Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why I Love...Stand Alone Novels

It was a beautiful, sunny day here in the PNW, though I forgot to take a picture of it (I even thought to myself while I was driving home from work: "take a picture of the sky because it's an amazingly nice November day.  That doesn't often happen here").  However, that has absolutely nothing to do with today's post.  I just thought I'd share :)

Instead, it's time for "Why I Love".  This week's topic is....series or stand alone novels.  Intriguing and important!  While both have their positive and negative attributes, I have to give the honor to those novels that can stand alone.  Those that don't depend on anything else to make them complete.  Those that come full circle within the given pages.  It's so satisfying in that respect.

Don't get me wrong, I love a series just as much as the next girl (Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, and Stephanie Plum to name a few), but there's something about a stand alone novel that pulls you in and keeps you there while satisfying you completely by the time you've finished.  There is a sense of completion and a feeling of...zen...for lack of a better word.  I like the fact that you don't have to wait impatiently (in my case) for the next portion to come out and there are no real cliffhangers, besides between chapters. 

In fact, when I list out a few of my all-time favorite books, all of them are stand alone novels:   
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind...I first read this in the 8th grade and, soon after, became obsessed with anything and everything having to do with the Civil War.
W.G. Sebald's Austerlitz ...I read this novel in an undergrad course taught by a great instructor (and mentor) named Kit Andrews.  It's a brilliant novel with rare paragraph breaks and photographs throughout.
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children...Again, I read this book in a senior course in undergrad taught by the great Gavin Keulks.  This was the ONLY book we read the entire term.  It's dense and awesome!  Rushdie had a magical complexity that he weaves throughout this novel.
Italo Calvino's The Baron in the Trees...Another course taught by Kit Andrews introduced me to this writer.  This was the first book I ever read by Calvino and it is among my favorites.  Nearly all of us have spent time climbing trees as children, Cosimo (the lead character) just takes this childhood pastime to new heights.
 ...and I could go on and on into infinity...seriously. 

Every single one is not part of a series.  They're all epic in their own way and every single one has fully developed, complex characters that could easily fill a series but doesn't need to.  So...three cheers for the stand alone novel!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday...Evidently Cannibals are Sexy...

Today's teaser comes from a book lent to me by a friend, J. Maarten Troost's The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific.  It's a travelogue, and we all know how much I enjoy travel and people who write about travel.  However, I don't think that the island of Tarawa, where Troost heads, would necessarily be my destination.  But who knows, it could be intriguing! 

"But we had a few illusions and no one, certainly not Kate, a walking spout of bilious bile, was going to deprive us of what we wanted to see.  We had traveled far, uprooted our lives, moved to the end of the world, and there was no way we were going to concede that we had made a mistake." (35)

Sounds fascinating...and comical!!!

Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Top Ten of 2011 Event

Yet another great thing to participate in!!!  

The Low-Down
Monday 12/26 – Top 10 Books I’ve read in 2011
Tuesday 12/27 – Top 10 Book Covers of 2011
Wednesday 12/28 – Top 10 Book Boyfriends in 2011
Thursday 12/29 – Top 10 Characters in 2011 (This can be anything you’d like to make it for characters. You can post your favorite Villains, etc. Just be sure that this post is character based.)
Friday 12/30 – Top 10 Books I’m looking forward to in 2012 (Also on this day, we’ll each be adding some kind of a recap of the total number of books read, pages read, etc. This part of the post is optional. Feel free to add any stats you’d like to share with everyone. So, if you’d like to also include some end of year stats, feel free to join us!)

I came across this on a site that hosts a few meme's that I participate in and thought it sounded like a great idea, so I decided to join in.  It's hosted by a few other blogs and there's a complete explanation at the link that follows.  Sounds like fun to me!  Here's the link to participate if anyone is interested!

