Saturday, October 31, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: Cinema Panopticum by Thomas Ott

Cinema Panopticum caught my attention mainly because of the fact that it has the word "cinema" in its title. When it comes to cinema, I feel like I am pulled towards anything to do with it, and pretty much the moment I laid my eyes on this, I picked it up and walked towards the check-out counter. 

Cinema Panopticum is a collection of five graphic horror novelettes, which are The Prophet, The Wonder Pill, La Lucha, The Hotel and The Girl. The first story in the book, that being The Girl, introduces the other four. We see a girl visiting an amusement part and looking for something she can do with the five coins she has in her pocket. After being turned down from the carousel and other activities, she stumbles into a tent called Cinema Panopticum and finds a space with boxes with . screens, each box costing only one coin. Each box contains a movie, and with her five coins, she can watch them all.

The little movies the girl watches are SUPER creepy. They almost feel like hallucinations and the detail put into the artwork is incredible. Each "movie" is about 16 to 20 pages long and as they proceed, the creepier they get. There's a story about prophet seeing the end of the world, a creepy hotel with a very creepy chef, a pill that changes the life of a short-sighted man and a Mexican wrestler who has to fight against the death himself.

With no words and just extremely detailed, scratchboard style images, Cinema Panopticum becomes a read you can go through on your own pace. For me, the collection felt almost like a cinematic experience, like I was actually watching through those screens at the little movies the girl watches. The attention to detail adds to the stories, but it does not distract from them - I personally often find that with extremely detailed work, I start to look for the details rather than the story as a whole, but with this, that wasn't the case.

Cinema Panopticum wasn't an intentional Halloween read for me, but it definitely would make a great little Halloween read for someone looking for something a bit different. It is atmospheric, hallucinatory, detailed, beautiful and creepy. The twists in the stories are SO WELL DONE and I am sure some of the images from this one will stay in my mind for a while to come. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: iZombie, vol.1: Dead to the World (iZombie #1) by Chris Roberson & Mike Allred

Ever since iZombie started on CW, I have been contemplating whether to watch it or not. CW shows haven't been the greatest, in my opinion, in the past couple of years (with exception of Arrow and Jane the Virgin), so I have been kind if skeptical about it, especially since the only "supernatural" CW show that I put up with for years, The Vampire Diaries, became such a huge disappointment for me.

When I found the first volume of the iZombie graphic novel, of which the show is a loose adaptation of, from my local library, I decided to give a it chance and see whether it would inspire me to give the show an opportunity.

The story of the graphic novel is told from a perspective of a female zombie, Gwendolyn "Gwen" Dylan. Gwen is a 20-something gravedigger who needs to eat a human brain once a month to keep her memories intact. With each brain she eats, she becomes consumed with the thoughts and memories of the person the brain belonged to and she finds that the way to get rid of those thoughts is to grant the dead person their last request or solve a problem they were dealing with before they died.

Though Gwen is an interesting character and one I definitely would like to know more about, my favorite aspect of this graphic novel was the supporting characters, such as Gwen's best friend Eleanor, who's a ghost or a were-dog, who happens to have a crush of Gwen. Then there's also a group of female vampires and a duo who are determined to get rid of all supernatural beings.

iZombie, vol. 1 was a quick, entertaining and surprisingly funny read that definitely made me want to pick up the second volume, which is called uVampire. The art style for some reason reminds me a bit of Scooby Doo cartoons (I have no idea why), which I actually quite enjoyed (I cannot even remember the last time I even thought about Scooby Doo). I liked how the first volume (collection of issues 1-5) established the characters and the character relationships, but still leaves a lot to get answers for. It did not completely sell me on the show (mostly because I know the show is only very loosely based on this one), but it did bring it back to my radar, so I probably now just need one final push before I watch it.

For fans of detective novels and urban fantasy, this one is a must! Also, if you enjoy female driven stories, you should definitely check this out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: Man in the Dark by Paul Auster

Release date: August 21, 2008
Author links: Goodreads - Official Facebook
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Age group: Adult
Pages: 180
Purchase links: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Man in the Dark is Paul Auster’s brilliant, devastating novel about the many realities we inhabit as wars flame all around us.

Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident in his daughter’s house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would prefer to forget—his wife’s recent death and the horrific murder of his granddaughter’s boyfriend, Titus. The retired book critic imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the twin towers did not fall and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill’s story grows increasingly intense, and what he is so desperately trying to avoid insists on being told. Joined in the early hours by his granddaughter, he gradually opens up to her and recounts the story of his marriage. After she falls asleep, he at last finds the courage to revisit the trauma of Titus’s death.

Passionate and shocking, Man in the Dark is a novel of our moment, a book that forces us to confront the blackness of night even as it celebrates the existence of ordinary joys in a world capable of the most grotesque violence.

I have been aware of Paul Auster for a while now, and though his books have sounded interesting to me, if it wasn't for this American literature reading class I'm taking, I probably would not have picked a Paul Auster novel up at this point in my life. But books and authors come to us in different ways, and it was that reading list for the class I'm taking that introduced me to Auster and sparked in me an interested that will probably end up leading me to other novels by this author.

Rather than giving us a list of particular books we have to read, we were given a list of authors. At my local library, there were several books by Auster in the shelf, but for some reason Man in the Dark interested me the most. Maybe it was the parallel worlds, the idea of America in a new civil war, or the cover. Or maybe it was a mix of those things. Nevertheless, I left the library with Man in the Dark in my tote bag and now that I've read the novel, I am quite pleased with my pick.

August Brill is 72 years old. After a successful career as a writer, two marriages, the death of her wife and a car accident, August is living with her daughter in Vermont. At the start of the book, the house is also occupied by August's granddaughter whose boyfriend Titus was murdered under horrific circumstances. One night sleep does not come to August and he starts to write a story in his mind about an America in a civil war, America where the Twin Towers are still one of the landmarks of New York City, an America that does not fight a war in Iraq. 

Thought the events that August is involved in span only the duration of one sleepless night, the story he imagines takes us to that other America and introduces us to an ordinary man who is given a mission that could end the whole war. As the novel progresses, the two realities get more mixed and eventually August is forced to face his own reality instead of that he has created to escape his sorrows. 

Man in the Dark is quite a short novel, but it is packed with potential discussion topics. Because I do have to write an essay about this book at some point (if I do end up picking it to be one of the five books I have to focus on), I won't go too much into the analysis now. But I do want to say that though this novel is short, it took me quite a while to get through it because it is so filled with wonderful images and thoughts. The way the two realities are brought together is done interestingly. Though I did feel like the story August imagines about America in Civil War ends kind of abruptly, what follows was also extremely engaging and intriguing. 

Auster writer well and imaginatively. As a film student, I love the little film conversations August and his granddaughter, a grieving film student, have about classic films. Auster shows his intelligence, his capability for story telling and his historical knowledge in this novel, and though there are glimpses of hope here and there, in general this novel was quite a devastating read for me. The words Auster writes are powerful and there are a couple of scenes in this novel that will probably haunt me for a while.

Man in the Dark was a great introduction to Auster to me and definitely won't be the last novel I read from him. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#45) - If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (May 3rd 2016 by Flatiron Books)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
For more information click here

If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

A big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She's determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself--including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that she used to be Andrew.

Will the truth cost Amanda her new life--and her new love?

If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different--and a love story that everyone will root for.








What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (#47) - 10 Wishes I'd Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me

For more information on Top Ten Tuesday, click here

Well hello there, genie! Ten bookish wishes you say? This feels like Christmas and my birthday wrapped into one. Hmm, I really need to think of this carefully. These wishes could change my life... for good.

1. €1000 every month to spend on books

2. A new Princess Diaries book every year

3. My own library...

4. ...with one of these

5. A new book series, similar to Cora Carmack's Rusk University series, about ice-hockey players...

6. ...with a love interest who looks like this

7. A time stopper or a time turner that would allow me to spend more time in the day for reading while also being able to finish with my uni work

8. A Tardis-type of machine that would allow me to visit any fictional world found from a book (I think I would first visit the world of that new hockey series with the main character from number 6)

9. The option to give half stars on Goodreads (THIS CANNOT BE TOO MUCH TO ASK)

10. And finally, the ability to freeload on other bookish people's wishes (because I know others will come up with awesome wishes I didn't manage to come up with).

That's it genie! That's all I ask from you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Review: Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

Release date: September 3, 2015
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Quercus
Age group: YA (content watching: strong language and explicit scenes)
Pages: 384
Purchase links: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. 

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does. 

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes...

I am not sure how I should begin this... 
This is such a difficult book to read. One of the most difficult books I've read in a while. Probably since I read All the Rage by Courtney Summers which have a very similar subject matter to this one. Though I loved All the Rage, this one digs into the issue of rape and its consequences even deeper. So for the young readers, please take into account that this one has a warning about explicit language and scenes. 

Emma O'Donovan is the queen of her little Irish town. She is beautiful, and she knows it. Guys want to sleep with her, and she knows it. Her friends are jealous of her, and she knows it... and loves it. She basks in her beauty, the jealousy of others and loves knowing that pretty much every guy in the town would cheat on their girlfriends just to have a night of fun with Emma. She is catty, mean and cruel. She seems to care about herself, and herself only. She knows that her neighbor Conor, a boy she has known since she was a kid, is in love with her, but she does not want Conor, because being with him would mean that she would not have someone to show around, someone who would make others jealous.

Emma is not new to parties. But not all of the parties she has been at have changed her life. For good. When after a while night Emma wakes up from her porch , sunburned, without underwear, raw and sore, without any memories of the last night, Emma considers that she might have gone too far. After a hospital visit to tend for the sunburn, Emma knows that she looks horrible, but thinks that it is her only problem. Then she goes to school and her friends first ignore her and then are angry at her. People whisper behind her back, call her a slut and a whore. Though Emma has been called that before, she does not understand what is going on. When people talk about the party, Emma doesn't remember. What could have she done that was so horrible?

When pictures surface, showing in EXPLICIT detail what happened to Emma at the party, everything changes. In the pictures, she is passed out, naked, her legs open, the most private parts of her body displayed for all to see. And there are guys in the pictures too. Guys everyone in the town knows. Football players. The heroes of the town. And they are using her. In ways no one should be used without consent. 

When the photos start to circulate the school, the blame falls on Emma. She must have been asking for it. She was drunk. It is not like she was an innocent good girl before that night. She must have known what was going on. She must have liked it. She is a slut. She is a whore. The boys involved are good buys. Emma has no right to destroy their lives. Their futures. 

One of the most impressive attributes of this book is the way O'Neill is able to make the reader feel for such an unlikable character. It would not be wrong to say that at the beginning of the book Emma is pretty much despicable. She is the type of person I would never want to be associated with. She treats her friends like trash and though I love confident people, her confidence is toxic. Though I never particularly started to like Emma as a person, I did want her to get justice, to find a way to go on, to understand that she is not to blame. What happened wasn't her fault. And I wanted the people around Emma, the community and the world as a whole, to see what actually happened. To understand who's to blame. 

I think this book is pretty realistic in the ways it portrays society's reactions to situations like this. For the people in the community, in Emma's home town, Emma seems to be the one to blame. The way she acted, the way she dressed and her reputation make it seem to them like Emma was asking for it. There seems to be an understanding that the guys are not to blame for something Emma clearly wanted. A want Emma signaled with her behavior and her clothes. As the investigation to the events starts, the information about what happened reach the mainstream media and the discussion looks very similar to that happening in the town. But there are also people who believe that Emma was wronged. Unfortunately for Emma, those people are not ones close to her. 

The family dynamics of Asking for It are extremely interesting. Once Emma's found from the porch without memories of the previous night, her parents cannot believe what kind of chain of events would have led their good, sweet, beautiful girl to a state like that. When the events take the label of rape, Emma's mother starts drinking while Emma's father cannot look at her daughter anymore. Only Emma's big brother seems to understand the reality of the situation and demands action. But can Emma go on with the situation? Can she destroy the lives of boys she used to be friends with? Does she deserve justice?

