Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Trailers!

Lol, I don't exactly know what to think of the Gone Girl trailer to be honest. While I get the music choice, I wish the trailer had a darker feel? I don't know.


Huh, kind of feel like watching Notting Hill now....


And Rosemary's Baby!!!!


I think I'm going to read the book before this!

Are you guys excited??

Amy

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art


Yes, I will admit it, "a tale of cannibalism" is what drew me to this book, I am strange.

But I stayed for so much more! I did a lot of anthropology coursework in college and also I grew up in a small Christian denomination that heavily emphasized missions and so I grew up hearing stories about cultures all over the world...the less glamorous ones (so to say) and that's something I'm really thankful to my childhood for. Reading this book reminded me of those stories and of anthropology and I think that greatly contributed to my enjoyment of it.

Plus, one of the things I'm discovering that I love about this kind of narrative nonfiction is seeing how things are developing in different areas and then clash together creating whatever dramatic event is being written about.

So here you have a description of life in New Guinea among the Asmat and how different their culture is to ours. Which...is like the understatement of the year. Everything about their lives was different and this of course included headhunting and cannibalism. Throw in some Western invasion and you start to get the picture. And then you also have the story of Michael Rockefeller who came to New Guinea in search of primitive art which was becoming quite popular and was especially collected by his father.

Rockefeller disappeared while in New Guinea and the official story was that he drowned. However, there was a lot of rumors that maybe he was actually killed and eaten by the Asmat and so Hoffman decided to investigate the history and see if he could learn what really happened.

Throughout the book he retells the history of New Guinea--the revenge killing, the headhunting and cannibal traditions, the Dutch trying to establish authority, the arrival of Catholic missionaries, Rockefeller's time in New Guinea, the search for him afterwards, etc. He intersperses these chapters with stories of his own visits to New Guinea, the efforts he made to research the history, interview key eyewitnesses, etc. It all makes for an incredibly engaging and compelling read.

I thought the stuff about how the art was so much more and everything had spirits attached was really interesting because I remember when I used to visit the St. Louis Art Museum and go to the floors with the tribal art that it always felt really creepy to me. Of course it was probably that missionary influence--they'd tell us about the evil spirits the people believed in, but still!!

I also think Hoffman touches on part of why a story like this is so interesting...there's some sort of fascination with the idea that a rich young white man can be so vulnerable in the end and end up as nothing more than food--like when he recreates the scene in the beginning of the book you're sort of like...WAIT! It shouldn't be so easy.

In any case, a really interesting read, and pretty fair I think!

*arc received from publisher.

Amy

Thursday, April 10, 2014

9 Thoughts for the Weekend

*Life goes in cycles. I remember Meghan talking once about how she cycles between video games and reading, and I'm like that with TV and books. Lately I'd prefer to read than to watch anything it feels like. I'm still watching a few things that I enjoy, but nothing that's like...inspiring me. It's hard to explain. But yay for reading! I had two reviews this week and I'll have at least three next week so long as I can write them.

*I think the fact that most shows I enjoy are 10-13 episodes long is the problem. Like, by the time they come back a whole year has passed and I'm in a different place. And while I definitely watch TV as entertainment, I also watch it for a lot of the same reasons I read, so by the time a show comes back it might not hit me in the right way again. Does this make sense? Like, I still objectively realize The Americans is a good show and I still enjoy it a lot, but I'm not connecting with it the same way as I did last year. Bates Motel is depressing me big time, because I think I just feel the heaviness of it all so much more. etc. I still love both of these shows, but they aren't lighting a fire in me, I guess. I'm looking forward to Orphan Black, though, because ALISON. Anyway, I think The Walking Dead's 16 episodes split in fall and summer model might actually be the most ideal cable can get for me. So basically, everyone talks about how much better cable's shorter seasons are, but this right here is the downfall of it all for me.

