November 23, 2015

Recent Reads

134. Lost at Sea
I believe I read someplace that this is the author's first foray into graphic novels, and it shows. His more recent stuff is better. 

Teenage angst on a road trip. The thing is that for many people being a teenager is a very angst ridden time of their lives, but this story does not do a good job of exploring what is going on with our protagonist. There are some interesting threads, but nothing really comes of any of them. It felt murky and unfinished, and I'm not a fan of the manga style illustrations for this story. 

This book is targeted for a teen audience, and maybe they'll get more out of it that I did. Not my cup of tea. Rating: 2 stars.

135. Chocky
Book blurb: Matthew's parents are worried. At eleven, he's much too old to have an imaginary friend, yet they find him talking to and arguing with a presence that even he admits is not physically there. This presence - Chocky - causes Matthew to ask difficult questions and say startling things.

I'll stop the blurb there, as I really think the less you know about this story and the genre it's in, the better your reading experience will be.

John Wyndham is a British author whose work I've been meaning to read for ages, as his works are considered classics. This one was first published in 1968, and holds up really well today. 

I listened to the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Daniel Weyman. This delightful and charming novella takes a little over four hours to listen to, and I'd recommend it for both teen and adult readers. Rating: 4 stars.

136. Sandcastle
This is an interesting graphic novel to read as the weather turns crisper in these northern climes. You know that feeling when you're walking outside in the fall and your breath catches as you glimpse something out the corner of your eye, and then realize it is only falling leaves? 

This story is like that, only there is no relief to be had. It is hard to talk about this book without giving away the fun of discovering what it is about, so all I'll say is that it'll make you think about beach days very differently after you read this one. The black and white sketchy art wonderfully evokes the right mood for the story.

If you decide to read this, do not read the book blurbs, just pick it up and read it. Rating: 4 stars.

137. Disgraced: A Play
Book blurb: Everyone has been told that politics and religion are two subjects that should be off-limits at social gatherings. But watching these characters rip into these forbidden topics, there's no arguing that they make for ear-tickling good theater.

I've always loved plays, and have fond memories of both watching regular productions as a kid, and also acting in several, and to this day The Sound of Music, and Fiddler on the Roof hold a special place in my heart.

There is something magical created by the words, the actors, the setting, and the audience when one watches a play. I don't however, as a general rule, read plays. There is so much lost when all you have are the words on a page, and I quite appreciated that in the forward the author talks about what is gained and lost when you see a production, as opposed to read the words.

This won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama, and is really good. The characters and dialog draw out some of the experiences of being a Muslim in a post 9/11 America, and it is a frank exploration on race, religion, being an immigrant and a person of color, art, and relationships.

Life and love are complicated things, and this play sheds some light on the things we look at, but often do not see. I look forward to seeing the play in Boston next year. Rating: 4 stars.

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