July 14th, 2010

Skull - "vanitas"

Book 22 of 2010

22. Kathy Reichs, 206 Bones, 389 pages, Mystery, Paperback, 2009.

Dr. Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist, still finds herself splitting her time between the USA and Canada in the 12th book of the series. But trouble is brewing for her in Canada, with accusations of shoddy work and unprofessional behaviour. Is Tempe finally losing it, or has she attracted the attention of a new enemy? With an increasingly toxic work place in Montreal, she is finding it hard to figure out when everything started going wrong. But what really matters is if she can survive long enough to get back to the surface after waking in an underground tomb.

While I enjoy the book series, this one was a bit different. Most of the books follow a familiar plot line: Tempe looks at dead people, Tempe starts looking into things on her own, Tempe gets in trouble, Cop of the Week saves her (actually, a small cast, with Detective Andrew Ryan starring prominently, both as hero and as former lover), the case is solved. This book starts with Tempe, in italics, finding herself in a bad situation – with the next chapter taking place weeks earlier. It’s a fairly jarring transition, done without the niceties of noting we are traveling back and forth in the story, not even in pacing – a chapter or so of Tempe in danger, a chapter or 5 of Tempe dealing with the world, and back to the italics of Tempe in danger. But then, I’m not a fan of an entire chapter written in italics. Overall, the story is good, the “info dump” that Kathy Reichs often falls into does not become a problem this book, and the action is decent, even when jumping the timeline.

The City of Dreaming Books

12. The City of Dreaming Books - Walter Moers

The author of 13 1⁄2 Lives of Captain Bluebear transports us to a magical world. Optimus Yarnspinner, finds himself marooned in the subterranean world of Bookholm, the City of Dreaming Books, where reading can be dangerous, where ruthless Bookhunters fight to the death.

This book is actually the third in a series about Zamonia. I fully intend to read the others, but I certainly didn't have a hard time reading this book out of order from the rest.
Moers is a German author and The City of Dreaming Books was the first to be translated to English. I forget where I first heard about it, but it's been on my TBR list for awhile. I recently found it while browsing through the local library. I started reading it on Monday and have been devouring it ever since.
The world and characters are so great, I even loved the occasional illustrations throughout the chapters. When I finally reached the end, I couldn't form words. It was just too wonderful. Every book lover should read this book. One of the critics said: "This is the best book written about books ever!" And I don't disagree. It is a fantastic adventure, one I would definitely consider reading to my children.
I'm contemplating not returning it to the library.

If anyone has also read this book, please let me know! I would love to discuss it with someone!


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Vacation may have put me way ahead on reading, but it's put me way behind on posting about reading (though, to be honest, when am I not?).

The Land that Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs was a re-read. I seem to have changed a lot between then (probably about four years ago) and now because, what was then a glorious romp of utter ridiculousness and joy felt sort of hum-drum and only vaguely silly now. At the time, before, I'd been leaping gleefully into Burroughs' novel after Burroughs' novel, reveling in the formula of them, keeping score and summarizing them, laughing. This time... the magic just wasn't there, and I'm not sure if it's because I'm only meant to read it once (though I read Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar over and over) or if it's because something changed in my character. That said, it's still about The Usual Sort of Hero finding his way to a continent on which dinosaurs still live. There follow the usual sorts of misunderstandings between Hero and his Pretty Lady (he thinks she's in love with a Nazi (er... wait, this is WWI, so a German Officer) and she thinks he's a twerp). She gets captured by various things (Non-Nazi Germans, Man-Apes) and he rescues her. The usual sort of thing. It just makes me sad because I really loved it last time.

bear jew

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Title: The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life: How to get more books in your life and more life from your books
Author: Steve Leveen
Year of Publication: 2005
Genre: Non-fiction, literature
Pages: 111
First Line: "Do you wish you had more time to read? This little guide can help you make that wish come true."

Summary:Those who know the joys of reading often feel an attendant frustration: how to find more time to read. And how, among the myriad of titles available, to find the books that speak to you.

In this Little Guide, Steve Leveen draws on his own quest for a well-read life to offer other booklovers some of the most successful and time-tested techniques for enjoying a rewarding life as a reader. What he finds: "Unless a book is good for you, you won't connect with it and gain from it. Just as no one can tell you how to lead your life, no one can tell you what to read for your life. Do not set out to live a well-read life but rather your well-read life.

Source: Back of book

Review: While I thought this book was really interesting and I enjoyed reading it, I felt the advice that was given was something that a lot of people who would even be interested in reading this book would already know. For example, Leveen suggests having a list of books you'd like to read -- I do this. He suggests making notes about the books you have read (reviewing, summarizing, etc.) -- I do this. So in the end, I didn't find it spectacularly helpful. It was interesting anyway, but I'm not sure I gained a whole lot for it. I feel like I'm more interested in joining a book group now, but I'm still not swayed by Leveen's argument for audiobooks (sorry, audio-lovers -- just not my thing). I really liked Leveen's writing style -- it was easy to read without being boring. His sources are very varied and always seem very knowledgeable and interesting by themselves. Aside from having little advice to offer to me, I don't think Leveen ever REALLY answers how to get more books into your life -- he sort of beat around the bush for that one, offering ideas on other things that seem less problematic for many readers, at least, that is, for myself.

