29 January 2011

Gotta Blog.

I am doing a bad job of blogging recently but i'm doing a poorish job of reading too!

so, BTT for 1/27 was about big books

What’s the largest, thickest, heaviest book you ever read? Was it because you had to? For pleasure? For school?

well for pleasure, Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope is 848 pages in the Penguin edition. Under the Dome and The Stand, both by Steven King, are 1074 and 1141 pages respectively. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien is 1216 pages. The Passage by Justin Cronin was a shorter 784 pages but felt longer. The two volume set i have of the complete Sherlock Holmes stories comes in at 1856 pages if i am allowed to count that! Then again, can i count series? in that case, Harry Potter's total page count is 4178 judging the paperbacks.

As for school, i honestly can't remember back that far. i know in college and my last couple years of high school my teachers seemed to be more of the opinion that reading 4-5 short books, 200-300 pages, was better than reading 2 really long ones. I know i read The Three Musketeers (610 pages) for one of my extra books to get the honors designation in my World History class. For me, it was a much faster read than The Scarlet Letter (140 pages). It is all perception, isn't it?

23 January 2011

Shakespeare's Case


Last night i went to Shakespeare's Case, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival's winter production. The last two years I've seen The Tempest and Richard III both of which were quite good. This play, written by three actors, two of which were in the performance, has Shakespeare himself defending his plays against the charge that they are boring, irrelevant, and outdated. It is a little participatory, as the audience is the jury. Shakespeare even apologizes to all of us who had to memorize some long passage for school! It is great fun; recommended! If you are in Nashville, it runs through January 30. Or, if you can't make it, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival will gladly take a donation!

22 January 2011

Cinderella...ella...ella

Cinderella wasn't ever one of my favorite heroines but she was certainly more interesting and active than either Sleeping Beauty (who doesn't even get a real name?) and Snow White. In the Fableverse, however, Cinderella is absolutely kick ass. Her cover is so good not a single Fable suspects she is an amazing spy.

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love, by Chris Roberson and Chrissie Zullo, fills in a bit of Cindy's backstory while we follow her on a mission. This book takes place sometime between the end of the war and when Mister Dark explodes into the storyline. Some unknown person is selling magical artifacts to mundies; Cindy must go to the latest sale and discover the seller. She meets Aladdin, another spy, and they team up. Much fun and banter occurs.

The art wasn't quite as pretty as Fables usually is but it was good. The story was cute and definitely worth reading. It isn't required if you are only casually reading Fables but if you want a little more, pick up this book. a 5 from me.

21 January 2011

I loathed...

Great great topic for the Literary Blog Hop this week!!
Literary Blog Hop
Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?

The Great Gatsby sucked rat balls.

ok, I know it is a great work of American literature. And all deep and stuff. I just couldn't stand it! Rich, vapid, boring people desperate for other rich, vapid, boring people, all told by a guy who's not quite as rich so there's this weird sort of greedy lust on every page. Stop drinking so damn much! Go DO something, anything!! Really, throw in drugs and cell phones and i think Brett Easton Ellis pretty much has written the same stuff. I read this in a Religion in Literature class my sophomore year of college. Thankfully, i also got to read Interview with the Vampire and write a term paper on it, for credit! We read several other books i enjoyed as well but slogging through the Fitzgerald was the low point of my semester.

16 January 2011

Fables: Witches

Wonderful, amazing Fables! I don't care for Jack, so I didn't particularly like The Great Fables Crossover. But Fables, Volume 14: Witches, is amazingly good. I can't wait for book 15!

The first section tells the story of how the Dark Man was originally captured by a group of sorcerers called Boxers. The next section follows several storylines: Frau Totenkinder becomes young and goes on a journey of her own to find out how to stop the Dark Man, Ozma (the little girl witch) becomes the leader of the witches, works against the Dark Man and must also stop a bid for power from an unexpected source, Beauty and the Beast get some strange news. But the best story is that of Bufkin, the flying monkey who lives in the business office of Fabletown. When the Dark Man showed up, the magical backlash knocked the business office off its connection to the world. Bufkin and his friends, like the head of Frankenstein and the Magic Mirror, can't get out. The magic also released Baba Yaga and an evil genie. But Bufkin knows he must stop them.

Magic Mirror: You've managed to make an enemy of Bufkin, the monkey. Once he decided he needed to destroy you, you were basically doomed.

