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Showing posts from October, 2010

RIP Movies!

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All the appropriate movies i've managed to watch during the RIP challenge! I'd intended to watch more but just didn't manage.

Library: An Unquiet History

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Library: An Unquiet History, by Matthew Battles, is a great short non-fiction about the history of the library. Or, more correctly, the search to create the universal library.
Battles starts back at the library of Alexandria. The curators there were always searching for new writings they didn't have, going so far as to confiscate all papyrus works coming into Alexandria on ships, ostensibly to copy them but frequently just keeping them! While there wasn't ever a full on sacking/burning/pillaging of the library there were several fires. Those events prompts one of Battles' themes: libraries, besides making books easy to find, make books easy to destroy.

He moves through the medieval ages in Europe and the Middle East, the Renaissance, onto America. Battles has an amazing cast of characters to work with. He covers Jonathan Swift's Battle of the Books and Antonio Panizzi, who took years to catalog the British Library. Dewey (of the decimal system) was really a dick…

She's a Lady?

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Lady Audley's Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, is a fun Victorian sensation novel. There isn't much mystery exactly, as you pretty much know what the secret is pretty early in the story but that doesn't detract at all from the reading experience.

Lucy Graham is a vivacious, beautiful governess with whom Lord Audley falls in love. His first wife is long dead and his only daughter is in her teens and he has no need of a noble heir. He marries her and she becomes Lady Audley. Lord Audley has a nephew, Robert, who is a London lawyer who doesn't do much but travel and go to his club. Months after the marriage, Robert runs into a friend, George Talboys, who has just returned from Australia rich with gold. George left in disgrace, penniless, leaving his wife and infant alone and has not contacted them in over 3 years. Right after meeting Robert, George reads that his wife has died. George is distraught and Robert attempts to console him, first with trips to the Conti…

Macabre du Maurier

I've been reading a good bit since I didn't have internet or cable this last week. I really didn't think i would read much, having so much to do apartment-wise but I did less unpacking once the kitchen was somewhat done. Also, you don't want to be hammering at 10 pm. So, here's the first review of a book I finished last week.

Echoes of the Macabre
by Daphne du Maurier is a collection of 9 short stories. Two, "The Birds" and "Don't Look Now", have been made into pretty decent scary movies you may have seen. Her stories are very atmospheric, which stays true from the one book i've read by her, Rebecca.

My personal favorites from this collection were the two mentioned above, as well as "Kiss Me Again, Stranger" and "The Old Man". I can't really tell you about the second story. Just go read "The Old Man", really. Had I known of this little story when i was in high school drama i would have used it …

What I Have Been Up To

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B and I have officially moved in together. We really should have hired movers; three flights of stairs really defeated us. Our place is still a mess and still cluttered; no internet or cable yet. I have gotten much reading done though, 3 whole books since Tuesday. We have so much stuff: 4 computers (3 laptops and a desktop), 3 desks, lamps and chairs and shelves. I will post a picture of B's awesome desk/study furniture when it is properly put together and filled. Now, for your pleasure, are our boxes of books.
Ok, here is the corner of the bedroom and the library. i think we are going to call it that.
Books in the library. yes, B has a card catalog that is on the bottom there.


Another view of those boxes, so you can see that there are more behind all those in the picture above.
and in the living room
and the dining area,
and the hallway.
and i realized i forgot 1 more box that was in the pantry. and several boxes have a couple books and then other, lighter things in them too.…

Stories within a Story

Today at lunch i finished The Vanishing of Katherina Linden by Helen Grant. I read a review by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings and decided i had to read this book. I loved it! While the book reminded Carl of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, it reminded me more of The Elegance of the Hedgehog. all have little girl protagonists, though Pia Kolvenbach of Vanishing is the youngest and acts most age appropriate. All the girls have their own trials or adventures and you want to protect them all.
Pia becomes a grade school outcast when her grandmother dies. She has the unfortunate fate of bursting into flames at the Christmas dinner table. Her only school friend is another outcast, StinkStefan, who doesn't seem to smell but just hangs about where he's not wanted. They spend their time visiting Herr Schiller, an older man who was a friend of Pia's grandmother. Herr Schiller tells wonderful stories about their town of Bad Munstereifel, especially about the Unshakab…

