31 December 2013

Best of the Year Post!

All of these are in no particular order.  As always, I can't limit myself to just 3 or 5 or 10 either so the numbers will be what they are. 

Books:
     New to me:  This category is specifically why I can't make myself rank this stuff.  Is Code Name Verity the best because it was so powerful? How about crying through the end of Ocean?  or laughing and crying during Looking for Alaska?  Should it go by how I felt when I read them or how much I've thought about them since?  See, it is way better just to list them! 
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

YA heavy I know but I read a bunch of YA this year for school.       

     Graphic Novels: 
  • Saga, Volumes 1 and 2: great sci-fi
  • Snarked, Volumes 1, 2 and 3: Wonderful for Lewis Carrol fans
  • Hawkeye, Volumes 1 and 2
  • American Born Chinese
     Re-reads:
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Hobbit 
  • Ender's Game
Movies/TV:

WAY genre heavy this year but that's just how we roll...
  • The World's End
  • Catching Fire
  • Gravity
  • The Shakespeare Uncovered series
  • Looper
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Downton Abbey: I watched all that was available this year, all 3 seasons!
  • Wreck It Ralph
  • Thor 2
  • Moon
  • Skyfall
Life: 
  • Spending a year with B in our new house, too cold/hot/dirty/cluttered and perfect.
  • Going to see Cabaret live with my friend D and C
  • Seeing the Doctor Who 50th Special in a theater full of rabid fans
  • Meeting Neil Gaiman at a signing
  • Finished 2 video games (Bioshock and The Testament of Sherlock Holmes)
  • Going on vacation to Vermont, twice!
  • In November, we got a new nephew, the X-man!
  • Seeing a modern Midsummer Night's Dream production at Shakespeare in the Park. 
  • Introducing B to Mardi Gras!
A lot has happened this year!  More than I though honestly. And I've got lots more coming in 2014.  


Have a Safe and Happy New Year!

30 December 2013

How many books did I read this year?

Unless I finish another book tomorrow (unlikely as I've been rereading the Sherlock Holmes stories on my new Kindle and am about 18% in) my totals for the year are as follows:


Total books read: 95

Library Books: 65

Non-fiction: 8
Audio: 27
Graphic Novel: 19
Non-Adult: 37  

So, I'm a bit disappointed in this number and my blogging for the year as a whole.  Looking back, I only posted three times in November!  and one was just for audio books!  Of what I read, a third of the books I listened to, about 20% were graphic novels, just under half were not adult books.  Those all really inflated my numbers.  I did have a lot of school work this year and that definitely hurt my reading.  I was reading so much I had to read, and so much non-fiction for school, and writing so much, that I wanted to totally get away from it in my downtime and played a lot of video games and watched TV.  My schedule is such that I'll be doing a lot of studying in the next three months so I don't expect that my habits will change much in the next little while. 

How did you fare this year?  more than you thought? less? 

December Movies

Since I'm not going to watch any more movies before tomorrow night...

After Earth:  It was ok.  Certainly nothing as bad as I thought from reviews and such.  The climate of the planet was ridiculous and definitely in there just to have a particular scene late in the movie.  The alien bad guy was also weird.  a 4. 

The Hobbit 2: can you both like and hate a movie at the same time?  that's how i'm feeling about the Hobbit films.  They seem to leave out a lot of the heart but add in a lot of spectacle.  Makes me want to watch the old Rankin and Bass movie.  Let's say a 5 because Smaug is fucking stellar.

Elysium: Another one I'm torn about.  I liked parts but disliked others.  let's say 5.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:  I didn't think this was one I was going to like as I'm not a big Ben Stiller fan.  We went on Christmas Day with B's family and it ended up being really good! a 6. 

28 December 2013

Finished a Listen of Ender's Game and Vacation Pics!

So we got back from Vermont this morning, which is kinda sad.  It's hard to live so far away from both sets of families.  

On the drive back, we finished a listen of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.  It is one we've both read before, me only once.  It was a multiple cast version put out for the 20th anniversary of the book publication.  It was nice to reread this after seeing the movie so recently as we were really able to see the differences and how much was left out of the film. 

I realized I hadn't posted any pictures of the trip!  Gotta fix that!

 B and a friend when we went sledding

 The sledding hill


 Snowy trees


  Our Dog in the snow

Here's a video of the snow too!
video


We really had a great trip but even at close to 2 weeks it was too short.  Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

21 December 2013

2 P.D. James Books

I've read very little P.D. James.  I've read Death Comes to Pemberly and Talking about Detective Fiction before.  I'm up in Vermont at the in-laws and picked up Unnatural Causes and tore through it in a day then read An Unsuitable Job for a Woman in two.  Both worth a look!

Unnatural Causes is the third Adam Dalgliesh mystery.  He is a Scotland Yard detective taking a holiday and visiting his aunt at the seaside after cracking a big murder case.  Then a body of a local resident with its hands cut off comes ashore in a canoe.  While it isn't Dalgliesh's case he becomes involved in the investigation.  There's a dramatic climax toward the end and, while i had suspicions about the killer I was happily surprised.  There are apparently a lot of adaptations of this series so I may have to watch a few.  a 6.

Unsuitable is the first Cordelia Gray book.  I really liked Cordelia but apparently there is only 1 more book featuring her. Cordelia is a very young woman who runs a detective agency with an ex-police officer.  The agency isn't doing very well but when her partner commits suicide because he has terminal cancer Cordelia decides she'll keep going with it until the money runs out.  She gets a case; a scientist hires her to find out why his son committed suicide. Of course, it's not suicide.  I really liked the character and even though I saw where the mystery was going (in a general way) it was really well written and I enjoyed it. a 6.

