Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

The Body in the Library
Description: The early morning hours at Gossington Hall have taken a sinister turn. The body of a beautiful stranger has been discovered sprawled in front of Colonel Bantry's library hearth. Perfectly posed and dressed to the nines, the stylish blonde appears to have a natural flair for glamour-even in death. But why was she there? Where did she come from? And who, in Gossington Hall, wanted her dead? Miss Jane Marple has her suspicions.... 

Stats: Mystery, 220 pages, First Published February 1924, Edition Published by Signet, January 2000.

My Rating: 3 stars

Agatha Christie knows a thing or two about creating an interesting mystery with a cast of characters a mile long. In the murder of a young, pretty girl the suspects are many and all are suspect in some respect, but only Miss Marple will solve the crime.

Unfortunately, compared to my previous experiences with Miss Marple, this book was a disappointment. The murdered girl was unspectacular, the characters were all somewhat unspectacular, and the way everything came together would have me interested one minute and disinterested the next. I think the main issue for me was not the mystery itself, but the way that the character of Miss Marple is fantastically misused. The mystery was well constructed and had all the inappropriate twists and turns, however I wanted something a little more

What I love about Miss Marple is the way that she investigates. For those unfamiliar, Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has enough experience to have had experienced it all. She knows human nature, she can spot a liar, and she knows how to follow clues in a humble way that makes her a marvel. No one sees her coming. What harm can an old woman do? Why not speak honestly, loosely, comfortably to a kind listener? 

In The Body in the Library the mystery does not follow Miss Marple's investigation, but the many various police officials on the case. I believe there were about three or four of them in total. I didn't care about them in the same way I care about Miss Marple. I don't know anything about them, although they do appear in other Miss Marple books and are familiar with her knowing ways. I wanted more of her. The way the police handle things is all very by the book, the real interesting insights come from the very few interactions Miss Marple has. When she's centre stage, things are intriguing. You want to know what she knows. 

The way the mystery ended was fun, I really wanted to know who did it. I just wish that the investigation was more captivating. The Body in the Library is a great little mystery that is easy to consume and just perfect for a cold winter night. For those in the mood for some unique British-speak murder, Agatha Christie is always perfection.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: The Hipless Boy by Sully (Sherwin Tjia)

Description: Say for a second you’re just a normal person. You live in a hipster neighbourhood but you’re not a hipster. You’re hipless. This the premise behind this collection of interlinked stories done in a graphic novel format that originally found life as a weekly column in the McGill Daily.

The protagonist here tries to live his life like an open heart, and a curious cat, meeting and mingling with a collection of Montreal oddballs. He finds love, loses love, learns to like cross-dressing, and finds something else. Along for the ride are his best friends Minerva and Owen.

The short stories collected here reveal an inter-woven community of new adults, struggling to find families of their own making. 

Stats: Adult Graphic Novel, 224 pages, First Published by Conundrum Press, June 2009.
Audience: 16+ (sex, shock factor)
My Rating: 4 STARS

When reading The Hipless Boy the first thing that struck me was just how much this felt like a memoir. The stories told in The Hipless Boy feel like they've been plucked from someone's life. When I got to the end and was reminded that this is indeed a work of fiction I was that much more impressed by it. Each short story in the collection is very well executed. So often realistic fiction in graphic novel format can come across as manufactured, but you can see a lot of thought went into each moment to create the story of The Hipless Boy. There is a lot of humour, a lot of frankness, and a lot of sincerity.

The graphic novel itself has an interesting format somewhat alternating between panelled short stories and illustrated pieces of text. It's a very wordy book, full of description and musings, but I was so enthralled by the storytelling that I didn't mind the word-to-art ratio. The art stands out well on it's own. Contrasting with the bright orange cover, the pages inside are all shaded in blue. Each page has depth and detail as well as keen attention to the storytelling at hand. I think that's what made it all work for me. There was no one reliance, it wasn't all on the words telling the story verses the panels telling the story, it's only together that you get the full picture.

The stories themselves had my attention from page one. The dialogue and conversational narrative has a friendliness to it. You want to have friends like these characters. The creative, crazy environment made each story that much more interesting. As someone who lives on the far west coast of Canada, the setting of this book being in Montreal made it that much more fantastic to me. It shows you the culture of creative types in the city and gives me a peek into a world I will probably never seen first hand.

