Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Musing Monday - more Margaret Atwood books and where I like to read in the summer

Musing Monday, June 26, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

Up next I think I’ll read…

Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare)
by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is one of Canada's most prolific authors. She's also one of the most polarising; there's a saying here that you either love her work or you hate it, no middle ground. It's very accurate, it's really hard to find people who are just ambivalent, or only like her. I myself used to be ambivalent, and I do have one friend who just likes her. This year though I've firmly moved into the love her camp. Up until this year, I had only read one Margaret Atwood novel, The Robber Bride, which I really enjoy, which is why I was in the ambivalent group. Since January though I have read another of her novels (The Handmaid's Tale), one of her novellas (The Penelopiad), and have fallen in love with her graphic novel series (Angel Catbird). I was not expecting to enjoy any of those as much as I did. I've had Oryx and Crake out from work for a few months now waiting for me to get around to it.

Last week while playing euchre during lunch with my friends the science librarian, the gaming design librarian and my reserves officemate I mentioned that I was going to see Twelfth Night in Stratford this past Thursday (it was really well done by the by) and that got us talking about Shakespeare. I'm not sure how we specifically got onto the topic of The Tempest but once we did I went into my rant about why I really don't like it and why I spark noted my way through it in the class I had to study it for. See when I went to visit Angie the first time in 2005, I went with my cousin and we spent a week in London between our bus tour and our week at Angie's, during that week one of the things we did was go and see a play at the actual Globe Theatre. For those of you who don't know, that was where Shakespeare's plays were originally played. Anyway, the play we were seeing was The Tempest which at the time I knew NOTHING about. And afterwards, I still knew nothing...See there are at a minimum, 21 characters in this play. This particular production of The Tempest was a 3 man production. So each actor was playing approximately 6-7 characters a piece. With minimal costume and set changes. It was near next to impossible to follow along or keep track of anything.

With that experience in mind, you can now understand why I was very trepidatious about the Margaret Atwood take on The Tempest that they next told me about in that conversation. But I figure, at this point, if anyone can help me make sense of that play and even help me enjoy it it's probably Margaret Atwood. I figured I'd get around to checking it out at some point in the distant future, and then when I went to pick up my holds from the public library on Thursday before Twelfth Night there on the express reads shelf that I had to pass to get to the circulation desk, was a copy of Hag-Seed front and centre. I figured it was fate and picked it up. And since it's a 2-week express loan with no renewals I have to have it done by July 7 which means it has to be the next book I read when I finally finish Blood Prophecy (I ended up rereading the first 5 books in the series like I said I might):

Hag-Seed is a re-visiting of Shakespeare’s play of magic and illusion, The Tempest, and will be the fourth novel in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.

The Tempest is set on a remote island full of strange noises and creatures. Here, Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, plots to restore the fortunes of his daughter Miranda by using magic and illusion -- starting with a storm that will bring Antonio, his treacherous brother, to him. All Prospero, the great sorcerer, needs to do is watch as the action he has set in train unfolds. 

In Margaret Atwood’s ‘novel take’ on Shakespeare’s original, theatre director Felix has been unceremoniously ousted from his role as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival. When he lands a job teaching theatre in a prison, the possibility of revenge presents itself – and his cast find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever.

There’s a lot of Shakespearean swearing in this new Tempest adventure…but also a mischief, curiosity and vigour that’s entirely Atwood and is sure to delight her fans.-- via Goodreads

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is your favorite spot to read during the summer?

I never used to. I've always been one of those readers who will read absolutely anywhere, at any time, appropriate or otherwise (yup, I totally got told off more than once in class for reading during lectures, one time my teacher even took my book away not knowing I had a second copy...). But this summer I have managed to find one spot that I do keep going back to so I guess you could call it my favourite now. My dog has this giant stuffed penguin that she never plays with so I use it as a pillow when she wants me to play on the floor with her. Well, when I was in England I took to reading laying on my stomach on the floor at Angie's flat the last few days of the trip because it was cooler on the floor and I could stretch out better than I could on her couch. So when I got home I decided to make myself a little reading nook on the floor. I spread out a couple of my blankets for padding and then started using the penguin to cushion my arms. It's been working out quite well, I tend to go read there in the evenings after Angie goes to bed. It's also near my big yoga ball, which I pick up and play with with my feet while I'm reading. Which I know Angie will now laugh at me for admitting and point out that I really can't sit still.

