Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Don't Know Why I Do These Things to Myself...

A Literary Odyssey is doing a read-along of Homer's Iliad for the month of May and, being absolutely insane, I've decided to join in on top of all the other reading I have planned for the month.

I have until the 16th of May to get through the first twelve books and then the 31st of May to get through the last twelve. Definitely do-able.

This is my second time reading The Iliad. It was required reading for a class I took in college on ancient Greek history--the same class that made me want nothing more in the world than to be a professor of Classics. I have a special place in my heart for The Iliad and I even have a quote from it tattooed on my arm so I'm glad I have an excuse to reread it.


30 Day Book Challenge: Day Thirteen

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 day's I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Thirteen: A book that disturbed you

The answer to this question is also, ironically, one of my favorite novels of all time:

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was one of those books that I waited forever to read. I had heard good things about it and I had heard bad things about it. I knew the basic premise behind the book and the very notion of it skeeved me out. How the hell was I supposed to enjoy a novel that had subject matter of such a disgusting nature?

I read the book a few summers ago as part of my ongoing attempt at reading the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. I was hesitant, of course, and I was pretty sure that I was going to end up hating it. But within the first few paragraphs I became enthralled with the novel. Nabokov wrote this book in English, which is not his native language, and I feel that he has a better command of the language than most native speakers of English.

It was, however, a very disturbing novel. Humbert Humbert, our pedophile protagonist, is one of the most vile characters ever created. I'm not saying that I didn't like him, I'm just saying that I wouldn't want to meet this guy in real life. The most disturbing part about this novel (and I've heard this from both men and women, young and old) is that as you read the novel you begin to sympathize with him. I think that's the reason why Nabokov chose to write this in first person because by getting inside Humbert's twisted little mind you almost begin to understand him and why he does the things he does.

It's been a few years since I've read this book so you may find it here as a reread sometime in the next few months. I'll obviously talk more about it when I eventually review it, but for now I'll say that while this book left me feeling dirty and like I needed to take a scalding hot shower to get all of Humbert's sliminess off of me, I will forever and always consider it one of the greatest novels ever written.


Friday, April 29, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge: Day Twelve

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Twelve: A book you think should be made into a film

A few weeks ago, this was the topic for the Top Ten Tuesday list on The Broke and the Bookish. Here's the list that I came up with.

I think if I had to choose one out of the ten, however, I'd pick Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn. While I think the others would make superb films (especially Skulduggery Pleasant), I've been following Raybourn's career since the beginning and, I don't know, I guess I just wish that more people were reading her books, male or female. Here's her website and here's her blog. In addition to being a superb writer, she's a really down-to-earth person who actually converses with her fans, whether it's on Twitter, her blog, or Facebook. I like to see nice people succeed and I think she's definitely deserving of more attention.


In Which We Travel to Transylvania: A Review of Deanna Raybourn's The Dead Travel Fast

Despite the fact that I'm a huge fan of Deanna Raybourn's novels, I was a little skeptical about picking this one up. In today's world of vampiric over-saturation, I wasn't quite sure that I was going to like it. I'm getting really sick of anything that can turn into a bat and suck your blood and the idea that Raybourn had fallen prey to that sort of novel was, frankly, disturbing. I'm so glad that I was wrong. This novel was nothing like I expected it to be--it was far, far better.

Synopsis: A husband, a family, a comfortable life: Theodora Lestrange lives in terror of it all. With a modest inheritance and the three gowns that comprise her entire wardrobe, Theodora leaves Edinburgh--and a disappointed suitor--far behind. She is bound for Rumania, where tales of vampires are still whispered, to visit an old friend and write the book that will bring her true independence.

She arrives at a magnificent, decaying castle in the Carpathians, replete with eccentric inhabitants: the ailing dowager; the troubled steward; her own fearful friend, Cosmina. But all are outstripped in dark glamour by the castle's master, Count Andrei Dragulescu.

Bewildering and bewitching in equal measure, the brooding nobleman ignites Theodora's imagination and awakens passions in her that she can neither deny nor conceal. His allure is superlative, his dominion over the superstitious town, absolute--Theodora may simply be one more person under his sway.

Before her sojourn is ended--or her novel completed--Theodora will have encountered things as strange and terrible as they are seductive. For obsession can prove fatal...and she is in danger of falling prey to more than desire.

Review: Okay, so don't let the synopsis fool you. This book isn't some steamy romance novel with wooden characters that follows the same tired tropes. This is also not a vampire novel. I don't want to give anything away so I won't explain that sentence, just know that this is far from being a vampire novel. It is, in fact, a modern-day Gothic novel with just a hint of satire if you look hard enough for it. The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn is her first novel to feature a heroine besides Lady Julia Gray. While I can't say I think much of Theodora's name, I came to really like her--and the Romania that Raybourn has created.

It's 1858. Theodora Lestrange is a writer, publishing her mystery stories under a male pen name but dreaming of the day when she can just write as herself. She has no desire for a husband or a family. In fact, she chafes at the very idea that her sister and brother-in-law would try to help set her up just because they think it will make her happy. To make matters worse, her publisher, Charles, is rather smitten with her and asks her to marry him. What's a girl to do? What any self-respecting heroine would do--she gets the hell out of Dodge.

Her friend, Cosmina, invites her to stay with her in Romania in preparation for her marriage to Count Andrei Dragulescu. When Theodora arrives at the castle, however, she finds that Andrei has scorned her friend, who tells Theodora that she is relieved because she didn't really want to marry him in the first place. Cosmina may not be attracted to him, but Theodora sure is. This guy exudes sexy. He's dark and mysterious and a Count. I mean, let's be honest here, who could say no to that? But Theodora does. She can tell that he's interested in her, but she doesn't want anything to do with first.