Something I also appreciated was all the material at the very back of the book. There you'll find a story-by-story creator notes of his why, why-nots, and thoughts on the story. Reading through them makes me want to go back and re-read the entire book. I'm a very busy reader, anything that makes me want to do it all over again is something wonderful to be sure.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)
Description: Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones. Stay true to her first love-music-even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? Then, one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

Stats: Young Adult, 201 pages, First Published by Dutton Juvenile, 2009. 

My Rating: 5 Stars

“Please Mia," he implores. "Don't make me write a song.” 

Mia loves her Cello, she loves her crazy rock-talk family, and she loves her boyfriend. She goes to classical music camp every summer and is always spending time with her best friend. Of course nothing's perfect, she sometimes feels she doesn't belong, in her family unit or at her boyfriends loud crowded gigs. She doesn't know where's she's going or what will happen if she does get accepted to Juilliard. And then, suddenly, her life is a car crash. Now she has to decide if her life is something she wants to return to now that everything has changed. The choice is her's to make. Does she accept her death or fight to keep living?

This is my second book this month that is about a car crash resulting in awful medical happenings. Needless to say I'm taking this lesson of motor vehicular safety to heart and just never getting in a car ever again. Still, despite my new found fear of the open road, I'm incredibly glad that I've finally read this. I have this terrible habit of getting scared away from certain books. Normally, it's a result of numerous fellow reviewers mentioning how many times they cried and things like "emotional distress" or "heart-wrenching". Honestly guys, I was expecting a lot worse. I had pretty much built this up in my head to be the ultimate tear jerker. I had tissues ready. I had hot chocolate at my disposal and a playlist of cat videos to lift my mood. But I somehow made it through without the breakdown I expected.

If I Stay is a book about reflection just as much as it is about choices. We are introduced to Mia at what may very well be the end of the road and get to know her through her remembering the past. For me the focus of the book was more about family and music then it was just about death and dying. It's hard to get sad with all of these happy remembrances, even if they are bitter-sweet. It's this sort of feeling that I as a reader can latch onto. This gave the book a seriousness as well as a levity. We weren't just learning about Mia, we are seeing her work through the value of the events she has experienced and how they play a role in her choice now.

As someone who has somewhat recently spent time in drab hospital rooms panicked over a loved one I connected with what Mia's family was going through. I could also connect with Mia and her own emotional distress. Overall, I felt like this book is a champion for taking on all that sad, emotional drama, and making it into something hopeful, even in it's darkest moments. I also appreciated how the medical professionals were treated in this book. So often they get glossed over and pushed to the sidelines as people unimportant to the story at hand, but the way that the actual workings of a hospital came into play was wonderful to see.

Everything just had so much life to it. From the characters and their relationships to smaller details like the settings and feel of a family home. There's mourning and hope, there's annoyance and love. I was completely captivated. This is the sort of book you can read through the night and not notice a second has pasted.

“Neither sleet nor rain nor a half inch of snow will compel me to dress like a lumberjack.” 

I do have a very important warning to anyone interested in reading If I Stay.  If I Stay has a sequel called Where She Went that handles the aftermath of this book. Do not look into book two before you have read book one. I know for some readers (myself included) it's common to check out a series as a whole or read reviews of future books to make sure it's worth the trip. I'm pleading, do not even look into it. Don't read the description of Where She Went, don't read reviews for Where She Went, don't even go anywhere near Where She Went because it will completely and absolutely alter the intended reading experience. This is the sort of book you need to watch unfold and having things spoiled for you is not a good thing!

This is a amazing book! I can understand why everyone is so incredibly insistent on recommending it to everyone they know. If you are a YA reader looking for a book with emotional weight and great characters this is definitely something you will enjoy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Johnny Hiro {Half Asian, All Hero} by Fred Chao

Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All HeroDescription: Johnny Hiro, a hardworking busboy, lives in Brooklyn with his flighty but lovable girlfriend Mayumi. Every day, he struggles to make ends meet while fighting giant monsters, running over rooftops from crazed waiters, fending off businessmen-turned-samurai, or having the occasional conversation with Judge Judy, Coolio, or Alton Brown.  Johnny Hiro presents the quirky trials and misadventures of a modern-day hero trying to find his slice of the good life. 