11 December 2013

Yet Another Audio Book Post

Ok, so I now listen to a bunch of audio books, ok?  If you promise not to tell my boss, I'll let you know that I can listen to audio books at work without screwing up what i'm working on.   Doctor Who heavy this month!

Doctor Who: The Runaway Train by Oli Smith:  an 11 and Amy adventure.  This one takes place in the old west and the Doctor and Amy get a group of outlaws together to locate an alien bomb that is going to instantly change Earth's environment to match what the aliens need to live.  Got to listen to various versions of Matt Smith's American accent, all drawly and deep.  His "Amy" accent is not that great though.  Fun story, too short.  a 5.

Doctor Who: Dead Air by James Goss: rather creepy 10 story.  Chronologically, this story is supposed to be right before the episode "The End of Time".  It is a little different in that the Doctor speaks directly to the listener.  He's recording a tape, telling his story of how he followed a creature called the Hush to a floating pirate radio station off the coast of 1960's Britain.  There are a lot of little clues dropped about Time Lords and the War that reward the listener.  Really interesting and a 6.   

Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter: a 2 story!  and a proper book;  the book was 8 tracks long.  It takes place in the future around the moons of Saturn.  There's an evil corporation, a relic of a long dead alien race, a sentient robot, blue creatures, and Jamie and Zoe. Really good, a 7.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  This is  a reread for me but it has probably been close to 20 years since I last read it.  I had remembered the gist but forgotten some of the particulars.  A very sweet story, a 7.

and an old favorite...

The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien:  yes, I know I listen to these pretty much every 2 years or so. 7

09 December 2013

Boxers

When I read American Born Chinese, Andi recommended Boxers and SaintsI've yet to pick up Saints but I read Boxers and really enjoyed it.  It is the story of the Boxer Rebellion (strangely, something I learned a little about this semester in my archives class) from the point of view of one of the rebel leaders. You certainly empathize with Bao.  I loved the anime-nod that the rebels become the incarnation of gods when they battle.  So so sad as well.  a 6. 

08 December 2013

Who Could That Be at This Hour?

I started Lemony Snicket's new series, All the Wrong Questions with the first book Who Could That Be at This Hour?  It is a series that takes place before the Series of Unfortunate Events.  Lemony Snicket is just a child in this one and is having his first case as an apprentice in the VFD.  It's a clever little book with all the children so much smarter than the adults.  There are a pair of cab driving brothers who work for tips about good books.  There's an ace young reported and even a femme fatale.  Essentially, if you liked the previous series then you'll probably like this one.  a 5. 

01 December 2013

November Movies!

I had a fabulous month of movie watching!  

Ender's Game: a great attempt at filming something unfilmable but one that looses a lot of the emotion of the book.  It hits the events but not necessarily the feelings.  still, really good.  a 6.

Gravity: Ok, overdose of feelings!  I cried at several points during the movie; not such a good idea when wearing contacts and trying to watch a 3-d movie!  Sandra Bullock should get another Oscar.  a 7.

This Is The End: How much you like this movie will be in direct proportion to how much you like Seth Rogan/James Franco and that crowd.  i felt it was fine with some bits that were clever and some that were just stupid.  Hermione kicks ass!  a 5.

Thor 2: WAAAAAY! better than the first movie.  Very pretty, very cool.  There are smart, strong, kick-ass women in this one who actually do stuff! plenty of snark from Loki and Darcy; more Loki would have upped it to a 7 but it's a 6.

Catching Fire:  another wow! Kinda the opposite of Ender's Game as some of the details were smudged but the emotion and the feelings were all there.  I liked how the love triangle was downplayed a bit; it's there but Katniss doesn't really care about it as she has bigger things on her mind.  a 7. 

Red Dawn (the remake): umm, not as depressing as the original but definitely a remake that makes you say "just why?"  Also a bit more unrealistic.  a 4.

Olympus Has Fallen: The makers of Die Hard should sue the makers of this movie.  It gets a 4 only because we had so much fun heckling it. 

Now You See Me: You might have missed this one when it came out in May; there wasn't much advertising that I saw.  Group of magicians appear to be robbing banks, manner unknown, and the FBI and Interpol (The Hulk and the girl who burned down her movie theater in Inglourious Basterds) have to stop them.  cute, kinda clever, some twists you can see coming, some you can't.  I think it's a solid 5.

Also, i was sick on Thanksgiving and we binge watched James Bond.  B had never seen Casino Royale (!?!) and now we need to watch it without commercials/being sliced up. 

16 November 2013

Rose Under Fire

I read Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.   It was good, really good, but not quite as good as Code Name Verity. This book starts several months after Code Name Verity has ended.  An American pilot, Rose Justice, is working in Britain, flying planes back and forth to newly liberated France.  She gets captured and sent to a work camp but eventually escapes.  She survives to return to England and eventually becomes a reporter covering the Nuremberg trials.  None of this is spoilers as the book uses a frame story that Rose is writing about her experience after her escape.  It is a fine book but just doesn't have the amazingness of the previous one. Still very recommended, a 6.

13 November 2013

Jack Glass



Gorgeous cover!  I finished up Jack Glass by Adam Roberts last night.  I really loved it!  It is a British Science Fiction award winner for best novel!  Right up front, our narrator tells us that Jack Glass is a Murderer and that the book is the story of 3 murders he committed.  They are How-Dunits and Why-Dunits.  There's a locked-room mystery, a prison escape, and a regular who dunit.  But the stories are all set in the future, in space and on Earth, with ships and tech and awesomeness!  I'm definitely not able to talk this book up as much as it is worth.  If you like classic mysteries with a twist, or science fiction stories with rival factions and politics, you will probably enjoy this book  a 6!

