Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Review: The Uncommon Reader

My sisters and I are beginning our own little private book club. We are all readers, some of us enthusiastically avid readers, and one sister suggested we start out with a little book called "The Uncommon Reader". 
Photo courtesy of Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads: "A deliciously funny novella that celebrates the pleasure of reading. When the Queen in pursuit of her wandering corgis stumbles upon a mobile library  she feels duty bound to borrow a book. Aided by Norman, a young man from the palace kitchen who frequents the library, Bennett describes the Queen's transformation as she discovers the liberating pleasures of the written word. With the poignant and mischievous wit of The History Boys, England's best loved author revels in the power of literature to change even the most uncommon reader's life."
After reading the first chapter, I thought I would really like it, but overall the book was disappointing. I wanted to like it more than I did. There were dozens of references to various authors and books that I had never heard of nor read, and it's packed with jargon specific to Britain, the Royalty and British politics, which I also did not understand, nor did I have the patience to go look it all up. 

And there are a couple of shockingly crude sentences, which are completely out of place in a book that, almost entirely, follows around the Queen, who is proper and classy throughout. One such is a completely unnecessary f-bomb, uttered by one of her advisors (outside her hearing), and the other is a vulgar statement said over the phone by some other leader-type person to an advisor. I was suprised and, frankly, annoyed that an otherwise mild read was peppered with trash. 

The crudity aside, though, the book just doesn't have a lot going for it. The story, while charming at first, grows tedious. I am as into reading as the Queen becomes in the story, so I totally related to the descriptions of her feeling like neglecting everything else, and wanting to read more than complete her tedious dutiful daily schedule. 

Her experiences as a reader, and her evolution into a more thoughtful, in-touch Queen was fine, and moderately interesting, but there just wasn't enough story to keep me interested.

Luckily, it is a short book and I was able to plow through it in two afternoons. If it hadn't been selected for a book club, though, I would never have finished it. 

Too bad. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Review: "Ruins"

I jumped right into this second book in the "Pathfinder" books by Orson Scott Card, after only a couple of days had passed since I finished the first book. I still think Card is an incredible author, but this one wasn't as good as the first. Good, not great. The story moves forward slowly, as Rigg and his companions travel to a couple of new "wallfolds" on their planet, and there was an awful lot of whining and complaining and speculating and just a lot of blah-blah-blah about their feelings and their worries and their thoughts. The first book had some such, but not quite to the extent of this one. I will read the next one, and I do still think this is a compelling series-- in spite of my criticisms, I couldn't put it down-- but I am hopeful the next one will have more action and less bickering and useless chatter.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: Pathfinder

Oh man, is my mind blown. Again. By Orson Scott Card. Again. Writer of the innovative modern classic "Ender's Game", Card has written some very good books over the years. I love a good WOW book, and Card certainly delivers!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Triple Spooky TV Tour

The other morning, on the way to work, a local entertainment reporter was doing a bit on the radio about “gateway” episodes to TV shows you may have missed or not thought you would like. These episodes, supposedly, were universal enough that you could get a feel for the show without taking the time to get to know the backstories and characters and such.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Two Adorable Children's Books

These two books are just too awesome NOT to share. Or... to NOT share... something like that. It is grammar day, I think I heard somewhere, and if my brain wasn't so tired from the Mondayness of it all, I might know the correct phraseology. In the meantime...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Unexpected Art Pleasure

Tonight we finally watched the Blu-Ray of "Hotel Transylvania" and while the movie is amusing and has a few good laughs, it's predictable stuff in the same vein as "Monsters, Inc"-- humans are rumored to be terrifying and cruel to monsters, one comes into their world and mayhem ensues, after which they learn that not all humans are horrible beasts. It's cute, formulaic but entertaining enough. And it was nice to finally have a movie the whole family could watch again-- it's been a while since there was something all of us could sit down for together.

But the very best part of the entire showing was the concept art featured during the end credits. Some of the pieces are absolutely breathtaking! I wish I could buy prints to hang in my someday-will-have office. I loved them! My favorites are those that do not feature the characters, with the exception of a couple with silhouettes. Incredible!