Log in

memory palace

> recent entries
> calendar
> friends
> profile
> previous 20 entries

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
7:13 am - Stranger Bear's Woes; Talented Incredible Clementine; Reader's Bunjitsu English
The Stranger and The Stranger's Woes, by Max Frei
Odd, rambly, intensely detailed fantasy. The structure is one of my least favorites - a few novellas per book, and each novella broken into a jillion tiny sections. Both times, I was just kind of poking along for most of the book, enjoying myself but also restless, and then the last 100 pages or so got REALLY REALLY good. So as long as that keeps happening, I'll keep wanting to read the next one.
(164, 228)

Polar Bear's Underwear, by tupera tupera
Cute kids' picture book with a super awesome trick to it.

Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey, by Alex Milway
Can an early reader book be witty? it was grade school level wit, but definitely felt like wit rather than straightforwardly funny? Anyway, I enjoyed it.

Clementine and The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Charming and open-hearted kids' series that I originally picked up for the Frazee illustrations. They are lively and the story is equally lively, and quite wonderful as such things go. The next best thing to Ramona Quimby books.
(167, 229)

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny, by John Himmelman
Engaging albeit didactic stories wherein a bunny learns about martial arts skills. I appreciated that the main character was a girl, too.

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Blends, by Megan McArdle
Hm. This was solid but I think I was expecting to Learn From An Expert and instead figured out that I'm already well ahead of the expected audience for this book. So, like, I didn't learn very much about working with genre blends? Sadness. But I dd read about quite a few specific titles I was unfamiliar with, or only passingly familiar with, that really appeal to me. Woot!

That's Not English, by Erin Moore
This is a superfun book about differences between British and American English by someone who really knows her stuff. The only thing that irritated me was the extremely narrow focus - the author didn't seem to know much about Canadian English (even though she mentioned it a couple of times), and Aussie / NZ / Indian / Malay / etc English might as well have not existed, even when one of those dialects would've been so relevant to the specific word she was discussing that it felt like a big gap in the discussion. I suppose the book was what it said on the tin, British and American, so it feels uncharitable to complain... but it did bother me.

current mood: sore

(comment on this)

Monday, July 6th, 2015
3:41 pm - Beware SuperMutant Nikolski; Oh, Tacky!
Giants Beware!, by Jorge Aguirre et al
One of my favorite single-volume graphic novels EVER. Derring-do! Cuteness! Non-obnoxious life lessons! Complex but loveable characters! Also there is backstory! And probably anyone from ages 8 to 99 could enjoy it.
(157, O43)

Nikolski, by Nicolas Dickner
Another "how did I never read this" Quebecois novel (read in French, so I don't know if the translation to English is any good). I loved many parts of it. Occasionally it dragged or didn't make enough sense or felt too fractured, but for the most part it was human and warm and introspective and imaginative and altogether lovely. Also, occasionally, hilarious.

SuperMutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki
Really bizarre, surreal, sometimes vulgar, and ultimately deeply affecting comic strips.
(159, O44)

Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester
Adorably illustrated and frequently amusing story about the value of nonconformity. The sort of didacticism I dig.

Oh, No!, by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
The story for this one was just okay, but the pictures were SO pretty that I went out and found a bunch more picture books with the same illustrator to read.

current mood: still busy

(comment on this)

3:12 pm - Happy Laughing Margaret; Frog Paints Scraps; School Tentacles
My Happy Life and My Heart Is Laughing, by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson
I really appreciated how this author gave her very young (early elementary school aged) protagonist a fairly complicated emotional life, while keeping the story both light-hearted and also appropriate for kids that age to read. And the illustrations are brilliant, they carry about half the story.
(148, 161)

The Best of Margaret St. Clair, by Margaret St. Clair
A collection of her SF short stories, most from the 50s and 60s. Some of them were genius, and will stick with me - others not so much. I love discovering new-to-me sf writers from back in the day (ie before I was born).

The Scraps Book, by Lois Ehlert
A vibrant, charming memoir by a major illustrator of kids' books. If you like picture books, and haven't read this, you should.

Edward Hopper Paints His World, by Robert Burleigh
This picture book had luminescent Hopperesque pictures. The text was sensitive and appealing. If I knew a kid that loved Hopper, but was too young to get much out of standard adult biographies, I would give them this book. (I was once such a kid.)

Beware of the Frog, by William Bee
Funny, compelling, and in its own odd way, beautiful.

