31 December 2011

End of Year Tally and Best List

ok, here i go!
Total Books: 98
Library Books: 70
Graphic Novels: 12
Non-Fiction: 15
Audio books: 35

Vintage Mystery Challenge: 9
Science Book Challenge: 3
Once Upon a Time 5: 4
2011 Challenge: 11
Shakepeare Challenge: 5
Off the Shelf  Challenge: 4

RIP VI:1

wow, so challenges this year...ugh.  I was going ok until school started then tanked.  I haven't even looked at any challenges for next year either.   since i don't plan on finishing any other book before midnight, i suppose this tally will stand for my total.


Best Ofs:


I really had a fabulous year reading wise.  and life wise for that matter.


Life:
  • meeting my new baby niece Lily and hearing her 5 year old brother say "sometimes i just forget to give her kisses!" in a tone of dismay.  
  • starting graduate school and finding out i got in on the drive back from Louisiana.
  • meeting more of B's extended family and spending a nice long Christmas vacation in Vermont, with snow, lots and lots of snow!
  • Catching Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare in the Park
  • Getting a promotion at work without even applying
  • spending a wonderful year living with B!
Books, New to me:
  • Among Others by Jo Walton
  • A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Commodore, The Letter of Marque and The Thirteen Gun Salute by Patrick O'Brian
  • Anathem and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  • Embassytown by China Mieville
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • The Library at Night and A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Fables: Witches by Bill Willingham
  • The Three Coffins/The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr
Books, reread:
  • Jane Eyre
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, the Prisoner of Azkaban and the Sorceror's Stone
  • A Game of Thrones


TV/Movies:  
  • Doctor Who: series 2, 3, 5, 6.  I am still working on season 4. 
  • The King's Speech
  • Machete
  • Sherlock series from the BBC
  • Game of Thrones series on HBO
  • Attack the Block
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2, in 3d

so, it has been a great year for me and i hope for you too.  Hugs all around!  Have a wonderful night!



29 December 2011

Movies

X-Men First Class: enjoyed it, didn't like the Moira Mactaggert character being so un-canon. 6.

Breaking Dawn: fun, ok? just because i think the people are lovely doesn't mean i agree with the subtext. 5

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows: fun as well, not as good as the first one. 5.


Winning Season: Sam Rockwell coaches girl's basketball, funny. 5.


13 December 2011

No, I don't have kids

but I am in the process of thinking about if i want kids.  I seesaw back and forth.  To me, and B, it is the ultimate Big Deal and not to be entered into lightly.  B and I have talked and talked and we still haven't come to a decision.  Among many many other considerations, I wonder about my own philosophy and how that would translate into raising kids.  So when I saw Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide to Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale McGowan, Mollen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas and Jan Devor I decided it might be an interesting read. 

I was right.  This book is a tips and activities book with ideas on things to do to help kids retain that curiosity and still learn to think critically.  i would say i could recommend this book even though i can't put any of it into practice myself.  It has given me ideas for stuff to give to the nieces and nephews. a 6.

08 December 2011

Btt for 12/8/11

All things being equal, which would you prefer–a mystery? Or a love story?

A mystery, duh!  love stories are so not my thing.  That is all. 

oh and i've gotten one of my final grades...and i got an A!  Whee!

 

06 December 2011

Meh

I received  The Western Lit Survival Kit: An Irreverant Guide to the Classics from Homer to Faulkner by Sandra Newman from Librarything's Early Reviewer group.  Unfortunately, i didn't like it very much. it was just too snarky.  i suppose I just had the impression that the author didn't really want anyone to read many of the books mentioned.  ah well. 

03 December 2011

Harry Potter 6

On this reread/listen to the Harry Potter series, i really enjoyed the Half Blood Prince.  I certainly think it isn't the best title, though i don't know what else would be better.  Harry Potter and the Lessons with Dumbledore?  Harry Potter and Ron's Hot Sister?  not sure.  
   

26 November 2011

Chronicle Books Haulidays Contest!

What a fun contest!  Chronicle Books is running their holiday contest again.  This year, not only does the winner get 500 for them and $500 for a commenter but also $500 for a charity.  If I win I will be giving to Library Build, Inc.  Chronicle publishes plenty of children's books which will be great for the charity to receive.  And, if i win, i also pick a winner from the comments!  Fun for everyone!

so, to the list!
For me:
  • Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard
  • Garden Anywhere by Alys Fowler
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, an Illustrated Classic
  • Peter Pan, an Illustrated Classic
  • Scary Stories Illustrated by Barry Moser
  • Emily the Strange
  • Emily's Book of Strange
  • Dead Inside: Do Not Enter: Notes from the Zombie Apocalypse
For B:
  • The Writer's Toolbox by Jamie Cat Callan
  • The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites
  • Ready, Set, Novel! By Chris Baty, Lindsey Grant, and Tavia Stewart-Streit of National Novel Writing Month 
for my niece, 5 months:
  • Little Owl Finger Puppet Book
  • Snow Baby Finger Puppet Book
  • Mrs. Mustard's Stroller Cards
 or my nephew, 5 yrs:
  • Rules of the Wild: An Unruly Book of Manners
  • Giant Machines: SeeMore Readers Level 1
  • Killer Whales: SeeMore Readers Level 1
for my other niece and B's niece, both 7 yrs:
  • Art Activity Pack: Van Gogh
  • Art Activity Pack: Monet
  • Good Night, Fairies!
  • Woodkins: Kirsty's Big Adventure
  • Woodkins: Kelly's Great Day
for B's nephew, 11:  
  • The Alchemist's Cat by Robin Jarvis
  • Dark Portal by Robin Jarvis
  • The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Junior Edition Boxed set
for my friend D:
  • Inside Design Now
  • Eco-Design: The Sourcebook
for my friend C:
  • Playboy: 50 Years, The Photographs
so that gets me right up to $500.  Now off to comment! 

Also: any Paperbackswap users out there?  consider donating a credit or two to their Books for Schools program. So far this year they've completed donations to 11 schools with another dozen or so to go.  I donated 3 credits to this very good cause.

Another Also: just saw that Guys Lit Wire is running another book fair for a school in DC.   It is through 11/28/11 though I bet if you ordered a book on Tuesday they'd still like it! 

12 November 2011

More Flavia

I was so wonderfully excited when i found out we were getting TWO Flavia books in one year.  A Red Herring Without Mustard in the spring then I Am Half-Sick of Shadows in the fall. 

