Friday, 30 December 2011

Follow Friday #3


Q: The New Year is here — and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

A: I just need to post on a regular basis. I started my book blog back in 2010 but just didn't make the time to post and I would go months without writing any reviews. I also need to do a ton of networking to build up a following for my blog. But posting regularly and getting followers do go hand in hand.

Featured blogs this week:
Ex Libris

Kristin Can Read

Want to be a part of Follow My Book Blog Friday?

RULES

To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
  7. If you’re new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

A Winter's Respite Read-a-thon 2012


I was so bummed that I had missed Dewey's Read-a-thon back in October. I feel like I can completely redeem myself with this upcoming read-a-thon hosted by The True book Addict.

Here's more info about the read-a-thon:

The Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon is just a bit over a month away on January 23 through January 29! It will start at 12:00am Monday and end at 11:59pm on Sunday. Times are central standard time so adjust your times accordingly. I plan to host a mini-challenge (or two or more) and there will be a giveaway for every one who signs in at the starting line and completes a wrap up post at the end. Of course, like most read-a-thons, the books read must be novels or novellas, adult or young adult are fine, but no children's books. You DO NOT have to participate the entire week. Join in when you can, start in the middle, end early...whatever works best for your schedule. As long as you sign in at the sign-in post and do some kind of wrap up post, you're in for the giveaway. As with my previous read-a-thons, it will be a week of relaxed reading during which we can personally challenge ourselves and whittle away those ever looming TBR piles/shelves/libraries. I hope you will join me!

You do not have to have a blog to participate. You can sign-up, sign-in, and wrap-up...all from Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. You can also do updates from those locations, if you do not have a blog. Also, to chat or update during the read-a-thon on Twitter, use hashtag #WintersRespite.

You do not have to do a post right now, unless you want to help get the word out. Just post a link to your blog (or to your post, if you decide to do one) in the Mr. Linky.

I'm putting the call out to anyone who would like to host a mini-challenge and/or giveaway. Authors, if you would like to sponsor a giveaway or donate a prize, please let me know. You can contact me at truebookaddict@gmail.com Any and all help will be greatly appreciated!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Game of Thrones Readalong

In an earlier post I wrote about how I had just bought the book A Game of Thrones. Well guess what? There's a readalong in January hosted by Adventures of 2.0!

Here's more info:

The December Wolf Hall readalong has inspired me to tackle another long book that I’m scared to start by myself: A Game of Thrones. I loved the show and Kwame loved the book so I asked for volunteers to read it with me this January. The awesome Jenn from Booksessed responded and we’ve decided to get more people involved by hosting a readalong! We’ve spread it over 4 weeks so hopefully we’ll get through it together.

How to Participate:

  • Enter your blog site on this post. (If you don’t have a blog, just add a comment and start reading!)
  • Optional: Write a post to drag more readers into the fray with us
  • Optional: Stick the button in your sidebar! :)

Schedule

(Page numbers from my paperback copy, I’ve put the names down to help you find it in your book but it’s not too important to get it perfect)

  • January 1: Reading starts (or has started already)
  • January 8: Progress post #1; Pages 1 (Prologue) - 189 (End of Jon)
  • January 15: Progress post #2; Pages 190 (Eddard) - 395 (End of Daenerys)
  • January 22: Progress post #3; Pages (Bran) 396 - 617 (End of Tyrion)
  • January 29: Final progress post; Pages 618 (Sansa) - 807 (End of Daenerys)

Follow Friday #2


If you are new to the #FF fun, Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! Now to make this #FF interesting we do a FEATURE blogger.

If you are interested in becoming a Feature click on the link here for Follow Friday Feature or go to Parajunkee and click the drop down link above FEATURES > Feature & Follow Friday and get on the waiting list!

It is also required, that if you participate you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) and the two Feature blogs.


Question of the Week: If you had to spend eternity inside the pages of a book which book would you choose and why?

Answer: Bridget Jones's Diary because I think Bridget and all of her friends would make the best friends a person could ever have.

RULES To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers - From the Shadows I Review & Ce-Ce's Book Reviews.
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  7. If you're new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans (review)

After reading Lost December I couldn't wait to read The Christmas Box. After reading it, I had mixed feelings. I was able to finish the entire book while my daughter was in her hour long gymnastics class, so it is a quick read.