Rat Queens, vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth, by Kurtis J. Wiebe et al
I was so glad to have another book in this graphic novel series. Still offering up a masterfully executed mix of adventure, drama, and satire. <3.
(154, O41)

Old School Tie, by Paul Thomas
An odd crime novel whose main appeal for me was its Auckland setting ("ooh! I can PICTURE that street!"). Good enough that I'll try the next couple, but spiky enough that I can't precisely claim to have *liked* it.

current mood: busy

(comment on this)

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
11:31 pm - Get Short Pirate Save; Memory Bear Hiccups; Summer Boars
Princeless, vol. 1: Save Yourself, vol. 2: Get Over Yourself, The Pirate Princess, and Short Stories, vol. 1, by Jeremy Whitley et al
I am totally in love with this kids' comic book series! I love it almost as much as Rat Queens (though for only partially overlapping reasons) - it is funny, the characters are endearing, believable, and their stereotypical aspects are nicely complicated. Also the plot hums along.
(142; 151; 155, O42; 160)

The Memory of an Elephant, by Sophie Strady
A beautiful, thoughtful picture book of the sort that rewards close scrutiny. Not all that deep, but what is there, is lovely.

Bear Has a Story to Tell, by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
This was absolutely splendid and I don't remember anything about it except that I swooned over how great it was. Guess I can reread it soonish! :D

Skeleton Hiccups, by Margery Cuyler
This had fun illustrations but the story was so simple as to be almost non-existent.

Meet Wild Boars, by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A hoot! Wild boars are splendid exemplars of the wish-to-destroy that animates many of my favorite children's books, and Rosoff and Blackall manage to make them winsome as well as terrible.

Rules of Summer, by Shaun Tan
A surreal, moving, warm picture story that has a compelling plot. Might be my favorite of Tan's books that I've read - though I have plenty more of his books to read, still.

current mood: ready for a weekend at the end of my weekend

(comment on this)

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015
10:43 pm - Wild Penguin in the Meadow; Imaginary Grudge Pilot; Iridescence of Book
Wild, by Emily Hughes
Beautiful tumbling unkempt art in a story for quite little kids. I didn't like how it ended.

A Penguin Story, by Antoinette Portis
This picture books proceeds forward elegantly and with warm, clean lines. Also, I LOVED the ending. Also, the penguins. <3.

A Lion in the Meadow, by Margaret Mahy (reread)
I remembered that I loved this book when I was a kid but nothing else about it. I still like it very very very much.

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, by Peter Sís
This was so utterly splendid that I am afraid to read any more of Sís' children's books for fear of spoiling how completely delighted I am with him at the moment. I spent ages just looking at every single little element of every single beautiful drawing.

The Grudge Keeper, by Mara Rockliff
The writing and the art in this folktale-esque picture book were engaging and satisfying, but the story was awfully predictable.

The Imaginary Garden, by Andrew Larsen
This simple story about a girl and her grandfather made my heart glow.

A Book, by Mordicai Gerstein
This is a children's picture book about a little girl who knows she is a character in a book, but can't figure out what sort of book she's meant to be a character in. SO META, and reasonably charming.

The Iridescence of Birds, by Patricia MacLachlan
Matisse! Matisse Matisse Matisse. A kids' biography of one of my favorite artists, skillfully told and illustrated.

current mood: sleepy

(2 comments | comment on this)

10:24 pm - Welcome Bottom Click!; Boot Creatures; Shoplifter Mice
A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse, by Frank Viva
This is an early reader comic book mostly about Antarctica and also about a mouse. Sometimes that's all you need.

Click!, by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Beautiful art in the service of a charming but slight story.

Welcome to the Neighborwood, by Shawn Sheehy
Neatish pop-ups. There was something about this that annoyed me but I don't even remember what. (It's been more than a month.) It was fun to play with.

Creatures of a Day, by Irv Yalom
Essays about the experience of being a psychoanalyst. Also mortality. I am a huge fan of him and loved this, though it may not be the best place for someone to start? Not sure.

Shoplifter, by Michael Cho
Very very stylish with a very slight plot (so slight that I can't even remember what it was beyond a few isolated panels). But it was worth it for the pretty.

Boot & Shoe, by Marla Frazee
Intensely adorable art. Fun story about two dogs who love each other very much. Did I mention, I really loved the art? I actually have been seeking out more books illustrated by Frazee, just because I like her lines so much.

