Thursday, December 26, 2013

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (5)

I desperately want to see this play. Like with many plays, much is lost in translation when you merely read it. How different to see Sigourney Weaver as aging star Masha lamenting being cast as a grandmother and getting paid less than she did in her glory days then to read a faceless character you are somewhat ambivalent towards. I never connect as well to a play I'm reading unless there's a character I desperately want to play that I am imagining myself being.

And yet, it is funny. It is both current, three aging siblings considering their lives, and the state of global warming and the world in general, and ancient, with Cassandra, their maid, a modern version of The Cassandra, from Agamemnon touting prophesies at each turn of the page. Spike is the only character firmly routed in the current world while Vanya, Sonia, Masha, and Nina are all Chekhovian. I would love to hear reactions from someone with less knowledge of classic theatre, and also the reaction of someone who understood EVERYTHING. Who knows The Sea-Gull and The Cherry Orchard and The Three Sister like I know The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones.

Did I give it five stars because it's a Tony Award winner, and who am I to argue with the pros? Probably. But it also gave this 25-year-old a glimpse into the minds of those older than me. It did what all great art should do: it helped me understand a person different then myself. It may be funnier to someone who understands more Chekhov, but it made me want to dive back in and read Chekhov, and how many works can state that?

Most of all, I loved how beautifully Christopher Durang discussed the idea of a shared memory between the generations. How does a grandparent converse with a texting, tweeting teenager? What do they have in common? There are thousands of shows and everyone has their own tastes and opinions firmly staked, what can we all discuss?

"The Ed Sullivan Show was on...Richard Burton and Julie Andrews would sing songs from Camelot. It was wonderful. It helped theatre be part of the national consciousness, which it isn't anymore."

And yet, NBC aired a live television broadcast of The Sound of Music this year. Maybe it was in response to the production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and perhaps it wasn't, but it was so popular that they are absolutely doing it again next year. Please, please do NBC! But maybe cast Audra as the lead this time? Or at least Lea Michele. Pretty please?  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Night Film (4.5)

Sovereign. Deadly. Perfect.

That is how they describe the films of famous director Cordova, not necessarily how I would describe Marisha Pessel’s Night Film. The book was fabulous and met all expectations it created which made it both satisfying and a bit easy to guess.

Ashley Cordova, age 24, is found dead in a warehouse in lower Manhattan. Everyone believes that she jumped. She was, after all, the daughter of Stanislas Cordova, the director of movies so terrifying they have been banned from theaters. His most devoted fans hold underground viewings, but even they have not seen Stanislas in 30 years. No one has.

Journalist Scott McGrath lost his career the last time he tried to expose Cordova, but Ashley’s death brings him back on the case and deeper and deeper into the secret, dark world surrounding Cordova’s supposed retirement.

I loved how it took you on the journey, the slow build into mysticism, broken just long enough that you begged to bring it back. Anything but the simplicity you were being offered. You wanted the darkness to be real.

I also loved how Pessel interspersed internet articles and pictures, because it made the book feel so real. In addition, if you download an app to use to scan hidden elements of the book you can watch movies. Or something. I haven’t tried it, because I’m lazy.

Do you dare? 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hyperbole and a Half (5)

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened.
By Allie Brosch

I think at this point in time there are two kinds of people: people that like Hyperbole and a Half (the blog) and people who have yet to read Hyperbole and a Half. I started my journey through Brosch's blog somewhere around here:"How Fish Almost Destroyed My Childhood" and then promptly spent the rest of my night reading her previous two years of blog posts. TWO YEARS. I think it actually took me more then one day.

Allie reminds us all of the beauty of humanity, or at least those of us who haven't quite mastered the art of adulthood but are still, for some reason, allowed to wander around the world doing jobs and renting homes and adopting pets. Either this book will make you feel like a really, really responsible adult, or it'll make you feel less alone in your utter confusion about the "real world," either way, you should get a healthy chuckle or two out of it. I personally read the first half in one sitting and started laughing so hard I couldn't breathe at least once.

