Friday, May 13, 2011

WTF Blogger?!?!

So, I did something yesterday I don't normally do, I participated in some blog hops. That's right, more than 1. I did 2! And I had fun! And silly me, I didn't save my posts in Word like I should have because now...Blogger has gone and erased them both!!!

I'm really really really ticked off. People had already commented on them too but those are gone. Blogger even erased the comments people had made on my review for The Remains of the Day on Wednesday.

What is going on?!?!

Is anyone else having this problem? Please don't let it just be me. BEYOND FRUSTRATED.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Literary Blog Hop - Literary? I Think Not!

Second blog hop of the day (I'm on a roll!) is from over at The Blue Bookcase.
For this week's Literary Blog Hop the question is:
What books have you read that have been hyped as literary and, in your opinion, were not?
So I don’t know why this book didn’t pop in my head immediately, but it should have because I’ve complained about it enough. Atonement by Ian McEwan! I read it about a year ago and I remember being very excited about it at the time. My mother recommended it to me because it was one of those books that everyone was talking about as “will definitely be a future classic” and she knew I was a re-born classic enthusiast. She said the language and descriptive text was beautiful. The story was breathtaking. And so on…so perfect fit right? Wrong. I was not a fan. Maybe I’m the only one but I thought it was simply trying too hard to be literary and “classic.” Maybe it was because at that time I was reading actual classics but it just rang completely false to me, I don’t know. But I found myself rolling my eyes throughout most of the book. Needless to say, I’m not picking up another McEwan anytime in the near future.

Booking Through Thursday - Your Reading Range

So I'm blog hopping it today (yes that is to a thing!) and I figured I'd stop by the Booking Through Thursday hop. The question this week is:
Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?
Well...I think, for the most part, I read books within my age group. I mean, I’m a classics-lover and I’m in my late (oh the misery!) twenties now so I’d say that’s the right age group for that stuff right? I mean, when I was supposed to be reading most of this stuff in high school I would argue that I was too young to really appreciate and understand a lot of it (hence why I DIDN'T actually read the books assigned in class). But now, reading the books on my own, I love them!

I mean, I do occasionally delve into a YA if I get a really good recommendation from a friend. And I must say that then I am very rarely disappointed. Like recently I read the YA novel Unwind by Neal Shusterman. It’s a dystopian novel (which, as most of you know, I thoroughly enjoy) and I think it was very well done. My review on that should be coming soon.

Also, being a lover of classic novels, I do also pick up the occasional children’s classic. I mean, how can one go wrong with those? You can’t!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review for You - The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
4 stars
This third novel by Kazuo Ishiguro starts by Stevens, an English butler at the distinguished Darlington Hall, deciding to take a motoring trip through the English countryside. He does this for a few reasons. One, he has never really seen much of the country in which he has lived because he has spent his lifetime dedicating himself thoroughly to his employers. Two, his current employer, Mr. Farraday, is an American and will be out of the country for some time and as Mr. Farraday has pointed out to him on numerous occasions, there is no point in Stevens staying around to tend to an empty house.

But the main reason Stevens decides to go on the trip is to visit Miss Kenton, the former housekeeper of Darlington Hall. Currently Stevens has realized that the Hall has somewhat of a staffing problem and he decides that Miss Kenton is the solution. And her last letter to him suggested that she did miss Darlington Hall and that her marriage had basically ended. Although Stevens spends many days re-reading the letter again and again and over analyzing every word.

During his travels Stevens reflects on the old times at Darlington Hall and his former employer, Lord Darlington himself. His memory in many places seems to play tricks on him but soon it seems Stevens is trying to convince himself, as he’s obviously run into this problem before, that his old employer was not an anti-semite. That those horrible rumors were not true. That Lord Darlington always treated Stevens with respect. Whether he is actually convincing or not I guess is up to the reader.

Also as he nears his meeting with Miss Kenton he reflects on his time with her in Darlington Hall. He admits that their relationship started off on rather a rocky footing, actually very rocky, but soon grew to a very mutual respect. But throughout Stevens’ constant quest to obtain the persona of a dignified butler at all times, something Stevens talks about at length, it is obvious that he misses certain social cues from almost everyone around him, most of all Miss Kenton.

This was the second book I have read by Ishiguro, the first being Never Let Me Go, and I think the best one so far. There is a constant longing throughout the novel that is impossible to miss. However it was very muted, which I thought was perfect for a book that was written from the point of view of an English butler. It really did feel as though I was reading an uptight butler’s journal. It was very very sad because I would want Stevens to, just once, break out of his tightly wound shell. At times it would make me struggle for breath.

