March 30th, 2010

cloud

9- 12

9. "Beyond Black" by Hilary Mantel
The story of a Psychic woman dealing with the ghosts of her terrible past. While I did enjoy this book, it was not what I expected. It is slow burning and very dark- neither are necessarily bad points here but if you perfer your stories with a lot of "Crash/bang/Wallop" this may disappoint!

10. "Dawn of the Dumb: dispatches from the idiotic frontline" by Charlie Brooker
Cruel, Sarky, and Aserbic. Just 3 reasons why this was a throughly entertaining read :D Brooker's turn of phrase genuinely made me laugh out loud. His cutting observations are not only hilarious but mostly well founded. Highly recommended!

11. "Stargate SG-1: Alliances" by Karen Miller
Fans of Stargate SG-1 will mostly definately appreciate the continuity of this Fan novel. Set just after a particularly memorable episode, it adds a bit of reality to the consequences of the team following orders. Really enjoyed this but you would definately have to be an SG-1 nerd like me to fully appreciate it! :D

12. "Lords of Chaos: The Bloody rise of the Satanic metal undergound" by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind
A Grizzly but well researched look at the rise of a small but memorable chain of events surrounding Black metal Sub-culture and the Crimes associated with it. This book particularly looks that the status and crime(s) of Varg Vikernes and similar events surrounding Black Metal groups. Interesting but too much focus on Vikernes for my tastes. A little slow to read in places.
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Eric in green shirt

No. 15 for 2010

Title: The Laughing Corpse
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Rating: 4/5
Book: 15/50 (30% completed)
Book in personal challenge with niun: 7/50 Fantasy, 8/50 Mystery and 0/25 Classics
Pages: 301 pgs
Total Pages 5,604/15,000 pages (37.36% completed)
Next up: Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did "Guilty Pleasures". I found this one a little slow to start but then it picked the pace up. I'm going to definately check out the rest of the books in the series!

xposted to 50bookchallenge, 15000pages and bookworm84

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Bloodsucking Fiends

Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore 
Pages: 304

Synopsis

Jody never asked to become a vampire. But when she wakes up under an alley dumpster with a badly burned arm, an aching back, superhuman strength, and a distinctly Nosferatuan thirst, she realizes the decision has been made for her.

Making the transition from the nine-to-five grind to an eternity of nocturnal prowlings is going to take some doing, however, and that's where C. Thomas Flood fits in. A would-be Kerouac from Incontinence, Indiana, Tommy (to his friends) is biding his time night-clerking and frozen-turkey bowling in a San Francisco Safeway. But all that changes when a beautiful undead redhead walks through the door...and proceeds to rock Tommy's life — and afterlife — in ways he never thought possible.

I love Christoper Moore. His humor cracks me up. I mean, who else can get away with a Penthouse Letters intro in a chapter and keep it believable? This is actually the first in what is – as of last week – a trilogy. I read the second one first and then came back to this one when I realized there were more.

Moore’s interpretation of the spiritual realm on Earth and afterlife constantly amaze me. He takes mythical and religious concepts and infuses them with humor and emotion. That’s a pretty amazing feat. Tommy and Jody’s journey through a fledgling relationship as each deals with the other’s insecurities lends an air of credibility to what would sometimes seem like incredulous events.

I can’t wait to read the third one, “Bite Me.” I just downloaded it from Audible and will start it as soon as I finish “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman.

Books completed: 5/50

Pages completed: 1,752/15,000


El Corazon

131. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; 132. The Plague; 133. Emma

The Plague
by Albert Camus

Started: March 29, 2010
Finished: March 30, 2010

I know this whole book/the plague detailed in it was an allegory for France during the Second World War, but I pretty much didn't think about that while reading it. Instead I just enjoyed it for what it was on the surface--a well-written tale of a town in quarantine during a plague outbreak. I like how concise and clear Camus' writing is, or maybe it's more a case of how concise and clear the translator was. Either way, this was enjoyable. 308 pages. Grade: A-
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Emma
by Jane Austen

Started: March 24, 2010
Finished: March 30, 2010

My tastes have changed a lot over the last few years. At one point in time I loved Jane Austen in general and Emma in particular, but reading it this last week I realized that I absolutely hated every single character except Knightley. They were all either overbearing snobs or total retarded fools--or in the case of Emma's dad, a bit of both. I just didn't enjoy this at all. The writing was still catchy enough, I guess, but it's just not my style anymore. 495 pages. Grade: C
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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J.K. Rowling

Started: March 26, 2010
Finished: March 30, 2010

Holds up very well even if you know the ending. I like the Harry-Dumbledore dynamic in this book. It had been a long time coming. 652 pages. Grade: A-
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Total # of Books Read in 2010: 133
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 32,949
!