Baba Yaga: I've never heard of such a creature. What are his powers?

Magic Mirror: He READS. He reads EVERYTHING.


Perfect! Bufkin's story was both hilarious and rousing. Brains versus brawn are some of the best stories in my opinion. I loved this book and am counting the days until the next is released (titled Rose Red, out April 12). a 7!

15 January 2011

Mystery Challenge #1

I've completed my first mystery of the year! Whose Body?, by Dorothy L. Sayers, is a Lord Peter Wimsey book. I picked this one up because P.D. James mentions it as referencing back to Trent's Last Case by E.C. Bentley, which it does. It is also Sayers first Wimsey book (for some reason i keep wanting to spell it Whimsy, like the noun) and there are places where it shows a bit. She tells us a lot through dialogue rather than showing us through action.

Wimsey gets called in on a strange case. A rather nervous man, Mr. Thripps, who lives with his mother and a housekeeper, goes to take a bath one morning and finds a dead naked body in his tub! Thripps knows Wimsey's mother and calls him after the police seem to think Thripps had something to do with the murder. The police arrest Thripps and the housekeeper and probably would have arrested the mother too but that she is elderly and quite deaf.

Wimsey's friend, Parker, is also investigating a case, that of the disappearance of a wealthy businessman. After finding the man in the bath is not the businessman, the two men decide to help each other on the cases and, of course, end up solving each.

While this is the first book of the series, i am not sure that i would start with it. I've read Murder Must Advertise and The Nine Tailors and both of those were better. As this case is not Wimsey's first, don't feel a need to begin here. i give it a 5.

now i am off to work on the grad school app. ugh. :)

14 January 2011

Shalador's Lady

I do so enjoy the Black Jewels books. Shalador's Lady is Anne Bishop's latest novel. Our big series characters, Daemon, Janelle, Lucivar, Saetan, have some scenes and important parts but the majority of the book is about Cassidy, Queen of Dena Nehele. She was basically hired in the last book to be Queen for a year, after which she or the country can decide not to renew her contract.

Cassidy is not strong in magic but has a great heart and love for her new land and its people. The conflict comes when a bitchy, money hungry Queen who took over Cassidy's last court comes to demand money. Though she throws the Queen out, the lord of the manor, Theran, falls for the new Queen's beauty and lets her stay. Theran feels his country needs a beautiful Queen to hold it together and the rest of the book is essentially about Cassidy and her loyal men proving him wrong.

These books are great fun to read and i liked it. Not a book you can jump into without having read the previous one though. a strong 5.

I'm trying to get through the library books I have right now so I will probably have several posts over the next few days as i finish up things. Then i shall tackle MT. TBR! I've snuck a book off it already as I read the first few essays in Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy, which B gave me for Christmas. Did you know she's a feminist heroine?

13 January 2011

Walking Dead: Too Far Gone

Don't remember if i mentioned it but B and I really enjoyed the Walking Dead tv series. It was far too short a season but as it ended so quickly i was able to spill all the spoilers on what happened in the comics, which had a different story arc than the show.

Now i've finished Volume 13 of The Walking Dead graphic novels. For the last several books the horror has been human driven: how do you trust strangers? what do you do to those people who've crossed over into preying on other humans? how do you live with yourself afterward? This book was no different as Rick performs some duties as sheriff and kicks the hell out of a man who beats his own wife and child. Then when our characters' home is threatened by outsiders who want to take over, Andrea's unique skills and Rick's leadership keep everyone safe. There's a bit of a cliffhanger that makes me believe that our heroes may need to start worrying about the dead again.

I love this series and this book was very good. I don't know how, exactly, Kirkman and company manage it but as a reader you are constantly off-balance. You know pretty much any character can die at any minute and that puts the reader almost in the same mindset as the characters. We've known our heroes for a long time now; we care about them and want them to be safe. So we distrust outsiders; we've seen others hurt our heroes before. We cheer when they find guns or food or medicines; those things will help our heroes survive. And, strangely, when newcomers get absorbed into the group, as a reader you don't want to invest too much in them. The same way the characters we've followed for months now don't know how to create normal relationships anymore. There's a big white guy who's been in the last 3 or 4 books that i don't know the name of, or the name of his girlfriend. He's proven strong and trustworthy so i don't believe he'll be betraying anyone and is probably part of the hero group now but i still can't remember his name. I just haven't wanted to invest in him because he may be killed any page now.

