Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End of the Year Top Authors

Ok, so I know I said that I would do Top 5 books of the year, but the problem with that is that though I've took the time to read and review a lot on my blog (and get into the habit of posting on a regular basis), I've read books that sort of did double duty. I reviewed a lot on my blog that I used for my lesson plans and though they are good literary novels, I'm not sure I would rank it as one of my top books of this year.

As I reviewed my past posts, a few books, but most importantly, 2 authors caught my eye that I thought were very noteworthy and I'm so glad that I discovered them this year. In order to be genuine to this blog and most importantly, to myself, I thought I would discuss both of them instead of arbitrarily listing 5 books that I sort of liked.

2. Sherman Alexie

I discovered this author last year when my co-teacher assigned one of his books for her American Literature class. I've read 2 books by him, and I would like to read more when I get the chance. The first book I read by him is Reservation Blues, a book I acquired when a teacher retired at the end of June. I enjoy Alexie's voice and his style. He's a realist, with humor, depression, alcoholism and poverty all rolled into life on the Reservation. He shows the decline of the characters in the book with such gentleness, and also handles the plight of their circumstance due to systematic racism with the same sort of factual gentleness.

My husband has a copy of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and I read that one next. Even though he uses some of the same characters from Reservation in The Lone Ranger (or really, he uses characters from The Lone Ranger in Reservation), it's not overdone. They are familiar faces in much of the same circumstances. The Lone Ranger are a bunch of short stories about life on the Reservation, with folklore and mythology thrown in. It was his first book published, and I can't wait to read his other books next.

1. Octavia Butler

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed my last 3 months as an English teacher was because of this book. My husband taught this book to his 9th graders at the beginning of the year, and when I was struggling to rewrite my curriculum for the second half of the year, he suggested this book to me. Butler's writing is just phenomenal and Kindred, a stand alone book, is wonderful as it is horrifying. It allows a fresh take on the Antebellum South, as if it were if someone of color traveled back in time. This slave narrative really hits home for what actual slavery was like, and what our country was built from. Like Alexie, Butler also discusses racism but shows it through the lens of Kevin and Dana, an interracial couple in the 1970s.

I then read some of her other books, such as Parable of the Sower, Dawn and Adulthood Rites. I love her weird science fiction, and even more importantly, I love the diversity of her characters. The books that I've read so far have a majority of strong, female characters and they feel genuine because they are treated like people who make mistakes but ultimately power through.

However, unlike Alexie's books, Butler's books are finite. I look forward to reading them, but I dread the day when I read her last one.

These two authors really affected my literature and novel choices this year. Their gifts with words and their insight, whether it's folklore on the Spokane Reservation mixed in with realism and fiction or it's a science fiction story about the future of the world in the lens of a woman of color, has stayed with me.

What authors did you really enjoy this year? What authors did you discover? Comment below, or tweet me!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Nerve-wrecking Thing About Choosing Your End of the Year Top Books...

I've never been the one to recount or accumulate yearly memories for the end of the year celebration. Maybe it's because it's easier, at least for me, to see the bad than the good, and I end up getting depressed on what went wrong for me, my friends and my family. Cynical and Negative? Absolutely. So I learned very quickly that there wasn't a major pay off and any sort of resolution I made for myself in the start of the New Year also bombed incredibly. Therefore, instead of waiting for the New Year to start thinking positive and doing better for myself, I just try to actively to do it during the year, with varying degrees of success.

Josh, however, does the opposite and does it in a more light hearted way. When he and I started dating, he posts his top 10s on facebook. Top 10 movies, top 10 albums, top 10 shows. I read what he wrote and he and I would talk about. He would ask me what my top 10s were, and I would... avoid the subject.

Choosing your top 10 seemed intimidating even though there aren't any stakes involved and no one will be hurt if you don't rank your favorite things in order from least favorite to most favorite. So, this year, I decided that I would rank my top 10 books and top 5 movie/show adaptations that I liked. I told my husband, who so very dearly wanted to talk with me about them... and promptly made me want to not do it.

It's not his fault at all. However, when he brings up individual episodes of shows that you and he both watched together as an adaptation (that you had no idea it was an adaptation or you haven't read the book/comic of that show yet) and you don't really remember watching the episode all that much, you feel intimidated. I found myself questioning where my memory has gone, where can I find it and how I can get it back, if he's so in tune to certain episodes and I barely remember what we watched last week.

Initially, I was going to avoid doing it at all. I'll start anew next year and then by the end of 2016, I'll be prepared. However, we all know how that goes. Why would this resolution turn out any differently?

When I talked to my friends, they suggested starting somewhere a bit less overwhelming, like a top 5 book, or as my friend Ashley suggested, and she does know me very well, books that I disliked this year. I think it's good practice for my future "Top 10s" posts.

Stay tuned for which books I thought were noteworthy!

Monday, December 28, 2015

The All-Different, All-New Avengers # 1 by Waid, Kurbert and Omack

The Avengers are incredibly famous now since the movies. I was wondering what they were going to do with them since they are rebooting all of their new number 1's. I was pleasantly surprised with the familiar superheros they kept and then added a few new ones to the mix.

It opens up to Sam Wilson saving someone, and no matter what he does, cannot catch a break. Tony Stark arrives and provides a needed distraction while they separate from the masses who want Captain America to buy some girl scout cookies.

Tony Stark is poor now? I'm not sure what the deal was, but he sold Stark tower to... someone that looks evil, who discovered Warbringer hiding in one of the boxes they were moving. He technically teleported, but hiding sounds funnier. Spider-man (Oh, Spider-man), was eyesdropping, but since I know that he pays Hobie Brown to be his stand in, I wonder if it's him? Anyway, he's caught by the random evil guy and Warbringer, and tosses him out the window. Tony's car is turned into an Iron-man, and Captain America save Spider-man and help save the day.

The comic then cuts to a girl who is in the midst of an argument with her teenage friends. A side note here, I love the awareness of diversity in the new comic books. It's such a simple thing to have a friend who wears a hijab in a comic book, but with all the anti-muslim rhetoric, anything that can be used to show that muslims are people too is beneficial.

Anyway, Ms. Marvel is a teenage girl who witnesses a large beast in her neighborhood and Nova battling it. She goes and change, and of course, Nova is smitten at first by the citizen, then by the changing Ms. Marvel. I don't know a lot about her, but I already think she's rad. The pair of them bicker as they take down the beast, and Nova reveals who he is in desperate attempt to get her to like him.

It does not go over well.

There are 2 more characters that haven't been introduced that will be introduced next issue: Thor and The Vision. We knew The Vision from the movie, but we'll see how they interpret him. I'm interested in reading his comic, The Visions. Finally, they changed the gender of Thor. I'm not sure how or why, but I think there is also another all knew comic about the change.

I'm excited to read the second issue of the The Avengers with the spin on it.

Also, side note, I'm excited that the new Hulk is Asian. That's pretty cool, right?

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Machine by E.C Jarvis

This is a unique review for me, because normally on my blog I review well known books from well known publishers. However, The Machine is a book that was published by my friend's new publishing company, Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing Incorporated.  What is even more unique about this book and this review is that had I actually briefly worked with RRPI over the summer when I had off from work.  I had the opportunity to read, edit and offer comments on the first 10 chapters of her book.

Here is my full disclosure.  I received the book for free to read and review. All of my opinions are my own. I am not a professional editor and finally.... I do not like reading Steampunk.

Why is that a disclosure, you ask? I think Steampunk is incredibly overrated, and majority of the fans have ruined the punk form for me. I like some of the fashion, but when it comes to written materials, I cringe. When I heard about RRPI's first book was going to be Steampunk, I visibly rolled my eyes. It's some people's jam, but it's not my own.

Now, I read the first 10 chapters of the book, and gave some suggestions on the relationship between Larissa and The Professor. When there was much more insight given on the whirlwind romance between the two, and how Larissa continually kicked herself throughout the book for being a silly girl for her infatuation, I related to her. We've all done it; fall head over heels for someone who is glamorous and attractive, without taking a moment to see the full picture.

However, I didn't read the entire book until now. A part of me wished I did. As media, literature and entertainment progresses over the years, I find it unacceptable and disappointing when there is a movie or a book that actively ignores diversity. It's not OK in 2015 to write stories where there are less women than men when there is no need for it. It's not OK in stories to have a lack of different ethnicities and races when there is no need for it. It's one thing if it's a historical drama of the Zulu Nation, where obviously, there would be not many, if any, white people. It's understandable if there were no women in a civil war drama on Andersonville POW camp. The story doesn't call for it.

The Machine has 2 women in it. Or well, 3 if you counted Larissa's mother, who died a few years before the book took place and is practically painted as a harlot who abandoned her daughter in her time of need. There are 10+ men in it. Larissa starts out as a lowly retail worker and ends up being a captain of a ship. I am all for characters discovering their weight in salt, and in fact, many books are much more compelling for following this character arc, but it's another thing that not only does she not have a female friend in the book or even a female ally, her actions and progression of character building is built around men. She is constantly validated by men and it's only at the end of the book that she decides that she can't go back to her quiet life as a retail worker. However, I'm not sure if Larissa would have come to this conclusion if it wasn't for the men in her new life constantly telling her she has potential and that she's smarter than she gives herself credit for. Larissa is unsure of herself and falters, like a human being does, but at one point, shouldn't she accept that she settled for most of her life and what she's doing now is much better, or even just more exciting? Shouldn't she have recognized that way before her beloved Professor dies so soon after she rescued him?

