31 March 2011

Btt for 3/31/11, and a book!

So, BTT first!

btt button

If you’re like me, you grew up reading everything under the sun, like the cereal boxes while you ate your breakfast, the newspapers held by strangers on the subway, the tabloid headlines at the grocery store.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever read? (You know, something NOT a book, magazine, short story, poem or article.)

I hae read some weird stuff at the doctor's office. My gyno doctor's office. The waiting room is fine as i bring a book but once they take you back to the room and give you the paper gown to put on I don't want to sit there with a book on my lap. I always hope they might come in quickly but usually they give you a good long time to change and then wait. So, the weirdest things i've ever read have been those posters on the wall about all the symptoms of terrible things that could be wrong with you or your baby. I've never been pregnant so none of that information has the slightest bit of relevance to me and in fact has made me a bit averse to becoming so. Trust me, some of the symptoms are gross!

For the book, I finished The Far Side of the World. It has almost nothing the same as the movie but is quite good in its own way. The dear old Surprise gets one final mission: to capture the American ship The Norfolk which is harassing the English whalers. There are lots of new interpersonal relationships on the ship, several with sad results. Stephen has a particularly inept fall from the ship that almost gets he and Jack killed. This story really feels like a section of a longer one; definitely not the place to start the series. a 5.

25 March 2011

I forgot I loved Jane Eyre

It has been a very, very long time since i originally read Jane Eyre. It is strange to think i've been an adult for so long now that i've read books 15 years ago as an adult (or very close to it anyway). I really really enjoyed this book. I knew the gist of the story but had forgotten most of the details of it. wonderful, a 7. This one counts for the 2011 Challenge in the Re-Read category.

Oh, and i gotta brag. I won a super advanced copy of John Ajvide Lindqvist's Harbour. It isn't even out until September 27, 2011!! nyah nyah na na nyah!

Currently: looking at my brackets...not too shabby. Southeast is finished but i called the West almost perfect so far, 3 of my final 4 teams are still in it... go Kansas!

24 March 2011

Btt and a Challenge!

Hooray! Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the 5th Once Upon a Time Challenge, where we all revel in fairy tales and fantasy books. This is always such a fun challenge! I'll be doing Quest the First and may try to sneak in a reading of Midsummer Night's Dream too!

Here's my pool:
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemison
  • Lament by Maggie Steifvater
  • Jaran by Kate Elliott
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
  • Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling
  • Mainspring by Jay Lake
  • Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper
  • Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
  • Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Man, i have a few tomes on there huh?

For BTT:

Series? Or Stand-alone books?

Hmm. Depends on my mood? some series get tired and are just not worth it. but i love stories that have scope so i do love series. so, both?

21 March 2011

First Tally 2011

as of 3/18/11

Total Books: 28
Library Books: 21
Graphic Novels: 6
Non-Fiction: 6
Audio books: 6

Vintage Mystery Challenge: 2
Science Book Challenge: 2

20 March 2011

Weekly Geeks 2011-10

I'm trying to find some interesting ways to answer this one! The idea is simple. Tell us ten things about you with regard to books and reading. Let your imagination run wild!
  1. I really love epics. Genre doesn't matter, sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, i love stories that are long and cover a character's lifetime. I like seeing these people change and grow.
  2. I never had more than 2-3 books that i owned that were unread before i started book blogging. you people are bad examples!
  3. I didn't read a lot of the "childhood classics". at least, not when i was a child. I read some: Stuart Little, The Westing Game, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler. But i skipped on to more adult books pretty quickly and didn't read many of the ones everyone seemed to. I've somewhat attempted to remedy that.
  4. I believe if it's good, it's good and it doesn't matter if it's genre, or new, or old, or for kids, or YA, or hard to get through. No amount of hype or popularity can make not good good but it can't make good not good either!
  5. I love having a boyfriend who reads. Of all the things i pictured in possible boyfriends a reader honestly never crossed my mind. It is really wonderful.
  6. My library card number is 14 digits long...and i know it by heart.
  7. I can't go into McKay's without buying a book.
  8. Of the books I have in my own home, the one i've owned the longest is probably my paperback copy of The Shining by Stephen King. I've had it over 20 years. The newest book came in to the house today and is a hardback copy of Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind. Picked it up for $6 at McKay's!
  9. When I was a kid I pictured heaven as a giant library.
  10. I can read with music on, or sports, but not a real movie or narrative TV show.
there ya go!

19 March 2011

Must Read?

Literary Blog HopArg! This is a tough one. I am going to assume books that haven't been written can't be included right? and i can't just say "all of them?"

What one literary work must you read before you die?

Hmm. Of the books I personally already own, I'd say The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. I've loved his books so far and would be disappointed if i never read another.

