August 6th, 2011


Dance with Cult Shadowborn

A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin
The story dragged in places, due to the problem of "I want this character's stuckness to make the reader uncomfortable" lasting long enough to make this reader not just uncomfortable but kind of bored.... but I still tore through it, and once said characters got UNSTUCK: Woot! High gritty adventure galore. This is one of my all-time favorite fantasy series; try it if you are intrigued by multiple viewpoints, dire happenings, and a slow build of magic rather than a lot of flash up front. Also if you can deal with the fact that it will be YEARS until book six comes out.

Shadowborn, by Alison Sinclair
I'm pretty sure that my diminished experience of this book falls squarely into the "it's not you, it's me" category. It brought all the same nifty world-building, thoughtful characterization, and sharp dialogue to the yard that the previous two (excellent) books in the series did; but I brought a level of distraction, poor memory, and inattentiveness to reading it that didn't match how I read the first two.

The Cult of Information, by Theodore Roszak
O, curmudgeonly jeremiads seasoned with trenchant insights, how I do love ye. This one is from 1986, railing against the dangers of the "Age of Information" in both reasonable and ridiculous ways. Lots of salient history mixed in with the railing, too.
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25. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson - I read this while traveling in Spain and I think reading this while traveling is the best way to read it. Really cute YA book, made me want to go more places and see new things.

26. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson - Really quick read, I kind of liked it better that way because some classics are too drawn out. I like how it had some suspense then at the end bam! tells you what really is up with Jekyll and Hyde. I'm sure back in the day when this was a new story it was such a crazy twist.
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Books 11-20

11. Understanding Color: An Introduction for Designers by Linda Holtzschue (nonfiction) - 13 Jul 2011
For a book about color theory, this one was remarkably readable, written in a way that's usually quite easy to follow. Enough so that once I'd finished the chapters that were required reading for the course I purchased the book for, I ended up finishing the thing (albeit several months later). Some of the things stated flew in the face of what I've previously been taught, or were communicated badly, but most of the book just provided new, interesting insights into color theory and the history thereof. The one thing I'd have liked to see more of, or see stated in a more easily understood fashion, is the design of color schemes, but even without that I think it was well worth the time it took to read it.

12. The Skies of Pern by Anne McCaffrey (science fiction) - 22 Jul 2011
For all that my recent reading of McCaffrey's work has been done very much in spite of rather than because of her writing skills, this novel was many times worse than I expected. The plot is largely incomprehensive, with three largely unrelated plotlines being inexpertly woven together, and there are too many main characters starring in a scene each here and there for the book to really feel comprehensive. It's a work that seems to actively resist being read, and which I believe would have flowed many times better if those plot threads had been detangled somewhat and given a volume each to be expanded into something more straightforward. This book also seems to fly in the face of much of established canon - including itself, when it pleases - and suffers from McCaffrey's general seeming inability to comprehend measurements (she wants to fit a handful of people and two dragons around 45 ft in length on a self-sustaining 100 square meters).

13-14, 16. Boken om Twiggy by Gunilla Wolde (omnibus, horseback)
As an omnibus, this book sucks, consisting as it does of the first two and final book of a seven-book series. But the book is still without a doubt worth a read, as Wolde's somewhat familiar writing style is pure pleasure.
13. Första sommaren med Twiggy - 22 Jul 2011
This may be the third or fourth time I reread this book, and I still adore it. It's an engrossing true story about buying and getting to know the family's first pony, and the resulting trials and tribulations as Mockbeggar Baytree "Twiggy" turns out to be not quite the horse Wolde expected.
14. En sån Twiggy! - 23 Jul 2011
The continued adventures of Twiggy and her family, in which the lovable, cheeky New Forest pony among other things starts in her first showjumping competitions.
16. Vår ponny Twiggy - 25 Jul 2011
Following primarily the string of girls that helped Wolde with Twiggy as her daughter grew older, this book concludes Twiggy's life, both by talking about how much happiness she brought to these girls, and how heart-wrenching it can be to deal with a sick horse. It still, somehow, ends on a positive note, because even if she's not around anymore, this little pony did bring something important to her family.

15. Contessa by Gunilla Wolde (horseback) - 25 Jul 2011
Another one of Wolde's books about her experiences as a horse owner, this one focusing on her Arabian-Thoroughbred cross Contessa, who manages to surpass all her owner's expectations when she is entered in her first hunt.

17. Pet Noir by Pati Nagle (science fiction/crime, ebook) - 27 Jul 2011
A very different sort of detective story, Pet Noir follows the genetically engineered cat Leon, whose creation was secretly commissioned by the Security team on a space station. To everyone but his partner-slash-roommate and their boss, Leon is just an ordinary cat, and as such he gets chances at discovering things that are kept hidden from his human colleagues.
Every case in the book is unique and engaging, far from predictable while still not feeling like they're deliberately misleading the reader. Leon is a very appealing narrator, and the writing does a great job of capturing a different mode of thought owing to the fact that he is a cat, primarily by his different sense of priorities. I found it to be a very pleasant read, that I highly recommend.

18. Head First WordPress by Jeff Siarto (nonfiction) - 27 Jul 2011
As always, an excellent guide that goes from the basic to the more advanced, and I can highly recommend it for those of you just considering starting out with WordPress. I would've liked slightly more on creating themes, especially from scratch, but what was there was excellently communicated and explained, and should in combination with prior knowledge of PHP be enough to let me build a WordPress-based website.

19. Flyga utan vingar: Hur hästar rör vid en kvinnas själ (original title: She Flies Without Wings by Mary D. Midkiff (memoir/tribute) - 6 Aug 2011
I'm honestly not sure how to feel about this book. It's beautifully written, but balances a thin line; the gorgeous metaphors that almost erase the species boundary between human and horse enrich the language, but also sometimes grew to be a bit more than I could readily stomach. It is no doubt a touching work, though, and especially the later chapters tugged on my heartstrings as it reminded me of my late companion, who might have been an "ugly" horse but who forever will be the best horse I ever knew. I generally reject any notion of female and male thinking (or the usefullness of categorizing humanity into male and female at all), but read as an account of personal experiences and growth, I think this book is well worth reading, and I will be recommending it to my horse-loving best friend in short order.

20. Pepparkakshuset by Carin Gerhardsen (crime) - 6 Aug 2011
This novel definitely has the thing I look for in murder mysteries: uniqueness. The writing is pleasant, and uses the reader's human nature in a very clever way to further this. The one thing I was unhappy with was the vagueness as new characters were introduced, though in hindsight this was yet another clever use of language and there were still hints dropped that suggested the outcome of the case. There are also some loose ends left hanging in just the right places, which is also refreshing; none of the "crime is solved, everything is right in the world" feel that shows up in some crime fiction, though the ending is still definitely satisfactory.