AND LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, NOT IN ANY WAY, I WANT TO WISH A VERY HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY TO MY FAVOURITE BOY WIZARD, ONE OF MY FAVOURITE CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME, MR. HARRY POTTER. And I want to take a moment to say thank you to JK Rowling because without her we wouldn't have Harry and the world would be a much sadder place (not least of which because without Harry I probably would not have met Angie).

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Wizarding World Book Club - Week 0 - a Pottermore event & Book Bub's Summer Reading Challenge

A very Harry Book Club

I am so stupidly excited about Pottermore's latest offering that it's not even funny. I really am a rabid, rabid Potterhead. So far everything Pottermore has done has not failed to excite me and they haven't let me down. They've created a Harry Potter book club! It started today and the book club will eventually read and discuss all 7 books. Both Angie and I are very excited about participating in this.

There will be Twitter chats for the club - the first one being this coming Friday. I am simultaneously excited and anxious about this. I run a bi-weekly Twitter chat (#LISprochat) - I KNOW how hectic and hard it can be to follow the streams of conversations in a session and our chats usually have fewer than 25 attendees. A Twitter chat made of HP fans talking about HP? It will be an AWESOME vibe, and I am sure there will be GREAT convos. I am terrified that it will become completely unwieldy and impossible to follow. But that's not going to stop me from trying.

These chats will be themed, and I already am planning to write a blog post to publish here on each theme. There's no theme this week - those start next Monday. Time to crack out Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone again. Haven't decided yet if I'm going physical re-read or if I'll listen to the audiobook again. We'll see how long it takes me to finish the audiobook I am currently listening to on my tablet and whether or not Audible discovers the fix for the problem I am having with their app on my mobile.

BookBub's Summer 2017 Reading Challenge

My student assistant, Sophia, suggested that she, me and my co-worker, Mel, try and do Bookbub's Summer reading challenge. Little did she know I have been dying for an adult summer reading list/challenge to try because I never got to do a summer reading program as a kid. It wasn't something my schools did and as far as I am aware it wasn't something the Toronto Publis Library did in the 90s either. So when she offered I was all over it, especially once I saw that some of the categories overlap with some of the other challenges I am doing this year. Even more so when we agreed to our challenge start date as being from June 6th on, which means that I can already check 4 items off the challenge list. I've been on a bit of a reading streak lately. Since coming back from England I have read 7 novels, 4 graphic novels and a novella.

Needless to say, I, of course, have decided I'm going to be ambitious (masochistic?) about this challenge and aim for the level 3 goal of 36 books. Sophia is going to aim for the same, but realistically both of us will probably be more likely to hit the level 2 goal of 24 books.

I'm sure now you want to know what the challenge categories are. Well, I've included the image, along with my current progress, below a jump cut because it's a VERY large image.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Musing Mondays - SURPRISE!Canadian vampire author, yelling at books, and books v. chocolate

Musing Monday, June 12, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…

Blood Prophecy (Drake Chronicles #6)
by Alyxandra Harvey 

I finished the last book I was reading, The Invisible Library, yesterday. I was browsing my too be read shelves trying to decide what I wanted to read next. I'm trying to remember to read my books that have been on there for awhile as well as the more recent purchases. To try and balance that out I try and go: old books, new book, library/borrowed book, lather, rinse, repeat. It doesn't always work out that way but I try and keep it as close as I can. It would probably help if I didn't keep bringing library books home from work. Especially graphic novels. I've been doing graphic novel weekends every few weeks for the last couple of months.

Anyway, that is a total and complete digression. So I was looking for my next book - I really couldn't decide what I was in the mood for. What I really wanted was the next book in the Invisible Library series, but I borrowed it from my friend, and the library's only copy was an ebook already checked out and with another hold. This book had been grabbing my eye the last couple of times I've looked at the shelves though. I knew I needed to get around to it because it's the final book in a series. That being said I regret not rereading the first 5 books because I was kind of perplexed when I started this one, there was a little bit of "Wait what the hell is going on here?" through the first few chapters. But given that it's been sitting on my shelves since 2013, and that I read the 5th one in 2012, I would say that's to be expected.