07 November 2013

audio books

The Remains of the Day by Kashuo Ishiguro- giving up on Ishiguro i think.  He seems to specialize in unreliable narrators and sloooooooooow plots.  I kept wondering if the narrator, a butler, has Asperger's or was just an Oblivious Proper Englishman. a 4.

The Queen's Fool by Phillipa Gregory. interesting but a bit repetitive.  Like the main character but didn't like her choices at the end of the book.  I like Gregory's style in general though. a 5.


after having a crappy day at work, I downloaded two audiobooks to listen to while working

Doctor Who: The Last Voyage by Dan Abnett, read by David Tennant: an in-between or after companions story. strange things are afoot on the maiden voyage of a new spaceship!  a 5.

Doctor Who: The Resurrection Casket by Justin Richards, read by David Tennant: a Rose story. it was alright but not memorable.  I actually forgot I had finished it and went back to replay it.  it did have Space Pirates!  a 5.

anybody else suuuuuuuuper excited about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Episode?  I've got tickets to go see it in a movie theater the Monday after it airs!

31 October 2013

October Movies

Happy Halloween!

World War Z-  Definitely had some problems with this one specifically because the source material was so great.  but because Brad Pitt is so pretty it gets a 4

Men in Black 3: funny, sweet in parts, not bad at all.  definitely better than part 2.  a 5. 

Upstream Color: ugh ugh ugh....random shots, worm weirdness, pigs?  definitely didn't like it at all.  a 2!

 Europa Report: Very cool Science fiction.  a found footage-type movie in space.  scary and claustrophobic but not because of human evil but because of the amazingness of exploration.  a 6. 

Because Europa Report involves space exploration, B says I should plug his Youtube channel where we have some videos up of us playing Kerbal Space Program.  28 minutes of pure excitement!  ;)  actually, it's just me messing around.  Enjoy!


20 October 2013

Readathon Reviews!

I finished 3 books during the readathon last week and i really should write them up! 


The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. I heard at some point, that this book was "like Harry Potter".  It is, if Harry was significantly more arrogant, there was no Hermione, and the plot of all 7 books took up 200 pages.  It actually reminded me more of The Magicians by Lev Grossman, though I liked Wizard MUCH better.  I loved that the characters were not Caucasian and hated that women didn't learn magic.  overall, a 5.  


Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause.  I have mixed feelings about this one.  I liked that the female lead, Vivian, was strong and self-willed and wanted to make her own decisions.  I disliked that, even with the above, the man had to save her. I have to read some things that don't tick me off due to the portrayal of women.  It definitely isn't a bad book, I just didn't like the turn at the end.  Since this one is about werewolves and murder it counts for RIP!  a 5 I think.  


The Unwritten, Volume 7: The Wound by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. So what happens to Tommy and Savoy after saving the world in Volume 6?  What about Lizzie?  What happens to the real world?  and that unified fictional 'verse? This volume continues some things from the series and introduces a few new characters.  Tommy kicks some metaphorical ass and Savoy is still awesome and very much enjoying his vampire powers.  a 6!

13 October 2013

Final tally of the Readathon

 So here's what I made it to last night.

Pages: 353
read but not finished: 1 chapter of my Ed Psych texbook
books finished: The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin, Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause, and The Unwritten Volume 7: The Wound.
Time I went to bed: about 2 am.
Homework finished: My Ed Psych questions, 2/3 of my archives project that's due Tuesday.  

I would have liked to have done a little better but I am glad i focused on things that I had partially read as it made me feel I was accomplishing something and making some good progress.  Maybe next time i will fix it so i have half a dozen half-finished books to work on! 

2nd Readathon post

What I've read so far:

pages: 149 
what I've read from: 1 chapter of my Ed Psych texbook, part of the Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K.Le Guin.  
books finished: The Wizard of Earthsea.
Homework finished: My Ed Psych questions, 2/3 of my archives project that's due Tuesday. 

I am already sleepy!  I'm going to keep on a bit longer and work on Blood and Chocolate...hmmm, maybe some sugar would help? 

12 October 2013

1st Read-a-thon Post!

What I've read so far:

pages: 29 (a single chapter of my Ed Psych textbook)

Bookish things i've done:
went to Southern festival of books, bought 4 books (3 for me, 1 gift), saw a panel on March: Book 1 where I heard Congressman John Lewis speak and one on Sherlock Holmes. Also ate an amazing Brie-Apricot crepe and had some great ice cream.  

Now I'm going to do some more homework! 

11 October 2013

I'm doing the readathon...in a way

I signed up for Dewey's Read-a-thon tomorrow but I already know I won't read the whole time or be up for the 24 hours.  The Southern Festival of Books is this weekend and I want to get out to that.  Also, I have a good bit of homework to do.  And I am completely off of caffeine for the moment which doesn't bode well for staying up past 1.  

So anyway, I'm going to do a bunch of reading related stuff tomorrow, even if not as much actual reading takes place as I would wish.  Here's my pool to choose from.



Don't worry, I don't intend to read those school books, just a few chapters.  I'm almost done with Blood and Chocolate and about halfway through The Wizard of Earthsea so hope to finish that one too.  If it goes anything like past read-a-thons, I'll start and finish a book that's not even on this list!

What will you be reading for the Read-a-thon?

30 September 2013

September Movies!

