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Thursday, September 11th, 2014
12:55 am - Blind Villains; Ultimate Variations
Villains, Inc., by Marion G. Harmon
I am so glad my friend introduced me to this series. I've been slowly having the public library order 'em and every time I do, they end up with holds on them from other patrons. Just flat out FUN if you've spent much time thinking about how being a superhero would work, really, and so refreshing to have a main character who totally suits this style of adventure story AND who coulda been a sorority girl, instead of the usual male tropes I grew up expecting.

The Blind Man's Garden, by Nadeem Aslam
This was a stunningly beautiful book, so much so that I put up with a goodly number of things that I would have grumped at in lesser hands. I particularly liked how it walks the boundary line between realism and magical realism, without ever stepping fully into one or the other. And the emotions between the characters still haunt me even though it's been weeks since I read it.

The Lucy Variations, by Sara Zarr
I was secretly and foolishly hoping this book would be as amazing as Bruce Brooks' Midnight Encores. Which was a tall order, and didn't happen. But once I got over myself, I was happy with the thisness of this book. Thoughtful, touchy, moving.

Invincible Ultimate Collection, vol. 4, by Robert Kirkman et al
"Self," I asked, "why did we stop reading these? ORDER MORE IMMEDIATELY." Then I read this one and I said, "ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh that's why." But it's a personal thing rather than an issue with the books, and it turned out that sticking with this volume made the personal thing easier for a little while. So that worked out okay. Especially since this particular volume is my favorite so far.

current mood: grumpy

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Sunday, August 31st, 2014
7:11 pm - Existential Light Sleep; Married Muppets Memory; Year of Beach Garlands
Sleep Like a Tiger, by Mary Logue
This is a charming go-to-sleep tale, distinguished from its peers both by the absolutely beautiful illustrations and by the sense that the storyteller is thinking about the kid more than the parents. I'll be giving it to a kid I know.

Existential Time-Limited Therapy, by Freddie and Alison Strasser
There were some neat ideas and some compelling case studies in here, but there was also a lot of heavy jargon and unnecessarily stuffy writing. Very self-consciously academic.

A Shiver of Light, by Laurell K. Hamilton
I'm not sure if the ending to this latest Merry Gentry magic, mayhem, and sex tale was abrupt and kind of a disappointment, or if it was just that I was like 50 pages from the end when the copy I was reading got trashed, so I didn't read the last part until about a week after I read the rest of the book. I find I enjoy Hamilton most if I swig her down all in one big gulp.

The Muppets Character Encyclopedia, by Craig Shemin
It was deliciously nostalgic to be reminded of Muppets I haven't thought of since before I hit puberty. Not quite amazing (I admit I'd been expecting something even more detailed and geeky, given that it's published by DK), but still really fun to read through.

Maxine Banks is Getting Married, by Lori Aurelia Williams
Banks is a splendid conveyer of personality and relationship, so I deeply enjoyed this book even though the plot was well outside my experience / interest zone. I hope she writes more.

The Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta
The worldbuilding and plot of this post-climate-change dystopia got me to stick with it, even though the main character's quiet and distanced perspective made it hard to connect with her until several chapters in. By the end of the book, it had my mind and my heart.

Garlands of Moonlight, by Jai Sen and Rizky Wasisto Edi
A bizarre little horror comic based on a Malaysian legend that I thought had a terrible ending until I realized there was a sequel... also, while it's mostly black and white, the artist used a silver wash for highlights, which upped the illustrations from good to stunning.

Beach Reading, by Lorne Elliott
This was kind of hard for me to read for personal reasons that I don't feel like going into, but I'm glad I stayed the course. A warm, wry, charming, and homesickness-inducing coming-of-age novel.