Over time, she and Andrei strike up a friendship. He is an amateur astronomer, taking after his late grandfather, and he and Theodora spend quite a bit of time together talking about the stars and putting his grandfather's workroom back to rights. Where Theodora is from, this behavior is the height of impropriety; in Romania, it's perfectly okay for a man and a woman to talk together without a chaperon. Theodora finds Andrei, the castle, and the country intoxicating and freeing. She starts to plan on publishing the novel she begins working on in Romania under her own name and standing on her own two feet.

But things take a turn for the sinister when a maid in the castle turns up dead. The local doctor, a man by the name of Frankopan, tells Theodora the legends of vampires (strigoi) and werewolves. Being a logical woman, Theodora scoffs at the idea that the maid was killed by a vampire, but she soon finds herself believing quite a lot of things after a series of strange events in the castle. As the book progresses, Theodora goes from being a rational woman from Scotland to being a believer in the stories that she keeps hearing from the people around her. When Charles, her wannabe suitor shows up to collect her, he's shocked to find out that she's not the woman he knew only a short while ago. What's even more shocking, however, is what happens next.

I don't want to give anything else away (and, to be honest, I'm leaving a whole bunch of stuff out) so go and pick up a copy of this novel. While Theodora is no Lady Julia, she is a wonderful heroine in her own right. She's independent and stubborn and she knows that she doesn't need the love of a man to be someone. She wants to succeed because of what she does, not because of who she's married to. An almost unheard of notion at this time in history, Theodora is almost anachronistic and yet she's entirely believable. Because this is Transylvania, things are less strict and she's able to be more of who she wants to be. She changes throughout the course of the novel into the kind of woman that I could be attracted to if she were real--sensual, strong, brave.

Andrei Dragulescu is another matter entirely. I liked him and then again I didn't like him. He was a very well-created character, deep and with plenty of personality and history to keep my interest, but there were parts of him that I found to be rather obnoxious. I don't want to get into them too much because it would ruin some of the better parts of the book but I will say that I'm not quite sure that I found his change in attitude at the end of the novel to be entirely realistic. He is, of course, a swoon-worthy character and I'm sure that many females reading this book will find themselves drooling over him (I won't judge you for that). He's also quite fascinating but that cocky playboy attitude did get sort of taxing at times.

Also of note character-wise are Dr. Frankopan, the Countess (Andrei's mother), and Florian, the musically-gifted steward whose life circumstances made it impossible for him to follow his dreams. I could have used a bit more Florian to be honest, but the other characters in the book are just as great. Raybourn has a particular talent for creating unique characters that have not only their own voice but their own presence. She's also gifted at dialogue, description, plot, first person narration, and pretty much anything that a writer could possibly be good at.

I will admit that at times the book moved a little slowly, but for the most part it was well-paced. Some of the descriptions were so beautiful and detailed that I found myself rereading them, so maybe that accounted for part of the reason why it took me a few days to get through this book. I was utterly transported to Transylvania through Raybourn's words. I saw the castle, the surrounding countryside, the people, the village. Everything was clear in my head and I know that if I were to read this book fifteen years down the road, I'd still revisit those same images because they were so vivid and memorable.

As always, Raybourn's romance is subtle, restrained, and entirely romantic. There's no long detailed sex scenes, no ridiculous over-usage of words like "bosom," "heaving," "member," or any number of other words associated with books of a certain nature. That's because Raybourn's novels are never like those books. It's part of the reason why I shudder to even talk about these in terms of their romantic undertones. Raybourn is respectful of her audience and writes them so that even those of us (guys especially) who hate romance can enjoy them. They're smart and they're fun to read and they in no way deserve such ridiculous covers. If Silent in the Grave had originally had a cover like this book, I never would have picked it up and I would have missed out on a delightful author.

I'd say if you've never read one of her books before, start with her Lady Julia novels. I like the heroine a lot more and Nicholas Brisbane is, in my mind, ten times the man that Andrei Dragulescu will ever be. But if you get though those books and you're looking for a Raybourn fix, this is a good book to pick up while you wait for the next one to come out (The Dark Enquiry comes out in June for anyone who's curious).

I'm giving The Dead Travel Fast 4 out of 5 stars. It was a good book, but not one of her best, and parts of the end felt a little rushed. I was, however, very surprised by the "whodunit" reveal. Raybourn is one of the only mystery novelists who tends to keep me guessing until the end.


Book List for May/Final Decision on the Monthly Themes

Good morning, everyone! May is just a a few days away and I've come up with my tentative reading list for the month. I'll share it with you in just a moment, but first I wanted to announce my decision regarding the monthly themes aspect of my blog.

Sometimes you come up with a really good idea and then executing it just doesn't work out. The monthly themes were like that. I don't like to feel tied down and the themes kind of started to feel like that, even after only doing them for two months. I have shelves upon shelves of books at home that I've never read that have nothing to do with the themes that I picked and that don't really lend themselves to that kind of structure. I had only one person vote that they would really miss the themes, whereas the other people who voted either didn't care or didn't really like them, so I don't think you, my followers, are going to be too heartbroken. I think this will give me more freedom to just pick up any book I want to and will make me more willing to break with my monthly schedule of books without feeling guilty. It'll also mean that if I'm just not feeling a book, I'll be more likely to just put it down and move on.

I do want to announce two new features before I give you my reading list for May. The first is my Big Book of the Month. I have a ton of huge books on my shelves just waiting to be read (and a few that I'd like to reread) so I'm giving myself the task of reading one of these giant tomes every month. The second is the Series of the Month, which was born out of two things: first, the fact that I have a few series that I've started but haven't finished; and two, I have a few ongoing series that I'm reading and I like to reread the books in the series before reading a new one. "Series" includes things like trilogies, too, and none of the series are going to be over four or five books long. If these features don't work out, then I can always drop them in the future. Regardless, I'll still be here posting away about books. I'm not going anywhere, folks.

