July 23rd, 2012


Mermaid's California Samplers; Invincible Crossing Wind

Samplers, by Rebecca Scott
Beautiful needlework, interesting context (albeit a bit dry).

California Demon, by Julie Kenner
A delightful confection - I find the soccer mom stuff as charming, quirky, and fascinating as the demons and other supernatural elements:).

The Mermaid's Madness, by Jim C. Hines
Absorbing fairy tale mashups - continues to be just dark enough - ie darker than Disney, not so raw as Tanith Lee.

Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, volume 3, by Robert Kirkman et al
Lots of interesting plotful developments in this volume, and it mostly refrained from pissing me off in the ways that the last volume did.

Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner
Lovely writing about 2 academics and their wives in the 30s and 40s... there were some beautiful descriptions of the natural world, too. A slighter book than Angle of Repose, but still very good.

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
I came to this book with an open and curious mind, and I could describe its virtues (I finished it, after all). However, the overt racism, and worse yet, nostalgia for the systematic racism of days gone by, were appalling. Every time I started to relax into the story (and there were quite a few such times), some awful piece of bigotry jarred me out of it and made me feel ashamed of having any liking for this book at all.
  • Current Music
    the BBC Pride & Prejudice
kitty, reading

Books #29 & #30

Book #29 was "Soon I Will Be Invincible" by Austin Grossman. It's a novel set in  an alternate super-hero future, told from two viewpoints: Dr. Impossible, an evil supergenius and possibly the world's greatest villain, and Femme Fatale, a cyborg who has just joined a superhero team that was once disbanded and is now re-forming with most of the old members plus a few new recruits. I don't want to give any spoilers, but this has been the most fun read so far this year. I found the way he uses and then subverts the tropes of the superhero genre highly, highly amusing.

Book #30 was "For a Few Demons More" by Kim Harrison, Book 5 of "The Hollows" series. I usually am not into paranormal romance or urban fantasy, but I do get a kick out of this series. My husband and I listen to them when we do long roadtrips, and that was the case with this one as well. For all I like to mock these as brain candy, and for all my husband and I like to roll our eyes at the main character (and the author) at times, they are fun. I also have to credit Harrison with creating some real character development; I think that's what lifts these books a half step above other chick-oriented fantasy for me.

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Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Before the thunder and lightning of taking two college-level courses online started more or less yesterday, I finished reading Osprey Command #16: Horatio Nelson, a short biography of this important admiral. Clearly, in a book this short they give only a bare outline, and primarily a view of his military aspect, but they do try to cover a bit more than just that. Not bad.

Thor's Blue Metal Khan; Alpha Sea, High Wind Stroke

Northlanders, vol. 5: Metal, and vol. 6: Thor's Daughter and Other Stories, by Brian Wood et al
I am sorry that there won't be any more of these - they are sui generis, and I will miss the flashes of brilliance they contain.
(137, 138)

The Iron Khan, by Liz Williams
Fun! More of an action adventure (like H. Rider Haggard) and not so much detecting (or character-building) as the previous volumes, but I still enjoyed it very much.

Blue Avenger Cracks the Code, by Norma Howe
This was lovely, if not quite as Astoundingly Fantastically Brilliant as the first volume. Still, if you liked that, or if you like YA about smart quirky characters generally, you'd like this.

Alpha, by Rachel Vincent
This volume was as unputdownable as the first couple, a relief since I was meh about the next-to-last one. A satisfying conclusion to the series.

Home from the Sea, by Mercedes Lackey
This is quite a good story, but not much happens, and that what one would expect ....

Heat Stroke, by Rachel Caine
Hoo-ee, these are a ROMP. I unfortunately forgot that they end on cliffhangers (or at least the first two have) - eagerly awaiting the next one's arrival on the library hold shelf.

The High Lord, by Trudi Canavan
I am not sure why I didn't see the same extra spark in this one that elevated the first two books in this series, but I didn't. Maybe because the story's strengths lie in small moments and relationships, and this was all about Big Important International Doings? Some people are better at snapping dialogue and evoking an intimate sense of wonder than at fight scenes and dire perils ....

Fables, vol. 17: Inherit the Wind, by Bill Willingham et al
Nom nom nom. My only complaint is that it left me wanting to know more about what happens next in SEVERAL different plot lines. Which, you know, is what it supposed to do - so that's not much of a complaint.
  • Current Music
    BBC Pride & Prejudice still
book and cup

#74 Villette - Charlotte Bronte

One of the things that has been most interesting about re-reading – is how much my memory has let me down. I suppose that there is a limit to what one can retain of the books read over a twenty-year period. One thing has largely remained constant however – and that is my affection for the books that I chose to re-read this month. I can’t remember when it was I first read Villette – but it was a long time ago – I would guess at around twenty-five years ago. I can remember loving it – and I remembered the setting of the school very well, and Charlotte Bronte’s description of M.Paul Emanuel’s appearance I had also remembered. The rest however remained to be re-discovered as I remembered little of the plot – a mere sense of the ending – and virtually nothing of other important characters.

For me – Villette is a much harder novel than say Jane Eyre – which I have read three times or Shirley, which I have read twice. It is a complex novel of unrequited love – and what it is to be alone in the world. Like Jane Eyre and The Professor it is considered to be a deeply autobiographical work. Many reviews I have seen seem to suggest that Lucy Snowe is a less likeable character than Jane is – I found her perfectly likeable – she is quite real, sometimes outspoken (putting forward those views perhaps that Charlotte herself felt unable to). Lucy is a secretive narrator – she holds things back from the reader – tantalisingly – a good plot device quite suited to this gothic tale.

Lucy Snowe is an orphan who as a child often visited her godmother Mrs Bretton and her son Graham – into their lives during one visit –comes Polly, a precocious six year old doll like child who becomes attached to the 16 year old Graham. Lucy Snowe loses touch with these friends and has to make her way in the world alone. Having worked as a companion for a short time, Lucy leaves England and ends up in Villette (Brussels) where seeking shelter in a girls school – she finds both home and employment. Needless to say Mrs Bretton, Graham and the now grown up Polly come back into her life unexpectedly. Lucy works hard, but her slightly nervous and depressive personality lead her to all kinds of imaginings about the tale of the ghost of a nun, which is said to haunt the school. She is employed by the school’s proprietor, Madame Beck a cruel snooping women who watches Lucy closely. Her relative is a professor of literature – M. Paul Emanuel, with whom Lucy develops a sparky sparring relationship.

I had remembered only part of the ending, and forgotten just how ambiguous it is – which is frustrating in one way – but does allow the reader to put their own spin on it – which is what I did and had remembered I think. I had also forgotten that Villette is a deceptive tome – rather longer than I had remembered. Also it’s a slow read if like me, you don’t read French – and so have to flick to the notes for translations of bits of French speech – (immediately losing my place back on the relevant page,) I had remembered being annoyed by that the last time too. Villette though is worth the hard work it requires – and it certainly shows what an amazing writer Charlotte Bronte was. That, that quiet shy young woman, from that draughty old parsonage in Haworth should have been able to produce such a novel it wonderful to me.