The Fall

Well, I have to say I was rather disappointed in The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It, to me, seems very much a "we've got to stretch this story into three books" middle book. Sure, stuff happens, but not much and I really feel like it could have been covered in about 2, maybe 3 chapters.
There's a prologue, and an epilogue, detailing some hints as to how the world in the story is going to get much, much worse very soon. Our heroes, Eph Goodweather and his son Zach, his colleague Nora Martinez, aging vampire hunter Abraham Setrakian, and exterminator Vasily Fet are all scattered for much of the book. Nora has to evacuate with her aging mother and Zach goes with them. Eph heads out on his own for a suicide mission to stop the human man who's helping the vampires while Fet and Setrakian search for a book that may hold clues to stopping the vampires. Several things don't go as planned and, as many amazon reviewers pointed out, there is reall…

A World Without Ice

A quickie review. I finished A World Without Ice by Henry Pollack last night. It is a non-fiction book, detailing climate change consequences.
I wouldn't say this is a bad book but I only found it ok. I've read several climate type books before and this one is informative. I thought that it would be more about what may happen if there were no ice or once the climate changes further but it is more about how we know things are changing and all the points of evidence. Pollack also goes into how the various positions of climate change deniers have changed. It is a decent book but more for someone who doesn't know much about the subject. A 5.

Room

Room, by Emma Donahue, is exactly the type of book that i don't pick up. Child narrator, terrible deprivation, it sounds like such a downer. However, i read Chris' review of it and decided maybe i would go ahead and get it from the library.

Wow. It is completely worth the read. Another book i hadn't intended to read Saturday, i started it Friday night, just to read a few chapters. Instead, i read about 150 pages and had to finish the next day. I had to know what happened to Jack and Ma.

I thought Jack's voice was amazing. With little else to do, Ma has taught him to read and write and given him a huge vocabulary for a child his age. But it makes so much sense. What else was there to do? As he's only been in Room, he has only seen one of most things. So there is Bed, and Table, and Rug. He's still a little kid and does anthropomorphize objects and plants. He's such a great narrator that it makes the rest of the story believable.

I give this one a 6. i recomme…

60's Gothic

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The first book i finished on the Readathon was We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I had read The Haunting of Hill House several years ago and found it too drifty/dreamy for my tastes. Castle is far more straightforward.


Two young sisters, Constance and Mary Katherine, who is our narrator, live with their elderly uncle, Julian. Several years before they experienced a tragedy; the rest of the family died of arsenic poisoning. Constance was acquitted and Mary Katherine was just a child at the time. Julian himself barely survived. Now, Julian and Constance never leave the estate they live on. Only Mary Katherine visits the nearby town twice a week, enduring the taunts of children and stares and remarks of the adults to get groceries. A cousin, Charles, shows up one day and everything in Mary Katherine's life starts changing.


I really liked this book. It was creepy and the sense of doom just kept growing and growing. I wanted to read faster to find out what happened…

Readathon Wrap Up

For the Readathon i ended up with 620 pages read. WooHoo! That is almost what i read last readathon where i got to 626 pages and a graphic novel too. I guess next time i'll try to make 650 pages!
I finished 2 books and read most of The Fall, part of A World Without Ice, and 2 short stories. Next time i may work more on short stories as i really liked having those thrown in. The cheerleaders were great! I would say that i think a few things could have been a bit clearer on the main readathon page about what different memes or challenges actually involved. But overall the readathon went great.
What was the best thing you read this weekend?

Back at the book fest

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I have never been inside the capitol and now I am in the House Chamber.  I am borrowing the chair of Miller (61).  Hope they don't mind!  Waiting to see Helen Simonson and Robin Oliviera.

Readathon 4

B has been here for the last 3 hours working on a giant book, the complete Amber Chronicles by Zelazny. It has like 10 books in it total.
Pages= 548 Books finished= 2, Room by Emma Donoghue and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and reread 2 short stories by Neil Gaiman, "A Study in Emerald" and "Monarch of the Glen". I've been wanting to reread Monarch since i've now read Beowulf and American Gods. Working on= The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan Caffeinated beverages=3.5
Not sure how much more i've got in me but i'm not quitting just yet.

Readathon 3

LSU won! and Alabama lost earlier today! :)
also, in soccer news, US tied Poland in a friendly.
Pages= 338 Books finished= 2, Room by Emma Donoghue and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson Working on= A World Without Ice by Henry Pollack, non-fiction but i think i am going to switch to fiction for a bit. Caffeinated beverages=2

Snack!

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Earl grey and tagalongs.

Readathon 2

I'm back at the house and reading!Pages- 188 Books finished- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Mid-Event Survey: 1. What are you reading right now? Room by Emma Donoghue 2. How many books have you read so far? One, or i finished one i had started before. 3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? getting back to The Fall i think. 4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? I did have to take off work as i work on Saturdays now. 5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? not exactly interruptions but i started late. 6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? nothing much so far. 7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? nothing yet 8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? get up a bit earlier. I didn't get out of bed until about 1030 my time. 9. Are you getting …

Books bought

So i've bought a couple books for my neice and nephew as well as one for myself.  Paolo Bacigalupi and Brian Yansky were a funny and interesting panel on YA and sci-fi.