Fairest, vol. 4: Of Men and Mice, by Bill Willingham et al
This was exactly all the things I want from a volume of this series. Adventurous and spy-y and funny and full of allusions. And also female-focused, which I am glad they remembered.
(133, O40)

current mood: trying to be sleepy

(comment on this)

Monday, June 1st, 2015
11:14 pm - Snatchabook Bot Garden; Loud Romping Please
Boy + Bot, by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
A simple story about a little boy and a robot, elevated by its emotional warmth and visual brightness.

Curious Garden, by Peter Brown
A delicate, lovely story about Manhattan's splendid High Line Park. Will stick with me.

The Snatchabook, by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty
This was cute - I especially liked the illustrator's style - but it suffered by comparison with the other splendid kids' books I was reading before and after it.

Too Loud Lily, by Sofie Laguna, illustrated by Kerry Argent
SUCH a hoot. Funny and playful with a solid but not overly preachy message. The illustrations and the text enhance each other.

Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
This was fun, but not as fun as I hoped it would be.

Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
Warm and funny and playful. Like most comedy, not every bit hits - but the bits that hit were hilarious. And there's a lot of heart in the book, even as she explicitly chooses what to share and what not to. Much more reserved than the Mulgrew autobiography I read earlier this spring.

current mood: cheerful

(2 comments | comment on this)

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
11:06 pm - Tiny Lady Gets Ready; Little Cat Wolves
Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed (audiobook)
As I listened to this collection of advice columns, I was surprised to realize how many of them I'd read when they were published - I thought of Dear Sugar as a very occasional visit. And yet. I'd read so many of these before. I very much enjoyed hearing them in Strayed's own voice, too. Some of them were very hard to listen to. Some of them made me cry. And some of them made me feel warm and fuzzy and fortunate to be alive. And those three sets have hella Venn diagram overlap. Also when I was googling the link to the (defunct) Dear Sugar column, I found out Strayed and Steve Almond (a previous Sugar) are doing a podcast now. I am intrigued.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams
Cute Halloween story. Not notable among the slew of very splendid kids' books I've been reading, but it was fun. And I like that the little old lady was the hero of the tale.

Little Mouse Gets Ready, by Jeff Smith
The artwork in this is so very clean that I can picture 4 or 5 different spreads from the book as I wrote this. It didn't really feel like a Jeff Smith book (same guy that wrote Bone) until the ending. Which was great.

The Cat, by Jutta Richter
A short and odd story about a girl and a cat. Although it is mostly text, the images stayed with me more than the text did.

Wolves, by Emily Gravett
So very very much fun, this book! Exactly the kind of scary-andbut-amusing that I loved as a kid, with the attention to detail of Roald Dahl or Joan Aiken, only in a very simply-plotted picture book for kids. <3.

Open This Little Book, by Jesse Klausmeier
I was delighted by this book. As in I sat there and reread it 4 or 5 times in succession. If I were still a little kid I would've literally been clapping my hands with glee. I came close, even now. I made birdmojo read it, and he made a joke about changing it just to get a rise out of me, and even though I knew he was deliberately provoking me, I STILL got indignant. Because this is one of those books that is perfect exactly as it is. Oh, I should tell you something about it. It's a whole bunch of stories tucked inside each other, and each story is in its own progressively smaller book... though ti gets a bit more complex. And every story is both a splendid example, but also slightly mocking, a particular type of somewhat old-fashioned children's book that I read many of as a kid. So, you know, EEEEEEEEEEEEE.

current mood: fuzzy

(comment on this)

Saturday, May 16th, 2015
11:51 pm - Forever Silly Wombat; Enormous Snakes; Yay Zig-Zag!
Enormous Smallness, by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
The narration and the artwork combine to give a really stunning portrait of e.e. cumming's life - best suited for an 8- or 9-year-old kid, I think.

Silly Sally, by Audrey Wood
A fun, slight, exuberant book for littler kids. The art is the best part.

Forever Friends, by Carin Berger
The art is the best part of this littler kids' book, sweet and odd.

Wombat Walkabout, by Carol Diggory Shields, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
An absolutely splendid and engaging prey vs. predator story, with art that matches it. <3.

Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes, by Daniel L. Everett
This was kind of dry and linguistics-professor-y by times, but you know? Guy is a linguistics professor, so that is ok. The story parts were fascinating and the linguistics parts were pretty neat too.

