31 December 2014

Yet Another Best of the Year Post

I am a little shocked that we've gotten to "end of the year post" time already.  I know everybody says this but this year really has passed quickly it seems, at least the fall has.  

As always, these are things that were new to ME this year, not necessarily published or released this year.  And not just 10 of things!

Books: 
  • The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
  • Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
  • The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
  • Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
  • My Real Children by Jo Walton
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • The Lucifer Box series by Mark Gatiss
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  • Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  • Night Film by Marissa Pessi
  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Graphic Novels:
  • March, Book 1 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
  • Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
  • Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Movies/TV:
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • In a World
  • Dallas Buyer's Club
  • Fargo, the TV show
  • Broadchurch (UK version)
  • True Detective
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Sherlock Season 3 
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Only Lovers Left Alive

And Life/Events:
  • Spending several days with B and my family in Orlando, hanging out and doing Disney.
  • Meeting my nephew X.
  • Passing my comps and getting my master's Degree!   
  • Finally finding a library job.
  • playing several video games (including Tomb Raider and Bioshock 3) through to the end.  I guess I can thank unemployment for that :)
  • Going with friends to an amazing Halloween Party dressed as Death from Sandman
  • Seeing Ok GO live in a packed venue
  • Going to SPAIN!  My first use of the passport I got when we got married in 2012
  • Learned to make decent bread, both French and regular
  • Watching Arsenal win the FA Cup!

There's one other thing that really made 2014 amazing that I'll probably blog about next week.  Consider my vagueness a teaser trailer!  

I'm rather annoyed at myself.  In writing this post, I scrolled back through my facebook feed to remember events and other things I raved about.  Came across at least 4 books that I read but never blogged about.  It was, in part, a side-effect of reading so much; i would finish one book and almost immediately start another and completely forget to make a blog note about it.  I have to be a little better at that next year. 

What was your best book, movie, event or happening in 2014? 

30 December 2014

Total numbers!

I had a pretty good reading year!  I read a LOT of library books and many Kindle books too, especially in these last few months.  

Books Read Total: 112

Library books: 93
YA/Children's Lit: 30
Non-fiction: 10
Graphic Novels: 20
Audio books: 5
Kindle: 40

These numbers include 4 more non-fiction books that I'm not quite ready to discuss yet.  I feel like I did pretty well this year.  Studying for comps and doing an internship last spring had my numbers pretty low, but then being unemployed for 5 months, and half-time employed at a school since then, gave me a LOT of time to read.  I suppose it balanced out. Here's to great reading in 2015!

23 December 2014

What I read on my Vacation

I got through 2 books on my vacation.  We met up with some of my family in Orlando for a few days and went to Disneyworld and Universal Studios with them.  

Jackaby by William Ritter:  This is a YA novel, which I didn't realize when I picked it up.  It is a sort-of mashup of Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes.  It takes place in the late 19th century in a fictional New England town.  The narrator is a girl, Abby Rook, who is about 20. She arrives after running away from university to find adventure.  She meets and becomes the assistant to Jackaby, a man who uses Holmes' methods to deal with fantastical creatures and supernatural beings.  It was a cool setup and a well-written world.  I figured out the mystery plot pretty quickly but it is written for middle schoolers.  I'd say I would have loved it at that age and I will read any sequels. a 6.

The Art of English Murder by Lucy Worsley: This book is a non-fiction look at murder and crime in British literature from the early 1800's through WW2.  It also shows how some of the literature referred back to real crimes and discusses how authors translated those crimes and criminals into fiction.  I'd read about plenty of the cases before but it was super interesting to see how they affected what people wrote about.  I did feel really weird reading this book at the airport though! a 6.

19 December 2014

Foreign books

I'm catching up on reviews!  I've read two very different books in translation recently. 

From Japan, I read Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgimage by Haruki Murakami.  It is about Tsukuru Tazaki, a man in his mid-30's who designs train stations (it's a better job in Japan than here I suppose) who's neither happy nor unhappy with his life.  He had intense friendships with 4 friends in high school but, during his first year of college, all 4 cut him off completely and will not tell him what happened.  He lets them go until a girlfriend tells him he needs to find out what happened to move on with his life.  He goes on a journey to contact them and discovers why things changed.  I liked it but Murakami tends to give us half-endings. He always leaves you wanting 1 more chapter of info.  This one ended up a 5 for me. 

From Sweden, I read Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist.  It is a horror novel. It also has some big unanswered questions, which, strangely, a ton of the books i've read this year seem to have.  It was a pretty horrific, and bloody, girl-power book.  Half the time I was rooting for the girls, half the time I wanted them stopped, at least until the end.  Also a 5.

17 December 2014

Sherlock Holmes books

So I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan.  I first read all the stories back one summer in high school.  I got a giant book with super thin pages of all the stories from the library and read it over the course of a month.  Since then, I've reread all the stories at least twice as well as various stories in singles again.  I've seen lots of adaptations too.  I recently read two non-fiction books about Holmes and the stories.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett: well, I say this one is non-fiction but the premise is that it is a biography of Holmes (and Watson) as if they were real people.  It was really interesting and did include some info about the Baker Street Irregulars, the superfan club that still exists.  Definitely one to read if you're willing to play The Great Game.  a 5.

The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics by James O'Brien:  This book was something like an encyclopedia; it took a topic, like chemistry or fingerprints, and explains how Holmes used it and in which stories.  The author explains when Holmes gets things right or wrong scientifically as well as whether the technique is still in use. It was really informative but rather dry in places.  also a 5. 

16 December 2014

Women's Books

Three books dealing with, and by, women's lives.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: so, I was under the impression that this book was similar to We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.  It really, really isn't.  It was ok but since it was so far from what I expected I was disappointed.  also, the sisters annoyed me.  a 4.

How to Suppress Women's Writing by Joanna Russ: a non-fiction book about, well, women's writing.  Highly recommended.  a 7.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters: a book about Victorian lesbians.  really liked this one too!  a 7.

12 December 2014

Movies October and November

Just a quick list

Interstellar: Fabulous!  amazing effects.  a 7.

Edge of Tomorrow: also amazing.  Really surprised me as to how good it was. a 7.

The Lego Movie: Better than I was expecting. a 6.

Snowpiercer: good, but weird.  a 5.

Hunger Games Mockingjay pt 1: Fine, but is just too much part 1 of 2.  a 5.

I really like Octavia Butler

So much that in the past several weeks I've read 4 of her books!

The first of these books is Parable of the Talents, which is a sequel to Parable of the Sower.  In this one, we get 2 points-of-view: that of Lauren and Bankole's daughter who narrates what her life was like after she was taken from her parents as a baby, and Lauren's perspective in the form of her diaries that the daughter is editing. I liked this one but really wished there was more from Lauren's perspective.  a 5.

The other books I read were a series: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. This series is about the world being saved by aliens.  Before the first book starts there is a major nuclear exchange in the northern Hemisphere.  Aliens show up after that and rescue all of the humans they can find.  They put the humans in suspended animation for long stretches of time while they learn about humanity.  The aliens reproduce by exchanging genetic material with other races and require groups of 5.  On Earth, this becomes a human male and female with the 3 aliens.  The first book is from the perspective of a human woman, Lillith, while the second and third are about her various children.  The series is very concerned with what makes us human.  It's pretty good, a 6.

Butler does seem to jump characters in her series.  I've yet to read one where the second book is from the same point-of-view as the first one.  Frequently, she switches to the child or children of the first book's protagonist.  It does keep things fresh but sometimes you really want to go back to that first person!  

Unfortunately, I've almost read her whole catalog at this point.