Posted by: Kara | June 8, 2010

Used Books Aren’t Free

Reading: Memoirs of A Geisha – Arthur Golden
Page: 313 of 428

No, I’m not quite finished Memoirs of A Geisha … but I’m nearing the end. I’m definitely enjoying it. It’s back to the easier reads like The Lovely Bones or The Time Traveler’s Wife. My brain has surely enjoyed the break, but I know I can’t slack forever. I haven’t quite decided which book I’ll read next – maybe The Great Gatsby or Brideshead Revisited. I saw Brideshead Revisited at Balfour Books when I was there getting Memoirs of A Geisha but decided to only buy one. I’ll probably get the next few shorter books from the library to save a bit of $$ – used books aren’t free!

I haven’t been reading all that much lately. I blame it on my motion-sickness and inability to read on anything that moves aside from the subway. Buses are out of the question, and I don’t take the bus much anymore. Streetcars are apparently also a no-go for me. I think it has something to do with the movement + having my peripheral vision seeing objects moving around me. I swear it’s a scientific thing … Anyway, not much else to say – I just wanted to update my page numbers! See ya on the flipside!

Posted by: Kara | May 10, 2010

Bad-Ass Dracula!

Reading: Memoirs of A Geisha – Arthur Golden
Page: 18 of 428

That’s right, I’m now going to read Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I went to my favourite book store a few weeks ago, Balfour Books, with the challenge of finding at least one of my book list books. Memoirs of a Geisha popped in my head and I was searching for the book without remembering the author! The heavens shined down on me that day as my eyes scanned the shelf and came to rest on the exact book I was looking for! I should explain that Balfour Books isn’t known for being a store with neatly categorized books. Oftentimes books aren’t in alphabetical order and the “Fiction” section spans 5-6 floor to ceiling shelves. Excited, I brought the book to the counter to pay $10 for my find. The friendly lady behind the counter told me that this book always sells well and there are usually several copies brought in per week. Pretty cool!

And on we go to Dracula! I was wrapped in the book from the start, especially since I have a fascination for books in diary and letter style. I actually prefer first-person books and I also tend to write fiction in first-person. I originally wanted to run down a whole list of all the things that makes Dracula different from other vampire characters but I’ve decided against it. Dracula was surely not the first vampire novel, but the character is probably the most well-known. He has no reflection in the mirror; he cannot be near crosses; garlic offends him; he sleeps in a coffin; he doesn’t eat; etc … However … Dracula is pretty awesome. I’ll show you via this amazing quote. Jonathan Harker is looking out the window of Dracula’s castle and down to where he sees Dracula a level below:

I was at first interested and somewhat amused, for it is wonderful how small a matter will interest and amuse a man when he is a prisoner. But my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when I saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss, face down with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings. At first I could not believe my eyes. I thought it was some trick of the moonlight, some weird effect of shadow; but I kept looking, and it could be no delusion. I saw the fingers and toes grasp the corners of the stones, worn clear of the mortar by the stress of years, and by thus using every projection and inequality move downwards with considerable speed, just as a lizard moves along a wall.

WALKS DOWN WALLS = Bad-Ass Dracula! He may have been one of the most evil villains to be portrayed in a novel, but if he can crawl down walls like Spiderman, he’s pretty epic in my books.

All in all, a great book, a great classic and a month of reading not wasted!

Posted by: Kara | May 7, 2010

The Lost Journals of Toronto

Reading: Dracula – Bram Stoker
Page: 286 of 327

I’m nearing the end of Dracula! I predict I’ll be done within the next week or so, which is great because my next book is itching to be read. I’ll write a full review of Dracula as well as give a preview of the next book in the next post!

Until then, I wanted to blog about an interesting experiment to Toronto Public Library did throughout the month of April. As part of its Keep Toronto Reading festival, representatives scattered 99 red-covered journals across Toronto. In these journals, they hope to find citizens sharing their favourite books.