I also will be continuing with the "Read Me, Baby, One More Time Challenge" so I'll be doing a few rereads. In addition, I'm going to start chipping away at my To Be Read list (*gasp*).

So, I'm sure you're all curious as to what I'm planning on reading for next month. As always, none of this is set in stone but as of right now, here's the list:

-Big Book of the Month: Imajica by Clive Barker (reread)
-Series of the Month: Dante Valentine by Lilith Saintcrow (two rereads, three never-been-reads)
-Barrel Fever by David Sedaris
-A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (reread)
-Cosi Fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin
-The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt
-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (reread)
-Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
-The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (recommended by Nonners)
-Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman (Yes, another Neil Gaiman book. I'm addicted. Sue me.)
-Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (recommended by Becca)
-Possession by A.S. Byatt (recommended by Christa)

Total: 16 books

So what are you guys planning on reading in the near future? Let me know in the comments.


Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

It's Friday, which means it's Book Blogger Hop time! Every week, Jennifer at Crazy for Books hosts this event in which a question is asked and hundreds of book bloggers answer it. It's a great way to find new blogs to follow as well as some new followers for your own blog.

This week's question is: Summer is coming quickly--what 2011 summer release are you most looking forward to?

My answer: Today is apparently Deanna Raybourn day at Gabriel Reads. Not only am I reviewing one of her books, I'm also talking about her for today's 30 Day Book Challenge question. And now I'm dropping her name for the Hop.

My most anticipated summer release is The Dark Enquiry, Raybourn's latest installment in the Lady Julia Grey series.

It's going to be released in June, which means that I have until then to read the fourth book in the series, Dark Road to Darjeeling, because somehow I haven't gotten around to it yet. I'll be reading the entire series, including the newest book, in June as part of my Series of the Month feature that I'm debuting in May, so you can look forward to (or dread) that this summer.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Literary Blog Hop!

Literary Blog Hop

Okay, okay, so I've found yet another weekly meme thing. You have to admit, however, that I've at least been consistent in posting every day because of them. :)

The Literary Blog Hop is hosted by The Blue Bookcase and it's for book bloggers whose tastes run a bit more toward the literature side of the book spectrum. Each week a prompt is given and participants give their answer to that prompt.

This week's prompt is: Discuss your thoughts on sentimentality in literature. When is emotion in literature effective and when is it superfluous? Use examples.

My answer:

There are so many ways to use sentimentality and romance in literature. Some are better than others. Personally I find that emotions are much more effective when they develop gradually instead of appearing instantaneously as if by magic. I get really annoyed by the constant barrage of "love-at-first-sight" and "I love you because we were thrown together in a difficult situation" storylines that permeate novels. I also hate the "I'm angry or sad but my author is bad at writing these emotions" scenarios. As you'll see, it isn't just romance novels or "chick lit" that do this. These kinds of ridiculous notions abound in all forms of literature. There are, however, a few novels that get it right.

The Losers

Harry Potter

I love the Harry Potter series. They're fun, exciting, well-written. There's just one thing that J. K. Rowling seems to not be able to do--write a convincing love story. I enjoyed watching Ron and Hermione squabble themselves into a relationship. I think that their romance developed at a nice pace, with plenty of bumps along the way. Two other love stories in these books did not.

What the heck was with Lupin and Tonks? Lupin is one of my favorite characters in these novels and I quite liked Tonks when I first met her. Put the two of them together, however, and it just spells disaster. I couldn't find them believable as a couple. She was lovesick and he seemed to only be obliging her. He didn't even want to stick around after he married her. It was, frankly, a bad move on Rowling's part.

No. I don't particularly like Ginny, to be honest, but this whole relationship just seemed fake and forced. It was like Rowling was just trying to give Harry someone else to care about that he could possibly lose. I never got the feeling that they really cared about each other and it all happened so suddenly that I couldn't take it seriously. Development of a relationship is just as important as snogging, even in a children's book.

Wuthering Heights

If I ever found two characters I hate more in literature than Heathcliff and Catherine, I'd probably send the author of that book a fruit basket. She's whiny and vindictive, he's an abusive emo kid all grown up. It wasn't so much their love story that I minded; instead, it was Heathcliff's reaction to her death. Angry and grief have their place in literature, but these are both emotions that many authors can't seem to convey without being melodramatic. Heathcliff goes beyond melodramatic--he becomes downright psychotic. The next time anyone tells me that Heathcliff is an amazing, brooding character, I'm probably going to smack them.

Romeo and Juliet

Yes, I know that this is Shakespeare and therefore it's unconscionable for me to complain about this play. Romeo and Juliet, however, is to blame for much of the crap-tastic romance that we find in novels throughout history. Here is the classic boy-meets-girl-and-falls-madly-in-love-with-her-even-though-he's-just-met-her story. I hate stories like that. Don't get me wrong. I'm a romantic guy. I just don't believe that you can love someone at first sight. Love takes time, it needs to develop. You can like someone at first sight, you can lust for someone at first sight, but love is a gradual process. It takes trust and knowledge of the other person and a whole slue of other things that can't be gained during the first 2.5 seconds of meeting someone. This is why the story of Juliet and her Romeo really bothers me. Not only do they throw everything away for each other, they die for each other...and they don't even know each other's favorite color for crying out loud. This play has spawned countless other tales of star-crossed lovers as well as an infinite number of stories in which people just sort of fall in love and are each other's everything even though they know nothing about each other.

