Tag Archives: books

Joni Mitchell's Blue – A Perfect Album; Bong Joon Ho's Parasite – Best Film of the Year; Nordic Crime Fiction- Smilla's Sense of Snow

Things I’m into right now!

“What makes a perfect record perfect?”

I remember the first time I heard a Joni Mitchell song. It was “Both Sides Now” – I came upon it directly after listening to Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” for the first time, which is as it should be, and a story of music and magical discovery all its own. What I remember about “Both Sides Now” is that it was one of the first songs to give me that sense that all great songs do: that is has always existed, that I was already aware of its existence, and that when I heard it, synapses in my brain fired to make this unknown thing instantly familiar, recognized, remembered – and loved. All of which is a long way to say: read this article – Anatomy of a Perfect Album: On Joni Mitchell’s Blue [Lithub]. “Both Sides Now” isn’t from Blue – “River” is, which is another classic, and a Christmas song, shot through with a gorgeous yet assenting wistfulness that sweeps you along its rich turns and delicate melancholy like the river of the title. Mitchell teaches us how to embrace loneliness as a friend rather than an enemy. “Only a phase, these dark café days.”

 

Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite placed first in the Indiewire’s critics poll for 2019, which polled 304 movie critics from around the world to pick the best movies and performances of the year. I loved Parasite, but the fact that it’s the pick for best movie of the year really speaks to the paucity of transcendent or even brilliant films this year. The movie is brilliant, but flawed, and it’s not even among Joon Ho’s two best films (of which one would certainly be the scorching, unforgettable Mother). The 50 Best Movies of 2019, According to 304 Film Critics [IndieWire]

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YA Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Another one bites the dust! By that I mean, yet another mediocre YA novel I can add to my “one and done” pile.

It started out so well: a very strong voice in the form of first-person protagonist Mare Barrow, a snarky thief struggling to keep herself and her family afloat in a class-driven, oppressive society. The world is what I’d describe as fantasy-lite with a few steampunk elements – people have elemental powers, but it’s recognizably a human world with a quasi-feudal structure, and steampunk comes in with the inclusion of several machines – a bicycle, a robotic-esque war machine, and airships.

Society is divided into two classes: the ruling class “Silvers”, who have all the power and money, and the working class “Reds”, who are mostly servants, tradespeople, and conscripted soldiers. Silvers claim to be gods, and are certainly superhuman – each is born with an ability to control the world around – some can control iron, others fire, water, and other elements, and a few can control people’s minds. Their blood itself runs silver. Reds, on the other hand, have no abilities, and their blood is red. It’s a world in which your fate is ruled by your genetic background and, quite literally, your blood.

Aveyard, like most YA authors, attempts snark, and unlike most, succeeds – Mare’s occasional comebacks and insults are genuinely funny and witty. The plot is fast-paced, the world is reasonably inventive, and the first half is very strong. In the second half, however, the ongoing romance is really phoned in – an epic romance is conceived out of literally about five brief interactions, and then a MAJOR plot point is hung upon it. Some authors suffer from the misconception that you can slap the label “prince” on someone, have him be sympathetic to a heroine twice, and every reader for a thousand miles will think he’s the second coming of Darcy crossed with Edward Cullen. Neither of Mare’s suitors *quite* leap into reality; combine Maven and Cal and you’d have one fully realized male character/romantic interest.

The undercooked romance is followed by a secondary plot point that was both wildly predictable – I saw it coming the entire novel, because this is how young adult novels go – and also extraordinarily poorly conceived and unconvincing. giphy

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I Hated This Book Review: We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

we'll always have summer

We’ll Always Have Summer, Jenny Han

I felt slightly nauseous after finishing this. The Summer Series is a trilogy of bestselling young adult contemporary romances from Jenny Han, and this is the finale. I enjoyed though was irritated by the first, skimmed through the second, and then hit THIS.

The thought of thousands of impressionable teenage girls gulping this up makes me see RED. It’s romantically bankrupt, a novel that’s downright destructive in how it portrays romantic relationships, what girls should look for, and what constitutes healthy behaviour or interactions. It flies wildly in the face of every bit of hard-won knowledge we’ve gained about what makes marriages and relationships work and last, and as such, it’s INFURIATING.

Because it is a book about marriage. It ends with one.

It also tells you to be with the boy who makes your heart flutter, even if he has blown hot and cold with you your entire life, even if after dating you for a very brief span he dumps you, even if every single one of your friends and family are united in saying how badly he’s treated you. Marry HIM because you feel a gravitational pull and fascination with him and you just can’t quite get over it.

Oh, and break up with the funny, kind guy (his brother) whom you genuinely fell deeply in love with, dated for two years, and agreed to marry, the boy you work seamlessly with as a team, laugh with, and enjoy doing everything from ordering food to running errands to apartment-hunting with, and have a giant amount of tenderness and affection for. yeah, forget HIM. What terrible life-partner material. AWFUL.

Never read this. I’d gladly ban it from the hands of all and sundry teen girls because with its compelling prose it will tell them the opposite of reality re: romantic relationships.

