Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Alligators In The Trees

(BOOK REVIEW)

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Where I received this book and what my interest in it is:
In February, Cynthia Hamilton emailed me, asking if I would be interested in reading and reviewing one of her books. She has written 7 in total and allowed me to choose the one I wanted. I chose Alligators In The Trees for various reasons and I'm glad I picked it. The title in itself was the most interesting title to me, quickly grabbing my attention. I read the synopsis for each of her books and though none of them were the typical books I usually like to read, I was pleasantly surprised a few of the stories intrigued me. Thank you Cynthia for reaching out and allowing me to review your book!

Type of book:
Contemporary Fiction

Ideas expressed/message/ and/or/ plot:
Priscilla Vanderpool works at Frank's Coffee Shop in Lower East Side Manhattan. She's 32 years old, never been married, lives in a run-down apartment, and has only ever dated losers. However, few know that she is a gifted lyricist, though no one has ever read, let alone published any of her songs.
Philip Glessner, a businessman, and Tobias Jordan, lead singer of rock band Absent Among Us visit the dive as a sort of sanctuary and escape from their lives. Priscilla knows that men of their standard shouldn't be in a place like Frank's.
Philip has been going there for months and is strangely infatuated with his waitress. Tobias just happened to stumble into the place, began writing meaningless lyrics on a napkin when Priscilla sings his words from behind his shoulder. He leaves Frank's, somewhat offended for her reading his lyrics, and heads home. When he finds that his words have no "spark", he plays them on the piano with Priscilla's tune. He suddenly feels inspired and seeks out his muse.
When Tobias returns to the coffee shop, he learns that Priscilla isn't there. Meanwhile, Priscilla has agreed to go have dinner with Philip, whom she learns is a renowned architect going through a divorce and the downfall of one of his buildings. Priscilla claims she is not attracted to Philip in any way, but agrees to see him again the following day.
Eventually Priscilla decides she needs to change her life around and intends on moving to Florida. She decides to burn her boxes and boxes of lyrics for easy travel when she gets a bus ticket to Florida, but Tobias tracks her down, sees what she is up to, and buys the lyrics for a huge sum, allowing Priscilla to purchase a train ticket to Florida, rather than a bus ticket.
Both men feel that they need Priscilla in their lives, though all she wants is to get away from New York. All three characters are struggling with their lives in their own way and upon meeting one another, they must face decisions that force them to decide who they want to be and what they're going to do with their lives.

My favorite characters:
I liked Tobias's story best I think, but Priscilla is also one of my favorites. Though Tobias is selfish, as Priscilla points out, he's also the most interesting character with a charming side, but I think also a hidden side that's caring and loving, despite what the other characters think of him. Like the other characters in the book, he doesn't have a clear direction of where he wants his life to go, but does things because it's what others want him to do or expect of him. Priscilla is very relatable in some aspects, as she's the only one of the three main characters who isn't high class. She does what she wants for the most part, and though she has a strong exterior, she often has a weak will and gives into other's desires before her own. As she says of herself, "you can't confuse cynicism with bravery."

Favorite scenes/quotes/lines:
Chapter 42 is my favorite chapter in the entire book. It shows a side of Tobias that I think we didn't get to see enough of. At one point, Priscilla asks him if he's ever been in love, to which he avoids the question. It is in this chapter I think we see the kind of love he could be capable of, if given the chance to prove it. Throughout the book there are many songs written out by Priscilla (including the lyric "there're gators in the trees"), and a few by Tobias. In this chapter we get to see my favorite song in the entire book. It is as follows and also serves as my favorite quote:

You asked me about love
There's so little that I know
Hadn't ever caught the feeling
Hadn't ever felt it grow

You asked me why I never sang of it

I wouldn't have had a clue
Didn't know the face of love
Till I caught sight of you

Funny to find out now

It was in me all along
So here it is
Here's your love song.

Alligators in the Trees
Other books to read by Cynthia Hamilton:
Lucky At Love, Golden State, Once Upon A Lyme, High Price To Pay, Spouse Trap, and Finding Ruth. You can check out her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter

Additional notes:
I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would. I liked the beginning a lot, it was fun getting to read into each of the characters lives. The book was written in the third person, but one chapter would be following Priscilla's life, the next on Philip's life, and the next on Tobias's life. However, I soon found myself dreading Philip's chapters. I don't really like his character. He's kind of annoying and nothing attractive about him. His daughter didn't interest me either. Again, that's just me.
I don't want to spoil anything, but in the final chapter of the book, I was happy with Priscilla's decision, and then extremely disappointed with the last few sentences in the book. I heard that there's maybe going to be a sequel, for which I am excited! I feel like there was closure for Philip's story, and even Priscilla's in a way. But not Tobias. He deserves more. Be sure to check out Alligators In The Trees!

