September 25th, 2014

smirk by geekilicious

book 83

Bleach, Vol 61: The Last 9 Days (Bleach, #61)Bleach, Vol 61: The Last 9 Days by Tite Kubo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm very torn by this one. I liked some of it but the predictability of the rest just frustrates me to no end.

I was interested in Ichigo getting to know his new zanpak-tu though I'm not sure I entirely bought the explanation. Still it was interesting and I liked it. It will be good to see how this shakes out since it's so very different than what it had been.

And I was actually pitying Uryu and the position he's been put into. I hate to say it, as much as I DIDN'T want to see the Quincies as the final villains, they are proving to be rather loathsome and Uryu is about the only one I see worth anything.

But it also means we're moving into the battle again. On one hand, it was inevitable. On the other, snooze. Nothing new here. Literally nothing new. We fight. We taunt. We explain our special cool new powers to the enemy because that's the intelligent thing to do. We think we won. Oops, we didn't win. Let nothing upset this formula. And nothing does. Sigh.

There are a few brief scenes with many characters including Renji/Rukia training, Shunsui preparing Ichigo's friends for the worst and Byakuya recovering but other than that it's mostly battle. Once again we get some back story on a character whose been secondary all this time, Marechiyo (so I expect him to die soon since that's the formula) and yep, we battle away. At least the other main fighters were Toshiro, who I've always liked (which probably doesn't bode well for him), Rangiku and Soi Fon both of whom I also like (in spite of Rangiku's battle boobs of doom)

so parts I liked, parts bored me and I expect more of battles I don't really care about to come but the end is near and I'm hardly going to stop now.

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Books #37-38

Book #37 was "The Harmony Silk Factory" by Tash Aw. I picked this up cheaply at a used book shop not knowing much about it besides what it said on the jacket blurb. The novel is set in Malaysia around the time of their independence, and it centers around the story of Jonny Lim, a cloth merchant who may also be a gangster, a communist or a collaborator with the enemy. It's told from three viewpoints: His son Jasper, who seems to believe the worst about his father; the diary entries of Johnny's wife, Snow, who is also somewhat naive but whose entries make it clear that Jasper doesn't know the full truth; and Peter, an English expat who is perhaps Johnny's only friend and who has a secret of his own. The section by Jasper was a little dry with background about Malaysia at first, but after the first 30-40 pages, I was gripped and ripped right through the rest of the book. I recommend it and would like to see more by the author.

Book #38 was "Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet" by John Bradshaw. I'd heard good things about this book, but I was worried that it would just repeat a lot of what I already know about the evolution of the housecat and the current theories about their behavior and psychology. I needn't have worried, though. Bradshaw is an expert in animal behavior and has done a lot of original experiments to test out various theories. He gives the latest and most thorough explanation of what we know about cat's evolution from wildcats to housecats, an overview of their senses and how they differ from humans and how this affects their behavior, as well as delving into individual cat personalities, debates over how much housecats are contributing to the decline of songbirds, and some thoughts on declawing. The book is well organized, and it is chock full of fun illustrations and sidebars explaining certain concepts more fully. I saw another reviewer say that the final chapter, "Cats of the Future," was the weakest, and while I agree that it was the weakest and most full of speculation, it was still food for thought, and I think his speculations are based on a lot of well thought-out theories. You may not agree with his every conclusion, but I do think the subtitle is apt - it's already given me some ideas for making our cats happier with their food & litter placement and inter-cat relationship. Recommended to all cat lovers and really anyone interested in animal psychology.

1. Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection Paperback [fiction/graphic short story collection]- Matt Dembicki -Ed.
2. Light Music [fiction]- Kathleen Ann Goonan
3. The Indian Clerk [fiction]- David Leavitt
4. The Diving Bell & the Butterfly [non-fiction/memoir]- Jean-Dominique Bauby
5. Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast [non-fiction]- Andrew E. Kersten
6. Blue Champagne [fiction/short stories]- John Varley
7. A Person of Interest [fiction]- Susan Choi
8. Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country [non-fiction]- Louise Erdrich
9. Nobody Nowhere [non-fiction]- Donna Williams
10. The Three Musketeers [fiction]- Alexandre Dumas (unabridged audiobook)
11. The Narrative of John Tanner [non-fiction/biography]- as told by John Tanner, edited by Edwin James
12. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell [fiction]- Susanna Clarke
13. I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist's Eyes [non-fiction]- Hemant Mehta
14. Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft [non-fiction]- Natalie Goldberg
15. No Name in the Streets [non-fiction/essay]- James Baldwin
16. The Hunger Games [fiction]- Suzanne Collins (unabridged audiobook)
17. Permanence [fiction]- Karl Schroeder
18. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf [poetry]- Ntozake Shange
19. An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President [non-fiction]- Randall Robinson
20. The Delikon [fiction]- by H.M. Hoover
21. Catching Fire (#2 in the Hunger Games trilogy) [fiction]- Suzanne Collins (unabridged audiobook)
22. Codex Born (#2 in the Magic Ex Libris series) [fiction]- Jim Hines
23. The Hum and the Shiver [fiction]- Alex Bledsoe (unabridged audiobook)
24. Skinny Legs and All [fiction]- Tom Robbins
25. Artemis Fowl [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)
26. The Best of All Possible Worlds [fiction]- Karen Lord
27. The Green Flash and Other Tales of Horror, Suspense, and Fantasy [fiction/short stories]- Joan Aiken
28. Use What You Have Decorating [non-fiction]- Lauri Ward
29. Erasure [fiction]- Percival Everett
30. Homer & Langley [fiction]- E.L. Doctorow (unabridged audiobook)
31. The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam [non-fiction]- Karen Armstrong
32. The Beekeeper's Apprentice [fiction]- Laurie R. King
33. Wisp of a Thing [fiction]- Alex Bledsoe (unabridged audiobook)
34. The Talented Mr. Ripley [fiction]- Patricia Highsmith
35. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World [fiction]- Vicki Myron
36. Blood Work: An Original Hollows Graphic Novel [fiction/graphic novel]- Kim Harrison (author), Pedro Maia, and Gemma Magno (illustrators)
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Book 84-85

The MoonstoneThe Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I tried very hard to like this. I love mysteries and this is one of the very first. It's a classic. It's also ungodly long and something of an odd duck. It's one of the first locked room sorts of mystery, one of the first for red herrings, bumbling cops and so many others. If I'm truthful, it's more of a 2.5 than a 3 but my goodness we're still reading this nearly 150 years later so that had to count for something.

There are multiple narrators in this and the upshot is Rachel Verinder, a young English woman, inherits the Moonstone, a huge diamond stolen originally from a Hindu temple. It's stolen on her 18th birthday, the day she gets it. Detective Cuff is unable to break the strict social barriers of the time, though does befriend her steward who does some of the narrating. Franklin Blake, her cousin and future husband, turns gentleman detective (again one of the first).

In many ways it's something mystery fans should read but the writing style of that day and it's length might be a turn off to some.

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Bridge to TerabithiaBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel like I'm missing something entirely with this one. One star was for the fact that this has been on a library shelf consistently for nearly forty years and it was a Newberry winner. Maybe it had to do with broken expectations but this bored me to tears for so much of it. I think it was the blurb which is what I've been hearing about this book for years (I've never read it before this week when I picked up for a challenge, 'books that make you cry.' Oops didn't cry. And for read a banned book week and really anyone protesting this one must be seeing things I'm not) "Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign and king and queen and their imaginations set the only limits.' I was expecting a) to spend much more time there and b) for Terabithia to be much better imagined. More on that in a moment.

Jess Aarons is a sensitive kid, likes to draw and is trapped in a poor family where dad does something in town (never sure what), his two older sisters are horrid to him and the two younger sisters are more or less his to look out for since Mom is either depressed or just one of those parents who picks her favorite kids and works the rest to death. He's more or less responsible for milking the cows and nearly every other chore including cooking dinner.

Jess has one goal (besides his art. His father is worried it'll turn him gay so his only friend in that realm is the hippie music teacher he sees once a week and has a crush on), to be the fastest runner in 5th grade. He's up at dawn training only to get blown away by Leslie, a new girl in school whose wealthy parents have moved to the country to get in touch with their roots. Leslie is like no one he's ever known. Her hair is short, she wears jeans, calls her parents by their first name (I remember this as being a THING back then) and has never been to church.

They end up fast friends and as the blurb above says they create Terabithia. But to me, they spent more time worrying about school, working up revenge on the fat girl who bullies people (who they later learn has reasons to be lashing out) and Terabithia seems completely unformed to me. I get no magic from it. I barely get 'two kids built a play house and imagine it to be this other world.' Terabithia was unrealized for me.

I knew the tragic ending before I read this (again it's nearly 40 years old so... not to mention it's a Newberry award winner. That's usually a sign someone's going to die.) but it didn't touch me much because I never felt like I knew Leslie much (Jess is the pov character). I didn't find her particularly likeable until she did reach out to the overweight girl (yes there is a fair amount of fat shaming in this, it was the 1970s). I should have connected to this better. I was Leslie and Jess's exact age in 1977. I was the odd girl out in school. I had a spot in the woods that my friends and I played in and imagined to be other worlds. I could have been Leslie and Jess. I was Leslie and Jess. I didn't connect with them in spite of this.

Maybe because I was hoping for more other worldly imaginations and less, boo-hoo my sisters and the fat girl in school are picking on me. I rarely enjoy contemporary lit and at the end of the day this is what this novel is.

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