31 January 2010

The Club Dumas

I know i've read something by Arturo Perez-Reverte before. I believe i read the first Captain Alatriste novel in 2006, in the fall. The reason i am pretty sure is that was when R first got the news that he'd be having surgery and i remember sitting in a waiting room, staring at the same page and not being able to remember much.

One of the books i finished on my snow day was The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte. This is a very twisty sort of novel, complex. Lucas Corso is a rare book go-to guy. He finds books for collectors, negotiates deals, has books authenticated and, if an owner is unwilling to sell to a motivated buyer, he is able to arrange that the book becomes available, without doing the dirty work himself. He gets two assignments: a friend wants him to authenticate a handwritten chapter of The Three Musketeers and a rich client wants him to find which of three copies of a book, The Book of Nine Doors, is the real one. Several characters seem to Corso to have come straight out of The Three Musketeers. As people die, the intrigue ramps up; there are clues and red herrings, complications and coincidences, demonology, angels, and lots and lots of book knowledge.

Corso is a smart guy but world-weary and lonely. He has a random sexual encounter which makes him look terrible to a female reader. After he meets Irene Adler, his self-appointed bodyguard, we get a lot of Corso's softer side as he thinks about his feelings for her and reminisces over his lost love, Nikon. I ended up rooting for him and feeling very protective by the end.

You know, i learned something today. Because of comments Corso makes, I looked up what a "second-level reader" was and learned about the Reader-Response school of literary criticism. Cribbed from Wikipedia "
Reader-response theory recognizes the reader as an active agent who imparts "real existence" to the work and completes its meaning through interpretation. Reader-response criticism argues that literature should be viewed as a performing art in which each reader creates his or her own, possibly unique, text-related performance". so the same book may mean different things to different people at different times? All quite interesting. I know i've got a literary theory book around here somewhere...

I really liked this book. a 6. Other Opinions: BiblioHistoria, BookShelves of Doom, The Reading Life, We Be Reading.

30 January 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010-4

I had intended to write a post today about our lovely weather. The fact that it ties in with Weekly Geeks is just lagniappe! Now, to those midwesterners or Yankees that are used to this, feel free to point and laugh, but understand that this is the most snow Nashville has gotten in exactly 7 years. Jan 16, 2003 we got snow like this (i only know the date because the following day is D's birthday) but not more than an inch or two at a time since then.

so, we were supposed to get ice yesterday morning, then switching to 3-6 inches of snow. when i woke up at about 7:30 nothing had started and i figured the snow was a bust again. then, lying on my couch watching Sportscenter, i noticed it had started snowing. by about 1 pm things looked like this
Then at about 5 we'd gotten hereIt just kept going and going, then around 1 i heard a weird noise. it was a plow! I've never seen one in action.
At about that time the weather switched over to the ice we were supposed to be getting first. Here's how much of that we ended up with, on top of the snow.
my poor car, very aerodynamic, but lower visibility now!
snow is lovely thoughmy birdfeeder has been quite popular this morning as well, some visitors have been queuing up on the porch.
the other bit we were to talk about was books we like in the winter as well as show our reading area. Here's where i've been the last day and a half
i have liquids, blankie, tissues, variety of reading material and the computer is for music. When i take a break i've got the tv for sports/movies. I've watched The Dark Knight, Watchmen, Wolverine and am working on The Two Towers now. I've also managed to play some Wii Fit (thanks for letting me borrow it B) and took a nice walk.

as for reading particular things during winter, i think i've said before that i don't notice much change in my reading habits over the course of the year.

an aside, a piece that gives B more proof that soccer is better than football.

29 January 2010

Can You Forgive Her?

I thought Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope was going to be my 101st book from the 1001 list, thereby pushing me to 10% read. Unfortunately, i'm still at 9.99999999% read. So close! This review may be a little spoilery so you're warned!

Alice Vavasor is a young woman who is engaged to a man really too good to be true, John Grey. Several years before Alice had "an understanding" with her cousin George (really her cousin, their fathers were brothers) but she broke off with him because he was still too wild. Alice takes a vacation with George and his sister Kate, during which she decides John is too good for her and she cannot make him happy, so she breaks up with him. Alice definitely suffers from some self-esteem problems.