Yours truly,
Me

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Sneak Peek at the Characters from Beyond the Veil.

I realize I have never told you where I live, and that's ok because that's not important. What I do want you to know right now is that I am not home, I am in California on a vacation of sorts. Since I am not writing much these days, I've been spending a lot of my evenings doing simple sketches in my notebook. I decided to show you what I've been working on and I included some quotes from Beyond the Veil. Let me know what you think in the comments!!


Hollyhocks

First is a drawing of my protagonist from Beyond the Veil, Hollyhocks. Personally I believe this is the best drawing of her yet. I think I captured her really well here; her childlike elfin features are exactly how I perceive her to look in my mind. Hollyhocks is extremely kindhearted, but also naïve, seeing the world the way she wants it to be. She's a dreamer and often ponders her own thoughts before speaking them aloud. She cares deeply for those close to her and tries to be there for those who need her, while she herself doesn't always readily accept help from others when she needs it.
Quote: She echoed the words to herself. “Eternity.” such a simple word with infinite meaning. She decided she quite liked the way it sounded.

Edward V

Next is the second most important character in the story, Edward V. I purposefully drew him in this post to match that of John Everett Millais' painting, the Princes In The Tower. In my mind, he has blond hair that reaches down to his shoulders similar to the painting, but I was pretty sure if I attempted that, he'd look like a girl...
Edward is a very bright child but also a very lonely one, often filled with thoughts beyond that of a 12 year old boy. Though his life was mostly good, my story brings him to a point where he is susceptible and impotent, quiet but curious. When he opens up to someone, he forms a deep friendship with them.
Quote: "There is no such thing as a great king, or even a good one," Edward stated. "There are only simple men who try their best."


JuJuBee

I also drew JuJuBee. She's a lot of fun to draw, I feel like her appearance matches her personality and radiates with a mischievous and yet friendly demeanor. She has a deep past, is honest to a fault, always speaks her mind, and can be slightly rude at times. She also likes to have fun and is the rebel of the group. The thing about JuJuBee is she's that one friend who would slap you if you deserved it and she wouldn't feel bad about it, but she also has a hidden caring nature and is there for her friends when they need her most.
Quote: "Humans," JuJuBee said, shaking her head. "They think they know everything. How can one person claim that any one thing is possible or impossible? How little you must know."


Shaylee

This is really the only decent drawing I've done of Shaylee. In this post, she was really hidden behind her mount, but I like the way I captured her here. Her green skin and bug-like antennas set her apart from the other fairies. Shaylee is nice, but not overly friendly. She's mature, determined, likes to follow the rules, and she doesn't take any nonsense. She knows how to get something done and is quite sure her way is the only proper way to do it. Despite her exterior though, she does always look for the good in others and is ready to lend a helping hand.
Quote: "Childhood is a beautiful thing. You may be a king, yet you are still a child. Do not allow the wicked in the world to have power over you."


Jack Frost

Back in December of 2015, I hinted that I MIGHT be writing about Jack Frost, so I guess if you haven't followed my social media, this drawing confirms that Jack is indeed in my story. He's possibly the most interesting character from the book, or at least the most unique. I must say he was a lot of fun to write. He's extremely persistent, slightly pompous, and devilishly charming in his own right. He also has bright eyes filled with childish wonder.
Quote: "An adventure can present itself at any given moment. Life itself is an adventure, is it not? Who says we must venture off into the far corners of the earth. There is still plenty right here in the Forest yet to discover. I daresay there are plenty of secrets untold within our own little band."


Anlon

Lastly, with the help of my sister, I present to you Anlon. Where he comes from or how old he truly is, no one really knows, but his eyes are filled with age and wisdom beyond that of a mere animal. He sees more and understands more than he lets on, an ancient guardian and protector of the Forest. He stands taller than any of the unicorns from the Wild Herd, more proud and more beautiful than any other.

Yours truly,
Me