January 11th, 2010

Bike

1-4 Books

2009 was not a great one for me, and it resulted in 51 books, my lowest in five years.
Still, a new year, and hopefully a better one. My first book for the year was;
Julian Baggini's Should you judge this book by its cover? which was pretty good, with an analysis of proverbs, counter proverbs and an injection of history, philosophical sense and logic. I loved The Pig that Wants to be Eaten, but this was not quite at the same level. 200 pages.
My second was Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, which I loved. It had a great mixture of time, place, literature and fantasy and was most entertaining. 373 pages.
Third up was Terry Pratchett's The Dark Side of the Sun, which was unusual: I expected a discworld book and was looking for the usual characters, but instead this was a science fiction fantasy. It was ok; I won't go further than that. 235 pages.
My fourth book was Jasper Fforde's Lost in a Good Book. Times have moved on, but the character Tuesday Next from The Eyre Affair is still moving in time, place, from book to book and in a world which is sometimes somewhat similar to our own. I am enjoying Fforde so much that I am reading another. 372 pages.
So four books, and 1180 pages. The start of a good reading year I hope!
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Shiny Wolf Dogs in England

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
Brilliant, writerly, pulled me along despite all the little tricks like present-tense and strangely modern-thinking characters and flipping back and forth through time that can drive me up a wall in a lesser book. Mantel makes everything work, everything SING, everything pull at one's sense of how much LIKE us the people in the past were and simultaneously how completely NOT LIKE US they were... and turned my tiny little sympathetic flame for Thomas Cromwell into a big old oil lamp. Highly recommended.
(9/200)

Sisley in England and Wales, by Christopher Riopelle and Ann Sumner
Saw a Sisley painting at a traveling New Orleans Museum of Art Impressionist exhibit a couple years back. Loved it. Wanted more like that and finally got around to finding some. The early stuff (first half of the book) didn't do much for me but some of the stuff he painted in wales, in his late 50s, is GORGEOUS and perfect. Plus I enjoyed the biographical context in the catalog essays.
(10/200)

Dogs with Jobs, by Merrily Weisbord and Kim Kachanoff
A bit clunky in places but the stories are great! Sometimes I just want something like Chicken Soup for the Soul only with more dignity. And more pictures:P. This book more than delivers.
(11/200)

Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, by Jill Soloway (reread)
So on the one hand my first experience with this book was so non-memorable that I actually forgot I read it AND forgot to put it in my master list of books I've read. On the other hand, it was entertaining enough that I kept rereading it even after I realized that was what I was doing. If you liked Six Feet Under you would probably be interested in reading this book since it's by one of the main writers for that show - I know I enjoyed thinking about what parts of her story were similar and dissimilar to various characters on the show. Or if you like Sandra-Bernhard-type comedy. I'm a bit conflicted myself. Good: feisty, feminist, obviously doesn't take herself too seriously. Bad: I am never fully comfortable with the "HA HA I AM SO POLITICALLY INCORRECT AND OFFENSIVE BUT NOT TOO OFFENSIVE AND BESIDES IT'S OK BECAUSE I AM ACTUALLY A GOOD PERSON" type of comedy... and I am not sure if some parts of this book are that, or if they're actually a self-aware parody of that (which has another set of issues), or really I think it's maybe both at once. I didn't notice that thread of the book as much the first time through.
(12/200)
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Books, Reading

Demons Are Forever - Confessions of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom

Book# 4 of 50; 1250 of 15,000 Pgs by December 2010; 2nd Read
Title: Demons Are Forever - Confessions of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom
Author: Julie Kenner
Genre: SciFi / Fantasy / Supernatural
Add'l Info: Paperback; 292 pages; Kate Connor, Demon Hunter Series (3 of 5 (so far)).
Synopsis:Collapse )
My Thoughts: Rating: 8 out of 10
Picking up exactly where book #2 (California Demon - The Secret Life of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom) left off, Demons Are Forever deals with the repercussions of secrets kept and lies told. Concentrating less on the demons, in some respects, and more on family life, love, and loss, this particular story is both morbid and fun, with an ending that makes you want to come back for more. Deja Demon will be a new read for me.

