March 2015

Another month draws to a close in 2015 and I plowed through a ton of challenge books this month, bringing me just past the half-way mark. There were quite a few titles this month that I really enjoyed, including an old favorite from when I FIRST started to get excited about reading on my own, one that threw me back to my high school days, and another that reminded me of some of my true passions through college. Ah, such nostalgia! So, without further ado, this month’s completions!:

leigh bardugo shadow and bone grisha trilogy
A book written by a female author: Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo
stephen king revival
A book written by an author you love that you haven’t read yet: Revival, by Stephen King
the kiss of deception mary e pearson remnant chronicles
A book with a love triangle: The Kiss of Deception, by Mary E. Pearson
perfect ruin lauren destefano internment chronicles
A book set in the future: Perfect Ruin, by Lauren DeStefano
david levithan two boys kissing gay
A book set in high school: Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
animorphs k a applegate
A book from your childhood: Animorphs #1 The Invasion, by KA Applegate
peter cameron someday this pain will be useful to you
A book that became a movie: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, by Peter Cameron
holly black the darkest part of the forest
A book published this year (2015): The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black
laurell k hamilton incubus dreams anita blake vampire hunter
A book with more than 500 pages: Incubus Dreams, by Laurell K. Hamilton

Top Two:  Aw, do I have to pick only two??
The Darkest Part of the Forest – Oh, oh, oh…. Now, I’ve read Holly’s Curse Workers trilogy as well as Coldest Girl in Coldtown, all of which I have greatly enjoyed. Yes… I know… I haven’t read Tithe or Spiderwick… or Doll Bones… but those are on a list, somewhere. But THIS! Ah, Holly — I don’t know if you’ll ever read or see this, but thank you for this book. I love the dark, shadowy feel the worlds she builds, and I love the classic (as in more authentic) portrayal of faeries and other such folk. In fact, I had to dash out and pick up Andrew Lang’s Collection of fairy books from Barnes & Noble (Sorry indies!) and I can’t wait to work my way through those stories again. My college photography career was guiding me towards fairy tales and mythology… those things really inspired me, and while reading DPotF, I felt those familiar sparks of creativity. Not to mention, it was so incredibly refreshing to have a gay character that was treated just as normally as other characters and not as a stereotype. So, Holly — thank you. 🙂

Two Boys Kissing – Oh, my dear, sweet David Levithan. This was remarkable. I don’t usually dole out blind, sweeping praise, but oh, how I love his work. Told from such an original point of view, this story speaks to different levels of the gay community without being condescending or beating readers over the head with a preachy history lesson. There are so many little passages that are such gems, words that are positive, affirming and uplifting. I’m so glad this book has been written.

Bottom Two:
Revival – Here’s the problem… I really liked the books this month. Well, except maybe for Stephen King. But I didn’t DISLIKE Revival; I know he could have pushed it a bit more. King does such a good job of creating religious zealot characters that I really wanted him to take Revival to the next level. Think back to Carrie – Margaret White is a wonderful example of a nutty religious figure. King also does a good job of riling the other characters up around this trope, like the chorus of people in The Mist(EXPIATION!), and while I enjoyed Revival, I had much higher expectations for it.

Perfect Ruin –  This is another title I had high expectations for… but just as many reservations. I remember when I moved to New England, somehow I discovered that Lauren DeStefano was an author that lived not-too-far away, and there was a lot of promotion for her debut book Wither. I started listening to Wither on audio right before I listened to Siege and Storm, and I got perhaps a disc in and I just wasn’t finding myself as engaged in the story. Mind you, this has also been the case with Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire. I’ve been in a very indecisive state lately. Perhaps I should have taken that as a sign. What drew me to Perfect Ruin initially was because it reminded me of the video game Bioshock: Infinite, which is set in the floating city of Columbia. I couldn’t help but use that game as visual references, especially since there was this gritty underbelly featured in both stories. That said, I will most likely continue to read this trilogy. Burning Kingdoms just came out this month and I have the ARC…. It just wasn’t my absolute favorite. Like with Wither, I wasn’t gripped… though, (semi-spoiler) the princess towards the end of the book actually has some spunk to her! She’s the reason I’ll pick up the next installment for sure.

