Woe is May

This past month hasn’t been the best for reading books or updating my blog, which is pretty obvious, considering my last entry was April 18th. Between in-house work, freelance, and trying to write the second draft of my YA book… Enough excuses. Shame on me. Seriously. So, books.

I’ve Read:

Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick
A hilarious and touching YA story featuring a “freakishly huge” boy and his friend who’s super tiny and super smart. Sharp and funny dialogue. I loved both characters, but why, oh why, must someone die?

Good Bones and Simple Murders, by Margaret Atwood
A collection of short stories that demand to be read again. She says so much in so few words.

Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol
A quick read. Interesting enough story. Great illustrations.

I’m Reading:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
Totally enamoured with this book. I’ve had it on reserve for months, and it finally came in on Saturday.

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
My “classic” book for the month. Enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. I think I had convinced myself it would be stuffy and a slog to get through. Not in the least.

Neglected, Again

Wow wee. A full month since I last updated. What’s my excuse? Well, I’ve been busy working on my second draft of Hunter High, and of course, reading, reading, reading. I guess it’s easy to get out of the routine of updating once a couple of weeks have passed! So, my favourite books this past month…

Allison Hewitt is Trapped, by Madeleine Roux
A zombie novel written as a blog by Allison during the apocalypse. Gruesome, honest, and funny. Plus, it begins with Allison and five of her colleagues trapped in a bookstore. Let me say one thing, Allison is mighty handy with an axe.

Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion
Another zombie novel, this one told from the perspective of a young zombie called R. R is going through a crisis; he doesn’t want to be what he is, and through his relationship with a human girl, Julie (he ate her boyfriend’s brain), he starts to change. That’s all I’m going to write. I don’t want to ruin it, but hear this, it’s sad, sweet, gory, and hopeful. A unique take on the genre.

The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt
Not a zombie novel. Hallelujah. Recommended to me by a friend, this book is one of the best YA stories I’ve read in a while. I loved the main character, 12-year-old Holling. He’s so charming and sweet and clueless, plus he’s forced to read Shakespeare by a teacher he believes hates him. His dry sense of humour is priceless.

Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos
Also loved the young narrator in this book. Jack is “grounded for life” and is forced to help an elderly woman write obituaries for the summer. There’s murder, rats, baseball, and bomb shelters. Heavy on the local history.

Required Reading

I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which led me to re-read The Catcher in the Rye, as reviews of Wallflower kept referencing Catcher.

I read Catcher 15 years ago, and I must admit, I enjoyed it way more this time than back in university. I don’t remember Holden being that funny and sensitive.

I feel cheated in a way. Many of the books I read in university, I don’t think I enjoyed, and I know it’s because I had so much to read and it became a chore. It was like, here’s another two classic fiction novels; read them before the end of the week. I couldn’t take the time to enjoy the books.

So my plan is to include a classic into my reading rotation. I’ve also been pushed to do this by my recent viewing of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. The film was jam-packed with literary references, and I got most of them, but it made me realize how much I had forgotten. When the film ended, I immediately went online to find a literary reference cheat sheet.

By the way, The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Simply beautiful. It’s firmly on my favourites list.

The Girl Who…

Last night, I went to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. My thoughts? A decent movie overall. Not amazing, but then again, I find that always happens when I’ve read the book. The movie stayed pretty much true to the story, but I must say the character of Lisbeth Salander doesn’t come across as complex onscreen as she does in print. There were certain instances during the movie when the audience actually laughed at something she said, and let me tell you, I had no inclination to laugh while reading. My take on Salander is that she doesn’t have a sense of humor; everything she says is exactly how she means it. She doesn’t do irony or sarcasm.

My friend enjoyed the movie. She quizzed me about what happens to Salander since she knows I’ve read the second book and am halfway through The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I gave her a few hints, but no way would I tell her the whole story. It’s so much better to read it for yourself. On that note, I should get back to it. I read recently that Stieg Larsson had intended to write ten books about Salander and Blomkvist. Obviously, that won’t happen since Larsson died before the first three were even published. I wonder if the third book ends on a cliffhanger or if there is some resolution. I also wonder what Larsson would think about the popularity of his books…

Decisions, decisions…

So I finished reading Book 7 of The Walking Dead (hardcover edition) and that brings me to the end of issue 84. All I can say is, “Oh my god. CARL!!!” (I’m totally not giving away what happens here; just that something happens.)

