Monthly Archives: March 2009

Reading List: March

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

This trilogy, comprised of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, follows the fantastical adventures of Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry as they weave their way through a labyrinth of epic events and trials. When I first read the series, admittedly, I gave up well before the midway point of The Subtle Knife— disappointed by the turn of events within the overarching story.

The Golden Compass, the first book of the trilogy, is by far my favorite of the three. This story takes place in a fantasy world much like our own; Lyra is from a place called Oxford, where she lives with the scholars at Jordan College. Not far into the story her best friend, Roger, is kidnapped by the Gobblers (a group of people who have been stealing children from the streets) and the course of the novel more-or-less follows her struggle to rescue him.

This first novel, aside from hints of deeper intrigues to come later, is very much your typical fantasy novel. The world that Pullman creates is one that is a blending of physics, science, and religion. Lyra’s world is a place where magical happenings and armored bears run hand-in-hand with zeppelins, guns, and aeronauts. By far the worlds of His Dark Materials are the most rich and well-done aspects of the series. The settings and technology have a very Steampunk vibe– from anbaric lanterns to hot-air balloons, the technology Pullman creates is truly magnificent.

The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, take the series in another, but not unexpected direction. In The Subtle Knife, Lyra meets Will Parry, and the two of them soon find themselves with the ability to move between different worlds and dimensions. At the same time, the reader is able to put together some of the more vague events of the first book: Lord Asriel and his war against the Almighty, Mrs. Coulter and the Oblation Board, and so on. It is in these two books that most of the controversy surrounding the series manifests itself. While I was not particularly unsettled by the blatant bashing of organized religion or the idea of battling the Almighty, I can certainly see where others might feel uneasy. Philip Pullman surely is not the first literary figure to take such a stance within his writing and certainly will not be the last.

Actually, I found many of the strange twists and turns of the storyline to be quite entertaining and even unexpected. The merging of scientific ideas, physics, theology, and fantasy were all very fascinating in so far that they were put together in such a way I have never seen before.  The series is beautifully crafted and Pullman is a master at creating enduring characters and worlds.

So, here is my advice if you are planning on reading the series. Go into it with an open mind. If you are looking for a light, harmless, and conventional fantasy adventure this is not it (this is part of the reason I did not finish the series the first time I started it).

Next month, I will be moving away from the fantasy theme that has been prevelant in my reading towards more variety. On the list? Memoirs of a Geisha, The Hellbound Heart, and Mansfield Park.

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“Speak with Conviction”

This reminds me of my Literature classes.

See more here. Enjoy!

Essentials: Cushioned Knee Socks

I never thought I would say this, but it seems Hot Topic has finally learned to do something right. After years of producing over-priced, low-quality goods, they have created a gem in the form of cushioned knee socks. 

feets

My sock inspired art!

Socks are a great way to add a little spunk to your wardrobe or a little color to that black cotton skirt. There is nothing more enticing than the way those striped knee socks peak out from under work slacks and long skirts. Recently, Hot Topic has started to offer cushioned socks.

The new socks have a cushioned and reinforced foot that add comfort to even the most uncomfortable pair of flats. As to their quality: the socks wash well and so far have not shown any sign of shrinkage. In addition to this, the fabric stretches more than other similarly-priced knee socks I have come across. One small thing I did notice was that the ones with patterns on them do not stretch quite as well as the plain or striped ones. 

You can find these socks at Hot Topic for $6.99. Just make sure you buy the ones that are labeled as being cushioned! If you like funky, comfortable, and affordable socks like I do, you should pick up a pair and try these!

Little Bo Peep

 

Say hello, to little Bo.

Say hello, to little Bo.

 

Little Bo Peep was born in the summer of 2006. She began as a little doodle in my sketchbook and has been close to my heart ever since. Why call her Little Bo Peep? It’s the first thing that popped into my head after seeing her toothy-grin upon my paper. The drawing above was my first of her and the ones below are more recent. 

Look forward to seeing more of her in the future.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Will you be my valentine?

Will you be my valentine?

Essentials: C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint

tintedmenthaThis perfect little half-ounce tube reads: Our mint-infused lip balm imparts a sheer hint of color and glossy high shine with a refreshing, cooling sensation. Lips stay moist and protected while Peppermint Oil gives breath long-lasting freshness.

C.O. Bigelow’s Mentha Lip glosses are quick becoming my favorite beauty product. As someone who likes to keep things simple, and at the same time add a little sparkle to my life, these little tubes are perfect. 

After having used the clear lip-shine for several years, I picked up a magenta tinted  tube yesterday at Bath & Body Works. These lip balms are very high-gloss, even the clear leaves your lips looking shiny and moist. The tinted colors, there are a variety to choose from, add just a hint of color to that lovely gloss. These are great to keep in your purse and slide on if you’re looking to be refreshed during the day. Not only does the mentha lip tint add a bit of color and shine, but it is wonderously moisturizing. No need to carry around boring old chapstick anymore.

However, the best part of these little miracles are the mint. This gloss is infused with peppermint oil, so it not only smells and tastes good, but it makes you feel good. Just as the package says, this gloss leaves your lips tingling and your breath minty-fresh. Not a fan of gum? This is definitely the product for you!

These retail for $7.50 at Bath & Body Works, but you can usually find them on sale for $5. A little goes a long way with this product, so one tube will last you a long time.

Poetry: The Cardinal

The Cardinal

Wake up,

a flash of scarlet breast
upon the dreary gray
of the morning.

A hopping cardinal,
branch to branch,
on the ice-entombed lilac.

A burst of color,
welcoming spring.

 

Another poetry draft, sorry. I woke up to see this solitary bird outside my window this morning, how pretty!

On My iPod: Tonic’s Lemon Parade

My Dad always used to tell me that I would know an album was great if I sat down to listen to one song and when the next song started playing I had to listen to that one, too; and before I knew it, I had listened to the entire thing.  The last few years have left me disappointed with the music industry. I have bought a few CDs over the past year or so, and though there is always a song or two that I fall in love with, the rest of the tracks always seem like filler.

 

You have to love the weird cover-art, right?

The past few weeks, however, have seen me revisiting some of my favorites. Near the top of the list is Tonic’s album Lemon Parade. This is certainly one of those albums where I can’t only listen to one song.

 

What do I love about this album? The varied content. There are tracks that have a heavier rock feel, such as “Wicked Soldier,” “Thick,” “Mountain,” and “Bigot Sunshine.” At the same time, interspersed within the album are a few fantastic ballads, such as “My Old Man,” and “Lemon Parade.” The rest of the tracks vary in their intensity and the order of the tracks is such that it adds a sense of balance to the work as a whole. Tonic subjects their listeners to a variety of sounds, emotions, and ideas throughout the album—a trait that seems lacking in many more recent releases from artists.

Another thing that I love about this album is the guitar work. This trio certainly knows what they are doing when it comes to producing great rock music reminiscent of classical rock greats. The only downside is that, after a while, the vocals tend to become a little tiresome. Emerson Hart’s vocals aren’t generally varied or distinctive, but Tonic more than makes up for this in both their lyrics and melodies.

My favorite tracks include, “Lemon Parade,” “Wicked Soldier,” and “Mountain.” However, these generally seem to change with my mood. I remember many a night in high school writing to these songs.