The Friday 56: Cress

the-friday-56Hosted by Freda’s Voice, The Friday 56 follows these simple rules:

  • Grab a book, any book.
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
  • Find any sentence (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  • Post it.

Decided to choose a book which I’m currently reading, Cress by Marissa Meyer. It is the third book of the Lunar Chronicles trilogy. I enjoyed the first two immensely, and have high hopes for this one.

“Nainsi, Kai’s android assistant, appeared in the office doorway, holding a tray with jasmine tea and hot washcloths. Her sensor light Cressflashed. “Daily reports, Your Majesty?”

“Yes, thank-you. Come in.”

He took one of the washcloths off the tray as she rolled by, chafing his fingers with the steaming cotton.

Nainsi set the tray on Kai’s desk and turned to face him and Torin, launching into the day’s reports that blissfully had nothing to do with wedding vows or eight-course dinners.”

Meyer’s fractured fairytales are always creative and entertaining. In Cress, the titular character is imprisoned in a satellite which orbits Earth. Looking forward to seeing where the story goes from there!

Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Top Ten! I’ve kinda missed it…have you? I was especially excited to see that this week’s was a “rewind”: choose whatever topic you like from the past. And because I like complaining, I naturally chose my Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves.

  1. Old book smell. You know that musty scent library books are famous for? I can handle a whiff, but when the whole thing reeks of dust and neglect, it kinda makes me question why I’m not watching TV instead.
  2. Continuing on the subject of library books: sticky pages. Don’t eat while you’re reading. Just don’t. And please refrain from using any public-use books as your personal tissue.
  3. Dog-eared pages. Chances are there are about five options for bookmark alternatives in your immediate vicinity, at any time. Unless it’s a text book you’ll never use again outside the final, keeping your place by the permanent defacing of the book is just lazy.
  4. The movie poster cover. This is awful for two reasons. 1) Because it means the book is being re-marketed based on creative liberties taken by the film’s creators, and not the author’s original creation. And, 2) Because half the time the people cast in the book look different and that’s just step one of not being able to imagine things for yourself.
  5. Generic titles. Lately for me this means one of the following: “Girl in [fillintheblank]” and “The [fillintheblank]’s Wife”.
  6. Weird character names. I like it when there are one or two unusual names, but when everyone has a name like Bonnet, Shoehorn or Trapdoor, with no rhyme or reason or symbolism, it gets real annoying real fast. Same with the opposite: a book with only Janes, Johns and Marys is probably an indication how bland it is.
  7. Out-of-control punctuation. Some writers are comma addicts. Some rely too heavily on parentheses. One just wishes those types of things might be tightened up and taken out during the editing phase.
  8. Inversely, Writers who use 100 words to say what they could in ten. Nothing is worse than a rambling novel, when the idea alone would’ve made a great novella (or even a short story).
  9. 500-pagers in hardcover. I like fat books until they fall on my face while I doze off in bed. Those are the times I really wish there was some sort of lighter invention I could use to read books. Oh, wait…they’re called electronic readers. But that leads me to my latest, greatest pet peeve….
  10. Wait lists for e-books. I would like all those libraries with a cyber component to know: there is no reason for this! What is the age of technology for, if not instant gratification?!

Don’t forget to share your biggest book hang-ups below. Now’s our chance to commiserate together!

The Friday 56: Ender’s Game

the-friday-56Hosted by Freda’s Voice, The Friday 56 follows these simple rules:

  • Grab a book, any book.
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
  • Find any sentence (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  • Post it.

Described by some as Harry Potter in space (but not really), here’s a teaser from Orson Scott Card’s classic Science Fiction, Ender’s Game.

Tor Science Fiction, 2013, 324 pages (paperback)

Tor Science Fiction, 2013, 324 pages (paperback)

Maybe you’ll break down under the pressure, maybe it’ll ruin your life, maybe you’ll hate me for coming here to your house today. But if there’s a chance that because you’re in the fleet, mankind might survive and the buggers might leave us alone forever – then I’m going to ask you to do it. To come with me.

I’m still new to Sci-Fi, but boy oh boy am I fast becoming a fan. This one had all the classic elements I’d normally make fun of – space, alien invasions, no-gravity combat with high tech machines, a last-chance boy-hero – but I enjoyed it despite all that. If that makes me a nerd, I’m proud to wear the badge. Look out for my full review soon!

-Deborah

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2013, 310 pages (hardcover)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was that book I saw everywhere. I became curious, enough to read the synopsis. It was annoyingly vague. I knew I was in for some sort of family drama (possibly involving monkeys?) but – hoping it’d be nothing like When God was a Rabbit – this was enough for me to take the plunge. In this case, it was worth it! I was delivered all the heartfelt, realistic and zany family dynamics I’m always in the market for, plus I acquired a new favourite author!

