29 September 2009

The Decemberists

I saw the best concert of my life on September 27th! I've been to a good many shows and seen a lot of cool things: Jerry Lee Lewis banging away on the piano on the banks of the Mississippi in Memphis, Melissa Etheridge rockin' the Grand Ole Opry stage, been on stage with Cowboy Mouth for a song, the authorities turning off the stage power on George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic and they still kept singing.

The Decemberists played the Ryman Auditorium here in Nashville and it is absolutely the best show i've ever seen. They came out and played The Hazards of Love album straight through. That was amazing. The women singing Margaret and The Queen really got into the parts. "The Rake Song" starts off with a pitch black stage, then a spotlight on the lead singer, expanding into flashes as every other band member plays drums! "Hazards of Love 4" was so pretty i had tears in my eyes.

That set in itself would have been a great show. The band left the stage for about 15 minutes then came back and did another set! When you worry about the structural integrity of the balcony because the entire crowd is jumping up and down in unison to "O, Valencia", when your hands hurt afterward because you've clapped so much, when you can say you sang at the Ryman with a few thousand friends, that's when you know you've been to an incredible event.

R posted pics on his Flickr. Take a peek!

28 September 2009

Night Runner

I finished an ERC today which is also my first RIP book of the year. I gotta concentrate on that challenge the next few weeks. Night Runner, by Max Turner, is about a teenage vampire. Zach doesn't know he's a vampire. He's lived in a mental ward since he was 8, not because he's crazy but because he's an orphan with severe sun and food allergies. It isn't all bad; Zach doesn't go to school, his childhood friend Charlie comes to visit in the evenings, pretty nurse Ophelia takes him bowling and to the movies too. So what if he can only eat weird strawberry smoothies?

Zach's well ordered life is thrown into chaos one night when a man on a motorcycle crashes into the ward and tells Zach to run. Zach's surprised, even more so when the man jumps out of an ambulance after being shot in the chest! The next night Zach's uncle Max shows up and tells him that not only was Zach's dad a vampire hunter, the vampire who killed him infected Zach. While this knowledge at least clears up some of Zach's past, it really complicates his future.

I liked this book because i liked Zach. He's a sweet, pretty innocent kid. He's naive so makes some choices about who to trust that end up hurting him. In some novels these come off as just plot devices, but it makes sense from the character's perspective: he's been so sheltered his entire life that he's got no experiences to draw from. He's also not a Bella "vampires are the coolest thing ever" character. He's torn over what he is and really would rather be normal with a regular life.

Turner writes decently though i feel the book was a bit fast. Turner seems to like writing action; it's easy to follow and i never wondered what was going on. As for the characters, Zach is fully formed but a some of the other characters are only lightly done: "best friend" Charlie, "love interest" Luna, "protective mom figure" Ophelia. Maybe that will change a bit if this book becomes a series. Overall, a 5 from me and i'll definitely read more of Turner's work.

24 September 2009

BTT for 9/24

Another few

Recent Sad: On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Recent Enjoyable: The Grey King by Susan Cooper
Recent Informative: What to Eat by Marion Nestle
Recent Big: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

and yeah, i'm a bit sick of these.

22 September 2009

On The Road

I finally finished out On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Hated it. The only reason i could even read it was because i listened to it on audio while i drove to and from Louisiana. Since i had two Shakespeare plays that i actually enjoyed listening to it made me dislike On The Road even more. I feel like i need to get the Cliff's Notes for this book.

Sal Paradise is lost lost lost. So's his friend Dean and pretty much everyone they know. They're all searching for something and i don't think they even know that they are. The novel is one long drunken drive. They party, they drive, they drink, they hitchhike, they pick up girls (who are all treated pretty poorly and my feminist leanings really got roused up), they get high, they drive. It's exhausting. It's tiring to listen to, let alone live. Kerouac does write these lyrical, wonderful descriptions which pop right off the page and surprise you. Parts are wistful and drowsy and others are frenetic and wild. i guess it's all too much for me to be pleased with.

This counts for various things so that is very good. but i am still giving it a 3.

