September 30th, 2009

hand, butterfly

Books 66 - 67

My year officially ended yesterday, and seeing as how I didn't finish the book I was working on, I suppose I'll just have to make do with the last two books I read since my last update. Considering my goal for the year was 50 books, I'm very proud that I managed to read 67.

66. The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

As with all classics, I'm glad I got the chance to read this story, but it wasn't as scary as people were making it out to be. Maybe I'm a little biased because the movie with Johnny Depp is scary to me, and that is infinitely more creepy than the story it was based on.

Rating: 3/5

67. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

One of my coworkers is a huge fan of the True Blood series, so she kept pestering me to read the books, considering how much of an avid reader I am. I finally broke down and bought the first one on my kindle a couple weeks ago, and read it through in one day. It wasn't bad, as far as plot goes, but it could've been written better. Still, I'm interested enough in the series that I'll read the second book, and we'll see how much further I go from there. Of course, seeing as how I have about 10 physical books on my shelf that I haven't read yet, and another 10 or so on my kindle to read, it might be a while before I actually get around to reading the next book in the series. Ah well.

Rating: 3.5/5
  • peake

September books

Well, I made the 50 with a quarter of the year still to go. The latest list:

#45 Transition by Iain Banks, reviewed for Interzone. It's by Banks, so you know it's pacy, entertaining, and features a fair helping of gruesome comedy. But the plot is an almighty mess that doesn't come close to beginning to make sense. And why this slipped out without the 'M' is beyond me.

#46 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I re-read this because I'm contributing to a book on film adaptations. Well the film doesn't hold up as well as I remember, but the novel certainly does. This has to be one of the greatest of all sf tragedies.

#47 The Inter-Galactic Playground by Farah Mendlesohn, reviewed for Vector. A critical study of sf for children and young adults, though it is at its liveliest where it is a polemical attack on some of the assumptions made about children's fiction generally.

#48 The Mere Future by Sarah Schulman. Naive, ill-structured, poorly written. If you happen upon the book, give it a miss.

#49 Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, another novel read for the film adaptations book, and another novel that holds up really well after all the years, as noted here.

#50 The Infinities by John Banville, which I've already written about here.
Caleb- snug as a bug!

Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark (reread)
Charlaine Harris
Fiction; mystery; paranormal romance
292 pages
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome--and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life....
But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of--big surprise--murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next....

I have just finished watching both seasons of "True Blood", so I wanted to reread the books. Surprisingly, I think that the first installment in this series is one of the weakest in the Southern Vampire series. I do not like the book version of Bill. I find him to be quite annoying. Another reason that I think that this book is a bit lacking is that there is not much involvement and interaction with Eric, who happens to be my favorite character in both the book and televion series. I think that he adds a dynamic to the series that was not as present in Dead Until Dark. I know it sounds like I didn't like this book, but in fact, I really do enjoy it. It sucked (haha) me into the rest of the books. I am going to reread the entire series and wait (as patiently as I can) for the third season of "True Blood" to begin. I haven't read the latest three, but I cannot wait to get to them!

Books read this year: 38/50.
Pages read this year: 12717/15000

Books 45 and 46

Book 45
Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs

CG bought this book at the recent book fair featuring the author, so it was just a matter of time until I read it.
As debut novels go - introducing Temperence Brennan - it's good enough but also uneven. CG's main complaint was that the character is unbelievable in worrying about her friends (as in, not enough). My complaint would be the far too lengthy descriptions of forensic procedures/terms, including her motivation for having to explain such things. When she offers brief comparisons to other characters, it works. When she prattles on for pages, seemingly out of character, it distracts.
But Reichs is a witty writer. And the base is there for more. So it's worth your time. But I'd still recommend glossing over some of those gigantic paragraphs.

Book 46
On the Road to Kandahar - Jason Burke

Part blowhard and part curiosity seeker, Burke adds to the chorus trying to explain Islamic radicalism by checking in with average people in hotspots from Afghanistan to Palestine to places in between.
As a foreign correspondent, Burke is a bit too macho and recless, though he does admit to this with his constant pop-culture references. But as a curious reporter, Burke tries to make sense of each locale and see how all of the pieces fit together in understanding how the West and East have, and will, relate to one another.
Through the years, he admits to changing his mind as to what is happening. And his nascent optimism is shattered after terrorists attack his hometown of London.
Anyoen interested in world affairs might consider reading about his journey, even if they don't agree with the ultimate conclusion. The books is worth it, not so much for the analysis, but for a glimpse at information we rarely get to have.

September books: #95-101

95. Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit: Classic novel about a young woman who's lived all her life in debtors' prison but who manages to touch a number of lives around her. There are lots of wonderful secondary characters and a mystery plot thrown in. Not my favorite Dickens novel, but still worth a read. My full review is here.

96. James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans: Really incredibly dull for something that claims to be an adventure novel. The characterization is poor, and the action, although spiced with lots of fighting, gets monotonous after a while. Review is here.

97. Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth: Pulitzer-winning novel about a poor farmer living in China before the Communist Revolution there. The story follows him and his family throughout his life, and it gives an interesting picture of Chinese society at the time. My review is here.

98. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Various characters in this epistolary novel share their love of books and their experiences during World War II. It's funny and sweet, and I absolutely loved it. Read my full review here.

99. Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida: Another tragic romance. This one's interesting because it takes place during the Trojan War and provides a different perspective from that of Homer and Virgil. I think it's definitely worth a read, and I'm looking for a good movie version. Full review is here.

100. Herman Melville, Billy Budd: In this short novella, a young sailor named Billy Budd must pay the price of his simpleminded innocence when he unintentionally violates a maritime law. The book raises some interesting ethical questions, but I'm definitely not a fan of Melville's style. Review is here.

101. Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days: YA fantasy novel that starts with a princess in a tower...but the main character is actually her maid, who's not waiting for a prince to come and rescue her. I really enjoyed this unconventional fairy tale, and I was intrigued by the world of the novel, which was based on Mongolian legends. Recommended for people who like YA lit and fantasy. My review is here.

(Cross-posted to books and 100ormorebooks.)

Books 75 and 76

75. The Confederate States of America, by Roger L. Ransom. Maybe I'm strange, but I love talking with my friends about the "what ifs" in history. What if Hitler would have stopped with Austria. What if Watergate was never uncovered. What if the Confederacy won the Civil War.
It's this last "what if" that makes up Ransom's interesting and very dense book. This isn't a novel you can sit down and read in one setting, but for history buffs who like to see a possible "alternate universe," this is a must-read. What's nice is this book goes through what really happened, for those of us who have been out of school for a while, before delving into what might have happened. It's one thing to debate what could have happened just at the country level, but it's another to look at the world impact -- the effect in international relations, the construction of the Panama canal. At the end, Ransom theorizes, the United States may very well have allied with Germany in World War I, while the Confederacy may have allied with Great Britain, and he explains why.

76. Legends of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 1, by Barbara Randall Kesel, Heidi Arnhold and Max Kim. I only recently found out that there were two graphic novels created as prequels to the Dark Crystal movie. This is well-drawn, and the story is well-created. I like the characters of Lahr and Neffi, and it's neat to see the Gelfings before the destruction. It was also neat to see the inner workings of the Skeksis, including the personality of the old emperor -- who was a sly, smart and vicious creature. I just love the little Gelfling children, they are so sweet. The overall feel is rather bittersweet for those who have seen the movie and know what will happen inevitably.

Now, if I could just find the second book . . .