Showing posts with label bram stoker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bram stoker. Show all posts

Friday, October 30, 2015

October Minis: Dracula, Meg Wolitzer, & more!

Hellooooo, readers!  And HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVE!  I will be celebrating this weekend by trick-or-treating with a small monkey and a Ninja Turtle.  Let's honor the holiday with my first round of mini book reviews for the month of October.  Three books to discuss with you today...

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Harper, 2011
personal purchase

Here we have a psychological thriller with a unique premise: Christine has suffered a brain injury that erases her memory almost completely every evening when she goes to sleep.  So each morning, she wakes up unaware of where she is, or who is sleeping next to her (poor, forgotten husband).  She has to re-learn her entire life.  Unfortunately, this also means that Christine is easy to manipulate--who can she really trust if she never remembers anyone from day to day?  She finds a journal that she's begun keeping with the help of her doctor, and realizes that her life may be very different than what is being presented to her.

While the suspense and twists in this book are intense (as expected), for me, they were slowed down quite a bit by Christine's journaling style (which is how much of the book is narrated).  For someone who has to furtively write in her journal each night before her husband catches her doing it, she writes in such flowy, painstaking detail.  This felt disingenuous and made it hard for me to find her believable as a character.  However, the story itself is delightfully convoluted and will get your heart rate up (even though I did figure out the "bad guy" a good bit before he/she was actually revealed).

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Grosset & Dunlap, 1897
personal purchase

The most famous vampire story!  I'd been saving this book as a spooky October read for years, and finally got around to it.  It was well-worth the wait, as this was a perfect novel for this time of year.  If you're unfamiliar, Dracula is the tale of how Jonathan & Mina Harker discover, and attempt to take down, the wily vampire Count Dracula, along with their mentor, Van Helsing, and a few brave friends.  There's garlic and wooden stakes and bats and a castle in Transylvania!  How can you go wrong?!?!  The story is told through letters, diary entries, telegrams, and journals written by the main characters.  I loved this format, as it gave the narrative a more modern, fast-paced feel than its publication date would have you expect.  I was a little annoyed by how Mina Harker is treated as a female character (Stoker alternately builds her up as a smart, independent woman, then breaks her down as the male characters keep her out of the loop in order to protect her delicate lady-brain), but otherwise this book was fantastic.  Do yourself a favor and put this one on your Halloween reading list!
(Has anyone seen the film adaptation of this from the early 90s?  From what I can see, it looks like Coppola kind of massacred the plot.  Also, Keanu Reeves?  Srsly?)

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
Scribner, 2003
personal purchase

This story is told by Joan Castleman, in her mid-60s and wife of the (fictional) famous novelist, Joe Castleman.  It's immediately clear that Joan is a tad bitter about her life these days.  As she flies to Finland with Joe to a ceremony in his honor, she flashes us back to their early days of courtship and marriage.  By the end of this quick 200-ish page read, you have a REALLY good understanding of why Joan is disgruntled.

This was my first Meg Wolitzer novel, and I was beyond pleased.  The writing is fantastic: snappy, beautiful, intelligent, and humorous, all at once.  While the title left me thinking that the purpose of the novel was a character study of Joan-as-wife, I soon realized that Wolitzer was also making some interesting statements about the "wife" role in general: what it symbolizes, its value within a family, and how much some women give of themselves when they take on the title.  There was even a surprising twist at the end.  I'm impressed with everything that Wolitzer was able to pack into such a short book, and I can't wait to read more of her work.

What was your best read of October?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Updates: Reading, Running, and Redheadedness

Hello, friends!  I know, things have been largely silent around these parts lately.  So, I figured it's time for some updating, as well as some new plans for the future format of the blog.

