Thursday, October 11, 2012

Like a Soap Opera, but with Crotchety Proper People - a Anna Karenina Update

I'm a month in and about halfway done with Anna Karenina! Okay, by half way I may actually mean 46% (thanks Kindle for reminding me how long winded Tolstoy is).  For the most part I've been pleasantly surprised by what an easy read Anna has been. My only real issue, besides the length, is the amount of time Tolstoy has spent talking about farming. I do not care about crops, cows or how wet the roads delivering the hay are, especially if I'm going to have to endure several chapters of nothing else.  Otherwise the characters have been compelling and there are enough different story lines to keep me interested.

Oh, and I keep humming Les Mis songs ever since I saw This Trailer during a brief reading break.  I know, I know, revolutionary France and high society Russia are nothing alike but my subconscious doesn't seem to care. Plus I Dreamed a Dream seems to fit Anna as a character nicely.

My partners in crime for this readalong are not fairing as well. Marty dropped after 10 pages, but promises to see the movie with me and was kind enough to let me recap 300 pages of intrigue and scandal to her at work yesterday. One of our regulars (we work at a coffee shop) interrupted us to say that Tolstoy just didn't get the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll lifestyle. I think he missed the point.   On the other hand Kirsten is only a couple dozen pages behind and has plans to catch up soon.

In case any of you missed it Joe Wright and Company have released (number) new posters for Anna Karenina. I think they really capture what's at the heart of the novel, at least as far as I've read.

I am getting really excited for this movie. I am in love with the casting. Keira Knightly period pieces are easily one of my favorite things and the ensemble includes the likes of Matthew Macfadyen, Jude  Law, Domhnall Gleeson, Michelle Dockery and many more!

Are any of you excited for Joe Wrights Anna Karenina? Do these new posters sway you? Let me know in the comments! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
(and Other Concerns)
Mindy Kaling

Back in college I was in love with the Office. It was the only show I would still go out of my way to try and watch. I couldn't wait to see what Michael and his gang of misfit paper salesmen would get into next! The longer I watched and the more time I put into my Screenwriting classes the more I probed into not just the overall show but the writing staff as well. From this I learned that not only did Mindy Kaling play the delightfully ditsy Kelly Kapoor but was a integral part of their writing team as well!

Imagine my delight when years later, when The Office has since lost my interest,I find that Mindy Kaling has written a book! Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me is a collection of essays about Mindy's life, from her childhood as the chubby daughter of Indian immigrants, high school friendships and the comedy worlds of New York and LA. It's not Shakespeare, but it is sure funny, easy to relate to and a little inspiring.

I recommend this book if you're looking for a quick, funny read. Or were/are a fan of the Office. Or want to know what it's like to pretend to be Ben Afflect. What are you waiting for? Netflix the Office, DVR The Mindy Project and buy this book!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Diving into Tolstoy

Today is Leo Tolstoy's birthday 184 birthday! Okay, he really died at 82 and if a 182 year old man tried to talk to me I'd run for the nearest church, but that is beside the point. Since the internet was kind enough to point out Leo's birthday to me today it also brought something else to my attention -  the fact that I have never finished a Tolstoy novel!
In my world of floor length bookshelves and addiction to all things European this is practically a crime! In response my good friend Kirsten and I have decide to do a three month read-a-long of Anna Karenina in the hopes that having another person to talk with will make will make Russian high society more accessible. We start tomorrow, and with a pace that will have us finishing around Thanksgiving (and just after the Joe Wright/Keira Knightly movie comes out) I should be able to get through a few shorter books as well!

Are any of you excited for the new Anna Karenina movie or currently reading the book? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reading for Comfort

I am one of those router-less twenty somethings. Those ones that pop up on the new's as cautionary tales. The unemployed, or in my case, underemployed. When looking for Big Girl jobs while staying positive and motivated becomes to much I turn to what I like to call comfort books. Comfort books are big for me because they can pull me out of a rut, brighten my mood and remind me of better, or at least more interesting times. My comfort books range from Tracy Chevaliers The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Pride and Prejudice and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which I wrote a similar entry about several months ago.
However, all three of these pale in comparison to Harry Potter. Sometimes when I'm overworked and just feeling down it just takes those first few words in Sorcerer's Stone to make me a 11 year old girl again. I love rushing through all seven novels feeling like I'm growing up with Harry again, and I love knowing that the next time I need a pick me up after a few hard months he'll be there, ages 11- 17, going through harder times than myself and always ready with a lesson.

 I think, for now, I've found a solution to a bookish dry spell and hopefully some new transpiration for the future, thanks to my number one comfort book. How about you? Do you have a favorite comfort book you go to when you're feeling down? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Coraline - Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

Almost a year ago I skipped a few classes to see Neil Gaiman speak at the One Book, One Chicago for his featured book, Nevermore. As far as authors go he is one of the nicest and most accessible out there. Plus I love his twitter and blog. Since I already owned Neverwhere , Stardust and had already read The Graveyard Book the next best option was for me to buy a signed copy of Coraline and expand my little Gaiman library. It was a good choice.