*I am ff'ing through Dancing with the Stars for the first time in my life, just to see Meryl Davis and Charlie White. I can't decide which of them I want to win. I like the dances, but they are really short, I don't know. Anyway, I bring this up because I was puzzling over something today. Meryl is partnered with Maksim Chermikovsky who has a rather....uh interesting history with his partners--he's not patient or kind, a bit of a jerk? But he's all doting on Meryl and this has sent a lot of his fans and hers into shipper glee, talking about how she's the kind of girl that can tame him, etc. I have to admit I was in a little bit of shock when I first started reading this because it was nearly identical language to what I hear a lot of shippers say about bad boy ships in fictional TV shows--and it's an idea I generally reject. If someone is a jerk and treats other women poorly, they will probably eventually treat their special girl poorly, too. I read Meryl's tumblr tag on a fairly regular basis and today I saw someone say something about how the right person can bring out the best in you. And well, this is also something I agree with, that some personalities mesh better than others, etc. But I don't know, like I find the whole idea that Meryl is just so much better (as a person not as a dancer which obvs she is) than the previous women Maks was partnered with that she's able to bring out the gentler side of him, etc. I feel like it ends up kind of...blaming the other women for Maks treatment of them which doesn't sit well with me. There has to be a happy medium right? Like, yes some people bring out the best in you, but on the other hand, that doesn't give you an excuse to be a jerk to everyone else? I hope this makes sense! Anyway, Meryl and Maks certainly fit a popular shipping trope as evidence by how many people are shipping them!

*The Rosemary's Baby mini-series is airing a month from today, you guys!!! I'm so excited! I hope it's great.

*I'm also on a nonfiction reading kick which is the weirdest thing ever.

*The movie for A Monster's Call is set for 2016. That seems so long from now!!

*A terrible looking horror movie is coming out this weekend so naturally I want to see it. I just like bad horror movies, I don't know. Of a certain kind, though! Slasher films need not apply.

*That reminds me that I saw a trailer for The Purge II and it looks like it takes place on the street which a lot of people wanted...so maybe it will be better than the first one? I know I'll see it.

*Has anyone seen Noah? I do want to see it and I love that once I do there's already a ton of interesting and thoughtful stuff on the Christian internet for me to read about it!

UGH I wanted to make this a belated Thursday Thirteen and I had so many random thoughts today but I forgot to jot them all down. So here have nine thoughts instead! HAPPY WEEKEND ALL!

Amy

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith


To be honest, I can't believe it took me so long to read this.

I actually received an ARC of this book during a book purge and didn't think I'd have time to get to it. It was sent to me for consideration of May releases after a due date so I tossed it in a pile of books I already planned to give away and...that was that. (yes purists I know. an ARC is not a book)

When the news broke, I was like nooooooo. I was so upset. I hoped against hope I hadn't really given it away and could read it immediately. But alas.

And then...I didn't read it anyway. It took me forever to get around to reading it and I actually suggested to a group of friends that we read a book together as a way to stay in touch (lol I swear, I always have these grand ideas for staying connected with people that never work see also: The Friendly Book Nook) and I suggested The Silent Wife, but eventually we settled on this one and I'm so glad we did because I needed to read it, I enjoyed it, and it was high time!

Sorry Aarti! I don't think I actually have any deep thoughts on this book! I did enjoy it. I enjoy JKR's ability to quickly draw interesting and distinct characters and her humor in general. I loved Robin, especially, her enthusiasm for the job was adorable! I totally related. I actually thought it was a bit Sayers-esque (well I have only read Strong Poison so far!!) in that Robin did a lot of the heavy lifting in the undercover investigating. I especially loved when she tried on all the expensive clothes in the shop to get their gossip, aw.

I also liked some of the thematic explorations of fame--the idea that we can feel like we know someone when they're famous, etc. These ideas are always really interesting to me so it's fun to see a bit of it in this book. I also felt like there were several lovely passages during Strike's musings, but I read an ebook and I have yet to really figure out how to mark things in them. (in paper books I always just sort of know where things are and flip to them. SO MANY BAD HABITS) Oh! I do remember one of my favorite parts was when someone (ugh can't remember who) was talking about how people don't seem surprised by the death of someone like Lula, she sort of had it coming due to all the tragedy/missteps/lifestyle choices. But it is equally as tragic as anything else and deserving of just as much attention.

Curious for people who read...what did you think Strike's relationship with Charlotte? When she got back together with the original dude she was playing and he was all like "she's just doing this to hurt me" I felt so SAD. Just because I don't know, I hate relationships where a former relationship is always looming over everything. :( Of course, maybe he was right--the story never really made one hundred percent sense to me.

