night film

I am completely and totally engrossed in Night Film right now.

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At not quite halfway through, I am without a doubt pulled into this story. I’m desperately hoping that it doesn’t end up falling short right at the end (as some reviews have indicated). I’m also very into the mixed media extras throughout. This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this for a book…

night film decoder

Reading has come a very long way!!!! Granted some of the ‘interviews’ that I’ve been able to access through the decoder have a bit of a corny sound to the scripts, but overall I think it’s such a fantastic idea and the fake NY Times/Vanity Fair articles are definitely a fantastic addition to the story. It feels strange though, to remember to bring my phone whenever I settle down to read. But every time I see that little bird pop-up I can’t help but get a little excited about what I’m about to discover!

nightfilm

So, this is what I’m reading instead of Allegiant right now…and tonight as I sit waiting to see Veronica Roth take the stage I’ll have my copy of Allegiant with me, but I’ll still be reading Night Film!! Feels like cheating?!?! ; )

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the mummy

Every October I tend to read books that are mostly “Halloween-ish” in nature. It doesn’t actually have to directly link to Halloween (although Bradbury’s Something Wicked and The Halloween Tree are on my list annually). Anything supernatural, creepy and/or monster-ish gets tackled during these weeks leading up to the 31st. Considering the amount of related challenges that pop-up this time of year makes it pretty clear I’m not the only seasonal-reader!

So, after I finished up The Night Eternal…I jumped right into The Mummy.

the mummy

Way back when I was in high school, I went through a huge Stephen King-kick, then moved onto Dean Koontz and then I discovered Interview with the Vampire and that started my Anne Rice obsession. This was quite a while ago, we’re talking almost 23 years. So, I guess it’s to be expected that memory lapses would begin to occur and I could not for the life of me remember if I had already read this book. What also made it difficult, in addition to the large time-gap, was that the mummy theme has been done quite frequently. Not nearly as much as vampires, but it’s getting there.

As it turns out, this was my first time reading it. I would have remembered a story like this one! It had the same vibe to it as The Mummy film. The plot lines were very different, but they had the same early-1920’s feel to them.

Rice’s Mummy ended up being more of a love story…and Ramses, although immortal, managed to blunder his way around when it came to the women in his…eternity. However, I enjoyed the characters, the setting and the story itself. It moved at the perfect pace and I found it to be a very fun book to read, especially at this time of year.

The ending was left with more than one opening for a sequel, but I’m relatively sure one was never written. Frustrating in one sense, but in a literary world filled with sequels, trilogies, chronicles, etc. it’s always nice to close a back cover and be done. Letting your own mind fill in the gaps and give you whichever ending you’d like best!!

Off to figure out which book to read next!!

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the night eternal

Four years after the release of The Strain, I finally got around to reading and finishing The Night Eternal…book #3 of The Strain Trilogy.

Shortly after the release of book #2, The Fall, I headed into NYC for an event with both authors Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo made time to chat with everyone there…

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…he seemed very sweet and even his autograph was cute!!

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Which makes it all the more interesting just how twisted this guy is!!

As for the series, I enjoyed it. I would give the trilogy, as a whole, about three stars. It dragged at times, it certainly didn’t require three books. Occasionally, the writing was a little corny and sometimes events just didn’t fit. Like one of the characters waltzing into an abandoned Macy’s (two years after all of the looting and destruction began) during a time when all clothes and food were obtained either by vouchers or on the black market…and her big decision was whether or not she should go for boots (in her size) with or without a heel?!

So, this didn’t really offer up fantastic writing or a gripping fast-moving plot, but it was an interesting take on a theme that has become so incredibly played out. The books seemed to be organized well, starting with epidemiology, on to the spread of this ‘plague’, the aftermath and then the eradication. Beginning, middle, end…packaged up all nice and tidy (wiggly blood-worms excluded) for their dear readers.