What really ended up surprising me about this though, is that the author is Canadian! Not just Canadian but from southwestern Ontario which is my neck of the woods. I had no idea this was a Canadian authored series and that also just makes me want to reread the whole series, so maybe I will before I go on reading the last book. Here, have a summary:

In the thrilling conclusion of the Drake Chronicles, love and loyalties will be tested ... and proven once and for all.
Solange Drake has been officially crowned Queen of the Vampires, fulfilling the centuries old prophecy that foretold the rise to power of a daughter born to an ancient vampire line. Except Solange's thoughts and actions are no longer her own—she's been slowly being possessed by the spirit of Viola, the first daughter born into the Drake line, since her bloodchange. And instead of uniting the vampire tribes under the rule of an ancient daughter as the prophecy predicted, Viola would rather destroy them all and enslave humans in a personal vendetta for the devastation both wrought to her life centuries ago. Can Solange break her hold in time to save everyone she loves from a vampire civil war, hunter attack, and each other? Not everyone will survive the prophecy . . . perhaps not even her..-- via Goodreads

        LAST WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Have you ever read a book where you needed more answers to the story? Where maybe the ending was just way to open ended and you wanted to yell a the author about it? What book was it?

You may have noticed that I didn't post last week. I had a crazy, hectic Monday last week and didn't actually get the chance to! I only had a few hours between getting home from work and when Angie went to bed/when I went out to see Wonder Woman so I was just focused on hanging out with Angie. I was planning to do the post when I got back from the film but a coworker and I decided to have a double feature and see Pirates of the Caribbean as well (it was my second time seeing it because Angie and I saw it on opening day when I went to visit her). Because Wonder Woman ran longer than I was planning/expecting I even ended up missing the Twitter chat I was supposed to be hosting. Luckily my co-host is awesome and covered for me, I owe her big time for that.

The next morning though I did see this question when I was catching up on my RSS feed over breakfast. The minute I saw this question I was so annoyed that I hadn't answered it. So I decided I would answer it this week in addition to answering this week's question.

This kind of thing actually happens to me pretty frequently when I read a book. It's similar to what happens when I watch a movie. I find plot holes, like I am like a blood hound for plot holes and problems and continuity errors, whatever, if there's a snag of any time my brain latches onto it. Angie can testify how annoying this can be because I kind of don't shut up about them sometimes. So yes, there have been a great many times where I have shouted questions at a book because I can't yell at the author, sometimes it doesn't even take until the end before it happens because the problem is just so big and I am so angry at it or in utter disbelief that I have to throw the book aside until I am emotionally able to read it for the answer. The most recent book that caused me to be shouting questions was probably Three Dark Crowns and I really can't say what the questions I had were because they'd be very spoiler-y.

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Which would you rather live without? Books or chocolate.

I could easily give up chocolate if it came down to a choice between chocolate and books, and my diet would probably thank me for it. Chocolate is one of the only treats that I have a really, really hard time turning down. But if you're making me choose one or the other I will choose keeping books over keeping chocolate.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Calendar Girls - June 2017 - best Shakespeare play - #CalendarGirlsBooks

Calendar Girls is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is a brand new monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, we decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!

Best Shakespeare play

As a former English major in University, I have spent a LOT of time with the Bard and his plays over the years. In high school, we studied a different Shakespeare play each year in English class. Then in Undergrad, I took 2 dedicated Shakespeare courses and studied Shakespeare in part in at least 5 others. I've seen stage plays, movie and tv adaptations, and in 2005 I even went to a production of The Tempest at the actual Globe Theatre in London. That particular play turned out to be my absolute worst experience with Shakespeare, The Tempest has a cast of 19 characters, in 2005 the Globe put on the production with exactly 3 actors to share all those roles. I got so lost and had such a hard time keeping track of who was who when that I just gave up on the play and started watching the pigeons instead. When I had to study The Tempest a few years later in one of my classes I couldn't bring myself to actually read the play because that production had just put me so off of it.

Out of all Shakespeare's plays I am probably most familiar with the comedies and the tragedies, I don't recall ever having to study any of the historicals so I haven't read them yet, but I do plan to do so, I do after all own a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare. In addition to The Tempest which I mentioned above, I've studied, seen stage plays of and seen film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night and Macbeth. I've studied A Midsummer Night's Dream, As you Like it, The Winters' Tale, Hamlet (I've read the spin-off play of this too, haven't seen the film version of that yet though), King Lear (which I also read a novel adaptation of) and Much Ado About Nothing. I've seen stage plays and film adaptations of The Taming of the Shrew, the stage play I saw was done as a Western which was just epic, there were bustles EVERYWHERE. And I've seen film and tv adaptations of Othello, Macbeth and Hamlet.

Now, after all that, it's time to see which play I chose: