Monthly Archives: June 2011

Book Challenge Progress

As far as my book challenge progress goes, I’ve read ten books out of the forty I have listed in my book challenge. Slow going but I have read a total of eighteen books this year (double the amount of books I read last year this time around) so I’m on a roll!

I’ve discarded a few books that have bored me at the first chapter (honestly, if I can’t get past the first chapter, why bother reading it when I have too many other books to read?) therefore the titles have completely been deleted off my list. I’ve already started my reading list for next year but perhaps it’s too soon? Continue reading

The Man From Beijing

image Author: Henning Mankell

Publisher: Knopf (2008)

The book starts with a wolf that enters the town of Hesjovallen that is deserted because someone came and murdered everyone. An older man discovers a body in blood, gets in a car accident, and has a heart attack, dying in the process. Enter the investigators Vivi Sundberg that has to figure out who responsible for this Swedish massacre. Then we are introduced to judge, Birgitta Roslin from another town who learns that her grandparents were killed in that massacre. Then we are introduced to these Chinese brothers – San, Guo Si, and Wu, who have to leave their home in China because the landowner has murdered their parents and will come find them to pay a debt. As the book unravels, these three stories are intertwined in a roundabout way that makes the ending anticlimactic.

 As a book club selection, this book was a doozy. Perhaps it was the translation from the Swedish language to English, but I found this book very hard to get into and read. The English was stilted, stiff, trite, too direct, too much the way people don’t talk but should, and not fun or interesting to read. The plot started interesting enough; I thought the author would stay and thrill the reader in the way the story started. I thought this story would be more of a thriller the way it started with each different character section. But as much as each part was necessary to tell all parts of this story, this didn’t work as a whole. It was so damn awkward and blah that I found it so very hard to care. There was social commentary about the Chinese government and affairs which was clunky and bogged down the story; the direction of this tale was on pause as the characters talked about the Chinese government. I was bored to tears. I found myself scanning most of those sections to see what else would happen which was Nothing! I like fiction with current affairs integrated when it’s done well; even Dan Brown made history entertaining and I’m not too enamored with his work. If you are a fan of this author’s work, pick this up. If you are not familiar with Henning Mankell’s work, avoid this and try his other series. As a stand alone work of fiction, The Man From Beijing was weak, uninteresting, and bland.

Script Reading

Remember when I interned at a literary agency last year? Now I’m a Script Reader (again). I did it awhile back when I first started in film production for Goldcrest Post Productions. What’s the difference? I’m still a gatekeeper in the creative world but in another medium. I’d say a difference is I’m a barrier in providing feedback on how words can translate on the big screen. However, the difference in what I’m doing isn’t necessarily a huge one.

Why am I script reader again after all these years? I was looking for a gig that allowed me to combine my two biggest passions: films and writing. I’ve always wanted to be a film critic (click here for reference) and haven’t completely abandoned that dream, so why not write about films? Granted, I’m writing coverage (review in screenplay speak) for screenplays not necessarily movies but it’s better than nothing.

Every time I read a new script, I’m reminded why I write and why I choose to express myself through words than another form of media (like painting). Each new script that arrives in my email is met with two emotions: excitement to read a possible script that can live on celluloid after I’m gone from this planet or dread of the trite material presented for me to read. Most often, I review the script with an open mind and at times, am pleasantly surprised. Most of the time, the execution is off, the writing is awful, and I don’t see the movie receiving the “OK” to be seen on the big screen. Some things should not be made into moving pictures. Other screenplays, if only for entertainment and monetary purposes, are permissible to live on celluloid for all of eternity. But not everything.

Some advice? Write a story that matters to you (similar to writing a short story or novel) and try not to write what’s in style. Sometimes, the trends work against your favor. Good luck!