I liked all the characters very much but wish they had been more deeply developed. I especially liked Mary, the widow, because although she was deeply saddened by her losses in life she didn't let them overrule her. I liked that she hired Richard and Kari more out of the desire for social contact than actual need. She had all this money and a fancy house but knew what was truly valuable in life. I liked that the story focused on what it means to be a good parent and what children truly want, which is your presence not the material things money can buy.

However, this very short book just didn't tell a very good story. The characters were cardboard and it was hard to feel any sort of real attachment to them. You know so little about Mary the widow and her hard life that it was next to impossible for me to feel real empathy. I only felt it because I am a widow in real life and can only imagine what it would be like to lose a child.

Overall the story was melodramatic, overly sappy, and a bit preachy. The title of the book is The Christmas Box but the box in the story was actually called a Bible box that had the Nativity scene on it. It felt a little like a bait and switch to me. I have nothing against Christian fiction, after all I loved Lost December, but honestly it's just not my thing. What I liked about Lost Christmas was that the Biblical message was subtle. Here, it felt more like a Sunday sermon. I'm sure the marketers knew that if the book was titled The Bible Box people would be less likely to read it. Worst of all, the fact that in the book description this story is compared to Charles Dickens's masterpiece A Christmas Carol is just ridiculous. Reading that gives the book a lot to live up to and sadly it doesn't deliver.

My rating
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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd (review)


I have watched the movie A Christmas Story probably a hundred times. I have had it on in the background probably another hundred. One year, I actually kept the TV on for the 24 hour marathon on TBS. Well I tried. The kids eventually begged me to turn it off.

So when I started to read this collection of short stories that inspired the movie, at first I felt like I was reading something I had seen a couple hundred times. It turns out I wasn't. I was reading about all the hilarious details and back story that the movie never shows.

This is without a doubt the funniest book I have ever read. I was even reading parts out loud to my 18 year old son. I never do that! The first story "Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid" is almost exactly like the movie version. However, there are some absolutely hilarious and brilliant one liners that the movie did not include. You also learn that the zeppelin Randy loves so much was actually a gift from Ralphie that he put considerable thought into. I felt the movie gives the impression that Ralphie doesn't care too much about his little brother.

"The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message, or the ASP Strikes Again" was the least funny story of the collection. I liked the movie version better than this story because of the wonderful facial expressions that Ralphie shows as he's decoding the message. You just can't replicate those expressions in a book.

"My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award that Heralded the Birth of Pop Art" was in part almost exactly like the movie version. What was different in the short story was that it starts with Ralph as a young man speaking Beat at an art gallery while trying to score with beatnik girls. While this was entertaining, it framed the actual story about the lamp and felt a bit forced. The story of the infamous lamp is told as a flashback. What I did love about this story is that it tells just what all Ralphie's Old Man had to go through to win his Major Award. This helps you understand just why the lamp is so meaningful to him and why he's so devastated when it accidentally on purpose gets broken.

"Grover Dill and the Tasmanian Devil" was an okay story, but I think the movie did a much better version of it. The movie builds up tension between Ralphie and the town bully from the very beginning. The short story just doesn't do as good of a job and it isn't really funny.

"The Grandstand Passion Play of Delbert and the Bumpus Hounds" was my favorite story of out of them all. Granted I feel a little guilty because I was laughing so hard over the many stereotypes that exist about hillbillies. The humor was definitely like an early version of Jeff Dunham but with infinitely more detail.

What I loved about this collection of short stories is that they all read as if they are memoir. Suprisingly, the book is categorized under fiction. The stories are just too intimate and detailed for me to believe that they are not at least based on real life experiences. That or Jean Shepherd is one of the most gifted writers I have ever read. I absolutely loved his style and plan on reading more of his books. The only thing I don't like is sometimes I have to get a dictionary to look up the meaning of some of the words he uses. I haven't had to do that since attempting to read Pride and Prejudice.

So which was better, the book or the movie? I loved them both but the book doesn't have the hilarious scenes where Flick is "double dog dared" to stick his tongue on the flagpole nor does it have the part where Ralphie is helping his dad change the tire and let's out the swear word of all swear words "Fuuuuuuudge!" I was also a bit disappointed to learn that the hilarious pink bunny suit in the movie is only pink bunny slippers in the book.