In Depth: Collapse )

Up Next: Deja Demon: The Days and Nights of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom


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As well as: 15000pages & harmonatrix
May also be x-posted @ books & readplease



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1. Demons Don't Dream by Piers Anthony (2010 books)



Book #:1
Title:Demons Don't Dream
Author:Piers Anthony
Year:1993
Genre:Fantasy
# of pages:335
Rating:4/10
Synopsis (from cover):
Beloved by millions of readers around the world, Piers Anthony's Xanth novels are among the most popular fantasy adventures ever published. Demons Don't Dream begins a thrilling new Xanth sequence, as a pair of young adventurers play for the highest stakes of all: the future of Xanth--and of Earth as well! Drawn into Xanth by a harmless-looking computer game, two young people find themselves competing for a precious prize: Dug, who is beguiled by a beautiful serpent-princess, and Kim, who discovers her favorite fantasy realm has suddenly become frighteningly real. In a desperate race against time, dug and Kim battle their way across the wondrous, perilous land of Xanth, testing their courage against dozens of fearsome obstacles (and their wits against a host of outrageous puns!) But when treachery, danger, and deceit place Xanth itself in peril, Dug and Kim learn that some things are more important than winning or losing. A breathtaking, madcap quest filled with fearsome monsters and far-fetched fun, Demons Don't Dream is vintage Xanth, an unforgettable escapade from fantasy's most imaginative storyteller.

My Review:
This book was pretty bad, I must say. It's the first I've read by this author, part of his Xanth series. The book follows two storylines of 2 separate teenagers who are playing a computer game in which they are drawn into the magical world of Xanth populated by demons, dragons, skeletons, elves, shapeshifters, and other magical beings and manifestations. It was very lighthearted fantasy with a lot of jokes and plot points that revolved around word puns. This is not much my thing. Fans of light fantasy might enjoy this more than I did. It might also appeal more to young adult readers. However, in my opinion, the characters were flat, the plot was weak, and even the writing was often clumsy. There is a lot of magic in the book, but problems are continually solved by some easy magical solution that just happens to appear. I give it 4 out of ten stars, for it wasn't abysmally bad, just bad. It was mildly entertaining, and did contain a lot of fun, fantastical elements. They just weren't developed very well.
El Corazon

16. The Shooting Star

The Shooting Star
by Herge

Started/Finished: January 11, 2010

Another fast-paced, well-done Tintin advent
ure. I was glad that Herge took a break from bringing in Thompson and Tompson this time. To be precise: their act was grating on me a little. Another thing I'm glad of is that over the last 3-4 books, Snowy has turned into a more ordinary dog instead of this almost-human companion. Sometimes his little adventures in the corners of the comic panels are some of the best stuff in the book. 64 pages. Grade: A-
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Total # of Books Read in 2010: 16
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 2,696

Currently Reading: Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens; The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You By Pop Culture by Nathan Rabin
Reading Soon: More Tintin; .45 Dangerous Minds by Steven Blush and George Petros; The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy; The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy; The Voyeur by Alain Robbe-Grillet
Girl with Owl

2. A Reliable Wife

Title: A Reliable Wife
Author: Robert Goolrick
Page #: 291
Year Published: 2009

Summary: Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, Robert Goolrick's intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.
-- Algonquin Books

Thoughts: This was an absolutely gorgeous book. The style is spare and haunting, practically gripping you by the throat as you read. Some of the plot twists seemed a bit clumsily handled, and the introspective chapters sometimes went on for too long and were slightly repetitive, but for the most part this was an extremely impressive book. The characters manage to be both sympathetic and fascinating despite having done some truly awful things, and the end, while horrifying, is also oddly satisfying. I actually took time out of my once-every-few-months visit with my fiance to read this book, and let me tell you, that takes one damn fascinating book!

2/50
reading

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2. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Eddie Russett has been sent to East Carmine to conduct a chair census for questioning the notion of queuing. His father, the local swatchman, has been given a position in the same area following the dear of Ochre - the previous swatchman who has died mysterious of self-misdiagnosis. On a promise to an Oxblood (a high ranking family in need of a high perception red male), Eddie's suspicions are enhanced once he realises that the non-purple he saw die in the paint shop back in Jade-Under-Lyme was with the same grey (Jane) as is now his housemaid, weeks away from reboot for being 800 merits below zero. However, once he begins to question Jane and find out the truth, he realises that everything is not as it appears in his perfect world and being made prefect or joining National Colour may not be quite as important as he realises.

