January 31st, 2010

Dead Dog Cat


Earlier this week, I finished reading another Mike Resnick book, though not so much SF as it might have been. It's one of his Lucifer Jones series about a con man from Moline, IL, in the early 20th Century; a parody and comedy work of lesser value/interest. Amusing, but not classic. It's called Hazards: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones 1934 -1938. In prior books, he's been thrown off of the continents of North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa; in this one he has adventures in South America.

Book 6 -- Beyond Fear

1. Into the Path of Gods by Kathleen Cunningham-Guler. (4 of 5)
2. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. (4 of 5)
3. The Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton. (3.5 of 5)
4. The Greener Shore by Morgan Llewellyn. (5 of 5)
5. Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke. (4.5 of 5)

6. Beyond Fear by Bruce Schneier. (4 of 5) -- Bruce provides an excellent detail of what comprises the concepts of security and in a format that is easy to understand for the typical lay-person. His constant examples get a little repetitive at times, but still a highly recommended book.

7. Children of the Salmon by Eileen O'Faolain. (In Progress)
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1. JLA/JSA Virtue and Vice, by David Goyer and Geoff Johns. From 2002, this tells the story of the seven deadly sins let loose on the world and how the JLA/JSA teamed up to stop them. Not the best I've read from Johns, but it has it's moments.

2. Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War, Vol 2, by Geoff Johns, David Gibbons, Peter Tomasi. Second entry in the miniseries that sets up "The Blackest Night" (the third part of the trilogy Johns is doing). Excellent entry in which all four Earth-based Lanterns fight Sinestro and his fear-based Corps on Earth. Superboy-Prime returns to wreak havoc as does the Anti-Monitor. I don't know much about art or the techniques used in drawing comics, but I'm really beginning to like Ethan Van Sciver's work here.

3. Green Lantern: Tales of the Sinestro Corps, by Geoff Johns, Ron Marz, Alan Burnett, and Sterling Gates. Nightmare-inducing tales of how Sinestro's corps was born and a couple of bonus stories of the Green Lantern Corps; of Sinestro's Corps the lanterns featured include Despotellis, Karu-Sil, Bedovian, and Sinestro himself. Parallax also makes an appearance, having possessed Kyle Rayner. Johns and Gates also contribute an encyclopedia of Lanternology at the back of the book, naming all the Green and Yellow Lanterns and discussing their mythology.

4. Justice, by Michael J. Sandel. This book is born from a Harvard professor's class on justice and political philosophy. Controversial topics include assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, abortion, patriotism, and dissent. You might not agree with the conclusions of the philosophers discussed here, but this book will make you think.

5. Impact, by Douglas Preston. A very disappointing solo effort from one of my favorite authors. The characters are not memorable and some are downright nasty, and the action wraps up too quickly and too neatly for my taste. Here's hoping the next Pendergast novel (due in May 2010) will be better.
  • krinek

3. The Mapmaker's Opera by Béa Gonzalez

mapmaker's operaTitle: The Mapmaker's Opera
Author: Béa Gonzalez
Year: 2005
# of pages: 277
Date read: 1/17/2010
Rating: 4*/5 = great


"In a town in the heart of La Mancha, home to Don Quijote and his windmills, to long afternoons and silent, silent nights, the Clemente family lived for centuries, their fortunes tied to those of a plant…

So begins the grand buliéra that is The Mapmaker’s Opera. Born in Seville, Spain to a dishonored governess, Diego Clemente finds solace from the turmoil of his early years in the world of books, in particular, John James Audubon’s Birds of America. Presented with the opportunity to assist the renowned American naturalist Edward Nelson in compiling the first guide to the birds on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, Diego embarks on a journey that will not only hone his artistic talent but will transform his life.

Arriving on the eve of the Mexican Revolution, Diego finds himself in a world of precarious beauty, where opulent henequen plantations are built on the backs of slave labour, and where the social order is on the brink of imploding. There, Diego falls in love with the young Sofia, a woman who longs to be as free as the birds she also loves.

A mesmerizing tale of star-crossed passions, a pair of mysterious birds, and a young man’s quest to honor both his mentor and his father, The Mapmaker’s Opera is a tour de force of lyrical, magical storytelling" -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This was a beautifully told story about birds, love and people on the eve of revolution. I liked the opera theme throughout as characters entered the scene from stage right or left.

Books read in January: #1-18

1. Galen Beckett, The Magicians and Mrs. Quent: Intriguing blend of fantasy with Victorian England, with several nods to classic works of literature by Austen and the Brontes. My review is here.

2. Agatha Christie, An Autobiography
: Breezy and witty autobiography from the "queen of crime." My review is here.

3. Jessica Day George, Princess of the Midnight Ball:
Well-written but not terribly original retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" from the hero's point of view. My review is here.

4. Gilbert Morris, The Mermaid in the Basement: Christian mystery set in Victorian London, with an interesting plot and compelling heroine but an overly preachy hero. My review is here.

5. Emily Gee, The Laurentine Spy: Suspenseful fantasy novel about two spies at a foreign court who don't know each other's identities. They strongly dislike each other in their assumed personas but are drawn to each other as their true selves. I highly recommend this one if the concept is interesting to you. My review is here.

6. Albert Camus, trans. Stuart Gilbert, The Plague: Philosophical and psychological study of what happens to the inhabitants of a small Franco-African town when the bubonic plague breaks out. My review is here.

7. Polly Shulman, Enthusiasm: Extremely entertaining Austen spin-off centering around two high-school girls and the various boys in their lives. I'm picky about Austen paraliterature, but I really enjoyed this one! My review is here.

