Monday, June 28, 2010

Vintage Books: Captain Blood

This book, by early 1900's author Rafael Sabatini, was an amazing find for someone who had JUST started collecting... In fact, even after all the amazing copies I found two weeks ago while on vacation, I'd still call this an amazing find. It's a 1922 edition, which makes it 88 years old. That's old, yes, and it's in pristine condition (hardly any stains on the pages, the cover's clean and hard, and the spine is still holding the book together), PLUS I think it's pretty.

But that's not all. As far as the first few pages are concerned, this book is a first edition copy. And it was $7. And I'm proud of it. :)

When I bought this I was reading another of Sabatini's classic novels, Scaramouche, a story about the French Revolution. I will be posting about Scaramouche sometime in the future, because it's one of my favorite books...but let's just say this book was worth $7 and more to me. I'm hoping to find a vintage copy of Scaramouche someday. THAT would be the bomb.

Happy reading! :)

Peter Pan by James Barrie

I put this story off for a long time. I've owned the book for maybe a year, but I didn't have a desire to read it until about a month ago. And to be completely honest, my interest was piqued only when my younger sister read it first and said it was one of the best books ever written...

Now, I can completely agree. It was written beautifully, the imagery was vibrant, and the humor was impossible to miss. When I finished the last page and set the book down, all I could do was sit and stare at it for a moment, amazed at how much I had been missing out on all these years.

Could you call it inspiration? Ummm...yeah. You could say that.

Now, almost anyone on the street knows who Peter Pan is, or has at least heard the name before (either that or Tinker Bell). However, a lot of people, and I think I can safely say most, don't know the real story. Either they've heard it from their parents, siblings, friends, etc., or they've watched the Disney version. Besides me, my sister and two friends, I don't know anyone who has read the original story as James Barrie wrote it. The one that lifts you up, carries you off to Neverland, and then brings you back with a deeper understanding of what it means to enjoy your life, growing up and all.

There's one thing I must say: while the Disney version is cute, and holds to the book fairly well, what you wouldn't know is that the real story, the one that James Barrie wrote, is so so so much deeper. The book holds a story a bit darker and more realistic than the average happy fairytail. There is a very mournful undertone throughout the book that is masterfully drawn out by a man who lived, to be honest, a tragic life.

I don't want to give the wrong impression: while Peter Pan isn't quite the "happy" story we all thought it was, there are a multitude of emotions running through each letter of every page: love, joy, and hope are just the beginning. Because of this, it is one of those books that musn't be merely enjoyed. It's much too beautiful. It's different from other fairytales... It is the story of a boy who wanted to never grow up, to always have fun. It has a certain quality to it that makes one believe that it could actually happen, that it actually has happened. That Peter and Tink will someday show up within the frame of your window, ready to fly away with you and have grand adventures. And yet as the story comes to a close, even though you want it to go on forever and ever, you feel an intense satisfaction and an understanding that all children must grow up.

Except one.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Peter Pan, Quotes (2)

This is a long quote, but bear with me. It's worth it.

"In the midst of them, the blackest and largest jewel in that dark setting, reclined James Hook, or as he wrote himself, Jas. Hook, of whom it was said he was the only man that the Sea-Cook* feared. He lay at his ease in a rough chariot drawn and propelled by his men, and instead of a right hand he had the iron hook with which ever and anon he encouraged them to increase their pace. As dogs this terrible man treated and addressed them, and as dogs they obeyed him. In person he was cadaverous and blackavized, and his hair was dressed in long curls, which at a little distance looked like black candles, and gave a singularly threatening expression to his handsome countenance. His eyes were of the blue of the forget-me-not, and of a profound melancholy, save when he was plunging his hook into you, at which time two red spots appeared in them and lit them up horribly. In manner, something of the grand seigneur still clung to him, so that he even ripped you up with an air, and I have been told that he was a raconteur of repute. He was never more sinister than when he was most polite, which is probably the truest test of breeding; and the elegance of his diction, even when he was swearing, no less the distinction of his demeanour, showed him one of the different caste from his crew. A man of indomitable courage, it was said of him that the only thing he shied at was the sight of his own blood, whihc was thick and of an unusual colour. In dress he somewhat aped the attire assoiciated with the name of Charles II, having heard it said in some earlier period of his career that he bore a strange resemblance to the ill-fated Stuarts**; and in his mouth he had a holder of his own contrivance which enabled him to smoke two cigars at once. But undoubtedly the grimmest part of his was his iron claw."

