AndreaBlythe's 12 in 12, Part II

DiskuteraThe 12 in 12 Category Challenge

Bara medlemmar i LibraryThing kan skriva.

AndreaBlythe's 12 in 12, Part II

Denna diskussion är för närvarande "vilande"—det sista inlägget är mer än 90 dagar gammalt. Du kan återstarta det genom att svara på inlägget.

1andreablythe
Redigerat: jan 1, 2013, 1:56am

My first thread was getting rather long, so upon request I'm continuing the discussion here.

Beginning Jan 1.

Due to my time constraints, some categories will require more books to read than others with a total of 100 books to read in 2012.

1. Hello, I Love You (6/6)
I've read one book by an author and loved it. Now I want to read at least one more by the same author.

2. Oh, How I've Missed You (6/6)
Books by an authors I once loved, but haven't read in a long time. OR, rereads of favorite books.

3. It's a Smoldering World After All (7/7)
Apocalyptic and Post Apocalyptic books, as well as some dystopian novels.

4. Unicorns from Space! -- Science Fiction (10.5/10)

5. Unicorns from Space! -- Fantasy (10/10)

6. I Don't Wanna Grow Up (9/9)
Books for children and young adults.

7. Bam! Pow! Wham! (9/9)
Graphic novels and comics.

8. Just the Facts, Ma'am (8/8)
Nonfiction.

9. The Universe in Verse (9/9)
Poetry.


10. From my Bookshelf (8/8)
I have a tendency to jump at the new and shiny in bookstores and the library, rather than reading the stacks already on my shelves. This is meant to rectify that.

11. From the Modern Library's 100 Best Books (10/10)
There are actually about 200 books, since there is also the publicly voted list (with some overlaps). I'm working off the list from 2009, which is posted on my blog.

12. Miscellany (8/8)
The catch-all category for whatever doesn't fit in the above.





100.5/100

2andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 18, 2012, 2:32pm



Hello, I Love You

Books Completed: 6/6 -- DONE!!
1. Howard's End, by E.M. Forster (****)
2. Skin Folk, by Nalo Hopkinson (*****)
3. Habibi (graphic novel), by Craig Thompson (****)
4. All About Emily, by Connie Willis (*****)
5. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy (****)
6. Duel, by Richard Matheson (***)

Possible Candidates:
Michael Ende - Mirror in the Mirror
Nicholas Kauffmann
Malinda Lo
Naomi Clark
Laurie Colwin
Kelly Link
Karen Finneyfrock

John Steinbeck
Connie Willis
Samuel R Delany

3andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 28, 2012, 2:25am



Oh, How I Missed You

Books Completed: 6/6 --DONE!!
1. Paradise, by Toni Morrison (*****)
2. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury (*****)
3. Bellweather, by Connie Willis (*****)
4. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (*****)
5. Dune, by Frank Herbert (*****)
6. Krik? Krak!, by Edwidge Danticat (****)

Possible Candidates:
Neil Gaiman
Stephen King
The Poisonwood Bible or some other Barbara Kingsolver
Her, Second Edition, by Cherry Muhanji

4andreablythe
Redigerat: okt 17, 2012, 5:19pm



It's a Smoldering World After All

Books Completed: 7/7 DONE!
1. Z: Zombie Stories, edited by J.M. Lassen (****)
2. After the Apocalypse, by Maureen F. McHugh (****1/2)
3. The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham (****1/2)
4. The Dark and Hollow Places, by Carrie Ryan (*****)
5. Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami (****)
6. Blackout, by Mira Grant (****)
7. Carnage Road, Gregory Lamberson (***)

Possible Candidates:
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Postman, by David Brin

5andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 28, 2012, 3:53pm



Unicorns from Space! – Science Fiction

Books Completed: 10.5/10 --DONE!!
1. Stories for the Nighttime and Some for the Day, Ben Loory (****1/2)
2. Great Classic Science Fiction (unabridged audio book) (****)
3. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov (****)
4. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein (****)
5. China Mountain Zhang, by Maureen F. McHugh (*****)
5.5. The Call of Cthulhu (short story), H.P. Lovecraft (***)
6.5. Nebula Awards Showcase 2012, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly (*****)
7.5. The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker (*****)
8.5 The Crack in Space, by Phillip K. Dick (****)
9.5 The Man Who Fell to Earth, by Walter Tevis (****)
10.5 Nova, by Samuel R. Delany (***)

Possible Candidates:
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
Contact, by Carl Sagan

6andreablythe
Redigerat: nov 24, 2012, 11:47pm



Unicorns from Space! -- Fantasy

Books Completed: 9/10 -- DONE!
1. I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (audio book), by Steve Earle (*****)
2. A Rope of Thorns, by Gemma Files (****)
3. Born Wicked, by Jessica Spotswood (****)
4. Brown Girl in the Ring, by Nalo Hopkinson (****1/2)
5. Ganymede, by Cherie Priest (****1/2)
6. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (*****)
7. The Waking Moon (published on wattpad), by T.J. McGuinn (*****)
8. Mr. X, by Peter Straub (****)
9. Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman (*****)
10. Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente (*****)

Possible Candidates:
God Stalk, by P.C. Hodgell

7andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 27, 2012, 4:05pm



6. I Don't Wanna Grow Up

Books Completed: 9/9 -- DONE!!
1. Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma (*****)
2. The Probability of Miracles, by Wendy Wunder (*****)
3. I am J, by Cris Beam (*****)
4. Scarlet, by A.C. Gaughen (***1/2)
5. Valiant, by Holly Black (****)
6. Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater (****)
7. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (*****)
8. The Diamond of Darkhold: The Fourth Book of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau (****)
9. The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories, by Tessa Gratton, Maggie Stiefvater, and Brenna Yovanoff (*****)

Possible Candidates:
Cold Magic, by Kate Elliot
Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

8andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 3, 2012, 12:16pm



7. Bam! Pow! Wham!

Books Completed: 9/9 -- COMPLETED!!
1. Amulet, Book One: The Stonekeeper, by Kazu Kibuishi (*****)
2. Daytripper, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (****)
3. Rasl, Vol. 1: The Drift, by Jeff Smith (****)
4. Dead West, written by Rick Spears, illustrated by Rob G. (***)
5. Teenagers from Mars, written by Rick Spears, illustrated by Rob G. (***)
6. Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together, by Bryan Lee O'Malley (****1/2)
7. Scott Pilgrim VS. the Universe, by Bryan Lee O'Malley (****1/2)
8. Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, by Bryan Lee O'Malley (****1/2)
9. The Walking Dead: The Calm Before, by Robert Kirkman (****)

Possible Candidates:
Nylon Road: A Graphic Memoir of Coming of Age in Iran, by Parsua Bashi
Cathedral Child, by Lea Hernandez

9andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 29, 2012, 3:24pm



Just the Facts, Ma'am

Books Completed: 8/8 --DONE!!
1. Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror, by Jason Zinoman (****1/2)
2. Fast, Cheap and Under Control: Lessons from the Greatest Low-Budget Movies of All Time, by John Gaspard (****)
3. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach (*****)
4. Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller's Collection of Odd Things Lost between the Pages, by Michael Popek (****)
5. Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to be Haunted, by Eric Nuzum (****1/2)
6. Buffy and the Heroine's Journey, by Valerie Estelle Frankel (****)
7. Zombies Are Us: Essays on the Humanity of the Walking Dead, edited by Christopher M. Moreman and Cory James Rushton (****)
8. Coping with Color-Blindness, by Odeda Rosenthal and Robert H. Phillips (***)

Possible Candidates:
Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, by Hayden Herrera
Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What it Means to Be Black Now, by Toure
Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, by Geraldine Brooks
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait, by Frida Kahlo
Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain, by Lori Tharps
Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . ., by Phillip Plait
From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey, by Pascal Khoo Thwe
Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality, by Manjit Kumar
Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America And American in Iran, by Azadeh Moaveni
Color: A Natural History of the Palette, by Victoria Finlay
The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey, by Che Guevera

10andreablythe
Redigerat: nov 20, 2012, 6:24pm



The Universe in Verse

Books Completed: 9/9 -- DONE!
1. Love in a Time of Robot Apocalypse, by David Perez (*****)
2. No Surrender: Poems, by Ai (*****)
3. The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You, by Caits Meissner and Tishon (****)
4. The Black Unicorn: Poems, by Audre Lorde (****1/2)
5. Lessness, by Brian Henry (***1/2)
6. Poems of Stephen Crane, by Stephen Crane, selected by Gerald D. McDonald (****)
7. Rues, by Philip Kobylarz (*****)
8. Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses, by Ron Koertge, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö (***)
9. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman (****)

Possible Candidates:
Dear Anais: My Life in Poems For You, by Diana M. Raab
A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel, Fourth Edition, by Tom Philips
Come All You Ghosts, by Matthew Zaapruder
The Realm of Possibility, by David Levithan
Crank, by Ellen Hopkins

11andreablythe
Redigerat: jan 1, 2013, 1:58am



From my Bookshelf

Books Completed: 7/8
1. The Yo-Yo Prophet, by Karen Krossing (****)
2. Mumbai Noir, edited by Altaf Tyrewala (****)
3. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, by Farahad Zama (****)
4. The Clan of the Cave Bear, but Jean M. Auel (***1/2)
5. Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices, by various (****)
6. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection, by Michael Chabon (****1/2)
7. Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri (****)
8. The Whistling Toilets, by randy Powell (***)

Possible Candidates:
TBA

12andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 21, 2012, 11:57am



From the Modern Library's 100 Best Books

Books Completed: 10/10 --DONE!
1. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron (DNF)
2. Anthem, by Ayn Rand (***)
3. An American Tragedy (audio book), by Theodore Dreiser (***)
4. Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (****)
5. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (*****)
6. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett (****)
7. The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy (***)
8. Watership Down, by Richard Adams (****)
9. The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain (***)
10. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig (****)

Possible Candidates:
Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham

13andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 21, 2012, 11:56am



Miscellany

Books Completed: 8/8 -- DONE!
1. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (****)
2. Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman (***1/2)
3. The Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri (****)
4. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin (****)
5. The Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood (****)
6. The Valley of the Horses, by Jean M. Auel (***)
7. The Walking Dead: Made to Suffer, by Robert Kirkman (****)
8. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James (***)

Possible Candidates:
As my mood takes me.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, by Jacques Tardi

14pammab
aug 20, 2012, 11:01pm

Is that a real bookshelf of yours there in that post 11? It feels nicely home-y and woody. I may have missed discussion on this in your first thread, and if so, I apologize...

15andreablythe
aug 21, 2012, 12:11pm

Yep, the photo in post 11 is my own bookshelf. (^_^)

16-Eva-
aug 21, 2012, 2:02pm

Came by to add my star to your thread. :)

17andreablythe
aug 21, 2012, 3:25pm

Danke. And thanks for letting me know about the link thing at the bottom of the page. I shall do so for next time. :)

18andreablythe
Redigerat: aug 24, 2012, 6:24pm

52. Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to be Haunted, by Eric Nuzum (****)
Category: Just the Facts, Ma'am

(This was an ARC from the EarlyReviewers group.)

From the back of the book:
"Eric Nuzum is afraid of the supernatural, and for good reason: As a high school oddball in Canton, Ohio, during the early 1980s, he became convinced that he was being haunted by the ghost of a little girl in a blue dress who lived in his parents’ attic. It began as a weird premonition during his dreams, something that his quickly diminishing circle of friends chalked up as a way to get attention. It ended with Eric in a mental ward, having apparently destroyed his life before it truly began. The only thing that kept him from the brink: his friendship with a girl named Laura, a classmate who was equal parts devoted friend and enigmatic crush. With the kind of strange connection you can only forge when you’re young, Laura walked Eric back to “normal”—only to become a ghost herself in a tragic twist of fate.

Years later, a fully functioning member of society with a great job and family, Eric still can’t stand to have any shut doors in his house for fear of what’s on the other side. In order to finally confront his phobia, he enlists some friends on a journey to America’s most haunted places. But deep down he knows it’s only when he digs up the ghosts of his past, especially Laura, that he’ll find the peace he’s looking for."


When I first saw the eerie cover and read the above description, I assumed this was a novel. It's not; it's a memoir. The instant I realized this was not fiction, the story became all the more compelling to me. A book about being really haunted? YES!

Nuzum neither presumes that ghosts are real or not real, he simply tells his own story with being haunted and how it became a contributing factor in a downward spiral of despair in self-destruction. While a teenager, Nuzum did many things that were unlikeable, and was, as he admits, not a very likeable guy. He drank, did lots of drugs, acted crazy, was rude and mean and occasionally vicious. Some memoir writers might describe these same sorts of events as a way to garner sympathy, or to pawn off and blame their faults on somebody else, or to revel in the freedom or coolness of the act. Nuzem, thankfully, does none of these things. Rather, he states the facts as he remembers them (perhaps not accurately, he notes), while accepting and taking responsibility for his mistakes. He seems to tell the story the way many people tell ghost stories — matter of factly — and perhaps will the aim of exorcizing some of his past ghosts.

As much as the story is about his downward spiral, it is even more so about his rise and the friend who held him up and kept him sane. Laura, who was very much a mystery in his life, unwilling to share much (or any) of her own truths, helped Nuzum keep track of, organize, and make peace with his own sorrows and fears and wobbliness. Their friendship is entertaining and touching to read.

Giving up the Ghost is a well written and compelling read. There's no ultimate resolution, of course, because life doesn't have many ultimate resolutions. Many mysteries stay mysteries, and human beings can't help but be haunted. Tthe ghosts of our past linger, hiding on the other side of the door whether we want them to or not.

19-Eva-
aug 26, 2012, 9:09pm

I would think that was fiction as well - I would read it too! As a memoir, not really my thing, but a thumbing goes to the excellent review!

20andreablythe
aug 27, 2012, 11:59am

Thanks, Eva. :)

21andreablythe
Redigerat: sep 4, 2012, 2:01pm

53. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett (****)
Category: From the Modern Library's 100 Best Books

The Maltese Falcon is pretty much the epitome of the noir detective novel, with Sam Spade playing the part of hard-boiled detective and Brigid O'Shaughnessy the femme fatale that leads him into intrigue and danger. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was the first (because I have not clue as to whether that's true or not), but this book when it came out certainly gave to the popularity of the genre, influencing a number of books and movies that would come after. This influence in understandable, as the writing is snappy and the mystery quite fun.

My only complaint is that since it was published in 1930 it presents a backwards view of women, as well as brief moments homophobia and racism. Every time Spade patronized his secretary or other women in the novel by talking down to them, patting them on the head, whispering in their ear, or in other ways performed acts of touching that would have been inappropriate today, I couldn't help but cringe. The sexism is just so present and accepted. While I understand that this is a result of the era in which it was written, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be talked about or pointed out.

Despite this, The Maltese Falcon is full of twists and turns and action and suspense, and is absolutely a quick and fun read.

22cammykitty
aug 30, 2012, 11:38pm

Hmmm, I haven't read Hammett yet, but I've read Chandler and don't remember cringing from all the patronizing - but when I read hard-boiled detective novels, I expect the detective to be jerk (used harsher language in my head). I think that's how I've dealt with the sexism. I know an HBD is by definition sexist, and we're supposed to hate him but like him a little bit despite his flaws. When I think about it though, I don't think that is what Hammett or Chandler wanted to think about the detectives. What I've heard of Hammett's personal life, I've got great respect for him. He was tough, wouldn't stop, opinionated and idealistic, protective of his lover Lillian Hellman who was also tough and probably didn't need any protecting, a hard drinker... In other words, a bit hard-boiled himself. I'll have to read Hammett sometime.

23clfisha
aug 31, 2012, 4:43am

Yeah Hammett is pretty bad for the misogyny (don't get me wrong I like him as an author). Innocent victims or femme fatales. From vague memory doesn't a women offer herself to him as payment at one point? I can't remember.

I usually only get annoyed when modern noir (well any book) contains it, its just so tired and depressing.

24andreablythe
aug 31, 2012, 12:24pm

>22 cammykitty:,
I get that about HBDs being ass-shats. It's definitely part of the noir genre, but I'm not sure either author purposefully put in the sexism as a part of that, as at the time, these actions would not have been considered sexist by mainstream society. It was normal for a man to treat a woman like a fragile, high-strung doll, and be patronizing toward her -- though there were women who were trying to break free of that, too. A lot of men assumed that that was how you were supposed to treat a woman.

It doesn't stop Hammett from being a good writer, it's just something as a woman living in the time I do now that I can't help but be aware of. Spade is absolutely a jerk, and clearly is intended to be, but he's even more unlikable from today's standards and views on women.

His life does sound interesting. I wonder if there's a good biography I should read.

.
>23 clfisha:,
One of the women uses sex as a way to distract Spade from asking questions, and she does try to use her femininity and sex as a form of manipulation.

I don't mind modern noir, but it does get depressing, like burrowing into darkness. So I only read it every once in a while and tend to stick to fantasy and science fiction more often than not.

25cammykitty
sep 1, 2012, 1:00am

Totally agree with you Andrea. I haven't read a biography on Hammett. What I know about him is more from reading works by or about Lillian Hellman. She has an essay about a turtle which is really an elegy for him. It's absolutely beautiful. If you find a good biography on him, let me know. I really wish I could ask him, did you try to make Spade a sexist jerk, or were you just trying to make him a man's man. My guess is that it is a bit of both. Then there was the whole femme fatale thing - the best one I can think of is Double Indemnity/Body Heat. Oddly enough, I don't think of the femme fatale as being a sexist thing, but it is a creature of that era. The fatale is a woman who knows how to work all that patronizing "doll" stuff to her advantage.