It's really short, though. Probably worth a read if only for the interesting comments by the sources and interviews as well as Leveen's writing style and sometimes touching stories of himself and his friends and colleagues.

Worst part: The question he poses never really gets answered, unless the audiobooks count for you -- they don't for me.

Best part: The writing style and the sources. Both were intriguing.

Grade: B

Other Books by This Author: Apparently none, but he does have a blog here.

54 / 50 books. 108% done!

Books 21 - 26

Heat Wave by Richard Castle (Kindle) - I started reading this because I really liked the first season of Castle, and I was waiting for the second season to come out on Netflix. This is the book that Castle (the writer) is writing during the first season. I thought it would be a crappy tie in novel, but because it was such a unique concept, I read it, and was shocked to really like it! Great! It was WAY better than some of the awful crime novels I've read in the past. I also love that Amazon gave Richard Castle his own author page.

The Third Pig Detective Agency by Bob Burke (Kindle) - This book was extremely silly.

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar - This was a very thought provoking book while I was reading it, until I got to the end, when my only thought was "WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?" And then I thought that I might not want to know the answer, because it would be too sad. Very good.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - This book was RIDICULOUS. I read it when I was sick, I had a fever and allergies and I was taking benadryl every four hours. And I could still follow the plot because it was so obvious and simple. Also - take it from someone currently living in the Baltimore/DC region - you do not get ANYWHERE in 10 minutes or less. Even if you are a supervillian.

Life Sentences by Laura Lippman - Very good. I really disliked the main character personally, though. But the book was still very good.

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson - When I was a little kid, my aunt, who is from Sweden, brought back watercolors of the forest, from one of her visits. All of my girl cousins poicked ones that had deer, or rabbits, or flowers, and I picked the one that had a moose in it, deep in the woods, way in the back in the shadows. This hung next to my bed for years, and I had completely forgotten about it, until I read this book.

First Two...

Like last year, I didn't actually manage to finish any books until well into June. My guidelines for this year: novels count, plays count, nonfiction that's not for a class counts. Graphic novels and comic anthologies of considerable length also count, and short story anthologies go down as one book. So, without further adieu...

Mother, Come Home  1. Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier.

While talking to my class librarian, I happened to mention that I had recently become interested in graphic novels and comic books and was thinking of incorporating a study of them into my BA thesis. She immediately suggested that I pick up Mother, Come Home, as it sounded like the kind of stuff I was looking for. I've always been interested in the interaction of word and text, but was put off of the medium in my early teens by the flood of glossy manga and musclebound superdudes -- none of that here.

Hornschemeier creates a thoughtful examination of the concept of family through poetry and illustration tinged with surrealism. The story tells of a father and son, rendered in flat, muted colors, wandering through the days following their wife/mother's death. The thing that struck me most about this work was the way Hornschemeier used subtle inversions in the family's relationship to draw attention to things breaking down within the family -- the son becomes a kind of friend and guardian to his father as he begins to regress, attempting to protect him from the elements of the outside world that he can no longer deal with.

Some parts of the narrative seemed unrealistic or unlikely, but given the work's dreamlike overtones, I didn't really have a problem with it. This book is beautifully illustrated, bizarre, sad, and wonderful, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick read that's a little bit different.

2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis 

This wasn't quite what I expected. Mere Christianity is compiled from a series of radio talks written during the 1940s. It is simple, direct, and written more or less in simple English, never really deviating from a fourth grade vocabulary level: it's an easy read. Less of a theological treatise and more of a primer in what it means to be Christian.

It addresses several frequently asked questions about Christianity and provides some very interesting insight into the Christian faith. Lewis brings up counterpoints to several questions that I have consistently been asking as a young, deviating, doubting Catholic, providing answers that I never could have formulated myself and were also never offered by any teacher, priest, or mentor during my catechism.

Lewis explains a lot of things via direct, Aquinas-esque proofs. His reasoning is usually pretty sound, but there were a few times where he felt that he jumped the gun a bit and moved on to the next point of what he was explaining before I was fully convinced, leaving me feeling a bit cheated in some sections. I'm going to go ahead and also admit that the former-potential-gender-studies major in me still cringed a bit at certain sections that I found wholly unconvincing, mainly the one on woman's place within the marriage.

Regardless, it's still a very interesting examination and explanation of the Christian faith, and Lewis provides a thorough attempt at directly addressing many of the most common attacks posed to Christianity.

To finish next: Middlesex, Short Stories by Pirandello, Slim's Table, and A House for Mr. Biswas.

2 / 50 books. 4% done!