Sunday, 28 February 2010

TSS: February 2010

. . . In Books

The first book I finished in February was John Lydon's autobiography, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs.

As a huge Sex Pistols fan (from the '70s - don't get me started on what they've become) and a PIL fan, I'd been looking forward to this close-up look at what really happened during the UK's punk movement from the eyes of the infamous, 'outspoken' frontman.

This book didn't disappoint. It's exactly what I was expecting and more. Full of insight and anecdotes from additional musicians and journalists, it was one hell of a page turner and a must-read for a music fan. Other than that, there's not a lot I can say here that I didn't already say in my review.

I finished reading This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff soon after Rotten.

This was another book I'd had in the back of my mind as something I'd wanted to read ever since I saw the film adaptation with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro. The film is superb and the book is wonderfully written.

I read Wolff's short story 'Bullet in the Brain' back in university and, having already heard of him from the film, was even more eager to dive into his writing.

He wasn't a disappointment. This is a great introduction, not only to Wolff's life, but to his writing. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more from him. Tales of awkward adolescence, dreaming of a better future, mixed with horrible domestic abuse, is told in an inspiring but brutally honest story.

This is another must read. A great start to reading for February.

Unfortunately that great start didn't last.

Guilt Trip was okay. Nothing special. Nothing mind-blowing. In fact, missing a lot of detail that I felt was needed. The subject of teenage suicide is introduced during the first quarter of the book but never explored any further. A young boy tries to kill himself ... but we never really find out why or anything else about that character.

That's very frustrating.

Plus, I'm usually all for main characters being unsympathetic and greatly flawed (for me, it makes them more human) but that got annoying really quickly in this. Ali comes off as a whiney self-indulgent brat. I'll be the first to admit that when I was a teenager, I was awful to live with. I was so moody and snappy - what teenager isn't? But Ali takes that to a whole other level. She helps to save Daniel Feeny's life but isn't interested in going to visit him or having anything to do with him afterwards.

In fact, she goes out of her way to avoid him. Why? What a surprise! It's never explained.

What a shame this story wasn't explored in greater detail. What a disappointment.

This is the first book I've read to review for Bookgeeks.

Unfortunately this was a disappointment too.

I've been wanting to explore the 'angel' genre for some time as I feel a strong need to take a break from my beloved vampires whose stories are being used for all they're worth these days. Angels sounded different. I'd never read a book that had an angel. (Other than Jodi Picoult's Keeping Faith which kind of touches on that subject.)

I have no doubt in my mind that there are interesting angel-themed stories out there but, unfortunately, this isn't one for me.

I know for a fact that there's a fan base out there for this kind of stuff. I know there are people who will love this book and its upcoming sequels. However, I'm not one of them.

How can I describe it? You know those Mills & Boon stories that all basically have the same plot and are very steamy and romantic and you know you can always turn to them for exactly what you're in the mood for? (Not that I've ever read one - I just studied them in my 'Genre Fiction' module at uni (a module which I soon dropped) .)

Well, I know for a fact that there are Mills & Boon-esque supernatural and fantasy stories out there right now. Those that are a little more steamier than your standard s&f tale that features a love interest. This is one of those books.

The story revolves around a vampire hunter who is hired to hunt down an archangel. Unfortunately, that would-be action-packed adventure is overshadowed by said vampire hunter and her chemistry with (another) archangel that has hired her.

Confusing yet boring. It's not something I find sexy. It's not my thing. But ideal for others.

I'm in the middle of writing the review for it at the moment. I'll post the link once it's up.

I started The Stand at the beginning of the month and am still reading it.

Not only did I have other books to review for other websites (which takes priority) but this is one freaking thick book!

My copy (which is the uncut version) is 1421 pages long. Phew!

I'm really enjoying it so far. King's never disappointed me. I've been a fan of his from around the age of 12-13. For the last 2 years I've made it my own personal challenge to read all of his novels and short story collections in chronological order. It's bound to take some time as there's a heck of a lot of writing and I'm not the fastest reader at the best of times.

Never the less, I'm enjoying myself. :)

I'm 3/4 of a way through this and, so far, it's the best thing I've read all year. It's probably one of the best things I've read in months and months.

This is the follow-up to Girl With a One Track Mind - a book I loved and recommend to EVERYONE.

This book explores what happened to 'Abby Lee' (or Zoe Margolis) after Girl With a One Track Mind was published and The Sunday Times 'outed' her. It explores what happened when everyone in Margolis' life suddenly knew all the intimate details of her sex life and how it affected her relationships, her career, and her confidence.

This is a really inspiring woman. She embraces her sexuality and femininity and isn't afraid of who she is. Her blog is here. Go visit! Now! And read both books. (The follow up is released this Friday.) The writing can be a little graphic at times but it's not overtly pornographic. Mostly it's just fun musings and thoughts that come from a woman with a high sex drive; A woman who isn't afraid to say, 'If men think about sex all the time, why can't we?'


. . . In films

I have a week to finish my Oscar Watch. Here's my progress:

Avatar (2009)

I enjoyed this much more than I expected.

I like James Cameron. He makes big films with interesting stories. This was a lot like The Abyss in the sense that it had a story that should make every person reflect on how destructive the human race can be.

It clearly mirrored the story of the Native Americans and how 'the white man' took over their land with no thought for anyone.