Shallow Grave: 90's movie starring very young Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccelston (9th Doctor).  It was not what I had expected (i had it confused with a different 90's movie called The Last Supper) but was really really good.  Three friends share an apartment and bring in a fourth roommate.  Fourth roommate immediately dies and when they go into his room they find a suitcase full of cash.  They decide to bury the body in the woods and keep the money for themselves.  This decision leads to many problems for the trio.  This was Danny Boyle's first movie and you can definitely draw a line from this to Trainspotting, both for the direction and Mcgregor's acting.  It is a really claustrophobic movie; B and I had assumed it had been adapted from a play because it could easily take place in just one set with like 6-8 actors but it was not a play originally.  anyway, a 6!

Dredd: hmmm, an interesting reason (a drug that slows down your perception of time) to use bullet time...a psychic who's powers fail her at a convenient plot moment...and the handsome Karl Urban never showing his face/doing his Batman audition.  a 4.  if you see it, see it in 3d.

Lincoln:  Lovely movie, never seemed long, liked Lincoln a lot.  Cried even though I knew how it would end.  a 6.  

17 September 2013

Avengers Assemble! Form of: Graphic Novels!

So, somewhere i read that the Avengers Assemble series of comics is a newbie-accessible version, recently released and tailored to movie fans by featuring, in the main, the movie characters.  When I saw that the subtitle of the second collection was "Science Bros" I so had to read them.  Avengers Assemble collects issues 1-8 while Science Bros collects 9-13 and the Annual.  


Avengers Assemble is definitely the better of the two books and feels, in some ways, like a sequel to the movie which was probably what the creators were going for.  


Science Bros wasn't bad but only the first half was "Tony and Bruce have an adventure" and actually they are competing for part of it, rather than cooperating.  not bad, but not what i wanted to read.   

Unfortunately, there just wasn't much to them.  I wanted them to be better, more story and character development, but mainly they were fights and explosions and such.  ah well. 

07 September 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream




I loved this play!  It may be blasphemy but Midsummer is not my favorite comedy of Shakespeare's (I prefer the grownupness of Much Ado) but this performance was absolutely amazing!   It was a modern setting with a few broad Southern accents and a good bit of crowd involvement. Shakespeare with cell phones and Instagramming?  Sign me up!  Puck was awesome, Hermia/Helena were great, Titania was fabulous and Bottom....was just too funny.  I had completely forgotten the "play-within-a-play" bit at the end and it was a joy to see.  These guys had me in tears, I was laughing so hard.  Well worth 3 times the $10 suggested donation.  

It plays through next Sunday (the 15th) so if you're in Nashville go see it!   

Picture from Nashville Shakespeare Fest. 

04 September 2013

The Gods of Gotham

Because I received Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye free from Librarything, I figured I better read the first book, The Gods of Gotham.  I read her Holmes vs the Ripper story Dust and Shadow a few years ago and really liked it.  This one is a mystery set in New York City right when the NYPD was being formed.  Think Copper or Gangs of New York.  Timothy Wilde looses his life savings and his good looks in a fire, his brother ropes him into joining the newly created police force.  Early in his new job, which he's desperate to leave as soon as he can find something better, a little girl runs into him, covered in blood.  Turns out she's a child prostitute, which was more or less allowed back then, but has a tale of murder that Wilde can't walk away from.  

The novel was tense and moody but not depressing.  The mystery is good and twisty.  The setting is amazing; it seems really well researched.  The attitudes of just 160 years ago are so shocking in some ways and unfortunately not in others.  Wilde, and his brother, really grow on you as characters and I really want to follow them to the next novel.  definitely a recommended book! a 6 and I'm going to count if for RIP dammit!

02 September 2013

My first update post of the year!

I realized as I was posting my RIP that I had yet to post a tally of my reads for the year.  I usually get one up in June or July but it slipped my mind this summer.  So here's where I am at as of yesterday. 

Total: 73

Library Books: 50

Non-fiction: 8
Audio: 17
Graphic Novel: 15
Non-Adult: 32  

Other than RIP, I really don't remember what challenges I had been interested in doing but I do know I've failed them rather miserably...ah well, maybe next year!

Thoughts: wow, i've read more than I thought!  It's that non-adult category, and the two literature classes that required me to read those books, that pumped up my total.  I didn't even count the few dozen picture books I read, just actual chapter books and graphic novels.  So, if you're feeling bad about your reading number for the year, my suggestion is to pick up a dozen children's classics, take a weekend, and enjoy! 

01 September 2013

Perks of Being a Wallflower

Taking the YA Lit class this summer is still having an effect on my reading!  Several people recommended The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky so I ended up checking it out of the library.   It is the story of a high school freshman, Charlie, who has some problems and ends up making friends with two seniors, Sam and Patrick, who are step-siblings.  Charlie develops a crush on Sam (a girl) but she won't date him as he's too young (he turns 16 over the course of the book).  Teenagery stuff happens, there's a shocking reveal at the end that's been foreshadowed and *SPOILER ALERT* NOBODY DIES!!!

I thought this one was really beautiful.  Wonderfully written.  It is also the first thing i've read that is about my teenage time as Charlie was my age and the book is set in the early 90s.  So they talk like, and about the same things, my friends and I did then.  It was really nostalgic for me to read.  I felt so for Charlie and cried and laughed with him.  Highly recommended!  a 7!

31 August 2013

August Movies!

The Wolverine: got suckered into buying expensive tickets. Apparently, Regal spiffed up one of their theaters, put in better seats and funky blue lights, and decided to charge a few extra dollars for it.  considering we had two different armrests fall apart at the regular theater when we saw Pacific Rim, I think the money would have been better spent amongst all the theaters.  When we picked the time and paid for tix it seemed off but I just went with it but when I realized the difference I was a little ticked.  Anyway, the movie.  Wolvie is a favorite of mine and and I have a bit of a crush on Hugh Jackman (though now i can reverse it and say it is because he looks a bit like my husband) and I was pleased with the movie.  a couple bits were a little weird (his relationship with the heiress) but overall I enjoyed it.  a 6.

Robot and Frank: a bittersweet movie that was both more and less sad than I thought it would be.  Frank is an older man who seems to be in his 70's.  His kids are worried about his failing memory and get him a helper robot who cooks, cleans and talks to Frank.  Frank used to be a jewel thief and begins to teach the robot his skills, which actually improves his mental state.  Then the two start planning a real job.  It was funny and a really gentle movie.  I quite liked it.  A 6.

The Darkest Hour: ugh.  a 3-D movie B got from McKay's.  it was less than awesome.  pretty cliched, unsure why the aliens seem to be actively killing people as they are close to invulnerable to standard weapons and powerful enough to get the resources they want easily.  a 3.   

The World's End: AWESOME SAUCE! Terribly good.  Funny as hell and the more i read about the little touches they did in making the movie (like the names of the bars all mean something and reference what happens in them) the more i want to see it again!  a 7. 

30 August 2013

I so love this challenge!


This challenge, hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, is always so much fun, even when, like last year, I don't succeed.  Reading others' blogs and reviews for this challenge is almost as good as reading the books themselves!  This was also the very first challenge I joined waaaay back in 2007 when I started book blogging.  

As I am taking 3(!) classes this fall, I am going to play it safe and just commit to Peril the Second, reading 2 books.  I am sure I'll watch a few movies and accomplish The Peril on the Screen too!  

The Estella Society is hosting a group read of The Historian.  I actually started that one a few years ago and never finished, so perhaps I will join in on that read.  Here are a few options I have for another book:
  • Seven for a Secret by Lindsay Faye (a mystery and an ERC from Librarything.  I'm reading the first in the series right now but it doesn't count for RIP as I've been working on it a couple weeks)
  • Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist (zombies)
  • Grave Goods by Arianna Franklin (mystery) 
  • Feed by Mira Grant (more zombies)
  • The Shadow in the North by Phillip Pullman (YA mystery)
Surely I can get a couple read by October 31st? wish me luck!

 


26 August 2013

Bloody Jack

A YA AudiobookBloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer is the story of a young orphan girl who dresses as a boy and gets taken on as a ship's boy by the HMS Dolphin just prior to the Napoleonic Wars.  This works fine as long as she's a starving 12 year old but as she gets properly fed and grows a little the deception becomes more difficult for her to continue.  When she starts to have feelings for 

Parts were hilarious (Jacky sneaks off to a whorehouse while on shore leave to get the facts of life explained to her) and parts felt very familiar as I so enjoyed the Aubrey/Maturin series.  The whole thing is in first person though and at times I got really annoyed with Jacky's style of speech.  Bits drifted over into stream-of-consciousness freak-outs occasionally and were hard to listen to.  Imagine listening to the thoughts of someone having a panic attack.  That's the writer, not the reader, though but it would have been easier to read (aka skim) in print.  So, while i may continue the series at some point, I think I will read it rather than listen.  a 5. 

24 August 2013

Cryptonomicon

I finally finished Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.  It's long but I enjoyed it.  It is about....a lot of things.  Cryptography and internet privacy/security, WW2, family, friendship, life and death, that sort of thing.  It was originally published in 1999 and parts feel very much from that time; the state of the art internet tech of the book is found on the cheapest smartphone today.  However, a LOT was incredibly current like the discussions about privacy, online currency, and preventing genocides.  It was action packed but the action was spaced between long sections of really intelligent people doing interesting things.  I wonder how many boxes of Cap'n Crunch this book is responsible for selling (at least one i can confirm) and how many people use Randy's classifications for people of men/dwarves/elves/wizards (i've adopted it)?  I can't say it is my favorite of his but worth the 45(!) hours i spent listening to it. It is not where I would recommend starting but I think if you've read Snow Crash or Reamde and liked it, you'll like this one.  a 6. 

18 August 2013

Hawkeye: Little Hits

I read the second collection of the new Hawkeye comics!  Volume 2: Little Hits expands on the storylines started in the first collection, introduces some new characters and brings back some previous ones.  We get a few glimpses of the Avengers but mostly more of Hawkeye's life away from them.  I think the best issues in this book were the Hurricane Sandy one as well as Pizza Dog, a comic from the perspective of Clint's dog.  The art and colors are just gorgeous too.  I'm a Hawkeye fan!  a 6!

16 August 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling

I admit, I picked this one up because I knew who the author was.  The Cuckoo's Calling is noirish mystery, which is definitely something I enjoy reading, but I don't think it would have popped up on my reading radar if Rowling hadn't been outed.  It makes total sense to me that she would write a mystery.  What is the Harry Potter series but one big mystery story, punctuated by various other mysteries spanning one or more books.  This book is a modern mystery with the private eye on the verge of bankruptcy, the investigation no one thinks he should take, the twist and turns.  I really liked this one, much much more than The Casual Vacancy, which I never finished.  I liked the detective, Cormoran Strike, and i really liked Robin, his temp secretary that stays with him through the book.  She's smart and competent and caring and just so good to read about, as opposed to the fast talking moll who has a crush on her boss.  The mystery is good, if not incredibly new, and the book is a little long.  The characters completely make up for any problems though.  I can definitely recommend this one and if she writes more I will read them!  a 6.   