At one point Alice gives her cousin George money to run for Parliament, about 1000 pounds. Various characters go on about how much money that amount is and i decided to look it up the conversion to today's dollars. I felt it was going to be about 10, maybe 15 thousand US dollars today. I was quite surprised when i discovered Alice gave George about $250,000! No wonder her father was so upset.

There are two other women who's lives we follow, Alice's Aunt Greenow, who married a very rich older man who rapidly made her a very rich widow, and Alice's other cousin Lady Glencora, a very young, rich heiress who's relatives influenced her to not marry her love, a rake Burgo Fitzgerald, and instead to marry Plantagenet Palliser, a stolid politician. I actually liked both of their stories better than Alice's. The choices available to women were so restricted, so prescribed, is it any wonder that Kate stays unmarried and independent?

A 5 from me. It was long but overall i did enjoy it. Next week I'll be starting Phineas Finn by Trollope for the same classics group and that one will for sure count on the 1001 list!

changing topics now, sorry! here's an article i completely agree with. Looting is when a conquering army takes stuff they don't need from the conquered people. An example: as much as i love the Band Of Brother series, they do a lot of looting in those last couple episodes. in an emergency situation, taking food, water, or other basic supplies is scavenging, or being resourceful, or commandeering. it isn't stealing and it isn't wrong. If there's some sort of mass disaster i'm not going to give a damn about my mp3 player or my cute shoes. if i'm dead or gone i'd be perfectly fine with someone raiding my apartment for canned goods and blankets, spare cash and candles. if it's cold let them burn all my books. Human lives are more important than things. why are governments able to get guys with guns into an area to protect things when they can't get water, food, and rescuers into the same areas?

28 January 2010

BTT for 1/28

I'm doing pretty good with BTT this month!

So, today’s question is in two parts.

1. Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?

2. What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? Or your least favorite?

1) i do like complicated plots and twisty tales. I don't like confusing ones though, which i think is basically a complicated plot with a poor author in charge of it. Complicated, well done, is great. George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series is complicated and i love it. if the next book ever comes out i don't think i'll have a problem getting right back into it.

2) A few that i thought of that i enjoyed that have an unexpected ending.

Ender's Game has a pretty big twist but i wouldn't say overall it's a twisty or complicated book.

The Lies of Locke Lamora has the advantage of being a caper novel. It is only mildly twisty but then "the plan comes together" and the reader gets a few great surprises at the end.

American Gods isn't exactly complicated but i think it has a nice twist.

lastly, got a little money you want to donate to Haiti? want to maybe get rewarded for it? The Harry Potter Alliance is basically having a raffle for items donated by various authors, actors and fans, including a signed boxed set of the HP books signed by JK Rowling, a copy of Harlequin Valentine signed by Neil Gaiman, a signed a set of first editions by John Green, and gobs of other fun things. Go here through Jan 30!

26 January 2010

neat meme

A ten random books meme from Stuck In A Book! The idea is to pick 10 randomly from your bookshelves and see what that says about you. I went to random.org to get the numbers and pulled the books from my librarything list, which is in order by author. so here i go.

  • Number 129- When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason- unread, recommended by various book bloggers, i bought the series but have only read the first 2. Vampires and a kick-ass heroine.

  • Number 178- Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey- read a while back and purchased after, a fantasy series that happens to have a gay hero.

  • Number 38- The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury- read, sci-fi short stories that i didn't particularly like. Haven't sold it or put it on paperbackswap because i bought it used for $1 and it smells heavily of cigarettes.

  • Number 137- Start Making Sense: Turning the Lessons of Election 2004 into Winning Progressive Politics by Don Hazen- read, probably in a very weird depressed/optimistic mood.

  • Number 76- The Witches by Roald Dahl- read, I guess this shows that i'm trying to go back and read some of the classics of children's lit that i skipped over as a child myself.

  • Number 158- The Elements of Style by Strunk and White- sort of read? I got this after reading Stephen King's On Writing. I haven't read it cover to cover but i have skimmed bits when i needed an answer.

  • Number 210- King Rat by China Mieville- unread, don't know why i picked this one up.

  • Number 251- ok, this is the first one i wanted to cheat on, because the book is The Story of O by Pauline Reage. I haven't even read it yet but i'm blushing as i write this out anyway because we both know what this is about! It is on the 1001 books list which is why i bought it.

