• Books

    Booking Through Thursday – Conversions

    This week on Booking Through Thursday:

    Do you find yourself thinking that the books you read would be good on film? Do you wish the things you watched on TV or in the movies were available as book?

    Some really can’t be converted, of course, but some definitely can (and it’s not always the ones you think will work). There’s something to be said for different forms of media, but a good story is universal … or is it??

    Sure, all the time. I watch and enjoy adaptations quite a bit since I like TV and film when I have time for it. As for the other way around, not that often. Some of my favourite TV shows in the past have been based on books or comic books. Things made for TV can be formulaic which is OK for that medium, but more boring in book form.

    They finally made a Life of Pi movie and I didn’t think they would, but I’ll be seeing that. Even aside from the book, I’m a fan of director Ang Lee’s work. There are definitely many books that are hard to capture on screen. The Golden Compass movie did not work in the end which is a shame, but it really wouldn’t be able to capture wide audiences. There are some books such as The Eyre Affair Thursday Next series and magical realism (e.g. One Hundred Years of Soltitude) books which would be extremely difficult to transfer. Also, I do get disappointed more when you go from book to TV show such as the case with “True Blood”. The shows become vastly different than the books which sometimes works out and sometimes doesn’t.

    I do agree a good story is a good story so I’ll keep reading and watching.

  • Knitting & Crafting

    WIP Wednesday: Twist Festival

    Twist Festival

    A quick update: I haven’t worked on my Girasole blanket very much. I am on the last repeat of Chart G now. It won’t be finished before September. Oh goodness, I’ll be so glad to finish it. Hopefully cooler weather will allow to work on it before the four month mark. Onto better news…

    On Saturday, I went to the first Twist Festival. It was good and I hope they do it again next year.

    I did not buy much, but I could have bought more if I was not with my family for which I was gratefully restrained! I did get two things from Gaspereau Valley Fibres:

    Festival Haul

    My first skein of Fleece Artist! It is a Canadian staple and I even bought it from Nova Scotians, but it is generally very pricey. I got this one at a good price and tax free! I don’t know what this colour of the Merino 2/6 is called.

    The Fleece Artist is sitting on 400g BFL rovings. Even though my learning to spin is on the back burner, I can’t help buying more fibre especially BFL! I can make a fine shawl from this.

    I made a list of possible shawls for the Fleece Artist Merino 2/6. I know people use it as sock yarn, but frankly, I find merino sock yarn with little to no nylon in it prone to holes. They aren’t practical even around the house.

    Does anyone have suggestions on what to do with a variegated skein of 4ply 350m merino that isn’t socks?

    For more WIP Wednesdays, go to Tami’s Amis.

  • Books,  Movies,  TV

    Austen Adaptations

    Austen in August

    I love books, but I also really like film and TV. I have watched a lot of book to movie/TV adaptations over the years, some good, some bad, some not at all like the book but still enjoyable. I thought it would be fun to end “Austen in August” by sharing some of the adaptations of Austen’s works that I have seen over the years. For most classic novels, the best adaptations are usually for the TV as the production has the best time to adapt and develop the characters, but there are a couple of very good feature film productions in this list as well.

    This is by no means a complete list. Some of the ones pre-1980 are harder to track down, and while I know many are uploaded on Youtube, I could not find the time this month to watch all the ones I hadn’t seen this month.

    To save additional space, I did not include the modern reinterpretation of the books such as Clueless for Emma, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Bride and Prejudice for Pride and Prejudice.

  • Books

    Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

    Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

    From The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle to Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, people can’t accuse me of not having eclectic taste in books.

    I got these books on Kindle some time ago right when it was getting a bit of buzz. I didn’t even know what they were about other than vaguely it was romance. Two of my best girlfriends read it, and both of them got into it. The more popular the books became, the more I saw the necessity of reading it. I am always fascinated by certain bestsellers

    A couple months ago, I randomly read a chapter of this book, and I was put off by the bad writing. This book was in serious need of an editor’s touch or rather, a severe dress down. Last week, one of my friends told me to look at the hilarious Amazon.com reviews of the book, and I finally buckled and read the book. One of the reviews on Amazon pointed out the bad writing and the author’s repetitive use of words.