Copper, by Kazuo Kibuishi
I started reading this months ago! It is very very good and inextricably wound up for me as "one of my friend N's favorite books", which just made it better.

Yay, You!, by Sandra Boynton
Charming paen to taking the next step, for grown ups. Is not as good as her kids' books, I don't think.

Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag, by Maira Kalman
Idiosyncratic and beautiful alphabet book, all illustrations based on objects from the Cooper Hewitt. Like almost any Maira Kalman books, there were a few pages I was tempted to put up on the walls.

current mood: sleepy

(2 comments | comment on this)

Saturday, April 25th, 2015
5:45 pm - Proof of Blood; Hairy Frog
Proof of Forever, by Lexa Hillyer (ARC)
I received a copy of this teen novel from the publisher, opened it eagerly, and... almost gave up on it when I realized it was written in the present tense. Oh, my friends, how I hate reading extended narratives in the present tense. Hate hate hate. But I kept going, mostly because I love time-travel premises in all their shapes and forms, and I'm really glad I did. The present tense wasn't the last thing that annoyed me about the book, but it's okay, because this book has THE STUFF - that fierce, unfakeable spark of life that makes a book worth reading, no matter what. The stuff will propel me past any number of eye rolls. I predict I will still occasionally think of this book, with a smile, years from now. And when I was a teenager I would've loved it.
(103, O39, A4)

Blood Rites, by Jim Butcher (audiobook, reread)
I'm still very much enjoying listening to these as a reread through them, and I especially liked this one because it had so much secondary character development that becomes even more important later on in the series. Plus, best of all, Mouse as a puppy!! SUCH A GOOD DOG.

By Mouse and Frog, by Deborah Freedman
This is a sweet, psychologically rich storybook with really cute illustrations.

Very Hairy Bear, by Alice Schertle, illus. by Matt Phelan
And this is a reasonably charming storybook with amazing, lovely, beautiful illustrations. Also it's impressively scientifically accurate for something written at such a low reading level.

current mood: vague

(comment on this)

Friday, April 24th, 2015
12:44 am - Argonauts Telling More
Thomas More, by Richard Marius
This is a very rich, very slow book that focuses mostly (but far from exclusively) on More's intellectual life. I spread reading it out over the course of a year or so because it was more interesting that way. It fully satisfied my urge to know more about Thomas More, and is neither a hagiography nor an indictment.
(100, O37)

The Telling Room, by Michael Paterniti
This story of a cheese and a cheesemaker and a village in Spain took me forever to read. But it was a lot of fun, and sometimes incredibly compelling. On the other hand, it was a hot mess. The hotmessness was part of the compellingness though? Hard to explain. Also I felt like while I *liked* the author's version of this story, there are at least half-a-dozen people IN the story whose version I would've *loved* instead... And yet, there were moments where I so delighted in this book that if the author had been in front of me, I might've hugged him.

The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson (complimentary copy)
Sometimes when I am all excited about a book because I love the look of it and I love the description of it and I love the press that published it and I squealed when I opened up the envelope the publisher sent it to me in and the last time I read a book by this author I read it all in one day and then bought copies for several friends... I worry that the book itself cannot possibly live up to the level of my hopes for the book.

In this case I needn't have worried.

It's a deeply odd book, intellectual and earthy, crisp and messy, abstract and personal, and lots of other binary pairs and in-betweens. It sometimes made me uncomfortable, and it's not as accessible as Bluets (the book I bought lots of copies of). It's not for everyone. But it was oh so very much for me. What it reminds me of is how when I was 18 and 19 and 20, I would often spend ALL DAY reading nearly-randomly in the stacks of 3 different McGill libraries, and then I would go find one of my friends who, while they'd not usually spent all day reading, were mostly better-educated than I was, and we would bounce ideas and personal stories off of each other until we got all muddied together and tired, at which point we would do something else - fall asleep, cook dinner, get in a laundry fight, cuddle on the couch while looking at Mapplethorpe photos... the options were multiple, and splendid. Anyway, this book makes me feel like I felt on those days, and that is a most welcome thing. It's also one of only a few books I've read that talk about womanhood and motherhood in ways that make me feel more affinity for my mostly-gender, rather than less.