I sort of solved this one early...or I guess I should say that evidence/suggestions planted early enough made the conclusion not surprising to me. But I still enjoyed reading how it all unfolded and the various depictions of everything!

Okay, so yes I enjoyed the book. But...I don't know, I think maybe I like my crime fiction a bit darker? It's hard to explain, but this almost had the feel of being a cozy mystery despite, you know LANGUAGE. It was very enjoyable and I sped right through it, but I don't think it carries the same weight with me as some other crime/detective fiction that I like. But I still liked it and would recommend it, etc.

Anyway, share your thoughts with me! Will you read the next one? Were you like, "oh my gosh, I can't believe we didn't all know it was JKR immediately?"

PS. JKR is certainly keeping busy isn't she? Like, apparently Wild Beasts and Where to Find Them is going to be three films. There's another one of these coming out etc. I wish there was news on what's next for Suzanne Collins? Or is there and I missed it....

PPS Clearly I need to figure out how to make reviewing from an ebook work. How do you audiobook people do it??

Amy

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fargo!

So this is my new "when I think of a movie I should watch, I'll call it Film Club" Film club discussion post!

Fargo is one of those movies that I actually sort of remember when it came out (I was young okay) and it won a lot of awards and stuff and people were all about the Northern accents, etc. Lol.

I knew it had to do with snow and crime and that was basically it. But like, all the film critics I enjoy reading loooove The Coen Brothers so I figured it was a good bet. Plus, with FX doing a new limited series, I thought it would be worth checking out.

So I watched it! I really don't have a lot of deep thoughts about it! I read an essay by Catherine Falsani in her book about the Coen Brothers, "The Dude Abides" and while I think she makes some nice points--this movie didn't particularly strike any chord with me.

But I enjoyed it anyway? It was funny and interesting and different and really gave me that vibe of when people plan a war and think it's all going to be great and then everything gets messy and falls apart really fast--that's what these criminals felt like, lol.

Anyway, Falsani talks about how Marge represents the morality in this world--or the unexpected grace that can be found a la Flannery O'Connor's works. And it's really true that she's a remarkable character of grace and kindness. She's even pregnant representing all the hope in the world, aw. And smart and capable! It's great.

Um, hoping someone comes along with some great insights! Movies, like books, can be hard for me to have a discussion about--it's like I need for there to be something that really speaks to me for me to have something to say. It doesn't mean I didn't like the movie, though! Thumbs up!


Amy

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares


Time travel.

Sometimes I read a book or watch a show/movie and think, yeah I really DO like time travel. But it's never a concept that appeals to me on the first suggestion.

The Here and Now, though, really worked for me despite some of my initial reservations. For instance, I didn't know how I was going to feel about the forbidden love aspect of the story, but I didn't really mind it in the end as it made a lot of sense for the story. Forbidden love is always tricky because it needs to make sense and present a genuine conflict for the characters. So I think in this case the obstacles make sense and are surprising as the story progresses.

But that's not what sold me on this story. What I really enjoyed was the time travel story, the mystery, the way the story kept me guessing, and the appeal and rich ideas of traveling back through time for self preservation. There were obvious moral messages about preserving the environment, but these don't come at an easy cost.

Basically Prenna has certain rules she has to follow as part of her community, but one day someone throws a wrench in her understanding leading her on a wild adventure to discover if the future can be changed.

I enjoyed a lot! Recommended! I read an egalley!

Also, this is a good time to bring up maybe my favorite time travel story, 12 Monkeys, has been greenlit to series by Syfy. I don't really know what to think of this...it will probably be terrible, but I WANT IT TO BE GOOD.

Amy

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Sunday Salon*: Just a Few Things

--I will have a discussion post up for film club about Fargo on Tuesday. I watched it this weekend. I'm not sure I have much to say about it, so please come discuss. It both made me more interested and less interested in the show, ha. Ooops I should probably save this for that post!

--I am very excited for NBC's Rosemary's Baby. I liked the original film quite a lot, I love Zoe Saldana, and Patrick Adams will be a fantastic asshole husband, let's be real. Here's a teaser!