The chemistry between Miss Kenton and Stevens was undeniable and yet very depressing because it was never to be. And then the scenes that dealt with the anti-semitism were very well done and actually caused a great deal of emotion to stir up inside of me, which I was not prepared for.

There was an obvious struggle as Stevens reflected upon his past. You could sense his tiredness and his difficulty rectifying some things in his world. Ishiguro was able to deal with a lot of very meaty topics in an interesting way that did not make you feel as though this had turned into some philosophical novel, which could certainly have been a danger.

I don’t think this book is for everyone because I could definitely see how it could read slowly for some. There is not much action and Stevens’ pacing could take some getting used to. But if you’re an Ishiguro fan I think this would be right up your alley. I also hear the movie with Anthony Hopkins is very well done!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - You Jerkface!

I’m finally participating in the Top Ten Tuesday blog hop over at The Broke and the Bookish. I don’t usually do it because it conflicts with my Tuesday meme (the Bechdel Test) but I’m doing it early enough in the day that I think I can get both in.
This week's Top Ten is Biggest Jerks in Literature (oh and I guess they’re supposed to be male as well). Now I’m having a much more difficult time with this than I originally thought I would. I figured it would be easy but then I took a gander over at my friend Laurie’s blog What She Read and she made a really good point about the differentiation between jerks and truly evil characters. I can think of many truly evil characters in literature; it’s harder to think of who are just simply jerkfaces (although I’m having no problem coming up with people in my real life that fit that description!).

But I’ll give it a try! Here goes nothing…

1. Lord Henry in The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Lord Henry is a completely self-absorbed character who basically has time for no one other than himself or people that he finds just as snotty as himself. He likes to feel superior to others and takes pride in the fact that he turned young Dorian Gray into his own jerky little protégé. I think he fits this category nicely.

2. Dr. Sloper in
Washington Square
by Henry James: Dr. Sloper’s treatment of his daughter, Catherine, can most certainly be described as jerk-like. He may be accurate about his reasons for objecting to her chosen suitor but he constantly puts her down and does not give Catherine the respect she deserves…ever.

3-5. All of Janie’s husbands in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: That’s right. They were all jerks. Even precious Tea Cake. I’m sorry but if you beat your wife you’re no longer okay with me. They stunk.

6. Adam Robert Ryan in In the Woods by Tana French: He’s the main character of the book and at times you feel sorry for him, because yeah he did go through a traumatic experience when he was little that he has no recollection of where his friends were murdered, but he’s still a jerk throughout most of the book. His partner is a great woman and he treats her like garbage most of the time when she’s trying to be there for him. So you’re rooting for him but at the same time, you know he deserves what he gets. Great book by the way.

7. Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild by John Krakauer: Is it wrong to call this kid a jerk when it’s a true story and he’s now dead? I don’t care because it’s all I could really think while reading it. He was so selfish and pigheaded and just…I don’t know. He just infuriated me every step of the way! I’m not a parent but I couldn’t help but feel for them as I was reading it because he just didn’t care at all how his actions might affect others in any way, how other people cared about him.

8. Holden Caufield in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: I know a lot of people have him on their lists and I have to agree. Holden is the epitome of a jerky kid. I could totally relate to him when I read the book in high school but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t selfish and a jerk and treated others like crap a lot of the time. Sure, he was confused and scared and depressed, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a jerkface.

9. Odysseus in The Odyssey by Homer: I’m sorry. Yeah yeah he’s trying to make his way home against all odds but he’s off sexing up different women left and right while his wife is alone for years and years doing everything possible to fight off tons and tons of suitors. Then Odysseus has the NERVE to come home and perform some kind of TEST to see if she has remained faithful to him this whole time? JERK!!

10. EVERYONE in The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen: Yeah, wasn’t really a fan of this book. All the characters were horrible and jerk-like. What was there to like about them exactly? Nothing in my opinion.

And I'm spent!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Feminist Book Alert!!

If you're a feminist and a book lover, as I am (duh!), then you also get really extremely excited when you're going along reading a book and you find out, dun dun dun dun, it's a feminist book!

Well I just finished a great one and I had to share. I'm waaaaay behind on book reviews because of my recent trip out of town (and overall laziness) so I have no clue when I'll get around to actually reviewing this book all you feminists out there: go buy/steal/acquire Bossypants by Tina Fey! It was such a wonderful surprise.
Now, I knew Fey was a feminist but I was not expecting this book to have such a feminist tilt to it. I mean, she even uses the words feminist and feminism SEVERAL times! It has a great message about motherhood, show business, politics... And to make it even better the book is down right hilarious.

