Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

 *Vague Spoilers

I was looking forward to seeing The Hobbit:  AnUnexpected Journey this week.  It was okay.  The Hobbit is currently sitting at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes and that’s about right.  It wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely not the epic it was trying to be.  The movie is 2 hours and 45 minutes long.  The movie could have easily been a succinct 2 hours if they took out all the shots of them walking.  It felt like every five minutes we had to watch them walk, and then walk some more and maybe run and ride on ponies, then walk a little more.  It’s a journey, it’s right there in the title, we don’t need twenty shots of them walking the countryside.  It’s pretty and everything, but could you just get to the trolls!  Honestly, I spent the first half of the movie waiting for the troll scene. 

I read the book and there’s a whole lot of stuff in the movie not in the book.  Peter Jackson has done the reverse of what happens to most book to movie adaptations; he’s added stuff instead of taken away.  Maybe that’s part of my problem and the problem of other people who have seen the movie, all the extra stuff is getting in the way of what I want to see.  Also, the novel, The Hobbit was the first book, it wasn’t a “prequel,” so those scenes of foreboding about Sauron and all the badness in Mordor didn’t happen in the book.  There was no round-table discussion of a darkness growing in the land.  So much of the extra stuff just got in the way of me getting to see some trolls.

There was a lot of the movie that I did like… like the trolls!  I thought that entire sequence was awesome.  I loved the personalities of the dwarves.  They are a unit, but they are individuals too.  I loved the fight/battle scenes.  They were fluid and fierce.  The movie as a whole was beautiful.  Every shot, every angle, every colour seemed to be chosen with care.  The landscapes were natural and vibrant.  The actor who played Bilbo was great.  Ian McKellan as Gandalf was as good as ever.

In the end, I liked The Hobbit, but I felt it was overdone.  Sticking to the source material would have made the movie more fun.  I don’t want to get repetitive or go off on another rant.  I’ll just say it was enjoyable and leave it as that.

* I got a little carried away with the movie posters.  I really like them.

Monday, December 17, 2012

End of Year Book Survey.

I'm so excited to be doing Jamie's End of the Year Book Survey.  I enjoyed it last year.  I find it a nice way to reflect back on a year of reading, as well as other stuff that happened, that you might have blogged about.  Do you agree/disagree with any of my answers?  Please leave a comment!  Also, let me know if you've done the survey too.  Happy Holidays!

1. Best Book You Read In 2012?

I decided to go with Jamie’s suggestion (cheat) of breaking it down by genre. I read some really great books this year. This list isn’t even half of them.

Best Children’s Book – Go Away, Big Green Monster, by Ed Emberly
Best Zombie Book – World War Z, by Max Brooks
Best Non-Fiction – How To Be A Woman, by Caitlin Moran
Best Classic – Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Best Short Story Collection – Forty Stories, edited by Cal Morgan
Best Literary/General Fiction – Canada, by Richard Ford
Best Fantasy – The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis
Best Science-Fiction – Insurgent, by Veronica Roth

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling – It was slow to begin with, but it did pick up. In the end, I did enjoy it, but I didn’t love it. You can read my thoughts here.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?

I knew I would probably like Night of the Living Trekkies, but I didn’t know how much I would love it. I loved every single quirky, geeky reference. It was so much fun!

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

For people who like literary fiction, I probably recommended Canada, by Richard Ford.
For genre lovers, I recommended Night of the Living Trekkies and Divergent…. and maybe World War Z.

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

Divergent! I can’t wait until the third book is out.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Is this new to me - like the Top Ten list I did recently - or new as in first book? For new-to-me, check out my Top Ten list from December 11th.

If it’s first books, then I really enjoyed The Maladjusted, by Derek Hayes. Also Darcy Pattison’s non-fiction picture book, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I read a lot of genres, but something I don’t read a lot of is non-fiction and I actually read three this year!  My favourite was How To Be A Woman, by Caitlin Moran. So fantastic.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

I read a few unputdownable books this year including: Divergent, Insurgent, How to be a Woman and Night of the Living Trekkies.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

I don’t re-read a lot. If I do, it’s likely not a book that I only read a year before. But to answer the question, of all the books, I’d most likely re-read Night of the Living Trekkies.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

I can’t decide between:

Insurgent and World War Z.