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Dirty Bird

 

 

 

Y’all knew my break from reading Stephen King wouldn’t last long! This may be my last King book for the year — it’s certainly the one on my to-read list for this year… there’s only a few left now! Next up is Misery: about a writer that is held captive by his #1 fan. Popularized by the film starring Kathy Bates, I was excited to work my way through this one. I also rented the movie (because why not?) to compare. King’s work has always stuck with me, and I’m glad I finally read Misery. It might not be my favorite, but Annie Wilkes is a stand-out, unforgettable character.

 misery, stephen king, kathy bates

 

Many already know the story, but to recap for those that don’t, Misery is about a writer, (as so many King books are) Paul Sheldon, who has a car accident while driving in a snow storm and is saved coincidentally by a big burly woman, Annie Wilkes, who happens to be his number one fan. She also just happens to be cockadoody crazy. Annie nurses Paul back to a some-what better health than before. As a kind of sick payment, she forces Paul to write a sequel to her favorite book series he wrote. In the meantime, she’s got him hooked on pain killers and confined to a single room.

I love books that get a reaction from me, and I found myself really cringing at some parts: especially the iconic *SPOILER* axe-to-the foot *END SPOILER* scene. Also appreciated was the background on Annie through her scrapbook. In fact, I would have loved reading even more, especially with her family, her college days, knocking off all those people in the hospital, her marriage… Long illness, short illness, whatever the case, Annie is one dirty bird that I can’t get enough of. Can there be a prequel please?? Yes, the premise of the book is interesting, but I find it to be more of a character study on poor Annie here. How often do you read a book that’s like a moving portrait of a person?

This book made me think about those times I’ve blathered on in front of authors I’ve met. Honestly, hanging around someone day in and day out for nearly a year like in Misery would tarnish their image for me. Once you realize authors, (celebrities, etc) are really just people, and they live boring lives just like the rest of us, it’s just not as exciting anymore. So let’s keep things exciting! Let authors roam free!

Verdict: READ THE BOOK. Though the movie was good in its own way, this is yet another Stephen King book that lives a better life on the page than on the screen. Absent from the movie are the cut-a-ways to Paul’s in-progress novel, Misery’s Return, which I found oddly fascinating. And what happened to the axe? Instead it’s a sledgehammer? Hey, at least Annie Wilkes is still cooky, somehow lovable, yet despicable. Kathy Bates made the movie.  I don’t often say this of adaptations to the screen, but Misery the movie was a very watered down version of the book. It’s like weak tea. It’s still tea, you still get the smell and taste of tea, it’s just not as flavorful. Misery the book ranks high on my most-liked King book list. The movie… needs to be steeped longer!

That’s all for now folks! 🙂

PS
Technically I listened to this book, and the audio is amazing. Brilliant job!

Always Trying to do the Right Thing

 

Book number three from my bracket is Cujo by Stephen King, in which a rabid dog kills four people and terrorizes a mother and young son trapped in a broken-down car.

cujo

Growing up, Cujo was one of those books (and movie) by Stephen King that was considered too graphic for my young disposition. This was, of course, before my grandfather decided to sit my little sister and I down to watch Pet Semetary one day. All I remember about Cujo is that it was about a big scary dog, and I shouldn’t watch it because we had dogs and there was no need to be afraid of them. Now that I’ve finished the book, I could maybe see how this would have left a lasting impression on me when I was young.

As with most of King’s work, I fall right into his rhythm of storytelling. I so appreciate his attention to flesh out small details that other authors would simply pass over to plow ahead with the action. This depth and nuance is what brings me back to King over and over again.

While writing Cujo, from what I understand, King was in a bad spot. Drinking heavily throughout most of the process, King allegedly does not remember writing much of the story, which then left him wide open for negative criticisms. Some have said this was one of King’s laziest works, others say it was just filler. I disagree, and rather suggest Cujo be looked at again for further consideration.