Books 11 and 12

Book 11
Government Girl: Young and Female in the White House - Stacy Parker Aab


Stories about the Dustbowl, as told by those who stayed and didn't head for California, or the lives of non-racist whites in the southern states during the Civil Rights era are among my favorite books. Think of Jimmy Breslin's most famous column, interviewing the gravedigger before John F. Kennedy's funeral. These are the stories I remember.
Add to that list the experiences of Parker (now Parker Aab), who was a young outsider intern in the Clinton White House trying to find her footing in an adult world and the world of politics. Then, the Lewinsky story broke.
Plenty of power players, both inside and outside the White House, have had their say about that time. Parker's is a unique viewpoint, that of a woman who dealt with the same players as Lewinsky, as well as Lewinsky herself. Clinton comes across as needy but not necessarily creepy. Vernon Jordan is not so lucky; her experiences with him show that often the political handlers, not the politicians, are actually the ones we should worry about.
My main complaint would be listening to a distinctly middle-class woman, if not upper-middle class, decry the opportunities that were not afforded her. Perhaps she still feels sorry for herself for not coming from the Ivy-educated halls or old-money lineage. But clearly it didn't keep her from a gig in George Stephanopolous' office. Or a book deal.
The book also isn't that well written. But as a unique insight into a historical event we all know, it's worth the time.


Book 12
Fool - Christopher Moore


Full disclosure: I do not belong to the cult of Moore. I find much of his writing too weird.
That said, I absolutely adored this book, which reminded me a lot more of the ridiculous social satire of "Blazing Saddles" than, say, Moore's attempt to tell the story of Christ as seen through an absurd best friend named Biff.
Fool is basically a retelling of King Lear through the eyes of the liege's jester. But that's not all. Moore imports the three witches from MacBeth and any other Shakespearian character or writing device - there's always a bloody ghost -- he thinks could be of use.
And he's blue. Bawdy and rude, he manages to stay blue largely by using the British slang. The F-word used repeatedly would be distracting. To read of shagging and snogging -- and there is a lot of it -- somehow isn't as off-putting.
(Full disclosure: I did love the fool's favorite exclamation and may now try to slip "Fuckstockings" into more conversations).
The writing is at turns brilliant, clever and downright silly. One of the more fantastic puns I've ever read involve naming the witches Parsley, Sage and Rosemary. Wait until you hear about Thyme.
It is also an awesome feat to have taken what I view as the darkest of Shakespeare's and make it a comedy. Remember, this is a story where basically everyone we care about must die, often in a gruesome manner.
I have renewed respect for my fellow Buckeye. Not sure if his other works will land on my reading table, though you never know. As he writes through the fool, "We are all fate's bastards."
Fuckstockings.
Caleb- snug as a bug!

Book 19: All Together Dead

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All Together Dead (reread)
Charlaine Harris
Fiction; mystery; paranormal romance; series
323 pages
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Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has her hands full with the shapeshifter Quinn, a possible new man in her life, and the upcoming vampire summit. With her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans, Vampire Queen Sophie-Anne is vulnerable to those hungry for a takeover. Sookie's job at the summit is to support Sophie- Anne. But she'll soon discover just how dangerous that job can be, as she is drawn further and further into the vampire world.