Other thoughts: Books for Breakfast, Shelf Love, Naked Without Books.

20 September 2009

The Magicians

So i finished up The Magicians by Lev Grossman yesterday and i really don't know what i think of it. I believe that i liked it but the whole feeling of the novel is so melancholy and lost and sad that part of me doesn't like it. The characters have this feeling of meaninglessness that is very familiar to me from being depressed before.

Quentin is a brilliant high school senior. He's lived immersed in the fantasy novels about the world of Fillory, a Narnia stand in. He's unhappy and lost and is waiting for his life to happen. When he finds out he has the ability to perform real magic, he thinks that is the life he's been waiting for. After finishing his magical schooling at Brakebills, the US magic college, Quentin is just as lost as he was at the beginning. He's got a girlfriend, friends, goes to parties and has no real job but he's not happy. When one of his schoolmates discovers Fillory is real, Quentin's group of friends decides to head there for an adventure. They find that adventures aren't as straightforward and easy as books make them out to be.

It's complicated. I liked that the book is very referential to other fantasy worlds: Harry Potter, Narnia, Tolkein, D & D. I liked that magic isn't the fast way to perfection. I liked the backstory of the magical world; if Grossman wants to write more in this universe it'll be a long while before it gets old. I didn't like the ending exactly, in fact i wondered whether Quentin was hallucinating. I didn't like that the book seemed both too fast and too slow. We don't get to Fillory until the last quarter of the book, yet i wanted to read more about Brakebills. So overall, i give this one a 5. I may decide to revise upward.

19 September 2009

as of 9/9

Total: 111
Non-fiction: 27

Library: 79
(i signed up for the 50 book challenge at the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge so i'm done)
Graphic novels: 24


Science Book Challenge:3/3 i am done!
YA Challenge: 12/12 DONE!
Classics Challenge: 4/5
OUaT3: 5/5
also done!
1% Challenge: 7/10
Japanese Lit Challenge: 1/1 done

16 September 2009

BBAW

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? heck, i will eat breakfast or dinner while i read! no particular favorite.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? I don't write in books anymore though i used to probably through my early 20's. I wouldn't say it horrifies me though. it is neat to read scribbles from other people in the used books i buy.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? I posted a pic of some various bookmarks before, but i will turn corners in paperbacks i own.

Laying the book flat open? Only hardbacks

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? I am a big non-fiction fan but read more fiction.

Hard copy or audiobooks? Both

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? I can stop wherever, middle of a chapter or paragraph.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? I rarely look up a word. Usually only if it is some obscure science term that i can't figure out or a foreign word out of an old novel

What are you currently reading? The Magicians by Lev Grossman in book form and On The Road by Jack Kerouac on audio.

What is the last book you bought? Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? Always reading more than one.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? Not really anywhere special..i read a lot at work but it's DEFINITELY not my favorite place

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? I read a lot of series but kinda like the short ones or almost stand alones recently.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman and The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) NO organizing really at all, i've got a window ledge full of unread books, several boxes of unread, a shelf of read books, a few boxes of read books too. hmm, sounds like maybe i've got a weekend project!

14 September 2009

Title fun

I yanked this from Tempting Persephone!

Using only books you have read this year (2009), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!


Describe yourself: The Sweet Far Thing (by Libba Bray)
How do you feel: Let the Right One In (by John Ajvide Lindquist)
Describe where you currently live: The Sea of Monsters (by Rick Riordan)
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Over Sea, Under Stone (by Susan Cooper)

Your favorite form of transportation: Through The Looking Glass (by Lewis Carroll)
Your best friend is: Greenwitch (by Susan Cooper)

You and your friends are: The Wordy Shipmates (by Sarah Vowell)
What’s the weather like: In a Sunburned Country (by Bill Bryson)
You fear: Watchmen (by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)

What is the best advice you have to give: Just In Case (by Meg Rosoff)
Thought for the day: Food Matters (by Mark Bittman)

How I would like to die: Sleeping Murder (by Agatha Christie)
My soul’s present condition: Infected (by Scott Sigler)



whew! how about you?