An Encounter with the Jersey Devil...Among Others

I just finished a Stephanie Plum between-the-number novel, Plum Spooky, and have to say that I enjoyed it for the quick read that it was.  I've read a few of the in between novels and have always been a little disappointed in them.  I think this stems from the fact that Morelli and Ranger are not prominently present.  Such a tragedy.  However, I did find this one entertaining, even without those two, and despite the fact that there was a certain amount of the paranormal/science fiction aspect to it.  Not too shabby.

The novel centers around Stephanie (obviously) and her rather inept attempts at capturing a high-bond skip:  Martin Munch.  There are a couple lesser skips that she runs down during this long search, Gordo Bollo is a rather comical one who enjoys throwing fruits at Stephanie to escape, but the majority of the time is spent trying to ferret out Munch.  Munch has fallen in with a scary guy, Wulf, who is busy eluding Diesel, a guy who randomly appears in Stephanie's apartment on occasion before disappearing just as quickly.  Diesel and Stephani, along with a rather entertaining monkey named Carl who likes to flip everyone the bird and is entrusted into Stephanie's care, work together to track Munch and Wulf down and get into many scrapes along the way.  Some of the highlights of these events are getting lost in the Barren Pines woods, falling into swamps, being in the cross hairs of a tomato fight, traveling with a guy who farts fire, being kidnapped and threatened about becoming a sex slave, and blowing up a mine.  It's an entertaining jaunt.

Ultimately, I did enjoy this between-the-numbers selection.  And even if I hadn't, it only cost me a dollar to purchase.  Thank you Dollar Tree!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why I Love...W.P.B.!

Well, hello Wednesday.  It's nice to see you again!  I'm getting a little bit of a late start on my "Why I Love" post this week because it's so hard to come up with one favorite book family, which is this week's topic.  Now, because I couldn't narrow it down enough to not include these three families, I simply ranked them in order!

The Weasleys

This should be a given for anyone who knows me (and for anyone who's read some of my past posts) because I always manage to weave in a little Harry Potter reference somewhere in my discussion.  However, this one is completely applicable.  Every single Weasley family member is so fully developed, even those who don't show up often.  The dynamics between the members are beautifully portrayed and each character is lovable in their own way (even Percy at times).  The Weasley family is one that makes the most of their situation, doesn't begrudge anyone who might have more in a monetary sense, and loves each other unconditionally.  It's such a wonderful display of family and all the intricacies that come with it.  They're amazing.

The Plums
Though not your typical lovey-dovey family, the Plums from the popular Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich is hilarious enough to land them among my favorites.  There's Stephanie, the divorced pseudo-bounty hunter, her mom, the full-fledged Italian peacemaker who cooks a mean roast and mashed potatoes, Stephanie's dad, a retired postman who uses his car as a taxi service and watches a lot of baseball, and Grandma Mazur, Stephanie's mom's mom who is crazy as all get out and brassy as hell.  I think she's my favorite.  The dynamics in this family are almost the complete opposite of the Weasleys.  They argue, fight, and bicker almost continuously, but the underlying love is apparent.  They're an entertaining bunch.

The Bennets
It's no surprise that Jane Austin's Bennets are counted among some of my favorite book families.  Although there are times when I dislike some of the members, as a whole I have to say that they are wonderful.  There is an undying love that is displayed between the children and the elder Bennets and this love is tried several times throughout the novel.  Despite the drawbacks and hurdles, the Bennets stay true to each other regardless of their circumstances.  What a lovely bunch (of coconuts).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'd Rather Murder this Book on the Eiffel Tower than Read It Again

Claude Izner's Murder on the Eiffel Tower is TERRIBLE!!!  If you pass one book over during this holiday season, make sure it's this one.  Oh man.  So bad!

I borrowed this book from a friend last week and it sounded promising.  She said it was different, had an odd voice to it, and that she was waiting to make up her mind about it.  That should have been a sign.  Alas, I read the whole thing...and feel like I've lost a few braincells while doing so.

