The Monday Agenda 7/8/2013

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

I’m back, busily bustling through bunches of books (and amusing myself with alliteration, it would seem).

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

This is really a two-week check-in, since I was away (on a lovely vacation, thanks for asking!) and skipped a week of blogging. Here’s what I’ve read since my last update:

Vacation books:

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde: Done! Loved it. My review is here.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: Done! My review is here.

A Small Death in the Great Glen by A. D. Scott: Done! My review is here.

Post-vacation reading:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Done! Beautiful book. My review is here.

Saga, volumes 1 and 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: Amazing new graphic novel series from the author of Y: The Last Man, one of my favorites. I loved the two volumes of Saga, and can’t wait to read more.

Fresh Catch:

Well, I was away, after all, so the fresh catch collection is on the smallish side:

Saga, Volume 2When You Were HereThe Girl You Left BehindOpenly Straight

Yes, I did read Saga, volume 2 already, the second it reached my hot little hands! The other books are from a giveaway (When You Were Here — thank you, Perpetual Page-Turner!) and two ARCs that were just approved. Looking forward to all of them!

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

I’ve just started Joyland by Stephen King, and I’m hooked!

Next up, one of my pending review copies, either Mist by Susan Krinard or The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold.

Mist (Mist, #1)The Book of Secrets: A Novel

Plus, I’d really love to get to more of the books on my summer TBR list!

My kiddo is safely home from an “awesome” time at summer camp, and ready to resume our nightly reading tradition. We’re continuing our Narnia quest, and will be starting The Voyage of the Dawn Treader this week. Four books down, three to go!

boy1So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

Book Review: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Book Review: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair

As soon as I read the cover blurb for The Eyre Affair, I knew I was a goner. From The Wall Street Journal:

Filled with clever wordplay, literary allusion and bibliowit, The Eyre Affair combines elements of Monty Python, Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But its quirky charm is all its own.

I mean, come on! Was this book written just for me?

What’s it all about? I’ll borrow the Goodreads synopsis:

Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.

In the world of Thursday Next, the hush-hush web of government intelligence includes SO-27, the branch of Special Operations focusing on Literary Detection. As a LiteraTec, Agent Next tracks down all sorts of nefarious literary criminals, but none so heinous as the mysterious mastermind who literally rewrites the world of fiction by altering original manuscripts. Add to the mix a Crimean War that’s raged for 150 years, Next’s ChronoGuard father who pops in and out whenever he’d like (usually with a history-changing agenda or two — like, say, the invention of the banana), a powerful corporation named Goliath that runs, well, everything, and a strange device called a Prose Portal that may be the key to finally winning the war… and you have a delightfully bizarre novel that plays with words and books in the strangest, twistiest of ways.

The glory is truly in the details. On a rare day off, Thursday attends the weekly performance of Richard III — which is this world’s stand-in for Rocky Horror. In a truly amazing sequence, we’re treated to the spectacle of full-on audience participation, including the donning of sunglasses, stamping and barking, and a wild battle scene in the aisles and entryway of the theater.

The whole audience erupted in unison:

“When is the winter of our discontent?”

“Now,” replied Richard with a cruel smile, “is the winter of our discontent…”

The Eyre Affair is filled with so many adorable details, it’s impossible to capture even a smidgen. Coin-operated mechanical devices on street corners recite verses of Shakespeare on demand. Taking an unpopular stance on the “who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays?” debate can lose you friends and has been known to start riots. Characters names include Victor Analogy, Braxton Hicks, Jack Schitt, and Acheron Hades. Guess who the bad guys are?

Possibly the only note that rang false for me in this book is the introduction of vampires and werewolves (in a chapter aptly titled “Spec-Ops 17: Suckers & Biters”. I mean, sure, in a novel in which bad performances of Shakespeare carry fines and John Milton conventions are commonplace, why not? Still, this piece of the story seems unnecessary and a bit out of place. While handled with humor, the inclusion of these over-used supernatural creatures is a clunky touch and is not in keeping with the overall off-beat originality of the storyline.

I leave you with the brief explanation provided for the department vacancy offered to Thursday:

Your post was held by Jim Crometty. He was shot dead in the old town during a bookbuy that went wrong.

How can you not love a book in which all of society is crazy about books? Where people from around the globe make pilgrimage to see the Jane Eyre manuscript? The Eyre Affair is silly, quirky, and an absolute delight.

The Monday Agenda 6/24/2013

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

True fact: I’m away and not actively blogging this week. Oh, the power and beauty of scheduling! Just because I’m off to parts known and unknown, it doesn’t mean I can’t post a Monday Agenda for this week.

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler: DNF. I read about 30 pages or so, but it just never really clicked for me.

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce: Done! My review is here. Warning: Contains rants and spoilers.

The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis: Done! My son and I have now read four Narnia books together, and plan to continue as soon as we’re back home. We loved The Horse and His Boy. We managed to squeeze in a quick Q&A With The Kiddo post on our Narnian adventures — you can see it here.

That’s it! It was a low-volume reading week, thanks to the typical pre-trip frenzy of packing, laundry, and last-minute dashes to the store for insect repellant and other such nonsense.

Fresh Catch:

Neil Gaiman! Plus, two paperbacks — bought cheap! — arrived from the UK this week. I’m so looking forward to reading all of these!

The Ocean at the End of the LaneRose Under FireThe 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)

Yes, I’ve already read (and loved!) The 5th Wave… and now I have my own copy!

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

Instead of choosing my own vacation reading, I asked my blog visitors to do it for me! Based on my poll results, here’s what I’ll be reading in the next week and a half:

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

A Small Death in the Great Glen by A. D. Scott

… and possibly Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, although I doubt I’ll fit all this into my not-as-long-as-I’d-like vacation.

Thank you to everyone who voted and offered an opinion (or two)! I’ll report back — when I get back!

boy1

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.