems, 1992
Poem written – 1956

 

Fever 103

Pure?  What does it mean?
The tongues of hell
Are dull, dull as the triple

Tongues of dull, fat Cerberus
Who wheezes at the gate.  Incapable
Of licking clean

The aguey tendon, the sin, the sin.
The tinder cries.
The indelible smell

Of a snuffed candle!
Love, love, the low smokes roll
From me like Isadora’s scarves, I’m in a fright

One scarf will catch and anchor in the wheel.
Such yellow sullen smokes
Make their own element.  They will not rise,

But trundle round the globe
Choking the aged and the meek,
The weak

Hothouse baby in its crib,
The ghastly orchid
Hanging its hanging garden in the air,

Devilish leopard!
Radiation turned it white
And killed it in an hour.

Greasing the bodies of adulterers
Like Hiroshima ash and eating in.
The sin.  The sin.

Darling, all night
I have been flickering, off, on, off, on.
The sheets grow heavy as a lecher’s kiss.

Three days.  Three nights.
Lemon water, chicken
Water, water make me retch.

I am too pure for you or anyone.
Your body
Hurts me as the world hurts God.  I am a lantern –

My head a mood
Of Japanese paper, my gold beaten skin
Infinitely delicate and infinitely expensive.

Does not my heat astound you.  And my light.
All by myself I am a huge camellia
Glowing and coming and going, flush on flush .

I think I am going up,
I think I may rise –
The beads of hot metal fly, and I, love, I

Am a pure acetylene
Virgin
Attended by roses,

By kisses, by cherubim,
By whatever these pink things mean.
Not you, nor him

Not him, nor him
(My selves dissolving, old whore petticoats)-
To paradise.

From Ariel.
October 20, 1962

It is always the most satisfying, however, to actually hear a poet reading their own work. For only then, can one honestly appreciate the depth of emotion and overall meaning of the work:

 

 

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Filed under Confessionalist, Favorites, Poetry, Sylvia Plath

A poem from the book that I slept with

 

 


It’s nothing exceptional that I’ve experienced a broken heart.  Multiple times.  Not only over failed relationships, but that is the circumstance that we most commonly think of when we think of a broken heart.  We all have different ways that we deal with the garbage that life throws at us (or, more appropriately stated, that we get ourselves into), some healthy and some… not so much.

So, a few years ago, trying to put myself back together after the most recent heartbreak, I turned to the two things that any literature-loving crazy person would turn to – poetry and vodka.  I like to call this summer my “out of control” summer, because, well, I was a little out of control.  When you reach a certain depth in your sadness, your ability to think long-term gets trumped by the need to find instantaneous comfort, understand, and, sometimes, oblivion.

Not everything that came out of that summer was positive, but I did come to fully appreciate Charles Bukowski, a writer that my brother admired way before I was old enough to “get it”.  The above photo is a picture that my brother sent to me via text while he was in California one year.  Possibly even during my “out of control” summer.

I was specifically drawn to Love is a Dog From Hell, because it is, isn’t it?  I tore through the poems one, two, three, dozens of times, savoring each word as though it were the most honest word that anyone ever wrote.  I didn’t have anyone else to cuddle, so I cuddled this book.  I wrapped myself around its spine, allowing the pages to know me in the vulnerability, the purity, of the fetal position.  In many ways, this collection of poems were the significant other that I was lacking – hating, but wanting.

the beautiful young girl
walking past the graveyard–

I stop my car at the signal
I see her walking past the graveyard –

as she walks past the iron fence
I can see the iron fence
and I see the headstones
and the green lawn.

her body moves in front of the iron fence
the headstones do not move.

I think,
doesn’t anybody else see this?

I think,
does she see those headstones?

if she does
she has wisdom that I don’t have
for she appears to ignore them.

her body moving in its
magic fluid
and her long hair is lighted
by the 3 p.m. sun.

the signal changes
she crosses the street to the west
I drive west.

