August 1st, 2013

plot bunny hunter

July 2013 Reading

July 2013 Reading:

31. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, by Charles Seife (248 pages)
This book took me about a month to read, and for a time I was worried it was getting beyond my mathematical comprehension. You see, I failed calculus, twice. But thanks to this book, I understand why--I did the same thing I tend to do with languages; I apply English rules to other languages, and I was trying to apply algebra rules to calculus. But they're different languages. If I were to try again with this understanding, I might be able to do it. This book has given me a better understanding of the history of mathematics and the theories that exist. I especially loved the marriage of astrophysics to mathematics, and the idea of vacuum as, kind of, everything and nothing at once. I was also able to see how math and physics go into the creation of shows like Doctor Who. Definitely a favorite, and I found it helpful that Seife was quirky and humorous instead of dry and boring.

32. Bone Quest for the Spark: Volume 1, by Tom Sniegoski (218 pages)
I thought this was a graphic novel sequel to Bone, but it turns out it's a series of short novels. I'm not disappointed in the least. It's definitely meant for a younger crowd, but has the same feel as the Bone comics. I enjoy the characters so far, and like the return of Roderick.

July pages: 466

Pages to date: 9,199

Progress: 32/50

July 2013 Comics/Manga Reading:

211. Boys Over Flowers: Volume 23, by Yoko Kamio (192 pages)
212. Bone: Volume 6, by Jeff Smith (128 pages)
213. Bone: Volume 7, by Jeff Smith (160 pages)
214. Bone: Volume 8, by Jeff Smith (144 pages)
215. Bone: Volume 9, by Jeff Smith (224 pages)
216. Rose, by Jeff Smith (144 pages)
217. Bone: Tall Tale, by Jeff Smith (128 pages)
218. Bone Handbook, by Jeff Smith (128 pages)
219. Fate/Stay Night: Volume 4, by Dat Nishiwaki (192 pages)
220. Fables: Volume 13, by Bill Willingham (224 pages)
221. Nana: Volume 13, by Ai Yazawa (210 pages)
222. Kamisama Kiss: Volume 12, by Julietta Suzuki (200 pages)
223. Tail of the Moon Prequel: The Other Hanzo(u), by Rinko Ueda (192 pages)
224. Kekkaishi: VOlume 10, by Yellow Tanabe (192 pages)
225. Case Closed: Volume 16, by Gosho Aoyama (192 pages)
226. Jack of Fables: Volume 4, by Bill Willingham (128 pages)
227. Loveless: Volume 8, by Yun Kouga (194 pages)
228. Boys Over Flowers: Volume 24, by Yoko Kamio (192 pages)
229. Black Bird: Volume 15, by Kanoko Sakurakouji (200 pages)
230. Black Bird: Volume 16, by Kanoko Sakurakouji (192 pages)
231. Fables: Volume 14, by Bill Willingham (192 pages)
232. Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, by Bill Willingham (144 pages)
233. Nana: Volume 14, by Ai Yazawa (210 pages)
234. Jack of Fables: Volume 5, by Bill Willingham (144 pages)
235. Ranma 1/2: Volume 13, by Rumiko Takahashi (200 pages)
236. The Candidate for Goddess: Volume 1, by Yukiru Sugisaki (208 pages)
237. Someday's Dreamers Spellbound: Volume 3, by Norie Yamada (192 pages)
238. Zombie-Loan: Volume 6, by Peach-Pit (176 pages)
239. Fate/Stay Night: Volume 5, by Dat Nishiwaki (192 pages)

July pages: 5,214

Pages to date: 47,462

Progress: 239/250
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

A little here, a little there. It's amazing how many smaller books I can read when I'm not reading a really big book!

First one was The Sworn Sword, another novella by GRRM, a follow-on from yesterday's The Hedge Knight, and in some ways, this one is better. Wow.

Next, Osprey Men-at-Arms #10: The Buffs, another really old release that doesn't stand up to the later publications. Poor illustrations.

Finally, Osprey Men-at-Arms #26: Royal Scots Greys; this regiment is famed for a charge at Waterloo depicted by a famous painting. Once upon a time, we had a Percheron mare who would have been a mount for such a charge, and when she would race around the corral in the backyard, the house would shake. This helped me to understand what it would be like if 500 or more such horses were charging down on a unit, and what that would be like. Did this book help me learn much more? Not so much. Too bad...
kitty, reading

Books #27-28

Book #27 was "Adulthood Rites," the second in the "Lilith's Brood" trilogy by Octavia Butler. This is a re-read for me, but it has been a decade or more since I first read the trilogy. It was hard to shift viewpoint characters from Lilith in the first book to her adolescent half-alien son Akin in the second book, but he quickly becomes a sympathetic character. If the first book makes the reader angry about the cavalier way the Oankali (aliens) treat humans, the second book will make you angry about the way humans treat humans. Butler is amazing and I highly recommend anything that she's written.

