Book Review – Terroryaki! by Jennifer K. Chung

I’d never heard of the International 3-Day Novel Contest before picking up this book at my library a week ago. According to their website, it is an annual contest held every Labour Day weekend, whereby one attempts to write a novel in 72 hours. It sounds painfully difficult, but also very cool.

I mention this because today’s review is of the book that won the contest in 2010.

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Terroryaki! by Jennifer K. Chung is a short novel, essentially a novella, about Daisy, a Taiwanese-American who is struggling to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Meanwhile, her sister is marrying a man who isn’t Asian, her parents spend their time watching Korean dramas, and what’s the deal with that weird gothic food truck that keeps popping up around town? Interspersed throughout the story are restaurant reviews from Daisy’s food blog, Teriyaki-Do: The Way of the Teriyaki. I don’t know if the restaurants mentioned are real or fictional, but I was definitely left wanting some teriyaki by the end of the book!

I’ll be keeping an eye out both for more from Chung, and for other winners of the contest.

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July wrap-up

July was a good month for me, bookwise. I completed 26 books!

Here are some numbers, since you all know I love breaking things down into numbers!

Books completed: 26
Total pages read: 6808
Average book length: 260p
19 were fiction and 7 were non-fiction.

Genres covered ranged from history to nature to Archie comics (that’s a genre, right?!) to chick lit to science fiction.

The stand-out for me was discovering the writer Beth Kendrick. I read three of her books in July and I have another one waiting in my pile of library books!

I am well on-track for my goal of reading 150 books this year, with 90 so far in 2015. Goodreads is even telling me that I am 4 books ahead of schedule! My goal for August is to beat my July total by at least one book. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get to it!

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Booking Through Thursday, and Ninja Swap

Today I bring offerings of two posts in one!

First up, today’s BTT post:

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How do you store your books? On bookcases? In piles? In piles on bookcases? Are they sorted? Do you know where everything is? What’s the most creative storage you’ve seen or used for your books?

Bookcases, absolutely. I like to know where all my books are at all times! I have them sorted into categories – my fiction is divided the way it would be in a library – childrens, YA, mystery, fantasy/sci-fi, and then general fic, and it’s all alphabetical by author. Non-fiction is currently also alphabetical by author, though I prefer having it done by Dewey, but it’s hard to maintain. My TBR bookcase is also alphabetical by author. I like alphabetical! I also have two other bookcases with my book collections – my Nancy Drews, my Harry Potters, my Clive Cusslers, etc. The most creative storage I’ve personally used was colour-coding, which looked really cool, but I could never find anything!

There was a big surprise in the post this week – we have a fairly sizeable mailbox so when the mailman rang the bell on Tuesday, there was much excitement! This is what I found when I opened the box.

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Can we discuss that wrapping paper? So cute! And Tootsie Pops! I’d never had one, so of course I had to try one immediately. Yum!

This whole package came to be from Kirstin in Washington, DC, as part of the Mini Summer Swap coordinated by the Ninjas over at Ninja Book Swap. When I unwrapped the books, I found two GORGEOUS hardcovers that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell has been on my radar for a couple of years now, and I know I’m going to love it. I can’t remember when I first heard about The Wonderful O by James Thurber, but my library doesn’t have a copy of it, so seeing this was super amazing – no more having to hope I’ll come across it in a thrift shop!

In other news, Ottawa is dealing with a mega heatwave and I’m a sweaty, humid, miserable ball of humanity as a result. Naturally, this means curling up in front of a fan, with a good book!

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Book Review: Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Chick lit. Women’s literature. Beach reads. What is it about books by, for, and about women, that is met with derision? Why is Stephanie Evanovich scorned, while James Patterson is embraced? If you’re hoping for an answer, this isn’t the place you’ll find it.

I’ll be the first to admit that “chick lit” as a genre is not something I generally lean towards. That isn’t to say I don’t love to read books by, for, and about women. I’m not sure where the line is that separates say, Bridget Jones’s Diary from Woman on the Edge of Time. I think maybe it’s about romance. “Heavy” or “serious” literature may feature romance subplots, but they aren’t the prime focus of the story, whereas in chick lit, it’s more about Girl Meets Boy.

All of this is to say, when I picked up Cure for the Common Breakup at the library, I wasn’t expecting much. The cover is what grabbed my attention, and then I read the first few pages while standing among the bookshelves, and I immediately wanted to know what happened next.

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Cure for the Common Breakup has all the markings of a typical chick lit story. Girl suffers heartbreak, wallows, meets new boy, all while balancing life and love and a side dish of drama in the form of a small-town bully. When Summer Benson first arrives in Black Dog Bay, she’s just survived a plane crash and been dumped by her pilot boyfriend, all in one day. She’s welcomed by the locals, and finds herself drawn to the mayor of Black Dog Bay, a rugged, solemn man, who is “not her type”. Which of course means that he’s perfect for her!

