January 31st, 2011

amy poehler

(no subject)

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5. Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle - I really enjoyed this, it was 3 stories. I like how the stories tied in to one another, it was really clever and all of them were really funny and cute to read.
Dead Dog Cat

#7, 8

While waiting for various things, yesterday, I broke out my new E-Book and read two short books:

First was Osprey Men-At-Arms #44: Napoleon's German Allies (1): Westphalia and Kleve-berg which was interesting in that it discussed how Napoleon could force nations to supplement his army.

Second was Osprey Men-At-Arms #55: Napoleon's Dragoons and Lancers. I enjoyed the new E-Book reader's color screen especially well in this one, because of the plumage that cavalrymen wore in those days. Outrageous!
anemone
  • cat63

Book 6 for 2011

The Shadows of God by Greg Keyes. 334 pages.

Fourth and last volume of the Empire of Unreason series.

Some authors write beautiful prose, but fall down on plot or characterisation. Others can do plot and/or chracterisation but their prose is pedestrian at best. Keyes can do all three very nicely indeed.

Rest of the review under a cut in case I stray into spoiler territory.

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what?

off to a good start..

Reviews of: The Abhorsen Trilogy; The Madness Season; A Nameless Witch; The Griffin Mage-Lord of the Changing Winds

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I'm always up for recommendations of more books to read as well. So, share titles if you'd like. Hopefully, someone found these reviews helpful. :)
woman, gothic, dark

Book #2 Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

 Title: Kushiel's Chosen
Series: Kushiel's Legacy
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 678

Rating: 8/10

Books read: 2/50

Synopsis: (from back of book)

Mighty Kushiel, of rod and weal
Late of the brazen portals
With blood-tipp'd dart a wound unhealed
Pricks the eyen of chosen mortals


The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: "Love as thou wilt."

Phedre no Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phedre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber--and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.

When she stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellished the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren't far off the mark.

The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phedre's brow, and they are not finished with her. While the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe another should wear the crown... and those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge.

Review:

I have to say, I really devoured this book after having read the first one. Carey is a very clever writer. It is definitely more politically complicated than the first, as a whole new country (Serenissima) and it's (complex) system of leadership and lordship is introduced, but again, worth the effort. On reading this one I did notice some slight similarities to Feist's Empire Trilogy, mostly in the complexities of the 'court maneuvering', so if you like that you'll probably like this.

Phedre and Joscelin's relationship was hard reading for me this time as I found some aspects frustrating, and the death of one of my favourite characters was pretty heartbreaking (yes I cried), but it was all so worth reading.

If you have trouble reading the first book you should really persevere, because this one makes all the effort worthwhile.

As in the first, there are some aspects that may disturb some readers, like the fact that there's a world of courtesans and their clients, and that experiencing "pain and pleasure as one" effectively means that she's a BDSM submissive.

It is also hugely focused on religion, particularly that of the Yeshuites (Jews).

Oh, and there's a shocking twist!

Love as thou wilt.
woman, gothic, dark

Book #3 - Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey

 Title: Kushiel's Avatar
Series: Kushiel's Legacy
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 750

Rating: 8/10

Books read: 3/50

Synopsis: (from back of book)

The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good ... and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: "Love as thou wilt."
Phedre no Delaunay is a woman pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Her path has been strange and dangerous, and through it all the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side. Her very nature is a torturous thing for them both, but he is sworn to her and he has never violated his vow: to protect and serve.
But Phedre's plans put Joscelin's pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture, a bargain he struck with the gods-- to take Phedre's place as a sacrifice and save a nation. Phedre cannot forgive-- herself or the gods. She is determined to seize one last hope to redeem her friend, even of it means her death.
The search will bring Phedre and Joscelin across the world, to distant courts where madness reigns and souls are currency, and down a fabled river to a land forgotten by most of the world.
And to a power so mighty that none dare speak its name.

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed a lot about this book, but it was so complicated! I forget how many different nations they visited, but it actually got a little much. Mostly because each nation had to have their clothing, religion, and some history explained. I honestly lost track of a lot of that part of things.

Other than that it was an excellent finale to the trilogy. Some parts got very dark, and that went on for a little while. I was worried the rest of the book would be like that also, but things cleared up significantly which was good. There weren't as many extra secondary characters introduced in this book I think, and there wasn't as much political stuff either, which was good, but there was a whole lot of religion. Mostly in the sense that you have to take into consideration, as you are reading, the religions of the nations that they pass through in order to make sense of some parts.

I thoroughly recommend this trilogy to anyone, although there are some themes that may disturb some people, for example there are some very dark sexual elements, and experiencing "pain and pleasure as one" effectively means that Phedre's a BDSM submissive.

Love as thou wilt.
woman, gothic, dark

Book #4 - Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

 Title: Lolita
Series: N/A
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Genre: Classic
Pages: ?

Rating: 7/10

Books read: 4/50

Synopsis: (from http://www.flipkart.com)

Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, fastidious college professor. He also likes little girls. And none more so than Lolita, who he’ll do anything to possess. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? …Or is he all of these?

Review:

One of the reviewers on flipkart wrote:

“Nabokov often writes his novels in the perspective of detestable villains. You never like them, you're never supposed to like them, and Nabokov doesn't like them either. He slaps them around and humiliates them. And in the end, they pay the price for their sins. Readers never seem to realize this. They become immersed in the psychology of the book and feel defiled by it all. Instead, they should sit back and watch the bastards suffer...”