As for books I don't own...wow. All of Tolstoy? All of Dickens? Dostoevsky? I haven't finished all the Bronte books! I haven't read Emma! Homer! that isn't even counting the modern people i haven't read! Toni Morrison! Salman Rushdie! Sarah Waters! Margaret Atwood! Franzen! why am i on the internet right nowihavetogoread!

18 March 2011

It is rare that I wish I had more math ability

But reading Brian Greene's The Hidden Reality made me think that I should have done more in college. It is about the various ways there could be multiple universes. Besides physics, the book incorporates a bit of philosophy in ways that made it far more interesting to me than The Elegant Universe, which i struggled through 8 or so years ago.

The first way is the easiest to understand by far. If our universe is infinite, really infinite, not just really really gigantically large, then there would be all these galaxy groupings that didn't overlap because light hasn't had time to travel between the groupings and each set would be it's own universe. It that's so, there's only so many ways all the particles can align and eventually the alignments would repeat, creating a Milky Way, a solar system, an Earth exactly like ours but so far away we'd never meet them.

Another that isn't terribly difficult to grasp is the simulated universe. As I love the Matrix movies and have enjoyed the various philosophy essays i've read regarding the movies this section also felt familiar. Basically, people love to play God (I'm looking at you, Sims players!). Eventually, if we don't kill ourselves off first, we'll have the computing capability to recreate our own reality. If we can do that, we probably will do that, and if you tie that idea back into the infinite bit earlier, the chances grow that we've already done that and are actually in some simulation right now! However, i've been trying to free my mind and learn to fly since 1999 and it isn't working, so i don't buy into this part of this theory. ;)

But the parts about braneworlds, the quantum multiverse and the holographic principle left me struggling, especially the last. Greene does use lots of tables and pictures which do help. It was in these portions that I wish I could have done a bit more physics, and even math, in college. I know i could have handled more physics but I barely got a B in Calculus my freshman year, and that was because I had taken an entire year of it my senior year of high school. I really don't think I have, or had, the brainpower for more math.

So, overall, this book is a 6. If you like some pretty hard core science you may enjoy this book. If the thought of the cosmological constant, Planck lengths, or Hawking radiation makes you queasy, skip it.

16 March 2011

Treason's Harbour

This book, Treason's Harbour by Patrick O'Brian, is definitely the second of a story arc. I complained a bit about the end of the last one, The Ionian Mission, and this book picks up a few weeks later. French agents are operating in Malta and try to use a young woman, Mrs. Fielding, who's husband they have captured, to get information from Maturin. Maturin, being a bad ass secret agent, see through this ploy and with Mrs. Fielding's help begins to feed the French false information. There is a chink in Maturin's invincibility though as he fails to see a real traitor operating at a high level in the Navy. Aubrey is more in the background in this book but has an amazingly funny scene where he rescues Mrs. Fielding's large dog. There's also a long section where all the Surprises go overland to the Red Sea for a mission, which has both hilarious and dramatic moments. a 5.

I would have the same complaint about the end but i had already picked up the next book and just took out the last disc of this one and put in the first disc of The Far Side of the World this morning driving to work. I can't imagine (ok, well i can *cough*Martin*cough*) how frustrating reading this series as it came out must have been. O'Brian got them out at a pretty good clip: 20 books in 30 years is not at all bad! Overall i really can't recommend this series enough. It is wonderful!

If you want to read Jo Walton's takes on these novels, Tor.com is running them here. They are highly spoilery, to the point that i think i am going to stop reading them until i finish up the series.

The Literate Man is also hosting a challenge to read the series by the end of the year. i really should join but i did start in November 2010.

Happy reading!

11 March 2011

OK Graphic Novel

Gotta say, I liked volume one better than volume two of Locke and Key. Subtitled Head Games and still written by Joe Hill and drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez, continues the story of the Locke children. Zack ingratiates himself deeper into the family, Bode finds a new key, and we get more of the story of what happened to the Locke father when he was in school. I know this is a meh review but i feel kinda meh about it. a 4.

10 March 2011

...And Philosophy

Wanna see why Alice is the best child heroine? or learn about logic? or the nature of reality? Then i can recommend you pick up Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy edited by Richard Brian Davis. Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, are wonderful logic adventures on their own and reading these essays on the works was quite informative. a 6.

And I recently saw that there are two new volumes of this series. Or newish. They've released one on Harry Potter covering all seven books and one on Lost covering all six seasons. The HP one appears to be completely new material (not contained in the previous book) while the Lost one seems to be a mixture. so now both of those are on my wish list!

09 March 2011

2011 Movies Part 1

I'm going to keep going with the movies.

Resident Evil 3D- hmm. yeah. it was in 3D and Milla Jovovich is pretty. a 4.

The Man Who Fell to Earth- quite a strange 70's thing. I admit i was kinda studying at the time but i really didn't like it. a 1

Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns- documentary about They Might Be Giants. Fun. 5

Dark Star- ahem. it is John Carpenter's first movie. supposed to be a comedy. let's go with 4.