I LOVE this book! It is probably my second favorite in the series thus far. I love the fact that we get to read more about the queen and other vampire royalty in this book! I also loved how action-packed this book is. I am anxious to start From Dead to Worse, because now I will be reading the rest of the series for the FIRST time! :)

***Next read: I am about to start From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris.
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Books 18-25 of 2010: Jane, Fairy Tales, and Dieting



18. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (225 pages)
19. Grimm's Grimmest Illustrated by Tracy Arah Dockray Introduction by Maria Tatar (142 pages)
20. Adaline Falling Star by Mary Pope Osbourne (169 pages)
21. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (182 pages)
22. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (224 pages)
23. The Freedom Writer's Diary by the Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell (292 pages)
24. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (335 pages)
25. You Suck by Christopher Moore 

Bold: read it now! It’s great
Italics: run away! It’s awful
Plain Text = various degrees of OK

18. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (225 pages) When his father gets a job as a guard and his sister is accepted at a special school, Moose's family moves to Alcatraz. Feeling like one of the prisoners, Moose finds himself trapped by his duties as an brother to a mentally challenged sister, unable to do the things that other kids his age are able to do. He also has to deal with his mother, who is obsessed with curing his sister, and Piper, the Warden's cute and trouble-making daughter. I admit that I picked up this young adult book based on its clever and catchy title (which actually has a surprising significance). It is a good, decently written young adult novel dealing with difficult family situations and dynamics. It could have been better, had it been more literary (such as drawing more direct parallels between Moose's life and his setting and the disconnected plot threads). A decent, rich read for grades 8 or 9. Grade: B+


19. Grimm's Grimmest Illustrated by Tracy Arah Dockray Introduction by Maria Tatar (142 pages)
A fantastic collection with beautiful and horrific illustrations of little-known Grimm's fairy tales in their original, earliest, uncensored versions (for instance, revealing Rapunzel's pregnancy, Princess Furball's sexually abusive father, the true gore and violence of The Juniper Tree and Cinderella). A great collection for both adults and older children as the violence, darkness, and danger add not only a greater level of entertainment and imagination, but also of psychological importance in its deeper look into the depths of human psychology and experience. Grade: A

 20. Adaline Falling Star by Mary Pope Osbourne (169 pages) (reread for teaching) I really enjoyed rereading this with my kids. The fictional story of Kit Carson's "wild" half-Native American daughter who runs after him after being left with her white cousins. She befriends a mongrel dog and has to face straddling two worlds and the battles between her head and her heart. Good, strong young adult novel about survival, love, finding one's place and identity.

21. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (182 pages) Ged is discovered to possess extraordinary magic abilities and goes to a wizard school. His pride and desire for power, though, unleashes a great evil which he will have to face. Interesting fantasy elements can't save this book from flat characters (except for Ged), standard fantasy clichés, and just a boring, rambling plot. It might be a classic of the genre, but the characters were distant, the plot unoriginal and rambling, and just plain boring. There is so much better in the genre. Sorry. Grade: C


22. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (224 pages)
For the past two years, I have lost 90 pounds. Now, when people ask me how I did it, I can recommend they read this book, for I feel as though I could have written it. (That is, if I were smarter). This book is a great "No shit!" guide to dieting that blatantly says what every diet book tiptoes around (that you're fat and want to be beautiful and skinny) and says what every diet book should say (get off your fat ass and stop eating shit). Of course, under that no-nonsense, common sense attitude is a deep affection and appreciation for health, physical and mental well-being. This book has great humor, great advice, great health information, and great motivators. Brilliant book that has to be the greatest dieting books and one of the best health books out there. It is one empowering, refreshing, clever book that, even I--a health nut--learned and was motivated by. Love this book. Couldn't put it down. Don't want to put it on the shelf. Grade: A+


23. The Freedom Writer's Diary by the Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell (292 pages)
In the tradition of Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo, 150 American teenagers write about their lives in a war zone, a war zone of horrific violence, prejudice, poverty, drugs, gangs, racial intolerance. A war zone tragically ignored by most of America. The book allows us a window into their lives, but, more than that, it is an utter inspiration. These teenagers write about the lessons they learn from their inspiring and passionate teacher, from each other, and from within. They chose to change their lives and those around them for the better, to turn tragedy and hopelessness into power, hope, beauty, love, and success. A must read for teenagers, students, teachers, and every American. Grade: A+