8. Jade Parker, To Catch a Pirate: YA "romance" between a stereotypical handsome young pirate and a girl who was once his victim but who now sails the high seas as a privateer herself. Nothing original or interesting about it. My review is here.

9. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal: Eighteenth-century comedy of manners satirizing the penchant of the upper classes for scandal-mongering. I thought it was hysterically funny and would love to see it performed. My review is here.

10. Anne Osterlund, Academy 7: YA science-fiction novel about a privileged, rebellious boy and a fugitive girl from a slave planet. They meet at a futuristic space academy, where they must learn to trust each other in order to uncover an important secret about their pasts. The science-fiction elements were minimal, but as a coming-of-age story I enjoyed this novel. My review is here.

11. Sharon Kay Penman, When Christ and His Saints Slept: Epic historical fiction novel set during the war between Stephen and Maude for the English throne. A vivid re-creation of the medieval setting and strong, fascinating characters make this long book a short read. My review is here.

12. Anna McPartlin, Pack Up the Moon: Mundane chick lit about a woman in her late twenties who must rebuild her life after her long-term boyfriend suddenly dies. My review is here.

13. Nora Roberts, Vision in WhiteRomance between a wedding photographer -- one of four best friends who work at a full-service wedding planning agency -- and a geeky English teacher.

14. Laurell K. Hamilton et al., Never After: Anthology of four short stories/novellas (all by different authors) that each have a unique twist on the running-away-from-an-arranged-marriage trope. I was pleased with three out of the four, particularly the stories by Marjorie M. Liu and Sharon Shinn. My review of #13-14 is here.

15-18. Tamora Pierce, "The Song of the Lioness" quartet: YA series about a feisty young girl named Alanna who disguises herself as a boy to be trained as a knight. The quartet follows her from her entrance into the training academy through her knighthood, travels throughout the kingdom, and final confrontation with her nemesis. My review of the 4 books is here.

(Cross-posted to books and 100ormorebooks.)
El Corazon

73. The Water is Wide; 74. The West of Billy the Kid; 75. Tintin and Alph-Art

The Water is Wide
by Pat Conroy

Started: January 30, 2010
Finished: January 31, 2010

I did enjoy this non-fiction tale of Conroy's year teaching at a poverty stricken school on an island off the coast of South Carolina. I think Conroy was generally interested in bettering the lives of the kids he was teaching, but I do have to say that even though I don't think it was intentional there was definitely a vein of "Oh, listen to the stupid, funny things these poor illiterate black kids said" running through this book. Like I said, I don't think Conroy really meant to be poking fun at these kids, but that doesn't mean he didn't do it anyways. Still, like I said, I did enjoy this. 258 pages. Grade: B+
The West of Billy the Kid
by Frederick Nolan

Started: January 30, 2010
Finished: January 31, 2010

This is the second-best book on Billy the Kid. The best book was also written by Nolan--The Lincoln County War: A Documentary History. The writing in this book isn't as strong. Nolan just doesn't do as good a job separating the thousand different characters that float through the story. That's not to say this is a bad book, just not the author's best work on the same subject. The hundreds of great reproductions of historical photographs are awesome. 299 pages. Grade: B
Tintin and Alph-Art
by Herge

Started/Finished: January 31, 2010

The last Tintin adventure! Hooray! This one was about as boring as the rest of the last three or four. As a whole, I think I was just too old to be reading these for the first time. There were four or five books that I really liked, but for the most part the series was way too repetitive for my tastes. 72 pages. Grade: C
Total # of Books Read in 2010: 75
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 15,943
  • cat63

Book 10 for 2010

From A Buick 8 by Stephen King 462 pages

After Pennsylvania State Trooper Curtis Wilcox is killed in the line of duty, his son Ned starts hanging around the barracks where he was based, and the men and women who work there do their best to help him. Eventually, Ned notices the abandoned old Buick in the shed behind the barracks and his curiosity is piqued, just as his father's had been before him....

This is probably the best Stephen King book I've read for some time, and possibly one of the best of his altogether. Certainly a vast improvement on Lisey's Story, which I read last year and felt was horribly overwritten and under-edited. This book does have the repeated phrases that are pretty much King's hallmark, but they're used in moderation and don't grate, as the ones in LS do from overuse.

I can't help but wonder if this is because much of the book was apparently written before King's terrible accident, but in any case, it makes for a far more readable and enjoyable book. King does an excellent job of building an atmosphere of mystery and menace around the contents of Shed B and of constructing the team of characters who work at the PSP Barracks.
El Corazon

76. Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can
by Frank W. Abagnale with Stan Redding

Started: January 30, 2010
Finished: January 31, 2010

A funny, interesting look at a 1960s con man. I've never seen the Steven Spielberg movie based on this, now I want to. 293 pages. Grade: A-
Total # of Books Read in 2010: 76
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 16,236

books 2-4: The Flynn Brothers Trilogy by Heather Graham

all synopsis are from amazon.com

2. Deadly Night by Heather Graham. Book 1 on the trilogy. A friend from work gave me this book to read. I really enjoyed the book. There was suspense, mystery, and romance set against the backdrop of New Orleans. I kept changing my mind about "who-did-it" until the very end - and the guilty party never even made my probable suspect list! A great read and one I would recommend to anyone!



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3. Deadly Harvest by Heather Graham. The second book in the series. I enjoyed this one as well. There was some similarities to the first book - second brother, some murders and the supernatural. But, overall a great book with a suprise culprit at the end!




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4. Deadly Gift by Heather Graham. The third book in the trilogy centered on the third and youngest brother. This book was the worse of the three. Seemed a little same old, same old...a brother, a mysterious disappearance, some supernatural items and a surprise ending. There was a lot of Irish lore that could have been fleshed out better and some of the circumstances seemed forced. I would not recommend this book to anyone.



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