WWW Wednesday 4/22/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

 

What did you just finish reading?

The True American by Anand Giridharadas

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Good Girl by Sarah Tomlinson

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Fan Girl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Roots by Alex Haley

The True American

A few weeks ago, deep into my reading slump and looking for brain food, I flipped through TED.com and found a talk given by Anand Giridharadas titled “A Tale of Two Americas, and the Mini-Mart Where They Collided.” He told the compelling story of a young man from Bangladesh working at a Dallas gas station, and the white man changed his life forever with a rifle full of birdshot. After listening to the speech, I had to order the book from the library. Not only was the story incredible, the fact that it was literally so close to home–I just had to read the whole thing.

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I was not disappointed. The author/narrator of this true crime (for lack of a better genre) story is relatively silent. You know who is telling the story, but as he states in his Author’s Note–he tries to stay out of the picture. This story isn’t about him. It is almost documentaryesque in form because of that.

This creates a very informative and involved picture of multiple points of view:  Rais (the victim), Mark (the shooter), and their families and friends who were involved afterwards.

Why is this such an interesting story? Some guy shot another guy at a convenience store. We hear about that all the time. There’s a few differences.

First, the shooting itself. This was only a month after September 11, 2001. Mark was enraged after the attack and in his words, became a “white terrorist.” His hatred for Arabs caused him to shoot 3 men, Rais being one of them (and the only survivor.

The second half of the story is what Rais does after he heals. I mean this guy is just…Captain America, basically. Seriously, if anyone deserves to wear that shield, it’s this guy. I’m not even going to tell you. At the very least, watch the TED talk. I would encourage you to read the book. It’s going to change your perspective on some things, I promise.

In this day and age, we really all need to think a bit more like Rais.

Written in Red

Fanfiction of fairy tales is the “it” thing right now, and I am loving it! For some reason Red Riding Hood especially seems to be popular. She was never my favorite character growing up, but I do love the modern day remixes.

Book Club Fiction is reading Written in Red this month, and while it’s been awhile since I’ve participated in one of their readalongs–I was able to get this one from my library in time. I am so glad I did!

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I will say that at first, I wasn’t too sure about it. The prologue really doesn’t explain what the Others are very well, and so the whole time I was thinking “Oooook….so you’re saying if Native Americans just would have been evil cannibals, the white men wouldn’t have come in and taken over?” It just seemed a little…off. Once I got into the story and realized the author wasn’t talking about people at all, it made perfect sense, but at first, I was more than a little concerned.

Don’t let the prologue scare you like it did me. The Others are actually ancient earth natives. Terra Indigene. Their basic form is a pumped up form of animal (Wolf, Crow, Coyote, Bear, even Vampire), but they have adapted to be able to shift into human shape as necessary. However, they hate humans, and see them as just another form of meat that they somehow have to live with.

Meg, however, doesn’t smell like prey for some reason. She’s different, and they don’t know why. But she is scared and needs shelter, so they hire her on. Suddenly things get super complicated.

I loved this story. It was both scary and also gentle. There was friendship, but not exactly romance. I kept expecting it to break off into romance, because, you know, that’s what always happens in books like this. But it never came, and it was a nice change.

I do want to give you a trigger warning. There is quite a bit of discussion and a couple of scenes with cutting. Meg was in a cult type culture before she came to The Others where the girls were cut to induce prophecies. If that will trigger you, please don’t read this book, or proceed with caution, as it is a big part of the story. Please take care of yourself!

Two books in a row that I couldn’t put down? Maybe my slump is finally over! *fingers crossed*

 

Fulfills Popsugar #37:  A book with a color in the title

 

WWW Wednesday 4/8/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

Atonement by Ian McEwan

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit

Emma by Jane Austen

The Iron King by Maurice Druon

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

 

This list may change. I’m picking up a stack of library books from my hold requests tonight, so who knows what I’ll actually read next!

The Iron King

Right about the time I was asking for recommendations regarding French history, someone posted on Tumblr asked about The Accursed Kings series by Maurice Duron. I hadn’t heard of it, but when I looked it up, the reviews all toted it as The Original Game of Thrones! Well of course, I had to jump right on it, so I ordered the first book from my library. Little did I realize that not only did George RR Martin love the series and do the introduction, but it was also about the 100 year war between England and France!

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Well, you can imagine my excitement. When I read Martin’s introduction, I was stoked. Martin is pretty grumpy, but to hear him rave about Druon left me with high expectations. I was even debating if I should start learning French so I could read the last two books (which haven’t been translated into English). I thought, “Yes! This will give me more of a foundation into medieval French history that I’ve been looking for.” At least the early years.