The only other woman in the book, Serenia, is an assassin, and not only is she a one dimensional character, she is brutally murdered for doing what mercenaries for hire do. I wouldn't have a problem with this if there were more female characters, but there isn't. It would have probably been written the same way if the mercenary was a male... but it left a bad taste in my mouth. Why did the only other female character in the book have to be tortured to death? Reading the scene leading up to her death, I was hoping that the book would surprise me with Larissa saving Serenia, leading her to become that female ally that the protagonist do desperately needed. Nevertheless, no. The scene ended in the way that was expected and the only other woman, who also could have taught Larissa a thing or two, or could have been a recurring characters in the later novels, died in pain and alone.

Finally, I have issues with the character of Holt and the relationship between Holt and Larissa. Holt is the stereotypical mysterious man who teaches her how to fight and they fuck on the Captain's table before they go rescue The Professor, the man that Larissa supposedly likes as well. I'm not slut shaming Larissa, who deserved a bit of something before risking her life and almost dying for a guy that used her. However... haven't we read this before? Hasn't this trope, and the tropes of the protagonist and the dangerous man been done over and over? Hasn't this love triangle in various forms been done over and over?

I would have loved to have Holt be female. Larissa could have been bisexual, or the pair would have become friends (or allies), and Larissa could not have been with anyone, or just hoped that her relationship with The Professor worked out. If the character of Holt had to be male and there is a budding romance between the two, couldn't either Cid or The Friar be female? A kick ass nun instead of a priest or an older female engineer that cares about Larissa like the daughter she never had? I know a lot of School Sisters of Notre Dame that would have fit easily as the Friar.

Now, you may ask yourself, or ask me, 'But Jordan, the author is a woman.' Yes, yes she is. This was something I discussed with my husband, who has a degree in English and admittedly, is a much better writer than me. E.C Jarvis, like many authors, seems to writes within the confines of the patriarchy. Women are only validated through the viewpoint of men. Larissa, though a captain of the airship by the end of the novel, is only a captain because men truly believed in her. Her shipmates, all men, all chose to believe in her along with Cid and Holt. Which on it's own, it's not a big deal. Men should believe in women, and vice versa. People should support people in the same cause. However, a captain of a ship isn't equal. It's the exception. She's practically placed on a pedestal as the captain of a ship she didn't earn. It would have made sense to make Holt the Captain and Larissa the first mate. At least Holt knew what he was doing. He is military trained.

I reviewed the book through the feminist lens and I made suggestions throughout the review to make the story different by changing the dynamics of certain characters in hopes that their gender would change some of the plot. But if I'm being completely honest with myself, I've read this type of book before. Now it's just dressed up in steampunk with airships. It could have 10 women in it, and it could still be a lackluster book with a boring plot. It's just that the lack of women is much more noticeable and outrageous than a plot about an unambitious woman stepping out of her boring life to go rescue a man that she at least is lusting after.

There is a sequel to the book, The Machine, titled The Pirate. After this negative review, I am sure I won't get a free copy of the book to review. However, I hope that E.C Jarvis takes a few moments to consider how characters relate to each other, and raise her awareness, or lack thereof, of diversity in her books. It would help her make the leap from an amateur author to a professional one. Her writing has such potential, and whereas there are some books I cannot finished, I actually finished this one in a few days. If one is going to use Steampunk as the basis for their worldbuilding, the story should be compelling and engaging not because of it, but in spite of it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Which is Better? Hannibal by Thomas Harris

Alright, I've started, and re-started, and re-re-started the post for this blog, and I can't even begin to introduce this monstrosity of a story that managed to be published as a book, and then turned into a film adaptation. I'm just at a lost for words. They all needed a good thing to remain a good thing with Silence of the Lambs.

So, the sequel of this movie does not have the original director, original main lead or the original script writer. This bodes well. Anthony Hopkins came back as Hannibal Lector cause man gotta eat! I'm also sure that playing someone like Hannibal is really fun, even though I still think he's a Gary Stu.

They took out a few characters, like Margot and Jack Crawford. They weren't really needed in the film, as they just added flavor to the book. Jack Crawford's story in the book is pretty sad, and I loved how they interpreted his character for the show. Margot... I thought she was a poorly written character to begin with, so I was relieved that that they didn't include her in the movie, because I can only imagine how they would interpret her.

They also left alone Hannibal's surgeries... only to disguise him with big... hats. That's right. The most wanted man in the world remained uncaught because he wore big hats and sunglasses in the movie.

There are other similarities and differences between the book and the movie. The stuff in Italy is mostly the same, with the rescue of Hannibal by Starling after she is put on administrative leave. There isn't mention of Mischa, the sister that was cannibalized by Nazi deserters when he was a young child.

However, what I really want to discuss is the ending of the book, and the ending of the movie. I'm relieved, as I think everyone involved in the movie that Harris agreed to allow the movie script to be completely rewritten. The ending... absolutely blew in the book, as I reviewed. Even though I think the story is crappy, the ending of the movie was a heck of a lot better than the book. So in the movie, Hannibal rescues her after she is wounded after rescuing Hannibal from the Verger Farm.

They run off and Hannibal, a licensed medical doctor, treats Starling's wounds. At one point, she awakes to find an evening dress and invited down to dinner. She does... to find Knedler there. She watches horrified as Hannibal feeds Knedler's brain to him. She tries to attack him and he overpowers her. They kiss, and Clarice manages to put handcuffs on them so he won't get away. The police are on their way to the residence, and Hannibal wields a meat cleaver to cut off his hand.

Clarice still remains true to her character by still desiring to catch the bad guy and not completely give into Hannibal's sociopathic charms. At least Clarice didn't do a 180 character turn where she decides that Hannibal is her end all be all, and HEY, LET'S HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH A CANNIBAL. Like, Clarice, he defo is on the run from the law and broke out of a mental institution. Maybe you should, idk, get away from him?

There isn't much else to say about this, except Silence of the Lambs is my favorite book and movie out of the entire series. I wished, like I think everyone else wished, that the book was better and that the movie had better material to go off of.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Marvel Mondays: Captain America #1 by Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna

OK... Chris Evans as Steve Rogers who is Captain America is hot. There, I said it. He's gorgeous and he has a heart of gold. Sure, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers is not really in the comics but I enjoy him all the same. I haven't read the other comic books with Steve Rogers, but when my husband informed me that he does give the mantel up, I was devastated.... but Sam Wilson is a pretty good follow up. I loved how Anthony Mackle played him in the movies, so I'm glad that his character stepped up to be Captain America.

Whereas Spider-man had me eye rolling so bad that I thought my eyes were going to fall out of my skull, I really liked the new direction Captain America is heading. It opens up to Sam Wilson getting on a commercial airline, and is wedged between two bros, who discover that Sam Wilson, the new Captain America, is sitting between them! They ask why he is sitting in coach, and Wilson, almost kind of breaking the fourth wall, goes into how he got the mantel, and why he was sitting in coach.

At a time in America where there is social upheaval, outraged voices and the presidential primaries looms near, it makes sense that Marvel has an outlet to address these issues. Young people are either angry, confused, aloof, or a combination of all three, and there needs to be something that makes sense of all of what is going on, and someone that they can relate too.

Steve Rogers has always maintained an air "above it all," concentrating on being Americans, and coming together to support each other, no matter the disagreements. He keeps his political beliefs close to his chest, choosing to endorse liberty and freedom, believing the constitution and government should protect all, no matter their beliefs.

Sam Wilson, on the other hand, realizes who he is. A man of color who has been given the most notable shield in the entire world. He recognized that he couldn't just remain a symbol, but rather become a voice for those whose voices get lost in the protests, or dismissed because of a few violent outbursts. However... he is punished by the big wigs, and he decides to go on his own, to varying results.

It's a great first read, and I'm relieved that this comic is much better than Spider-man. Spider-man felt juvenile, like instead of paying attention to real issues, they just wanted to write about a poor man's "get rich" story... who happens to be Spider-man. Which, I'm not knocking silly stories... but in terms of silly stories that work, Spider-man isn't it.

I also love the inclusion of other lesser known characters. Misty Knight seems awesome, with her bad ass nature and afro, I really want to read more about her. Dennis Dunphy is also another character that I've never read about before. He's a ginger man with a beard... I definitely do have a type.

I'm excited to read issue 2 and 3! Stay tuned for next week!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hannibal by Thomas Harris

Oh man.... oh man, oh man, oh man....I felt like I was forced to climb Mount Everest.

My husband warned me that this would be a rough book, but I didn't realize just how rough it was. Now, I'm sure my view of the book is distorted because I've seen the movie and watched the show before ever touching the book, so like my review of Red Dragon, I feel like at this point, I'm over it.

Also, sidebar... was Thomas Harris going through something when he wrote this book? I feel like he had a rough marriage, or going through a divorce, or realized he had some kinks going on... because there is some weird shit in here. Maybe he played a joke on us? "What can I get readers to buy?" Because again, there is some weird shit in here.

He writes about topics that didn't fit in with 2001 mentality of "normal" with such a fetish that I squirmed during some parts of the book. It was as if he wrote to just shock people, and instead of just shocking them, left them to question if Harris needs to read a few books or see a few people.