When a journal is found, the hope is the finder will write a few tidbits about their favourite book, and then “lose” it again for someone else to find. I’m curious as to what happened and if anyone really wrote about their favourites. The TPL promised to post a list of Toronto’s favourite books at a later date, but my faith in the human population tells me few people really wrote serious things in it. But maybe I’m just a skeptic?

Read more about the project in this Toronto Star article: ‘Lost’ journals to reveal city’s most loved books.

Posted by: Kara | April 5, 2010

The Epic of Pride & Prejudice

Reading: Dracula – Bram Stoker
Page: 26 of 327

Phew! Finally finished Pride & Prejudice last week (March 31) and have never been happier to be done a book. It’s not that it was a bad book, but it was just long. And I’ve read books that are 600-700 pages in length. The language was long. The plot and characters were the only saving grace. I knew I was setting myself up for a different experience with Pride & Prejudice, but I guess I never took into consideration that the book was published almost 200 years ago (1813!!) The world was an incredibly different place 200 years ago. So it was the language, but also any references had to be explained in the footnotes if I had any chance of understanding the book. As it was, I struggled and quickly gave up attempting to understand the novel and instead set my mind to just finishing it.

That said … I do understand how the book is a literary classic. I was hoping against hope that all the characters I’d grown attached to would be happy. I hoped the elder sisters would be married off before the ripe old age of 23. For their sanity, of course – because who can imagine being a single, unmarried woman in 1813?!

Following further on that, the funniest part of the book was just how desperate the women were to get married, and how their own father fretted about how his family would survive after he died. Because again, who can imagine being a single, unmarried woman in 1813?! It’s almost unthinkable! But seriously, all jokes aside, the world of Pride & Prejudice focused heavily on the dependence of women on men. Coming from this current society, where women are not expected to get married by 20 and not expected to marry at all, it’s a drastic difference. If I had to choose a time to live, I choose now, thank you!

So this brings me to Dracula! And I’m enjoying it! I find myself in the dark castle, feeling the chills along my spine in the thick of the night, clutching the crucifix or garlic tight against my chest to ward off the evil in my midst. It’s a great read so far and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story takes me. I read a synopsis a while back (before I even thought of this challenge) on Dracula but I thankfully can’t remember all the plot details. So I know the story will be a surprise from beginning to end! I hope to compile a mental list of all the differences/similarities between modern vampire tales and this one just to see how the genre has changed.

Posted by: Kara | March 9, 2010

Exploring New Authors

Reading: Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Page: 193 of 385

As you can see, I’m not done Pride and Prejudice. In fact, I’m only about halfway through. Preliminary thoughts? As much as I want to adore the book, fall head over heels in love with the characters of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, I’m struggling with the language. I’m going to blame it on the fact that I haven’t read Victorian literature in a good 5 or 6 years. It just reminds me exactly why I decided to take on this challenge. My literary mind has fallen by the wayside with the likes of the Twilight series and Chicklit. I’m bound and determined to continue through Pride and Prejudice because once I get past the language and difficulty in understanding half the terms in the book, it’s actually quite entertaining. Elizabeth Bennet’s character has so much depth and she’s just so spunky!

I recently discovered the Slush Pile Reader, a website dedicated to finding the next and greatest author. Users register and can vote on submitted manuscripts, some completed, some not. Any user can also submit manuscripts. Once enough users visit and vote and the popularity of the site grows, the top ranked manuscript will be published! It’s still a very new site but there’s a lot of promise with it. It sounds like a great way to explore undiscovered writers and foster an interactive forum for discussing literature. I’ve registered and look forward to voting on the already submitted manuscripts.

Anyway, I wanted to update my page count and share the website!

Edit: I’ve just come across another similar website I’ll definitely be hitting up as well: This one was dreamed up by the folks over at HarperCollins, which adds a certain type of legitimacy that might be missing from Slush Pile Reader.