For readers of the series, this novel is a bit different as takes place entirely at Buckshaw. There's no Flavia zooming about on Gladys but there is plenty of chemistry and experiments in the lab.  Flavia manages to do a bit of sneaking out even.  Due to their dire financial situation, Flavia's father rents out Buckshaw to a film company over Christmas.  A famous actress arrives with the film crew and almost immediately makes friends with Flavia.  The local vicar gets the idea to have the actress and her costar enact a scene from Romeo and Juliet which they are famous for, all to help fund the church roof.  So half the village gathers at Buckshaw on Christmas Eve, then can't leave due to a blizzard.  Of course, that's the night someone gets murdered.

The snowed in situation gives the book a bit of a claustrophobic feel but it works well. Flavia is still wonderful.  We learn more of Dogger and how talented, and broken, he is.  We get hints regarding the mystery of Harriet but not enough to draw any firm conclusions though perhaps her disappearance was related Flavia's aunt's activities during WWII or whatever happened to Dogger.  I both can't wait and dread discovering the exact facts.


This book is very fun.  a 6!  Read this series!

10 November 2011

Order of the Phoenix

OK, this book is my least favorite of the series.  Umbridge is just so awful and Snape so mean.  There's the death which always makes me cry even though i know it's coming.  I'm glad i relistened though; the series isn't complete without it. 

26 October 2011

Rock the Casbah

I'm watching The Daily Show and Colbert Report again.  B watches them and I usually do with him.  The good, and bad, part is that the shows have so many nonfiction authors on that I end up requesting book after book.  That's how i discovered Rock the Casbah by Robin Wright, not the actress by the way.  It is all about the Arab Spring, how the events in the various countries came about.  It was really fascinating but suffered a bit from lack of photos.  I read most of it with my phone next to me, looking up the pictures of people mentioned and several of the videos she refers to.  Doing that helped me understand more i believe.  A 5 and i can recommend it! 

25 October 2011

Goblet of Fire

The first fat Potter book!  I love this one too.  The kids are less kids and more teens now with all the junk and misunderstandings that come along. 

This book is one to read with some tissues, at least that last bit, third task on.  Poor Harry goes though so much shock, pain and terror yet shows his bravery and courage and intelligence.  

a 7!

24 October 2011

Movies again

Ponyo- I've seen several of this guy's movies and i have to say Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle are better. a 5.

The Adjustment Bureau- not bad. 5.

Battle: LA: ok. 5.

Sucker Punch: sweeeeeet. 6



Insidious: really? 3

Thor: hubba hubba!  6


Paul: very very funny. 6. 

Hannah: weird.  it seemed like a book where the second chapter and second to last chapter, the ones that explain the backstory and such, were removed.  a 4.

Doctor Who series 5: so so fun.   I have a crush on Amy Pond. and maybe bow ties and fezzes are cool.  Eleven isn't as cute as Ten, but he does have his moments.  a 6.

20 October 2011

BTT for 10/20/11

Do your reading habits change when you’re on vacation? Do you read more? Do you indulge in lighter, fluffier books than you usually read? Do you save up special books so you’ll be able to spend real vacation time with them? Or do you just read the same old stuff, vacation or not? 


Vacation?  what is that?  seriously.  I love my family but my vacations consist of going to visit them, as they live so far away.  I had gotten a teensy bit spoiled at the old job too, i was up to like 4 1/2 weeks vacation a year, since i'd been there so long and sick time could be used for vacation instead.  Summer 2010 I got to go to meet most of B's family in New York which was fun but too short a trip.  This summer we went to Louisiana for about a week.  This winter for Christmas we will be headed to Vermont and i've got like 12 days off total, which will be great.  But with family visiting, other than the getting there bit, whether flying or driving, you don't usually get a lot of time to read.  You visit!

so, to the question.  It is entirely situational.  I know I took a book for the summer trip, i believe i was working on getting through a reread of George RR Martin's series before the new book came out.  This winter I will be reading books for next semester as I am going to take Resources and Services for Children which involves reading a dozen or so children's/middle grade books.  We also have a pretty long drive, TN to VT is about 1050 miles.  B and I are already discussing a couple audio books we may take; it might be time for me to listen to the BBC audio Lord of the Rings!  

I have learned that the best way to get through a plane ride is to make sure I have a fully absorbing book to read.  Last summer The Girl Who Played with Fire and a couple of mysteries made my flights, heh, fly by.  I'm not a good flyer yet so having something really engaging, whether fiction or non-fiction, is pretty important.  Sometimes that means fluffier stuff, sometimes not.  

so, honestly, on a vacation, i look at whatever i need to read then add in whatever i feel like reading until i have a proper amount of books!  I don't save up books to read on vacation and i wouldn't say my habits change much.  

19 October 2011

Azkaban

I finished a relisten to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban today. I didn't realize how much this book would make me teary.  really!  Knowing what happens in books 5, 6, and 7 makes so many points rather poignant. It is great how the hints and foreshadowing work so well in the series.  This book is one of my favorites in the series.  a 7.

16 October 2011

Locke and Key 4

OUCH.  That's one thing i can say about the trials and tribulations of the Locke children in Locke and Key, Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom.  Poor Bode and Kinsey and Tyler.  At this point of the series, there is little one can say about it without beginning to give spoilers to previous books. 

Overall, this is a beautiful volume and the first story is really good. The characters are all growing and the story is getting deeper. really worth the read! a 6.

01 October 2011

Emma

I've tried several times to read Emma.  I just couldn't get past really not liking the main character and then i would just stop after a couple of chapters.  I finally got it read on audio. 

I really liked this book, though it took a while to get into it. The plot was solid but it has some of the most annoying characters with Harriet, Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Elton.  Long sections with any of those rather dragged.  It was probably a good choice by the reader to do Harriet's voice as this breathy confusion, Mrs. Bates as onelongsentence, and Mrs. Elton as rather snide.  However, parts with them got annoying.   I can recommend this one as it has a great ending but it isn't my favorite Jane Austen book by any means.  I am going with a 5. 

29 September 2011

The Chamber of Secrets

I always think of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as my least favorite Potter book.  Then I reread it and I can't remember why.  I guess it is a bit like deciding my least favorite ice cream from cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, and banana split.  they are all fabulous; you just have to pick one as the "worst" and go with it.

CoS is missing Hermione the last half of the book.  And it has Gilderoy Lockhart, one of the most annoying characters in the series to my mind and has my vote for the worst of the DADA teachers (yes, Umbridge is EVIL, but at least she does seem to give the students the theory while Lockhart appears to just read his autobiographies in class).  I would also say that there are big sections where nothing seems to happen.


however, we get Dobby, and the Polyjuice potion, and the Malfoys, and so many things that end up being important later in the series.  so it gets a 5. 