In a new, dull house chosen by her boring parents Coraline finds a locked door with nothing but a brick wall behind it. But what happens one day when she opens the door not to find a wall but an alternate universe, complete with alternate parents and a cat that can talk? And why do her "other" parents and neighbors have buttons for eyes? You'll have to read to see.

One of the things I absolutely love about Neil Gaiman's young adult/children's books is how accessible they are to all readers. Coraline is no exception. Above all it is a fairy tale worth of the Grimms. My only complaint about this 162 page child friendly adventure in fantasy and horror is Coraline herself. She's a clever girl, yes, and I respect her and the role girls like her have played in fairy tales, but she is whiny and really hard to relate to or like.

Overall Coraline is a great, fast read. It was everything I wanted from a modern fairy tale. The villains were the stuff of my childhood nightmares, the animals shout outs to some fantastic animated movies and the overall experience pretty great.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Illuminated - Orloff

Erica Orloff

Callie's about to spend the summer before her senior year in New York City with her Uncle Henry. She thought that being a glorified assistant at his auction house would be the highlight of her three month stay until she meets August and they embark on an adventure to find the owner of an old and mysterious book.

At first glance Illuminated sounds interesting. YA mixed with a bookish mystery that could rival The Shadow of the Wind. Unfurtuneatly all the back cover left me with was broken promises. Illuminated is 99% unbelievable romance, and when I say unbelievable I mean texts in the middle of the night saying "I'm thinking of you" after knowing each other for five hours and dialogue that would make a wedge of cheese cringe.

When Callie, August and her Uncle Henry (who is clearly the best, most believable character) actually talk about the illuminated manuscript that the story claims to focus on there are some interesting moments. Since these frail pages may have belonged to Heloise and Abelard's son Astrolabe the historical exposition is interesting, especially if you don't know much about the star crossed lovers and their less than desirable fates. However, these moments are few and far between. Even the search for proof proves unsatisfying. A trip to Paris that is set up to be rife with danger turns into little more than a typical vacation, with a rarely mentioned villain never gracing the reader with their presence.

Overall I'd recommend you stay away from Illuminated if you are interested in anything but a cheesy teenage love story, because that's really all you are going to get from these 244 pages.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Playing Hooky

This seems like the perfect Top Ten Tuesday for me to jump back in the game with, especially since I had a long weekend off and going into work seems like some especially sadistic kind of medieval torture.

Top Ten Books I'd Play Hooky With:

Harry Potter - JK Rowling - It's a very good thing these books came out in the summer because otherwise young me would have been faking a lot of colds just to find out what was going to happen to Harry and his friend.

Mockingjay - Collins - I admit it, I've jumped on the bandwagon, and in case you missed my review of Hunger Games, I am disappointed in myself for letting hype get in the way of me starting an amazing series. I'm in the middle of Mockingjay now and I am just dreading going to work this afternoon where I will be separated from the mess that is Panem and forced to make people lattes.

Pride & Prejudice -  Austen - You know those spring days when all anyone has talked about our weddings and summer plans and all you can think about is jumping into an Austen novel? Those days when all you want is to jump into bed with a paperback Mr. Darcy and a glass of Moscato? If you don't I don't think we can be friends.

The Secret History - Tartt -  What Pride & Prejudice is to spring reading The Secret History is to winter. It's engrossing tale of six classics students and a few murders is more than enough to keep me cooped up away from school or work.

The Night Circus - Morgenstern - If the circus is only going to be around at night then I'm going to spend all day reading about it! That is if I can sneak out of all of my other obligations. Seriously, Everything about the Night Circus is addicting - from it's characters to it's fantastic setting. I couldn't put it down.

The White Queen - Gregory - There's something about Gregory's historical fiction that just makes me lose my mind. One minute i'm watching Doctor Who and drinking Starbucks and the next I'm wearing a gown heavier than I am and dancing at court. I picked the White Queen because it's one of my favorites of hers and because it is a part of her cousins war series so if you want to play hooky for a few days you'll have enough to read.

Anything by David Sedaris - His life puts mine to shame. He's witty, he's traveled, and his family stories put mine to shame! A great guy to take a personal day with while you both envy and pity his life.

The Book Thief - Zusak - For some reason I don't want to play hooky with nice lighthearted reads. I want something like The Book Thief that will make me fall in love with the characters and then rip them away. Something with some gravity to it. Something that I probably shouldn't be reading in public because I'm crying to hard and getting snot everywhere.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Hunger Games - Collins

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins

I kept putting off reading The Hunger Games. Catching Fire had come out when I just started blogging and the whole internet seemed to be obsessed with these YA books that appeared to be equal parts love story and drama. Of course I was wrong, and of course it took me another three years to finally get around to reading  the series (I'm in the middle of Catching Fire now!) and am totally jumping on the bandwagon.