26andreablythe
Redigerat: sep 4, 2012, 2:01pm

54. The Dark and Hollow Places, by Carrie Ryan (*****)
Category: It's a Smoldering World After All

Living in the Dark City, infested with zombies and beginning to collapse, Annah only tries to survive and wait for her friend Elias to return from his tenure as a Recruiter. Realizing that he might never come back, Annah decides to head out on her own in search of her sister left behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Only to find Catcher, who has his own dark secrets and may be a link to her past.

I think this third book in the Forest of Hands and Teeth series is my favorite, though I've enjoyed them all. Annah is a character roughed up around the edges, scarred both literally and figuratively, wracked with guilt about once leaving her sister behind. It takes her a while to warm up to people, to trust them, but this is understandable and despite this, she is willing to stick her neck out when its called for. She's strong in a survivors way and learns along the way to be strong in other ways, too, in spirit and friendship and in love.

I'm also fond of the rest of the characters. Gabry, who was the narrator of book two and is Annah's lost twin is strong in entirely different ways. Elias is flawed, but loves with his whole heart and does what he can for those he loves despite impossible odds. Catcher is practically broken by his past, but he refuses to collapse completely into despair while his friends need him. Even Ox, the head of the Recruiters, is fascinating in is refusal to see how his own choices have caused evil.

I love this book, especially so for the ending, which is kind of beautiful and miraculous.

27mamzel
sep 1, 2012, 3:54pm

I read the first book and was not very impressed. I admit that zombies are my least favorite paranormal since their shuffling and moaning are a low energy menace. However, I might revisit the series because of your words. Thanks for that.

28-Eva-
sep 1, 2012, 5:52pm

I've been looking at that series as well and I too am inclined to give it a chance - sounds well worth a look!

29andreablythe
sep 4, 2012, 12:22pm

>27 mamzel: & 28
I am zombie obsessed, so keep that in mind. But what I like about the best zombie books is that they are not so much about the zombies but about the people and how they live in a world full of the dead.

30-Eva-
sep 4, 2012, 10:53pm

I know a zombie haiku:

"Brains brains brains brains brains.
Brains brains brains brains brains brains brains.
Brains brains brains brains brains."
Ryan Mecum.

31andreablythe
sep 5, 2012, 12:02pm

>30 -Eva-:
LOL! Love it. I've read Zombie Haiku by Mecum and it's got many more such poetic treasures. :)

32-Eva-
sep 5, 2012, 1:14pm

That's where that one is from - such a fun book!!

33andreablythe
sep 6, 2012, 3:52pm

55. The Robber Bride (audio book), by Margaret Atwood (****)
Category: Miscellany

I found it slow going in the first couple of chapters, but before long I was enthralled by this tale of three very different women who share one thing in common — all three have had their lives and loves upheaved by Zenia.

The story begins by the three women sharing mutual relief when they learn of Zenia's death, only to have her rise from the dead and appear before them, ready for battle. Atwood lovingly describes each of the three women, dipping back into their pasts and forward into their present. Each is wounded in some way, and though their bonding over Zenia is the impetus for their friendship, the seed that is planted grows into deep companionship and trust.

Zenia, however, remains ever on the outside, a wanderer, a mystery. She is beautiful, sexy, and in her associations with each of the other women, she becomes something slightly different, a reflection of what they need, what they want her to be. Zenia is shifting, changeable as wind, and someone who can never quite be nailed down. Questions about her are never really answered, and that's how it should be. No force of nature so fierce should ever by fully defined.

34DeltaQueen50
sep 6, 2012, 11:26pm

I am a little zombie obsessed as well. Have you tried Charlie Higson's series, the first being The Enemy, I am really enjoying this series.

35andreablythe
Redigerat: sep 17, 2012, 11:59am

>34 DeltaQueen50:,
I have not yet read The Enemy. I'll have to check it out. :)

***************

56. Bellweather, by Connie Willis (*****)
Category: Oh, How I Missed You

After reading Calico Reaction's review of Bellweather, I found myself dying to read it again. Bellweather is a humorous story about Sandra Foster, a scientist studying fad patterning in a corporate research firm headed by irrational management and an apathetic trend-obsessed, chaos causing mail clerk. Calico Reaction pretty much sums it up well. This is a fun and funny book about trends, chaos theory, and sheep, which I loved even more the second time around.

36christina_reads
sep 8, 2012, 4:44pm

Aww, I love Bellwether! Connie Willis is awesome!

37japaul22
sep 9, 2012, 8:22am

Oh, good to see you liked The Robber Bride as I just purchased it. I've liked all of Atwood's books so far, but have only read her earlier works (no Oryx and Crake yet!).

38andreablythe
sep 10, 2012, 12:04pm

>36 christina_reads:
Yes! I've only read the one book. So I definitely need to pick up some more of her work. :D

.
>37 japaul22:,
It was wonderful, and though it's been awhile, I remember finding Oryx and Crake wonderful, too. Apparently there is a sequel, but I may need to reread Oryx and Crake first, because I don't remember it well enough.

39Yells
sep 10, 2012, 12:12pm

Apparently Atwood is working on the third part of the trilogy. I loved the first two but had no idea that there would be a third.

40andreablythe
sep 10, 2012, 12:25pm

>39 Yells:
OOoooh. Cool. Now I definitely need to go back and reread. :)

41andreablythe
sep 17, 2012, 1:57pm

57. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, by Farahad Zama (****)
Category: From my Bookshelf
(This is an ARC provided by the Early Reviewers Program.)

In order to stave off his boredom (and avoid pestering his wife) after retirement, Mr. Ali decides to start a marriage bureau to help well-to-do families find suitable matches for their sons and daughters. As his list of clients grows, each asking for specific and occasionally peculiar characteristics of their spouse, Mr. Ali decides to hire Aruna as an assistant, a young women with a sorrowful past.

This book started out a bit slow for me. Zama has a somewhat sparse style, which at first felt a bit blunt in its directness, and the dialog sometimes feels a bit old fashioned, but his style grew on me as the story went along and as it resembled more and more a comedy of manners similar in style to Jane Austen.

Another aspect that slowed me down at first was the introduction of so many characters in a short amount of time, from Mr. and Mrs. Ali to their housekeeper to Aruna to the many new and interesting clients that come in the door. However, Zama manages to bring together the fluttering threads and weave them together in a sweet tale that touches upon various religions and the politics of the cast system, while also looking at marriage and love and where the two meet in a country of arranged marriages.

Zama shares the ins and outs of the culture, occasionally comparing Western views to Indian Islamic and Indian Hindi views of family and marriage. He presents intimate looks at two marriages, one Islamic and one Hindi, and incorporates cultural traditions naturally into the storyline. Though I can't be sure of his motives, its as though Zama wants to show how though these traditions are different, they can coexist without conflict, and like Mr. Ali, he doesn't judge anyone for their beliefs.

So, despite the slow beginning, by the final chapters I was enthralled and couldn't put it down. When I finally finished it, I did so with a smile and I am looking forward to see what stories Zama produces in the future.

42cammykitty
sep 17, 2012, 11:24pm

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People goes on the WL. It sounds quirky and fun.

43andreablythe
sep 18, 2012, 12:11pm

It is! :)

44-Eva-
sep 18, 2012, 1:08pm

I've had Marriage Bureau on the wishlist for quite a while, but never got around to picking it up because a lot of people mentioned how slow it was, but if that's only the beginning, that's easily overcome!

45andreablythe
sep 18, 2012, 1:25pm

It was definitely slow, but not so much so that it felt like drudgery, and by about two-thirds to halfway in, I got to know the characters well enough to be invested in them. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it. :)

46RidgewayGirl
sep 18, 2012, 3:41pm

I really liked The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. It was very much a feel-good novel with a fantastic setting.

47christina_reads
sep 19, 2012, 2:47pm

@ 41 -- Your comparison to Jane Austen has convinced me to add The Marriage Bureau for Rich People to my TBR list.

48andreablythe
sep 19, 2012, 3:09pm

>46 RidgewayGirl:,
Agreed. :)

>47 christina_reads:,
I hope you enjoy it!

49andreablythe
Redigerat: sep 20, 2012, 1:01pm

58. Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami (****)
Category: It's a Smoldering World After All

In this blood and gore soaked tale, a class of 40 junior high school students is brought to an island and told by the fascist government that they must kill each other in an all out battle with only one survivor.

This book is definitely comparable to exploitation films and literature, in which violence over storyline is key. It starts with a brief introduction to the kids and its main character Shuye, before launching almost immediately into the slaughter of the kids (unlike its successor Hunger Games, which has a long lead up and gives you time to care about the main character). So, as the first bodies started to fall, I was not fully attached or bothered much by it.

However, this changes as the book goes on and each character is explored more in depth. Takami uses omniscient narration to jump from character to character. So that as the students wander the island, some looking to kill, some trying to just survive, others trying to plot escape, you get to know a little bit more about each one, including what their life was like before and why they are the way they are. (This omniscience also helped me keep the 40+ characters straight and helped to root the main characters in my mind.) So, by the middle of the book, I was definitely invested in seeing what the handful of good guys, who were trying to fight back, would do.

Along with the overriding theme of distrust and betrayal, followed by bloodshed, there was another interesting theme that I'm not sure gets talked about much. Almost all the students had crushes on someone, and who they loved and who loved them was a conversation that was repeated over and over again. Several characters were driven by their need to connect with the person they cared for, but never said anything to, even if its the last thing they do. Even the main character Shuye is focused on saving and protecting Noriko in order to honor his best friend, who had a crush on her. I'm not sure what all this is supposed to mean, but I thought it was very interesting that in a book so filled with death that there would be such a focus on unrequited love. Perhaps it has to do with life and what we really regret when we leave it behind.

I can definitely see why some people would hate this book; it is very bloody and bleak. But as a teenager I spent many of my days avidly reading the horror novels of Stephen King. They, too, were blood-soaked and filled with gore and I read them obsessively. Reading Battle Royale felt like a similar experience, in which I would sit at my desk, eying the book out of the corner of my eye and resenting the fact that I had to get work done instead of read. (Apparently, this comparison to Stephen King is apt, as Takami notes him as a great influence in the afterword.) Neither the works of King, nor Battle Royale are great literature, but they are most certainly readable and, if you're into horror, very entertaining.

50-Eva-
sep 20, 2012, 1:39pm

Maybe a book filled with so much horror needs a bit of love, even if it is unrequited. :) I've heard about this book before (mentioned in connection with Hunger Games, unsurprisingly) and it sounds like an interesting read - is it mainly "scary horror" or "gruesome horror," though? I like one of those, but not the other so much. :)

51andreablythe
sep 20, 2012, 2:02pm

>50 -Eva-:
Hmm. I wouldn't call this scary so much. It's not even described as a horror, but as a thriller on the back of the book. I guess it's more gruesome, because where the horror comes in for me are the being hunted and stalked, and then the details of heads being smashed in, bullets tearing through bodies, etc. So it's brutal and bloody and gory, but not so much scary (for me).

52-Eva-
sep 20, 2012, 2:14pm

Thanks - I can handle gore, so I'll put it on the to-check-out list. :)

53AHS-Wolfy
sep 20, 2012, 6:25pm

Liked the book when I read it a few years ago but the movie version resonates more in my mind. It's one of my top 5 all-time films though the follow-up was a severe disappointment.

54andreablythe
sep 20, 2012, 6:27pm

>52 -Eva-:
I hope you enjoy it! :)

>53 AHS-Wolfy:
I already requested the movie from Netflix. I shall be watching it this weekend. :)

55AHS-Wolfy
sep 21, 2012, 4:58am

@54, I hope it's different enough to make it enjoyable. I'm thinking it could be a case of which you encounter first is the more memorable as I read the book some time after I'd watched the movie. Will be interested to see what you think after you watch it.

56clfisha
sep 21, 2012, 5:45am

Don't mention the sequel! :) I keep meaning to try the book and see how it compares to the film, very memorable when I watched it. Hmm I wonder how it has stood the test of time!

57andreablythe
sep 21, 2012, 12:23pm

>55 AHS-Wolfy:
I've heard a lot of great things about the movie. In fact, I heard about the movie first, then discovered there was a book. I'm interested to see how they compare, too, especially since the book is so fresh in my mind.

There was an interview with the director at the back of the book, and he said he'd made changes to make it more realistic. I'm curious to see what he meant by that.

>56 clfisha:,
LOL. I may still see the sequel despite all the negatives I'm hearing.

.
I'll let you both know what I think of the movie after I watch it tonight. :)

58andreablythe
Redigerat: sep 21, 2012, 12:25pm

And... a very Happy Birthday to Mr. Stephen King. Here's a love poem I wrote in honor of his books (a video). :)

59andreablythe
sep 24, 2012, 1:25pm

59. Blackout, by Mira Grant (****)
Category: It's a Smoldering World After All

Since it's the third and final book in the trilogy, I won't go into the plot. I will say that good old fashioned zombies along with zombie bears were involved, as well as nifty science, virology, and complex government conspiracies.

My only complaint is that the ending/climax felt a bit abrupt to me. After loving all three novels and all that's happened, all of a sudden it was just over, much to my shock. I went back and reread the climax, because it wasn't enough; I wanted more. I didn't want it to be over. That said, this book was an entertaining and mostly satisfying conclusion to the Masons' story, and I thoroughly enjoyed the series as a whole.

60andreablythe
Redigerat: sep 25, 2012, 12:29pm

Oh, yeah! And for those curious about what I thought of Battle Royale, the movie...

I didn't quite understand why the director made some of the choices he did. In an interview (which was included in the back of my version of the book), the director talks about making these changes so the story will be more believable. However, I didn't quite buy that students boycotting school would make adults so afraid of them that they would start a program like the Battle Royale, as they do in the movie. It seemed more likely to me that the book's version of using the Program as a way to institute fear and control made more sense.

Also, because the book was so fresh in my mind, I had a bit of a hard time with the movie, because there is almost zero chance to get to know and care about any of the characters. The students do die in bloody and entertaining ways — a lot of spinning is involved, actors pirouetting when shot multiple times — but it wasn't as gory as other movies I've seen. Some of the dialog was kind of cheesy, too.

However, I ended up watching the movie twice, and in the second go around, I definitely was able to stop over critiquing it and enjoy it more. In fact, I really liked it the second go around, which makes me think that I probably would have loved it, if I hadn't hadn't read the book first.

61-Eva-
sep 24, 2012, 5:41pm

Always, always tricky to see "the movie" right after reading "the book" or vice versa - good idea to watch it twice!

Great King-poem, but I have to say the Klimt-video you made was absolutely awesome - I'm still laughing! :) I just love people who are passionate about... well, anything, really.

62andreablythe
sep 24, 2012, 6:17pm

LOL. Thanks. I had a lot of fun making the Klimt video. All my joy poured out. :D

63AHS-Wolfy
sep 25, 2012, 4:38am

I always try and give a bit of space between experiencing different media types, especially of something I've liked the first experience of. Unless it's something exceptional then the later occurrence will probably suffer from a direct comparison. Glad a second viewing worked better for you though.

64clfisha
sep 25, 2012, 8:31am

Interesting to read your thoughts on the film. I am even more encouraged to seek out the book. I always do try to read the book first because it the film is bad is does tend to put me off.. but for some reason this doesn't work the other way round. Which to be be honest doesn't make sense.. films can be far more superficial (maybe I am still bitter about We need to talk about Kevin)

65andreablythe
sep 25, 2012, 12:35pm

>63 AHS-Wolfy:
I prefer to do that, too. (Rereading the 6th Harry Potter book right before the movie came out definitely turned out to be a bad idea.) You'd think I'd learn, but then I get all excited about something and... well, there ya go.

.
>64 clfisha:
Huh. That's interesting. I'm actually the reverse. If the book is bad, I'm disinclined to see the movie. But if the movie is bad, I still might read the book, because I know how much Hollywood likes to tear apart stories before putting them to screen.

... I don't know anything about We Need to Talk to Kevin}, neither the movie nor the book.

66andreablythe
sep 26, 2012, 12:20pm

59.5 - The Call of Cthulhu (short story), H.P. Lovecraft (***)

(Because it's a short story and not a full book, it doesn't count as more than a .5 toward my main goal.)

After the mysterious death of his anthropologist uncle, a man goes looking into a mysterious and terrifying cult that worships Cthulhu, a tentacle headed creature with a scaly human-like body and massive wings.

This story was more readable than some of Lovecraft's other stories, but oh, my, the racism. The evil cult is followed by mostly African and other native cultures, along with mix-blooded people, which the narrator calls degenerates. It's very clear that white folk are the good guys and other races are the wicked ones with their voodooism and pagan worship and sacrifice. (I was going to give this four stars, but can't bring myself to do so, because of the racism.)

It's easy enough to follow the story and it was kind of cool to read the story that sparked the Chtulhu mythology. The Old Ones are interesting and frightening creatures and the "wrong" angles and up is down insanity aspects are certainly creative.

But I think I prefer the pop-culture versions of Cthulhu that have spawned from Lovecraft's originals far more than I enjoy the originals. There is such delightful play surrounding Cthulhu now with plushies and new books and games and videos and fun all around, which fills me with joy.

67psutto
sep 27, 2012, 6:16am

Oh yeah Lovecraft was a horrible racist, bad even for the time - you should read Red Hook for a much more blatant racist story by him...

