Archive for February, 2012

February 29, 2012

The Obligatory Oscar Post.

As I type right now I’m sitting in the lobby of a beautiful hotel in Berkeley, California, and I can see the rollicking waters of the bay lapping playfully against the boats in the marina. I’m also drinking a Peet’s Coffee Raspberry Mocha, which has a startlingly refreshing flavor. Now that you know all of these useless facts about my life, and what I’m doing (it’s like i’m asking for stalkers, only i’m not, really…please don’t stalk me) on to the fun of today.

Since Hugo cleaned up at the Oscars’ I figured I would do a quick tribute to the often horrifying genre of books that have been adapted to screen. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movies, but sometimes, actually most of the time, the written word should stay as it’s written, and not be bogged down by visuals.

First up: The Golden Compass
I know I know, I already talked about Phillip Pullman this week, but one of the first examples of a absolutely shitty  reincarnation of a book is The Golden Compass. Don’t get me wrong, not everything about that film was horrifying, the special effects they used to create the Daemons, the Fighting Bears, and even the Steampunk London that Pullman had penned so eloquently were, brilliant. It was everything else about that movie that I (and the general public) despised. Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen the movie, well go for it. It’s just not very good. but it’s always fun to watch and see how other people see things that you’ve read.
Golden Compass Trailer

Then there’s one I actually ADORE: Children of Men
The original  novel by P.D. James paints an amazing portrait of a fictional future in which the human racecannot bear children, and though the movie does the same, it really is just an adaptation. There are bits that are so far from the orignal storyline that it renders the movie unrecognizable from the novel it was derived from. However the movie can stand on it’s own as a separate interpretation of P.D. James original idea. I’m actually in love with this movie, and I’ve seen about a dozen or more times.
Children of Men Trailer

February 26, 2012

Happy Spring Break!

Well, at least happy spring break to me! In honor of my spring break, and my extensive travel plans, here are some awesome books to read while you are also on break, or just lazing about your house, or plain old procrastinating from doing something actually important (like I am right now).

So first off we have the marvelous Scott Westerfeld. Anything by him is a treat to read, but right now I’m partial to his Leviathan Series, which I reviewed last year, and also the Uglies Series. Which I havent reviewed but always reread on long flights. 

Then there’s the always awesome His Dark Materials Series by Phillip Pullman. Granted it’s a little dark, but there’s still that uplifting story of Lyra and her journey to love, and her mother’s journey to eventual redemption (I never did like her father). I also tend to overlook the sub-plot of atheism, because when I was 10 that was too complicated. I liked to focus on the daemons, and here is where I teach you a valuable lesson: Talking animals are awesome no matter how old you are.

I’m also partial to reading mysteries while on the road, and my favorites involve either sassy heroines with equally sassy cats, (but not talking cats that’s just odd) or recipe’s for pretty much anything. So it’s not strange at all that I love the Joanne Fluke series about Hannah Swensen, a baker who gets tangled up in murderous shenanigans in her hometown of Lake Eden Minnesota. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is the first in the series, and a great read for traveling. 

Last, but not least by any means, is the Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins. If you’ve read it,vacation is a good time to read it again. If you haven’t well, if you have any sort of plane ride coming up you’ll devour them (but not in a literal sense, that might be bad for your health).

Well good luck on your journey, and May the odds be ever in your favor.

February 16, 2012

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

So last night I was just innocently scrolling through my twitter feed before bed and something popped up about a book called Scarlet.I quickly made the connection to Robin Hood and hoped that’s what the book was about. I’m obsessed with Robin Hood. I have been since I was little girl and saw the cartoon movie with the foxes who were Robin and Maid Marian. So you can see why I was excited from the get-go. When I read the intro to the review and discovered that the book was indeed a re-imagining of the Robin Hood tale from Will Scarlet’s point of view; I ordered the e-book within 10 minutes and started reading.

On the Left is BBC’s Robin, and on the Right is Cartoon Fox Robin. I couldn’t resist posting these.