Stats: Graphic Novel, 192 pages, First published by Tor Books, July 2012.

My Rating: 5 Stars

For those who would like a preview of the book you can check out a seven page excerpt on the publishers website here. Trust me when I say this does not even begin to show how amazing this art work is. To see something more be sure to also check out Fred Chao's website and witness more of his illustrating super powers. 

"Going out in New York is never easy.
It always involves construction on the 2/3 line
or a Samurai attack. "
People say that New York is a city of dreamers, but all dreams have some basis in reality. Johnny Hiro's reality is how he somehow manages to get himself and anyone in his general vicinity into the most unbelievable situations. (and remarkably everyone lives to tell the tale.)  Sure, Johnny is just a busboy trying to make ends meet along side his girlfriend Mayumi. But when Mayumi gets snatched up from their apartment by Gozadilla (the monster that almost destroyed Tokyo), Johnny knows he has to save her. Through this we get thrown into Johnny's crazy life with one misadventure after another. 

In my many years of reading I've learned that it's very hard to resist anything with what looks like a giant dinosaur on the cover. Johnny Hiro {Half Asian, All Hero} turned out to be much more then just the crazy fantasy romp I was expecting. Mixed in with the attacking Samurai, New York car chases, King Kong spottings, and of course epic Gozadilla battles there was a surprising amount of heart. Although each story in this graphic novel is full of fantastic fantasy we also have the very familiar tale of a young couple in love living in one of the most famously unforgiving cities.

To see reality and fantasy get blended together with so imagination makes this more. It was just crazy enough to be fantasy and yet just grounded enough to be relatable. Johnny may live an action packed life, but he isn't a hero, he's a guy who wants to not die in a samurai attack just like the rest of us. The characters ground the story and the art brought the entire book together. Showing someone running or in the middle of a car chase is something Fred Chao truly excels at. Action can feel like such a struggle in some books, but here it works seamlessly.

Johnny Hiro {Half Asian, All Hero} is a story about interesting characters, doing interesting things, while fighting, and running, and chasing. I enjoyed every moment of reading this. There are so many smaller moments and even smaller details made this magical.   

At the very back of the book there is a page that announces Johnny Hiro {The Skills to Pay the Bills} Summer 2013. I don't know if this date is still a go, but I will surly be keeping an eye out for any future releases from Fred Chao!

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Life in Black & White by Natasha Friend

Description: What if you lost the thing that made you who you are?

My Life in Black and WhiteLexi has always been stunning. Her butter-coloured hair and perfect features have helped her attract friends, a boyfriend, and the attention of a modelling scout. But everything changes the night Lexi's face goes through a windshield. Now she's not sure what's worse: the scars she'll have to live with forever, or what she saw going on between her best friend and her boyfriend right before the accident. With the help of her trombone-playing, defiantly uncool older sister and a guy at school recovering from his own recent trauma, Lexi learns she's much more than just a pretty face. Goodreads description

Stats: Young Adult, 294 pages, First published by Viking Juvenile, June 2012.
My Rating: 3.3333 Stars
Disclaimer: My copy of My Life in Black & White is an ARC won from a Razorbill monthly giveaway.   

"My life is over. It's the kind of pronouncement teenage girls make every day. They say it after such traumatic events as, say, farting out loud in gym class, or discovering they've gained three pounds at Christmas and can't fit in their winter formal dress. Oh my God, you guys! My life is over! Then they bawl to their girlfriends, eat a bunch of Oreos  and move on. But this was different." 
- ARC page 14

Lexi has everything she could ever want. Great beauty, a great best friend, a great boyfriend, and a great social life. But when she wakes up in the hospital after a terrible car crash Lexi not only has to face the reality of the life she doesn't think she can return to, she also has to face her face. 