Side note: Even though I am not paid to review scripts, I have good sense as to what works, the kind of budget movies need, and do not hold back. For those aspiring screenwriters, I am open to reading your work and providing useful feedback. I would never charge writers for feedback. If I get a significant amount of requests, then I’ll reconsider. For now, it’s free. 🙂

Alias Grace

image Author: Margaret Atwood

Published by: Doubleday (1996)

Grace Marks is convicted of murdering her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his mistress/headmaid, Nancy Montgomery. She is thrown in prison for being the accessory. James McDermott murdered them and threw Grace under the bus with him, except he was executed and she was sentenced to prison. Her “sentence” is to work at the governor’s home. A psychiatrist, Simon Jordan, intent on opening his own mental institution, tries to coax the real story out of her while dealing with his own demons. In the end, Jordan, and everyone involved, learns more than they can handle.

Atwood’s prose is top-notch. How this is the first novel I’ve ever read by her boggles my mind. As a historical novel, the story based in reality about a woman in Canada named Grace Marks, Atwood did a phenomenal job at re-creating this world by using first hand accounts and old records to make this story as realistic as possible. By the novel’s end, I wanted to know more about this Marks woman and do my own research.

Would I recommend this? Hell yes. Although as one of Atwood’s best novels, I was told (I was amongst Atwood fans in my book club) this wasn’t her best. If she wasn’t at her best in this book, I’d like to see her at her Best! This was a great read. Highly recommended for history buffs and literary buffs alike.

Rain: Beatles Tribute Band on Broadway

On May 18, 2011, I watched the Beatles Tribute band Rain on Broadway. With my newfound Beatlemania, one of my close friends who is also a Beatlemaniac, invited me to watch the tribute band to see how much they would be able to recreate the sixties and how well their covers would be, of course. It was his fourth time attending.

The show was absolutely perfect for this Beatles fan and any Beatlemaniac for that matter. Prior to the band starting, the audience is sitting with a soundtrack from the sixties and Beatles trivia on the two TV screens on each side of the stage. Continue reading

The Starlight Crystal

image Author: Christopher Pike

Published by: Archway Paperbacks (1996)

A week before Paige Christian is about board the spaceship Traveler as part of her father’s crew, she meets and falls in love with Tem. Albeit Paige leaving, they promise to write to each other. She vows she’ll see him again. With each hour that passes when she does board the ship, years go by and Paige suffers heartbreak. On the ship, the Shamere, an alien race, plan to obliterate the remaining human race (they’ve been in space for thousands of years at this point) but do not succeed. Without giving too much away of the remainder of the story, time weaves upon itself for Paige and love prevails.

At times, convoluted in execution but the message of love was clear. Pike’s books have that contemporary touch even though most of them were written in the late nineties. I think his work is the only work (some of them anyway) that doesn’t feel dated at all. I remember when I first read this and how I scratched my head in confusion – but when I re-read it as an adult, I could appreciate the beauty of the story he wrote even with all the craziness. The time travel isn’t explained particularly very well; it gets muddled in the process but doesn’t detract from the overall message. I really enjoyed this book and I’d like to re-visit this in another decade and see what I’ll be able to cull from it. Pike is still great.

Temping

Hi there loyal readers (if I have any)!

It has been quite awhile since I have contributed to this little blog of mine. So many things happen  simultaneously and then I don’t make the time to write. However, now I have obtained a temporary to long term assignment as a Receptionist so there’s no excuse now.

I have seen many movies, read books, watched plays, and am currently dealing with bedbugs (fun). But I am committing to sharing more thoughts and the like to my bloggy.

As for temping, I find that it can be a crapshoot sometimes. You may be called for a long term assignment, they don’t like you so you’re canned and you’re not even told by them but by your recruiter. Or you can be at a long term assignment and it may take them Forever to make you permanent or if ever. Currently, I’m in a good position. Took over for the past two receptionists at my office in the past six months. I’m content that I am currently employed and can now save!

I’m also excited to be taking a writing class again. I’ve signed up with Gotham (it really is cheap) with a kool instructor (checked her out online) so hopefully, this fiction class will be better than the past ones. Well, it’ll be different because it will be the first female fiction instructor I’ve had at Gotham. Gotham is hit or miss with their instructors as well therefore I am hoping for the best.

And with that, I’m out! On to creating posts for this bloggy!