11. Most memorable character in 2012?

Frankenstein’s creature from Frankenstein.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

Canada, by Richard Ford

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

Greatest impact? How To Be A Woman and maybe The Causal Vacancy.  They dealt with social issues, that continue to resonate with me.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2012 to finally read?

The Garden Party and Other Stories, by Katherine Mansfield.  She was the only writer Virginia Woolf said she was jealous off.  How did I wait so long to read her?

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

"Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot?" 
- Dr. Van Helsing from Dracula, by Bram Stoker.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

By Page Count:
Longest: 541 – City of Glass, The Mortal Instruments #3, by Cassandra Clare
Shortest: 16 – I Love You, Stinky Face, by Lisa McCourt (Children's Book) OR 112 – Matchless, by Gregory Maguire

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling… so many WTF scenes.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

For very different reasons: 

Jim Pike & Leia, from Night of the Living Trekkies
Mina and Van Helsing, from Dracula
Sukvinder and Gaia, from The Causal Vacancy

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

Blockade Billy, by Stephen King
Fever, by Lauren DeStefano

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Like I said previously, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. If I wasn’t recommended How To Be A Woman by a few bloggers I like and respect, as well as one of my real-life friends, whose reading tastes are very similar to mine, I don’t know if I would have picked it up.

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012 

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2012?

Probably Bridget’s Books.  I only just started following this contributor to The Broke and The Bookish. She has an entire reading project about Stephen King! So awesome.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012?

If I have to pick one, I’d say, Forty Stories, edited by Cal Morgan. I did Twitter sized reviews. It was fun.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

The best discussions/comments I had this year weren't on posts about books.  There were on my posts: Image Use, where I talked about copyright and someone getting sued for using images on their website and I Am Without Job, where I talked about getting laid off this year.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

I read the blog, Feminist Philosophers a lot.  It's not a book blogs, though they discuss books sometimes.  I always find myself diving into their posts about genderized products.  I especially enjoyed reading about the new "BiC for Her" pen.  It's so awful.  Ellen even made a video about it on her show a few months back.  

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I don’t get a lot of event in my neck of the woods. I’d have to drive an hour to go to any bookish events and with the little ones, that’s not happening.  I do enjoy Short Story Monday and Top Ten Tuesday.  I participate in them as often as I can, but it's been a while since I did Short Story Monday.  There's a story I plan on reading this week...

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?

Even though it’s not bookish, it happened because I blog about books -I appreciate all the support I got when I posted about losing my job. Thank you again, everyone.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

By views, my most popular post was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! Such a great book.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

This one is a little difficult. I feel pretty loved. My posts get an okay amount of views (okay to me, I guess). In general, I’d like more comments and more discussions about the books (or whatever) I’ve posted about. But there isn’t one post that’s fallen by the wayside. So thanks for the love everyone!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I just started using Goodreads this year. It’s a little addictive. I love scanning books with the Goodreads app. I like tracking my progress through a book; I find it encouraging.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I don’t join challenges, but I set myself a personal goal of reading 26 books (one every two weeks), which I decided to track on Goodreads since joining this year. I’m at 32 right now. I might get to 33 or 34 before the end of 2012.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Hmm… Number 1 Priority?? I plan on reading His Dark Materials next. However, I did buy The Raven Boys a couple months ago and didn’t read it right away. I don’t want to let it sit on my shelf too long like some other books I have.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

Though I’m excited for Dead Ever After (I'm loving the cover) and Divergent #3, the book I’m most looking forward to in 2013 is Sever, by Lauren DeStefano. I loved Wither and Fever had me longing for more. Just a couple more months until February!

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

I want to read more. I’d like to decrease the number of books I’ve owned for years and haven’t read yet. I’d especially like to read more Stephen King and Margaret Atwood and catch up on the Legend of Drizzt, by R. A. Salvatore.

