December 15th, 2010


Zombies in the DUST

Turner, Joan Frances. DUST. Ace: 2010.

Narrated by a sympathetic and believable adolescent protagonist in a near future post-apocalyptic world, Jessie simply happens to be (un)dead. Instead of being yet another typical mindless zombie/violent gorefest, or being played for light thrills and humor, Dust offers something a little bit different in this disturbingly realistic novel.

I like sentient revenants. :)

Not a perfect novel (there is some uneven writing, with some characters better developed than others), but this is an original and interesting premise and a mostly engrossing (yes, pun on gross) read.

One of the better genre books I've read this year!

And btw, I've passed last year's total for books read, and still have a couple more weeks of reading time before the calendar flips over to 2011!
did you know you could fly?

(no subject)

Book #57 -- Gabrielle Zevin, Elsewhere, 288 pages.

Elsewhere is the story of Liz Hall's life *after* she was killed by a hit-and-run driver, and it's the most interesting treatment of death and afterlife that I've read in a long time. Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.

Book #58 -- Timothy Carter, Evil?, 256 pages.

Stuart woke up one morning to find that his entire heavily Cristian small town had gone nuts. What else can you call it when everyone was suddenly all up in arms over the most horrible wicked sin of all: The Sin of Onan. For Stuart, who had been caught performing said sin in the shower that morning by his loud-mouthed younger brother, being an acknowledged Onanist was pure hell. Stuart is getting death threats, bricks through his window, and rotten fruit to the face. And he may be the first, but he's not the last. One by one the village's youth are being cast out of their homes on the mere suspicion of Onanist behaviour. Something must be done. So with the help of Stuart's one-time makeout partner Chester (kissing guys is ok, as long as no seed is spilled, apparently), their really cool local priest, and the demon Stuart likes to summon up and videotape as a hobby, they set out to discover - and hopefully stop - whoever's causing this madness, before someone gets killed. This book is incredibly funny, but also makes a rather strong statement about the illogicality of prejudice.

Book #59 -- Gillian Shields, Immortal , 360 pages.

With her beloved grandmother ill and her father stationed overseas, Evie Johnson knows she should feel grateful for her scholarship to Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies. But life at Wyldcliffe isn't anything like living with Frankie or her father - for one thing, nothing about the school seems to have changed in the last hundred years. And as a scholarship student, Evie is constantly tormented by the other girls and expected to serve the mistresses in 'gratitude' for her place. The only good thing about Wyldcliffe is Sebastian, the local boy Evie met on her journey to the school and who she sneaks out each night to see. But there's something strange going on at Wyldcliffe. One of the other students is acting odd, and Evie is haunted by dreams and images of a young girl in white - and both of them are warning her away from Sebastian. This is the first in a series and I'm looking forward to the others.

Book #60 -- Jackie Morse Kessler, Hunger, 177 pages.

Lisabeth Lewis never imagined she'd see the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, much less be. And yet she has the scales and the black horse and she's been appointing Famine. Which Lisabeth finds absurd - after all, she's fat (it doesn't matter what her boyfriend or her traitorous friend Suzanne say - no one as fat as Lisabeth could possibly be anorexic). Now Lisabeth has two things to hide from her friends and family - her eating habits, and the giant black horse in the yard. But as Lisabeth struggles to fulfill the job she's been given, she learns more about herself than she'd ever wanted to know.

Progress toward goals: 346/365 = 95.0%

Books: 60/75 = 80.0%

Pages: 17323/20000 = 86.6%

2010 Book List

cross-posted to 15000pages, 50bookchallenge, and gwynraven
  • cat63

(no subject)

Lirael by Garth Nix. 527 pages

Lirael is a Daughter of the Clayr, but she lacks the Sight which characterises her people. She finds consolation (and a friend, in the form of the Disreputable Dog) in the Great Library of the Clayr, but when the plots of a powerful necromancer threaten the safety of the Old Kingdom, she must leave her sanctuary and try her best to protect the living from the Dead.

I liked this book very much - especially the sections set in the Library, which is a wonderful and mysterious place. I didn't warm to Prince Sameth as much as I did to Lirael - I felt he was too whiny. That's probably rather unfair, as it seems to be part of his journey to overcome that, but I couldn't like him much. Also, I suspect that I rather resented the sections of the book devoted to him, because I wanted to get back to Lirael and the Dog.

That aside, I enjoyed the book immensely and next time I'm buying new books, a copy of Abhorsen, the next book in the series will be at the top of my list.
lady as artist

Book 128: Parrot and Oliver in America by Peter Carey

Book 128: Parrot and Oliver in America.
Author: Peter Carey, 2010.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Picaresque novel. Early 19th Century.
Other Details: Hardback. 464 pages.

"When my countrymen imagined America, they thought of savages and bears and presidents who would not wear wigs.  Who among them could have conjured Miss Godefroy in all her beauty of form and elegance of mind, her wit, her delicacy, her slender ankles amid those mad red leaves?" - Olivier-Jean-Baptiste de Clarel de Barfleur de Garmont.

Olivier is a young Norman aristocrat, born in France just after the Revolution. Parrot, the son of an itinerant English printer, had wanted to be an artist but in middle age has ended up as a servant.

Olivier's family arranges for him to travel to the New World - ostensibly to study its prisons, but in reality to be out of danger as another revolution threatens. Parrot is sent with him as his protector and secretary but also as a spy for the family. The two men loath each other at first sight. The sickly, snobby Olivier treats Parrot as if he is chattel and Parrot rather resents this treatment and takes pleasure in making Olivier's life miserable. Through many adventures an unlikely friendship develops.

Parrot and Olivier in America was inspired by the life of Alexis de Tocqueville, the young French nobleman who wrote Democracy in America and it evokes the collision between the Old World and the New. Carey alternates narrators, giving Olivier one chapter and Parrot the next.

This was another 2010 Man Booker short-listed title, which I read as part of the Man Booker Shadowing Reading Group. I found it a wonderful reading experience. Its twin narrators played off against each other delightfully and there were plenty of times that I was quite helpless with laughter. Yes, there are serious themes explored, such as the nature of democracy, but Carey never takes this too seriously and in this sense perhaps makes his points all the more effective for that touch of satire.

I loved its playfulness and ingenuity as well as the rich period detail that seemed to come so effortlessly to Carey. My only regret was that because we were reading the short-listed titles on a tight deadline I had to somewhat rush the experience. Still it is likely to be one of the featured books for our library reading group in 2011 and I will certainly welcome the chance to read it again at a more leisurely pace.

On a side note the UK publisher excelled themselves with choosing cover art that perfectly captured the playfulness of the novel. In the end this was my favourite to win the Man Booker and if it had it would have made Peter Carey a three-time winner.

Peter Carey on 'Parrot and Olivier in America' - Man Booker interview.

Collapse )