27 September 2011

Lost Books

No, I haven't lost any personally.  In fact, since i'm in school i think i've found a few extra!  I did finish reading a book B got for me for my birthday (in July, yeah i am slow sometimes) called The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read by Stuart KellyI'm not going to read that whole 1001 books list, so why not dream bigger?

This book is about, well, books that don't exist anymore or never did. Starting waaaaay back with Anonymous, who wrote tons of stuff that we don't have and don't know we don't have, through the Greeks and Romans, which can be particularly heartbreaking as we get lots of references to people's "best" lists where the only thing we know is an author and title, down through the Middle Ages, Shakespeare, then the Renaissance, Goethe, Coleridge, Dostoyevsky, through Kafka, Hemingway and Sylvia Plath, there is so much that has been lost, destroyed, or intended but never written.  I think the stories of the ones destroyed by the author or the author's family are so intriguing.  I wish that I had that drive to write and to have it, then destroy the product, sounds so shocking.  


I have a teensy quibble.  I think that books that are started but not finished due to the author's death are certainly "lost" but I kinda disagree that the book someone just talked about writing (like the sequel to Don Quixote) but never get to aren't really lost.  I mean, i could say that i intend to write a four volume sci-fi series with themes of ambition, fear and the nature of freedom; just because i do not do it doesn't make it a lost book to me.  


I did like it though and it gets a 5.  


UPDATE:  Archimedes book gets found!

Tally 3

as of 9/25
Total Books: 86
Library Books: 60
Graphic Novels: 11
Non-Fiction: 11
Audio books: 29

Vintage Mystery Challenge: 9
Science Book Challenge: 3
Once Upon a Time 5: 4
2011 Challenge: 11
Shakepeare Challenge: 5
Off the Shelf  Challenge: 4

RIP VI:1

25 September 2011

The Book of Three

I started The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander because B and I were talking about books that were favorites when we were children.  He mentioned this series as being one he enjoyed.  I missed a good number of children's books as a kid and I have been slowly filling in the series that I missed.  


Taran is an Assistant Pig-Keeper and dreams of adventures.  The pig is Hen Wen, who can prophecy the future.  One day Hen Wen escapes from her enclosure and Taran chases after her into the forest.  There he narrowly misses falling into the clutches of the Horned King, a sort of Nazgul or Lich King who's pretty scary sounding.  He then meets Prince Gwydion, his hero, looking a not very heroic Rangerish.  Gwydion was coming to consult Hen Wen but now must warn the kingdom of the threat of the Horned King.  When he and Taran become separated, Taran takes up the quest and begins to grow up. 

I would say this one is a 6.  While many of the tropes are familiar, Alexander stirs in so much fun humor that the characters become really wonderful to read about.  I will be picking up the next book when I get a chance!

17 September 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird

I haven't read this book in years.  I was wandering through McKay's and saw the gigantic stack of mass market paperbacks of To Kill a Mockingbird, still with the exact same cover that I had on mine...eek, 23 years ago, and decided I needed to read it again.

I was lucky as a child; when I had required novels for school I almost always liked them (a glaring exception being a senior year read of The Scarlet Letter).  I was the sort of kid that, when given an excerpt of a novel in our literature book, would then proceed to go read the actual novel, just for fun.  Yes, i could be that nerdy at times.  Anyone else? 

Back to classic American literature.  I remembered parts of the story, the main plot but had forgotten a lot of little moments.  I had forgotten about Aunt Alexandra altogether, though i did remember Scout's cussing causing Uncle Jack to learn a good deal about children.  This book has such rich, realistic characters, you feel you know them as people.  I got teary at the end, which I am sure did not happen when I read it originally.  A definite must read and, if you haven't read it in 20 years, well worth the reread.

I am going to count this for RIP.  Why? well, racism is scary, and the end takes place on Halloween.  so there!

15 September 2011

BTT for 9/15/11

an "of course" question!


 I know I did that a good bit when i was a kid.  I remember reading Gone with the Wind back to back in high school, and The Westing Game when I was a bit younger.  I've also done it with series; I know i read the first four books of Anne Rice's vampire series then read them all again.  More recently, I listened to The Lord of the Rings  a couple years ago then relistened immediately.  I don't do it too much anymore as there are so many books I want to read!

also, Happy Birthday to a great guy who will always be my little brother, though now he's 31, married with 3 kids!

14 September 2011

Romeo and Juliet

Sunday I hit Shakespeare in the Park with R and his brother.  We got there early enough to get a great spot, have a picnic and chat.  Even got to munch on some awesome cinnamon sugar kettle corn! 

The play this year is Romeo and Juliet.  Changing the setting to 1893 World's Fair Chicago, with the Montague's and Capulet's as rival Chicago politicians was a great idea.  It was really quite good.  Juliet was an absolute star!  The actress had to go through such a range of emotions and handled it wonderfully.  Romeo was good too.  Mercutio is one of my favorite characters and, while nobody can beat Harold Perrineau's take, the actor was solid.  Nurse was especially funny as she had such a broad Irish accent.  

Overall, a 7.  Go out and support your local arts, museums, theaters, and music venues!  

12 September 2011

Beginning a Reread

I've finished the Aubrey/Maturin series!  But that also meant I did not have an audio book on deck for commuting.  So I decided to do a reread of the Harry Potter series as I haven't read them all in a row yet.  

I finished up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, read by Jim Dale.  He's a fabulous voice actor.  I had slightly forgotten how intricate the books were that took place during the school year and all the little details that got left out of the movies, like Peeves.  a very good way to start a reread.  a 7 of course!

11 September 2011

Ever Fold Yourself?

I read The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold in about 90 minutes.  It is short at only about 140 pages and is written in a sort of diary style.  

Daniel is a young man living in 1975 L.A.  When his uncle Jim, the man who raised him, dies, Daniel receives a box containing a Time Belt.  It allows the wearer to move back and forth in time.  Daniel starts small, just jumping a few minutes into the future.  When he makes a bigger jump and meets himself, he begins to wonder about the nature of time and reality that he's playing with.

i didn't dislike this book but i can't say i liked it either.  There were a few plot potholes and i didn't particularly like Daniel.  I kept feeling like there was a big error somewhere that i couldn't spot.  There are some moments that reminded me of Lost, at least the fifth season with all the jumping about in it.  again, not bad, so i will say it's a 4. 

03 September 2011

Locke and Key 3

I finished Locke and Key, Volume 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.  Strangely, this volume is my favorite so far; i like this one far more than the first or even the second.  The story is moving along.  we've gotten to know the characters well enough that I am starting to care about them. 