*Long John Silver
**English/Scottish family who ruled those two countries

I loved this quote for two reasons:
1. It sucked me in. When a description is so realistic that the character seems to be standing in front of me, or really I seem to be standing in front of the character, I cannot help but like it.
2. I always pictured James Hook as slightly...goofy. But not so any longer! I was amazed at how fierce James Barrie actually meant him to be, and how much I had misinterpreted him through the Disney movie. Before I'd laugh at his "iron claw"; now, I cower.

(A book review for Peter Pan is coming soon...)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

San Luis Obispo!

Our family got back from San Luis Obispo late last, like, 11:30. It was an amazing vacation. The weather was perfect, we managed to fit in all the things we wanted to do, we got around 1,000 pictures. Amazing. We stayed in Grover Beach, but spent most of our time elsewhere. We went to a lot of the shops in San Luis on Thursday and Saturday. (On Thursday they have a huge farmer's market...we had the GREATEST most AMAZING strawberries in the WHOLE WORLD, fresh picked in Arroyo Grande.) On Wednesday we went to Hearst Castle in San Simeon... I was amazed, to say the least.

This pool was incredible:

And I love everything else...

On Friday, which was my sister's birthday, we went to Big Sur, about two hours north of San Luis Obispo. I LOVE Big Sur...
This is what it looks like everywhere in Big Sur. This particular area is by the river.

The river itself (which is amaaaaazing):

On the way back to San Luis:

Grover Beach, right around the corner where we were staying...

Avila Beach:

Morro Bay:

In my last post I mentioned that I was planning on going to some antique bookstores to try to find some treasures. Well, I was blessed. I will be writing about that in one of my next posts! :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Vintage Books: Farmer Giles of Ham

This copy of Farmer Giles of Ham was given to me by a friend who found it at a garage sale. It's a 1973 copy - Gearge Allen & Unwin LTD in London, or Houghton Miflin Company in Boston. This one was actually printed in the U.K.

When the dust jacket is off, you see this...

Embellishments by Pauline Diana Baynes -

This was such a great way to start out my collection. A gift, a beautiful copy, 37 years old... And at the time I received it, I didn't know I would start collecting! It really inspired me and showed me how beautiful these treasures can really be - and cheap too! I know this copy was less than $10. (And in 1973 it cost $4.95! Now it would cost somewhere around $15.00.)

As for the strength/wear and tear of the's in such good condition! There are stains on the cover, and some front pages; also, one of the pages of embellishments has come out. However, the spine is still really strong and the rest of the pages are still white and very readable. I hope to keep it in this amazing condition for as long as it's in my care.

Speaking of care: I'm thinking again of how this book got to where it came to be. It went all the way from a press in Oxford to a house in San Diego, California. How many people held this book in their hands, how many eyes read the story, before it got to that house?

This week I'm going up to San Luis Obispo/Morro Bay. We are visiting Hearst Caslte, and on the way home we will be stopping by Santa Barbara. I'm hoping to get a little time in some of the used/rare book stores while we're in these amazing cities, so hopefully I'll come home with a new treasure!

Happy reading! :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Peter Pan, Quotes (1)

I'm going to start a quote label... There are so many times when I'm reading a great book and I want to share some of the things I've read with the world. Well, at the moment I'm reading Peter Pan, and I'm amazed by this book. (That post will come as soon as I get back from vacation on the 25th.)

So, the quote of the week comes from James Barrie and his fantastical friend, Peter Pan:

"She (Wendy) gave him (Peter) a look of the most intense admiration, and he thought it was because he had run away, but it was really because he knew fairies. Wendy had lived such a home life that to know fairies struck her as quite delightful. She poured out questions on him, getting in his way and so on, and indeed his sometimes had to give them a hiding.* Still, he liked them on the whole, and he told her about the beginning of fairies. 'You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.'"

There couldn't be a better way to say it! :)

Happy reading!

*"hiding" was a term for "spanking"

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This book is an all-time favorite. I've read it four times, and each time it gets better and better. I love retellings of fairytales - especially when the author completely renovates the story, and the characters. Instead of being the usual Happily Ever After, this book comes down to a Happily NEVER After.

The story doesn't begin at the "beginning". The story opens and Ella Brown is already a princess in the royal palace, engaged to be married to the most beautiful man she has ever seen, Prince Charming. Ella, now Princess Cynthia Eleanora, is just entering into a world that is extremely different from her previous world. Every day activites include learning proper etiquette and embroidery with Madame Bisset, and special occasions are made of knightly sports such as jousting. But Ella soon discovers that even these things aren't done as one would expect. On top of that, she isn't allowed to do anything related to her old life. Even simple things, such as starting a fire in the fireplace, or changing her own clothes, are off limits. Frustrated, Ella resorts to finding joy in being with two people: Prince Charming, of course, and Jed, her lowly tutor. It is only then that everything starts to go terribly wrong...