09 September 2009

Henry IV, Part 2

I have to say i didn't like this part as much as part 1. Henry IV, Part 2 picks up right where Part 1 left off. The kingdom is still roiling over with rebellion, King Henry is still disturbed by his heir Prince Hal, Falstaff is still slumming.

This is my 5th installment for the Shakespeare Challenge. The production was enthralling again but i just didn't like this play as much. I wish there was more between Falstaff and Prince Hal as he has such an abrupt change in character. The changes are hinted at earlier, even at the beginning of part 1, but startling when he completely rejects his old life. The story is also a bit more disjointed; i think a few things happen on stage that you don't get specifically said outloud. overall i give the play a 4.

07 September 2009

1001 Nights

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham is a great prequel to the Fables series i've grown to love. Willingham wrote the stories but various artists illustrate the different stories. The premise is that, in the 19th ceturym, Snow White goes to see the Arabian fables as an ambassador from Fabletown. The Fables need all the help they can get against the Adversary. Insulted by the fact that Fabletown sent a woman as Ambassador, he refuses to see her for weeks. Then the High Wazier arranges for for Snow White to meet the Sultan. Unbeknownst to Snow White, the Sultan takes a bride each night and has her executed in the morning, and she's to be the next victim. However, as Snow White tells the Sultan the tale of her own revenge, the Sultan decides to let her live one more night. As time goes on, she tells the early tales of the Fables.



I loved the story of what happened to Snow White after the prince rescues her. The art in that one was lovely as well. I liked Ambrose's, the Frog Prince, story. How he escapes the Adversary's troops is heartbreaking. Bigby's story is great too. there are several shorter pieces, just a page or two long, that are fun little stories. Overall, a 6 from me.

06 September 2009

The Sea of Monsters

So i am sure i'm going to finish off the series now but i intend to save the rest of it for the YA Challenge next year. The books aren't great but they are entertaining. I finished The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan yesterday evening. This book is the second in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I still think it's a bit of a HP clone though.

Percy has almost made it through an entire school year when he starts having nightmares about his friend Grover, the satyr from the first book. On the last day of school, Percy and his dimwitted friend Tyson get attacked by some giant-sized bad guys. Annabeth, daughter of Athena, rescues them and all three head to Camp Half-Blood. It seems Tyson has more in common with Percy than just going to the same school. Once they get to Camp Half Blood, they find that Thalia's Tree has been poisoned by person's unknown. Though someone else from the camp gets the Quest to save the tree, Percy, Annabeth and Tyson go on thier own adventure to save Grover.

I guess i like the old myths and legends part of the story. I just wish it was more original. There's a prophecy that may refer to Percy and what will happen if he makes it to 16. Annabeth is Hermione all over again. There's the mean camp counselors instead of teachers, no one really listens to the teens, Percy gets blamed for things that are not his fault. I am hoping that perhaps it will get more original as the books go on. a 4 from me.

05 September 2009

Richard II

I'm in Louisiana! YAY! I took a nice, long weekend and came down to see the family. I've already eaten The Best Donuts on Earth and gotten a po'boy! mmmmm. oh, and saw my brother's family.



I listened to Arkangel's production of Shakespeare's Richard II on the drive. loved the cd and liked the play. At the play's start, Henry Bolingbroke (Richard's cousin) and Sir Thomas Mowbry are both accusing each other of treasons. They challenge each other to duels over the king's and Henry's father John of Gaunt's wishes. At the beginning of the duel the king stops the men and banishes each of them, Mowbry forever and Henry for 6 years. Then John of Gaunt dies and Richard seizes his lands and holdings to pay for his wars in Ireland. When Henry finds out he comes back to England with troops and his friend's armies. Richard surrenders to him and Henry becomes King Henry IV. We hear a bit about Prince Hal hanging out with the peasants in the taverns and how well Henry Hotspur does. Richard becomes Henry's prisoner and later is murdered.