The mom, who's name I'm blanking on, is headed downhill, drinking more and hiding it worse.  Bode is such a sweetheart; Kinsey (and Tyler somewhat) and her mom have begun fighting over how he's cared for.  Kinsey is also breaking away from Dodge and her new, normal friends are a trip!

This one gets a 6 and i've added #4 to my library list!  onward!

01 September 2011

A Challenge for All

September has begun!  I was over reading at Bart's Bookshelf when I saw his post reminding me of Carl's wonderful RIP experience!!!  I am amazed that it is in its sixth year and will be my fifth time participating.  Time flies when you're having a quarter life crisis, falling in love, changing jobs and going back to grad school! 

I will be trying to hit Peril the First with 4 books and throw in a few Perils on the Screen as well.  as for a pool of book possibilities... 

  1. Feed by Mira Grant
  2. King Rat by China Mieville
  3. Children of Men by PD James
  4. The Year of Disappearances by Susan Hubbard
  5. Autumn by David Moony
  6. Three Seconds by Roslund and Hellstrom
  7. Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist
All of these books are in my house, unread.  If I can get 4 off my to read list that will be great.  I believe I will take King Rat on my trip to Louisiana this weekend.  10 hours in the car can make for good reading, if someone else is driving.
 

30 August 2011

Fables: Rose Red

I finally got the newest Fables volume from the library.  It seemed i'd had it on my list for months!  

We get some backstory on Rose and Snow's childhood and why, exactly, Rose slept with Prince Charming so long ago.  Frau Totenkinder has a plan to defeat Mr. Dark and begins to put it into action.  There's a magical battle!  Beauty and the Beast's baby finally arrives! Other stuff happens!  

When's the next one out?  a 6 from me.

27 August 2011

The Final Aubrey-Maturin

Blue at the Mizzen is the final completed Aubrey-Maturin novel by Patrick O'Brian.  I was a bit apprehensive to start it as i did not enjoy some of the events in the previous book, The Hundred Days.  Knowing this was the last finished book but that the series was intended to continue set my mind at ease for our two main characters at least.  But what would O'Brian choose to do with some of our secondary character?

In this book, after many delays, Aubrey and Maturin set off for Chile, the voyage they were preparing for at the end of The Yellow Admiral, but was delayed by Napoleon's whole escape thing.  They stop in Sierra Leone and Steven gets to go naturalizing with Christine Wood, another character we initially met several novels ago.  Proceeding onward, with all the troubles of the doldrums and the cape, we follow the men to Chile, where Jack is supposed to help the infant Chilean Navy become a real fighting force and Steven does some espionaging. 

so yeah, i kinda got teary at the end. knowing that this book wasn't intended to be the final one, i expected more of a cliffhanger ending. While not every subplot was resolved, a huge one that's been hanging over the last few books was closed. It was an emotional, lovely scene that I replayed in my car 3 times.  It was really good.

so, i've now read them all.  This series is a 7.  I honestly can say i wish there were another dozen to read.  The characters are wonderful.  I wouldn't want to marry Jack or Stephen but i want to know them, be their friend.  if you are at all interested in the series, read the first 2 books.  if you hate them, don't continue.  If you like them, keep reading, as this series rewards you as you go along.   

20 August 2011

The Walking Dead

I believe I am going to stop reading The Walking Dead series. I finished No Way Out, volume 14, 2 days ago and there is a particular image, a shocking one, that I can't get out of my head. I am incredibly thankful that the series is in black and white, not color. Now, the comic was fine, and it does advance the story whereas i felt the last one didn't. We find out about Rick's motivations, see how he grows as a leader by the end, and learn more of the dynamics of this new group. But, damn, this one was disturbing. Without going into too spoilery of territory, I felt early on that Something Bad was going to happen and even thought I had figured out the form the Something Bad would take. I wasn't completely wrong, i guessed the right event but not the how of it, and the art showing it...it's stuck in my head. I had the hardest time going to sleep the night i finished it because the image just kept popping up.

now, i can't say i am definitely not going to read the next book. After all, this volume just came out in June, it will probably be another 4 months or so before the next is out, plus another month or two before I can get it from the library. Reading it will be a more deliberate act instead of a given and I will make certain i'm in a good mental place before I start it. I'm torn on a rating, for story i'd probably say 6, but i think i have to drop it to a 4 for unbalancing me so. :(

As for other things, this morning i finished my first week of classes as a graduate student. I've got 2 required classes this semester: Information Representation and Organization AND Information Access and Retrieval. I wanted to take the third required course but got stuck on the waitlist as I registered late. I'm going to learn a ton and I can tell already i'll be a bit busy.

Blog related, i've got a backlog of reviews! I've been reading plenty, just not posting. I've been doing overtime at work and last weekend was orientation so i had to actually go to Knoxville. Most of those posts I have started; as I finish them i will load them as of the day I finished the book. wish me luck!

18 August 2011

The Three Coffins OR The Hollow Man

I've never quite understood changing titles for different editions, especially when it is just British vs American. I get that a specific word might be difficult to translate between two different languages, or mean something very different, so that the title means something completely different than the author's intent, which is a good reason to go with the spirit rather than the specific title. But for a mystery novel, The Three Coffins or The Hollow Man both sound fine to me. I originally searched for The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr and couldn't find a copy. Then, somewhere, i read that the book was also called The Three Coffins and i immediately found it in my library.

This book has one true locked room murder and a version of a locked room that takes place in the middle of a street, in front of witnesses.  There's a fun detective, a bevy of suspects, and an awesome chapter that is very very meta. 

RIP is coming up; i can't recommend this book more highly for that challenge. a 7 from me and this is my eighth book (by the fifth author) for the Vintage Mystery Challenge!

17 August 2011

China Mieville is Awesome

I finished Embassytown by China Mieville on audio today. 

wow wow wow!  I've become a China Mieville fan this year and loved this book!  Mieville starts with a normalish sci-fi concept: colonizers versus indigenous aliens and the conflicts mistaken understanding can create.  however, the aliens and the average humans literally cannot speak to each other.  The aliens have 2 mouths, both of which are required to speak their language.  To make things more complicated, the aliens can also somehow sense intent, so just having 2 humans speak half the words at the same time doesn't work.  The colonizers end up creating clones that are enough alike psychically that the aliens can understand them.  Also, the aliens can't lie, and don't have any sort of imaginative capability.  They can't say "I'm worn out", they would have to say something like "i am like the shoes have been walked in for 100 miles".   The narrator is a woman, Avice, who is a living simile for the aliens.  She is "the girl who was hurt in darkness and ate what was given to her" which meant she had to, at one point, be that person.  There's some space jaunts early on, lots of interesting bio-technology hybrid things, and gobs of politics.  I really loved it. 