  • Number 188- Like a Splinter in Your Mind: The Philosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy by Matt Lawrence-read. more sci-fi, from the pop culture and philosophy type books that i love. also points to the fact that i like head-trippy movies.

  • Number oops, i had to cheat on this one, the random number drew 251 again, on a re-roll i got

  • Number 25- Cabal by Clive Barker- read. Horror novellas.
So i actually think this list is rather representative of my tastes and what i am. No graphic novels or hard science non-fiction were represented. But i'm progressive, liberal, thoughtful. I don't mind pondering hard questions or taking recommendations.

25 January 2010

Another Nashville Only Post

I just have a couple things i want to mention!

I went to The Tempest last Friday night with the atheist Meetup group I'm in. Produced by The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, The Tempest was great. It was a pretty stripped down performance, not lots of props. the costumes are pretty and Ariel flies about the stage. A 6, I highly recommend it. The play will be finishing out this weekend, Thurs-Sun.

Lightning 100 and Team Green are having a silent auction on Tuesday night to benefit relief efforts in Haiti. It is at the Team Green Mixer at the Hard Rock Cafe from 6-8.

Oh, and Go Saints! anybody have an extra 4 grand? we could go to the Superbowl together! I'll even drive!

23 January 2010

Lookalike and Random Things

Ok, i read this short story book, Gothic, a couple years ago. i keep seeing the cover though! I completely forgive series repeats, as i get that you'd want the covers to look similar. But really, come on!

This one is for another YA novel, Captivate.

And this is for Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead.
And lastly, Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

Then there is this version of lookalike covers:
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
Need by Carrie Jones (who picks her covers?)
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
And here's The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa De La Cruz

How about we get some new ideas?

here's the random things list
  1. I find book trailers weird. who came up with that idea? i don't know why they've become so popular. about half the time they seem to be just stills with a voice over. I can read, so why would i not just read the product description on the same website the trailer is on? anyone?
  2. Am i the only person who wishes the NFC Championship was the Super Bowl? I would love to have the Saints win but i would be ok with Brett Farve getting another ring too. The AFC teams are bleh; i hate the Colts and have no opinion on the Jets, other than Mark Sanchez is hawt!
  3. Saw The Book of Eli last night. It was ok. a 4. Love Denzel Washington in everything, the movies has some cool fight scenes. Gary Oldman needs to play more good guys!
  4. B is wonderful :)

22 January 2010

The Savage

I'm really liking what I'm reading of David Almond. Yesterday i read The Savage by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean. It's a short little illustrated story full of anger and loss.

The story is very simple. Blue is a young boy who's father has just died. Blue has been going to a therapist who tells him to write down his feelings. He doesn't like that though; he begins writing a story about a savage boy who lives in the forest alone. The savage cannot speak, lives off scavenging tools and food. He kills people who threaten him. Blue puts his enemy, a bully from school named Hopper, into the story and the savage wants to kill him. The savage also learns of love as Blue writes of his little sister. Blue's story begins to bleed over into real life, which leads to a pretty amazing conclusion.

I liked this one but i feel it was too short! also, i got the feeling Blue was maybe 10-12 but his writing seemed much younger. I guess that's just my impression though. a 5 from me.

Other Opinions: Nymeth, Bart, Bitten by Books, Puss Reboots.

21 January 2010

BTT for 1/21

This was a rather hard question! After all, authors who are popular with book bloggers right now may not be widely popular but i don't know that is really what the question is after. I am going to use the "everyone" in the question as "other book bloggers". After pouring over my librarything books I'm going to go on 2 different tacks with this question.

Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

So i am first going to talk about a couple authors that are recent but i don't think i've read other people reviewing them.

Susan Hubbard: she's written several books but started her Ethical Vampire series with The Society of S (331 people have copies on librarything) in 2007. I've read that and have the second book, The Year of Disappearances (98 on librarything), on my TBR Pile. I guess this hasn't hit like Twilight because the main character, Ari, is just 13 at the book's start and there isn't a love triangle. Much more realistic portrayal of growing up, discovering yourself, and synthesizing mixed heritage.

Lynn Flewelling: I've read two of her fantasy novels, The Bone Doll's Twin and Hidden Warrior. It is a very rich world that Flewelling creates, with powerful forces against women. Since i've seen lots of people rave over Anne Bishop's books, i don't know why this one with similar themes isn't more poplar. The third in that series, The Oracle's Queen, and the first in an older series, Luck In The Shadows, both sit patiently on my TBR. ok, i really need to get to those soon.

