30 April 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog


I loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  I loved the language.  I loved Paloma Josse, Renee Michel, and Mr. Ozu.  I want to read a grammar book!  i want to relearn French well enough to read this book in its original language. i want to reread it soon!


oh, what's it about?  Madame Michel is a concierge, a widow, and brilliant.  She hides behind the invisibility of her position, pretending to dull and lifeless to protect her psyche.  Paloma Josse is 12, also brilliant, very wealthy, a tenant at Madame Michel's building.  Paloma has decided that life is pointless and intends to kill herself on her 13th birthday.  The story goes back and forth between their first person points of view so we see and feel what they feel.  An older Japanese man, Mr. Ozu, moves into the building and disrupts Paloma's plans and Madame Michel's facade. 


i loved this one so much.  It is so beautiful.  I'm not doing it justice.  a 7.

Oh, and nominate some YA characters on Tempting Persephone!  

29 April 2010

BTT for 4/29


I'd have to go with Classics i think.  Mainly because it would allow me to cheat!  after all, there are classics of philosophy, classics of science fiction, classics of poetry!  and newer books become classics all the time.  Don't mistake me; i really do enjoy classic literature in the normally termed form.  I'm working on the 1001 Books list and that is mainly the "classic" classics.  since my spreadsheet says i'd need to read 19 a year to finish that list if i live to be 78, it does give me a good bit to read.

28 April 2010

Audiobooks Completed on my Trip

i finished 2 audiobooks on my drive to and from Louisiana.

The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr- 5. a reread for me.  I'd read this one a few years back on a flight. It's a "lost adventure of Holmes and Watson" actually commissioned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate.  Pretty good, solid characterization and a wonderful mystery that refers back to the creepiness of The Hound of the Baskervilles

M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman-6, fantasy, short stories.  One for the Once Upon a Time 4 challenge.  A couple i'd heard Gaiman read from Fragile Things but most i hadn't heard or read before.  Least favorite was probably Don't Ask Jack, favorite of the new ones would be How to Sell the Ponti Bridge and and Chivalry and my fave overall would be October in the Chair.  I just love that story. 


I'm also about halfway through Anansi Boys on audio but will be a few more weeks in finishing as i am only in the car about 30 minutes a day for work.  No other trips planned :(

26 April 2010

The Somnambulist

I finished The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes yesterday evening.  It is a really weird book.  I really liked the first 80% but the last 20% was just weird and incongruent.  So, you might really enjoy this book if you like the end.

Set in late Victorian London, the main character is Edward Moon, a sort of washed-up Holmes who works as an illusionist/magician. His assistant is a tall, mute, apparently invulnerable man named the Somnambulist.  A couple bizarre murders cause the police to ask for Moon's assistance.  There is also a secret government group, the Directorate, who want Moon to work for them.  There is also what may be a real medium, a man who claims to be from the future, circus freaks, a condemned murderer, a brothel, a long-lost sister, and a very strange club.

I like stories and novels that feel like they've been going on long before you start reading them.  One complaint i have about YA novels is that they often feel like they start on the first page; every action and relationship points forward, not to any past.  The Somnambulist is in a world with a lot of past but seems to have no future.  So many of the questions raised, characters introduced, and past happenings referenced are never explained or finished up.  I really liked the character Cribb, and the Somnambulist too, but i was very unhappy with how the last bit of the novel dealt with them as well as others.  

Overall, a 4 from me.  

21 April 2010

Walking Dead 9

The Walking Dead, Volume 9: Here We Remain begins with the survivors of the decimation of Volume 8 regrouping and trying to find another safe place.  It ends with these characters we've come to know over the books joining up with a caravan headed to Washington, DC.

Here's the summary on the back of each volume:

How many hours are in a day when you don't spend half of them watching television?
When is the last time any of us REALLY worked to get something that we wanted?
How long has it been since any of us really NEEDED something that we WANTED?
The world we knew is gone.
The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. 
An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the glove causing the dead to rise and feed on the living.  In a matter of months society has crumbled, no government, no grocery stores no mail delivery, no cable tv.
In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living.  
so read these!