Written in vernacular that is reminiscent of British commoners speak from the time, the writing reminded me of the Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce. This story however centers around Will Scarlet- Robin Hood’s best friend and confidant in classic retellings of the story. However Will is not man in Gaughen’s version. Her gender is kept a secret from the townspeople who refer to her as Will; while Robin’s band knows the truth of her gender and call her Scarlet because of her penchant for attaching Scarlet ribbons to the ends of her daggers. In fact the entire merry band of thieves is different from other retellings. For one, they’re all young, Robin being the eldest at 21 and though they have some of the typical characteristics of the original characters (Scarlet is quiet and secretive, John is a large somewhat womanizing woodsman, Much is a handless man who does what he can, and Robin is tortured by his past). Gaughen gives them all rich personalities that compliment their stories. Over the course of the novel you get to know each character in a more complete way than with previous retellings, and by the end you want so many things to happen for Scarlet, Robin, John and Much. It’s one of those stories that just jumps right into the action, and as a result it’s hard to put down. If you’re like me, and you already know the characters, you’re just given a more complete version of their lives but if you’re new to the Robin Hood world. You’ll fall in love with it.

Lastly, if you want to learn about the author, she did a lovely interview on one of my favorite sites Pub(lishing) Crawl.

Buy Scarlet on AbeBooks and support indie stores everywhere!

February 13, 2012

Reading Tips + Recipe.

While I’m in school I don’t have a lot of spare time for fun reading between homework, extracurriculars, and trying to spend time with friends.  So I have a way of making sure I get in normal books in addition to everything else! I read while I walk to class, when I’m at the gym,  and in that wind-down period before I go to sleep. Mostly though I read while I cook since I’m fortunate enough to have an on campus apartment. So yesterday I was reading while I did some nice de-stressing baking, and I decided to post one of my favorite recipes so ya’ll can do the same.

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 Stick salted or unsalted butter (your choice) softened
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
3 Squares Baking White Chocolate (High Quality)
2(ish) tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup of Cold Milk

Makes 14 cupcakes.

Preheat Oven to 350

In a small bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Then set it aside.

In a large bowl Cream the butter and sugar together, before adding in eggs one at a time. Then Chop the White Chocolate squares and microwave them till melted (it takes about 2 minutes depending on your microwave, but make sure you don’t burn them!) Stir the White Chocolate into the egg, butter and sugar mixture. Then stir in the vanilla extract. Now it’s time to stir in the flour mixture. Mix it into the butter mixture in parts, so you don’t overheat your mixer, or hurt your hand (if you’re old school). Then stir in the cold milk.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or till golden brown.

Cream Cheese Frosting
16oz Cream Cheese (two 8oz bricks, or one large brick)  softened
1 stick butter softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (sifted or unsifted)

Blend together Cream Cheese and Butter till creamy. Then blend in the 2 cups of confectioners sugar. Taste it, then if you don’t find it sweet enough add in the extra 1/2 a cup of sugar. To make the frosting look brilliant, put the frosting in a plastic bag and cut a hole in the corner and use that to frost. It’s the poor mans piping bag.

Let the cakes cool for about 30 minutes. Frost and Voila! You’re done.

I bet you’re wondering how I read while I baked this huh? Well, I prop my book against various kitchen things and bend it back super far so it stays on on page, or I read on my kindle. :]

February 9, 2012

Things in Bookstores that Frustrate me.

In my spare non-college time, I spend a somewhat freakish amount of time in bookstores; mainly because I work for one. So I have a few bookstore related pet peeves, and I felt like sharing them.

Urban Fiction
They’re supposedly stories that are set in a city landscape, are really just somewhat stereotypical stories about African-American people. I recently read an article over on mediabistro about how the Urban-Fiction or African-American fiction sections in bookstores help sales of these authors. From my experience the only time I ever see people looking at those books is when they’re saying “Are these books for black people or can I read them too?” (That is an actual customer statement). Then when African-Americans do want an urban fiction novel, they look somewhat embarrassed at the fact that they have go to a section  that is clearly labeled “African-American/Urban Fiction” Like those two ideas are one and the same. Zadie Smith (White Teeth) and Toni Morrison (The Bluest Eye) are placed in the Literary Fiction section, while authors like Zane (who did the mediabistro interview) and Relentless Aaron are put in urban fiction, and they mostly write erotica and romance that just happen to have african-american characters who speak in ebonics or in slang. I don’t see why publishers, and bookstores don’t just separate those sections based off the story content.

February 6, 2012

Books! Books! Books!

This month I’m planning on reviewing several things, and it might be easier if I make a list, so that I keep on track.

First off is the follow-up to Demi-Monde.

Then I think I’ll go for The Revisionists.

The Mirage (out tomorrow!) will hopefully be next when I get my hands on it.

Also Bedbugs, which I’ve been meaning to read for months.

It’ll be a fun, steampunky, ghosty, alternate reality, ball of wibbly-wobbly timeywimey awesomeness in books. :]

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