I have three categories of updates to share, so let's start with:

1. The New and Improved Redheadedness of the Well-Read Redhead

I cut ALL my hair off, y'all.  Well, almost all.  It FELT like all.
Ignore my laundry on the chair.  Why does my nose look so big?  I hate selfies.  Also, yes, my hair is darker, but I promise still red.
I needed a haircut badly, and was feeling completely frustrated and out-of-love with my long hair.  I'd been debating a pixie cut for 5 years or so, but never had the confidence to pull the trigger.  However, my disdain for my long hair (the blow drying!  the straightening!  the wrangling while running!  the constant put-it-in-a-hat on bad hair days!) reached a peak, and it was time.  I sent pixie cut ideas to my stylist-friend Mandy, brought some wine over her house, and The Cut was made.

Final verdict: why didn't I do this sooner???  I am in love with my newly shorn hair.  Yes, I have to style it each morning (pixie cut bedhead is a serious thing), but the styling time is minimal and very easy.  I thought I was going to want it a bit longer/messier, but soon after the cut realized that I prefer it a bit shorter and sleeker (my husband referred to Claire Underwood in her brunette phase...haha).  Yes, I will be keeping this style up for some time!

2. Running (Or Lack Thereof)

I had a big thing written here with my running updates (it's been a little rocky lately), but it was making this post too long, so I'm saving it for a Well-Read Runner post later this week.  Check back soon!

3. Reading (Or Lack Thereof)

Obviously, not a lot of book talk has been happening around here.  I've been struggling with two things: one, finding adequate reading time, and two, finding the motivation to blog about it.  I actually finished a book at the end of September that I have yet to find the energy to write an entire post about--a first for me since I started blogging 3 years ago.  That said, I don't want to give up this space, as I still love to recommend books to others, and this is my favorite vehicle for doing so.  What's a girl to do?

I've decided that, for now, the best thing is for me to read low-pressure (meaning, no deadlines).  So, I will be taking a hiatus from blog tour reviews for a while (yes, even for TLC, and you know I love TLC tours).  I will finish out the last two books I'm doing for TLC with full reviews, and then it's all free-range reading for the forseeable future.

With that, I will be making the blogging-about-books more low-pressure as well, by switching to mini reviews for a while.  My current plan is to do one post at the end of each month with mini reviews of everything I've read (and at the rate I'm currently reading, it won't be that long of a post!).  While this does mean less posting overall, I have a lot more enthusiasm for that format right now, and I think it's more important for me to have energy behind my posts vs. a larger number of posts.

Even though I haven't had a lot of time for reading, I am actually loving my current read: Dracula by Bram Stoker.  I've been saving this as a spooky October read for a long time now, and it is perfect for the season!!  Can't wait to share a bit about it here next week.

Alrighty, that's all for now.  I know things haven't been nearly so active around here as they were in the past, but thank you to all that are sticking with me as I figure out the blog's next stages!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Extravaganza!

I don't normally take part in the "stack your shelf" or "mailbox Monday" posts, because sharing book hauls isn't my usual cup of tea.  But thanks to some lovely gift cards this Christmas, I raided Amazon and Barnes and Noble this week, and I had to share the spoils!

Generally, when I use gift cards, I try very hard to stick with bargain-priced and marked-down books, because I figure I can always borrow the full-price hardcovers from the library (or wait until they go on sale).  I'm not impatient enough with book releases to spend the $$ on new arrivals.  So I'm fairly proud of the amount of books I was able to get with just two $50 gift cards!

First up, my Amazon haul for my Kindle:

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti
Don't Breathe A Word by Jennifer McMahon
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler
One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

Amazon doesn't let you search by price (BOOOOO), so I never do as well there as I do at B+N.

Here's my B+N haul (shipping this week!):

Fragile by Lisa Unger
William Shakespeare: Complete Plays
Dracula by Bram Stoker (with a very cool cover design)
The Inferno by Dante
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
Crashers by Dana Haynes
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
The Brightest Star In The Sky by Marian Keyes
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
The Promised World by Lisa Tucker
Promises to Keep by Jane Green

I also received one book as a gift from my husband: July 7th by Jill McCorkle. 

July 7th is my son's birthday, so my husband snagged me a copy when he found it online!

What are your book shopping strategies?  Did you receive any good reads this holiday season?
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