Day 07 – Annoying Plot Devices

Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise

This will be brief because I’m exhausted today, sorry. One of my biggest pet peeves in reading are POV changes within a single scene when it’s done for no reason. This is different from an Omniscient Point of View where the narrator is a naturally freewheeling voice, like in old Victorian novels. These POV shifts frustrate me the most when it comes to romance novels because the thing that makes the angst compelling for me is insecurity and doubt. I just feel that this device is the lazy way to write. I wish you would stop doing this, Johanna Lindsey. ;_;

Note: I don’t mind changes in POV after the scene or a chapter has finished. Within a scene, however, it gives me whiplash.

Day 06 – Favorite of a Favorite

Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time

Dorothy L. Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise

This meme has been difficult to answer at times because it shows the holes in my reading preferences. All the questions regarding trilogies, quadrilogies or series gave me some pause since I don’t generally follow or finish book series the way many of my friends do. The only one I’ve ever done so was Harry Potter, and I haven’t even read the last book yet (I know, I know. But I’ve read the spoilers and I’m sure it’ll make me cry).

I’m choosing my favorite book in what can be loosely described as a series. Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey books have been a long-time favorite. Several elements make that pop in and out of the books make them enjoyable, particularly the amazing Harriet Vane. My favorite Vane-featured novel is Have His Carcase. But although Murder Must Advertise does not feature Harriet, it’s still my favorite. I have already made a review post for this title so I’ll keep my reasons brief.

For one, it’s such a witty romp of a book, with witty commentary about the advertising business in post-World War I London, and how advertisers seldom really look out for their customer’s well being. There’s also something delightful and Peter Wimsey going undercover.

Day 05 – Book Hatred

Day 05 – A book or series you hate

I’m going to give you guys a twofer for this. First is Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic Books.

I’m going to come off sounding a little defensive by stating first that I absolutely have nothing against Chick Lit. I was and still am a fan of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and several of Meg Cabot’s books. One of my top favorite books, Melissa Banks’ Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, is considered Chick Lit by some, though with a slightly more literary bent.

This book enrages me so much and I can’t quite articulate why. I think it’s a mixture of serious financial debt being treated lightly in a novel while blithely promoting luxury consumerism at the same time. I think it’s the fact that there are twenty million sequels to this book. I only read (skimmed? I didn’t really read through the end I was pretty disgusted) but I already found the protagonist unlikeable and unrelatable at all. This wouldn’t be much of a big deal if I didn’t believe that it’s exploiting a cynical aspect of modern culture, ie being obsessed with brands for no apparent reason other than sublimating our self-worth to our possessions. I am also of the opinion that this book is the reason why chick lit gets a bad name and why these kinds of themes seems to have bled over to romantic comedy movies. But that is an entirely different rant altogether.

And while we’re on the subject of dismissing large swathes of books in one unthinking sweep, let’s talk about Philip Roth’s entire body of work. I’ve read through two titles of him (Portnoy’s Complaint, Everyman) and I don’t know why I even bothered. He is nowhere near as insightful or interesting as say, John Coetzee or Umberto Eco or Julian Barnes, or any number of male contemporary writers I can think of. His subject matter doesn’t interest me at all, and reading his books makes me think of slogging through the Twitter hashtag #firstworldproblems. There might be one novel in his bibliography that would blow my mind or something, but I’m not really include to discover which. I was going to list John Updike’s novels too but since he is in no danger to foist another one to the public, I’m going to stick with Philip.

Day 04 – Favorite Book Ever

Day 04 – Your favorite book or series ever

Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

I have a tendency to become weepy about books I really like, and this novel by far has caused me the most alarming degree of obsession. In fact, many questions in this meme had me thinking to myself, “Kavalier and Clay is perfect for this!” So you may see a repeat of this book in another meme answer, be warned.

This is a tour de force novel about comic books and about the Holocaust. About unrequited love and the inherent burden of survival when so many people haven’t. Joe Kavalier and Sam Klayman are cousins who would find themselves in multiple fronts of history: from the beginnings of Hitler’s advance in Europe, to the burgeoning industry that will be known as the Golden Age of Comics Books in America. Chabon interweaves world events with his characters’ rich personal lives and although the book is fiction, there’s a lot of details regarding the often cutthroat industry the comics business was back then.

Continue reading

Day 03 – Best Book of the Year

Day 03 – The best book you’ve read in the last 12 months

Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

I’ve just finished this book and I’ve probably going to make a proper review of this book soon-ish, but my reticence with non-fiction works has been effectively overturned by this book. It’s a fascinating mixture of true crime and history. I loved how Erik Larson used a singular event (the 1983 Chicago World’s Fair) to talk about various aspects of the Gilded Age. Society, architecture, public sanitation, and law enforcement, and one of the most disturbed serial killers since Jack the Ripper converged during one of the most ambitious endeavors of the 19th century. The prose itself is pretty utilitarian but it served the subject matter very well.

If you’re a history buff, or a fan of TV shows like Criminal Minds, you would definitely enjoy it.

Daily Webcomic Strip – Formspring Question

Do you only read sequential webcomics? Might you have any suggestions for any particularly witty daily strip ones?

Thanks for the question, Taka! I’ve made an effort to read daily strips but to be honest, titles like Penny Arcade or PvP Online don’t really appeal to me. They’re much too dependent to geek culture for their jokes.

Two of the titles that really amuse me are Robot Beach because it reminds me of old-school strips in newspapers and Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life because of the quirky, and sometimes morbid sense of humor. The Abominable Charles Christopher is both sequential and strippy and I love that too.

Ask me anything

Day 02 – Ray Bradbury fanclub, party of one

Day 02 – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes

This is such a pretty cover, I wish my copy has this. Anyway, the short lifespan of his blog has already demonstrated my affection towards Ray Bradbury and his works, and I’m going to do more of the same today. Something Wicked is part scary story, part coming-of-age tale about two boys on the cusp of adulthood who find themselves confronting the burden of growing up and shedding the innocence that they’ve always enjoyed. It also features the scariest way to utilize a carousel ride ever. EVER. I stake my reputation on that.

I feel like Ray Bradbury’s works, with the exception of Fahrenheit 451, have been largely overlooked, mostly because he opts to write using old fashioned, nostalgic language. His subject matter is also significantly less “edgy” than SFF authors like Robert A. Heinlein and Philip K. Dick. Still, if you want a good horror book, or a poignant tale of childhood and what we leave behind, I totally recommend this.