29 June 2010

B Recommends

B has pretty decent taste in books from what i can tell. everything he's suggested that i have managed to read i've pretty much liked. Newton's Cannon by J. Gregory Keyes is no exception!


Alchemy is real and Sir Issac Newton discovered the principles. Now there are many inventions due to alchemy that mimic our modern technology, like street lights. In France, the Sun King Louis has taken some sort of potion that has made him essentially immortal. France have been at war for years, using alchemical weapons to destroy each other. Ben Franklin is 14 and apprenticed to his printer brother in Boston but dreams of greater scientific discoveries. There's also a woman in France, Adrienne, who is brilliant but relegated to a secretarial role for the alchemists in Louis' employ. Those alchemists are searching for a massive final weapon and Franklin inadvertently helps them. Then Franklin heads to London to try to correct his error. Lots of setup, huh! It makes way more sense in the book. There's lots of adventure and plot twists.

This is the first book in a 4 part series and the series is complete! that is enough to make me turn a flip. I give this one a 5 and plan to take the next book, A Calculus of Angels, on the trip to NY.

so, have i mentioned recently how much i like B? I try not to be too gushy and girly on here but i really like him. :)

28 June 2010

My Trip

So Saturday I will be flying from Nashville to Chicago, then Chicago to NYC. The following Wednesday I'll be flying back, in reverse of course, possibly with B or maybe by myself again. I'm not a very good flyer yet and am a bit nervous. I have found the best thing to help so far is dozing, but that makes the flight seem that much longer as i can't quite actually sleep, or reading, of course. So I've decided to take a library book i just got, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson. I figure i need one more to take on the plane and a backup to put in my suitcase. Any ideas on engrossing, longish but not doorstopper books? I've previously found Stephen King, Mercedes Lackey's early Valdemar novels, and Tolkein to work well on planes. Maybe it's time to reread The Golden Compass? hmmm.

Also, i'll be in NYC for the first time. Any ideas on what i should try to do? B wants to take me around one day and i feel like i'd be just TOO nerdy to drag him to a museum. No shows! I don't want to see the Twin Towers site and i DON'T want to go up in the Empire State Building. We will be getting some pizza though! :)

27 June 2010

Minions of Hell, Defeated

Before heading to see the US/Ghana game yesterday I finished The Gates by John Connolly. Fun fun read.

Samuel is an inquisitive, inventive boy. He's the type that gets in trouble for asking too many difficult questions from the adults around him. He decides to go trick or treating several days before Halloween, to get started early. He interrupts his neighbors in the middle of their attempt at a Satanic ritual of some sort. As he peeks, he sees they manage to succeed in opening a portal, a wormhole to Hell. Unfortunately, the big bad demon Ba'al sees Samuel, who must then who must then split time between trying to convince the adults that there's something wrong and dodging Ba'al's attempts on his life. There's also a demon who's not so bad, Nurd, The Scourge of Five Deities. And CERN is involved. and a little dog named Boswell. Such a good story.

There were many great scenes that would translate well to a movie. Two demons getting drunk in a bar, weeping to "Danny Boy". A boy defeating a flock of flying skulls with a cricket bat. Nurd learning to drive in a Porsche. I don't read much comedy writing, so this one really reminded me of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett. I read that..man, like 15 years ago probably? I think i may pick it up to reread on the plane next weekend. A 6 for The Gates and it counts for the YA Challenge!

I just wish we'd won the game! B had to work most of the day but was able to get off a few hours. We went to Bosco's which had a nice crowd but wasn't packed. Good beer. B was actually much less down than i was. He says it is because he's used to the national team loosing. My experience with international competition is just the Olympics, where US usually does pretty well, so i am spoiled. Maybe 2014 will be our year!

26 June 2010

I Really Like Markus Zusak

I have finished reading my second book by Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger. Another great novel.

Ed Kennedy drives a cab. He's 19 and lives with a smelly dog, Doorman. He hangs out with a few friends but doesn't have any real ambitions besides to have his friend Audrey fall for him. When the group happens to be in a bank at the time of a holdup, Ed surprises himself by helping to stop the robbery. Afterward, he begins receiving playing cards, with names or clues for people who somehow need his help. The cards, the missions, become more and more personal as time goes on.

Zusak's style is weird. Direct, first person stuff, without a lot of quotation marks. He is very easy to read and somehow that makes the emotional impact of his writing that much stronger. I'm not really sure why this, as well as The Book Thief, are young adult books. What determines that line?

Not quite as awesome as The Book Thief. A 6 and one for my YA Challenge list.

24 June 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010-22

I decided to do Weekly Geeks this time.

So this week, I am curious about those gigantic TBR piles which readers tend to accumulate. Please share with us your habits, tendencies or obsessions when it comes to hoarding behavior.


I'll post some pics of my various book situations.

In my living room. This is actually supposed to hold dvds.

This one is for books though.

A box full.

the library stack.

and on the windowsill.

*sigh* Ok, the bad news is that Librarything still says i've got 133 books to read. And B has loaned me about 5. The good news is that i buy used books almost exclusively or get them free off Paperbackswap. I don't pay much for books and read many from the library too.

I didn't use to collect books the way i do now. After R and I broke up in 2007 I suddenly had much more disposable income. That was also the point when McKay's came to town so i also gained a huge repository of used books to choose from. Now i'm trying to limit my trips there! I can go in a new bookstore without buying now because i know i can get things cheaper used.

I don't keep all of what i read. maybe half? I put some on Paperbackswap and some i sell back to McKay's, both of which reinforce the book accumulation. Ah well.

23 June 2010

GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLL!

So we woke up late. B and I watched the USA game at my house after having sausage and eggs. MMMM.

I really thought i was going to pass out! When it got to about 15 minutes left i truly considered going into the bedroom and just listening to the rest and not watching it. I didn't though. I was sooo excited and was very glad I don't have downstairs neighbors so they couldn't complain of me jumping.

So now i have a teensy crush on Landon Donovan, mainly because he made B very, very happy today.

And I've decided that Clint Dempsey must be Richard Alpert's great-great-great grandson.

Beat Ghana!

22 June 2010

Fledgling

GREAT take on vampires! Fledgling by Octavia Butler is a great book. As soon as I finished it I went to see if there was another, if it was part of a series, but it is now. Fledgling is one of Octavia Butler's last novels. I also really think this is a book you need to go into cold, without knowing much.

Shori wakes up alone in the forest, hungry and in intense pain. She doesn't know what has happened to her and has no memory, not even her own name. all she wants to eat is raw meat, all she wants to drink is water...and blood. She's a vampire and looks like a 10 year old African-American child.

I really enjoyed this book. It was not an action packed story. It has really deep themes of race and family and free will. I recommend it. a 6. also, it counts for the POC Challenge.

Other Opinions: Arch Thinking, Book Gazing, 25 Hour Books, Reading Matters, Shelf Love, Savidge Reads, Rat's Reading. many many more too.

In other news: i was so pulling for South Africa this morning. wish i could have seen the whole game but i had to come to work. B and I will be headed out to Dan McGuinness to see the US-Algeria game tomorrow morning as we both are off work. Yippee!

18 June 2010

When Autumn Leaves

I finished When Autumn Leaves by Amy S Foster late Wednesday night. Autumn is a member of the Jaen sisterhood and has been living in Avening for years as a sort of magical leader, counselor, confidant, and healer. She is told she must leave Avening and choose someone to take her places, as well as 12 other women who will become her magical sisters. The Jaen give her a list of candidates and Autumn decides to have an essay contest to help her choose. But after the opening, the rest of the book becomes a series of connected short stories, some of which were better than others.

I can think of several ways this book could have been better for me. Give me more about Autumn earlier on and let me see how she's going about picking her successor and the coven. Finish up the love story between Ana and Finn. What relationship does Justy have to magic? Explain what exactly happens to Piper. I really liked Ellie; why didn't she come back into the story? The two tween girls seemed cool, why not give a chapter from their points of view? Just a 4 from me.

Other Opinions: Cheryl's Book Nook, The Book Nest, All About {n}.

17 June 2010

Movies again

the latest roundup.

Blue Velvet- 4, weird. really weird.

Wristcutters: A Love Story
-
4 again. another weirdish movie. A guy, Zia, commits suicide and finds himself in the suicide afterlife. Everything is trashy and gray, people can't smile, but you can drink and still have to have a job. When Zia finds out his ex-girlfriend killed herself as well, he heads out on a road trip with his Russian friend. They pick up a girl, Mikal, who's searching for the People in Charge because she feels she shouldn't be stuck as a suicide.
The Hebrew Hammer- umm, comedy? parts were really funny but others just felt like they were just too ethnic for me to want to laugh. 4.

Crazy Heart- 4 again! Not bad. If i really liked country music i am sure i would have enjoyed it more.

Invictus-5. I was expecting a sports movie that had Mandela in it but got a Mandela movie that had some sports in it. I liked it well enough and it actually managed to avoid some of the sports cliches.

Not movies but...

Fullmetal Alchemist - the whooooooole series. I've been watching this for the last few months and just finished it up. Pretty good. a 6.

Red Dwarf- Watched Season 1 with B and thought it was funny. a 5. Season 2 is a bit better i think, a 6. Season 3 is not as good for me. too many things just change or are dropped from the previous two seasons without any explanation which was a bit annoying. a 4.


16 June 2010

The Less-Dead

I ripped through this book in just a day. The Less-Dead, by April Lurie, opens with our narrator. Noah, finding the body of his friend. Will has been strangled and left with a cross carved on his chest and phrases from Leviticus left nearby. Then the story goes back in time and we learn about Noah's life and the events that lead up to the discovery of Will's body.

Noah is the son of an evangelical Christian radio personality. He's in a band with his best friend Carson and also got kicked into a reform school with him. He meets Will, a gay foster kid who also goes to the school with his friend Hawk. There's a killer on the loose who targets gay boys in the foster system as well. Noah has been questioning his faith, which becomes worse when Will dies and Carson gets religion. Noah finds Will's diary/poetry book and discovers notes that seem to be clues.

I found the mystery not bad but there are only a few suspects so i was pretty sure about the killer early on. One bit i didn't like is that the only atheist is Carson's father who's a total ass. I felt that the author's message was "Christianity is awesome, we just need to get rid of these extremists". Hmph. I highly disagree.

So this is a 5. i wish it had been longer, with more about Noah and Will becoming friends. It counts for the YA Challenge as well as the 2010 Challenge for the "Who are you again?" category. I've really got to work on my challenges!

Other Opinions: Reading Junky.

15 June 2010

Africa Short Stories

Reading Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan is extremely emotional. The book contains five short stories involving children in various appalling situations. Ethnic and religious wars, prostitution, poverty, slavery, hunger, pretty much all the bad things you can think of take place.

Just these few short stories had me in a mess when i had finished them.
I was angry at the adults in all the stories but particularly furious with the men in the final story, "My Parent's Bedroom". How petty and cowardly is it to punish other people, those you claim to love, because you can't face your choices?

overall, i'd probably say a 6 but i'm giving it a 5 because the dialogue was really hard for me to follow at times. Also, this counts for the POC challenge.

14 June 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire

Yesterday afternoon i finished part two of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire. Very very good, if not quite as good as Dragon Tattoo. I have had this book since right after i finished the first one but i realized last weekend that i was only 13th on the library hold list for the new novel, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, and needed to get this one done soon.

It picks up several months after the events in the previous book. Salander is traveling the world while Blomqvist moves on with his life. His magazine, Millennium, is going to publish a huge expose on the sex trafficking industry in Sweden when the reporter and his girlfriend are brutally murdered. Salander becomes the prime suspect.

There are gobs of characters. In the first book we mainly follow Blomqvist, a bit of Salander, and then a few pages of other characters. In this book there are many more people to keep track of. Several detectives, Salander's old boss Armansky, a couple different bad guys. The story isn't as contained as the first book's; it's bigger in scope. I wish i knew some geography of Sweden as well.

Overall i give it a 6. The book, at 724 pages, counts for the Chunkster Challenge too. It ends with a bit of a cliffhanger so i can't wait for part 3! I'm only 9th on the list now.

13 June 2010

Soccer Overload: The Beginning

Saturday morning i woke up, as i seem to on my days off, far earlier than i had to. I turned on the Korea vs Greece match and watched the second half with B once he woke up. While Argentina vs Nigeria was on I ran to the Farmer's Market and once i returned had a shower and breakfast. Then at about 10:30 we left for Dan McGuiness', a pub here in Nashville to watch the America vs England game.

Now, coverage started at 12:30 and the game at 1:30. We got there at 11 and the place was already packed. We found a sorta spot and B got drinks for us. It was so hot that i downed my cider in maybe 10 mins and had to get a second one. mmmm, cider. The England fans, probably due to being used to some crazy weird time zone, got all the really good seats up at the front of the bar and one whole wall was filled by American fans.

As it got closer to the game time the crowd got more and more excited. One guy stood on a table with an American flag and led the bar in the Pledge of Allegiance. There was much chanting and dissing of each others teams but everyone seemed to have a great time. Each side sang their national anthems loudly and proudly, if off key.

Once the game started the bar somehow managed to get louder and quieter at the same time. England scored only 4 mins in and that sent half the bar into ecstasy. When Dempsey squigged in his goal on the tips of England's keeper's fingers, the American half went crazy. It was really the most exciting crowd event i've been to in a long time and probably the coolest sports event ever.

If only we'd won! On to Slovenia!

and finally, an update on my tomato plants!

08 June 2010

9 Tailors

I completed another English novel from the 1930's. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers is a mystery. Lord Peter Wimsey and his valet, Bunter, drive their car into a ditch on New Year's Eve in the tiny little village of Fenchurch St. Paul. The rector and his wife take them in for the night and Wimsey agrees to fill in for a sick bell ringer at the church. a few months later a gravedigger opening a grave finds an extra, disfigured body. Wimsey returns to give evidence, as he may have met the man on his way out of town, and stays to help solve the mystery.

The characters are funny and engaging and very real feeling. Wimsey's a little bit of Sherlock Holmes but much better with people. He notices things and makes connections without rubbing it in. And the people he meets are just as interesting. i found myself wishing he'd go back and talk more with various people so i could get to know them better (the heiress Hillary Thorpe comes to mind), a sign of great writing for me. The central mystery has a good number of twists and turns and i never figured out where it was going until it got there. As i know nothing about church bells a few parts were confusing to me but i just went with the feel of them and didn't worry about the specific details.


As a 1001 book this one will count toward the 1% Challenge. I was going to say it was a 5 but as i began writing this post i decided it's really a 6!

06 June 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010-20

First off, a quick update. I'm concerned the tomato plant on the left may become sentient and demand blood sacrifices. It is really growing at an alarming rate!


Secondly, Weekly Geeks this week is about Wish lists.

Is your wishlist as big as your TBR pile? What books are topping your list? Are there any new releases that you are counting down the days for? Share a handful of titles and be sure to share why you want to get your hands on these books And if another blogger is responsible for that book being on your wishlist, consider sharing a link to their review!

For the first question, no way! I suppose my wishlist would consist of what's on my Amazon list. I've got about 52 books on that list and over 130 that i own listed on Librarything to read. Several on my Amazon list are books i've read and want to buy. And many more are non-fiction that i want for gardening or cooking. Some i don't want to buy but my library doesn't have copies and i'm just keeping up with the books.

The books i really am excited about: Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist. He wrote Let the Right One In. Handling the Undead was available overseas but not in the US. I've been waiting for it since i read Let the Right One In.

Fables 14: Witches. I didn't really like the Crossover in book 13 so i hope that 14 is a return to the great stories of the previous books.

Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. beginning of a cool sounding series. What if a Harry Potter-type character was based on a real kid, who grew up to be stuck with his fame and makes a poor living showing up at conventions and such? And then he finds out maybe the fantasy world isn't so fantasy?

Jaran by Kate Elliott- First one i know for sure is a recommendation. I just found Desert Book Chick, an Australian book blogger. I've enjoyed reading her blog and this post made me add Jaran to my wishlist. UPDATE: after posting this, i checked out paperback swap and found a copy, so this is no longer on my wishlist, it's headed to me. W00T!

Ok, one more. a serious one. The Autobiography of an Execution by David Dow is a non-fic account of a death penalty defense lawyer. In Texas. damn. I read an excerpt on Alternet and it intrigued me. I have a feeling i'll end up crying at some point but i hope it will be an educational book.

There are plenty more i want to read of course. if only i could find a job that pays me to just read books. hmm. i guess i need to win the lottery!

04 June 2010

Jeeves

I was somehow under the impression that Thank You, Jeeves, by PG Wodehouse, was a British country house murder mystery. While a good bit of the story takes place at that country house, no murders occur. The story is really quite funny!

Bertie Wooster is a gentleman. Jeeves is his valet, who turns in his resignation when Wooster will not stop playing the banjo. Jeeves immediately gets a job with Wooster's friend, Chuffy, and Wooster actually moves to a cabin on Chuffy's land. There's an American heiress who appears with her father, a child who demands protection money as he feels he's a gangster, a crazy valet Wooster hires to take Jeeves place, nosy policemen, batty aunts. Craziness ensues! It is a really cute book.

I give this one a 6 and i do want to continue with the series. In a way it reminded me of the movie Clue, with various characters running about doing their own thing. According to Wikipedia, there are 11 total books, plus a good number of short stories. wow!