31 December 2009

Final Tally

OK here i go! I read 46 more books than last year, but since i read two whole graphic novel series i think that makes my total look higher. I read four fewer non-fiction books. I also read 18 more library books, which i know comes from the graphic novel series.

Total: 148

Non-fiction: 31
Library: 98 (i signed up for the 50 book challenge at the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge so i'm done)
Graphic novels: 31


Science Book Challenge:3/3 i am done!
YA Challenge: 12/12 DONE!
World Citizen Challenge: 2/3
TBR Lite: 0/6 - i just never felt like reading the books i'd listed
Chunkster Challenge: 4/3-5 Done!
Classics Challenge: 5/5 DONE!
OUaT3: 5/5 also done!
1% Challenge: 10/10 done
RIP IV Challenge: 4/4 Done!

30 December 2009

Best of the Year

So, these items are all in no particular order. I can never limit myself to a set number. if i set the number too high, then i feel like i have to add in things, too low and i end up cutting out something i don't want to. Here are the things i enjoyed most in 2009, with comments

Books:

Fiction:

The Hugo Winners Vol. 1 edited by Issac Asimov- OLD sci-fi short stories

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist - Swedish vampires

1984 by George Orwell - classic dystopia

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff - modern, YA semi-dystopia

After the Quake by Murakami - lyrical Japanese short stories

The Grey King by Susan Cooper - English kids having adventures!

Skellig by David Almond -English kids having a very very different adventure

American Gods by Neil Gaiman - epic


Plays:

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen - very early feminism

Henry IV, Part 1 by William Shakespeare - Hotspur vs Harry plus Falstaff = very good


Graphic Novels:

Fables series - Snow White is proactive? The Big Bad Wolf is a hard-boiled detective? Super cool

Y: The Last Man series - the world comes to an end for almost every male on Earth. The one that is left is actually a nice guy!


Non-Fiction:

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell -presidential history is fun!

The Lost by Daniel Mendehlsohn -searching for your ancestors is deeply meaningful

Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne - understanding your really really deep ancestors is amazing!


Movies:

Coraline - i always thought something like this movie would happen to me when i was a kid

Watchmen - even sandwiched between to big guys i thought this movie was fabulous

The Dirty Dozen - how the hell did i not see this years ago?

Star Trek - bang, zoom! who needs the originals?

Avatar - not even motion sickness could stop me!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Brad Pitt is lovely and this movie made me cry

Inglourious Basterds - more Brad Pitt, killin' NAT-zees.

Pride and Prejudice, BBC version - better Elizabeth, better Darcy

Pride and Prejudice, Keira Knightly version - much prettier


Experiences:

The Decemberists concert- seriously, one of my top 3 concerts ever!

Meeting B- pretty self-explanatory i would think.

Going to a motorcycle race with my Dad- daddy-daughter bonding!

Hearing Beethoven's Ode to Joy live with chorus at the Schermerhorn- beautiful and amazing

Spending a weekend in Atlanta with my mom, sister and brother- we hung out, went to see the King Tut exhibit and went to Medieval Times. Not a bad long weekend.

Giggling through The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged) at Shakespeare in the Park.


So, this year, i think, has been pretty good. I'm so much happier with my life now than i was 12 months ago. Here's to more great days in 2010!

29 December 2009

Batman and Philosophy


Do i read too much philosophy? I completed Batman and Philosophy edited by Mark D White, Robert Arp, and William Irwin today. Overall, i am giving it a 4. Some essays were great but several were pretty bleh. I had high hopes for "Why Batman is Better than Superman", "Is It Right to Make a Robin" and "The Tao of the Bat". They were really not informative though. The best were "Worlds Finest...Friends? Batman, Superman and the Nature of Friendship", "Alfred, the Dark Knight of Faith: Batman and Kierkegaard" and "Batman's Confrontation with Death, Angst, and Freedom". I think the reason i prefered those essays is that they covered information i hadn't already read before. I've read so much about deontology and utilitarianism and consequentialist theory that reading about these as related to Batman isn't that interesting.

So i'll be posting a couple wrap up posts soon. Unless i finish up another graphic novel in the next couple days i think this book may be my last for 2009!

27 December 2009

Walking Dead Vol. 3 and Loot!

Between calls today i read The Walking Dead, Volume 3: Safety Behind Bars. I got it for Christmas from my parents. I would have to say i liked this one a little less than the previous ones. The first two i think are a little more original while this third volume really becomes a "man is his own worst enemy" tale. also, maybe because it is black and white i'm getting a few of the secondary characters confused. It may also be because they keep dying and then we keep finding new ones. I think this one is a 4 but i am still very interested in the "zombie movie that never ends".


My cool best friend D made this for me! It is going on the front of my car as soon as i can dig out my drill to hook it on. Awesome, huh? Besides what i got from B, my parents also gave me a new 16 GB MP3 player! i've been using an old 1 GB that still takes AA batteries so it kept eating those up and i had to keep deleting music to add on new stuff. Now i've got so much space i can even add in audiobooks. Thanks so much Mom and Dad!

24 December 2009

Wrap up Post for the 1% Challenge

I finished up this challenge a few weeks ago. I was pretty heavy on female stories this year. Here's what I read, in reverse order, with my rating out of 7.
  1. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen-5
  2. Villette by Charlotte Bronte-6
  3. On The Road by Jack Kerouac-3
  4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens-5
  5. After the Quake by Haruki Murakami-7
  6. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte-6
  7. Persuasion by Jane Austen-6
  8. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen-4
  9. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll-4
  10. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll-6
Not a bad reading year for this challenge! I would like to work on some more non-English speaking authors next year, especially some more Russian or Japanese novels. I've got more than 10 1001 list books on my TBR stack so i am going to try to read just from those and Dailylit for this challenge next year.