What an intense read. Those last 20 pages or so… Wow. You think everything is relatively calm since the group has found safety in an inhabited gated community, but you just know something bad is coming.

I noticed that the six-issue trade paperback, which contains issues 85-90, came out on December 27. I’m so tempted to buy it, but that goes against my collecting the 12-issue hardcover editions.

And now I’m debating whether to begin reading the new Stephen King book, 11/22/63, which is about a man who goes back in time to stop the assassination of JFK, or start The Girl Who Played with Fire. I know that I will not be able to put either of them down once I begin, and all chores will be avoided.

Buffy Season 9

Buffy Season 9 has been out since September, and while my plan was to wait until Dark Horse published the trade paperback, I couldn’t stop myself from buying the first single issue last week. (I really did go to Silver Snail to buy presents for Trevor!)

Anyway, it was great! Like I mentioned in a previous post, I almost gave up on Buffy Season 8 as I felt the story had gone totally off the rails, but Whedon managed to reign it back in with the last two issues, and I’m happy to see that Season 9 begins in the same vein.

And here’s a little Buffy cross-stitch I did for a friend’s Christmas present. I can’t take credit for the pattern, though; this genius belongs to weelittlestitches.

The Marriage Plot

I’m currently reading a hardcover edition of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. I’m enjoying the story, but finding it’s not one of those books that I’m dying to get back to every time I put it down. On the other hand, I started The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (on my Kobo on the subway as I headed to CBC) and cannot put it down. Well, except to write this short entry.

From npr.org:

The Marriage Plot involves a romantic triangle among three college students. Madeleine is an ambitious English major studying semiotics. Mitchell is a religious scholar from Detroit who travels to India to work with Mother Teresa; and Leonard is a brilliant philosophy student and a manic-depressive. All three are about to graduate from Brown University in 1982.

The problem is that I should be finishing Freedom because it’s due at the library tomorrow, but Eugenides has me hooked.

Neglect

Oh, what a neglectful blog writer I’ve been… Work ramped up (from three different directions!) and this blog was the first hobby to go. Bad Tara!

Anyway, just wanted to say I flew through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last week. A totally addictive read. I now understand what everyone was talking about. Must get my hands on the next couple of books. Lots of dialogue, little extraneous description. And the character of Salander is enticing. Razor sharp, aloof, sensitive, cold, downright lethal at times. I’m excited to see how she’s portrayed in the film version.

Also read The Privileges. Set in New York, and centred on a couple who marry and have children young, it explores the lifestyle of the privileged. How much money is enough? What are you willing to do to ensure your family has the best of everything? What does that last sentence even mean?

And now I will finally get to Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. It’s been a long-time coming.

Biographies

I’ve been on a big bio kick this past week:

I’m more of a fiction gal, but had decided earlier this year that I would try to match every fiction book I read with a non-fiction book. I finished Mindy Kaling’s, and loved it. Such an easy, fun read. If you’re even a somewhat fan of The Office, pick it up.

I’m halfway through the Gloria Steinem bio and just started Bossypants on my Kobo. The Steinem bio is not a fun, easy read like Kaling’s, which is fine. It’s not supposed to be. And the title hits home; I feel like I’m the one getting an education.

I had wanted to read more about Steinem after listening to an interview with her on CBC. I had always known she was instrumental in the feminist movement, but didn’t actually know much about her. Listening to her speak with such eloquence and intelligence, it made me wonder, why the heck didn’t I know more about her. Why had her name never come up in junior high or high school?

The more I continue to read about Steinem’s life, and all the women around her, the more cheated I feel.

The Big Short

I’m halfway through The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis. It’s a non-ficton book examining the events that led up to the 2008 U.S. stock market crash. It’s been a bit of a learning curve as I have no background in feeder markets, credit default swaps, bond and real-estate derivative markets, sub-prime mortgages, etc. It was slow-going at first while I tried to wrap my head around all the new (to me, at least) terms and concepts.

The thing I like about this book is that the author writes it as a character-driven narrative; he doesn’t throw a bunch of facts at you. He weaves them in while describing the people behind-the-scenes, what they were doing and thinking, how they were reacting.

It’s a fascinating, unbelievable read. I need to finish the last 150 pages tonight; it was due at the library today!