I drive my car down to the ocean
get out
and run up and down
in front of the sea for 35 minutes.

seeing people here and there
and eyes and ears and toes
and various other parts.

nobody seems to care.

 

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Fun with words Friday! Non Sequitur

 

non sequitur – noun

  1. Logic . an inference or a conclusion that does not follow from the premises.
  2. a statement containing an illogical conclusion.

Origin:  Latin – it does not follow

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Non-Sequitur Thursday, the first installment

Good evening and welcome to the first installment of “Non-Sequitur Thursdays”!  If you’re not quite sure what non-sequitur means by the end of this post, please feel free to return tomorrow as I am almost certain to reveal the meaning on “Fun with words Friday”.

As you may or may not have already noticed, I’m still working out the kinks in this blog.  With the exception of a LiveJournal that I maintained for many years, I’ve never ventured to try keeping up with a blog, so this is a first.  All of the advice columns that I have come across, however, suggest sticking to a schedule.  So, it may appear that I’m fumbling around over here, but it’s only because I’m settling into the groove of what I am, ultimately, attempting to accomplish.

Every other day of the week I desire to stick true to my laid out topics of books, writing, words, and creative writing (personal).  But, we all need a break from the grind every so often, right?  That’s why weekends and lunch break exists; they serve as a consistent chunk of time set aside for the brain to rest from all of the unbelievable multi-tasking that we live through every single day.

So, alas, Non-Sequitur Thursday exists within the realm of my blog, No Other Appetite.  So, let’s get this party started.

A winter night in Boston


I currently live in the city of Boston.  I love it here.  Living in Boston was a goal that I set for myself as a young girl and I was ecstatic when my husband and I were able to make that a reality a few years ago.  I grew up in central Massachusetts where it’s pretty, very pretty even, but I just can’t get enough of the city’s nearly limitless options for things to do, people to see (or watch), and delicious food.

While there are times when we both toy with the idea of moving far away from Massachusetts, there’s just something about Boston that sucks you in.  It’s home.  It’s comfortable.  I can walk around the same streets week after week and my heart swells with love for, well, everything around me.  No matter how many other cities I visit, Boston always owns my heart.

Favorite museums/places to visit in the Boston area:

Harvard Museum of Natural History:  http://www.hmnh.harvard.edu/ 
Gardner Museum:  http://www.gardnermuseum.org/ 
Museum of Science:  http://www.mos.org/ 
New England Aquarium:  http://www.neaq.org/index.php
Museum of Fine Arts:  http://www.mfa.org/  

Ice Cream!!

J.P. Licks:  http://www.jplicks.com/

Fooood:

Tres Gatos (Tapas):  http://tresgatosjp.com/
Life Alive (Vegetarian/Organic Options):  http://www.lifealive.com/
Le’s (Vietnamese):  http://lescambridge.com/
Himalayan Bistro:  http://www.himalayanbistro.net/

Tea:

Tealuxe:  http://www.tealuxe.com/

In parting, a perfect quote to sum up the Boston experience:

The city of Boston had sharp edges and jarring voices, every building, every scowling face, in harsh focus.  In Boston, you knew you were alive, if only because you were so irritated.

Quote from:  The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen, Page 258

It’s true – Boston can be wildly irritating and a crazy, dirty mess in the winter, but this city just makes you feel alive.

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A Classic Favorite: Puss in Boots

Last weekend while my husband and I were at the movies, we were fortunate enough to catch a preview for the new Puss in Boots movie that is coming out this fall.  I’ll admit it – I squealed. I clapped.  I was thoroughly delighted, just like when the character was first introduced into the Shrek films.  This may or may not have been embarrassing for my husband, but what you need to know, and what he already is well aware of, to understand my reaction is quite simple:

  1. I love cats.
  2. As a young girl, loving both cats and books equally, Puss in Boots was one of my favorite fairy tales.
  3. I love cats.  And books.