On the surface, it’s a sad story about a boy’s dog that is infected with rabies and goes on a bit of a killing spree, with an unlucky mother and son being caught in the middle. I suppose there’s something to be said about the mother’s infidelity, but I find her dedication to her son redeeming in many ways. What I find curious (SPOILER) is that the son dies slowly from dehydration, yet the mother survives. Ultimately, she and her husband reconcile their differences and the loss of their son somehow stitches their marriage back together, rather than tearing it apart… but what does that have to say about King’s thought’s about her character? Is this her punishment?  I was totally surprised that the son died in the end, alone, in the car that he was stuck in for over two days. Poor little guy…

Right at the end, King enters a post script about Cujo:

“It would perhaps not be amiss to point out that he had always tried to be a good dog. He had tried to do all the things his MAN and his WOMAN, and most of all his BOY, had asked or expected of him. He would have died for them, if that had been required. He had never wanted to kill anybody. He had been struck by something, possibly destiny, or fate, or only a degenerative nerve disease called rabies. Free will was not a factor.”

If free will is not a factor in the things we do… how can we ever be held accountable for our actions? Are we all propelled through our lives without any choice in the matter? (Do all roads lead to The Tower? Do we all serve The Beam?) Perhaps trying to always do the right thing is all we can do to convince ourselves that we are autonomous. Or maybe it’s just an excuse.

Battle of the Books

People may think my book choosing methods are strange, but honestly, I just find it amusing. Considering my lack of interest in sports, a book bracket may be as close as I get to some type of Fantasy League. Here’s the breakdown:

I chose two books from eight different categories, yielding sixteen titles total. (Well, six. I doubled up on two categories.)

  • Stephen King Classics: Cujo vs Misery
  • Travel: A Year in Provence vs PTown
  • LGBT fiction: Will Grayson, Will Grayson vs The Brothers Bishop / In The Line of Beauty vs Hero
  • YA series (having 3 or more titles): Insurgent vs Rebel Heart / Beautiful Darkness vs Reached
  • Kindle Books (fiction): Ten vs Better Nate Than Ever
  • Fiction: Little Children vs Dogs of Babel

Once selected, I set the titles against one another in their respective categories and flipped some coins and followed the paths of the bracket tree. The resulting list will govern the order of the books I will read over the course of the next year. With my recent acceleration in reading (like reading 35 books in 14 weeks for class) I imagine this will be a breeze. I may push a title to the front of the list as an audiobook becomes available through OverDrive or my library.

  1. Reached
  2. Insurgent
  3. Cujo
  4. Dogs of Babel
  5. Hero
  6. Ten
  7. The Brothers Bishop
  8. A Year in Provence
  9. Rebel Heart
  10. Beautiful Darkness
  11. Will Grayson, Will Grayson
  12. In The Line of Beauty
  13. Misery
  14. Better Nate Than Ever
  15. PTown
  16. Little Children
Battle of the Books
Battle of the Books

Here we go!

It’s Time I Knew Her Name

Hush, Faithful Reader,

Let’s diverge from this young adult trend, as ugly as that may seem. I’m hungry for the games of a more mature  friend. I’ve reached an opening in this maze and found my match, the legend: Stephen King.

How many YA books did I just reference? 😉

But I said her name. Stephen King’s beginning… Carrie. (Another that is seeing a new theatrical release, this upcoming October.)

Someone recently expressed their excitement about the new adaptation of Carrie and it got me thinking about King’s work. Then I realized that I owned the book and, like so many others, I haven’t read yet. Crazy, right?! It’s time to change that.

I’ve seen the 1976 movie as well as the sequel. *sigh* Stephen King’s books just do not translate very well into films. Unless Frank Darabont is directing, that is. Those seem to do well. That said: I am looking forward to this iteration of Carrie.

Gosh, I don’t mean to keep talking about films, but it seems as though that theme has proven to be rather influential/relevant lately. I promise not EVERY book I read and write about will have a movie tie-in. I swear!

Since the film doesn’t premiere until October, I’ve got more than enough time to work through the text. It’s not a particularly long book… around 300 pages… so I’m positive that it will be a quick read.

As a side note: I’m in the process of packing and moving! This also means reorganizing my collection. Exciting, and also busy! Especially with final class projects etc. Stay tuned!