book 43: Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher
I suspect this is a semi-autobiographical novel that is told in journal-like or internal thought-like stream of consciousness episodes, mostly from the point of view of a hollywood actress and recovering drug addict and a few of the people she is involved with. The novel deals a lot with perceptions of reality, how to escape those perceptions and the price of doing so, and how to cope with living with the reality that you have. Carrie Fisher has a smart, snarky, and humorous writing style. It's a funny book. Something was just a bit off with me, I think, while reading it. Maybe some of the introspections were too close to home, or I felt distanced from the drug and hollywood culture. I don't know. It was good, but I could have stood smaller doses, I guess. My personality is too similar to the main character, if not my setting or circumstances. Anyway, I think I could compare this to Bridget Jones' Diary, except darker, Hollywood, and on drugs.
book 44: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
This is a reread for me of the first of Lloyd Alexanders Prydain Chronicles written for independent reader level children. I first read the series as an adult (since I seemed to have gone from Golden Books to Stephen King in my own development) and enjoyed them. I wanted to read them one more time before passing them on to my niece who is just about the age for which they were intended. It's basically a fantasy quest series. The main character is Taran, an "assistant pig-keeper" who is the ward of a wizard and the care-giver for a pig who can tell the future. Like many books written for children, this is also a coming-of-age story in which Taran rues his lot in life, wishes for something more adventurous, and learns to be more careful about what he asks for and to appreciate his blessings when adventure is thrust upon him. In this book Taran must save Hen Wen the pig from potential pig-nappers, learn to accept his faults in the face of his betters, face a sorceress and a supernatural war leader, and grow into becoming an effective leader of a young apprentice sorceress, a wandering bard who has trouble telling the truth, a dissatisfied fey/dwarf-like creature, and a part animal humanoid who is looking for purpose and a place of belonging. I think my favorite parts are the dialogue between Taran and Eilonwy, the girl sorceress. She says whatever comes to mind, and it was fun to see his teenage boy reactions, ranging from total exasperation to near crush. The next book in the series of five is The Black Cauldron.
book 45: Fox Trot by Bill Amend
I needed a break from my pile of books, so I grabbed a book of comics as a kind of mind cleanser (like palate cleanser). I think maybe I had read one or two Fox Trot strips in newspapers over the years, but never regularly. This was just something I found on sale somewhere. For those not familiar, it is a family comic featuring a mother, father, teenaged son, teenaged daughter and a pre-teen son. And an iguana. It was okay. It dealt a lot with sibling rivalry and parents versus kids issues. Some of it was humorous, but it wasn't something that I really related with. My family was highly dysfunctional in a non-"normal" way, so there wasn't a lot of my reality in this book. I had a younger brother, but he was seven years my junior and we had very little to do with one another...still don't. So, I guess I just couldn't relate very well overall, and I think that made it less funny to me. I probably won't get any more of this series, and it certainly doesn't come close to the more twisted humor of Calvin and Hobbes or Far Side, which I truly love. Or, even the bittersweet humor of something like Peanuts which can touch your heart while making you smile at the same time.
book 46: Gin Tama, Volume 5 by Hideaki Sorachi
The adventures of Gintoki Sakata and his merry odd jobs crew and even odder aquaintances continues... In this volume, they try to catch a sea monster, exorcise a ghost, control Kagura's shopping network purchases while battling a sword-collecting alien, watch (destroy) a convenience store for a friend, end up part of a tranny cabaret, and meet Sa-chan (Ayame Sarutobi), a near-sighted kunoichi who ends up with Gin in a compromising position.
book 47: Gin Tama, Volume 6 by Hideaki Sorachi
This volume has the odd jobs crew looking for mushrooms in the forest and fending off an alien mushroom-controlled bear, taking down an underground fight-to-the-death ring secretly supported by the government, end up in the hospital with food poisoning (meeting a lot of people they know there for different reasons) and helping a pretty nurse make a love match, deal with giant alien cockroaches, and stop a shady cult whose hairy, stick-on moles grant wearers access to their dreams.
book 48: Gin Tama, Volume 7 by Hideaki Sorachi
This volume involves people getting blown up or hit on the head a lot with subsequent loss, regain, and reloss of memories. Somehow in the midst of this, they take down a anarchist group trying to blow up Edo, get into a battle with a former shinobi for the last copy of Shonen Jump, have their apartment destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again by an ex-compatriot, while Katsura helps at a ramen shop, help a fireworks maker say goodbye to his beloved wife, and Kagura's papa shows up to take her home whether she likes it or not.