20 April 2010

Film School

I tore through The Film Club by David Gilmour today.  Seriously, i started it about noon at work and finished it at 9:15.  I really enjoyed this book.  


It's the relationship between a father and his teenage son that the book is truly about, not just watching movies.  Gilmour's son, Jesse, is failing out of tenth grade.  Gilmour offers to let Jesse drop out of school if he watches at least three movies a week with his dad.  They watch all sorts of stuff: good, bad, classic, foreign, westerns, comedy. They talk and watch and learn each other.  


I am having a weird brain day; allergies have me feeling terrible and i'm not able to marshal my thoughts into why i loved this pretty simple story.  Maybe because it aligns with my ideas on "quantity time" instead of "quality time"?  Maybe because it's about self-education?  Maybe because we see Jesse growing up and trying to find who he is, another topic i love?  All of the above maybe.  a 7 from me. 

18 April 2010

Philosophy in the Sci-Fi Movieverse

I finished The Philosopher at the End of the Universe by Mark Rowlands.  Rowlands wants to explain sci-phi, or philosophy as it is used in science fiction movies.  Not just the great ones either;  Rowlands delights in bad sci-fi movies, like Hollow Man and Starship Troopers.  He mentions he could write whole books on just Schwarzenegger or Paul Verhoven.  ugh.

The best chapters i feel are on Frankenstein (the 1994 DeNiro version) and Blade Runner.  The Frankenstein chapter focuses on identity and absurdity.  Unfortunately for me, immediately following that is the chapter on The Matrix and i've read multiple whole books on the philosophical underpinnings of that film series.  Covering Blade Runner Rowlands' finishes the book out with a discussion on death, why it's bad, and how it creates meaning to life.  Pretty heavy stuff. 

It isn't a bad book, really.  I've just read way too much philosophy at this point.  If you're more of a newbie to the "explaining philosophy through modern pop culture", or you are a big sci-fi film fan, you will probably like it.  I really did like Rowlands' tone.  He's fun and not afraid to curse and not concerned that his opinions (such as on Schwarzenegger's acting ability) might not be more widely held.  a 4 from me but again don't let my lower rating stop you. 


So yahoo movies listed their 100 Modern Classics.  I've seen 61 of them.  I've seen 50 of their all time 100 best movies.  Think i'll just stick with vaguely working on the 1001 movies list.  


Currently: very excited about Iron Man 2.

16 April 2010

hmm

See, i'm not buying books i'll never read, i'm investing in any potential child's academic future!!

I finished The Execution by Hugo Wilcken today.  It's a weird little novel.   CB reviewed it earlier this year and i picked it up from my library a couple weeks ago.  Don't read the amazon blurbs or reviews though, you'll get spoiled.  i liked it but not as much as CB did.  a 5 from me. I'm counting it for the "Who Are You Again?" category in the 2010 Challenge. 

14 April 2010

Old Movies, Part 3

All sorts of movies!  I've watched fewer these last several weeks.  I have been working on the Fullmetal Alchemist anime series too. 


Where the Wild Things Are- watched this one with Ben. I really liked it. 5. Loved the soundtrack, though too bad they couldn't include the Blitzen Trapper song Furr.

Death Note- weird, anime based live action. 4, but it improved so drastically toward the end that i will watch the next one. 


Alice in Wonderland- ok, not an old movie but i didn't feel like it was great enough to write a whole post on.  Love the costumes, love the 3d, love Johnny Depp.  a 5.  


The Men Who Stare at Goats- 5.  Ewan McGregor is cute but sounds funny doing an American accent.  I thought the movie was pretty funny. 

13 April 2010

Walking Dead 8

I just finished The Walking Dead 8: Made to Suffer and i'm shocked.   shocked, gobsmacked, astonished, worn out.  This issue has been the most intense of the series and i don't know what to say about it.  i knew that this issue had a battle and that some characters died but i would never have predicted the ones that did. But i don't know how to rate it.  Do i give it a high ranking because of being so sucked into the story i cried or a low one because some good characters died?  I'll go with the former.  a 6.

12 April 2010

Sherlock vs The Ripper!

First off, i have to say that if the producers of the new Robert Downey JR Sherlock Holmes movie are having a problem coming up with a topic for the next one i highly recommend that they pick up the rights to this book! 

Dust and Shadow is the first novel by Lyndsay Faye.  Apparently there are several mash-ups of Holmes/Ripper stories but i don't know that i've read any.  I have read all the Conan Doyle stories a few times and a good number of Ripper books, fiction and non-fiction.  So, while no expert, i'd say i've got a pretty good base of knowledge to work from.  I thought the book was great.  Holmes and Watson were spot on. The plot was good and didn't resort to bizarre conspiracies to have the Ripper get away from the various scenes of the crimes.  I can't wait to read more of Faye's work.  a 6.

11 April 2010

Ahem

Well, i've awoken!

So, as i felt like i couldn't focus last night at 2 i wrote up my final post and then went to lay down for bed.  I picked up Dust and Shadow by Lindsay Faye to try to read another chapter as i felt like it was giving up too early.  I ended up reading 168 pages and finally going to sleep about 4 am.

Overall, I read 626 pages and 1 graphic novel.  I finished 2 books and the graphic novel so i'll post some quickie reviews. 

Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein-  5.   I don't know if this book is one of his "juveniles" but it read like a young adult novel to me.  A teen, Bill, his father, and his new stepmother and stepsister emigrate to Ganymede, one of Jupiter's moons.  Bill is our main character and he's a very good kid.  Smart and hardworking, with courage and curiousity.  He's even an Eagle Scout!  Once on Ganymede, he and his family face difficulties as they start their own farm.   No sex, no swearing, very safe for kids.  This book was fun but really the kind of thing that i would have loved as a child.  one of my own books.

The Lost City of Z by David Grann- 6.  non-fiction.  In 1925 a British explorer, Percy Fawcett, his son and a friend of the son went into the Amazonian jungle and never returned.  A lot of explorers died in the Amazon but what makes this case so peculiar is that it's relatively modern, that Fawcett was an Amazon expert, leading several successful expeditions previously, that he was pretty famous, and that, instead of mapping the land or trying to contact native tribes, the trio was looking for an unknown, massive settlement that Fawcett called Z.  Like El Dorado, Z was a place of legend.  Fawcett wasn't looking for gold or gems but proof that the Amazon could support complex civilization.  After the men had been out of contact for over 2 years, mulitple other groups and individuals went searching for Fawcett, many of whom also disappeared.  The author, Grann, himself becomes a little obsessed with the case and with the other obsessives.  I really liked it.  library book.

Hellboy Volume 2: Wake the Devil by Mike Mignola.  5.  graphic novel. Kinda weird, because this is the second volume but it references something that happens in Volume 3.  I love Hellboy as a character.  Very much a long story about nature vs. nurture.  library book. 

Off to look at some of my cheerleaders' blogs. 

Final Read-a-thon Update

It really isn't so much that i'm tired, it's that my brain won't work.  I read another 58 pages of Philosopher at the End of the Universe and a graphic novel, Hellboy: Wake the Devil.  I had an english muffin with honey instead of a sandwich.  But now i've picked up three different books and ended up staring at the same couple pages before trying a different one.   I think I'm just kinda spent now.  To all the cheerleaders, thanks so much!  I'll be making the rounds of all your blogs sometime after i wake up later today. 

Sleep tight!

Read-a-thon Update 4

So, what've i done?

Finished The Lost City of Z, 108 pages.
Finished Farmer in the Sky, 141 pages.
Read 82 pages of Boneshaker, will probably be going back to it soon.
Read 69 pages of The Philosopher at the End of the Universe, don't know that i'll continue more than another chapter or two.   Philosophy is a bit heavy after midnight.

I started some laundry.  Since i live in an apartment building with a shared washer/dryer, i can't doze off without finishing, unless i want to find my clean clothes on the floor tomorrow morning. 

Cups of coffee:  hmm, after this morning i've had 2 grande's from starbucks and another cup and a half of my own.
I think i want a sandwich now. 

10 April 2010

Read-a-thon Update 3

Back from the barbecue.  I got zero reading done but did get a nice pink sunburn!  I've now got another coffee, some snacks and a comfy couch ready for some reading!

Read-a-thon Update 2

Got through 62 pages of Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein.  Now headed to a barbecue!  but first i figured i should do the Intro Meme!

Where are you reading from today?
Nashville, TN, and Franklin, TN if i actually read any at the barbecue. 


3 facts about me …
I'm missing my computer as it has all my music files on it (B is letting me use his).  When i take breaks this evening i will probably be on Facebook farming.  I expect i'll drink about 8 cups of coffee (i've done 2 1/2 so far).  How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
umm, 12 i think?  or 13.  those are the ones i posted pics of yesterday.  Technically though i've got like over 130 on my TBR list on Librarything. 
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
No goals but to finish some of the books i've previously started.  Already managed to do 1!
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
Nope, this is the first one i'm trying to truly participate in. 

Read-a-thon Update 1

I woke up at about 715 and made coffee.  mmm, coffee! 
Between then and now, read the last 108 pages of The Lost City of Z by David Grann, non-fiction.  now i am off to shower!

09 April 2010

Walking Dead 7 and What I Might Try to Read Tomorrow

When i was stacking up books for the pictures below, i ended up picking up The Walking Dead, Volume 7: The Calm Before, just to read a couple pages.  Ha!  i finished it in one sitting.  I really can't say too much as almost anything would be a spoiler for a previous book. This series is a long novel.  You love some characters, hate others, there is joy and sadness and strangeness and life.  The title is a sign that the shit's about to start and we get a glimpse at the end of how that is going to take shape.  a 5. 


The Readathon is tomorrow.  Here's the stack of things i've started but not finished yet.  In case you're curious: Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper, Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein, The Sandman Papers edited by Joe Sanders, The Lost City of Z by David Grann, Boneshaker by Cherie Preist, and The Philosopher at the End of the Universe by Mark Rowlands. 


And here are the ones i've got from the library, as well as an ERC i want to jump into.  The Passage by Justin Cronin, Hellboy Volume 2: Wake the Devil, The Windup Girl by Paolo Baciagalupi, Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye, From Eternity to Here by Sean Carroll, The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt, and lastly The Execution by Hugo Wilcken.

No, i'm not going to read all of these.  No, I'm not going to even come close.  This is just the pool i'll be drawing from.  The only one that i want to get through for sure is Boneshaker as it was due back to the library yesterday.   eeek!

07 April 2010

Quick Update and One Reason That I Can Mention in Public as to How B is Awesome

B: My computer conked out, sorta, this last Sunday.  I'm getting a "check your fan" error when i try to power it on, so i need to pop the back off and, well, check the fan.  B, because he's amazingly great, brought over his old laptop for me to borrow temporarily until i get mine fixed.  also, today he took me to drop off my car to be fixed (i rear-ended someone a couple weeks ago) and pointed out that one of my taillights is out, which is probably related to the accident.  Smart.  Between last night and today we took a walk, watched 2 episodes of Lost and 1 of V (though i think we'll stop watching that, neither of us is really into it) and 2 soccer games.  He's so so easy to hang out with!  i have to post a picture...when i get my computer going!

Reading:  need to read a bunch this weekend!  The library has seen fit to get me 8 holds at once!  a couple are graphic novels but most are real books.  I've signed up for Dewey's Readathon on Saturday.  I had previously scheduled a barbecue get together with some friends so I won't be reading the 24 hours.  I'm going to do my darndest to get a lot done though. 

Buying Books:  ok, for real, i'm on a ban.  seriously.  i've got like 130 on my TBR list on librarything.  It's ridiculous.  plus those 8 library books up there i need to read.  when i get down to 60 i can buy another.  REALLY!

Facebook:  mafia wars is addictive, and my phone enables my addiction!

Spring:  planted some marigolds and zinnias.  I hope they survive.  the rose plant B got me for Valentines (aw) has done ok so far and i finally got it into it's own, large pot.  The pollen from all the trees this year is driving my eyes and nose crazy!  i've been sneezing constantly the last couple days.  Zyrtec is helping. 

Hope everyone is having a great week!

