Water, water, everywhere

Honestly I should be reading right now. Reading books that is. Instead I’m browsing through trashy mags and now blogging (obviously).
I feel a bit like the Ancient Mariner.

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I have bought too many books lately and now I don’t know what to read. I don’t feel in the mood for the ones I bought, and the book I do want to read I left on my desk at work.
I feel a bit accomplished because I did read two things over the weekend, and have read 15 books during the first month of 2014, which is a good amount if I can keep it up for the rest of the year.
1. Cat book
2. Murder in Mississippi by John Safran
3. Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
5. Taste of Darkness by Maria V Snyder
6. A Symphony of Echoes: Volume 2 The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor
7. Taronga by Victor Kelleher
8. A Child is Born by Jodi Taylor
9. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
10. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
11. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
12. The Last Thirteen: 13 by James Phelan
13. The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer
14. The Club by David Williamson
15. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I don’t really have a favourite out of the ones I have read so far, Burial Riteswas pretty good, but there is nothing on the list that I feel I need to read again.

The Intern is probably the most exciting book I read all month, not least be a use I was so so lucky to find one with the elusive red cover. But I’ve already banged on about this so I won’t do it again.

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I did enjoy this book. It was an easy and interesting read, and as some of the praise suggests, is a bit more (and different from) than a teenage Devil Wears Prada. I liked the main character, Josie, and she is comparable to that other Josie I have read lately of Alibrandi fame. I am interested in her family and story and do want to know what happens next. Luckily for me, as with all young adult fiction, this too is going to be a series, and it is a series I will definitely keep reading. What I liked best I think is how it was age appropriate. A lot of characters in Young Adult seem to be doing things too mature for their age, and many in New Adult also seem mature beyond their years. Tozer has hit the age just right and made her character likeable, relatable and appropriate.

I also reread The Club last month (and then watched the film the same day).

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I had forgotten how much I like Williamson’s style. His words are so precise. He captures his setting perfectly. It also reminded me that Travelling North is playing at the STC at the moment so I’m off to see that next month too, and I will try to read it before I go (if I can find a copy at the library).

The last thing I read for the month was The Giver.

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I had been meaning to read it ever since I had heard it was going to be turned into a movie. It is one of those books where I wish children’s writers had realised they could make heaps of money off sequels. I just want to read more. More about what happened before and definitely more about what happened after. It is just classic children’s sci fi. And perfect in only the way children’s science fiction can be. Really, I should be calling it speculative fiction, but lets not get pedantic. I just can’t believe nobody had ever told me to read it before. It is such an excellent book. So I’m telling you all – read it if you haven’t already. It’s the perfect book to give on Give a Kid a Book Day (feb 14).

Coming up on my next blog: I won’t leave it seven days in between writing again.

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Year of the Cat

Even though it is a Wednesday, and even though I don’t have to blog anymore, here I am doing it anyway.

Today I finished my first book of the year.

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I chose this one on purpose as the first book to read and finish as I believe in setting the tone for the year. As you can see, my year is going tone about cats. My Christmas was characterised by it, so I don’t see why 2014 shouldn’t be.
This book teaches men how to become cat ladies. Hence the title. It is pretty funny and if you don’t want to befriend a cat by the time you finish reading it there must be something wrong with you.
This wasn’t actually a,present for me, but for my husband instead. He is already a cat person, so I fear it is only going to reinforce his feelings that we should have more than one cat.
I do know a friend who must read it though, and I will be lending it to him soon.

And I’ve got instagram back, so there goes my whole less is more approach that I thought I was going to have to social media and technology.

Oh well. Happy new year.

Coming up on my next blog: A couple of nights out in my city.

It feels like (Friday Book Club)

101. A tale for the time being by Ruth Ozeki
102. The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith
103. Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger
104. Twitterature by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin

So I ended up just surpassing my 100 book goal for 2013. It is probably a good thing that I have read these last few books, because there are some naysayers out there who say picture books don’t count (even though they do, they even have the word ‘book’ in their title and therefore must count to a book list).

I bought A Tale for the Time Being in Tokyo.

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It is a book I wanted to read before going to Japan but I couldn’t find it in any local book shops.
It is a pretty odd read. Odd in that distinctly Japanese way, like only Japanese things can be. It did make me want to convert to Shintoism and Buddhism even more though, though it did put me off living in Japan a little.