I also want to highlight two classic books that i don't know i've seen reviewed but that i love!

I loved Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin when i read it a few weeks ago so i won't say much more now. Read it! It's a beautiful, tragic love story.

I also think The Lover, by Marguerite Duras, is one everyone should read right now. A short novel about a girl growing up as she has an affair with a Chinese man in the 1930's. Another love story, though less tragic and more dreamy than Giovanni's Room.

any unknowns i need to look up RIGHT NOW?

20 January 2010

Movies Catching Up

Last year i did a pretty good job of posting about the new movies i had seen but a poorer job of reviewing the older ones i watched. This year i think i will just try to do a monthly post of old movies, with just a rating and a few lines about what i did or didn't like. For my purposes, "old movies" are just anything i see on DVD, not at the theater. Also, i'm just doing movies i'm watching for the first time. Trust me, you don't want to see me remark that i watch, and love, The Matrix movies, LOTR, The Dark Knight, or Watchmen every single month.

To Have and Have Not- 5, sexier than i thought, with a fun happy ending. No one would make such a quiet movie now, it would be so actioned up i'd hate it. the first Bogie-Bacall.
The Red Shoes-2, Ugh! pretty ballet scenes but not for me. Female empowerment! No squealy "i'm crazy" scenes!
Rope- 5, tense Hitchcock, i can see Tarantino doing a remake with more likable murderers.
District 9- 6, damn good movie. crazy effects.
Romance and Cigarrettes- 2. umm, weird. very weird. a musical. sorta. everyone sings along with the music, like you do to music in the car. so i can't really tell if anyone in the movie can actually sing. Kate Winslet and her accent are hawt though.
39 Steps- a 4. short, early Hitchcock. it was only 80 minutes long but i still felt it was slow.
Trick 'r Treat- 5, creepy and fun. a series of 4 1/2 interlocking Halloween stories. I don't know why this didn't get a wide release. Anna Paquin looks cute as Red Riding Hood. Lil' Sam is scary.
Dark City- weird. kinda reminded me of the Matrix. 5.
UP- i watched this with Ben and i loved it! i cried through the little montage of Carl and Ellie's lives at the beginning of the movie. a 7.
The Day the Earth Stood Still- the old 50's version. pretty standard "don't blow up the world" stuff. 4.

That's it for now!

18 January 2010

David Inside Out

I liked the second book i read for the YA Challenge much more than the first. David Inside Out, by Lee Bantle, is about a teenage boy discovering himself. He is a junior, 16, a scholarship student at a private school. He sort of has a girlfriend but has thoughts about one of the boys on his cross country team. His best friend comes out at school and, while nothing terrible happens, many of the students treat him badly and even David doesn't know how to act. When David gets an anonymous letter he begins to really look at how he feels and what he wants.

I both did and did not relate to David. My high school experience was so far from David's, even without the gay issue, that i couldn't see myself making some of the same choices. Other parts were very relatable: falling for someone, the first sexual experience, worrying about the future. It is a very fast read though, in my opinion too fast. i give this one a 5.

16 January 2010

More Sandman

I read The Dream Hunters (Sandman Vol. 11) by Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano. This was one of the books my darling (ha) B gave me for Christmas. It is a lovely fable. A fox and a badger make a bet to try to force a monk from his temple. Whoever wins gets to take the temple as their home. The monk is just as wise as the animals are crafty and figures out the various schemes. As the fox begins to know the monk she falls in love with him. When she overhears some demons discussing a plan to kill the monk through his dreams she acts to save him.

It isn't exactly a graphic novel. It is a heavily illustrated long short story. Amano doesn't do little illustrations. I imagine every panel to have been a huge wall hanging, brushwork on silk. They are all so lovely, especially the ones with the fox in girl form with the monk. Morpheus in his Japanese incarnation is very cool too. The demons look creepy and the evil witches scary. I give this a 6.

Ah yeah! Go Saints! On to the NFC Championship!