Given all of the above, how can I not be unabashedly enthusiastic about this upcoming release?  My one hope is that people seek out the tale and gain an appreciation for the tale that existed long before Antonio Banderas gave his voice over to an adorable animated, orange cat.  What is best about this cat, and perhaps I’m taking this all a little too far, is that the cat (Puss) possesses and displays great loyalty to his human companion.  Little Puss, the booted cat, uses his feline cunning to acquire all of the things that a young lad in 17th century France could ever want – wealth, respect, and love.

I’m positive that I don’t have to share too many details about the film (but please enjoy the trailer below!), but here are the details on the book, which is definitely worth checking out, no matter what your age and even if you’re not nearly as fond of cats as I am.

Title:  Puss in Boots
Author:  Charles Perrault
Amazon.com link to my favorite version:  http://www.amazon.com/Puss-Boots-Caldecott-Honor-Book/dp/0374361606 

Official Dreamworks Trailer (prepare for adorable OVERLOAD):

Photo Source:  Édition Curmer (1843) – Le Chat botté, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Édition_Curmer_(1843)_-_Le_Chat_botté_-_1.png 

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Filed under Books, Cats, Children's Books, Favorites, Movies/Books

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates

 

 

 

Title:  Zombie
Author:  Joyce Carol Oates
Length:  181
Copyright:  1995
Overall Impression:  Ehhh… 3 out of 5 stars
Joyce Carol Oates is an incredible author.  She’s prolific and her writing style is raw, sometimes gritty, always disturbing.  For all of these reasons, I adore her and count her among my all-time favorites.  With that said, I’ll always pick up one of her books if I’m out in a store, see them, and am in the need of a book to read and won’t think twice about it.  Eventually, I’d like to say that I’ve read all of her work, so I just grab what’s there and catches my eye at the time.  So, I’m not sure what it says about me that I recently saw Zombie at a Borders going out of business sale and purchased it based solely off this blurb:

He is the most believable and thoroughly terrifying sexual psychopath and killer ever to be brought to life in fiction, as Joyce Carol Oates achieves her boldest and most brilliant triumph yet-a dazzling work of art that extends the borders of the novel into the darkest heart of truth.

Oates outdoes herself in this book – I always expect her to make me feel a little uncomfortable and to force me to put myself in the shoes, into the heart and soul, of a character that is a little evil and/or a whole lot of dark.  The format of this novel draws you into the private thoughts of the main character – the pages are set up like a personal diary for his daily thoughts and plots for abduction and murder.  This format exemplifies one of my absolute favorite aspects of her writing – each novel, each short story, is entirely unique and individual.  She possesses a nonpareil ability to slip into the skin of her characters completely.  All of the words from the first sentence to the last are 100% that of the characters, right down to misspellings and, sometimes, grammatical errors.

As for the title – while I didn’t expect any zombies in the novel, the relationship to zombies was surprising to me, so perhaps it will be surprising to you if you choose to read this book for yourself, therefore I won’t get too into detail about that aspect of this work.  Hopefully it’s as surprising to you as it was to me, but the main character’s obsession with this specific idea will possibly make you never look at zombies the same way again.

In the end, I felt like I needed to go to Confession, which makes this novel both a triumph and something that I don’t feel like I would want to read again.  For these reasons, my “rating” is 3 out of 5 stars.
 Photo Source:  http://www.uqpu.net/zombieguide/

 

 

 

 

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Quotable Monday

My first hope was that each Monday I would post an inspirational quote as a good jumpstart for the week.  But, let’s face it… I don’t read too many inspirational texts.  So, we’ll have to settle just for the quotes that stand out – whether they be uplifting, depressing, funny, or a little intense.

The quote that I am going to share today comes from Chapter 7 in my favorite novel, The Bell Jar, and is one of the first quotes that I underlined in my text.  I don’t know about you, but this quote more or less sums up an overwhelming feeling that I experience a couple of times each week and experienced on a daily basis at one point in my past.

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.

From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.  One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Antila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above thee figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.  I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Photo Source:  Mike Bogle, May 2006.  Fig Tree in Centennial Park, Australia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fig_Tree.jpg

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Filed under Books, Favorites, Quotes, Sylvia Plath