The Winners

Pride and Prejudice

There are some who will disagree with me on this, but I think Pride and Prejudice is not only one of the most romantic novels of all time, it's also one of the best romantic novels of all time. Jane Austen really knows how to build relationships and express emotion. When her characters are angry, they're believable. When they're sad, they're believable. When they're in love, they're very believable. The relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet doesn't happen overnight. They don't just fall into each other's arms two seconds after being introduced and declare their undying love for one another. Instead, it takes an entire novel for them to finally get over their own personal flaws and discover that they are truly meant for one another. That, my friends, is a good use of sentimentality.

The Importance of Being Earnest

I'm including this on the list of winners because Oscar Wilde is so good at satirizing sentimentality. There are no sacred cows in this play--love, hate, propriety, friendship; everything is skewered by Wilde's sharp-tongued words. Here we have four ridiculous characters who are all self-absorbed and shallow. The women think they love the same man, Earnest (who doesn't even exist), just because his name is Earnest. The men want to marry the women because, well, they're hot. The play is funny and it really plays with emotion in a unique way. Emotions are something to be ridiculed. They are not to be admired but, rather, they are to be discouraged (at least, if Lady Bracknell has anything to say about it). The Importance of Being Earnest is a great play to read if you're getting sick of all of the mindless, superfluous romance out there.

Great Expectations

I read this book for the first time when I was in high school and it really touched me in ways that other books hadn't before. Pip, despite being kind of whiny, is a wonderful character, as are the others that populate the world of Great Expectations. There's a lot of emotion running through this novel--love, anger, fear, hatred, sorrow, betrayal, revenge. Dickens weaves them throughout the story with a deftness unsurpassed by other writers. One of the greatest things about this book, however, is that Pip never really gets what he wants. His love of Estella is unrequited and his pining for her is so poignant that I couldn't help but feel for him.

There is a time and a place for sentimentality. It all comes down to whether or not the author is skilled at expressing emotion and whether or not they're just trying to rush the love story to get to whatever the payoff is at the end. One last example of this is Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier--the novel versus the film. The novel is about the journey, not the destination. Inman's travels through the South on his way home from the Civil War are far more important to the story than his actually getting home. It's one of the reasons why Frazier used allusions to The Odyssey. The film, however, makes the journey less important, which I think is a travesty. Rather than showing how Inman changes on the road to Cold Mountain, the film picks and chooses his encounters and throws them around haphazardly because, in the end, it's all about the sex scene between Nicole Kidman and Jude Law that comes at the end of the film. The destination is now more important than the journey. Frazier's novel uses emotion and romance in a subtle way; Minghella's film throws it all in your face and expects you to be happy with it. I, for one, was not.


Three Books Thursday: #7

It's Thursday, which means it's once again time for Three Books Thursday. This week, due to a paper, a project, and a whole lot of posts that I need to write for next week, I'm borrowing a "Three Books..." list from NPR. I just finished reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick so I thought a list of books about movies would be appropriate. This link takes you to a list called "Three Books About Our Affair with Movies" which was compiled by Anthony Giardina.

Also, look for a post about my decision regarding the monthly themes as well as my book list for May tomorrow morning.


30 Day Book Challenge: Day Eleven

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Eleven: Your favorite book that has been made into a film

I'm going to answer this question in two ways: first, my favorite book made into a film; second, my favorite film based off of a book. There's a distinct difference here. There are books that I love that have been made into films and there are mediocre books that have been made into films that I love.

So, my favorite book made into a film is:

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh is one of my all-time favorite novels. It's funny, it's gritty, and the characters are insanely memorable. It also made one hell of a decent film. I saw the film first, before I even knew that it was a book, and I was surprised to find how true to the novel the film was. The screenwriter, director, and producer were all big fans of the novel and they also got input from Welsh himself. I read an interview once where one of the filmmakers (I think it was the screenwriter) said that they all sat down and debated about which bits to put into the film. The book, which is pretty long, isn't linear and some of the characters only show up for one chapter, maybe two, so they had to really condense things. The character of Tommy in the film, for instance, is an amalgam of several different characters from the novel because there were a lot of great bit characters that were involved in some of their favorite scenes that they didn't want to take out but they were shooting on such a low budget that they couldn't afford a huge cast. 

Favorite character in the book: Francis Begbie
Favorite character in the film: Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle) 
Favorite scene in the book: Sick Boy and Renton shooting at things in the park
Favorite scene in the film: Tommy explains what really happened with Begbie during the pool match

Trainspotting trailer (WARNING: contains slight nudity)

My favorite film that was based off of a book is: 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman is yet another film that I saw before I knew that it was also a book. The difference between this film and Trainspotting, however, is that I really, really disliked this book. For all of my raving about how much I love Neil Gaiman's novels, I thought that the book was kind of...dull. The ending, especially, was very lackluster. Anyone who has seen this film (and if you haven't, you really should) knows that right before the very end of the film (you know, the happy epilogue part), there is a really dramatic fight scene and some very good acting by Michelle Pfeiffer (as well as that awesome bit with Prince Septimus). I won't give away the end of the book but I will say that there's none of that. In fact, the book sort of just ends. It was incredibly disappointing. The film, however, is one of my favorites. I thought that the cast was well-chosen and that the parts that were added to the film that were lacking in the book were well done. It's a very beautiful story and incredibly unique and imaginative, I just think that the film got it right where as the novel...well, it was Neil Gaiman's first, so we'll cut him some slack.

Favorite character in the book: Yvaine
Favorite character in the film: Prince Septimus (Mark Strong)
Favorite scene in the book: Yvaine at the inn
Favorite scene in the film: Prince Septimus punishes the old seer for lying to him (A. Ma. Zing.)

Stardust trailer: 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge: Day Ten

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Ten: A book you've always meant to read and never got around to

The answer to this question used to be Brave New World but I finally read that book last semester. The new answer to this question would have to be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.

Since I've found out about this book a few years ago, I've been meaning to read it. A friend of mine even bought it for me for Christmas last year so I physically own a copy I just haven't sat down to it yet. I want to reread Pride and Prejudice again before I read this book, so it's all just a matter of finding time to fit them both into my schedule. Perhaps I'll put them on my reading list for May.