15 January 2010

The Little Stranger

Yesterday at work I finished The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I don't know how to talk about it! I usually try to post non-spoilery things unless the book is quite old. This book just came out last year! But it is difficult to talk about without going into specifics, especially things that occur later in the novel. So let me go with the facts. It's a ghost story in post-WWII England. Doctor Faraday is 40, a bachelor, and worried about his career as things change in England. He becomes acquainted with the Ayreses of Hundreds Hall, Mrs. Ayres who is in her mid-60s, Caroline, the daughter in her late 20's, and Roderick, the ex-RAF officer who's injuries Faraday begins to treat.

Hundreds is practically falling down around the family. Caroline and Roderick are doing what they can but with no money and little prospect for restorations the house just fades. Then, strange things begin to happen. Faraday never seems to experience anything directly, he is always telling what he was told by the various family members. is there a poltergeist brought on by the lonely 14-year-old maid? is the ghost of the first daughter, Susan, who died in the house at age 7 haunting the place? Are the various family members going mad? Is Faraday making things up?

I liked the journey but i don't know if i liked the book. I think i like it, then i decide because i didn't like the characters i didn't. Then i decide it is too creepy not to like, so i like it. Then i decide Faraday is an unreliable narrator, so i don't like it. Then i remember the rich descriptions of fading Hundreds, so i like it. I can't decide therefore i am giving this one a 4. Anyone who wants to talk more, who's read this book especially, lets put some spoilers in the comments and sort out my feelings! Also, i mentioned on BTT yesterday that i couldn't remember what prompted me to get this one. Now i do, it was Stephen King's number 1 book of 2009 in Entertainment Weekly.

Other opinions, with some spoilers in comments so watch out! : The Book Lady's Blog, Medieval Bookworm, Bookworm's Dinner, Asylum, 1 More Chapter, Fleur Fisher Reads, Age 30+, Literary License, Fizzy Thoughts, Jenclair.

14 January 2010

BTT for 1/14

So, a quickie question.

Suggested by Prairie Progressive:

Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

Umm, yes and no? I'm currently reading The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters because someone, i honestly don't know where, recommended it. I was about 1/3 of the way through when i decided to read the flap to see what exactly the book was going to be about. I'm enjoying it very much, i just wanted an idea of where it was going. The flap, however, didn't really tell me anything more than what i had already known.

if i am browsing for books then i will read the backs for the summary. I don't buy hardbacks so the flaps aren't what i read! I don't like flaps or the backs of books that only consist of blurbs from other authors. That really really annoys me. Unless the book has been a gigantic bestseller, all books should have something that gives an idea as to what it is about. Even if it is just "the latest Jack Ryan adventure, pitting him against a terrorist cell" or "King unleashes a new horror on Maine!" or something. The reader deserves a bit of information.

13 January 2010

Post 600!@!?


According to Blogger, this post makes 600 for me on this blog. i wasn't sure how i should mark the occasion. Should i just allow it to go by? just do a regular review of what ever book i finish, good or bad? Finangle so i review something i loved? Talk about a cause i care about? Beg for money for the arts?

The Haiti earthquake and Pat Robertson made my decision for me. I'm going to beg and rant.

First off, i always, always, have so much compassion for disaster victims. the 2006 Tsunami, Katrina, tornadoes, i feel so terrible for everyone. I donated to Partners in Health today but you can go to Doctors Without Borders or Oxfam or text "YELE" to 501501 to donate $5 on your next cell bill to Wyclef Jean's foundation Yele Haiti. If you can donate, do so.

Now, to the ridiculous comments of Pat Robertson. Beliefs like these are why i am so glad i don't believe in a god. Because if Pat Robertson's god is real, he's a petty, small minded creature.

Let's just go with Robertson's theory for a minute.

I'm a slave woman, dragged from my home in Africa to work in Haiti. I've been beaten, starved, raped, had my friends murdered and my children sold away from me. I get together with my friends and the Devil offers us a deal: our souls for our freedom and the freedom of our descendents. We take the deal; we overthrow our evil captors. so then god, who didn't do a damn thing to help us while we are enslaved, decides to kill off a bunch of our multiple-great grandchildren, as well as thousands of people who are not our descendants but just happen to be on the island at the time, because 200 years before we did what we could to save ourselves.

that's no god i want anything to do with.

12 January 2010

First YA Book of the Year

My first YA book for the year is a bust. I wanted to like Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I was looking forward to it, put it on my library list as soon as i saw it was on order, even friended the book on Facebook. I just couldn't manage to like it.