BTT for 12/24

Thanks for not asking a Christmas question, BTT! I appreciate it. All fall i haven't really felt the Christmas feeling. I mean, i went shopping but still didn't get a tree this year. it isn't cold at all! I didn't have an opportunity to take any time off work and don't even get a long weekend because Christmas is on a Friday this year and i have Friday's off anyway. My closest friends are out of town. And i have to work tonight :(. Don't feel sorry for me though; I plan on vegging out and reading and watching movies all day. I also have Titans tickets for the Christmas day game and will have a great time with my friend J.

so, on to BTT!

Given the choice, which do you prefer? Real history? Or historical fiction? (Assume, for the purposes of this discussion that they are equally well-written and engaging.)

My college major was Anthropology! So i have a bit of a penchant for history in all its' forms. I read a good bit of non-fiction, from really specific topics (like A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage) to broad overviews (Collapse by Jared Diamond). I enjoy how much i can learn from that type of books. I also enjoy historical fiction, especially female characters and their lives. Hmm, do books by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens count as historical fiction? or are only books written now taking place in the past considered historical fiction? either way, i enjoy reading many classics (Robinson Crusoe being a notable recent exception) and recently published historical novels. so, I would say this one would be a draw.

Happy Christmas everyone!

22 December 2009

Robinson Crusoe


I have been reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe on Dailylit and finished it up last night. I really didn't like it unfortunately. I wasn't expecting all the religion!

The story is pretty simple. Robinson Crusoe is a middle class young man who's family wants him to stay in England and remain as he is. He defies them and goes to sea instead. He has a few early adventures, escaping from slavery in Africa at one point, then ends up in Brazil and owning a plantation. Well, he and some other plantation owners decide they could make more money if they brought over a few boatloads of slaves from Africa! So Crusoe hops on a boat, which during a storm gets driven onto an island reef and begins to sink. Crusoe is the only one to survive the attempt to get to shore and he then spends about 27 years on the island.

The first several chapters of him learning to live on the island are ok but the story becomes so repetitive: he learns to do something, something bad happens, he worries, then turns to God to save him. Repeat. Over and over! And the some of lists of supplies and cargo could have been left out. Between the tedium, the racism, and the praising of God i just couldn't enjoy it.

so, it is a 3 for me. I can cross it off my 1001 books list though.

21 December 2009

B Spoils Me!

I had a lovely weekend with B. He's so sweet!

We did presents on Saturday night. I hope he liked the tees i got him from Threadless. I also got him a couple of soccer books, one of which he said he had heard good things about. He gave me a Box o' Books! Whee! i got the Sandman comics that i didn't have and another graphic novel, as well as some sci-fi and a kids book that i wanted. And a Han Solo bobblehead! and Firefly! so like i said, he spoiled me!

Sunday we went to see Avatar! on IMAX in 3D! It was pretty full but we got some decent seats. I thought it was a pretty cool movie and liked it a lot. However, i got motion sick! i have seen plenty of 3D movies, even a couple on IMAX and have never had any problem with getting nauseous. I saw the 3D Christmas Carol a few weeks ago and was fine. I actually had to get up about halfway through Avatar, walk out and take a breather for a few minutes. i got a soda and that helped and i was able to finish up the movie ok. B said he was a little sick too but had a bigger problem with a headache. The movie itself was definitely worth it! a 6.

after that we hung out, watched some tv, played some PS3. B went and got chinese for dinner (yum) and we really just had a good time together. Yay for days off!

20 December 2009

Something to Celebrate

Beautiful. This actually made me tear up.


19 December 2009

CSI in the 12th Century


Just the day after i post about not wanting to "speed read" through good books i tore through Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin yesterday. I had only read a couple chapters Thursday at work because we were very busy. I didn't expect to read it all through last night but the book really captured my attention. The fact that it was only 276 pages certainly helps.

It's the 12th century in Cambridge, England. Several children have gone missing and the one that was found was horribly mutilated. Suspicion falls on the local Jews because the first crime fell during Easter, and everyone knows that Jews sacrifice a Christian child at Easter! (arg, religious superstition!) The Jews flee to the town's monastery and, since they can't make money and pay their taxes in confinement, Henry II sends for help from his cousin, the King of Sicily.

He gets
Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar of Salerno, the best "mistress of death" that the medical academy has produced. With her are Simon of Naples, a Jewish detective, and Mansur, an Arabic bodyguard. The trio has very modern ideas, though they must have Mansur pose as the doctor to prevent Adelia from getting charged with witchcraft. They use their various realms of expertise, helped by the Prior of Cambridge and others, to solve the mystery of the terrible murders.

I have to say i'm ambivalent about the romance plot. The whole "woman who is brilliant at science/doctoring/anatomy but knows little about how feelings work" is definitely overused in modern lit. But this book takes place when there wasn't any such thing as "work-life balance" and people's, especially women's, choices were extremely limited by their position at birth. And Adelia has been sheltered, from emotional things if not knowledge of them. And i really liked Sir Rowley Picot, which means i have to let the romance pass.

Overall, i give this one a 6. I figured out half the mystery pretty early but the second half surprised me. There are a few standard mystery tropes included but i don't know that they detract from the story. I enjoyed reading of Adelia's thoughts and ideas on her adventure. I have the second book on my TBR stack right now and there is a third out and a fourth coming early next year. Hooray for series'!

18 December 2009

I got my Secret Santa Package!

Today i got my Secret Santa package! Yay! My secret santa was Heidenkind over from Heidenkind's Hideaway. I'd seen her blog before; i love the header picture she uses. Here's what i got!

The bookmark is actually 2 and a poster, which will be going up at work. I'm so excited i got Pride and Prejudice too! She must have peeked at my amazon list. Thanks so so much!

Btt for 12/17

Sort of a philosophical question today.