This pictures sealed it for me though

I just can't stop laughing, and I need everyone to read this essay/cartoon so that I can use it in every day conversation because who HASN'T had a random feeling of, like, "there's a spider in my house, better just burn the damn thing down" and has had to repress that feeling?

If you aren't sure if this is the thing for you, definitely go check out her blog, and then decide. It won Best Humor book on Goodreads so if you're into that kind of thing, go read it. Immediately.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Miss. Peregine review (3.5) & Cress is coming!

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.” - Miss. Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs 

Jacob, 16, is a quiet loner who has one best friend, a misfit like himself, and is closest to his grandfather. As a child, his grandfather told him many stories about a magical house he lived in as a child during World War II, the kindly matron who protected them from the monsters, and the peculiar children he lived with. As Jacob grew older, he came to realize that the monsters were really the Nazis, and the pictures of magic merely illusions. But after he finds his grandfather half-dead in the woods, torn apart by an animal who he glimpses, Jacob begins to wonder if the stories were real after all. He ends up travelling with his father to the island his grandfather had spoken of, to find the house where it all began. 

This book started out really strong, but the more fantastic it got, the less connected to the characters I felt. I thought it was going to be a great, creepy, Halloween read but it turned into a less interesting X-Men meets Harry Potter and ended on such a blatant to be continued, I felt a little cheated. Maybe if I had known that it was the first book of a series, I would have accepted this more, but I thought it'd been out for awhile (only 2011) and was just a book all on it's own. 

Now, in the book's defense, I did read it immediately after finishing The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which became more beautiful as it got more fantastical, so it did have a lot to live up to. And the author's note that all the creepy pictures of fantastic children were actually real pictures he found in thrift shops was pretty cool. And the next book comes out January 14th, so you don't have long to wait if you want to know what happens. 

I, personally, am feeling a little overwhelmed by the authors/series I'm following, and If you're into YA, I am in love with the Cinder series, and the third book is coming out in exactly two months!! If you missed my earlier post about Cinder (which was really short), it's another one of those fairytales re-told, which I have a soft spot for. I am especially obsessed with retellings of Cinderella, so I probably like this series more then I should. I may have already read it twice this year. I tried really hard to say it was just ok, but it's the perfect fast read if you're into that prince falls in love with ordinary girl and you can see it all but she doesn't because she's just so ordinary except she really is special if only she could just see it. SPOILERS, sorry, but it's based off Cinderella, so you  have to see that part coming. Cinder's a cyborg, it's the year 3000-something, there are cyborgs.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (5)

"Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but aren’t." 

This book was beautiful. I listened to the audiobook, read by Neil Gaiman himself, which made it even better. Driving home from rehearsal every day I would turn it on, and Gaiman would tell me my bedtime story.

This is one of those beautiful stories where Gaiman puts you in the head of a child and opens up the world as seen by a seven year old boy. Everything he said was a quote I wanted to write down and live my life by. Every description of person, place, or thing was poetry, and I was absolutely in love.

The boy's parents have become lost some wealth and have had to take in borders to help make ends meet. The Hempstock farm down the road is home to the grandmother, mother, and daughter Hempstock. Something about them is both strange and comforting, and when the boy befriends young Lettie Hempstock (who has been twelve for a long, long time) he begins a journey which will shake the framework of a world he couldn't imagine.
Enter Ursula Monkton, who is tall, thin, and pretty and everyone likes her, except the little boy, our unnamed narrator. He knows that there is something wrong with Ursula Monkton. Lettie Hempstock could help him, if only he would be allowed to go visit the farmhouse down the road and let her know what has happened. Is it the little boys fault that Ursula Monkton came to his home? Is it his fault that Ursula Monkton has been allowed to enter the world at all?

Gaiman does a masterful job of writing a book much like Alice in Wonderland, but writing it for adults. I don't even know what to tell you, but you should probably go read it right now. It was my first Neil Gaiman, so I'm not sure how it stacks up with his very large body of work, but if you like a bit of lyric fantasy, this book is definitely for you.

