Sunday, July 29, 2012

Book 53: Black Bird Volume 4

          Every once in a while, you need to have some fun and read a manga. It’s a great way to unwind and forget about the stress.  Black Bird Volume 4 was my ticket for some relaxation.
          It’s been a while since I read a manga book and I knew that it was a good time to treat myself to some. So when I was at Barnes and Noble with my mom, I called up my sister and had her help look up on the last volume that I read of both Black Bird and Vampire Knight. Since I wasn’t confident which was my last Vampire Knight book and I didn’t want to skip too much in the series, so I went back to Black Bird.
          Black Bird is an interesting manga which involves a girl who is being pursued by demons for various reasons (either as a mate or for her blood). Miaso is starting to fall for Kyo but she is also concerned that he actually loves her or and the fact he’s a boy who can be a bit too sexual for her liking.  Miaso then gets to meet a girl just like her (who can see ghosts and is dating a demon as well) and Tadanobu. This meeting brings her regret since she knows that Kyo must fight his best friend Tadanobu because of her.
          Black Bird reminded med how much I miss my subscription to Shojo Beat. That was my favorite magazine of all time.  It had serialized manga including Black Bird and Vampire Knight, crafts, cooking ideas, and travel locations. It was such a neat magazine.
          One of the things I liked about this addition of Black Bird is how I get to learn about Japanese culture. This time it was more from the author’s notes in the side columns. There she was saying how she drew character names from Kabuki plays and how even the plays the wolves were wolves.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book 52: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold was an surprising book. It was something that I read slowly but I enjoyed it. It wasn’t what I expected.

I got interested in The Lovely Bones due to the movie that was recently released. It seemed like a movie right up my alley: suspenseful, well-acted, deeper then you expect and a hot lead actor never hurts.  Never got around to seeing it, so who knows if my expectations were even met. But my interest was piqued and when a friend offered the book to me, I gladly took it.

I will say very quickly into reading the book, I wondered how the movie could be done well. It seemed like it would be a difficult book to fully translate and really get a narrator who was balancing between heaven and the world she lost without making it cheesy.  The book really tells the tale of a murdered victim seeing the people around her continue living and be affected by her death.

The thing that struck me the most was the characters. There were some deep characters in there and things that you don’t always expect. Like the boyfriend to Susie, he was Indian with an British accent. Not just a cookie cutter character. Plus you had Ruth who was a little darker then you thought she would be. Then the family who just fell apart in both the usual and unusual ways.

The plot could be a bit dry. It was the leading reason as to why I read the book slower then I would have liked. It was a slow moving book without a ton of action. It was more feeling and experiencing.

This isn’t a book I can easily pick apart. I enjoyed it. The book was good.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Book 51: The School For Brides

Every once in a while, you need a book of absolute fluff. The School for Brides by Cheryl Ann Smith fit that bill to a tee. This was one of those rare books that were both highly entertaining and very bad.

I will have to admit, the bodice ripper genre can be more then little cheesy and I never have high stock in the literary contribution. But that doesn’t mean I won’t find the book entertaining. It’s like watching a bad movie, you know it’s bad but you can revel in moments.  So I walked into the book thinking that this will be like the movies shown at Bad Movie Night.

To my disbelief, it lived up to every little bit of the low standards. At times the plot was so woefully drawn together and the ending was a complete farce. I couldn’t take the book seriously at all especially when the school itself was pushed to the background to create the relationship between Eva and the Duke.

As I told my friend about this book and shared a couple of the more choice lines, he said how there are dubstep lyrics with more depth and believability. He was right. Some of the lines I read in utter disbelief especially when it came to the intimate scenes.

While this book was a completely ridiculous, it was also a lot of fun. Mainly because it was so utterly ridiculous. It was the perfect book to just revel in and go “oh my gosh, that actually was written.”   It’s a book where I will still pass on to one of my best friends and tell her to take it with a grain of salt. It could still be entertaining.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book 50: Push Comes to Shove

Push Comes to Shove by Twyla Tharp was an alright read but I had too high of expectations to really enjoyed it the way I could have.

I really enjoyed Twyla’s other book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it For Life. I thought that book provided a lot of neat ideas and ways to help pull together creative ideas. It was well written and fun.  So that set the stage for high expectations.

Not to mention, I’m a fan of Twyla Tharp. She has created some really neat dance pieces over the years. She’s truly one of the few people who have been able to cross the bridge of modern dance and ballet. Plus she’s choreographed one of the Broadway musicals that I really want to see but haven’t yet (although I would have to wait for a revival now).

I loved how the book reminded me her work with Misha (Mikhail Baryshnikov) and how young/fit he was back in the day. But in a way, that is just the tip of the iceberg of great dancers that she’s worked with or met.  It’s pretty awesome to see how she trained under Martha Graham, one of the dancers specially trained by Anna Pavlova, Merce Cunningham. Not to mention she was influenced and got to meet Balanchine. This is a real pedigree that she has.

But the book reminded what one of my teachers said, “Listening to a dancer or a choreographer isn’t always the best way to understand their work. While there is no question it’s something passionate to them, but they don’t always articulate it well.”

This was true. It was just something whenever a dance was brought up, There were some of the specific ideas that inspired her, but there was also a lack of clarity. I found myself looking at the photos and finding more of the oomph or visual to it than I did with her words. While I loved the photos, as a reader I prefer the books coming to life in my mind.

I enjoy this book.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Book 49: The Mercy

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I finished up the Rose Trilogy by Beverly Lewis when I read The Mercy. My thoughts are similar to the past books in this series.

I love how Beverly Lewis will help ignite my spirituality and remind me of the good things of life. But I wish she wrote better.  Her books are only every just okay and in times like this one, I get driven nuts by certain flaws.

I love well developed characters that pull me. There are some really good characters beginnings in this book: Rose, Brandon, Beth and Nick. The problem lies in they only are two dimensional characters and even worse, they are dropped off the book at a whim.  There were so many times where I would like to have liked to have Beth come back into the tale and the same thing with Brandon and even Hen. Everything was just incomplete.

The other problem with The Mercy was the fractured parts. It was as if she was trying to give the reader everything they wanted in both parts yet in the end, I felt hallow by Hen’s change in the second part. She abandoned what was set up in the prior three books and I really liked when they were living in the Dawdi house.  Same thing with all of the relationships that Rose was in, so much so that when book ended, it felt hallow. Nothing felt true.  

This book was better written then the prior book. I didn’t have so many thoughts that this was a badly acted play. Instead it was with no pull and nothing felt true. So there were times I wasn’t reading like I should. Never said, “read, read, read” to one of my friends as I was doing an IM chat and having my nose in a book. I did either one or the other. 

I like how Beverly Lewis helps out my spirituality but they aren't great books. It's just those easy reads which you don't expect too much.