Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Short reviews ...

Shorts. Because otherwise I'll have three books to review, I'll panic, and basically nothing will get done. Because that's how I roll.
First is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, for which Nymeth at is totally responsible for. And it's sweet, and endearing and funny all at once. Seriously. Forget the movie. Read the book. Ella is given the “gift” of obedience at birth by an errant fairy. And so, of course, she spends most of her life finding ways to work around that particular gift, which can mean interpreting obedience very loosely. And when Ella falls in love, with a prince no less, well let's just say chaos ensues.
Very, very loosely based on Cinderella. This Ella is MUCH more resourceful.
8/10 That movie that you've watched 100 times and you never get tired of
And on to … Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. I may have mentioned in passing my deep, abiding and slightly unstable fangirl love for Mr Gaiman. Books like Coraline make my fangirl smile. That slightly off-centre loopy smile that would tell Mr Gaiman to get a restraining order before I could tell him I'm his number one fan. Um. Coraline. Coraline Jones has just moved in to a new house with her parents. School doesn't start for a while, and there's just not a lot to do. Until, that is, Coraline discovers a door that apparently leads nowhere.
Only, of course it does. Because this is Neil Freaking Gaiman. And all of his doors lead somewhere. In Coraline's case, the door leads to a kind of parallel universe, which at first looks so much better than her own. She has her other mother, her other father, and many treats. It doesn't take long for things to go south.
It's so good. So, so good. One of the things I love about Neil Freaking Gaiman is that he gets that it's okay for childhood to be scary. Sigh. I'll be over here, flailing. BRB.
10/10 Could not be improved on, even by angel dust and a basket of kittens

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Reading Week

Wow. My last post was a reading week post. Uh .... I fell off.
This most important question is asked, as always, at

Blatantly using my cat Sam as a prop, there. And yes, yes I'm still reading Guards! Guards! By Mr Sir Terry Pratchett. Which I'm really, really enjoying :)
I still have high hopes for getting Memoirs of a Master Forger started this week.
No, really. I do.
Happy reading everyone!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The reading week

It's Monday, and time to answer the all-important question: What Are You Reading? Posed here:
Uhm … I finished Coraline. Which is awesome and creepy. And then accidentally started Guards! Guards! By Mr Sir Terry Pratchett, instead of Memoirs of a Master Forger by William Heaney (Graham Joyce) like I meant to do. But Guards! Guards! is really, really funny, so I don't mind. But Memoirs is next. Definitely. Hm. That's all I have this Monday. Unusually for me, I'm not very chatty. Now there's a Monday to mark on your calendar!
Happy reading everyone! :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekly Geeks

The Geeks are talking movie adaptations: Our favourite ones, to be precise. And I have to own up to a deep, dark secret here: I have no problem with adaptations, unless they are extremely, excruciatingly bad. For example, I haven't seen The Seeker, the movie based on The Dark Is Rising, and I never will because the trailer alone makes me blind with rage.
I get changes for narrative purposes, but gratuitous changes for no reason anger me.
Um. My favourite adaptation is probably Lord of the Rings. And I'm not going to link to any trailers, because I haven't figured out how to do it properly.
Anyway. I will love Peter Jackson forever for making Lord of the Rings, and making it so … mere words fail me on my love for those films.
I also think the Harry Potter adaptations have been pretty good, although I'm not the biggest fan of No 5, Order of the Phoenix, but it's not my favourite book either. Half-blood Prince, however, rendered me nearly speechless. It's that good.
I'm probably going to think of a ton more later on, but a couple of others that spring to mind are Fight Club, and Stardust. And both for the same reason, oddly enough. I liked the endings of the films better than the endings of the books. Even though, in the case of Stardust, I liked the book better than the movie.
I can't express myself properly today. I keep forgetting that I'm too old to stay up until 3am.
I love books, and I love movies. And when one is turned into another, 99 times out of 100 I'm happy with the outcome. Or, I'm way too easy to please.
And as for books I'd like to see as movies ... the only one I can think of is American Gods. And I don't want it to be a movie. I want it to be an epic TV series because the book feels episodic to me.
Happy Weekly Geeks everyone.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Care package

First, listen here: It's an unashamed, iconic Kiwi love song. And this list is my list of uanashamed Kiwi-author love :)

Now. On to the list. When Care at said 'bring it on' for Kiwi authors, I took it as a challenge. And here is my list. It's purely subjective, and the authors are my Kiwi favourites.

So this list is completely subjective. Books I think you all (not just Care) should read by Kiwi authors who are The Goods:
My Name Was Judas by C K Stead.
It's short
It's about what-might-have-been in the life of Judas Iscariot
It's good, and it's vivid and intriguing

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
It's beautifully written
It's set on a Pacific Island
It made me want to read Great Expectations again, and I hate Great Expectations
It's sad, and horrific and uplifting all at once

Under the Mountain by Maurice Gee
It's kind of a rite-of-passage YA novel for Kiwi kids
It has slimy alien monsters
And a kindly sad alien
It has the ocean, and summer holidays, and volcanoes
It's short
Also The Halfmen of O trilogy by Maurice Gee – okay, anything YA by Maurice Gee.