The novel follows a group of middle to high class individuals through Paris during the 1889 World Exposition Fair (the one where the Eiffel Tower was unveiled).  What follows is a case of whodunnit.  There is a murder...and then another...and another...and another...yet they are all chalked up to the work of killer bees by the police.  What?!  Unless you are a character from NBC's Grimm, this is simply not plausible.  Victor Legris, a bookseller, is present at the first murder and soon embarks on his own personal investigation when another body shows up.  He begins to suspect nearly everyone he comes into contact with; namely Kenji, his adoptive father for all intensive purposes, Tasha, an artist/reporter and Victor's love interest, Danilo, Tasha's opera singing neighbor, and a few others.  Eventually the reader does find out who the killer actually is and why they chose to murder the people that they did.

Sounds promising, right?  Not so.  None of the characters have any redeeming qualities.  Victor is a bumbling, jumpy idiot, Kenji is a stoic, reserved ass, Tasha is a flat character who offers nothing to the reader.  In fact, as a reader you almost dislike every single character; at least I did.  In addition to that, the entire storyline was jumbled and confusing.  Once the murderer is revealed, the knowledge doesn't make any sense.  I honestly didn't even remember who the person was when they was revealed.  Awful.  Supposedly this is the first in a series and, if that's true, shoot me now!

Please...don't waste your time.  Instead, watch Grimm on NBC Friday night's at 9pm.  It's awesome and, even more awesome, it's set in Portland!!!  Go Oregon!!!! (not the Ducks).

Teaser Tuesday...Bring Me Some Coffee!

It's a rainy, windy, out of control day here in the Pacific Northwest (seriously...I feel like the roof is going to be ripped off the top of the house right now), but I am a dedicated Teaser Tuesday poster and, fear not, I will not let you down!  Today's teaser comes from a book that I am two pages into as I started it this morning and then got distracted by shopping (whoops).  My selection is from Alexander McCall Smith's second installation in the 44 Scotland Street series and is called Espresso Tales.

"Stuart looked frantically about the room.  It would be possible to make a run for it now, he thought.  Lard would be unable to run after them, with that bulk of his, but he had heard sounds out in the hall and he had assumed that there were other men, apart from Gerry, in the house.  These gangsters rarely had just one side-kick, he remembered." (177)

And now I want some coffee...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Shining Knight is Kind of Dim in my Opinion...(Book #18)

Finally knocked out another book in the A-Z challenge; it's been a while since I've selected a book that will work for the challenge.  I originally had a different novel chosen for the letter "K", but I decided to choose something that I knew I could get through quickly in an effort to finish up the challenge.  Thank you Jude Deveraux for providing me with such a choice in A Knight in Shining Armor (one of my 50 centers from the Friends of the Library sale).

Reading the synopsis of this novel really presented me with not much to go on.  I thought it was going to be a historical novel, but I was mistaken...kind of.  

Knight follows Dougless along her journey to love and self-acceptance in 1988.  She is on vacation in England with her significant other (a self-centered ass) and his spoiled brat of a daughter.  Trouble ensues and she's left to fend for herself without anything to her name.  Cue the entrance of Nicholas Stafford, an earl from the sixteenth century.  Yeah...the sixteenth century.  Both Dougless and Nicholas need something from the other, though neither of them truly discovers what that is until much later in the book.  And that's the premise of the novel.

Now, I tend to like historical romance novels.  However, I do not really enjoy historical romances with contemporary characters who travel through time and dimensions.  Especially when both characters do so more than once.  Deveraux, in the "Dear Reader" section (yes, I read those), explains that Knight is her favorite novel and lists several reasons why this is so.  That's great and all, but I have to disagree.  I was actually disappointed in this book.  Yeah, it was okay and it moved along (at times), however I did not like the end and I really didn't like the characters very much.  Dougless wasn't a character that I could feel for.  I was angry with her because of how weak she was and how she wasn't very self-sufficient.  Also, Nicholas wasn't the ideal leading man and I couldn't bring myself to believe their love.  To top it off, the end of the book was a let down...for me, at least.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I Love...Draco Malfoy

It's hard to find a specific character in a book that you hate but love at the same time.  Most of the time you hate them with a passion, feel indifferent, or, in rare cases, love them despite their many shortcomings.  Because of that, this week's "Why I Love" is dedicated to my favorite villain; one that I love despite his MANY shortcomings.