The Year of Reading Dangerously, by Andy Miller
One of the most readable books about books I've ever read (and I've read many). Sometimes thigh-slappingly funny, sometimes awkward and gangly, most often feeling like you're having a beer with the guy while he tells you about his reading life and you laugh and ask questions and make suggestions and tell stories of your own. I liked this even more than I liked Nick Hornby's collections of book reviews (which was a lot).

current mood: hungry

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Friday, August 29th, 2014
9:03 pm - books that have stayed with me
manintheboat tagged me, so I'll repost my list from FB over here:

"list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard--they don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just the ones that affected you in some way. Tag ten friends."
My ten books in absolutely no order:
The Non-Designer's Design Book, by Robin Williams (the 1995 edition)
Devices and Desires, by K.J. Parker
Jason's Quest, by Margaret Laurence
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
One River, by Wade Davis
Varieties of Religious Experience, by William James
The Bone People, by Keri Hulme
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie
The Once and Future King, by T.H. White

I'm not tagging anyone because there isn't anyone whose answer to this question I wouldn't love to read. Answer if you will.

PS A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

current mood: entertained

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Sunday, August 24th, 2014
10:36 am - Graphic Adult Mystery Horror Therapy; Crystal Letters
The Reader's Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels, by Francisca Goldsmith; Cart's Top 200 Adult Books for Young Adult Readers, by Michael Cart; The Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror, by Becky Siegel Spratford; The Readers' Advisory Guide to Mystery, by John Charles et al
Soooooo many reader's advisory books. Goldsmith's was very analytical, Cart's mostly book reviews (as advertised), Spratford's highly readable (no surprise if you've read her blog), and the mystery one made me think. And of course I added a slew of books to my absurdist read this soon list.
(155, 160, 163, 165)

No Crystal Stair, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
A beautiful, poetic, copiously illustrated biography of Lewis Michaux, the once-famous Harlem bookseller. So delicious and interesting, and with the gritty parts left in.

Inside Therapy, edited by Ilana Rabinowitz
A collection of essays and excerpts about the titular topic - mostly fascinating with a few duds.

For the Love of Letters, by John O'Connell
This was light, but fun. Lots of the narrator's personal experiences/opinions, which I enjoyed.

current mood: determined

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Sunday, August 17th, 2014
10:17 pm - Good All-in North; Last Steel Ruby
Once Upon a Time in the North, by Philip Pullman
The whimsy and brave characters that made me love the first book in the main trilogy, bound up in a delightfully made tiny package.

All-In, by Pete Hautman
Engaging protagonist in a relatively slight story. I really like how Hautman writes, even when the story doesn't have much meat on its ribs.

The Good Neighbors, vol. 1: The Kin, by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh
Full of mystery and adventure and faeries. My appetite is well-whetted for the next volume.

Last Call, by Tim Powers
I think I'd been looking forward to this book for too many years - more than a decade - because it wasn't AS wonderful as I'd hoped. But still it was very good, lovely and dreadful and human.

Ruby Tuesday, by Jennifer Anne Kogler
This was an exceptionally quirky YA novel with an exceptionally appealing protagonist. Bookies and mobsters and iguanas, oh my.

Sworn in Steel, by Douglas Hulick
I didn't enjoy this urban-but-second-world fantasy quite as much as its predecessor. The previous one was very buddy-renegades-who-happen-to-get-mixed-up-in-larger-events and this one had more of an Epic Fantasy(TM) feel. Still it was quite engaging and I'll be reading the next one when it comes out.

current mood: too much to do

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Friday, August 8th, 2014
9:50 pm - Secret Wizard Passing; Dry Delight; Gift Reader
The Secret History of Las Vegas, by Chris Abani
This book was SO good - one of my favorites of the year so far. Just enough science, just enough mystery, just enough thriller, just enough unsettling, just enough deeply weird. And luminously written.

A Wizard of Mars, by Diane Duane, read by Christina Moore(audiobook)
I am now caught up on these. This one was a bit more complicated than previous volumes, and thus a bit more difficult to follow on audio, but Christina Moore's voice is so mellifluous that I never minded skipping back a few tracks to figure out what was going on.

Disability and Passing, edited by Jeffrey A. Brune and Daniel J. Wilson
Some of these essays were splendid and some of them read like a way to add to someone's tenure file. But even the latter were passable, and I was very glad for the splendid ones. Also glad to be able to read academic writing for fun again - while I was in school, my brain would just *quit* if I tried to read something academic in my non-school time.

Dry Store Room No. 1, by Richard Fortey
This meandered way way way too much. Like listening to an elderly distractible relative who has you cornered at a family party. That said, there were some very interesting bits in here, and I have enough background in biology (both technical and "inside baseball") to enjoy the book even though it was all messy. I liked it but I can't think who I would recommend it to.