My only regret is that, even though I tried REALLY hard to wait to read it until I could read it all in one day, I instead gave in to temptation and read it in bits and spurts when I didn't really have much time to read. I could occasionally tell that I wasn't as gloriously immersed in the interconnections and callbacks as I would've been if I hadn't had to interrupt myself. Next time I read it, it will be on a day when I don't have to put it down.
(102, O38, A3)

current mood: sleepy

(4 comments | comment on this)

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
11:36 pm - Mr. Wet Daylight; Incredible Dancing Drew
Daylight, by Elizabeth Knox
Probably the strangest, knottiest vampire novel I've ever read. Full of weird not-usually-in-vampire-novels things like beatification procedures and technical cave diving jargon. I very much liked it, because I find weird inclusions make things more fun rather than less. Not as utterly brilliant as Knox's later novels, but deeply intriguing, such that I will eventually work my way through as much of her catalog as I can.

Mr. Bliss, by J. R. R. Tolkien
Odd and charming and unpredictable-in-a-predictable-way in the way that kid's books sometimes delightfully are. A minor Tolkien, kind of reminded me of Leaf by Niggle except that was quite adult and this is definitely wild and bedtime-storyish.
(95, O36)

The Big Wet Balloon, by Liniers
Sweet kid's comic book that has a lovely depiction of the relationship between two small sisters. Also there is a panel about what Saturdays are for that I would kind of like to blow up and frame because it is just that awesome.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats, by Patricia Polacco
The rhythms of the (very many) words, and the illustrations, were lively and colorful and welcoming. The story was quite predictable, but not obnoxiously so.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers
OMG OMG OMG. I loved this book so much. The art is weird and interesting and the story is the best. I read it twice and then I bought two copies so that after I give one to a kid who is about to have a birthday, I still have one around in case other kids seem to need a copy. 6 year old me would have EATEN THIS BOOK. <3 <3 <3 <3.

Andrew Drew and Drew, by Barney Saltzberg
Kinda like Harold and the Purple Crayon only not as deep. I love the way the book is constructed though; the flaps work integrally to the story.

current mood: sleepy

(comment on this)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
10:49 pm - Future Darling Wereduck; Teeth Smurfs
The Future Falls, by Tanya Huff
I enjoyed the relationships in this book very much - the banter, the history, the care shown, the way everybody knows everybody and can predict (not perfectly!) each other's reactions - even though it was the least comfortable in the series for me, because it spent more time than usual pointing out the very-well-worked-out, story-integral, first-cousins-hook-up weird familial sex that happens.* In this case, it helps that, aside from the weird family stuff, all the OTHER sex stuff in this book is *refreshingly* non-conformist in ways that make me happy. And it's only first cousins, which, let's face it, I grew up in PEI, it was not unheard of for first cousins to be married there. And, it is not that big a part of the book really, said book does actually have a world-in-peril plot and a mostly unrelated main romantic storyline. Anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leaving the part I don't like to think about aside, I really enjoyed this book. The main character's struggles to find the right balance between solitude and connection, and the way music winds through her thoughts, and through the story as a whole, are especially grand. And Tanya Huff remains one of my "yes, because SHE wrote it I will read it and enjoy it, no matter how much I might not read someone else's similar book" authors.
(89, O32)

Wereduck, by Dave Atkinson
OMG this was cute and charming and uncomplicated-but-not-oversimplified and had a good message without being preachy and it was EXACTLY the middle-grade novel I needed to give my brain some fresh air after grappling with the issues just mentioned above in the previous book I read. So many happy duck butt-waggles for this one!
(90, O33)

The Smurfs Anthology, vol. 2, by Peyo
I had forgotten just how much utterly awful, sexist, annoying bullcrap is in Smurfette's origin story. The rest of the stories in this volume were really fun though.
(91, O34)

Born With Teeth, by Kate Mulgrew (ARC)
Very much a Celebrity Memoir of the old-fashioned school, except that (unlike many of those) it is funny and whip-smart and humane. Mulgrew tells some gut-wrenching stories (and some delightful ones), but always in the same easy, friendly, charming tone. As a fellow member of the Irish diaspora, it's a tone I know, and I found it particularly soothing today, because I am sick. That tone didn't keep her from some real depth and grit. Overall, a delightful, incredibly easy to read memoir that I'm so glad to have had in my hands today. (There was a paragraph, early on, that gave me a bad (albeit mercifully short) flashback, mostly because it came more or less out of nowhere. There's also a very difficult chapter about one of her own experiences that could easily trigger someone, though it didn't me. I thought the book was more than worth the discomfort, but I still feel I should mention these things. They don't stop me from reading but I always appreciate knowing them.)
(92, O35, A2)

20 h 17, rue Darling, by Bernard Emond
The sort of novel that, were the plot described to me in advance, I would give it a pass. Luckily, I read it without knowing anything about the plot because I was told that a) it was really hard to put down, b) it was set in Montreal (<3 <3 <3), c) it was really short.** Anyway, it's all three of those excellent things, and so wonderfully told that the plot is not very important to its appeal. A retired alcoholic ex-journalist doesn't get blown up and sets out to figure out why? See, that doesn't sound like my kind of book. But it was awesome.