His idea of a "villain" is Mason Verger, who praises Jesus but, gasp! still verbally abuses children. He's rich! He abused his sister, Margot! He wants revenge! He's a pig farmer who bribes politicians to vote against bills that promote animal safety and well being! The other villain in the book, Krendler, is laughably sexist and evil that of course you are rooting for Hannibal to eat him, or Clarice to just flat out kill him.

The character of Margot in the book is... definitely written by someone who didn't bother to do any research, and really just fetishizes the idea of a woman who "wants to be a man" and thought, hey, if I was a woman, I would still want to be a man, so let's just write it like that. Also, what could possibly be the reason that anyone would want to be a lesbian or even want to be something other than the gender they are born it? ABUSE. ALSO WALNUTS.

I was pleasantly surprised with a few scenes between Barney and Margot... until we got to read from Margot's perspective. Turns out, she's just as manipulative as her brother! I had dreams of a funny buddy comedy between the two of them... until she fires him because he didn't want to be an accomplice to a murder. There is also another scene at the end of the book just so Barney can keep his life. ugh, Margot. Maybe you should have died as well? The eel turned on you?

Also, who else thinks that Hannibal Lector is the most uninteresting character ever in Hannibal? I'm not talking show Hannibal, which I think they did a good job of using source material and letting Mads Mikkelson do whatever the hell he wanted, but the character in the book is the biggest Gary Stu. Not only is he not the antagonist, but he's actually portrayed as the hero! Instead of preying on innocent people to eat, he only eats the "rude" and kill people that are after him. See? He's practically doing a service to society! He's refined! He's cultured! Oh, there's mention of his sister being cannibalized, so naturally, you should just feel sorry for him!

Now, finally, the relationship between Clarice and Hannibal. Harris, Silence of the Lambs was great. Why did you have to ruin it? How did Clarice take a 180? Did you read some fanfiction and decided, 'wow, that's a great idea, let's put Clarice and Hannibal together!' Because it wasn't.

Seriously, I wonder how many other authors and books were passed up in order for this one to be printed. Who's the agent for Thomas Harris? That person should be fired. Someone either didn't tell Harris No, or someone got the bright idea to make Hannibal into a main character. Not only that, Harris didn't bother to do any sort of research whatsoever in what makes a sociopath, a sociopath and what makes a cannibal into a cannibal. He legit made it all up. This is bad and you should feel bad.

Wish me luck on the final installment of Hannibal Rising.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Marvel Mondays: The Amazing Spider-Man #2 by Dan Slott

I'm not sure why I was surprised, or even a bit disappointed. It was much of the same as Spider-Man 001. Peter Parker is still a poor-man's Tony Stark, a quip that other characters joke about in the comic books. Even though it's meant to be meta, funny and lighten the mood, I just found myself rolling my eyes some more. There are just other characters that are rich and smart, why does he have to be?

Anyway, the board of director's at Peter's company are confused and upset that the Zodiac is after them and is perplexed that Peter gave the Webware to the enemy. In the next few pages, Peter and Hobie Brown go on a mission to recover the Webware. Peter is super cocky and states that it's encrypted and there is no way that they'll be able to hack it by the time Peter and company get there.

Side note. I had no idea who the fuck Hobie Brown was. I asked my husband and we had a 20 minute conversation about D-list Marvel characters that are getting a huge push in the comics because Marvel are putting characters they have rights to in future movies. Oh right.... because in the beginning, before Marvel became a movie studio, they sold some of their rights of some characters to other movie studios. Okay then. So now I have to read about Hobie Brown. Spider-man's "body guard."

How did he get suckered--oh yeah... money. Peter Parker has money now and paid Hobie Brown to dress up as Spider-Man every once in a while. I mean, I guess I'm glad that Hobie Brown, a man of color, is getting a push to appear in things more. Unfortunately he's collateral.

Alright, so Spider-man and the Prowler find the Zodiac base to get back the piece of tech Peter gave up. You guys, this is the hammiest, cheesiest villain writing ever. I love a good hammy villain, but the Zodiac is literally a team of people who call themselves by different astrological signs and say things like, 'hey, I'm a Pisces. I'm a born leader' and 'Calling this Aquarius Base makes no sense.' There are also more jokes about how Spider-Man appeared and how one of the lackeys wished they stayed in Hydra.

There is a page where Spider-man remembers another superhero sacrificing herself so that Spider-man could get away in another mission, prompted him to save two of the lackeys when the base self-destructs. The comic ends with Spider-man and company revealing that it was all part of the plan that Zodiac sent the webware files to all the bases across the world so that S.H.I.E.L.D could track them.

My husband did not purchase the next issue and I'm glad. I found myself rolling my eyes, despite the desperate attempt to save a crappy idea by throwing in meta jokes. If I wanted to read about a rich superhero, I would have gone with Iron man. This is a comic that I won't revisit. Man, I hope all the reboots aren't this bad.

What did you all think of the Marvel reboots? Any particular favorites you want to suggest? Do you have a different opinion on Spider-Man?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Which is Better? The Man in the High Castle Part 2

Since there was a lot to say about this show, I broke the post down into two weekly segments. Huzzah! Let's get into it.

Ed McCarthy - what a thankless role even up until the very end. However, DJ Quall just sells it, and he's turning into a good supporting actor in his age. However, if Frank was my friend, I would tell him to turn Juliana loose and just get on the bus to get out of the Pacific states. I mean, really.... I wouldn't even mess with him anymore after he locked me in the bathroom when he went to go kill the Crown Prince. Maybe I'm just not that good of a friend to take the gun from the guy and attempt to melt it down in the very place the Japanese are looking for it? Frank had some redeeming qualities at the end, but surely it didn't have to take the entire series to figure out that Ed meant more to him that Juliana did.

Mr. Tagomi - I really liked what they did with his character in the show. In the books, he did have a moment of clarity where he sees into "our" world, the world where the Axis didn't win the war, but couldn't handle it, and retreats back into his own world. It is literally interpreted in the show but the exciting scene in the book where the SD/Nazis try to kill Baynes and company is not there, so we don't get to see Mr. Tagomi fire off a replica gun from the American Old West. The actor that plays him is also just brilliant; he's able to take the Japanese stoicism and put a kind sheen to it, making him sympathetic but also still a mystery. What is his motivation? I hope we find out in season 2.

Mr. Childan - Here is a character that I really didn't care too much about in the book until he is invited into the home of Paul and Betty Kasoura. I thought his groveling and his desire to be Japanese (or really, just to be part of the powerful class) a bit boring, but as other characters do, they sneak up on you and all of the sudden you care about what happens to them. I guess it's the mark of a good writer. So, in the book, he stands up to the Japanese when they suggest that the jewelry that Ed and Frank make could be reproduced for the poorer countries because it has "Wu." Childan, enraged that he was used and then insulted, broke free of his desire to be accepted and refused to sell the jewelry that Ed and Frank made. Now, in the show, I think they used him just enough. He's the embodiment of a person who turned his back on his country and culture in order to make a life among his conquerors. You see his hopes dashed when he's invited to dinner with the Kasouras and it's revealed that they only viewed him as a novelty. They are disappointed and Childan realizes that no matter what, he will never be one of them. He aids Frank and Frank helps him with pulling one over the Japanese. His character was used just enough in the show.

The Marshall - Completely a show creation, I thought the Marshall was tacky and a bit cheesy. The actor that played him, is a notable British actor, and he takes the idea of The Marshall, an outlaw bounty hunter, and makes him AN OUTLAW AMERICAN HUNTER WHO WEARS A COWBOY HAT AND LEATHER DUSTER AND HAS A RIFLE. He even has a toothpick? He's supposed to be terrifying, but he comes off as a cartoon character. I thought he propelled the story and got Juliana and Joe out of Cannon City, but... meh.

Lem Washington - Another character they added into the story, and much needed as well. My husband and I were worried that they would kill him off, because usually that's what happens to the Noble Black Man troupe, but thankfully they didn't. He's one of the leaders of the resistance, but his characters get muddied over the course of the show. To be honest, I remember what Juliana and Joe did, but not quite sure about Lem. He even had a family at Cannon City and there he was in San Francisco? Or was it New York? I don't even remember!

Paul and Betty Kasoura - The notable Japanese couple that treat American history and culture as novelty and kitsch, but do not really want to have American friends. They use Childan and are not interested in anything other than superficial American ideas.

If someone is in the mood for something that dove into an alternative timeline and wanted to be simply entertained, than the show is for you. The book deals with the philosophy of what it means to be an American, and what would happened to America if it never won the war. However, the show is designed to do a few seasons, and I'm really looking forward to how they deal with Russia, Africa and other parts of the world. I liked the book, but the show is much more my speed. I found myself not quite caring whether Ed and Frank got their jewelry business off the ground, and more interested in the drainage of the Mediterranean Sea by the Nazis. I read interviews by PKD who mentioned he wanted to do a sequel to The Man in the High Castle, but never managed to get it off the ground. The show has a chance to do this.

My husband commented that the show slowed down after the 3rd episode, but after reading the book, I felt the pacing was good. I'm also relieved that Juliana figured out who Joe was and that Frank and Juliana were separated by the end of the first season. Here's to hoping there is a season 2!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Marvel Mondays: The Amazing Spider-Man #1

This idea was given to me by my husband, who does a sketch comedy show in Baltimore parodying his beloved comic books. I have reviewed some comic books before (mostly She-Hulk) but since they are coming out with new number 1s of all the issues, why not review them? He also buys them, so it's mostly him spending the money for me to read.

