March 1st, 2015

der Mut

City Voyage; Destiny World; Fire Repair Soup

Tiger's Voyage and Tiger's Destiny, by Colleen Houck
Oh, dear. These never did get very good, writing/cultural context/sense-making romance/-wise ... and yet, the various threads were compelling enough that I really did want to see how things would turn out. And was reasonably pleased by how things went.
ere (42, 49)

Ash Mistry and the City of Death, and Ash Mistry and the World of Darkness by Sarwat Chadda
These were as splendid as I expected after reading the first one. Kind of funny to read them close by the Colleen Houcks as they could easily serve as a primer for how to incorporate many of the same legends in a much less ridiculous and more appealing way. I expect I'll eventually read everything Mr. Chadda has written...
(43, 44; O19, O20)

REPAIR for Kids, by Marjorie McKinnon
I hope, fiercely, that no kids you know ever experience sexual abuse. (Though some of you already do know, and/or have been that kid.) That said, my inner kid who has some very-long-ago never-dealt-with-until-now sexual abuse to process was really helped by this book, and I think actual kids would be too. There are a very few strange statements that *really* would have pissed me off when I was actually seven (inner seven-year-old was similarly unimpressed), but, you know, that's why the book's designed to work through for a caregiver to help a kid work through, not just the kid alone. Mostly, it is great.
(45, O21)

The World of Ice and Fire, by George Martin et al
Boring in exactly the right way. Hard to explain what I mean by that! But basically there's a certain sort of hyperfocused fact-packed reference book that I really enjoy - I used to obsessively read Guinness Book of World Records when I was younger, and multiple different encyclopedias - and this is like that, only for the fictional world of The Song of Ice and Fire. I won't remember much of it, but probably the next time I reread the books, bits and pieces of this copious backstory will rise to the surface. The art was pretty tasty too, as fantasy art goes.
(46)

Stone Soup, by Jon J. Muth
A fairly straightforward retelling of one of the stories my mom most liked to read to me as a kid, which I mostly picked up because Jon J. Muth's illustrations are uniformly wonderful. Also it was interestly transposed from Eastern Europe to China. Maybe I will send this one to my mom; I think she would like it too.
(47)
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book

Grave Dingle Murder; Geography of Crumbfest; Psychotherapy of Belong

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie, read by Dan Stevens (audiobook, reread)
Not sure whether being able to listen to Dan Stevens (Matthew of Downton Abbey) read to me was an excuse for rereading this book, or vice versa. Either way, it was a delightful experience, and good company for some heavy duty tidying.
(48)

Second Grave on the Left, by Darynda Jones
Still a huge amount of fun, still not totally sensical. The Janet Evanovich comparisons are apt, but there seems to be more there there. I think.
(50)

Dolly Dingle, Lesbian Landlady, by Monica Nolan
I get so excited when a new book in this series comes out! Each one is good, rather than great, but *huge* on the fun axis. And predictable in the good way - ringing the changes.
(51)

The True Meaning of Crumbfest, by David Weale, illustrated by Dale McNevin
Was tidying and I found my copy of this one, which I hadn't seen in a few years. Obvs, had to reread it even though it isn't Christmas. My favorite part is the illustrations, which are absolutely charming.
(52, O22)

The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner
I enjoyed this, but not as much as I remember enjoying it when I first started reading it a couple of years ago. I kept having the feeling "oh, I've read all this before... funny, but not really deep". Of course, that's probably mostly because I *had* read about half the book last time!!! Also because I read an entire non-fiction memoir set in Bhutan at one point. Neither of which are this book's fault. On the upside, the narrative voice is very good company. I would happily buy this author a beverage (or three) of his choice, just so I could hear about whatever is on his mind these days.
(53)

Psychotherapy Without the Self, by Mark Epstein
I really like Mark Epstein's interdisciplinary work about Buddhism and psychology, but I didn't realize until I started reading this book that, rather than being a sustained argument written in a layperson-approachable style (like his other books that I've read), it's actually a collection of academic articles, the first half-dozen of which were written before he decided to start writing in a natural rather than a hyper-academic voice. So..... once again, not the book's fault, but I was a bit disappointed. I super-highly recommend his book Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart as a much better place to start.
(54)

Where I Belong, by Alan Doyle
This was a gift from start to finish. Good stories, smoothly told, just enough pictures, and the place he is writing about (Petty Harbour, NFLD) is enough like where I grew up to make me pleasantly homesick, while being different enough from where I grew up to be fascinating. Also I laughed out loud a lot, and said "oh, just a few more pages," a lot.
(55, O23)
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Me

Books #9-10

Book #9 was "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey. Tey is a "golden age" mystery writer, and I've enjoyed one of her previous books, "The Franchise Affair." This one is pretty different in that Tey's recurring character, Inspector Grant, is stuck in a hospital recovering from a back injury and broken leg and solves a historical mystery solely through research. Aided by a couple of friends and an American doing research at the British Museum, Grant tries to figure out why King Richard III got such a bum rap - was he actually the scoundrel portrayed in children's history books, or did his successors distort his record to discredit him. It *sounds* like it should be dull, but I actually found it quite entertaining, and I think it helps that there's a lot of sly humor in the book. It's also good that she kept it short, around 200 pages in paperback. While I did enjoy this book, I'd suggest checking out one of her other books with more action first, and only pick this one up if unraveling a historical mystery sounds like it would be up your alley.