In conclusion, read this series. If you are a fan of characters, post-apocalypse, zombies, or even just of sharpshooter chicks with samurai swords, you'll like these books. I'm giving the latest a 6.

12 January 2011

The Black Tower


I finished The Black Tower by Louis Bayard yesterday. It is a historical mystery told in flashback by Doctor Hector Carpentier. The majority of the story is set shortly after the Restoration of the monarchy in France in 1918. Dr. Carpentier meets the great criminal turned detective Vidocq when Vidocq finds the doctor's name on a dead man. As the doctor has never met the dead man, at first there is little the doctor can do for the investigation. When Vidocq and the doctor learn that the dead man believed that he had found the lost king of France, Louis-Charles, the two must race to find the man and then to try to discover his identity.

I really like this book. The mystery was great and the characters were fun. Vidocq is a character i want to read about more. I listened to it on audio and the reader did a great job. The book was very well written, very descriptive. I also found turns of the plot unexpected. My one complaint is that I thought the denouement took a bit too long. And as my French history is a bit deficient I didn't quite understand some of the references. overall though, I recommend it and give it a 6!



11 January 2011

Lit Blog Hop

Literary Blog HopThis week's Topic: This week's question comes from Debbie at Reader Buzz: How did you find your way to reading literary fiction and nonfiction?

So I've posted before about my developing my reading habit. I think the literary fiction just grew out of my love of classics to more modern books of a similar type/theme. I know exactly what got me reading literary non-fiction: Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. The book just stunned me. It had great writing and characters and drama but it all actually happened. I'd never read anything like it before and it got me to stir non-fiction into my reading.

and now, snow pictures! When i went to bed Sunday night there was no snow. when i woke up Monday morning we had about 4-5 inches!
My car is the second from the right.

Kids, sledding!

Giant snowman! seriously, you don't get to make snowmen this big in Nashville.

Very pretty.

Only 1 day off work though. next winter i am going to go skiing one way or another!

10 January 2011

We got snow!

More to follow

1320, I thank you!

Thank you, book blogger world!

Why, you ask? and what's with that number?

I took the GRE yesterday morning. i was completely shocked when i hit the "view score" button and that number, 1320, popped up on the screen. Breaking it down, i scored 680 on the verbal and 640 on the math. While I did not receive my scores for the writing portion, i'm now pretty confident i did fine.

I'm thanking you, the book blogging world, for making me think these last few years. My previous job didn't require me to actually think very often. You've encouraged me to read more and read widely. You've made me think critically about my opinions, and yours! If i wasn't blogging, the most complex thing i would have written in my personal life would be something like "what do u want for dinner? not pizza" or "Happy Birthday! See you soon, love, Mel". Even though many of my reviews are short i know that just writing something every few days has been a major help to my mental capabilities.

and thank you B, and D, and my parents for encouraging me!

So I have now applied to University of Tennessee, going against my football biases for what seems to be a pretty good program. It's the library science Master's program, all online which is great as i've no desire to move to Knoxville. Now i just need to write a 500 word piece on why I want to go to library school. hmmm.

09 January 2011

Kill Shakespeare

No, I'm not sick of the Shakespeare challenge. B got a graphic novel for Christmas and I got to it before he did. He's not been much of a graphic novel fan though he did read Unwritten Vol. 1. I've been trying to get him to pick up the Sandman series since he likes Gaiman. Kill Shakespeare by Conor McCreery, Anthony del Col and Andy Belanger, is a graphic novel that owes a bit to the Fables series and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It's a mashup of Shakespeare's plays, heroes versus villians.

The story opens with Hamlet, having killed Polonius, leaving Denmark. Pirates attack his ship and he gets tossed overboard. He washes up, Tempest-style, in a new land, one where King Richard III works with the MacBeths to keep the peasants downtrodden. Of course, as Richard thinks Hamlet is the Shadow King, the one prophecied to kill Shakespeare, a godlike figure, he doesn't let Hamlet see the bad parts of Richard's kingdom. He gets rescued from Richard by Falstaff, a true believer in Shakespeare as a god figure. Hamlet then meets the leader of the rebellion, one Juliet Capulet.

I liked this one a good bit. I must admit, i've always enjoyed the villians of Shakespeare. They are so complex and when they have major parts in the play always have great speeches. I always volunteered to read Iago whenever we read Othello aloud in school. I love MacBeth enough that i've watched maybe half a dozen different versions. Pick up Kurosawa's which is called Throne of Blood. I do think that this book is going to just make the villians big bad guys but I still can't wait until the next volume. I am seriously considering finding my way back into a comics shop as there are just too many series that i'm enjoying. a 6.