Suggested by Barbara H:

What do you think of speed-reading? Is it a good way to get through a lot of books, or does the speed-reader miss depth and nuance? Do you speed-read? Is some material better suited to speed-reading than others?

Well, it depends on what you call "speed reading". People at work say i must speed read because i read quickly. Various self/online testing has shown i read about 400-450 wpm, which is good but not spectacular. I certainly don't feel like i'm trying to read fast most of the time. I don't know that i've ever tried to learn to read faster either. I think speed just comes from practice, practice, practice, a lot of which occurred during my formative school years. i know i read some things faster than others. Fantasy, general fiction, horror or histories are all things i read more quickly, while techie sci-fi, philosophy, biology and astronomy slow me down a good bit. just try to read a book on quantum theory quickly! you may technically have read all the words but if they made any sense good for you!

I don't want to rag on anyone else's reading style though. if you speed read and you enjoy it great! If you just speed read to say you can, or just to say you've read x books this week to impress people, then you and i might not get along in general. Remember, Reading Is Fun! :)

16 December 2009

The Coral Thief

So i finished an ERC i received from Librarything: The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott.

The Coral Thief is what i call "an observer to a historically significant time" novel. It is about a Scottish student, Daniel, who comes to Paris to study under Cuvier (a naturalist who thought species couldn't change) right after Napoleon is defeated. The specimens he is bringing from his teacher to Cuvier get stolen by a beautiful woman and he feels that unless he gets those items back he's ruined. The beautiful woman is Lucienne Bernard, a professional thief with a traumatic past who gets Daniel caught up in the political, philosophical, religious and scientific debates of the time.

Things i liked: the illustrations! There were drawings of sculptures, maps, insects and fossils. These pictures really brought to life some of the details of the novel. I also liked Fin, our narrator's roommate. A drunken, but good-natured, medical student who mainly spends his time amputating limbs in the medical wards and forgetting about the horrors of that with his social circle.

What i didn't like: the bits about Napoleon. really don't know why those little interludes were in the book. The ending is also a bit of a letdown. The book builds up to this spectacular heist but then just ends very quickly.

Overall, this is a 5 for me. not bad and i do like Stott's style, so i may pick up her other book, Ghostwalk, at some later date.

15 December 2009

Mansfield Park


I finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen last night. This book helped with a couple challenges and is on the 1001 Books List too.




The heroine in the book is Fanny Price. She was taken in when she was ten by her aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Bertram. Another aunt, Mrs. Norris, also lives near the family and is a big influence on the Bertram children, Tom, Edmund, Maria and Julia. Fanny grows up in the other girls' shadow, always being told she's not as good as they are and will never amount to what they will become. Edmund becomes a great friend, as he confides in and protects Fanny when possible. As the second son, Edmund becomes a clergyman as an adult.


The real conflict of the story starts when Maria becomes engaged for position and money, not for love. Shortly thereafter, a new family arrives in the town, the Crawfords. A brother and sister, both single, with large inheritances, they captivate the Bertrams. Edmund falls for Mary, although her attitudes toward the clergy are terrible. Edmund has a very idealized view of Mary that her conduct doesn't change. Henry is worse. First, he persues Maria, which she encourages although she is engaged. Then he switches to Julia, then back to Maria. Finally, after Maria marries, he decides he must make Fanny fall in love with him! Through everything, Fanny remains proper and honest, never to advance her position or make a financially beneficial marriage.


I would say this is better than Northanger Abbey but not as good as Persuasion. I just wish Fanny would DO something sometimes. She is so passive. a 5 from me.

14 December 2009

Persuasion, the Movie

Over the weekend I watched the 1995 version of Persuasion. I liked it well enough but i don't think it is going to be one i'll be buying. It definitely is a much slower sort of movie; each part of the story comes to view in its' own time. Because Persuasion doesn't have the zippy dialogue of Pride and Prejudice, our heroine Anne has to show her emotions with how she looks and acts. I liked the theme of love recovered after a long separation and i liked the side characters, especially the Admiral Croft and his wife. overall, i'd give this one a 5.

13 December 2009

Yay!


I was Secret Santa for Beth F over at Beth Fish Reads. Apparently she liked her gift (her post here) that she passed along an award to me! Thanks so much!

The award comes with a meme and one rule: Answer the following questions using single-word answers. Then pass the award to 5 other people and let them know.

Your cell phone? G1
Your hair? blondish

Your mother?
giving
Your father?
smart
Your favorite food?
eggs
Your dream last night?
wet
Your favorite drink?
coffee
Your dream/goal?
serenity
What room are you in?
living
Your hobby?
football
Your fear?
Frogs
Where do you want to be in 6 years? motherhood

Where were you last night?
couch
Something that you aren’t? hungry
Muffins? cranberry
Wish list item?
Blu-ray
Where did you grow up? everywhere
Last thing you did? showered
What are you wearing? casual

Your TV?
borrowed
Your Pets? fun

Friends?
close
Your life?
better
Your mood? solid
Missing someone? certainly

Vehicle? Versa
Something you’re not wearing?
makeup
Your favorite store?
McKay's
Your favorite color?
blue
When was the last time you laughed?
yesterday
Last time you cried? work-related

Your best friend?
Donna
One place that you go to over and over?
Starbucks
Facebook?
yup
Favorite place to eat? Louisiana

Grab it if you want it!

12 December 2009

Weekly Geeks 45

A whole bunch of questions for this week's Geekiness.

Do you have a book wish list for the holidays? (Or is that one of those 'duh' questions?) If so, what's on it?

I have an amazon wish list. I've got all sorts of stuff on it besides books. The books are frequently things that my library doesn't have (like graphic novels) or that are really more expensive than i'd really want to pay out of pocket myself. A sampling: Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention by Stanislas Dehaene, Impossible by Nancy Werlin, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Dark Tower: Treachery by Peter David and Robin Furth, Undercover Philospher by Micheal Phillips, and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks.