For those of you who don't know, The Hunger Games is set in a future version of North America called Panem, where the area has been split up into 12 Districts. As a result of a prior rebellion each year the Districts have to send two tributes, A boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to compete in the Hunger Games as punishment. The Hunger Games are a fight to the death with only one winner. Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old from District 12 takes the place of her sister Prim when her name is called against all odds. From then on Katniss is a tribute, and even though she's from a District that hasn't won in 24 years that doesn't mean she won't be a fierce competitor.

Like I said earlier, I wasn't sure about this series. Maybe it was because Twilight had made me weary of anything classified as a YA Series, with "Team" shippers, or maybe I hadn't yet learned to trust the amazing bloggers I follow to post honest reviews, but in the end it was my loss. The Hunger Games is short, around 370 pages, and each page is jam packed with a story that is compelling, even if it's easy to see where the book will end.

While I'm not a fan of Katniss as a character I do love Collins focus on character development and how it interacts with the very limited perspective Katniss as a narrator offers. Her fellow tributes are equal parts terrifying and intriquing because she has such limited knowledge of them. Even a character like Peeta can grow from being a mostly dull pretty face to a futuristic romeo figure without it becoming cliche.

I'm glad I finally joined the Hunger Games club, and am crazy excited to see the movie next Friday (okay, I thought it actually came out yesterday and had a minor fit when I realized I was wrong). It's totally worth a trip to your local library if your still not sold on the premise. It's a fast, fun read that you won't be able to put down, and if your like me you'll be running to your nearest bookstore to pick up Catching Fire within the week.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dear Reader

Dear Reader(s)
(if there are any of you still around, if not hi internet, how's it going?)

I've been a bad blogger. Actually, I've been a bad reader, and that's the root of the problem. We're over halfway done with February and I've finished a total of one book, and not even a particularly good book at that. I'm tired of every blog I finally get around to writing starting with "I'm sorry" and a list of excuses. In all honest I just haven't been able to really sink myself into a story. I'd pick up a book, read five pages, set it down, maybe spill some Diet Pepsi on it (oops!) and then do the same thing with the next tome.

It's taken me almost two months and an overwhelming feeling of restlessness and a little guilt to find a solution. Rereads. Now I'm not talking about my usually Harry Potter speed read that I seem to do every year without trying, but instead rereading those books I know I love but have left to gather dust on my shelf. In truth I wasn't sure if this was going to be enough to pull me out of this funk, but I looked through my shelves and picked up the first book that made my heart flutter. It's been two years since I've picked up Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and within half a page I knew my worries had been for naught. Less than 24 hours later and I can confidentially say that Foer's brought back my desire to plop down on my bed and read for hours.

Now who could resist that.

I shouldn't be surprised. After all JSF's novels have traveled with me from high school to this weird post college haze, and I've never for a second stopped loving them, and when I'm at my lowest of lows I know that a few pages from Extremely Loud can brighten my mood. Over the years I've fallen in love with a handful of authors, many of whom I return to when I'm feeling childish, or philosophical, or just a little angry but there's only one who I turn to when I'm sad and a little lost.

So, hopefully this marks my return to the blogosphere, and I'll try to have a few reviews up within the week. Thanks for sticking around!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011, what do I have to say about you? If you've been following me for a while you'll know that this last year I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts and got a new puppy, who is now almost a full grown dog. I moved from Chicago back to my parents house in Michigan and that I had a few of my biggest reading slumps ever. Needless to say with so many big events 2011 was a bit of a mixed bag for me, and I am not sad to say that it is over. I didn't complete my original goal of 75 books over the year, nor my amended goal of 50 but came in with a respectable 40.

My goals for next year are simple. Enjoy what I'm reading, don't let blogging become a chore and not to let book/page count stress me out!

Here's a list of the books I completed in 2011
1. The Imperfectionists - Rachman
2. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk - Sedaris
3. The Crying of Lot 49 - Pynchon
4. The Winter Ghosts - Mosse
5. The Odyssey (abridged) - Homer
6. Clara & Mr. Tiffany - Vreeland
7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone - Rowling
8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Rowling
9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Rowling
10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Rowling
11. The Paris Wife -McLain
12. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Rowling
13. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Rowling
14. Exit the Actress - Parmar
15. Midnight Sun - Meyer
16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling
17. The Tragedy of Arthur - Phillips
18. Far to Go - Pick
19. Leaving Van Gogh - Wallace
20. Pride & Prejudice - Austen
21. The Alchemist - Coelho
22. The Night Villa - Goodman
23. My American Unhappiness - Bakopoulos
24. The Magicians - Grossman
25. The Ghost Orchid - Goodman
26. The Drowning Tree - Goodman
27. A Game of Thrones - Martin
28. Tree Of Codes - Foer
29. The Secret Lives of Dresses - McLean
30. Slaughterhouse - Five - Vonnegut
31. The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Allen
32. Coraline - Gaiman
33. The Winter Palace - Stachnaik
34. The Night Circus - Morgenstern
35. There But For The - Smith
36. The Lady of the Rivers - Gregory
37. The Secret History - Tartt
38. Mr. Fox - Oyeyemi
39. The Little Prince - Saint-Exupery
40. Winnie-the-Pooh - Milne

Have a great 2012!