While this does not count for the Shakespeare Challenge i'm going to go ahead and tag it that way as the book may be of interest to Shakespeare fans. oh, and for Weekly Geeks, here's a pic of me reading it!

06 January 2011

BTT for 1/6/11

Heh. I've blogged so long now that i feel like i need to put full dates on my Booking Through Thursday titles. I haven't done one in a while.

Any New Year’s reading resolutions?

Hmm. I want to get through a good number (i'm shooting for 50) of my own TBR stack and get to some of the ones that B wants me to read. He brought back a big box of books from his parents' at Christmas and recommended some more. I want to for sure get through the Russian ones on my stack and War and Peace.

Which leads me to my request. I heard that before reading War and Peace you should get a bit of background on the Napoleonic Wars. I'm also loving the Aubrey/Maturin novels i'm listening to in the car. Adding to that, i am about finished with The Black Tower by Louis Bayard (a great book) and want to know more about the French Revolution. I am looking for a book of either European or French history that covers the French Revolution through Napoleonic wars. I want something that, if possible, is less than 500 pages so even something on a YA level would be fine. I know that's a bit of a difficult request but any suggestions are welcome!

04 January 2011

I Like Fadiman!

Anne Fadiman writes wonderful essays. At Large and At Small is a collection with a wider range of topics than the previous one i read, Ex Libris. While Ex Libris dealt mainly with topics reading related, At Large and At Small covers ice cream, collecting, moving out of the city, patriotism and others. Fadiman has a way of making you completely present at the events she writes of, as well as making you recall similar events in your own life. She obviously has a great love of literature; i want to pick up a biography of Coleridge because of her essay and I don't even know that i've ever read anything by Coleridge!

I could read dozens of her essays; unfortunately she's only got 3 collections out. I'll have Rereadings on my library list soon. a 6!

03 January 2011

The Sherlockian

A new year finds me finishing up books i started last year. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore is a bit of a double book. We go back and forth by chapter between two interconnected stories

The modern story concerns the death of a Sherlock scholar, Alex Cale. Alex has informed the Sherlockian world that he's found Arthur Conan Doyle's missing diary and will present it, and it's contents, at a convention. Inconveniently, he's murdered the day of his presentation and no diary is found in his possessions. Harold White, a newly inducted Baker Street Irregular, goes on a search to discover the murderer and the missing diary.

The historical story is that of the events in Doyle's missing diary. Doyle thinks he's finished writing Sherlock Holmes and is trying to write war stories and win...i was going to say a seat in Congress but i guess it was actually Parliament?..some sort of election anyway. When he gets a letter bomb he searches for the perpetrator with his friend Bram Stoker and is lead to investigate a series of murders of young suffragettes.

Here's the thing...i don't know that the whole is better than the sum of it's parts. I preferred the Doyle story over the modern one but felt the ending of that was a bit of a letdown. I liked Harold but felt his part of the story was just not enough of a story. The writing is solid and the historical parts felt very realistic. Overall, a 5. As this is Moore's first novel I will be on the lookout for more by him though.

02 January 2011

Nashville Counts!


As you may or may not remember, Nashville, the city I live in, was devastated by a massive flood back in May 2010. Hands On Nashville has been a huge part of the city's recovery, coordinating sometimes huge groups of volunteers. While the water was still rising they got groups together to sandbag areas that were not yet underwater. Afterward, they put together dozens of teams to help with clearing houses of their flood-damaged goods so the owners could quickly begin the rebuild. Besides their activities after the flood, they coordinate volunteer groups to work at organizations ranging from homeless shelters to our city parks. A group of Nashville based artists created a children's book called Nashville Counts! to raise money for that great organization. I purchased a copy and, if you have a little to give, would like to try to convince you to purchase one too! It is a beautiful book, good quality.

An article in the Nashville Scene about the book. And the article at Chapter 16.

The Hatch Show Print guys work.
My pictures aren't doing it justice. :(

Where to purchase. They have also created books to benefit organizations in Louisville and Baltimore that you may be interested in. Oh, they are $20 plus tax/shipping, unless you live in Nashville and want to go by Cummins Station or the Rymer Gallery.

Thanks.