Thursday, May 10, 2012

Catching Up

I don't know if you know this, but working full-time while also going to grad school is pretty time-intensive. Add a commute and trying to have a life and basically all my blogging time is gone. I wish I had more time to sit and write about what I've been reading, because I have a lot to say about the Hunger Games trilogy and The Great Gatsby and Chopsticks, but I just don't have the time or the brain power to dedicate to writing good reviews. If you want to keep up with what I'm reading, follow me on goodreads.

Here are some recent books I've read:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Walking Dead vol 1 (graphic novel)
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony

Maybe one of these days I'll get around to writing proper reviews. Probably not.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Catching Fire mini-review

I'm planning to do a review of the whole Hunger Games trilogy soon, but for now here's a conversation I had with my cousin Morgan about the second book:

Me: I'm warning you ahead of time, what I'm about to say is really nerdy.
Morgan: Okay...
Me: I kind of feel like Catching Fire is the Empire Strikes Back of the Hunger Games Trilogy. It has the darker, cliffhanger-y ending where you have to go on to Mockingjay, just like you have to go on to watch Return of the Jedi. And Empire is my favorite Star Wars movie and Catching Fire was my favorite Hunger Games book, so they have that in common too.
Morgan: You know, you said it was gonna be nerdy, but you really outdid yourself there.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi

I'm a sucker for a haunted house story. I love nothing more than curling up with a book that makes me quiver at every strange bump in the night. A marker of a good horror novel is if you have to stay up late watching sitcoms on Netflix in order to take your mind off the scary stuff so that you can get some sleep.

Floating Staircase is the story of Travis Glasgow, a horror writer who moves into an old, run-down house with his wife. Haunted hijinks ensue. Malfi truly has a talent for describing those creaks and thuds that could just be the house settling... or could be something more sinister.

Throughout the course of the book, Travis investigates the death of a young boy who drowned (or did he??) in the lake behind their house the summer before the Glasgows moved in. Through his investigations Travis also has to confront his guilt over the death of his younger brother, who drowned in a lake when they were kids. So not all the ghosts of this book are of the paranormal kind, there are the more common ghosts of human memory as well.

For the most part, I would recommend checking out this book if you're a fan of the horror genre. But, be warned that most of the best spooky stuff is concentrated in the earlier chapters of the book. At some point the book shifts away from straight-up horror to a more standard murder mystery. I would have preferred a little more intense spookiness at the climax of the book, but really, when wouldn't I prefer a little more spookiness? I liked this book, but I wish I would have just rented the library's copy, because I don't feel this is going to be a re-read a la 'Salem's Lot.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

I know what you're thinking. "I thought Abby was dead or struck illiterate or something. Isn't she a workaholic who's busy neglecting her family and friends? Where does she find time to read?!?!"

Good question. I blame Meg of A Practical Wedding. I went to her book talk (for a completely different book, obviously) last Thursday in Atlanta and took the following day off work. Thus I had an entire Friday with nothing to do other than nurse a hangover. And read as it turns out.

Now, if you've ever consumed more Jack Daniels than is strictly advisable, you know that heavy thinking is not on the agenda for the following day. I wandered around the house avoiding eye contact with my Kindle (home of 2/3rds finished The Count of Monte Cristo) and hoping to find a copy of People Magazine. Instead I snuck up to the "To-Read" shelf and noticed I Love You, Beth Cooper. My husband had purchased and enjoyed it some years ago and I have been not reading it ever since.

So I read it in a day while sipping Perrier and eating an entire loaf of dry french bread. (What? That's a doctor recommended hangover diet.) A quick googling reveals that the author, Larry Doyle is a former writer for both Beavis & Butthead and The Simpsons. This comes as no surprise. The book is quite funny and the teen characters are both angsty and awkward in the best way. Ever chapter starts with a sketch of the protaganist, Dennis Cooverman (The Coove!), who becomes more beaten and brutalized with every scene, and a quote from a classic teen movie. Any book that quotes Lloyd Dobler is okay by me.

It's beyond easy to see why this book was made into a movie. Doyle's television sensibility comes through with vivid action sequences that I imagine translate well to film. I'll definitely be adding this to my Netflix queue. After I saw the movie poster I remembered that the movie stars Hayden Panettiere, but while I was reading I couldn't stop picturing Dianna Agron. Same diff?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

I wanted this book to be better than it is. When I first heard about this feminist science-fiction novel, I knew immediately that I had to read it. And, yes, I actually read the book instead of listening to the audiobook. This was my winter vacation read.

This book is a retelling of The Scarlet Letter, although I haven't actually read The Scarlet Letter so I can't get too detailed about the similarities between the tale.

In the world of When She Woke, most criminals are not kept in prisons, but instead go through a skin-dying process called chroming. Different crimes get different colors, misdemeanors get yellow, murderers get red, etc. The chroming isn't permanent, it depends on the length of the sentence. Hannah Payne is sentenced to 16 years as a red for having an abortion and refusing to name either the father or the doctor who performed the procedure. Roe v. Wade was overturned after a STI epidemic left a huge portion of the population infertile and extreme right-wing Christians had taken over the government. It cannot possibly be a coincidence that the "Sanctity of Life" laws in the book are constantly referred to as the SOL laws, an acronym that more commonly means "Shit Outta Luck." Pregnant with a married pastor's child? Sorry, you don't have any options because of the SOL laws. It's actually a quite believable plot, and except for a few incidents late in the book, I can totally see this type of future unfolding.

We follow Hannah from the time she first wakes up as a red in the Chrome ward, through her time at a rehabilitation center, then we see her try to reconnect with her family. After that, the plot starts to go off the rails a bit. There is a definite difference in tone between the early chapters and the latter. The first chapters are slowly paced, drawing you in to this story and this world. The last few chapters are really quick, and the characters start acting in ways contrary to their previous actions. I don't want to spoil much, because I would still recommend checking this book out, but I'll just say that there's a sexual relationship in the second half of the book that I have trouble believing. And the ending seems to be resolved a little too quickly and neatly. Those are my biggest complaints about this book.

If you like feminist literature and are looking for a short, quick read, I recommend picking up When She Woke at your local library. It's only 240 pages (according to my Nook), and I read it in under three weeks. And those three weeks encompassed Christmas and New Years, so that's pretty impressive. Had it been a real vacation, where I didn't have work or anything, I probably could have finished this in a day or two.