book reviews · books · reading

Book Review: The Girl with All the Gifts

“Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

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Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. “ (from Goodreads)

What a surprise this novel turned out to be. I originally got ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ as an audiobook download from Audible, and after listening to the first chapter, I decided I needed to actually read the book! (I tend to fall asleep during audiobooks, and podcasts, even those I like very much!) This story by M.R. Carey is a bit out of my wheelhouse, I admit. I don’t normally read what I’d categorize as “post-apocalyptic fiction, and this is definitely in that category. No spoilers–just read it.

book reviews · books · reading

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

22916576by  Celeste Ng

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .

So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

ebook, 304 pages
Published June 26th 2014 by Penguin 
(from Goodreads.com)
I read this in December 2016, and just now realized I had never posted a review for it. It’s a heartbreaking tale, beautifully told, that I read in one day. First time I’ve read a novel in that short a time in a while. This is a debut novel. I cannot wait to read her next.
book reviews · books · random stuff

Book Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

As per my rule, after I started watching the Showtime series ‘Dexter,’ I had to read the book the show was based on.  (I did not read these when the series was running.) I am glad I did; the book is dark, creepy, and occasionally wryly funny. Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter is a different monster from Showtime’s, but both are equally entrancing.

My favorite line from this book:

“I took a deep breath and tried to remind myself that I was a good girl and didn’t do those things.” Gotta love it when a serial killer makes you laugh.

 

2016 Reading Challenge · book reviews · books · lists · New Year · reading

Eat. Sleep. READ. That’s all.

It’s a new year (well, duh!), and I’m posting, finally. No apologies or excuses for my absence this time, just a fresh start. And a challenge.

I love a good book challenge, and this year, I’m taking Anne’s from The Modern Mrs. Darcy.  The 2016 Reading Challenge is relatively simple, without a huge number of books, which I need right now. And the variety is great!

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Here are my choices, so far. Nearly all of these are books already on my e-reader or bookshelf, which was a conscious choice on my part. I have an overflowing e-reader, and it would be ridiculous to add more when I can satisfy the requirements! There are three choices that are new-to-my reader books; these are starred! (And my list is in the opposite order than the one above.)

 

A book I’ve already read at least once:

Cold Comfort Farm  by Stella Gibbons

A book that intimidates me:

Othello by William Shakespeare

A book I own, but have never read:

Van Gogh’s Room at Arles by Stanley Elkin

A book I previously abandoned: 

A book that was banned at some point:

(I’m choosing the same book for these two categories)

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

A book published before I was born:

A Room With A View by E.M. Forster

A book chosen for me:

I honestly cannot decide on which of the books my wonderful friends Karen & Rob selected for me, so I’m adding both of them to the list!

A Madness of Angels by Kate Swift (Rob’s choice)

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (Karen’s choice)

A book I should’ve read in school:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A book recommended by a bookseller:  

*  A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara    I took this recommendation from the employees at Powell’s, where this novel was on several folks top-five books of 2015.

A book I’ve been meaning to read:

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

A book that can be read in a day: 

My Story by Marilyn Monroe

A book published this year:

This category is last, because I don’t have anything for it yet. Once 2016 gets going a bit more, I’ll fill this one in!

 

 

 

As I read these (and everything else!) I’ll post thoughts, reviews, etc. I’ll begin reading these as soon as I finish what I’m currently involved in! Join me, won’t you? Let’s make 2016 a year full of books!

And if anyone has suggestions for books published this year, let me know!

 

 

 

book reviews · books

Book Review: Consumed by Aaron Mahnke

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Like many other readers, I came to Aaron Mahnke’s fiction after listening to his podcast, “Lore,” which I love. I must say, I am glad I followed that trail.  Aaron Mahnke’s novel does not provide the fear and terror that a reader of Stephen King might expect; it’s a different kind of scare. Cozy, like sitting in your favorite armchair with a cup of tea and a great book, comfy and relaxed, and BAM! something smashes into the window, scaring the bejesus out of you! Reading this, you’ll end up with tea all over your lap, and your book tossed to the floor in fright. Be careful.