    The following words made me roll my eyes ad nauseaum (and Grey can come on over to punish me for it): murmuring (don’t these people know how to talk?!), muttering, control, control freak, hot as a synonym to describe Grey, the Briticisms (which would be fine if any of these characters were actually British), and many other small things. For example, why didn’t Ana have a computer? I don’t know any person who went to university/college in the last five to ten years to not have a personal computer. How can two high GPA college girls share one laptop?

    Ana’s vocabulary also ranges from preteen to decent adult. It is inconsistent for an English major. I also did not like references to Ana’s subconscious and inner goddess. It was amusing the first couple of times, but grew increasingly juvenile.

    I have read a lot of fanfiction spanning several fandoms over the years. The novel reads like fanfiction. Not surprising since it was originally a piece of Twilight fanfic. It still feels like it though. It’s unpolished and it feels indulgent. Even the comparisons to Tess of the D’Urbervilles is half-hearted. It’s a lot of sex, but not a lot of character development or much of anything.

    Ana is slightly better than Bella (the reason I dislike Twilight the most), and there some moments early on when I even related to Ana. As the novel progressed, I became more and more indifferent to her due to the inconsistencies and the feeling that she wasn’t all that well developed.

    I admit that Christian Grey is different and much better than Edward Cullen, but like Cullen, he feels more like a product of women’s fantasies than an actual man. Not to say that good looking, wealthy, kinky young men don’t exist, but they are hard to come by especially the way Grey is. I think the reason that this book is so popular, aside from the sex scenes, is that Grey is one of the best fictional sex symbols I’ve read in a long time. The author makes him mysterious, sexy, charismatic, cold, playful, bad, passionate, communicative, intelligent, severe, attentive, strong, beautiful, distant, warm and it goes on. He has traits enough for most women’s fantasies and traits for the ideal romantic man. He is both repressed emotionally and sexually expressive. He is wealthy, cold, and distant, but needy and in lust enough for the heroine (who is the reader’s stand in). I have to say the author did a good job of making a character that so many women desire. On the other hand, it sometimes feels that Grey is a vacuum as a result and not a real character. He is made to be a perfect man even with his flaws; his flaws are what make him so appealing to many women. There just isn’t enough character development in this first part. I will give credit where credit is due; it’s not often an author creates a character that affect the admiration of so many women.

    I won’t say I love this book, but I finished it quickly enough both because of the vocabulary, the content, and there is a certain addictive quality. I am rather disheartened to think that such a mediocre piece of writing is making this much money. Ahh well, the mass wants what the masses want. Anyway, onto the sequel.

    Read on my Kindle August 25-27th 2012.

  • Books

    Sunday Salon: Busy August

    Sunday Salon

    This week I read and finished The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

    It has been a busy weekend. I am making jelly for the first time (or trying to), went on a road trip to Twist, and will be out today with a friend to an art gallery and some food. So now major reading today. I have a lot of books that I want to read and I even read a bit Fifty Shades of Grey. I think I will finish that tomorrow. It’s… amusing. Sometimes annoying, but I can see why it is a bestseller. I plan on reading the whole trilogy so it’ll be on massive post sometime in the future.

    I forgot to mention last Sunday Salon that I signed up for the Harry Potter Read Along from September 1st to December 15th, hosted by Lost Generation Reader. I reread Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last month just for fun. It’s one of my favourites, but I may as well reread some of the other books and Tales of Beedle Bard. I won’t reread all seven books because I will be busy with life and other reading challenges, but I will definitely reread the first and last books and a couple in between. This is not the first time I’ve reread the books for the blog either so I will only do a few of the books. Check out the Harry Potter tag. Rereading my posts on that in the past, I will focus the reread on the last book which I never wrote a proper post about, but did make predictions for.

    In other news, I don’t think I can read another book for Austen in August. I have been keeping myself too busy with many other things, but I am finishing a long post for Austen Adaptations to finish off the readalong. Watch this space.

    I’m off to prepare for my busy day.

    What are you doing to move about this last Sunday of August?