I enjoyed the book but I have a tradition that I wrap Christmas presents while I play the movie A Christmas Story. My late husband and I started it together so it has some pretty deep meaning to me. He died five years ago but I keep the tradition going every year. However, now that I have read the background to much of the plot lines in the movie, I will be able to enjoy it at an entirely new level.

My rating for the book
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Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Night Circus Trailer



I am in the queue at my library to get this book by Erin Morgenstern.

Follow Friday #1

This week's featured blogs:

Keeping Up With Roxy's Books and Anonymous Reads

This week's Follow Friday question:

Q: KEEPING WITH THE SPIRIT OF GIVING THIS SEASON, WHAT BOOK DO YOU THINK EVERYONE SHOULD READ AND IF YOU COULD, YOU WOULD BUY IT FOR ALL OF YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS?

A. I think everyone should read Night by Elie Weisel. No book has affected me as deeply as this one did. It really made me put in perspective what suffering truly is. The book is jarring and traumatic but I think what really happened during the Holocaust needs to be known so that it never happens again.

The Rules for Participating in Follow My Blog Friday are as follows:

1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee and Alison Can Read}
2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
4. Grab the button and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi.
Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
7. If you’re new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!


Friday, 9 December 2011

Lost December by Richard Paul Evans (review)

I have never read a Richard Paul Evans book before. Man, now I know what I have been missing.

Luke Crisp is a young man that has been groomed his entire life by his father to inherent and take over the multi-million dollar company. Luke, however, is encouraged by his father to spread his own wings and fly first. He does this by going to Wharton business school where he meets some new friends that show him what "living really is." In other words, the more it costs the better it must be. Luke manages to blow through his entire trust fund in just over 50 days. He is left with nearly nothing. He has been disowned by his father. He has no one to help him and finds himself living on the streets of Las Vegas.

If I were to tell you any more, I would ruin the story. I have made a promise to myself that I will no longer write reviews with spoilers. However, considering the book is described as a retelling of the Biblical story The Prodigal Son, it's pretty easy to guess how it ends. I even told myself that I wouldn't cry at the ending but of course I did tear up just a little. I also started yelling at the book when I read about what Candace does. I sure didn't see that one coming.

What I loved most about this book is the philosophical banter that Luke's friends engage in the first parts of the book. Some of it fun and some of it is tongue in cheek. This book is particularly relevant in the age of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I wonder if Richard Paul Evans timed this book this way on purpose or if it was just one amazing coincidence.

One particular passage that struck me was this:

"Our culture has invented nothing, it just unabashedly embraces cultures' past failures - wipes them off and calls them new. It's philosophically fascinating - the relativists have asserted for centuries that the journey is the destination, and this new breed of capitalist is living that. Create and hoard. It's poetic."

I don't think Occupy Wall Street would call what the 1% does as poetic, but this view was certainly food for thought. The entire book was. I would encourage every Occupy Wall Street protester to read it. Actually, all the 1% too. It may be fiction, but it shows how you can have a cooperation and still have a giving heart.

My only criticism is that the story being built around Christmas seemed a little forced and that the idea that Luke impresses his love interest and her son with extravagant Christmas presents seems to contradict the books theme that money isn't everything. Oops, that was a bit of a spoiler, I suppose.

Overall the book was the best "riches to rags" stories I have ever read.

My rating:
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2012 TV Addict Reading Challenge


Belle at Belle's Bookself is hosting a brilliant challenge called the 2012 TV Addict Reading Challenge.
Here's more info:
I watch a lot of TV. The fiancĂ© and I are big fans of box set marathons. At the moment we’re going through Dexter, and when I discovered that it’s based on a book series, it got me thinking about how a LOT of my fave TV shows are based on books. And about how I want to read them. Then, whilst browsing the available challenges on A Novel Challenge, I had a light bulb moment: Why not turn my quest to read the book versions of my fave TV shows into a challenge?

So here it is! The rules are simple (coz I’m not so good at following them myself):

-The challenge runs from January 1 2012 – December 31 2012. The idea is to read the books that TV shows are based on. Where it's a series, read the books that correspond to the TV seasons available (read the whole series if you want to, of course!). What you do from there is up to you: review the books, do book/show comparisons, review the TV shows, do recaps… whatever tickles your fancy!