A thought i had:  how is the alien's language read?   i mean, literally.  on audio, when the aliens or the ambassadors would speak, you'd hear two separate sounds at the same time, one on each speaker.  how do you read that?  I suppose i need to pick up a copy at the library and flip to that bit to see.

so, even if you aren't a fan of sci-fi, you may enjoy this book for the politics and philosophy of language.  a 7 from me!

15 August 2011

Gaston Leroux

wrote more than just The Phantom of the Opera! He was a journalist until he began writing novels and ended up with several dozen detective novels. I read The Mystery of the Yellow Room, one of the first locked room mysteries ever written, and today I finished The Perfume of the Lady in Black, a sequel with it's own locked room crime.  It is a bit hard to discuss this book as so much of the story stems from the previous novel. 

The heroine of the first novel, Mademoiselle Stangerson, is finally marrying her betrothed.  Rouletabille attends but doesn't stay to see the happy couple off onto their honeymoon.  We then have a few chapters where we learn of Rouletabille's early life.  When the villain from the first novel threatens Mme Stangerson again, Rouletabille meets up with them at a castle on the French Riviera.  The preparations to make the castle impenetrable are impressive.  

Like the previous novel, Leroux includes maps and layouts so that the reader can visualize everything and try to puzzle out the mystery.  Setting this mystery in a castle helps the atmosphere.  There is a real feeling of fear in this novel and you do expect the killer to jump out at any time.  He's as cunning and brilliant as our detective and desperate to succeed. 


Overall, i'd say a 5.  I certainly didn't understand some of the motivations of the characters, not being French or born in the 1880s.  It is a solid book but i will say the first was better. 

14 August 2011

The Hundred Days

As I read this book, i had to keep reminding myself that O'brian didn't know it was going to be the second to last volume.  He'd been writing about these characters for literally decades; no wonder he wanted to change things up.  Had he known that he would only finish one more book on these characters, perhaps he would have made different choices.  That is the part of me that understands creative people talking there.  The fan part of me just wanted to keep yelling "NO NO NO NO!!".  When a big character dies, it is important.  When a big character dies "offscreen", between books in this case, you kind of feel cheated.  

Aubrey and Maturin are still alive, of course.  The sea action is great; the story takes place during the time Napoleon has escaped from Elba so there are French allies, like Christy Palliere, who we met waaaaay back in book 2 or 3.  it is certainly not a bad book.  it just wasn't quite what i wanted to read.  a 4.   

13 August 2011

Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children

First thing to know: this book must be the first in a series. I did not know this and was expecting a proper ending, not a wrap-up of the original problem while another half dozen get introduced. It also has the common, it seems to me anyway, young adult novel problem of having too much happening over a too short period of time. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ranson Riggs
is told by Jacob. He's a well off teen whose grandfather used to tell him amazing stories of the place he grew up in. There was a girl who flew, an invisible boy, a teacher who could turn into a bird. As Jacob gets older, he believes the stories to be lies, twisted from his grandfather's experiences as a Jewish teenager in World War 2. When the older man dies from strange injuries in Jacob's arms, Jacob thinks he sees something, which makes him begin to wonder about all the stories.

The characters are great and Jacob's whole personality felt very real. What modern teen wouldn't think he was going crazy in such a situation? The rebel best friend, the underachieving dad, the weird townsfolk, they all seemed like they had their own lives going on off the page. The Peculiar Children also seemed realistic, with several having some pretty random powers that you don't see over in X-men. I liked the originality.

The pictures work really well with the text and the fact that they are all real pictures, not created specifically for the book, was fascinating. When i read that at the end of the book, i immediately went back and pored over the images again. Miss Peregrine's Home is not a place i'd want to live but is certainly a place i want to visit again.
a 6 from me and this one counts for the 2011 challenge in the "Willpower? What Willpower?" category as I won it off Librarything's Early Reviewers group.

11 August 2011

BTT for 8/11/11

On my way out the door, headed to Knoxville for school orientation tomorrow.

It’s National Book Week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you. Go to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence as your status.

"I love to be frightened, don't you, Monsieur Rouletabille?" from The Perfume of the Lady in Black by Gaston LeRoux.

06 August 2011

Wyllard's Weird

I read Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Wyllard's Weird for the Vintage Mystery Challenge and for the 2011 challenge in the "Way Back When" category. Originally published in 1885, it is a murder mystery that turns into a triple-murder mystery.

The novel begins with a young woman jumping, or being thrown, from a train and dying. Julian Wyllard, a wealthy man, and Bothwell Grahame, Wyllard's wife, Dora's, cousin, are both traveling separately on the train. Edward Heathcote is the local squire who is also the coroner and an ex of Dora Wyllard. Wyllard hires a detective to help find the young woman's identity and the detective creates suspicion that Grahame may have done it. Dora then begs Heathcote to investigate and he travels to London and France to find the facts. There's a subplot with Grahame being involved with both a married woman and later Heathcote's sister.

I figured out who did it around the middle of the book but i enjoyed it anyway. The characters felt realistic, even with the English women being a little too self-sacrificing. Heathcote is definitely a model of a Victorian hero. There's a good bit of Victorian psycho-babble too. Overall, i'd say a 5.

Now i actually purchased this book, off Powell's I think, but if you have a Kindle I've recently learned Amazon has a good number of Braddon's works for free and several others for 99 cents. I would assume that they'd be available on other e-readers as well. I believe i will try to read more of her books that way, as these are books my local library does not have. Though, hehe, I just checked and UT does have a few of hers. Oh no!

04 August 2011

The Yellow Admiral

I think the morals of The Yellow Admiral by Patrick O'Brian are that blockade duty sucks, politics is everywhere, and don't get attached to new characters on the 18th book of a series as they may not make it out of the chapter alive.  

We get a nice look at the characters home life on land again.  Jack, as always, has money problems, but Steven does to for a change.  They are all living in Jack's childhood estate which he recently inherited.  Jack and Steven on land almost seem out of place there, with all the women, children, horses and peasants.  Jack endears himself to the peasants by fighting an enclosure, which is unfortunately championed by Jack's commanding officer, Admiral Stranrear, on the blockade.  He makes Jack's life pretty awful but Jack pulls through regardless.  

There are a lot of fun moments though, especially with Diana.  In another scene, when Bonden has a bare-knuckle boxing match with one of Stranrear's gamekeepers.  It is quite exciting, though funny, and Steven's care for Bonden after the match is touching. 

We don't learn much new in this book but that is not a bad thing.  Reading this book really was like visiting and catching up with friends.  a 5.  