If you like to remain fully immersed in the real world, then this book is not for you. Otherwise, read it. It's short and sweet and scary and lovely, and if you're into audiobooks I'd definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The 19th Wife (4)

       So, here’s the thing. I am randomly picky about books and I have no idea why I like the ones I like. And this one, I liked. Not read in one sitting like The Hunger Games like, but I liked it nonetheless. I came back to it, even though I was busy and would kind of forget about it. But I actually had a conversation with someone about it that went like this.

            “What are you reading?”
            “The 19th Wife.”
            “Is it any good?”
            “I don’t know?”
            He laughs, “how far are you?”
            “Almost done.”
            He looks confused.
            “I mean, I’m enjoying it, I just don’t know if it’s any good, you know?”

            Like, I really needed to have someone tell me that this is an acceptable book to be reading. Everyone else likes it too or critics are just raving about it. I mean, I gave a bad review to a Pulitzer-prize winning author, clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about, right? I think I feel especially uncomfortable with historical fiction because I’m not enough of a history buff to know how historically accurate it is. Like when I was in 8th grade and I loved Gone with the Wind, but then found out it was racist and according to the battles Scarlett was pregnant for 18 months or something (ask a history buff, I don’t remember). It took me years and a couple re-reads to realize that I was just desperately in love with Rhett Butler and was skimming the book until he showed up again. So, why am I even writing this blog? Because I have a lot of opinions and I like to share them.
"It's cool Scarlett, I want to be your slave" - every line of Mammy's
            The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff tells two stories, one set in present day Utah, where Jordan Scott returns to his hometown after his mom, (his dad's nineteenth wife) has allegedly shot her husband. The evidence is stacked against her, yet when his mom says she didn’t do it, Jordan begins to delve into the mystery behind who shot his father.

Ann Eliza
            The other tale is of the most famous 19th Wife, Ann Eliza, 19th wife to Brigham Young in the 1800s. I loved her story. Which kind of makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me, because what happens to her is awful. Ann Eliza’s story shows in full detail what life would truly be like for a plural wife. There is no romanticizing it like Big Love and Sister Wives does. She sees it as an institution that enslaves women and abuses children because what father can love 19 wives and 200 children equally? What made Ann Eliza famous, though, is that she wrote a tell-all memoir about polygamy and went on a crusade to make it illegal in the US. And who doesn’t love a story of someone taking something horrible that happened to her and using it as a crusade to save the world? (Ok. Good, I’m not a bad person. I did not enjoy seeing her abused, I just wanted to see her break the shackles of the institution).

            I totally didn’t figure out who the murderer was. I’m not sure I totally cared, because I didn’t really love Jordan or his mom and I definitely wasn’t upset that his dad was dead. And, like I've said before, I rarely figure out who it was.  

Read this book if you like historical fiction, are comfortable with a gay protagonist (Jordan) with a love interest, and if you're ok with reading an entire book filled with characters that are pretty anti-Mormon, although I would argue that the novel is not anti-Mormon, just anti polygamy. 

A note on historical accuracy:
According to Wikipedia (which is totally 100% accurate), Ann Eliza Webb Dee Young was totally a real person. She was a wife of Brigham Young, though her rank varies (which the novel touches upon, including a potential reason why the number may change). She did, in fact, write an autiobiography titled Wife No. 19 and after divorcing Brigham Young, became extremely opposed to Mormonism due to their practice of polygamy. 

In doing this very minimal research, I found out that there is a Lifetime movie based on this book. So, take that as you will. 

OH MY GOD IS THAT LOGAN? Yes it is. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I wonder if I could make every book review come back to Gilmore Girls? Did I mention Lauren Graham wrote a book? You should totally read that one because it's the best

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Expected Absence

Well friends, as with so many things in my life, I got cast in a show and completely quit this blog. It's been three weeks since I've posted and probably two months since I've annoyed my facebook friends with posts about posting. Which I'd apologize for, but acting is what gets me to wake up in the morning, and it's all I want to do, ever. So I can't apologize. But, I can give a bit of a recap of what has been happening in my life and what you can expect to see in the next couple of blog posts!