The Yalom Reader, by Irvin T. Yalom
This was neat. I skipped around a lot while I was reading it, and the book bore up to such treatment with good grace. As is often the case for me, I enjoyed the interstitial framing / introducing parts even more than the actual selections.

The Gift of Therapy, by Irvin T. Yalom
If there isn't a genre of "old people tell the rest of the world what they have decided is most important to share from their lifetime of expertise," there should be. Sometimes it works better than other times. This book and the Fortey book that I grumped about above both fall into that genre, but THIS book was splendid. Short, satisfying chapters. A bit of overlap from other writings by him, but not too much. The format was pleasantly reminiscent of a Peter Drucker book I read once, but the content was much more up my alley.

Delight, by J. B. Priestley
A marvelous little book. The binding was marvelous, the paper was marvelous, the printing was marvelous, the little ornaments separating the sections were marvelous, and many of the small sections describing various delights the author had experienced were marvelous. In the very literal sense that I often interrupted my reading to marvel at all of those things. The slight majority of the sections were merely funny, or charming, or sly, but I didn't mind. Needed some breathing room among the marvels.

current mood: self-indulgent

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Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
9:26 pm - Radiant Thomas Ate Vegas; Late Girls
What Pete Ate from A to Z, by Maira Kalman
This was cute. I have a fondness for alphabet books.

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything, by Maira Kalman
Now, this one was GENIUS. So good I immediately bought a copy to give to some kids I know. It's rare to find a treatment of Jefferson for kids that actually talks about him in flawed human terms. Plus the art was amazing.

Radiant Truths, edited by Jeff Sharlet
Very tasty anthology of works that are in some sense about belief, going all the way back to Walt Whitman.

Vegas, by John Gregory Dunne
This memoir was dark and depressing and full of unhappy people and yet it was somehow a light pleasant read at the same time. Not really sure how that worked - something about the author not taking himself too seriously. I appreciated it.

Girls Standing on Lawns, by Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler
An odd and puzzling book made in collaboration with MOMA. It is what the title says it is, plus some musings thereupon. I quite liked it.

Stay Up Late, by Maira Kalman and David Byrne
One of her earlier picture books, full of whizzing energy and love. It made me feel like the song was meant to have these pictures accompanying it.

current mood: unwell

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9:14 pm - Suburban Future Riverman; American Delusions of Monsters
A Future Arrived, by Phillip Rock
This was very much like the first two books in the trilogy (and Downton still owes this series many thanks). I wish there were more of them.

The Riverman, by Aaron Starmer
A deeply odd, and compelling, children's dark fantasy novel. I'm very pleased that there ARE several more books by this author out there waiting for me.

Suburban Glamour, by Jamie McKelvie
The art on this was lovely, but the story was a bit standard as fairy stories go.

The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan
This was another superfun installment - I particularly enjoy the sideways allusions that don't get explained - but I did start to notice the formula a bit. So I'll have to make sure to space the books in this series out adequately.

American Gypsy, by Oksana Marafioti
An odd and intense book. There was a two-page scene that almost made me stop reading because it was too difficult for me. Overall, though, this memoir was captivating and deeply personal.

Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine
I gobbled this book up uncritically, very much in choir-being-preached-to mode with a side of YAY snarky science writing, but I think it would have held up nicely even if I had been more skeptical.

(PS I actually just finished my 170th book for the year today... so it may take a while for me to catch up on these posts ...)

current mood: unwell

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Sunday, July 6th, 2014
8:16 pm - Emperor's Man Cats; Hidden Return Empress; Full Dead Messenger Storm
Cats Sleep Anywhere, by Eleanor Farjeon, illustrated by Anne Mortimer (reread)
So many paintings of kitties sleeping, so adorable.

One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva (advance reading copy)
This was awkward and clumsy and I often felt lectured - I was pretty disappointed because, you know, how many books about Armenian kids discovering they are really into someone of the same sex are there? This is the only one I know of, and I wanted it to be AMAZING, and it just wasn't quite all that. And yet, I slowly fell in love with the story as I became more and more fond of the main character, his friend, and his boyfriend. By the end I was really into it.
(121, A2, O28)

The Emperor's Edge, by Lindsey Buroker (nook)
Straightforward steampunk adventure with a fun side of spy/assassin stuff.