I loved it. I stayed up past my bedtime to find out what happened next. It was a story that demanded very little from me, and gave me a sweet sugary feeling right down to my toes. I might even see if the library has any other books in the series. Kendrick’s writing features all the trope characters you might expect from a chick lit book, but she gives them new life. They’re fleshed out characters, for the most part. There are *some* characters who are less three-dimensional, but one is able to look past them to the larger story.

All in all, 4 icecream scoops out of a possible 5.

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Day 2 of 24 in 48

This is the post I fully intended to write last night, before a neighbourhood-wide internet outage happened! Well, at least I had time to read.

In total, I got about 12 hours of reading done over the weekend – not 24, but also more than usual, and I managed to make serious headway in my “books I started but never finished” pile.

Further books completed: Armor.

Further progress in other books: Kept going in My Several Worlds, made it to p.214 of 472. Also went from p.139 to p.209 of 297 in Inside of a Dog.

Now that the readathon is over, it’s back to the library and back to a balanced diet of TBRs and library books. It’s too hot these days to do anything but read!

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Day 1 of 24 in 48 complete!

I knew going into this readathon that I would most likely not actually complete 24 hours. In the past 24 hours, I’ve spent perhaps 6 or 7 reading, haven’t been keeping strict track, to be honest. My day wound up being busier than expected, but it was due to a spontaneous visit with my sister-in-law, who’d been out of town for the past month.

This is not to say progress wasn’t made!

Books finished: Lost in a Good Book and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Progress made in other books: Went from p.69 to p.149 of 472 in My Several Worlds, and went from p.19 to p.227 of 426 in Armor.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to finish Armor and make some progress in one of the other books. We’re having company over in the late afternoon, so any progress made will be done in the morning. Which means I had really best get to bed!

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The 24 in 48 Readathon

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I’ve signed up for the 24 in 48 readathon, which starts at midnight tonight and goes until midnight on Sunday night. The idea is to spend 24 of the 48 hours in the weekend reading. I’ve got some weekend plans, so I may not get to 24 hours, but I’m still pretty excited.

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See all those bookmarks? Each of those books is a book from my TBR shelves that I picked up, began to read, and then put down at some point – some recently, some over a year ago! My goal for this readathon is to finish a good number of these books, or at least move the bookmarks further along!

The books are:

  1. My Several Worlds by Pearl S. Buck. Pre-readathon progress: p.69 of 472.
  2. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. Pre-readathon progress: p.59 of 302.
  3. Armor by John Steakey. Pre-readathon progress: p.19 of 426.
  4. Passages from the Diary of Samuel Pepys, the Modern Library edition. Pre-readathon progress: p.75 of 330.
  5. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. Pre-readathon progress: p.83 of 372.
  6. Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler. Pre-readathon progress: p.57 of 428
  7. Writing a Woman’s Life by Carolyn G. Heilbrun. Pre-readathon progress: p.60 of 131.
  8. Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. Pre-readathon progress: p.139 of 297.
  9. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Pre-readathon progress: p.63 of 503.

As you can see, I have quite the task ahead of me! I’m going to focus on Heinlein and Fforde to begin with, I think, as they’re pretty fast-paced.

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Netgalley Review: As If! by Jen Chaney

One week ago, I got an email from Netgalley telling me that I’d been approved to read an advanced reader’s copy of As If! The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew, by Jen Chaney.

Me, when I saw the email:

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I was 8 years old in 1995, when Clueless was released. I don’t remember how old I was when I saw it, I just know that one day it appeared in my life. It’s likely that one of my older siblings rented it. And yet, despite being a mere babe when it was released, I am still very much of the Clueless generation, as is anyone who has watched it in the past 20 years. I quote it on a near-daily basis, and who *didn’t* wish this was a real thing?

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Of course, thanks to the power of the app, it probably now is!

Chaney, a journalist for Esquire, interviewed the stars, the cameo actors, the musicians, the director, the hairstylist, the lighting guy, just about everyone you can imagine, to get this comprehensive look at the befores, durings, and afters of the makings of one of the greatest teen movies of all time – not to mention, according to at least one interviewed Austen-ite, the best Jane Austen adaptation to date!

The book is broken down into main three sections: Before Clueless, Making Clueless, and The Impact of Clueless. In Before Clueless, Heckerling and co spill the deets on the idea for the script, which foolish film company passed, and who was considered alongside Breckin Meyer for the role of Travis. (hint: One dated Sara Gilbert on two different sitcoms, and one currently shoots arrows for The Avengers)

In Making Clueless, among what we learn is what kind of lighting was preferred for shooting Alicia Silverstone (it was important that she look soft and naive), how they got the Mighty Mighty Bosstones for the dance party scene, and exactly how that terrifying freeway scene was shot.

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In the final chapter, highlights include Iggy Azalea talking about using Clueless as the inspiration behind her music video for “Fancy”, and the cast reminiscing about Brittany Murphy.