09 August 2013

Verily, A New Hope

I consider myself an inhabitant of many different nerddoms.  While I don't quite reach "lunatic" level in any of them, I enjoy lots of things.  Star Wars is one, Shakespeare's plays are another.  When I read that someone had written Star Wars as a Shakespeare play, I knew one book I was definitely reading this summer!  I even got it pretty quickly from the library.

I liked it a lot.  There was a Chorus, which isn't usually a favorite of mine, but for this story there is just too much that needs explanation or narration.  The structure really works as a play and the author does a great job of translating the dialogue and action into iambic pentameter. 

Here's the bit where Vader and Obi-Wan meet in the Death Star:

Vader:       For certain, I have waited, Obi-Wan,
                 And now at last we meet together here:
                 Our destinies once and for all fulfill'd,
                 The circle of our lives is now complete--
                 A student was I when I left thee last,
                 But now I am the Master over thee.
Obi-Wan:   Thou art a Master, Darth, I know 'tis true,
                 But only evil hast though Master'd yet.

There are also a ton of lines that are almost lifted from Shakespeare such as Luke saying "Friends, rebels, starfighters, lend me your ears".  I definitely had some giggles recognizing the lines.  If you enjoy Shakespeare then give this one a shot.  it's a 6 from me!

01 August 2013

The LAST Batch of Required YA reading!

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill: a verse novel about the girls who accused the villagers in Salem of being witches.  Verse novels are weird!  They're made up of individual poems, from half a page to 3 pages long.  The poems together tell a story.  In the case of this book the poems are in the voices of three different girls.  For me, I liked it but it wasn't the type of thing you can just read a few pages of then put down, like you might with regular poetry.  I started it 3-4 times that way and had to keep going back and rereading it.  I finally read a big chunk and realized that was how to do it.  Reading large sections made following the action much easier.  I think I liked it but i probably need to read a few more. a 5. 







We also had to write a paper defending a challenged book.  I read The Chocolate War first and ended up writing my paper about it but I also read two others for some different options.  


The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier: a classic of YA lit that i never read in school.  Boy at a Catholic school refuses to participate in the school's chocolate sale.  Pretty amazing book to be published in the 1970's, very "fight the man" even when "the man" is your peers.  great meditation on bullying and peer pressure.  a 6.  FYI, the cover on Amazon is lame.   

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden: really sweet, non-graphic "young girls fall in love with each other" novel. I was super surprised this was published in 1982; it really feels very modern.  about the only things missing are cell phones!  I liked this one a lot.  a 7.

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause:  want a quickie "vampire falls in love with a human girl" that was actually well-written 15 years prior to Twilight?  try this one.  Klause should so sue Stephanie Meyers....a 5.  

31 July 2013

July Movies

Django Unchained- disturbing.  good, but disturbing.  I'm usually ok with Tarantino violence but something was just too much this time.  I think i would have liked it a little better if there was more of his training and the movie had been split in two like Kill Bill.  still, a 6.

Much Ado About Nothing: Shakespeare, Whedon-style!  I liked it.  a lot. He threw in a new scene where Benedick and Beatrice hooked up pre-war, to explain their rancor.  Beatrice seems a little harpyish because of it; she becomes the scorned woman, which I didn't like so much.  It also makes the accusations against Hero a little weird: is it, or is it not, ok for women to have sex in this world?  Anyway, it did succeed in making me think, for a moment, that maybe they were going to change it to a tragedy.  Benedict, Beatrice, Leonato, and Don Pedro are so fabulous and really sell the anger/revenge aspects.  a 6.  

Oz the Great and Powerful: bleh.  absolutely the worst movie i've watched this year.  James Franco just plays James Franco.  The women, while great actresses, are given nothing to work with.  one of the sidekicks, the female China Doll, DOESN'T EVEN GET A FUCKING NAME!!!  The only reason this isn't a 1 or 2 is because it is very pretty.  a 3.

Premium Rush- Bike messengers vs corrupt cop!  silly but really fun, though I was tipsy while watching and B and I kept pausing to discuss life, living in NYC, and everything.  a 5.

Pacific Rim-really goofy.  Fun, but goofy.  insanely unrealistic, sci-fi physics, relatively predictable plot, but i still kinda enjoyed myself.  It is giant robots versus giant aliens.  I think it's a sequel to Independence Day really, those head aliens looked a lot like the ones from that movie. a 5.

Legend- this was a rewatch for B and I but neither of us had seen in in like 20-some years.  and that phrase just made me feel really fucking old!  Anyway, it is a fairy tale sorta thing: princess causes a unicorn to be captured by the devil, who, by killing the unicorn, will rule the world somehow?  Farmboy and a group of fairies, dwarves and a weird elf boy save the day.  Tim Curry plays a very ripped devil.  a 5. 

Fright Night- the new version with Colin Ferrell and David Tennant.  My brothers and I loved the original when we were kids.  This movie was fun.  David Tennant does a fabulous Russell Brand impression.  the 3D was cool and the credits have an amazing version of "99 Problems" playing over them.  a 5.

 Jack the Giant Slayer- eh, it was ok.  another 3D movie B got for his bday.  After a movie like Brave comes out where the princess really does things, you kinda expect other movies to run with that premise, to make their girls proactive.  Other than running away, princess doesn't do much.  Ewan McGregor seems to be enjoying himself though.  a 4. 

24 July 2013

Graphic novels stack

 So here are a few graphic novels I've read recently.


Runaways Volume 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona- unfortunately, my library does not have the second volume.  oh, they've got one labeled "volume 2" in the catelog but that is actually one from the second series.  so, after tearing through, and quite enjoying, this book, i picked up that one and read a massive spoiler on the 4th page. *grumpy*  Anyway, this book is about teens whose parents are evil supervillians, specifically what happens when the kids find out.  It kinda felt like daydreamy storyline I came up with as a teen.  It was interesting and fun. It is in the Marvel world so the characters refer to superheroes like the Avengers so it felt a little meta.  I'll pick up the next one if i can find it at McKay's.  a 5.  


Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 Volume 1 written by Scott & David Tipton with Tony Lee ; art by J. K. Woodward- The TNG crew team up with 11 and the Ponds to fight the Borg/Cybermen tag team! The arrival of the Doctor on the Enterprise is fab; they show up in the holodeck during a simulation so TNG crew thinks the others are part of the simulation and Tardis crew think the others are people out of time in San Francisco.  Fun but only part of the story.  a 5. 


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang- a book for class that was really really great.  It is 3 stories: an American teenager, a Chinese legend, and a young American boy in grade and middle school.  All three are wonderful.  I got to hear the author when he talked at UT in the spring and he seems like a great guy.  this book gets a 7.


Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples.  very good!  I looooooved Marco's dad.  And his mom was the one trying to kick ass and take names.  I really hope The Will ends up joining forces with Marco and Alana.  In this volume, we learn about how they fell in love, more about the universe they inhabit, meet a really gross giant, and get even further creeped out by those TV head people.  Bloody, violent, and also really loving.  Honestly, between this book and Hawkeye i may just find my way back to a comic book store! a 6.

22 July 2013

A stack of quickie reviews!

So i've been collecting titles, jotting down thoughts on books for future posts.  They are getting to be a bit long now so I am doing a couple group posts to clear out the drafts.  Here we go!

The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar- a middle grade book I read because someone recommended it in my children's lit class.  Laura lives in a creepy old mansion, The Visconti House, in Australia, where her parents have just made her move to.  They are artists and have fun artist friends but of course Laura just wants to be normal.  Why is it that kids in books are like this?  Anyway, she's an outsider because she's new and when Leon, an new boy, shows up, rather than befriend him Laura shuns him too.  They slowly become friends as they unravel the secrets of the Visconti House: who built it and why? A book that's not great, nor bad, but you might get annoyed at Laura.  She's completely unable to draw the parallel that her parents cool artist friends, that she really loves and admires, would not fit in at her school and that she can be like them or be "normal" but not both.  Leon is great though.  reminded me a bit of Mark Petrie from Salem's Lot.  gotta reread that one!  this one is a 5.

Return of the Thin Man by Dashell Hammett- These were weird.  When The Thin Man became a hit movie, the studio hired Hammett to write the two sequels, which are published in this book for the first time.  He apparently did it for the money but wasn't too thrilled to do so.  The two stories published here are less novellas and more like story treatments.  They aren't full screenplays, they aren't in that format, but everything is in present tense and there are occasional asides on how staging should go or alternatives if bits won't work.  As stories they were fine but I feel like I would have rather watched the movies.  There is also a lot about Hammett himself, his relationship with the movies and how those movies were received.  interesting but not what i expected.  a 5.

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova- Non-fiction! I actually read this one months ago, like in February.  I wanted to like it but that subtitle is a bit misleading. There's a lot of neuroscience and some of the the process by which Holmes does what he does but not much "how to" which is what i thought it was.  Interesting but not fab.  a 4. 

Feed by M.T. Anderson-Scary, shocking, depressing and good!  Read for my YA lit class.  I forced it on B just to have someone to talk about it to face to face.  My professor says, in general, teens love fantasy and hate sci-fi.  As someone who's always loved both, I certainly don't get that!  Perhaps kids automatically prefer fantasy over science fiction because they have more experience with it?  That is, many young children’s stories are fantasy.  All those fairy tales, talking animal, and magic item stories give kids a familiarity with the settings, tropes and rules of fantasy.  Kids aren't familiar with all the tropes of sci-fi so maybe that's why they don't like it? Are there any Science fiction fairy tales?  anyway, a 6. 

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau- I was a really strong reader early.  My parents also let me read anything.  As a consequence, I think I overestimate kids reading ability and their ability to handle what they read.  I say all this because I read this book for my YA lit class and I could have easily read it in 3rd grade.  It is a fine little story but not a favorite. Ember is a city surrounded by darkness and all light comes from lamps.  The lights are starting to flicker and no one knows why.  It is up to two kids, Lina and Doon, to save the city.  a 5 from me.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness- Saved my best for last! an amazing book I chose to read for class.  I'll post my booktalk summary:
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.  There are no women, no girls, and no children because all the females died just a few months after Todd was born.  There was a war with the Spackles, who released a virus which killed the females and made the males hear all the thoughts of the other men and all the animals around them.  They call this Noise.  Todd thinks he knows how the world is until he meets a girl in the swamp.  She has no Noise.  Her name is Viola and she crashed in her spaceship with her parents, who died in the crash, the first of a new wave of settlers to New World. Finding Viola sets off a journey where Todd must escape with her from Prentisstown to find Haven, the original settlement.  But the evil men of Prentisstown will not let Todd go without a fight and they will follow the pair all the way to Haven if they have to.  As Todd runs, he begins to understand that everything he thinks he knows is wrong.
It is an adventure book with plenty of action and suspense.  It is also very dark, like in a "shit just keeps getting worse and worse" way.  I immediately put the 2nd book on my hold list at the library. I give it a 7!

I'll do a graphic novel catchup soon!




11 July 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Neil Gaiman!

Wow wow wow!

B and I met Neil Gaiman last night!  
The line to get in

B being patient in the line to get in

It was really great.  We didn't get there until about 5:30 so we had to sit up in the balcony. 