I randomly picked out the Amazing Spider-Man #1. There are so many movies about this character that it's hard to not know who Peter Parker is by this point. He's a high school kid who's down on his luck, lives in the poorer part of New York and has unspeakable tragedy. He has a tough time with girls but despite of that, he's a witty, snarky guy. My husband and I have had many conversations about Spider-Man and how there is a comic about Miles Morales, which would be a better match for Spider-Man. What frustrates us the most is that there isn't really much diversity in comic books. Don't get me wrong, they are trying and doing a better job of expanding diversity when it comes to some reboot of some characters, but... well, they failed when it came to the reboot of Spider-Man.

Peter Parker is a new age industrialist with branches all over the world. The series opens with Spider-Man and Agent Morse, or Mockingbird, fighting a few bad guys from the Zodiac. Spider-Man is snarky, like he usually is, but... there is something off about Peter Parker. It goes flashbacks to him learning how to drive and learning Chinese at the same time. There is some important bits about S.H.I.E.L.D, but I don't really notice because I'm perplexed to why I dislike Peter Parker so much. Finally, the chase scene ends with them capturing this dude with a lion mask on, who works for Zodiac, who is important... but for the life of me I can't remember why. All I'm concentrating on is why Peter Parker is like Tony Stark, with his gadgets and technological know how. I mean, wasn't he a photographer?

The next scene shows Peter Parker in a suit, discussing the future of his company, and the start of the Uncle Ben foundation. I guess he's using Parker Industries to help the world? Fair wages and raising the quality of life for every person that he employs in the countries his company resides in? Then Slott and company really hit the nail on the head with a reporter calling Peter Parker a "poor man's Tony Stark." Peter leans heavily into it, by patting himself on the back and stating that he's wages are that of middle management and that he couldn't feasibly give himself a pay raise above his junior executives.


Look, I get what Slott and company were trying to do. In a way, I appreciate it. It's providing commentary for greedy CEOs and Wall Street and the 1%. However... why Peter Parker? Why Spiderman? I feel like they were going to do this with Tony Stark, and at the last minute, decided to go with Spiderman. I'm not very well versed with super hero legend, or the continuity of Marvel.... but it just doesn't fit. There is already a few heroes in Marvel that own their own companies and do what Parker is trying to do (or unabashingly doesn't do it) but Parker doesn't feel like one that needs to do something like that. Isn't the appeal of Spider-Man is that he's a regular Joe that just happens to have superpowers? Wasn't that the reason those movies were so popular and one of the first that Marvel put out, because he was so relatable?

There is a smart bit of Hobie Brown also being Spider-Man to keep Peter Parker's cover intact. However, I don't know Hobie Brown from Adam, and it sort of falls flat. Oh, and there is a gay wedding thrown in there, which I also don't know from Adam. I see that Hubbie also bought the second issue of Amazing Spider-Man, so I hope it really picks up. But the verdict? Peter Parker is another rich white dude who's trying to use his money for good, which isn't a bad thing, but this trope would look better on Tony Stark.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Which is Better? The Man in the High Castle Part 1

So after watching AKA Jessica Jones, I was excited to finally finish watching The Man in the High Castle by Amazon. I watched the first two episodes before I read the book, and I'm not sure if that tainted my experience reading the book because even though the book and the show are in the same vein, so to speak, they are very different in their approaches. What I found frustrating with the book is that even though PKD does a good job of using sci-fi to explore philosophical ponderings, there isn't a whole lot of action, and the journey means much more than the ending. I also found the book frustrating because all I wanted to do was explore the world where the Nazis and the Japanese won.

The show does that expertly. Amazon spent a whole lot of money to make it look realistic and beautiful, and they did exactly that. I also loved the interpretation of the book and the familiarity of the characters, but some breathed new life into them. I think the best way to review the show and then finally answer the question of which was better is to go by character, which I did in Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned Which is Better? review. As well, I am going to split my "Which is Better?" post into 2, to reduce the length. I am going to cover some of the main characters such as Juliana, Frank, Joe Blake, John Smith and Rudolph Wegener.

However, before I go into the characters, I would like to say that I thought it was very clever that the book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy was turned into films. I think it would be more comprehensive and attainable for viewers to grasp than a book. However, what I also liked about the change is that they expanded the alternative universes, and even suggested it was used by Hitler to win the war. The provides a lot of questions and if there is a season 2, a lot of material to work from. However, I wonder if they'll go into the alternative timeline that was depicted in the book, where the UK is essentially the USSR and the cold war happens between the two.

Juliana Crain - In the book, Juliana and Frank are divorced, and Juliana lives in Cannon City, in the neutral territory. She's beautiful and a wanderer, and for the first part of the book, is seen through the lens of men. When PKD reveals her inner monologue, she is indecisive and searching, which gets her in trouble with Joe Cinnadella, who is revealed to be a Nazi assassin tasked to kill the man There is some sort of friction between Frank and Juliana in the book, but they never meet up. In the movie however, they are boyfriend and girlfriend, and leaves him in the dust when her sister is killed. She takes up her half-sister's mantle, and goes on a mission to deliver the film. Motivated by her sister's sacrifice, she leaves a path of destruction in her wake, which drives Frank's story. Which lead's me too...

Frank Frink - His grandfather is a Jew, which is a source of anxiety for Frank in both the book and in the movie. However, instead of opening up a jewelry store with Ed and gets in trouble for it, his story is motivated by Juliana's actions. When she leaves to deliver the film, Frank is taken into custody and is grilled by the Kempeitai about Juliana's whereabouts. They bring in Frank's sister and his niece and nephew. Motivated by the man in the cell next to him, Randall, Frank realizes that he's going to die anyway, regardless of whether he tells them. His sister and his niece and nephew is killed, but he is released after they find someone else with the film. I feel like both the book and the show Frank are just both... wet blankets. I felt like in the show the writers made the most boring decisions for him. He doesn't get on the bus, he goes and saves Joe Blake and almost too late, he runs in to save his friend Ed when he is pinned for assassinating the prince of Japan.

Juliana and Frank - After her decisions to carry out her sister's destiny, Frank's life is absolutely destroyed. I'm not quite sure why they remained together until the end. It's almost painful for them to remain together, and despite Juliana's actions directly impacting Frank negatively, he still sticks around. I wish they had done something different, or at least broke them up like they did in the book.

Joe Blake - Joe Cinnadella is a secondary character who is killed by Juliana towards the end of the book. I like how they broadened his character and made his journey much more enjoyable to watch. He's a spy for the Nazis, and is tasked with obtaining films for Hitler. Even by the end of the show, I haven't be able to see whether he's truly changed, or whether he's just that good of a spy. He managed to complete his tasks, though he does disobey a direct order from Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith: he doesn't kill Juliana. I'm so over Juliana and Frank. My OTP is Joe and Juliana. I hope they see each other again if they do a season 2.

John Smith - He is not a character in the book, but someone that fills the hole that is left when Joe Cinnadella becomes Joe Blake. However, I loved how they turned John Smith into an actual human being and not just a Villain! I loved the episode where the viewer glimpses into Smith's home life, but his loyalty to the idea enables him to turn over his friend Rudolph Wegener. However, the viewer sees him wrestling with his son's illness, which the state mandates that he exterminates him.

Mr. Baynes/Rudolph Wegener - In the book he is an undercover agent, who is a high ranking Nazi who wants to stop the start of WWIII between the Nazis and the Japanese. He enlists the help of Mr. Tagomi and Baynes uses Mr. Tagomi as a cover to meet with a high ranking Tokyo General. In the show, the character of Mr. Yatabe is wrapped into Mr. Tagomi, who plans with Mr. Baynes to prevent the war between Japan and Germany. They predict the power vacuum when Adolf Hitler dies or resigns, and realizes that Japanese is falling behind technologically compared to the Third Reich. I like where they went with Rudolph and the writers took what was implied in the book and drew it out. I also liked the friendship with John Smith and Rudolph, and though Smith feels a bond with his friend, his loyalty to the Reich, and to Hitler, wins out.

What did you all think of The Man in the High Castle? Have any of you read the book? Stay tuned for next week as I continue to dissect the show and compare it to the book, and decide, 'Which is Better?'

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick

Alright, even though I consider myself an avid science fiction reader, I really didn't know much about Philip K Dick. When the Man in the High Castle show was advertised on youtube to premier on Amazon, I was super excited.... and unaware that it was a book before. My darling husband informed me that this was the same author who wrote the book that inspired Blade Runner with Harrison Ford. 

Always finding opportunities to review book and then make the ultimate comparison, I hurriedly bought the book and dove into reading it before the premier of the show. Now, Amazon released the first 2 episodes of Man in the High Castle in their competition with Netflix and AKA Jessica Jones and I loved it! I was really excited to read the book and see the differences and similarities. PKD wrote tons of books and I think a few more were made into movies. 

The book was written in the 1960s, 20 years after the end of WWII. PKD took that concept and flipped it on it's head. He changed the outcome and posed the question, 'how would the world look if Germany and Japan won the war?' However, his focus wasn't on world building, or setting up a straight protagonist to uncover the truth... or have a traditional plot of any sort. He creates a few characters and uses them to view Americanism if the Allies had not won WWII. What is America if Germany and Japan won the war? 

