Don't you hate when you write something out and it's going so well and then... it's gone. Never to return. You forgot to save it or the internet dies on you while you were in the middle of writing a post and now you just want to give up because you can never remember everything you wrote before, and it was probably your best work. Ever. 

Okay, so it probably wasn't my best work ever but the disappointment is still there. Even though I'm hurt by my back-stabbing friend the internet for letting me down (again) and I'm paranoid about losing this post that I'm saving it every .5 seconds, I'm going attempt this again... 

If you have gone to school, even for a short amount of time, there is one subject that you will encounter very early on: Grammar. So what if grammar is one of those subjects that every kid would rather eat chalk then try to remember this rule or that rule? I'm bringing it up because someone asked me what my thoughts were on The Oxford Comma.

I'll let you in now on a little secret: the comma is my favorite form of punctuation. When used properly of course. It's less exuberant then the exclamation point, less frustrating to use then a semi-colon, and less demanding then the period. It is important that you have a favorite form of punctuation because what are you going to say when someone asks you? 

Now you're wondering what The Oxford Comma is: is it a bird, a plane, or wait - there is more then one kind of comma?!? Actually it is not a different kind, more of the way you use it. By now I'm expecting that you have already googled it, found the wikipedia article, and are well aware of what it is.

If not, it is the difference of writing a list like this: apples, grapes, and bananas. Or like this apples, grapes and bananas. The Oxford Comma being in the first example before the and. Despite being such a small difference The Oxford Comma, or Serial Comma as it can also be called, has sparked quite the debate. 

So what do I think about it? Well, if you're not sure maybe you should read this post again :)

The Wakeful Dreamer

This Review Thursday is a special one because you will get two reviews for the price of one! It's okay if you did a fist pump, I appreciate it. 

And what are the two books? I can just seen you trembling with anticipation... Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde! A classic novel double bill, just what your day needed, right?

Do not be fooled by the classics! I know they seem dusty and hard to read but there is a reason that these books have lasted for over a hundred years so every once in a while I like to find out why. Maybe I don't always like them and find them a little dry or long or strange but at the end I find I have always learned something. 

Uncle Tom's Cabin taught me so much more then I thought it could. I knew it was about slavery but the main premise of the novel is nothing compared to the ideals and insightful writing that I found in the book. It could be because the only real exposure I to Uncle Tom's Cabin was from this scene in the movie The King and I:
As you can gather it isn't quite like what the novel is actually like, and I expected that (especially the Buddha part). But what I thought would be a simple story of Eliza running from her master to freedom, transformed into a story where there are many stories running through it. What really struck me was how Harriet Beecher Stowe managed to display all sides of the slave and master relationship. Some masters were nice, some were mean but the thought behind owning a slave was always different: keeping them because they needed someone to do the work, because they wanted to educate them, or abusing them because they were thought of as animals. And on the side of the slaves: how human they really were when people didn't think so and how they reacted to what each master thought of them. 

I also didn't expect the large Christian element that ran its course through the whole book. Several characters wrestle with the idea of God, slave and white both, trying to understand if he is really there and if he is, why would he put us through all of this. 

Though very thoughtful and interesting to see a book written by a women abolitionist during the time of slavery, the book is a long one. Also, don't be fooled by thinking the whole book is about Eliza. We leave Eliza in the very beginning and end up with Uncle Tom for the majority of the book. It is a good read if you, like me, had an inkling to read it because of trying to understand why it is so praised. I had good periods while I was reading it trying to mull everything over it presented to me...

The Picture of Dorian Gray is (as I found out later) the only novel published by Oscar Wilde. For some reason I thought he had written more books but I was wrong. I also found out that it wasn't highly favored when it came out for various reason which after reading the book I can see why.

Not to say that I didn't like the book. I knew of the story already: a young man in love with his youth has a painting that ages and becomes ugly with his sins while he remains full of youthfulness and untainted. 

I already had some insight into what is was going to be like, and unlike my ideas about Uncle Tom's Cabin before I read it. And for the most part I was right. Dorian Gray sits for a painting and is influenced by another man about youth and aging. In this he wishes that he should remain young and the painting of him get old. Which actually happens as he comes to realize later. 

The thing I found most intriguing about it is that the man that influences Dorian Gray about youth, Harry, also manages to influence him on a great other things and manages to throw his life in this spiral where Dorian ends up become quite corrupt. The influence of others can be a dire things if you are not guarded.

