Extra Books – March 26 to March 31

  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Published: 1883
    • Genre: Adventure
    • Why I picked it up: Fan of Muppet Treasure Island since I was little (Tim Curry!!), never read the book
    • Rating: 3 stars
    • Challenges: TBR Double Dare
    • My Thoughts:
      • Yes, somehow Muppet Treasure Island is one of my favourite movies. I used to watch it all the time as a kid, renting it at the movie store. When I saw it on DVD at HMV when I was in grade six, I bought it. I still love watching it, it’s just so funny and it’s got pirates and I love Jim Hawkins and Silver played by Tim Curry, he’s fantastic.
      • I wasn’t really expecting too many similarities between the novel and the Muppet movie but I was expecting a slightly more similar plot line. Compared to the 90s film, this book from the 1800s seemed a little flat. Silver was great, and I still liked Hawkins. But the style just didn’t really stir up a lot of excitement for me, despite the subject matter.
      • I mostly read this book because I felt obligated to. Classic literature just isn’t really my thing :/ But I appreciate the origins of one of my favourite movies 😉

      Extra Books – March 19 to 25

      • Schott’s Quintessential Miscellany by Ben Schott
        • Published: 2011
        • Genre: Non-fiction/trivia
        • Why I picked it up: Fan of the series
        • Rating: 4 stars
        • Challenges: TBR Double Dare
        • My Thoughts:
          • I first in love with Schott’s Miscellanies when my mom bought my Schott’s Food and Drink Miscellany. As soon as I found out there were other books in the series, I made it my mission to pick them up. I own: Schott’s Original Miscellany, Schott’s Food and Drink Miscellany, Schott’s Sporting, Gaming and Idling Miscellany, Schott’s Miscellany 2009 (American) and Schott’s Almanac 2010 (British, signed, I picked it up in Foyle’s when I was in London :)). I was very excited when I heard there would be a new book as I was disappointed there wasn’t a Schott’s Miscellany 2011. 
          • This isn’t a really a book you just ‘read straight through’ – however, I always like to do just that the first time I pick up a book. I just love reading snippet after snippet, and going straight through ensures I don’t miss anything. Still, I know I will enjoy picking up the book and opening it to a random page in the future.
          • The books themselves are very lovely things. Minimal, crisp, well-designed book covers. Each book has its own ‘colour’, the colour of the ribbon, accent on the dustjacket and the book itself – this one is purple (I love purple~ Haha). The fonts and small icons used within the book are very ‘smart’ and crisp. What is most impressive, though, is the layout of the pages. All the different pieces fit neatly together like a puzzle, no space is wasted. The organizer of this book deserves much praise!
          • Everywhere in this book, not just the ‘meat’ of it, has some fun bit of information to offer. For example, the joke about indexes at the end of the index or the ‘note on sauces’ following the ‘note on sources’. I eat up stuff like this. The last page, ‘An Authorial Miscellany’ was fun (my favourite word to describe this book XP). 
          • One minor issue I have with the series that was slightly more noticeable for me in this volume than the others is that sometimes I just don’t know what is being talked about. For example, ‘Legal Animus’. Maybe other people know what this is? Maybe British people? Maybe I’m just ignorant? But there were a few tidbits that I just understand like that one…
          • Some of my favourite tidbits:
            • Learning the words antiscii and periscii (page 43)
            • Postman’s Park, where plaques are put up for those who died while rescuing others (Soloman Galaman caught my eye – Aged 11. Died of injuries. September 6 1901. After saving his little brother from being run over in Commercial Street. ‘Mother I Saved him but I could not save myself’.) (page 54-55)
            • Celebrity body parts auctioned off (Napoleon’s penis, whyyyyyyy?!) (page 57)
            • Chronology of Crayola crayons (oh my goodness, crayons are my favourite material object, they are so beautiful and so many shades and I just loved this chart (page 65)
            • Types of biblios (page 101)
            • On Journeys (page 107)
            • And many more…those were just ones I noted down at the time, as particularly interesting or odd or good for inspiring a story (one of the reasons why I enjoy these books – they are very inspirational for me on a creative level)
          •  I laughed at the ‘~Special Existential Supplement~’, nine pages describing various stages of life.