Are you very specific when someone asks what you want for a gift? Or do you throw caution to the wind and say, "Oh any book you choose...." Or do you prefer a bookstore gift card?

I am not normally specific when people ask me what i want. I love gift cards so i know i've asked for cards from amazon and target before. I don't normally get specific books and if someone asked me what book i wanted right now, i'd probably only be able to say a couple of graphic novels.

Do you buy books for people on your gift list? Do you choose books for them that you like and try to influence their reading (or hope they'll loan it to you when they're done)? Or do you get specific titles from your giftee?

I don't know that i ever ask for a specific list that people want. I do get books for the ones i think will enjoy them. I used to buy a few books for R but they were always non-fiction, like beer brewing, cooking or biology. I get books for my niece Shelby (5) and nephew Sam (3) for their birthdays and Christmas every year. This year i also got books for my mom, my sister and B. hope they all like them. I don't want to read the ones i got for my mom and sister but if B wants to let me borrow his i won't mind!

Where do you buy your book gifts? Do you shop at local independent bookstores, or the "big box" stores? or do you shop online?

This year i bought a couple things online off amazon, when i needed to get a couple of specific things. Otherwise, all the books i've bought for Christmas for people came from McKay's.

11 December 2009

More challenges for next year

First, there is the Science Book Challenge! I always like this one, hosted by Jeff at Bearcastle Blog.
Read at least three nonfiction books in 2010 related to the theme "Nature & Science". Your books should have something to do with science, scientists, how science operates, or the relationship of science with our culture. Your books might be popularizations of science, they might be histories, they might be biographies, they might be anthologies; they can be recent titles or older books.
I haven't picked any specific books to read, though i have The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson on my TBR shelves. I should try to get those read.

Next, I am going to sign up for the Chunkster Challenge again. I'll be doing the 4 book challenge. Four books of more than 450 pages of grown-up literature. No YA on this one!

09 December 2009

Under the Dome

I finished Under the Dome by Stephen King in a 350 page binge after getting out of work a bit early last night. I didn't take it to work, for which i am glad, as I wouldn't have appreciated the end as much.

One day in late October a clear force field goes up around the entire town of Chester's Mill. Not a round dome as it follows the town's borders exactly, delving underground and straight into the sky for miles each way. Luckily, the town has a competent ex-Army short-order cook, Dale Barbara, with friends in very high places. Unluckily, the town also has a corrupt used car salesman (literally) of a politician in Big Jim Rennie, who wants to use the Dome as a way to take over the town. The whole book is the fight between these two factions, Barbara and crew trying to help people and fix the problem, Rennie and his cronies hurting people and destroying the town.

It's a sci-fi book, pure and simple. I'm blanking if King has written any other straight up sci-fi; Cell drifts over that direction but has some supernatural elements. This book is an ecological warning: if we screw up the air and water and turn up the heat how will we survive? We are like Chester's Mill, we just have a bit more space and call our dome the sky. Like a lot of good sci-fi, the novel points out the high and low points of being human. We can be selfless and selfish, we hurt others because we are scared or to prevent them from doing worse to us, we love and we hate.

This one is a 6. Knock 150 pages off the middle and i'd give it a 7.

07 December 2009

American Gods

So i finally finished up American Gods by Neil Gaiman on audio book. I really would have finished it on the trip back from Louisiana but i had to listen to the LSU game, of course, and spent about an hour talking to B. so those diversions left me with 4 cd's to finish the book and only a 10 min commute each way to work to do it in. I just can't sit at the house and listen to audiobooks.

The book, for anyone not familiar, follows a newly released ex-con, Shadow. While trying to get back home during a major storm his plane gets diverted, he misses another, and finally ends up on the one open seat on a flight, which isn't even the seat assigned him. When he sits down, the man next to him turns and says "you're late".

what kind of awesome setup is that! from there, Shadow gets to know various old gods, who are real, brought to America by their believers hundreds or thousands of years ago. He meets several new gods, of TV and internet and media. There is a war brewing between the new and old and Shadow is smack in the middle of it.

It is a great novel. Sprawling in scope with dozens of characters, it covers so much mythology. i really really liked it. a 7!

06 December 2009

Post Thanksgiving Picture Reveal!


Alright, here's some picks of the family. I drove down to Louisiana and had a great time.
My Dad
My Sister.

My niece.

My nephew.

The table.

Mom.

My brother and his 2 kids.

Other brother.

The other other brother, his wife and her nephew.

whew!

05 December 2009

TwentyTen Reading Challenge

Bart over on Bart's Bookshelf is hosting the TwentyTen Reading Challenge. 2 books each from 10 categories! here are the categories:
  1. Young Adult
  2. TBR
  3. Shiny and New
  4. Bad Bloggers
  5. Charity
  6. New in 2010
  7. Older than You
  8. Win!Win!
  9. Who Are You Again?
  10. Up to You
I haven't decided what i want to do for that last category but i'm considering something like "African Authors" or maybe "Sports Books". The challenge looks like fun and i hope everyone enjoys it.

03 December 2009

Give to Others

I enjoyed doing this post last year. we all get, and give, so much stuff in the US over the holidays. Do we really need everything? do the people we give presents too really need them? I'm not going to rant about materialism. My mom loved her "present" that i gave her last year: school books for an African child from Oxfam Unwrapped. If everyone donated one present, instead of giving one, imagine how much good we'd do. Some ideas:

Habitat for Humanity
. They build houses all over the world! They have a range of things you can get for someone, from a hammer for $10, a pallet of 2x4's for $90, a front door for $150, to a roof for $5000!

The International Rescue Committee is "a critical
global network of first responders, humanitarian relief workers, healthcare providers, educators, community leaders, activists, and volunteers. Working together, we provide access to safety, sanctuary, and sustainable change for millions of people whose lives have been shattered by violence and oppression" and has items that are more immediate use.

The World Wildlife Fund does species adoption and for $50 or higher your giftee gets little plushies of the animal you choose. the bucket of frogs is too cute!

Oxfam Unwrapped. I listed this one last year and it seems that they have many more gifts to choose from now, with a bigger range in prices.

Have a friend who loves animals? Make a donation in their name to a Humane Society or pet shelter. I don't know any book lovers (lol) but if you do you could donate to a library or children's literacy program. Female music fans would probably like to know you gave to the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls! While the food may not be gourmet, a donation to someplace like Second Harvest or a homeless kitchen transforms your friend's love of food into food people really need. Practically any thing/activity people are interested in has a group to promote it to children. So many groups need funding in this economy; contribute if you can.

02 December 2009

The Shadow Queen

Yesterday i finished The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop. This book is the seventh in the Black Jewels universe. Bishop does a good job of giving readers new characters to become interested in while still giving us more about the characters we've loved over the last books. She goes back to the land, if not the time, covered in The Invisible Ring, and we get to see what has happened in a kingdom where all of the powerful Blood were killed during Jaenelle's cleansing of the world.

Overall, i'd say good but a little formulaic. a 5. Way way better than Tangled Webs.

01 December 2009

LIbrary Challenge

So i'm joining up on the 2010 Your Local Library Challenge, hosted by J. Kaye. This year i signed up to read at least 50 and, at last count, read 95. and i've got a month to go! so for 2010 i think i'll do the Stepping It Up and look to read 75. I would say i'd do the Super Size Me and read 100 but i am going to try really really really hard to read a good number of my own books.

30 November 2009

Penultimate Update on 2009 Challenges

as of 11/30
Total: 139

Non-fiction: 34
Library: 95 (i signed up for the 50 book challenge at the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge so i'm done)
Graphic novels: 30


Science Book Challenge:3/3 i am done!
YA Challenge: 12/12 DONE!
OUaT3: 5/5 also done!
RIP IV Challenge: 4/4 Done!

29 November 2009

YA Challenge 2010

A possible Young Adult Challenge list for 2010. I know that the list isn't required but here are 12 i'd like to read. If there were a 20 book level i'd do that, but i think i'll just do the mini YA Challenge.
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
  • Slam by Nick Hornby
  • Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman
  • Feed by MT Anderson
  • Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
  • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  • Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  • Small Steps by Louis Sachar
  • The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
  • Heaven Eyes by David Almond
  • Kit's Wilderness by David Almond
of course i know i'll read some not on this list, as well as probably do more than the 12. Hooray for reading!

27 November 2009

I'll be rereading Tolkein

OK, i'm officially signing up for challenges now! i mean, it is almost December right? Anyway, i'll be joining the Lord of the Rings Readalong, hosted by Eva, Maree, Jenny and Teresa at Shelf Love and the Literary Omnivore. a book a month, including The Hobbit, to read through April. Yay!

25 November 2009

Link Dump

Ok, here i go!

Jerk! I can't believe the governor used the excuse "a year isn't long enough to override next of kin" but apparently as long as you've ran to Vegas and gotten that piece of paper it doesn't matter how long you've known each other. Which is crazy. Check out the personal story that prompted the legislation. Awful, especially the part about the fact that these guys had done everything they were supposed to: wills, living wills, powers of attorney.

B told me about this when we saw a little baby meteor on Saturday night. I didn't quite believe it was so bright until i saw the video. Damn!

Donate $5 to Scarleteen. Sex positive sex ed for all!

How i feel about Stupak too.

I've got all my shots. so should you!

The program has closed temporarily but if you are on Paperbackswap you may want to donate a credit or two to a needy school for books!

I hope everyone travels safely this weekend, whether you are going near or far. I'll be driving 10 hours Wednesday from Nashville to Louisiana! I will be visiting with my family.




24 November 2009

2 Volumes of The Walking Dead, a Question.

I am really digging the zombie thing running rampant in books right now. I tore through 2 volumes of The Walking Dead tonight and will be checking out McKay's shortly to see about picking up another few. Both get 5's from me.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore begins with a normal, everyday shootout between a couple small town cops and an escaped prisoner. Rick, who is the hero of this tale, gets shot, then wakes up in a hospital. This next scene is straight out of 28 Days Later, so i wonder which came out first. Finding the hospital abandoned, except for a few zombies, he stumbles out and goes looking for his family.


The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn takes up just a few hours after the last book ends. The story turns more toward group dynamics and we find out what's happening as the group breaks camp and travels away from Atlanta.

As for the question, it relates to the fact that i'm doing IComLeavWe this month. Hosted over on Stirrup Queens, you comment on 5 blogs every day for a week, as well as respond to one who's commented on yours. There are a good many blogs on the list that deal with infertility, having kids, parenting and adoption. i'm learning a lot as none of those topics are anything i know about. so what do mfi, PCOS and IUI stand for? I know what IVF/IF stand for and have figured out what TTC means. as for the others, i'm really just curious honestly, so thanks!

22 November 2009

Weekly Geeks 43

When i first started this post, i was wondering if i could even get to 10 books published in 2009 that i would recommend. the couple i could think of off the top of my head wouldn't be on my top of the year list but i wondered about including them since i needed a full 10. Then i decided that i didn't need to recommend by default and felt that whatever number i came up with would be good enough. So here is my list, with category and the rating i gave the book out of 7.

The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins- non-fiction, science/biology, 7
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan- fiction, horror/thriller, 5
The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff-fiction, historical, 5
Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne, non-fiction, science/biology, 7
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins- fiction, young adult, 6
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry- fiction, mystery, fantasy, 6

I've got the new Stephen King from the library and it has been getting awesome reviews. so that may end up on here as well. I can't believe how many i've read this year that came out in December of 2008 that i can't add to this list! oh well.