Fairest, vol. 2: The Hidden Kingdom, by Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes et al; Fairest, vol. 3: The Return of the Maharaja, by Bill Willingham, Sean E. Williams et al
I liked the 2nd volume ever so much more than the 3rd (which was still a bit of alright) and I cannot decide whether the difference is that Lauren Beukes is far more to my taste as a writer than Sean E. Williams is, or whether it's that volume 2 really was about THE FEMALE CHARACTERS and volume 3, while purporting to have a heroine, was really all about Prince Charming. (Plus, dude, the "cad becomes an upright man due to the power of twoo wuv" plot? Way done. I'm oversimplifying a tiny bit, but not much. Too bad, because the side stuff was cool.) Either way, this series is still my favorite.
(123, 124)

Empress, by Karen Miller
OMG SO INTERMINABLE. But also so delicious. I felt overstuffed. Also I decided to not borrow or buy any more first books in fiction series (amazing most-beloved-already authors exempted as I see fit) until I catch up on them. Because this was one too many "wait, what about the rest of it???"s for me. I really want to read the rest of the trilogy, but decidedly NOT more than I want to read the rest of many other trilogies... and quartets... and 14-book monsters....

I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
This was so good that it took me until half way through the book to notice that it was written in present tense and even then I didn't mind. I wasn't quite satisfied with the ending but the rest of the book is, well, aces. (heh, couldn't resist.)

Full Contact: The Collection, by Daniel Kucan
I found many things about the narrator of this book frustrating, andbut I had to tear myself away every time I stopped reading it. Full of heart, full of insight, full of people whaling on each other, and the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.
(127, A3)

Dead Neon, edited by Todd James Pierce and Jarret Keene
Speculative fiction about Las Vegas. It says "near-future" on the wrapper, but there was at least one far-future story, and a couple that felt like contemporary horror. Some stories were meh, some were "OMG THAT WAS SO GOOD I NEED TO ILL THE AUTHOR'S SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK AND HOPE UNLV LETS ME HAVE IT." Ok, that really only happened with one story, but there were at least 2 others that were just as delicious.

Ceres Storm, by David Herter
Science fiction, but heavy on the lyricism and introversion. An odd, poetic, fantastical book that I didn't entirely understand, but which I loved. And a surprisingly quick read.

current mood: tired

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Monday, June 23rd, 2014
11:14 pm - Favorite Slayers Handbook
Lay the Favorite, by Beth Raymer
I really liked this book. Partly because it's a very well-told story, but also because a lot of it takes place in Vegas at the beginning of the 2000s, which is the time I used to visit it the most, because one of our best friends lived there. I kept expecting him to turn up in one of her stories :D. I liked it so much I'm now watching the movie, which is mostly not nearly as good except that her youth and goofiness and naivete comes across more clearly than it did in the book. And also, you know, Bruce Willis. I <3 Bruce Willis.

The Diary of Mattie Spencer, by Sandra Dallas
This was a very compelling read, hard to put down, but it rang a bit hollow for me - I kept having the experience I'm used to from reading REAL diaries and travelogues, thinking "OOH, I know where that is, neat to read about it in the past.... ohwait. Right. Novel." And also I felt that a lot of the sad things near the end of the book were clearly telegraphed at the beginning, to the point where I just sort of spent the whole book in dread of their eventual unveiling. And yet, I did like it. Just not as much as I hoped I might.

Handbook for Dragon Slayers, by Merrie Haskell
I started out a little wary of this one - it's hard to read books of people you already know(ish) and think highly of - but I LOVED IT. The set-up was maybe a bit slow, but not in a bad way, just in a not-quite-revealing-how-incredibly-in-love-with-the-book I would soon become. And as for the meat of the book, well! I loved the characters. I liked their flaws. I *really* appreciated that the heroine has a bum leg, given my own sometimes-bum-leg - it was amazing to read a tween adventure story that articulated that so well. It articulated A LOT of stuff really well. So well that I am singularly NOT articulate, trying to describe it. Reduced to arm-flapping-so-fun-best-middle-grade-novel-I've-read-in-ages expostulations, I am! Also I am bolstered.

current mood: thoughtful

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Saturday, June 21st, 2014
8:37 pm - Wrong Black Brain; Bad Kimmie66 Re-Gifters
Brain Camp, by Susan Kim, Faith Erin Hicks, et al
This was cute and cheerfully creepy. Love Faith Erin Hicks' style, will read just about any comic she draws.

