November 12th, 2015

Me

Books #49-50

Wow, this is the earliest I've reached 50 books for the year since 2009. I suspect my end total will be between 54 and 56 this year since I have a couple more books in process.

Book #49 was "Three Parts Dead" by Max Gladstone, as an audiobook. This is Gladstone's first novel, and I absolutely loved it, even though fantasy isn't my favorite genre. He does a magnificent job with building a strange and wonderful world that - while it relies on *some* fantasy tropes - feels very different and unique from anything else I've read. His character development is good, his prose is clean and lean, and his plotting is top-notch. I did see some things coming from a long way away, but he also threw in some surprises and did a great job of introducing a few innocuous details early in the book that have much bigger significance in the end. In this world, Craftsmen and Craftswomen draw energy from the stars and the moon to shape their world, while others follow living gods that take up residence in various cities. The novel takes place several decades after "The God Wars" in which craftspeople and god-believers go to war. Tara Abernathy is thrown out of magic school and left to her own devices. She gets hired on a trial basis by Ms. Kavarian, a powerful craftswoman, and they travel to the city of Alt Coulumb to investigate the death of the city's god, Kos Ever-burning. Helped by a young cleric named Abelard, Tara takes on her first big craft case while Ms. K goes head-to-head with Tara's former professor and nemesis, who is fighting the other side of the legal case. It's difficult to explain how magic and deity work together or against each other in this novel - you just have to read to see. I loved this so much and plan to read the others in the series.

and

"The Satyricon" by Petronius, translation and commentaries by Sarah Ruden. I'm trying to get to some classic books I haven't yet read, and I decided to to go back really, really far this year. I read and really enjoyed "Gilgamesh" earlier this year, and I also found "The Satyricon" highly enjoyable. This is considered one of the first-ever prose novels (as opposed to long tales in verse, like "The Odyssey"), and it's dated to circa first century AD Rome. It's unique in that it is told from the viewpoint of the average man on the street, rather than from the aristocracy. Encolpius and his servant/lover Giton and Encolpius's friend and former lover Ascyltus go on a variety of bawdy adventures, making love to men and women along the way, getting involved in crazy orgies, an over-the-top dinner party, a dispute over stolen property and a shipwreck. This book was hilarious and not at all boring. Ruden's commentary, with titles like "Who was Petronius Anyway?" or "Ancient Roman Views on Sexuality," were extremely helpful in figuring out the societal context of the protagonists' adventures. The book is fragmentary, and only a few sections remain, but it's an interesting look at working-class Rome in the 1st century. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a fun, sexy classic.


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Little Golden Books: books 142-148

book 142:  Four Little Kittens by Kathleen N. Daly

I had this one when I was little, so I guess it is a re-read, although it has been a LONG time.  It's still cute and sweet and a bit sniffly for me. :)  It must have made a big impression on me because every picture triggers an emotion.

book 143:  The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear

I have read the poem, and enjoyed it, many times, but I hadn't seen the Little Golden Book version.  Rich illustrations, and I noticed for the first time that they were married by "the Turkey who lives on the hill".  Some religious commentary by Mr. Lear? ;)

book 144:  Walt Disney's Peter Pan by Eugene Bradley Coco

Guts the Disney film and takes out the awkward moments that (I thought) made the movie worth watching.  Save yourself for the real thing.  Mr. Barrie's novel Peter and Wendy (among other variations of title) is, I think, the best or at least one of the top few books when it comes to really capturing what it is to be a little boy.

book 145:  Walt Disney's Mickey and the Beanstalk by Dina Anastasio

I had to have either seen a cartoon version of this or had a record of it or something.  I can "hear" the magic harp singing when I see her picture.  Otherwise, a very simplified, standard telling of the fairy tale.

book 146:  Disney's Pooh's Grand Adventure:  The Search for Christopher Robin by Justine Korman

Has most of the favorite characters and deals with the concept that you are more than you think you are, so don't sell yourself short.  As is usually the case, the original author's, in this case A. A. Milne's, work is richer.

book 147:  Walt Disney's Bambi by Felix Salten

I never read the full novel by Salten that Disney's version of Bambi was taken from, but this book was a faithful if foreshortened telling of the movie.

book 148:  Walt Disney's Bambi:  Friends of the Forest by Walt Disney Productions

Bambi visits a lake and gets to meet animals that live around a lake...and save Thumper from a "mean" fox.  I felt a little snarky when the Owl was giving Thumper advice.  Thumper would totally have been owl food.
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