So you heard it here (and probably many other places since this book is on the bestseller list but whatever): this book is awesome sauce. Read it now :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bechdel Test...Wednesday

Wednesday again? Gosh darnit! Better a day late than never I suppose…

Well, as many of you have heard already, this will be my last post of the week because tomorrow I’m heading to New Orleans until Sunday for vacation. Yay me! I know you’ll all miss me terribly but I just gotta get outta here. Warm weather here I come :)

But I’ll leave you with this last lovely Bechdel Test posting, even though it’s not being posted on its correct day. Grrr. Lately it just seems I have so much other posting that needs to be done on Tuesday that this meme of mine has to get pushed around a bit. Oh well.

Now, last time I covered The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro because I had recently finished it (that review will have to wait until next week because I just don’t have time to do so before I leave). So I’m going to keep going with books I’ve recently finished and do…

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
1. Does it have at least 2 women in it?
And we’re done in ONE!! In fact, that book doesn’t have a single woman in it. Well, there are some man-beasts that the main character thinks are female but I don’t think that really counts. And besides, they don’t speak.

It’s been a while since a book has failed right out of the gate. Otherwise the book is really phenomenal. You should read the review I posted last week because if I do say so myself, I wrote a pretty kick-ass review.

I’ll be back on Monday kids! You better miss me in the meantime ;)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May is Short Story Month!

So I just found out today from The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog that it’s Short Story Month. How great is that? Just when I was getting all sad that National Poetry Month had ended I have something new like this to look forward to, hooray!
It got my brain a-turning (which is tricky for this early in the morning, luckily I just started drinking my yummy latte) for what to do to feature short stories in my blog for the month. Unfortunately I don’t read many short stories. Whomp whomp. But this month gives me an excuse to change that! So I think that plan is that tomorrow after work I’m going to run to the bookstore (a dangerous place, I know) and pick up a good volume of short stories. I’ve been meaning to do this anyway so…

And I need to go run errands tomorrow regardless because I’ll be going out of town Thursday to NEW ORLEANS for 4 days. Yeah that’s right. I’ll be gone Thursday through Sunday so don’t expect any posts from me in that time. It’s okay, you can be sad about it. You can even cry. I won’t judge you ;)

So, to sum up, in honor of Short Story Month I’ll be buying a volume of short stories to read and I’ll be trying to read at least one new short story per week and then give you a good little review on my blog. The review probably won’t be the same in-depth awesomeness that you’re used to though since I’ll see be posting my regular book reviews as well, but I’ll see what I can pull off (I’m only human!).

Oh, and if YOU want to post about Short Story Month on Twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #ssm2011.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pretend It's the Last Day of April...

I wanted to get in one more poetry post in April for National Poetry Month but alas, I had no time! But nothing says I can't do it now. It's not like there's a RULE or anything right? Right!

So I got this great idea (or stole this great idea, same difference) from Laurie over at What She Read to do a poetry post on Stephen Sondheim. What? Isn't he a songwriter? That's not poetry! Oh but contraire! That totally is poetry! And Stephen Sondheim was a master!

My all-time favorite musical of his was West Side Story. It's a more modern telling of Romeo & Juliet by the one and only Bard himself, so how could it NOT be totally awesome! And put to music no less? Awesome sauce indeed!

Another reason I love West Side Story, despite the music being altogether wonderful (yes, I know all the words to all the songs), is the choreography is breathtaking. For those that didn't know, I was a dancer for much of my life so West Side Story is a show that captivated me right away.

So for my last Internationl Poetry Month post I'm posting 2 clips from the Academy Award winning movie West Side Story. Please watch them. I guarantee you will NOT be disappointed!

Blog in Place HOP

So I know this is a literary blog but I really liked the idea behind this hop so I felt the need to participate. It's called the Blog in Place Hop and it's all about places. Cool right?

Well it's a weekly hop it seems and it's being hosted by Robyn over at You Think Too Much. For this week's question, we're answering the following prompt:
What's the best and worse thing about the place where you live?
As you all should know, I live in the awesome city that is CHICAGO so the first part of this question is kind of hard to nail down...I guess the bestest (yeah, I'm using it as a real word, what?) thing about living in Chicago is that it really has everything and it's not tooooo big. Like New York scares me sometimes (even though I've been there more times than I can count) because it's soooo huge. But Chicago is like the perfect big city size and offers all the same perks. Everything is right at your finger tips.

The worst? Hmm, that's a tough one. I guess right now I'd have to say the weather. It can get really nice here but as of late it has seemed like Spring just refuses to show up (okay, this weekend was rather gorgeous). But all April long it was super chilly. It even snowed! I love my summers and a lot of the time Chicago likes to almost skip summer entirely. Boo on that!

Otherwise it's a great place. Come and visit! :)

Oh, and I plan on posting later today my last post for International Poetry Month. I know that it ended on Saturday but I just have not had a chance to get to it so...stick around!