--Baseball started this week! There was a lot of rain, the Cardinals had a few very close games with barely any hits and then all hell broke loose. It's weird how nice it is to see the team again, aw baseball <3 --Speaking of, Shelf Awareness had a nice piece about baseball on Friday, and called it the sport closest to our literary souls. I guess that's why it is my favorite. :) If baseball was a book, though would it be War & Peace? Loooong with a lot of inaction and tons of strategy?

--I have book reviews coming up this week!!! I finally read The Cuckoo's Calling and also Ann Brashares's new one and hopefully more.

--It's weird in life how you can care intensely about something long past its expiration date and then one day you wake up and you just don't care anymore. I'd like to get to a place where I stop caring at the appropriate time, lol I always feel like I let go too early or too late and good grief both lead to regret.

--Oh! I still want to do the zombie book club! I will try to compile a list for voting later this week!

--Speaking of The Walking Dead, we were right? I ♥ Scott Gimple. He really is the best showrunner this show has had, and I love his perspective on it. For instance in a post-finale interview he said this, "I don’t think hope is looked at [enough]; hopelessness is en vogue, so I think it’s really cool that hope is a little punk rock." Of course this is why I love him, lol, that's adorable.

*I don't know I still use the title Sunday Salon, it just seems fitting somehow

Amy

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Going Over Blog Tour! With Special Guest Post from Beth Kephart and Giveaway!


I'm so pleased to be hosting Beth Kephart on her blog tour for Going Over, today! You can read my review of this magnificent book here!


GOING OVER: The first (first) page


Here is something true about my first, second, and third drafts of books. The first pages always have to go. They’re like revved engines, primped hair, extra jewelry, second desserts. They may seem appealing for a little while there, but after awhile, they are revealed for what they actually are—too much noise, too much fluff, too many extra calories.

Still, it's kind of fun (once you’ve survived the editing jitters) to look back on how a book began. Here, then, I share the first page of the original GOING OVER, before a very special editor named editor Tamra Tuller said, Well, hmmmmmmm.

S036

*

My mother knows, she’s watching—her breath icing the window and a smudge of old blue beneath her eyes. In the morning, the single whitened pane of glass will suffer like a cloud.

“I’m back, Mutti.”

“Danke, Ada.”

She will sleep, then, until the day comes for her, while Omi stirs her coffee with the smallest brick of bread.

***************************************************************************************************************************************************

Aw, so cool! I loved getting a glimpse of the first page!

Start reading the book for yourself with this free excerpt!

And be sure to check out the book trailer!



And Going Over has an incredible playlist! Check it out and imagine Ada and Stefan listening to these songs! ♥

Now for the giveaway!

I am happy to offer a signed copy of the book plus an audiobook to one lucky winner! To enter, just fill out the form below. Winners must be US or Canadian residents. Winner will be notified by email on April 10th!


Going Over by Beth Kephart


Cracking open a new Beth Kephart novel is like coming home...she's an author I can trust to create a world I will love--one infused with hope and love and gentleness despite difficulty every time I open one of her books. And while the settings and the circumstances change dramatically from novel to novel, there's a comforting familiarity about them and I mean that in the best possible way. (just in case it's possible to take that in a negative way!)

So when I started reading Going Over, I kid you not my heart actually just swelled with the goodness of it...the beauty of the language, the quick and easy way she establishes her characters as people I will care about who see the world with their eyes open. And the subject of Going Over is interesting and unique, a part of history I haven't thought about much in a long time--the time when Germany was divided into East and West.

Perhaps it's because they are written from the perspective of youth, or perhaps it's a theme that interests her anyway, but her books always have a struggle for freedom in them. And Going Over, of course, can apply that idea in a very literal way. Which makes it no less interesting, are we not all fighting to cross something in our lives?

Our two main characters are separated by the Berlin Wall but together in their hearts. They each face their own troubles in their homeland and they both want to be together. But is crossing over worth the risk? Is it worth the risk not to try?

I love how Ada is a street artist and she loves kids and she loves Stefan. Her life isn't perfect, even if she's in the Western half. Stefan is clever and loyal but understandably afraid to cross over.

Kephart does something different here by alternating the narrative point of view from Ada'a first person and Stefan's second. It's an interesting technique and effective, I think.

I loved every minute of this book, the vivid portrayal of life in Berlin, the ideas explored, the characters, the interesting and compelling situation, the lovely descriptions and language!

Highly recommended, of course!

I received a review copy from the publisher.

Amy