The Wrong Hill to Die On, by Donis Casey
Not my favorite of this series. A bit too fragmented and earnest, but I still enjoyed it. It was very comforting to spend time with the lovable and upright protagonists.

The Black Hawk, by Joanna Bourne
Someone back in February told me I would like this and I believed them well enough that I sent myself an email, but I don't remember anything else about who it was or why they thought I would like it. It was a bit too Template Historical Romance for me at times, but it was also a cracking good Scarlet-Pimpernel-style adventure with a compelling heroine.

Re-Gifters by Mike Carey et al, and Kimmie66 by Aaron Alexovitch
I think that is all the Minx books? manintheboat is right that Kimmie66 was the best one, it had a hookiness and a depth that the others lacked and reminded me a bit of Neal Stephenson. Re-Gifters was fun but fairly by-the-numbers.
(114, 115)

Bad Kitty, by Michelle Jaffe
This was hilarious and charming and very very (very very) fluffy in a self-aware way. Kind of like The Spellman Files meets Gossip Girl.

current mood: sick

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Sunday, June 15th, 2014
1:26 pm - Minx Click Game; Short Giver Gathering Son Messenger; Expat Novel Lightning Crushes
Clubbing, by Andi Watson et al; The Plain Janes, by Cecil Castellucci et al; Confessions of a Blabbermouth, by Mike and Louise Carey et al; Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci et al; The New York Four, by Brian Wood et al; Water Baby, by Ross Campbell et al; Good as Lily, by Derek Kirk Kim et al; Token, by Alisa Kwitney et al; Emiko Superstar, by Mariko Tamaki et al; Burnout, by Rebecca Donner et al
I went on a bit of a tear. These are almost all the comics put out by Minx books .... muchly the same, aimed at teenage girls and quite melodramatic and relationship-focused. For the most part I got exactly what I was looking for. Be wary of Confessions of a Blabbermouth, it makes one kid think another kid is undergoing something incredibly awful as a red herring for only undergoing something quite awful. My favorite was Water Baby, mainly but not only because the protagonist reminded me of someone; and next favorites were Token and Emiko Superstar.
(92, 93, 95, 97, 99, 100, 106, 107)

Skin Game, by Jim Butcher
NOMNOMNOMATEIMEANREADALLTHEJIMBUTCHERNOMNOMNOM. Fascinating revelations and exciting plots continue apace.

Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists, edited by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan
Essay collections like this one fall into ... "grape reading" territory for me. Not *popcorn* reading exactly, but I also don't usually remember much about them other than recognizing the names of authors I particularly liked when they come up later. I don't remember which ones I liked best, but I will later :). Overall, I prefer book-length visits with one or two authorial voices, in terms of connecting with what I read - but sometimes I just want to skip along the surface of a book rather than diving into it. Lots of good essays in here, so it made good grape reading.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, by Timothy Egan
This biography of Edward S. Curtis surprised me with how much I liked it. I feel the difficulties of being his wife were given short shrift in favor of pointing out how hard she made it on him.... but that was a small (and sadly predictable) flaw in the gripping biography of an impressively open-hearted, adventurous, and maniacally dedicated man. And, central-casting of his wife aside, I really appreciated how Egan took the time to talk about people OTHER than Curtis and explore their stories as well.