Initially, although the description of My Life in Black & White sounded interesting, I wasn't completely sold. This is a transformation book. It's a bit different then your average coming-of-age story because it's more about a complete change in perception. This sort of story can easily go wrong, especially when the main character is a popular girl. Popular girls don't have the best track record in fiction. There is a certain amount of tedium in asking me to have sympathy towards a person who I'm jealous of. I'm fully willing to admit that I would have loved to have Lexi's life at her age and it bothers me in the fictional world (in the same way it bothers me in the real world) when people have humble-brag complaints. Thankfully, in My Life in Black & White things are different. 

What saves it is that Lexi is a well written character. You can see her motivations and you can tell exactly how why she has her personality within her family dynamic and within her friend group.  She feels realistic, instead of the exaggerated popular girls we're so used to seeing. She's not bitchy, she's not bragging, she's a perfectly average girl who just happens to have a social life. It's unfortunate that her friend group didn't fare as well in dodging the stereotypes of popularity, but the developments with the character Heidi makes me more willing to forgive that it all worked within the story. 

But this is more then just a book about high school. The story is really about Lexi's emotional struggle after she needs facial re-constructive surgery and feels betrayed by her best friend. Through this the book discusses the complexity of friendship and family, as well as beauty. I was impressed by the emphasis on relationships and how they evolve when you're thrown a curve ball, or in Lexi's case, thrown through a windshield.  

I quickly became very invested in Lexi. When she has to deal with feeling like she's no longer the person she used to be she is faced with a crisis. The story is about how she bounces back from this. When it comes to her "deformity" it's not as extreme as I thought it was going to be. She seems to have faired pretty well with her injuries, but the most notable thing for her is a skin graft on her cheek. They had to take skin from her butt in order to reconstruct her face, giving her the benefit of having a "butt face". 

However, I wish Natasha Friend had taken the extent of Lexi's physical transformation a little bit further. There is a lot of talk about her skin graft, but from as far as I can tell it is not the deformity she makes it out to be. Lexi's reconstruction is never described with enough detail to give me a good picture of what has changed in her appearance. Whenever doctors are telling her what happened Lexi just tunes them out. This saves our author from having to write a lot of boring medical jargon, but I never got a good understand of what happened. After her swelling and bruising has reduced the only person her injury seemed to bother is her. This doesn't lessen any of her emotional distress, but it does make her come off as a bit of a moaner.

This brings me to my central complaint with the book. It felt like it was missing something while other parts felt unnecessary.  

Lexi very well could have died, but that fact is never examined. Lexi doesn't seriously think about it, at all. I feel like that is not only a missed opportunity, but a grave error in the emotional process. I was looking for more introspection and less of her thinking about her ex-boyfriend. 

After her accident Lexi has to readjust to life as she knows it, there's a lot for her to possibly confront, and then BAM cute boy enters stage left. I was pretty into Theo when he's first introduced, but soon after he appears the story seems to take a detour in order to accommodate him and give him a "meaningful" role. Up till that point Lexi had been progressing in a nice arc, but then she ends up going in a seemingly random direction. I couldn't help but ask myself what the point of it was. Theo's appearance and subsequence story line involving his sister completely overshadowed the amazing potential of the already in motion storylines of both Heidi and Lexi's BFF, Taylor.    

“Well, you're not [fat]. You have, like, the ideal balance of fat and muscle. ...If I were a cannibal, I'd eat you.” 

My Life in Black & White fell short for me in many respects, but I do think this is a good book. I can complain about misused potential, but the story that Natasha Friend delivers is interesting and engaging just as it is. I had low expectations coming into this, but I'm happy with how things turned out. As far as transformative YA goes My Life in Black & White is a winner. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

Sailor TwainDescription: One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular—and notoriously reclusive—author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery of the Mermaid of the Hudson deepens.

Stats: Adult Graphic Novel, 399 pages, First published by First Second, October 2012.
My Rating: 4 Stars

I should start by saying, to those who are interested in checking out the first five chapters you can read them online on the Sailor Twain website. If you're not interested in doing any reading then you can also check out a two minute Sailor Twain Author Video about the book. It includes a preview of the art and an introduction to the story straight from the author. 

Now, on with the review! 

Sailor Twain is the closest I've come to reading folklore in a very long time. It's the late 1800's and we are aboard a steamship on the enchanting Hudson river. This is the story of Captain Twain and his unfortunate encounter of the mermaid variety.