Draco Malfoy.  The poor kid!  I know, I know.  Many people absolutely hate the white-blonde snot, but for some reason I felt sorry for him more than I hated him.  For me, Draco was a victim of circumstance.  He grew up with parents who demonstrated a hate for the "other" and didn't really know a different view of the world.  In many ways, he is like Harry.  Whoa...did I just say that?  Yes, I did!  Though Draco had parents, who loved him in their own way, he was also brought up in an environment that did not encourage outward displays of affection or acceptance.  He was stunted in his development at a young age and this definitely effected how he interacted with people and creatures who he did not understand.  Growing up in a "superior" household, and constantly being taught that you are better than other people, really does wonders for your psyche.  Also, due to his privileged upbringing, Draco was not accustomed to being questioned about his actions or thoughts.  This led him to embrace his "God" complex and, when confronted by his peers and whatnot, he acts out (though he does question his motives at times).  You especially see this in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  Draco has such a wonderful development as the books go on and, despite the fact that he never really moves away from his thoughts of superiority, you do see that he is ashamed of his father at the end of the books.  This is a HUGE step for him and one of the many reasons he is my favorite villain.

I could have included many other characters in this post, namely villains that I absolutely hate (Lord Voldemort, Bellatrix, Moriarty, The Voltari, Alec d'Urberville, Sauron, Claudius, and so on), but I contained myself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday...Traveling Back in Time (Kind Of...Sort Of)

Today's teaser is brought to you by the letter K!  I am still trying to get through my A-Z Book Challenge (I keep reading books starting with letters that I've already read), so I grabbed one that will count toward that specific challenge.  Though it wasn't the original intention for the letter, I felt like I was so far behind that I grabbed one I knew I could get through quickly.  So, because of that, this teaser comes from Jude Deveraux's A Knight in Shining Armor; it's one of my Friends of the Library purchases!

"As she hung up, Dougless realized she wasn't surprised by the coincidence.  It seemed that some kind of wish therapy was at work.  Every time she wished for something, she got it.  She wished for a Knight in Shining Armor and he had appeared (a crazy one who thought he was from the sixteenth century, but a man in armor no less); she wished for money and he had a bag of coins worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.  Now she needed reservations to an exclusive hotel and of course they had a vacancy." (60)

I don't normally go for the supernatural type of books, but this sounded interesting (the synopsis didn't mention anything about traveling through time).  It's been okay so far.  Just waiting for something really exciting to happen.  Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 14, 2011

But Who's the Wolf??????

Just finished Sarah Blakley-Cartwright's Red Riding Hood and I am not amused!  I had, I guess unreasonably, high hopes for this adaptation of the classic fairytale.  Alas, I was let down.  The story was interesting and kept me involved, however I felt completely let down by so much of the book.

Hood follows the experience of Valerie and the village she lives in.  Every full moon a family must sacrifice one piece of their livestock to appease the werewolf who haunts their village.  One fateful harvest there is the rarely occurring blood moon.  This is where all the action starts.  There is a vicious killing of one of the villagers and, literally, all hell breaks loose.  The one killing leads to broken loyalties, paranoia, questions of faith, and more deaths.  Of course there is also a love triangle between Valerie, Henry, and Peter that plays into the action of the story, but the reader doesn't have to think hard to know who Valerie will end up with.  It's a decent storyline, right?

But then things go all wonky.  There are loose ends that are never tied up.  The identity of the werewolf is never truly revealed.  The ending leaves a ton of questions for the reader.  There were incongruities with some of the plot lines and some sequences of action did not add up.  That's what disappointed me so much.  Overall, it was a quick read and, though it left me a little frustrated, it wasn't absolutely atrocious.  Meh.