I guess that’s it for the survey. Thanks to everyone who made it all the way to the end. See you in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I saw Matchless for sale a year ago, picked it up, but didn’t manage to read it before the holidays.  This year, I decided that I would.  I knew Gregory Maguire’s retelling of The Little Match Girl was a slim volume, but I didn’t realize how quick a read it would be.  It can easily be read in one sitting, in an hour (or less).  The book is filled with illustrations (that’s the illuminated part, right?), that are sweet and interesting. Though, I don’t know if I like them as much as the story itself.

I have to admit.  I’ve never read The Little Match Girl.  I’d heard of it, but I didn’t even know what it was about.  As Maguire writes in his note at the back of the book, The Little Match Girl has not become a part of our contemporary story-telling, the way Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid or The Ugly Duckling has.  Anderson’s The Little Match Girl is dark and sad.  After reading Matchless, it’s something I definitely have to read.  Until then, I have no comparison to make between Matchless and The Little Match Girl.

On its own, I enjoyed Matchless.  I don’t know what it was missing.  I liked it a lot, but I didn’t love it.  Maybe it needs to sit with me.  Maybe I need to read Anderson’s original tale.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It Was Nice Meeting You: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors of 2012

This is a great question from The Broke and The Bookish.  I think it not only allows us to share authors who perhaps need more exposure, but it is combined with the end-of-year theme.  December often seems to be a time of reflection.  So let me share with you my new-to-me authors of 2012, in no particular order:

I read quite a few new authors this year.  I didn’t even realize.  I thought I’d have a difficult time getting to ten, but I actually had to remove a few people.  I read some great new authors this year.  How about you?

*Clicking on the author name will take you to their website.  Clicking on the book title will take you to my post.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Fun: A Quick Bookish Survey!

To beat the Monday Blahs, The Broke and The Bookish posted A Quick Bookish Survey!  Head over to their site to see their answers.  Mine are:

1. The book I’m currently reading:  Matchless, by Gregory Maguire - A retelling of The Little Match Girl.

2. The last book I finished:  Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley - An amazing classic.  See my review here.

3. The next book I want to read:  The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis - I'm so excited and sad to be finishing the series.

4. The last book I bought:  The Phizz Whizzing Collection, by Roald Dahl - So many good books, for such a small amount of money.  I couldn't resist.

5. The last book I was given:  There are four that I was given while book swapping with a couple friends:
A Handbook to Literature, by Hugh C. Holman
Love Stories in This Town, by Amanda Eyre Ward
The Bird Woman: A Novel, by Kerry Hardie
The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir, by Laurie Sandell
- I don't really know anything about any of them, but they all seemed interesting and I hope to read them eventually.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus

I always think about that title, but I try not to get too analytical, since I just want to enjoy the story…

Frankenstein is a fantastic story.  Mary Shelley’s writing is fluid and eloquent.  This is the second time I’ve read Frankenstein and I loved it every bit as much now as I did the first time I read it.  I first read Frankenstein over a decade ago for a class in University.  Back then, I thought I knew the story of Frankenstein, but I didn’t.  If you haven’t read the book, you don’t know…  There’s a mad scientist, of a sort, but he’s not old.  He’s quite young.  I think he’s only 19 when he decides to create “the creature.”  The scientist’s name is Victor Frankenstein.  Frankenstein never gives his creature a name.  He just refers to him as his creation or the daemon, or some other negative term.  By Victor Frankenstein’s end, the ship captain that he is telling the story to says he looks old and frail, but it must come from what Frankenstein endured.  This second time reading the story, I found myself thinking about how old he was.  Really, I think he might not have been out of his twenties.  

There is romance and tragedy throughout Frankenstein.  There is a lot of death, lost love and remorse.  Sometimes I think, if Frankenstein had started out by taking responsibility for his actions, so much life could have been saved.  Instead he blamed the creature and his madness.  I sympathized with him, but I also found him frustrating (in a good way).  Shelley also created a sympathetic antagonist with Frankenstein’s creature.  He speaks so eloquently, he is intelligent and thoughtful.  He may look hideous, but he does not start out “demonic”.  He longs for companionship, but no one can get past his appearance.

I kind of wonder what happened to Victor’s brother, Ernest….  I’m also left wondering the true fate of the creature… and the ship captain.