68andreablythe
sep 27, 2012, 12:16pm

Yup, I've heard that about Lovecraft. He was a great fabulist, but man, the racism is intense. In general, I'm not a huge fan of his writing style anyway, but I do love the offshoots of some of his work.

69-Eva-
Redigerat: sep 27, 2012, 12:44pm

Removed double-post.

70-Eva-
sep 27, 2012, 12:39pm

I have Lovecraft on Mt. TBR (because he's one of those you "should" have read, isn't he?), so thank you immensely for the heads-up about the racist bits - good to know beforehand! :)

71andreablythe
sep 27, 2012, 12:55pm

Yeah, I suppose he is one of the "should"s, especially since so much of his work (most notably Chtulhu) has entered the public consciousness. He has a great imagination, but he style is quite belabored. But the racism is hard to ignore.

72-Eva-
sep 27, 2012, 1:01pm

There are so many authors I enjoy that name him as inspiration too that I want to at least have an idea of what he's like. Maybe I'll just mow through the stories and be done with it. :)

73psutto
sep 27, 2012, 1:24pm

At least most of his stuff is short :-) I've re-read them a few times and his imagination is great but there are flaws. Belaboured is a good description. He tried very hard to be both Poe and Dunsany....

74-Eva-
sep 27, 2012, 1:49pm

->73 psutto:

"He tried very hard to be both Poe and Dunsany...."

Oh dear. :)

Maybe I'll make it my yearly project next year like you did with The Weird this year...

75andreablythe
sep 27, 2012, 5:34pm

60. All About Emily, by Connie Willis (*****)
Category: Hello, I Love You
Book that made me fall in love: Bellweather

What starts out as a tale about an aging actress afraid the innocent looking Emily will replace her, turns into a story about free will and Broadway and what it means to be human. Being a novelette, this is a short and quick read. It is also delightfully fun with a smattering of pop culture references between bouts of witty humor. And though short and funny, Willis manages to delivery and emotional impact that had me crying at the end. Loved it.

.
61. Rues, by Philip Kobylarz (*****)
Category: The Universe in Verse

When I picked up this book, I assumed "Rues" meant "repentance" or "regret." Until I began reading and realize the author uses French words and lingo throughout the book, therefore "Rues" in this case probably means "streets." I imagine that Kobylarz wrote this poetry on a trip to France (though I have no idea if that's true or not). Each poem in this series is short, ranging from 4-8 lines, like a postcard, a snippet of another place, a metaphorically charged snapshot. He manages to pack a lot into the small space of each poem, which is quite wonderful. This is a collection I would like to have on my bookshelf.

76andreablythe
Redigerat: sep 27, 2012, 6:51pm

In other news....



I am thrilled to announce that my poem, "Bird Collides with Window" will be appearing in A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems, an anthology of small stones (i.e., short poetry) edited by Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita Thompson.  It is the first time any of my work will appear in an edition that has a real, live ISBN! For joy! (^_^)

More information and sample poems are here, and you can find more small stones featured on the ongoing webzine a handful of stones.

There will be a promotion to obtain the anthology as a free kindle edition when it goes live. I'll try to let you know when that happens, so you can get a free copy, if you want.

77Yells
sep 27, 2012, 8:55pm

Congrats!

78cammykitty
sep 27, 2012, 11:16pm

So is All About Emily a spin on All About Eve? It sounds like a fun read. I like Connie Willis.

79RidgewayGirl
sep 28, 2012, 7:19am

Hooray! And that cover art is stunning. I'd pick that up in a bookstore and take a closer look.

80psutto
sep 28, 2012, 8:19am

Congratulations - this would fit my poetry category for the 2013 challenge :-)

81clfisha
sep 28, 2012, 9:14am

Congrats!

I think I am going to stick with the fun Cthulhu spin offs rather than the source... I am not sure I could bear it.

82hailelib
sep 28, 2012, 10:20am

>76 andreablythe:

I like the cover, too.

Keep us informed on how the book does.

83andreablythe
sep 28, 2012, 12:08pm

>78 cammykitty:
Yes, Cammy, that's exactly what its a spin on. :)

>81 clfisha:
Yeah, the spin offs are a lot more fun. :)

>all,
And that's for the congrats guys. I'm a happy chicka. :D

84andreablythe
sep 28, 2012, 12:18pm

62. Carnage Road, Gregory Lamberson (***)
Category: It's a Smoldering World After All

What the FREAKING FRAK! I was definitely into this story about two former members of a biker gang, Walker and Boone, who decide to take a post apocalyptic across a zombie infested America. The characters were interesting, the world as presented was cool, and the writing was good (except for a few and far between spattering of really bad grammer mistakes). I liked seeing the different people and groups they met a long the way, most blaming others for the apocalypse (some blaming the liberals, some blaming the conservatives, etc.). It was all great and fun, right up until the freaking ending.

Look, I'm all for open ended endings. If an author wants to leave some questions unanswered, that's fine by me. Heck, more often than not, I tend to enjoy it. BUT there is a huge difference between "open ended" and "cliffhanger," which is exactly what this story ended on. And again, I don't have a problem with cliffhangers, providing they are part of a series or trilogy, and therefore, I know the story will continue at some point. But NO, this is meant to be a stand alone novella, and the writer MIGHT at some point tell more Walker and Boone stories. Un-bleeping-believable. Gah!!

I give this one three stars, because despite how much the ending annoyed the frak out of me, it was a really good story right up until that point. *sigh*

85RidgewayGirl
sep 28, 2012, 3:19pm

And that is the number one reason that paper books are better than ebooks. One can throw a paper book across the room with great force. This is not recommended with ereaders, as other books may be damaged, not to mention the expensive device.

86-Eva-
sep 28, 2012, 5:09pm

Congrats from me too!!! Very "pickupable" cover indeed!!

87andreablythe
sep 28, 2012, 6:23pm

>85 RidgewayGirl:
LOL. YES, indeed. I swear I started cursing up a storm when I got to the end of that thing.

>86 -Eva-:,
Thank you. I'm thrilled to be within its pages. :)

88cammykitty
sep 30, 2012, 12:18am

83 I love things that spin off of All About Eve.

89andreablythe
okt 15, 2012, 5:04pm

I'm sorry that I've been incommunicado, guys, but I've been in Germany! Partially for work and partially for play. I got to go to Munich and Oktoberfest, and then to Fussen to visit Neuschwanstein and other castles. So wonderful! I don't have all my photos up yet, but here are some from Munich:


Marienplatz


Church of Our Lady


Inside Church of Our Lady -- Anyone know the significance of the crescent moon and the snake in conjunction with Mary?

Other stuff is and will be posted on my blog, including a video of my Oktoberfest experience.

* * *

90-Eva-
okt 15, 2012, 5:27pm

Oh, how fun - I love travel!! I've only ever been to the trainstation in Munich, but the rest of the city is on the list... :)

91andreablythe
okt 15, 2012, 5:37pm

63. The Clan of the Cave Bear, but Jean M. Auel (***1/2)
Category: From my Bookshelf

This book has probably been sitting on my bookshelf since high school (about 14+ years), but I remember it being very popular when I first grabbed it and having conversations about the series (how ridiculous it is, but still enjoyable in other ways) with my college mates. When I travel, I like to grab easy reads that I don't mind leaving behind (this book was left in a hostel in Füssen), so this seemed like an excellent choice in that regard.

Set in the ancient world, The Clan of the Cave Bear tells the story of Ayla, who is orphaned after a giant earthquake and taken in by a group of cave dwellers who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear. Tall, blonde and blue-eyed Ayla is one of the Others and is considered ugly by the short, bow-legged, dark colored, neanderthal Clan people. Over and over again in the story, Ayla (either by accident or design) comes up against the traditions of the Clan people, who are set in their ways and unable to change.

I was kind of fascinated by the culture of the Clan, which believes in and worships animal spirits and has a strict hierarchy with men as entirely dominant over their docile and obedient women. The clearly sexist culture of the Clan seems to have been designed to show that this is the stone age and thus be "realistic," while setting it up for Ayla to be more progressive as a woman capable of being equal to men. It's an oversimplification in order to easily play on the reader's sympathies, but for all of that (and for Broud being a single minded and one-dimensional villain), there are some lovely characters in the the clan, such as Creb, the deformed shaman, and Iza, the medicine woman who takes Ayla in. Both, but especially Creb, had some wonderful complexities of character that I rather enjoyed.

Ayla her self was a little too perfect. She's good at just about everything she does, except for being docile and submissive. She screws up again and again in terms of Clan traditions, but these screw ups are positives from a modern mindset, so as readers we are clearly meant to take her side against the less evolved Clan. Also, the story got to be a bit repetitive as she screws up, is nearly rejected by the Clan, and then is fogiven..., several times.

There were a few things that made me very uncomfortable while reading this book. One, was the concept of racial memory prevalent in the book and the idea that the Clan cannot change their ways, because their culture is genetically endowed in them, a rather disturbing concept, especially in regard to continuing discussions of race. Two, is that Ayla, as blonde and blue-eyed, is set up as the future of the human race, while the dark hair and eyed Clan people are doomed to death because they can't change. I don't care that they are meant to be less evolved and that this is the stone age, the author didn't have to set Ayla off by making her so starkly blonde. It could have been just as clear that she was more evolved by showing her height and body structure as by her coloring.

Another thing that was far more minor, and something I'm note entirely sure of, is that I kept scratching my head in terms of the mixture of geography, plant life, and animal species. I mean, I associate the lynx with either Europe or North America and lions and rhinos with Africa, and I'm not entirely sure they ever mixed in natural settings. Maybe they did and I just don't know it, but I kept getting confused about how certain animals ever came in contact with each other.

So..., this book is flawed in many big ways, but it was also compelling enough to keep me reading to the end, which left me wondering what the heck happens to Ayla next and willing to pick up the next book The Valley of the Horses to find out. So, I would say, the author has done her job in terms of keeping things entertaining.

92andreablythe
okt 15, 2012, 5:43pm

>90 -Eva-:,
I visited Marienplatz, Oktoberfest, and the four main art museums (all of which are situated in the same area, right next door to each other. It'd a very cool city, for what little of it I saw. Lots of people walking around in dirndls and lederhosen, which was very cool. :)

93christina_reads
okt 15, 2012, 5:49pm

@ 89 -- You asked about the significance of the snake at the base of the Mary statue. Mary is frequently depicted with a serpent at her feet, in reference to Genesis 3:15. (This is the part where Adam and Eve have just disobeyed God, and God is cursing the serpent.) And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

94andreablythe
okt 15, 2012, 5:53pm

>93 christina_reads:,
Ah, thank you. I was very curious about that.

I also found reference to an explanation of another such statue here, which notes how some traditions considered Mary "the new Eve" and in that way the redeemer of woman.

All very interesting. :)

95-Eva-
Redigerat: okt 15, 2012, 6:00pm

One of my friends just moved to Germany (her husband is German) and she posted photos from Oktoberfest on FB and whenever there was a picture of her wearing a dirndl, she aptly named the photo "BOOBSHOT!" Very cute. :)

Isn't there something in Revelations about a woman appearing clad in gold and standing on a moon? (My Bibblie-knowledge isn't great, but I did enjoy Revelations quite a bit...!).

ETA: Found it: Revelations 12:1: "And a great sign was seen in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars."

"Your" Mary has those stars as well!

ETA2: Duh, that quote is in the link you just posted. :)

96christina_reads
Redigerat: okt 15, 2012, 5:59pm

You're right, Eva. I think it's Revelation 12:1 that refers to "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet." I know that in the Catholic tradition, that verse is taken to refer to Mary.

ETA: Should have read your post before making this one, Eva!

97-Eva-
okt 15, 2012, 6:01pm

LOL!!! We're all post-happy over here! Love it!!

98andreablythe
okt 15, 2012, 6:04pm

>95 -Eva-: & 96

What's really funny is that even though I posted the link, I didn't notice that that quote was in there. Lol!

99lkernagh
okt 15, 2012, 9:24pm

Love the pics and the video! Last time I was in Munich - which was for for business but allowed for downtown for some sightseeing - was back in December of 2006. Just imagine the Marienplatz filled with Christmas vendors selling everything from ornaments to hot cider and Winter Wonderland window themes everywhere you look! I need to get back there some time.

100andreablythe
okt 16, 2012, 12:20pm

>99 lkernagh:
Wow! I bet it's really enchanting at Christmas. :D

101RidgewayGirl
okt 16, 2012, 12:22pm

I lived in or near Munich for seven years and it is a beautiful city. You are visiting at the wildest time, but staying with friends does make it less nuts! Did you notice the cubbyholes to set your beer in when you're on the roller-coasters? Or the schnapps booths in front of the wilder rides? And did you go to one of the calmer, tree-filled and peaceful biergartens?

We may be going back for a two-year stay. I need to look at lots of our pictures to get my enthusiasm up because right now all I can think about are the logistics of packing up and of moving the dogs and cats and children.

102andreablythe
okt 16, 2012, 1:08pm

>101 RidgewayGirl:
Gah! I didn't really notice any of those things! I guess that's a reason to do Oktoberfest for more than one day. :)

Wow. That sounds like quite the move, but it sounds like a lot of fun, too. :D

103andreablythe
okt 16, 2012, 7:03pm

64. Mr. X, by Peter Straub (****)
Category: Unicorns from Space! -- Fantasy

From the back cover: "Every year on his birthday, Ned Dunstan has a paralysing seizure in which he is forced to witness scenes of ruthless slaughter perpetrated by a mysterious figure in black whom he calls Mr X. Now, with his birthday fast approaching, Ned has been drawn back to his home town of Edgerton, Illinois, by a premonition that his mother is dying. On her deathbed, she imparts to him the name of his long-absent father and warns him that he is in grave danger. Despite her foreboding, he embarks on a search through Edgerton's past for the truth behind his own identity and that of his entirely fantastic family. But when Ned becomes the lead suspect in three violent deaths, he begins to realize that he is not the only one who has come home!"

At heart this dark fantasy novel is about the twisted truths that lie at the heart of one's family history and whether it's better to leave secrets buried or dig them up. Peter Straub does an amazing job of unraveling pieces of information that slowly form into at larger picture. His characters are complex and fascinating, which makes the story absolutely compelling with an ending that kind of blew my mind and makes me want to go back and read it again. Fantastic book.

104andreablythe
Redigerat: okt 19, 2012, 3:59pm

I am currently in the middle of four books All the Pretty Horses, Seraphina (which is amazing), The Valley of the Horses, and Buffy and the Heroine's Journey.

So reviews coming soon, but in the meantime, I want to say congrats to Aunt Lute Books!!

Aunt Lute Celebrates 30 years: Unsung Voices — They publish books by women authors “not being represented by mainstream publishing.” I had the pleasure of interning with the company for one summer, and I’m thrilled to know they are still thriving.

One of my favorite books ever is Her, by Cherry Muhanji a story of queer African American women set in Detroit in the late ’50s/60s. Such a beautifully written and moving novel. I participated in proofreading the second edition and have reread the book a couple of times since then for the sheer pleasure of it.

Here’s to 30 more years of Aunt Lute!

105-Eva-
okt 20, 2012, 7:50pm

Always great to hear when small publishing houses do well - congrats to Aunt Lute from me too!

I'm putting Seraphina on the wishlist, but it looks like it's the beginning of a series - looking forward to hearing if it reads OK as a stand-alone. Otherwise, I'll wait until I can mow through the whole series. :)

106andreablythe
okt 22, 2012, 1:56pm

Yay!

And I will certainly let you know. :)

107andreablythe
okt 29, 2012, 6:44pm

65. Seraphina (audio book), by Rachel Hartman (*****)
Category: Unicorns from Space! -- Fantasy

From the book jacket: "“Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life."

As soon as I finished this book, I wanted to start reading it all over again (that doesn't happen often for me). There are many, many reasons why I love this book, but here are a few that stick out for me.

1. Seraphina herself is a compelling character. The dangers of her life are wrapped intimately with her sense of self (or lack of it) and the secrets she keeps, which is in direct challenge to her passion for music. She cannot let loose her music without drawing attention and risking revelation and danger. So she is trapped on a tightrope of life with nothing to do but ford ahead and maintain balance. But music is just about everything to her, and it's this passion that launches her into the series of adventures she finds herself on throughout the book.

2. The culture of humans and dragons is delightfully complex, as it should be in any world where a treaty between two previously warring societies are now at a fitful peace. Every character in this book, no matter how small has their own unique spin on the situation. There are humans and dragons alike who hate the treaty, humans and dragons alike who admire the treaty, and even more humans and dragons alike who are indifferent or entirely confused on the matter. Even if two human characters might together agree that dragons are terrible, awful, horrid things, it's clear that the motivation for their hatred comes from different sources.

Hartman takes the world further by showing how there are many societies of humans, who have previously warred, and are now also in alliance as well, because the of the human-dragon treaty. But again, even if two people are of the same culture, it doesn't mean they agree on things. It all make the world delightfully rich and real, and gives the side characters some meat.

3. This is the most compelling portrayal of dragon culture I've ever read. Really. One of the things that's great is that science and mathematics and complex machinery are dragon innovations. I love that the mythical creatures are the rational ones, but that their science and math are considered otherworldly mysticism. There's a little more uniformity of thinking for dragon kind (or, perhaps, there is illusion of uniform thinking), but this isn't because of a lack of divergent points of views, but because emotion is considered insanity among their kind, and any dragon who shows too much of it gets the equivalent of a lobotomy.