The last page in the book tells you to go to a website to see if this is truly the end of Valerie's story, so, naturally, I visited the website.  It offered another chapter that was very abrupt (didn't match up to how the book actually ended) and then reveals who the werewolf is.  I still didn't find it convincing. 

  I still want to see the movie even though I heard it wasn't very good.  I do know, based on the Preface, that the book was writing solely based on the screenplay and that the finished movie veers away from that.  So...

44 Scotland Street Makes Me Teary-Eyed

That's right!  Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street makes me teary-eyed.  Not because of the plot or characters or anything like that, but because of the fact that I can close my eyes and see exactly what the characters are seeing.  I can walk and ride along with them in every aspect.  Sad and teary-eyed because I miss it so much.  Ugh.  Now I don't even want to write this.  My dreary day (though fantastic weather-wise with it's overcast skies, slight mist, and chilly breeze) is now reflected with a dreary mood :(

A view of the lovely sky from my backyard today.
Anywho...moving on to the book.  LOVED IT!  I like the fact that McCall Smith originally created this as a serial and ran it in The Scotsman every week and I can only image how fans reacted.  Personally, I would have found it nearly impossible to wait for the next installment to come out.  Oh the pins and needles!  However, since there are currently five books in the series, I think I'm good for the moment.

44 Scotland Street follows the inhabitants of a recommissioned row house located, fittingly, at 44 Scotland Street (it's a real place, too) and boy are they an eccentric bunch.  There's Bruce, the egotistical, chauvinist who makes absolutely no effort to make himself likeable and who thinks the world revolves around him.  There's Pat, Bruce's recently moved in roommate who is on her second gap year while trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life and failing miserably.  Next is Domenica, the older, single neighbor of Bruce and Pat who has the best stories and adventures to tell to anyone.  She is also the character who calls it like she sees it.  Then there's Bertie who is five and lives below the other three characters.  He's a little boy with entirely too much on his plate, pushed onto him by his overbearing mother, and all he wants to do is go to the school of his choice, play rugby, have a friend, and learn about trains.  Bertie's mother, Irene, is his arch-nemesis.  She's overprotective, judgmental, and completely delusional when it comes to her son and to life.  There are other characters who are integral parts to the story as well, but none of whom live at 44 Scotland Street.  Notable mentions are:  Matthew, Pat's boss at the art gallery; Big Lou, the proprietress of the cafe that Matthew frequents; Todd and Sasha, Bruce's boss and his wife; and Angus Lordie, a painter and friend of Domenica's.  

Throughout the story there are many misconceptions that the characters have about each other.  There is also a psychotherapist, a break in and attempted robbery, a lost painting, unrequited love, and an encounter with Ian Rankin to round things out.  It's a frolicking, entertaining, and at times angering read, but well worth it.  I can't wait to start the second book in the series to see where the characters are at now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I Love...A Multitude of Authors

As someone who has made books and reading their profession, it is very difficult for me to choose a favorite author.  But there are several who stand out in my eyes and that's why this week's "Why I Love" is dedicated to my favorite author...or authors in my case :)

First, and foremost, I have to include Italo Calvino who is a notable Cuban-Italian writer.  I first encountered the brilliance that is Calvino's writing in an undergrad English course and have since sought out everything he's written, even going so far as to take a grad course dedicated to him.  The first book I read of his was The Baron in the Trees.  Pure magical brilliance!  He's also written a lot of literary theory and critiques on the notion of time as it's represented in literature.  I have to say that my absolute favorite novel by Calvino is If on a winter's night a traveler... which is a unique piece of work in that it doesn't follow the traditional formula of novels at all.  The reader is heavily involved and constantly stunted right when they're getting into the story.  It's absolute literary genius!  I highly recommend it.  In addition to these works, Calvino was also involved with a group of writers and mathematicians in a society called Oulipo whose goal was to write stories and novels using mathematical principles and techniques.  He's a genius.  READ HIS STUFF!