SailorTwain 003
The art is as captivating as the story with drawings so full of texture and soft details that you can almost feel it through the paper. Although Sailor Twain is a good 400 pages I ate it all up in just a few hours. The book is full of subjects that can be challenging to write well: History, seafaring, and mermaids. Siegel however, knew what he was doing with this story. 

This is a compelling long narrative in graphic novel form about what happens when the sea and the surface mingle with an ancient magic curse. All she wants is freedom, all he wants is his brother, all anyone wants is love. Or sex. Or both. And that is where our story has so many twists and turns  as a mystery unfolds there's definitely some magic in the water. 

I would love to say more about what I enjoyed about the plot, but so much of it relies on it unfolding before you that I wouldn't want to give anything away. This also means that I can't talk about the things I didn't necessarily like because it would be way too much for me to give away. I'm in a bit of a catch. Some twist were better then others, but things really ramp up for the last half of the book.  This is all thanks to the characters. They were varied and the historical tint that made the characters feel truly authentic. 

One thing I can say that is spoiler free is expect to see boobies. The women in this are so well drawn, I love their dresses when they're fully clothed, but almost every single one ends up topless at some point. There's some male nudity as well, but not nearly enough to balance it out. If that's the sort of thing you don't want to see, then this probably isn't for you. 

SailorTwain 066

The mythology is amazing. As I mentioned earlier it has more of a folklore tone then just straight up fantasy. I could imagine this being true, in the same way that I grew up believing I was swimming with my water wings alongside Ogopogo the sea monster in Okanagan Lake. I love the way that the mermaid is both fantastic and yet with a overwhelming dark side. It all breathed with life. 

This is a very unique story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Those who have an interest in mermaids or even just folklore and historical fairytales will most likely enjoy this just as much as I have. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsDescription: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind. 

Stats: Young Adult, 313 pages, First published by Dutton Books January 2012.

"You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice" - page 209

Chapter Twenty-Two. The house phone was ringing. It was nine AM on the dot, but it hardly felt like a moment since I had woken up at five and begun reading. It was the ringing of the telephone that made my world catch up with me. All of a sudden my room went from a completely undisturbed silence of pages turning to the sounds of a phone ringing, and a dog moving, and a voice talking, and cars driving through the rainy street, and the squeak of the bus coming to a full stop. 

I don't know what evil possessed my Aunt to call at nine in the morning, our house is not a nine AM sort of house, but regardless of her reason, after that it felt different. I was very suddenly reminded that I was reading a book. A book with an author, an author who is not in fact Hazel Grace. 

John Green is a guy that I very much look up to. Before I came across him I had somehow decided that authors were not so much people as engines. They didn't so much as live lives, but existed only to create lives for my own imagination. When John Green writes he normally sounds very much like himself. His words scream, "I AM JOHN GREEN. THAT IS MY NAME. THIS IS MY STORY." Which I do enjoy, but here it didn't feel like that. You could still see him in the Venn diagrams, the quotes, the shining intelligence of teenagers, and musings on the insurmountable universe, but this was a story of the created, not the creator. All I saw was Hazel Grace.

There were so many moments that made me laugh. So many moments that made me stop and re-read what I had just read. When it ended I didn't want it to be over. I read the author's note silently wishing for more.

Back when I first got a copy (I had pre-ordered and everything) I was worried when I first realized that absolutely everyone was saying that this is a good book, a great book. I got rather frightened by the praise it was getting and then despite my concern of my own expectations I reached out to read it and it was gone. poof. gone. Somewhere in the shuffle of its trip upstairs, then downstairs, then upstairs, I had lost The Fault in Our Stars. I take losing books very seriously. It sucks. Time passed and I stop looking hoping that my not looking would result in finding it. Finally, yesterday, I found it sitting on the stairs, not knowing whether to go up or to go down. So out of love and as an apology for my abandonment, I read it and did not stop. As you can probably tell I enjoyed it. There were so many moments that I cursed my inability to dog ear the pages as quotes after quote were just too perfect to not somehow note. 

I loved this book. I give this book an enthusiastic five stars and a room with a view on my favourites list! I would not be surprised if I re-read this again before the year is over.
The characters are just so captivating. Our girl, Hazel Grace has this amazing feeling about her, she invites you into the story and keeps you riveted to her life.