With that said, this read from the start like something headed straight for the screen. That wasn’t really a grand prediction, considering del Toro’s involvement, so it’s not surprising that it’s already in the works. What IS surprising (to me anyway) is that they opted for tv rather than film. Guillermo definitely does not glamorize these vamps…they are ugly and vicious…they should be sure to have a warning in the credits letting people know these vampires don’t sparkle.

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bookishness

Over the last few months, I’ve been on a mediocre-reading kick. As in, I’m reading one book after another, but none of them are blowing me away. Pretty much all of them have ended up being not great, not horrible, just…meh. There were a few times when it would come very close, but in the end it would somehow fall short. That’s not to say that I regret reading any of them…it’s just that I was left with this unsatisfied craving for greatness!

First up…Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

ocean at the end

“I liked myths.  They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories.  They were better than that.  They just were.”

This almost sums up my feelings on this book. It wasn’t quite an adult novel, nor would it be appropriate for children. It was somewhere in between and for me that’s what prevented it from being anything more than ‘okay’. It didn’t commit and I very much felt as though I was stuck between the two genres.

However, it was interesting, original and you have to give an author credit when they know they only have 181 pages of content and they do NOT try to stretch it out for an additional 200 pages or (as in quite a few cases lately) somehow scrape together a trilogy?!

assassins apprentice

“When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool, you end up sounding like a moron instead.”

Solid advice given within Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice. This was one of the books that came so very close!! Such great potential…I enjoyed the plot and characters, my only real issue was that midway through it got a bit drawn out. A little repetitive here and there…things could have moved a bit faster at times. This is the first in a trilogy, filler-pages tend to happen in a series. I know this, but at 480 pages it was completely unnecessary! As a result it lost the 4th star, but I do plan to eventually read the rest of the series.

light

“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.” 

Then there was M. L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans. This was not exactly a feel-good kind of book. The second half definitely moved faster than the first. To be honest, I found Isabel unlikable and I had trouble finding a whole lot of sympathy for the Sherbourne’s. Their decision being so clearly in the wrong, it was hard to muster up a lot of emotion for them later on when they finally suffered the consequences. My heart did break a bit for Lucy…impossible for it not to! So, the emotion I felt there made this a worthwhile read. The author wrapped everything up neatly at the end of the book. It’s always nice to have closure. Not fabulous, but pretty good.

These were just a sampling of what I’ve been reading. I had several other’s tossed in the mix, but these were the most noteworthy ones. Now…I left the best for last.

After months of searching for something great. Something I could really get into. Something that would keep me up reading late at night and leave me struggling to put it down long enough to live my life each day. I finally found Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

fingersmith

“PIGEON MY ARSE!”

I stumbled on this one. It just kind of popped-up out of nowhere when I was starting to get frustrated with my 3-star streak. I tend to research a book to death before I actually decide if I’m going to read it. I check ratings and reviews on pretty much every available site…I take each one with a grain of salt, but it’s definitely part of my decision process. This one was getting rave reviews pretty much across the board! With very good reason. This was truly a great book. FOUR STARS…FINALLY!! I enjoyed the plot, the characters, the Victorian-vibe. And the twists!! Some of which brought forth: “WAIT!! WHAT THE!?!?!” moments…out loud…which are so rare and so great while reading!!

I’ve since discovered that this was actually made into a BBC Series and I would be curious to watch it as a follow-up. I definitely plan to check out some of her other books as well!!

Don’t’cha just love a happy ending : )

a gentle nudge

The 21-day yoga challenge ended last week, but I’m still going at it. I have seriously fallen in love with yoga. I enjoyed it when I was practicing regularly several years ago, but this is very different.

Back then I was all about the workout. It had to be intense and I would only do it twice a week because I didn’t feel like it burned enough calories to make it worthwhile. I would only do Bikram because I felt like that was the only variety that would actually get my heart pumping. I often classified all other forms of yoga as being ‘boring’.