 
"Thank heaven! I am going tomorrow where I shall find a man who has not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor sense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all."
"One has all the goodness, and the other al the appearance of it."
"I am quite sorry, Lizzy, that you should be forced to have that disagreeable man all to yourself."
24. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (335 pages) With the exception of the Harry Potter series, I have read this book more times than any other book. Needless to say, it is one of my most favorite, most beloved books ever. Even reading it for the eighth time, I laughed, I teared up, I thought, and I sighed. Jane Austen, who's every penned letter I adore and--in the words of EM Forster am "slightly imbecile about"--is never more ironic, more fun, more funny, more true, more insightful, more beautiful, more brilliant than in this, her masterpiece. I still bow before her amazing ability to take great themes of human character and psychology and turn them into brilliant, humorous, beautiful, clever, and deeply real and human romances. Romances of the mind, soul, and heart. Elizabeth's pride allows her only to love men that flatter and pay her attention. Darcy's pride makes him a snob without manners. This, of course, is ironic, as it causes Darcy to fall in love with Elizabeth, but not to win her. His pride (and prejudice against the world) wounds hers and makes her prejudiced. Would you ever think that two such human characteristics would be so entertaining, so fascinating, so enchanting? His goodness, though, eventually improves him and allows for the coming together of one of literature's greatest love stories. Darcy is Jane's most flawed, most complex, and most heroic heroes (not to mention, sexy). Elizabeth is her most modern, most spirited, wittiest, and cleverest heroines. P&P is by far her most hilarious novel, and it is one of the greatest works of the English language. I love and adore this book. Grade: A++++


"I believe it's disrespectful to refer to your soul mate in terms of finger food."

25. You Suck by Christopher Moore Christopher Moore is one of the greatest authors of all time. Absolutely hilarious and brilliantly imaginative, he is America's own Douglas Adams. His books are full of bawdy humor, perfect wit, clever twists on mythology, perfectly penned prose, charming and real human characters, and an enchanting, engaging sweetness under it all. That said, Bloodsucking Fiends was probably my least favorite of the six Moore novels I had read, so I was a bit reluctant to pick up the sequel, You Suck, as my annual Moore-read. Though the plot meanders and retreads much of the original, it is completely saved by the brilliant character of Abby Normal, ass-kicking Goth teenager who narrates a good portion of the book with absolute hilarity and OMG!teen angst and squeeage. Definitely the best parts of the book are from her point-of-view, highlighting the ridiculousness and comedic situations of the supposedly dark vampyre world. Moore is at his best in that juxtaposing tone. The rest is Tommy adapting to life as a vampire, a blue-painted hooker-turned-vampire chasing them, and some other characters just sort of hanging around. Grade: A-


sleepy

Fifty Book Challenge: Book 9

x-posted at http://lovethecolorofitall.blogspot.com/

If I was counting textbooks, I would be on book 15 by now, I swear. However, I'm not, so I'm just on book 9.

Title: The iPod Book: How to Do Just the Useful and Fun Stuff with Your iPod and iTunes (6th Edition)

Author: Scott Kelby

Year: 2004

Genre: Non-fiction, self help (at least for me!)

Pages: 240

Rating: 10 / 10

Summary: Are you looking for a book that focuses on just the most important and most useful stuff about your iPod (including the iPod touch, nano, classic, shuffle, and the iTunes Store)? Well, this is it! There are basically two kinds of iPod books: (1) The “tell-me-all-about-it” kind, which include in-depth discussions on compression algorithms and tutorials on how to export your playlist in Unicode format. (2) Then there’s this book—a “show-me-how-to-do-it” book. Scott shows you step by step how to do the things people really want to learn about their iPods, and he uses the same casual, conversational style that has made him the world’s #1 best-selling technology author. This book focuses on just the most important, most requested, most useful things so you can start having fun with your iPod today. Right now! Plus, there’s only one topic per page, so if you want to know how to do something, you turn to that page and it shows you how to do just that one thing. It's a simple approach, and people really love learning this way! (from Amazon)

Thoughts: I got my first copy of this book when my parents got me an iPod in 2005. I loved it, so when I finally had to update from Fatty Pod to Skinny Pod (my new iPod touch) I looked for an updated copy. Kelby's newest edition is just as good as the original one I owned. Every topic covers one page, and if you want to just skip to the good stuff, you can look at the index and grab what you need. If you own an iPod, at least check this book out -- you will learn something new!