06 April 2010

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Late last night, after seeing Duke beat Butler, i finished the last 2 chapters of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.  I am liking the majority of what i'm reading from the 1k1 list by women, though i must shout again that i hated Wuthering Heights

The story begins as a letter.  Gilbert Markham writes to a long time friend, telling him about Markham's youth.  Markham describes how a young widow, Helen Graham, moves with her son and a single servant into an old, decaying home, Wildfell Hall.  Markham falls for the widow, who resists him at first but later begins to share his feelings.  The more she cares the more she seems to pull away, until she gives Markham her diary to read. 

When Helen was a young woman of 19 she marries Arthur Huntington, sure that he's a good man whose slightly wild ways she can tame.  After her marriage and the first several months of happiness, which seem to involve Helen doing everything she can to amuse Huntington, they have a son, Arthur Jr.  Huntington's behavior after that gets worse and worse;  he spends months alone in London carousing during the Season, then brings his cronies back home for the hunting season.  Helen discovers he's having an affair with the wife of one of his friends, even having a child with the other woman.   She takes all of this behavior but when Huntington starts trying to make Jr. into his image, teaching him to drink and swear at the age of about 4, Helen decides to make her escape to save her son from his father. 

I found Tenant a little religious but otherwise very good.  Helen wants Huntington to reform to save his immortal soul first, then to be healthy and happy in this life.  You feel very badly for Helen throughout the portion of the book that contains her diary.  She starts out so naive and tries so hard to please her husband.  Why he choose to get married i never did figure out.  Helen was respectable but not noble and not really rich so the only reason i came up with was that he decided it was time to get an heir. 

Overall i give this one a 6.  It counts for the Classics Challenge and is one off my 1k1 list. 

05 April 2010

Links and a Reread

Some stuff i've found around.

Non-fiction is good for you!  

Adorable, yet creepy.  How does one go from innocent infant to crazy murdering dictator?

I reread the first Sandman collection: Preludes and Nocturnes this weekend.  I had forgotten how really scary and gory this collection is!  The story starts with a occult group in the 1910's attempting to capture Death.  They get Dream though, which sets of strange events around the world where people either can't sleep, or sleep too much, or enter a sort of sleepwalking state.  Decades pass and Dream escapes.  He's weakened so searches for his three tools that were stolen:  a ruby, a bag of sand, a helm.  The rest of the book shows how he recovers those tools. 

I really like the Sandman books!  this one is the start of the series so i am going to give it a 6. 

02 April 2010

First Tally post of the Year

As of 4/1


Total books read: 35
Library books: 22
Graphic novels: 10
Non-fiction: 2


Challenges


YA Challenge: 3/12
Science Book Challenge: 0/3
Chunkster Challenge: 0/4
2010 Challenge: 4/20
POC Reading Challenge: 1/10-15
Classics Challenge: 0/6
OUaT4 Challenge: 0/5


ok, let's get going on challenges! 

01 April 2010

BTT for 4/1 and Another Zombie Post

An interesting question.
Do you remember learning to read? What’s your earliest reading memory? 

I think i've answered it before though!  so i'm going to list a few other reading memories.  

I have 3 younger brothers.  One is two years younger, one four, and the last one is 12 years younger.  I remember helping the younger two learn to read; i would listen to them read from their little early reader books and then one of my parents would sign off that the boys had done their homework.  I hope i wasn't too hard or too easy on them! 

I remember reading some of my mom's romance novels, probably when i was in middle school.  I liked the historical ones, especially ones with pirates, but didn't find the modern ones at all interesting.  

I remember taking the ACT my junior year and being bored bored bored as i would finish up a section and then have to wait and wait until the time ran out for everyone else.  I was used to being able to read after i finished things in my high school classes.  


I remember my first boyfriend flipping through the dictionary giving me words to define and shocking him that i knew the ones he though were obscure.  Hooray for large vocabularies!


I remember being surprised and smiley that B wanted to read one of the books i owned.  I've never had a boyfriend who read!


Changing to zombies now, I read The Walking Dead, Volume 6: This Sorrowful Life today at work.  I just found my library had this series; the last time i'd checked they didn't.  I gotta give this one a 5.  sorry, it's too the point that you really can't say much without giving spoilers for the previous books.  Read 'em!