-Pick the level you want to achieve in this challenge from the list below, create a post on your blog about it and pop it in the sign-up linky! Non-bloggers are welcome to participate too – do your thang in the comments.

-Each month I’ll create a post where you can come and link up your reviews or comment about the books you’ve read/shows you’ve watched as part of the challenge.

-You don’t have to plan in advance what books you’re going to read - though of course you can if you want to! Here are some ideas (let me know if I’ve missed your faves):

•The Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith. There are four books in the original series, plus The Return trilogy and one book in The Hunters trilogy (with two more to come). There’s also Stefan’s Diaries, which are four books (with more to come) based on the TV show. Just to make things easy. Ahem.
•Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepherd. The series currently stands at nine books, with three more to come.
•A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, which Game of Thrones is based on. There are five books out now, with two more coming. There are also six novellas connected to the series.
•Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, which consists of six books.
•­The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, which True Blood is based on. At the moment there are 11 books out in the series, with at least two more to come.
•Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar. There are 13 books in the original series, 10 books in the It Girl spin-off series and four in the follow-up series, The Carlyles.
•Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell.
•The Secret Circle trilogy by L. J. Smith.
•Chief Inspector Barnaby series by Caroline Graham. There are seven books in series, and the first five were the basis for Midsomer Murders.

Challenge levels
1.Single play: Read the books that correspond to ONE TV show.
2.Mini-series: Read the books that correspond to TWO TV shows.
3.Series: Read the books that correspond to THREE TO FOUR TV shows.
4.Soap opera: Read the books that correspond to FIVE OR MORE TV shows.

Since this is my own challenge, I'm going to aim high and go for "soap opera" level. Remember, you don't have to read the whole series to complete the challenge, just the books that correspond to the seasons of the TV show (e.g. the first four books of the Southern Vampire Mysteries, which formed the basis for the four seasons of True Blood that are currently available).
I, Julie, would also like to recommend the many Buffy the Slayer books as well. (I love True Blood and The Vampires Diaries but BtVS beats them both!) And I think I will be doing Level 3: Series.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

2011 The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

The Christmas Spirit is hosting a The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge! I will be doing the Mistletore level and reading 4 books and watching movies for the Fa La La Films level. (And if I remember correctly A Christmas Story is based on a book.)

Here's more information:

Challenge will run from Monday, November 21, 2011 through Friday, January 6, 2011 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany).

Cross over with other challenges is totally permitted AND encouraged!

These must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and for the first time...a children's Christmas books level!

Visit this POST for a list of new Christmas books for 2011. Two books I highly recommend for this season that I have read and reviewed...The Christmas Village by Melissa Ann Goodwin and The Reindeer Keeper by Barbara Briggs Ward (click the titles to read my reviews).

Levels:

--Candy Cane: read 1 book
--Mistletoe: read 2-4 books
--Christmas Tree: read 5 or 6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!)

Additional levels:

--Fa La La La Films: watch a bunch or a few Christmas movies...it's up to you!

--Visions of Sugar Plums: read books with your children this season and share what you read

*the additional levels are optional, you still must complete one of the main reading levels above

The most important rule? Have fun!!!

2012 Book2Movie Reading Challenge

Book2Movie Challenge Big Button

Martina Bookaholic is hosting the 2012 Book2Movie Reading Challenge. The cool thing about this challenge is that it is international.

Here is more information:
The goal for this challenge is to read a book/ watch a movie in each of the 12 categories, which are further down, during the year of 2012 (01.01.2012 – 31.12.2012) + 1 bonus category, if someone can’t find a book in one of the 12 categories.

This means: 12 books + movies in 12 months, as a result 1 book/ 1 movie per month. (Book can be read/ movie can already been watched – but just one of each)

You want to join?:
Then please write me an e-mail to: martina.bookaholic@gmx.net with your book choices with the category #number and your blog address and the name, which I should use in this post.

Blogger Info:
Please; every one of you has to put on every review which is made for this challenge or on the sidebar of the blog, the ‘Book 2 Movie’ Button which should be linked back to this MAIN POST on my blog. Thanks

2012 Paranormal Romance Reading Challenge

Tales From the Crypt is hosting the 2012 Paranormal Romance Reading Challenge. Don't you just LOVE that banner? I am going to do level 2 and read at least 10 books.