*(I don't have issues with the particular characters being connected in this way - they all make sense as connections - I just have to LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU about them being first cousins every time it comes up, which it does tend to because it's an important part of the world-building.) That said, I think it is very impressive that Huff has managed to sustain this weird context through all three books without making me give up or be unhappy with the series - usually I just skip a fun book if incest is in any way part of it, because it stops being fun for me to read. It has to reallllllllly make cultural sense, in a really-good-otherwise book, for me to run with it, and even then it still bothers me. (sadly, this criterion keeps me from reading more books than you might think. (also, cultural sense includes hapsburgs.))

** (re: short - I miss reading in French and part of the reason I don't is because, although my comprehension is more or less the same in either French or English, I read a LOT slower in French - less practice as a kid, when I read maybe 3 French books for every 10 English, if that. So long books take me soooooooooo much longer in French that I get discouraged, not being used to this normal human experience where it takes more than a day or two to finish off a novel. Hence my enthusiasm for Francophone novellas.)

current mood: burbly, apparently

(3 comments | comment on this)

Saturday, April 11th, 2015
8:00 pm - Poseidon's Time Bucket
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, by Carol McCloud
Ugh. I recently read a couple of kid's self-help books that really spoke to my inner kidlet, and I was hoping this one would be the same. NO. Every bit of me thought it was dumb, obvious, and annoying. Also way too narrow an implied view of what kids' experiences / families are like. Sigh.

The Time It Never Rained, by Elmer Kelton
A very powerful and moving novel about 1950s Western Texas, during the drought, and one man's experiences trying to hold his ranch together. There were parts that bothered me - the author was very realistic in his depictions of racial tensions, and the pov character held beliefs that made me uncomfortable (even though they changed over the course of the novel, and it was clear the narrator didn't agree with them). But I think that was a useful being-bothered, and the characters really stuck with me as people. Also, as libertarian arguments go, it is WAY more well-written (and also more balanced) than Ayn Rand. So there's that. I'll definitely be reading some more Kelton.

Poseidon's Steed, by Helen Scales
A whole book about seahorses!! So cool. History, myth, biology, present-day human interest in them, etc etc etc. The author is really geeked-out on the topic, and very emphatic about conservation issues, and also quite conversational and easy to understand. I wish there had been lots more shiny pictures (it's quite a small book, with only a few pages of black-and-white plates), but I still enjoyed the heck out of this one.

current mood: sick. hungry. etc.

(comment on this)

7:47 pm - Shadow Magazine; Fall of Rutabaga; Shambling Ghost Bernadette
Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman
I loved everything about this sequel to Seraphina - but you really should start with Seraphina, rather than this one. That said, I loved how the already-rich world Hartman had shown us became richer and more interesting, and a lot of the world-building in this one resulted in "OH THAT *IS* WHY THAT WORKS THAT WAY" from me. Plus the characters also evolve, in a similar fashion. Really enjoyable. I'd read a Rachel Hartman novel every week, in some alternate universe where that could be possible.

The Last Magazine, by Michael Hastings
Oogh, this was a complicated messy book. There is a lot of hilarious, uncomfortable, charming, fascinating stuff about the news magazine world as it existed 10 years ago, which delighted me - and a lot of uncomfortable, fascinating, sometimes hilarious stuff about sex and porn and being both highly sexual and highly dissociated, which felt awkward and like it didn't belong in THIS novel, even though the thematic parallels were fairly clear, and which I didn't particularly want to read, but didn't want to just skim over either. The book definitely suffered from having been pulled off a laptop after the author died. Not sure if I'll go on to read his other non-posthumous works.

The Fall of Arthur, by J. R. R. Tolkien, edited with commentaries by Christopher Tolkien
The poem itself was lovely - I do so appreciate any chance to declaim Tolkien's version of alliterative verse out loud, and that it was new to me, AND stoked my Arthur enthusiasms, were bonuses. I found that I'm a lot more willing, now, to slog through Christopher Tolkien's explications and commentaries than I was as a kid, which makes me wonder whether I'm ready to go back and dig through all the volumes of Lost Tales, etc, that I didn't much care for back then.