Gatlin is a small, insular southern town. Our Hero, Ethan Wate, is the son of two writers; his father from Gatlin, his mother an outsider who has passed away at the beginning of the novel. He's been having strange dreams for months about a girl he can't save from danger. On the first day of his sophomore year he meets this girl. Lena has just moved to town to live with her uncle, the rich town shut in, Macon Ravenwood. While Ethan knows she's different than the kids he's grown up with, he finds out very quickly she's got special powers.

Ethan finds out Lena is a Caster. She's approaching her 16th birthday (and apparently driving without a license!) when she will be Chosen to become Light or Dark. That bit, the Light and Dark stuff, isn't really explained. She and Ethan become close; they can communicate with each other through telepathy, they see visions when they touch an old locket they've found. They fall in love and try to find a way to make sure Lena goes to the Light.

I guess it was just too cliched. it had all the goofy "small town life" cliches, mixed with a few southern ones. And the characters were too young. Most high school students at the start of their sophomore year are 15, not 16. They can't drive. They aren't usually the starters on the basketball team or the most popular kids in school. Then there was the bit about Ethan's mom's death. We never hear exactly what happened but it is implied it was a car accident. But Ethan drives the car around! Most car crashes that cause a death also total out the car, or at least make it undriveable until repaired. Add that to the fact that the adults all hide things from the teens, in the name of "it's for their own good", which always totally irks me out, and it isn't a book i like.

So overall, i give it a 3. If you loved Twilight series and didn't really notice any cliches or continuity errors you may really like Beautiful Creatures.

Other opinions, just a sampling as this book has been blowing up blogs for the last 5 months! Karin's Book Nook, Juicilicioussss Reviews, Babbling about Books, YA Book Central, Hope's Bookshelf, Steph Su Reads, Persnickety Snark.

11 January 2010

The Serpent's Tale

At about 1:30 this morning i finished The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin. It is the second book detailing the adventures of Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, a mistress in the art of death.

So, anything you find out in the first chapter isn't a spoiler right? It is about a year and a half after the end of the previous novel. Well, Rowley Picot is now the Bishop of St. Albans. Adelia has had their child, a healthy girl named Allie. They both live with Glytha and Mansur in the Fens as the doctors of the town have run them out. So much for Adelia's patrons! That bit really, really ticked me off. Henry Plantagenet won't allow Adelia to leave his country but doesn't make any arrangements for her. Prior Geoffrey appears at the beginning and does feel he should do more for Adelia and her little family. Rowley (sort of) has an excuse, Adelia made him leave and the Church, since he wasn't their choice, is looking for any reason to get him fired.

When Henry's mistress Rosamund is poisoned, Rowley brings Adelia and company to investigate. When another murder occurs, Adelia and Mansur investigate Sherlock Holmes style, reading tracks in the snow, the clothes of the victim, etc, to realize they must hide the murder to catch the killer. Then, while trying to recover Rosamund's body, Queen Eleanor and her retinue arrive and capture everyone, with only Rowley attempting to escape by diving into the freezing, icy Thames.

I liked this book but not as much as the first. I feel that Franklin played the old detective novel trick of having our investigator know things that aren't communicated to the reader. I didn't like that Rowley and Adelia aren't together, especially since the ending of the first book really implied that their differences had been worked out. I liked how Adelia has become more of a whole person; her relationships with everyone, her family and strangers and other women, have been enhanced by her love for her daughter. I felt terrible for Emma Bloat, a girl being forced into marriage. I loved the Henry scene and like how the book ended on a higher note. overall, i am giving this one a 5.

So, since this book has been on my TBR pile since 5/16/09, it will be my second book for the TBR category of the 2010 Challenge! And it counts for my personal challenge to read 25% of my TBR stack before i buy any more. Of course, since i keep getting books anyway maybe i should reevaluate that one!

I've also gotten out of the habit of doing this: Other Opinions: Avid Book Reader, Dear Author, Jen's Book Thoughts, Books and Border Collies, Good, Bad and Unread.