I don’t know if it’s a maturity-thing…I’m definitely older and maybe a smidge wiser. Or maybe I’m just in a better place body-image-wise. Whatever the reason, I’m no longer consumed with the calorie burn rate while practicing. I’ve been working on casting aside my competitive-spirit every time I step on my mat. Basically, I’m letting everything go and allowing myself to really enjoy this time that I’m setting aside for myself every day.

Yesterday I was rewarded with my first obvious sign of improvement during practice. My shoulders are (and always have been) extremely tight. For years I’ve done a lot of working-out with weights. Bench-press, pec-fly, delt-rows, etc. I suppose all of that must have caught up with me because back in August while doing a very simple/routine exercise I completely destroyed my left shoulder. It literally felt as if it crumpled like a piece of paper.

I went a while with limited mobility. Eventually it got to the point where I could move it freely again, but it’s never really been the same. I try to be mindful of it during practice, but not leave it out entirely. I’ve already discovered that to not do anything at all makes it far worse! I do what I can and I stretch to the point where it’s challenging, but not painfully so. It’s been long enough now that I know it’s limitations.

Then yesterday as I was in a wide-legged forward bend, I laced my fingers and lifted my arms above my back.

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I went as far as I usually do without discomfort, but then all of the sudden…whoa.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost as though someone gave me the gentlest of nudges…my shoulders widened slightly and my arms gently dropped much further than they normally do. I felt an openess and flexibility in that shoulder that hasn’t been there in quite some time! It was fantastic!!!

I also recently decided to start checking out yoga in the printed word. A yogi memoir, some yogi fiction (who knew there was such a thing??) and now a 365 day journey exploring yoga.

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Apparently, Meditations from the Mat is the yogi equivalent to the runner’s Born to Run! Hopefully, it ends up being just as good!

silver WHAT?

I absolutely always try to read the book before I watch the movie, but I can’t be held responsible for movies that I watched as a child. Therefore, I place the blame squarely on my mother’s shoulders that it’s taken me 35 years to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Of course, I could have read it much sooner than this, but the damage was already done. I have almost every line uttered throughout the course of the movie committed to heart.

I always knew that I would eventually get around to reading it one day. Then a few weeks ago I was in Barnes & Noble (a rare treat since the closest bookstore to us is over an hour away!) and I noticed that they had a very nice edition of it just staring up at me from the classics table. I decided now was the time to go for it. I figured it would also make a nice addition to my Children’s Lit collection that one day (hopefully) my own daughter will have a field day with.

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Now at this point, the movie is just as beloved as the book. So, I think it’s nearly impossible to say which is better. I think the real enjoyment of reading this book (after a lifetime of loving the movie) was identifying the differences…not with a critical-eye, but purely out of curiosity.

I won’t get too detailed about it, but there were some differences with the names of characters, the settings and strange creatures that never made it into the movie. As for that last one, I suppose it makes sense. These days technology and make-up/costume design can pretty much create whatever the story calls for, but back in 1939 I’m thinking they probably had to stick to the basics.

However, there were two things that disappointed me…

1) The Wizard never says “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!!”. The actual scene is there, everything was lined up for this classic line to be written…but nope. That was a screenplay add-in and I was a little disappointed that L. Frankie didn’t think of it himself.

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2) The Ruby Slippers were Silver.

Did you get that?

The RUBY Slippers…they were Silver.

At first, I was able to understand the words individually…”Silver”…”Shoes”. But together? In reference to the Wicked Witch of the East’s feet?! No, no, noooo. I felt betrayed!!! Lied to!!!! I know this is irrational, but it’s just wrong. Totally wrong. They HAVE to be ruby slippers!!!

But alas…they were not. I held out to the very end. At one point I actually convinced myself that maybe something happens later on in the book that turns the shoes a different and very specific color. Sadly, this never happened.

I am dreading Halloween this year. How will I be able to look at little girls dressed up like Dorothy…but wearing those damn red shoes?! I’ll be like the bringer of DOOM…stalking my way over to each one of them…pointing a judgemental finger at their feet and immediately launching into a “You knooooooooow…..” speech.