Posted by: Kara | February 19, 2010

The Lovely Kite Runner … Bones

Reading: Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Page: 51 of 385

That’s right – I “skipped” two books … However, I only skipped blogging about them. Oops. So here goes.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold:

The Lovely Bones was tragic and sad and beautiful all at the same time. The character of Susie Salmon will stick with me for a long time. But even more troubling is the statistics of missing women in Canada (as of October 2009):

“At this moment in Canada, there are 1,559 missing women on file with the Canadian Police Information Centre, a national case-tracking database maintained at the RCMP’s Ottawa headquarters.” – Source

That doesn’t even count missing girls. While I might not do this with every book I read, I find it hard to not take each book and relate it to an issue today. I think what struck me the most about this book was the lack of justice in the end. I found myself skipping ahead to find out whether Mr. Harvey was arrested. I won’t spoil the ending, but I found this plot line just sort of hung there – without leaving me with much relief, left me to believe that justice is rarely served in cases like these.

Murdered girls and women stay missing and their mysterious disappearances remain unsolved. I guess it’s only wishful thinking to believe things can be tied up in a pretty package in a novel, but maybe that’s the beauty of the novel in the end. It leaves you hoping and it leaves you thinking that maybe things still might turn out. Maybe Mr. Harvey’s sins will be found out, maybe they won’t. But at least there’s hope. That’s all that’s left in the end.

The Kite Runner by Khaleed Hosseini:

I just finished this book two days ago. Definitely recommended. I think it’s all so fresh in my mind right now and I can’t formulate my thoughts right now! But I can say that it opened my eyes to all the problems in Afghanistan, and also why it’s taking so much to be rid of the Taliban stronghold in the country. The book takes place throughout the life of the main character, Amir. It ventures through his childhood into his teens to adulthood. Afghan and muslim traditions are tactfully explained to non-muslims such as I and were much needed.

I was sucked into the life of Amir, Hassan and their family, friends and enemies. Hosseini’s characters are in depth, strong and well-developed. I rooted for the heroes and sneered at the villains. The tragedy in Amir’s life is juxtaposed by certain beautiful moments in his life such as his wedding, kite running, and his father’s pride in him. While I knew this was a wonderful book, I really didn’t know how I’d feel about it. I always thought it was foreign to me, and because it was a bizarre title to me (I wondered what a Kite Runner even was – and I’m still not 100% sure!), I hesitated for two years before I read it. Ignorance is bliss as they say. Except I almost missed out on a beautiful literary experience.

And so now I’m on to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. What a change! I’m going to need some time to adjust to the style of writing and phrasing. I am, however, happy to note that this edition has footnotes as well as discussion before and after the book. While I skipped over it at the beginning, I might go back (might being the operative word) and read the discussions once I’m done the book. I’m only a chapter into it, so I can’t say a whole lot. We’ll see how my adjustment back to my high school reading days goes.

Until then, I’m off!

Posted by: Kara | January 22, 2010

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Reading: The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Page: Finished

Oh wow. I just finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. To say I enjoyed this book would be a supreme understatement. It had all the important elements at every writer’s disposal: intrigue, romance, sadness, sensuality … everything. As the reader, I longed to know what would happen next, or in this book’s case, what has already happened. The time-shifting in the book wasn’t distracting and only added to the narrative.

The main characters, Henry and Clare, are well developed and surprising. Both are mysterious in their own way but lay almost every emotion out to the reader. Even with the novel’s sad undertone, I found myself rooting for the two – hoping against hope that they’ll be together in the end. I won’t give away anything to anyone who hasn’t read it – but there are surprises all throughout.

My reading time has been almost cut in half now since I take the streetcar home instead of the subway. The few times I’ve attempted to read on the streetcar were met with motion sickness, so that’s not happening anymore. But morning subway rides and 30 minutes before bedtime are still my time for reading.

Days to read: 18
Average pages per day: 29

Posted by: Kara | January 4, 2010

Start Your Engines!

Reading: The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Page: 50 of 518

I’m excited to say my BBC Book List challenge has begun! I’m starting off easy with The Time Traveler’s Wife. 50 pages in, I’m already enjoying it. I’m trying to get used to all the time-jumping in the book. It’s starting to look like the book is still linear in its story-telling – switching between Henry and Clare’s POVs (points of view) at certain moments in time. It’s safe to say that I’ll enjoy this book. I may watch the movie once done as I don’t want to spoil anything beforehand.

