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Book Meme
24. The book that you got into because of the movie/TV series/etc, and the relative merits of each version

The most recent example is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell by Susanne Clarke. I read the book first but I wanted to read the book and finally put it on my list (and in my Kindle) when I heard about the TV series. Many on my flist were watching it and talking about loving the book. I usually prefer to read the book first. I really enjoyed the book and then I saw the TV series. I liked the show too, but the book definitely wins for me - it was immersive. It was cool to see magic on screen and the female characters were more prominent. I was also able to really understand a crucial plot development of how Arabella was stolen by watching the TV show. But a book wins every time for me.

Another book I got into was Lord of the Rings books. I watched the first two movies and loved them (I owe all in extended version) and I did want to read the books before I saw the last movie. Bear got me the paperback of the trilogy for New Year and that September of 2003 I embarked on a three months epic read. I liked the books more, but the movies did shape how I saw the characters. To me both versions are interlinked.
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It look me a little under two months to read this book. But that's not quite right. It took me almost two months to read 75% of the book and two days to read the last quarter (about 250 pages) because once the pieces started to come together I just wanted to know what will happen. And that's always a good sign.

I liked being in the world this book creates. The pacing and the language and the depth of the created nineteenth century. All the footnotes and side stories and little asides about different books of magic and all the stories really added dimensions. And the possibilities that magic opens up in this world, especially in the end with the trees and rivers and stones, just become endless. I was never bored with the story, I always enjoyed reading when I was reading it, the prose was easy (I read much 19th century literature and feel comfortable in that world) but the beginning and the middle didn't call for me to read when I was not reading it. The end did. The book was long but none of it felt like it should have been cut. All 900 odd pages were there for a reason.

I also enjoyed the characters, especially the female characters. I thought all the characters were three dimensional, which doesn't always happen in books. Flora, for example, who might have been just a stereotype or side interest in a different book, has her own interests and personality, is allowed to be upset but is also willing to help and go beyond what many would expect. And even her Aunt gets development and inner thoughts. I liked that a lot. I loved Lady Pole's rage and anger when she was finally pulled out of her enchantment and her insistence on writing all the letters herself and not involve her husband. We didn't really see her fully, other than very sick or enchanted, until the end of the book and it was good to see her for who she was. I did wish to see a little more of Arabella than what we got but she was interesting too; she managed to be happy with a husband who was often very distracted. That's a good quality to have. And many side characters got development too. Walter Pole's devotion to his wife added an interesting character trait - he could have easily been a terrible husband who just married for money. But often there was an unexpected turn or a detail about a character.

As an introvert who adores books I could relate to Mr. Norell on many points. (Well, not erasing someone's book. That was horrible to me. Just the idea of it). And as a character he surprised me too especially in his joy of seeing Jonathan Strange do magic for the first time and just his delight in having a student. And at the end just falling into working together and not minding at all at being in the Darkness. As Strange pointed out at the end, Norell gets to see the world and do magic sitting in his library and not dealing with people, it would sound very heavenly to him.

I liked Strange more when he went to the Continent and had to ingratiate himself to the army. And all the magic was pretty fun. Of course, the army would be most happy with logistics like roads than frogs reigning out of the sky. Unhinged Strange in the Darkness got a little more disturbing - mostly because we really stop spending time with him and seeing his perspective- we see him through Dr. Graysteel and Drawlight and Byron's account.

I liked the ending too, most points resolved but bittersweet with a parting kiss between Arabella and Strange. I like the detail that she didn't offer to go into the Darkness and he didn't ask. It was an ending that would lead itself to the sequel but without the sequel it still feels complete.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 11:20 pm
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We just got back (a few hours ago) from five days in Long Island vising Bear's parents for 4th of July weekend.

It was a good visit but as usual I'm glad to be home.

We did pack a lot of activities in from playground to beach to a fair with rides to visiting Bear's friend Christina in her new house. (And it is a really gorgeous giant house).