21 November 2009

beautiful

Origins


Early this morning, or late last night, i finished reading Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith. I liked it. I feel bad because i read parts at work or while i was rather tired and know i would have learned more fully awake and alert. It is very good. I've read a lot of Carl Sagan and Tyson really reminds me of Sagan. He's trying to explain what we've learned about the universe in just a few hundred pages. Plenty of the info is relatively new, things we've discovered since 1990, and plenty doesn't make natural sense because the information is so far out of what we see everyday. Published in 2004, it mentions the Cassini-Huygens probe as a future source of data, so now i want to look that up and read some more. Tyson also disses mass media a few times, talking about how various giant discoveries don't make a nightly newscast. a 5 from me.

Switching subjects, is it not weird to others that we are already looking at next year's challenge lists? How about the fact that i've been making my YA Challenge list for about a month now? so strange. I don't want to do more than i did this year, when i had approximately 14 total challenges i worked on. Of course, some were all year and others were only for a few months. I know i am not going to do the TBR challenge next year as i've failed so miserably at it the last 2 years. I just saw on Bart's Bookshelf the 2010 Challenge so i think i'll sign up for that one. And the Science Book Challenge, and Classics or 1%, and etc, etc, etc....wow. And i'm working on a weekly geeks post for the best of published in 2009 books. I can't believe we can count the rest of 2009 in just a few weeks.

19 November 2009

BTT for 11/19

I am really having a bit of trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that it is a week until Thanksgiving. I worry about my perception of time and whether i'm wasting all of mine.

so, an interesting question for BTT today!



Yes. There are definitely authors that write today that i feel people will be reading in 100 years. I think that, just as people today read Austen and the Bronte's for a view of Georgian and Victorian England, people a couple hundred years from now will read books from our times to understand our view of life. While i don't know if Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyers, Nicholas Sparks, or Patricia Cornwell will still be read, I bet Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Toni Morrison and JK Rowling will still be picked up.

I also think we have a bit of a weird perspective. Will reading for pure entertainment last? after all, the novel really has only been around a few hundred years anyway. Music and Drama both have much longer histories and have really proven themselves to be timeless. No one says "will people still be listening to music in 100 years" for a reason.

I also read Jack of Fables Vol. 2: Jack of Hearts by a whole bunch of people today. I don't know if i will continue. Jack is such a total jerk and a guy at work told me if i don't like him now i won't like him any better. so, i give this one a 4. we do find out why the Snow Queen became a villian though in the Jack Frost backstory.

17 November 2009

Reading Fun

I finished the last of Nick Hornby's Believer column compilations, Housekeeping vs The Dirt. It is weird to have read the last columns before these middle ones. These cover the same sorts of things: Books Bought vs Books Read, enjoying lowbrow literature, not making yourself work to enjoy a book. There's less soccer and more international politics. another 6!

on another note, sometime in the last few days my counter rolled over 16,000! thanks! Thanks for dropping by, reading and commenting or even just going away again. I appreciate it and writing this blog so far has been fun and educational! hopefully next time i hit a milestone i'll notice a little faster.

16 November 2009

The Greatest Show on Earth

I finished another science book. The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins is another evolution book. Another very good one. It is longer and more detailed than the Coyne book, so in a way i think i'd start with the Why Evolution is True if you aren't at all science inclined. Dawkins' book is fascinating and i learned much from it.


here's an extremely informative quote.
Natural selections is the differential survival of successful genes rather than
the alternative, less successful genes in gene pools. Natural selection
doesn't choose genes directly. Instead it chooses their proxies,
individual bodies; and those individuals are chosen--obviously and automatically
and without deliberative intervention--by whether they survive to reproduce
copies of the very same genes. A gene's survival is intimately bound up with the survival of the bodies that it helps to build, because it rides inside those bodies, and dies with them.

Makes sense doesn't it! Dawkins goes into many things beyond fossil evidence like the distribution of animal types throughout the world, molecular and DNA evidence, and embryology. Overall, i highly recommend this book, a 7.

13 November 2009

More P&P

I just finished up the BBC Pride and Prejudice last night.

ok, so yeah, this one is better than the new theatrical version. you get, of course, so much more of the story since it is about twice as long. that means you get more of the characters you don't like too (Lydia and Mrs. Bennett) but more of the ones you enjoy (Elizabeth and Jane, Mr. Darcy). I really liked this movie as well and it's on my wishlist now too! another 7 from me!

and happy Friday the 13th!

12 November 2009

BTT for 11/12

Have i answered something like this? or was i discussing it with B?

Suggested by JM:
“Life is too short to read bad books.” I’d always heard that, but I still read books through until the end no matter how bad they were because I had this sense of obligation.
That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading.
Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?


I am one who will stop reading a book if i don't feel like it. I've got about a half-dozen books, like Stranger in a Strange Land and The Historian, that i've read some of yet i just haven't finished them. I just have so many others that i'd rather read if i'm disinterested. I just took The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo back to the library as i just didn't feel like finishing it yet. So i will stop in the middle of reading a book.

There are exceptions though. It took me 3 tries to read On The Road by Kerouac and I had to finish it on audio. The only reason i kept trying was because it was a classic, on the 1001 list and other "best books" list. I kept expecting something to somehow get better, that i must be missing something and that if i kept up i'd "get" it. Even when i decided it wasn't going to improve, I felt like i had to get through it, just to mark it off my list. The other exception would be if someone gives me a book to read, either as a recommendation or a present, i'm going to really try to read it, and finish it, even if i have to go back and tell the person it wasn't necessarily one i liked.

how about you?

10 November 2009

So, i fail!