Here are the rules:

Starts January 1, 2012 and ends December 31, 2012
Anyone can join
You don’t have to have a blog to participate.
Non-Bloggers feel free to share your list of books in the comment section of the monthly link up post.
Reviews though not required are always nice.
Audio, E-books, Bound and re-reads all count
There is no need to come up with your list of books in advance.
Challenge crossovers ok
Create a sign up post and link up in the linky.

Levels:

Level 1 – Read 1-5 Paranormal Romances
Level 2 – Read 6-10 Paranormal Romances
Level 3 – Read 11-20 Paranormal Romances
Level 4 – Read 21+ Paranormal Romances

2012 Go Indie Reading Challenge

Bookish Ardour is hosting a really great reading challenge for the new year called the Go Indie Reading Challenge. I think I will go middle ground and choose level Getting Into It and read 30 books.

Here's more info about the challenge:

This is our first year with the Go Indie challenge being brand spanking new and all.
What It’s All About

Do you love Indie/Self-Pub publishers and authors? Are you considering trying out Indie written novels, but need that motivation to get going? Then this challenge might just be what you’re looking for!

The Deets

The Main Rule: Read novels by self-published authors and Indie publishers.
Running Dates: 1st of January – 31st of December 2012
When Can I Sign Up: All the way up to the last two weeks of December!
Crossover Genres: Anything! As long as it’s Indie it doesn’t matter.
Mr Linky: To use the Mr Linky you’ll need to click on the graphic then enter your link. These will be updated and posted into this page every couple of weeks or so.
Further Details: Crossover challenges are fine, you can change levels at any time, this is eBook, short story, and graphic novel friendly, and you don’t need a blog to join in (read further for details).

The How To

Choose Your Level:These are listed further down and you can change levels at any time.

Sign Up Post: Create a post on your blog, in a group, or on a forum (only if allowed) to let others see what you’re aiming for (a predefined list of books is optional).
Link Up: Grab the direct URL to your sign up post, not your blog, click the Mr Linky graphic and enter your link!
Add the Banner: And the banner to your blog.
Blogless? Don’t worry, you can sign up with your social network profile (YouTube, Twitter, GoodReads, Shelfari included), just make sure you link to your review list, shelf, tweet, or category. If you don’t have any of those feel free to comment!

Afterwards

Your Reviews: Reviewing is optional, but greatly appreciated when it comes to indie novels! If you do review we’d love for you to share them, by submitting them on the Review Page (including social networks).
Finished: When you’re done it’s completion post time and you can share these on the Completion Post page!

Challenge Levels

Tentative– Choose 5 books to read
Having a Go – Choose 15 books to read
Getting Into It – Choose 30 books to read
Anti-Stigma – Choose 50 books to read
Won Over – Choose 75 books to read
Indie Lover – Choose between 76-135 books to read
Professionally What? – Choose between 136-200 books to read

Extra Challenges

If you feel like that extra kick to your reading challenges here’s a couple you can choose from.

World: Choose a country as your theme, reading only books from that country or where it’s the setting. For how high you go you can choose more than one country;
Level Tentative and Having a Go: Choose one country
Level Getting Into It and Anti-Stigma: Choose two countries
Level Won Over to end of Indie Lover: Choose three countries
Level Professionally What?: Choose four countries.
Gender Battle: Read books only by female or male authors. Another alternative is to read equal amounts of both.

2012 150+ Reading Challenge


My Overstuffed Bookshelf has seen too many 100 book challenges so she is going to even bigger. I am up for the challenge this coming year!

Here's more info about the challenge:

Last year was my first year hosting the 100+ Reading Challenge. I noticed a TON of blogs are hosting it this year, so I thought I would up the challenge. For me 100 books is not a problem to read for one year. I know there are a lot of people out there who can read more than the base line of 100.

So....this year I am not only challenging myself, I am going to challenge you to read even more this year!

The goal is to reach 150+ books for this challenge? Now don't get discouraged! I know 150 books or more sounds like a lot. When you read the rules below though, you will find that it is quite easy to reach 150 books.

Don't be shy! Come sign up and spread the word! The challenge doesn't officially start until January 1rst, 2012 but I wanted to get it set up before the holidays are upon us. This should give you plenty of time to get yourself geared up for this challenge increase!