08 January 2010

Giovanni's Room

A beautifully written, sad sad book. Giovanni's Room, by James Baldwin, is a book about a man in Paris, David, struggling with his sexuality. The story is told in flashbacks. At the beginning we already know that David is alone, his fiancee Hella has left him and his lover Giovanni is scheduled to die by guillotine for murder. Slowly, David tells the story of how he meets Giovanni, how they become lovers, and how David leaves him. Baldwin, through his writing, makes you both hate and love David.

a few lines, as soon as i read them, reminded me of R, a perfect description of him:
I had decided to allow no room in the universe for something which shamed and frightened me. I succeeded very well--by not looking at the universe, by not looking at myself, by remaining, in effect, in constant motion.
R was one for constant motion and i think sustained it because he can't, or at least couldn't, handle quiet and self-reflection.

But enough about exes. I loved this book. Loved it. Written in 1956, it is relevant to any one who has wondered about their place in the world, about how to become yourself, about how to be true to others.

So i give this one a 7. Read it! it's only 250 pages. This counts for my personal challenge and for the TBR section for Bart's 2010 Challlenge.

07 January 2010

Btt for 1/7 and Snow!

First, let me get BTT out of the way.

What books did you get for Christmas (or whichever holiday you may have celebrated last month)?

Do you usually ask for books on gift-giving occasions or do you prefer to buy them yourself?

So, from B i received
  • Sandman: Endless Nights
  • Sandman, Book 11: The Dream Hunters
  • The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch, graphic novel
  • Sandman, Book 9: The Kindly Ones
  • The Cajun Night after Christmas- kids picture book i wanted
  • The Collected Stories of Philip K Dick, Vol. 1
  • The Sandman Papers: An Exploration of the Sandman Mythology
And from my parents i got The Walking Dead, Vol. 3: Safety Behind Bars. I am perfectly happy getting books for presents. I have a big list on amazon of things i want so people can get ideas.

So, here's a pop quiz, especially funny for those who are in the North or Midwest US. How much snow does it take to shut down Nashville, Tn?

This much!

Just for comparison, that picture was taken at about 12 noon. here is one from about 2:30.

Funny huh? It's not like it was massively coming down and it has basically stopped. Still, it gets me off work for a day. And i get to watch the National Championship which i would have missed otherwise. So far i've been quite productive: vacuumed my apartment, dusted, did laundry and even changed my sheets!

I don't get why people rush to the grocery store (usually to buy milk and bread and eggs) when we get the slightest forecast for snow. I've lived in TN for 10 years. the most snow i've seen here may have kept me indoors for maybe 48 hours. Snow just doesn't stay very long here, even when we get several inches. If you don't have enough food in your house to last 48 hours you really are bad off. I am a single woman and i don't stockpile canned goods or anything but, even if the power goes off, i could feed maybe 4 people, and a couple dogs, for at least a few days. we might end up eating a lot of stuff with crackers that you may not automatically think of (jarred spaghetti sauce, refried beans) but we certainly wouldn't starve.

How do people in your area handle bad weather?


Since i couldn't get out of work on New Year's Eve, i decided to take this past Monday off. I went down to my friends' house and cooked them dinner, then we went to see Sherlock Holmes.

Awesome! While the story is completely new, it gets the right tone of the world of Sherlock Holmes. The Holmes/Watson banter is perfect. Jude Law is cute as Watson. I could have gone without Rachel McAdams but she wasn't a terrible distraction. The basic plot is about a secret society trying to take over England and, by extension, the world. i was worried about halfway through that they were going to have actual supernatural explanations but ended up being very happy with the movie. a 6!

06 January 2010

Eating Animals

Ok, firstly, Jonathan Safran Foer looks like a grown up Harry Potter. Seriously, go pull up his Wikipedia page and take a look. I'll be here.

See what i mean!

Secondly, Eating Animals is the gentlest "go vegetarian" book i've read. Like Foer, i've gone off and on vegetarianism, though really just for the last 10 years, not my whole life. Foer begins really researching factory farming when he has his first child; he realizes that if he's going to be responsible for how this little boy eats then he must be able to answer his own questions.

It is strange how people relate to food. I've never really had to defend the fact that i rarely wear makeup or do my hair. Nobody gets pissed because i choose to drive a little car (a Nissan Versa in my case). But mention being vegetarian and people get actively angry! In many cases they actively jump into argument mode, attempting to convince my why they are right to eat meat. in my experience, even saying i'm an atheist has gotten better responses. I guess here in the south people can comprehend not going to church better than not eating fried chicken and barbecue. I think that, as Foer points out, even if you totally know that animals don't have rights and that people have dominion over them, it is wrong to beat a pig to death with a wrench. Or grind up live male baby chickens. or skin a cow alive because it wasn't stunned properly at the beginning of the kill line. It is the naked, needless cruelty that is universally reviled. But since it is "the system" that does it, not you, you can push it out of your mind.