The Giver (reread), Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son, by Lois Lowry
I remembered how much I loved The Giver as a young teenager (I think I read it three times?) but not really anything about it. And I'd never read the sequels. And I was super-excited that I will be listening to Lowry speak soon. So I decided to reread the book and then read all the sequels. I expected to enjoy them; I did not quite expect them to be so unputdownable that I tore through all four of them in two days. I was a little crotchety about the ending of Messenger, but given what Lowry was going through herself at the time, I can see why she ended the book the way she did. Taken as one work, these four books are astoundingly good.
(101, 102, 103, 104)

The Novel Cure, by Ella Berthoud
Books about books are the most comforting books for me, although I would get frustrated quickly if that were all I read. This one does a very good job of walking the line between earnest and tongue-in-cheek, and where I knew the books under discussion, I agreed more often than I disagreed. And lots and lots of the books I hadn't read sounded like they would be just my cup of tea.

The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
Checked this out because it was part of a "books about Las Vegas" set of recommendations. It is only very slightly about Las Vegas. Also occasionally eye-rollingly obvious that the author himself is a middle-class white guy with the privileges pertaining thereto. That said, I've been meaning to read it for ages and it was really fun. Glad to know there are lots and lots more to read.

100 Crushes, by Elisha Lim
Splendid splendid splendid comic / set of illustrated musings and interviews. So captivating!

Expat, edited by Christina Henry de Tessan
Well, for the most part the comments above about Click! apply to this book too - a collection of women's essays about living as an expatriate. I am an expatriate of nearly sixteen years myself, so these ones did cut a little closer to home... but I reckon in a few days I'll have forgotten them, and will only be reminded when when something flashes off a spark of recognition.

current mood: ambivalent

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Saturday, June 7th, 2014
11:51 am - Deep Living American Batman Circles
Batman: Earth One, by Geoff Johns et al
A more "realistic" retelling of the Batman story. Oddly moving.
(86, O26)

Living with Shakespeare, edited by Susannah Carson
Lots and lots and lots of essays about the importance of Shakespeare in individual lives, by actors and writers and comic book artists and some other people. Some of them were brilliant (here's lookin' at you, James Earl Jones), a few were a bit tedious, but overall it was a satisfying assortment.

Circles of Time, by Phillip Rock
Still with the melodrama, still with the awesome, still with the "wow, Downton Abbey owes a LOT to this series."

American Vampire, vol. 1, by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Steven King
Intriguing, complicated, pretty and gory and archetypal. I liked the alternating timelines.
(90, O27)

Skin Deep, vol. 1: Orientations, by Kory Bing
Friendly, playful, imaginative - I'm hooked on the free webcomic now, but I prefer book format for deciding whether I like a comic or not...

current mood: a bit sore

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11:30 am - New Dead Gulp; Shayla's Interestings
Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone
It took me a while to get into this one, but I really dug on the complicated theology and necromancers-as-lawyers, and caring about the characters snuck up on me. The plot heated up nicely too.

Gulp!, by Mary Roach
This was as good as her books always are, although I wish she had spent more time on the small intestine and less time on poop. I know that sounds ridiculous, but seriously? The butt end of the digestive track got way too much attention.

New Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko
Man, I freaking love this series. And I especially love how the world-building gets richer and deeper as it develops, without losing the intimacy of the first books.

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
I really enjoyed almost all of this book - it was more "Judy Blume for grownups" than I've found Judy Blume's adult books to be. Though I suspect the author would not appreciate the comparison, I mean it as a compliment. Kinda fizzled out at the end though - I ended up rereading the ending in case I'd missed something; I hadn't. But the other several hundred pages were tops.

Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues, by Lori Aurelia Williams
This book more than fulfilled the promise of its prequel. The plot was less compelling, but the writing was a lot more developed. I'm glad the author's got more for me to read.

current mood: tired

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7:15 am - Winter Philosopher's Thief; Ultimate Voyage of Cress; Create Spider-Man
Winter Well, edited by Kay T. Holt (nook)
Four stories united only by their protagonists being "older" women (and older spans a very broad range). I really enjoyed all four of them, especially the one about the expat living on another world and her relationship with the community she lived in.
(73, O19)

The Philosopher's Pupil, by Iris Murdoch
It took me a long time to tackle this one (I think the first time I tried was in 2012), because one of the main characters is too much like someone in real life that upsets me. However, I'm glad I read it, finally - her novels aren't very much like real life in general (yes, I see the contradiction with my first sentence), but they soothe and excite me at the same time, much like Robertson Davies does. This is a rare and splendid thing.
(74, O20)

