March 21st, 2012

Books 22-25

Books #22 Dark Peril- by Christine Feehan-New Read- Dominic and Solange-really enjoyed the telling of this couple.
Book #23 Dark Predator-by Chritine Feehan-New Read-Zacarias and Marguerite- all of the De La Cruz brothers are saved because they have lifemates
Book #24 Dead Reckoning-by Charlaine Harris-New Read
Book#25 Dead in the Family-by Charlaine Harris-New Read

Book #36: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder

This book was so cute.  And although it was a children's story, it contains a lot of information on how the family lived off the land.  What they did, wore, ate, and how they entertained themselves in their little house.  I loved it, and I'll definitely be reading the rest of the ones in the series.

Book #37: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Before Women Had Wings - Connie May Fowler

This is a novel about a girl and her sister who are abused verbally and physically by their alcoholic parents.  The synopsis really doesn't say that, so it was kind of a shock, but it was good.  Sad.

Book #38: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Sing You Home - Jodi Picoult

This is about a music therapist named Zoe who falls for her new best friend, Vanessa.  They end up getting married and wind up in court fighting for equal rights.  Strangely enough, the relationship - or their love or the trial that follows - isn't mentioned in the synopsis at all.  I found it odd that the characters fought so hard to be treated equally, and yet the book jacket doesn't mention a gay relationship whatsoever.  It's like the publishers stamped out (or maybe highlighted instead?) a major point that Picoult was trying to make.

I liked it okay, but the ending was sort of anticlimactic.  The trial was a pageturner, and then the end kind of pooped out.  I didn't like the end, but I enjoyed reading the story.

Book #39: 50 Book Challenge 2012

While I Was Gone - Sue Miller

This story is steeped in nostalgia, and those are the parts I enjoyed the most - the lead character remembering her college years, and the descriptions of their house and town during a New England winter.  I didn't really like sympathizing with the main character.  I couldn't get into her brain.  She is a preacher's wife who struggles with fidelity.  Well, she doesn't struggle really - she doesn't even try that hard.  She has a good relationship with her husband and they have a good sex life - so I really don't understand her yearning needs to get satisfaction elsewhere.  I think the mid-life crisis excuses for infidelity are a bunch of baloney, and I didn't buy this one either.

Book #41: 50 Book Challenge 2012

The Most Wanted - Jacquelyn Mitchard

Wow!  I got wrapped up in this story and stayed up late to finish it. 

It's about a young teenage girl, Arley, who marries a man in prison and gets pregnant soon after.  Her lawyer and advocate, Annie, ends up wanting to be the mother Arley never had, and the closer they get to one another, the more dangerous it is for both of them. 

Arley is an interesting character - she isn't like you'd expect her to be, and it's quite disturbing.

It's also unsettling, how common sense and deep emotions (or misplaced affection at the very least) don't go hand in hand for many of us, no matter the age or experience.  This story explores that a bit, in both Arley's character and in the past experience of Annie's sister.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Yesterday, I managed to finish a quick read, Osprey Elite #174: American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics, which was certainly a change for me, amongst the Osprey books, and it was fairly interesting, being a subject upon which I knew only a little.

Then, in a fairly big push, I completed the new David Weber novel, set in the Honor Harrington Universe, A Rising Thunder. This series is military fiction, usually, but this book read as more political than most have before. It ends on something of a cliffhanger, which is fine. It leaves me wanting the next book.

#13: From the author of Rashomon

I've been wanting to read Ryuunosuke Akutagawa's Kappa for a few years now, ever since an East Asian Studies major had told me he found it the best character portrait he'd ever read. When I finally got my own hands on it, though, I found myself...bewildered, mostly. I thought I'd missed the point, but after browsing this essay, I'm not sure that's the case.

I think my friend was wrong in labeling Kappa a character study, unless he means of the author (and you could make a good case on that front); the book is more social satire, with an underground kingdom of kappa subbing for 1920s Japan. The book was translated and brought to America in 1947, which means that the whitebread baby boom was confronted with this image of the kappa birth process:

But when at last the child is about to come out,the father puts his mouth at the ... of the mother [... the book's, not mine] as if he were on the telephone, and asks in a loud voice:

"Do you wish to be born into this world? Think it over and give your answer."

And if the answer is "no":

...the midwife in attendance quickly inserted a big glass tube in the ... of [the] wife and injected some liquid. She heaved a deep sigh of relief, and at the same time her belly, which had been so big, shriveled up like a balloon emptied of its hydrogen gas.

Yeah, I can't imagine what Truman America thought of that.

Then there's the kappa political speech where the human narrator points out the speaker's lies only to be told by his enraptured kappa friend: "Come now...That speech of his is of course a lie, every bit of it. But everybody know that it's a lie, so it's an honest speech after all, isn't it?" Kappas also create the "Worker Butchery Law" as a solution to unemployment, whereby the shiftness, good-for-nothing out-of-work laborers are made useful to society by being repurposed as food. I'm surprised a Worker Butchery Law hasn't been proposed to wild applause at the Republican debates, quite frankly.

The book has incidents that hit home, but there's no...sensible through-line to it, I guess? It's not like Alice in Wonderland, a travelogue with some transition; it's just...not very much transition at all. Part of the problem might be the older translation, released in an era when Japanese-English translation wasn't fully developed as at art; it's not bad, just stilted in places. I still get the feeling, though, that I'm missing something here, so I'm afraid this has to go down as a big "?" in my books for the moment. Maybe I need more Akutagawa under my belt.