Recently, I have come across a contemporary American author (not normal for me as I tend to gravitate toward European authors) who has completely captured my heart and attention.  The first novel I read by Chris Bohjalian was Skeletons at the Feast.  This was a selection for my Edinburgh book club, which I will be forever grateful to for introducing his writing into my life, and I loved it for several reason.  First, it is set during my favorite era, WWII, and it's a fascinating story.  So good.  Since that fateful time I have sought and read everything written by him, including his blog where he discusses just about everything in a very engaging way.  What I love about his writing is that, in every book that I've read so far, he tells the story from several different people's perspectives.  All of his books deal with heavy, interesting, and oftentimes controversial issues and Bohjalian does a brilliant job at making these issues accessible to the reader while simultaneously treating them with the sensitivity that each requires.  Ever single time I walk into a bookstore now, I always look to see if they have one of his books that I don't already own.  He's amazing.

And, finally, how can I have a post about favorite authors and not include JK Rowling?!?  She's absolutely brilliant.  I think that I will continue to reread HP for the rest of my life.  No joke.  The atmosphere that Rowling was able to create in those books is absolutely astounding and I love getting lost in that world.  They're so intricate and well done.  It was love at first word the moment I opened the first book.  Sigh.  I also loved that, while I was living in Edinburgh, I was able to haunt her writing spots throughout the city (The Elephant House, The Balmoral Hotel, and other less known places).  Yes!  On a happy note though, the last installment of the films comes out this Friday!!

Others who should be on the list (but I had to limit myself):
~Paul Celan
~Jane Austen
~Elizabeth Gaskell
~Jorge Luis Borges
~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
~Nora Roberts

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Books Galore!

This past weekend was the annual Friends of the Albany Library book sale at the fairgrounds and I picked all of these lovely, wonderful, heartwarming books up for a mere 23 bucks!  I love this sale and always mark it in my calendar.  Also, I could have bought a lot more and spent even longer perusing the tables, but my Powell's tote was full :(  Next year I'm bringing two bags!  Now I just have to wait for the Friends of the Corvallis Library sale to add to my continually growing selection.

Teaser Tuesday...Beware the Big, Bad Wolf!

This week's teaser comes from one of my finds from the Dollar Tree that cost me, you guessed it, a whole dollar!  Whew...almost broke the bank there!  So, without further ado, I give you Sarah Blakley-Cartwright's Red Riding Hood (adapted from the screenplay written by David Leslie Johnson):

"Suzette was thinking she'd rather the visitors begin to leave, but hearing steps ascending the ladder, she still opened the door, moving onto the porch in anticipation and closing the door behind her against the snow.  But when she saw the dark head come into view, she wished she hadn't.  She recognized him even after all these years." (111)

I haven't yet started the book as I'm finishing up another one, trying to finish up grading for the end of the term, applying to a PhD program, and participating in National Novel Writing Month.  Needless to say my plate's kind of full, but I have every intention of starting this book by this weekend.  Yay for Veteran's Day and a day off to catch up on all of the above!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why I Love...A Book in my Hands

I've been known to read anywhere and everywhere.  True statement.  There are very few places that I am unable to read; namely cars and double decker buses (found both out the hard way).  When I was little, I was able to read in cars, no problem.  However, as I've grown older, I find that I tend to get a little motion sickness if I don't watch the road the entire time.  Either that, or I have to close my eyes for the duration of the trip.  Regardless, I've discovered that I can read just about anywhere aside from those two places.  So, because of this, I dedicate this week's "Why I Love" to my favorite reading spot...THE WORLD as long as I have a book in my hands!