Lhind the Thief, by Sherwood Smith (nook)
This was just *fun*. The author (hi, Sherwood!) says she kitchen-sinked in many of her favorite fun fantasy elements, and it does have a bit of a kitchen sink feeling, but I *like* all those things, so it worked out well for me. And it's funny how much just having a female gender-hiding-sometimes protagonist can make a classic quest plot feel relatively fresh (even though lots of quest fantasy has girl protagonists these days). Sherwood Smith has become one of the authors I hoard unread and dole out to myself in small doses, although I may have a binge later this summer...
(75, O21)

The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin (nook)
Glad to have finally read this. As is often the case with travel and science books from this time, it is a mishmash of astonishingly modern ideas, astonishingly offensive ideas, gripping narrative, and tiresome digressions.
(76, O22)

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, vols. 2 and 3, by Brian Michael Bendis et al
I had forgotten we had these! Then I was cleaning up and I found them. The perfect break from cleaning up.
(77, 78, O23, O24)

Cress, by Marissa Meyer
This series still has the power to invoke a major case of page-turning-itis. I had originally thought it was a trilogy? So I had that whole noooooooo, I still don't know what happens thing going on. But otherwise it was a lot of fun. Twisty but easy to read.

Things You Can Create, edited by Harvey Stanbrough (nook)
Very very many mostly quite short stories in honor of Jack Williamson. I read this because two people I know had stories in it, and they were my favorite stories - but there were some other good ones too.
(80, O25)

current mood: tuckered

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Friday, May 23rd, 2014
8:05 pm - Real
My Real Children, by Jo Walton
It seems possible that a day will come when a new novel by Jo Walton (papersky) arrives in the mail, and I neither open it that night nor finish it before bedtime. And then I don't skip it ahead of all the other books in my reviewing queue either. But yesterday was not that day. And my current reviewing queue is not that reviewing queue.

The book was, obvs., splendid. Absorbing and thoughtful. Very roomy for a short novel, and, oddly enough for an experimental-ish novel, somehow both solid and comforting (even though it sometimes made me cry). There are a lot of books out there which don't have any people like me in them, and don't tell stories that connect to my experience of life; this is the opposite of those.

current mood: sleepy! i stayed up way too late reading this book

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Thursday, May 15th, 2014
7:19 am - Passing Tropic Queens; Retribution Pentimento Cottage
The Passing Bells, by Phillip Rock
If Downton Abbey doesn't give this book a shout-out somewhere, it ought to. Also, this is a very good historical written in the late 70s, whose occasional soap opera tendencies are more than counterbalanced by the appealing characters, compelling plots, and tasty descriptions. (Much like the aforementioned TV show!) Already have the sequel on my shelf waiting for me.

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery, by Kurtis J. Wiebe
OMG fun!!!!!!!! This is a comic set in a D&D-made-real type of fantasy universe, and all the main characters are female. Also, funny. So many people are waiting to borrow it from me that I made a joke about putting a router slip on the thing.

The Tropic of Serpents, by Marie Brennan
These books are so good at imitating the thing they are imitating (broadly, 19th century naturalist memoirs) that they have some of the same flaws! Ie, in this case, slow bits where not a lot happens and you get bogged down in the naturalist's professional politics. But it was kind of entertaining to get bogged down considering! And the rest of the book was delightful.

Paw Prints at Owl Cottage, by Denis O'Connor
An older retired professor talks about his personable Maine Coon cats. Exactly the book I needed that day; I read it all at once.

Pentimento, by Lillian Hellman
Fragmented, self-absorbed, and utterly compelling. So glad I finally got around to reading this.
(71, O18)

Retribution Falls, by Chris Wooding
It took me a while to get into this one. Once the characters made some connections to each other, it was a lot more fun. Most of the reviews I read namechecked Firefly, and they are not wrong, although these characters are not quite as awesome - but the plots are better!

current mood: uneager to get up

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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
12:14 am - False Kambia Incal; Unlikely Father Infographics; ACB with Penelopiad
The Incal: The Epic Journey, by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Moebius, et al
This was just as gloriously weird as the first one but not quite as compelling. Which means the irritating bits were also louder. Still it was fun.