I think it's a really cool concept and the parts where he discusses (casually through dialogue and inner thought monologues) how the word has changed (Nazis have dried out the Mediterranean, brutally conquered Africa and built rocket ships to Mars for instance) and it was easily the most fascinating parts of the book. However, I found myself waiting to get to the exciting plot points and I found myself frustrated when PKD focused on Childan and Tagomi (for most of the book, until the exciting parts where they discovered parts of themselves and revealed their true character in times of crisis) but up until then, I found myself rolling my eyes and using the "hurry up" gesture when I read their portions. 

The character Juliana, I feel, was used to drive the ultimate story to completion and doesn't stand alone as a character. She stumbles, like Tagomi, onto the book within the book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, where the plot of that book is our timeline and the Allies won the war. At first, other characters view Juliana through their lens (Joe Cinnadella, Frank Frink) and have some very anti woman thoughts about her. They view her as sort of a manic pixie dream girl. She's unstable, quirky, unable to guide her own life and exist for the purpose of men. Despite their thoughts about her, they are still drawn towards her and still are incredibly attracted to her. 

PKD then introduce her own POV, and it seems like what other people perceive of her is actually true. She is aimless, unstable and casual. She relies on Joe, who reveals himself to not be an Italian truck driver, to give her a good time, and goes off with him to a strange place to meet the author of the book. Then there is a switch, or a few switches that happen, Juliana falls apart, and then Juliana, after her conversation with Abelson, becomes cool and calm. I'm not sure if her character development is more realistic, or less. It felt to me that Juliana's decisions was based on what PKD needed to finish the story, not because it was genuine to her character development. 

I think this book is good for those that enjoy exploring those philosophical questions of the "What If?" I also enjoy those "What If?" questions, but I feel like I would have enjoyed this book more if there was much more direction. I also wanted to find out more of what the Nazis, and the Japanese did after the war. How did the world look? I wanted to see exactly how they eradicated Africa and exterminated all the Jews in the world. I wanted to read about the new world order, and maybe a deeper insight of how the changeover of the Third Reich would happen, and more political drama instead of the Baynes and Yatabe secret meeting and fall out. 

It's probably me being a book series supporter, but the kind of information, and the wealth of world building potential in this book would look great as a book series. Maybe each person has their own book? Maybe each book takes on someone new stationed in a place, like Africa, or even on a rocket ship to Mars, and discusses the implications of that life? That maybe the book, Grasshopper Lies Heavy is found, they read it, and go on their own journey of discovery? 

I'm excited to see where they take the show. I'm not sure if I will read another PKD book, but then again, I did watch Blade Runner. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty by Karl Shaw

I came across this book like I do so many others, randomly. A teacher was retiring at the end of the school year and he was giving away books by the dozens. I took a few other ones, and on my second trip there, I found this book, with a picture of Queen Victoria with a crown that is too big on her head.

Even though it was a free book, I wasn't sure if I should pick it up or not. I love history, and I love reading about history.... when the writer is good. It's so easy for history to become boring and bogged down with what actually happened, instead of letting the story unfold naturally. Sure, history is a recount, but also, people were involved and as I get older, I realize just how crazy people are. Anyway, I bit the bullet and took the book home, and then moved the book when I bought my house. 

And boy, I am glad I did. Usually books that I am not really into takes me a few weeks (even a month) to get through, and I was finished this book in a few nights. The tone and attitude of the book is pretty judgemental and catty, which is fun when you get into the mindset of a typical teenage girl (or boy). I imagined being invited into a conversation while drinking in a mysterious pub or bar by someone who experienced first hand these ridiculous people and these ridiculous people happen to be famous Monarchs, all related to the British royal family. 

The book is fun and silly if one disregards the tone towards mental illness. It's very obvious the book was written over 15 years ago, because along with mental illness (and the sequential jokes), Shaw also discusses homosexual and transgender royals and likens them to pedophiles or sexually deranged. I can see what he was trying to do: poke fun of the idea of a royal family and question why they have all this power and money when really, they are just as fucked up as the rest of us! However, as I was reading goodreads, a lot of people felt that he was poking fun of serious mental issues. I also felt as a person reading this book in 2015, he was seriously dated in how he portrayed homosexuals and transgender people. 

Another issue that many reviewers had of the book, which I also have a problem with, is the lack of footnotes. There was a bibliography in the back, but I would have loved to see where he got his information and his research on the topic. There was also a few complaints about how incomplete his stories about certain monarchs, like George VI and George III and reducing their reigns to stories about their madness. 

Finally, Shaw ribbed about the rampant inbreeding and ugliness of the royal families across Europe, which made me laugh because the propaganda machine and stereotype of beautiful ladies and gentlemen with refined tastes and loads of money is just that, assumptions. Many royal families were obsessed with keeping the royal line pure, but in doing that, their gene pool became more shallow. I also didn't realize that the Kaiser Wilheim I, Czar Nicholas II and King George V were all first cousins. What I also didn't know was that the current British royal family is exclusively German, and changed their names to Windsor in response to anti-german sentiment during WWI. King George V, though Shaw ripped into him as a classless man, was a man who modernized the royal family and refined their duties for the present day. 

 This book could use the benefit of a rewrite for more modern times, but I would also love to see an update on the selection of Princess Diana when she was to marry Prince Charles. Shaw ripped into him earlier in the book, but was decidedly mum when it came to the progression of the current British royal family. I can only say that Diana passed only just a few years before this book came out, and the grief felt by the world was probably why Shaw didn't write about her. 

If you like a book that treats history like juicy gossip, then give this book a whirl. However, take it with a grain of salt. There is a lot of bits about madmen, homosexuals and sexual depravity, all in the same sentence. Take it as you will. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Which is Better? The Red Dragon

Whereas Silence of the Lambs was a masterpiece and a movie that was so unexpected that it won a few Oscars, the movie Red Dragon unfortunately, a prequel shot 10 or so years after Silence of the Lambs, falls flat. Now, I am unsure if my opinion on the movie Red Dragon is the result of over saturation of all things Hannibal Lector or if I really was just underwhelmed with the movie in general, but I digress.

There are a few major problems with the movie.The first problem was the casting of Will Graham. In the book, Harris takes you through the downfall into madness of Graham and his relationship with Hannibal Lector. Lector isn't very involved in the book, but Graham, in looking at Francis, starts to lose his sense of self. In order to catch a serial killer, he has to think like one, and in the book, it just tears him apart. In the movie, Norton is just walking around like he owns the place and that he is not phased by what he has to do.  In the movie, Edwards Norton is a badass. He isn't overpowered by Francis at the end and he sort of regains his life after Francis is shot by Molly. His relationship with his wife and stepson falls apart in the book and alludes to a divorce.

The second major problem with the movie is that the book, is set before Silence of the Lambs, but the movie is made over 10 years later. Anthony Hopkins is noticeably older and my husband pointed out that Hopkins wore a girdle to keep himself trim. They recasted Crawford... and I get why they brought Hopkins back, but I think it would have been well served if they got a younger Hopkins look alike to play his younger self. In the movie, after watching Silence of the Lambs, he just looks ridiculous.

I really liked the backstory of Freddy Louds in the book. I was able to see his inner workings and how he was shafted for most of his life and just decided to take control of it. He was really valued at The Tattler, but everyone hated him in the journalists world. Throughout the book, he was a guy that knew that no one would look out for him but him, and he did what it took to be successful. All he wanted was to be a serious journalist with lots of money and it was very sad when The Dragon took him. In the movie, I didn't really didn't feel any sort of way for him. He was played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who does sarmy very well. There was never any sort of backstory to him other than skeevy gossip journalist.

In the movie, they alluded to his backstory and showed the time with his grandmother when he wet the bed when he was a child. What is lost in the movie is the time frame. This whole serial killer case was done in the 1970s, which makes Francis' low self-esteem and self loathing due to his cleft palate much more probable if the audience knew that he grew up in the 40s and 50s.

Reba's interpretation in the movie is mostly spot on. She's white with golden pageboy hair and she's blind. I liked her inner monologue in the book, but in the movie, you lose that. You feel for her because she genuinely likes Francis and he can't get past his own abuse (or really, into therapy) to be available for her. He is so far gone by the time he meets Reba. It's sad because The Dragon helps him be more confident and strong but also drives him to kill people and encourage him to kill Reba.

All in all, Red Dragon is better as a book than a movie. You get more material and the motives of characters which is lacking in the movie. It would have been better served to recast Lector just for the simple fact that Hopkins is noticeably older in a movie that was supposed to take place before Silence of the Lambs. The movie is entertaining, however, so if you want to just settle for watching something thrilling, then it's a good way to spend a few hours.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

So, I came back to the blog enthusiastically with my Thomas Harris books, the movies and the TV show. I watched all the movies, watched all of the show and finally finished my second Harris book, The Red Dragon. I finished my "Which is Better?" post about the book and the movie, (which will be published after this post) and then... I just ignored this unfinished review of The Red Dragon.

Why? Silence of the Lambs seemed pretty easy to write and to put together, so why did I avoid writing the review of the first book in the series? After much consideration, I think I have my answer.

I think it's a combination of being so saturated with all things Hannibal Lector and not enjoying Thomas Harris' writing. It feels that after watching the show, and then the movies, the time I got to the book, the story sort of falls flat. Besides for the background and inner monologue of a few characters that I will get into, the book doesn't offer anything new. It's not like it's drastically different, or the reader gets the complete inner workings of the main character that didn't carry through in the movie.

It's just... Will Graham is not that interesting in the book. The way he captures Hannibal Lector is also not very interesting or indepth like the TV show. Of course, I didn't expect 2 seasons of Will and Hannibal capturing serial killers like they did on the show in the book, but... Graham and Lector met twice. Lector was never a consultant for the FBI. Graham just sort of figured it out and then Lector stabbed him.