Wargrave suspects me, I mean Vera...
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie was the play, though I linked to the novel, which I hear is quite good. Our end was a little happier then the original, which I liked because my character had a much more satisfying ending. Now, for this show I was extra busy because I had NO down time during rehearsals. I was off stage for about five pages in Act One (to change) and then was just on stage running around and generally freaking out, which was great fun.
Ten people are brought to an island, where they are accused of murder, and start to get killed off one by one.

(***SPOILERS AHEAD,*** skip to the next picture if you don't want things spoiled :) )
Now, a few extra exciting things happen in this one, as we get killed off, tensions of course get higher, and by the last five each character suspects another in a perfect circle. And finally, it's just me and Philip Lombard, who was previously Vera's love interest, and neither of us can convince the other that we didn't kill off the last guy, so we finally get in a tussle over his gun and I shoot him. Which is awesome, except for preview, where in front of our first ever audience the gun doesn't go off. I just stared at Scot (playing Philip) and he just refused to drop. So then I stared out into the audience, right where I knew our director was sitting, and realized that I was mugging the audience and we had to do something. The show must go on.

And that is when Scot grabbed the gun out of my hands. Which makes sense, since I shot him because he was going after me in the first place. But this is very bad because he has to get shot and drop so the murderer can come in and give his big speech. But now he has the gun. So I lunge for the gun, and he just hands it to me so I shoot him. We almost made it look ok. Almost. So then we had to have a pep talk before the last scene every night, where we held hands and went through our just-in-case fight choreography and reminded each other that no, we could not just give up and go home, because the audience was still there and the show was almost over. Use it, as my Junior year acting professor would say.

OH THANK GOD THIS PLAY IS OVER, is what we were thinking.
Vera was, of course, thinking OH THANK GOD I GET TO LIVE,
which is basically the same thing.

The next thing that has taken up a lot of my time is National Novel Writing Month, which I won in 2011 and have promptly failed at ever since. I am currently sitting just under Day 10's word count. Whooops. You see, the thing about 2011 is that I had this idea that if I finished a novel I could become an author and make a living writing stories and then I wouldn't have to work as a waitress anymore. Which would be great, if that's how life worked. I even took a writing class afterwards so I could edit my brilliant first novel. And then I woke up to the realization that my novel wasn't brilliant and I still had to work. And then I got cast in six shows back-to-back and didn't have time to do anything.

The thing about NaNoWriMo that I'm trying to focus on this year, is that creating is important, and opening up my imagination is important. By the end of NaNo the year I won, I was churning out short scripts at an ostentatious rate. I had silenced my inner critic and was ready to take on the world. And as a theatre educator, I write a lot. And as an actor, I get rejected a lot, so that giddy freedom of NaNo, where you took something that seemed so impossible and finished it, seems nice.

Although, it would be a bit nicer if anyone but me cared what happens to my heroine. Because I'm starting to really like her, and I'm really worried about what's happening to her right now, and I can't talk about it with anyone because no one else has read my book.

Upcoming books?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jana's List of Books You Should Have Already Read (and some othersuggestions)

A current list of myfavorite recent-reads in the order you should read them (in case you’re overwhelmed…wait now I’m overwhelmed justtrying to put them in some sort of order.)
...can you ever just be "whelmed"?

If you like _________read __________:
1. The Hunger GamesàCinder (if you haven’t read The Hunger Games, read that because it’sbetter)
2. A Casual VacancyàGone Girl (Gone Girl’s the quicker, more palatable of the two)
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince à Night Circus(magic is pretty much the only thing that connects these two stories.
4. The Thirteenth TaleàThe Blind Assassin (though if youhaven’t read anything by Margaret Atwood, start with The Handmaid’s Tale which is possibly more disturbing than Gone Girl)
5. Farenheit 451 àHandmaid’s Tale
6. A Stolen Life àLolita (I’m sorry. I know, I know, I’m going to hell…you can’t really like Lolita, can you?)
7. Gone Girl àWe Need to Talk About Kevin
8. Cinder   à Ella Enchanted (though if you're not a 14-year-old girl, I make no promises on either of these)

And if you haven't read ______ do it. Now.
Previously mentioned #s 1, 2, and 5
Ender's Game
Harry Potter

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

War Brides (4)