I actually really disagree with this. I found myself feeling sorry for Humbert Humbert. Lolita wasn't the sweet, lolly-pop licking little lady people seem to think she was. In fact, whilst he was totally susceptible, and encouraging, and ended up doing horrible things, she seduced him! Well, as much as a 12 year old girl can. I imagine he would have gathered up the courage eventually, but for all intents and purposes she consented. Also at no point does he actually rape her in the usual sense of the word. I'm sure there are some that will think I'm encouraging paedophilia, and I assure you, that is most certainly not the case. It does, however, make me curious about how easily this sort of thing might happen, even these days.

What really truly intrigued me about this book was its window into the obsessive nature of a sex offender, and how easily obsession and lust are mistaken for love.

Humbert drags Lolita around the country, trying to avoid being noticed, meanwhile trading money and treats for her sexual participation. Desperately in love with her, eventually things go awry (as is mentioned throughout the story), in an amusing and macabre manner.

I did find the older style of writing had to follow, some sentences were 30 or more words long! I also had trouble understanding some of the less obvious stuff. I managed to grasp the context, just not specific meanings sometimes. And I wouldn't consider myself obtuse by any means. It can be a bit of a hard slog, but it has a sometimes quirky and amusing way of expressing things that lightens it somewhat.

I would definitely recommend reading it, even if only for the sake of saying you have! Do be aware, it does have some disturbing scenes.

Oh sweet seduction...
dw books

Books 1-5

1. The Postman by David Brin probably was a bit more powerful in the context of the 80s, when it was published, but it's by no means a dead horse now - in fact, was very real. The story is that of the last idealist in post-apocalyptic, a drifting actor who unwittingly brings a town hope when he arrives wearing the uniform of a long-dead postman. Desperation soon brings deception, and stories of a "Restored United States" that he hopes can bring people back together, to build communities, and to fight against the survivalists.

2. Rural Radicals by Catherine McNicol Stock, written shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing, is an attempt to understand where the militia movement has come from. It shows that since the country's beginning, from Nathaniel Bacon and the Whiskey Rebellion, to its middle, with the KKK and Populists, to the 20th century, there has been a huge disconnect between the farmers and the establishment.

3. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - A famous but reclusive author, now dying, calls in an amateur biographer with secrets in her own past to chronicle her story. It took me awhile to figure out where this book fit. The writing is very rich, the story most definitely nineteenth-century Gothic, and its setting in the twentieth century sort of streched that idea. But a suspenseful and good read nonetheless.

4. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom was a good story of a disillusioned man who returns to the life of his college professor as the man is dying, for one last class - Life. The simple, matter-of-fact writing was refreshing.

5. Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver - Codi returns to her Arizona hometown after a mediocre city life to care for her ailing father. She's forced to deal with her somehow empty past, the departure of her close but purposeful sister, and an environmental crisis in the town no one wants to talk about. A lot of silence, but a lot of stories, a lot of great characters, and a lot of heart round out this story. Highly recommended. I cried.


Books Read: 5 / 100, or 5% - with 8% of the year gone

I'd better pick it up. Still, they were all quite good.
Hawk Totem

January count

1. Going Bovine - Libba Bray Picked this up at an S.F. con recently and several times the snarky writting almost made the story suck less. Juvenile/YA fiction Don Quixote quest also attempting to defy reality and death.
2. Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris Second of the Sooky Stackhouse novels. Fluffy popcorn/vampire reading. Nothing to fight to get the next in the series, just amusing and I can skim over the gratuitous porn.
3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel - A story of survival and graphic details of the violence of life. Similar to Memoirs of a Geisha I was left to research what if anything of the tales were correct. This book was certainly more substantial and moving than that of the Arthur Golden book. I'm sure I will have some disturbing dreams from this novel but it was worth reading once.
4.Barbie and the Beast - Linda Thomas-Lundstrom a paranormal romance. I met the author at a San Diego convention. She was interesting. This book just was not my thing but I did plow my way through it.
5. Homer's Odyssey - Gwen Cooper A lovely life story of a pet so it will be a known quantity of feel good and tears. The integration of the blind cat and the woman going through life changes over the years was very honest and kind. Life is easier to attempt when you have witnessed another doing harder challenges.
6. City of Truth by James Marrow Quick read in two mornings. Like that questions that it left me with to answer. Does knowing the truth grant more power or can believing in lies bring about the win?
7. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer - I knew virtually nothing about the Mormon religion prior to this. They have a choir and splinter groups of polygamists and too many boys out on bicycles door knocking summed my knowledge and that 70% of the CIA is Mormon. This book is two stories, one modern day murder mystery and the history of the Mormon religion. Fascinating.
8. Tigers in the Snow - Peter Matthiessen Fewer than a couple thousand tigers now survive in Asia. A world of local humans there that want them eradicated. Very sad reality.
9. Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt - Picked this up at Mysterious Galaxy shop in San Diego as I recall it was a staff recommendation and it was already signed by the author. This is part of a series that I've walked into the midst but the book stands alone. The banter of the main character attorney Andy Carpenter has a very appealing reminder of me and my friends busting each others nut over crap. Seriously a great read highly recommended.