Frankenstein is one of my favourite books.  I think I’ll still be reading it in the future.  Shelley wrote an enduring and inspiring piece of fiction that I will be recommending for years.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Finding Christmas

I recently bought Robert Munsch’s Finding Christmas to read to my daughter, to get help get her in the Christmas spirit (she’s three and a half).  I didn’t really need to.  She is very excited about Christmas already and she LOVES this book because it is about Christmas.  It’s a story about presents and parents and family.  I thought the illustrations were cute, almost telling their own story too.   I love the message that the family being together on Christmas morning is the best part about Christmas, that family is the best present you can get.  Is that a sappy sentiment?  Yes?  I don’t care.

I’ve read a couple of negative reviews about this book.  Commenting on the parents giving the presents instead of Santa and that Munsch just churned this book out for money.  I didn’t realize it was a new Munsch book; it’s not like I have his back catalogue memorized.  Yes, there is no Santa in the story.  Does Santa need to be in every holiday story?  Can’t this book be about family?  Does Munsch need the money?  Who cares? 

A lot of the time I judge children’s books by my daughter and son’s reactions to them.  My daughter loves this book. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I Want All Of These!

I would put ALL of them together in my library and they would look gorgeous!  

- It doesn't matter that I already own some of these books or didn't have the intention to read others.  They're so pretty!!!!

* This is probably the only time I will post something like this from a store.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Dear Santa, I Would Like ALL These Books....

I like this week's question from The Broke and The Bookish.  I love books.  I don’t think I could ever have enough.  My hubby (who loves books too) thinks I’m two steps away from becoming a book hoarder….  Even still, I can easily come up with ten (or more) books that I’d like Santa to bring.  So, in no particular order, my top ten books I’d like from Santa.

2.     Kindred, by Octavia Butler
4.     Fray, by Joss Whedon
5.     The Wind Through The Keyhole, by Stephen King
7.     Clockwork Prince, by Cassandra Clare
8.     A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
9.     The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid
10.   The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
11.   Any of the Undead books I don’t own, by MaryJanice Davidson
12.   Out of Oz, by Gregory Maguire
14.   Moranthology, by Caitlin Moran
15.   Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics, by Margaret de Heer

 Okay… like I said… book hoarder…. Ahh!

What books do you want for Xmas?

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I downloaded Identities, by Susan Tsui when it was free.  I'd been paying attention to the author since I came across her novel, You Shouldn't Call Me Mommy on Goodreads.  I haven't read it yet, but it seemed really interesting, so It went onto my wishlist.  When I saw the Kindle download of her short story collection, I thought it would be a good way to taste a sample of Tsui's writing style.

The first thing I noticed was the loose use of the word "collection".  Identities contains only two stories.  They are about identities and they are great stories, but I kind of wish it was more obvious that I was only getting two.  On Goodreads, the collection has two synopses, but I've read synopses for many short story collections and you can't describe every story of a ten story or more collection, so often there are just two or three.  I noticed after I had already begun the first story that it also said 23 pages.  23 pages could be more than two stories and it sort of is.  At the end of Identities Tsui gives us the beginning of her novel.  It's on sale on Kindle right now... just 99 cents!  Should I buy it?  I want to, but my hubby and I were just talking about spending less on books....

Okay, enough personal stuff.  A few thoughts on the stories!

Desiree and Me

After a couple pages into the story, I had a feeling I knew what Desiree's secret was.  I wonder if she told her husband.  She wanted a family; she longed for something her counterpart couldn't wait to throw away.  She feels guilty, but not enough to ever reveal the truth.  What will it mean for her children?  Will she tell them?  Will they inherit her ability?  It was interesting to follow the main character's emotional journey.

All I've Got

This is another great story.  Another great emotional journey.  Tsui brings the supernatural element into the story subtly.  The supernatural is not the centre of the story.  It's about death and what you leave behind, from the perspective of family.  It's about loss, what you think you are willing to give up and if it is really worth it in the end.