Also, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is apparently being made into a movie. Is anything not made into a film anymore?


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge: Day Nine

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Nine: A book you read when you feel down

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the book that I read most often when I'm down is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I'll just open it up to a random page and read whatever's on the page. It never fails to make me smile.

NOTE: This is the only post for today. I'm not even doing Top Ten Tuesday. Yesterday I spent several hours putting together some of the posts for next week when I'm on vacation. Notice that I said some. I still have several days worth of posts to do and I don't want to burn out this week.

That having been said, I'm really excited for next week, and not just because I'll be on a road trip. I've got something extra-special planned for you guys that I'm really hoping you'll like. What is it? You'll just have to wait and see.


Monday, April 25, 2011

The Magic of Film: A Review of Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Sometimes I have to dig around to find a new book; other times, new books just fall into my lap. That's what happened with The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (first cousin once removed to Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick, according to The Internet Movie Database). My college library has a room devoted entirely to children's literature because of all of the education majors. It's a quiet place to work (complete with bean bag chairs) and my friend Ben and I were doing homework in there the other day when I happened upon this book. It was literally just lying on the edge of the shelf like it was begging me to take it home with me. The cover caught my eye and when I flipped through it, I saw pages and pages of beautiful illustrations. I was definitely not going to pass up a book like this.

Synopsis: Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks--like the gears of the clocks he keeps--with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the train station, Hugo's undercover life and his most precious secret are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

With 284 pages of original drawings, and combing elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning, cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.

Review: This. Book. Is. Amazing. At over 500 pages, I thought this book would take a while to get through. I found, instead, that it was a very quick read. Not only was the story engaging, but the book was designed in such a way that it could be flown through in a few hours.

I'm going to preface this review by saying that I'm not a visual person. I don't like graphic novels because I tend to just read the words, forgetting all about the pictures...which are kind of the point of a novel being graphic. It's for this reason that I'm not sure I'll ever read Neil Gaiman's Sandman books. So, I went into Hugo Cabret a little tentatively. I figured that the pictures would bog the book down or would be superfluous, but this wasn't the case at in. In fact, as the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words and these pictures spoke 284,000 extra words in addition to the text.

The basic premise of this novel is that young Hugo Cabret has been orphaned and is living in the clock keeper's apartment in a train station in Paris in 1931. His uncle, the clock keeper, has disappeared, leaving Hugo to keep up his work so that no one will discover that he's there and send him to an orphanage. The only things he has left of his past are a notebook that his dead father left him and a mechanical man, one of the automatons that magicians used to create for their magic shows. This automaton is seated at a desk with a pen in his hand and Hugo knows that if he can just fix him that it will reveal a secret message to him, probably from his father. Hugo begins stealing mechanical toys from the toy shop in the train station in order to use the parts to fix the automaton.

One of Selznick's illustrations, which shows Hugo and the automaton.

Hugo gets caught and the old man who runs the toy shop makes him pay back what he's stolen by doing work for him. Through a series of thefts and misunderstandings, Hugo finally gets the automaton to work. The message it reveals to Hugo and the old man's goddaughter, Isabelle, begins a whole new story, which involves discovering who the old man really is and helping him to find himself again.

Selznick's story is vibrant and his characters are likable. His illustrations, however, are what really make the story tick (ooh, clock pun). Rather than being drawings of things that he has already talked about, they are scenes that he is not describing, such as a chase scene or a series of drawings that are being looked at. It's hard to explain fully, so I highly suggest reading the book so you can see for yourself, but the illustrations complement the book nicely and are so beautiful and detailed that it's almost like you're watching a movie.

Speaking of movies, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is slated to be released as a film later this year. Directed by Martin Scorsese, it features Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, and (rumored) Johnny Depp. Um, I don't know how this film could be any more awesome.

Speaking further of movies, film plays a huge role in this novel. I can't tell you why without ruining the second half of the novel, but because of this, Selznick intersperses film stills from films like Safety Last and A Trip to the Moon throughout the book. Old film buffs will like this book and it may help to spur people who aren't a fan of silent movies to go check some of them out.

The famous clock scene from Safety Last!, starring Harold Lloyd.

I loved this book for its intricate plot, its subtle character development, and its gorgeous illustrations. This is truly a tale for children of all ages.

Favorite quote: "I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means that you have to be here for some reason, too." (p. 378)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret gets five out of five stars.


30 Day Book Challenge: Day Eight

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Eight: The book you can quote best

At first I was going to say that I didn't know how to answer this because I didn't think I could quote any books. And then I realized that I was being a moron because there's one book that I have quoted ad naseum since I first read it: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, meaning the first book in the series, not the entire thing.

Words of wisdom from Mr. Adams.

I have several friends who are just as in love with this book as I am and we used to quote it to each other when we were undergraduates. I think two of my favorite quotes are:

-"If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now." -Zaphod
-"This must be Thursday," said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. "I never could get the hang of Thursdays." 

I got home really late on Sunday and was too tired to write a review for The Invention of Hugo Cabret but I promise it'll be posted later today. Tuesday morning at the latest. 


It's Monday; What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Each week, book bloggers take stock of what they've read the previous week and what they're planning on reading during the week to come.

What I Read Last Week:

-The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

-The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

What I'm Currently Reading:
-The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn

What I'm Reading This Week:
-A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

-The Complaints by Ian Rankin

-Numb by Sean Ferrell


Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Dreams Made Real

I follow a French blog called Le dévore tant, which I discovered during last week's Top Ten Tuesday. Today I found this picture on that blog:

Library (2007) by Lori Nix

It's called Library and it's a piece of art from 2007 by an artist named Lori Nix. Even though I had never heard of her or seen her work before, this picture immediately made me do a double take. I had a dream several years ago about a room just like this: a huge library with high windows and trees growing up through the floors. It's obviously not the same room (that would be a little Twilight Zone even for me) but it brought me back to that dream and the aching feeling I had when I woke up and knew that I would never see that room in real life.