  • Books

    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

    My first Murakami novel! YAY! I have wanted to read him for years, and finally, I have done it.

    This book was very strange, but I really liked it. On GoodReads, I gave this a 4, but really this is a 4.5 for me. A lot of my books are probably half points on that site, but I digress.

    I do think there are elements of amazing 5 in it, but I found it dark that I am doubtful to pick it up again soon. I usually reserve 5 stars for books I want to really reread.

    Let’s preface this by saying I like literary fiction and yes, I do like magical realism. While magical realism is often linked with postmodernism, I find some post modernist books and authors hit or miss with me. For example, I’m not a big fan of Albert Camus.

    I do like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, especially One Hundred Years of Soltitude. For a long time, I really loved Louis de Bernières’s Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, but it hasn’t lasted in my reader memory as well as some other books for some reason. I do know that this genre an be polarizing and many people won’t like Murakami’s style. That’s fine; this is why I only ever offer personalized book recommendations. I may really like this book, I know many others who would hate magical realism.

    While magical realism does link up with fantasy, I am not one of those people who considers magical realism to be fantasy per se. As Marquez says:

    “My most important problem was destroying the line of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic.”

    In this weird way, I share a similar view to magical realist writers. They put to prose and poetry with how I have experienced life. Feelings and dreaming are not concrete and real life is often too strange as well. As a result, the best magical realist books are those which I can relate to the feeling of how they portray life. I am very much a dreamer, and even lately, I have been experiencing that thin line with what is real and what is fantastic. I do not mean to say that I am living in a dream world or that I am out of touch with reality, but there are definitely moments in both dreams and reality that influence the other. You can not have something without it being defined by its opposite as Neil Gaiman once wrote in his Sandman series.

    “fact not be true, and truth may not be factual” (p 525)

    It has been a long while since I read anything this literary. I won’t really try to explain this work, but I will say it was at times funny, erotic, introspective, strange, dark, meta, sensual, and violent. I am not sure how much war and violence feature in other Murakami works, but like Kurt Vonnegut and even Joseph Heller, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle has a theme focusing on collective trauma from war and violence. The book does deal heavily in that, but also in the violence of the mind. While some of the acts are not physical and Murakami deals heavily with the subconscious and the other, it still makes an impression.

    I often look for characters to attach onto in books. At first, I didn’t really attach onto anyone in this drama. This is difficult in magical realism books sometimes. Characters are transient, hard to reach and mysterious in these kind of works. Indeed, most of Murakami’s characters in this novel appear and then disappear leaving the reader wondering where they are. I got a sense of the protagonist and rooted for him, but I wouldn’t say I cared for him deeply like I would Elizabeth Bennet or Harry Potter. Even so, I find with really great magical realist works, the settings, the situations and moments stay. It’s as if one attaches onto aspects of the story and concepts rather than the characters.
    This is not really a book about characters or rather, it’s more than that. I did grow to like the protagonist, he is very much an everyman. I think that makes Murakami really stand out because his settings and writing can set up the most ordinary things and then twist it easily.

    “I mean, this is not a movie or a novel. We can’t really do that sort of thing.” (p. 429)

    While reading this book, a voice in my head kept saying “This is good”. I can’t necessarily go into many details about why I found it so good; the book even made me uncomfortable at times. It really is almost epic. There are several stories. I am impressed with the amount of things Murakami crammed into this novel. Some people will consider it bloated, but I did not mind. He was able to deftly weave many threads. When I finished reading the book, I felt a bit tired because I felt I had absorbed so much and yet in not that very much time or pages.

    I have many questions regarding the ending, but that’s ok. In this instance, I feel like I am suppose to really think about what I read and some books are like life, there is no closure. In any case, I think it did end rather well all things considered. It certainly doesn’t annoy me that I didn’t know what happened to character XYZ.

    Finally, I must applaud the translator Jay Rubin. Translation is not easy especially for such prose and style. I once did work where I had to translateand summarize things from one language to another and it was not easy. I appreciate the work of translators  especially those of prose and poetry. If you are interested in translation, Japanese and/or Murakami, there is an interesting email roundtable from Murakami’s English translators.

