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Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Am Legend

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Reason for Reading: R.I.P. III Challenge, Classics Reading Challenge
Rating: 3/5

I had a love-hate relationship with the I Am Legend movie, and it has kinda been the same way with the book. When I saw the movie, I thought it was so scary I vowed never to watch it again, there were scenes I couldn't watch (I'm not a scary-movie person!), and I think they should have stuck with the original ending they filmed.

However. The movie stuck in my head as a generally very brilliant science fiction movie with thought-provoking ideas and good acting. I like a movie that makes me think at the end, and this one certainly did.

Now the book is really pretty different from the movie. There is a man, named Robert Neville, in both scenarios, who is the last man uninfected by a virus that has turned everyone else into evil zombie/vampire creatures, who is trying to find a cure. Other than that, a lot of the specifics are very different. I didn't like the Robert Neville of the book as much as I expected to. He was remarkably apathetic for a large portion of it, and honestly, the vampires of the book didn't scare me like I expected. This may totally be my fault for not reading closely enough, but I completely missed the distinction between types of vampires, which means the particulars of the ending didn't make sense to me until I looked up a plot summary on Wikipedia.

However. Once I reread the ending, I had a completely different perspective on it. I thought it was brilliant. Masterful. Chilling.

Can I recommend a book for the ending only? I found the lead-up to the conclusion to be at times boring, but I know there are plenty of other readers out there who really like this book. For some other perspectives, check out these reviews:

Book-A-Rama, Tripping Towards Lucidity

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Write on Wednesday-Nanowrimalicious

Becca's prompt today is regarding nanowrimo, which happens to be good timing for me. I've been gearing up this month to join nanowrimo for the very first time. This means stacks of books on my 'desk' (i.e. the couch), lots of notes, notecards and a steady decline in blog posting.

Yeah, I pretty much don't think I'm ready, nor do I think I'm capable, but it sounds like that is kinda the point... to write a novel despite all of that.

So in November, I will not be reading or reviewing any books. Rather than let bold. blue. adventure. go completely blank for a month, I was thinking I would periodically update about my nanowrimo progress (or depending on how I'm doing, lack thereof). Or I could just post pictures of myself in progressively more demented-looking poses, hunched over a computer screen...

Who else is wrimoing with me? Who else needs a push to join in and do it? Who is else thinks I'm completely insane???

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Reason for Reading: R.I.P. III
Rating: 4.5/5

Yeah, you know you're jealous that I have an autographed copy of The Graveyard Book. You're even jealouser I got mine at a book-signing event with Neil Gaiman.

Don't hate me, though.

Please?

Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way.

The Graveyard Book, if you've been hiding under a rock the past few weeks, is about a boy named Bod who grows up in a graveyard. Raised under the watchful eye of a childless pair of ghosts who died in the eighteenth century, and a guardian named Silas, Bod grows up knowing about fading, dreamwalking, and the mysterious creature in the hill, but the outside world remains unknown.

Gaiman said he was inspired by two things: The Jungle Book, and the sight of his young son riding his tricycle among the headstones of a nearby graveyard. The result is a story that it is simple, beautiful, and of course, a little creepy.

Living everyday among ghosts gives Bod a somewhat unique perspective on life. He learns his letters from rubbings of headstones. Where other students are learning languages like Spanish or French, Bod is learning how to ask for help in Night-Gaunt. He spends his days exploring the graveyard and making friends with all manner of dead folk.

I had to force myself to read this book slowly so that I could savor and enjoy it, because it was just that good. I loved the creative world that Gaiman imagined taking place each day in a graveyard, I loved Silas, I loved the structure of the stories, I loved the ending. And I am really not doing this story justice, so please check out these other reviews:

Becky's Book Reviews, You Can Never Have Too Many Books, Sophisticated Dorkiness, Melody's Reading Corner, Stuff as Dreams Are Made of, Blue Stocking Society, Stainless Steel Droppings, Nymeth

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nanowrimo

To nanowrimo or not to nanowrimo... that is the question. I have a full-time job, a blogging hobby, a reading hobby and not a lot of time. Can I really make this happen?

I have a book started. I have a good bit of research going. But do I have enough research to really dig into the meat of the book? Am I insane enough to attempt it?

Who else is crazy enough to do nanowrimo this year??

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Magic or Madness

Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
Reason for Reading: YA Reading Challenge
Rating: 4/5

I've been following Justine Larbalestier's blog for a while because I think she has interesting things to say on it, but I had honestly not read a single one of her books before. So at the library one day, I decided to rectify the situation, and I checked out Magic or Madness.

MOM is about a girl named Reason who is being sent to live with her wicked witch old grandmother, the woman she and her mother have spent her whole lifetime running away from.

Reason knows from the stories her mother's told her that her grandmother, Esmeralda believes in magic and all sorts of nasty things, like killing cats and hurting people with charms. Reason knows it isn't real, but her mother, now crazy as a loon and locked up in a mental hospital, has warned her not to trust her grandmother.