I'm not huge on art; I appreciate it but I'm not an aficionado or anything. Seeing this picture, however, made me cognizant of what art of any sort--painting, poetry, novels, sculpture, music, etc.--can really do. It brings our dreams to life. It makes them real in a way we never thought possible. We as consumers and creators of art in all its forms are playing amongst our dreams.

I just finished reading Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret (review coming tomorrow) and one of the characters in that novel says something very similar about film. Nix's Library made that sentiment all the more real to me today.


30 Day Book Challenge: Day Seven

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Seven: A book that reminds you of somewhere

I'm one of those people who has an awful short-term memory but a crazy good long-term memory. As such, I'm able to remember where I've read certain books. Because of this, rereading books tends to remind me of the places in which I've read them: in bed, on the porch, sitting on a park bench, in the library, etc.

There are, however, two books that remind me of one of my favorite places on earth (Pittsburgh, PA) and not because I read them there but because I bought them there. I have a very close friend who lives in Pittsburgh and a few years ago when I went to visit her I hit the jackpot on used books in foreign languages. First, at a used bookstore that I wish I could transplant to Rochester, I found a copy of Homer's Odyssey written in the original ancient Greek. I haven't tried to tackle it yet because my ancient Greek is at such a low level but someday when I've got a few more years of study under my belt and I'm feeling particularly adventurous I'm going to grab my copy of Liddel and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon and go to town on The Odyssey.

I apologize for the quality of this picture. My phone's camera sucks.
But you can still see the sheer awesomeness. 

The other book that I found in PA that summer was a copy of Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo (a.k.a. The Hunchback of Notre Dame) in the original French. My French is significantly better than my ancient Greek, but I still haven't managed to sit down and try to tackle it yet. I think I'd like to try to read something a little less daunting in French first (like Harry Potter or Hop on Pop) before I start trying to read classic literature en français.

Again, camera sucks. The person who owned this book before
me apparently decided that doodling on a book cover is okay.

Both of these books will forever remind me of Pittsburgh and of all the amazing adventures that my friend and I have every time I go there.


100th Post!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: my 100th blog post.

This is actually a pretty momentous occasion for me. I've mentioned before that all of my attempts at blogging in the past failed miserably, so the fact that I'm still blogging and that I've reached my hundredth post is astounding. What's even crazier is that I haven't even hit my two month blogoversary yet. Now, what that says about me is up for debate, but I'd like to think that it means I'm a dedicated blogger.

Anyway, in honor of my 100th post, I've decided to give you 100 book-related tidbits. None of the lists are in any particular order.

10 Favorite Novels
1) The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
2) The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
3) House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
4) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
5) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
6) Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
7) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
8) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
9) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
10) Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

10 Favorite Trilogies, Series, etc
1) Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
2) Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
3) Discworld by Terry Pratchett
4) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
5) The Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle
6) The Lady Julia Grey Series by Deanna Raybourn
7) Dante Valentine by Lilith Saintcrow
8) Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
9) Madd Adam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
10) Redwall by Brian Jacques

10 Favorite Authors
1) Victor Hugo
2) Neil Gaiman
3) Margaret Atwood
4) Kurt Vonnegut
5) Jane Austen
6) Douglas Adams
7) David Sedaris
8) Tim O'Brien
9) Terry Pratchett
10) Deanna Raybourn

10 Favorite Book Characters
1) Severus Snape from Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
2) Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker
3) Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
4) DEATH from Discworld by Terry Pratchett
5) Charles Wallace from The Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle
6) Clopin Trouillefou from The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
7) Duncan Idaho from Dune by Frank Herbert
8) Skulduggery Pleasant from Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
9) Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
10) Major Major Major Major from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

10 Favorite Book Baddies (as seen in this post)
1) Severus Snape from Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
2) Dowd from Imajica by Clive Barker
3) Crowley from Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
4) Teatime from Hogfather (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett
5) IT from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
6) Francis Begbie from Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
7) Lord Havelock Vetinari from Discworld by Terry Pratchett
8) Dom Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
9) Inspector Javert from Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
10) Billy-Ray Sanguine from Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

10 Characters I Absolutely Despise
1) Uriah Heep from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
2) Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
3) Amy Henderson from The End Is Now by Rob Stennett
4) Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
5) Jean Valjean (and Marius and Cosette) from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
6) Bella Swan from Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (okay, I despise pretty much every character)
7) Charles Marlow from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
8) The Man from The Road by Cormac McCarthy
9) Catherine (and Heathcliff) from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
10) Kelly from Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates

10 Favorite Films Based on Books
1) Stardust (based on the novel by Neil Gaiman)
2) Chocolat (based on the novel by Joanne Harris)
3) The Lord of the Rings trilogy (based on the novels by J. R. R. Tolkien)
4) Trainspotting (based on the novel by Irvine Welsh)
5) A Clockwork Orange (based on the novel by Anthony Burgess)
6) M*A*S*H (based on the novel by Richard Hooker)
7) The Princess Bride (based on the novel by William Goldman)
8) Stargate (inspired by the premise of Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken)
9) Apocalypse Now (based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness)
10) The Never-ending Story (based on the novel by Michael Ende)

10 Favorite Literary Couples
1) Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2) Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane from The Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn
3) Wesley and Buttercup from The Princess Bride by William Goldman
4) Hermione and Ron from Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
5) Yvaine and Tristan from Stardust by Neil Gaiman
6) Jody and Tommy from Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck and Bite Me by Christopher Moore
7) Cecily, Gwendolen, Jack, and Algernon from The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
8) Winston and Julia from 1984 by George Orwell
9) Gentle and Pie 'Oh' Pah from Imajica by Clive Barker
10) Meg and Calvin from The Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle

10 Books that Should be Movies (as seen in this post)
1) Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
2) Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
3) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
4) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
5) The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
6) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
7) Hell by Robert Olen Butler
8) Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
9) House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
10) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

10 Favorite On-Screen Portrayals of Book Characters
1) Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) in Harry Potter
2) Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) in The Princess Bride
3) Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle) in Trainspotting
4) Prince Septimus (Mark Strong) in Stardust
5) Alex (Malcolm McDowell) in A Clockwork Orange
6) R. P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
7) Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) in M*A*S*H (television series)
8) Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
9) Duke Leto Atreides (William Hurt) in Dune (television mini-series)
10) Ruby (Renee Zellweger) in Cold Mountain

Living with the Dead: A Review of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book

A few days ago, I posted my thoughts on this book after having read the first few chapters. Today's post is the conclusion of that review.

Synopsis: Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy--an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack--who has already killed Bod's family.

My Review: It took me about a week to read this book. Rarely has it ever taken me so long to finish so slim a volume. In fact, I've read 800 page books in just a few days. At a little over 300 pages, The Graveyard Book should not have taken me a week.

The issue was, as I said the other day, that it took me far too long to get into this book. As a series of short stories that are compiled into novel format, I would just get into the narrative and then the chapter would end and a new story would begin and the process would start all over again. It also took me a while to warm up to Bod, the living boy who resides in the graveyard. I felt that he was a sort of bland character and that there were others in the book--the vampire, Silas, especially--who were far more interesting. I finally got behind Bod during the second half of the book...which is also when I was finally able to settle in and enjoy the novel.

My biggest issue with the book is that it didn't focus enough on the man Jack and his reasons for wanting to kill Bod. There were hints here and there throughout the book that something bigger was going on, but when the resolution of the novel's back story was finally revealed at the end, it felt kind of forced and tacked on. The book, instead, focused on Bod growing up and learning lessons through his various adventures. It was almost like I was reading a series of morality tales.

Gaiman is, of course, an excellent writer and this shows throughout the novel. I was able to visualize everything--the Graveyard, the town, the people. It was like I was watching a vivid movie in my head and it was wonderful. It's not often that I can see things so clearly, but Gaiman is an author that has never failed to create such in-depth worlds. Even if I wasn't always engaged in the story, I felt like I was there, actually watching what was going on.

The book ends on an almost bipolar note--it's happy and sad at the same time. I actually got kind of teary-eyed during the last chapter, something that I won't often admit to. Gaiman has said that he might be writing a sequel to the novel and I could see it being quite good. I came to like Bod as the book progressed and I'd be interested in seeing what happens to him in the future. I do have to say this, however: if Mr. Gaiman is reading this, might I suggest a lot more Silas in the next novel?

Altogether, the book was fairly decent. It wasn't as good as I've come to expect from Neil Gaiman, but the ending of the novel was far more well-paced than the beginning and I ended up reading the last 100 pages in about an hour or so (compared to the four days it took me to read the first half of the book). If the book had been a little longer, I think that more could have been done with Bod finding out about his past but I'm not going to complain too much.

It pains me to say this, but I'm giving The Graveyard Book 3.5 out of 5 stars. I think that's the lowest you'll ever see me rating a Gaiman book, although I have a few more waiting to be read and reviewed, so we'll see. If this had been a more cohesive novel, I think I would have rated it much higher. Short stories are short stories; novels are novels. Blending the two together just didn't do it for me.

As you can see by my "On Deck" list, I've given up on the theme for this month. I still haven't made a final decision yet regarding the monthly themes, but there are still a few days left to vote, so if you feel strongly one way or another, let your voice be heard.

I'm about halfway through my current read, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznic (who, yes, is related to David O. Selznic of Gone with the Wind fame), which is a delightful read that practically threw itself at me the other day. I'm hoping to have a review of that up by Monday morning, but it'll depend on whether or not I finish it today.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge: Day Six

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Six: A book that you either couldn't finish or struggled to

There are several books that I could pick for this, but I'm going to choose a series rather than one book: Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles.

For some strange reason, I read The Tale of the Body Thief first...which is the last book in the series. I don't remember how that happened but it may have been that that was the only book available at the library at the time. Regardless, I wasn't super impressed with it (in fact, I was kind of tempted to mail Anne Rice a thesaurus because of her overuse of the word "preternatural") but I decided to try to read the whole series. I think I got through half of Interview with the Vampire before I gave up. I'm not sure why it didn't appeal to me, but I just couldn't seem to get into it.

I'm picking this series because I've decided that one of my goals this year is to read as many short book series as I can, about one a month. This is going to be one of those series. It's been years since I've made the attempt to finish one of these books and it's about time that I tried again.

So, even though I didn't get through them the first time around, perhaps this time I can do it. I'm not sure which month I'll get around to it, but you can look forward to (or dread) my reviews later this year.


Friday, April 22, 2011

My Thoughts So Far: The Graveyard Book

I have a confession to make: I'm having a really hard time getting into The Graveyard Book. I feel like such a bad Neil Gaiman fanboy. It's not that it's a bad book. It isn't. But for some reason it's not jiving with me like his other novels have.

I've been reading Gaiman for over five years now. I read him, I reread him, I force others to read him. If Neil Gaiman were a religion, I'd probably be a bishop or something. I love his characters, the worlds that he builds, the way he writes. He's darkly funny and funnily dark. He's in my top ten favorite writers of all time for gods' sakes. And yet...I just can't seem to read this book.

I was really looking forward to it, too. And I'll finish it. I really will. But I've been taking it in really small bites, which is screwing up my reading schedule for the second week in a row. I've gotten through the first three chapters and am working my way through the fourth. Because I still have quite a ways to go, I thought I'd give a review of what I've read so far.