          Alexander McCall Smith – The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

            Author: Alexander McCall Smith
          Title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
          Series: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

          Published: 1999
          Publisher: Anchor Books
          Length: 256 pages
          Genre: Fiction/mystery
          Why I picked it up: Read A Guide to the Bird of East Africa; this was recommended as similar
          Rating: 3.5 stars
          Challenges: TBR Double Dare
          Buy:  IndieBound Chapters | Check your local bookstore!

          Hooray, this is my sort of light-reading. At first glance a fun little book, but there’s really more to it than that (but not too much more). ;P As I mentioned above, I had read A Guide to the Birds of East Africa a couple of years ago (!! how time flies…). I have no idea why I picked that one up, but it was such a sweet little story about a little old man in Africa who has a crush on this little old lady but then this other fancy old man decides he wants to ask the lady to the dance too so they have a bird watching contest to decide who can ask her out. It was a light, fun, enjoyable read with thoughtful and deeper passages throughout, keeping the book grounded and realistic and even dark at times. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency was recommended as being similar, so I happily put it on my TBR list, not picking it up until now! The two books were indeed quite similar in intended audience (I suspect), themes and writing style, which is a good thing because that’s what I was hoping for. 

          What I loved most about this book, what kept it nicely rounded, I think, is that it had a lot of different moods and perspectives throughout. Of course, Mma Ramotswe perspective is the primary one and that is very enjoyable to read. But, what I liked is that it wasn’t all just lighthearted starting-a-detective-agency struggles, there were quite a few serious/sad bits. For example:

          And she thought of that moment when, not even supported by Note, who had made some excuse, she had laid the tiny body of their premature baby, so fragile, so light, into the earth and had looked up at the sky and wanted to say something to God, but couldn’t because her throat was blocked with sobs and no words, nothing, would come.

          I’m not saying I like my stories to be full of doom and gloom…what I like are sudden bursts of emotion. I felt disappointed and sad on page 138. There are happier examples of this, where I actually cheered out loud, but those would be bigger spoilers, so you’ll have to find themselves out for yourself ;P

           One aspect of the book I enjoyed that I wasn’t expecting to was the writing style. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed, I wasn’t expecting any great writing, I was reading the book for more story than style but I was (and here I get to use my favourite phrase…) pleasantly surprised in that manner. The writing was creative yet simple and funny and very smooth, flowing. Any sample of dialogue demonstrates this, and as well, the chapter on ‘the boy’ is very well-written, for example. Here are two favourite passages of mine (each paragraph is a separate quote, from different pages, unrelated, etc.), demonstrating the thoughtfulness and well-written..ness of what I’ve been trying to explain:

          And she thought, I am just a tiny person in Africa, but there is a place for me, and for everybody, to sit down on this earth and touch it and call it their own. She waited for another thought to come, but none did, and so she crept back into the hut and the warmth of the blankets on her sleeping mat.

           It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems o life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin. That brought you down to earth. That gave you a reason for going on. Pumpkin.

          It is probably important to note that I am not the target demographic for either of these books. I honestly do not know why I ever picked them up but I am glad I did. They are probably intended for older middle-aged women, perhaps 40+. I am 20 years old. I am a modern Internet girl and I read voraciously, why would I spend my time on these books (is perhaps something somebody might think about me). Do not be fooled! If you are looking for a good, decent read check out these books. ‘Not just for middle-aged women’, bah, I’m having trouble getting my point across…

          Now I have finished writing this and I realize some bits sound weird and that is because I went to see The Hunger Games at midnight last night and have not had proper sleep since then and I should have been writing essays instead but I should go to bed now. Summary: I enjoyed this book, it was refreshing and different and bittersweet and adorable and I am glad there are more books in the series to read.

          J.R.R. Tolkien – The Two Towers

            Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
          Title: The Two Towers

          Published: November 1954
          Publisher: Allen & Unwin (HarperCollins)
          Length: 439 pages (greatly varies; this is for a trade paperback edition)
          Genre: High fantasy
          Why I picked it up: Reading the trilogy
          Rating: 4 stars
          Challenges: TBR Double Dare
          Buy:  IndieBound Chapters | Check your local bookstore!

          I don’t really have a lot to say on The Two Towers, but as I actually finished the book today and not Sunday, I wanted to do a proper book post. I suspect I will have a lot more to say once I’ve finished The Return of the King and can reflect upon the trilogy as a whole, as it was initially meant to be taken.

