December 16th, 2009

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Book 62

Book 62
Christmas Jars - Jason F. Wright


This novella has some odd pacing, sloppy character development and is too heavy on the melodrama without conveying much emotion.
Still, compared to what I just finished, it was a palatable story that tries (a bit too hard) to show the joy and healing that comes from giving.
In the story, a young journalist who is enduring a rough patch suddenly finds a jar of spare change and some bills on her doorstep when she needs it most. Sensing a story, she tracks down the family that started the tradition of giving away a year's worth of spare change to the needy and finds a true connection.
It's so formulaic, you know what happens next. But it tries.
And no, I am not being kind because this is a story about a reporter. Although the author is identified as a former journalist, his character bears no resemblance to the traits and abilities of any professional journo I know.
I might, however, have a weak spot for another reason. Growing up, my mother always put her change in a giant bottle in our living room. Pennies were rolled into sleeves, taken to the bank and traded for dimes. Dimes, eventually, gave way to quarters. And yes, that money often was all there was to buy for Christmas.
I don't have a Christmas jar or bottle of my own. But I do still save and roll change. Perhaps there is redemptive power in little family traditions, too.
PANIK
  • gillyp

#77: The Dice Man

by Luke Rhinehart.

Very much a book of its time (the seventies, man!), in style and morality and the obsession with sex and the sheer heartlessness and brutality.

Rhinehart makes a good job of picking apart the Dice-Man’s philosophy, showing it for what it really is (a breakdown). It's very much a period-piece and appears to have been written as an allegory of its Times, in fact, I’d say reading it as such is the only way to truly ‘get it’.

It’s interesting, best in the beginning ...more
Very much a book of its time (it's the seventies, man!) both in its style and morality, the obsession with sex and the sheer heartlessness and brutality.

Rhinehart makes a good job of picking apart the Dice-Man’s philosophy, showing it for what it really is (a breakdown). It's very much a period-piece and appears to have been written as an allegory of its Times, in fact, I’d say reading it as such is the only way to truly ‘get it’.

It’s an interesting read, best in the beginning and the end (the middle, it has to be said, flags badly). Quite graphic in its portrayal of rape, violence and murder - it's not for the faint-hearted.
smile for the world // Homestuck

[Book 04] Hunter x Hunter volume 3 by Yoshihiro Togashi

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Title: Hunter x Hunter volume 3
Mangaka: Yoshihiro Togashi
Genre: Shounen
Book details: Manga, 192 pages
Rating: 5/5

Baka-Updates Manga Summary: Hunters are a special breed, dedicated to tracking down treasures, magical beasts, and even other men. But such pursuits require a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam. Those who do pass gain access to restricted areas, amazing stores of information, and the right to call themselves Hunters.

My Review:

We get to see Kurapika's eyes react in this volume. I wish we could see the color for real, not like in the anime or even on the manga cover. It's got to be something to see if the whole clan was, well, you know for them. This volume also warms you up to Kurapika more if you were unsure about him before. :)

HxH has some cool little illustrations sometimes, and one of them is in chapter 20; it's the one of Killua in black (and white) with a dragon on his shirt and reptile tattoos on his arm.

Leorio is kind of a douche in this volume. Such a temper! But you learn to accept his faults (or ignore them). =P

I 'm really enjoying the Predator & Prey round - Gon's practice and the two who ended up teaming up after Tompa's trick. We also meet Illumi for the 'first' time! He's...interesting, to say the least.
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smile for the world // Homestuck

[Book 05] Hunter x Hunter volume 4 by Yoshihiro Togashi

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Title:
Hunter x Hunter volume 4
Mangaka: Yoshihiro Togashi
Genre: Shounen
Book details: Manga, 192 pages
Rating: 5/5

Baka-Updates Manga Summary: Hunters are a special breed, dedicated to tracking down treasures, magical beasts, and even other men. But such pursuits require a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam. Those who do pass gain access to restricted areas, amazing stores of information, and the right to call themselves Hunters.

My Review:

Unofficial title: 'Volume Collection of Hisoka's Creepiest Faces Evar'.

I loved Gon in this volume - all his practice comes to a conclusion! I loved the Hisoka & Gon interaction. I really love the friendships developed in HxH. They can be sweet, supportive, comforting, even protective.

Gon's stubbornness really comes out in this volume (and the last one) and shows you that Gon's not just a "pretty face" so to say.

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  • noachoc

(no subject)

Well, the resolution to update more often than once every five books went to hell in the proverbial handbasket.

I read The Goblin Tower by L. Sprague DeCamp. It's... very silly in just the way I like fantasy to be. It smells ever so faintly of Conan, and I found myself describing it to the boyfriend by saying "Conan is to Hercules as this guy is to Theseus", by which I meant that the main character of The Goblin Tower manages to survive with a bit more use of brains than brawn, but that you could easily insert him into Conan's world or Conan into his world and they'd fit just perfectly. This guy, whose name I forget because I can't ever remember characters' names, happened to become king of a country that kills its king every five years. He manages to escape from the axe at the very last minute with the help of his otherwise generally useless sorcerer friend, to whom he now owes a favor, and they trek across their world avoiding death at every turn. It's apparently the first in a series, but it stands alone just fine.