There is a lot of banter in the book which is fun but for some reason I was expecting more... chase? Mostly that I thought some one would figure out Dorian Gray's secret and try and kill him through it or at least black mail him. But no such luck. One person does try to kill him and never succeeds, a brother trying to get revenge for his sister but it is a very short scene. 

In the end it is Dorian himself, who being so possessed by this painting that he can hardly be away from where it is hidden in his house and thinks at any moment that someone is going to uncover the truth, decides he needs to destroy it before anyone can see it and see his sins. By doing this *SPOILER* he ends up killing himself. 

This novel is packed with a lot of philosophical ideas and those can become overwhelming at times because everywhere you turn they keep cropping up before you get a chance to wrap your mind around the last one. But it is a short read and has a good pace. So if your interested in a famous classic book but don't have large amounts of time this may be one for you.

I read both of these books on my Kindle (which I may talk about later). A lot of classic literature is free is e-book form, which is great for those who are curious about them and don't always have time to run to the library... like me...

The Wakeful Dreamer

This Manic Monday is going to be about *drum roll* language. Ta da! Where would we be without it? It is the tool in which we express ourselves and the method we use to understand others. Oh language! How I love thee! Mostly because you feed my book fetish...

Language can become jumbled by those who don't know how to use it correctly and can also become a sledge hammer in the hands of those who feel like they should be bringing down those with less than correct skills. Why can't we all just get along? 

Okay, I admit that I'm a firm believer in punctuation, proper spelling and grammar. But every once in a while you have to love someone who writes just like this: 

Crazy right? I kill myself laughing every time and it has everything to do with the voice. But I can't help thinking of that poor reviewer's education...

And now for something completely different but stylistically the same:
So there you have it. Language, whether used properly or abused, is what we have to make our opinions known. Maybe we comment on a game or on language itself or even use it to open a whole new world (yes, an Aladdin reference) through a book.

So please be kind with all of your power. And rewind, in the sense that you re-read what you write and make use of auto-correct (I know I need to).

The Wakeful Dreamer
This book was a recommendation by my Nana and Grandpa. They volunteer at their local library and said this book was so popular, they would barely get it in again before someone else would be there to take it out again. I went to my local library expecting to have to put it on hold and... it was patiently sitting on the shelf waiting for someone to read it. So I did.

Right here, in this very paragraph I want to give you some kind of warning about spoilers but the truth is I only want to give you enough information about the book so that you'll want to go and read it yourself because I loved it. I was totally sucked in by everything about it. Every once in a while you'll read a book and it makes you feel like you are finally breathing fresh air and this book made my lungs smile.

The main idea of the plot is that a young woman receives and inheritance from her grandmother and with it comes a strange looking key. From there you are thrust into what I'm going to call a braided plot: where there are three plots that are woven together to make an overall plot. Hopefully that makes sense. 

You follow the lives of three women, each of them in a different era, and learn about them and their lives, you see them grow and what causes them despair. And Kate Morton's writing pulls you along in this mystery and pulls at your heart strings as well. She also was able to write it so that I couldn't solve the mystery half way through! I wasn't even sure that what I was putting together in my head to solve the mystery was right until it was written out plainly. I love being stumped. 

A synopsis of the book and more of Morton's writings can be found here:

All in all it is a book that I would definitely re-read and suggest for people to read. At anytime. It doesn't matter if they were looking for something else because I would just drop it into the conversation casually, "Oh you're looking for sci-fi? Hmmm... how about a not sci-fi called The Forgotten Garden?"

The Wakeful Dreamer
The Manic Monday has proven to be quite mean. Although it was a nice day at work, I have developed the weirdest cold I have ever had. I have aches and bad sinus pressure but nothing else. No running nose, no watery eyes, no cough. Nothing. It all feels very... wimpy. So I'm dealing with it the best way I can: medication. 

So if you're like me today and maybe not feel the best or just a little tired from the weekend, boy do I have something for you. If you're reading this blog then I assume you go on the internet. In fact, I assume you go on quite regularly. You check your emails, your banking, the all-powerful facebook and other social network sites, a blog or two and then... you do it all over again. Have you ever had the feeling that there may be more out there? 

