August 22nd, 2010

  • maribou

Alfred Rosemary Plague Reach Enchanted Boom

Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire
This was another airplane book from my trip, but it was substantially more substantial than the other two, so I forgot to lump it in with them in my last post. I mean, it's still a fun relatively nontaxing fantasy novel, urban variety, but there's some real *there* there, y'know? I didn't fall madly in love, but I liked it and I'm looking forward to reading more of Toby's story in future volumes.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, by Rick Yancey
A fun romp about an average teenager who goes through some very ArthurXJamesBond type adventures. I wish the pack of 7-9 year old boys I know was closer to 11-13 so I could set them all on this; they'd devour it as fast as I did. (But there are a few too many icky deaths for 7-9.)

Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich
Very good, very lovely language, heartrending in places. The characters experience very awful things, but I never felt they were hopeless. You can tell that large chunks of it were published as short stories but it doesn't hurt. And the stuff with the violin is particularly lovely.

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
A nifty YA novel that rings very many of the same changes as Margaret Mahy, Lois Lowry, and Madeleine L'Engle. Delightful and friendly and good company.

Boom!, by Mark Haddon
OMG ALIENS! If that made you perk up a bit, you may enjoy this short boisterous middle-grade novel about a kid's adventures with his best friend & eventually his older sister, trying to figure out why things are getting so WEIRD lately.... nothing I haven't read in other middle grade novels about aliens, but charmingly and amusingly put together. Tasty.

Sorcery and Cecilia; or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Two of my favorite authors writing epistolary fantasy with Jane Austen-y bits? The only question is why I didn't read this sooner. It actually took me a little while to get into the story, but by halfway through I had to rip myself away every time I had to stop reading and start doing something else. Very glad there are two more of these to read - and that I already own the next one! (I confess that both these authors have written things on their own that I like better. But that's only because those other things are SO AMAZING, while this is merely very good. Also quite funny.)
  • Current Music
    Aesop Rock, "None Shall Pass"
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

While I awaited the brake job, I finished reading The Art of War for Writers: fiction writing strategies, tactics, and exercises by James Scott Bell. It gave some useful suggestions, and stimulated me to get back to work on a piece I've been puttering with.

Book 33

Title: A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Themes/Topics: Family, Time Travel, Destiny, Choices, Sci/Fi

Somehow I read the Time Quartet out of order and didn't get to this one until last. I liked it and found it interesting and comforting, much like all of L'Engle's other novels but I didn't like this one quite as much. I think part of the problem was that going so far back into family genealogy quickly became confusing with the elements of time travel: it was a little distracting.

The message and characters were solid as always, but I didn't like this one as much as the rest of the quartet
Default Ron

Blameless by Gail Carriger

Blameless by Gail Carriger
Pages: 384

Barnes & Noble Synopsis
Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

Another delightful installment in The Parasol Protectorate series! The wit and humor that defined the first two books is back in Blameless, along with the delightful Madam Lefoux and dependable Professor Lyall. Alexia's adventures in France and Italy kept the book moving at a fast pace, and the alternate settings between England and the Continent were handled quite well. I never once felt lost when the story shifted from Europe back to London. All in all, this was a fantastic romp through Victorian England and the Continent replete with fabulous inventions and quirky characters!

With no cliffhanger left dangling at the end of this book, I'm curious to see where Heartless will take Alexia ...

Books completed: 18/50
Pages completed: 4,657/15,000

Default Ron

Neil Gaiman and Peggy Parrish - polar opposites!

The Sandman, Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Pages: 240


A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. Fearful for his safety, the wizard kept him imprisoned in a glass bottle for decades. After his escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On the way, Morpheus encounters Lucifer and demons from Hell, the Justice League, and John Constantine, the Hellblazer. This book also includes the story "The Sound of Her Wings" which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky goth girl, Death.

This begins the second time reading this series for me, and it never disappoints. Although I found this one a bit much to get through - as it's setting the storyline for the entire series and is, as Gaiman himself admits, a bit clunky in spots - I still enjoyed it immensely. Gaiman is a most-excellent storyteller and his imagine and ability to mix mythos with the macabre is incredible.

Books completed: 19/50
Pages completed: 4,897/15,000

Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parrish
Pages: 160


Each summer Liza, Bill, and Jed visit their grandparents, and they hear the story of the sketches hung above the mantel. The sketches are clues to a hidden treasure, and no one has been able to figure them out for a century. There is a missing first clue, but when the children stumble upon the second clue, they're on their way. Could it be that on this visit they will solve the secret that has eluded so many for more than a hundred years?

I first read this book back in the mid-80s when I was in third grade. This is one of the few series I've kept from my childhood. Since it's a rainy day, I thought it might be fun to give it a go (considering I started this series on a rainy day as a child). I read this series countless times during my elementary school years, but I haven't touched these books in almost 20 years. Yes, they're dated. They're simple. But, they're still fun and they bring back fond memories.

What's interesting to me now, as an adult, is to realize that I read them 20 years after they were published and still found them interesting. They were resissued five years ago, so there still must be a reading base for them with today's children. That's fantastic! Also interesting is that they were written by Peggy Parrish who most people know as the Amelia Bedelia author.

Books completed: 20/50
Pages completed: 5,057/15,000
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

So, after getting my eyes examined at the optometrist's (no change in prescription!), and having them dilated, I had to basically veg out, since I couldn't see. Ack. That lasted a few hours, and then I hit the books:

I finished reading six Osprey books:

First was Osprey New Vanguard #161: Ships of the American Revolutionary Navy which was pretty good.

Second was Osprey Men-at-Arms #399: Medieval Scandinavian Armies (2): 1300 - 1500 which deals with a period that I find useful.

Then, Osprey Men-at-Arms #409: The Hussite Wars 1419 - 36, which dealt with history of which I knew nothing.

Next, I've got a hankering to peruse what they have on the Middle East wars, next of which was Osprey Men-at-Arms #128: Arab Armies of the Middle East Wars 1948 - 73, which gave some background which explains why the Arab armed forces acted as they did.

Then Osprey New Vanguard #93: Modern Israeli Tanks and Infantry Carriers 1985 - 2004, which I found fascinating, especially when they used their stockpiles of captured Russian-made equipment to make their APCs.

Lastly, I completed reading Osprey Elite #18: Israeli Elite Units since 1948, which details some history about the Palmach that I'd never known. Nice.
El Corazon

202. Continental Drift

Continental Drift
by Russell Banks

Started: August 9, 2010
Finished: August 22, 2010

I had mixed feelings about this novel. I really liked the chapters pertaining to the main character. They reminded me some of the Rabbit Angstrom books by John Updike. But I didn't care much for the chapters dealing with the Jamaican side plot or the bits that were more of an artistic interlude, like the author's version of a drum solo. Still, I guess I enjoyed this overall for the most part. 421 pages. Grade: B-
Total # of Books Read in 2010: 202
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 50,715