Friday, 26 July 2013

Bookclub! Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

   I picked Bitten by Kelley Armstrong for this month's bookclub for various reasons. It is a type of romance that I don't often read, and I have read that it is a good example of the paranormal romance genre.



   I liked a lot of this book, but I did have some problems. I liked that the heroine saves the hero. I liked that the violence and the werewolves are not sugar coated. Particularly in the beginning the change to being a werewolf does not sound good, or feel to the heroine good. I love that cover by the way, really evocative.

   I liked that the violence isn't to me gratuitous, it serves a point. I also liked that the theme of exploring what it is to be human and our animal instincts. It seems trite to make the observation that it is exploring the way we can all like that primal side of us. I felt that is what Elena is struggling with in the book. There is a primal side to her, and is that the werewolf, or the human?

    There are some problems that I had, in the universe there is only one female werewolf, as in this world the genes are passed on by the male side. I guess my issue with that is the mother as a concept never seems to be explored or explained. I guess turning men is easier? At least in this world. Elena is the only woman to have survived being bitten, it makes for a great hook but I wanted to know why this was and I didn't feel that it fully went into it for me.

   I also had a problem with her being bitten without her consent. It is a problem in the book. Clay as a hero, there is the fact that he has made her part of a community that Elena didn't get the choice to see whether she wanted to be in or not. There is the anger that she has with this, she is portrayed as sympathetic, and for me that is the main barrier to the lovers. I was unsure about whether this really could be surmounted, I am still unsure.  

   What really worked was that Elena struggles. She is bold and decisive on one side and yet unsure on the other. She really has a hard time consolidating her human half with another part of her nature, something that she didn't ask for.

   Elena has a heroine I thought was well drawn and well crafted, and it is that struggle between her humanity and her capacity to be primal that I thought was really good.

   I am glad I read this, I think it's great as a werewolf book that takes that side of it seriously, what it means to become something animal, to kill and eat your prey. I am not as sure about the romance between the Clay and Elena, it's a good barrier between the two of them, but is it too good? Overall a good book, but with it's problems at least for me.

     

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A Few Experiments

   I thought I'd do an update of things that I am experimenting with.

   Twitter.

   It has been overwhelming but good for finding out about things that I would be interested in. Including local stuff happening to where I live but also the people that I follow they all want to share stuff that is interesting to them.

   It has a very different feel to twitter, I think mainly because you pick who you follow, Facebook means that I feel guilty every time I unfriend someone with twitter there is a freedom from that type of guilt, people can follow or unfollow you it's easy and guilt free . I also feel a pressure to be witty on Facebook, but on twitter it is much more an opening of information that you get to pick. Overall that aspect of it means it has been fun, overwhelming but fun.

   I've also been live tweeting episodes from the BBC Pride and Prejudice version from 1995 (yes that version with a wet Colin Firth). This has been really fun, it's a story that I love but looking back on it, it's a little dated but really fun to live tweet. I think I'm going to do it with another series that I own.

    So twitter is a positive experience for me and I think I'll continue to be on it, as long as it's fun.

   Another Challenge (an update)

   I have been slowly reading The Seven Sisters by Margaret Drabble. I've only read 50 pages but the writing has been really good. It is not an easy book by far, it's got a stinging quality to it. I can't tell whether I am supposed to feel sympathetic or cynical towards the person's diary (it's written as diary entries). At once self involved but also self aware, the writing as well as the character. It is a strange combination and it's I have to say unsettling, but at the same time enlightening. I am going to keep going to the 100 page mark and see if I want to continue.

   I am really glad that I started this book though as it's exactly what I wanted from this challenge. It's pushing my reading further. That Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (which is a short story collection) is going to be my next book once I finish The Seven Sisters.

   And finally I have decided that this month I am going to watch Jackie Brown. I am not a Tarentino fan, I liked to certain extent Kill Bill (both volumes), but as I said I'm not a big fan but this film has intrigued me so I am going to see if I can get into it.

    I am going to do my recommendations in this same post so this week it's going to be electronic e-readers. I got a kindle for Christmas and I am still in love with it months down the line. What I really like about it is that I can get all the romances that I can want. It has made me a bigger romance fan if that was possible, because I am getting all the more books and authors that I really like.


    I love that picture of Virginia Woolf. I discovered Kristen Ashley (who I really like but her heroes are definitely alpha. I trope I love to read about but definitely would not like in real life) and I love her building of community in her novels, I feel she does it really well. I also got to read Tessa Dare's Any Duchess Will Do on the day it came out and found out how much I loved Ruthie Knox on my kindle.