While ‘Consumed’ was not quite what I expected (honestly, from the title, I’d suspected a vampire novel), it was a worthwhile read, and had me on the edge of my seat. I honestly cannot remember the last time I reacted this way to a horror story. I will definitely be reading more of his fiction. But maybe not while drinking a hot cup of tea…

books · movies

Never Judge A Book By Its Movie

Never judge a book by its movie

 

I’ve written before about some of my favorite books that have become great movies, in a post I called Movies That Move Me.  Today I’m going to talk about the same thing, sort of. Ya see, I’m a little compulsive. If I see a movie, and discover it was based on a book, I HAVE to read that book. This has, on occasion, been an issue, finding obscure works. Thank goodness I live in the same city as Powell’s! This works both ways, however–I have to see movies based on books I’ve read. And this is not always as fun, since film-makers often destroy my favorite works. Today I’m posting about a few movies that were as good as their books. I’ll talk about some of those that weren’t another time. Oh, by the way, I am leaving the works of Stephen King out of this list completely; I feel he deserves a list all his own. Here we go!

The Good  (in no particular order)

Cold Comfort Farm 

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  The novel, by Stella Gibbons, was published in 1932. It parodies the romantic novels   of the time, and is truly one of the funnier things I’ve read. Young Flora Poste,  recently orphaned, must choose which of her family members to live with; she  goes to stay with the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm, after being told they  must “atone for the wrongs done to her father.” She heads to Sussex, and begins  to straighten out the mess on the farm immediately, rearranging lives, and  teaching modern lessons. She even gets Great Aunt Ada (who “saw something nasty in the woodshed”) to come out of her room, which she hasn’t done in decades. With the aid of her friend Mary back in London, and ‘The Higher Common Sense’, which is her handbook, Flora solves everyone’s problems.

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The film, made by the BBC in 1995, stars Kate Beckinsale, Joanna Lumley, Rufus Sewell, Ian McKellen, and Stephen Fry. It is a faithful rendition of the book, and quite well-made, as well. The casting is excellent, and, as in most BBC films, the costumes are perfect. Of course, it’s worth a watch just to see Rufus Sewell, as Seth Starkadder; he’s quite a hunk, and shirtless through a good deal of the film!

I will grant that not everyone will understand why Cold Comfort Farm is funny, but even if you don’t know the style being parodied, it is still worth reading and watching.

 

The Importance of Being Earnest

 

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.”

“Indeed, no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.”
“Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.”
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
What can I say about The Importance of Being Earnest? Oscar Wilde’s farce about mistaken identities, secret romances, and the complications of love, family and society is still as amusing as when it was first published in 1895. Gwendolyn and Cecily are in love with the same (imaginary) man, Ernest. Jack has been wooing Gwendolyn using the name Ernest; Algernon has also courted Jack’s ward, Cecily, using the same name. When all four end up at Jack’s country home one weekend, the trouble begins, as both “Ernests” must win back his beloved. Only the arrival of Lady Bracknell, Gwendolyn’s fierce mother (and Algy’s aunt), can bring the chaos to a suitable ending.
I read this first in ninth grade, and later performed parts of it in theatre classes. (I was an awesome Lady Bracknell!) Oscar Wilde rocks, and that is all.
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There have been several film versions, but I prefer the 2002 version starring Colin Firth as Jack, Rupert Everett as Algy, Reese Witherspoon as Cecily , Frances O’Connor as Gwendolyn and Dame Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell. This was the third time Judi Dench had played Lady Bracknell –she was cast in a BBC radio version in 1994, and a National Theatre revival in 1982.
Here’s a clip–Jack/Ernest, being interviewed by Lady Bracknell after he has asked to marry Gwendolyn.