I've been having the toughest time going the daily blogging thing this time. Partly it is because work has been absolutely insanely busy and work is where i tend to get some reading done. I also frequently update my blog from work as well so being busy means i can't do that either. I've been going out sometimes after work which means then i'm sleeping later too. and for personal mood reasons i haven't felt like reading or blogging. This past weekend i was personally very busy with other things and got nothing accomplished besides paying a few bills. so, i have bowed out of NaBloPoMo this time. oh well, that makes me 2 for 3 at succeeding.


The one thing i did do, on my way to pick up my dog from R's, was stop by McKays. I ended up grabbing 4 graphic novels and 2 books for a total of $25. I did read a couple of my new graphic novels over the weekend.

Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon, Will Conrad and Laura Marin is a bit of filler. It is short, short, short. The art is very pretty but there isn't much to the story. We see why Shepard left the ship and see Mal and crew drop off Inara. a little space adventure to bridge the show and the movie, only for completists. a 4.
Jack of Fables, Vol 1: The (nearly) Great Escape by Bill Willingham, Mathew Sturgis, Tony Akins and Andrew Pepoy (whew!) starts up literally seconds after Jack walks out of the Fables series. He's hitchhiking down the highway when a hot girl in a black van suggests strongly that Jack take a ride with her. She has two "bagmen", literally animated bags, that help her corral Jack. He tries to escape but ends up killing himself in a major traffic accident. Luckily for him, due to his new fame from his movies, Jack wakes from the dead a few days later. Unluckily, he's already been captured and sent to the Golden Boughs Retirement Village, where Revise, the evil overlord, holds Fables until the world forgets them and they can be destroyed. He's got something against magic. So, of course, Jack stages a breakout.

overall though, I didn't like this one as much as Fables. Jack is an ass! He's so annoying, and sarcastic, and mean spirited. I get why he treats Goldilocks poorly but he's pretty rough with everyone. I'll keep up the series as i can get them from the library but i don't know that i would buy any more. a 4 as well.

06 November 2009

Pride and Prejudice

I watched the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice last night. Very pretty but I thought the music was way overdone. Jena Malone had Lydia just right, the woman who played Jane was lovely, Bingley and Mr. Wickham and the Bennett parents were great too.

So, the big two. Keira Knightly has some very prominent collarbones. I kept looking at that. on the movie itself, she is a good actress and she conveys her feelings and thoughts so well with her expressions. Matthew Macfadyen plays Mr. Darcy, very stoic and British stiff-upper lip type. and, of course, tall, dark and handsome.

So this one is a 7, counts for the Everything Austen Challenge, and is now on my wishlist for Christmas.


05 November 2009

BTT for 11/4

It's All About Me

Which do you prefer? Biographies written about someone? Or Autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?

I am really not sure. I've read some of each and i really don't know that i've had a preference. i know that is a cop out but that's how i feel.

04 November 2009

Breaking Dawn

So i liked this one much more than Eclipse! I finished up Breaking Dawn on my last break at work tonight.

ok, yeah, there were some really silly bits that i won't go into because they are certainly spoilery. Really silly. Seriously, when we switched to Jacob's chapters i felt certain the book would be hurled across the room when i finished it. However, later developments redeemed the story.

so yeah, this one gets a 5.

03 November 2009

01 November 2009

November 1st!

Happy All Saint's Day everyone!

I decided to do NaBloPoMo again for the real month. Yay!

so, last night i hung out with my friend C. She's D's girlfriend but D was out of town. I made eggplant parmesan, which was quite good. We watched two bleh movies, the new version of Last House on the Left, which was better than Surveillance. I figured out Surveillance about 30 minutes in and it is one where you really don't like any character but the little 10 year old girl. I really would say if you like horror you'd like Last House on the Left but skip the other movie.

one post down, 29 to go!

29 October 2009

Eclipse

I read Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer yesterday. or, I should say, I started Eclipse yesterday and finished it at 4:15 this morning. It is my fourth book for the RIP challenge, so i've completed the number i wanted to finish. Of my original list of possibilities, two of the four i've read were on it. Ok i guess. I just started Breaking Dawn today and will include that one if i finish by Halloween. No late night reading tonight though!

so, where to begin. I'm not even going into the plot, you know what's happening right? Bella loves Edward, a vampire, but is also friends with Jacob, a werewolf, both of whom are in love with Bella. Much angst ensues. I give this one a 4. Really, Twilight was better than New Moon, which was way, way better than Eclipse. I mean, there is really only so much vacillating, whining, woe-is-me, wanna-be-ness that i can take. Those last couple pages, where we switch to Jacob's POV, were heavenly. Maybe if the books were written in 3rd person instead of 1st i'd like it more? I feel like this book was all buildup. To use a sex analogy, it was all foreplay, followed by 2 seconds of unsatisfactory intercourse. I'll finish up Breaking Dawn, but i'm not thinking i'll love it.

28 October 2009

silly but serious question

I finished Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality by Jared Diamond earlier. It isn't bad but apparently a lot of the material in the book was covered in The Third Chimpanzee. In fact, as i was reading it i checked twice that i hadn't listed it on my blog or rated or reviewed it on amazon just to see if it was a reread. So, just because i give it a 4 doesn't mean it isn't worth reading!

I do wonder why this book has this title. That exact question isn't addressed. The majority of the book covers how abberant human sexual behavior actually is and the possible evolutionary advantages or reasons behind concealed ovulation and menopause. It is all interesting but not really extensive enough.

25 October 2009

While i didn't do the readathon

I did read a couple books yesterday. The first was a very pretty book, Skellig by David Almond. It's a YA novel. just 182 pages. I give it a 7. The volume i had was a sort of "guided reading" copy, with an author interview and questions on the book at the end. In the author interview, Almond explains his take on magical realism, which is exactly what this book feels like to me. Michael and his family have just moved into a new house, one that needs a lot of work, when Michael's mother has his little sister prematurely. Michael thinks of the baby constantly, even deciding he can feel her little heartbeat next to his own. As Michael's father tries to get the new house in order, Michael explores. He meets the home schooled neighbor girl, Mina, who quotes William Blake and seems pretty smart. He also finds a man, dirty and old and crippled, living in the broken down garage. The man's name is Skellig, and he may be an angel.