Rutabaga the Adventure Chef, volume 1, by Eric Colossal
This comic book about a goofy but self-confident kid who is a cooking wizard, and his combat-ready questing friends, grew on me a lot. At first it was just ok, but by the end I was grinning ear to ear! Very adorable, reminded me of the good shows on the Cartoon Network.
(81, O31)

The Shambling Guide to New York City and Ghost Train to New Orleans, by Mur Lafferty
These urban fantasy novels about a travel writer who starts working for a supernatural publishing company are occasionally awkward, but mostly they are awesome. Sensible but wonderfully over-adventurous protagonist, lots of geekery, fun plots, interesting characters that are jussst archetypal enough without becoming cliches.
(82, 88)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
Oh my goodness, I adore this book! It's a satire of upper-middle-class PNW families, in a way - but that isn't very important, other than because it added "Yay, Seattle setting!" to my experience of the book. What is important is the writing, which sparkles and dances and zips around like a firefly. And the heart the book possesses, without which it wouldn't glow nearly so brightly. I had to force myself to put it down, every time, and I was late coming back from lunch twice. Love love love.

current mood: still sick. also hungry.

(3 comments | comment on this)

7:26 pm - Beginning Underground; Empress of the Sun; Waiting Rules
The Underground Girls of Kabul, by Jenny Nordberg
This is a book about the bacha poch in Afghanistan - girls who through familial decisions and/or their own inclinations pass as boys for some portion of their childhoods. REALLY interesting. I think the author would've been better served by not getting into the theoretical aspects of gender, since her treatment of it wasn't really in-depth enough for it to add to the book, but that was a minor minor minor quibble. The author brings these children, and their lives, into sharp relief, with warmth, and humor. You get a real sense that she is doing her best to get out of the way and let them share their lives. <3.

To Dance the Beginning of the World, by Steven Hayward
I don't often enjoy short stories, but when I do enjoy them, more often than not I inhale them. As I did with these.

Empress of the World, and The Rules for Hearts by Sara Ryan
I needed these books when I was about 14. There are not a lot of lesbian and/or bisexual YA protagonists, even today, and there were many fewer back then. Sadly, these weren't pubilshed until I was in my twenties. But I still very much enjoyed them now, even though I am almost 38. Not as good as Garret Freymann-Weyr's novels about teenagers figuring out who they are (few books are!), but in the same vein.
(75, 83)

Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell Press
So I wanted to read this book because I have a fondness for anthropomorphic fiction when done well, and because I was in the mood for something relatively cute or cosy. Turns out this is MILITARY anthropomorphic fiction, whoops! Not cosy at all. But quite solid.

Wisdom in the Waiting, by Phyllis Tickle
I grew up Catholic (with frequent visits to the Anglican side of the ballpark), and reading my aunties' Guideposts magazines when we visited a few times a week, so sometimes I really want to steep myself in religious writing as a comfort mechanism. It's very important that the authors I select for this exercise write intelligently and from a place of personal insight, without getting too analytical or bossy. Tickle fit those requirements to a tee.

current mood: very very sick. bah.

(2 comments | comment on this)

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
11:27 pm - Summer Quoted; Bleeding Health; Accidental Tent
The Blythes Are Quoted, by L. M. Montgomery
The Road to Yesterday always felt... lacking to me, and now I know why. This is (as far as a dedicated editor can tell) how that book was meant to go, with extra stories, tons of poetry, and not-very-important-and-yet-truly-important tiny asides by all the Ingleside folks. I loved this so much. I really should go back and read all the LMM books - as a kid I reread them even more than I did Tolkien.
(67, O30)

The Everything Health Guide to Fibromyalgia, by Winnie Yu
This was not as full of useful information as the other book I read (in fact some of this information is outdated or just plain wrong - it was published in 2006). However, it has lots and lots of useful ADVICE - so much of it that I now have a project to do involving organizing all the advice I'm successfully trying, having trouble enacting but seems to help, tried and rejected, really want to try, or am vaguely intrigued by, into a giant annotated document. Inspired by all the advice in this book. Thumbs up.