    My first Murakami was a success. I think I will try to go from chronological order for his books now. I picked up Wind-Up Bird because it called to me at the library, and I took it out at least two times before. I couldn’t manage to find the time to start it until now. I’m really glad I finally did.

    Read August 19-24th 2012.

  • Books

    Booking Through Thursday – Discuss

    On this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

    Do you like to talk about what you read? Do you have somebody to talk WITH?

    The short answer is, I have a blog where 85% is about books!

    I do like to talk about what I read. I don’t have a large group of friends to begin with and among them, I am probably one of the biggest readers. Of course, I do still have a couple of other people whom I talk books with, one of them even has a blog too. I tell one of my best friends what I read and she asks, but she doesn’t read as much as me. Another friend and I only talk books of a certain genre such as fantasy and YA, but she isn’t interested in classics.

    This is the only space where I can talk about most of the books I read since I created it for myself.

    How about you?

  • Knitting & Crafting

    WIP Wednesday: Never Ending Blanket


    Good grief this thing has taken forever. Progress on the blanket that never ends: I am on the first repeat of the penultimate chart G. After finishing this chart twice, it’ll be the edging.

    This blanket has taken the whole of summer. I am now focusing more of my spare time on this blanket because I want to finish it soon. The weather has cooled down so I can come home from work and knit.

    Given my current progress, I can finish Girasole before this month ends. After that, I’ll probably knit some socks. I haven’t knit socks since last year!

    I haven’t been spinning. I’ve been busy with reading, the blanket and other stuff. I sort of hit a plateau in my development. I know I should to keep it up daily, but I am finding it difficult and a bit tedious since it takes forever to spin. Unlike with knitting, I can’t really see the results of my work as well. I am also unsure of what I should do with this yarn I am spinning. I will most likely ply it in two though it’ll take awhile to get there.

    In other news, I am waiting for my first sock yarn club shipment from Hazel Knits. I bought it last month for the early bird pricing and I’ve heard a lot of good things about the yarn and the club. I’ve always wanted to join one, but the expense has always put me off. The good thing about this club is that you can buy it per shipment.

    This weekend, I’m going to the Twist festival in Western Quebec. I haven’t been coveting any yarn or patterns lately. I’ve had less knitting mojo this summer than compared to other ones. I hope I find some affordable and nice yarns when I go on Saturday.

    For more WIPs, check out Tami’s Amis.

  • Misc & Site

    Sunday Salon: Haruki Murakami

    Sunday Salon

    Hello! This week, I read Pride and Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, Love & Freindship and The History of England, and Death Combes to Pemberley.

    I haven’t started anything in the last couple of days as I have been busy trying to finish this blanket I’ve been working on since May.

    Today, I do want to start and read as much as possible in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. This will be my first Murakami novel; I think I read a lovely short story of his once in an anthology or online and liked it. It’s taken me awhile to actually get down to reading one of his works though and I’ve also amassed a few for Kindle in the event my library doesn’t carry it out.

    The weather is still sunny, but decidedly cool and not blisteringly hot like i was last month. I am beginning to feel glimpses of autumn. Indeed, I have been on the lookout for tan boots now.

    I took a yoga class this week and it’s been a long while since I did that. I plan to knit more this week and I’ll follow it up with a wool festival next weekend perhaps.

    What are you doing this Sunday?

  • Books

    Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

    Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

    This was my first P. D. James novel, but far from my first Austen adaptation. I do not read a lot of modern mysteries, but I got this book for the Kindle when it was published last year. I even read the first couple of paragraphs back in December, but I have largely read from real books and my large TBR queue since then. The Austen in August challenge made me remember this book so I’m finally reading it.

    I have read a number of adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, both published and in fanfiction form. They are not usually amazing to rival Austen’s works, but they can be amusing, fun and a light read. This kind of fiction is essentially indulgent. Indulgent for the author to express their love for the work and indulgent for the audience who want more from their beloved characters.

    It is not easy to make a story believable, canon or to engage a reader with their beloved characters. I am generally forgiving about this because no one can be Austen, but you can still write a decent reinterpretation. This work didn’t quite work out for me in that aspect.