One thing i wondered is over how long exactly the events took place in time. The play makes things seem very very fast. Wikipedia's entry on the life of Richard II says that Henry and Mowbry's quarrle began in December 1397. John of Gaunt dies in 1399. and Richard finally dies after a year in captivity in 1400. so, in fact, the main events of the play take place over about 2 years, relatively quickly but not the few months that the play seems to indicate.

The other thing i wondered was who was the villain and who was the hero. At first, Henry seems the hero and Richard the evil king. But once the tables have turned and Richard is falling he becomes far more sympathetic. The scenes he has with the queen are especially moving. Overall, i figures this one is a 5 for me.


OH, and i snagged an ERC of Night Runner by Max Turner off Librarything. So i've got 1 more vampire book for RIP!

Tonight i'll be going to see my brother's band, Cheater Pipe, play in Lake Charles. Think I'll snag a nap.

04 September 2009

Watchmen Reread

I read this originally in 2007...and even wrote about it on here! strange. Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, is an incredibly groundbreaking graphic novel. The only one on the 1001 Books List!


I really enjoyed my reread. Having a couple years to think about the book, as well as seeing the movie and the commentary, helped refine my thinking about the novel. It is a masterpiece. What can you write about a book when so many people have dissected it so well?

The other book i read for this review is Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorshach Test edited by Mark D. White. If you've read Watchmen you know that it is a work grounded in the big philosophical questions. What is the nature of identity? Is there a moral place doing evil for the greater good? What is justice? If someone knows what we will do, do we have any free will?

The essays on the nature of time really blew me away. I didn't follow those two very well. The best, i felt, covered Rorschach, of course! The worst was about gay rights, not because i didn't agree but because it had nothing at all to do with Watchmen. One essay discusses the nature of literature and includes this quote:


If there is a comics canon--a list of the greatest works in the art form that serves as a standard against which all other comics are judged--then surely Watchmen is at the core of that canon (along with such works as Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, The Sandman, and Persepolis).

I've read all of these mentioned now! Weird that i've read the all the classics of comics.

So overall both are 7s from me! Watchmen and Philosophy counts for my personal challenge.

03 September 2009

Hey, Do Me a Favor

And vote for the Nashville Shakespeare Festival in this contest. They could really use the money!

02 September 2009

Fables War and Pieces

A story arc complete! Fables Volume 11: War and Pieces comes to the war we've been leading up to for so long. a 7, with a few caveats.

First we have a brief adventure with Cinderella, spy extraordinaire! She is too cool. I hope as the series continues we get to see some of her earlier adventures. Mowgli's too for that matter. Then we are in the war, from Boy Blue's point of view. He's still got the witching cloak and is a messenger/supply runner/ambulance. anything and everything fits under that cloak! Bigby and his forces cover the last door out to the Cloud Kingdom, Prince Charming and Aladdin have an airship crew making bombing raids, various individuals have thier own missions to attend to. I really really enjoyed this series of issues.

The one complaint i have is that the war seemed to go too fast. Now i know it's different for me, reading these 11 books over just a couple months. Everyone reading as the comics came out waited over 6 years from the first issue to the end of the war so i am sure none of them felt it went too quickly. I just think we could have spent another whole comic issue or 3 detailing the war as the events unfold.

also, though i can't play Oregon Trail on my G1 yet, i can play it online...what a wonderful new time suck i've found!!

01 September 2009

What To Eat


I think I shall take a break from food books for a while. I just finally finished What To Eat by Marion Nestle. The link is to the 2007 paperback but i read the 2006 hardback.

I say just finally finished because this book is loooooong. It's good, informative, comprehensive. just long. Nestle goes through a supermarket, section by section, explaining what those weird ingredients are, how to read a nutrition label, and why our food policy is made the way it is. She goes into the whole industrial food complex to show why organic plain foods cost more and why super processed junk seems so cheap. Just about any food question you have Nestle can answer. Should you take herbal supplements? (no) Is low carb any better for you? (no) Is organic food really regulated? (yes)

Overall, i give this one a 5 for ME. I've read a lot of this info in other books. If you haven't read much on the local/organic food movement and nutrition in general you'll be fully informed by reading this one.