4. The romance is lovely and moving, all the more so because it grows out of a foundation of friendship. The man she falls for is very much a man — not because of some deep mysterious brooding and dangerous side (as seems to be so popular in many romances), but because he is so human, so flawed, while maintaining a strength built on truth and respect. This truth and friendship that grows between them unravels so naturally into love. They hit bumps in the road, times when they are angry or almost hate each other, but they come through it with forgiveness and new strength. This is what love should look like, because not once does either one expects the other to be anything other than what they are, they don't want to change the person they love. Instead they except the whole of them, and love them for their "flaws" all the more, and I think that's beautiful.

These things combined with a beautiful writing style that manages to both be poetic and perfectly capture Seraphina's voice are just some of the reasons as to why this book has made it to my all-time favorites list.

As a side note, the audio book version I listened to was lovely. There are several moments where the reader had to sing the lyrics of songs, and it made the book all the more wonderful.

108-Eva-
okt 29, 2012, 6:50pm

Sounds excellent!! I'll put it on my Audible wishlist!

109andreablythe
okt 29, 2012, 7:24pm

>108 -Eva-:
I hope you love it as much as I do. And as to your earlier question, though the ending is open ended enough to leave room for more books in the series, I would not pull my hair out if the series didn't continue. I mean, I WANT to know what happens next, but I love this book all on its own for exactly what it is.

110-Eva-
okt 29, 2012, 7:33pm

Oh, that is good to know - I get so frustrated with books that end with a cliffhanger for the next one! I like when some things are open, but a little bit of closure is needed too...! :)

111lkernagh
okt 30, 2012, 1:10am

I usually dodge fantasy - I read steampunk but I dodge fantasy, go figure! - but Seraphina sounds enticing and I do so love the book cover!

112cammykitty
okt 30, 2012, 4:02am

Loved the photo - interesting review on the Peter Straub book. I think I've read my horror for the year though. Maybe later. It sounds unusual.

113andreablythe
okt 30, 2012, 12:29pm

>111 lkernagh:,
While I read a lot of fantasy, I'm not usually drawn to dragon books. The lovely wood-cut style cover is absolutely what drew me in, too. :)

>122,
I've read tons of Stephen King and a small smattering of other horror novels. Straub definitely has a style of his own. Both of the books I read of his (the other was Shadowland) are more dark fantasy than horror to me, but they are well worth a read and definitely touch on horror elements. I'm definitely going to be reading more work by Straub in the future.

114DeltaQueen50
okt 30, 2012, 11:59pm

Adding Seraphina to my wishlist as well. I'm not usually a dragon person either, but this book has me intrigued.

115christina_reads
okt 31, 2012, 12:54pm

You've got me intrigued with Seraphina as well!

116andreablythe
okt 31, 2012, 1:41pm

I hope you both enjoy it as much as I did!

117andreablythe
Redigerat: okt 31, 2012, 6:31pm

Hi, guys, I'd like to point out that A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems (which includes a poem by me) is available for free on the kindle (US & UK) for today and tomorrow. Just in case you'd like to snag yourself a copy.

Also, if you're interested: Tomorrow is the first  ever Mindful Writing Day, organised by the editors Kaspa & Fiona at Writing Our Way Home! Yay!

To join in simply slow down, pay attention to one thing and write it down (making a small stone ). As per Fiona: "small stones are easy to write, and they will help you connect to the world. Once you've started, you might not want to stop..." You can also submit your small stone and see it published on the blog, and be entered into a competition to win one of five paperback copies of the book.


...

In other news..., I'm still working my way through several books. I may be reading too many books at once, which means I don't finish any of them in a timely manner. Oh, well.

118pammab
nov 1, 2012, 10:07pm

I really like that small stones idea. I am not a writer, but I might try it even myself. It sounds renewing, in an odd sort of way.

119andreablythe
nov 2, 2012, 11:37am

>118 pammab:
I like that it forces me to slow down, take a deep breath, and be present in the moment, rather than flitting around with too many thoughts and too much to do. :)

120andreablythe
nov 2, 2012, 1:03pm

66. The Valley of the Horses, by Jean M. Auel (***)
Category: Miscellany

Despite there being many problems with The Clan of the Cave Bear, the book ended on something of a cliff hanger and was interesting enough that I had to go ahead and pick up the sequel. The Valley of the Horses begins right after Clan of the Cave Bear ends, so I'll try not to get into too many details but keep in mind that there will be spoilers ahead.

The first half of the book is split between Ayla's and Jondalar's point of views. Ayla finds her own cave and is surviving alone, finding comfort only by taking in stray infant animals and caring for them. Jondalar meanwhile leaves his tribe by going on a journey with his brother, meeting up with several other tribe and having various encounters. The result is that the first half of the book dragged for me (it wasn't until Ayla and Jondalar FINALLY met each other that the pace picked up), and because Ayla is alone and Jondalar spends only short periods of time with any group of people, you don't get an in-depth look at any one culture as you did in Clan of the Cave Bear.

What you do get though is a brief looks at a variety of the Others (as Jondalar's people are described by the Cave Bear Clan), seeing how there is a mixture of perspectives and societies with different survival innovations — something you never saw among the Cave Bear Clan because of the problematic concept of racial memory. Auel also presents how the Others view the Clan as nothing more than animals. It's interesting, because for all that the Jondalar's peoples are good hearted with complex cultures, they are seen and stupidly and profoundly ignorant when it comes to the Cave Bear Clan. Their hatred is revealed to be illogical, especially when Ayla begins to reveal their humanity as she describes the Clan culture to Jondalar. It's an interesting complexity in terms of racial discussions, because for all that you want to like Jondalar's peoples, their clear racism against the Clan is disturbing, especially if you have read the first book first and grown attached to the Clan characters. So, the discussion of race in the sequel is still problematic, but at least it's an interesting problematic that opens potential for discussion.

And again this book, like the first, has some head scratching geographical and biological anomalies to it. Did buffaloes and antelopes and hyenas and wooly rhinos and horses and cave lions and mammoths all ever mix in the same location? I don't know, but I don't think so.

Another thing that had me wondering was the whole free love approach to sex that the author presents. Sex is a gift of Pleasures from the Mother and should be delighted in to honor her? Um. I'm not opposed to the idea per se, but I'm not convinced that the peoples were quite so free wheeling about that sort of thing back then. Maybe, but... Anyway, I guess despite the author's supposed research she can have her "historical" society be anyway she wants.

The character Jondalar is amusing, too, because he brings a Romance Novel aspects into the storyline that wasn't present in the first book. I remember a discussion with my college friends, when one said something like, "I know the book is totally ridiculous, but I still kind of want my own Jondalar." I can understand why. He's meant to be the perfect man, handsome, strong, tall, kind-hearted, giving in life and in love, and the perfect lover (remember what I said about the Pleasures), and of course the only person perfect enough for him to fall in love with is.... guess.

Oh! And there's the Shamud, a holy person of one of the tribes that Jondalar meets. The Shamud was interesting because the Shamud was presented as a male with the desires of a woman or a woman with the desires of a male. Jondalar keeps trying to guess which gender the Shamud is, but finally gives up under the assumption that it doesn't matter. The Shamud is powerful because of the lack of assigned gender, and is respected. Though I'm sure the portrayal isn't entirely without problems, I liked the Shamud character and how the author managed to skillfully avoid assigning gender pronouns, so that the character can remain both human and gender neutral.

Anyway, despite a lingering curiosity about what happens to Jondalar and Ayla now, I think I'm pretty much done with this series, especially if the next book is going to be as slow going as the beginning of this one was.

121clfisha
nov 3, 2012, 6:39am

It's interesting seeing your thoughts on the Earths Children series, I read it when I was a teenager so I admit the racist aspect didn't really register, I was too naive.

I admit I gave up I think after the 3rd and since I can't even remember if that was any good, I cannot urge to stick with it! :)

122andreablythe
nov 5, 2012, 12:55pm

Lol. Thanks.

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with reading Stephen King. I had no clue about the questionable portrayals of women and race in his books either. It took college and discussions about these things in the world for me to start becoming aware of them.

123RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: nov 5, 2012, 1:11pm

As a child, I loved Enid Blyton's books; books which are almost impossible to read now, filled as they are with the worst of British imperialist racism. I remember an American character who was partially redeemed at the end by learning to speak properly, and that was better treatment than characters from other places got.

With some books, it's useful to view the sexism or racism as products of their time, appreciate the good parts and use the bad parts to gain a better understanding of how people viewed their world at that place and point in time. With others, however, it's probably best to let oblivion sweep gently over them.

I'd say keep the King and let the Auel go.

124andreablythe
Redigerat: nov 5, 2012, 1:33pm

>123 RidgewayGirl:,
Yikes on the Enid Blyton books.

I always find the "products of their time" discussion interesting, because there are a lot of people out there who use it as a reason to ignore the discussion of race and sexism all together. I like you're take on it, however, because it doesn't ignore that the racism is there, but puts it in context, leaving it open for discussion.

I shall definitely be keeping the King and loosing the Auel. :)

.
*****

67. Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together, by Bryan Lee O'Malley (****1/2)
68. Scott Pilgrim VS. the Universe, by Bryan Lee O'Malley (****1/2)
69. Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, by Bryan Lee O'Malley (****1/2)
Category: Bam! Pow! Wham! (comic/manga)

I delightfully finished up this pop culture infused series, which has all the love for the fun and humor contained within its pages. One of the things I love about the series is how many characters are awesome because they are fabulously flawed. Scott himself, for example, is both a nice guy and an idiot jerkwad. As one who grew up with Nintendo and Sega games, the psuedo-reality in these books that incorporates game culture and manga culture is all the love. So I'm quite happy with how it all ended, and I'm looking for some more fun from Brian Lee O'Malley.

125pammab
nov 5, 2012, 5:18pm

I have heard really great things about Scott Pilgrim from another friend. So glad to hear you enjoyed it so much too -- it will have to go up in the queue this next year!

126andreablythe
nov 5, 2012, 6:11pm

>125 pammab:,
Scott Pilgrim is good fun. I hope you enjoy it! :)

127clfisha
nov 6, 2012, 5:26am

I loved the Scot Pilgrim film, I must try the comics one of these days!

128andreablythe
nov 6, 2012, 6:29pm

70. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy (****)
Category: Hello, I Love You
Book that made me fall in love: The Road

When a young man learns that his family ranch is being sold, he sets out on horseback with a companion on a journey down to Mexico. There they not only find work as ranchers, but they meet a fellow traveler who brings them trouble and the boy finds love with the daughter of a hacienda owner. Both of which bring the two men insurmountable trouble.

The novel modernizes the Western by setting it in the '50s and using literary language. Along with horseback riding through open countryside, gun fights, and outrunning posses, the most notable Western trope is the main character himself, who though young and born outside the age of the Wild West takes on the persona of the stoic, no nonsense cowboy, one who ultimately rides off into the sunset.

Mixed with this Western sensibility is a nostalgia for the Wild West and the imagined romance and freedom of a frontier, which is long gone, both for the boy of the story and for us as readers. Though the boy seeks this frontier in Mexico, a place where there are less fences around things, what he finds it a place both more and less free than he hoped it would be.

Despite the rich beautiful language in which it is written and my overall enjoyment of the storyline, I found myself emotionally detached from the characters and events. So, I find that while I like this book, I don't quite love it.

129lkernagh
nov 6, 2012, 11:58pm

Despite the rich beautiful language in which it is written and my overall enjoyment of the storyline, I found myself emotionally detached from the characters and events

I noticed the same thing when I read Suttree and I wondered at the time if it was a writing style of McCarthy's - to focus on a description of the time period and the scenery as opposed to the emotional connection of character and reader. Suttree is the only McCarthy I have read so far and I am curious as to whether the emotional detachment is just part of how he writes.

Good review!

130clfisha
nov 7, 2012, 4:28am

Hmm I couldn't finish All the Pretty Horses because the lack of attachment and gentle set up.. I have been wondering what to try next (I loved The Road).

131-Eva-
nov 7, 2012, 12:08pm

Yet another confirmation that my fellow LT:ers was right when they said to put The Road on Mt. TBR and hold off on other McCarthys. :)

132andreablythe
nov 7, 2012, 1:37pm

>129 lkernagh:,
"I am curious as to whether the emotional detachment is just part of how he writes."
I'm curious about that, too. At the moment I'm not itching to pick up another of his books, though I'll probably read something else by him somewhere down the line.

>130 clfisha:,
Those are the only two books I've read by him, so unfortunately I can't make any suggestions in that regard.

>131 -Eva-:,
I loved The Road, however, I've known people who disliked it, because was too bleak and who hated the sparse writing style. But I would say that bleak is expected in a post-apoc story, and the writing style worked really well in conjunction with that storyline for me. So, give it a try. I'm definitely interested to hear what you think. :)

133cammykitty
nov 7, 2012, 6:40pm

Interesting review of All the Pretty Horses. I think that's part of his style - a little detached and even dehumanized - but I don't really know. I haven't read him, just passages. He definitely has a distinctive style.

134andreablythe
nov 8, 2012, 12:13pm

>133 cammykitty:,
I'm starting to get a sense that that's the case. As you say, it's a distinctive style, and for the most part I enjoy it, but sometimes I want to be engrossed with my characters.

135cammykitty
nov 8, 2012, 6:59pm

Me too - although for something post-apocalyptic or verging on horror, his style should work beautifully.

136andreablythe
nov 9, 2012, 1:17pm

71. Buffy and the Heroine's Journey: Vampire Slayer as Feminine Chosen One, by Valerie Estelle Frankel (****)
Category: Just the Facts, Ma'am
Note: This book was an ARC given to me through LibraryThing's Early Review program.

I love reading books on cultural criticism that present different perspectives on the books and shows that I read. So, as a long time fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I was drawn to this book that looks at a variation of the mythical structure in the Heroine's Journey (basically the female version of the Hero's Journey presented by Joseph Campbell).

The Heroine's Journey, while similar to the Hero's Journey, differs in many ways. One example is the concept of long sleep or decent into darkness (familiar in Sleeping Beauty, Persephone, Snow White, and others) in which the heroine gathers strength and wisdom before the final battle. Other tropes include battling the Dark Mother and seeking wisdom from female sources.

The concept of the Heroine's Journey was fascinating to me in and of itself (and now I'm interested in reading From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine's Journey Through Myth and Legend, which discusses this in more general terms), but seeing it applied along with along with mythical tropes to Buffy was fascinating. The book walks through all the seasons of Buffy, including not only the TV series, but also the disconnected movie and the ensuing eighth season comic books. Frankel's work did exactly what I hoped it would, presented new ways of looking at the show I loved, allowing me to appreciate it from a new perspective, while also presenting new mythological concepts for me to apply to other books and shows that I enjoy (as well as giving me an opportunity to apply them in my own writing.

137andreablythe
Redigerat: nov 9, 2012, 3:19pm

72. Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses (poetry), by Ron Koertge, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö (***1/2)
Category: The Universe in Verse

So..., apparently I was so annoyed after reading Carnage Road in September, that I completely forgot to review this book. *sigh*

I'm a huge fan of new twists on old fairy tales, and Koertge present 23 such classic tales in free verse poetry (definitely geared toward young adults) along with some simple but wonderfully disturbing illustrations by Andrea Dezsö. Unfortunately, I was hoping he would push the boundaries a bit more and present some really interesting points of view.

That said, I adored his beautiful and chilling poem, "The Stepsisters," and I also enjoyed "Memoirs of a Beast," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Emperor's New Clothes: An Afterword." Typically, the poems where he stretched himself the furthest, and took the least expected viewpoints were the ones that I enjoyed the most. As a whole the collection is good, but not one I am personally in love with.

138-Eva-
nov 9, 2012, 4:45pm

->136 andreablythe:
Sounds like a great book since I too enjoy those types of analyses, but since I never managed to get through even season 1 of Buffy, it's not really for me. And, yes, I know that it gets going for real in season 2 on, but I just can't get myself to make it that far. :)

139andreablythe
nov 9, 2012, 6:30pm

>138 -Eva-:,
I'm obsessed with Buffy, but everyone likes different things. My brother and I normally have the same tastes, but he can't bring himself to watch it either.

140-Eva-
nov 9, 2012, 6:41pm

In my defense, I did make an honest attempt. :) I still have it in my Netflix queue, so if I ever run out of things to watch (haha - who am I kidding?!), I'll give it another shot.

141andreablythe
nov 9, 2012, 6:48pm

LOL. It's worth another shot, but then, I'm rather biased in its favor. ;)

142pammab
nov 11, 2012, 2:24pm

Buffy and the Heroine's Journey looks awesome! I love when people treat pop culture seriously, and there really is a lot in Buffy (and most other shows) to discuss. Glad you had a great read!

143andreablythe
nov 12, 2012, 12:10pm

It was a great read.

The writer is a great person, too. I figured out after after reading the book that I actually heard her speak on a couple of panels at FOGCON 2012, which was a very cool connection to make.

144andreablythe
nov 12, 2012, 1:59pm

73. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (*****)
Classics: Oh, How I Missed You

In part because the first of the movies is coming out and in part because I had to buy the gorgeous 70th Anniversary Pocket Edition, I found myself rereading The Hobbit. I'm a delighted to conclude that I love it just as much as I did the first time around. Dragons and goblins and trolls and wizards and elves and dwarves and more importantly hobbits — all the delights combined with rich descriptions of a fantastical world. There are problematic aspects of this work (entire peoples are either good or evil based on their race and kings are favored over elected officials), which I certainly recognize now, but I love it despite that because there are many other things worth delighting in. I'll just leave you with my favorite quote:

“I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led. And through the air, I am he that walks unseen.
I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number.
I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me.
I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider.”
~ Bilbo Baggins


Now that I've read this book I find myself itching to read The Lord of the Rings over again.

145-Eva-
nov 12, 2012, 4:07pm

It was ages since I read The Hobbit and I was going to reread before the movie comes out, but I think I'm going to do it the other way around and do my reread once the films are done.

146andreablythe
nov 12, 2012, 4:14pm

That's probably a good plan, since they tend to change so much in the movies.

147-Eva-
nov 12, 2012, 4:20pm

Yeah, I don't want to watch the movie and get hung up about little details - I just want to go with the flow. :)

148andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 3, 2012, 2:48pm

74. Nebula Awards Showcase 2012, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly (*****)
Category: Unicorns from Space! – Science Fiction

The Nebula Awards Showcase 2012 presents a selection of winners and nominees for the Nebulas awards, including novel excerpts, novellas, novlettes, short stories, and poetry. Overall I enjoyed every story in this collect, from the straight scifi stories to the realms of fantasy.

There are many stories to love in this collection. Kij Johnson's "Ponies" is a disturbing portrayal of popularity and exclusion in young girls. "Map of Seventeen" by Christopher Barzak is a moving story about a young girl, frustrated with the world around her.

Shweta Narayan's "Pishaach" is about a girl who chooses to go mute when she learns about the mystical origins of her grandmother. She is taunted and treated as a witch, which in a way she is, as she holds sway over the local snakes with the power of her flute.

"Arvies" by Adam-Troy Castro is a delightfully disturbing tale about a future in which humanity doesn't look much like it does now (it may be for, against, or neutral on the subject of abortion, depending on your point of view, though I think it is more about the status of power in society).

Rachel Swirsky's "The Woman Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen's Window" is a stunning, epic story from the point of view of a summoned spirit, spanning epochs. The woman/spirit is an all too human character, who would rather allow harm to come to others rather than sacrifice her beliefs.

And there were many others. All around a really wonderful collection.

***********

I am in a somewhat desperate rush to try to read 26 more books by the end of December. Reminds me vaguely of the mayhem that surrounded the last semester of my senior year of college, when I took three literature classes at once and had to read ten books, write multiple papers and

Currently I'm reading Deathless by Catherinne Valente and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, both of which I am loving.

149mamzel
nov 16, 2012, 2:44pm

Luckily there's no expiration date on books and the ones you don't get to before 12/31 will carry over to 1/1!!

150japaul22
nov 16, 2012, 3:32pm

Love the Buffy review - one of my favorite shows!

And I have 8 books left and don't think I'll finish before January 1. 26 sounds daunting, but good luck!

151andreablythe
nov 16, 2012, 4:06pm

>149 mamzel:,
LOL! True, but I have to start the 2013 challenge then! :)

>150 japaul22:,
Thanks for the luck! I'm gonna need it.

152-Eva-
nov 16, 2012, 4:09pm

26 sounds ambitious!! Throw a few YAs and graphic novels in there and you're done, though. It's not impossible. I have half-a-dozen or so left, but in a terrible reading-slump, so I'm glancing at thin books right now. :)

153cammykitty
nov 16, 2012, 4:26pm

Kij Johnson is doing a local book signing soon. I've had her Fudoki on my WL forever. :) I think I'll have to go.

154andreablythe
nov 16, 2012, 4:44pm

>152 -Eva-:,
I'm halfway through the two books I mentioned and I have a single essay left to read in Leaves of Grass, The Deathbed Edition (that was a doorstopper, if I ever read one. It took me two years to read!). But I'll have all three done by this weekend, and I have all week next off, which will hopefully be split between reading, writing, and eating good food on Thanksgiving. Just 3.5 books a week and I'll make it. :)

>153 cammykitty:,
Gasp! Awesome. I love book signings... the question is where is this particular one?

155-Eva-
nov 16, 2012, 4:59pm

"Just 3.5 books a week"

Piece of cake! :)

156andreablythe
nov 16, 2012, 7:04pm

LOL.

157cammykitty
nov 17, 2012, 1:22am

Uncle Hugo's in Minneapolis. A short drive for you, right? - not

158andreablythe
nov 17, 2012, 8:08pm

Lol.

No, I don't think that'll work. ;)

159andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 3, 2012, 2:58pm

75. The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker (*****)
Category: Unicorns from Space! – Science Fiction

"But doesn't every previous era feel like fiction once it's gone?"


A young girl comes to age in the face of worldwide disaster -- the earth's rotation is slowing down. Despite the the wonders and fears while scientist and government try to seek solutions, a level of mundaneity prevails. Kids go to school, parents go to work, life goes on -- though relationships are more fragile than before.

"I had become a worrier, a girl on constant guard for catastrophes large and small, for the disappointments I now sensed were hidden all around us in plain sight."


The Age of Miracles took me by delightful surprise, because I had no idea that it had apocalyptic and science fiction elements until I started reading it. Not only is it set in a genre that I love but from page one, I was immediately struck with the beauty of the language, the simple and eloquent turns of phrase that bring this tale to life.

“How much sweeter life would be if it all happened in reverse, if, after decades of disappointments, you finally arrived at an age when you had conceded nothing, when everything was possible.”


Apocalypse is perfect paired with young adult hood, an age that the author describes as the age of miracles, "the time when kids shot up three inches over the summer, when breasts bloomed from nothing, when voices dipped and dove." Middle School is a time when it seems anything can happen, that you can live forever, and every day disappointments can seem very much like the end of the world.

I kept wondering how it could possibly end on any sort of a high note, and yet -- omg, those last few words, OMG -- it did just that. Such a beautiful and wonderful book.

160-Eva-
nov 19, 2012, 7:29pm

I've been looking at The Age of Miracles before, but your review pushed it firmly onto the wishlist. LT is recommending it to me based on my owning Tana French's Broken Harbor. Intriguing. :)

161mamzel
nov 20, 2012, 3:59pm

I purchased this book for my library and am looking forward to reading it. I've heard so many good things about it.

162andreablythe
nov 20, 2012, 6:17pm

I hope you both enjoy it!

163andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 3, 2012, 3:07pm

76. Leaves of Grass: The "Death-Bed" Edition, by Walt Whitman (****)
Category: The Universe in Verse (Category Finished!)

The "Deathbed Edition" is an 800+ page volume containing all of Whitman's last changes and additions to Leaves of Grass. It contains some of his most famous poems, including "Song of Myself."

It took me over two years, reading a poem here and there, to finish this massive tome of poetry. Much of it delighted me, particularly those poems in which Whitman celebrates life and beauty from every man, woman, and child to the smallest blade of grass.

His works about soldiering and war were of less appeal to me, because those subjects interest me less. However, a sense of "Americanness" resonates throughout the entire book and these poems of war is a vital part of that. Even Whitman himself explains that he tried to make the poetry in the book reflect that Americanness.

In any collection this big, there are bound to be poems I love and poems I don't. This was certainly true, but Leaves of Grass is worth reading for any lover of poetry.

164andreablythe
nov 21, 2012, 7:00pm

77. Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices, by various (****)
Category: From my Bookshelf

From the back cover: "Something is amiss at the Hotel Angeline, a rickety former mortuary perched atop Capitol Hill in rain-soaked Seattle. Fourteen-year-old Alexis Austin is fixing the plumbing, the tea, and all the problems of the world, it seems, in her landlady mother’s absence.

The quirky tenants—a hilarious mix of misfits and rabble-rousers from days gone by—rely on Alexis all the more when they discover a plot to sell the Hotel. Can Alexis save their home? Find her real father? Deal with her surrogate dad’s dicey past? Find true love? Perhaps only their feisty pet crow, Habib, truly knows."

My initial interest in this book came about through my love of Karen Finneyfrock's poetry, but it grew once I learned that this book was created as a part of The Novel: Live. The project was an attempt to have 36 writers take part in a week-long writing marathon live on stage, in which the story would be passed from writer to writer and result in a complete novel. Hotel Angeline is the result of those efforts.

Due to the nature of its creation, there are some holes in the plot here and there and some slight disjointedness, and you definitely get a taste of each writer's style (one author presented their chapter in comic book format), which was most recognizable in the dialog. But I was surprised by just how coherent the story is. Each chapter is by a different author and most are written from Alexis' point of view, but her character remained consistent. She's a girl caught up in the madness of her situation, who becomes very lost very quickly.

There are a slew of interesting characters, including a woman who lives as a pirate, Habib the rave, LJ the not-all-there hippy, and many more. If you ignore the unique process of creation, you still have a good story thats twists into surprising and unexpected directions with an unlimately satisfying conclusion. A good read.

165lkernagh
nov 21, 2012, 10:47pm

But I was surprised by just how coherent the story is.

They really did an amazing job with that one. Happy to see your positive review for Hotel Angeline, Andrea. I hope come across more projects like that one!

166andreablythe
nov 22, 2012, 12:50pm

Me too! It would even be fun to participate in such a project. Hope they do The Novel: Live again in the future. :)

167clfisha
nov 22, 2012, 4:10pm

Oo Hotel Angeline sounds intriguing, great review too.

168-Eva-
nov 23, 2012, 9:35pm

Great review - thumbing! That does sounds like a fascinating project.

169andreablythe
Redigerat: nov 25, 2012, 12:48am

Thanks guys. :)

* * * *

78. Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente (*****)
Unicorns from Space! -- Fantasy (Category Completed!)

"Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations," reads the back cover of Deathless. In Valente's modern version, she interweaves the magic of the Russian fairy tale with the history of the country, revealing Stalinist house elves, woven soldiers who fight battles between Life and Death, bureaucratic dragons, and many other beautiful oddities.

The story centers on Marya Morevna, a child of the revolution who longs to belong, but has seen the world unmasked and thus doesn't fit. Though human, she goes through many transformations in the book, first by becoming Koschei's wife. I love Marya. She's complex, sometimes innocent and naive, sometimes kind and cunning, and sometimes vicious. She changes, whether for good or for ill, and each change is a natural extension of who she was and how the necessities of the situation molded her.

I was captivated by the book immediately, though I definitely had to be in the right head space to get started. I picked it up several times and then put it down again, because I was too mentally distracted to be able to focus on Valente's beautiful prose, which is poetic and luminous and vivid and requires a certain amount of focus. Once I was absorbed in the story and grew accustomed to her style, however, I read through the book rather quickly.

You get a sense of the historical combined with the magical right at the start. The Prologue gives a scene which reveals the cruelty of the revolution and of war in stark clarity, and without, it seems any magic. The Chapter that immediately follows flip-flops from the realism of the Prologue and launches into Marya's youth lit up with birds that become husbands and uses clear fairy tale tropes -- everything comes in threes, for example. By the second chapter the historical and magical are woven together, and I thought separating out those elements in the first few chapters was a clever set up into the story.

I love how this book unfolds. Fairy tale tropes are used skillfully throughout the book, as well as a clear sense of history and of Russian culture. What at first is horrifying appears beautiful from another angle. That which was once beautiful decays and fades away. Sometimes the line between beautiful and ugly, love and power, life and death, are blurred.

Without revealing any details, the ending took a little mental maneuvering to understand and work through, and I'm not sure I'm entirely clear on it. I'm still sitting here thinking about the ending, playing with the various possibilities of what it might mean. I'm sure some will find this very annoying. But Valente is a writer who trusts her readers to be smart enough to connect the dots and come to their own conclusions, which I respect. And rather than bothering me, it makes me want to read the book over again, so I can discover new connections and see how my perspective on this fantastic book will have transformed.

170clfisha
nov 25, 2012, 5:56am

Eagerly awaiting Deathless so I skimmed read your review to avoid too many spoilers but I am glad it's a positive one! Valente is fast becoming one of my favourite writers.

171andreablythe
nov 25, 2012, 10:58am

This was the first book of hers that I've read, and I can't wait to read more. I have Palimpsest waiting on my bookshelf and I really want to read the The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making series.

172lkernagh
nov 25, 2012, 6:43pm

I Loved Palimpsest when I read it.... although I do recommend reading it when you will be able to give it your full, undivided attention. It takes a bit a time to get the mind into Valente's world with that one but once you are there, it is one fascinating world!

Adding Deathless to my growing Valente's list of books to read!

173clfisha
nov 26, 2012, 4:19am

I loved both, although being YA The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is easier to slip into, so to speak!

174psutto
nov 27, 2012, 8:56am

Yup really enjoyed all the Valente books I've read so far, no doubt will read Deathless sooner rather than later

175andreablythe
nov 27, 2012, 12:43pm

All this praise for Valente! Can't wait to read more. :D

176andreablythe
Redigerat: nov 27, 2012, 6:35pm

79. The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy (**)
Category: From the Modern Library's 100 Best Books

This is one of those in which not much happens. The main character is a man works and goes to the movies and wanders around trying to fight off malaise and everydayness. He is "Seeking" he says, but it's never really clear what he's looking for (perhaps the opposite of everydayness?) or how he plans to find it. His main fear is turning into "a Nobody from Nowhere".

Reading the first few pages, I enjoyed the writing style, but as the story went on, I quickly found myself less and less interested. I even grew to dislike the main character as he continued to view the world from a distance. There's a subtle racism throughout, which can be explained, if not excused by the face that it's story centered around a Southern white man in the '50s, and incorporated with that is a general sense of people not as people, but the ideas of people, as symbols and metaphors for existence. The narrator proposes selfishness as the best course of action and follows through.

One might think he is redeemed by his relationship with Kate, a depressed cousin by marriage prone to flights of fancy and despair, to whom he speaks to at the behest of his Aunt. He never really tries to help her, just follows her along on the rolling waves of her thought process. And though, their relationship "grows", I am not convinced that he cares for her, because his affections always seem to be based on his ideas.

It's one of those stories that I feel I probably should like, because it's well written and serious and supposed to be "meaningful" and stuff, but the truth is all I can muster is a meh in response. I could try to think about more, to see if I'm missing something, to try to determine what I feel about it in any real sense, but the problem is, I just don't care.

177pammab
nov 27, 2012, 9:12pm

Those books are always so disappointing.... Sorry to hear The Moviegoer wasn't so great. :(

178cammykitty
nov 27, 2012, 11:20pm

And that was somebody's top 100??? I'm sure other people saw something totally different than what you saw, but it sounds like the author should've perished from ennui before the last page had a chance to be written.

179lkernagh
nov 28, 2012, 1:51am

Happy to avoid The Moviegoer. Thanks for posting your review!

180andreablythe
nov 28, 2012, 12:26pm

>177 pammab:,
It's been a mixed bag with the Modern Library's selection. The Librarian selected list is full of serious, literary stuff and the public selected list is full of genre and "important" books people think they should read. Some I have loved and others have been like this. If the book wasn't so short, I wouldn't have bothered finishing it.

>178 cammykitty:,
People who read literary books seem to think that a book is good only if it has complicated or pretty writing and if it addresses "serious" themes that are "meaningful". But it can't be fun, because fun books are frivolous. :P
So ridiculous.

>179 lkernagh:,
You're welcome. :)

181RidgewayGirl
nov 28, 2012, 12:46pm

I read The Moviegoer with a book group over a decade ago, so while I remember next to nothing about the book, I do remember that we fell into two groups -- those that felt it was deeply meaningful and those that were bored. I can't even remember what group I fell into! Time for a reread.

182andreablythe
nov 28, 2012, 12:52pm

>181 RidgewayGirl:
I would be very interested to find out what you think.

It's probably one of those books where it resonates more if it resonates with your life somehow, so it would have a different impression based on when you read in in your life. Or something. :)

183christina_reads
Redigerat: nov 29, 2012, 12:16pm

I must say, I've read and enjoyed several of Walker Percy's books, but The Moviegoer is probably my least favorite. I really liked The Thanatos Syndrome, if you ever want to try him again.

184andreablythe
nov 29, 2012, 1:18pm

>183 christina_reads:,
That's good to know christina. I did like his writing style, so maybe another of his books would work better for me.

185andreablythe
dec 3, 2012, 12:32pm

80. The Walking Dead: The Calm Before, by Robert Kirkman (****)
Category: Bam! Pow! Wham! -- COMPLETED!!

81. The Walking Dead: Made to Suffer, by Robert Kirkman (****)
Category: Miscellany

It's been a while since I've continued reading any of the comics, so much of my understanding of the stories and characters had been supplanted by how they are portrayed in the TV show (which is AMAZING). Thus, it took me a little while to readjust to the comics.

The differences between the show and books are at once subtle and large. It's hard to explain if you haven't read or seen either. In any case, both are great for different reasons. In both, there is an interesting mixture of despair and hope, as the stories continue to focus on the humanity or lack thereof of the characters.

Volumes 7 and 8 are as strong as the rest, with a brief reprieve in The Calm Before, before the chaos and brutality and blood spilling in Made to Suffer. The series continues to be great and I'm definitely looking forward to read more.

186GingerbreadMan
dec 3, 2012, 5:50pm

Andrea! After starring your first, I've completely missed out on your second thread! (Getting lazy with the continue-funtion, I guess, that automatically moves stars and stuff) So happy you commented over at my place, prompting me to go "wait, where the heck is Andrea's...?" and finally finding you again. Star now securely in place :)

I join in the Valente praise. I adored Palimpsest, the only one of hers I've read, and have both Orphan's tale books lined up for next year. Deathless sounds wonderful too!

187andreablythe
dec 3, 2012, 5:51pm

82. Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater (****)
Category: I Don't Wanna Grow Up

From the back cover: "Grace and Sam share a kinship so close they could be lovers or siblings. But they also share a problem. When the temperature slips towards freezing, Sam reverts to his wolf identity and must retreat into the woods to protect his pack. He worries that eventually his human side will fade away and he will left howling alone at the lonely moon."

I had low expectations of Shiver, because of how often it had been compared to Twilight (which don't get me wrong, I enjoyed even though it's not a silly book). Certainly, they are similar with their focus on young love, in which a girl falls for a supernatural creature. However, the comparisons pretty much fall off there.

Grace's friendship with Sam goes back a long way. As a young girl, she meets him as a wolf, and for years after, they continue to watch each other -- she as girl, he as wolf, each longing for companionship, each wanting to shift and live as the other does. There is a mutual loneliness of both, which the reader becomes aware of because the author jumps back and forth between Grace and Sam's point of view.

Also, both Grace and Sam are independent individuals outside of each other. For all their affection for each other and their sense of rightness when together, they also have interests and relationships that are not centered around romance. Both have ambiguous relationships with their parents, but have friendship to fill in the gaps. Grace has Rachel and Olivia, and Sam has Beck and the pack.

I also really appreciated the twist on werewolves. Instead of stretching the supernatural to the ridiculous (sparkling vampires, anyone?), the author asserts that the change to wolf occurs because of the cold. The colder it is, the quicker the person begins to change. Furthermore, there comes a point when the wolf can no longer return to a human state. All of which presents logical enough reasoning for such a story and an interesting obstacle for the characters to overcome.

The writing style also worked well for me. It was clean and even occasionally presented metaphors or turns of phrase that amused me. All in all, a good read, and the sequel, Linger, has jumped up on my TBR list.

188andreablythe
dec 3, 2012, 5:56pm

Hi, Anders! I was wondering where you were at. ;)

I've heard great things about the Orphan tales books, too. There are just too many great Valente books to read!

189GingerbreadMan
dec 3, 2012, 6:06pm

...Now caught up! To paraphrase yourself:

...HI!

I really like how you read books, with a keen eye to stereotyping and normativity. I don't always feel the same about a certain book than you do star-tally-wise, but I think I tend to get annoyed, angry and put off by the same things you do. I liked the discussion about Lovecraft's racism and the unpleasant streaks in Auel's Ayla series, for instance.

190andreablythe
dec 3, 2012, 7:13pm

Thanks! :)

I've read for a long time without an understanding of the social aspects of reading, involving stereotyping and racism and many other isms. It's really only in the past year or two that I've even been aware of how prevalent these things are. At this point, to not acknowledge these issues feels like acceptance, and I don't like that.

191christina_reads
dec 4, 2012, 12:04pm

@ 187 -- Nice review of Shiver! I too had avoided these books because of the frequent comparisons to Twilight (which I did not like). But I've now read some other books by Stiefvater and really liked them (The Scorpio Races is one of my top reads of 2012). So perhaps I'll have to give this series a try!

192andreablythe
dec 4, 2012, 12:22pm

I ended up following Stiefvater's blog because she's apart of the live journal group, the Merry Sisters of Fate, a group of author's who publishes a short story every week on their blog (they've published a collection called The Curiosities). Between the short stories and her blog, I started to dig her style and thus got over the whole Twilight comparison thing. :)

193andreablythe
dec 4, 2012, 6:14pm

83. The Crack in Space, by Phillip K. Dick (****)
Category: Unicorns from Space! – Science Fiction

In an overpopulated world, millions of people have elected to become bibs (cryogenically frozen until the job market opens up), abortion centers are prospering, and prostitution has been made legal on orbiting satellites (to ease "frustrations", while preventing pregnancy). It's a huge problem faced by the presidential candidates, who must present solutions to this problem if they are to be elected.

Jim Briskin announces in a public speech a possible solution. A company has stumbled upon a portal to a parallel world, apparently uninhabited, to which people can emigrate. This announcement opens a whole can of worms and new problems, especially when they find out the alternate world was not as unpopulated as they all thought.

Mixed in with all the population stuff are constant commentaries about race relations, most notably because Briskin, a Col, could be the first black president of the United States. I couldn't help but read this and think about the fact that President Obama is currently in the white house. The race question gets confounded even further once the people on alt-earth are discovered.

It's a fairly short read, and it goes very quick. But a lot gets packed into it, and there's a lot of jumping from character to character. Dick doesn't seem to be as interested in achieving an emotional connection with the reader as an intellectual one. You're not meant to feel for the characters or get to know them, you're meant to get a taste for their point of view. Every one's got an opinion, and the author presents many of them, so many that it's not entirely clear where he stands on anything. This is a thinking book, certainly fun, but one that I would like to sit with a book group and chat about. A reader could come at it from many angles -- each would be correct.

194-Eva-
dec 4, 2012, 6:24pm

Great review of Shiver - I've admired the lovely cover, but I think it's a tad too close to being similar to Twilight for me to pick it up!

195AHS-Wolfy
dec 5, 2012, 5:41am

Good to see more love for PKD, especially for a book that I've not read yet.

196clfisha
dec 5, 2012, 6:22am

Great review on PKD... I still haven't decided which one of his to read next year.. Oh the choice!

197GingerbreadMan
dec 5, 2012, 12:30pm

Lovely review of The crack in space - PKD is never holding back on ideas!!

198andreablythe
dec 5, 2012, 12:46pm

>194 -Eva-:
Thanks! I do think Shiver is better than Twilight, though I haven't read Twilight in quite some time.

>195 AHS-Wolfy:, 196, 197
I love how wonderfully weird PKD's work is. His head certainly goes interesting places. I read The Man in the High Castle in college, as well as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, both of which I enjoyed, too.

I'm thinking of A Scanner Darkly or The Minority Report for my next PKD read.

199andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 11, 2012, 1:55am

84. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (*****)
Category: I Don't Wanna Grow Up

From the book cover: "Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind."

*
"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."

I can't fully express my admiration for John Green and his ability to write books that move me to bouts of interspersed laughter and tears. Though terribly sad (and how can a book about kids with cancer not be on some level), this book is sweet and humorous and wonderful.
“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

A deep relationship with death is natural for teens confronted with cancer, who measure their lives in probabilities of survival. It would be easy to define these kids by their cancer, and certainly it is a constant in their lives, but Green's skill as a writer, brings the characters to a place beyond that. They are also readers and philosophers and video gamers and jokers and lovers and so much more than the disease that consumes them. So much depth abounds in these brilliant teens who are not always brave or good or kind in the face of tragedy.
“I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it-or my observation of it-is temporary?”

I love this book for so many reasons, for the characters, for the beautiful writing, for the way it makes me want to look newly at the world and really see it, for the way it shows people are so amazing in such subtle ways, and more and more. I couldn't read anything else after finishing The Fault in Our Stars. I needed to just sit in silence for a while and let it all absorb.

200christina_reads
dec 10, 2012, 2:50pm

Yet another rave review for The Fault in Our Stars! I'm glad it's on my list for the 2013 challenge!

201mamzel
dec 10, 2012, 3:23pm

I finished the second half of this book in the wee hours, went through a whole box of tissues, never could get back to sleep, and went to work with swollen bleary eyes. John Green is a very popular author in my library.

202andreablythe
dec 10, 2012, 3:27pm

>200 christina_reads:
I hope you love it! :D

>201 mamzel:
Yeah, he's amazing. I've ruined several pairs of contacts reading his books. Can't wait to read more work by him.

203cammykitty
dec 10, 2012, 6:18pm

Great review of The Crack in Space. Sounds very much like a PKD novel. I'm planning on reading at least one of his novels in 2013.

204andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 11, 2012, 7:09pm

85. Watership Down (audio book), by Richard Adams (****)
Category: From the Modern Library's 100 Best Books

When Fiver has a vision of great destruction to the warren, he and Hazel and a small group of other rabbits head out for unknown pastures in search of a new home. Along the way they meet with many adventures, from eery and docile rabbits to a great warren ready for war.

One of the many great things about this book is that though this story was intended to just be a story about rabbits, written for his children, it doesn't talk down. It just tells a story with clean, vivid language. This apparently caused trouble with publication as the publishers thought the language was too adult for younger kids, but that older kids wouldn't want to read a story about rabbits. I'm glad it finally found a home, because I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures presented.

Another thing to love is how well Adams created a series of interesting characters who happen to be rabbits. They could just as easily been people, except that he also makes them very much rabbits with the traits and behaviors and survival instincts of rabbits. Combined with that is its own set of folklore with the rabbits telling stories of a rabbit king, trickster and brave hero, who they love to tell tales about in the dark of their warren.

In his introduction to the novel, Adams asserts that Watership Down was not intended as an allegory. However, there is enough depth of plot and character that it leaves plenty of room for interpretation and one could easily write an essay about it being about the negative aspects of tyranny. There's enough layers for this to be enjoyed by adults, and though sometimes bloody, it is full of adventure and humor and fun characters for kids to enjoy.

205andreablythe
dec 10, 2012, 10:44pm

Thanks, cammy. I think I'm going to try a Scanner Darkly in 2013. What PKD do you have in mind?

206-Eva-
dec 10, 2012, 10:57pm

->199 andreablythe:
I must say I'm intrigued by a book about cancer that you describe as "sweet and humorous and wonderful." It's on the wishlist, but I'm absolutely saving it for a specific mood.

->204 andreablythe:
I remember watching the animated film and wanting to read the book - need to get to it soon!

207andreablythe
dec 10, 2012, 11:23pm

That's the skill of John Green. He is so good.

And same with me re Watership Down. It's been years since I saw the movie though. I should watch it again.

208lkernagh
dec 11, 2012, 1:26am

Brilliant review of The Fault in our Stars Andrea!

209andreablythe
dec 11, 2012, 11:51am

Thanks!

210andreablythe
dec 11, 2012, 12:50pm

86. The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain (***)
Category: From the Modern Library's 100 Best Books

I don't know what the title has to do with anything, since, as far as I can tell, no postman every rings once, let alone twice. What the book does have is a drifter who takes up a job at a roadside dinner and after about two minutes of meeting the proprietor's wife, launches into a tawdry affair. It thus follows, of course, that drifter and femme fatale, must now murder the husband to be free to have each other.

While this was a quick and snappy read, there is virtually no characterization. The story consists of sex and (bungling) murder, which is fine and good, but I there wasn't much for me to care whether they succeeded or got caught or not. I'm not even particularly thrown by the sexism and racism, given the time period and the fact that most of it came out the main character's mouths, both of whom were not very likeable anyway.

Things did get more interesting as the story twisted this way and that way, not entirely unexpectedly. It was, I suppose, an entertaining enough story, however, I wasn't invested in it much one way or the other.

211-Eva-
Redigerat: dec 11, 2012, 2:51pm

I've seen the film, which I enjoyed, but I'll pass on the book! I think there are a few theories about the title (none of which I remember now), but I think it didn't have anything to do with the plot but rather something that was personal to the author.

ETA: Found it - link to Wikipedia regarding the title issue.

212psutto
dec 11, 2012, 3:55pm

Been a long time since I read Watership down or seen the film but the Art Garfunkel song is still memorable...

213cammykitty
dec 11, 2012, 5:32pm

I'm assuming the "Postman" refers to infidelity - the old joke about the kid looking more like the "postman" than the husband. Kind of a stretch for a title. From your review, I'm surprised it's in the ML top 100. Does the movie fill in the characterization issue with good acting? Sounds like this may actually be a case where the movie is better than the book.

For PKD, I have VALIS. I picked it because a book I read a couple years ago Noir had some connection to VALIS. A Scanner Darkly has been languishing on my Wishlist for quite some time.

214andreablythe
dec 11, 2012, 5:35pm

>211 -Eva-:
I'm curious about the film. The book is so sparse that it might work better as a movie.

And thanks for for the link! That was very illuminating.

>212 psutto:
I have not heard the Art Garfunkel song, or rather, I don't remember it. I'm going to have to go looking for it. Do you remember the title?

216andreablythe
dec 12, 2012, 11:56am

Oh, thank you! What a beautiful song. Seeing the video, too, makes me want to see the movie again.

217psutto
dec 12, 2012, 12:14pm

Your welcome :-)

218-Eva-
dec 12, 2012, 12:15pm

Well, thank's for the link, I guess, except I'm now sitting here weeping. :) Such a great film.

219andreablythe
dec 13, 2012, 12:28pm

87. Zombies Are Us: Essays on the Humanity of the Walking Dead, edited by Christopher M. Moreman and Cory James Rushton (****)
Category: Just the Facts, Ma'am
(Note: This book was an ARC given to me through LibraryThing's Early Review program.)

If you're looking for a fun, intellectual romp through the geektastic joys of zombie movies, books, comics, and games, you're probably looking in the wrong place. This book veers toward more serious and dense academic discourse, and the fun in most case gives way to metal cartwheeling, leaving the reading experience rather dry.

The first essay, "Your Zombie and You," for example spends a significant amount of time defining kinds of fear with the differences between so subtle I went cross-eyed trying to make sense of it and was nearly scared off of reading the rest of the book.

Most of the rest of the essays managed to be both interesting and readable, however. "Porn of the Dead" looks at a pornographic film of the same title, which actually subverts gendering to present a somewhat feministy perspective.

Other essays look at the use of zombie as metaphor in modern case law and examine the references to the living dead within the Bible. The intertanglement of religion and blasphemy within the Lucio Fulci zombie movies is also examined with an emphasis on how the visceral images within the movies go beyond schlock as they leave a lasting effect on the viewer.

"The Mutated Spirit" looks at Hollywood zombies a psychopomps, couriers to the land of the dead. The zombies in this case are couriers of individual souls, but of whole societies.

I also enjoyed both essays examining the connection between zombies and video game culture, as well as the final essay, "Plans are Pointless: Staying Alive Is as Good as It Gets," which looks at movies that reveal how sociology breaks along new lines when society is faced with the walking dead.

Zombies Are Us presents an opportunity to look at the walking dead from a multitude of new points of view, and reveals just how thoroughly these monsters have become a part of our modern culture. For the most part, it's worth the the work the reading requires.

220pammab
dec 13, 2012, 10:28pm

There is something about the squishier subjects that encourages people to write ridiculously. At least the hard sciences can blame it on lack of skill with language (and those who can communicate directly are especially valued) -- the soft disciplines tend to blow my mind with how they privilege obfuscation. Sounds like the zombies book was a direct hit on that score. I'm glad it had enough content to keep you engaged regardless!

221cammykitty
dec 14, 2012, 1:25am

Great review on your Zombie book. I think you a braver person than I am though.

222clfisha
dec 14, 2012, 6:29am

yep it is a good review, interesting book but Katie is right, I am not sure I am brave enough :)

223psutto
dec 14, 2012, 7:09am

another thumbs up for the review - I think I probably am brave enough so am making a note of that one

224andreablythe
dec 14, 2012, 11:44am

>220 pammab:
"obfuscation" - That's a great word and a very apt description. Some of the essays were less obfuscated than others, though.

>221 cammykitty: & 222
Lol. I don't know that bravery factored in, as I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started reading.

>223 psutto:
I hope you find some tidbits that massage your brain. Some of the essays are really quite interesting. :)

225andreablythe
dec 14, 2012, 1:02pm

88. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James (***)
Categories: Miscellany

The plot is simple: innocent virgin falls for mentally screwed up billionaire with a passion for BDSM. Many people have talked about this book and it's relation to Twilight, their opinions ranging from abject hatred to adoration. Had it not been for Christian-obsessed sisters and friends insisting that I read it, I probably wouldn't have bothered. That's said, here's my two cents. If this review sounds muddled, it's because my feelings are muddles.

For anyone who actually cares, I shall be dropping SPOILERS into this review.

What I like:
— Ana has friendships and interests outside of Christian Grey. Maybe they kind of vanish when she's around him, but they are there, at least in the peripheral.
— Though Ana submits to Christian and she tries out being his submissive, she has boundaries and stands by them.The love she supposedly has for him allows her to push past her comfort zone in many ways, but once her hard boundaries are crossed, she walks, even though it breaks her heart. Maybe she vacillates in the next book, but the fact that she says, this is what my needs are to make this work, and then sticks with it is a good thing.
— They talk about their relationship. A lot. And yes, it gets tedious, but communication in relationships is important, and Christian and Ana have a lot of conversations about how they feel, what their boundaries are, and what they're comfortable with. Neither of them goes in entirely blind (though that doesn't stop them from being blindsided). Subsequently, Christian does try his best to respond to her emotional needs and make her happy.
— The amble use of condoms and birth control, as well as the open discussion of STDs, all of which are often left out of romance novels, but are vital aspects of relationships in the modern world.

What I'm on the fence about:
— The sex, which is very entertaining, does get to be repetitive. Honestly, how many times can a couple have fabulous sex with raging orgasms and no awkwardness? For that matter, how many girls have experienced next to zero pain AND an orgasm their first time having sex? The whole thing gets to be way over the top.
— Ana's seemingly split personality. She refers to both her subconscious ( a judgmental figure) and her inner goddess (who revels in the sex). I guess it's a way to show her mixed feelings, but it's kind of an awkward way to do it.
— Christian. He is a control freak jerk, and Ana acknowledges this, except that sometimes he's not a jerk. He's screwed up in many ways, and much of this is supposed to come from abuse experienced as a child. In a way, the abuse explains his need for control, since he used to have so little of it. But abuse only explains, it doesn't excuse. Many of the same friends who wanted me to read this are of the opinion that they or I need a Christian in their lives. I can't understand why. His attractive exterior and great abilities in the bedroom would be amusing, but don't make up for his behavior, and being in that kind of screwy relationship would be an emotional kick to the gut that doesn't sound all too fun.
— Many times, Christian says, "I am going to...," and then tells her what he's going to do to her before he does it. On the one hand, this gives Ana space to prepare herself and potentially say, no, if she's uncomfortable. On the other hand, it gets really repetitive and began to induce me to roll my eyes after a while.
— Ana falls for him with the idea that she can change him, and continues this path as she learns more about the level of abuse he's been through. However, she demands too much of him too quickly. People who have been abused so thoroughly need space and to have their boundaries kept, too. At the point when she says she loves him, and he rejects the idea, she's only known him a couple of weeks. Considering the abuse, his inability to accept love, and the strides he made (breaking some of his own rules to adjust to her needs and beginning to want more), it seems a lot to ask that he then and there be willing to accept her love. That said, if a person is in a situation that could be emotionally or physically harmful, it is more than acceptable for them to walk away from that situation. So, yeah.