I would explain Completely Beside Ourselves as Rosemary Cooke’s journey toward self-actualization. What we know about her from the beginning is that she used to talk incessantly. She also used to be part of a well-oiled and functioning household, alive with trouble-making siblings, an active mom, and a clever psychologist father. Fast forward several years and something has happened to upend all of it. Rosemary’s mom is lackluster, her dad an amorphous presence on the sidelines of her life, her brother a rogue domestic terrorist wanted by the government, and she, at the centre of it all, has gone silent. What the novel does is suspensefully walk us through events preceding and following the mysterious event – we quickly learn it has something to do with her sister, Fern – that changed everything. Clues are dropped here and there, but nothing will prepare the reader for what’s coming.

Fowler takes a really distinct approach to words that I quite enjoy. Her observations about life are either poignant or droll, and often both. She excels at holding off important information until the moment it will have maximum emotional impact. Probably because her own father was a psychologist who studied learning behaviours in animals, that’s something I found this book did really well in exploring. It boasts a lot of psychology, raising important questions about animal rights, our human relationships with animals, and the myriad implications. All I can do is highly recommend this novel to anyone interested in animals or behaviorism. That, and get my hands on another Fowler novel ASAP.

Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman

Orange is the new BlackWell, I wanted to see what all the hype is about. It was on the express bestsellers at the library, and you gotta snatch up those books while you can! I didn’t regret it.

This story, off of which the netflix series of the same name is based, is the autobiography of Kerman’s year-long(ish) stay in a minimum-security prison for a ten-year-old drug charge. After graduating Kerman had, well, explored her wild side, you could say, by dating a girl who lived the high-flying lifestyle of a drug distributor. After being roped in to launder money, Kerman cut her ties with that crowd, broke up with her girlfriend, moved to the west coast and fell in love with a nice guy, and began a normal life. A path which would have continued until she was named by her old associates a decade later and sent to prison.

I never knew that I wanted to know what it would be like in prison, but I certainly did. It was fascinating to see what a different world it is. Her experience is a decade old by now, but it still feels fresh. You can feel Kerman’s fear and apprehension. While a minimum security prison can give you many ‘freedoms’, it still clamps down on so many others.

Kerman details her day-to-day existence in prison. She introduces a myriad of characters that are hard to keep track of, though they all feel vibrant and real. Which, you have to remind yourself, is because they are real. Each chapter roves around various happenings and subjects, kind of like a stream of consciousness which flows and develops.

Above all this book made me feel claustrophobic and frustrated. Like I needed to vent out my feelings, as if I were the one being repressed. Few services are well-provided in prison, surprise, surprise. It can be hard to keep sane there, and from Kerman’s experience I get that you need sense of purpose, a routine, and as much control over  your life as possible in order to survive there. Advice I will hopefully never need!

A few weeks after reading this I watched the Netflix series. I was impressed with where they took the story, and how some of the characters came to life. If you enjoy this book, you’ll likely enjoy the show as well (and vice versa).Orange is the new Black netflix

The Friday 56: The Jane Austen Book Club

the-friday-56

Hosted by Freda’s Voice, The Friday 56 follows these simple rules:

  • Grab a book, any book.
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
  • Find any sentence (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  • Post it.

It’s not often I’ll feel compelled to read a book after having watched the movie, but Karen Joy Fowler is quickly taking her place among my favourite authors! It feels appropriate that probably her most popular novel is about a book club, because so far I find her novels very book club-worthy.

Plume, 2005, 228 pages (paperback)

Sense and Sensibility features one of Austen’s favorite characters – the handsome debaucher,” Jocelyn said. “She’s very suspicious of good-looking men, I think. Her heroes tend to be actively nondescript.” …

“Except for Darcy,” Prudie said.

“We haven’t gotten to Darcy yet.” There was a warning in Jocelyn’s voice. Prudie took it no further.

Things are heating up!

-Deborah

 

Trains and Lovers, Alexander McCall Smith

Trains and LoversHaven’t you ever wanted to travel anywhere by train? This desire is what prompted me to pick up McCall Smith’s 2012 novel about 4 passengers who happen to share a compartment, and subsequently, their stories with each other. Each has had a different experience with love, and the author has an adept way of drawing you into their life.

It is an easy read, and contemplative, subtle, intelligent, and enchanting. Each passenger shares a unique story of love and you kind of feel like you’re on that London-Edinburgh train with them. I loved the perfect amount of closure McCall Smith provided, and the best part is the last line; where one of the passengers, Kay, states: “Loving others…is the good thing we do in our lives.” How true.

This wont’ be one of the best books I’ve read this year, but it was thoroughly good. Not more, not less.