And in the last two days I read the last quarter of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell , about 250 pages, and finished the book. I liked how the end came together and have enjoyed the book overall. I'm going to bed now but I will post more about the book and my reaction to it and about my weekend. I think I will also start reading Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. I think it's time for me to tackle it. I started a bit today, since I can't just finish one book and not start something else, but I only read a little. I did like the first few pages so far. (The ridiculous intro to this Russian ebook with italics and caps and florid prose did make me roll my eyes very hard. I mostly skipped it before it turned me off the book. It should have just stuck to introducing the illustrator).

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday, May 16th, 2016 10:30 pm
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So apparently I'm reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell now. It was a little unplanned. I finished Sacks and was going to start Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children . But that book was in hard copy and on Friday morning Tanya woke me up early by moving around but then she went back to sleep for another hour. Since I couldn't sleep and only had my Kindle with a flashlight nearby, I figured I would read something. Jonathan Strange is on my "to read" list this year but at 900 something pages it is a little intimidating. Just the time commitment; it's going to take me a while, especially with no commute to read on. But I started it. I had absolutely no idea what this book was about - I vaguely knew it was set in the 19th century. And for some reason my brain associates the title with "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide." I never even read the cover page for the book description. I know there was a TV miniseries, which I want to eventually see. I avoided pretty much all spoilers. I also know many people really love this book.

I'm on Chapter 5 right now. I like the writing style and the story so far but it is still a little early to get a handle on the characters or the plot. My favorite part so far was the description of what a society party was like - hot and super crowded and superficial in a lot of ways. And Mr. Norell just wants to read his book in the corner. I can relate to that. The book is certainly amusing me right now. I guess this would be my world for at least a month. Maybe longer.

I'm also finally watching Season 9 of "Doctor Who." I saw the first episode the week it aired (and rewatched it today) but wasn't able to see the rest. My Dad just got it for me this week from this Russian website and I can switch the language back into English. So I'm looking forward to that. Maybe to the Christmas Special since I love River.

Yesterday, we all went to visit my grandparents and while we were there my uncle (my Dad's younger brother) came over as well with my aunt and cousin Anna. I saw my uncle and Anna maybe a little over a year ago but my aunt never met Tanya. (They live in New Jersey, more than an hour away and we are not super close). So it was fun to hang out, once Tanya got over the shyness of meeting so many new people all at once.

Today I actually picked up my phone and called people to ask for things. It's not always easy for me to do that. But I really had to call the apartment management person. They sent our our lease renewal last week and effectively raised our rent 5.4%. New York City actually passed a rent freeze - 0% this year but there is a loophole that if the tenant was paying a "preferred rent" and not "legal rent," the landlord could raise it to "legal rent". So it's legal but such a dick move. $80 more a month is not a small sum. And we've been in this place since 2012, paid our rent on time, etc. So I called today to see if there was anything they could do. The manager was actually pretty nice and easy about it. Said she would talk to the owner and call me back in the afternoon. And she did. Our rent would now only go up $30. Still annoying of them to get around the intent of the law but better than before. So yay. And I made sure to reinforce in my mind that it is good to call and ask for things (when I went to therapy one summer when I started to develop travel anxiety, one of the things that stuck with me is the need to reinforce the positives and not just focus on the negatives). I also called a different real estate guy that one of the Moms at the playground recommended, now that we want to start searching for an apartment to buy again.

And tomorrow, Tanya and I are heading with Bear to his parents's house for the week. Bear will be working, fairly late at night too, but at least we would see him in the morning. And Tanya and I will get to hang out with his parents and Tanya will get a chance to practice English more. She speaks more in Russian since she's around me all the time, but when Bear is home she is picking up more English phrases for sure. She was eating something, either strawberry or banana and she told me in Russian "Tanya kushaet bananu" then turned right to Bear and said "Tanya eats banana", translating for him (although he can understand basic Russian and she knows it). She also loves to comment on what she is doing. As she was drinking milk, she said "Tanya pyet moloko" or "Tanya is drinking milk", then when she was done, she said "Tanya popila moloko" or "Tanya drank/finished drinking milk." She also mastered her shape sorter a week ago, a new skill we will show off to grandparents.


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