O'Neill's prose is powerful, raw and strong. It digs in deep, does not shy away from detail and goes straight to the point, showing the scary and brutal truth of Emma's life after the disastrous party. The way O'Neill writes makes it impossible for the reader to forget what happened. The novel never belittles the consequences of rape neither does it turn them into a spectacle. There is a sense of honesty and sense of respect in the writing. There's an understanding that there are people like Emma out there, people who have actually gone through something as horrible as this. 

As I said, Asking for It is definitely not the easiest book out there to read. It is not romantic or funny. It doesn't have a happy ending (that is not a spoiler, because you can probably figure it out from the subject matter). It does not really have any likable characters. It's prose will probably haunt you. But despite all that, it is such an IMPORTANT BOOK and one that should be read by men and women, young and old. It is a book that will want you to discuss it. It is a book that will probably make you angry. And it definitely is a book that will make you think. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Readathon: Introductory Survey

So it is time! I am a bit late to join the fun because I ended up watching a film for one of my classes, but I am here now and ready to read. But before that, I will answer to some introductory questions.

1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I am reading from Finland. The weather is beautiful outside, but I think I'll just read instead. I can go out tomorrow.

2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I will start with a book that I have been reading for the last couple of days but haven't been able to finish yet. That book is Asking for It by Louise O'Neill and I am really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

3. Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Candy. And not exactly a snack, but dinner. (Not sure what I am making yet though.. something easy!)

4. Tell us a little something about yourself!

Hmm... I really like American comedy. I think that's something little about myself.

5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what's one thing you'll do differently today. If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I did not participate in the last one, but I have participated before. But hmm, I'm just really looking forward to reading.

What are you reading and snacking today?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Readathon - Plans, Advice and Books

Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon is almost upon us and I am excited! I participated in this wonderful reading event that is filled with bookish love and a sense of community back in 2009 (I think) and ever since I have attempted to participate always when it has been possible. Unfortunately, during many of these I have been too busy with university work to concentrate on anything else, but it really seems like this year I was able to schedule everything in a manner that allows me to spend considerable time reading.

The rules are simple. You sign up on the official read-a-thon page, check your starting time (it starts at the same time worldwide and for me the starting time is at 3pm) and start reading! The goal is to read for 24 hours, but it is up to you how much you read. Just have fun and spend time reading!

As I said, I should be pretty okay schedule wise, so I think that from 3pm onwards I can try to spend time mostly reading until like 3am, at least. I have a couple of things I need to do on Sunday, so I cannot spend the whole day sleeping, but I guess we'll see how it goes.

As someone who has done readathon a couple of time before, I can give newcomers a couple of hints on how to make the 24 hours a little easier on yourself:

1. Pick short books and have a lot of options to pick from... but don't spend too much time trying to figure what to read next (I always do this... such a bad habit!)

2. It is okay to take a nap or go to sleep for the night if you feel like it

3. Buy snacks! A lot of snacks! Mine are of the junk food variety (I know, bad Milka) but it is up to you. Also, remember to take breaks to have a drink (I mainly mean water, but I guess you can drink something else as well...)

4. Don't spend too much time on social media or try to come up with a schedule that works for you (I like to read for about an hour or hour and a half and then check my social media pages before going back to reading).

I went to the library on Wednesday to check out potential readathon reads. I have plenty of ARCs I should be reading on my Kindle, but for these reading challenges I usually like to stock up on physical copies because it is easier to see the process of reading from them. There's just something so euphoric about finishing with a physical book and picking up the next one from the shelf. So here are some of the potential titles I wish to get to during Saturday:

I obviously won't be able to finish all of these! I am currently reading Asking for It by Louise O'Neill and if I don't finish with that before Saturday, I will probably start my readathon with it. But as this little graphic shows, I have a good selection of books to pick from and all are titles I am super excited to get into, so only Saturday will show which ones end up in my hands and which stay in the shelf.