The Accidental Highwayman, by Ben Tripp
This took a long time to grab me, but once I got to what felt like the heart of the work (at least 100 pages in or more), it was a delight. Wait for the circus bits to decide if you like it, she said cryptically.

The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
In day to day life, I mostly find the "feminine mysteries" vexing, even self-alienating sometimes. However, once in a while I like to read a book that reminds me of the majesty of life and death and desire and the passage of time for long-ago women. I'm also a sucker for biblical retellings. So I ate this up.

This One Summer, by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
So so so much love for this book. Captures the splendor and awkwardness of summer friends on the edge of puberty nigh perfectly (to the point of stirring up my own memories). Plus the art is incredible. <3 <3 <3 <3 (x 500).

Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart, by Christopher Fowler
This one (12th in the series) was definitely better (both tidier and more compelling) than the previous few, which had been on a decline. Still not as brilliant as the first half-dozen. I particularly enjoyed the richness of the one-off secondary characters, and the plague of kittens.

current mood: sad that friendfeed is almost gone

(2 comments | comment on this)

Friday, March 13th, 2015
12:15 pm - Devil's Sense; Unspoken Goddess; Floating Sphinx
Devil's Kiss, and Dark Goddess, by Sarwat Chadda
The first of these was really good, the second moderately good ... teen paranormals with a half-Pakistani, half-British Templar protagonist and lots of Arthurian allusions. Lots of violence too, woot woot.
(61, 66)

Making Sense of Fibromyalgia: Second Edition, by Daniel J. Wallace and Janice Brock Wallace
This was full of useful information about fibromyalgia. Useful advice, not so much (well, there was advice to be had - but mostly basic and sometimes contradictory). But the information about what is and isn't known about how the syndrome works was both substantive and plentiful.
(62, O26)

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, by Peter A. Levine
Powerful and intricate work of mostly theory. Intense - it took me about 6 months of being in therapy before I could read it without triggering to my own trauma at certain points - but very worthwhile.
(63, O27)

Floating on a Malayan Breeze, by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh
Despite the carefree title, this is actually a serious work of historical/ political / sociological / economical analysis of Singapore and Malaysia, interspersed with travelogue portions that make the whole thing more fun. Very interesting, best read in small chunks.

The Sphinx at Dawn: Two Stories, by Madeleine L'Engle
I found these by accident when I was tidying up! They are remnants of my spouse's evangelical Christian childhood... usually those do not result in my squealing out loud when discovered, but hey, Madeleine L'Engle is Madeleine L'Engle. These two were fables about Jesus' childhood, a genre of which I am not particular fond, but they still had L'Engle's particular spark and wit.
(65, O28)

current mood: hoping i'm not getting sick

(comment on this)

Saturday, March 7th, 2015
1:27 am - Last Gaudy Guts; Death Phantoms
The Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan
A satisfying conclusion that had enough looseness to leave me curious about the spinoff series. Not quite as good as the penultimate book, but endings are hard.

I Don't Hate Your Guts, by Noah Van Sciver
Quirky short comic about being depressed, working at low-wage jobs, and... unexpectedly falling in love. I dug it.
(57, O24)

Death Masks, by Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters (reread, audiobook)
This is the first one of these that I liked the content of better, for rereading it. (I often like the reread better just because Marsters is so lovely to listen to, but that's different.) Many spoileriffic things happen in this volume that are MUCH more interesting now that I know the even MORE spoileriffic things that will happen later in the series, and can see the groundwork being laid.

Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers (reread)
I never run out of new things to be most interested in and thoughtful about, while rereading this, and I never *quite* manage to stay in interested-and-thoughtful mode the whole time, instead of getting totally swept up by the story at unpredictable intervals. Which is exactly how it should be.

Phantoms on the Bookshelves, by Jacques Bonnet
A light collection of bibliophilic essays that is just the right admixture of dryly academic and warmly personal. I'll be hanging on to this one, because I'm pretty sure my 50-year-old self will enjoy it every bit as much as I did.
(60, O25)

current mood: less achy? maybe?

(comment on this)

Sunday, March 1st, 2015
11:29 am - Grave Dingle Murder; Geography of Crumbfest; Psychotherapy of Belong
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie, read by Dan Stevens (audiobook, reread)
Not sure whether being able to listen to Dan Stevens (Matthew of Downton Abbey) read to me was an excuse for rereading this book, or vice versa. Either way, it was a delightful experience, and good company for some heavy duty tidying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

current mood: determined

(comment on this)

> previous 20 entries
> top of page