Poem: EVERYTHING’S GOING TO BE OKAY

reading illustration

(illustration by sososimps)

EVERYTHING’S GOING TO BE OKAY

I’m going to write one of those novels you can’t
put down. The kind where you don’t know what’s
going to happen, and you want to know what’s
going to happen, so you sneak the book into the
bathroom to get a few pages in while your wife
thinks you’re brushing your teeth or showering,
or you take it to work and hope your workstation
walls are high enough to keep the book secret.

read the rest

David Ebenbach, Stirring

Ode to Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking

Way out at the end of a tiny little town was an old overgrown garden, and in the garden was an old house, and in the house lived Pippi Longstocking. She was nine years old, and she lived there all alone. She had no mother and no father, and that was of course very nice because there was no one to tell her to go to bed just when she was having the most fun, and no one who could make her take cod liver oil when she much preferred caramel candy.

Pippi Longstocking. A forever classic and a book that, along with Brian Jacques’ Redwall and Roald Dahl’s Matilda, encapsulates childhood for me, and even thousands of others. The rollicking, carefree, care-filled, complex elasticity of childhood where there aren’t any lines or boundaries, where everything is immensely fluid, adventure lasts forever, umbrellas, apples, rain, chocolate, Caribbean islands, forgotten gardens, and old cupboards are equally magical and the most ordinary thing can turn into pure gold. Pippi is purest adventure in its purest form, in the same way Redwall is warmth, Matilda is cleverness, and The Secret Garden is magic.

Unstoppable, redheaded Pippi Longstocking lives alone in a tiny town, eats whatever she likes without ever getting a stomachache, and teams up with the children next door to go on wild adventures that include pirates and islands and everything a child, or adult’s heart, could dream. Own this book my loves. Go buy it on Amazon for 6 bucks (edition pictured above because this girl did). And if you haven’t read it yet, buy it, read on a long winter day after another day of office work, or on a slow humid summer day when the island seems to fall out of the pages of the book into your lap. Read, and love.

The Thorn of Emberlain Book Cover

thorn of emberlain gentleman bastard book cover

The official cover for Scott Lynch’s new book has been released! The Gentleman Bastard series varies a lot in quality; the first two (The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies) were swiftly-paced, funny, and very, very entertaining, while the third, The Republic of Thieves, meanders so much that after a month I have still not been able to get past the first few chapters. But this fantasy series about a trickster thief and con artist and sometimes his band of scheming cohorts is one of the better reads in the genre out there, so I’m excited at the announcement of this book, particularly since war could be just what the series needs to inject a blast of energy and urgency. Book is projected to release in spring 2015. P.S. If you don’t follow Scott Lynch on Tumblr yet, you should.

 

Caffeinated Links: Non-White Disney Princesses, Sci Fi YA Books, and Poldark Trailer

disney princesses art

Disney POC princesses rt dmolech

Oh the Books did a wonderful periodic table of Sci-Fi YA reads.

Trailer for BBC’s new epic 8-part miniseries Poldark starring Aidan Turner and based on the novels by Winston Grahm. Ross Poldark returns from the War to his beloved Cornwall to find his world in ruins.

Pop Culture Love Letter: Books, Kdramas, and more I’m Excited for in 2015

books kdrama paper towns collage

Books

  • Queen of Fire, Anthony Ryan (Raven’s Shadow trilogy)- July 2015
  • Doors of Stone, Patrick Rothfuss (Kingkiller Chronicles) – 2015
  • Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4), Lisa Kleypas. Kleypas is one of the reigning queens of American chick lit, and her Travis Family series is her best: lightning-quick plots, a depth of character development and emotional complexity that’s rare in the genre, and giddy romance. I generally engulf these in one sitting and cannot wait for this next one
  • Vanishing Girls, Lauren Oliver – March 2015 – Oliver writes incisive, heady YA romance and sci fi, this should be another engrossing read
  • God Help the Child Toni Morrison- April 2015 – A mother learns about the damage adults do to children and the choices children make as they grow up to suppress, express, or overcome their shame.
  • The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro- Set in Arthurian England, Ishiguro’s first novel since Never Let Me Go follows an elderly, ailing couple making a journey to their son’s village.

Music

  • Wilder Mind, Mumford and Sons’ third album, dropping May 4th

Kdrama

  • Jeju Island Gatsby. The Hong sisters, who write some of the most addicting, funny, character-driven dramas of the past ten years and are pretty much the reigning queens of dramaland as far as fandom, have another drama out in May 2015. We don’t know cast or plot yet but we do know they’re pairing up with production director Park Hong-kyun, who worked with them on my favorite of their dramas, Best Love
  • Falling for Innocence – a drama with Kim So Yeon and Jung Kyung Ho? I am on this like a rabbit to carrots. Jung Kyung Ho is an investor looking for revenge against his uncle, who took over the family company and caused the death of his father when he was a boy. Kim So Yeon is the woman he falls in love with (there’s also apparently some nonsense about him getting a heart transplant and his new heart “remembering” Kim So Yeon’s character)

Film

  • Insurgent – March
  • Fast and Furious 7 – April 3
  • Far From the Madding Crowd – May 1
  • Age of Ultron – May 1

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Book Love

Books let the light in – Coffeegirl

music and writingrt

walden book photo

rt

Book photography with typewriter

rt Ursula Uriarte

   -Love, C

CoffeeLetter: Peanut butter noodles, rain on the docks, new spring books

Coffeeletter 2

 

The CoffeeLetter is out! This is a once-every-two-months newsletter I send to blog followers; view this one here and subscribe to get the next one. Cheers!

 

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