October 5th, 2013

book
  • maribou

Better Immortal Memory Affliction

Affliction, by Laurell K. Hamilton
I had fun with this one. More plot than the last one had. It was actually more like an old-school Anita Blake than any I'd read in a while. Still, I wish she had a demanding editor.
(152)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
This book made me laugh, yell, puzzle, and even tear up a little. I remember learning about these cells (in no real detail at all) in college, and it was satisfying to deepen my understanding by learning about the woman they grew from and the hardships and triumphs of her life, and her family's lives.
(153)

Better than Fiction, edited by Don George
Short travel essays. Found a couple of excellent new writers to explore at more length, enjoyed some new bits by authors I already enjoyed. Also, because Lonely Planet is an Australian company, there was a disproportionate number of Aussie and Kiwi authors, which haloed the whole book in a certain unexpected aura of pleasurable novelty.
(154)

Memory of the World, by UNESCO
The text is dry as dust, but that lack is overcome by the one-two punch of a truly fascinating topic - the documents that UNESCO inscribed on the Memory of the World historical register - and some seriously gorgeous pictures. Nom.
(155)
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  • maribou

Bookman's Light Wizard; Winter Guardian Women; Shattering Zine Country

How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny
This was as compulsively readable as always. And it went SOME way toward fixing the implausible mess the author got into with one character last time.
(156)

The Bookman's Tale, by Charlie Lovett
A bit too pat, a bit too mannered, but wonderfullly, properly Romantic in at least 3 or 4 senses of the word.
(157)

A Wizard Alone, by Diane Duane
This was... odd. Duane is as wonderful a writer as ever; the main characters are as fun and three-dimensional as ever; the story is as full of emotional and symbolic power as ever. And yet: her characterization of the autistic added protagonist of this one... was weird. It's clear that she meant to be inclusive and respectful. Because of that, I don't think she MEANT to imply that inside every autistic person is a trapped neurotypical person waiting to be freed (or free themselves?), but it kind of felt that way, in fact I'm having trouble seeing any other interpretation of the story, and it left a very bad taste in my mouth. There's an excellent commentary on the problems with this book at http://beccaelizabeth.dreamwidth.org/2008180.html.
ETA: A friend kindly pointed out that Duane took people's criticisms to heart and rewrote this book substantially while she was rewriting the whole series (mostly to update the tech, though obviously in this case it goes far beyond that). I didn't rush out and reread it :), but based on
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<b><i><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17167084-how-the-light-gets-in">How the Light Gets In</a></i>, by Louise Penny</b>
This was as compulsively readable as always. And it went SOME way toward fixing the implausible mess the author got into with one character last time.
(156)

<b><i><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16158563-the-bookman-s-tale">The Bookman's Tale</a></i>, by Charlie Lovett</b>
A bit too pat, a bit too mannered, but wonderfullly, properly Romantic in at least 3 or 4 senses of the word.
(157)

<b><i><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/116560.A_Wizard_Alone">A Wizard Alone</a></i>, by Diane Duane</b>
This was... odd. Duane is as wonderful a writer as ever; the main characters are as fun and three-dimensional as ever; the story is as full of emotional and symbolic power as ever. And yet: her characterization of the autistic added protagonist of this one... was weird. It's clear that she meant to be inclusive and respectful. Because of that, I don't think she MEANT to imply that inside every autistic person is a trapped neurotypical person waiting to be freed (or free themselves?), but it kind of felt that way, in fact I'm having trouble seeing any other interpretation of the story, and it left a very bad taste in my mouth. There's an excellent commentary on the problems with this book at <a href="http://beccaelizabeth.dreamwidth.org/2008180.html">http://beccaelizabeth.dreamwidth.org/2008180.html</a>.
ETA: A friend kindly pointed out that Duane took people's criticisms to heart and rewrote this book substantially while she was rewriting the whole series (mostly to update the tech, though obviously in this case it goes far beyond that). I didn't rush out and reread it :), but based on <a href = "<a href="http://ada-hoffmann.livejournal.com/72353.html">this glowing review</a> of the new edition by someone who was pretty frustrated with the old edition, I feel a lot better about life.
(158)

<b><i><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6505358-guardian-of-the-dead">Guardian of the Dead</a></i>, by Karen Healey</b>
Such a good book! Nothing transcendent, just a very steady, perfectly composed YA fantasy ... great characters, satisfyingly fresh mythos (magic built mostly from Maori legends), and enough of a sense of mischief to keep things lively.
(159)

<b><i><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6668467-winter-garden">The Winter Garden</a></i>, by Kristin Hannah</b>
Not at all the sort of book I usually read, and I almost stopped reading it a couple of times in the first 50 pages because the beginning part is awkwardly written, too much telling and not enough showing, plus the language is clumsy. But it really grew on me, particularly the way the originally very unreal fairy tale sections get grittier and more full of telling historical and personal details as the story goes on. It seems to *me* that the book's flaws were mostly confined to the first few chapters, but perhaps I just got so into the story that its flaws faded in importance?
(160)

<b><i><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2646468-wahine-toa">Wahine Toa: Women of Maori Myth</a></i>, by Robyn Kahukiwa with Patricia Grace</b>
A beautiful adult picture book by Kahukiwa, rather more graceful and warm than the usual exhibition catalog; and Grace's words are elegant and rhythmic; I read most of them aloud.
(161)

<b><i><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4705104-some-other-country">Some Other Country: New Zealand's Best Short Stories</a></i>, edited by Marion McLeod and Bill Manhire</b>
The chronological arrangement of these stories was rather interesting, confirming that certain periods of mainstream short story writing (eg, the 80s) are just NOT very appealing to me, no matter where the stories' writers come from.
(162)

<b><i><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/842153.From_A_to_Zine">From A to Zine</a></i>, by Julie Bartel</b>
I used this book in a school project about zines in libraries last spring, and the bits I read for my project were so lucid and enthusiastic that I decided to read it all later on. Glad I finally got 'round to it, because the whole thing is that good.
(163)

<b><i><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10757830-the-shattering">The Shattering</a></i>, by Karen Healey</b>
Really quite fun, though more with the typical YA dark fantasy and (slightly) less with the clever and perfectly done than <i>Guardian of the Dead</i>. Looking forward to reading lots more of hers.
(164)
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Taking a little breather, here and there, I finished reading Osprey New Vanguard #66: Napoleon's Guns 1792 – 1815 (1): Field Artillery, which taught me a bit about French military politics, not to mention copious technical detail. Then, this morning, I finished reading Osprey New Vanguard #75: German Pocket Battleships 1939 – 45, a topic about which I'd learned things in my past reading, primarily about the Graf Spee, but this book took me quickly through the whole war's use of her sister ships as well. Pretty solid.