But, with high expectations come big disappointments. The subject matter was interesting, but the writing was lackluster. Sorry, George, I just could not get into this at all. I can definitely see the Game of Thrones type storyline. The history certainly the potential for drama, but the prose lacks all emotion whatsoever. It is a complete yawn that left me scanning just to get to the end of the chapter so I could do something else. And that means I retained nothing and gained nothing.

I can tell you the king is Philip the Fair, and there were three princesses that had simultaneous affairs. That’s about it. Oh and there was a poisonous candle somewhere in the mix. I’m going to have to find another version to figure out what actually happened. Something that can hold my attention. This one did not do it.

Sigh. On to the next!

WWW Wednesday 4/1/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

Emma by Jane Austen

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Iron King by Maurice Druon (Review will be up later today)

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

Quidditch Through the Ages by JK Rowling (I’m doing the review for this one as a set with the other two Hogwarts Library books, so it’ll be a little while.)

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit

Atonement by Ian McEwan

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

WWW Wednesday 3/18/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

Dear Millie by Marco Previero

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Horse Healer by Gonzalo Giner

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Selected Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Lying by Lauren Slater

Critical Incident by Troy Blackford

Four by Veronica Roth

Marcelo in the Real World

The last audiobook I reviewed was about an autistic child and his imaginary friend. At the end of the book, Max was starting to grow up–so it was only fitting that I read another book about a person on the autism spectrum–this time a young man with a unique form of Asperger’s. Marcelo feels the emotions of music inside of him–something he knows as the IAM.

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Marcelo has always gone to a special school, but his father has challenged him to work in his law firm for a summer–or else. He must try to comply with society’s “rules,” or he will have to go to public school in the fall.

At first, Marcelo is extremely awkward and uncomfortable, but he is extraordinarily intelligent, so while he doesn’t have the normal social graces, he begins to fumble along. He even begins to make friends and find passion for things he is working on.

I loved Marcelo. He was so sweet, and so lost. I was thrilled when Jasmine took him under her wing. To say I shipped them is the wrong term because he is asexual, but I loved their friendship absolutely.

Normally when we think of autism and Asperger’s, we think of children, so it was interesting to view this take on our world through an adult experience. Marcelo in the Real World is a coming of age story with a very unique perspective.

This is a painful book to read, in that Marcelo is so intelligent, so conscious of everything people are saying and doing, but no one else really understands that. The author portrays bullying at its worst, even from family members. Marcelo is never safe from people who think they can control him because he processes information differently. It is such a unique perspective from which to view our world, and one few of us ever get to experience…but most of us really should see.

 

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

While for the most part, most of my reading is done with my eyes, I generally have an audiobook going as well. It takes me a realllllly long time to get through audiobooks, though, because I can’t just sit and listen to one. I have to be doing something–laundry, dishes, and lately, I’ve been listening to one while working.

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I just finished Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicksand I am so glad I listened to this. Some books are just better on audio, and this is one of them.

It is the story of an autistic child, Max, and his trials at a public school, from the point of view of his very intelligent, very realistic imaginary friend, Budo. Max loves learning about military strategy and playing with legos, but he absolutely does not like extra kisses and bonus poops. He has a wonderful teacher at school, parents who are trying very hard to make life just the way Max prefers it, and Budo is always there to make sure he doesn’t get “stuck.”

Things get all topsy-turvey, though and while I’m not going to spoil it and tell you what happens, suffice it to say, there is a major crisis and something goes very very wrong. Budo has to figure out how to solve a very big problem in the real world–which for an imaginary friend is not an easy thing to do.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend made me laugh, it made me cry, and it really really stressed me out. It’s written from the mind of one in elementary school, so the language is very simple, and sometimes the mental capacity is very frustrating. I found myself screaming sometimes, as an adult, as “not a parent” with not a lot of patience, because I wanted Max and Budo to do something just a little faster, or better, or different. But…that wouldn’t have been the story.

I really did love this. And I’ll be looking for more from Matthew Dicks. Whether you read this, or listen to it. Make sure to pick this up. Parents and teachers, especially, will love this I think.

 

Fulfills PopSugar #7:  A book with nonhuman characters

WWW Wednesday 12/31/2014

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What are you currently reading?

The Iliad by Homer

The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield

 

What did you just finish reading?

41:  A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Starstruck by Brenda Hiatt