On the show, Graham's descent into madness after thinking like serial killers is disturbing and thorough. In the book, Graham seeks Lector's help and essentially Lector sends The Dragon after him... his marriage falls apart, but Graham doesn't seem to change all that much during the course of the book. Harris seems to beat his fists and tells the reader that he's changing, but... I barely knew who Graham was before Harris tells us that he lost it all.

However, what the show and the movie missed out on is the sad, sad stories of Francis Dolarhyde and Freddy Louds. Freddy Louds' motivation and backstory is completely lost in both the show and the movie. In the book, he's a short, rat of a man who realizes that he is not going to get anywhere in life hoping that others open the doors of opportunities. So he leaves, goes to a tabloid paper and is treated like a king. Everyone hates him, but he doesn't care because he's on his way to getting a book deal and making even more money. Louds grabs life by the throat and is not afraid of taking risks.

However, it ends tragically for him. He is burned alive and accuses Graham of making him "his pet." Graham is left wondering if he really meant to do that, which left me with a chill.

Now Francis Dolarhyde's story is sad and disturbing as well. I loved how Harris made a point to state the time period, which would make it hard for children with cleft palates to gain self-confidence and be accepted by their families and society. It also just so happened that Dolarhyde had the shittiest family ever, and coupled with severe paranoia, turned him into a self loathing individual that identified with a dragon later in life. I'm not sure if that makes him a serial killer, but it also makes his story a bit more tragic when he meets a woman that likes him for him and he cannot escape the dragon's reach.

So overall... I'm not sure how enthusiastic I am to read the final 2 books in Harris' Hannibal Lector series. You may want to read the book first before venturing into the movie and the tv show. Otherwise you may be left underwelmed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Which is Better? Silence of the Lambs

It was incredibly hard to review the book without also reviewing the movie, but I think I succeeded! Nevertheless, now it's on to see which is better, the book by Thomas Harris or the movie, that won a few oscars, including best picture.

Confession time: I watched the movie before I read the book (I've been doing that a lot lately....) but honestly, now that I've been a teacher and worked with students who have reading challenges, unless the adaptation blows (which sometimes it does), I don't think watching the movie before reading the book is a bad thing. Now, I think sometimes people don't want to read the book after they watch the movie because they've seen the movie so there is no point in reading the book which is bad! Unless the book blows (and sometimes it does), read the book too! 

Ok, now back to the Silence of the Lambs movie. First of all, I watched the show Hannibal with Mads Mikkelsen. I loved the casting for that show because Mads Mikkelsen has an other wordly persona and look to him. I knew he was a serial killer before it was revealed in the show (most audience members did), but he gave off that vibe that he was different from the others. That he was wearing a "person suit." Anthony Hopkins was a very different direction but I equally liked him. He's a great actor, and Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal is terrifying in a different way. He sort of looks like a Dad, or a therapist. He seems to blend in and melt away into the crowds, whereas Mads definitely stands out. No wonder so many people died with Hopkins as Hannibal. Eventually, I will go into what went wrong with the other movies and the show, but for now, Silence of Lambs deserves every one of those Oscars. 

Jody Foster as Clarice Starling is magnificent, but of course she's awesome. That's what makes her Jody Foster. She's understated, gritty and determined to prove herself. She brings more life to the character and even though I try to separate myself from the movies when I read, all I could think about when I was reading was her as Clarice Starling. 

What I liked about both Hopkins and Foster is that they brought more life to the story than the book itself. Not only was it acted well, the script and the direction of the movie makes it a masterpiece. The reveal of Buffalo Bill, the downfall of Chilton (who, to Harris' credit, creeped me out MORE in the book) and the cinematography just brings the story of Hannibal and Clarice together. Whereas the book does a lot of tell, instead of show, the movie does a great job of doing both showing and telling. They interject information into dialogue that the audience needs to know, but doesn't do it overtly where it makes me want to roll my eyes. 

It's very clear to why Silence of the Lambs Oscars. When I was telling a few friends that I watched Silence of the Lambs for the first time and then read the book, they all agreed that the movie was better than the book, and they also commented that type of film wouldn't have been nominated for an Oscar today. I'm not a huge film buff. I like movies and I have some knowledge of them, but I don't actively follow them or care about awards season. However, I can see how they could make the statement that Silence of the Lambs wouldn't have made a big dent in Oscar season. That type of movie now and days don't really get nominated for Oscars. 

Keep an eye out for the rest of my reviews on the Hannibal series and the movies. I did watch all the movies (besides for Manhunter) before reading the books for "Shock-tober." My husband states that the books get progressively worse as the series goes on, but that is to be determined! Stay tuned! Comment below if you disagree with my review of the movie or my opinion of the book! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

So, confession time. When I was growing up, I was terrified to watch Silence of the Lambs. I thought the poster looked terrifying, and I imagined that Hannibal Lector eating people in the most gruesome way. I had, (and still have) a very vivid imagination, especially when it comes to horror movies. Ghost movies? Haunted Houses movies? Totally out. Zombie movies? Dawn of the Dead terrified me for the longest time. The Ring? The Grudge? I can't even do it. Torture movies? SAW is seared into my brain forever.

Interestingly enough, my husband LOVES scary movies. He was a film major before switching to English (therefore, going into teaching) and took a class on scary movies. He enjoys watching them, but we never embarked on watching them together. 

Fast forward to this year. He and I both LOVE Halloween, and he has taken to call this month, "Shock-tober" (I know... you wonder how I snagged such a man). We also discussed what Halloween-y things we could do this month (that you know, don't cost a lot of money) and he suggested a few scary movies. 

And guys... I wasn't immediately, "Hell to the naw!" about it. I thought for a few seconds, and I realized that I should watch more scary movies. I'm older now, experienced more life and I'm not scared out of my mind so much anymore. So we discussed a few movies to watch, and the topic of Silence of the Lambs came up. Now, he and I watched the show together, and he stated that the movie wasn't completely scary and more of a thriller. He also suggested that I do a "Which is Better?" posts about all the movies and the books along with the show. That's what I'm going to do now! First I will review the books, and then the "Which is Better?" post will come out next for each book and each movie. 

After watching the movie, I went ahead and read the book. It's going to be really hard to not review the movie with the book, because well, the movie follows the book with a few minor absences that weren't really needed in the movie. It opens up to Clarice running through the FBI training grounds when she gets a notice to go see Jack Crawford. They begin discussing Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lector, with Jack sending Clarice to go see Hannibal because he feels like she can get something out of him. Finally, Jack warns Clarice to not give up any personal information because Hannibal likes to amuse himself. A lesson that Jack learned with Will Graham. 

Harris' style of writing is very straightforward. He's a mystery and crime novelist and his mode of writing is very direct and to the point. At some points, especially during action scenes, I felt as if I was watching the fight happen, instead of experiencing it. When intense dialogue and conversations taking place, especially with Clarice and other characters, I felt like I wasn't experiencing her discovery and realizations. I was just sort of reading about it. Finally, I thought that some of Harris' descriptive language was a bit odd. There was one part of the story where he describes a female character who puts her hand on her vagina to hide while in the well. I can't speak for other women who are scared, but I felt as if Harris was sexualizing her? Why point out that she covered her vagina? I'm not sure what the purpose of that was. 

Harris also switches between perspectives jarringly and sometimes I would have to reread in order to figure out that the inner monologue of characters switched. I don't mind experiencing a shift in perspectives, but the transition wasn't smooth. 

Finally, even though I'm not a fan of crime novels, I thought it was an enjoyable read. After watching the show, I liked reading the novel that began it all. 

My husband's favorite book, which is my next book in the series (after I take a break from Hannibal Lector), is Red Dragon. He thinks that it's the best book of the series and even better than Silence of the Lambs. 

What do you all think? Stay tuned for Which is Better? Coming out in a few weeks! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New things coming out!!!

I've not had cable for many years. I moved out when I was 22 but even before that, I lived back and forth between college and my parent's house. My roommates and I didn't have cable and we didn't really see the need for it. Even though the internet is a daily part of life (and I know a few people who don't have internet or a TV and I wonder what they do in their spare time!), sometimes I find new releases later than the rest of the world. I'm not sure if it's because it's what websites I browse but it seems like I stumble on news later than the rest of the world.

Despite all of that said, I am so excited for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! I recently did a review on another Pride and Prejudice adaptation, and this book was the first adaptation I read! I quite enjoyed it and I thought it was a more modern take on the classic story. I can't wait to watch the movie (and of course, do I post about it!)

I am also excited for Man in the High Castle! Say, what?! So, recently my husband and I watched Blade Runner, and when I saw the preview for The Man in the High Castle before a video on youtube, I told my husband about how excited I was to watch it. Well, he broke the news to me that it was also a book, and that Philip K. Dick (unfortunate name, however) wrote a book that was the inspiration for Blade Runner.

I DIDN'T KNOW, OK?! But when I did find this out, I hopped on Amazon to buy the book. I'm thinking of going back to get his other books so I can do a review and then a "which is better?" post, but as you all know, I have a lot of books to get through.

I'm sure there are other adaptations and sequels coming out that I am missing or I don't even know about yet. What else is premiering? What are you excited for? Comment below!

