November 23, 2013

I'm typing this on an iPad in the airport...

...and it's not even my iPad.

As you might have guessed this is a post from the road...sort of. I quickly finished up Beautiful Creatures before I left home and I am seriously jonesing for the next book in the series, Beautiful Darkness. So I guess that tells you what I ultimately thought of the book. Full of angst that only a teen romance seems to deliver and bursting with elements of the supernatural, Beautiful Creatures was an absolute delight. For a book with over 500 pages, I certainly didn't feel the burden of reading to the end. The characters were relatable (despite supernatural powers), the setting a perfect backdrop for drama, and the love story enchanting. GO AND READ.

In lieu of having the next book in the series I thought I'd change gears and read a memoir. This is one that I've been wanting to read for quite some time. It's Russel Brand's My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up. Yes, it's that Russell Brand. The opinionated, slightly off-kilter glam rocker who occasionally plays parts remarkable dissimilar from himself (or entirely too similar if you've seen the movie Arthur). If you've ever seen his interviews you know the man is not entirely what he at first seems. He has a sharp mind and an even sharper tongue. I know that I'm in for quite an adventure with this one.

Now it's time for the wait for the plane. 1 hour and counting...


November 11, 2013

Changing gears

Winnie-the-Pooh was exactly what I needed. I basically read it in one sitting and smiled the entire time. There are scenes from one's childhood that seem fixed in place. They are immoveable and grounded in such a way that it's as if they were always there. Many times you try to revisit them in your adulthood and discover that they were little more than cardboard sets and a man pulling strings. Christopher Robin and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood are a completely different ball of wax. In fact, I learned more about these beloved characters through this book. For instance, did you know that Winnie-the-Pooh had a different name? (I'd tell you what it was but that would be a spoiler. (-: ) Or that Tigger didn't show up until the second book in the series? I recommend that everyone read this book with their children (or nieces, cousins, etc.) because it's beautiful. The storylines are sweet, the illustrations are enchanting, and the way it makes you feel is indescribable.

Of course, as is my way I decided to completely change gears with my next book. I picked this one up at the start of the year after I saw the film adaptation and fell in love with the concept. It's a massive tome though so I'm not exactly looking forward to carting it around on my commute but such is life. It's Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. I was dubious about this book but within 10 minutes of the film I knew that I would have to read the book to get to all of the meaty stuff that couldn't possibly be covered in a 2 hour film. I don't even know where to start with outlining what the book is supposed to be about. If I had to choose keywords: magic, first love, family discord, and self-discovery. Keep in mind that it's young adult fiction so you just know there's gonna be angst for days. Here we go!

November 9, 2013


I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting from The Alice Behind Wonderland but I came out of this book feeling less than impressed. The main focus was on Dodgson's photography and in particular the photos that he took of Alice Liddell (with main focus on this image). I suppose I thought that this would further my knowledge of the man behind the famous stories of Wonderland and the girl called Alice. However, its narrowed focus on only one aspect of the man (and his relationship with the Liddells) left me feeling disappointed. The book covers Dodgson's fascination with photography and the history of photography itself. Briefly, Winchester touched on the controversy surrounding his "child friends" of which he took many photographs (some of them in the nude). I do appreciate that he made it clear that during this time period (the late 19th century) this was not seen as anything more than an attempt at capturing innocence and purity onto film. Nowadays, the first thought through anyone's mind is PEDOPHILE which we can neither confirm or deny because any evidence was erased long ago (Dodgson removed several pages from his diary or at least someone removed them for him). If you want a tiny glimpse into the man behind one of the world's most famous fairytales then you should take a look at this book. However, I recommend that you delve further and pick up some supplemental reading such as Morton Cohen's Lewis Carroll: A Biography.

I guess I was in the mood for children's fairytales after reading the above so I picked up Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. The copy I have came from a used bookstore and it is GORGEOUS. The illustrations and text placement (falling from the top of the page, circling around the illustrations, etc) make this a delightful read for readers of any age. Most of us know all about Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood because of the cartoons and movies but have you actually read the first volume of stories that the cartoons were drawn from originally?  I haven't and I am pretty excited to rectify this oversight on my part. Already I'm enjoying the light fluffiness of the stories (each chapter is treated as a standalone). Take me along on your journeys, Pooh Bear!

November 3, 2013

Fantasy masked as fiction

I'm not even sure where to begin with my review of The Land of Laughs. From the very beginning, I was unsure of where the story was headed and not in a "wow this is going to be a really interesting journey"kind of way. The introduction of the main characters threw me off as they weren't necessarily relatable or even likable. If you're like me it's very difficult to really get into a story if you feel completely separate from the characters who are your eyes and ears in the narrative. However, it started picking up speed around 100 pages in when I figured out where the story was headed. The author has a flair for description and he knows how to get you on the edge of your seat. Of course, figuring out the author's plan meant that I knew what the ending would be less than halfway through. :-/ Conclusion: It wasn't the worst thing I've ever read but it was also far from the best.

Simon Winchester is known for his narrative nonfiction. I was first made aware of him when I studied Library Services in London when two of his books were on the required reading list. I was immediately a fan. This time I'm reading The Alice Behind Wonderland. Beginning with the famous photograph of Alice Liddell which Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll took (and which many have speculated about) and continuing with Dodgson's personal journals, Winchester gives a more complete story of the girl behind the famous story. Having done extensive research on the topic myself I'm interested to see his take.