I'm quite comfortable hunkering down in any given spot, cracking open whatever book is in my bag, and losing myself in the world it provides.  This ability has provided me with many escapes from the everyday world and helped to pass hours and hours.  I find this incredibly true when confronted with a seven hour plane ride to Europe...or a fourteen hour one to Japan.  Either way, reading on a plane is, honestly, one of my favorite places to read.  I don't know why; the seats are uncomfortable; some of the people smell; it's stuffy.  But...they bring you drinks, snacks, and food (if the flight's long enough).  You never have to get up and get them yourself.  I find this awesome (and lazy, but oh well).  I also like that I can just pop my iPod in and ignore just about everything around me.  It's rare to get that much uninterrupted reading time in.  I think that's why I like it so much.

The same concept can apply to train rides as well.  I traveled a lot by train when I was living in Austria, and Scotland too, so having a book to occupy my time was always something that I counted on.  Though the majority of the rides tended to be fairly short (usually no more than 30 minutes), there were those occasions when my roommate, Lindsey, and I would decide to get out of town for the weekend and hop on a train to a destination anywhere from three to eight hours away.  We took one twelve hour train ride (to Venice), but that was an overnighter, so we slept...kind of.  I loved sitting by the window in a rushing train traveling through unknown countrysides with a book in my hands and my iPod blasting some great music.  It was so relaxing and a wonderful way to while away the hours.

On the train to Glasgow (or North Berwick) from Edinburgh.   
Lastly, anywhere that offers a nice, cozy place to plop myself down and read is, naturally, on my list.  I like to curl up with a blanket, some coffee (or tea), and a great book.  I'm good to go sitting on a couch, in a comfy chair, in bed, or at a coffee shop.  As long as I have my trusty book, I don't complain.  

My nest at Binks and Shelly's flat in Edinburgh.
I guess you could basically say that I will read anywhere and everywhere.  I don't really care where I'm at.  I'll pull a book out and just lose myself whenever the mood strikes me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Portland's a Crazy Little Bitch!

"I wonder how people think of Portland from the outside.  Is it a hippie haven where everyone reads Ken Kesey and hangs out at open mike night?  Is it the gray, grungy, junkie-riddled streets of early Gus Van Sant movies?  A cheap, trendy town full of myopic record labels and zinesters?  Sex worker paradise?  Bookstore heaven?  A place where New Yorkers come to feel important and/or relaxed?  Some wet old logging town that somehow became "one of the best cities in America"?

Yeah, it's all that and a fancy coffee spilled on your Gore-Tex jacket (the same one you soiled with microbrew last night)." 
~Kevin Sampsell

What a lovely...and TRUE...introduction to Portland Noir, a wonderful collection of seedy stories set throughout Portland, written by local authors.  The collection really does showcase the different sections of the city (Burnside, St. Johns, Mount Tabor, Powell, Oaks Bottom, etc.) and the sub-culture that is inherently threaded through its identity.  I really enjoyed reading the dark portrayals and the fact that, in nearly every story, the city functions as a prominent character.  A wonderful little read and find in, where else, a Portland used bookstore.  Yes!

It's difficult to review a compilation, so I'll just say this:  every single story in this collection is wonderful.  Yes, some are better than others, but for the most part I enjoyed everything that was included.  Some standouts were:  Luciana Lopez's "Julia Now," Jonathan Selwood's "The Wrong House," and Gigi Little's "Shanghaied."  Great stuff.

"Me, I love good lore.  Lore is my favorite kind of story.  Because it's not only historical, it's a lie everyone knows is a lie but tells anyway."
~Gigi Little

Teaser Tuesday...Reminiscing about Edinburgh

It's that time of the week where I put forth a little gem of lovely from whatever book I'm reading (at least the one closest to me at the time).  For this week's edition, I've just started Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street, the first in the series.  Yay for Scotland (I miss you)!!  And the teaser...

"'Psychotherapy," said Bertie, gazing down at the floor.  'I set fire to Daddy's Guardian.'  He paused, and looked up at Domenica.  'While he was reading it.'" (222)

A view of the back of 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh, Scotland

I'm really enjoying this book so far...for several reasons.