Confused? Yeah, you will be. I spent the first 200 pages totally baffled. Essentially, Eddie Russett lives in the future - a dystopian society many centuries after our own has perished. The rules of this society are based on colour perception: a grey is a worker bee, bottom of the rung who sees only grey; a red is a person who sees red to varying degrees; a green will see green and so on. Everything, down to the medicines & illegal drugs used, is based on colour. Questions are not thought to be beneficial, arranged marriages for money (merits) and to help future generations maintain their standing in (colour) society is the norm and people sent to 'reboot' never return. As you begin to learn more about this world, it becomes impossible to stop. I was drawn into this as much as Fforde's other series. I think I'd rank this with Thursday Next - the characters are fantastic, the writing humourous and you are left with questions throughout. Engrossing and worth a read. Also comments well on our own society.

9/10
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Book #3 - Fool

Book #3: Fool - Christopher Moore (2009, 311 pages)

Pocket isn't just anyone's fool. He's the court jester to the mighty King Lear. Yes, that same King Lear we know quite well thanks to Shakespeare and 8 trillion different adaptations of the play.

As the events of Lear's life, as told by Shakespeare anyway, unfolds, Pocket finds himself as an unwilling participant in the background. He soon begin taking an active role in the situation, becoming the mastermind, with the help of the Three Witches of Birnham Wood (yep, that one) and a sexy yet mysterious ghost, behind story, leading us to the culmination with which readers of King Lear are very familiar.

I love Christopher Moore, and here he has written yet another great and very funny novel. I always enjoy books that tell a popular story from another point of view, and Moore does so with his traditional sardonic wit. I absolutely love this book and cannot recommend it enough, which is why I give it a whopping five out of five jesters.

Total Books Read: 3 / 50 (6 percent)
Total Pages Read: 1,029 / 15,000 (7 percent)
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Book 1 of 2010

Sorry for the repost, but I realized I needed to close my old LJ account and open a new one for my favorite LJ communities. X-posted to lovethecolorofitall.blogspot.com/Cover

Title: The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Author: John Bellairs

Year: 1973

Genre: Young Adult / Gothic Horror

Pages: 179

Rating: 9/10

Summary: Lewis always dreamed of living in an old house full of secret passageways, hidden rooms, and big marble fireplaces. And suddenly, after the death of his parents, he finds himself in just such a mansion--his Uncle Jonathan's. When he discovers that his big friendly uncle is also a wizard, Lewis has a hard time keeping himself from jumping up and down in his seat. Unfortunately, what Lewis doesn't bank on is the fact that the previous owner of the mansion was also a wizard--but an evil one who has placed a tick-tocking clock somewhere in the bowels of the house, marking off the minutes until the end of the world. And when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead on Halloween night, the clock only ticks louder and faster. Doomsday draws near--unless Lewis can stop the clock! (from Amazon)

Thoughts: I've loved John Bellairs ever since Brad Strickland came to my elementary school when he started finishing three books that were unfinished at Bellairs's death. I originally bought this book for my husband to read -- he never read Bellairs as a child and since he's a Lovecraft fan, I thought he would appreciate the subject matter. However, he found my copy of The Doom of the Haunted Opera and left Clock in Its Walls lying around, so I scooped it up. There's something about Bellairs's writing. He's not graphic and he's not violent, but he can say so much more through omission than most authors say with exposition. However, Clock in Its Walls is not packed full of doom and gloom -- Bellairs takes time to add humor to his books and allows the plot to play itself out instead of smooshing it into a few days or weeks.

Also, I have Bellairs to thank for a large portion of my esoteric knowledge: knowing how to make a Hand of Glory has never come in useful. He's to blame for the whole Edward Gorey obsession as well.
waterfall

Murder Mysteries

Last night, I reread Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries.

Each time I read this graphic novel (up to 3 now), I find myself more uncertain about my solution to the "mysteries." I think that is a combination of growing older (therefore being less inclined to think I know everything there is to know) and of having finally taken a GOOD literature class.. one which forced me to evaluate and re-evaluate works.

Of course, my boyfriend gave me his view which sounded spot-on. Then again, sometimes I'm still inclined to think that HE knows everything there is to know. I guess I'm not that old, after all.

As for the graphic novel itself, Gaiman has again successfully paired up with a graphic artist to weave a fantastical story which leaves the reader feeling a slight buzz of mysticism. The story is two-fold, yet united. The story of Creation; the story of murder. The story of the Creation of murder. An exploration of victims and villians, and top-notch Gaiman.