02 August 2011

Dance With Dragons

Wow. Just wow. After waiting for A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin for, well, a while, i don't know what exactly to say. Semi-spoilerish things may follow.
  1. A certain character better not be dead. I'm just saying, I read that bit and gasped and flipped through the chapter headings to see if that particular person had another chapter, which they didn't.
  2. Poor Martell kid. ouch.
  3. Tyrion might, possibly, maybe, have a touch of a Tysha obsession. I want to smack him and say "let it go!".
  4. Also, too much travel, not enough being there!
  5. We totally did not need a new candidate for the throne.
  6. Stannis-still a disappointment.
  7. how can you make me feel even somewhat sorry for Theon? ugh.
  8. Cersei is totally not cowed.
  9. Rickon? maybe? please?
  10. everyone has to be as scattered as they are going to be...let's all start for King's Landing or the Wall, shall we?
  11. I still like Daenerys but i wish her big stuff had happened hundreds of pages earlier.

so i am going to go with a 5. this will count for the 2011 Challenge in the Willpower? What Willpower? category. And i still love the series. and i will be buying the new one, whenever it comes out.

29 July 2011

4 Hercule Poirot

over the last week i've finished four Agatha Christie audiobooks starring Hercule Poirot.

Death in the Clouds: a French woman is murdered, in front of a dozen witnesses who don't notice a thing, in an airplane as it crosses the Channel to England. Hercule Poirot happens to be on the plane and, as he didn't notice the killing either, launches himself into the investigation. I was pretty proud of myself as i actually figured out the murderer! a 6.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles: I have definitely read this one before, probably a few times. By the time all the major characters were introduced I had remembered who was killed, who the murderer was and the major plot twists. still, it was fun to listen to. 6.

The Big Four: sorta like a James Bond plot. Four criminal masterminds try in various ways to get rid of Poirot so he cannot stop their devious plans. It was the sort of thing i had to keep reminding myself that, at the time it came out, the plot devices probably weren't cliches yet. a 5.

The Labours of Hercules: I liked this one the least. It really was 12 short stories, threaded by the fact that Poirot feels there needs to be a new series of the Labours of Hercules for intelligent, modern people. only a 4 but i must admit that the dog kidnapping scheme is bloody brilliant!

So there it is, 3 for the Vintage Mystery challenge as I am not counting the reread.


22 July 2011

American Vampire 2

I took a break from Westeros to get through American Vampire 2 by Scott Snyder and Raphael Albuquerque. The story jumps to the 1930s and most of the story is in Las Vegas, where Skinner Sweet has a brothel/casino, with a bit of a side trip to find out about how Pearl and her man are. There's a new, interesting character in Cash, the sheriff of Las Vegas, and i'm quite intrigued by his story and to find out what happens to him. a 6.

On a totally different note, I'm an aunt again! My brother and sister in law had a baby girl this morning, Lily!
She is their third child and they had decided not to find out, not succumbing to outside pressures. It was kind of grand getting the call this morning from my mom telling me all about her. Everyone is fine! I can't wait to go back down to Louisiana for Labor Day.

14 July 2011

2 Different Books

The day A Dance With Dragons came out i finished A Storm of Swords. No, i didn't get my full reread in but i did check in with tor.com's handy cheat sheet. I plunged into Dragons, after which i think i will take a few book break then reread A Feast for Crows. of course, i give Swords a 6.

The other book i got through, on audio, was The Commodore by Patrick O'Brian, book 17 of the series. We get back to England, to the Real World and Real Time, which you will understand if you've read the books. We finally meet Maturin's little daughter Brigid, catch up with Clarissa Oakes, and find that Diana has run off because she couldn't handle being a mother to a child who might be mentally slow. Maturin starts looking for Diana as Padeen begins to help Brigid talk. Then the Navy give Aubrey a squadron with which he is to first hassle slavers then prevent the French from invading Ireland. Lots of action but lots of personal stuff as well. a 6.


08 July 2011

Ship Breaker

B and i both listen to audio books and have rather similar tastes. Even so, i didn't find any physical audio books at the library when i looked that jumped out at me. B also didn't see any at the library he works at. As we were driving, i found that i had previously downloaded Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi onto my mp3 player so we decided to listen to it.

It takes place in the future, where resources are scarce and cheap oil is gone. Nailer and his friends are ship breakers on light crew, scavenging small and light materials, like wire, off old oil tankers and other ships. Their dream is to hit a lucky strike and get rich enough to not work on the crews anymore. Barring that, they just hope to get enough to eat that one day they will be big enough for heavy crew. After a huge mega-hurricane, Nailer and his friend Pima make a strike; they find a wrecked boat, a clipper, inside which they find a "swank" survivor. Pima wants to kill her so the wreck will be their salvage but Nailer doesn't. He's had a near death experience himself and his new-found empathy forces him to help the girl.

I liked it but it was really, really repetitive. there were at least 6 different mental or actual conversations that basically went "we should sell out/kill this girl...but she's a person...who thinks we are crap...we don't owe her anything...it might be worth more to help her...we should get what we can now... I am not my father!" arg. Two, even three times I can understand but it really went on too long. The action sequences were pretty good and Bacigalupi has a definite gift for description. The parts with Nailer working inside the oil ship were vivid and claustrophobic. I can really recommend this for young adults but more experienced readers may find the moral back and forth annoying. a 5.

This book counts for the 2011 Challenge in the YA category. gotta work on these challenges!

07 July 2011

News and Vacation

News before pictures I think. I was accepted to UT's Master's of Information Science program!
I'm nervous and excited at the same time. It has been so long since I've been in school; can you forget how to study? I gotta get funds, and register for classes, and buy books, and get some speakers for the computer as the classes are all online. EEK! It was a nice birthday present though.

For the July 4th weekend, B and I took a vacation to Louisiana to visit my family. The drive went great and we listened to Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (review to follow another day). Enjoy some pictures!

B on Bourbon St.
Taking a picture of the river boat.

My brother and his daughter

B and my nephew

He's concerned about the ball.

She wanted to bounce it on her head like B did.
Is it fair that he's better at games? i mean my nephew, not B!

B at the swamp. We saw 3 gators!

One of the gators

My dad and the kids
We had a great time except the trip was too short! I will be heading back for a quick trip in September and i will probably be surprised how much bigger the kids are. Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

03 July 2011

Tally 2!

as of 6/30/11

Total Books: 65
Library Books: 43
Graphic Novels: 8
Non-Fiction: 11
Audio books: 18

Vintage Mystery Challenge: 2
Science Book Challenge: 3
Once Upon a Time 5: 4
2011 Challenge: 6
Shakepeare Challenge: 4
Off the Shelf Challenge: 4

30 June 2011

Anathem

LOVED IT! I finished Anathem by Neal Stephenson on audio today. This is some long, dense sci-fi that I really enjoyed. Lots of philosophy too.