This book had me from the start. The characters are vibrant, from daring Ella, to evil Madame Bisset, to handsome Charming, to kindly Jed. It is also well-written, with an easy-flowing style and quick wit. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairytale, especially one that has never been told before quite like this before.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vintage Books: The Scarlet Pimpernel and Macbeth

I love vintage books. Paperback, hardback, 40 years old, 200 years old. They're all beautiful, and they all have a story behind them, even if I don't know it. My writer's brain likes to think of what could have happened to each book before I bought it. But of course, my stories are probably much more dramatic than the real stories...

I bought this copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel at a little antique store in Payson, Arizona while visiting the Grand Canyon. It was a dollar. It was the second installment to my vintage collection and the first I had bought on my own. I hadn't read the book yet but I owned another, new copy of the book and wanted to read it soon. (I ended up reading it last fall...I'll be posting about it this summer.) This copy is a 1963 Airmont Classic, and when they published it, it was 50 cents. On the inside of the front page it says, "To Beth, With love." And who wrote that? Who was Beth, and how did they know her? What did Beth think of the story when she read it, probably 45 years ago? How did it end up in Payson, Arizona?

As I was searching around for more good reads in that little antique store, I found this copy of Macbeth. I hadn't read it yet or bought a copy. It, too, was a dollar. It's a 1970's printing from the Folger Library of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Both are good, still-strong copies. They are my only two paperbacks, and they add a nice touch to the rest of the collection.

Happy reading! :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Airman by Eoin Colfer

Eoin Colfer is the renowned author of several novels for young readers, including the Artemis Fowl series. While I've never read any of his other books, his newest novel, Airman, stood out to me when I walked passed it in Barnes and Noble three months ago. The cover, with its daring, winged man, caught my eye. Just reading the back was fascinating, and I was convinced I would read it soon.

Last week I requested Airman at the library and started it the day it came in. Within a few pages, I was hooked. This is one of those stories that is crafted either horribly or excellently - and from the beginning I was convinced it was the latter. It starts with the beginning of Conor Broekhart's life - his amazing birth in a hot-air balloon. From then on, he is respected and beloved by all around him. He lives a perfect life on Great Saltee, one of the two Saltee islands just off the southeastern coast of Ireland. After saving the life of the Saltee Island's princess and the throne's only heir, he is given professional training. His mentor is Frenchman Victor Vigny, a master of the physical arts, such as karate, as well as swordplay. Victor is also very learned in aeronautics. He and Conor both wish more than anything to build a machine that would allow man to fly.

However, they are never given the chance to live out this dream. Through a sudden turn of events, Conor's world, as well as that of his family's and the royal family's, is thrown into mayhem, danger, and bitter loss. Through the story, Colfer weaves an amazing change in Conor as his life changes. We see him grow from baby to man, all in 400 pages.

If I could describe this book in one word, it would be emotional. In the best of all ways. I felt a number of emotions: anger, frustration, love, heartache, and amazement. I was inspired by Conor's story. I loved (and hated) the characters. I wanted to fly.

This is a very culturized book. While none of the events in the book ever happened, and King Nicholas Trudeau of the Saltee Islands never actually lived, it feels so real that I completely believed in everything Colfer wrote about. However, after doing research, I discovered that Great Saltee and Little Saltee were privately owned by man named Michael Neale. After his death his son, Prince Michael Neale the Second took his place.

Colfer's writing stood out to me as well. His sentences were well-formed and his word choices were beautiful. It inspired me to pick up my own stories again, as I've put them on hold during the last part of the school year. I look forward to reading more of Colfer's work, and to continue to be inspired by his fascinating writing and characters.

First Post

To create a blog has been a dream of mine for some time. I love to write. It is my passion, my outlet, my art. And I love to read. Anything from classics to fantasy to script. Mix the two loves of reading and writing, hand them to me, and you have this blog. For as long as I can - and I hope that is a long time - I will be blogging about each book I read. The posts will hold a synopsis of each book and my thoughts and ideas about it. Being an avid book-buyer (collector would be more accurate), I love to purchase beautiful, vintage copies of the oldies. Every time I make one such purchase, I will post about it. I'm currently reading through the books of the Bible in order, which may result in posts as well. I have a few ideas for contests, too, which may come soon...

Well, it's off to the library for me! :)

But until later...