Towards Another Summer by Janet Frame
The prose nearly made me cry when I read it
It's intensely personal; it was written many years ago but not published until after Janet Frame died
It's evocative, and awkward and wonderful, all at once

The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox
Fallen angel. Fallen angels are my fiction-crack
Uhm … it's beautiful, and sad, and an incredible and unlikely love story
It has my second-favourite end line ever (after Lord of the Rings), which actually broke my heart a little bit, and now I have it memorised. And because of lines like this, which I've mentioned before: “The terms of the pact are this: 'Xas shall go freely. God shall have his pains and Lucifer his pleasures'.”
Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox
Parts of it are sort-of set near where I live (well, if the Rainbow Opera and other things were real …)
It's one of those magic, fantastic novels that makes you wonder why no one thought to write it before
It's based around dreams, and dreaming
There's a sequel (which I haven't read yet) – Dreamquake, but I'm sure it's just as good. I need to read Dreamhunter again first, though

Uhm … anything by Witi Ihimaera. Anything at all. He writes prose like it's poetry. I've read a couple of his later books – Nights in the Garden of Spain (which would be an awesome Challenge That Dare Not Speak It's Name book, btw) and The Uncle's Story. I'm partway through The Matriarch (slow read) which is unbelievably good.

Oh! And Margaret Mahy. Specifically, The Changeover, and The Catalogue of the Universe, both excellent YA novels.

And for littlies, the Hairy McLary series by Lynley Dodd is a must.

I'm missing lots. But that's a good start. :)

Books Bloggers Appreciation Week ...

... because we're worth it. I actually registered this year, instead of watching from the sidelines and wishing I could play with the cool kids. Brainchild of My Friend Amy:
Details here, if you're not In The Know ....

Monday, July 13, 2009

The reading week

I refuse to believe that it's Monday already and time for another What Are You Reading? post, hosted by the wonderful

Uhm ... I'm still having crappy reading times. I did, however finish Ella Enchanted, which was the perfect antidote to The Strain.

It was light, and fluffy, and Ella is such a great character. Loved it. :)
Uhm ... also on the menu this week is Memoirs of a Master Forger, by William Heaney; aka Graham Joyce, who everybody should read. Seriously. Go find some Graham Joyce. He is The Goods. That's my main course this week, but I'm going with Coraline as an appetiser, because I got a new copy from the review cupboard at work and I haven't read it for a while. Also, the movie is meant to be coming out next month, so I want to be all up to date.

And what's for dessert? Hmmm .... Queen of Sorcery, probably; with The Passion by Jeanette Winterson as the cheese/coffee. That way I'll actually get The Challenge That Dare Not Speak Its Name off to a good start.

Happy reading!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Weekly Geeks

The explanation, as always, here:

I've, er, been to Melbourne. That's it. I honestly thought I read a bit more worldwide than that; what with living in New Zealand and all. Huh.

But my map is an epic fail of worldwide reading. I've dug through my archives, and my memory, and to be honest, I'm not coming up with much more than what I already have. The thing is, intellectually, I love the *idea* of reading about other cultures. Obviously, I have no follow-through.

H'm. This must be corrected. Shameful.

Here is the link to my Map of Shame

Happy Weekly Geeks everyone :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

The reading week

Question here, as always, here:
Um ... does it count that I finished The Strain last week? And Pawn of Prophecy. That's pretty good for me lately. I started The Owl Killers, and it's good, but it turns out I'm not in the mood for Medieval Moodiness. So I did what I commented on Nymeth's blog about doing, and started one of the books that she's reviewed, that I've said "Oh, I have that, but I haven't read it". I know. That sentence gives me a headache, too. The upshot is I'm readin Ella Enchanted, which is very sweet, and very good and light, and just what I need. Thanks Nymeth.
Happy reading, everyone! :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Weekly Geeks answers - it's still Friday somewhere

Yay for chocolate!!!! And highchairs, come to think of it.
Here are the answers to my Weekly Geeks Gilbert! questions:
1) Who wrote the short story Brokeback Mountain?
Annie Proulx
2) What is Oscar Wilde quoted as saying on his deathbed in Paris?
Either this wallpaper goes, or I do
3) In the Vintner's Luck, a winemaker falls in love with …?
A fallen angel
4) Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a supposed semi-autobiographical novel by …?
Jeanetter Winterson
5) The movie My Beautiful Laundrette starred which future Oscar winner?
Daniel Day Lewis
Thanks for playing :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Warning: incoherent fangirling ahead. Sigh. But, what else is new?
Okay. The Strain.
Um. I really don't know what to say. It has vampires. And the CDC. And and and … evildoers. And do-gooders. And did I mention vampires?Okay. I'll attempt a plot synopsis.
A plane lands at JFK, and every person on board is dead, with no outward physical signs. The plane landed smoothly; it's not engine trouble, or sabotage.
Enter Dr Ephraim Goodweather, of the CDC, to determine what might have caused the event. And slowly, but surely, events completely unravel from there. Soon, Eph realises he's not dealing with a normal infection and his investigations lead him to Abraham Setrakian, an old man who has seen _ and battled _ this evil before.
It's good; and it's creepy; and it's scary. It feels entirely plausible, yet entirely fantastic at the same time, and I'm not sure how Mr del Toro and Mr Hogan have pulled that one off. I suspect the fantastic as come from del Toro and the plausible from Hogan, but it doesn't really matter because the book is so good. It's very well-written with believable and likable – and unlikable – characters.
Pick it up when you have some spare time, but don't read it after dark ….
9/10 – so good, you'd take it to meet your Mum.