Susan Tsui's stories were fantastic.  I only wish there were more of them.  I'm really looking forward to reading more of her work.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Books I’m Excited For In 2013

This week The Broke and The Bookish want to know what books we're most excited to read in 2013.  My list might be different than what everyone else is putting down.  I honestly don’t tend to read a lot of new releases.  I might only read one or two a year.  So, I’m breaking the list into two parts –

Part 1 - Books that will be released in 2013 that I’m excited to read.

1. Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris - The final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series! (May 2013)
2. The Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare - The final book in The Infernal Devices trilogy. (May 2013)
3. Sever, by Lauren DeStefano - The final book in the Chemical Garden trilogy.  I'm so excited to read this one! (February 2013)
4. Divergent #3, by Veronica Roth - No title yet...  Also, another final book. (September 2013)

Part 2: Books that are sitting on my shelves that I need to read in 2013.

5. Everything's Eventual, by Stephen King
6. Bodily Harm, by Margaret Atwood
7. The Deception of Livvy Higgs, by Donna Morrissey
8. Fool, by Christopher Moore
9. The Thousand Orcs, by R.A. Salvatore
10. City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare

I was tempted to add Undead and Underwater, by MaryJanice Davidson (March 2013), but I'm not caught up in the series yet, so I don't know if I'd definitely read that book next year.  I'm often a mood driven reader.

What are you looking forward to reading?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Word of the Week(s)!

*I started Word(s) of the Week ages ago so that I could share all the new, brilliant, crazy words I kept coming across in my readings of fiction, articles, blogs, etc.*

This week (month) I'm thanking two brilliant ladies for words.

I don't know if this really goes
with the word...
From Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling:

Obstreperous (pg 53):
1. Attended by, or making, a loud and tumultuous noise; boisterous.
"The obstreperous mirth swiftly turned into yells of dismay."
2. Noisily and stubbornly defiant.

I think my toddler can be obstreperous.... 

Prurience (pg 216):  The quality of being prurient.
1. Uneasy with desire; itching; especially, having a lascivious anxiety or propensity; lustful.
2. Arousing or appealing to sexual desire.
3. Curious, especially inappropriately so.

From Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley:

Syndics (pg 31)
1. A government official, a magistrate, especially one of the Chief Magistrates of Geneva.
2. (law) An agent of a corporation, or of any body of people engaged in a business enterprise; an advocate or patron; an assignee.

Maybe I should turn this into "new words whenever I get time to share them"....?

Friday, November 16, 2012

How Many of Book Riot's Favourite Books Have You Read?

Book Riot has compiled this fun list of its readers' favourite books.  I saw the lists on Literary Musings and What Red Read, so go see what they've read too.  I've italicized the books I've read.  I've linked to my thoughts on them where available.
  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  4. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  11. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  13. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  14. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  15. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  16. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  17. The Stand by Stephen King
  18. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  19. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  20. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  21. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  22. The PIcture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  23. The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  24. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
  25. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  26. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  27. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  28. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  29. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  30. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  31. 1984 by George Orwell
  32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  34. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  35. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  36. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  37. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
  38. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  39. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  40. Ulysses by James Joyce
  41. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  42. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  43. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  44. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  45. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  46. Dune by Frank Herbert
  47. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  48. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  49. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  50. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (13 votes)
So, I've read 13 of the books.  I own quite a lot of the books on the list, but just haven't read them yet.  Which books have you read?  Are any of them your favourite?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Night of the Living Trekkies

The lead character's name is Jim Pike.  Jim Pike!  Awesome. Night of the Living Trekkies was awesome.  Let's talk about how amazing all the Star Trek and sci-fi stuff was first.  The whole thing takes place at a Star Trek convention called GulfCon. There are costumed geeks everywhere.  They are constantly making hilarious and often relevant Star Trek references.  Many of them also introduce themselves using their "character" names instead of their real names.  Sometimes we find out their real names and sometimes we don't.  What I didn't realize until about a quarter of the way in was that each chapter title is the name of a Star Trek episode. (I've never been good at remembering names of episodes for any show.)  Somehow that made the book even better.  Every Star Trek, Star Wars, sci-fi moment had the geek in me jumping up and down.