Ugh.

I’m moving on, because I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t enjoy the book…because I totally did! It’s a classic for a reason, a fun story that was extremely enjoyable. Although, I opted not to read it to my six-year-old…yet. There were some parts that I figured she could probably be a little bit older for (hello, how tinman was created!! chop-chop…) before we dived into it. So, instead we went down into the theater and watched the movie with her for the first time. She loved it!!! And now 30 years from now she can blame me for screwing up the order!!

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Now obviously the timing of this is perfect. The release of Oz The Great and Powerful is right around the corner and I’m pretty exited to see that as well. In watching one of the trailers I noticed a scene with a ‘china girl’…she’s from the book. So, it appears that even though this will be a prequel of sorts, they’ll still be revisiting the original story and maybe bringing to life some of the things that would have been too difficult to include over 70 years ago.

bookish things

Since my last book-related post, I’ve been reading feverishly from a wide variety of genres. As I typically do. Being that most of my Top 5 Books of All Time are classics I of course have a few of those on my list…the first of which:

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. This one was okay, it was rather Jane Austen-ish…with the whole wealthy man and the not-so-much female falling in love, but not admitting it, becoming miserable about the unrequited love…that’s actually requited, but since there’s no communication sadness and drama ensue. It was also clearly trying to address the injustice of the wealthy being uber-wealthy and the poor being uber-poor, but I felt as though it didn’t come off smoothly…it had much more of a contrived feeling than it should have. Overall, I enjoyed North and South, but recall it dragging at times (I read this two months ago, that kind of time gap puts a serious strain on my memory!).

Next…Anna Karenina. This was a big step for me! Not only was it a complete and total 900-page monstrosity, but it was also my first experience with classic Russian literature…my ‘ole go-to has always been English lit. Right from the start I found it far easier to get into. I’m guessing that’s because this is translated text, so it reads like a modern novel. As for the story itself, I loved it…up until, I dunno…page 650-700. Then it just got O.L.D. It dragged for a bit before this sluggish train finally got movin’ again and collided with a rather ‘meh’ ending. For anyone who hasn’t read it, I won’t spoil it by going into detail on my thoughts about how this train came to a grinding halt at the station. For those of you who have read it, all I can say is choo-choooo man.

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Ok…get me outta the 19th century!! Classic hiatus!!!

I’ve never read Philip Dick…I’ve heard great things about him, so I decided to give A Scanner Darkly a try. Mistake, mistake, mistake. I just can’t get into drug-themed books. Fear and Loathing, On the Road and now this one. They leave me feeling mentally-grimy…as if I need to scour my brain with bleach. I won’t say that this book was awful, I’ll just say: make sure this type of genre is your thing before committing to it. In my humble opinion, the best and most moving part of the book was Mr. Dick’s afterword.

Enter YA Fiction. John Green’s Looking for Alaska…I’ve wanted to read this one for a while now. Not fantastic, was hoping for some four-star material here, but ended up with a three. Still, that’s okay, because I was completely pulled into the story…I enjoyed reading it and it’s exactly why I always toss in a young adult book every now and then. It’s like a fast-moving, breath of fresh air.

Ooooooh, Kurt. You had me at Slaughterhouse-Five, but lost me with Cat’s Cradle. I just couldn’t get into it. This disjointed, off-the-wall story, filled with an odd sounding Vonnegut created vocabulary. If anyone has read this…what was the narrator’s last name and what was the significance of the unclaimed cemetery statue?!?!???!!?

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The Silver Linings Playbook…thank you Matthew Quick. The first four-star book of my post!! I have no idea how reading pages and pages of dry play-by-play descriptions of random Philadelphia Eagles games from their ’04 season could end up getting four-stars, but it did. I really enjoyed this book. Fast-paced, engrossing, enjoyable characters…it’s definitely a worthwhile read. Which of course has me wondering about the movie…which I can now watch because I’ve (say it with me) read the book first!!