I can't say too much more about this book without giving everything away, but you're probably already guessing (and the book cover reveals) that magic is real, and Reason will have to review what she believes and who she trusts.

Larbalestier creates an interesting take on magic that keeps this book more firmly in the real world than your usual fantasy. I liked that element, as well as learning Australian slang from main character Reason, who's an Aussie.

This book kept me reading because I wanted to learn more about magic and what it would end up meaning for Reason and her friends. My only complaint is that by the time everything was explained, the book was almost over and I was ready for more. I know there are two other books in this series, which I will need to pick up from the library at some point.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Books I need to review

I finished Magic or Madness forever ago. Yesterday I finished up The Graveyard Book.

I am part-way through about four other books.

Tonight I researched for a story instead of finishing any of my books or reviewing the ones I have managed to finish. My head is full of trivial bits of information about the fourteenth century. Anyone want to know how houses were furnished back then? Or learn about the extreme lack of hygiene/sanitation? Yeah.

On a side-note, I'm insanely jealous of everyone who got to do the Readathon this time around! So far I've managed to have stuff going on each time. This time, for example, I spent the weekend hanging out with relatives at a family wedding, enjoying free booze, food, and people-watching.

Next time, I'm just going to put the Readathon down on my calendar instead of whatever else threatens to come up so that I don't have to miss it again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I am Elinor Dashwood

You are Elinor Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! You are practical, circumspect, and discreet. Though you are tremendously sensible and allow your head to rule, you have a deep, emotional side that few people often see.

I am Elinor Dashwood!


Take the Quiz here!

Like all personality quizzes, I think this perfectly sums up who I am in a nutshell :-)

Although of all Austen's heroines, I do like Elinor, and I especially like Emma Thompson's portrayal of her in the movie version. I may or may not have skewed the answers a little since the questions make it obvious (if you've read her books) which characters they are pointing towards.

So which heroine are you??

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Things That Are Cool

*A brisk walk on a fall day
*Sushi
*Playing with the puppy
*Pumpkin carving
*Convincing a friend to read Neil Gaiman AND post it on his blog
*Strawberry cheesecake crepes
*Fall weddings

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon by Philip K. Dick
Reason for Reading: R.I.P. III Reading Challenge
Rating: 3.5/5

When the back of the book cover says "Welcome to the nightmare reality of Philip K. Dick", you know the book will fit in with the R.I.P. Challenge. This book is a collection of several short stories written by Dick that examine the interplay of technology and humanity, and what constitutes reality.

Although I rated the book overall 3.5/5, it's because I either loved or hated the stories. A few seemed too obvious and outdated, others were exceptionally good. The title story in particular is one that will stick with me. A man is traveling to a new colony in suspended animation, only something goes wrong and he isn't fully asleep. The ship is put in a dilemma. There is no air or gravity for the man to be fully woken up, but he can't be fully put back into suspended animation. If he is left conscious for the full ten years, he will go mad. The ship decides that he will resurrect the man's memories for him, so that he can spend the time traveling to the new planet in an extended dreamlike state. However, a childhood trauma that left its mark on the man keeps emerging from the dreams, turning each pleasant scenario thought up by the ship into a nightmare. Does it matter if you are awake or dreaming when you can't tell the difference anymore?

Two other stories worth mentioning are What'll We Do With Ragaland Park?, a story in which a simple folk singer can change the world... his lyrics somehow alter reality. What does one do with ultimate power? Sing about world peace or destroying your enemies? Explorers We is about a doomed group of astronauts that returns to earth. They can't understand the hostility of the townspeople, when by all accounts they should be heroes. As it turns out, they've already returned to earth, and they will again. And again.

Like I mentioned, there were some stories I didn't care for much, like one that included uber-powerful robots that somehow managed to develop a weird religion. Or another in which a cat gets killed. But despite that, I recommend this book to all lovers of sci fi. This is not the book to introduce you to science fiction, but if you already know and love the genre, this is a great, if less well-known collection from Philip K. Dick.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

So Last Night When I Got to See Neil Gaiman...

... It was really awesome. During this book signing tour, Neil skipped the usual waiting in line to get an autograph. Instead, we got to watch some clips from the upcoming movie version of Coraline, listen to Neil read a chapter from The Graveyard Book, and listen to some Q & A. Last night was his last stop on the tour, in my hometown of St. Paul, MN.

The new Coraline movie looks absolutely awesome, by the way. It is a stop-motion film, and in one of the clips we watched, they show the literal set and miniature actors. Watching the clips, I quickly came to the conclusion that Coraline is the type of book that might possibly be just as good or even better on screen. While reading the book, you know the whole time about the Other Mother having button eyes, but its so much creepier to see it.

