31 May 2013

May Movies

Iron Man 3:  I really really liked this one. Not quite a much as I loved Avengers.  Tony Stark becomes a person you might actually want to know and Pepper kicks some ass.  a 6.

LIfe of Pi: hmmm, so we should believe in God because it's a nice story?  I don't think the Christian story is so nice.  And certainly what people do in the name of religion is very not nice.  Setting all that aside, I liked the movie in general.  The kid Pi was a fine actor and the movie was very pretty.  a 5

The Great Gatsby:  well, i liked the movie a hell of a lot more than i liked the book.  3D really brought those parties and the excess to life.  I actually liked Gatsby and Nick this time around, though I don't see why Daisy's so great.  another very very pretty movie though.  a 5.

Star Trek: Into Darkness:  ok, here's one that I quite liked as I was watching it but afterward my brain kept picking it apart...Cumberbatch is amazing, action was fun, overall acting was good but I just wish the plot hung together better.  a 5

7 Psychopaths: another 5.  this one was not what i was expecting.  I guess I thought it was an actiony comedy, and in parts it was, but it was also very meta, commenting on stories and life and death.  not bad, just different. 

25 May 2013

Code Name Verity is AMAZING!!

It's been a stellar reading year so far, quality-wise at least.  Looking back over the past 5 months, throwing out rereads, I've rated 12 books as a 6 and 8 books as a 7.  That's pretty good for me; the same time period last year gave me 8 6's and just a single 7.  

This one blows them all awayCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is the best book I've read this year.  Set during WW2, Julie is a British (well, Scottish) spy captured in Occupied France.  She writes her confession, which is what we're reading, of how she, and the pilot Maddie, met, became friends, were trained for the war effort, and came to be in France.  It is a story that is just amazing.  

It's twisty and touching and wonderful!!  Watching as the relationship develops between the two women is great.  Julie is charming and funny and brave and so damn smart while Maddie is also smart on completely different subjects, and loyal and strong. I will say that even though the text is written as a first-person confession there is a resolution; the reader isn't just left hanging.  The structure is just brilliant and the events are not typical YA; these girls aren't angsting over things.  I don't know why this book is in the YA section but, regardless, it is really fabulous and worth the read.  Want some proof?  It was one of the Printz Honor books, was on the Carnegie shortlist and won the Edgar Allen Poe award for Best YA Novel.   

"It's like being in love, discovering your best friend"

19 May 2013

I'm finishing things too quickly!

Yoko Ogawa is a new favorite of mine.  I finished The Housekeeper and the Professor. It's about a man, the Professor, who is a math genius and who was injured in a car accident in 1975 and can only remember the last 80 minutes and the Housekeeper, a young single mom who helps take care of him.  Every morning, the Housekeeper has to introduce herself to the Professor, who pins notes to his suit so that he can remember things.  When he finds out the Housekeeper has a 10 year old son who's home alone, the Professor has her bring the son with her.  The son gets nicknamed Root and the rest of the novel is about the interactions between these three people.  It's a beautifully written, lyrical book that is sweet and sad.  I jotted down a few notes about the math to look up later then spent a few hours reading up on Wikipedia on the numbers and theories.  It is really a book I can't recommend too highly.  a 7.

I also read a graphic novel, Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido.  It's about Hawkeye, Clint Barton, from the Avengers movie.  Yeah, the guy who brought a bow and arrows to the superhero fight.  I had heard (maybe from another blogger) that this collection was good and it absolutely is.  It's about what he's doing when he's not Avengering...working for SHIELD, going to barbecues, rescuing dogs.  It's quite funny and would make a damn fine movie.  a 6.  

18 May 2013

Speak and Looking for Alaska

Yesterday I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Wow.  I knew basically what the book was about (girl raped at party, deals with it over the course of the school year) but hadn't expected it to move me so much.  Is it because of the (too many) high profile cases we've heard about over the last year?  Or because the main character goes by Mel? or just because i'm a human being and the book is so good?  probably a combo of all of the above.  You absolutely should read this one.  a 7.

Today I read Looking for Alaska by John Green.  An unexpected Wow.  I did not know anything about this one, which I think made it all the better.  It's about a boy who goes off to spend his last 2 years of high school at a boarding school in Alabama, in search of life and what he calls The Great Perhaps.  And stuff happens.  The build up, the events and the fallout all occur naturally.  Green is a great writer.  Another must read 7!

I read both of these for my upcoming YA Lit class.  There's a massive amount of reading 14 (well, 12 now) books plus there will probably be articles/scholarly stuff as well.  Getting through these two so quickly does make me think I'll be able to handle it though.  I am curious if my attitude towards YA will change.  I don't have a bad attitude exactly, and i've read much that i've enjoyed and loved (Harry Potter forever!), but I wonder who exactly these novels are written for.  Teens?  middle schoolers?  I was tearing through adult novels at that time, though I admit plenty were mediocre, in plot and writing.  They did introduce me to vocabulary and proper grammar and themes and places.  I just wonder if a teen reading mostly YA gets that now.  just thoughts...I'll see what I think in August.