Which is Better? Girl with a Pearl Earring

Like the book, the beginning of the movie is cumbersome. At first I was really excited. The first scene shows Griet cutting vegetables and I thought they were going to shoot the firs scene right out of the beginning of the book. But then, she stops cutting vegetables, goes to her Dad, takes a tile that he made and then packs to leave her home. Her mother mentions something about staying away from the dirty Catholics, and then she's off to work as a maid for a richer family.

There is no explanation to why she had to go work for them unless you knew Dutch family structure and culture of the 1600s. The dad's blind, so there was no money coming in. Mom has to take care of Dad, so it's up to Griet to provide for her family.

You see Griet trying to get used to her new life but the viewer is waiting for the other foot to drop. The appearance of the master, Mr. Vermeer. ScarJo plays Griet as if she is already lusting after Vermeer, but they had not met yet. However, Colin Firth... did not disappoint.

And so... like the book, I didn't care about the characters until I actually did. It sort of snuck up me, how I suddenly was invested in the characters, waiting for the moment when Griet is actually painted.

The movie does a great job of building the tension between everyone in the household, not just between the master and Griet. I also loved how they showed the power deferential between Griet and Vermeer, and also between the wife and Vermeer.

I also loved how they showed Griet torn between the butcher's son and her love for the master as well. I also loved the different spin ScarJo put on Griet's situation. As if she knows that the Butcher's son is her only viable option, but she wants to fly close to the sun.

A noticeable difference between the book and the movie is the omission of characters. I felt like the other family members added to her backstory, and her drive to become a maid and work for her family. It also adds an element to why she begins a courtship with the butcher's son. He'll provide for her family, much more so than her wages as a maid.

I also thought it was very funny that the meeting with Griet and Vermeer didn't occur until 20 minutes into the movie. I felt like it didn't really have a beginning until they meet, and it should have been done immediately. It was the same deal with Cordelia, the devil daughter of Vermeer. However, they used her in the background in an interesting way for the rest of the movie. I thought that illustrated just how devious she was.

At first, I wasn't into the casting of the wife but she leaned into her role halfway through the movie and conveyed the petty but pretty wife written in the book. I wish they had done more with Tanneke and their complicated relationship. How they went from friends, to enemies, to acquaintances again.

The ending was off, with the giving of the pearl earrings. She is supposed to be several years older and she goes back to the master's house. The mistress gives her the pearls and Griet sells them but does nothing with the money. One of the points of the book that is drove home is her class and status, which is missed by the brief ending.

I think the movie, overall, is a great adaptation. Scarjo and Colin Firth are phenomenal as the main characters, and the other actors contribute a lot to the movie. I do feel like movies are limited on character development, and Pearl Earring definitely falls victim to that. Nevertheless, the movie is shot well and the sets were properly made, instead of CGI.

Which is Better? I feel like it's a draw. The book and the movie are great for different reasons. Read the book and watch the movie!

Do you have a different opinion? Respond below!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Which is Better? Death Comes to Pemberley

Alright, I wanted to wait until I finished the book to do a proper comparison between the BBC miniseries and the book by P.D James. However, what I didn't anticipate was the length of time it would take me to get through the book! My review of the book is here, so if you haven't done so already, click the link to read! Please also post any comments you have about the book, and if you agree or disagree with my review!

Now, onto the Which is Better? So, like I said before, I stumbled onto the miniseries when I was looking for something to watch on Netflixs. BAE wasn't home and "Death Comes to Pemberley" seems to be a "Just Jordan" viewing instead of an "US" viewing. We like much of the same things and we get upset when the other starts something that one of us had an interest in seeing. SO! "Death Comes to Pemberley" was definitely a Jordan only viewing. It also caught my attention because Matthew Rhys's face, one of the stars of The Americans, was plastered across the wallpaper of Netflix when I was browsing. I just got more excited as I watched because a lot of people were in this series!

I will come out and say it: the miniseries is way better than the book. Now let's all pack up and go home! Just kidding, but I am very glad that I saw the miniseries first before reading the book because I was given context on characters and was able to visualize them more when I was reading P.D James' book. I feel like the director and the screenwriters for the show did a great job of bringing beloved characters to life and correctly characterizing them based off of Austen's book (for the most part). I also thought they did a great job of showing the relationship between characters, which I think was lacking in James' book.

What I also liked about the miniseries was that they filled in some of the blanks with how characters interacted with each other. It's strange to say that because usually the book has the details that the movie or show chose to emit because there isn't enough time. Strangely the miniseries added color and context on the characters, such as Georgiana and Colonel Fitzwilliams. In the book, Colonel Fitzwilliams just kind of appears with the backstory that his elder brother passed and now he is the heir to the... Hartlep castle (right? Is that the family name?) and Darcy is sizing him up to marry Georgiana. Elizabeth mentions maybe that Georgiana may like Alastar, but Darcy just shrugs her off and before the reader's know it, they are knee deep in the woods trying to find Denny and Wickam.

In the show, however, the actor does a good job of showing motive underneath his decisive actions and the show also does a good job of showing disagreement between Darcy, Elizabeth, Wickham and Georgiana. In the book, there is nothing to show Georgiana's feelings (other than wanting to help and desire to not be seen as a child) or Darcy's desire to ensure that Georgiana is taken care of. The miniseries has a few scenes between Colonel Fitzwilliams and Darcy, Elizabeth and Darcy, Elizabeth, Darcy and Georgiana and Colonel Fitzwilliams to show the conflict and the resolution.

Also! The miniseries clarifies who Mrs. Young is! Or at least, assumes? I'm not sure, but the book, other than the fact that Mrs. Young shows the art of scamming to a young George Wickham and then later is willing to help him, Mrs. Young has no connection to Wickham! Or was there, and I misread the book? Anyway, the miniseries clearly draw a line from Wickham to Young and makes the connection that they are family. The book? Not so much.

Overall, if you have the time or the inclination, watch the miniseries. It's only 3 episodes and if you like the Edwardian era or historical era movies or shows, you would enjoy it. If you are an Austen purist, you may not want to watch it, but if you don't mind sequels, by all means, take a few hours! I would pass on the book though unless you are like me, and you are interested in comparing the two, but the show adds much more depth than the book, which is strange because usually it's the opposite.

Oh! One final thing. In the book there is this long monologue by Darcy. It's campy and so out of character that I found myself rolling my eyes. Thankfully in the series there is a conclusion, but both Darcy and Elizabeth are standing there (instead of Elizabeth sitting there like a dullard in the book listening to Darcy drone on) and the series actually changed a bit of the ending, which personally, I like more.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D James

I first stumbled across the TV mini-series of "Death Comes to Pemberley" first before I read the book. I was excited because I recognized some of the actors from various shows (shout out to Matthew Rhys from The Americans and Matthew Goode from The Good Wife) and I wanted to see them in other things. I watched 1 episode and asked my British friends if they had seen it.

Man, oh man. Sequels to books written by other authors is a hot button topic, and I had NO idea. My one friend flat out told me that she refused to acknowledge the sequel and all sequels to Jane Austen books. Her reasoning, which I understand, is that if there was meant to be a sequel, then a sequel would have been written. She compared it to fanfiction, which I can see why she did. My other British friend read the book, hated the book and didn't watch the show. However, she stated that maybe she should watch the miniseries because it would have been better than the book. My final friend loved the show, but didn't read the book. A lot of strong opinions, and so I decided to finish the TV series, read the book, and do a couple posts about it! 

Now, here is my stance on sequels written by other authors. I don't really care. I acquired a book titled, "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife" by Linda Berdoll and I thought it was a great read. Maybe they don't bother me because of my experience with the first sequel I read! I think Pride and Prejudice is iconic because people want to know what happened to those characters. It's such a romantic story and we want to read after they get married. 

Now let's get to the book. I'm going to do a "which is better?" post between the book and the TV series, but I will say this: I am glad that I watched the series first even though I am a bit curious to see if I would have reacted the same way if I didn't watch the series first. 

It took me a couple of weeks to get through. Those who follows my blog know that it does not take me long to get through books, but this one... took me a bit. It's... disappointing. There is a mystery surrounding whether Mr. Wickham killed Captain Denny, and there is this trial and conclusion to the trial... and that's it. There is a conclusion to what happens to the Wickhams and then Darcy goes back to Pemberley. There is this bit about Darcy's ancestors and relationship issues with the Wickhams and... it just putters out. There really isn't any life within the book and the characters just fall flat. I'm disappointed in P.D James because I read some of her other books, and I enjoyed them! I think part of the fun of sequels reimagining characters and putting them in new situations or crazy situations... and this wasn't it. 

The only characters I thought were imagined well was Lydia and Jane, who, are supporting characters, at best. I thought the rest of the characters were 1 dimensional and I felt like it was the Darcy show, instead of the Darcys show. I liked Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, but it was mostly about Elizabeth Bennet's journey, not his. There is a weak twist that I saw coming because I watched the series before I read the book, and the series embellished certain story points, which is a good thing because there wasn't a connection between certain characters in the book. 

So, I think the danger of reading different sequels of Pride and Prejudice is the depiction of side characters. I was always curious about Colonel Fitzwilliam and how he fit into the whole Pride and Prejudice world. I really liked what happened with him and Georgiana in "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife" but in this book.. he just falls flat. He's there, supporting Darcy and the whole shebang, and then just... leaves. There is never a confrontation between him and Darcy over Georgiana nor is there a serious discussion about Georgiana's future between Darcy and Elizabeth. 