    So e-readers they really are amazing and such a useful reading device (it also means I don't have 100 books in my house), I can't recommend them enough. Mine is really easy to use as well.   

  

Monday, 1 July 2013

Cool things I found about this month

   There are quite a lot of things in this list and they are mostly on the Internet full disclaimer I have no idea if the Channel 4 stuff is available outside the UK but it was something cool that I found, so I'm including it. A lot of things people already know about it just took me a long time to discover them. I also tend to want know that a series has been completed, so I like to start at the beginning and then I can burn through the episodes.

   So in no particular order:

   Fresh Meat (the channel 4 series).



   I only found out about this a really short time ago. I also really like that Channel 4 has a good back catalogue of former stuff. Their series No Angels (which was short lived but I thought really interesting in how it focuses on four different and specifically different women rather than generic cut outs. It does take a while to get going but I thought well done and without slut shaming) is on their channel as well as some of their episodes of Comic Strip Presents, which is really good, different themes and different tones to each episode but a real gem to find out about British Comedy in the eighties up to now.

   This is not a love letter to Channel 4. It does have it's own YouTube channel and it's really good to find stuff that you want. You can't fast forward through ads, but that's not really a problem for me.  Fresh Meat has it's problems (academics are not treated well or with any depth, university as an experience is very middle class and white in this) but it does have a sense of humour and has more than one woman in it.


   My favourite character is Vod played by Zawe Ashton (in the picture above, I am envious of those braces). She really is the character that sold my on this show. I like that she is fierce, loyal, crazy but consistent. An amazing performance in this show and really funny. My favourite quote from her: 'You're a railway museum.' This made me laugh so much, you do have to see it in context but that she even says it is consistent with her character.

   I do also think it doesn't make out every male character to be in a relationship with someone else, or someone that people would want to be. I liked it a great deal, it is helped that the two series are over and I am fine with there only being two. I would prefer it actually for where the characters go. Fresh Meat, watch it for Vod she's super cool.

   The Lizzie Bennet Diaries



   I know, I know, I know that I am ridiculously late in discovering this but I lost my weekend to it a couple of weeks ago. I think this series is so great, it does such an amazing job of adapting Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen to a modern audience. I love a lot about it in particular the performance by Ashley Clemmons, as Lizzie Bennet. This hangs on her performance and she's amazing. I liked the whole Benet family in fact, and Charlotte was done really well. 

   I thought they handled the Lydia storyline really well, the actress is great as well as translating the scandal that happens to modern audiences really well. This could have fallen so far, but really it treats the material really well, and I loved the ending.

   I do think the whole Collins plot line didn't work, but I do think that is incredibly hard to put into a modern context, but I am nit picking at this point. I watched I think the whole 100 episodes over two days and I thought it was really well done and thoughtful.    

   My Mad Fat Diary (also another Channel 4 thing).

 

   This I actually knew about in advance but completely forgot about until I saw it on YouTube. I thought it was great, really thoughtful and really honest. I absolutely loved the main performance from Sharon Rooney as Rae. This series is about her, and really goes into her head. 

   It does not shy away from her physical appearance or her mental health. This is a woman struggling with her life as it unfolds and it really gives you something that I hadn't seen in dealing with young people. I like that she struggles, and the end of the series it isn't a bow of an happy ending, There is still work to be done on herself and how honest she is with herself. I thought that her therapist was played really well by Ian Hart.

   This is a series that really tries to look at this woman's point of view. I thought the graphics were well done, and I really liked that this shows all of her life, her difficult relationship with her mother, her sexuality, her humour and her love of music. A great series that I thought was really good and took risks.

   I also found a couple of songs this month that really made me happy, the cover of I'm Wandering by Kristina Train at the top of my list. Such an amazing track and voice. This version really pulls at the yearning, but also the devastation of not being able to let go. I originally found this weirdly as it's featured on a advert, but this song I'm glad I got to find.



   I rediscovered how much I really liked The Mamas and The Papas, in particular with this band the blend of voices. The songs that I rediscovered were I Call Your Name, which is a cover of a Beatles song, but I really love this arrangement. I also love the Mama Cass version of Dream a Little Dream of Me

   I am going to finish this by saying there are wealth of interviews that you can find on the Internet. In particular the full interviews with The Hollywood Reporter, what I like about those full interviews is that they are talking to actors and actresses in different shows, so there is always a full response. The questions are not always the most insightful but the answers are always I find really good. I also rediscovered a lot of interviews in the actors studio. This may not be everyone's cup of tea and James Lipton can be annoying. I find though that there are a lot of amazing interviews including Jane Fonda, Angelina Jolie, George Carlin and Cate Blanchett.   

   Thus the cool things I found out about this month thaey made me happy!