Machete- I so love Robert Rodriguez. this movie has the best stunt casting (Jeff Fahey's daughter) since Zombieland. a 7!

Red- fun. 5.

Terminator: Salvation- 5. i liked it a good bit but then the ending was just goofy.

The A-Team- 6, fun movie, if incredibly unrealistic.

06 March 2011

What's Going On?

Not sure what is up with me. I'm not depressed; i feel fine! maybe i've been having some winter doldrums? Thinks are great with B. I really just don't feel like doing much, even reading. I did spend yesterday doing some reading but i just can't get motivated to dive into anything.

I also feel like i am reading less, which i don't like. I didn't realize how much time i spent reading at my old job! I would read on my breaks and at lunch and would have a book out anytime we had more than a minute or so between calls. Now, while i can take 2 15 min breaks and up to an hour for lunch, i'm not reading during the workday. I don't have to take a lunch and prefer most days to take my first break around noon to fix my lunch and have been walking with a group of women most days for my second break. so instead of reading maybe an hour or so during the day I am reading 10 mins or less.

The advantage of the new job on the reading front is that I get to listen to audio books. This is reading and I am not disparaging audio books in anyway but it is a different quality of experience. I'm driving so part of my brain and body are focused on that task while the reading part of my brain is, well, reading. It is less relaxing i think.

My numbers don't look too bad: 24 books finished so far in 2011. But 5 have been graphic novels which only take an hour or so to read, 5 have been audio, 2 were books i mostly read in 2010 and just finished up in January and 1, 84, Charing Cross Road, was only 112 pages, many of which were half-pages of text. So overall i've finished 11, a hair above 1 a week. By comparison, taking out comics but not audio as i didn't track those last year, I finished 113, or just over 2 a week. And I haven't dived into any big books, or meaty classics, or even many of my own!

Stuff i NEED to do:
  • finish the grad school apps. I have to write my little "why i want to go back to school" essay still. just 500 words but...
  • clean out the library, removing all the boxes and shelving the books. we really need 1 more shelf somewhere but i could get most of the stuff out of there anyway.
  • Hang up all the pictures!
  • and a perennial one, exercise.
Guess i should get up and go do something, huh?

05 March 2011

one book leads to another

I enjoyed Left Hand of Darkness when i read it last year but the reason i picked up The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin is because Mor mentions loving it in Among Others. At first, i really didn't know where the book was going but as it went on i enjoyed it more and more.

Urras is a world somewhat like Earth; it lots of different nations, some at war with each other. There are extremes of rich and poor and much environmental destruction. A difference is that women aren't allowed to be educated and aren't equal to men. Anarres is the desert moon that Urras gave to a group of communalist anarchists to get them off Urras about 200 years before the novel begins.

Shevek is a physicist and the first man to go from Anarres to Urras to stay in decades. Anarres has segregated itself almost totally from the rest of the Universe and Shevek knows that to find his grand unifying theory that he needs access to other knowledge. so a portion of the story is Shevek's life as he goes to Urras and discovers what life is like among the owners. The other half of the book is about Shevek's life from childhood until he leaves for Urras. The chapters go back and forth so the last chapter of the backstory is at the end of the novel and the next chapter chronologically would be the beginning of the book.

I really liked this book and understand why teens might enjoy it. Anarres, while having problems, is a version of a utopia. no one is rich but no one is poor either. Work is meaningful and voluntary and more based on abilities and interests. Life is hard because the planet isn't the best for human life but it is hard for everyone relatively equally.

Overall a 6 from me! definitely will be reading more LeGuin!

03 March 2011

BTT for 3/3/11

Quick question!

Do you cheat and peek at the ends of books? (Come on, be honest.)

Actually, i don't. i've occasionally accidentally caught a phrase that spoiled me at the end of a book and i've hated it! 99% of the time i want to let the story unfold in front of me, not have things over too quickly. I'm really careful now not to even read the forwards of classic novels as there are frequent spoilers in those too. I don't want to know until i get there myself!

02 March 2011

The Ionian Mission

I liked The Ionian Mission by Patrick O'Brian but didn't like the ending. It is another of O'Brian's books that ends seconds after a battle concludes. I do like a little denouement, thank you, though at least i didn't have to wait until the next book to find out if a favorite character survived the battle. This whole book involves a good bit of waiting and realy makes you feel the grind of service in a blockade. Then Jack and Co. get a break by going on a special mission in the dear old Surprise and head over to deal with 3 Turks all trying to take, or keep, the same town. Whichever one Jack decides to help will probably win and then help Jack and the British take a French-occupied town. So there is this long buildup to that battle, the taking of the town, which we then do not get to see. Therefore, while i liked this book, it is just a 5.