Books read in December 2012

Five books!  Only five books!

For once the “modern analysis” at the end of the book gave me a very interesting insight into the play.  As usual, I enjoyed the performance much more than reading.

The Fault in our Stars
John Green
Matt and I read aloud
John Green makes for good read aloud.

Liar & Spy
Rebecca Stead
Read for Mock Printz
I enjoyed this book, the last I read for the Mock Printz Workshop, but I think it’s not a YA book. In fact, the library agrees with me, shelving it in the Juvenile section.  The prose was lively, the characters interesting.  I even put aside things so I could finish the book, which is always a good sign.  Also, two boy characters.   Always a good thing for the boy readers. 

Memoirs of Hadrian
Marguerite Yourcenar
Read for Kenton Book Group
I did not like this, Sam I Am, I did not like Hade-re-an.  The first person perspective made me feel as if I was trapped on an endless phone call with someone who never let me interrupt his soliloquy and ask clarifying questions.  There was a lot of surface and not much detail.  When I read historical fiction, I like to learn about the historic period in question. Hadrian’s endless blathering meant that I got a glimpse into things I might find interesting, but there was never any follow up on those things.   The book club member who chose the book began by apologizing for choosing it, because, though it is his desert island book, it is not a “book-club” kind of book, not being very linear.

Days of Blood and Starlight
Laini Taylor
Ah, the tricky “middle book” in a series of three where one must build plot, maintain characters, and juggle what happened in the book before this one with what will happen in the book after this one.  Taylor does a good job on all fronts.  We, who don’t have a clear memory to every plot point are looped back in with grace and there is inner struggle between the two ill-fated lovers.  Even friends manage to make the transition to the second book.  All in all, it was a pretty gripping read.  I’m a bit impatient for the third in the series.

Three sentence movie reviews: Promised Land

I’m a great fan of Gus Van Sant, but I’ve noticed that his “blockbuster” style movies tend to wander a bit in the middle and this one was no different, giving me time to contemplate a variety of things.* But even with that meandering, I enjoyed this film: the plot, the acting, the Van Sant trickery of it not really being about the purported topic, but instead being about relationships.  There were a lot of authentic looking locals too, which is important, in my book.

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*such as:

  • What month is it, exactly?  It seems still cold, but kind of spring/no snow.  Is it March?  April?
  • I wonder if the suctioning sound my fancy hot tea mug makes when I press the button to drink is bugging the lady next to me?
  • Well, now that lady next to me is mouth breathing, so I guess if she was annoyed by my mug, we are even.
  • Nice effect of peeling paint on the basketball gym.  I wonder if they had to create that, or if it was there.
  • Where have I seen that Rob guy before?
  • I do enjoy that Rosemary DeWitt.
  • I’m not sure how the bartender could do that many shots and still stand up, let alone work in any sensible fashion.  It seems she should have cut herself off.  Don’t they have bartender training in Pennsylviania?
  • I think “Promise Land” would be a better title than Promised Land.  The former works on a few different levels the latter, not so much.
  • My mom (who was the person sitting next to me who was NOT mouth breathing) even had an observation. She leaned over halfway through and said, “I’m sorry, but  if he’s a farm boy, there’s no way he wouldn’t know how to drive stick.”  Very astute observation.

Three sentence movie reviews: Freaks and Geeks

Perhaps the most perfect TV series ever made about high school which manages to encompass in 18 episodes what most shows don’t manage to convey over years of airtime.  This was just as good as the first time I watched it and I marveled again how each character–adults and teenagers–was fully formed and incredibly nuanced.  I also fell in love with Busy Phillips’ amazing portrayal of concrete-covered-marshmallow Kim Kelly.

Cost:  Free from library
Where watched:  at home.

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*I feel it important to note that the teachers in this series are mostly of the grumpy and put-upon variety, not the “let’s make an inspiring movie” variety.