I have just the thing:

This website lets you stumble around the internet based on what you are interested in. You just have to sign up, choose from a list of things you like and away you go! There are parameters you can set up so you don't stumble upon anything unpleasant. You also get to keep refining your parameters by saying whether you like or don't like the site you've stumble upon. 

So for all you adventurers out there, stumble on! Explore the infinite boundaries of the internet... well until you come to the end... because the internet has run out of space you know.... but don't worry its not like you'll fall off the face of the earth, I think...

The Wakeful Dreamer

(Okay, I know it is now Friday but I did start writing this yesterday before sleep over took me and dragged me to bed... please enjoy all the same!)

Here it is the first review... I'm all tingly with excitement and nervousness. I'm excited because it is the first one and I'm nervous because I just realized that I might enjoy a book that someone hates or I might not enjoy a book that someone loves. However, the more I think of it the more I come to realize that I can't like everything or hate everything that someone else likes or I would never be myself.  So here goes nothing...

WARNING: Anything beyond this point may spoil this book if you ever intend to read it. So read this blog at your own peril.

I just finished The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold as stated in the title of this blog. My mind is fresh with the characters and plot. It is a fantasy novel full of animal spirits, gods, murders, politics (who is the rightful king?), and the dead. Intrigued?

There are two things I really liked about this book. The first one being that I always appreciate when an author can create their own myths. There is something wonderful about elves, and mermaids and other such creatures but making you think about an animal spirit within someone so that it gives them uncanny abilities is great. The main character, Ingrey, has a century old wolf spirit in him that he first tries to control but in time it comes loose and he finds our that not only does he have a wolf spirit inside him but that he can see visions of the gods and is a shaman for the dead - he can cleanse them so that they can be accepted into the afterlife by one of the Five gods. This is an idea that I've never some across before and I found it refreshing.

The second thing that I really liked are the secondary characters. I've come to realize that a book (or show or movie... any story in general) is only as good as its secondary characters. Sure the main character is strong and dangerous and wild but that needs to be balanced with a character like Hallana, who is a divine as well as a healer, an intense woman who pushes the envelope in some very funny ways. 

The only negative thing that I can say (because this is a review, even though I'm nervous about saying something negative!) about this book is that it didn't really pull me all in. I did like the story but I don't think I connected with the main character as well as I was supposed to and although it was a good read, I could put it down no problem.

But overall, the plot was solid (introduce characters and ideas, find the problem, solve the problem), the characters grew and changed (stagnant characters are icky), and the fantasy is fantastical. Definitely a read I would suggest to someone looking for something in the fantasy department. 

The Wakeful Dreamer
For the most part I've decided to write a major post on Thursdays because it gives me enough time to finish a book and write a nice (or not so nice) review about it. However, in order to be in the thoughtful writing spirit for more than one day Manic Mondays has been born.

Every Monday I'll post something I've read along my travels: short articles, a blog, maybe a website I enjoy. I'm not so sure about your Mondays but mine are usually very manic (please use at any time, it is your friend), so just think of these postings as a sweet little treat for your day. 

For the first Monday I impart one blog that always brings a smile to my face:

Where one man, Dan,  took a photo every day for a year with a Lego mini-figure (s). Twice. The photography is very good but what gets me every time is the humorous captions. So spend some time looking through his blog, laughing and let your Monday fall away....

The Wakeful Dreamer
I have been told once or several times that I am an avid reader. 

Thinking that this simply meant that I liked reading and books and I thought, "Yes. I do like reading and books." What I didn't realize is what avid really meant. So I looked it up, like any good internet savvy person, on and learned this:

1. enthusiastic; ardent; dedicated; keen: an avid moviegoer.

While I do love movies (as the example states), I've realized that I am dedicated, enthusiastic and keen about books. I'm not sure how ardent I am but you can look up that one on your own. 

I'm not sure if you guessed yet where this is all going but to put it simply: this is a blog/website about books (Didn't see that coming did you?). I've started lists before where I try to think really hard about all the books I've read in the last year but because I fail at writing them down, the lists are not complete...

But no more! Here I will not only list the books I read but I will write a short post about them, what I like and didn't like, how I feel about them and why I think you should or shouldn't read them. Sounds like fun, right? Right?

I'm starting now because it's a new month (August) and I've just started a new book, in a series no less (to be a secret until I write about it... or maybe till someone asks). 

So here's to the next year of reading, writing, and all that happens in between.

The Wakeful Dreamer