I remember as a child how excited I got when I received a new book for my birthday or Christmas, or how thrilling it was to visit the local library or book store and search the stacks for a new wonder. Topping all of my wish lists every year was books. I commend my parents for instilling a love of reading into my life, and I firmly believe that my love of writing stemmed directly from this.

My niece received a new book for her birthday (which happens to be today – Happy 5th Birthday Belle!), and her reaction this past weekend brought me back to my excitement over books. Although she can’t read yet, she loves to be read to every night by her mom or dad, relishing, I’m sure, her time alone with one or the other.

Next reading session will be possibly at the gym tonight or before bed. A slow cooker pot of ratatouille last night means a simple dinner and an early start to reading!

Posted by: Kara | November 12, 2009

Gearing Up

Reading: Chasing Harry Winston, Lauren Weisberger
Page: 60 of 278

It’s been a few months since I wrote here, and although my challenge has yet to start, I thought I’d throw an update out there on my recent book reading. I just finished the 8th book (From Dead to Worse) of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. There are two more published books of the series I don’t have, but with any hope, I can grab these for my birthday or Christmas. Maybe I can read them in between my challenge – or finish them beforehand if I’m lucky.

My current book is from the author of The Devil Wears Prada. At the library, it was a choice between Chasing Harry Winston or The Devil Wears Prada by this author. I decided I wanted to try something different. So far, it’s pretty good and follows three women as they pledge resolutions to change their lives. One pledges to sleep with a man on every continent she visits in upcoming business trips; another pledges to have a monogamous relationship; and another, whose life is pretty much perfect, pledges to appreciate perfection. I look forward to how the pledges pan out.

As my BBC Book List challenge draws near, I’ve planned the first book, starting off easy: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I actually found this book left behind by a roommate, so I figure it’s fair game. I’m looking forward to this one as I’ve heard the book is quite great. After that, maybe I’ll tackle The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I actually own this but for some reason haven’t read it. So I figure it’ll factor up there on my list.

I’m wondering if I’ll actually accomplish reading all these books. I read probably 2-3 hours per day when I factor in my 20 minutes each way on the subway plus one hour at lunch plus night reading. I’d say that’s probably at least 30-40 pages, if not more! Either way, I’m looking forward to this challenge and the next time I post, I’m sure I’ll be starting the first book!

Posted by: Kara | August 11, 2009

The First One

Reading: Club Dead, Charlaine Harris
Page: 43 of 292

As you may have noticed, it’s August. And I’m not reading a book from my list. I’m reading the third installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, of True Blood fame. The show was introduced to me first, and I watched the first season before I read the first book. The second season started and I found a box set on sale for $37.95. (It’s apparently now higher in price.) It’s difficult to not get wrapped up in the books, and the HBO show is different enough from the book that there are new story lines amongst those in the book. Now I can look forward to how the rest of the second season will play out, now that I’m done book two.

I have Dune Road by Jane Green waiting for me at the library. I’ve read many of Jane Green’s books, and haven’t been disappointed. Jemima J is my favourite, followed closely by one I just finished, The Beach House. On hold at my library (located conveniently right down the street!) is Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice. My original idea was to read all of Rice’s books in this specific series, but between Twilight and the Sookie novels, I’m quite sure I’ll be done with vampires by then. And I’ve never been one to care much about the trends.

So between Dune Road, Interview With The Vampire and the Sookie novels, I’m sure I’ll be covered for quite a while. Hopefully until January 2010 when I start my list. Hence why I’m waiting until then. I want to make sure my slate is clear for starting in 2010. We’ll see how this works! Until then, I’ll check back every once in a while and start off my reviews, etc with Dune Road, the newest of Green’s novels. In the meantime, please check out my portfolio website to learn a bit more about me, see my resume and read my feature, news and review articles up to now.