Erasmus is a member of the Avout, a cloistered group that avoids the gadgets (called geegaws) and drugs of the secular world and devotes itself to learning. On this world, this group has been separate for thousands of years, gaining new members with infants being left with them or intelligent children joining. Erasmus is a Tenner, meaning he only gets to visit the outside world once every ten years for about two weeks. There are Hundreders and even Thousanders, though few people know much about the last group.


The story begins with Erasmus' first outing in 10 years, since he joined at about age 9. Things are Happening, and for a while we don't really know where the plot is going to go. Stephenson gives you several chapters to get used to this world and its vocabulary and technology, so that by the time stuff really gets going you can follow well without getting lost (much anyway). We find out that the secular power and the Avout have both discovered that an alien ship is orbiting the planted and the bulk of the story is dealling with who the aliens are and what they want.

But i really think the story is there to make people think about deeper philisophical concepts and the sort of person you want to be. I think the book is quite good, a 7.

29 June 2011

The Wine-Dark Sea

I finished The Wine-Dark Sea by Patrick O'Brian on the way home from work today. It began with a bang involving a chase and a volcano, moves through ship-board politics, then had period of Maturin on land trying to undermine Spain in Peru.

This trip seems to have been going on a while now in the series. I am ready for the guys to go home to England and catchup on what is afoot there. I believe the next novel sends us back there and I can't wait. a 5 from me.



22 June 2011

Good Overview Book

Taking a pause from The Song of Ice and Fire series, i read The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason by Victor Stenger. If you haven't read much Dawkins, Harris, Dennett or Hitchens this is a great book to start at, even though it was written after those others. It looks at atheist thought and perspective and defends the atheist outlook. I enjoyed it and got a good number of quotes from it. a 6.

gotta start writing more in depth reviews!

19 June 2011

A Clash of Kings

I am pretty sure this time was only my second through A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin, mainly because there were a few plot points in this book that are relatively important that i had forgotten. It also suffers, slightly, in a comparison to the first book. Our perspective characters are almost never together and Daenerys doesn't get to do much. Gobs of Arya which is great and plenty of Jon Snow. Shocking things happen, though i would say not quite as shocking as the first book. It is good and a 5 from me. Counts for the Once Upon a Time Challenge too!

18 June 2011

Weekly Geeks 2011-20

An interesting Weekly Geeks topic, or series of questions rather.

Did you have a hard and fast mindset in regards to your reading a year ago? (paperback, ebooks etc)
I wouldn't say I was completely devoted to hard copies a year ago. I'd listened to plenty of audiobooks and had read book-length fiction on the computer. I didn't have an ereader and didn't have a particular wish for one.

Are you still true to that format?
Sorta? In this past year i've read a few ebooks, B and I have worked on reading A Connecticut Yankee out loud to each other (though we haven't finished it, we are slow) and I have listened to way more audiobooks. I still have no desire for a personal ereader though. I have enough books actually sitting on the shelves to read and, other than the free classics, it is cheaper to buy used books at McKay's.

If you have tried another format (ebook, audio) – Share your experience?
The main reason my audiobook intake has shot up is that i changed jobs in November. Previously, i lived 10 minutes from work so only listened to audiobooks on long trips. Now, i have a 30 minute commute each way, which means on the books on CD i get from the library i get through almost a CD a day.

I've read a couple books on my phone, a Samsung Vibrant. it is a bit small so i am constantly turning the pages. one advantage is that it lets you change the colors so I set the background black and then the text a light gray which I like. It is also backlit so you can read in the dark

Lastly, I've read a book on Kindle. The best thing, i think, is that you can read big fat books one handed! I have a tendency to eat on the couch while reading and it works great. It is light and after a couple chapters i didn't really "notice" the device, something i can't say about reading on my phone.

What was it that made you tried something out of your comfort zone?
Well, B got a Kindle for Christmas from his family and last summer I got a better phone and loaded the Android Kindle application to it. The first whole book I read on the Kindle was A Game of Thrones that I had to reread on there because the paperback got absolutely soaked. I read a few books on my phone because I know the author.

Give a brief over view of where you are at with your reading now.
Well, i am listening to The Truelove by Patrick O'Brian and Anathem by Neal Stephenson at work (shh, don't tell! I play a book instead of music in the afternoon hours that seem to drag, 1-4). I'm almost done with my paperback reread of A Clash of Kings after which i have to start the paperback of A Storm of Swords then A Feast for Crows. If i read 96 pages a day i finish on July 11! After that, B and I will both be reading A Dance With Dragons, he on his Kindle and i on the hardback cause i am so not waiting for a library copy or even B to finish!

does all that make any sense? I hope so!

16 June 2011

BTT for 6/16/11

Interactivity!

With the advent (and growing popularity) of eBooks, I’m seeing more and more articles about how much “better” they can be, because they have the option to be interactive … videos, music, glossaries … all sorts of little extra goodies to help “enhance” your reading experience, rather like listening to the Director’s commentary on a DVD of your favorite movie.

How do you feel about that possibility? Does it excite you in a cutting-edge kind of way? Or does it chill you to the bone because that’s not what reading is ABOUT?


Honestly, it seems a bit gimmicky to me. The only "extras" i ever want in books are maps and genealogies in big epic books like the Song of Ice and Fire series or the Night's Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton. I'm honestly a bit perturbed by the dictionary feature in ereaders. Hate to sound old-fogeyish, but when i was a kid i always just puzzled out words from context rather than stop, go get the dictionary (we had a great big hardback one) and look up the word i didn't know. Even now, when it's just a matter of finding my cell phone and using the web, i rarely look up words. I'm not saying that people should have to memorize words and meanings by rote but using your reasoning to figure things out must be good for your cognitive abilities in general.

But back to the question, no, i don't want to see book trailers for "other books you might enjoy", there are few authors i want to see interviews of (Gaiman and King come to mind as ones i would watch), i don't want to watch some manufactured pop star do her take on the music of Westeros. Seems like catering to the ADD culture, not readers.

14 June 2011

Kraken

I've decided i like how China Mieville's mind works. I read Kraken and enjoyed the twists and turns. It actually reminded me a good bit of American Gods, though of course American Gods was much better. It takes place in London, or really a "shadow" London with magic, religions, a talking tattoo as a gang leader, and some creepy ass killers, Goss and Subby. Billy Harrow works at the Darwin Center from which a giant squid, and it's giant vat of preserving chemicals, goes missing. He's the normal guy that gets sucked into the magical goings on as everyone assumes he knows what happened.