In Night of the Living Trekkies, Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall bring the fabulousness of Star Trek together with the insanity of zombies and the zombies in this novel were great.  I'm not a huge zombie fan, but I like a well-written zombie novel, with an interesting cast of characters.  I also appreciate twists on the standard zombie mythos.  The Trekkies zombies are not your ordinary zombies.  They seem to be at first, but there is so much more.  I loved it.

If I had the time, I could have easily read the book in one sitting.  The story was engaging and the writing was fluid.  It was one fun, exciting thing after another.  Anderson and Stall knew what they were doing in creating a flawed, yet loveable hero, a kick-ass romantic interest and an intelligent sister.  The supporting cast were creative and varied.  The villains were a mix of expected (in a good way) and unexpected (also in a good way).

I think this was the first time I've read a novel written by two authors (I don't think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters counts). So I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of writing style and story flow.  After the first two chapters, I thought I'd be able to tell the difference from when one author was writing to the next, but after a couple more chapters, I knew I wouldn't be able to tell. I don't even know if they took turns writing chapters or if they were involved in each equally.  Now I'm curious.  How do collaborations like this work?

Fans of zombies and Star Trek are going to love Night of the Living Trekkies.  If you're a zombie fan, but don't know as much about Star Trek, I think you'll still enjoy the book, but some of the references might be a bit lost on you.... Or you could watch only Star Trek for a month, then you'd know everything!  I could keep going about all the great little and big things in Trekkies, but instead, I'll just say, read the book! 

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Casual Vacancy

Vaguely Spoilery

In the first thirty pages of The Casual Vacancy, I must have read words like penis, erection, vulva, breasts and all sorts of "adult" words several dozen times.  It was wildly advertised that J.K. Rowling's new novel was for adults, but just in case the reader didn't know, she makes it obvious right away. 

If the beginning of the book moved like the middle and the end, I would have liked The Casual Vacancy a lot more.  It wasn't a story I expected. It was rough and violent.  It wasn't tempered by magic like Harry Potter.  Though, I think people sometimes forget how dark Harry Potter actually is.  His parents are brutally murdered by a megalomaniacal serial killer.  He is taken in by relatives that treat him like a burden and obviously don't want him.  There is bullying.  There are slaves.  There is war. So many people die.  The magic is what makes it less scary; there is no magic in Casual Vacancy. This is reality.

There was a lot of setup and character introduction in the first fifty pages.  Maybe it was more. It actually reminded me very much of a Stephen King novel.  He often introduces loads of characters (just have them die brutally.) Rowling didn't give us one person to root for, to focus on as the "hero" of the tale.  She gave us several people, some you liked more than others, who felt very real and part of a community.  I think there was one real villain, however.  I could not find one thing redeeming about Howard Mollison.  I have to say, of all the characters, I really connected with Sukvinder on a personal level.  I've never gone to her extremes, but many of her problems brought back memories of my own high school/teenage issues.  I also wish that the Weedon's story wasn't so tragic and that Krystal and Robbie could have had a happy ending.

Everyone seemed so trapped in Pagford. This sense of being trapped actually reminded me of a specific Stephen King book, Under The Dome.  In both books, we have a big fat guy trying to control a small town (though admittedly, Howard is no where near as bad as Big Jim).  Everyone knows everyone!  That kind of community might drive me crazy.  Kay Bawden couldn't talk about her work without people figuring out who she was talking about!

I think a lot of the people in Pagford would benefit from a change of scenery.  Whether a move, or just a vacation, weekend trips to London!  Can you always exist the same small town for your whole life?  If you're like some of the people in Pagford, you might go crazy....  There was a lot of crazy in Pagford. Rowling did not disappoint.  She went into the darkest parts of a person's mind and pulled it out for us to see.  Rowling did not hold back.  She can still craft a powerful scene.

Rowling is a brilliant writer.  I enjoyed The Casual Vacancy immensely.  If you only really like sci-fi and fantasy type genres, this may not be the book for you.  If you just like to read a good story, then you'll enjoy the stories woven together in The Casual Vacancy.

Other Thoughts and Opinions:
Bridget's Books
The Blue Bookcase
Night Sky Reviews
Literary Musings
Tea and Text