But let's also talk about our other characters. 
First we have Isaac. Isaac is another boy in Hazel's cancer support group and he is a secondary character that shines. I didn't expect much from him. When he's first introduced I could feel my automatic dismissal kick in, this person, who is not the Augustus Waters I have been promised, is thus meaningless to me. Just as I was shooing him into a dark corner, he turned around and said, "I shall not be shooed woman, read the god damn story, I'm important, okay?" 

And then there is Augustus Waters. Wonderful, glorious, Augustus Waters. He struck a delicate balance of humour and self awareness, as well as vulnerability and intelligence. All these things together can so easily go wrong, the cake can not rise, but he feels effortless to me.
Then there's the romance and the battle between life and death and meaning. It is deep without leaving you swimming. It talks about death without making you feel hopeless. Most importantly, The Fault in Our Stars is about dying.

Dying and Death are two surprisingly different subjects. One is present, the other is past. Dying is a subject that I personally feel doesn't get enough attention in YA. There are plenty of books out there about the afterlife. You can find books on Reapers, angels, demons, ghosts, and DEATH, but so few are actually about dying. Dying of the body, dying of the mind, dying of the spirit. So many aspects of dying are tackled in this book. So many moments that in the real world can leave you feeling raw.

This all sounds very awful. A book about dying. A book about illness. A book about love and illness and dying. It all sounds very depressing, which is part of the reason why I was so surprised that when I finished reading, I wasn't depressed. Books have left me depressed before, but here I was sad. The good sort of sad. The sort of sad that I only know how to extend to fiction characters.

To put an end to this, remember the quote I started this review with so long ago?  When it comes to The Fault In Our Stars I don't think anything could apply more.

"You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice" - page 209

Long live Hazel Grace.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's a Year for Reading!

The New Year is known as a time for new beginnings, for making plans, and setting goals. Among my many reading related challenges this year I will be jumping into the world of running my own blog! I've attempted it before, but have never been truly satisfied with the results. Now I think it's time to finally have my own creative space to share my opinions and grow as a critical reader.

To keep myself on track, let's start with the blogging schedule!      

Tuesday: Weekly Graphic Novel, Comic, or Manga Review.
Wednesday: Weekly Discussion Post.
Friday: Weekly Review. (YA Fiction, Adult Fiction, or sometimes Non-fiction)
First Monday of every month: Shakespeare Reading Challenge.
First Thursday of every other month: Jane Austen Challenge

Over the next three years I will be tackling a Shakespeare play reading challenge. The reason I've decided to undertake this seemingly ridiculous task is because in Vancouver we have an annual Shakespeare's festival called Bard on the Beach. It's been happening for 24 years running and takes place for four months from June till September. I love reading modern fiction, but I really want to expand my literary knowledge of the classics as well as experience the plays in my own imagination before I see them performed and re-imagined on stage.

2013 demands I read one play per month. I quickly realized while looking at the plays I wanted to read that I essentially wanted to read all the comedies. Although that sounds like a rousing good time, I'm sure Jessica-Robyn of next year would not be happy if I left her with only Histories and Tragedies to pick from! It's because of this that I've created an assorted list of twelve to pick from over the course of the year. 

Antony and Cleopatra
The Taming of the Shrew
As You Like It
Julius Caesar
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Winter's Tale 
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Tempest
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 2

Tell me what you think! Do you have a favourite on the 2013 list or do you just think I'm crazy? Because let me tell you, it only gets crazier here on at Reading Robyn! 

To balance out Shakespeare I've got another fancy-pants English legend here on the blog, Jane Austen. Her work has been retold, re-imagined, and adapted in almost every medium imaginable. For years I've had to embrace her work through longing glances at the classics section of my library, but now I'm itching for the full experience. Every two months expect a Austen review as well as a discussion of some relevant adaptations in book, film, television, and online. 

It's a lot of reading and a lot of blogging, but I'm excited to have some very interesting books on the docket for 2013. I hope that you'll join me and add to the fun!

It is going to be a very busy year and I just can't wait to get started! Happy New Year everyone!