I listened to this one on audio and my biggest complaint is that there is so much dialogue that parts are infested with "said"s. Like big sections of this:
"...", Billy said.
"...", Wati said.
Dane said "...".
"...", Billy said.
"....", Dane said.
it is somewhat jarring. overall, i enjoyed it. a 6.

I know i've been bleh with my reviews recently; i am reading but not much feeling like writing. Hopefully i'll get outa the writing slump soon!

13 June 2011

How many movies can i watch?

Dr. Who, series 2: 7. ok, i learned to like the new Dr.

Walk the Line- 5, unintentionally funny because i've seen the Dewey Cox movie.

Body of Lies- 5, solid espionage movie.

The Informant-4, kinda weird. I remember seeing the commercials and it seemed like a comedy but it really isn't.

Bicentennial Man- 5, maybe it would have been better with someone besides Robin Williams.

The Town- i didn't like this one at first but it has grown on me. 5.

Black Swan-- What? a 5.

The King's Speech- really liked it. a 6.

Let Me In- ok, not terrible but terribly redundant. Go for the original. also, who knew they had that much snow in Los Alamos? a 4.

A History of Violence- i might have liked it more when it came out. 4

11 June 2011

Last for the Science Book Challenge

Today I finished The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It won the Pulitzer for non-fiction last year.

It is an engrossing book. Mukherjee weaves stories of his real patients in with the history of cancer, going all the way back to Imhotep, the Egyptian doctor (and star of The Mummy movies) who described breast cancer way back in the 27th century BC. He describes the search for causes and how our knowledge of the disease's workings grew. Originally, the only treatment that existed was surgical so if you had any sort that couldn't be cut out there was almost no hope. As medicine advanced through the early 20th century first radiation then chemotherapies became part of the oncologists weaponry. But without a real working knowledge of the process of cancer much of the treatment was to delay death by months. Often, scientists were stymied by the lack of communication between specialties. more Recently, there have been some great discoveries but even more the realization that cancer isn't one disease. not only are the different types of cancer (breast, pancreas, colon, etc) very different from each other, depending on the specific mutations two people with the cancer in the same body part may have vastly different treatment options.

I kinda expected this book to be a downer, and parts were, but nothing made me cry. I actually feel a bit more optimistic about my own health situation. I'm fine! There is very little cancer in my family on both sides so my genetic predilection for cancer should be rather low. And at the rate therapies are improving, many cancers may become something you live with rather than die from. This book gets a 6 from me and is my last book for the Science Book Challenge!

Quotable Geeks!

This week's Weekly Geeks is about quotes. I've got a whole big google doc of quotes and, since i've been reading a good number of books about books, several reference this hobby we all love so.

The Egyptians often, in death, had their favorite cats embalmed, to cozen their feet. If things go well, my special pets will pace me into eternity, Shakespeare as pillow, Pope at one elbow, Yeats at the other, and Shaw to warm my toes. Good company for far traveling--Ray Bradbury

The great drawback in new books is that they prevent our reading the old ones--Joseph Joubert

Reading good books is like having a conversation with the most distinguished men of past ages--Rene Descartes

There was indeed a “frightful lot” of books. The four walls of the library were plastered with them from floor to ceiling, save only where the door and the two windows insisted on living their own life, even though an illiterate one--The Red House Mystery, A.A. Milne.

I could go on, and on, and on! what's your favorite bookish quote?

05 June 2011

Nutmeg?

Patrick O'Brian's The Nutmeg of Consolation is a weird book. It is really two stories, that of how Aubrey and Maturin and the crew get off their deserted island and back to civilization and then the trials and tribulations of that civilization's worst, the penal colony of Australia in Botany Bay. Nothing against Australia, the conditions of the English prisoners and how the military and landowners hurt the aboriginal peoples are what is so awful. There's a bit of fighting but there is more interpersonal conflict in this book. Maturin gets himself in trouble; did you know the male platypus has a stinger? Had no clue myself. I feel like the guys have been on this same adventure for a while now but in reality this is only the second book in this voyage. overall, a 5 from me.

03 June 2011

Flash Forward

I read the book by Robert Sawyer. B listened to it and recommended it. I've not seen the show, though B described it to me after i'd read the book, and it seems to be very, very different from what appeared on tv.

Right when Lloyd and Theo, two scientists at CERN, run their experiment to find the Higgs boson, everyone on earth blacks out for about 2 minutes. Many people experience visions, like Lloyd who find himself in bed with a much older woman, but a few do not, like Theo. Once everyone wakes up, they find chaos as planes, cars, and other machinery had no operators for those two minutes. In the aftermath, the scientists discover that the visions showed a coherent future 21 years away and those without visions have died before the day that everyone saw. This explanation sends the book off into 3 storylines: the scientists' research into discovering why the flash forward happened, Theo's search for the person who is going to kill him, and a discourse on free will vs. determinism.

There is a lot of science and philosophy in this book which will turn off some who like their sci-fi a bit more straightforward. I liked some of the characters but found Lloyd to be a bit annoying and wishy-washy to me. overall, i give it a 5.

30 May 2011

A Passion for Books

All weekend I helped some friends move. I was wiped out and spent a good bit of today reading. I finished up A Passion for Books, edited by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan. It is full of quotable bits. It is a collection of essays and stories and cartoons and editorials. The intro by Ray Bradbury is a wonderful start. The essays specifically on how to collect books weren't all that interesting to me and, as the book was published in 1999, i would imagine that much of the information is outdated, especially with the internet available now. But overall it is quite a nice book. a 5 from me.

29 May 2011

Old-School Spies

Friday night i finished The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John LeCarre. I was quite pleasantly surprised. I guess i had expected a 60's James Bond type story, with gadgets and tuxedos and yachts. Instead, the story is hard, and cold, and very truthful feeling.

Leamas is an agent for the British CIA. At the beginning of the book he sees his best secret agent shot down trying to cross the border between East and West Berlin. He's called back to London, the Circus as he calls it, where he gets stuck in the Banking section to coast until he can retire. Unfortunately, he starts drinking, perhaps even skimming cash, and gets fired. He spirals further downward until a Communist agent gives him a chance to defect.

The story went places i didn't expect and packed a lot of feeling into its barely 200 pages. It felt very dark and gray and twisted, in the abnormal psyche way, though the book is not without plot twists. Recommended.

So I give this a 6 and it counts for the 2011 Challenge under the "Way Back When" category. Also, since it's been on my TBR stack since August 2010 it works for the Off the Shelf challenge too.