Forty-One False Starts, by Janet Malcolm
Malcolm is such an excellent writer that she could write about just about anything and I would enjoy it. This collection being about mostly about arts and letters was just icing on the cake.

When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune, by Lori Aurelia Williams
This was stressful to read (personal issues for me with things that happened), but moving, thoughtful, and well-characterized as well. I'll definitely be reading the sequel.

Best American Infographics 2013, edited by Gareth Cook
The best of these were SO NIFTY to look at, but a lot of them made me say "really??? this is the best that's out there???" It made me feel like a crotchety oldster.

The Complete Father Brown, by G.K. Chesterton
Reading 19th or early 20th-century classics is sometimes an exercise for me in remembering that even kind, decent, perceptive, insightful people in those times were often also sexist, racist, classist, homophobic jerks. Sometimes that happens just once or twice in such a book, and sometimes, like this time, it happens over and over. Sigh. I really loved some of these stories, and I really found some of them off-putting. Sometimes the same stories.
(63, O16)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
This was quite fun and full of lovely or heartwarming bits. Fair warning, I read it because I thought it would be light and cheery when I was recovering from news of someone's suicide and you know what? IT IS A BAD CHOICE FOR THAT. But it was fun.

The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood
Rich and layered but also spare and elegant. <3.
(65, O17)

The ACB with Honora Lee, by Kate De Goldi
A charming, quirky kids' story with diverse characters and strong relationships. I dug it.

current mood: sleepy

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Sunday, May 11th, 2014
9:57 pm - Atchison Code; Hay People; Fix the Lane
The Magus of Hay, by Phil Rickman
This was good. One of the ones of this series I really like, rather than just mostly like. BUT I MISS JANE.

Atchison Blue, by Judith Valente
A lovely, reflective memoir of one person's interactions over time with a community of nuns. Spare but warm.

The Book of Other People, edited by Zadie Smith
Character sketch stories! Some wonderful, some kinda meh. The comics were my favorite.

Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein
So I absolutely adored the first part of this book, despite the torture scenes (the narrator for the first half is brilliant) - but the second half of it threw me off because the narrator of that part Did Not Sound British (she sounded American, actively - something about the rhythms; it wasn't just that the slang was all Americanized, I'm used to that part). So that kind of bothered me. But it was okay because the book was SO GOOD that I had to finish it anyway, which if you know how easily distracted I am by this sort of thing, well. It is a really good book! With one frustrating flaw.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
The most Neil Gaimanest book of all. Which made me very happy.

In a Fix, by Linda Grimes
Paranormal chick lit fluff with EXACTLY the right plot / cotton candy balance. Also an intriguing premise. I dug it. Just put the sequel on hold at the library.

current mood: self-indulgent

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Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
6:58 pm - Super Equis; Night Way of the Blood Finch
Dos Equis, by Anthony Bidulka
Warm, clever, self-aware indulgent fun. Endearing characters, and an intriguing plot. I'm always bummed when I get fully caught up on this series.

Finch, by Jeff VanderMeer
Not as perfectly my sort of book as Shriek: An Afterword was, and a bit too slipstreamy for me sometimes. Still delightful and twisty and as full of the tang of words as a book can be.

Super Graphic, by Tim Leong
SO FUN. Wide-ranging, self-aware, sometimes very funny, always very shiny.

The Way of the Fight, by Georges St-Pierre
If you like MMA, you are probably already planning to read this book, and you will probably be as charmed by it as I was. If not, well, I wouldn't start by reading this. My favorite MMA book (so far) is A Fighter's Heart, by Sam Sheridan, so maybe try that one.

Days of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor
I spent most of this book feeling really good about it WHILE I was reading it, and pretty skeptical about it when I wasn't reading it... but then the ending was totally awesome and satisfying and now I can't wait for the next one.

Night Broken, by Patricia Briggs
Another delightful, absorbing, escapist series entry. (As an aside, expect to see a lot of these kinds of books as I slog my way through the rest of the semester.) (As another aside, Stefan is really growing on me. What is it about honorable non-sparkly vampires?)

(Not-confidential to N: I AM NOW CAUGHT UP ON POSTING. But I'm also most of the way through several different books - so if you're ahead of the pace car, don't slow down!)

current mood: sad

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