Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (image via amzon.com)

By Piper Kerman
Started: August 31
Finished: September 3

Guys, I broke my #1 rule: I watched all of the Netflix exclusive Orange is the New Black before reading the memoir on which the series is based. My friend Heather pretty much bullied me into watching the series, and I was immediately hooked. It was great. Fantastic. Amazing. Jenji Kohan‘s brilliance strikes again. I loved it so much, I made my boyfriend watch the entire series over Memorial Day weekend. And yet, I still wanted more, so  when I stumbled across this book in The Strand I couldn’t resist.

So where to start? Listen, if you thought Piper Chapman was annoying, self-absorbed, and entitled in the series….wait until you read the thoughts of Piper Kerman. She’s worse than her TV alter ego by a landslide. And the book is so, so different. Pennsyatucky is not crazy, she’s nice! Awesome characters like Tastyee, Poussay, Nicki, and Sophia don’t really exist. Even the person Sophia is based upon is just not as awesome and confident as TV Sophia. The book is really a completely different experience that gives an honest look at life inside a women’s prison and the penal system in general. The biggest problem I had was Kerman’s narrative voice: it just made me want to stick a shiv in her to get her to shut up (not really but, kinda)!


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Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (image via amazon.com)

By Isaac Marion
January 26
Finished: January 30
Woo! Mildly excited about reviewing this one. I have a personal rule about never, ever seeing a movie before I read the book. The blame for this falls solely on the shoulders of 2000’s Where the Heart Is, which my dear friend Melissa convinced me to go see with her in theaters…and then convinced me to read the book when I liked the movie. And guess what happened? The book didn’t follow the movie! Plot points were changed! Characters disappeared completely! Novalee’s unlucky number is 7, not 5 (probably because Natalie Portman’s Southern twang sounded way better drawling out “five”)!

Now that I am completely off-topic, let’s circle back. I never really set out to read this book. My fifteen-year old sister was dying to go see Warm Bodies in theaters, and since my mom refused to take her, I caved and agreed to go…..as long as I could read the book first.

Isaac Marion managed to craft a love story out of a zombie novel. A love story that included an actual zombie. You’ve probably seen the Warm Bodies trailer frequently enough to have a general idea of what the book is about, and the movie is actually a decently adapted version of the text. The climax battle towards the very end of the novel was significantly adapted for screen, and I ended up liking the movie version much better than the print ending. Changing the scene was a good call visually and for the tone of the movie versus the book.

The tone was the other major deviation for how I interpreted both works. In the book, the main character & narrator “R” is not the vaguely emo, skinny jeans wearing, love-sick zombie Nicholas Hoult plays in the movie. Author Marion, born in 1981, is on the cusp of being either a Gen X-er or a Millennial, depending on how you define those terms (which varies widely). Book R doesn’t know anything about his previous life, but he wears the suit that he was wearing when he became a zombie. He’s forced in to a zombie “marriage” and to take care of zombie “kids” (all excluded from the movies) and he spends the day riding the airport escalators out of habit, like it’s his “job”. I saw all of this–the suit, the “job,” the marriage and kids—as commentary on being lost, being forced into a job that makes you feel like a zombie, a marriage that maybe you don’t truly want, into a suit that tells you nothing about yourself, as an allegory of the way work, family, dress can feel to Millennial like myself.  It was relatively depressing, introspective, and really the main theme of the book that resonates with me months after reading it.

Marion plans to continue the series (he also released a prequel in e-book form called The New Hunger last year. Ugh, e-books why must I hate you so!) and I’m really excited to see where the next books goes, especially in light of the success of the theatrical Warm Bodies and the different (read teenage & young adult) audience the movie catered to.

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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (via Amazon.com)

By Gillian Flynn
Started: January11, 2013
Finished: January ?? 2013

Gillian Flynn is one of those authors you either absolutely love or absolutely hate. Personally, I loved Gone Girl but a few friends absolutely hated it. What I appreciate about Flynn is her topical style of writing, taking criminal cases that cause a media frenzy and spinning them into her own, twisted narrative.

In Dark Places, the main character Libby Day is the sole survivor of a bloody massacre at her family’s secluded farm house. Police and the general community immediately place the blame for “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas” on Libby’s older brother Ben who is convicted and shipped off to prison, with little Libby’s eyewitness testimony playing an important role in the verdict.

Skip a couple of decades and mal-adjusted Libby Day, facing dwindling funds from a trust set up in her name after the murders, agrees to make a “celebrity appearance” at The Kill Club, a macabre group that recreationally examines unsolved and seemingly solved murders. Propelled by the need for money, Libby reluctantly agrees to help The Kill Club–people who believe Libby’s testimony was fake and that Ben is ultimately innocent of murdering his mother and two sisters.

The story is split between flash backs to a the year or so leading up to the murder and Libby’s life in the present day as she journeys to strip clubs, prison visiting rooms, and a shanty town for drifters in search of the truth. The story of a troubled, debt-ridden family being raised by a single mother emerges against the growing sense of abandonment and disenchantment felt by social outcast Ben, who in an attempt to escape his home life and gain favor with a popular, pretty new girl starts hanging around with a crowd that accused of Satan worship. As always, the novel ends with a “twist” that left even me (who expected it!) turning pages faster than I could possibly absorb the information.

Gillian Flynn does her research and impeccably times her novels to coincide with the media panic of certain eras: set in the 2000s, Gone Girl details a seemingly perfect middle class wife gone missing with husband as prime suspect case; Dark Places is set amid the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Flynn is a woman after my own heart, combining a semi-critique of culture and media with a killer murder-mystery.

Flynn’s books are deeply disturbing, but I enjoy them immensely….though I will say there is one scene in Dark Places involving animals and torture that almost made me sick. If you can stomach some gristly details, I highly recommend Dark Objects.

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  1. Each book must be read in it’s entirety to count towards the final total. Only made it halfway through? Doesn’t count towards the total!
  2. The book must be both started and finished in the calendar year.
  3. In be considered a “success”, the reader (that’s me!) must read the same number of books at the age she will turn in that calendar year.
  4. To count towards the total, the book must be blogged. Even if it’s just a picture of the cover with  “This book is about bananas. I don’t like bananas. Therefore, I don’t like this book.”
  5. NO HARRY POTTER! At least not the original 7 books by J.K. Rowling. More on why later.
  6. To count towards the final total, each book must be new to the reader. The only exception to this rule will be for adult books read before sophomore year of high school.
  7. The book must be made up of chapters, parts, or several short stories, collected together. IE: reading one Edgar Allen Poe short story does not count towards the total, but reading an anthology does.
  8. The book must be a new book, not a book I’ve already read. No exceptions. *
  9. Rules are subject to change…..because I don’t like following “rules.”

*Exception granted for books I read in high school or early in college that may benefit me more now. Example: “The Great Gatsby”. I absolutely hated that book in high school, but a classmate pointed out she re-read the novel after college and had a much deeper understanding and respect for the book.


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