 This balcony

The man himself. Yeah, I happened to be in "shiny bald guy" section

It was crazy warm/humid.  We had a thunderstorm during the event so he read from the portion in the book where the boy is running away from home during a thunderstorm.  There were definitely a few well-timed crashes of thunder that made me have goosebumps.  He did some Q & A which was pretty funny.  Someone actually asked if he and his wife were planning to have any kids.  His answer came down to "none of your business" which, having fielded that question myself from close family to practical strangers, made me want to cheer.  He also brought out Bela Fleck, who accompanied on banjo as he read a bit from Fortunately, The Milk
 
B was so incredibly patient.  I definitely did not prepare him properly for the amount of people and the wait we'd have.  We were, in fact, quite lucky.  Rather than just calling out sections in order or taking the earliest people first, they randomly pulled sections/rows. So like section 34, row A, section 5, row P, etc.  They called our row at about 9 pm and we were out about 9:45.  


 B took the pics, this was the best one of Neil Gaiman


Me saying "thank you" 11 times in 20 seconds and also apologizing for the humidity while Neil Gaiman signs one of my Sandman graphic novels.  

 Neil Himself was very nice.  It was really hot and he had to be tired but he was just  chugging along.  He even apologized to the woman in front of us about being a stickler about no flash photography; he said if he looks up while the flash goes off then he can't sign anything for five minutes because he can't see.  Who does that?  He was really great. 

The book, by the way, is really good.  I put "fantasy" as a tag but it is almost sci-fi. It is hard to describe and other people have done a better job than I would describing it. I'll just say it is dreamy and emotional and heavy.  Read it!

03 July 2013

Relistens!

I've made my way through three relistens of books.  I've listened to these books over the last few months and am just now getting around to posting.  

The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian- relisten, still great. Aubrey and Maturin are so great to read about. a 6.

I am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley- 2nd time reading, first time listening.  This is the Flavia Christmas book  I think I picked it up because I could not find anything to listen to.  still fun.  a 6.

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien- have read and listened to this one several times.  I always forget how much more the book covers than the movie.  a 7.

02 July 2013

Boy books!

I finished Slam by Nick Hornby, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and Monster by Walter Dean Myers. All are for my YA Lit class, Slam by my choice, the other two are assigned.  



so, what do i think about boy-based modern realism?  I think it's not so much for me.  And it shouldn't be. I loved Part-time Indian; it really touched me, was so good and so sad. I didn't like Monster; it was too ambiguous and I didn't like the movie screenplay structure.  Slam was in-between; the writing was great and I loved Sam but not much actually happens?  But I am practically the opposite of these novels target audience so it isn't surprising I didn't connect with them. I think a 14 year old boy would easily enjoy any of these books.  In fact, I have a nephew who's 13 tomorrow and I might pass Slam and Part-Time Indian on to him.  I didn't buy Monster so can't send it along. 

My ratings:
Slam:5
Monster: 5
Part-Time Indian: 7

01 July 2013

3 Doctor Who Audio thingys


So I listened to 3 Doctor Who audio... books? stories? adventures? Each was less than 3 hours on audio so that's not a book but I am not sure what the proper term is.  I didn't intend to listen to 3. See, what happened was I downloaded Pest Control from the library.  And David Tennant is just hypnotic. He narrates in his actual Scottish accent but then does the Doctor's voice for those bits.  He's got a whole bunch of accents in his pocket (his American sounds really angrgy!) and mimics his costars really well too.  So after I listened to one I went on audible and downloaded two more.  *sigh*

Pest Control-6.  I thought this one was the best and most like a real episode. It was almost like it was written as an episode and they realized they couldn't film it due to expense.  There's a war between humans and centaurs on some far off planet and the people keep turning into bugs and there's a giant robot hunting the bugs.  Doctor and Donna end up with the different factions and set things right.

The Stone Rose-4.  I liked this one the least.  Mickey shows the Doctor and Rose an ancient statue in a museum that looks just like Rose.  So they go back in time to have the statue made and shenanigans ensue.  It did have some very fun, trippy timey-wimey stuff in it but the bad guy was rather lame and the Roman setting just didn't do much for me. 

Feast of the Drowned-5.  Weird but good.  Modern London.  Ghosts of drowned people keep appearing to their living relatives, enticing the living to drown themselves in the Thames. Aliens are involved of course, Rose gets kidnapped, and the Doctor and Mickey have to save the day. 

30 June 2013

June Movies

Beasts of the Southern Wild: 7!!  this movie was really really good.  It is about a little girl, told from her point of view, about living in the bayou in Louisiana with her father.  A hurricane comes through, flooding the place and changing their lives.  It's definitely magical realism, or more like what life is like to you when you're 5 and everything is magical.  Highly recommended but be prepared to cry; B and I both were at the end.   

Easy A: I had to watch a teen movie for my YA lit class and chose this because i like Emma Stone and my friend D recommended it.  it's quite clever and worth a watch.  a 6. 

The Heat:  I am not normally big on comedies but D had free passes to a preview showing.  It was the weirdest movie experience i've ever had; the theater wouldn't let anyone in with a cell phone and was actually wanding people to make sure you didn't take it in.  Once inside and waiting for the movie, it was the loudest I'd heard in a theater in years.  As no one had a phone, everyone was talking to their neighbors!  The movie was funny.  Sandra Bullock is the straight-laced FBI agent while Melissa McCarthy is the freewheeling vice cop.  They have to team up to catch a drug lord.  I hope it does well. a 5.

Zero Dark Thirty:  Intense but not as intense as i worried.  Slow in parts and in other parts i was biting my nails.  a 6.