February 18th, 2015

kitty, reading

Books #7-8

Book #7 was "Nat Turner" a graphic novel illustrated by Kyle Baker. This book has phenonemal art, and it's told mostly through pictures. You can flip 4-5 pages at a time without any text at all. The text that is featured is almost 100 percent from Turner's confession toward the end of his life. For those who don't recongize the name, Turner was a slave who started an uprising that resulted in the deaths of dozens of white men, women and children. The graphic novel examines the horrors of slavery, Turner's learning to read and his growing conviction that he was divinely inspired to rise up against his oppressors. Not for the faint of heart but truly an excellent graphic novel.


Book #8 was "Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception" by Eoin Colfer. This installment of the series starts with Artemis and his bodyguard Butler not remembering anything about the fairy people because they'd been mind-wiped at the end of the previous adventure. But an old enemy plots revenge against fairies and humans, and Holly Short, the fairy police officer that has partnered with Artemis in the past, is on the run, falsely accused of shooting her superior. This was another fun romp with lots of moments of humor. I like that the stakes are raised in each book, despite the violence being toned down for a YA audience, and that there is character development for Artemis as well as the secondary characters.  I really love this series and the fantastic audiobook reader, Nathaniel Parker.

1. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood [non-fiction]- James Gleick
2. Stones from the River [fiction]- Ursula Hegi
3. The Penelopiad [fiction]- Margaret Atwood
4. Woman Warrior [non-fiction/memoir]- Maxine Hong Kingston
5. The Son of Neptune [ficiton]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
6. The Poe Shadow [fiction]- Matthew Pearl
book collector

Book 18

No. 6, Volume 4No. 6, Volume 4 by Atsuko Asano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now this is getting very good and the plot is coming along beautifully. Rat is finding himself in a place he doesn't want to be but can't help himself. He wants to protect and help Shion who now wants to risk everything in a theoretically impossible task, break into the correctional facility and rescue his childhood friend, Safu.

Dogkeeper has a very important line that sums up this volume. "The one with something to protect always loses." She's willing to make her point violently. This volume for all its emotional content is violent. It sharply contrasts Shion's sheltered upbringing with the violence of Rat and Dogkeeper's lives.

Rat ropes Dogkeeper and Rikiga, the disgraced journalist and friend of SHion's mother, into helping gather intel. They don't know what is happening to Safu or if she's even alive. They are stunned that the people in charge were willing to grab an elite like Safu but she's the perfect target, family-less except for a grandmother, supposed to be in another city training, etc. Who would miss her?

But finding out these secrets is much harder and bloodier work than Shion realized or is willing to do. He doesn't want Rat or Dogkeeper doing it either.

It ends on a dual cliffhanger, one that will affect all of the slum dwellers and one that threatens Rat. It's very well done and the art is beautiful. Rat and Shion's relationship grows slowly and organically. I'm really looking forward to more. I'm very glad I stumbled across this series.

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Books 3 and 4

3. Glory Days in Tribe Town, by Terry Pluto and Tom Hamilton. I'm not a huge sports fan, but even I remember the heady days, from 1994 to 1997, when everyone had Tribe fever. After decades of mediocrity, the Cleveland Indians had a new owner, a new stadium, new and promising players and a general feeling of optimism. This combination got the Tribe to the World Series twice- in 1995 and in 1997. Of course, Cleveland sports luck being what it is, we fell just short of winning the whole enchilada (1997 was especially painful), and a series of bad trades and bad decisions after 1997 had our all-too-brief Camelot dreams crash back into reality. This was an enjoyable read, even for a (very) casual fan like me, easy to follow. Some of the more technical numbers went over my head but the book doesn't dwell too much on numbers. Rather, it goes into the stories of the players, the front office, the managers, and there's even sections of the book dedicated to memories submitted by fans. It was interesting how many chances the front office and coaching staff took-- chances that, for the most part, paid off-- offering long-term contracts to young, promising but untried players in hopes of becoming contenders by 1994. Long-term planning, what a concept!
Pluto, a longtime sports writer, and Hamilton, the longtime radio announcer for the Indians, put together a book that humanizes and fleshes out the players that became heroes for so many. There's also a lot of interesting tidbits. One, I didn't know Dick Jacobs, the former owner, grew up in Goodyear Heights- the neighborhood where I grew up. Also, I didn't know about the sweetheart deal former Browns owner Art Modell had at the stadium (basically he paid a dollar to rent the facility and not only got the profits from the Browns, but a percentage from the Indians, who rented from him). I can see why he was so bitter, having that gravy train yanked from him. No sympathy here, on the contrary.
But I digress. This book was a nice walk down memory lane for even me, and bigger fans of baseball should enjoy this.

4. Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style, by Susan Brown. This was my "Merry Christmas To Me" gift over the holidays. I had been drooling over this book for the past couple years but the asking price was a bit rich for my budget. Thankfully, I was able to get this one on sale. I study fashion history as a hobby, and consider my money well-spent on this gorgeous book. Most of the emphasis is on European (especially French, English and German) and American design, with occasional forays into Japan. I can see some people questioning the lack of diversity in the fashions and the models. It's a fair point. But this book still covers a LOT of ground in its more than 400 pages, going from Ancient Egypt to about 2011. The book is mostly short articles and many, many pictures, with notes on specific items. There are several garments, including a few reconstructed pieces, that are highlighted in detail on two pages. What I really liked were the profiles on couture designers and on individuals who broke ground and set the standards for fashion. For a hobbyist like me, this was a wonderful introduction to terms, designers and history. The glossary of terms at the end is also well laid out and organized. I was startled how many words have a different meaning in the fashion sense. Then again, some words in fashion I suspect are the root for some words today, such as bombast. In fashion, bombast is the filler used in medieval times to "puff" up the sleeves and trouser area. Hmmm. This was definitely a worthwhile purchase.

Currently reading: The Dream Hunters, by Steven M. Hamrick, and Dead Giveaway, by Charles Ramsey and Randy Nyerges.