    As this is my first novel of James, I am not sure what her usual style is. I found the paragraphs and the sentences to be sometimes too long. It was also very expository at times. There was a little too much plot and not enough focus on the characters, and for many of us, we just want to read more about Austen’s characters and their relationships.

    There wasn’t enough of Elizabeth and while Darcy was there, I didn’t really feel we got to know him that well until the end. Also, James changed Colonel Fitzwilliam to being less friendly and more tetchier. She gave reasons for this, but the Fitzwilliam in her book does not resemble the one in the original novel at all. I felt this change was just a plot device.

    The mystery wasn’t hard to solve, but a lot of the book was focussd on the nineteenth century law trial which was even more exposition. There is definitely good historical details, but it doesn’t make the novel for me.

    The ending is melodramatic. It’s a bit over the top and I thought she overplayed a little too much in Jane’s sandbox there. It was just too sensational and also, mostly for plot and not really much for the characters. Darcy and Elizabeth were introspective at points, but I kinda felt it served for more exposition and as a way for James to posit her views about the characters. Sometimes I felt the book was taking itself a bit too seriously.

    All in all, an average read and reinterpretation of Austen. While I never had an inflation to read PD James before, I will also continue this feeling after this book. It wasn’t for me.

    Read August 14-15th 2012.

  • Books

    Booking Through Thursday – Sniffle

    On this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

    What was the most emotional read you have ever had?

    The older I get, the more prone to tears when reading or watching movies. I am a sensitive person, but when I was younger, I didn’t really cry or feel emotional as easily as I do now when reading.

    There have been a couple of emotional reads, but I can’t name in which I outright balled or became verklempt. Or maybe there was, I’ve blocked it out from my memory. I don’t really sob for books though.

    In recent reads, I became a bit teary when reading Little Women. I tend to get emotional for children’s or young adult books: certain scenes in Harry Potter (“Always”), the end of His Dark Materials, Watership Down I think. I also find Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go seems to really touch me.

    I do have a lot of feelings for books in general. The best ones are the ones you remember having any positive or deep feeling about. As people and especially as a woman, one remembers the emotions things illicit in us more than anything. I remember how evocative Anna Karenina or One Hundred Years of Solitude was when I read them.

    What were your emotional reads?

  • Books

    Love & Freindship and The History of England by Jane Austen

    Love & Freindship and The History of England by Jane Austen

    Another reread from the collected minor works of Austen. I won’t do a proper post on Sanditon and The Watsons since they are unfinished, but I rather liked their beginning especially Sanditon’s when I read them three years ago.

    These are just two of the juvenilia that I have read from Austen which features unpublished works she wrote as a youth primarily for her family.

    Austen wrote this story when she was fourteen. Like most of her works, this is epistolary, and yet again, the right length. I think one early criticism of eighteenth century epistolary novels are that they are too long. I always like the length of Austen’s works; she’s actually concise for her time and I often wish her stories were longer.

    This story is almost a fairy tale or a fable. The whole point of it is to mock sensibility and that trend of her time. There is a flair for the melodramatic in this work as the main characters are silly idiots. There is a lot of fainting.

    Jane Austen’s predilection for sense in romance is one of the things I like most about her novels. I like that her heroes and heroines fall in love, but the females don’t go around acting hysterical or dramatic about it.

    The History of England

    This was rather amusing if you love history like I do. If you know British history, more the better. Very tongue in cheek and witty retelling of some kings and queens of England and Scotland from Henry III to George II’s beheading.

    It’s a satire on standard history books. It mocks historians and their so-called objectivity. I rather liked her literary references and tone. It’s the kind of work young historians would appreciate and it does make it more interesting to learn.

    Austen wrote this when she was fifteen. Goodness, I wish I had a slither of how much talent she had as a youth. I did find both works amusing in their own way and different than her novels of course except I still clearly saw Austen through it. I like her tongue in cheek humor and style of writing, her ability to not take things too serious, and her social commentary.

    I recommend the juvenilia to see more shades of Austen