Book #10 was "Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)" (also known in later editions as "Vera: (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): Portrait of a Marriage") by Stacy Schiff. This is a superbly-written and well-researched biography that was a pleasure to read, and I was not at all suprised to find out it won the author a Pulitzer Prize. I find that, sometimes, really thorougly-researched and footnoted biographies can be dull and dry, but this one was actually a fun read. Schiff lets a bit of humor come through in the text and the footnotes. It examines the life of Vera Nabakov, wife, muse and secretary to Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabakov, best known to most as the author of "Lolita." Of course, it's really a biography of the couple, and that seems more and more apt as you follow the story of this couple and their long and happy marriage. Despite some financial struggles, marital bumps and infidelities early on, the couple goes on to have a happy and productive 50+ years as a married couple and a literary juggernaut. Vera Nabakov tried very hard to erase her mark on the world and only serve as support and reflection of her famous husband, but the final chapter covering her life after his death shows, poignantly, that she was a powerhouse in her own right. Highly recommended.

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Book 22: The Tudor Vendetta by C. W. Gortner

Book 22: The Tudor Vendetta (Spymaster Chronicles #3).
Author: C. W. Gortner , 2014.
Genre: Spy Thriller. Historical Fiction. Tudor England.
Other Details: Hardback. 304 pages.

Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain. Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen's behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favoured lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry's disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth's doom.
- synopsis from author's website.

This proved an exciting and satisfying conclusion to this trilogy of novels focusing on the period following Henry VIII's death and the coronation of Elizabeth I told from the viewpoint of Brendan Prescott, who is caught up in various intrigues surrounding the Tudor dynasty. Gortner does a great job of re-creating the sense of unrest and uncertainty that gripped the nation in the wake of Queen Mary's death and Elizabeth coming to the throne.

Brendan's journey to the remote manor in Yorkshire with its many secrets reminded me in terms of atmosphere of C. J. Sansom's Dissolution, even if the cases being investigated are quite different. Sorry to see the end of Brendan's adventures though I expect that Gortner could always return him to Elizabeth's court later in her reign if his services are needed.
plot bunny hunter

February 2015 reading

February 2015 reading:

14. The Mark of Athena, by Rick Riordan (586 pages)
As the Greek and Roman demigods meet at New Rome, Gaia steps up her game to sabotage the budding alliance. Meanwhile, Annabeth has her own quest from her mother to figure out, and a brand new prophecy pops up to complicate things further. Can these heroes even survive the journey to Rome, let alone save the world?

15. The Ghost Belonged to Me, by Gregory Peck (183 pages)
Set in the early 1900s and set in an undefined smallish town in the Midwest, this book follows a boy named Alexander. After he is told by a classmate and neighbor, Blossom, there is a ghost in his barn loft, he investigates reluctantly to discover it's true; the ghost must be laid to rest, and his life is never the same. I felt like reading a YA ghost story, and this is definitely a good one.

16. Ghosts I Have Been, by Gregory Peck (224 pages)
This follows Blossom as she gets up to mischief--and then gains the Second Sight, drawn back to the death of a young boy on the Titanic, whose mother abandoned him as she rushed herself to safety. I enjoyed this one, too.

17. The House of Hades, by Rick Riordan (597 pages)
Percy and Annabeth have fallen into Tartarus, leaving the other five demigods, Nico, and Coach Hedge to make their way to Greece--not that Gaea is making it easy. Along the way they all must grow, and face the possibility that not all of them will survive this quest. I really loved this one, especially the revelation about Nico.

18. The Blood of Olympus, by Rick Riordan (528 pages)
The questing demigods must reach Olympus, and their splinter group must return the statue of Athena to Camp Half-Blood. Both tasks seem impossible, and there is a very real possibility they won't succeed at all--much less make it out of this alive. Definitely enjoyed this read, and thrilled to hear a new Asgard series is next!

February pages: 2,118

Pages to date: 6,177

Progress: 18/52


February 2015 comics/manga reading:

8. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Legacy, by Dan Abnett (152 pages)
9. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude, by Dan Abnett (168 pages)
10. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Volume 6, by Hayao Miyazaki (159 pages)
11. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Volume 7, by Hayao Miyazaki (223 pages)
12. Claymore: Volume 9, by Norihiro Yagi (200 pages)
13. Claymore: Volume 10, by Norihiro Yagi (192 pages)
14. Claymore: Volume 11, by Norihiro Yagi (200 pages)
15. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2: Angela, by Brian Michael Bendis (168 pages)
16. Claymore: Volume 10, by Norihiro Yagi (200 pages)

February pages: 1,662

Pages to date: 3,101

Progress: 16/365