Predictable but an important story. I hate it when people say, 'Ooh, in the future we'll be able to live on so-and-so planet.' Why? So we can destroy that like we destroyed Earth? Ugh.

Visually absolutely stunning!

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)


This was incredible. I'd heard it described as a modern day Color Purple.

And WOW. This needs to be seen by everyone.

So touching. So moving. So heartbreaking.

No words can describe how incredible this film is.

If you get a chance to see it, do it. In fact, go out of your way to see it! This deserves any awards it gets. Mo'Nique's performance in particular was absolutely amazing. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

Up in the Air (2009)

Not the most uplifting film in the world but had quite a few funny moments and, overall, was a good watch.

George Clooney is on top form as always (God, he's just oozing that 'old Hollywood' quality, isn't he?) and Anna Kendrick was both hilarious and moving.

I'd say this is well worth the watch. A lot of realism to each character and storyline but not a film to watch if redundancy has hit you hard recently (It centers around a man whose job is to fire people). Overall, really well-written, beautiful to watch (even though a lot of it is centred around airports, the visuals are never dull or ugly).

Films left to watch before Oscar Night:
1) The Blind Side (2009) (One I'm looking forward to ... though I don't actually know anything about American football so usually tend to stay clear of films that heavily feature this.)

2) District 9 (2009) (I like sci-fi films. I can't wait.)

3) An Education (2009) (I love Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard so I'm saving this until last.)

4) The Hurt Locker (2009) (I'm a pacifist and don't believe in war. This could be hard one to watch.)

5) Inglourious Basterds (2009) (I love Quentin Tarantino. How could I not want to watch this?)

6) A Serious Man (2009) (I have started watching this but had to stop. It didn't snag my interest and I didn't 'get' it. I'm going to try again though.)

7) Up (2009) (I loved the trailer so I'm looking forward to it.)

While I'm on the subject of films, I do have to recommend one for all you book lovers out there.

Yes, the big girly in me got around to watching Bright Star this month and wept like a baby. This is the story of John Keats and Fanny Brawne's passionate and tragic relationship. I love Abbie Cornish. Ever since I saw her in Candy (another must-see), I've followed her career. And Ben Whishaw isn't too bad to look at too. ;-) This is a must-see for films lovers, period lovers, romance lovers, and poetry lovers. (And fans of Keats but that goes without saying.)

Oh *gushes*. I loved this film. I have no comprehensible explanation. I'd gush too much if I tried to explain myself further. Just watch it.


. . . In Life

February hasn't been the greatest month for me in my personal life.

Not only did I lose my grandmother but I made a few decisions that affected me and my best friend badly. Do I regret these decisions? Sometimes. But que sara, sara. What will be, will be. You never know what the future holds.

On the plus side, I've been more focused on my career aspirations, have managed to get a few more freelance jobs, have been looking at universities/schools to go back to for the future, and have a clearer idea of where I want to travel.

Very vague for this section of TSS, eh? Well ... right now my personal life is a confusing mess and can be overwhelming at times but thankfully I have two wonderfully supportive parents, a whole heap of good friends (in real life and online), and you guys. You guys and your comments always bring a smile to my face so in a way you've helped me get through some of my toughest times this month. Thank you. xxx



Michelle said...

Damn. I have been eyeballing The Stand for several months now but cannot bite that bullet yet. First of all, I don't do horror and have managed to avoid Stephen King for 32 years. Second, because it is so damn BIG! I do not shy away from big books, but something that that requires devoted time, and I have none to give right now. It is something I am considering as a summer read though.

RE: The Hurt Locker - the story is loosely based on a soldier my husband used to command. My husband commanded an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit for two years, at which time this soldier was interviewed by a magazine for his experiences in the Gulf War. What he went through is amazing and brought home to me the realization that my husband's chosen military career path was so dangerous (he got out five years ago). The story is not so much about war but about what we do to keep our soldiers and the innocent safe in a war-ravaged area. I have heard nothing but amazing things about it.

Eva said...

I *really* want to see An Education, because I love both of those actors too!

Too bad several of your reads didn't live up to your expectations. :/

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I totally know what you mean about when main characters are "unsympathetic and greatly flawed" turning into constantly annoying! It has really become a problem for me. There needs to be at least one character I really like hugely to overcome that!

Must add Bright Star to my netflix queue.

Thanks for all the great reviews!

Ryan said...

I enjoyed The Stand, which is one of the few Stephen King books I do like. I agree that Precious is amazing, though the flase happy ending sorta got on my nerves a little.

Wendy said...

The Stand is one of my all time favorite books - King rocks!

Ceri said...

Michelle - Thanks for that info about The Hurt Locker. I'm definitely more interested in it now than before. :)

Eva - Better luck next month on the reading, I guess. :S

Jill - Do! Bright Star is so worth it for a sweet watch. :)

Ryan - Glad to hear that about The Stand. I know what you mean about Precious' ending!

Wendy - Yay for a fellow King fan! :D

Daniel Grosvenor said...

I forbid you to see a film as brilliant as District 9 online.

I will buy it on Blu Ray and come over your house and we will watch it on your dad's giant HD screen. This is not negotiable.


The Bookworm said...

I have The Stand in my TBR, but have been putting it off for so loooong. Mainly because its such a long read. I find that S.K.'s older work is great. A few of his newer books dissapointed me unfortunately.

Glad you enjoyed Avatar. I want to see Precious too!
I hadnt heard of Bright Star, but i'll have to look out for it.