What I don't like:
— The writing is bad. Really, really bad. Repetition is a huge problem (for example, passages would say things like: "I'm going to make an omlette," I said. Then I went into the kitchen and started putting together an omlette.), which sometimes made me want to throw the book across the room. And every one had hyphenated looks on their faces (such as, "She looked at me with an I-don't-know-what's-gotten-into-you face). In the first few chapters, the writing was so bad, I almost stopped reading.
— Ana starts out as a virgin and has orgasmic sex the first time she does it with our sexually skilled hero. My hatred of this trope is not limited to this book. It's a big pet peeve of mine.
— Stalker tendencies or behavior are presented as not only okay with in the book, but flirtatious. Ana's reservations about this behavior are considered moot because Christian is just so hot and she wants him, so no big deal, right? Wrong.
— Christian's jealousy and need to control every single aspect of Ana's life. Back off, dude, seriously. Accept that she loves you and can make her own decisions.
— "I do it because I can," says Christian several times. The ability to something does not imply that it's acceptable to do something. "Could" doesn't mean "should."

To sum up:
I understand why people hate this book. I also understand why people love it. My feelings are entirely ambivalent.

Would I recommend it? No. You really don't need to read this, unless you're dying to. In which case, who am I to stop you.

Will I read more of the series?
*sigh* Yeah.
I'm just curious enough to want to know what happens.

226christina_reads
dec 14, 2012, 5:54pm

When I saw your reference to "Christian-obsessed sisters and friends" recommending the book, I thought that was really strange, because I would imagine that most devout Christians wouldn't want to read this book. Then I remembered the hero's name, and it all made sense. :)

227andreablythe
dec 14, 2012, 6:35pm

>226 christina_reads:
LOL!
Oh, my, yes. Haha. The name itself strikes me as odd, being kinda ironic itself. ;)

228Yells
dec 14, 2012, 6:56pm

Thank you for articulating exactly what I liked/hated about this book. Everyone around me seems to think that this is the ultimate romance book and they look at me weird when I disagree. It's fluff.. somewhat enjoyable fluff. If that is what you are after, cool... read on. But if you are like me and you like to explore the relationship dynamic with all its intricate little details, this is a horrible example of romantic love. I never bothered with the next two and can only hope that it gets better.

229RidgewayGirl
dec 14, 2012, 9:15pm

I was urged to read the book and dutifully bought a copy for my kindle (because, seriously people, I don't care how many places you can buy a copy, it's this kind of book that the kindle is ideal for) and gave up somewhere during chapter 3. I just need my female characters to have more agency. And my male characters to not be douchebags. I'll try again someday, I'm sure, but not today.

230mamzel
dec 16, 2012, 1:57pm

I really don't have any desire to read this book. "Because everyone else is" is not enough of a reason. Thanks for justifying things for me.

231andreablythe
dec 17, 2012, 12:27pm

>228 Yells:,
You're welcome. As I'll be eventually reading the next two, I'll be able to let you know my feelings on whether it gets better or not. I'm hoping it does, too.

>229 RidgewayGirl:
Agency is helpful, since it's an easy way to give the character more personality. If you didn't like it the first time around, it's likely you won't like it the second time around. So, try it again, if you feel you need to, but honestly, you probably don't. You're not really missing out.

>230 mamzel:
You're welcome. I wouldn't have bothered with this book either, if it hadn't been for my loved ones urging me on. Saying you're not interested is enough justification in my mind.

232andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 18, 2012, 2:31pm

89. Duel, by Richard Matheson (***)
Category: Hello, I Love You -- Category Completed!
Book that made me fall in love: I am Legend

I loved I am Legend, which was an amazing twist on the vampire genre and had an ending that wasn't happy, per se, but had me grinning from ear to ear. This collection of short stories, however, was not so great. At best I will say they were okay. Most of the stories were written in the late fifties through the sixties, which explains the old fashioned style of the stories, most particularly the reliance on withholding important information to deliver a "surprise," which is not so surprising because you're looking for it. The stories rely heavily on idea, rather than character, which is not so much my cup of tea.

The title story, "Duel," is interesting because it was made into Stephen Spielburg's first film of the same title. The story itself, about a saleman driving cross country and getting into a life threatening situation with a nameless truck driver, was just okay. I haven't seen the movie, but I am curious about and want to see it so I can make the comparison with the story.

"Return" was the first story in the collection I really enjoyed. It involves time travel, and a man who desperately wants to return to his own time and his pregnant wife. The twist ending works here, because of its emotional impact (as opposed to intellectual impact).

"Lover When You're Near Me" was a disturbing tale about a man managing work on an alien planet. An alien woman is assigned to help him as a kind of maid. She communicates via telepathy and becomes like a grasping leech, trying to dominate the man's mind and make him her lover. While this story is sufficiently disturbing to be entertaining, one of the most disturbing aspects of the story for me was not what happens to the poor man, so much as it's the way the female aliens have turned the men of their planet into mindless drones. The female aliens are seen as grasping, desperate, manipulative, man-devourers, sucking out a man's freewill to make them theirs. And while these are alien women, there is no doubt that this is a not so subtle commentary on women in general, which I find unsettling.

"SRL AD" was a funny story about answering personal ads from aliens. It made me smile.

"The Last Day" was great. It was a bitter sweet story of returning hom before the end of the world.

The last story in the book, "Steel," was kind of fun and reminded me a bit of the movie "Real Steel," mostly because they both have fighting robots with an owner desperately trying to make just a tiny bit of money from whatever fights he can. The similarities story and movie end there, however.

There were many other stories interspersed with the ones I mentioned, and none of them stood out in my mind for particular note. I am not put off Matheson, however. I think I just shy away from his short stories and stick to his longer works. I'm rather interested to read Hell House, or What Dreams May Come, or A Stir of Echoes, for example.

233andreablythe
dec 21, 2012, 2:04pm

90. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (audio book), by Robert M. Pirsig (****)
Category: From the Modern Library's 100 Best Books (Category Completed!)

This book is three, no, four things — a story of a man and son on a motorcycle trip across America, the man's exploration of his own past self, a discussion of motorcycle maintenance, and a philosophical discourse. It's a strange book, because I've seen it sold as fiction, but it's really presented as fictionalized memoir. And though the author asserts this fictionalization and the books non-relation to zen discourse at the beginning, he also asserts that everything presented in this book is true. After a while, I stopped caring about where truth and fiction began and ended and just enjoyed the story.

The motorcycle road trip is really secondary, more of a way for the author to string together pieces of the puzzle of his past while examining the philosophical discourse of classical versus romantic thinking and or Quality, which he explains to be the nature of reality, the place/time where subject and object meet. The discourse and theory is complex, so breaking it up with descriptions of the road trip also allow the reader a mental break and time to process all that's been said. and the descriptions of motorcycle maintenance provide good analogies for the philosophy he's trying to share.

Really, this book only works with all these pieces working together. It's this interaction of physical journey combined with inward journey that makes the novel/memoir something more, something that people cling to, something that provides "answers" for life and how it should be lived, if you want to read into it that way — and you have to read into it to see such "answers" because the author leaves things ambiguous. He doesn't pretend to be a messiah. He imparts views on the nature of the world and then leaves it to the reader to do with them what they will.

It was a fascinating read, one that makes me want to explore a hard copy version (because I listened to it on audio), so that I can absorb some of what he wrote in a new way. His philosophy has a solidity to it (unlike some spiritual discussion that tends to be more flighty like clouds aloft, drifting and insubstantial), because it's backed on a study of science and the scientific method, as well as a historical understanding of classic philosophers. It's definitely something to get you thinking and talking and looking at the world a little bit differently.

As a side note, the version of this book I was presented was an anniversary edition, released ten years after it's first publication. It included an afterward by the author that pretty much kicked me in the gut and left me breathless and crying. Do you need to read this afterward to enjoy the book? No, and frankly, the ending is much more positive without it. But it does add more layers to the ongoing story of the author's life, which in my opinion, is worth reading.

* * * * *
I have 10 books to go! Can I do it???

I'm currently halfway through Dune and The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories... that's two done by this weekend, so maybe. It's going to be a photo finish, if I pull this off.

234pammab
dec 21, 2012, 4:55pm

You can do it!!!

I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as a high schooler and I absolutely loved it. Bought a copy within a week so that I could always have it on my shelves, for all the reasons you lay out. (I went on to read the sequel Lila -- my mind was blown in that one as well, though not in nearly so wholesome of a way. If I'm recalling correctly, Pirsig headed into more "insane" and less "intriguing" territory in that one, and there was definitely at least one sex scene that seared itself into my memory....)

Anyway. I also recall loving Dune when I read it, and I look forward to seeing your thoughts on that one as well!

235lkernagh
dec 21, 2012, 6:27pm

I have 10 books to go! Can I do it???

Here to cheer you on, Andrea..... you can do it!!!!!

236andreablythe
dec 21, 2012, 6:37pm

>234 pammab:
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance deserves more in depth reading, for sure, and I'm very curious about the sequel. I don't know if you read the version with the "Afterword" in it, but based on what he mentions there, it makes sense that his work would get darker.

>235 lkernagh:
Thanks! :D

237-Eva-
dec 23, 2012, 5:53pm

Cheering you on as well!! I'd recommend some short YA or graphic novels :)

238andreablythe
dec 23, 2012, 8:11pm

I'm definitely sticking to shorter works, if I can, but also to works I want to read. :)

239andreablythe
dec 23, 2012, 8:44pm

91. Dune, by Frank Herbert (*****)
Category: Oh, How I Missed You

One day during my high school years, I went over to my friend's house to hang out and stay the night. My friend went to talk with her parents, so I opened up Dune to read a few pages while I was waiting. At which point I dissolved into world of deserts and sandworms and spice and Fremen and prophecies and intrigue. I barely looked up from my book, except to eat and sleep (which I suppose didn't make me a very good friend), but my buddy forgave me (which made her a great one).

I've kind of been obsessed with Dune ever since. Not so much with the sequels (though I have read Dune Messiah), but with the original story and its adaptation first into the David Lynch movie and later into the fantastic SciFi Channel mini-series, both of which I have watched many times.

Reading the book again now, fifteen years since the first time I've read it, I'm pleased to say it's held up wonderfully. It is still so damn good.

True, my understanding of gender politics has changed and it's a little bit odd that the Bene Gesserit, a group of powerful women, spend a significant amount of their time trying to breed into creation a man who can do things they cannot. It doesn't really bother me on a significant level, but I can't help but notice it from a new point of views, as with a handful of other such things.

That said, there are so many things that I love about this book, which is full of emotional subtleties that must necessarily get lost in the visual medium of film. I love that it is full of many kinds of strong women, who do not define themselves solely by men. I love the intricate universe Herbert has created and the layers of religion and politics that back the intrigues and lies and espionage of many of the characters. I love Paul, how he is swept along by a fate he both embraces and tries to fight, and fears the future that he hurtles toward and is always trying to stop the coming jihad with every step.

I also really love how Herbert handles Princess Irulan, a character who appears in the main thread of the story only once, in the last few pages. And yet, despite this small, brief entry, she is made significant through the quotes of her writings on the events after the fact. It's just such a clever way to bring a figure into the reader's consciousness and make her important before revealing her as the end to the conflict between the houses. I also love how these quotes expand and explore the world even further and give you a chorus-style prediction of the end of the story, the reader thus taking part in predicting the future (our own prescience) the characters themselves are not yet aware of.

The list of things I love goes on. It's really a fantastic book with lots of layers. I'm looking forward to also rereading Dune Messiah and then reading Children of Dune (the only two books that still have Paul as a main character). Though I don't know if I read more of the series than that, since it's these characters who appear in the first Dune that remain the ones I love.

240lkernagh
dec 23, 2012, 9:45pm

I am not a Dune fan, but my sister and my three brothers would all nod their heads in agreement with your review. Very nicely written!

Another book finished.... Yay!

241lkernagh
Redigerat: dec 24, 2012, 1:40am

Since I probably won't make it back here until after the 25th, I just wanted to stop by and wish you a happy holiday, Andrea!

242andreablythe
dec 24, 2012, 1:45am

D'ahhhhh! Happy Holidays to you, too! I hope you have a lovely time with your loved ones!!

243andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 24, 2012, 6:58pm

92. The Man Who Fell to Earth, by Walter Tevis (****)
Category: Unicorns from Space! – Science Fiction

An alien lands in Kentucky from Anthea with half a dozen gold rings in his pocket and a plan. His body is trial, his bones birdlike. He is fragile, but approaches a lawyer with dozens of patentable inventions that will very quickly make him very rich.

This book presents a science fiction in a simple straightforward way. The clean prose reveals more about the loneliness of ordinary life than the strangeness of this alien in humanities midst. What is strange seems so ordinary and what we accept as ordinary seems so strange. It's a lovely exploration of an alien among us, so real it almost becomes a metaphor for our own alienation in the world. Both beautiful and sad.

I haven't seen the movie starring David Bowie yet, but I'm interested. It's such a quiet story that I'm curious how it's handled on film.

244-Eva-
dec 27, 2012, 11:50pm

I didn't even know it was a book - I did see the movie ages ago, but couldn't tell you what I thought of it. Memory like a sieve...

245andreablythe
dec 28, 2012, 12:03am

Lol. Mine, too. I just found two old books I'd given to my sister (Strand of a Thousand Pearls and Love Marriage), and was sure I read them, but was equally sure I hadn't. So strange. Same with that movie Max Payne, which must have been so awful I blocked it from memory, because I know I've seen it, but can't for my life remember what happens.

I figure if I can't remember it, then it must have not been worth the mental space. I tend to remember the good ones (tho I've proved myself wrong with that theory too).

246-Eva-
dec 28, 2012, 12:07am

That's in truth why I even started "reviewing" the books I read - so that I would remember something about them. :)

247andreablythe
dec 28, 2012, 2:29am

It's a great reason. :)
LibraryThing in general has served my memory well.

248andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 28, 2012, 7:22pm

93. The Diamond of Darkhold: The Fourth Book of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau (****)
Category: I Don't Wanna Grow Up

I loved The City of Ember, which presented a unique spin on a post-apocalyptic world. That love got me through the next two books in the series, both of which didn't captivate me nearly to the degree of the first. So, it's taken me a while to come around to reading The Diamond of Darkhold, the fourth and final book of the series.

Life is a challenge in the city of Sparks, and though everyone is mostly getting a long, dangers abound, from natural disasters to everyday accidents. A chance discovery of a book from a roam inspires Doon and Lina to take a chance in returning to Ember in the hopes they can make the lives of the people in their village easier.

These are short book, geared for younger audiences, which make them easy reads. I enjoyed The Diamond of Darkhold quite a bit, still not as much as book one, but the return to Ember was much more to my taste. This was a fun adventure and a satisfying conclusion to the series.

249LauraBrook
dec 28, 2012, 7:38pm

De-lurking to say that you can totally finish the challenge in time! Or, if you can't, you'll be darned close to doing so! I just read City of Ember a couple of months ago, and have books 2 and 3 on my table right now. I just barely skimmed your review of TDOD, but saw the last line "satisfying conclusion to the series", and that makes me feel better. Did you see the movie, BTW? It was okay, some parts were like the book, and some not, but overall it was pretty good, I guess.

250andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 28, 2012, 7:56pm

94. The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories, by Tessa Gratton, Maggie Stiefvater, and Brenna Yovanoff (*****)
Category: I Don't Wanna Grow Up (Category finished!)

Tessa Gratton, Maggie Stiefvater, and Brenna Yovanoff comprise the Merry Sisters of Fate. As a group they have each been posting a short story a week to an online blog. Some of those stories have been selected to be included in this book. On the whole, there is not one story I dislike in the entire book — most of them were good and some were so fantastic they gave me chills. Here are a few of my favorites from each of the authors.

Tessa Gratton:
— "Puddles" is an eerie story that takes a normal everyday object and makes it terrifying.
— In "Ash-Tree Spell to Break Your Heart", Melea has built (with rose petal lips and a butterfly heart) to destroy a rival magician, but falls in love with him instead. Apparently there are three other stories on the Merry Sisters of Fate website that include Melea as a side character, so I'm going to have to go find and read them.
— "Thomas All" about a human kidnapped by deadly fairies is a story I would love to see turned into a novel.

Maggie Stievater:
— "The Last Day of Spring" reveals a species of creatures called papillions that are born, live, and die in a matter of only a few days.
— "Philosopher's Flight" is about an alchemists assistant that comes to an unsettling discovery as he sets to testing his master's new flying machine.
— "Heart-Shaped Box" presents a bleak post-apocalyptic story that resonates with love.

Brenna Yovanoff:
— "Girls Raised by Wolves" gave me chills. It has no magic, but presents two unique and complete characters and the cruelties of teenage girls in rather a short space.
— "The Bone Tender" reveals the double edged sword of magic via the interaction between one boy who has a habit of breaking bones and another boy who can heal them.
— "Blue as God" is an unsettling retelling of the Bluebeard myth (which I'm a sucker for) set at a Hollywood party.

One of the other fantastic things about this book is how it's been published in large format, leaving it with wide margins, where the authors have written hand scrawled notes, representing their thoughts on their own and each other's works. It's so much fun to read their comments and thoughts and the little back and forth banter between the authors. I loved this book, and plan to buy it to have on my shelf.

As soon as I finished this book, I went to the library to find books by Tessa and Brenna to read (I've already read Maggie's Shiver), since I loved their stories so much. I'm looking forward to reading Blood Magic and The Replacement as soon as I'm done with my current challenge.

251andreablythe
dec 28, 2012, 7:55pm

Yeah, Laura, I agree about the movie. There were parts I liked and parts I loathed (the giant animals and insects — what teh freak?!). Unfortunatly, the parts I loathed outweighed the parts I loved, so *sigh*. I'm kinda pretending the movie doesn't exist.

252andreablythe
dec 28, 2012, 8:12pm

95. Krik? Krak!, by Edwidge Danticat (****)
Category: Oh, How I Missed You Category Finished!)

I read Krik? Krak! in high school, and it formed my love for Danticat and lead me to read half a dozen of her books. Unfortunately, rereading these stories now, I don't love them quite as much as I did then. They are still great stories, though most of them are rather bleak. Several of the stories present aspects of hope in dire situations. I don't know exactly how to explain it, but I don't resonate as much with these stories as I once did. So, my rating has dropped from five stars to four.

* * * *

96. Nova, by Samuel R. Delany (***)
Category: Unicorns from Space! – Science Fiction Category Finished!)

Captain Lorq von Ray is an Ahab style character, obsessed with obtaining a massive amount of Illyrion, a rare element that is most needed for space travel. To this end, he assembles a crew of misfits and they all go up against a rival corporation headed by Prince and Ruby Red.

The most exciting element of this book for me was the flashback that revealed how Captain von Ray came to be who he is, but the rest was rather dull for me. A lot of it championed isn't-this-neat science and intellectual ramblings rather than character development or fun adventure. I did kind of like how it ended, which was an isn't-it-neat ending. But over all this wasn't a favorite for me.

* * * *

I only have four books and two categories left! *deep breath*

253RidgewayGirl
dec 28, 2012, 9:42pm

Oh, you can totally do that. Four books in three days and an evening? Not a problem.

254andreablythe
dec 28, 2012, 9:50pm

Yeah, it's doable. It would help of I didn't have social occasions to attend to, though. Lol.

255lkernagh
dec 28, 2012, 10:00pm

Here to cheer you on to the finish line, Andrea!

It would help of I didn't have social occasions to attend to, though. Lol

Humm, good point. It is probably rude to have your nose stuck in a book when people around you expect to be communicating with them. ;-)

256andreablythe
dec 28, 2012, 10:02pm

Lol. Yes. Though as my Dune review attests..., I've done that before.

257-Eva-
dec 30, 2012, 1:06pm

"It would help of I didn't have social occasions to attend to, though."
As soon as there's a holiday people tend to come up with get-togethers - don't they realize that it's extra time off to read?! It's probably a good thing that we bookheads are forced to go out and socialize, though. :)

258andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 30, 2012, 4:22pm

97. Coping with Color-Blindness, by Odeda Rosenthal and Robert H. Phillips (****)
Category: Just the Facts, Ma'am --Category Finished!

My Family (in varying states of confusion and mockery): "Why the hell are you reading a book about color-blindness?"
Me: "I'm writing a book about a main character who is color blind. It's research."
My Brother: "Well, that should be easy. You know, fairly black and white."
*rim shot*

I must admit that I skimmed through the portions of this book that didn't directly apply to my color-blind character. I was not as interested, for example, in how a person becomes color blind, because there are already reasons for my character to be so. Though, I was interested to learn that color-blindness is not solely passed through genetics, but can be an acquired trait (Rosenthal began to research the subject when her husband began to develop color confusion from taking pharmaceuticals).

There are many kinds of color vision confusion, the most common being red-green confusion and the most rare being full color blindness (seeing only shades of grey), and this color confusion can confound people in all sorts of ways that people with full color vision don't realize, because color coding has become such a standard in our lives.

I can't say this is the most fascinating book I've ever read. It discusses color vision confusion in a general way, giving an overview of how and why it occurs, a history of research on the subject, examples of how it effects people's lives (many are thought slow or stupid because of it), and some suggestions for how to cope with it. Because I do think that this book is useful as an introductory explanation for people with color blindness who need a way to explain it to others, I'm giving it four stars. If you're reading this book, you probably have color-blindness or know somebody with color-blindness (or are a writer in seek of information, like me), so I wouldn't recommend it for a casual reader.

This book did give me a good start on building up a vocabulary (R-G color blind people sometimes see red and green as shades of orange-brown or purple-brown, for example), and a way to try to process and visualize what it might be like. I will still have to do some more research, but this was a good start.

* * * *

So, down to ONE category and THREE books!
(Okay, one of the three is finished, I just need to write the review.)

259andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 30, 2012, 4:44pm

98. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection, by Michael Chabon (****1/2)
Category: From My Bookshelf

When an old once-famous detective meets a young boy and his grey African parrot, it arouses a latent curiousity, which is later amplified by a sudden murder. The old codger is one the case, that is when he isn't otherwise absorbed with his bees.

Though Chabon never once gives the detective's name, it's quickly clear who he is (I'm sure you can guess). I rather love the portrayal of the old man, who though his bones creak and his heart is weak is still electric in his total absorption and analysis of the world.

This main character is back up by a half dozen interesting characters. It was a lot of fun to read and Chabon's writing style is wonderful. The story if the boy and his parrot slowly unfolds chapter by chapter into a final satisfying conclusion.

* * *

TWO more!

260GingerbreadMan
dec 30, 2012, 8:09pm

Go Andrea, go! I've just folded, four books short, but you can totally do this :)

Oh, and catching up a few weeks of posts here. LOVED your Fifty shades of grey review. Makes me feel very confident I don't need to read the book. I'll re-watch Secretary instead :)

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance might be the book that has lingered the longest on my TBR. It's an unread paperback, probably so brittle by now it'd fall apart if I tried. But your review makes me feel I almost might!

261andreablythe
dec 30, 2012, 8:28pm

I have yet to see Secretary. I've heard from many that I should.

I hope you do read Zen an the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It's such a thinking novel and I would love to see your thoughts.

262cammykitty
dec 30, 2012, 10:41pm

I'd love to hear what you have to say about The Man Who Fell To Earth after you see the movie. That feeling of alienation and eventually dissolution is in the movie, but other than that... In the movie, he comes to Earth to find water to take back to his drought-stricken planet and dying family. Scientifically, the movie plot is pretty weak... how would a planet without enough gravity keep the water long enough to make his trip to be worthwhile? The point of the movie is really Bowie. I haven't read the book though.

263andreablythe
dec 30, 2012, 11:14pm

Very interesting. In the book, his world is dying, but his plan is to bring people back and have his people infiltrate society in the hopes of preventing war on Earth. So different. I am very curious to see the movie.

(As a side note, most movie that include Bowie are all about Bowie for me.)

264GingerbreadMan
dec 31, 2012, 2:14am

Labyrinth?

265lkernagh
dec 31, 2012, 3:41am

Stopping by to cheer you on, Andrea!

266GingerbreadMan
dec 31, 2012, 7:26am

>261 andreablythe: I think it's pretty safe to name Secretary the best BDSM romcom ever. The competition isn't biting, but still :) gooood stuff!

267andreablythe
dec 31, 2012, 9:51am

>264 GingerbreadMan:
I adore Labrynth and, yeah, it's pretty much about the Bowie, too. I meant did you see those pants? No package was ever better accentuated. ;)
The Bowie did have a lot of supporting awesome though.

>266 GingerbreadMan:
I need to see it. My mom adores that movie. Lol.

The only other BDSM movie that I've heard talked about is Nine 1/2 Weeks with Mickey Rourke, which I also haven't seen.

268andreablythe
Redigerat: dec 31, 2012, 12:32pm

99. Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri (****)
Category: From my Bookshelf

Bitter-sweet is a pretty good way to describe this collection of stories that explore the humanity, relationships, and loneliness of people. "A Temporary Matter" was a gorgeous tale of the secrets kept and shared between a married couple, while "A Real Durwan" is a short and sad tale about an old women who sweeps the stairs of a building.

"When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" is a girl's reflections on a family friend from Pakistan. It's interesting the juxtaposition of her learning about the American Revolution in class, while a real war was threatening in a faraway county, the relation of the concerns of the near compared to the concerns of the far and how they are the same for some.

"Interpreter of Maladies" is an amazing story, one I just now realized I've read before. I didn't properly absorb it then -- so many layers -- and I already feel the desire to read it again, to see what new things I might discover. Gorgeous.

"Sexy" is a melancholy tale of a young woman in an adulterous relationship. I like that though the characters may judge each other, Lahiri as the author doesn't seem to make any judgements herself.

In "Mrs. Sen's", a young boy named Elliot becomes witness to the isolation and loneliness of Mrs. Sen, who takes care of him after school. Very bitter sweet, in fact that's a way to describe most of the stories in this book.

I loved "This Blessed House," which has a newly married couple moving into a house and discovering a menagerie of Christian idols and paraphernalia in various nooks and corners. While the husband hates these things and wishes to throw them out (they are Hindu, after all, not Christian), the wife is fascinated by them and treats the situation as a treasure hunt. The course of these discoveries reveals just how much they are strangers, and the ending is more bitter than sweet.

"The Treatment of Bibi Haldar" and "The Third and Final Continent" were my least favorite stories in the collection, but they were still worthy tales keeping with the same bitter and sweet emotions. It is clear why Jhumpa Lahiri was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for this collection. Her writing is beautiful and she has a wonderful way of revealing the multi-layered humanity of people.

* * * *

Okay, that leaves ONE book left (~200 pages) to read by midnight tonight with a full day of work and New Year's Eve to celebrate. I'm thinking I might just be able to pull this off....

269LauraBrook
dec 31, 2012, 3:20pm

Ah! You're so close, you can totally do it! Hope you can sneak out of work early (hah!) and scurry home to read like a maniac! I really liked Interpreter of Maladies myself (I read it pre-LT), and Secretary is such a fun movie! I agree with Anders, it's the best BDSM romcom out there! ;)

270andreablythe
jan 1, 2013, 2:04am

Okay, I finished my last book an hour and three minutes before midnight. Review and year round ups to come tomorrow, after I start being sociable. In the meantime...


GIFSoup

271GingerbreadMan
jan 1, 2013, 7:34am

Congrats! Excellent timing!

272AHS-Wolfy
jan 1, 2013, 7:43am

Congrats on completing your challenge.

273lkernagh
jan 1, 2013, 1:04pm

Congratulations! Love the happy dance!

274andreablythe
jan 1, 2013, 1:49pm

Thanks, guys! (^_^)

* * *

100. The Whistling Toilets, by Randy Powell (***)
Category: From my Bookshelf -- Category finished!!

When underachiever Stan Claxton is recruited to coach his best friend, Ginny, a nationally ranked junior tennis player, through a local tournament, he is also supposed to find out why she has recently fallen into a slump. As he tries to lend his support, he begins to discover new feelings for her and considers sharing his secret of the whistling toilets.

It's a good enough story as far as it goes and I like the dialog for the most part. The Stan and his buddies when they are together talk like guys, and his conversations with Ginny are meandering, often talking around the point the way most conversations do.

The secret of the whistling toilets was left almost to the end, and the whole time I was reading I was wondering if the revelation would turn out to be a disappointment after the long build up. It wasn't any great thing. I think I might have been disappointed had I read this years ago when I first grabbed it, because I woukd have been expecting someting miraculous. Now, I think the discovery worked for what it was.

What really kind of killed it was the final scene in the book, which just sort of socks you in the chest and leaves you hanging. Honestly, one more paragraph, maybe even just an additional sentence would have made the ending stronger and brought things to a more satisfying conclusion. Either that or take out the last scene altogether, because though I like it, it ends things on a sour note. I mean, really, it just goes to show how important an ending is, because this book would have been so much better with just small changes.

275andreablythe
Redigerat: jan 1, 2013, 5:06pm

Here are my final stats for my 2012 reading.

Total Books Read – 100

Total Fiction – 72
SF/Fantasy/Horror* – 38
General/Misc – 24
Classics – 6
Mystery/Noir - 4
*SF/F/H grouped together because it’s too much of a headache to mentally debate which book falls into which category.

SubCategories**
Young Adult – 17
Short Stories Collections - 13
Audio Books - 10
Digital/Ounline - 1
**These numbers does not contribute to overall total as they also fall into the alternate categories.

Total Nonfiction – 8
Literary & Art Criticism/Creation – 4
Science & Health – 2
Memoir – 1
Miscellaneous – 1

Comics/Graphic Novels – 11

Poetry – 9

*

My Favorite 10 Books Read in 2012
(not in any particular order)

- Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman
- Deathless, by Catherynne M Valente
- The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker
- Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma
- The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
- The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- China Mountain Zhang, by Maureen F McHugh
- The Hobbit: 10th Anniversary Edition, by JRR Tolkien
- I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive, by Steve Earle
- The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories, by Tessa Gratton, Maggie Stiefvater, and Brenna Yovanoff

Best Science Fiction Book
I'll go with The Man Who Fell to Earth, by Walter Tevis, because I just loved the subtlety of the tale of an alien on earth. It was so much the plot but the overall feeling of isolation and alienation.

Best Fantasy Book
I'm really torn between Seraphina and Deathless. They were both fantastic books that I want to own and read again.

Best Graphic Novel
Easily Daytripper, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. Amazing art with a moving story and creative plot structure.

Best Poetry Book
Hard to decide. I loved both Love in a Time of Robot Apocalypse, by David Perez, and No Surrender: Poems, by Ai.

Best Nonfiction Book
Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach. How she makes the gross and uncomfortable underbelly of science bit respectable and hilarious I'll never know.

Worst Book
A toss up between Rick Spears and Rob G.'s graphic novel Dead West and Ayn Rand's Anthem. Neither had much character development or soul, as far as I could see.

*

And I'm off to my 2013 reading thread! Yay!

276-Eva-
jan 1, 2013, 7:07pm

Congratulations!!! Love the Carlton-dance!!!

277andreablythe
jan 1, 2013, 7:10pm

Nobody can do the happy dance like Carlton. ;)

278christina_reads
jan 1, 2013, 8:25pm

Congratulations, Andrea!

279clfisha
jan 2, 2013, 5:18am

Congrats & a belated Happy New Year!

280GingerbreadMan
jan 2, 2013, 5:36am

Congratulations! Thanks for the summary, and the re-nudge towards Seraphina especially. Dragons aren't usually my thing, but your review is fascinating.

281RidgewayGirl
jan 2, 2013, 8:16am

congratulations! And with such a satisfying round number.

Secretary is an excellent film! Go watch it now! My SIL spent the holidays telling me how wonderful the Fifty Shades of Gray series is and how I need to read past chapter three. And a nephew wondered repeatedly how it was that I had never read Angels and Demons or The Da Vinci Code. There are times I am glad I found LT and other times where I regard it more as necessary -- like water.

282andreablythe
jan 2, 2013, 11:40am

Thanks, guys! :D

>280 GingerbreadMan:
I hope you enjoy Seraphina. I'm not into dragons so much either, but that one really worked for me.

>281 RidgewayGirl:
My mom owns Secretary and would be stoked if I came over to watch it with her (is that weird? lol).

I haven't read The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons either, and I have no desire to. My dad thinks I should, of course, and if there were more people to peer pressure me about it, I probably would.

Someone once told me there's no sense in reading what you know you won't enjoy, when there are plenty of other books that will. I heartily agree with that statement.

283GingerbreadMan
Redigerat: jan 2, 2013, 12:17pm

>281 RidgewayGirl: I know! It's so great to be in a place where you get recommended books you actually want to read.

>282 andreablythe: I'd say your ma is a bit of a kinkster. Or un-kinky enough to be completely unmoved by James Spader spanking Maggie Gyllenhaal. (I wouldn't watch it with my mum. But then again, I don't think she'd love and push for the film either :))

284andreablythe
jan 2, 2013, 12:53pm

My mom is an awesome lady. She calls herself an allist, meaning she believes everything. She's a homeopathic, new-age hippy, and yet is just as happy listening to hard rock and techno and rap as she is listening to smooth jazz and sitar music. She likes just about any movie genre under the sun (except for horror movies, perhaps), from historical romances to superhero action movies to movies like Secretary. She's also a huge fan of James Spader. lol.

285LauraBrook
jan 2, 2013, 8:45pm

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Oh, Carlton... every time I hear that song, I do the dance, even if I'm driving. :)

I like that term, "allist"! Kind of describes me too, except for maybe the hippy part (unless you mean that literally). ;) Looking forward to following you in 2013 too!

286andreablythe
jan 2, 2013, 9:15pm

Thanks, Laura! :D

She definitely a but '60s style hippy, but she's literally and beautifully hippy, too. As am I. (^_^)

287RidgewayGirl
jan 3, 2013, 3:34pm

Well, who doesn't like James Spader?

288andreablythe
jan 3, 2013, 4:11pm

Well, who doesn't like James Spader?

No friends of mine.