I don't know that i will be able to keep doing that. I've got meat in my freezer right now, which i may eat as it is already purchased. I don't know that i'll be buying any more. a 7.

05 January 2010

Two Gentlemen from Verona

Though it is the shortest of the Arkangel Shakespeare productions i've listened to, Two Gentlemen of Verona is the one i've liked the least. I didn't like the production because between scenes they play this slow jazz, very jarring when listening to a Renaissance comedy. I also didn't like the story because of my personal prejudices against cheating boyfriends!

The two gentlemen are Proteus and Valentine. Proteus is in love with Julia in Verona. Valentine goes to stay at the Duke of Milan's home. There he falls for the Duke's daughter, Syliva (why did Shakespeare have to make their names so similar? why not Julia and Regan?). Then Proteus' father sends him to the Duke's so Proteus can gain life experience. There, Proteus also falls for Sylvia and connives so that the Duke finds out Valentine and Sylvia were going to elope. Meanwhile, since Julia misses her man so much she dresses as a boy and follows him to Milan. With Valentine out of the way, Proteus makes his move but Sylvia will have nothing to do with him because he's betrayed Valentine and Julia. Since this play is a comedy, everything works out in the end.

On audio, as opposed to a play, it was difficult to distinguish who was who until someone said a name again. even with just four main characters, and Julia being out of the play for long stretches, i found it confusing. And everyone just forgives Proteus far too easily. So this play is just a 3 from me. Onward!

04 January 2010

A Book B Rec'd and What I Did on New Year's Eve

I promised myself that i would finish up the books i'd started last year (ha!) before starting any new ones. so that means finishing 3 books. The first I completed late last night. I liked the book B handed me a month ago, The Reality Dysfunction, Part 2: Expansion by Peter F Hamilton, more than i liked the first part. Since everyone was introduced in the first book and the events have already begun, there is much more action in this book, less setup.

Lalonde finally has gotten so bad that real help is supposed to be coming. First, the LDC hire a huge contingent of mercenaries, ships and people, to come in to quell what they still think is some sort of xenoc (Hamilton never defines his terms, i think that means alien) invasion. And at the same time the Confederation Navy gets involved. Unfortunately, since the possessed people can turn others into possessed so quickly, a pretty awesome space battle ensues. Meanwhile, the scientists of Tranquility find out more about the aliens who used to live in their area of space, Norfolk starts getting possessed, as well as a few other places.

Unfortunately, my two favorite characters from the first book aren't in this one too much. Syrinx, the captain of the blackhawk Oenone, is in only 1 scene i believe and Ione Saldana, the Lord of Ruin (which sounds like a bad guy name but isn't), has only a few scenes as well. A couple were important but a few were just "i think i'm in love with Joshua" girlyness.

But, Joshua has, a teeny tiny bit, redeemed himself. Ok, i wouldn't let him near my 15 year old sister. But on non-sexual matters he's a good guy. I guess. Maybe. He's loyal to his friends, at least, and to his ship and crew. He'll rescue innocents even if it puts himself in danger. And he's a damn good pilot. still, he better be the one to save the 'verse in the end.

The only thing is, there are 4 more books in the series! at least it is a completed series and i won't get to the end and find out the next book "should be out any time now!" and get annoyed. I really really wish there was a character list instead of a historical timeline. This book i give a 6, and i'll be posting over at Carl's Sci-Fi Experience about it.

Here's a spectacular review of the 2 volumes i've read (really 1 book split into 2): The Wertzone.

Now, for New Year's Eve! I got off work at 8:30, B came over to my place, I made bean dip, we drank, watched Top Gear, drank, watched the Red Bull guy on ESPN jump off a pier onto a boat, drank more, watched more Top Gear, watched the ball drop, kissed, watched something else (i'm forgetting, i had a few drinks!) and went to bed about 2. Next morning i made him what he called "the best French toast ever!" *grins* so that went well.

Hope everyone had a lovely New Year's Eve, Day, and weekend!