Then I finally buckled down and finished The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon by Gideon Defoe. I'd been keeping it as a purse book for months (to read during unexpected waits at doctors' offices or mechanics') before replacing it with something I was more interested in and forgetting it. The Pirates! books lend themselves better to slow reading than fast, and best of all to being read out loud. This one continues their trend of hilarious randomness. In this, The Pirate Captain gets fed up with piracy and decides he wants to be a beekeeper instead. True to form, he buys a deed off of Black Bellamy, his nemesis, and goes off to Elba which, he is told, will be perfect for raising bees. Little does he suspect that Napoleon is also in exile there and Napoleon is just as much a vain idiot as The Pirate Captain. Slapping fights ensue.

Then it was Shield by Poul Anderson. I find I like Mr. Anderson's shorter novels far more than his longer ones. This one was about medium but just fine. It's the story of a guy who is in possession of a personal force field. The government, and other governments, find out about it and he is forced to go on the lam to keep them from killing him or taking the shield by force.

Then it was Scavenger Hunt by Christopher Pike. I was obsessed with Pike books when I was about thirteen and recently picked up a pile of them at the library's ten cent paperback sale in hopes of rediscovering the awesome. I'd been disappointed by the two I'd read earlier but this one stood up a bit better to my memory. It's about a group of teens sent off on a scavenger hunt that turns out to be evil. It's not high-class literature by any means, but it's fun.

And last I read Fever by Robin Cook, which I absolutely hated. The story itself is well written enough and plenty gripping, but the main character, a father/scientist/doctor who finds out his daughter has a particularly awful form of leukemia, is such a terrible person that I really couldn't overlook it. He spends all of his time stomping about and screaming at people that don't deserve to be screamed at. He hits his wife. He hits his son. He makes things absolutely impossible for absolutely everybody, he takes his son's college tuition and spends it on lab mice, and rather than his wife leaving him and his daughter dying, he manages to, completely luckily, save her life at the very last minute and, surprise, they're all a big happy family again. Things like this happen, of course, bad people get lucky breaks, but I hated the guy so much that I couldn't enjoy the book.

(91/100 Odds of making it = slim)
  • ydnimyd

#44 - Unaccustomed Earth

#44 - Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (2008, 333 pages)

Jhumpa Lahiri deserves every bit of recognition she has been given since her first collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, received the Pulitzer Prize. Her second book, Unaccustomed Earth, was named one of the 10 best books of 2008 by the New York Times Book Review, and that award is completely justified.

Just as her first book presented short stories about people from India adjusting to life and others in a foreign place, her second book featured eight more tales in the same vein. The stories seem simple at the outset, but Lahiri's beautiful prose highlights the importance of what so many people take for granted, the reason why I adore Lahiri's books. The stories in this book are beautiful, but it is the final three stories, all of which are related, that captured and then broke my heart. Those three stories, simply put, are breathtaking.

I strongly encourage anyone to read Lahiri's stories. They are smart, beautiful, haunting, and so amazingly well-written. That is why I give this book, a very strong five out of five stories.

Total Books Read:
44 / 50 (88 percent)
Total Pages Read:
12,643 / 15,000 (84 percent)
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blue shoes

45: Death In Kashmir by M. M. Kaye

Book Forty-Five

Title: Death In Kashmir
Author: M. M. Kaye
Page Count: 256
Genre: Mystery

Synopsis/Thoughts: Note: I stole the synopsis from Goodreads, because I'm too lazy to do one of my own right now. When young Sarah Parrish takes a skiing vacation to Gulmarg, a resort nestled in the mountains above the fabled Vale of Kashmir, she anticipates an entertaining but uneventful stay. But when she discovers that the deaths of two in her party are the reuslt of foul play, she finds herself entrusted with a mission of unforseen importance. And when she leaves the ski slopes for the Waterwitch, a private houseboat on the placid shores of the Dal Lake near Srinagar, she discovers to her horror that the killer will stop at nothing to prevent Sarah from piecing the puzzle together.

I really liked this mystery set in India at the end of British Raj. In addition to being a suspenseful murder mystery with an ending I didn't predict, it is an all-around well written book. The author spent much of her life in India, and it shows in the vivid descriptions of the scenery, which I found to be captivating. They made me wish I could see the places I was reading about! The characters are well-drawn, and there is a touch of romance as well, though not so much as to be overbearing. All in all this was a very enjoyable read and I plan on picking up the others in the series.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

It irritates me to no end that the local Borders and Barnes & Noble doesn't carry Mike Resnick's books; I'm sure that they have their reasons, but if they're going to service their customer, then they should be ordering this. It just shows the stupidity of having some regional district manager ordering, instead of someone at the store, who speaks to people everyday about what they like, and why.

Anyway, that rant out of the way, I finished reading Mike Resnick's new novel, Starship: Flagship, set in his Birthright universe. It held together nicely, and was a quick, fun read, as were the several prior books in this particular series. Very readable.

Odd thing: Amazon says that the book is supposed to be released on 12/22. I used a gift card I'd gotten to order from them, and the book showed up in just a couple of days. Mistake? Well, I enjoyed it, in any case.