          Probably what I admired most about Book Three and Four was the characterization. Dear Sam! He was admirable in the movies, but in the book you get an even better sense of what he’s going through, his dedication to Frodo and just his overall personality. He’s shaping up to be one of my favourite characters, in large part due to the fact that he’s written so well. I liked how admirably Faramir was portrayed. Banter between Legolas and Gimli and the other characters was enjoyable.

          Extra Books – March 5 to 11

          Hmm, my last four posts on books have all been ‘extra books’ posts…my weeks are busy now with kendo, classes and tutoring so I’ve been finishing up books on Saturday/Sunday, but I’m still writing as much as I would had I written this as a ‘full’ book post (and you’re probably wondering why I don’t just do that, it’s ‘cos I’m a sucker for things staying the same and orderly and proper. A full book post on Sunday?! *gasp* Never! But maybe I’ll rethink how I do this for school next year…no point in changing it up with only a few weeks left :P)

          • Perdido Street Station by  China Mieville
            • Published: 2000 
            • Genre: Steampunk
            • Why I picked it up: The book I got when I did NPR’s scifi/fantasy ‘what to read next’ map
            • Rating: 4 stars
            • Challenges: TBR Double Dare
            • My Thoughts:
              • I can’t think of a book I’ve read that could be classified as steampunk (until this one). Perhaps Neverwhere comes closest? I’ve been interested in the steampunk genre since I first came across it in high school – mostly the art and aesthetics of it, I loved seeing paintings and steampunk inventions (the coolest I ever saw was a great steampunk computer mouse, it had an awesome design). Anyhow. Now I can finally say I’ve read a work of steampunk literature!
              • One of the things I noticed pretty early on was that Mieville uses some crazy words here and there. It’s nothing overwhelmingly or too frequent, in fact, now that I’ve read the whole book it’s pretty rare…but there are maybe a dozen times when I saw a word and went ‘What the heck is that! I’ve never heard anything like it’, then I would turn on my Merriam-Websiter app and look it up. This happens ocassionally when I’m reading, particularly when I read older works, but it’s never happened as frequently as with this book. Some of the words I hadn’t heard: pusillanimous, bathetic, obstreperous, priapic, desquamate, atavism and insouciance.
              • I loved the idea of the Ribs. When it was first mentioned that a character was looking for the ribs, clearly a landmark of sorts, I wondered what sort of building would get that nickname. Turns out, the Ribs are actually Ribs – mammoth, huge, enormous ribs reaching out of the ground of some ancient creature that no one has been able to identify. A pretty neat idea, that.
              • I was surprised to find a number of passages that were rather emotional for me (a similar experience to Artemis Fowl). I felt choked up and proud when Derkhan was communicating with Ben. I felt queasy and uncomfortable when the slake-moths claimed certain victims. I felt heartbroken by what happened to Lin. It’s hard to get me to emote when reading a book, so this was a neat and unexpected experience.
              • What’s best about Mieville’s storytelling is that he (usually) knows just how much to share, just how much I like to read. Some people may find he expands too much, but I enjoyed reading a few pages on what Pengefinchess did after she was no longer needed, for example. Note, however, that I did use the word usually there – most segments are intriguing, but a handful just really dragged on for me (notably the hand lingers and putting out the cable [although if the segments about laying out the cable were condensed then it would have felt awkward given the previous establishment of expansion. or something.]). All is forgiven, though, in a book this length – I can put up with a few slow parts.
              • A good solid read. A book I enjoyed reading in bunches of 30 to 100 pages at a time. Always holding my interest but not screaming to be devoured. Honestly, how I felt when I read this book is how I feel when I read Artemis Fowl: I don’t need to – not that I didn’t, I just didn’t feel the ‘pressure’ to –  learn anything, feel anything, gain writing insight from it, it’s just a great book to read and enjoy and delve into. I didn’t feel like this wasn’t real (as I often feel, but that’s just fine with me), or was a real world somewhere that was created by an author (as I feel with the Lord of the Rings), I felt like I was reading a ‘true story’ told by a friend.  Rarely do I find a book like this, just a good book, a good read. I’m always gaining something when I read a book, but it’s nice to have one just to read. Not that one way is preferable over another. Just sayin’. If you know what I mean, you’ll know what I mean 😉