The Graveyard Book starts off with murder--a good start for any book. A man with a knife has killed almost an entire family and is about to finish off the last member: a baby. The only problem is, he can't find it. The baby, who is walking and climbing by this point, has gotten out of his crib and has walked out the front door. The baby decides to walk right up to the top of the hill near his the graveyard. The man follows him there but is persuaded to leave by one of the graveyard's inhabitants. The baby is adopted by a couple of ghosts and is given the Freedom of the Graveyard; the vampire, Silas, is made his guardian. And so the book begins.

The next few chapters show the boy, called Bod (short for Nobody), at a different age and tells the story of one event in his life in the graveyard. He is not allowed to leave because the graveyard grants him protection from the man with the knife who will surely kill him if he leaves. Therefore, his friends and family are the graveyard's inhabitants and all of the major events in his life happen there.

Okay, so much for plot. Here comes the review:

I'm not really sure that I like the way the book is set up. The idea behind it is great. I love graveyards and ghosts and I think the idea of a living boy being raised by the dead is actually really genius. But the chapters are almost like short stories, which is a genre that I've had problems with in the past. I was kind of hoping that the book would have some sort of story line (and it may have in later chapters that I haven't gotten to yet) so the long snapshots that Gaiman gives each chapter has been sort of off-putting.

Gaiman, for me, is all about well-plotted novels that are darkly adventurous. Characters are well-established early on (with just enough left out to make them intriguing) and they go through his novels on a path that shows some sort of direction. So far, this hasn't been the case. I haven't read Coraline, his other children's novel, so I don't know if the same is true for that book. I guess I'm just used to his adult novels which, while vastly different from one another, follow relatively the same rule: they grab you on the first page, hang onto you by your throat, and don't let go few a few hundred pages.

I don't mean that his novels are mile-a-minute cheap thrill rides. I just mean that the stories themselves are so good that you don't want to put them down. You're hooked right from the first word and you feel loath to close the book after the last word. The Graveyard Book has yet to hook me.

In fact, I'm not even sure that I really like Bod. He's just a kid in a graveyard. He doesn't even remember his family so there isn't any emotional back story. Unlike Shadow in American Gods, Richard in Neverwhere, and Tristan in Stardust, Bod doesn't find anything about his world odd. Sure, he likes to go exploring and he has questions about almost everything, but Shadow, Richard, and Tristan were sort of dumped into a situation that they had to figure out along the way. Bod is just kind of coasting through so far and he complains for most of it. I like stories where people discover the world around them (and themselves in the process) as the book progresses. Gaiman does this especially well and, while I'm not saying that every novel he writes should be exactly alike, I think that's something that the character of Bod is missing. There are some characters that I like--Silas, for one and Caius, for another--but they are used very seldomly and so far they haven't played a huge role in the story.

Gaiman's writing is superb as always but the dialogue drags on occasion. Part of this is his use of really old terminology, which I actually think is rather genius. Most of the characters are ghosts that haven't left the graveyard in hundreds of years. They should be talking in outdated English and Gaiman does this very well. It does, however, make the dialogue a little...much sometimes.

As I'm not even halfway through the book, I have hopes that things will pick up soon and that I'll come to love this novel. The only Gaiman novel that I was truly disappointed with was Stardust but that was because the movie was so bloody brilliant and the ending of the novel (which is very different from the ending of the film) was so lackluster. I'd hate to add a second book to the very short list of Gaiman Novels I'd Probably Never Reread.

I should have a full review up by Saturday.


30 Day Book Challenge: Day Five

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Five: A book that you've read the most times

I was originally going to say that it's Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, but then I remembered that it's actually:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling. When the series was still ongoing, I reread all of the previous books before reading the newly-released book and I have reread the entire series again since the last book came out. That means that I've read this book a total of about 8 times. It may actually be more than this because I attempted a few rereads of the entire series that had to abandoned because of lack of time. 

If Harry Potter didn't exist, however, the answer would have been Good Omens.


Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

Jennifer at Crazy for Books is once again hosting the Book Blogger Hop. Every week a question is asked and hundreds of book bloggers answer it.

This week's question is: If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?

My answer: Abso-freaking-lutely. Well, most of the time. You all know about my unhealthy obsession with Neil Gaiman novels, most of which I read soon after reading American Gods. And right after I put down my first Discworld novel (Interesting Times), I was already planning which Terry Pratchett novel I would buy next.

Sometimes, however, I wait awhile before I pick another novel up by the same author. I didn't read another Vonnegut novel until a few years after I read Slaughterhouse 5. This is mostly because he had so many that I didn't know which one to read next. It wasn't until a friend suggested that I read Breakfast of Champions that I really got into Vonnegut's works. 

The other issue is, of course, that a lot of the authors that I read write series. Occasionally I'll find a book that I'm interested in and love it, only to find out that it's the first book in a series...and the rest of them haven't come out yet. This was the case with Justin Cronin's The Passage and Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave. Now, while Raybourn has subsequently published three other novels in the Lady Julia series (as well as a fifth novel with completely different characters), the next book in Cronin's trilogy isn't slated for release until 2012. 

So, yes, I will usually scour bookstore and library shelves for books by authors that I've just discovered that I like, but from time to time there are mitigating factors that prevent me from doing so. 


Thursday, April 21, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge: Day Four

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Four: A book you lent out once, never got back, and miss

I don't think I've ever not gotten a book back. I'm really protective of my books. If I've lent it out, it's probably something that I really loved and if you haven't given it back to me within a few months, I'm gonna go grab it back. 

Completely unrelated note: my project of doom is finished. I'm now back to reading so I should have some actual real content on my blog within the next few days. :)