Alice Osbourne, Evangeline Fountaine, Elsie Pigeon, Tanni Zaymen, and Frances Falconleigh are five women from very different backgrounds who end up in the small town of Crowmarsh Priors and become life long friends.
            I enjoyed the story, but I felt that the beginning and the end were unnecessary. The novel starts with Tanni Zaymen carting her two grandchildren back to England. Or something? It’s weird and gives this very strange oh no what is she hiding feeling that then got really confusing when it switched to the past.
            “The past” happens in the 1930s, at the beginning of World War II and through most of the war. We are introduced to each of the women one by one. My favorite is Tanni Zaymen, a young Jewish woman living in Germany with her mother, father, and two little twin sisters. Tanni’s parents have realized that Germany is getting to be very unsafe for Jews, and without telling Tanni, constructs a plan to get her out of the country. The twins will follow on the Kindertransport, and hopefully they would follow later. As a mob comes down on their street, Tanni’s family throws her a wedding to a family friend so that she can get out of the country safely.
            I have to say, I have this weird fascination with WWII. Jewish internment camps and all the creepy scientific experiments they did just feel like something straight out of a horror movie, it amazes and disgusts me that that is a real part of world history.
And the end rips you out of the story just when everything is finally really interesting and gives all the reveals a less-exciting tone.
            How can I say it without spoiling the book? Let’s use Harry Potter! What if, at the end of book 7 we think Harry’s dead and then we go straight to the epilogue? And in the epilogue Harry, Hermione, and Ron get together and explain to each other why Harry didn’t actually die and we find out Fred and Tonks and Lupin and everyone died and oh yeah Voldemort has Horcruxes and once we find the last one we can FINALLY kill him! Why would that take you 50 years to figure out?

            So is it my new favorite book? Probably not. Was it bad? Not really. I’d read Atonement instead, but if you already read that then War Brides is ok I guess. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Someday, Someday Maybe (5)

Why do we read books? Is it to learn something? Is it to go on an adventure? Is it to get to know somebody who may not be real but to you are more real than anyone on earth? Or is it something else?
Someday, Someday, Maybe is a new novel by actress Lauren Graham, best known for her roles as Lorelai Gilmore in Gilmore Girls and Sarah Braverman in Parenthood, the first of which is my favorite show that has ever been made in the entire world. Seriously, Freshman year of college I was basically like “this is what you need to know about me: I love coffee, the color pink, Harry Potter, and Gilmore Girls,” that was the sum of my personality in four items. Later it became clear that there was one thing that far surpassed my love of any of these four things...acting. What is this book about? A young actress trying to make it in New York City.

Now there are two ways that me reading this book can go: either it’s amazing, and so inspirational I immediately want to move to New York OR I want to quit acting forever because she gets something that I don’t. In reality, Lauren Graham peered into my soul and wrote a book about all my insecurities and why they are ridiculous.
Franny Banks is a struggling actress trying to make it in New York City in the 90s. She gave herself three years to move to New York and make it as an actress before she would give up and return home…to face the fact that she has no actual skills to enter the job force. We follow her on the adventures and misadventures of trying to balance a job, class, and the bloodthirsty world of auditions.

My favorite parts are when something good happens to Franny and it sends her into a pit of despair because that one good thing is still not the thing that was needed so that she could become a working actress. Yes, it moved her in the right direction, but that can get lost in the shuffle when you’re concerned about your audition and the shoot you wrapped and if you’re ever going to get cast in anything ever again because, face it, your agent probably already forgot about you. And of course, by favorite I mean I think I was actually worrying about Franny’s plight when I left home.

Don’t worry, there’s also a love story. It’s pretty satisfying.
I hated the ending because it meant the book was over. I actually had a hard time starting the next one because I was so involved in Franny’s world
maybe someday I'll end up on a wall like this

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Brilliance (4.5)

I don’t know why everyone isn’t reading this book. Brilliance is basically the book that Michael Crichton would write about the X-men. Several of the reviews I read were like “blah blah blah, it’s basically about the X-men, blah blah blah not creative,” if that’s your criteria, technically Harry Potter wasn’t that groundbreaking. Technically, it’s just a book about a wizard, coming of age, and going on a hero’s journey. Technically that stories been told.