Finally, the conclusion to the trial and the epilogue of the book ties up in a nice, neat bow without ever addressing any issues of who Wickham is and his ability to provide for Lydia. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Some of you may have read my review on Alexie's other book, Reservation Blues, but this book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, a collection of short stories, was his debut to the literary world.

It was a unique sensation, reading short stories about very familiar characters in Reservation Blues, but it was like seeing old friends again. It's probably why I like series so much. You become invested in characters and you wonder how they are doing and you wonder what is going to happen to them next. As a reader, I'm curious to understand their character development and how other characters react to them.

With this edition, he wrote an introduction. Normally I don't read introductions to books. They are usually by other people, and I never know what the heck they are talking about. Believe me, I know the importance of an introduction (kinda, sorta) but for some reason... I read a few paragraphs and then I skip to the start of the book. Maybe I'm impatient?

Anyway, I read the introduction to the book. I really like Alexie's voice and I'm envious to how well he conveys it. He writes about his break out in the literary world with his first publication, The Business of Fancydancing and the rollercoaster ride that came with it. He tells the story about an agent who told him that his stories needed work, which he didn't like, and eventually went with another agent, who published his stories quickly. I'm not sure why he decided to divulge that information? Is it to stick it to the agent that told him he should rewrite some of his work?

Here is a hot take, I liked Reservation Blues much more. Reservation Blues is much more polished than Tonto, but I'm not sure if I feel that way because Reservation Blues is a novel and Tonto is a collection of short stories, so it's meant to feel a bit disjointed, but I also noticed that Alexie was trying out his writing style. What did he like? What didn't he like? What was he good at?

I don't blame the agent for wanting to take it slow, but I do understand Alexie's gut instinct to jump when he needed too.

Now onto the book.

My favorite character in both Reservation Blues and The Lone Ranger is Thomas Builds-the-Fire. I loved his stories, and it was very interesting to me to read the dynamic between him and the rest of the tribe. He told stories about the present, about the past and about the future, and there is this theme of deep regret, anger and shame on the Spokane Indian Reservation about exactly that. Many try their best to deny and forget.

Thomas doesn't do that. He has been beaten up by Victor, a childhood acquaintance and the other members of the community refuse to listen to Thomas anymore. However, he doesn't become bitter or angry, or change the way he is. He still tells stories (not out loud) and in one short story, even accompanies Victor to pick up his deceased father.

I'm always fascinated with stories about people who, despite being good, still have bad things happen to them. Thomas is misunderstood by the whites, and is sent to prison after telling a story about a massacre in the 1800s. It's obviously a story set in the past, but he tells it under oath, and eager to send him away, they convict him. Though the whites destroyed Indian tribes across the nation without repercussions, but as soon as a white person was killed, though 100 years ago, the Indian is put away and titled a savage.

There is a deep seated sadness with these stories that undoubtedly have to do with oppression of a people but is lost in the telling of American History. When a student sits through history class, they of course, get the spiel about Native Americans and Manifest Destiny. Most likely there is a lesson on the trail of tears. However, there is seldom mention of the now defunct residential schools, planned to wipe out native culture and the poor land that most of the tribe is on today, along with the lack of opportunity in almost everything. Alcohol is rampagant in the community and poverty is a strong bedfellow.

Alexie does a good job of showing both the beautiful and ugly sides of life of the Spokane Indian reservation and the differences between different groups of people. I suspect it would be easy to demonize whites (and rightly so) for all that they have done, but Alexie presents it as a fact, and then moves on (and rightly so). Even though white people have essentially destroyed their past way of life, it's a moot point. There are other issues to combat (or just react too). He shows the difference between the elders and the new generation, the differences between men and women, the differences between families and the differences between city Indians and reservation Indians. But he also shows just how similar they all are in their reactions and their dreams to become something more, or to go back to the way it used to be.

I'm interested in watching Smoke Signals (maybe a Which is Better? post) and reading more of his books.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Goodreads account!

I have a goodreads account! Finally!

I'm not sure why I resisted for so long.

Find me!

Friend me!

I'll friend you!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells

Like many other books I picked up this summer, I found this book in the classroom of the teacher who was retiring. I watched the Ya Ya Sisterhood movie, but never read the book, so I was interested. I didn't realize that Little Altars Everywhere was a prequel. 

So... it's a collection of short stories about this family living in the south. It's about the children of 1 friend who is apart of a group of 4 friends. In the beginning of the book, the stories just seem to be stories that all children grow up with such as loss, friendship, loyalties, etc. For example, Siddalee is jealous of her cousin and her ballet teacher who end up getting together. She is pushed out and though she is getting older, she feels like a child. 

In the next chapter, Sidalee recounts her summers and how much fun they were at a Lake. It made me think of my own summers and it made me want to have children, go out with my best friends who also would have children and spend the summer in a big cabin in a small town by the lake. Though my husband and I were talking about children and our plan to have them, for the first time, it made it seem like it was fun to have kids...

However, the stories turned from typical childhood memories into something much darker. Gradually it's revealed that Vivienne and her friends are alcoholics who make very reckless decisions with their kids. Viv's marriage is in shambles and eventually Viv moves into the children's playroom to get away from her husband, Shep.

Then the stories got even darker. Viv found Jesus but used it to her advantage. She used religion to
manipulate her children.

Then the stories got even darker. The short stories are set in the deep south in the 60s, which is a backdrop for rampant classism and racism. Letty and Chase, who are an African American couple who live on the land and work for the Walkers, are familiar with the family, but never really family. Letty recounts when Viv comes home from Jesus retreat, she sends Letty home early. Letty has a feeling that something is going to happen and she goes outside to look across the property to the Walker house. Vivienne has the kids outside and they are naked. Vivi is whipping the kids unmercifully. Though they are scared of overstepping their bounds (the Walkers made it abundantly clear of what they see the Letty and Chase to be), they save the children. They call Buggy, Vivi's Mother but never even get Letty's clothes back.

The back of the book advertises that it is a mixture of sad and funny stories. The book, to me, was never really funny. I thought it was interesting and the writing is superb. I couldn't put it down. It was an easy read, and when the stories became darker, it was a like a car crash; you couldn't look away. I couldn't put it down.

Though I largely mention Siddalee, I like the rotating perspective of the people in different stories. I am always interested when characters look at each other: it's much harder for the writer, but if they pull it off, it's very rewarding. Rebecca Wells does this very well.

I'm glad I lucked into reading the prequel. I would like to read Ya Ya Sisterhood and watch the movie again to do another "Which is Better?" post.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

When to Make the Decision to Stop Reading a Book

So, my book stack is dutifully in my bedroom. I picked them out when I was moving and committed myself to reading them when I moved. After all, why spend money on books when I had many that I had not read yet? A major theme of this blog is to pick up books for a discounted price or for free. Certainly I should read the books in my house first.

I read a few historical fiction and fiction books this summer, which is a step away from the science fiction and fantasy that I go after. I enjoyed the fiction books I read, so why not take another chance? I was about to embark on a social studies position at my new school: I had a duty to be informed, even if it was to teach 6th graders.

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. My mother gave me this book lord knows how many years ago. She encouraged me to read it. "It's very good," she commented. "He makes great connections and says it in a way that makes sense." She also concluded that I would be interested in the topic, since I about to start college as a political science major. I just put it on my shelf, committing to myself that I would read it... eventually.

A few weeks ago, I finally did. I dusted off the hardback book, and began reading it.

I got to 50 pages before I put it down again.

I'm not going to write off Mr. Friedman. He's brilliant, drawing conclusions between our ever changing economy and the way we live, but the major problem with presenting theories about our economy, the way we live and technology, is that the technology used to draw those conclusions are defunct 10 years later. This book was written in 2005. It's now 2015, and many of the emerging business models are either common place or collapsed all together. With the housing bubble and the bust, the book is not necessarily ground breaking as it once was. It's almost like a history lesson.

I also realized a few things about my reading preferences. Reading nonfiction books before bedtime is probably not something I would do again. Whereas I tore through Little Altars Everywhere, I crawled through The World is Flat. Now, it's probably the way you're supposed to read it, but for someone that reads to relax, The World is Flat is not a relaxing book.

Sorry, Thomas Friedman. If I ever get my hands on your newest book, I'll give you another try.

I went back to my book stack. What should I try next? I had a few Virginia Woolf books. BAE adamantly concluded that I would like her, so I decided to try "A Room of One's Own." I remember Nicole Kidman playing her in a movie a few years ago (she donned the fake nose, so she must be a serious actress), so I thought I would give it a try.

I got to 15 pages before I put it down.

The introduction warns the reader that it's like an extended essay. Though I felt like she and I were talking and walking about the state of women, it felt like I was at a lecture. A lecture that I was not allowed to comment or question.

Like Friedman, I am not going to write Woolf off. The only author I would ever write off is Thomas Hardy with Tess D'Urbervilles (never again). I do have another book by her, which seems to be a fiction novel. I will give her another try later.

However, making the decision to stop reading 2 books consecutively when I normally stick to books the entire way through made me think of when we should stop reading books. In both of these cases, they didn't serve my purpose. I read to relax before bed. I read so I can escape and go to far off places and read about other people's lives. Both of these books did not do that.

Now sometimes I will finish a book just to give it a scathing review, but it wasn't like I hate either of these books. They were fine books written by brilliant people. I think at the end of the day, my taste in books skew to the light side.

I would like to turn the question over to you: When do you make the decision to stop reading a book? Why?