Other opinions on Skellig: Somewhere i have never travelled, Susan, As Usual, I need more Bookshelves, Nymeth, An Adventure in Reading, Book Zombie, Becky, Valentina, Jenny.

The other i read last night was The Secret of Roan Inish by Rosalie Fry. only 89 pages. It is a sweet little story of a Scottish girl Fiona, sent to live with her grandparents on an island. The grandparents live a short distance from the original island the family lived on, Roan Inish. Four years earlier, when the family evacuated, they lost the youngest member, Jamie. Fiona learns of the legend of the selkie from her grandfather, who tells her as well that some fisherman claim to have seen Jamie. Fiona, with the help of her cousin Rory, searches for Jamie and tries to lead her family back to Roan Inish. I give this one a 5. It had a lovely atmosphere, very dreamy.

i also finished my third RIP book, The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It reminded me of Patient Zero as it takes an old myth, vampires, and goes at it like a CDC virus outbreak. A plane lands at JFK, then immediately goes dark, power off, no response on radio or cell phone, shades drawn. When the ground security finally get into the plane, they find all the passengers, all but 4, dead. The CDC gets called, as the only theory is that it was some virus that killed the passengers. Dr. Ephraim Goodweather is the CDC expert. Abraham Setrakian has been fighting vampires since he was in a concentration camp in Poland. Now an aged pawnbroker, he joins Goodweather to fight the vampire menace.

I give this one a 5 as well. It is quite creepy and gory. I would say that, since it is the first of a trilogy, the ending was pretty unsatisfying. The characters are solid; I really liked Setrakian and Vasiliy Fet, the exterminator who joins up with the band of hunters. I read a couple reviews where the reader felt the CDC characters went along with Setrakian a little too quickly but i didn't feel that way. After all, by that point they'd seen one of the vampires in action as well as all the evidence of the strange plane. So i think it developed pretty normally.

other opinions: Devourer of Books, Love Vampires, Medieval Bookworm, Fantasy Book Critic, MariReads, Bobbi's Book Nook, Shelf Love.

24 October 2009

Various Goings On

Sort of a bit of everything post..

Congrats to all doing the Read-a-thon. I swear i am going to do the one in the spring. For sure! I'll be visiting various blogs i follow and cheering you on, as well as trying to get in the spirit and do a little reading myself!

walked 1.6 miles yesterday, 1 of which will count towards that 100 mile challenge!

I cooked jambalaya last night and B seemed to like it. Yay! That whole "to the heart through the stomach" thing seems to be working. I made him take some home as you can't just make a little jambalaya; you must make a bunch!


I got a CSA box this morning full of giant vegetables. This picture includes an acorn squash (the green one), a butternut squash, a sweet potato, and a normal sized apple for scale. anybody want some butternut squash soup?

for dinner tonight i'm cooking up some collard greens and baked butternut squash w/ bleu cheese and onions. here's a pic of that the last time i made it.

mmmmmm!

Whatever i'm doing, i'll be switching over to the Auburn-LSU game @ 630. Go Tigers!

22 October 2009

Sci-Fi Series


I finished up the book B gave me to read, The Reality Dysfunction, Part 1: Emergence by Peter F Hamilton. it's an extremely complicated book with a dozen or so characters doing their own thing throughout the galaxy. Towards the end a few of the various characters meet up but still end up going their separate ways. Kind of a sci-fi version of the Song of Ice and Fire series.

I do wish the different characters were separated out into different chapters, like in the Martin series. It would have helped me to keep things separated. Hamilton swaps between characters in the same chapter. It wouldn't bother me if we just got multiple points of view of a series of events, like if we first got the perspective of the captain, then another crew member, then maybe an outsider coming on board the ship. but Hamilton will give us the events character A experiences, then jump across the galaxy to character B, then to character C, then B, then some other new person we hadn't read about yet at all, all in the same few pages. sometimes i wanted to start writing down a who's who list!

I never really warmed up to Joshua Calvert, the young rake of a starship captain. I wanted to like him; he's the Han Solo/Dirk Pitt/James Bond type character. I was ok with him until the last chapter, then he did something i found pretty despicable. So i won't be rooting for him if he shows up in the next book. I really liked a couple of the females: Ione Saldana, the brilliant heiress, and Syrinx, the captain who's empathy-bonded to her living ship, the Oenone. I disliked pretty much every colonist character.

anyway, i'll keep reading. This one kept my attention and had some cool action in the middle. really, though, it is pretty obvious this book is part 1 of a longer series. a 5 from me.

21 October 2009

Library Loot!


And a review....I picked up 3 books today from the library that i've been waiting forever for. Ok, in reality, i put League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill on my request list back in May, just before it got released. It showed "on order" until last Friday when suddenly it said "in transit". Whoopie!



I liked this waaay more than Black Dossier. Black Dossier was just a little too trippy for me. And it jumped so far forward in time that i felt lost. Century: 1910 goes back to the characters as we knew them just after Volume 2. Mina and Quartermain have become immortal; they are still in the League with the gender switching Orlando (from Virginia Wolff's novel), AJ Raffles and Thomas Carnacki. Since there were more characters i didn't know, and until reading the wikipedia entry i didn't understand why several were singing, i guess i got less out of it than i would have otherwise. a 5 from me.




Then, i also picked up The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson, both of which were on hold about 2 months or so. since both have long holds (10 and 65, respectively) i'll be reading those two first, pushing my other library books and challenge books to the back for now. hmm, but The Strain can count for RIP! yay!

LIbrary Loot is hosted by Marg at Reading Adventures and Eva at Striped Armchair.