Brilliance, by Marcus Sakey takes place in the modern day of an alternate future, where 1% of people born since 1980 are ‘brilliants.’ Brilliants don’t shoot lasers out of their eyes or control the weather or anything super cool, they’re just really, really smart. And that manifests itself into minor powers. A little girl who can always tell if someone’s lying, a man who can sense patterns in the stock market,  a woman who can go invisible by being where no one is looking, and Nick Cooper (our hero) who can read what people are going to do by the tiniest movement of their muscles. Ok, maybe this isn’t Crichton-level science fiction, but it definitely makes sense.
not that I'm knocking these guys
Nick Cooper is a brilliant working for the government to find and track brilliants, namely John Smith, a terrorist who has killed hundreds already and is working on something even worse…

What I loved about this novel was the social commentary that came along with the action-packed plot. There were news articles, copies of speeches, and even advertisements in between some chapters. Not so many that it distracted from the story, but just enough to create a fully realized world.

It started a bit slow, so don’t let that fool you. I was reading it at the same time as Atonement, which complimented it well since Atonement is all about characters with some action and Brilliance is all about action with some character development. I also finished it in the middle of a thunderstorm so I LITERALLY jumped out of my seat a few times. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Atonement (5)

          I mentioned before that I have a hoarding problem, with my stacks of books everywhere, some cracked open, others half-finished, some laying there for years, possibly forever because I bought it on a whim thinking the subject was interesting. I read it eagerly for 10 pages and then went back to Harry Potter.
Once I have heard of a book and “mean” to read it, it probably goes on a list somewhere (thank God for Goodreads). One of these books is Atonement, which has been on my to-read list since the movie came out in 2007. I am not the biggest fan of Kiera Knightly so casting her in Atonement was basically a death sentence to the book for me, but I heard it was amazing and if that were the case then I could just read the book and I wouldn’t have to bother with Kiera at all!
But I didn’t get it right away, and the longer a book is on my list, the less likely I am to read it. There’s always something new and shiny to catch my attention, and the book grows stale on my shelf. The only way for it to re-gain my attention is if someone mentions it. Fortunately for me, Atonement is one of my friend’s favorite books. So I finally read it.  
            Atonement is simply a work of art. It starts on a summer day in 1934 as we follow 13-year-old Briony Tallis worry about her cousins coming to stay, her newest play, and what exactly her sister is doing in the garden with the servant’s son.
mostly moping
            Briony’s descriptions of everything are fabulous. McEwan crafts a brilliant story around this very young girl and whose misunderstanding of the adult world leads to disaster. After the first half, we see a first-hand view of World War II first through the eyes of a soldier, then a nurse. McEwan moves from a slow summer’s day into the middle of a retreating army and into a busy wartime hospital with effortless prose. Each could be a story unto itself. But altogether, the finished piece is perfect. I don’t know what to tell you except if you haven’t read it yet you should.
Ah, Briony. I love you. I hate you. I want to be you.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (5)

 Well I just started my free trial of Audible. So far I’m pretty excited. Also, so far I haven’t paid for anything so that makes it extra exciting.

What is Audible?
Basically Audible is like Netflix, but for audiobooks. And you keep the book. And you only get (X) number amount (I chose one). So basically you’re just buying audiobooks at a steeply discounted rate because you’re signing on to buy one (or whatever you choose) a month.
I would think it was even cooler if it was more like Netflix/the library and you get one at a time. I realize that the library has this through OverDrive, but I’ve never gotten overdrive to work with audiobooks so either a) I’m an idiot or b) it’s a bad service. (Now I feel my bi-annual need to try it again.)
What I like about it is that you deal in terms of credits. So I’m signed up for one credit a month, 1 audiobook is 1 credit, so if it takes me a little over a month to listen to the audiobook, I still have my 1 saved up. If I don’t listen to audiobooks for a month after that, now I have 2, and then if it gets cold and I sit around knitting and binge-listening to audiobooks, I can blow through those two I have saved up.

