Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Your meme is here:

By now, I would hope that I had finished Madame Bovary, finally, which is my first classic novel for my 12-month Diversity Classics challenge. At the time of writing, I had less than 70 pages to read.

So let's assume Madame Bovary is in the have-read pile. Up next for Diversity Classics is The Matriarch, by Witi Ihimaera :-)

I also finished For the Win by Cory Doctorow last week, and will do a short review of that as I have about three books that I can just do brief reviews for, and that's one of them. The other two are Tomorrow, When the War Began, and the third book of Storm Constantine's Wraeththu series.

Madame Bovary will get her very own review. :-)

As for what I am reading ... at work I have The Insatiable Moon, by David Riddell, which is my work-review read-at-teatime book. As for the rest ... my nightstand hasn't changed much, but I'm thinking a little Tolkien this week - I'm feeling the need for the familiar. So let's say The Two Towers. After that ... I have no idea. :)

Happy reading.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speak. Loudly.

Disclaimer: I have not (yet) read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. But censorship is something that will always raise my hackles, and this: is so very far from okay, that I have to say something.

Maybe not much, and not very insightful, as I haven't read Speak, but the thing that really concerns me about Mr Scroggins' post - apart from the fact that we are still, in the 21st century, deciding what is and is not appropriate reading for other people's children - is that he equates rape with soft pornography.

He states: "Equally shocking is the content of the high school English classes. In high school English classes, children are required to read and view material that should be classified as soft pornography. One such book is called "Speak." They also watch the movie. This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team. They have sex on Saturday night and then are goddesses at church on Sunday morning. The cheer squad also gets their group-rate abortions at prom time. As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts, she makes the statement that this is what high school is supposed to feel like. The boy then rapes her on the next page. Actually, the book and movie both contain two rape scenes."

Mr Scroggins: Rape is not, nor should it ever be, pornorgraphy. The words should not be in the same sentence, and it's a very, very dangerous attitude to put out there.

Also this: "my review of the eighth-grade sex education curriculum revealed that children at the middle school are being introduced to concepts such as homosexuality, oral sex, anal sex and specific instructions on how to use a condom and have sex".

Education, education, education. Education, not censorship, is the key. And talking. And homosexuality is not a "concept" any more than it is a lifestyle choice. It is the way some people are; the way some people are very tall, or have blond hair. But that's another blog post, I feel.

Removing books from school libraries in order to, what? protect the children from the evils of sex, of safe sex? It's the 21st century. Why are we still having these conversations?

As somebody on twitter said: "Don't want your kid to read a particular book? Fine. Don't want any other kids to read it either? Not fine."


Mockingjay review - SPOILERS

So here we are; at the end of the Hunger Games. And how was it?

Well ... okay. Here's the thing. Mockingjay is good. It's readable, and it's a fairly satisfying end to the trilogy, but I had issues with the last chapter, where Collins wraps everything up so tidily and basically does away with Gale as a character all together.

I read the book a couple of weeks ago, and as always happens to me, the details are hazy at best. But I was slightly ... underwhelmed. I mean, I enjoyed it and all, and it was easy to whip through, but the last chapter, I thought, kind of undermined everything that Katniss, Peeta and Gale – who was treated very shabbily at the end in my opinion – went through.

I can't help comparing Katniss as a character to Viola from the Chaos Walking trilogy – partly because I read them in a similar time-frame and partly because .... that's how my brain works.

They're both strong, female characters in YA novels, which is always something to be celebrated, but for me, there's something a little ... Mary Sue about Katniss, whereas Viola is very human – strong, yes, but flawed, and she makes mistakes, which she acknowledges, but she just keeps going.

H'm. I didn't mean to go off on that tangent – lol.

Anyway. There's a war on – the Capitol versus the rebels, and Katniss as the Mockingjay is right in the middle of it all, as the rebels' symbol and rallying call. She's reluctant at first to take up the mantle, but does so when she sees the extent of the suffering, and it's not long before the Mockingjay is the central rallying point for the rebels.

Katniss has her own personal dilemmas going on as well, as she finds herself caught between Gale and Peeta – a very common YA novel device that is becoming, may I say, a little tired? I was surprised at who Katniss ended up with, but not invested in it enough to really care, if that makes sense.

But YA authors with the love triangle thing? Knock it off, okay? It's getting tired and cliched. Or, possibly, I'm getting old.

But I felt like that last chapter almost undermined the pretty solid work Collins had put in with the rest of the series, and with the central characters. It's almost as if she got tired of it, and handwaved not only Gale, but Katniss' mother. Which, given the loss that Katniss and her mother sustained at the end of the war with the Capitol ... it's an emotionally unsatisfying conclusion anyway, and once again, I find myself comparing it to Monsters of Men, and finding Mockingjay wanting in relation to the ending of that series.

Anyway, I do apologise that this isn't really much of a review, but these are the impressions I'm left with a couple of weeks out from finishing the book.

Happy reading! :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Meme here:

I had another fairly productive (for me) reading weekend, because I stayed with my mother again on Saturday night.

I actually took three books with me – the Wraeththu omnibus, Madame Bovary, and Tomorrow, When the War Began.

I was halfway through the second book of Wraeththu, and since it was an omnibus edition, I just ... kept reading and finished the whole trilogy yesterday morning.

Some sort of lazy, half-assed short review will be forthcoming sometime, I'm sure. I did enjoy it, and it got stronger as it went along, culminating in a very enjoyable third book. I believe there's a second Wraeththu trilogy, so I'm keen to get hold of that.

I'm still halfway through Madame Bovary, and I'm hoping to read it this week, but I'm on nights until Friday, and the rest of my time at home is fairly consumed by Patrick, so we'll see.

Speaking of ... Tomorrow, When the War Began is something like 280 pages, and I've been reading it for more than a week. It's fairly representative of how slow my reading is going this year.

But I persist. :D So, hopefully this week, Madame Bovary and Tomorrow, When the War Began ...

Happy reading! :-)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I actually have new reads to talk about ! :D

I finished Mockingjay at my mother's on Saturday, and a review will be forthcoming this week.

I also started Madame Bovary, which is my September classic, and I got about halfyway through it. I was staying at my mother's because she had heart surgery a couple of weeks ago, and is home now, but can't stay on her own, so my sisters, sister-in-law and I are taking turns staying with her. Saturday night was my turn.

My mother doesn't have internet access, so I took the opportunity to get some reading and cross stitching done. :-)

Madame Bovary is very interesting so far - way more readable than I expected it to be for some reason - but I'll have more thoughts on that later in the month. :)

I'm still (optimistically) reading American Gods and Book two of the Wraeththu series by Storm Constantine, and I started Tomorrow, When the War Began yesterday, because I'm hoping to go to the movie tomorrow. I'm not sure if I'll get the book finished before then, but I'm hoping to make a decent dent, at least.

So ... what are you reading?

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I do love a good scare. And this - - is always the perfect excuse to dip into some hair-raising reads.

I didn't intend to sign up for Peril the First, but I couldn't decide between the books, so this is my list:
The Passage by Justin Cronin; Daylight by Elizabeth Knox (vampires!), Everything's Eventual by Stephen King, and Imagica by Clive Barker.

I'm also going to try and do the Peril on Screen - I've never seen the original Elm Street, and really want to. It also gives me an excuse to rewatch Psycho - lol.

Let the hair-raising begin!