The Spectacular Now, Tim Tharp

Directed by James Ponsoldt.

This book has got a lot of hype thanks to the movie version, which came out on DVD last week. Before saying anything about the film, however, I’m going to first tackle the novel.

I enjoyed reading The Spectacular Now. Party boy Sutter Keely offers some of the most interesting and believable narration I’ve read from a first-person teen novel in a while. The book starts with Sutter’s girlfriend, Cassidy, breaking up with him, to which his response is a new goal to win her back. Somewhere along the way, however, he crosses paths with Aimee, a sweet but naive and (let’s admit it) somewhat dorky classmate. Pretty soon it’s as if they’re dating, and after a while it’s official. 

Before I go further into plot, I need to explain a thing or two about Sutter. He drinks – a lot. And then he goes driving. Often he drinks while driving. He’s also clearly hung up on Cassidy for a good half of the book, a crush that overlaps well into his relationship with Aimee. While it can’t be said that Sutter treats her badly, his opinion of Aimee is rarely romantic. He leads her on quite a bit, and for a time it seems as though he’s only dating her out of pity.

Yet here’s the thing: on top of all this, Sutter comes out likeable. I would never want my [nonexistent] daughter to hang out with him, but yeah, the boy’s got charisma. That said, a lot of people will disagree with me. My friend Annie wrote the following:

This is like the modern Catcher in the Rye, which, from me, is not a compliment. Sutter and Holden share the same unlikeableness, arrogance, and ultimate stagnancy that was pretty horrifying to read.

The arc of this book was frustrating. For a book of this caliber (not top) and because of the hype and the forthcoming movie adaptation, I was assuming…that there would be closure of some sort at the end. There wasn’t. I was frustrated. I only kept reading because I thought some comeuppance was coming to Sutter, but it didn’t (not really, not satisfactorily).

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008, 294 (hardcover)

Strangely, it seems the very things some people don’t like about The Spectacular Now are what I loved about it.  While it’s easy to think him an idiot for driving drunk most of the book, it’s also easy to feel worried for him. Sutter is neither hero nor villain, because he rides the line between them. The end of the book is frustrating, but I thought it ended the most likely way it could have. And realism is what the movie is currently being praised for. Everything from the script, to the actors’ performances, to the quality of their adolescent skin is beautifully and shockingly real. Slight changes were made to the end of the story, which might placate those who were angered by the book. Not only does the movie allude to a more satisfying end, it also shows the definite beginning of Sutter’s self-improvement.

While this novel lots of mature content, it’s a great exploration of an everyday, middle-class, non-future-dystopian-society teen, with problems that are relevant to every teen of that description. I recognized every character as someone I myself went to high school with, and I think there’s something special about that. Like The Catcher in the Rye, I believe The Spectacular Now has the sort of timeless quality of a novel that will still be pertinent fifty years from now.

The Friday 56: The Painted Girls

the-friday-56

Hosted by Freda’s Voice, The Friday 56 follows these simple rules:

  • Grab a book, any book.
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
  • Find any sentence (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  • Post it.

Riverhead books/Penguin USA, 2013, 357 pages (hardcover)

So far I’m making good on my Winter TBR. The Painted Girls is not everything I hoped it would be, but nonetheless it’s a solid read. From page 56 of my ebook version:

“There is a painter,” I say. “Madame Dominique lets him watch our class.”

Maman looks up at me with woolly eyes.

“He said my face is interesting.”

I can’t wait to review this one! Take care this weekend, friends!

Deborah

Another Non-Fiction Book From Kaite on the Friday 56

the-friday-56Hosted by Freda’s Voice, The Friday 56 follows these simple rules:Brysons Dictionary

  • Grab a book, any book.
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
  • Find any sentence (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  • Post it.

Not that I’m trying to bore you readers to tears, but my current read is, yet again, of polarizing interest to the lovers of literature. Bill Bryson, one of my favourite authors, wrote this 2002 book after his experience as a copy editor for the London Times. Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words provides real examples of the many times writers fall into the numerous traps the English language. Full of misused, misunderstood, or misquoted words or phrases, Bryson’s book is full of interesting tidbits, and provides clarity for many.

decimate. Literally the word means to reduce by a tenth (from the ancient practice of punishing the mutinous or cowardly by killing every tenth man). By extension it may be used to describe the inflicting of heavy damage, but it should never be used to denote annihilation, as in this memorably excruciating sentence cited by Fowler: “Dick, hotly pursue by the scalp-hunter, turned in his saddle, fired and literally decimated his opponent.” Equally to be avoided are contexts in which the word’s use is clearly inconsistent with its literal meaning, as in “Frost decimated an estimated 80 percent of the crops.””

Excruciating!

Happy Reading,
Kaite