Why are you such a geek, Jana?
I have a really hard time running. I get so bored. And I saw this little graphic about people who listen to audiobooks and it reminded me that I should try running with an audiobook. I figured I would probably like it because I loved running with Zombies, Run! but then I realized I was running out of episodes and stopped using it because I wanted to save it for an extra special run (read: I stopped running). So, naturally, the audiobook I chose was World War Z, in sticking with the running-from zombies theme.

I come here to read reviews, not have you try to sell me things
Right, right, sorry. World War Z is written as a history of the zombie war, with many short stories loosely strung together by the researcher, Max Brooks.
And I am loving this in audiobook style. I feel that this is the only way to read this book, actually. The full title is World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. It is meant to be listened to. The voice actors are great, and there’s a teensy bit of soundtrack between chapters.

Normally, I have a hard time with the short story format (as you heard from my This is How You Lose Her review). I just can’t read a string of short stories the same way I can marathon-read a book. It feels weird dipping in and out of characters like that. So I’ll try and set up a system for how to read them, like at bedtime, but it generally falls apart if I haven’t finished it by the end of a week. What’s great about this is I have a system set up, I can listen to it while I’m running or in the car. Hopefully I will run often enough that this works, and the biggest problem is that when I’m done running I want to keep listening to it. And there are so many things you can do while listening to audiobooks! Cleaning! Cooking! All of these things I am pretty bad at doing because you can’t do them while your nose is shoved in a book.

It also helps keep me away from my major vice of sitting and reading the entirety of facebook, which I do a lot, but less when I have a good book to shove my nose into. You can’t read and listen at the same time, though lord knows I’ve tried.


What I really love about World War Z is that you get the adventure of zombies without that really horrifying apocalyptic moments that you get in most zombie movies. The “oh god, they’re going to win, we’re all going to die, and even if we live what’s the point since all we’re going to do for the rest of our miserable existence is keep fighting,” moment. I hate that moment. It is too depressing and stressful. This book is written after the zombie war, telling stories of the survivors. So the voices you hear are people who lived. They’ve seen some really horrifying things, so it’s still kind of terrifying and depressing (I was almost crying during one of my runs), but at least you know that your narrators have survived, and soon you will find out how the zombies were eradicated and humanity was rebuilt. Or whatever happened. I’m only ¼ of the way through the book. You’re right, I shouldn’t write a review on ¼ of a book. Sue me. 

UPDATE: Ok, I didn't actually post this before I finished the audiobook, but I liked what I wrote so I'm just going to post it anyway. All I have to add is that I wish I had binge-listened to it because whenever I "save" something and try not to burn through it even though I want to, I basically stop listening to it or reading it. Also I got OverDrive to work. The library app on my phone is my new best friend. Except if I try to check out an e-book it gives me the stupid non-kindle version which I can't read on my kindle which defeats the whole purpose. But audiobooks work fine. 

Yay! library your technology has caught up with the rest of the world. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Age of Miracles (4)

I’ve been writing a lot about abandoning books. I kept getting bored in the middle and wanting to put it down and move on to something else. This book was different. I found myself constantly wanting to read it but having no real clue as to why. It was cute and interesting but there was no real reason to call it spellbinding. Except one: it was pretty. There were so moments so beautiful that you wanted to live inside the book.

Except you really didn’t. The Age of Miracles premise is that, for reasons unknown, the rotation of the earth slowed. We didn’t gain minutes to the 24-hour day, we gained a whole half-hour. And then an hour, and after a few months the days were 50-hours long. That in itself is a reason to say “Why would I read this book? That makes no sense,” scientifically, no. What it does do is create a world in which 11-year-old Julia grows up.

It’s a quiet apocalypse, (unlike World War Z, which I’ve been listening to on runs and in the car) the world slowly gaining days. At first it seems as though everything can go on as it always did, except that sometimes it’s light when you should be sleeping and sometime’s it’s light during the daytime. Some people yell to the world that the end is near, but others just accept the new normal and continue with their lives: going to school or work, gardening, arguing amongst themselves. But as the daylight hours stretch, the earth begins to change, the days grow hotter and the nights grow colder. Can humanity survive? But more importantly, can Julia navigate puberty amidst this changing world, and will she ever get to go on a date with her neighbor?
If you like young adult novels, read it. If you like somber pretty tales, read it. If you want action, plot, fierce characters or hard sci-fi than this book is not for you.

Happy reading, friends. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Prayer for Owen Meany (5)

This is a post about big, scary, old books. You know the ones. They’ve been sitting on your shelf, slowly gathering dust, bought with good intentions, or to impress someone cute. Maybe you wanted to be just like Rory Gilmore or Hermione Granger and wanted to read everything, but found yourself liking the idea of reading the book a lot more than the book itself.

There is something so satisfying in being able to say “There, I’ve done it. I’ve finished.” And it is especially satisfying when it’s been a long time coming.

This was a long time coming. I started reading A Prayer for Owen Meany when I was called back to be in the play Book-It was performing. This was, oh, October 2011. I read as much as my character, Aunt Martha, was in, but then I got stuck. I got stuck amid the chapter our play was about. There was something about living that story for four hours a day that made me really not want to read them any more. Our Mary was even funnier. I could watch her tomorrow.

I tried again when the play was over. Still no. I put it down. And then I was in the remount the next year and I still hadn’t finished the book. How embarrassing…I re-read the chapters we were doing and finally got to dive into new material. Chapter Eight.

kind of like this...but don't tell John Irving I said that.
A Prayer for Owen Meany was beautiful. It was interesting. But the problem was, I knew what was going to happen. From the liberal hints of my castmates who had done their homework, and the liberal foreshadowing, it wasn’t a matter of what was going to happen, but how. And it was lovely, and so worth it and so satisfying, and surprisingly not depressing when I finally got there.

Once I was reading the book, I liked it. But when I wasn’t reading the book, I had more fun discussing episodes of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones. I enjoyed savoring the book. And I was well-versed enough in the basic themes and character that I didn’t get lost when I put it down. I had three chapters I could recite in my sleep. 
think of Mr & Mrs Eastman just like this
The novel follows Johnny Eastman (father unknown) and his relationship with is best friend Owen Meany.
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was an instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.
 It is an epic of a tale, following the boys from the age of 11 and told by present-day Johnny Eastman. Owen is the kind of best friend who knows exactly what his life's purpose is and who tries to help Johnny figure out a path of his own. Owen wants to know who Johnny's father is, but Johnny isn't sure he wants to know.

Owen knows exactly how he is going to die.

You know what? Just go read it. It took me two years to read all I can remember is the beginning and the end and some really funny parts in the middle. Hester the Molester...I don't even know what to say except I can't wait for you to meet Hester.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling (4.5)

If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past couple of weeks (or perhaps watching television instead of reading book blogs), perhaps you didn’t hear: J.K. Rowling wrote a new book. It was published at the end of April under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Recently it was leaked via twitter that Jo wrote it, so now everyone has to read it.

I’ve heard speculation that Jo leaked it herself because it wasn’t doing well enough or whatever, but according to some of her statements, I don’t buy it. It sold rather well, and had two offers from television producers. If anything it seems as though it was inevitably going to come out because someone was going to want to meet the real Robert Galbraith.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a classic whodunit. Popular model Lula Landry plunges off her balcony to her death, everyone rules it a suicide, but her brother reopens the case by hiring detective Cormoran Strike. At some point you think just about everyone could have done it.

This was everything I could have asked for from a crime novel, with the exception that I could put it down. The detective, Cormoran Strike was interesting, yes, and unique, probably, though I’ve read very few crime novels.

I did not guess the villain, though I rarely ever do, so the final confrontation was a surprise, but I didn’t feel the danger. At no moment was I really afraid for anyone’s life. And in a thriller/mystery/whatever, I feel like I should have been.

I can’t blame Jo for all of this. Honestly, it might be that I’m really in the mood to read some love story and since this book didn’t have one, I just wasn’t that invested. It might have been that this is not really my genre. This could have been the best mystery novel written in a century and I might still not have loved it.
I’ll probably read the sequel. But I won't go to the midnight release.

I'm still upset HP is over. I will never love again