If you have not heard what The Graveyard Book is about, Neil explained last night that when his son was young, the house was too small for his son to ride his tricycle inside, so Neil would take him across the street to a graveyard. The sight of his son peddling among the gravestones mixed in his imagination with the story of The Jungle Book, where an orphaned child is raised by animals. In The Graveyard Book, a young boy is raised by ghosts and named Nobody Owens, or Bod for short. As in The Jungle Book, each chapter is a sort of short story that can stand alone, but still relates to all of the other chapters.

I haven't read the book, as I just got my (autographed!) copy last night, but my husband, whom I graciously allowed to start reading the book, says what he has read so far is really good. Which of course it would be, being Neil Gaiman and all.

You can actually listen to all of the chapters of the book now online, which is also awesome.

For my husband and I, though, the highlight of the evening was the Q & A. Neil is not only a clever writer but a witty speaker. Most of the questions he must have answered time after time after time, but he had the audience cracking up to his answers to such questions as "Which of your characters would you invite to dinner to meet your family?" (His answer: "I would be terrified... they'd come over and we'd be eating and then they'd ask me, 'Hey, what was that broken arm on page 73 all about?' I'd say, 'Well, it made for a good story', and they'd be like, 'Well, it hurt!' ").

One of the audience members wrote on his question card: "Why Minnesota?" As you may or may not know, Neil moved from Great Britain to Minnesota. Neil explained that really there were two different questions based on where you put the emphasis. "If the question is why did I move to Minnesota, the answer is that I had no idea what the cold was going to be like when I got here. But I like the idea that it is actually an existential question... Why Minnesota?"

As a final note, I have to add that the event took place in an old church. At first, we thought it was a bit odd, but the lights were turned off a few times for dramatic effect and the half-light through the stained-glass windows really set the scene for a reading from a book set in a graveyard.

And check this out for Neil's take on the event last night.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Haha I'm Going to See Neil Gaiman Tonight

And I bet you wish you were too. If you live near St. Paul, you can, tonight at 7 pm at the St. Paul United Church of Christ.

***Brag over (for now, until I have pictures and stories from said event to brag about.) ***

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This is Awesome

I don't know why but it is.

Thanks to Google, you can visit a time machine into the past. Or the next best thing. The Google archive from January 2001.

Thoughts:

I completely forgot that I at one time wrote a two sentence movie review about X-Men on a movie review website.

Kimberly Koski Great entertainment, better than expected

I saw my name there, in black and white and thought to myself... did I really write this? And I have concluded that since I have never found another person with my name online, I must have.

Al Qaeda pulled up 1,670 hits in January 2001. That's a far cry from the 16,700,000 hits currently on Google.

Wikipedia was apparently a tiny concept known only too a few. A mere 681 hits, compared to 272,000,000 today. The weirdest part of the Google 2001 is not seeing the pretty much ubiquitous Wikipedia page pulled up with every search. How weird is that??

I think this picture speaks for itself. But since you asked, here's the article accompanying the picture:

These days, cell phones provide an incredible array of functions, and new ones are being added at a breakneck pace. Depending on the cell-phone model, you can:

  • Store contact information
  • Make task or to-do lists
  • Keep track of appointments and set reminders
  • Use the built-in calculator for simple math
  • Send or receive e-mail
  • Get information (news, entertainment, stock quotes) from the Internet
  • Play simple games
  • Integrate other devices such as PDAs, MP3 players and GPS receivers

Bwah ha ha. I like that there are links to explain what e-mail and the Internet are.

Clicking on the link to email, you are informed of this:

Every day, the citizens of the Internet send each other billions of e-mail messages. If you are online a lot, you yourself may send a dozen or more e-mails each day without even thinking about it. Obviously, e-mail has become an extremely popular communication tool.

Why yes, I do probably send a dozen or more emails each day. I keep getting one from this really nice Nigerian widow who says she's got a great deal for me if I email her over my Social Security and bank number.

My favorite bit is that Barrack Obama pulled up only 9 hits. John McCain was a decent 225,000.

So what cool things are you finding?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weekly Geeks #18 & #19

#18
Last week's Weekly Geeks assignment was to catch up on something. My most important goal was to catch up on my sleep, I give myself a B+ on that front. I'm recovering (finally) from a nasty cold that had me held down all last week.

I also got my challenge list and books read in 2008 up to date. I discovered, after revisiting the list of Mythopoeic Award winners and contenders that I've actually finished the Mythopoeic Award Challenge. Yay for unintentionally finishing a challenge.

I finally got caught up (so to speak) on Google Reader. I actually saw 0 unread posts for the first time in oh.... let's not even go there.

And I even updated my list of challenges in my sidebar!

That was a lot of work, probably the reason why I hadn't done it.

#19
Weekly Geeks assignment this week is to list the top books I've read that were published in 2008. Surprisingly (I'm behind on everything always) I do have a few favorites to share. Here are my top recs.

Fifteen Minutes of Shame by Lisa Daly
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Marie-Therese, Child of Terror by Susan Nagel
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson