Monday, May 31, 2010

It Monday! What are you reading? May 31, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

Over the last 2 weeks, I finished reading Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris and Harlem Duet by Djanet Sears.

I've started on Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale, Beautiful Creatures by K. Garcia and M. Stohl, and For the Win by Cory Doctorow.

What do you have in store this week?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

And the winner is....

I'd like to congratulate the winner of the ARC of Linger by Maggie Stiefvater:

Raquel Vega-Grieder (whose blog can be found at Skyla11377 )

Yay Raquel!

An email has ben sent to get your mailing info. Thanks to all of you that entered the contest.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Review: Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

published June 1st 1991 by Dover Publications (first published -429BCE)
details Paperback, 54 pages
isbn 0486268772 (isbn13: 9780486268774)

Considered by many the greatest of the classic Greek tragedies, Oedipus Rex is Sophocles' finest play and a work of extraordinary power and resonance. Aristotle considered it a masterpiece of dramatic construction and refers to it frequently in the Poetics.

I'm currently doing an online course that requires a bit of reading, so I thought it might be fun to share what I've discovered while doing research into the first play I was assigned, Oedipus Rex, and offer up my personal (mostly parodied) review of this classic Greek tragedy.

Oedipus is a well known, unfortunate, figure in literature, but here are a few things that have irked me or made me go "Hmmm?" as I re-read the story:

1) Didn't Oedipus realize that the woman he married was old enough to be his mother? I know back then, the marrying age was considerably less strict than now, but still, really?! There had to have been about 12-15 years between, at a minimum.

2) More to the point, didn't Jocasta realize this about the man that she married and had 2 children with? Especially with his name meaning "swollen feet", didn't she even notice Oedipus had scars on his feet that matched what had been done to him as a baby by his father?  The medical treatments were far less sophisticated in those days, it should have been painfully obvious in sandals. Someone needed to offer these people a clue!

3) This seeming obliviousness was wisely prophetic on the part of Sophocles as from then on, it seems that many leaders of countries over the years have suffered the same affliction: not so much the swollen feet or marrying their own mothers, but the lack of grasping the more important things in life, ie. the greater good of the country.

4) Why would Oedipus gouge his own eyes out? Wouldn't it have achieved more poetic justice if he'd gone all Lorena Bobbit on himself? That seemed to be the bigger well as the part about murdering his father, I guess.

On this last point, I offer you the only complete video I could find online of this play. Please enjoy this rendition, well performed by veggies. (I have a strange craving for those yummy Greek potatoes from Mr Greek, with the tomato sauce on them...)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

235 x 159mm
320 pages
ISBN 9780441018642
04 May 2010
Ace trade paper
18 - AND UP

After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she's angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman. But he's under scrutiny by the new Vampire King because of their relationship. And as the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie's connection to the Shreveport pack draws her into the debate. Worst of all, though the door to Faery has been closed, there are still some Fae on the human side-and one of them is angry at Sookie. Very, very angry...

So, I was trying to figure out ways to do this review without having spoilers, but as you can see from the publisher's synopsis above...well, the biggest one for me is already in it.

I read Dead Until Dark last year but was trying to pace my reading with my viewing of the HBO series TrueBlood (though I haven't gotten to Living Dead in Dallas yet.) There seems to be a fairly close correlation between the two yet enough differences that I, personally, wouldn't give up on either one.

My first impression of Dead in the Family was that it seemed to be a much larger book than any of the previous ones. As I started reading it, I found after about 30+ pages, a page entitled "Chapter 1", so I scratched my head, thinking "What?" and flipped back through to see if I'd missed something. Nope, didn't say "Prologue" or anything like that, it just mentioned a general date time frame. Once I caught on to this I realized it was just a bridge of sorts between the last book to this one. Sookie was needing some recovery time, but this format also served as a way for the reader who hadn't read the previous book (like myself) to catch up to speed.

What I love about this series is that there is a languid quality to Harris' writing that you feel totally invested in the Bon Temps/Louisiana laid back lifestyle. But it has such a sensual feel also, that you are completely engrossed and really don't want to put the book down, even when Sookie's performing mundane tasks.The chemistry between Sookie and Eric is fantastic (I'm totally team Eric, lol) and their moments together are definitely enough to leave a girl weak in the knees!

Harris maintains such an intricate world of vampires, weres and other "two-natured" types, including their hierarchies and politics, that I'm in awe she keeps it all straight and can clearly bring her ideas across to the reader fluidly. She also builds in other previous storylines without making them tedious in the process. I very much enjoy when she brings a figure from history as someone that's been turned (ie. "Bubba" from previous books). This time, the new name involved had me thinking..."geez, that sounds so familiar?!" As the story of this person was explained, I was impressed with how the author handled it while tossing in a little history lesson (this has always been a story that I found beautiful yet sad and ultimately tragic.)

I really can't say enough about Charlaine Harris' wonderful characters, settings, writing style, etc. They are light reads, really, but at the same time offer some depth in emotion, history, and Southern waitressing. Dead in the Family is another winning offering in the Sookie Stackhouse series and if you haven't started reading these books, summer is the perfect time to work on it. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (Mar 23 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061779725
ISBN-13: 978-0061779725

While some young lovers were born to run, Jody and Tommy were born to bite. Well, reborn, that is, now that they're vampires. Good thing theirs is an undying love since their Goth Gal Friday, Abby Normal, imprisoned them in a bronze statue in her living room.
Abby still wants to be a bloodsucking fiend, but right now she's really busy trying to break in a pair of red vinyl thigh-high Skankenstein platform boots and wrangle her manga-love monkey Foo Dog (a.k.a. Steve the bio-chem Ph.D. candidate). And then there's Chet, the shaved vampire cat (and his recently turned meowing minions) stalking the streets of San Francisco. Abby thought she and Steve could stop the ravenous pussycat, oh mais non, they need Jody and Tommy.

Chet, it seems, has a weird reaction to vampirism. He's getting bigger and smarter, and starting to think and act human. Just as Tommy, Jody, Abby, and Steve, along with the turkey-bowling Safeway crew, the Emperor of San Francisco and his trusty dogs Lazarus and Bummer, Abby's gay goth friend Jared, and Tommy's nemeses, SF's finest Cavuto and Rivera, get locked and loaded to hunt big cat, three very old vampires show up--and suddenly everyone's fair game.
This is my second foray into the weird, quirky world of Christopher Moore. And being true to my way of doing things, I have read the third book in a trilogy first, lol. Fortunately, Bite Me starts off with a complete but whacky review of the previous two books, Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story and You Suck: A Love Story. My head was beginning to spin from all the information being thrown at me, from blue hookers and vamps encased in bronze to the weird interrelationships between the characters (who loved who, etc.) But, what Chris Moore has going for him is the off the wall humour mixed in to keep it interesting; you don't care that you may have missed something along the way (mostly, for me, because I know I'll be reading those other books at some point.)

There were also so many POV's in this story, including Chet, the vampire cat. It felt chaotic at times, but the story moved along despite the frequent change in speaker. The constant was Abby aka Allison, aka Countess Abigail von Normal, Emergency Back-up Countess, etc, etc. She's a hoot, causing havoc wherever she goes and making much larger police detectives almost go running, screaming, from her. My biggest issue with Abby, though, was her continuous use of the word "'Kayso"; I found I was craving nachos and cheese while reading the story....get it? Queso = 'Kayso?...Ok, moving on, lol. What Moore does to poor (I use the term loosely) Abby, her "dark secret", is cruel but oh so funny.

 Moore's writing confirms my long-standing opinion, that the funniest of people are (almost) always the smartest. He paraphrases classic literatures beautifully (and comically), all while embodying the persona of an annoying seventeen year old girl with a smart mouth and penchant for chaos. (The other characters are pretty good too. I would be interested in seeing more of "Foo Dog") I still <3 Christopher Moore, Bite Me totally confirmed it!

It's Monday! What are you reading: May

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

Over the last 2 weeks, I finished reading finished reading The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom and White Cat by Holly Black as well as Oedipus Rex. I've also posted my review for Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore and The Kitchen House (linked above). I should have my review for White Cat posted over the next day or two.

I'm currently reading Othello for school (though I'm better appreciating Shakespeare's writing, this was never one of my favourite plays) and Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris. Up next will be Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale.

What's happening with your week?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (Feb 2 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439153663
ISBN-13: 978-1439153666

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.

Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. (Click here to continue reading the synopsis

I've always shied away from certain topics: rape, abuse, slavery. My hesitation in reading this type of material comes from the extreme emotions that these elements bring out in me. I get very angry when people are not treated as they should be, at the cruelty of it all. The key element of The Kitchen House is slavery, so it's not normally something I would have picked up at a bookstore. Thanks to Loretta at Simon and Schuster Canada, I was able to review this book and found it gave me some additional insights as well as a unique take on the subject.

The story is told through two perspectives, the first being Lavinia, the young, white girl whose parents died on the boat going to America and who now must serve out their debt to the ship's captain. The second is Belle, the young woman working in the kitchen house on the captain's estate, who takes on the duty of caregiver to Lavinia. Belle is also the half white/half black daughter of the captain. Lavinia does most of the recounting, so we see things happening through very innocent eyes, but Belle's chapters also give us a better understanding of the truths the Lavinia is unable to fully comprehend at her young age.

I feared that the pace of this book would be slow but I didn't find that to be the case whatsoever. In fact, it really was hard to put it down. I think this comes back to my distaste for the subject and my desire for everyone to live happily ever after. The author held nothing back in this telling, from the punishments put upon the slaves to the captain's contradictions to a horrible scene with Sally, the captain's other daughter, this is a harrowing, plausible read full of emotion. It was sad, it had moments of humour, and it was full of love, regardless of the unconventionalities involved.

I'm glad I read it and would very much recommend this to lovers of historical fiction.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - May 4, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here is how it works:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Remember to show the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser comes from The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom:

"Hoh! He calls me his daughter, and all the time he's got me working down in the kitchen house! 'So if I die, do I go in the ground next to Miss Sally, or do you put me in the ground down by the quarters?' " (page 75)

It's Monday! What are you reading? May 3, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

Last week, I posted my reviews of The 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, Ash by Malinda Lo, and Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston.

I finished reading Bite Me by Christopher Moore and will have that review up shortly.

I'm still working on Timothy and the Dragon's Gate by Adrienne Kress and The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. I totally failed starting White Cat by Holly Black, but it's definitely on the list for this week. I'll also be reading Oedipus Rex by Sophocles this week for an online course I'm taking, so how's that for diverse? *L*

What's happening with your week?
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