Book #28 was "Isadore's Secret: Sin, Murder, and Confession in a Northern Michigan Town" by Mardi Link. This true-crime book details the Michigan murder case that was the inspiration for the stage play and movie "The Runner Stumbles." It's about the murder of a nun in 1907 that goes unsolved for more than a decade, and involves two sex scandals, a breech of the confidentiality of the confessional and more sensational details. I thought it was really well-written and a page-turner, and it appears that Link really did her research. Recommended to lovers of true crime books or people interested in Michigan history.

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pale reader

Book 138: Summertime Death by Mons Kallentoft

Book 138: Summertime Death (Malin Fors #2).
Author: Mons Kallentoft, 2008. Translated from Swedish by Neil Smith, 2012.
Genre: Police Procedural. Nordic Noir. Slight Magical Realism.
Other Details: Paperback. 486 pages.

Winter was chilling. Summer will be brutal. Every season is perfect for murder. As the temperature in Sweden reaches a record-breaking 45°, forest fires break out. All those who have failed to escape Linköping for the summer take shelter indoors, shocked and paralysed by the heat. However, when a teenage girl is discovered naked and bleeding in the local park, it is clear that the raging heat is not the only plague affecting the town.

Then a second girl is found dead. Alarmed by the fact that the victims are the same age as her daughter, Tove, detective Malin Fors will work round-the-clock to capture the perpetrator. But as every lead comes to nothing, it is as though the oppressive heat is clogging up the wheels of her investigation. And time is not on Malin's side . . .
- synopsis from UK publisher's website.

In contrast to the bleakness of Midwinter Sacrifice, here the summer heatwave inspires a shift to a more lyrical style of writing that evoked a sense of summer. Indeed, the weather is a practically a character in its own right in this quartet of seasonally inspired crime novels. 'Midwinter Sacrifice' highlighted the winter cold and here it is a freak summer heatwave that has the characters' bodies and brains wilting as they struggle to solve the case.

The UK's weather has been very hot this past few weeks and while it is cooler at present there were still times when I was empathizing with the characters as they sweltered and recalling my own recent heat exhaustion. It's the mark of a good writer for me when they can create such a vivid experience of their setting and Kallentoft brings all the senses into play.

Sometimes the pacing felt a little off but this didn't really detract from my enjoyment and I managed to read it in a couple of days. Again there was a touch of magical realism as the 'voice' of the murdered girl does give her perspective on the unfolding events and seeks to reach out to Malin Fors. I quite like this though I get the impression from some reviews that people feel uncomfortable with afterlife commentary.
Midnight Beast

Book #38: Joyland by Stephen King

Number of pages: 283

A book by Stephen King set in an amusement park sounds like it should throw up all sorts of horror clichés, right?

While it sounds like a predictable story that he should have written years ago, it isn't, and while King is most well known for writing horror stories, you have to remember that many of his stories and novels (e.g. The Green Mile, Hearts in Atlantis, Dolores Claiborne haven't exactly been horror novels.

Set in the 1970s, the book is narrated by Devin Jones who gets a job at Joyland amusement park, mostly involving dressing up as "Howie the Hound"; he finds himself enjoying the work so much that he stays on there. Devin is still recovering from a bad break up with a former girlfriend, who he is trying to forget, and there is also the small business of a string of reported murders that have taken place in the amusement park's funhouse. Devin also starts saving peoples' lives, and is hailed as a hero, and then a woman shows up with her disabled son, who is apparently able to predict the future, and who chillingly tells his mother he wants to visit Joyland before he dies.

There were two things that were quite refreshing about this book - firstly, it was considerably shorter than King's previous novel, 11.22.63, and secondly the murder story was mostly secondary to the other themes of the book, which is primarily a coming-of-age story with a largely romantic plot. As usual, Stephen King brings his narrator to life very well, and the dialogue made me want to keep on reading. In addition, I loved the vivid portrayal of life in the amusement park, which seemed to be the main focus of the storyline. There was a good depiction of the very creepy funhouse, which actually turned out to have very little importance to the plot aside from its links to the murders.

Eventually the book becomes a straight thriller, which typical King-style chills, but no obvious horror, and when the murder plotline comes to the forefront, there is a very satisfying final confrontation, followed by a very well-written and poignant finale (though be warned; you might need to reach for the tissues shortly before the end).

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely, and it shows that Stephen King really hasn't lost his creative touch.

Next book: Feet of Clay (Terry Pratchett)