Most disappointing fact? Because it was considered to be an adaptation of Emma, Clueless had to be entered under the Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards, and did not make it to the final five nominations. The winner that year? Sense and Sensibility!

Final rating: 5 Calvin Klein dresses out of a possible 5!

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The Courtship Book Tag

Joey over at Thoughts and Afterthoughts tagged whoever wanted to do this to go ahead, and I like tags, so here I am!

The Phases of Courtship

Phase 1 – Initial Attraction: A book that you bought because of the cover

Well, I am very picky about the books I actually purchase, so a lot of thought goes into it, but I can tell you a book that I added to my TBR list recently based entirely on how much I loved the cover is Volition by Lily Paradis. The blurb sounds great, and I only stopped to look up the blurb because of the cover, so here it is! I love the feeling of melancholy that the cover portrays. I immediately wanted to know what was happening in those pages.

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Phase 2 – First Impressions: A book that you got because of the summary

Again, I haven’t purchased it yet, but it is on my TBR list – The Three by Sarah Lotz. Read that summary and tell me it doesn’t immediately grip you with curiousity!

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Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…

Phase 3 – Sweet Talk: A book with great writing

Um, all of them?! Okay, we all know that isn’t true, but I had to think about this one for a moment or two! I’m going to go with By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart. (The Canadian writer, NOT the kidnapping survivor!) Her writing is lush, it’s evocative, it’s just incredible.

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Phase 4 – First Date: A first book of a series which made you want to pursue the rest of the series

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Sanctus by Simon Toyne. It’s an apocalyptic conspiracy thriller of the highest imaginable order, and as soon as I finished it, I bought the second and third books in the trilogy. Of course, other books then got in the way and now it’s three years later and I need to reread Sanctus before I read the others, but I am quite confident it will be as explosive as I remember!

Phase 5 – Late night phone calls: A book that kept you up all night long

Plenty of books do that, but the most recent to do so was Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin. I just couldn’t put it down, I was turning pages as fast as I could read them. The story wasn’t the most original or spellbinding, but combined with the writing style, it was compelling enough that I needed to know what happened next RIGHT THAT VERY MOMENT.

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Phase 6 – Always on my mind: A book that you could not stop thinking about

This is going back a few years, but the first (and still only) time I read The Collector by John Fowles, I could not stop thinking about it for weeks afterwards, and it still sometimes pops into my head. It was creepy, it was perturbing, it was truly terrifying, and it was utterly brilliant!

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Phase 7 – Getting Physical: A book in which you love the way it feels

Ah, the ever important tactile sense. A book must feel good, to be good! Nothing is worse than trying to comfortably read a book that is too stiff, with pages that don’t turn naturally, or feel too hard under the fingers. Most of my books are loved to the point that they fall open in that perfect manner. My copy of Mirage by Matt Ruff has the most delightfully textured cover, with pages that feel perfectly soft and eminently readable.

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Phase 8 – Meeting the Parents: A book in which you would recommend to your friends and family

I try very hard to tailor recommendations to what I know about a person, but there is one book that I try to force nearly everybody I know to read, with varying degrees of success.

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Bachelor Brother’s Bed and Breakfast by Bill Richardson is funny, it’s witty, it’s charming, it’s every folksy adjective you can think of. It’s about the goings on at a cozy bed and breakfast run by fraternal twin brothers, the kind of B&B where you go when you need a vacation just to catch up on your reading. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and if you read it, it will become one of the best you’ve ever read as well!

Phase 9 – Thinking about the future: A book or series that you know you’ll re-read many times in the future

My go-to comfort books are the Dirk Pitt series of novels by Clive Cussler. They aren’t especially good and they aren’t especially bad, they’re just especially familiar.

Phase 10 – Share the love!!! Who would you like to tag?

Anyone who is reading this! I don’t know if I have any readers or if I’m just hollering into the ether, so PLEASE, if you’ve read this and are going to do the tag, let me know! If you’ve read this and aren’t going to do the tag, please still let me know!

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June Wrapup

Happy Canada Day everyone! We had a barbecue, despite the rain. You know you’re Canadian when, eh?!

June was a pretty decent month, book wise. I haven’t got too many stats for you, but here are some numbers.

Books read: 20
15 of the 20 were Fiction, 5 were Non-Fic. 14 were written by women, 6 by men.
Total pages read: 5372.

Goodreads keeps passive-aggressively pointing out that I am ahead of schedule in my goal of reading 120 books this year. I’m sure I will wind up passing that goal but that’s alright! According to Goodreads, I read 167 books last year, and that was with being in school full time. If I consistently keep as far ahead as I am now (5 books ahead, apparently),  I will probably boost it up a bit just to shut them up. How do they quantify it, anyhow? Do they just divide the number by 52 and that’s how many books they want me to read a week to be “on track”?

I hope to be back next week with some NetGalley reviews. We’ll see how that goes, my posting is rather sporadic, I realise!

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