While The Embassy of Cambodia was given to me by a friend trying to help me get over my Zadie Smith aversion. It was the perfect size. And I do think I like her writing style. Maybe NW just wasn’t the right one to start with.

Coming up on my next blog: the last one

Playing Grown Up

I’m going to pretend to be an adult today (it will probably be a nice change from the norm).
I think in the past year I have only really read a half a dozen or so books that were written for those over the age of eighteen in mind. And even then, a lot of them a genre fiction and perhaps not what many would call Literature with a capital L (I feel I have had this conversation before, about literature at least, or perhaps I have only had it in real life, I can’t remember).

If I had to choose my favourite Literature with a capital L book of this year it would be Norwegian Wood, I was so surprised with how much I enjoyed this book, how well it was written and how intriguing it was. It reminded me a lot of Never Let Me Go in style at least, and has inspired me to read The Remains of the Day, even though those last two are by a completely different author.

I guess I don’t read a lot of adult fiction because often the conclusions are so unsatisfying. Unless they are of the fantasy of speculative fiction genre, like my next choice, you just don’t get to see how things pan out. Young Adult writers know that there has to bean end, I guess it kind of mirrors their readers’ end of childhood, and even if the ending is bad, you still know where you stand.

So my second favourite adult book this year was Maddaddam. At the moment Margaret Atwood is my favourite adult writer, even her non fiction stuff is pretty good, but it is her speculative fiction that I enjoy the most. Her back catalogue is something I will be reading (and re reading next year too).

And you know I can’t always read serious things, so the third winner today is Let’s explore diabetes with owls. David Sedaris is just funny, full stop. Each of his books just gets better and better, and this one is my favourite by far. I hope his wit translate to real life as I will be seeing him perform (I don’t know if that’s the right word for a writer on stage at the opera house but what else can I use) in the new year. I can’t wait. I might have to read those few of his books that I haven’t got around to in the new year as well.

Coming up on my next blog: I guess I’ll also have to get around to talking about Christmassy things soon seeing as its only three sleeps away.

Triple Barrelled (Friday Book Club on a Saturday)

Last week I read a blog about books you can suggest to kids who don’t read. There were two on there that really caught my eye, and that the library had on the shelf.

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I have been meaning to read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game for a while now. Ever since they said it was going to be a movie and all the controversy began. Then someone was reading it at work so I thought I better to as well.
It is an odd story. It takes an incredibly long time to build to the climax and I am not sure it’s plot and setting, and even characters really fit with the message Scott Card is trying to send. Unless maybe I’ve missed the whole point. What I don’t really see is how it could possibly be made into a movie. Apart from the fact it is fairly repetitive, the main character, Ender, starts the novel at six years old and ends at like twelve. No kid actor is going to be able to portray (or cope with) Ender’s physical and psychological torment. It’s incredibly unrealistic, but I guess that’s what you get from sci fi.

I read Ruby Holler because I love Sharon Creech. She wrote two of my favourite verse novels Love That Dog and Hate That Cat, not that I agree with the sentiments of that second one. Her style is incredibly accessible, and she often writes from the perspective of a child (I know that’s what most children’s authors do) but in an authentic and still sophisticated way. This novel had quite an abrupt ending though. If I was a non reader and got to this ending I’d be a bit disappointed. As it was, and as I am, I quite enjoyed it.

I also got round to reading Howl’s Moving Castle which I bought in Japan.

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It is my favourite Miyazaki film.

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But I didn’t know it was based on a novel by Diana Wynne Jones. Nor did I know there were two other books with Howl and Sophie in them which I will now have to find and read.
It was very different from the film, but I don’t feel I lost anything by reading it second.

Coming up on my next blog: The countdown begins.

Party Pooper – that means spoilers (Friday Book Club)

It’s been a disappointing reading week this week.
It started off sort of ok, I found a free teen romance book in the iBookstore that was exactly what I expected it to be. But then everything started going down hill from there.

I finally picked up the last Mortal Instruments book.

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I really don’t know why I bothered. I haven’t actually finished reading it, I have two chapters and the epilogue to go, but I’m not going to finish it. I ended up skipping ahead to the epilogue anyway and skimming it to see what happens and it’s basically the same as all the other books. And it doesn’t have a proper ending. The world isn’t saved in the end and Clare has left it open for yet another sequel. I am so over this world and its characters that I want to end in fire and brimstone. It was a massive waste of my time. Don’t read them.

I don’t mind series. I have resigned myself to the fact that this is the way Young Adult fiction is going. But don’t keep writing just to make money. You actually need something interesting and engaging to say.

I also read two picture books this week.

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Neither of them was what I expected and I wasn’t actually pleasantly surprised either. Just disappointed again.

I usually love Lemony Snicket, but I am not very musical so I found his picture book to be boring and repetitive.
And I fell for the old

don’t judge a book by its cover

adage
With Varmints because it looks awesome but it is really just a rip off of The Rabbits.

Maybe next week will be a better week for reading.

Coming up on my next blog: Maybe I need to crack out the new Margaret Atwood.

Stay Where You Are and then Read ( Friday Book Club)

It has been two weeks since I posted about books and in that time I have read five books. Personally, I thought my reading rate would have been better than that, especially with a week off work, but sickness and stress have kind of deterred me from reading this week.

In the end I read:
The Wave by Morton Rhue
Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy
Stay Where You Are and then Leave by John Boyne
Deadly Heat by Richard Castle
Divergent by Veronica Roth

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The first two are pretty old, though may be called modern classics, rather than classics. I read The Wave in a flash because it has a fascinating premise and is really really skinny. Despite its age it hasn’t really dated, stories about students and schools seem to have a timeless vibe about them because everyone can relate to the experiences being expressed ( well, except maybe the fascism experiment at the core of this school experience). And I actually read The Wave in the middle of reading Maestro. I found that novel quite hard to get into because it felt further removed from my own experience – I am not a boy born to migrants living in Darwin. I don’t know if it’s Goldsworthy’s style, or because the main character was a boy, but some of the description was quite full on and not really to my taste. That being said, I did persevere and it is a good, if somewhat sad story.

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During the maelstrom I was reading this new John Boyne novel. I enjoy his work for children much more than what he writes for adults because he writes so simply, and while that can be used to great effect in the former it is clumsy and unforgivable in the latter. I also like his books that are more realistic and less fantastical. He has a way of showing the extraordinary or horrific in such mundane ways that render them perfectly. This one is a good companion (though not prequel or sequel) to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

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Then onto my guilty pleasure. In case you didn’t know, Richard Castle is the main character in one of my favourite TV shows, Castle. The basic premise is he is a writer tagging along with a New York homicide detective to get inspiration. In the show he refers to the novels he is writing and someone has actually written them. And I love them.

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I also finally picked up Divergent to read. And it’s as awesome as everybody says it is. I have Insurgent waiting for me on the shelf, and as soon as I can I will be buying Allegiant. What I don’t get though is why all these YA fictions have to be turned into films. Well I do get it, people want to make money, but the authors thought of them as novels, not movies, and now I’ve pictured it one way I don’t want to see how anyone else pictures it.

Coming up on my next blog: A day in the park.

Image-nation and a couple of Classics (Friday Book Club)

So last Friday, in the hour or so after I had posted my book review, I read John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in the bath. There is no picture.
I hadn’t read it before, and it was small enough to take on holidays with me.
I liked it, but wasn’t as moved as some people are by the ending, mostly I think because you can see it coming. There are so many clues and hints as to what is and must happen, it’s the only real logical and justifiable conclusion. It’s not a dog move, it had to be done. And anyone who can’t see that doesn’t understand human nature.

When I got home from my trip I finally picked up The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson.

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She is one of my favourite American authors. And now I have read everything she has published (I am pretty sure). The Lottery itself, has a very dystopic vibe, and I have a strong suspicion at Suzanne Collins must have read it before she started writing The Hunger Games.

I was a bit worries about my 100 book challenge this week too. There are only three months left in e year and I feel I have a long way to go.

Lucky for me a new Shaun Tan picture book came out this week.

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It is very odd, more so than some of his others I think, but he is a brilliant illustrator.
These are my favourite parts of the book

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While in the library I also read another picture book, which I had never seen before

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And it was just so funny. I love books that are self aware. And it even had a few lift the flapesque parts.

I also found a book I want to get for Christmas. It is a cook book.

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I’ve only seen two recipes from it, but one was for mango pancakes like you get at Yum Cha, so I am sold.

Coming up on my next blog: I’ll be blogging from the bus (well not really because that will make me motion sick)

Three More (Friday Book Club)

It seems I am really good at reading three books a week, which is good for me because I still have twenty-eight books to read by December thirty first and the next two weeks or so are not going to be great in terms of book reading.

This week I finished Maria V Snyder’s Study series and it was everything I had hoped it to be. I know I have already said how amazing she, and those books are, but I really can’t implore you enough to pick them up and read them. They are just exactly everything YA fantasy should be. There is another series, Glass, set in the same world as Poison, but I am not ready to commit yet. Even thought hey are perfect stories I am not ready for another emotional roller coaster ride. But I will probably read them by the end of the year.

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Then I picked up John Green’s Looking For Alaska.

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I saw it on a banned book lost and I wanted to know why it was there. I have already read The Fault in Our Stars and enjoyed the Julius Ceasar reference and the book, but bawled my eyes out at the end, so I knew I liked his writing.
Apparently this is the first novel he wrote. And it’s ok. Not great, just average. And it does that thing that a lot of YA realistic fiction does, in that there are not really any answers. And I guess that’s what life is like, but as you know, that’s not really how I like my books to be. It kind of reminded me a little of Norwegian Wood in terms of themes and plot.
I will probably read a few more of his novels, but I guess I shouldn’t have started with his best one first.

Then I reread The curious incident of the dog in the night time, which I will just refer to as Curious Incident because the title is too long and has too many capitals for typing. It too is a good book but lacks a satisfying resolution. Which I think is ironic because the main character is all about problem solving and in the end his problems aren’t really solved (and yes, I get that that is kind of the point and that there are other factors like his illness that contribute to this, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true (also I know it’s not an illness but a developmental disorder)).

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But I am glad I reread it.

Coming up on my next blog: it’s holidays and four sleeps until THE holiday.

There’s the Charm (Friday Book Club)

Today I am going to delve into the trifecta of reading: what I have read, what I am reading and what is waiting to be read.

Often times there is nothing waiting robe read. I can be quite fickle in the texts that I choose and if nothing has caught my fancy for a while, I can be at a loss as to what to read next. Not so at the moment. In the past week (or two) I have bought four books and borrowed a further three from the library. These are all books that I have either been highly anticipating, or that have caught my eye in a catalogue. And that’s only the ones I could actually find.
So far, I have read two (one library, one my own), I am in the middle of three (one library, two of my own) and one is still waiting.

I haven’t picked up the Atwood because I know that I am going to need to concentrate hard on it and so can’t be reading anything else at the same time. I also know that I am going to love it and so I am putting it off a bit, kind of a delayed gratification thing.

So onto the things I have read.

First was The First Third by Will Kostakis.

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If you follow me on twitter you will know I cried and cried because of this book. It was just so sad (in a good way). I haven’t cried so much over a book in ages. It is a bit of an odd thing. Kind of young adult but also a bit memoir I feel. I am not sure about that though, I only say it because the character’s name is a derivative of Will and is Greek, just like the author. And if it is a memoir then it is even more sad. And if its not, then it is excellently written. It’s a about a boy who wants to get a girlfriend and whose family is falling apart. It is a perfectly drawn world.

The other book I read this week was The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore, another in the Lorien series.

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And I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. The last book, Rise of Nine, was, in my opinion, boring and formulaic. And while I understand that is kind of what these books are like I do expect to be at least a little interested in what is going on. This one was better. It may have had something to do with my low expectations, but I liked the twists and turns the plot took and will probably end up reading the next one now.

And now what I am reading.

Well, I am currently on the train and packing two books. I wasn’t sure what kind of mood I would be in so I brought with me the anthology of short stories that I have been reading (which is excellent and also very adult, in that it is stories about adults, something I hardly ever read) and also a young adult fantasy novel that my library got in specially for me.

Right now it’s quiet in the carriage so I think I am in a short story kind of mood. Again, it’s the type of book I have to concentrate for.

Coming up on my next blog: Now I have to find something to take overseas with me to read.