17 May 2013

I finish a Doctor Who novel

I picked up Doctor Who: Shroud of Sorrow by Tommy Donbavand on a whim.  I had to go buy a kid's magazine and saw a stack of Doctor Who books on an endcap and plucked one up.  I mean, the cover looks fun.

So, The Doctor and Clara find themselves in Dallas the day after JFK was shot, which also happens to be the first day Doctor Who aired on TV.  An alien race called the Shroud become attracted to the nations grief and appears to various people in the form of faces of their dead relatives.  After getting a hold on a person, the Shroud takes the form of a woman in a veil and begins sucking the life from people.  The Doctor and Clara get a crew together and stop them.  

 I think the book definitely has the feel of an episode of the show.  It has some very slapstick moments and plenty of Doctor-speak.  It has some touching sequences which I would not at all have understood if I hadn't been watching some of the old episodes.  It was a very very fast read though, almost too fast.  I do kinda want to see what "downtime" in the Tardis looks like.  I mean, even if the Doctor doesn't have to sleep or eat, Clara (or any companion) does, and what are some of those times like?  Anyway, I would say this book is for fans of the show, not for someone who's never seen it.  a 5 from me. 

16 May 2013

So Instead of working on a school book

I read Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case.  It is a big graphic novel; the story of Jeff Jensen's (he writes for Entertainment Weekly and I loved his LOST recaps) dad Thomas Jensen.  Thomas Jensen was a police detective who spent years hunting the Green River Killer in Seattle, WA.  They finally caught him in 2001 due to new techniques to analyze DNA evidence.  The story is told in black and white, very well done and I don't know if I could have handled color murder scenes.  It goes back and forth in time as well, contrasting the interrogation with Jensen's early career.  It is quite compelling reading a glimpse into the mind of a killer and the man whose career is dedicated to finding him.  a 6.

15 May 2013

Vacation Books!

Last night, we got back from our vacation to Vermont.  B's cousin got married and we had a good visit with family.  I got to meet several people who'd been unable to make it to TN for our wedding last summer which was nice.  The weather was fine but got really cold (to me) the last couple days we were up there.  The flights were fine too.  I have to give big kudos to Southwest.  B left his wallet on the very last flight and not only did they find it and return it to us, they got our luggage out so fast that we missed the announcement and had to come back to the airport (a 15 minute drive from our house).  Thanks so much Southwest!!!  

I packed way too many books.
I completed 2 and started Master and Commander.  I also bought Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein while I was in VT and started that as well; I have to read it for my summer class.

The Diamond Age, or The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson: I am slowly working my way through Neal Stephenson's work. I really should try to do this more quickly as I have loved everything I read by him.  The Diamond Age is no exception.  It takes place about 80 years or so in the future.  There are no longer countries but enclaves of like-minded individuals, basically with franchises in various places.  One of the big ones are the Neo-Victorians who model themselves on British Victorian society but use modern technology.  Nanotechnology is ubiquitous and everything can be made through the Feed via a Matter Compiler.  The novel follows several strands of story, one major one being the life of Nell, a poor little girl.  She receives an amazing book, The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, that teaches, entertains and becomes her constant companion.  As she grows and learns the story the Primer tells becomes more interactive and more complex.  The novel is really fabulous; very well written.  a 7! 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: This was a reread for me.  I loved this book in high school and probably read it 4-5 times back then, as well as most of what Crichton had written by the mid-90's.  I probably hadn't read it for 10 years or more though. It actually holds up quite well; the lack of cell phones doesn't stand out as the characters are not in areas they'd be likely to function anyway. a 6. 

Since I had today off as well, I got through Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham.  This one was not that impressive.  I didn't like the art and I didn't think how the werewolves became werewolves was coherent with the Fables mythology.  Also, it seems about half the plot was lifted from the American Vampire story set in WW2 and that book did it way better.  oh well.  a 4.  

I've definitely been enjoying my reading and am back in that groove.  When I'm not reading I want to be.  This is good because I am taking Young Adult Lit this summer and have to read 14(!) books for it.  Yikes.  I should go read now!

03 May 2013

The Madness Underneath

I've been reading this YA series by Maureen Johnson.  I read the first book, The Name of the Star in January and got the second, The Madness Underneath, from the library.  It was really quite disappointing.  The story picks up a few weeks after the end of the first book. Rory is living with her parents in Bristol, recovering from her injuries and the trauma.  But how can she recover mentally when she can't tell anyone what happened?  She ends up back at school at Wexford and is determined to meet with her ghost-busting friends.  Their division is on a bit of a hiatus as the powers-that-be try to decide what to do with them.  After about 75% of the book is over, we finally get a bit of a plot and there's a cliffhanger going into book 3.

I guess the main disappointment is in relation to the first book.  It was self-contained and a full story, even if there were obvious things that would be left for the further novels.  This one felt like there was a whole book written, then it was chopped in half, then a bunch of junk added to the front to make it the same length.  The bad guys in this one are rather random and the events are disappointing as well. Is it a spoiler to say things happen that I disagree with but can't talk about because they'd be spoilers?  Anyway, this book is a 4 from me.