Are you planning to participate in the readathon? If yes, what are you planning to read? 
What kind of advice would you give to those participating for the first time?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Midmonth Obsessions - October 2015

It's the middle of October and I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my obsessions from the last month or so. I've been writing these down in my calendar as possible ideas to blog about, but I thought the best way would be just to share them all combined to one post.

After a long search of a podcast that had enough episodes for me not to have to wait for a new one weekly, I ended up choosing You Must Remember This, a podcast hosted and produced by Karina Longworth. I started by listening to the series focused on Charles Manson and his connections with Hollywood and now for the past couple of weeks I've been going through the episodes on the Star Wars series, which focuses on different Hollywood figures and their lives during the times to war (mainly the Second World War). 
I always say that I love classical Hollywood cinema, but this series really has made me realize how many films there are out there that I still need to watch! The way Longworth has put these stories together is done with bravado and more than once I have found myself biking a bit slower home from university just so I can spend a lot more time listening to the podcast (I only listen to podcasts while I am out and about because I find that when I try to listen to them at home I find it hard to concentrate since there always seems to be something else I should be doing at the same time). 

Ahhh, I need this book! This cover is pretty much perfection and makes me think of summer and my puppy and ice-cream. It also reminds me to Since You've Been Gone, which is an absolutely beautiful book and if this is even half as awesome as it was, we are in for something amazing! 

The Unexpected Everything will be published on May 3rd, 2016 by Simon & Schuster. 

3. The Golden Girls

After finishing with Full House, I needed a new sitcom to watch and I thought I might as well continue with sitcom classics. Though the show lacks the seriality I usually like to see in the sitcoms I watch, it is a lot of fun to watch and I love how there's something in every single one of these ladies that I can connect with. Dorothy is wonderfully sarcastic and cynical, Blance would rule Tumblr with her sexually colored comments, Rose has naivety that hides sudden glimpses of wisdom and Sophia is pretty much just the queen of everything.

There are also some episodes that feel super absurd right now, for example one is season 3 in which Rose worries about nuclear war and dreams about going to Soviet Union on a peace process.

4. Grilled Cheese

After reading an ARC of UNDERWATER by Melisa Reichardt, which features a lot of scenes involving grilled cheese sandwiches, I started to crave for one and since then I've been trying to perfect my recipe in order to find the process of making a perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Just looking at that picture makes me hungry.

5. Hallmark movies

Once in every two or three months, I suddenly get an urge to watch Hallmark original movies. They are predictable, cheesy and all pretty much the same. They feature characters with jobs like a Christmas tree decorator or a toy-maker. Usually they are set in these Utopian little towns in which everyone seems to be comfortably middle class and happy. But despite all of this, I am obsessed with watching them. One of the highlights of the fall for me is the releasing of the Hallmark Christmas schedule and the information about new films. There's usually always one film that features a royal and a commoner love story, and those are ALWAYS my favorite.

6. Fargo season 2

Last year I gave season 1 of Fargo on DVD for my little brother as a Christmas present and we ended up spending the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day watching the series. So when I heard that season 2 was in the making, I knew that it would be one of my most expected TV events of 2015. The first episode of season 2 premiered earlier this week and wow, it was awesome and definitely promises a lot of interesting things for the rest of the season. The cast is also pretty amazing, and despite the fact that I usually don't like Kirsten Dunst, I was positively surprised by her in the opening episode. 

8. 'She Used to Be Mine' by Sara Bareilles

I love Sara Bareilles and I am absolutely obsessed with this song, which I think is one of my favorites from her whole discography. I've been a fan of Sara since like 2007 and every single time she comes up with something new I am reminded of how awesome she is. She Used to Be Mine is from Sara's upcoming album called What's Inside: Songs from Waitress which will be released on November 11th. 
The songs on the album are from her stage adaptation of the 2007 film Waitress (which is an awesome film by the way that has one of my celeb crushes Nathan Fillion as the male lead) that will come to Broadway in 2016. 

What have you been obsessed with lately?