DETAILS/RULES:

1. The goal is to read 150 or more books. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Posting on GoodReads or wherever you post your reviews is good enough.

2. Allowed are: Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Manga, Graphic Novels, Library books, Novellas, Young Reader, Nonfiction – as long as the book has an ISBN or equivalent or can be purchased as such, the book counts.

What doesn't count: Individual short stories or individual books in the Bible and comic books.

3. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

4. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

5. Challenge begins January 1st, 2012 thru December 31, 2012. Books started before the 1st do not count. You can join at anytime.

6. When you sign up under Linky, put the direct link to your post where your books will be listed. Include the URL to this post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (review)

The Book
I read this memoir in one sitting. Not because it is so short, which it is, but because it was so good. The book is about Susanna's stay at McClean Hospital where she was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder. This book is fascinating not only because you get a real glimpse of what it would be like to be in a medium security mental hospital, but because of Susanna's struggle about what it means to be sane or crazy, and which side of the border she belongs on, pun intended.

This was not the first time I read this. The first time, I had very little understanding about mental illness and disorders. I was interested more in the story and the character's antics than I was in understanding their psyche and what makes one crazy, not-so crazy, or completely sane. This time around I was completely drawn into both the backstory and future of each character. The reason being because I am now reading this after suffering a major depression. A person with no experience with mental illness will not read it the same as someone with experience.

The Movie
The movie seems to be less about Susanna herself and more about the characters that she encounters at McLean Hospital. The first time around, I liked the movie better because I was more interesting in an exciting story and found the characters' fighting and antics entertaining.

This time around, I realize how much better the book is as case studies of the characters. The book did a great job of telling us about the other patients. I think the movie did a much better job of showing the supporting characters' illnesses and personalities. It's not that Susanna is a bad writer. It's just that Susanna's memoir is, as it should be, mostly about herself. In the book, Susanna tells us that Lisa is sociopath but the movie truly shows it.

The memoir does not have much of a plot, so naturally the movie contains many added scenes and story lines that the book does not. Both are equally entertaining and compliment each other so well that I can't recommend one over the other.

My rating for both the movie and book Photobucket The only reason I don't give it a fifth star is that I don't feel there is anything life altering about this book.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Anthem by Ayn Rand (review)

The way I first discovered this novella is quite interesting. My boyfriend had brought over a documentary about Rush and their album 2112. The first half of the album was inspired by the novella Anthem. As Rush told the premise of the novella I knew I had to read it!

Anthem is about a man who lives in a futuristic society where everyone is a collective "We." No one has any concept of being an individual. History is hidden from the masses and the people only exist to serve their brothers. The rigid government enforces this. If anyone breaks any laws they are punished severely but only one rule is punishable by death if broken. That is uttering the Unspeakable Word.

The protagonist has no name, but a labeled Equality 7-2521. As he searches for the Unspeakable Word, he accidentally discovers a relic from the Unmentionable Times and rediscovers the most important invention in history. At the same time he starts having these strange feelings for a beautiful woman. All of which is forbidden.

After discovering this invention our protagonist has a bit of brain fart (for lack of a better term) and thinks it's a good idea to present it to the Counsel of Scholars. Of course this does not go well. But it is the fact that they reject his idea that finally sends him on the adventure where he learns the Unspeakable Word and about something that no one has known for decades...freedom. If I tell you anymore I will truly spoil the story. However, I will say that the way the novella ends is somewhat unnerving at first until you really think about it.

What is so utterly fascinating about this book is that it was written in the summer of 1937 and wasn't published until 1946. I can't even imagine how Rand was even able to conceive of the idea of a society where there is no individual. Not only are the themes of collectivism and individuality explored but the feeling of being in love for the first time and not understanding why you feel the way that you do.

What I loved about the Centennial Edition of the book is that a version that was published in England prior is included. Ayn Rand edited Anthem for the American version because she felt she had gained more skill in communicating what she wanted. She learned how to "omit needless words." The copy here is where Rand herself used a pen to cross out and edit passages throughout the entire book. As I writer, it is fascinating to see how she edited the text to make it more concise.

My rating Photobucket

On a random side note the entire novel remind me of the song Little Boxes so wonderfully done as the intro of of Weeds. I wanted to include a video of it here but I couldn't find one that had embedding disabled. So visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8StRAJCork to see it.