Lots of people at the fest!

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There are far too many books I would love to buy.  I am going to get a couple presents after I hear the sci-fi panel

Readathon 1

Ahem.
I woke up late. or slept late i suppose.
So i've got no pages read yet but am heading to the book fest now!
Happy reading.

BTT for 10/7

as we start to gear up for the holidays, Booking Through Thursday asks:
When you travel, how many books do you bring with you?
Has this changed since the arrival of ebooks?


It depends. When i went to NYC this summer i had 3 books and two magazines. However, i had 4 flights and an afternoon at an airport by myself so i think i took at least an extra book than i would have normally. I'm not a good flyer yet and having something to power through (mysteries, thrillers and fantasy seem to work best) helps a lot. I may return my tray table to it's upright position but i'm keeping my book on my lap while we land!
When i go to Louisiana, I usually have an audiobook or two (20 hours round trip drive!) as well as a regular book to read. I don't normally read a lot when i am home but i tend to have a few random hours here and there when everyone has things to do and i just relax with a book. Of course, my parents' house is full of books so if i finished my own i'd hav…

Mockingjay

So, since everybody's readingMockingjay by Suzanne Collins, should i even write about it?
This book was good but very different from what i expected. I had thought there would be a big portion of Katniss leading troops and going through battles. I had thought she would have been in on a rescue mission to get Peeta and the others caught by the Capital. I had thought she would be very active. The book becomes far more realistic.
Katniss is seriously traumatized and has physical injuries as well as PTSD. She spends big portions of the book sleeping and hiding and avoiding people. She doesn't trust the leaders of District 13 and only reluctantly, and to protect Peeta, does she become the symbol, the Mockingjay. Even then she doesn't really do much until the war is almost over and she becomes more of a regular soldier.
Much of this book occurs off screen. Which is understandable if you make your heroine keep getting hurt but makes things a bit less immediate. and feel…

Weekly Geeky Farmer's Market

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This week's Weekly Geeks topic is about the upcoming Readathon! I do intend to participate but i won't be able to read all day Saturday. I will be having a lovely bookish weekend though! The Southern Festival of Books runs Friday-Sunday. Saturday specifically i intend to see Harold Ford at 10, the authors of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us at 12, Brian Yansky and Paolo Bacigalupi at 2:30, then at 3 Dr Bill Bass and author Jon Jefferson are talking about their book! 3 is also when Karen Essex will be talking about her book Dracula in Love. there are a couple writing panels i might want to see and several sessions about building community that look interesting. So for the majority of the day time i'll be running about, maybe live blogging the events.
For the Readathon itself, I don't have a strategy. Here's a pic of my library books that i need to read, as well as Handling the Undead which i caved and bought off Amazon. Hey, $11 was from gi…

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

I must say i loved this book too! Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is Helen Simonson's first novel. It's full of dry humor and love and relationships and real feelings and tea and reading.
Major Pettigrew is a British widower. The book opens with him in shock as he finds out his younger brother has just died. Mrs. Ali, a widow who runs the nearby grocery shop, just happens to be dropping off some tea for him when he finds out. From this weird circumstance, their friendship grows over a love of reading, family issues, and just "getting" each other. Pettigrew deals with his feelings over his brother's shotgun, one of a pair of his father's that Pettigrew wants to get in his own possession. Roger, Pettigrew's son, is rude, greedy, and completely un-empathetic. Mrs. Ali's husband's family is trying to muscle her out of her own shop through her nephew, Abdul Wahid. It is all a bit of a mess, taking place in a little English village that may be…

beowulf

So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
I have really enjoyed Beowulf, the translation by Seamus Heaney. I had seen the 3D movie a few years ago completely cold; i knew nothing except Beowulf was a good guy and Grendel was some sort of demon, though i had thought the name was Gretel. Like Hansel's sister. I liked the movie. I really liked the book though.
Beowulf is a great warrior who comes across the sea with a dozen kinsman to help a kingdom being harassed by a demon/spirit/monster. That's Grendel. Beowulf, because he's so badass, fights Grendel hand-to-hand and defeats the monster. Then Grendel's mother, who i don't think gets her own name, attacks and Beowulf follows her back to her lair and defeats her too. Heaped with gifts, Beowulf and his buddies return to their own land. Beowulf ends up becoming king and ruling many years. Then, because a thief steals a golden cup, a nearby dragon goes on a rampage. Beowulf…